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Hos. vi. 3. Then fball ye know, if ye follow on to


know the Lord.

AVING, in the former discourse, attended to the two first heads of the method we laid down, we now proceed,

III. To confirm the doctrine, or fhew you, that the way to follow religion is, to follow on, to purfue, to hold your hands to it, when once your hand is in it. And the belief of this would be a great fpur to diligence. If a perfon, digging with great labour in the earth, was almost ready to give it over, but another comes to him, and perfuades him, that if he will hold on, he would affuredly find a treasure, he would unquestionably renew his refolution, and vigorously follow it out. This I would perfuade you of, in regard to religion; however small your beginnings or hopes may now

* Delivered, Monday, Sept. 1. 1712.



be, yet perfevére: "Be not weary in well-doing, for in due time ye fhall if reap, ye faint not."To convince you as to this, confider,

1. You have God's word of promise for it : Matth. xxv. 29. "For unto every one that hath fhall be given, and he fhall have abundance." A man hath no more in God's account, than what he keeps and improves for God's glory and his own falvation. Now, God does not fet down all his children with equal ftocks. There are fathers, youths, and babes in Chrift. Some get more, fome lefs; but there is a promife of more given to them all, on their holding their hands to what they have got. It is God's goodness to moft of us, that we are held fhort by the head, and that any thing we get, we know well how we come by it. This is neceffary that our light hearts may not grow vain, and that our careless spirits may be aroufed the more. But a little thing, with a promife, will be like the five loaves that multiplied in the diftribution.-Confider,

2. That it is the Lord's ordinary way in his works, to bring great things by degrees out of fmall beginnings. He could have made the world in a moment, but he took fix days to it; at first there was but the rude mass, which day by day was brought to perfection. See an inftance,

Kings, xviii. 43. and downwards. See how another great work began, Efther, vi. 1. Both which places confult. So alfo in the text: "His going forth is prepared as the morning." In his works of grace, as in the works of nature, he ordinarily keeps that way of advancing by degrees.Confider,

3. That the works of grace in the foul ordinarily arise from very fmail beginnings. The grain of muftard-feed, called the fmalleft of feeds,


is used as an emblem of this, Matth. xiii. 31. 32. It is a feed fpringing fo leifurely, that the springing of it cannot fometimes be discerned in the time, Mark, iv. 27. It fpringeth and groweth up, we know not how. See how low the beginning of good may be, which the Lord will cherish, and bring to perfection: Ifa. xlii. 3. "A bruifed reed fhall he not break, and the fmoking flax fhall he not quench; he fhall bring forth judgement unto truth."--Confider,

4. The bountiful nature of God, who furely will not always flee from thofe who follow him, but will at length be found of them. If at any time he feem to flee from them, it is that they may follow him the more vigorously; if he hold meat from them a while, it is that their appetite may be the more fharpened, Luke, xxiv. 28. 29. But refolute following on cannot mifs to find him. See an eminent inftance of this in the Syrophenician woman, who befought Jefus to caft the devil out of her daughter, and perfevered till fhe obtained her request, Mark, vii. 25.-29. For good being in its nature communicative of itfelf, goodness itself cannot fail to be fo. The fpoufe had experience of this, Song, iii. 1.-4. -Confider,


5. That no perfon gets a refufal from heaven, but thofe who court it by their own indifference: and indeed a faint way of feeking is to beg a deGod is more ready to give, than we are to feek Pfal. lxxxi. 1o. "Open thy mouth wide," fays he," and I will fill it." He loves importunity, and cannot deny an importunate suitor; and though fome fuch have ftood long at his door, there was never a fingle individual who fell down dead at it; their long waiting was always made up by the greater incomes of favour which they experienced

experienced, Matth. xv. 21. and downwards. The richest treasure is that which lies deepeft.Confider,

6. That as importunity is ufually in all cafes the way to come fpeed, fo it has special advantages in this cafe which promife fuccefs. The Lord gives much to importunity: Luke, xi. 9. " And I fay unto you, Afk, and it shall be given you; feek, and ye fhall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." The word in the eighth verfe rendered importunity, is in the Greek Shamelessness. Pinching need makes people shameless. It is not here as with men, that a shameless feeker must get a fhameless refufal; they who will not, cannot take a denial, fhall not be troubled with it: And when there is enough and to spare to the needy, this and their condition makes them shamelefs; both concur to make them importunate.

7. But further confider, that fuch followers the Lord does not bid them go back; and is not this very encouraging? If a beggar be following a man for an alms, and he knows it, there is always hope while he does not command him away. Now, you will follow long ere the Lord bid you go away; but if there were no hope, you would foon get your answer. Thus the foolish virgins were foon answered with a "Verily I fay unto you, I know you not," Matth. xxv. 12.-Confider alfo,

8. That the Lord commands you to follow on: Luke, xi. 19. "And I fay unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; feck, and ye fhall find; knock, and it fhall be opened unto you." And is not that encouraging? I know unbelief will be ready to fhape an answer to the foul, taking God's delay for a denial, that the foul may follow no further: Jer. ii. 25. "With-hold thy foot from being un


fhod, and thy throat from thirft; but thou faidft, There is no hope; no." It is, however, better to hang on about God's door, than go back to fill our belly with the husks which fwine devour. He commands you to follow on, and he would not do it, if there was no hope.- Confider farther,

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9. That it is the Lord who has given you the foot to follow him: James, i. 17. Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither fhadow of turning." If you have any defire after him, or the leaft good motion, it is from himself; and though he fhould have no regard for you, he will regard his own work in you, if you do not put it away from you. God opens not his children's mouth to put an empty fpoon in it; but he who forms the defire will fatisfy it.-Confider,

Laftly, That the very nature of the thing confirms it, that the more we apply ourselves to the bufinefs of religion, we fhall bring it to the better account. It is true, we own that religion in the principle of it is infufed into the heart; but the Chriftian having both to will and to do wrought in him by God, must work out his own salvation with fear and trembling, Phil. ii. 12. 13. Grace, by its exercife, increases. Whatever good motions the Lord has put into the heart, it is like a fpring; the more opening which it gets, and the more it runs, the more water comes into it; whereas, if it be ftopped, the water turns away, and feeks another opening.

IV. WE are now to make fome practical improvement,

1. In an use of information.

Is it fo that the way to profper in religion is to


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