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cordingly, that self-denial and patience under suffering have been so long and so frequently complained of as hard and impracticable tasks ? These duties we believe to be reasonable in themselves, and incumbent on us as subjects of the Divine Government; but the fact is, they cannot be performed by the unassisted strength of man. Often, however, presuming upon his own sufficiency, he vainly thinks of making the trial, and hopes, that at least, in his religious endeavours, prosperity will be his neverfailing attendant. But the slowness and languor which mark his progress make him at last sit down weary and disappointed, convinced that his surest guide and support have been totally forgotten and overlooked. For even the afflictions of life, my brethren, (wisely ordained to prove our patience and integrity,) will serve to shew that our fortitude is but feeble, and all our strength and resolution extreme weakness and presumption.
But were these the only or the greatest difficulties which we are called on to encounter, we might consider them as comparatively trifling. It would be un
necessary to attempt a minute description of the secret or more open enemies which ever lie in wait for our souls. It is sufficient for our present purpose to say that they are both numerous and powerful; that “we wrestle not,” as an apostle observes, “ against flesh and blood, but “ against principalities and powers ---““ gainst the rulers of the darkness of this “ world, against spiritual wickedness in 5 high places.” Should man, therefore, with all his infirmities, pretend of himself to support the conflict, would it not be “ walking in a vain shew, and vexing 6 himself in vain ?” Suppose him capable of distinguishing between good and evil, and assisted by the strongest motives to virtuous exertion, yet, what will all avail in the hour of temptation against the evils of a subtile tempter, the allurements of an ensnaring world, and the suggestions of an evil and deceitful heart? Not that I say these things with a view to encourage sloth, or to dissuade from sincere and vigorous endeavours in the cause of virtue and godliness : On the contrary, it is, my friends, your indispensable duty to wait and watch, to strive
and labour, and, by employing the mea-
2dly, To mention another important lesson, which the truth contained in the text is designed and calculated to teach, viz. a humble dependence upon, and confidence in, the grace and strength of Almighty God.
Religion is neither so difficult nor so easy, as some would affect to represent
it. It is by no means so easy as to allow us to be heedless and vain-confident; nor is it, on the other hand, so hard as to lead us to melancholy and despair. When the demands of Christianity, the weakness of our natrue, and the vigilance and power of our enemies are considered, well may we exclaim, “ Who is sufficient “ for these things?” or say, in the words of the text, 6 It is not in man to direct “ his steps.” But when we consider, my fellow Christians, that God is with us, and that heaven is before us, the dread of these difficulties will vanish. Chris, tianity is indeed a state of warfare ; but we have constant and very powerful allies, to whom our interests are equally dear and precious as they are to ourselves. And if God be for us, “ who “ can be against us?” or, in opposing us, who can hurt us ? By the defence and assistance of the Almighty, we shall not only stand upright, but go forward with successful steps on the way to heaven and to happiness.
In a dependence on this divine help and protection, what numberless exam
ples might be mentioned of those of old, who, under the strongest temptations, stood fast in the faith, and persevered in the profession of the despised and persecuted truth? Like Moses, they “ chose 6 rather to suffer affliction with the
peo“ple of God, than to enjoy the pleasures “ of sin.” Look, my friends, to the eminent examples of the efficacy of divine grace, presented to your view in the catalogue of distinguished worthies recorded in the 11th chapter of the Hebrews, for your encouragement and consolation. Look to the Apostles of our Lord, twelve obscure and helpless individuals, destitute of worldly attainments and power, yet boldly standing before kings, and speaking 66 with a mouth and wisdom, which all 6 the adversaries were not able to gainsay “ or resist;" unsupported by the influence of wealth or authority, yet successfully preaching Christianity in opposition to the pride, prejudice and passions of mankind; despised, reviled, persecuted, yet eventually triumphing over every foe, and erecting the banners of the Cross on the ruins of paganism and idolatry !