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you deny this claim ? Certainly you dare not. Well then, let heaven and earth bear witness, that you were all claimed this day as God's property upon the footing of redemption ; and not one of you dared to deny it. Therefore, render to God the things that are God's. May I hope you now feel your hearts beginning to yield ? I make the proposal to you all ; to you, masters and freemen, as well as to you slaves : shall we all this day, with one consent, devote ourselves to God as his servants ? Will you allow me, as it were, to draw up your indenture, and speak for you? I hope I am willing to lead the way, and will you follow me ? Methinks I hear you say, “Yes, we are willing : after many struggles and reluctances, we are at length willing, and can hold out no longer. But hold ! I am afraid some of you know dot what you are going about. And if you rashly and inconsiderately engage in the service, you will soon desert it. As soon as the force of persuasion has ceased, and the flow of passion is over, you will retract all. Therefore I must put you back, till I inform you of some things with relation to this contract, that you may make sure work, an' everlasting covenant, never to be forgotten.
Take notice then, 1. Your resignation of yourselves must not be the act of mere nature, without much greater assistance ; but you must be urged and sweetly constrained to it by the holy Spirit making you willing by his power.
Whatever professions you may make, whatever external forms of self-dedication you may force yourselves to use, yet your hearts are by no means willing ; nay, they are utterly averse to this surrender, till they are chang. ed by divine grace.
This, indeed, should not discourage you from making the attempt : for it is while you are making the attempt, you are to hope for the assistance of divine grace. But I mention the necessity of divine power, lest you should mistake the efforts of mere nature under the constraints of persuasion, or in a warm fit of passion, for an hearty voluntary surrender of yourselves to God. The same thing is to be applied to your future performance of your engagement. As you cannot, of yourselves, rightly devote yourselves to God, neither will you be able, of yourselves, to perform your vow. Therefore be humble and self-diffident in this transaction. Entertain no sanguine expecta. tions from yourselves, or you will be surely disappointed. Trust in divine strength for all, for that alone is sufficient for you.
2. Your resignation must be unreserved and universal. God claims your all ; Jesus bought all ; your souls and bodies, and whatever belongs to you, and therefore you must give him all. He will not share his property with sin and Satan : you must make no reserve of this or that favourite lust or interest, but part with all that is inconsistent with your duty to him : and you must give up what is dearest to you to your heavenly Master, to be disposed of as he shall think proper. Here pause, and inquire whether you are willing to be unreserved and universal in your surrender?
3. You must resign yourselves to God at all adventures, re. solving to be his, whatever your attachment to him may cost you ; though it should cost you your reputation among men, a part, or even the whole of your estate ; nay, though it should cost you your life. Blessed be God, we are now in such happy circumstances, that our duty to him is not likely to do us much injury, even in this world, where persecution and tribulation is the usual lot of his servants. Resignation to him may indeed expose you to a senseless laugh or a sneer, to reviling and calumny; but who that has the spirit of a man within him, would be so meanly complaisant as to offend his God, and lose his heaven, in order to shun the ridicule and contempt of fools ? Fools they are, if tried by the standard of true wisdom, however wise they may be in other respects. This is but a slight kind of persecution to one that makes a proper estimate of things, which cannot so much as make a finger ache, or raise the skin into a moment's pain. But times may yet change with us. The day may yet come, when the servants of Christ among us may be called to forsake father and mother, and wife and children, and lands, and even 10 lay down their lives, for the sake of Christ. This would be no unusual event : the servants of the crucified Jesus have been a company of cross-bearers, if I may so call them, from age to age ; and their religion has cost them dear in the estimate of the world, though they are always immense gainers by it in the issue. This persecution, even to death, therefore, you may perhaps meet with, and it is proper you should insert this article into the contract, that you will part with life for Christ's sake. Perhaps your indulgent Master may not insist upon it, and yet perhaps he may : it is therefore necessary you should consent to it. And what do you think of it ? Does not this article cause some of you to draw back? Let me add,
4. Your dedication of yourselves must be fixed and habitual. It is not a formality to be performed only at a sacramental occasion, nor a warm transient purpose under a sermon, or in a transport of passion ; but it must be the steady, uniform, persevering disposition of your souls to be the Lord's at all times, and in all circumstances, in life, in death, and through all eternity.
These, brethren, are the qualifications of an acceptable surrender of yourselves to God ; and are you willing to be his upon these terms ?. Or will you refuse and perish ? Deliberate upon the matter, and come to some conclusion. Choose ye, in this day, whom ye will serve. May I hope you answer me to this purpose :
'We have weighed the case impartially ; we see difficulties before us, if we become the Lord's servants ; but notwithstanding these difficulties, we are resolved upon it : his we will be who bought us with his blood ? Is this your determinate resolution, my dear brethren? Then make the transaction as solemn and explicit as you can, and follow me; I say, let all, white and black, old and young, follow me, while I speak for you ; 'Lord, here is a poor sinner, thy creature, redeemed by the blood of thy Son, that has long been a slave to other masters, and withheld from thee thy just and dear-bought property ; here, Lord, I would now, freely and without reserve, devote and surrender myself, my soul and body, and my all to thee, to be universally and forever thine. And let the omnipotent God, let angels and men, be witness to the engagement.'
Do you, my dear brethren, heartily consent to this formula ? Then the contract is ready for sealing ; therefore let us rise and crowd round the table of our Lord, and there annex our solemn seals, and acknowledge it as our act and deed. O! happy day! if we should be prepared to use this sacred ordinance for this purpose ! Come, ye servants of the Lord, take a refreshment 10 strengthen you for your Master's work. Come, ye redeemed slaves, commemorate the price of your redemption. Coine, see how your Master loved you, and how much he suffered for you : and O! let his love constrain you to live not to yourselves, but to him that died for you, and rose again"; rose again to plead your cause, and prepare a place for you in heaven, the region of immortal life and glory!
But if any of you refuse to comply with the proposal, or, which is much the same, are careless and indifferent about give ing yourselves up to God, not forming any express determina
tion one way or other, heaven and earth will bear witness against you, that your refusal is not owing to your not knowing God's claim upon you. I have asserted it this day, in the presence of God and his people ; and if you still refuse to acknowledge it, I denounce unto you, that you shall surely perish, shall perish by the hand of divine justice, as wilful rebels against the highest authority, and as insolently and ungratefully denying the Lord that bought them. Think on your dreadful doom, and let your hearts meditate terror, till you be delivered from it by a voluntary surrender of yourselves to God, through Jesus Christ, your Redeemer. And now what account could such of you as have refused your compliance, give of the transactions of this day, even to one of your fellow-creatures ? Suppose one should ask you upon your return home, 'What were you doing to-day ?! You must answer, “I was engaged in a treaty with the Proprietor of the universe, and the Redeemer that bought me with his blood, about becoming his servant, and acknowledging his right in me.'-'Well, and what was the issue ? Certainly you did not dare to refuse ? Certainly you are now the willing servant of God.'• No, I refused, and so the treaty broke up.'-0 thou monster! Could you bear the dreadful narrative ? Would not every one that heard it gaze and stare at you with horror, and ask in consternation, · Were you not afraid ? Had you no regard for your own welfare? Alas! what will you do with yourself now? What rock or mountain can you find to hide your devoted head ? How will you answer for your refusal in the great and terrible day of the Lord ?
THE CHRISTIAN FEAST.
I COR. V. 8.-Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven,
neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
AS we have the agreeable prospect of celebrating the Lord's supper on the next Lord's day, we cannot spend this day to bet. ter purpose than preparing for it. And no preparative can be of more importance than a right knowledge of the end and design of that solemn ordinance, and the qualifications necessary in those that would worthily partake of it. To this I would devote the present discourse : and so important a design certainly demands the attention of all, especially of such of you as intend to join in the participation of the sacred supper.
Though my text may be taken in a larger latitude, yet it is justly supposed to have a particular reference to this institution, which has the same place under the gospel-dispensation which the passover had under the law. St. Paul had very naturally glided into the style of the Jewish law concerning the paschal supper, in the directions he had been giving concerning a scandalous member of the Corinthian church : and he carries on the metaphor with a beautiful uniformity, when he comes to speak of the gospel dispensation, and particularly of the Lord's supper. He had directed the church of Corinth to cast the offender out of their communion, while he continued impenitent, because if they should tolerate such a corrupt member among them, it would tend to corrupt the whole society. Wickedness is of a spreading infectious nature, and the indulgence of it in one instance may occasion extensive mischief ; for, says he, Know ye not that leaven ferments and diffuses itself, till at length it has leavened the whole lump? Just so one corrupt member in a church may spread a contagion through the whole. Therefore purge out the old leaven ; cast out this scandalous offender, and labour also to purge your church and your own hearts from all corruption, that ye may be as a new, solid, and pure lamp : for ye are more strongly bound to keep yourselves morally pure, and to guard your church against infection, than the Jews were to abstain from all things mixed with leaven at the feast of the passover ; for though that feast is no more to be observed, yet that which was signified by the paschal Lamb is now come to pass ; Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, and the ordinance of his supper is appointed as a sacred feast, in commemoration of him, and our deliverance by him, as the passover was com. memorative of the deliverance from Egypt, and the destroying angel. And this is a stronger reason for the more purity of particular persons and congregations under the gospel, than there could be for ceremonial purity under the law. Therefore, says he, let us keep this evangelical feast, not with old leaven, not with those corrupt dispositions which we once indulged, and which, like leaven, soured our nature, and fermented through our