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are more unbecoming and odious in one who professes to believe the gospel, than in any other person.
From this deep humility, patience, contentment, and thankfulness must proportionably arise. "is of the Lord's mercies that we are not con"sumed;" our sufferings are less than our iniquities; our mercies are invaluable and unmerited; our situation is appointed by God our Saviour, in perfect wisdom, truth, and love; our light afflictions are counterbalanced by divine consolations; and they "work for us a far more exceeding and "eternal weight of glory." So that it becomes us to be resigned, satisfied, and thankful, in all circumstances: and repining, fretfulness, and discontent, are entirely inconsistent with evangelical principles.
Confidence in God likewise peculiarly becometh the gospel of Christ. "The Lord is our light,
" and our salvation: whom then shall we fear ?", "If God be for us, who can be against us?" To be calm and collected in perilous situations; to recognize the hand of God in the alarming events of life, and hence to assume courage and cheerful expectation; to rely on his providential care amidst temporal losses and difficulties; and in every case to say, "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth "him good;" becomes the character of his redeemed people. But too often he may rebuke us and say, "Why are ye so fearful, O ye of little "faith?"-We act also consistently with our principles, when we take pleasure in attending on the ordinances of God; when we count the holy day
of rest honourable and delightful; when we are glad to have it said to us, "Let us go unto the "house of the Lord;" and when we prefer his courts, and the communion of the saints, above all other places of resort, and every other kind of society. It becomes the professors of the gospel to abound in praises and thanksgivings; to reverence the name and the word of God; to worship him in their families with evident alacrity as well as punctuality: to seek his blessing on every undertaking; to praise him for every deliverance and benefit; to act habitually as in his presence; to devote themselves to his service; and to seek all their happiness from him: and, whatever is contrary to this is unbecoming the gospel, and dishonourable to our profession.
Even worldly men, while they charge our doctrines with a licentious tendency, expect more from us in our conduct towards them, than they do from each other. This evidently appears to be the case for a single instance of immorality, in one that professes the gospel, excites general attention, and becomes a topic of discourse; while the numberless crimes of other men are very slightly noticed. This should remind us, that strict integrity, veracity, sincerity, and punctuality to our engagements, become our profession : and that both the world and the church will charge us with inconsistency, if we at all deviate from this direct uprightness of conduct and conversation. An inoffensive deportment is likewise necessary, if we would walk "worthy of God," and "as it "becometh saints." We must no more injure a
man, from heedlessness, than from selfishness. We must not wound any person's character, interrupt his domestic comfort, or needlessly disquiet his mind. We should carefully avoid exciting men's passions, provoking them to anger, or tempting them to envy, ambition, or discontent. We should" study to be quiet and mind our own business," without intermeddling with other men's matters; and to be peaceable, orderly, and industrious neighbours and members of the community. We ought so to avoid evil, and the appearance of evil, that none may have any thing to say against us, except it be for our religious peculiarities.
General benevolence also becomes the gospel of rich grace and mercy. Every man almost may at some times, by retrenching superfluities, do a little to shew his compassion and goodwill to his afflicted neighbours. From those "to whom much is given much is required." There are likewise various other methods, by which a friendly disposition may be manifested; and this is peculiarly ornamental to the gospel. The more entirely we renounce all dependence on our good works, the greater alacrity and zeal we should manifest in performing them and this will be our disposition, if indeed "we know the grace of our Lord Jesus "Christ," and understand our obligations to him who "loved us, and washed us from our sins in his "own blood." Indeed, even in this lukewarm age, the excellency of the gospel does appear in this respect; for the liberality of those who profess to rely on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus is vastly
greater, in proportion to their circumstances, than that of such persons as expect, in part at least, to atone for their own sins and to purchase heaven by their good works. But "we beseech "thren, to abound more and more."
We should also exercise meekness, forgiveness of injuries, and unwearied perseverence in endeavouring" to overcome evil with good:" for these things peculiarly become those who own themselves so deeply indebted to the pardoning mercy and abundant grace of God our Saviour.-An exact attention to every relative duty; a condescending, affable, and modest demeanour, "in "honour preferring one another;" a constant endeavour to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the "bond of peace;" to promote brotherly love; and to concur in every design for advancing the purity and enlargement of the Church, and the benefit of mankind, are evidently and eminently becoming the gospel of Christ.
To these we should add habits of strict sobriety and temperance; moderation and regard to expediency in the use of things lawful, and in every worldly pursuit; indifference about external decoration; an entire disregard to those frivolous amusements in which numbers waste their time and substance; a disinterested conduct, remote from all suspicion of covetousness; a strict government of the passions; and a tongue bridled and refrained from vain and improper discourse, but prepared to speak such things as are edifying and useful. These are evidently parts of that "conversation which becometh the gospel of
"Christ:" and reflection may enable every one to add to this specimen many others of a similar nature. We proceed therefore,
IV. To make some observations on the emphatical word "only."
Some persons think that the apostle meant in this manner to intimate the reasonableness of his exhortations: and no doubt we have abundant cause to consider them in this light: yet I apprehend that this is not the import of the expression. It rather implies that nothing could prove injurious in the event to professed Christians, provided their conversation were consistent with their principles. And we may apply this general instruction to va
There may be "wars and rumours of wars," famines, pestilences, revolutions, and "distress of "nations with perplexity;" yea, "the sun shall be "turned into darkness," "the heavens shall be "rolled up as a scroll," " the elements shall melt "with fervent heat, and the earth with all its works "shall be burned up:" but none of these events need alarm the consistent Christian; for "what "shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall "tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or naked
ness, or peril, or the sword? Nay, in all these
things we are more than conquerors through "him that loved us." "God is our refuge "and strength; a very present help in trouble: "therefore we will not fear though the earth be " removed, and the mountains be carried into the 'depths of the sea."2
1 Rom. viii. 35-39.
2 Psal. xlvi. 1, 2.