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A RICH REWARD TO DILIGENCE IN
RELIGION*.

SERMON XXXV.

Hos. vi. 3.-Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.

IT

T is an obfervation of Solomon's, Prov. xii. 27. "The flothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting." Men are at some pains to get fomething, but when they have got it, they let it flip through their fingers. Hence our religion, good frames, attainments, refolutions, &c. turn to fmall account. We are at some pains to acquire fomething when attending divine ordinances, but then we put it in a bag with holes. Now, the text tells us how to remedy this lofs, and to bring our religion to fome good account; and that is, when once our hand is in, to follow on eagerly: "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord."-In these words, confider,

1. What is the fum and fubftance of all religion. It is "the knowledge of the Lord," that is, the

practical

* Delivered at Tweedfmuir, April 1712.

practical knowledge of him, who can only be truly known in Jefus Chrift. That thus the knowledge of the Lord is here to be understood, is evident, not only from the nature of the thing, but from other fcriptures: John, xvii. 3." And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jefus Chrift whom thou haft fent." See alfo Hof. vi, 6. Jer. xxii. 16.-Con--fider,

2. The beginning of religion fuppofed. This is fuppofed in the particle then, namely, when we have turned to the Lord; and likewife in following on to know the Lord.-Confider,

3. The purfuit of religion, or the knowledge of the Lord propofed. We fhall follow on, if we fhall not content ourselves with the measure attained, but go on ftill farther, improving the beginnings. (Heb. purfue), which is an eager fort of following, as is the case when we follow a fleeing enemy.-Confider,

4. The benefit of this purfuit: "Then shall we know," we shall thrive in our religion, get a larger measure of it, even of a practical experimental knowledge of the Lord. We fhall be still adding a cubit to our spiritual ftature. The more we purfue, the more we will gain.-From this fubject, I obferve the following

DOCTRINE, That the way to thrive in religion is to follow on, to pursue, to hold our hand to it, when once our hand is in it.

It is evident, this is a day in which there is little thriving in religion. It is long fince the generation began to weary of God, and profeffors to decline; yet fometimes there is a blowing up of the fpark, but, alas! it dies always out again. Some

times

times people look fo well when attending upon ordinances, we would almost think it was a pity they should ever go from them; but when they are away, and the communion-frame has wore off, they look fo ill, that one would think it was a pity that ever they fhould come to them again. We would fhew you how to prevent this; and, that things may apply the more closely to your confciences, I fhall,

I. SHEW who they are whom we may call to follow on.

II. I fhall fhew what it is to follow on, or how you must hold your hand to religion, that you may thrive in it, now that your hand is in it. III. I fhall confirm the doctrine, and fhew you, that it is the true way to thrive, and the belief of

it would be a great fpur to diligence. Then,

IV. Conclude with the improvement of the subject.

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WE are then,

I. To fhew who they are whom we may

follow on.

call to

There are fome we cannot call to follow on, because they have not yet ftirred a foot in religion. There are fome who, for all that they have heard and feen, are quite stupid and unconcerned, lying asleep in their chains; they have no good motions on their fpirits, and feel no concern for the want of them. Our text calls us to leave you, but a word or two before we part.

1. What would you think, if you faw the showers of heaven, after a great drought, fall all around your land upon your neighbour's ground,. but not one drop on yours? would you not think you were the mark at which God aims his arrows? Now,

Now, what can you think of yourfelves, when God touches the hearts of others about you, but never touches yours? when he goes by you, and comes by you, speaks to those on your right hand and on your left, but not a word to you you? Does not that look very like what is in Hof. iv. 17. "Ephraim is joined to his idols, let him alone." To fee a tree in the winter without leaves, is nothing; but in the fpring, when all is flourishing about it, fuch a tree is fit for the axe, and is near to the fire.

2. Do you think the world will always laft with you? will you always fleep in a found skin? Nay, fooner or later you fhall get an awakening, in mercy, or in wrath: Ifa. xxxii. 9. 10. "Rife up, ye women that are at eafe; hear my voice, ye careless daughters, give ear unto my fpeech. Many days and years fhall ye be troubled, ye careless women; for the vintage fhall fail, the gathering fhall not come." If you should fleep it out all your days, you fhall at laft awaken, Luke, xvi. God will one time or another take the filthy garments of your fins, wrap them up in brimstone, and fet them on fire about your ears.

But there are several forts of perfons, whofe hands we may fay are now in their work; and their business is to purfue.-Such as,

1. There may be fome whom the King has brought into his chambers, and affured'them of his love, and they have got the covenant sealed, not only with the public feal of the facrament, but the privy feal of the Spirit. Your business is to follow on, and improve the precious feafon for the church of God, and for yourselves: Exod. xxxiv. 8. 9. " And Mofes made hafte, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. And he faid, If now I have found grace in thy fight, Ọ Lord

Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us. Follow on to know. There is more in that God,. that Chrift, that covenant manifested to you, than you have yet seen. — There are,

2. Others that have got but fome glimmerings of folid hope from the Lord. It may be that they come here in a dark night of defertion, faying, "My hope is perished from the Lord," Lam. iii. 18. But now the day begins to break, and they have fome hope, that there may be yet room for a backflider. Follow on, his going forth fhall be as the morning, which grows lighter and lighter to the perfect day.-There may be,

3. Some who, it may be, Chrift has treated, as Joshua did his captains, when he made them fet their feet upon the necks of the captive kings, Jofh. x. 24. Some luft that has long kept them under, they have now got fubdued, the bonds of wickednefs are broken, and the gates of brafs pulled down; fo that now they are conquerors over their spiritual foes. To fuch we would fay, Beftir your felves, and purfue. Wounded lufts, when they get time to recover, have made fad work at a fecond onfet; you are not yet there, where the gates fhall not be fhut at all by day. You are, however, ftrong for the prefent; follow on, and you will be yet ftronger: Zech. xii. 8. « In that day fhall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerufalem; and he that is feeble among you at that day, fhall be as David; and the houfe of David fhall be as Go, as the angel of the Lord before them."-There may be,

4. Some who have not come fo far forward yet, though they are come the length to be heartily content that they and their lufts were freely parted, though they cannot tell how it will be accomplished. Follow on, purfue, you have them at a fair advantage.

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