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with humble dependance on the mercy of God for pardon and acceptance through the merits and intercession of Jesus CHRIST. These God hath promised to accept from the sinner, truly penitent, unto justification of life, and having accommodated his grace and mercy so fully to our feeble condition, the conclusion is inevitable that less than this he will accept from no man who hears the gospel. And I pray and intreat all those who are sitting loose to this the first and indispensable duty of redeemed sinners, to reflect upon their condition, to burst the bonds of unbelief, to listen to the reason of their own minds and the voice of their own consciences confirmed by the word of God, and pass the Rubicon, the narrow and, I may say, the only obstacle which keeps them from the succour and help of that divine grace by which only the world can be overcome and salvation accomplished. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. But, my dear hearers, we must first come to Christ before we can even think of such religious duties as are here required of Christians, and still more before we can be enabled to perform them. The morality of the world may go a certain length in imitating the fruits of true religion, and thereby add much to the comfort and accommodation of the present life. Nor is it a light argument for the divine original of Christianity that the mere copy of its virtues by those who yet disown its power should shed so benign an influence over the condition of gospel lands. But it can go no farther than the boundary of time. The shadow of religion passeth away—the substance only can endure the shock of dissolving nature and a burning world, and enter in within that veil where God sits enthroned in all his glory, and where mansions of everlasting blessedness are prepared for those who through faith and patience inherit the promises of the gospel.

II. Secondly, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself.

The religious doctrine and Christian duty of self-denial is grounded altogether on the fundamental doctrine of the fallen, depraved, condition of human nature. Was our reason unclouded by depraved affections, our choice unbiassed by a perverted will; were our faculties entire for the discernment of good and evil, and our strength unimpaired to resist temptation; there could be no occasion for inculcating this duty. But, situated as we are, my brethren, with the love of sin predominant in our nature, it is not only profitable but essential, it is not only reasonable, but indispensable, if we would enjoy the comforts of religion in time, and secure its reward in eternity, that we learn to deny ourselves. Yet who does not feel that this is the hard saying which we are not able to hear, the great stumbling block to the reception of the gospel. Intuitively, almost, we anticipate its application to the things that are most pleasant to the natural man, and dread to encounter the privations which imagination is on the alert to magnify beyond their due proportion. To correct this propensity, then, and to place this indispensable duty on its Scriptural foundation, let us inquire what we are to understand by the self-denial here enjoined, and that this may be the more distinct and clear to your apprehensions I will consider it both negatively and affirmatively; and,

First, religious self-denial does not consist in words or acknowledgments. The clearest views of Scripture doctrine, the most unqualified confession of our depraved and dependant condition, the most forcible admission of the awful state of ruin into which sin hath sunk our nature, cannot meet the just requirements of this duty; and for this plain reason, because the duty is practical, whereas such acknowledgments are as much in the reach of the most selfish sensualist as of the most watchful Christian. And I mention this because it is now much the fashion among persons of religious profession to abound more in expressions of self-abasement than in acts of self-denial; and because it is quite common for persons who make no profession and have no concern with religion, to comfort themselves with the acknow. ledgment that they are poor, weak, sinful creatures, without a single effort to burst the chains of sin and struggle into the liberty, wherewith Christ hath made them free.

Self-denial dues not consist in a sour, morose temper, refusing either ourselves or others the lawful, thankful enjoyment of al the blessings conferred on us by the good providence of Almighty God. On the contrary, as God loveth the cheerful giver, so doth he love a thankful receiver of his various blessings. To use so as not to abuse, to enjoy so as not to forget the Giver of every good and perfect gift to his creatures, is the condition on which they are bestowed, and within which he giveth us all things richly to enjoy. A different view of the subject, equally opposite to Scripture and reason, bas given rise to all the superstition and debauchery of monastic institutions, under the absurd notion that the salvation of our souls could best be secured by flying from the duties of that station in life which the providence of God had assigned us.

Nor yet does sell-denial consist in such a neglect of the duties belonging to our worldly condition as to defeat the industry and application due to its lawful improvement. A state of trial must ever be a state of activity and exertion, variety of condition, also, is a necessary part of its composition, and this variety, in all its grades, is among the talents committed to our trust. These are all capable of improvement to the glory of God and the good of our fellow-creatures, and, as there can be no improvement without increase, without an addition to the original stock, care and diligence, economy and industry in our worldly callings, are religious duties, without which we cannot fulfil the obligations we owe to God and to our neighbour.

Hence, it is just as incumbent on the rich to exert a provident care and industry, and to avoid all extravagance and waste of their worldly goods as it is upon the poor to use the same means to better their worldly condition, for both are bound by the law of Christian love to be ready and willing to distribute proportionally to the wants and necessities of all around them.

Secondly, self-denial does consist in relinquishing every thing that is contrary to the divine command, or injurious to our own spiritual welfare. This is the true meaning of the term, the practical operation of the duty, and within this boundary it must be exercised by all who would be considered followers of Christ. Hence, whatever is directly sinful, or indirectly lead. ing to sin, however pleasant, however apparently advantageous it may seem, is the subject of this duty. The pleasures and the practices of the world, as they are formally renounced by every Christian at his baptism, are to be as constantly watched against in the exercise of self-denial. The inordinate affections of the mind, the unlawful gratification of the flesh, and the rebellious inclinations of our corrupt wills, must all be restrained under the salutary control of self-denial. These wild beasts of our fallen nature, if I may so speak, must be kept in their cage, and the door carefully watched, for if they once make their escape it is a hard and a painful task to bring them once more into subjection.

Another branch of this practical duty finds its profitable exercise in the regulation and control of our understanding. As knowledge of divine things is derived from divine communication, it is a primary duty to submit our rational faculties to the wisdom of God, and receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save our souls. Yet there is a pride, a loftiness in the wisdom of the world, which would measure the divine mind by its own puny standard, and look down with contempt on the simplicity of the gospel ; which dares to intrude into things not seen, and speculate on the mysteries of God as on some branch of natural knowledge. Against this most unreasonable and ruinous perversion of our highest faculty, self-denial must stand ever on its guard, and this the more resolutely, as it is unanswerably true, that in things spiritual, there is to us no other source of knowledge than the divine word, as contained in the Scriptures of our faith. These are to us the law and the testimony, and without their supreme warrant, there is neither sense or safety in any system of faith and practice.

Connected with this, and very intimately, as experience demonstrates, is another danger, against which self-denial has to exert all its powers of opposition and mortification, and that is self-righteousness; in other words, the relying on the merit of our own works of righteousness, for acceptance with God. And I connect it with the pride of science, falsely so called, because it is the main danger of the better informed and more moral part of the community, who have never felt the plague of their own hearts, in thorough conviction of the absolute sinfulness of their nature, and separation from God; who speculate on the mystery of godliness, as a provision for cases more extreme than theirs, and receive not the LORD Jesus CHRIST as the LORD their righteousness. And if there is a condition under the light of the gospel, from which hope of mercy is pre

eluded, it must be found in that pride of understanding which would be wise, not only above, but contrary to, what is written ; which would defraud the Saviour of the efficacy of his death, and make that eternal life which he has purchased for sinners, the reward of debt, and not of grace.

Yet, my brethren, it is a temptation, however blasphemous, which we are all prone to entertain in some of its multifarious deceits, and from which nothing can shield us but that true self-knowledge which we obtain from the word of God, kept in constant operation by the exercise of self-denial. It is a scion from the root of unbelief, which must be torn from our hearts if we would be in such wise followers of Christ, as to obtain a share of that glory wherewith his unparalleled self-denial has been rewarded for himself, and for his faithful followers.

III. Thirdly, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily.

Under an established state of Christianity, and in the absence of all persecution on account of religion, it is not very easy to draw the line between the duty of self-denial and that of taking up the cross. To come after Clirist, and to live in the exercise of self-denial, as just explained, amounts so nearly to any idea we can entertain of the particular duty of taking up our cross, that these words may be considered as expressing the full extent of the two previous duties combined; thereby denoting as marked a separation from the world, with as entire a dedication of ourselves to the service of God, as Christ himself presented, and as is compatible with our actual condition when compared with his

Yet as there certainly is a sense in which the duty of taking up our cross, here enjoined, may be profitably understood and applied by all Christians, as distinct from the duty of self-denial, I shall endeavour to explain it in that sense in which it is applicable to existing circumstances in our religious condition.

First, it includes an open and public profession of the religion of our Lord Jesus Christ; the confession of him as the Christ of God,the promised Saviour of sinners; the thankful acceptance of the atonement of his death as the only sacrifice for sin, with obedience to the commands he hath left us in the gospel.

Vol. II.-29

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