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the reason that the men of the world do not follow on to know the Lord ? Why, truly the most part are of Pharaoh's opinion, that religion is only for those who have no other thing to do. Hence it may be, they have got something to do here for the present; but if they were at home, they have another thing to do than to follow it out: Matth. xxii. 5. “ But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise.” The shadow of the world is substance with them, Hof. xii. 1. 8; and the substance of religion is a shadow; but, O! consider, “what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?” A wedge of gold would make a fluggard run, and shall not a weight of glory make us follow on ?-When following on,
3. You must hold fast what you have; the purfuer will be very loth to go back a step: Rev. iii. 3. “ Remember, therefore, how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.” Beware that the spark does not go out, for thus you may quickly have a cold coal to blow at. Make much of any good motion put into your heart. Say not, it is not much you have to hold; for the lefs it is, it will die out the easier, and there is thus the more need to keep it in. It cannot be so little, but Satan will think it worth his pains to rob you of it. The kingdom of heaven in the soul has a small beginning, like a grain of multard-feed, and must be cherished.--When following on,
4. You must not stand still, but be moving forward, labouring for more, be it much or little which you have: Phil. iii. 12. “ Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; T2
but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” A man who fits down on his attainments, will quickly be empty-handed. The fire' will go out, it constant fuel be niot furnished to it. Goad beginnings will be lost, if they be not cherished. Haft thou but one conviction? follow on to get it more deeply rooted.
Be earneft that it spread further into thy heart and life, that thou mayest bring forth fruits meet for repentance.--When following on,
5. You must habitually attend upon religion, and make it your chief business: 1 Theff. v. 15. * See that none render evil for evil unto any man, but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” Fits and tarts of religion cannot be reckoned a following on, or holding our hands to it. You must labour to weave the whole life into one continued web of religion : 1 Pet. i. 15." As he which hath called you is holy, fo be ye holy in all manner of converiation.” Whatever way you may turn, you fhould still be pointing towards God. You must not be föber at home, and Joose abroad; not a churchfaint, and a house-devil; a pretender to piety, and a renouncer of honesty. You must fay to all temptations which would take you off your way, as Joab, in his pursuit, 2 Sam. xviii
. 14. “ I may not tarry thus with thee."-When following on,
6. You must be refolute and vigorous in your endeavours : Ecclef. ix. 10. « Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." Mere endeavours will not reach heaven : Matth. xi. 12. « The kingdom of heaven fuffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." Our iron is blunt, we must therefore apply the more strength. Our work is great, our Itrength small, our opposition
powerful; powerful; but we must do or die. The work of religion will not profper with only good wishes and folded hands. No; we must exert our hands, and set down our feet : Prov. ii. 4. 5. “ If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hidden treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.” - When following on,
7. You must entertain a hope of success. No man will pursue but in hopes to overtake. We will have difficulties to grapple with in this purfuit ; but let us “ who are of the day be fober, putting on the breast-plate of faith and love, and for an helmet the hope of salvation." When the heart grows hopelefs, the hands will hang down, and the knees be feeble : Heb. x. 35. “ Caft not away, therefore, your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.” You must learn to hope against hope. You have the promise in the text to encourage you. What though many attempts misgive ? The tree falls not down at the firft or second stroke of the axe; and the water, by continued dropping, wears the stones. When following on,
Lastly, If you fall, you must get up again, and quicken your pace; and the fooner the better. The longer you lie, you will find it the harder to get up. If you find the impressions on your fpirit begin to decay, take them in time, and go to God with them for a revival : Rev. iii. 2. « Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die."
From what has been observed, we may learn, that the world shall never be able to ruin religion, as long as there are some remaining who will honestly follow after it. The hostile designs against
religion religion are plainly exposed at this day, and its enemies have begun to put them in execution. There are contrivances on foot to debauch men's consciences, and mischief is framed into a law. Such a toleration of superstition, errors, and blafphemies, is set on foot, as is a shame to a Christian country, no point of Christianity being protected from the insults of vile men, but the doctrine of the Holy Trinity; and withal, patronages are restored to make way for introducing the most naughty men into the ministry, while the most conscientious will find more difficult access. The discipline of the church is left to be trodden under foot of profane men. And what is all this, but to ruin religion, and the covenanted work of reformation ? But while our text remains, religion shall never be ruined, if we will follow after it. Let men and devils do their utmost, it shall stand, till its followers abandon and give up with it. And therefore, if it be ruined, the ruin will lie at our own doors, in not cleaving to it; but woe be to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed ! You may
fee here how to turn the cannon on the enemies of religion this day. It is very natural for zeal to grow by opposition. Now, the friends of religion in Scotland have been long at a stand, and its enemies have begun to drive the work back. Should we now awake, and follow it more vigorously, then should we know. We should discern the fame to spread more and more, we should see the Lord going forth as the morning, his work profpering over the belly of opposition, superstition and profanity gliding away as the darkness of the night at the morning-dawn. We should perceive him as a giant refreshed with wine, rising to defend and carry on his own work.
Be exhorted, therefore, to hold your hands to religion now when your hand is in it. you would do a good deed to the church of God, and to your own souls, follow religion closely in your practice. It is observed of some of the builders of the wall of Jerusalem, that they repaired each over against his own house, Neh. iii. 23. 28. 30. Make it your endeavour, that your own exercise be right; this will be so much reformation. If
you have got never so little, hold your hands to it, labour to get it ftrengthened this night.