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have more power over you than the precepts of Christ, dream not of being his disciples. It is absolutely impossible.
4. The cost of which we are speaking relates to what we are to expect. In general, to commence the profession of a Christian, is to enter upon a formidable and protracted warfare; it is to engage in an arduous contest, in which many difficulties are to be surmounted, many enemies overcome. The path that was trod by the great Leader, is that which must be pursued by all his followers. If he found his way strewed only with flowers, if his career was cheered with acclamations and greeted with smiles, you may not unreasonably indulge in like expectations. But if his course, on the contrary, was a course of trial and effort, of affliction and discouragement; if a life of poverty and suffering, closed by a death of ignominy and agony, form the principal features of his history, regulate your expectations accordingly. “ It is sufficient for the servant to be as his Master, the disciple as his Lord.” “ If they called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household.” “ Marvel not,” saith our Lord, “ if the world hate you ; it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own : but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."*
“ In the world ye shall have tribulation ; but be of good cheer, I
* John xv. 18, 19.
have overcome the world, that in me ye might have peace.”*
Though violent persecution is not an event, under the present circumstances of the christian profession in this country, within the range of probability, yet serious and painful opposition may be expected. Vigorous attempts will be made to deprive you of your crown, at one time by an assault on your doctrinal, at another, by efforts to corrupt your practical principles. A strong current will set in from the world to obstruet your progress, swelled by the confluence of false opinions, corrupt customs, ensnaring examples, and all the elements of vice, error, and impiety, which are leagued in a perpetual confederacy against God and his Christ. Your path will often be beset, not merely by the avowed patrons of error, but by such as “ hold the truth in unrighteousness ;" who, never having experienced the renovating power of divine truth, will be among the first and foremost to ridicule and oppose its genuine influence. While you live like the world, you may, with impunity, think with the church; but let the doctrines you profess descend from the head to the heart, and produce there the contrition, the humility, the purity, the separation from the world, which distinguish the new creature, that world will be armed against you. “ They think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.”of In order to stand your ground, it will be requisite for you to “ quit yourselves like men, and be strong.” Aware that he is everywhere, and at all times, surrounded with danger, the life of a christian is a life of habitual watchfulness; in solitude, in company; at home, abroad; in repose and in action; in a state of suffering, or a state of enjoyment; in the shade of privacy, or in the glare of publicity. Aware of his incessant liability to be ensnared, he feels it incumbent on him to watch. The melancholy history of the falls of Noah, of David, and of Peter, is adapted and designed to teach us this lesson.
+ 1 Pet. iv. 4.
* John xvi. 33,
An opportunity may present itself, perhaps, in your future course, of growing suddenly rich, of making, at least, a considerable accession to your property; but it involves the sacrifice of principle, the adoption of some crooked and sinister policy, some palpable violation of the golden rule; or, to put it in the most favourable light, such an immersion of
mind in the cares and business of the world, as will leave no leisure for retirement; no opportunity for “exercising yourself unto godliness ;” no space for calm meditation, and the serious perusal of the Scriptures. Are you prepared in such a conjuncture to reject the temptation; or are you resolved, at all events, to make haste to get rich, though it may plunge you into the utmost spiritual danger? “ Count the cost;" for with such a determination you cannot be Christ's disciple.
By the supposition with which we set out, you have solemnly renounced the indulgence of sinful pleasures. But recollect that Siren will return to the charge, she will renew her solicitations a thousand and a thousand times; she will sparkle in your eyes, she will address her honied accents to your ears, she will assume every variety of form, and will deck herself with a nameless variety of meretricious embellishments and charms, if haply at some one unguarded moment she may entangle you in those “ fleshly lusts which war against the soul." “ Count the cost.” Are you prepared to shut your eyes, to close your ears, and to persist in a firm, everlasting denial !
You will meet with injuries, and unjust provocations : “ count the cost" in this respect.
5. The cost of the christian profession stands related to the term and duration of the engagement “ Be thou faithful unto death.” It is coeval with life.
II. Why, we say, is it expedient for those who propose to become christians to “ count the cost?”
1. It will obviate a sense of ridicule and of shame. (See the context.)
2. It will render the cost less formidable when it occurs.
3. If it diminishes the number of those who make a public and solemn profession, this will be more than retrieved by the superior character of those who make it. The church will be spared much humiliation; Satan and the world deprived of many occasions of triumph.
III. The reasons which should determine our adherence to Christ, notwithstanding the cost which attends it.
1. His absolute right to command or claim our attachment.
2. The pain attending the sacrifices necessary to the christian profession greatly alleviated from a variety of sources.
3. No comparison betwixt the cost and the advantages.
PARALLEL BETWEEN THE WAR WITH THE CANAANITISH NATIONS, AND THAT OF BELIEVERS WITH THEIR SPIRITUAL ENEMIES.*
Joshua v. 13—15.—And it came to pass, when Joshua was by
Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand : and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay: but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot ; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
JOSHUA was at this time entering upon a most arduous undertaking ; that of attacking the
* Preached at Leicester, March, 1814.