may be enabled to follow “ the only true God," by loving Him with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength, by obeying His will with alacrity and perseverance, and by devoting his all to God's service and honour. For he will be conscious that, though his conversion has been genuine, it has been imperfect, and that, while be desires to follow the only true God without partiality and without hypocrisy, he falls very short of fulfilling his duty even to his own satisfaction. He will therefore be humbled under a sense of imperfection, and will pray earnestly for grace that he may follow more closely the object of his supreme regard.

But as some persons may have supposed themselves to be followers of “the only true God," while in reality they have no proper regard for Him, let them bring their love to the test by answering the following questions. « desires fervent and affectionate after Him? .“ Do you find an holy impatience in your spirit “till you enjoy Him? Will nothing else con“ tent you but God? Can you say, that there " is none in heaven nor in earth that you desire “in comparison with Him, and if the whole “ world were thrown into your bosom for your

portion, you would pluck it thence, and cast " it at your feet, resolving that you will not be ".put off with such trifles? Do you find a joy “ springing and diffusing itself through your “ hearts, when you are engaged in communion “ with Him-a sweet and potent delight, to “ which all the pleasures of sin are but flat and

insipid? Are you jealous for the Lord of “ Hosts? Are your anger and grief never so “niuch kindled for any wrongs that are done “ unto you, as they are for the provocations

- Are your

[ocr errors]

" that are daily committed against the great

Majesty of Heaven? Canst thou mourn and “ weep for these in secret, and, if thou hast

power and authority to do it, punish and

avenge them openly ?-Thou mayest for. thy « comfort conclude, that God hath kindled this “ heavenly flame of love in thy breast—a flame " that aspires heavenwards, and will at last carry

up thy soul with it, and lodge it there, where “ the desire of love shall be satisfied, the joy of “ love perfected, and the zeal of love eternally " rewarded."**

That many persons who are professed members of our church do not thus follow nor desire to “ follow the only true God,” is too plain to be denied. For that which is the object of our chief love and confidence, whatever it be, is the god we follow. If the world or any thing in it be esteemed supremely by us and resorted unto for comfort, surely that is the deity we worship. If the dictates of the flesh and of the devil be complied with, voluntarily and habitually, in opposition to the commandments of the only true God, it is evident whose we are and whom we serve.

O let us not deceive ourselves by supposing that external worship, the homage of the lip and of the knee, will constitute us the servants of Jehovah, if our hearts be far from Him! Let us not provoke God by imploring His grace that we may “ follow" Him

the only true God,” the alone object of our adoration, love, and service, while tlie bias of our affections is turned from Him, while our will is obstinately bent on the pursuit of


* Bishop Hopkins on the Ten Commandments, p. 56."

grace to

and say,

lying vanities, and idols have an allowed place in our hearts. Such a prayer is the highest insult to the Divine majesty; to offer it is to add hypocrisy to idolatry, and insolence to impiety. But if the reader be indeed resolved through

“ withstand the temptations of the “ world, the flesh, and the devil,” and to "fol“ low the only true God,” let his heart be comforted with the reflection that greater is He who is on the Christian's side than all who are against him. Let him offer our collect to the throne

. of grace with lively faith in the promises of God. Let him take up the language of the Psalmist,

“ The Lord is my light and my sal.. “ vation, whom shall I fear the Lord is the “ strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? “ Though an host should encamp against me, “my heart shall not fear; though war should " rise against me, in this will I be confident.' (Ps. xxvii. 1, 3.) - The Lord of hosts is with

us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Ps. xlvi. 11.) Let us not be discouraged by the number or power of our adversaries; for if God be for us, it matters not who are against us. He is almighty to save. And if we call on Him for help, He will assuredly fight for us, and we shall be made “more than conquerors through “ Him that hath loved us."

O then let us implore grace to “ follow the

only true God,” with firm affiance in His promises, with earnest desire after the knowledge and fruition of Him, and with a fixed resolution to sacrifice every thing for the purpose moting His honour and of attaining to His presence, where there is fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore! “ As the hart,” closely pursued

[ocr errors]

of pro* Bishop Hopkins.

by its enemies, “panteth after the water-brooks,” so may our souls pant after God! May temptation and opposition drive us nearer to Him from whom alone safety and refreshment can be derived! Not satisfied with present attainments, may we follow Him with an ardent zeal, till we have “ingulpht and plunged ourselves into God, and are swallowed up in beatitude !"*

Our hope of success in these petitions is built on the worthiness of Him in whose name we present them. We plead His merit, who as the Captain of our salvation “was led up of the

Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the " devil.” He submitted to a conflict with His enemy and ours for our sake, that He might encourage us by His victory, and merit grace for our support in our contest by His sufferings. Whatever efforts the powers of darkness could make, they made against our Divine Champion - but in vain. “ All the kingdoms of the world " and the glory of them" constituted the enticing bait. Even the word of God, misquoted, was introduced to aid the assault. But all was in vain. Satan

Satan was foiled,

was foiled, and Christ triumphed. With the Conqueror's name on our lips, let us then rest assured that we shall obtain from God the grace we implore, whereby we shall be enabled to “ withstand,” effectually and finally, “the temptations of the world, the

flesh, and the devil, and to follow the only “ true God,” faithfully and perseveringly, till we are enabled to say with holy gratitude and triumph, “I have fought a good fight, I have “ finished my course, I have kept the faith; “ henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of “ righteousness, which the Lord the righteous

judge shall give me at that day;" “when he “ shall come to be glorified in His saints and to “ be admired in all them that believe.

« VorigeDoorgaan »