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a mark on their foreheads: Ezek. ix. 4. "And the Lord faid unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerufalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that figh, and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof." They are always protected from the evil of trouble; but God fometimes, befides this, affords them fpecial protection from trouble, by fome furprising providence removing them out of the way of it; fometimes by making them find favour in the eyes of their enemies: Jer. xv. 11. "The Lord faid, Verily, it shall be well with thy remnant; verily, I will cause the enemy to intreat thee well in the time of evil, and in the time of affliction." And sometimes by hiding them in the grave before the calamity come on: Ifa. lvii. 1. 2." The righteous man perifheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none confidering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness."
Laftly, He gives them the crown of glory: Rev. ii. 10. "Fear none of these things which thou fhalt fuffer; behold, the devil fhall caft fome of you into prison, that you may be tried; and ye fhall have tribulation ten days: Be thou faithful unto the death, and I will give thee a crown of life." He brings them into Canaan above, and crowns them, while others, who forfook God, are for ever forfaken of him; and they who finned with the multitude, fuffer with them for ever: Luke, xxii. 28. 29. 30. "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and fit on thrones, judging
the twelve tribes of Ifrael."-We how proceed very shortly,
III. To fubjoin the reasons of the point, to confirm it. Here we offer the following, viz.
1. It is hard work to follow fully in a declining time, to strive against the ftream which is so ready to carry people away: Matth. xxiv. 12. « And because iniquity fhall abound, the love of many fhall wax cold." Hard to keep warm in cold Sardis, Rev. iii. 4. To keep up the flame of religion, when a deluge of fin comes on, is very hard work. But hard work has always the greatest reward from the Lord.
2. It is a piece of fpecial honour to God; and thofe who honour him he will honour. It is not fo much to follow Chrift when he hath a great backing, as to cleave to him when many are dropping off from him on every hand.
3. The Lord orders it fo for the encouragement of his people, to follow him fully. He gives them the view of the recompence of reward, to encourage and animate them in preffing forward towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God: in Chrift Jefus.
IV. WE are now to make fome brief improvement of the whole; and this,
1. In an use of information.We see,
(1.) That none fhall be lofers at God's handi They that cleave to him, when others leave him, God will cleave to them when he forfakes others. Our errand will come in his way, and he will shew himself mindful of any refpect and love shewn him by them that walk uprightly.We fee,
(2.) That he who walketh uprightly walks furely, come what will come. Whofo wanders from God's
God's way, and follows the multitude to do evil, their feet will flide. But the best preparation and fecurity for a time of general calamity, is to walk with God in a declining time.-We fhall only add,
2. An use of exhortation.
We exhort you, then, to follow the Lord fully now. Our time is a declining time. There is a declining from the purity of gofpel-doctrine and gofpel-ordinances. There is a horrid declining in practice; the vail is falling off many faces, and the mask of religion. There is a general declining from holinefs, and the power of godliness, on the spirits of profeffors in our day. It is a day of approaching calamity. Would you be safe? Return now, and fet your face against the stream; and the more you fee others going off from God, cleave the more to him. If you do fo, you will be diftinguished by special marks of favour in a day of public calamity; but if you alfo go away, your fin will afterwards find you out.
Remember, now you have heard your duty; it is the duty of communicants, and alfo of others. Remember that it is not enough to set fair off. It is only he that follows fully who will be brought fafely to the promifed land. It is only he that endureth to the end who will be faved. Be not, therefore, "weary in this well-doing, for in due time ye fhall reap, if faint not."
THE CHRISTIAN DESCRIBED, THE HYPO. CRITE DETECTED *.
ROM. ii. 28. 29. For he is not a few which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcifion which is outward in the flesh. But he is a few, which is one inwardly, and circumcifion is that of the heart, in the fpirit, and not in the letter, whofe praise is not of men, but of God.
HESE words are a reafon why no man ought to value himself on the externals of religion, for they will go but fhort way. However they please men, they will never please God. The scope of them is, to thew who are the people of God. The Jews of old were the people of God; the Chriftians are so now, being come in their room. The apoftle here diftinguifhes the people of God into nominal and real ones, calling them Jews, because he was speaking to Jews; the cafe is the fame as to Christians.-In these words, he fhews two things.
* Delivered in March and April, 1719.
1. Who are not true Jews, real Christians, or faints indeed, ver. 28.; for these are they whom he means by Jews, faying, "He is not a Jew." Not those who are Jews outwardly, Chriftians and faints by profeffion, that is, who are only fo, and no more; for God requires externals of religion as well as internals, though the former, separate from the latter, avail nothing. But those who have no more religion than what is outward, viz. what men fee or may see, they have nothing of the reality of it.
The Jews valued themselves on circumcifion, as Christians on baptifm; but true circumcifion is not what is outward in the flesh, nor baptifm what is by water; that is, only fo. These external rites fignify an inward grace, without which they fignify nothing before God. Circumcifion was in a hidden part of the body, yet it was on the body, and what might be feen; fo religion might be in faints; yet being only what may be seen, will not conftitute a perfon truly religious.--He shews,
2. Who are true Jews, real Christians, or faints indeed? There are two characters of thefe, which diftinguished them from the other. They are,
(1.) Those who are fo inwardly, or in the hidden part, which is open to God alone, as well as in the outward part, which appears to the world. These who have the hidden part of religion, which being hid from the world's view, they cannot certainly judge of. Those who have the true circumcifion, the fpiritual baptism, that is, the circumcifion of the heart, Deut. x. 16. by which corrupt lufts are cut off, and the body of fin put off, Col. This is the fpiritual, not fleshly circumcifion only. It touches on, reforms, and renews our fpirit, our foul, the hidden, but most valuable part of a man. The carnal is but the cutting off a