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the Christian thankfully and piously indulges in those which the bounty of a gracious Providence here bestows upon him; but the imperfect pleasures that solace his journey, only serve to increase his ardour for the full delights of his home; there his heart is surely fixed, where true joys are to be found; and anticipating there the consummation of the virtuous pleasures in which he here indulges, the enjoyment of them is not diminished by the fear of their termination. Oh! how truly are the ways of religion ways of pleasantness, and all her paths peace! The Christian loves not the world, and yet he only truly enjoys it.
If these things be so, how great is the mistake of those who regard a religious life as incoinpatible with their enjoyment! With a supreme devotion to the things of the world a religious life is indeed incompatible; for it is the characteristic of the Christian, that he looks not at the things which are seen. Animated by a supreme concern for the salvation of his soul, and regulated by an habitual regard to the authority of God, and by the powerful and elevating principle of faith, he discharges with fidelity all the duties of life; and while he derives consolation under its trials, looks beyond its highest pleasures to the incorruptible and unfading joys of his heavenly inheritance. Thus living above the world, he is consoled under its trials, and animated, in the experience of its virtuous pleasures, by the prospect of their consummation in the full glories of heaven.
Oh, then, Christians, look not at the things which are seen. By pious reading and meditation, and above all, by habitual prayer for the quickening and sanctifying inspirations of God's Holy Spirit, che
rish that faith which is the principle of the spiritual life; daily, hourly, constantly realize that you are the servants of God and the heirs of heaven-the servants of God, bound in all things to please him, who will make all things work together for your good—and the heirs of heaven, not to be seduced, by the imperfect pleasures which surround you, from the incessant and supreme pursuits of those joys that are reserved for you in your heavenly inheritance. For this purpose, frequently participate of that holy supper, in which your spiritual privileges are effectually confirmed. When the world assails you by its trials, make Him your refuge and your friend, who, as a Father, loves and pities his children, loves and pities those who fear him; and be excited, by the experience of the vanity of earthly joys, to secure those which flow, pure and satisfying, from the city of the living God. And when the world surrounds you by its innocent enjoyments, indulge in them, but in moderation, remembering that you have a better and an enduring inheritance. Be constantly on your guard, that even the thankful and moderate enjoyment of the things which are seen, does not withdraw your attention from the heavenly objects which are not seen, but which are eternal-the only satisfying joys of the immortal spirit; in anticipation, its highest delight here-in possession, the fulness of its bliss hereafter.
THE NATURE AND IMPORTANCE OF SELF-DEVOTION TO
ROMANS xii. 1.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye
present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
This chapter is, with admirable propriety, recited by the church, in the epistles for the Sundays after the Epiphany: for having, on that festival, celebrated the manifestation of her Saviour to the Gentiles, as well as to those who before were God's chosen people, it is her design, on the succeeding Sundays, to enforce those holy graces and virtues which Christ in his Gospel enjoins; and with this view a chapter is selected which cannot be surpassed for a clear, and affecting, and impressive exhibition of Christian morals. I shall at present confine myself to the important and interesting verse which I have recited as my text, which will afford sufficient matter for a single discourse.
The first part of the Epistle to the Romans that which precedes the chapter from which my text is taken-may be styled, from the nature of the subjects which it discusses, the speculative or argumentative part. The apostle answers the objections of the Jewish converts to the admission of the Gentiles to the privileges of the Christian VOL. HI.
covenant, and shows the inefficacy of the observances of the Jewish law, considered as the meritorious ground of salvation. In a masterly strain of argument he
that as both Jews and Gentiles have“ sinned, and come sbort of the glory of God," they ean be “justified,” not by the “deeds of the law," by wbich is the “knowledge” of sin, and not the pardon of it, and which pronounces the sentence, “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die ;” but only by that “redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” He proves that, in the eternal purpose of God, both Jews and Gentiles are predestinated, not individually and absolutely to everlasting life, but generally and conditionally to the blessings of this covenant of mercy in the present life; there “being no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is nigh unto all who call upon him; and all that call upon him shall be saved."
Having thus unfolded the nature and the extent of the covenant of mercy in Jesus Christ, he proceeds, in the latter part of the epistle, to enforce those practical graces and virtues which constitute the perfection of our nature, and to which we are especially excited by the mercy of God in the redemption. To this latter part of the epistle, containing this admirable summary of evangelical duty, my text is the introduction; and it is an introduction worthy of the sublime exhortation which follows, in which the eloquent apostle exhibits a most perspicuous and interesting display of the whole circle of Christian virtues. 6 I beseech
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
In order to open to you the full force and meaning of this important passage, I shall consider,
1. The duty enjoined—“the presenting of our bodies a living sacrifice :"
II. The exalted characteristics of this sacrifice; that it is “a living sacrifice," “ holy," "acceptable unto God," and our “reasonable service:" and,
III. Lastly. The motives to this duty, contained in the affecting address of the apostle : “ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God.”
I am to explain,
I. The duty enjoined in the text-"the presenting of our bodies a living sacrifice unto God."
The comparisons are various under which the inspired writers represent to us the duties of the Christian life. Sometimes they are set forth under the similitude of a race, in which all our faculties are to be occupied in contending for the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus. Sometimes they are exhibited under the similitude of a combat, in which, in order to overcome the enemies who would wrest from us the crown of eternal life, we must “put on the whole armour of God, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, the breastplate of righteousness; our feet being shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.” And in my text, Christian duty is displayed under the significant emblem of a “sacrifice." We are to present our " bodies a living sacrifice.” Sacrifice being a material transaetion, in order to preserve the consistency of the figure, the “body” is here put for