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atiainment of those spiritual and celestial graces and virtues which only can secure to us the infinitely exalted privileges of our Christian calling, and prepare us for the enjoyment of the presence of God.
Behold the votaries of the world engaged in their favourite pursuits— With what unremitting assiduity do they follow up the chace of pleasure? What agitations, what chagrins, what disappoinments overwhelm, but not intimidate, the votaries of ambition? What laborious application, days of toil, nights of thoughtfulness, are bestowed on the pursuit of riches? The world excites the supreme solicitude, and engrosses the undivided attention of those who choose it as their supreme good. Are the blessings of salvation of less value? Are eternal riches, honours,' and joys, to be purchased with fewer sacrifices, with less application, with less devoted exertion? Shall we rate the everlasting favour of God at a lower price than those things of the world which he has stamped with vanity and decay, and from which death will wrest us for ever?
My brethren, it is a law of nature, that no object worthy of our pursuit is to be obtained but with solicitude, attention, exertion; and if these should be in proportion to the excellence and importance of the object of pursuit, surely a concern for our salvation ought to occupy the first place in our thoughts and exertions; and the present life, instead of being the sole object of our solicitude, should be regarded as of importance only as it is that state of probation allotted us for working out our salvation and securing an eternal inheritance. The privileges of our Christian calling-privileges which will confer peace on us here, and terminate
in endless happiness hereaftermare the infinitely important objects which, in the bustle of business, in the competitions of ambition, in the career of worldly prosperity, should fix supremely our thoughts, and regulate all our feelings and conduct. But further,
2. In order to make our calling and election sure, we must, in the exercise of true repentance, live in constant dependence on the merits and
grace of Christ.
For, through his merits alone, (so it hath pleased our offended Sovereign and Judge to ordain,) salvation is attainable ; and in his grace alone shall we find the effectual power of resisting temptation, and acquiring the virtues of the Christian character and life.
What was the trust of the apostle, which consoled him under the appalling conviction that he was the chief of sinners? What was the source of that dauntless courage, that heroic constancy, that triumphant hope, which distinguished him as the faithful and zealous servant of his divine Lord ? We hear him declaring, amidst the highest attainments and the most exalted acts of Christian virtue, that it was not “he which thus lived, but Christ that lived in him; and that the life which he lived in the flesh, he lived by the faith of the Son of God."* Here then is a pattern to all who are partakers of the Christian calling. Jesus Christ they are to adore, and in him they are to confide, as the Author and Finisher of their salvation; whose divine merits constitute their only claim to the for
giveness and favour of their offended God; and whose renovating and strengthening grace is the only fountain of those celestial virtues which will make them meet for the inheritance of glory. These merits will be applied only to those who, renouncing their sins and their self-righteousness, habitually rely on him who, the only Saviour, hath reconciled us unto God. And this grace will be bestowed only on those who, in true humility, seek it as the unfailing and abundant source of holiness, of strength, and of consolation.
Secure then, brethren, the privileges of your Christian calling, your redemption from eternal wrath, your title to heavenly felicity, by reposing,
, with lively and holy faith, on the all-sufficient merits of your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Let the hope of your deliverance from the power of sin, your restoration to holiness and virtue, be founded on his almighty grace enlightening your minds, purifying your hearts, strengthening you for the discharge of every duty, for the conflict with every temptation. Implore the holy influences of that Divine Spirit which animates that church, the mystical body of Christ, of which you are members; and cherish and follow his blessed influences and inspirations, and he will confirm to you the glorious privileges of your Christian calling, will lead you with increasing vigour through your course, till at length, in the fulness of holiness and peace, you appear before God in the heavenly Zion.
But in order to become partakers of those divine virtues which are the gift of the Holy Spirit, and which are necessary to secure to us the glorious privileges of our Christian calling, we must,
3. Finally, constantly and faithfully aiming at abounding in all the fruits of righteousness, attend on all the divinely constituted means of instruction
Our vocation as Christians demands of us the renunciation of all sinful passions and pursuits, supreme devotedness to God, unfeigned love to him, and constant obedience to his commands. In those who are finally adınitted to his holy presence in his kingdom above, every sinful passion must be subdued, and every holy grace established. To gain a victory over all their sinful passions, and to abound in righteousness, and goodness, and truth, must be the uniform object of those, therefore, who look forward to the glorious fruition of the divine presence in the kingdom of heaven. To aid them in this warfare, to insure their success in their holy aims, they are furnished with divine means of instruction and grace. The word of God is a lamp unto their feet and a light to their path. He hath promised to answer their humble prayers by the gift of his Holy Spirit. He hath insured to them the presence of this blessed Comforter, Sanctifier, and Guide, in the ordinances of his church on earth, in which they are to be trained for the joys and glory of the church triumphant in heaven. Devout meditation, therefore, on the word of God; frequent and earnest prayers to him for his Holy Spirit; uniform and faithful attendance on the worship and ordinances of the church—are sacred duties incumbent on Christians; they are the only means by which they can 'derive strength to resist and overcome the temptations which assail them, and to love and serve their God and Saviour; they are the only means by which they can be enabled
to fulfil the holy engagements and secure the glorious privileges of their calling in Jesus Christ.
How vain then the expectation, brethren, of securing the blessings of that salvation to which we are called, while we neglect, or only partially use the means which God for this purpose hath appointed! Is it possible to advance in the knowledge of the will of God-of the nature of the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ-of the duties and privileges of our Christian vocation, while we neglect the study of that sacred volume in which only these infinitely momentous subjects are exbibited? Can we hope to obtain the forgiveness and blessing of God, while we neglect the means on which they are suspended-earnest supplication and prayer ! Can we expect to be trained up for the praises and bliss of heaven, while we neglect the worship and ordinances of God's church on earth! Let us not deceive ourselves. As probationers for an immortal existence, surely it should be our supreme concern and aim to prepare for the awful scenes which that existence will disclose. Let us then constantly and devoutly meditate on God's holy word: let us supplicate in earnest prayer his forgiveness and blessing_his grace to create a clean heart and to renew a right spirit within us : let us express our reverence and love towards him in the worship of his church: by our regular and devout attendance on its ministrations, let us seek to fortify our souls in all holy dispositions, and principles, and resolutions : let us study to be sincere and faithful members of Christ's church on earth, and thus to make our calling and election sure; and in his good time we shall be exalted to that heavenly kingdom where the redeemed of the Lord