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But let nothing make a breach upon this rule, rise and dress yourself at your hour.
5. Perhaps you will say, "The advice is good; but it comes too late: I have made a breach already. I did rise constantly for a season, nothing hindered me. But I gave way by little and little, and I have now left it off for a considerable time!" Then, in the Name of God, begin again! Begin to-morrow; or rather to night, by going to bed early, in spite of either company or business. Begin with more self-diffidence than before, but with more confidence in God. Only follow these few rules, and my soul for yours, God will give you the victory. In a little time the difficulty will be over: but the benefit will last for
6. If you say, "But I cannot do now as I did then; for 1 am not what I was. I have many disorders, my spirits are low, my hands shake: I am all relaxed." I answer, All these are nervous symptoms; and they all partly arise from your taking too much sleep; nor is it probable they will ever be removed, unless you remove the cause. Therefore, on this very account, (not only to punish yourself for your folly and unfaithfulness, but) in order to recover your health and strength, resume your early rising. You have no other way: you have nothing else to do. You have no other possible means of recovering, in any tolerable degree, your health both of body and mind. Do not murder yourself outright. Do not run on in the path that leads to the gates of death! As I said before, so I say again, In the Name of God, this very day, set out anew. True, it will be more difficult than it was at the beginning. But bear the difficulty which you have brought upon yourself, and it will not last long. The Sun of Righteousness will soon arise again, and will heal both your soul and your body.
7. But do not imagine that this single point, rising early, will suffice to make you a Christian. No: although that single point, the not rising, may keep you a Heathen, void of the whole Christian spirit; although this alone, (espe
cially if you had once conquered it,) will keep you cold, formal, heartless, dead: and make it impossible for you to get one step forward in vital holiness; yet this alone will go but a little way to make you a real Christian. It is but one step out of many; but it is one. And having taken this, go forward. Go on to universal self-denial, to temperance in all things: to a firm resolution of taking up daily every cross whereto you are called. Go on, in a full pursuit of all the mind that was in Christ, of inward, and then outward holiness: so shall you be not almost, but altogether a Christian: so shall you finish your course with joy: you shall awake up after his likeness, and be satisfied.
ON FAMILY RELIGION.
JOSHUA XXIV. 15.
"As for me and my House, we will serve the LORD."
1. IN the foregoing verses we read, That Joshua, now grown old, “gathered the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, for their heads, for their judges and officers, and they presented themselves before the Lord,” ver. 1. And Joshua rehearsed to them the great things which God had done for their fathers, ver. 2—13, concluding with that strong exhortation, “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side the flood (Jordan) and in Egypt," ver. 14. Can any thing be more astonishing than this! That even in Egypt, yea, and in the wilderness, where they were daily fed, and both day and night guided by miracle, the Israelites, in general, should worship idols, in flat defiance of the Lord their God! He proceeds: "If it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, choose ye this day whom ye will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
2. A resolution this worthy of a hoary-headed saint, who had had large experience, from his youth up, of the goodness of the Master to whom he had devoted himself, and the advantages of his service. How much is it to be wished that all who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, all whom he has brought out of the land of Egypt, out of the bondage of sin those especially who are united together in Christian Fellowship, would adopt this wise Resolution! Then would the work of the Lord prosper in our land; then would his Word run and be glorified. Then would multitudes of sinners in every place stretch out their hands unto God, until "the glory of the Lord covered the land, as the waters cover the sea.'
3. On the contrary, what will the consequence be, if they do not adopt this resolution?—If family religion be neglected?—If care be not taken of the rising generation ? Will not the present revival of religion, in a short time die away? Will it not be, as the Historian speaks of the Roman State in its infancy, Res unius ætatis ? An event that has its beginning and end, within the space of one generation? Will it not be a confirmation of that melancholy remark of Luther, That " a revival of religion never lasts longer than one generation ?" By a generation, (as he explains himself,) he means thirty years. But blessed be God this remark does not hold, with regard to the present instance seeing this revival from its rise in the year 1729, has already lasted above fifty years.
4. Have we not already seen some of the unhappy consequences of good men's not adopting this resolution? Is there not a generation arisen, even within this period, yea, and from pious parents, that know not the Lord? That have neither his love in their hearts, nor his fear before their eyes? How many of them already "despise their fathers, and mock the counsel of their mothers!" How many are utter strangers to real religion, to the life and power of it! And not a few have shaken off all religion, and abandoned themselves to all manner of wickedness! Now although this may sometimes be the case, even of VOL. X. 0
children educated in a pious manner, yet this case is very rare: I have met with some, but not many instances of it: the wickedness of the children is generally owing to the fault or neglect of their parents. For it is a general, though not universal rule, admitting of some exceptions, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
5. But what is the purport of this resolution, “I and my house will serve the Lord?" In order to understand and practise this, le tus, First, enquire What it is to serve the LORD? Secondly, Who are included in that expression, my House? And, Thirdly, What can we do, that we and our House may serve the LORD?
I. 1. We may enquire, first, What it is to serve the Lord, not as a Jew, but as a Christian? Not only with an outward service, (though some of the Jews undoubtedly went farther than this,) but with inward; with the service of the heart, "worshipping him in spirit and in truth." The first thing implied in this service is faith; believing in the Name of the Son of God. We cannot perform an acceptable service to God, till we believe on Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. Here the spiritual worship of God begins. As soon as any one has the witness in himself, as soon as he can say, 66 the life that I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me," he is able truly "to serve the Lord."
2. As soon as he believes, he loves God, which is another thing implied in "serving the Lord." "We love him, because he first loved us," of which faith is the evidence. The love of a pardoning God is "shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Indeed this love may admit of a thousand degrees: but still every one, as long as he believes, may truly declare before God, "Lord, thou knowest that I love thee." Thou knowest that "my desire is unto thee, and unto the remembrance of thy Name."
3. And if any man truly love God, he cannot but love his brother also. Gratitude to our Creator will surely