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out of joint? And you can never be at ease till you come back to God, and say, as Psalm 116 : 7, Return unto thy rest, O my soul.” Is it not hard, yea, naturally impossible, to fix a stone and make it abide in the fluid air ? Doth not all matter, in a restless motion, tend to its proper centre, and desire its own perfection ? So doth this new creature also. You see how the rivers in their course will not be checked, but bear down all the obstacles in their way; a stop doth but make them rage the more, and run the swifter afterwards.
There is a central force in these material things, which never ceases to act. And such is the impulse of a renewed soul : It shall be in him a well of water springing up.” John, 4 : 14. And is it not hard for you to keep it down, or turn its course ? Was it not so with David and Jeremiah ? If you do not live holy lives, you must cross your own new nature, and violate the law that is written in your heart. Till you were converted, says one, the flesh was predominant, and therefore it was impossible for you to live any other than a fleshly life ; for every thing will act according to its predominant principle. Should you not then live a spiritual life? Should not the law of God, written in your hearts, be legible in your lives? Oh should not your lives be according to the tendency of your hearts? Doubtless this is no small advan. tage to practical holiness. But,
2. Besides this principle within, you have no small assistance for purity of life, by the excellent patterns before you. The path of holiness is no untrodden path. Christ and his servants have beaten it before you. The life of Christ is your copy, and it is a fair copy indeed, without a blot. Oh what an advantage is this, to draw all the lines of your actions according to his example ! This glorious, grand example is often urged for your imitation : " Looking unto Jesus.” Heb. 12: 2. He hath left you " an example, that ye should follow his steps." 1 Pet. 2:21. His life is a living rule to his people; and besides Christ's example, you have a cloud of witnesses, and these men of like passions, temptations, and constitutions with you; who have gone before you in exemplary holiness. The Holy Ghost intending therein your special help and advantage, hath inspired many to write the lives of the saints, and preserve for your use their holy sayings and heavenly actions. He bids you "take them for an example.” James, 5 : 10. Oh! what excellent men have gone before you! what renowned worthies have led the way! Men, whose conversation was in heaven, while they tabernacled on earth. While this lower world had their bodies, the world above had their hearts and their affections. Their actions and their designs were for heaven. Men that improved troubles and comforts, losses and gains, smiles and frowns, and all for heaven; their hearts, their language, and their lives were full of heaven. Oh what singular help is this! Where they followed Christ, and kept the way, they are set before you for your imitation ; and where any of them turned aside, you have a mark set upon that action for your caution and prevention. Does any strange or unusual trial befall
the same affliction accomplished in your brethren.” i Pet. 5:9. Here is a store of good company to encourage you. Do the world and the devil endeavor to turn you from your duty, by loading it with shameful scoffs or sufferings? You may look to Jesus, who despised the shame; and to your brethren, who counted it their honor to be dishonored for the name of Christ. Acts, 5:41. Is it a dishonor to thee to be ranked with Abraham, Moses, David, and such as were the glory of the age in which they lived? Art thou at any time in discouragement, and ready to despond under any burden? Oh, how mayest thou be animated by such examples ! Some sparks of their holy courage cannot but steal into thy breast whilst thou considerest them. In them God hath set before thee the possibility of overcoming all difficulties; thou seest men of the same mould, who had the same trials, discouragements, and fears that now thou hast, and yet overcame all. How is thy unbelief checked when thou sayest, Oh! I shall never reach the end, I shall one day utterly perish! Why dost thou say so ? Why may not such a poor creature as thou art be carried through as well as they ? Had not they the same temptations and corruptions with you? Were they not all troubled with an evil heart, an insnaring world, and a busy devil, as well as you? Alas! when they put on the divine, they did not put off the human nature; but complained, and feared, as you do; and yet were carried through all.
Oh what an advantage have you in this respect! They that first trusted in Christ had not such helps. You have the benefit of their experience. You, in these last times, have certainly the best helps to holiness; and yet, will not you live strictly and purely? Will you take the name and profession of christians, and yet be lofty in your spirit, earthly in your designs, negligent of duty, vain in your communications? Pray, from which of all the saints did you learn to be proud? Did you learn it from Christ, or any of his? From which of his saints did you learn to be earthly and covetous, passionate and censorious, overreaching and crafty? If you have read of such sins committed by them, have you not also read of their shame and sorrow, their repentance and reformation ? If you have found any such blots in their lives, they were left there designedly, to prevent the same in yours. Oh what a help to holiness is this!
3. You have not only a principle within you, and a pattern before you, but you have also an omnipotent Assistant to help and encourage you throughout your
feeble and infirm ? and is every tempta
tion, even the weakest, strong enough to turn you out of the way of your duty ? Lo, God hath sent his Spirit to help your infirmity. Rom. 8 : 26. No matter then how weak you are, how many and mighty your difficulties and temptations are, as long as you have such an Assistant to help you. Great is your advantage for a holy life in this respect.
When a temptation to sin presses sore upon you, he pleads with your conscience within, whilst Satan is tempt. ing without. How often hath he brought such Scriptures to your remembrance, as have saved you out of the temptation! If you attend to his voice, you may hear a voice within you, Oh, do not this abominable thing which I hate.” Jer. 44 : 4. Thine
shall be hold thy teachers; and thine ears shall hear a word be. hind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." Isa. 30 : 20, 21. Here you have a twofold help to holiness, the outward teaching of the word, verse 20, and the inward teachings of the Spirit, verse 21.
When you walk holily and closely with God in duty, and the Spirit encourages you by those inward comforts, sealings, and joys you have from him at such times; how often does he refresh your spirits in public ordinances, and in private duties, with his hidden manna, with marrow and fatness, with incomparable and unspeakable comforts, and all this to strengthen and encourage you in your way.
When you are indisposed to duty, and find your hearts empty and dry, he is ready to fill, quicken, and raise them; so that often the beginning and the end of your prayers, hearing, or meditations, are as unlike as if one man had begun and another ended the duty.
Oh then, what assistances for a holy life have you! Others indeed are bound to resist temptation as well as you; but, alas ! having no special assistance from the Spirit, what can they do? It may be, they reason with temptation a little while, and in their own strength resolve against it; but how easy a conquest doth Satan make where he meets no greater opposition than this! Others are bound to hear, meditate, and pray, as well as you; else the neglect of these duties would not be their sin; but, alas! what pitiful work do they make of it, being left to the hardness and vanity of their own hearts! When you spread your sails, you have a gale; but they lie wind-bound, heart-bound, and can do nothing spiritually in the way of duty.
4. You have a further advantage to this holy life, by all the chastisements with which God visits you. I might show you, in many particulars, the benefits you thus receive; but will now present only three:
By these he prevents your straying and wandering. Others may wander even as far as hell, and God employ no sanctified rod upon them, to reduce or stop them ;
"Let them alone.” Hos. 4:17. But if you wander out of the way of holiness, he will send some trial to keep you within bounds. "Lest I should be lifted up, a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, was sent to buffet me.” 2 Cor. 12 : 7. So David, Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept thy word.” Psalm 119 : 67. Afflictions are used by God, as thorns by husbandmen, to stop the gaps and keep you from breaking out of God's way: "I will hedge up her way with thorns, and build a wall, that she shall not find her paths.” Hos. 2 : 6. Basil was sorely afflicted with an inveterate head-ache, and often prayed for its removal: at last God removed it, but in the room of it he was sorely exercised with temptation ; which, when he perceived, he heartily desired his head-ache again, to prevent a worse evil. You little know the ends and uses of many of your afflictions. Are you exercised with bodily weakness? It is a mercy you are so; and if these