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valuable, our esteem of it is apt to decline, if it has been embraced at first with too rash and violent an affection. In proportion as the charms of novelty fade, our attachment to it subsides, and indifference or aversion succeed to the eagerness of a prompt and hasty passion. If there. fore we would prove steadfast and faithful, we must not be precipitate, but weigh every circumstance with care, and ponder well ere we fix our choice. We must remember, that yielding ourselves to God, will involve in it the renouncing of many favourite engagements, the per. forming of many difficult duties, and the mortifying of mavy desires, which hitherto, perhaps, it has been the whole plan of our lives to gratify. Let us, therefore, represent to ourselves the probable consequences, before we embark in so important and solemn a transaction. Consider the self-reproach, the censures of others, and, above all, the displeasure of God, wbich you must incur, you retract from such a deep engagement. God doth not wish to ensnare you into his service. He does not allure you by flattering prospects of ease. He does not conceal from you the hardships which you must endure. It is plainly therefore his will, that ye should consider these things, and that before ye devote yourselves to him, ye should count the cost, and see whether ye are able to fulfil the engagement.
3dly. In yielding ourselves anto God, our hearts must be humbled with serious and deep repentance, for bav. ing so long gone astray from him and his service. We ought to imitate the example of those penitents mentioned in the 50th chapter of Jeremiah, (verse 4.) “In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping, they shall go and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with
their faces thitherward, saying, Come and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall never be forgotten.” God will not accept of us, unless we be truly weary of our burden, and sensible of our absolute need of a Saviour. To such, the calls of the gospel are peculiarly addressed: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”—“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
4thly. We must yield ourselves unto God without any secret reserve or limitation, imploring that he may take the full possession of our hearts, and cast out of them whatever opposeth or exalteth itself against him. We ought to say to him, “O Lord, our Lord, other lords have had dominion over us; but henceforth we will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only." He who bath only consistent pursuits, may follow them with a prospect of success; but a mind divided between contrary principles of action, can expect nothing but to be for ever drawn backward and forward, as they happen alternately to prevail. In this view it is impossible to yield ourselves to God, if at the same time we yield ourselves to sin in any degree. Perhaps indeed we propose to dedicate ourselves to God in general, and only to spare ourselves the mortification of renouncing a few trifling indulgences. But these indulgences bave unforeseen connexions with others that are not trifling, and these again with more. Or supposing that they had not, yet the truth certainly is, that when we deliberately be. come unfaithful to our consciences in any one instance, we lose every firm ground on which we can withstand
temptation in any other instance. We lose gradually both the power and inclination to resist evil. God withdraws the good aids of his Spirit, we decline from evil to worse, and our last state becomes worse than our first. Such only, therefore, as yield themselves wholly to God, and acknowledge, after all, that they are but unprofitable servants, entitled to acceptance only through the merits of a gracious Redeemer, have cause to hope well. All others build on the sand, but they on a rock. Their su. perstructure may be raised to the greatest height, and stands both firm and graceful. God will pardon their unavoidable infirmities, and assist their endeavours. They will of course make continual progress, and for every step of that progress enjoy an increase of peace and joy here, and of unfading glory hereafter.
5thly. All this must be done with an explicit regard to the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom alone we have access to the Father: 6 For there is none other name given under heaven whereby we can be saved, but the name of Jesus." Without this Mediator, God could have no friendly intercourse with man. The weapons of our rebellion must be surrendered into his hands; for it is in him alone that God reconciles the world unto himself. It is by the blood of Jesus that we have boldness to enter into the holiest. We are accepted only in the beloved. The Father receives no offering but at the hand of this great High Priest.
Having tbus explained the duty of yielding ourselves unto God, and shewn in what way it ought to be performed, what remains but that I enforce the exhortation by some motives and arguments.
Need I to represent to you the necessity of this duty ? Can you withdraw yourselves from being the property of God as his creatures? Can you evade the dispensations
of his providence, or snatch from him those issues of life and death, which are incontrolably in his hands? If so, then you may consult whether you should yield yourselves to him or not? But if your present and your eternal happiness depends on bis favour; if you cannot secure an interest in his favour otherwise than by com. plying with this exhortation; if you must otherwise be left to struggle as you best can, with all the evils of life, and at last be banished his presence for ever, to spend a miserable eternity with reprobate spirits, what choice is left? Can you hesitate a moment to comply with what you cannot alter, and to surrender yourselves to Him, who will either glorify himself in you as vessels of mer. cy, or as vessels prepared for destruction ?
Consider, in the 2d place, the reasonableness of this duty. This is the argument of the Apostle to the Romans : “1 beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." And what can be so reasonable as to consecrate to God that being, those faculties, those posses. sions and enjoyments, which we derive from his bounty. If there is reasonableness in acknowledging our debts, and in being thankful for our benefits; if there is reasonableness in submitting to be guided by unerring wisdom, and to be disposed of by infinite goodness; in a word, if there be any thing superior in reasonableness to any other that reason requires, it is this, that we should yield ourselves to that God who made us, who preserves and hath redeemed us, and bath pledged his faithfulness to conduct all those to happiness who put their confidence in him. And this leads me to the last argument which I shall use for enforcing this exhortation, which is the advantage with which it will be attended. At the same
time that we yield ourselves to God, he gives himself to us in all the fulness of his grace; for this is the tenor of his well ordered covenant, “I will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” And what an infinite portion is this? If all the treasures of grace were open to our choice, would it be possible for to pitch on any blessing so rich and compendious as this, that God would accept of us as his property, and provide for us as he provides for his own? Surely then we cannot want any good thing. His wisdom can guide us through all the perplexing paths of life; his power can support us in every danger and difficulty; and bis goodness is more than sufficient to bestow on us all things richly to enjoy.
I have only to add, that the exhortation in the text be. longs in an especial manner to you who are as yet in early and vigorous years. Now your understandings are capable of the firmest impressions. Now your wills are most pliable. Now your affections are most patient of discipline. Now your bodies are most useful to your minds. Now your minds are most unfettered, and your whole man most susceptible of good impressions, and most capable of exerting them in action. Lose not, there. fore, your irrecoverable advantage. Answer pow when God calls you with most affection. Offer yourselves while you are most worth the offering. Govern your ap. petites before the evil day come. Now you may gird them, and carry them whither you will; but if you neglect this precious season, they will hereafter gird you, and carry you whither you would not. An early virtue is the most worthy and valuable offering, honoured and blessed with the kindest acceptance of God. But when a man shall look into himself, and find his faculties depraved and weakened, stained with the pollution, wea. ried with the service, sick with the disappointments, and