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as once he said to Saul, “Why persecutest thou me?” But if you do not hearken to his voice, and turn from your evil way, ere long "he will speak to you in wrath, and vex you in his sore displeasure:” for “ behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” There is an alarming passage, (Psal. vii. 11, 12, 13.) which I would recommend to your serious perusal: “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, he will w het his sword; he bath bent bis bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.” God himself hath undertaken the defence of the just: Christ will finally be glorified in his saints, when all their enemies shall be cast out of sight, overwhelmed with shame, and doomed to everlasting contempt and misery.
Thus far have I spoken for the conviction and reproof of those who bave the boldness to scoff at vital religion and practical godliness; and shall now conclude the subject with a few words of advice and encouragement to the true servants of Christ, who feel the influences of his gospel, and are determined, through grace, to live unto Him who died for them.
Let me then call upon you to lay your account with opposition in your way heavenward. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you; but rather rejoice, iu as much as ye are partakers of the sufferings of your Lord, that when his glory sball be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. You have good company, you bave powerful assistance, and glorious hopes: “I ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of God and of glory resteth upon you.' “ Stand fast," therefore, as the Apostle exhorts you in the words following my text, “ in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel, and in nothing terrified by your adversaries; which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salva. tion, and that of God. For unto you it is given, in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on bim, but also to suffer for his sake." Beware of courting the favour of the wicked, by conforming in any degree to their corrupt maxims and practices; but keep up the majesty of true godliness, and study so to live, that they may find no occasion against you, except it be concerning the law of your God. “ Be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.” “ Finally, bre, thren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things;" “ and the God of peace shall be with you." Amen.
Rom. xiv. 8.
Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether
we die, we die unto the Lord: Whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's.
THE following verse will inform you who that the Lord is of wbom the Apostle speaks in this passage. “ To this end,” saith he, “ Christ both died and, rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." He is the king whom God hath set upon his holy bill of Zion, and appointed to be the head over all things to the church; for as Paul wrote to the Philippians, in regard of his humbling himself, and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; "therefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name, which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This doctrine we all profess to believe; nay, the designation we bear imports an acknowledgment that Christ is our Master. But something more than the appellation of Christians is necessary to prove that we are in truth his servants. The proper, the only decisive test, is that which lies before us in the words of my text; where one who knew well what Christianity was, thus speaks in the name of all sincere believers : Whether we live, we live unto the
Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's.
It is the comprehensive description of the Christian's life expressed in these few, but emphatical words, We live unto the Lord, which I have chosen for the subject of the following discourse. And my design is,
I. To inquire into the import of living unto the Lord; and,
II. To apply the character as a measure, or standard, for helping us to judge of our spiritual condition.
I. Living unto the Lord may be considered as including the following particulars:
1st. That we make his will the rule, the only rule, of our conduct.
Our Lord hath entrusted us with various talents, and requires that we should improve them to the best advan. tage, for the important purposes for which they were bestowed. We are his servants, and have a task assigned us, for which we must be accountable to him at last. It is not left to our own choice what pieces of service we shall perform; but we must at all times wait upon him for direction; saying, as Paul did when struck to the ground, " Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?" Neither is it enough that we do the things he requires, un. less we do them because he requires them. The laws of our Lord are so wisely calculated to promote the private interests of individuals, and the public welfare of human society, that they who are most disaffected to his
government, will choose, for their own sake, to comply with many of his sacred injunctions; but they, and they only, live unto the Lord, who realize his authority, and do every thing he enjoins, as an act of willing and cheerful obedience, as a part of that homage they owe to their Master.
2dly. To live unto the Lord, is to make his approbation our governing aim, and to study to please him in all that we do.
I need not tell you that we early contract a love for many things which are hurtful to our souls, and stand condemned by the laws of our sovereign. This renders some parts of duty so painful to the flesh, that they are compared in Scripture to the “ cutting off a right hand, and the plucking out a right eye;" operations which no man would submit to, far less perform them himself, unless the preservation of the rest of his body rendered them absolutely necessary. Other parts of duty are attended with inconveniences of a different kind: they may draw upon us the scorn, the hatred, and persecution of a partial, blind, malignant world; so that if we listen either to the corrupt part of our own nature, or to the voice of the multitude, we shall unavoidably be persuaded to leave them undone, or rather to do the contrary. Nothing else than a prevaillug habitual desire to please the Lord can reconcile us to the practice of these self-denying duties. But if this principle be deeply rooted in our hearts, the roughest paths of obedience will soon become smooth ; with resolution, nay, with cheerfulness, we shall address ourselves to our work; declining no service, how painful or difficult soever, that we know will be crowned with the approbation of our Judge. Thus did the primitive Christians live unto the Lord. It appeared a small matter to them to be judged of man's judgment; this was their labour, that, whether present or absent, they might be accepted of their Master. They so spake, and so acted, not as pleasing men, but God, who trieth the hearts of his creatures, and will render unto every one according to his works.