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graces which are so necessary for our security: and above all, we shall commit ourselves and our cause to God every day of our lives, beseeching him that as often as we forget ourselves, (which we are but too apt to do,) that he would awaken us into a lively concern for our salvation.
To conclude: Let us use all diligence to make our calling and election sure.* And since we know by faith that our souls are to live for ever, let us put on resolutions worthy of the faith we profess; a faith which undertakes to enable us to break our bonds though never so strong; which will deliver us from the powers of darkness, set us free from the bondage of corruption, and put an end at last to that struggle betwixt nature and grace, which every Christian, who has any knowledge of himself, is sadly sensible of.—If the Spirit of God gives us good desires, let us heartily close with them, and remember, that he is not bound to strive with us for ever: that whatever we think now, if ever we grieve and drive him from us, all our good designs and desires will vanish, and leave us most pitiable subjects of misery.
The good God keep it ever in the hearts of all his servants, that it is an evil thing and bitter to forsake the Lord; keep us from presumptuous sins, preserve us always in a serious temper; that being ever mindful of our infirmities and backslidings, we may be more watchful, more diligent, and more importunate for grace; continually mortifying our corrupt affections, and daily proceeding in virtue and true holiness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
* 2 Peter i. 10.
THE CREED PUT INTO PRACTICE.
O Lord, increase my faith! Let me firmly believe myself what I teach others. Let my Faith be truly practical. Pity and awaken all that hold the Truth in Unrighteousness; have compassion upon the Infidel World; for Christ's sake, the Author and Finisher of our Faith. Amen.
TIT. i. 16,
THEY PROFESS THAT THEY KNOW GOD; BUT IN WORKS THEY DENY HIM, BEING ABOMINABLE, AND DISOBEDIENT, AND UNTO EVERY GOOD WORK REPROBATE; [THAT IS, VOID OF JUDGMENT.]
F one should say to any Christian-Deny your God, or your Saviour, or your faith; he would tremble, he would abhor the proposal and him that made it. He would answer, What! would you have me go directly to hell? And yet, you hear, there are those who profess to know God, but in their works deny him; and the apostle assures us, that such are as abominable, as hated of God, as if they denied him with their mouths. St. Peter also speaks of some who are so deplorably fallen from grace as to deny the Lord that bought them.† And St. Jude saith expressly, that men of corrupt lives give evident proofs of their apostacy, denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus
• See Luke xiii. 26. Acts viii. 13. Rom. i. 18, 21; v. 1., 2 Cor. v. 17. 2 Tim. iii. 5. Tit.iii. 8. James ii. 5, 18, 24.
† 2 Pet. ii, 1.
Jude, ver. 4.
Christ. And lastly; St. Paul assures us,* that such as are cruel and uncharitable to their own kindred that are poor, have denied the faith, and are worse than infidels.
What are we to learn from all this? Why surely, to be afraid for ourselves; lest any of us, while we tremble at the name of apostacy, should live in the practice of such works as are the sure marks of apostacy; lest, while we confess Christ with the tongue, we renounce him in our lives.
Now, one cannot think of a more effectual way, by the grace of God, to prevent this, than to put Christians in mind, and to make them understand, what it is they profess to believe; that whenever they do things contrary to their faith and profession, their consciences may fly in their faces, and make them uneasy, and afraid of the danger and ruin that attends them; which will be one good step towards repentance and amendment of life.
I will therefore set before you the words of that Creed which we so often repeat; or those things which every Christian declares he believes, and is persuaded of the truth of; and then we shall more easily see, what works are contrary to such a profession; that is, by what works we deny our God and our faith. We shall also see, how necessary every word of this faith is to a Christian life; how we ought to apply the several parts of the Creed, and put them in practice; and how we may judge of the sincerity of our faith, by the manner of our life.
* 1 Tim. v. 5.
These are the things which, by God's assistance, I am now going to explain to you; and which I desire you will attend to, as things which very much concern every soul of us.
I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY,
MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.
I believe; that is, I am as fully persuaded of the following truths, as I am of the truth of any thing that I see with my eyes.
For instance: I am as verily persuaded that there is a God, a Being above this world, and who has created all other beings, as I am of my own being; and I find, that I resist and do violence to my reason and conscience, if I go about to stifle or deny the belief of a God.
I am therefore as truly persuaded of the almighty power of God, that with God nothing is impossible, as if I had seen him make the world. I believe also, that by the same almighty power he still governs, and preserves, and takes care of, every thing that he has made, with infinite wisdom, justice, and goodness.
This appears in a more especial manner with regard to men; for God having, from the beginning, given them laws; he has either punished or rewarded them in all ages, according as they obeyed or broke these laws: an account of which we have in the holy scriptures, the most certain history in the world, an history which, if seriously attended to, will instruct us in all the perfections of God, his infinite power, his wisdom, his justice, his truth, and his goodness, and will establish us in the firm belief of them.
For example:-We see the infinite power of God, in the manner of his making the world, and in the manner it was afterwards destroyed by the Flood. He spake the word only, and all things were made; he commanded, and they were created. And by the same word they were afterwards destroyed.
And then for the infinite goodness of God, this appears in this affecting instance especially: when man had broken the covenant of his God, and had thereby lost all hopes of eternal happiness, God was so good as to enter into a new covenant with him, by which he may attain eternal life and happiness, if it is not his own fault.
At the same time, I cannot but be convinced, that God is infinitely holy; that he hates all sin, and the workers of iniquity; because I find him every where, and in all ages, punishing sin without respect of persons.
That God is infinitely just, I believe, and am assured of, because he has given us most righteous laws; and because he renders to every man according to his doings; condemning the wicked, and justifying the righteous.
That God is true and faithful to his word and promises, and that his servants may depend upon his word with the greatest assurance, we cannot but believe, forasmuch as we find in all the scriptures, that not one thing has failed of all that God ever promised:-All came to pass.
And lastly, we believe, that God sees and knows every thing that passes in the world; that his eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good; that there is no place where the