« السابقةمتابعة »
served all who sailed with Paul in answer to his prayers: ten righteous persons would have preserved Sodom: and the scripture fully warrants me to say, that our national preservation hitherto is vouchsafed in answer to the prayers, and for the sake, of the pious remnant among us. In all respects and in every view, "godliness with con"tentment is great gain," yea the greatest of gains; "It is profitable for all things; having the promise "of this life and of that which is to come."
III. Let us then conclude with some practical instructions.
Many young persons, being brought in the way of religion, think that godliness may be very proper in old age; as at that time of life people have little to do, and have no relish for juvenile pleasures. They perhaps allow that it will sometime be needful for them also; but they wish to defer the distasteful task to a more convenient opportunity. In the mean while, they purpose making a trial of the world; being determined not to believe that all is vanity and vexation, unless convinced by experience. The opinion, therefore, that religion is irksome and joyless, proves in this case a most fatal delusion of Satan. All desire present satisfaction; and few are willing to forego it for a distant and invisible felicity. Hence arises a procrastination that generally proves fatal. But, could we convince men that genuine piety would best promote their present satisfaction, one great obstruction to the gospel would be removed. You, my young friends, have doubtless found already, that disappointment and disgust often succeed to sanguine expectation: be persuaded therefore
we earnestly intreat you, to regard those who have dearly bought their experience, when they declare that this will more and more be the case as long as you seek that happiness in the world, which can only be found in God and religion. "Come" then, "taste and see how gracious the Lord is ; " and how blessed they are that trust in him.' Make a fair trial, whether peace of conscience and joy in God be not preferable to turbulent mirth, with an aching heart and bitter remorse.
But are not religious people often melancholy and uncomfortable ?-No doubt many who speak about religion, and live at open war with their convictions, are very miserable. Others, taking distorted views of truth, and prematurely or disproportionately studying matters too deep for them, disquiet their minds and cast a gloom over their piety: while negligence, unwatchfulness, evil tempers, or cleaving to worldly objects, will render those uneasy who fear God or have any tenderness of conscience. But these effects arise not from godliness, but from the want of it; and they would vanish were the scriptures more implicitly believed and obeyed. We ought therefore to infer from these things, that we should carefully compare our religion with the word of God; and pray without ceasing, that we may be enabled to have "our con"versation as it becometh the gospel of Christ."
Perhaps some of you, who have neglected godliness, meet with continual disappointment in your worldly pursuits. Does not the Lord then say to you, "Wherefore do ye spend your money for that "which is not bread? and your labour for that "which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto
"me-hear, and your soul shall live?" Few of the numerous candidates for wealth, honour, or power, are successful: and the most assiduous application has only the probability of success: but the unfailing word of God ensures the blessing to all, that "seek his kingdom and righteousness in the first "place" and in the way which he hath prescribed.
Are any of you, who trust that you possess godliness, oppressed by poverty, sickness, or trouble? Seek after contentment, my brethren: seek divine peace and consolations with redoubled earnestness; and strive to serve God cheerfully in the humble duties of your station. Watch against envy and covetousness, and a repining disposition. Learn to pity such as have wealth without godliness, and to pray for them: and be very cautious what measures you adopt to mend your outward circumstances: for" they that will be rich fall into temp"tation and a snare, and into many foolish and "hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction " and perdition," or " pierce them through with many sorrows."
Finally, let the rich remember that they are only "stewards," and entrusted with wealth for the benefit of others. Let me charge you then, my brethren of superior degree, that you "trust not ❝ in uncertain riches, but in the living God." That you be "rich in good works, ready to distribute, "and glad to communicate:" that you " do good "to all men, especially to the household of faith." Fear above all things having " your portion in this "life" and remember, that of all your possessions
nothing is "
your own," but " ," but "godliness with contentment," and such" things as accompany "salvation." All else will soon be left behind. Happy then are they and they only, who have "chosen the good part that shall never be taken "from them."
REVELATION III. 15, 16.
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot: so then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.
THIS chapter and that which precedes it contain a message from our blessed Saviour to each of the seven churches in Asia; which in one part or another suit the state and character of all Christian churches in every age and nation. It is therefore added at the close of each epistle, "He that hath "an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto "the churches."
The message to the Laodiceans differs materially from all the rest; for the professed Christians in that city had degenerated far more than any of the others. They were become "lukewarm," yet proud of their imagined proficiency: and the reproofs, warnings, and counsels of our Lord were adapted to this peculiarity of character and conduct.
We know that lukewarm water is exceedingly disagreeable; the stomach recoils at it, and we spit it out with loathing. Thus Christ declared that he would cast off the church of Laodicea with disdain and abhorrence. There might, however, be some individuals of a better character, though probably infected with the same disease, and others might be brought to repentance. For the