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2. Another eminent advantage of self-denial is that, in the practice of it, we shall enjoy perfect case and satisfaction.
The wretched condition of a wilful child, who has fled from the home, and renounced the authority of his parents; who has, in consequence, lost their protection, advice, and tender cares;— the confusion and the troubles of a rebellious people, who have thrown off subjection to regular government, and followed" that which is right in "their own eyes,"-may convey to us some imperfect ideas of the perplexity and distress, in which those must often be involved, who " do their own' ways, who find their own pleasure, and who speak "their own words." To them every change of circumstances is an occasion of embarrassment. They cannot, in new emergencies, continue their adherence to the mode of thinking and of acting, which pleased them before, without manifest loss and inconvenience; and a different mode they cannot adopt, without difficulty and self-reproach. And often, bewildered amidst contending passions, views, and projects, they can resolve on nothing, and are at their wits end. But as soon as we deny ourselves, and submit entirely to God, we are de livered from the toil of deliberation, the perplexity of opposite counsels, and every apprehension of the
What he requires us to believe and to do, he hath revealed in characters so large and clear, that those "may run that read" them. And when we reecive his testimony as the rule of our faith, look to his law as the directory of our conduct, and trust in his promises for our support; in a word, when
we have put ourselves completely into his diposal; he chooses our lot, he orders well all things that concern us; and the rebellious tribe of reasons, objections, inclinations, importunities and fears, which distract and pollute the soul, is fettered or slain. "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his "help; whose hope is in the Lord his God!"*
Thus, by self-denial, the mind is restored, from a state of perplexity and trouble, to order and to rest;-"The feet are set upon a rock, and the goings are established." Formerly it was a matter of much perplexity and distress what way to choose; but now "the steps of the good man "are ordered by the Lord; and he delighteth in "his way." Dependence was formerly placed on. the broken reed of human resolution; but now it reposes on the promised aids of divine grace; " and "underneath are the everlasting arms." Formerly we sought our security in the "refuges of lies;" but now we rest our cause, where divine justice received satisfaction to its utmost demands; and through the blood of Jesus, we make "the Eternal "God our refuge." Giving up all self-confidence, we trust in the promises of him "who cannot lie;" in the power, before the exertion of which all dif ficulties vanish; in the wisdom which orders all things well; in the righteousness which a God of infinite holiness pronounces perfect; and in the goodness, the boundless, the paternal goodness, which seeks no object but the welfare, the everlasting welfare, of those who resign themselves to its care. Doubts and despondency flee away: "Righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy
Psalm cxlvi. 5.
"Ghost," possess and bliss the soul. This leads us to observe,
3. That, by denying ourselves, to follow Jesus, we have abundant security that all shall be well with us in the end.
The promises of grace here, and of glory hereafter, to those who love God, who trust in him, who forsake all, and commit themselves to him, are many, both in the Old and in the New Testament.
Many sorrows," says David, "shall be to the "wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy "shall compass him about."* "The Lord God of "heaven, the great and terrible God, keepeth cove nant and mercy for them that love him, and ob
serve his commandments."
Yea, adds Paul, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have "entered into the heart of man, the things which "God hath prepared for them that love him.”‡` And how speaks he, by whose authority both Paul and David uttered these sacred oracles? Every one "that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, "or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, "for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred"fold, and shall inherit everlasting life." Such a promise he hath added to the text itself:-" Whe "soever will lose his life for my sake, shall find it."|| Whoever, indeed, is acquainted with the divine character, cannot doubt either of the existence, or the fulfilment of such promises, in their largest sense. Now, in the hopes of relief, of health and strength, we yield with confidence to the prescriptions of a physician, of whose skill and friendship we are as
|| Matt: xix 25.4
• Psalm xxxii. 10.
41 Cor. ii. 9.
sured, however distasteful the diet, however nauseous the medicines, however laborious the exercise, however painful the operation, which he enjoins. Pain is endured with pleasure; and labour is converted into recreation. Yet, in such a case, there is, after all, only a probability of the good expected.
In the wisdom and faithfulness of God, there is certainty, unshaken security. By submitting implicitly to him, by putting our lives, our interests, our all, wholly into his hands, a happy issue is, at all times, secure: For "all things work together "for good to them that love God."* The most painful mortification, the hardest exercise of selfdenial, will appear, in the end, to have been a most needful and salutary medicine for our souls.
If any thing farther be necessary to satisfy you of this, let me recall, for a moment, to your recollection, what was already briefly suggested concerning the nature of the employments and happiness of heaven; and you will be convinced, that by self-denial only you can be fitted for them. These consist not, after the manner of the pageants and rejoicings of victory among men, in celebrating the wisdom, the strength, the glory of those who "overcame by the blood of the Lamb," but of him who conquered in them. We read that "before the throne," the seraphim, and cherubim, and other inhabitants of heaven," cover their "faces," and "cast their crowns:" And the hymns, to which they attune their voices and their harps, are " Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Al"mighty, which was, and is, and is to come!"
• Rosa viii. 28.
† Isaiah vi 2.
t Rev. iv. 10.
Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be
unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto "the Lamb, for ever and ever."* In these exercises, self is thrown out of view, and God is " all "in all." Even in heaven, then, the sentiments and exercises of the blessed inhabitants, are those of denying self, and giving God the praise. The occasions of self-denial, therefore, which are ever before us in this life, are so many means of training us up for heaven; and the exercise of that grace on earth, is the beginning, or rudiments, of the occupations and enjoyments of the celestial state. Let us, then, cheerfully endure the crosses and mortifications of the way, which Jesus trod to eternal glory. Let us not submit to the trials imposed on us, like the scaffold to its burden, merely because we cannot help it; but like men who know, and are assured that they are intended to make" us meet to be partakers of the inheritance "of the saints in light;" to form, and smooth, and polish us, to be fit materials for the spiritual temple, which is "eternal in the heavens." Seek, then, self-denial, as one of God's first gifts, and as your necessary preparation for the enjoyment of every other. The mortification of self, indeed, will often prove to your spirits, like Israel's way in the wilderness, a path of hardship and trial: yet murmur not it brings you to Canaan.
Such are some of the advantages of self-denial, and submission to God. And are they not sufficient to interest your hearts, and to awaken all. your zeal for the attainment of a grace so beneficial and important?-What rational being ought not to * Rev, iv. 8. and v. 13. ↑ Col. i. 12.