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religion are plainly expofed at this day, and its enemies have begun to put them in execution. There are contrivances on foot to debauch men's confciences, and mifchief is framed into a law. Such a toleration of fuperftition, errors, and blafphemies, is fet on foot, as is a fhame to a Chriftian country, no point of Christianity being protected from the infults of vile men, but the doctrine of the Holy Trinity; and withal, patronages are restored to make way for introducing the most naughty men into the miniftry, while the most confcientious will find more difficult accefs. The discipline of the church is left to be trodden under foot of profane men. And what is all this, but to ruin religion, and the covenanted work of reformation? But while our text remains, religion shall never be ruined, if we will follow after it. Let men and devils do their utmost, it shall ftand, till its followers abandon and give up with it. And therefore, if it be ruined, the ruin will lie at our own doors, in not cleaving to it; but woe be to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed!
You may fee here how to turn the cannon on the enemies of religion this day. It is very natural for zeal to grow by oppofition. Now, the friends of religion in Scotland have been long at a ftand, and its enemies have begun to drive the work back. Should we now awake, and follow it more vigorously, then should we know. We fhould difcern the flame to spread more and more, we should fee the Lord going forth as the morning, his work profpering over the belly of oppofition, fuperftition and profanity gliding away as the darkness of the night at the morning-dawn. We fhould perceive him as a giant refreshed with wine, rising to defend and carry on his own work.
Be exhorted, therefore, to hold your hands to religion now when your hand is in it. As ever you would do a good deed to the church of God, and to your own fouls, follow religion closely in your practice. It is obferved of fome of the builders of the wall of Jerufalem, that they repaired each over against his own house, Neh. iii. 23. 28. 30. Make it your endeavour, that your own exercise be right; this will be fo much reformation. If you have got never fo little, hold your hands to it, labour to get it ftrengthened this night.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED*.
Hos. vi. 3. Then shall ye know, if ye follow on to
know the Lord.
AVING, in the former difcourfe, attended to the two first heads of the method we laid down, we now proceed,
III. To confirm the doctrine, or fhew you, that the way to follow religion is, to follow on, to purfue, to hold your hands to it, when once your hand is in it. And the belief of this would be a great fpur to diligence. If a perfon, digging with great labour in the earth, was almost ready to give it over, but another comes to him, and perfuades him, that if he will hold on, he would affuredly find a treasure, he would unquestionably renew his refolution, and vigorously follow it out. This I would perfuade you of, in regard to religion; however small your beginnings or hopes may now
* Delivered, Monday, Sept. 1. 1712.
be, yet perfevere: "Be not weary in well-doing, for in due time fhall ye reap, if faint not.". To convince you as to this, confider,
1. You have God's word of promife for it: Matth. xxv. 29. "For unto every one that hath fhall be given, and he fhall have abundance." A man hath no more in God's account, than what he keeps and improves for God's glory and his own falvation., Now, God does not fet down all his children with equal ftocks. There are fathers, youths, and babes in Chrift. Some get more, fome lefs; but there is a promife of more given to them all, on their holding their hands to what they have got. It is God's goodness to moft of us, that we are held fhort by the head, and that any thing we get, we know well how we come by it. This is necessary that our light hearts may not grow vain, and that our careless spirits may be aroused the more. But a little thing, with a promife, will be like the five loaves that multiplied in the diftribution.-Confider,
2. That it is the Lord's ordinary way in his works, to bring great things by degrees out of fmall beginnings. He could have made the world in a moment, but he took fix days to it; at firft there was but the rude mafs, which day by day was brought to perfection. See an inftance, 1 Kings, xviii. 43. and downwards. See how another great work began, Efther, vi. 1. Both which places confult. So alfo in the text: "His going forth is prepared as the morning." In his works of grace, as in the works of nature, he ordinarily keeps that way of advancing by degrees.Confider,
3. That the works of grace in the foul ordinarily arife from very fmail beginnings. The grain of mustard-feed, called the fmalleft of feeds,
is used as an emblem of this, Matth. xiii. 31. 32. It is a feed springing fo leifurely, that the springing of it cannot fometimes be difcerned in the time, Mark, iv. 27. It fpringeth and groweth up, we know not how. See how low the beginning of good may be, which the Lord will cherish, and bring to perfection: Ifa. xlii. 3. "A bruised reed fhall he not break, and the fmoking flax fhall he not quench; he fhall bring forth judgement unto truth."--Confider,
4. The bountiful nature of God, who furely will not always flee from those who follow him, but will at length be found of them. If at any time he seem to flee from them, it is that they may follow him the more vigorously; if he hold meat from them a while, it is that their appetite may be the more fharpened, Luke, xxiv. 28. 29. But refolute following on cannot miss to find him. See an eminent inftance of this in the Syrophenician woman, who befought Jefus to caft the devil out of her daughter, and perfevered till the obtained her requeft, Mark, vii. 25.-29. For good being in its nature communicative of itfelf, goodness itself cannot fail to be fo. The fpoufe had experience of this, Song, iii. 1.-4. --Confider,
5. That no perfon gets a refufal from heaven, but those who court it by their own indifference : and indeed a faint way of feeking is to beg a denial. God is more ready to give, than we are to feek: Pfal. lxxxi. 10. "Open thy mouth wide," fays he, " and I will fill it." He loves importunity, and cannot deny an importunate fuitor; and though fome fuch have ftood long at his door, there was never a fingle individual who fell down dead at it; their long waiting was always made up by the greater incomes of favour which they experienced