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In the last place, prayer may be confidered as a proper means to help us to have our conversation fuitable to the gofpel. Prayer is the great and comfortable duty of a chriftian, by which our communication with heaven is maintained; and it often produces the happieft effects on the mind. And therefore, if a christian is often employed in prayer, his heart will by degrees become better, and his morals be improved. And befides this, it is the means to obtain grace or divine affiftance for the performance of our duty; for God will never deny his grace to thofe who fincerely ask him. He has promifed to hear the prayer of the humble, and therefore he will much more regard it, when they apply for his affiftance to enable them to do their duty. And it has been justly obferved, that thofe who are often employed in prayer, for the most part have their converfation more ftrict and virtuous, and more becoming the gospel of Chrift.
And thus I have endeavoured to reprefent to you from the nature of the gofpel, the converfation that is fuitable to it, and likewife the means by which
we may attain to fuch a difpofition andS ER M. 1.IXS character. From the whole that has been faid, let us be excited earneftly to form our lives according to the dictates and temper of the gofpel. By this con
duct we shall attain to the highest perfection of our nature, and likewife have peace and happinefs for ever. We fhall have folid fatisfaction and pleasure in all the various events of life, and get clear of all thofe guilty apprehenfions and fears, which are the confequences of fin, when we are conscious we have acted a part worthy of our holy profeffion. And then when death makes its approach, we fhall be able to meet it with courage and ferenity. The reflection upon our conduct, that we have innocently paft our time in the search of religion and virtue, will give fure and rational comfort, when we are about to enter into the invisible world. This will be a cordial upon a death-bed, and will fupport the christian against all the ghaftly terrors which then will furround him. And it will give a comfortable expectation of all the glory and happiness promised to the people of God in the heavenly kingdom. But on the contrary, if instead of having our
SERM.converfation as becometh the gospel, we pass IX. our lives in the ways of fin, neglecting
God and religion, there remains nothing for us to hope at the end of our time, but, as the apostle expreffes it, a fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation to confume us. Let us therefore, as we would secure our everlasting well-being, and hope for glory hereafter, endeavour by the help of our God, tó have our converfation as becometh the gospel of Chrift.
CHRIST a Sign which shall be spoken against.
LUKE II. 34.
And Simeon bleed them, and faid unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is fet for the fall and rifing again of many Ifrael; and for a fign which shall be spoken against.
HEN we confider the various S ER M.
of them are, how conceited and fond of
SER M. alfo, that the gospel must have had very different effects upon men, by rendering those happy who fincerely embraced it, and on the contrary, by increasing the mifery and juft condemnation of those who rejected it. Not that from its own nature it can poffibly add to the misery of mankind; it was intended for the benefit and happiness of all; but because men from their own unreasonable con duct and oppofition to it may throw themfelves into a more miferable state, by making themselves jufter objects of the divine displeasure. And this.different acceptance, of the gospel of our Saviour, and the different effect of it on the world, from the variety of mens tempers, feems to have been fully foretold by the text; when it is faid that this child was fet for the fall and rifing again of many in Ifrael, and for a fign which shall be spoken against.
Thefe are the words of that good man Simeon, when he faw our Saviour prefented in the temple, according to a revélation made to him, that before his deceafe he fhould fee the Lord's Chrift; from which it feems plain, that he forefaw what would be the confequence of his appearing in the world; through the