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SERM. once enlightened, and have tafted the good word XII. of God, and the powers of the world to come. And St. Peter makes the fuppofition, that fome, who bave efcaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jefus Chrift, may be again entangled therein, and overcome. And St. Paul with Philip. iii. grief fpeaks of many, who fo walked, as to fhew themselves enemies of the croffe of Chrift.
But these inftances do not invalidate the truth of God, nor the power of the gospel of Chrift which does very forcibly teach us, to deny all ungodlineffe, and worldly lufts, and to live foberly, righteously, and godly, in this prefent word. St. Paul therefore was not afhamed of the gospel of Chrift: knowing it to be the power of God to falvation, both to Jews and Gentils. And he therefore gloryes in it, because thereby the world had been crucified to him, and he to the world. St. James Jam. i. 21. makes no hefitation, to exhort men, to receive with meekneffe the engraffed word, which is able to fave their fouls.
Let us then esteem the doctrine of the gofpel, as a very precious advantage, teaching us how to act, fo as to approve ourselves to
God; how to perform the duties of our fta- SERM. tions: how to emprove the mercies and affictions of this ftate, fo as that we may lay up a good foundation against the time to come, and obtain everlasting life.
Happy discoveries are pleafing and entertaining to men, whilft new and fresh. But they are really a good foundation of lasting joy, We have reafon always to rejoice, and think ourselves happy, that we have the knowledge of God, and of Jefus Chrift, and the way of salvation through him. It was the abiding frame of the Apostle Paul, And after that the gospel had coft him much of those things which are highly esteemed by the moft, he declares, that he counted all Philip. things base and contemptible, for the excellence of the knowledge of Chrift Jefus his Lord.
10. Finally, this subject puts us in mind of the importance of our preaching and hearing,
Says St. Paul to Timothie: Take heed to 1 Tim. thy-felf, and to thy doctrine. Continue in them. For fo doing, thou shalt both fave thyfelf, and them that bear thee. This is the defign of our preaching: to teach men the way
of falvation, and to perfuade them to walk and perfevere therein. Such therefore muft be the usual topics of our discourse, as explain the certain principles, and enforce the great duties of religion. And fuch things ought to be carefully attended to.
And when men receive the truth in the love of it, and come under the power of it: when their affections are fet upon things above and they can be contented in every condition: when men live in love and friendfhip and their moderation is confpicuous: and they are ready to offices of goodneffe of various kinds, to all men: this is the best recompenfe, the most defirable fruit of well meant endeavours, to inftruct men in things of religion greater than applaufes for elegance of speech, and exactneffe of method, or any thing else that can be named. Such hearers are an honour to their inftructors. And if they who fpeak, and they who hear, are faved in the day of the Lord, they will be mutually a crown of glórie and rejoycing, when the most splendid, and the most durarable things of this earth are no more.
I TIM. vi. 12.
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH.
Lay hold on eternal life: whereunto thou art also called, and haft profeffed a good profeffion before many witnesses.
HERE are some texts of Scripture, that at first appear plain, and eafie to be understood: which yet are somewhat difficult and obfcure, and the precife meaning is not readily apprehended. And fometimes we
SERM. are liable to be diverted from the right mean. XIII. ing by a tranflation. Which is not always owing to the mistake of the tranflators of the Bible: but rather to fome defect in modern languages, which want words corref ponding to the ancient original.
Of this we feem to have an inftance in the present text. Fight the good fight of faith. Many may be apt to think, that the Apoftle's metaphorical expreffions are taken from wars and battles: and that he here recommends to Timothie, to behave as a valiant foldier in the service of the gospel. And they may be the more induced to this apprehenfion by fome other exhortations to Timothie, where the allufion is manifeft.
1 Tim. i. This charge I commit unto thee, fon Timothie, .that thou mightest war a good warfare. 2 Tim. ii. And, Thou therefore endure hardneffe, as a good foldier of Jefus Chrift. Moreover St. Paul has made ufe of the fame allufion in an exhortation to Chriftians in general. Where fore take unto you the whole armour of God.... Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteoufnelle: and your feet fhod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all ta
Eph. vi. 13... 17.