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We must not follow falfe guides. - We must not follow our own spirits : Prov. xxviii. 26. “ He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.” Most men's fpirits are quite blind : “ Ye were sometimes darkness," Eph. V. 8. The best of them are but in their spiritual child-hood, not to be trusted to themselves, but standing in need of a governor. They are naturally biassed guides, having a bent the wrong way. There are many snares which our fpirits perceive not, till they are caught in them as a bird; they often grasp delusions instead of light; and men's thoughts in religion, not regulated by the word, prove as false lights on the sea, that occafion the ship’s dalhing on a rock. Let us look above us, rather than within us, for our way.-Again, we must not follow our own lufts : Rom. viii. 1.
" Who walk not after the flesh.” Lufts are followed by many unto their own perdition ; when they lead, the devil drives, because they lead the highway from God. Wind and tide from hell go with the stream of corrupt lufts, while the soul follows as an ox to the Naughter. Much of the spiritual warfare here lies in ftriving against this Itream.-Neither must we follow the world; the world would have the leading of all, and it gets the leading of its own. We must not follow the men of the world : i Cor. vii. 23.
Ye are bought with a price, be not ye the fervants of men." No man must be followed farther than he follows Christ. The dictates and com. mandments of men, be they ever so great, are no rule for conscience and practice: “ To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” It was the fin of Ephraim, Hof. v. II. that he willingly walked after the commandment." They have little faith, or truth either, that will pin their faith to the fleeve of any.-Farther, Follow not the course and way of the world : Rom. xii. 2. “ Be not conformed to the world.” To be neighbour-like is not the plain way to heaven, but a plausible way to hell, for the most part of people's neighbours are going the broad way. There will none seek to heaven, but a peculiar people, a singular sort of persons, true separatists from the multitude, who must resolve to be men wondered at. They that will follow the multitude must perish with the multitude, and it will be cold comfort to us, that we go to hell with a company.–Finally, Follow not the smiles of the world. If we will follow the Lord fully, we must lift our process, and leave off to make our court to a bewitching world, which treats its followers like the false irregular lights that are sometimes seen in the night, which pleases the eye of the traveller, but leads him off his way into some quagmire, obliging him to retire with shame and sorrow. How often does the world repay our love with frowns, and kills when it flatters.—This implies,
(2.) The soul's following the Lord in oppofition to all these. The fouls of men are ruined by an exchange of the living God foridols: Jer. ii. 13. « For my people have committed two evils : they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water." And their salvation is begun by an exchange of idols for the true God. The devil, the world, and the flesh, make many offers ; God makes one, “I will be thy God," which, in a day of power, downweighs all the offers of the world and of hell. Hence, when the man is brought to follow the Lord fully, then farewell all others, and the "Lord.is welcome for all. There the eye of the soul is fixed. You may take this in three things.
[1.] The Lord points out to his people the place of eternal rest, a city where they may abide. This they follow after as their grand prospect in the world : Heb. xi. 14.-16. “ For they that say such things, declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned : But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city.” There they must be, there they are resolved to be, coft what it will : Matth. xi. 12. “ The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." Their great question is, “ What fhall we do to be saved ?” While others are following what is about them, they follow what is above them for their happiness; they will not have their portion in this world, nor can such small things satisfy them. They are inspired with holy ambition to have a place among them that stand before the throne of God and the Lamb. Their other fpirit so ennobles them, as that they cannot rest in these little views, which the serpents' feed have before their
eyes. It is a holy flame which natively ascends, and carries the foul upward : Phil. iii. 20. « For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Je. sus Chrift.”
[2.] The Lord points out the way leading to eternal reft ; and they following the Lord fully, their heart follows him, making choice of it. He points out Christ the personal way, John, xiv. 6. Then the soul that was knocking at, and working to win in at Adam's bolted door, the covenant of works, gives it over, and comes in by the door of the theep, renouncing the way of the law, that old,
dead, killing way, and chusing to enter by the new and living way, Heb. X. 20. The Lord points to the real way of holiness, Isa. xxxv. 8. That way they chuse : Pfal. cxix. 30. “ I have chosen the way of truth.” This is their choice, that they may not be either among the faithless workers, or the lile, indolent believers, neither of whom follow the Lord fully. True, it is a difficult way; both the way of believing, and the way of holiness, lie up-hill, but they halt no more. Their feet follow him, walking in it. He sets them to the ttrait gate, and they enter on the narrow way, and they walk in it. Better a narrow way to heaven, than a broad way to hell. Their choice is followed with action, their purposes issue in fincere endeavours, and their resolutions are crowned with practice : Psal. cxix. 106. “ I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgements." Like Naphtali, they give goodly words, and, like Jofeph, are as a fruitful bough.
[3.] The Lord goes before them, and they fol. low his steps. He is glorious in holiness, and their design is to be like him, holy, as he is holy. They labour to imitate him in his imitable perfections. They are “ followers of God, as dear children.” There is a likeness betwixt a man and his God, and therefore the heathens, when they could not be like God in holiness, they made their gods like themselves in filthiness; and God, to shew men how they should walk, sent his own Son in manhood, both to die for finners, and also to leave them an example, that men might fee with their eyes how God walked, and so learn how he would have them to walk. Thus we must write after his copy, I John, ii. 6. “ He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself alsó fo to walk, even as he walked."
And no less pattern do they propose to themselves who follow the Lord fully.
2. To follow the Lord fully, is to follow him universally : Psal. cxix. 6. “ Then shall I not be afhamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.” Whosoever says he will come after me, they must follow me in all things, in all times, in all places, with all their souls. No exceptions can be admitted in following the Lord; but as the resignation at first was absolute, if honest, so must the following be. This is to follow him fully, to fulfil all the will of God.- More particularly,
They that would follow the Lord fully, must follow the Spirit of the Lord, and not follow their own spirit. It is an ordinary character of a Christian in Paul's epistles, that he walks after the Spirit. It is the work of the Spirit to bring in light, to discover sin and duty; we must entertain it, and comply with it, we must answer the call: Pfal. xxvii. 8. « When thou faidst, Seek ye my face, my heart faid unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek." To incline and fit the soul for following, we must beware of quenching the Spirit, but rather, when the wind blows, spread out our fails, that they may be filled by it. We must be fpiritual in our hearts, lips, and lives.
They must follow the word of the Lord, Pfal. cxix. 30. The Lord's written word is the Christian's directory for heaven, the compass by which he is guided on the sea of this world, and by which he is to steer his course. It is the map of the country to which, and through which, he is travelling. Thence must he take his way-marks. What the Bible says, should seldom be out of the Christian's heart. Those who study the Bible, have the advantage above all others, they get their directors away to heaven with them. «It is written,” will be