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When Paul gave this account of himself, whose I am, and whom I serve, did he mean that now and then he was employed in the service of the Lord, and that it was only his by-hand work? No, furcly he aims at no less than that it was the great business of his life, and that he was as truly fixed to the service of God as his chief business, as ever servant was to his master's work. Now, that God's service is the business of those who are the Lord's, is what I am to confirm. And therefore consider,
1. That the master's service is the business of a servant as a servant, so that no person can be accounted a servant of a person who does not make his service their business : Rev. xxii. 3. “ And his servants shall serve him.” An hireling who works one day to one, another to another, and another to himself, is not accounted a servant of his to whom he works. But the chief business of a fervant is his master's business, as long as he is in his service. Now, they who are truly the Lord's are really and properly his servants ; not only of right, but actually fo, sealed in their foreheads, Rev. vii. 3. abiding by his service as their proper business in the world, and those who turii afide from it were never properly his servants : 1 John, ii. 19. “ They went out from us, but they were not of us : For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us : But they went out, that they might be made manifest, that they were not of us.”-- Congder,
2. That they who are his, are his servants in a most strict sense, as being wholly and absolutely his, and in no sense their own, or at their own disposal : Whose I am, and whom I serve. They are not hired servants, who may go away at a term ; but bought servants (by redemption), born servants (by regeneration.) Such Solomon had :
Ecclef. ii. 7. “ I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house." These are they we call servants, who are wholly in their master's power. And this relation to God, David, though a king, powerfully pleads : Psal. cxvi. 16. «0 Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy fervant, and the son of thine handmaid : Thou haft loofed my
bonds.” But even these, among men, may be ransomed and made free. So the Hebrew servants were to be free in the feventh year, Exod. xxi. 2. Or if he would not be free, then, ver. 6. he was to serve for ever, that is, to the Jubilee, Levit. xxv. 40. But there is no term of fervice here, no ranfoming. Since they are then his servants in this fense, how can it be otherwise, but that his fervice must be their business? -Confider,
3. That they cannot continue his servants, and yet have another master : Matth. vi. 24. “ No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or elfe he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” They have chosen God for their master, they have renounced and given up with their old master the devil, they are kept by the power of God, that they can never again revive their old relation; and it is impossible that they can serve two contrary masters at once ; but having renounced the devil, they cleave unto the Lord. And therefore, since every one makes either the service of their lufts, or the service of God, their business ; and as they do not make the former their service, the latter must of necessity be it.
4. That if it were not so, then the Lord would fall fhort of the grand design of their redemption, and making them his own, which cannot be. He has redeemed them by price, yea, and also by power; and the end of both is, that they may serye God as his servants : Titus, ii. 14. “ Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Luke, i. 74. 6. That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness, before him, all the days of our life.” When the Lord sent Mofes, to bring the children of Ifrael from the service of the Egyptians, it was not that they might live idly, and serve no more, but that they might change their master, and their work : Exod. iv. 23. “ And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me." Thus it is also in the spiritual delivery.--Confider,
Lasily, That this making of God's service our business, is a distinguishing character of a person truly the Lord's. Of worldly men it is said, Phil. iii. 19.“ Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” But of the faints it is faid, ver. 20. For our conversation is in heaven : From whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Chrift.” What is a perfon's business, distinguishes him from many others; and religion, being our business, distinguishes us from the unconverted crowd, who are accounted workers of iniquity, though they be persons not estranged from religious exercises; because, though they do thefe duties, it is another thing that is their great business in the world, Matth. vii. 21. 23.- I come now,
IV. To make some improvement; and this,
1. In an use of information. Hence we may learn, Vol. II.
(1.) That whoever are the Lord's, muft apply themselves to the Lord's work and service : Luke, vi. 46. “ And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say ?”
You were all baptised into his name and service, and some, of late, have been dedicating themselves to him in the facrament of the supper. Think not that you are now at liberty, or that your work is over. No; you are to begin your work, and perform your vows, and make out your service; attend to it, then, with heart and hand, for he is a master who seeks and will have the heart.-We may learn,
(2.) That the hearts of God's honest servants, are reconciled to his work and service. It is not a force put on them ; but their choice, as that which they like the best. They are ready to resolve with Joshua, that they and their houses will serve the Lord, chap. xxiv. 15. It is not only their duty, that they must do it ; but their privilege and interest, that they have to do it. They will value themselves more on being God's fervants, than they would on their being governors of a kingdom.--We may learn,
(3.) That those who make not religion their bufiness, are none of the Lord's. They
may be his by an external covenant-relation, but they are not members of his family, by a saving relation. Many take on with the Lord as a master, but they flight the bargain, and never enter home, but continue with their old master, which appears in not making God's service their business, Psal. lxxviii. 36. 37. God will pursue all such at so dreadful a rate, that it had been better for them, that they had never come under engagements to be his : 2 Peter, ii. 21. “ For it had been better for them, not to have known the way of righteousness,
than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” This writes death upon many as none of his.-Such as,
(1.) Those whose great business in the world is to serve themselves. When self-love is the predominant principle, self-seeking will be the great bufinefs : 2 Tim. iii. 2. « For men fhail be lovers of their own selves, covetous,” &c.
Phil. ii. 21. « For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.” How unlike the service of God are they, who will drive over the honour of God, the good of their neighbour, and the duty they owe to him, to serve themselves. These are narrow fouls, not enlarged by God's grace, who make theinselves their chief end, and lay not out themfelves for the honour of God, and the good of their neighbours, as they have opportunity.
(2.) Those who are servants of men, instead of serving God: 1 Cor. vii. 23. “ Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men :" They subject themselves to men's lusts, fubjecting their faith to other men's notions, and suiting their practice to other men's luits. Thus they make idols of them, putting them in God's room : Matth. xxili . 9. “ Call no marı
your father upon the earth: For one is your Father, which is in heaven." Thus persons are time-fervers, turning with the wind, according as the times turn, who think it their wisdom not to follow truth too hard at the heels, left it dash out their brains. And such are company-servers, who will change themselves into any complexion in which the com
(3.) Those who are servants of fin: Rom. vi. 20. “ For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness." The saints inHh 2