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breed. * Rose written uphe will tal
feel : they wound deeply; they create much pain; they infuse a deadly poison. He knows how to take an advantage of the weakness of your faith, the smallness of your knowledge, the contracted nature of your experience; yea, he transforms himself into an angel of light, will quote scriptures, and thus “ borrow God's bow to shoot his arrows at us." But here remember you are not alone ; Adam in paradise, Christ in the wilderness, are alike the objects of his temptations. None can go to heaven without being exposed to his wiles and subtilties. Besides, the representa
tions of an enemy never render things.different to free what they really are. He is an accuser of the
brethren, but it goes for nothing in the sight of God. “ Rose-water is not the less sweet because wormwood is written upon the glass :" The Lord knoweth his own, and he will take care to keep them safe. To him, therefore, you must look ; “ He shall shortly bruise Satan under your feet."*
Your relations and friends may be also ready oppose you ; and this is a great ground of discou. " ragement. They set you up, perhaps, as a laughing stock; they look upon you as weak and fanatical; they try all they can, either to frighten you out of your sentiments, or on the other hand to allure you into worldly pleasures. Ridicule and friendship, satire and affection, reproach and flattery, will alternately exert their influence to draw you aside. But none of these things ought to discourage you; no, not if even you should be cast out from among them for the sake of the
* Rom. xvi. 20.
truth: for thus they treated the Lord of life and glory before you. “ He was despised and rejected of men ; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid, as it were, our faces from him."* Your's, then, is the glory and honour of being a partaker of his sufferings; your's the privilege of enduring shame for his name's sake; your's the distinction of coming out from the world, and bearing reproach for the cross ; and your's the happiness to receive the benediction pronounced by the Saviour himself on his suffering disciples, “ Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and shall persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for *** my name's sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.”+ In the midst, therefore, of all the frowns of men, the unkindness of relatives, the opprobrium of the world, you may stand unmoved, and sing,
" I'm not asham'd to own my Lord,
Or to defend his cause ;
The glory of his cross.
Jesus, my God, I know his name,
His name is all my trust;
Nor let my hope be lost.”
But as you pass on, you may sometimes be confounded and discouraged by the variety of re. ligious sects, preachers, opinions, and disputes, that abound in the world. But this should be no hindrance ; for since the world began men have
Is. liii. 3.
† Matt. v. 11, 12
always differed in their sentiments. A vast vari. ety of sects originate from the pride, ignorance, and self-conceit, of those who choose rather to set up their own opinions than abide by the sacred oracles, the only true guide. ' Other denominations, indeed, exist, who pretend to take the Bi. ble as their rule, but only mutilate, select, and refuse, what they think proper. There are other sects who, in the main points of doctrine, differ but little, or not at all, but yet do not agree in their views of some things of minor importance, and unessential to salvation. With the Bible in your hand, and a dependance on the divine bless. ing, you need not be afraid. Your business is with no sect as such, but with truth ; and truth will be found of those who assiduously seek her. There are many difficulties, indeed, in the way, and many, after all, are deceived ; but then it is because they are either indolent or prejudiced. “ There are few,” says the great Stillingfieet, " that look after truth with their own eyes; most make use of glasses of others making, which make them so seldom behold the proper lineaments in the face of truth; which the several tinctures from education, authority, custom, and predisposition, do exceedingly hinder men from discerning of.” Memorable are the words of our Lord, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”* Affection for the truth, and application in seeking it, will be sure to ob. tain it. In the midst of all the jarring opinions.
* John vii. 17.
of men, the modest enquirer, the devotional spi. rit, the biblical disciple, will not fail to be right.. • For if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God : for the Lord giveth wisdom, and out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding."*
Again, you may be discouraged from the strange conduct of some who make a profession of christianity. Some hypocrites may deceive you, some talkative professors perplex, and some forward characters prove a stumbling block to you. This is what you did not expect. You thought every thing was love, sincerity, peace, truth, among those who profess christianity: but, alas ! you have been mistaken, and it has filled you with astonishment that there should be any such deceptions in matters of such great consequence. But if you consider a little, nothing is more to be expected than this. The more valuable a thing is, the more numerous are its coun: terfeits. Now religion is the best thing; it is the offspring of Deity, the child of heaven, the ornament of man, the perfection of reason, the bond of society, and the soul of happiness. Is it any wonder, therefore, that it should sometimes be counterfeited, where interest is concerned ? that men should make pretences to it, and en. deavour to enrobe themselves with some of its beautiful garments, to make them appear accepta
* Prov. ii. 3—6.
ble to others ? Our Lord gives sufficient caucion against this, when he says, “ Beware of false pro. phets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."* Let not this, therefore, discourage you. Religion stands on the same ground ; she remains immu. table ; and her faithful adherents are not to be accounted the less worthy of your regard and imi. tation, because of the artful devices and inconsist. ent conduct of her pretended friends.
As to apostates, it will be affecting to you to consider their awful conduct, and thcir miserable end; but instead of discouraging, let it animate you to go forward, and to be more dependent on divine grace. God has set up some of these by the way, as a warning to others. As you pass along, you may behold the gloomy monuments of an Achan, a Lot's wife, a Gehazi, a Saul, an Annanias and Saphira, and a Judas; on which you may read the awful inscription, “ If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”+ And while you read, let it excite you to examine yourself, and to say, “ O Lord, hold thou me up, and I shall be safe. Order my steps in thy word, and let not iniquity have do. minion over me. Keep me as the apple of thine eye, and hide me under the shadow of thy wings. O that my ways may be directed to keep thy statutes; let me never wander from thy commandments; but be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen.
You may, my dear reader, be greatly depress