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their colour; their former beauty is gone. That heavenlinefs, fpirituality, and tenderness, that favour of godliness which was fometimes about them, is alfo gone; and formality, worldlymindedness, deadness, and lifeleffnefs, have come in their room; fo that we may well fay, 'O our bones are dried! Any growth there is, is in pride and self-conceit; like rickety children, a large head, but a poor lean body. Indeed, not a few are even turned the colour of the earth, that their profane neighbours may fay, Behold, the man is become like one of us. It is a day in which God is drawing the veil from off many faces; and all this is drawing on to a national apoftafy from the Lord. The alarm is founded already to carry back this church into Egypt. Breaches are made to let in a deluge of fuperftition, error, and profanenefs. The ruin of this church, and the covenanted work of refor mation, is threatened. It is high time we were beftirring ourselves to hold our hands to the truths and ways of the Lord, handed down to us from our fore-fathers, that we may tranfmit them also to our pofterity, by a faithful adherence to them, over the belly of all oppofition, whether from open enemies or profeffed friends; and for that end, to be following on after the Lord's work in our own fouls.
Mot. 2. Follow on, hold your hands to religion, however fmall a measure of it you have; for you fhall know, if you follow on to know.
You fhall know that a going foot in religion is always getting: Ifa. xlv. 19. " I faid not unto the feed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain." They who are hanging on about the Lord's hand, will always find fome off-fallings. Though they do not foon get the very thing they would be at, they will al
ways get fomething in the mean time, well worth all the pains. If you be following on for comfort, this may be denied for a while, but you will be ready to get a deeper conviction to prepare the way for it; if, for deliverance from temptation, you may, like Paul, get grace to wrestle againft,, and to overcome it.-Again,
You fhall know that religion is a reward to itself :: Pfal. xix. 11. "In keeping of them, (thy commandments), there is great reward." There is a pleasure in attending the very pofts of Wisdom's door: Pfal. lxxxiv. 10. "For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand: I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." There is a fweet peace in the Lord's way; the ftrictest ways of religion are a pleasure: Prov. iii. 17. "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.' There is a great pleasure in feeing the bofom-idol on the cross, fin dying, and grace reviving in the foul.
You shall know, that the more you follow on, it fhall be the easier; the more you walk in this way, you will be the more expert: Ifa. xl. 31. "They that wait upon the Lord fhall renew their ftrength; they fhall mount up with wings as eagles; they fhall run and not be weary, and they fhall walk and not faint." That which makes religion fo difficult to us, is our not holding at it, our taking it but by fits and starts. Is it not always the easier to you to feek the Lord, the oftener you are at his throne? But omit one occafion, you will find yourselves the lefs fit for the work.
You fhall know, that fome difficulties in religion, which are like mountains afar off, shall turn to mole-hills, when you refolutely come up to. them, God will make iron gates open of their
own accord to his people who are refolute to be through. Unbelief and carnality make difficulties where there are none. "A lion," fays the fluggard," is in the way." They make real difficulties greater: Exod. xiv. 15. 16. " And the Lord faid unto Mofes, Wherefore crieft thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Ifrael, that they go forward. But lift thou up thy rod, and ftretch out thine hand over the fea, and divide it; and the children of Ifrael fhall go on dry land through the midst of the fea." See David's experience, Pfal. xviii. throughout.
You fhall know that his goings forth are prepared as the morning. The manifeftations of himself are certain. As the morning will certainly follow the darkest night, so the darkest time which a follower of the Lord has, will certainly iffue in a morning-light of refreshment at length. Thefe manifeftations are alfo gradual. There is always more and more of God to be known, to be given out, according to the foul's diligent waiting and following on.
Mot. 3. You will be great lofers if you do not follow on; you will lofe what you have got. The facred fire in your hearts will go out, if you do not cherish it, and if this fhould take place, you will be a ftep farther from heaven than you were. Nay, if you lofe it, who knows if ever you will recover it again; if ever the wind will blow as fair for you to Immanuel's land, remember that which is in Luke, xiv. 24. "For I fay unto you, that none of thofe men which were bidden fhall tafte of my supper." And if it should recover it, you will have to begin again, and it is a fad matter for people always to be but beginning; ever learning, and never coming to the knowledge of the truth, because they forget as fast as they -learn.
learn. You will lofe alfo all the pains you have been at to get what you have: Prov. xii. 27. "The flothful man roafteth not that which he took in hunting but the fubftance of a diligent man is precious." What a fad matter is it to be at pains for fomething, and then when it is got, just to let it flip through our fingers! We have work enough befides. There is no propriety in always doing and undoing again. In a word, you will lofe your fouls, if you do not follow on to know the Lord Luke, ix. 62. " And Jefus faid unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven." Heb. x. 38. "Now, the juft fhall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." And it will be a bitter ingredient of hell in your heart, that sometime you was not far from the kingdom of God, and yet miffed it. To this may be proposed thefe OBJEC
1. I have met with fo many disappointments, how can I follow on further? Anf. You are not the firft who have met with disappointments, Job, xxiii. Song, iii. And yet fuch have found him at length. Disappointments are useful to the people of God; they sharpen their appetite; they are neceffary to give us honourable thoughts of, and to learn us to ftoop to divine fovereignty, for our time is always ready, while his time may be not yet come. They make the enjoyment more fweet, when we are favoured with it. And therefore follow on, and wait the Lord's time.
2. My cafe grows worse and worse. Anf. What then? his goings forth fhall be as the morning, and the darkest hour is ufually before day-break. I fhall, in conclufion, offer the following DI
1. Look to God through Jefus Chrift, from whence must come all your ftrength. Let your resolutions be taken up under a sense of weakness, and a perfuafion of the fupply to be had from the Lord himself.
2. Be much in prayer and meditation. Thefe are fuited to keep the impreffions of God fresh upon your fouls.
3. Make confcience of felf-examination, that ye may the better know how it is with you, whether you be going backward or forward.
4. Beware of looking back, much more turning back, to your old fin, especially the fin which has been the great make-bate betwixt God and your foul. Keep fpecial watch against it.
5. Beware of evil company, and follow only fuch as are following the Lord.
6. Live above the world while ye live in it. It will not be poffible to follow on, if we come not to an holy indifference about the world.
Lastly, Keep the prize in your eye, and remember how short a time it will be before you arrive at your journey's end. This confideration will animate you to follow vigorously, because the time will not laft, and the work must be done. It will dispose you to recollect, that ere long you will be at the end of every difficulty, that the days of your forrow and mourning fhall be ended.