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future."There is but one paradife for men," faid Mahomet, (turning away his eyes from the tempting profpect of Damafcus) "there "is but one paradife for men, and, for my part, I will not take mine in this world *." If this fenfual impoftor could, in this inftance. at leaft, facrifice prefent gratification even to bis falfe notions of future happiness, well may we be content to endure a little temporary felf-denial for the fake of a recompence hereafter, perfect in its nature, and endlefs in its duration. It is true, indeed, that taking all things into the account, the yoke of our divine Mafter is eafy, and his burthen is light. Yet ftill there is a yoke, there is a burden to bear. We are to take up our cross, and on that cross we are to crucify our affections and lufts. In the fucceffive ftages of our existence here, fucceffive adverfaries rife up to oppose our progrefs to Heaven, and bring us into captivity to fin and mifery. Pleafure, interest, bufinefs, power, honour, fame, all the follies and all the corruptions of this world, each in their turn, affail our feeble nature, and through these we must manfully fight our way to the
• Maundrell, p. 121,
great end we have in view. But the difficulty and the pain of this conteft will be infinitely leffened, by a refolute and vigorous exertion of our powers, and our refources, at our firft fetting out in life. If we ftrenuously refist those enemies of our falvation that prefent themselves to us in our earlieft youth, all the reft that follow in our mature age will be an eafy conqueft. On him, who in the beginning of life has kept himself unspotted from the world, all its fubfequent attractions and allurements, all its magnificence, wealth, and fplendour, will make little or no impreffion. A mind that has been long habituated to discipline, reftraint, and self-command, amidst far more powerful temptations, will have nothing to apprehend from fuch affailants as thefe. But our great and principal fecurity is affistance from above, which will never be denied to C those who fervently apply for it. And with I the omnipotence of divine grace to support us,
and an eternity of happiness to reward us, what is there that can shake our conftancy, or corrupt our fidelity?
Set yourselves, then, without delay, to acquire an early habit of strict self-government, U 3
and an early intercourfe with your Almighty
Judge, fhall give me at that day."
MATTHEW XXvii. 54.
TRULY THIS WAS THE SON OF GOD.
E have here a teftimony of the divine character of our bleffed Lord, which must be confidered as in the highest degree impartial and incorrupt. It is the testimony not of friends, but of enemies; not of those who were prepoffeffed in favour of Christ and his Religion, but of those who, by habit and education, were prejudiced, and strongly prejudiced, against them. It is, in fhort, the voice of nature and of truth; the honest, unpremeditated confeffion of the heathen centurion, and the foldiers under him, whom the Roman governor had appointed as a guard over the crucifixion of our Lord. So forcibly struck were these persons with the behaviour of Jefus,
and the astonishing circumftances attending his death, that they broke out involuntarily into the exclamation of the text, "Truly this was "the Son of God."
Different opinions, it is well known, have been entertained by learned men concerning the precife fenfe in which the centurion understood Chrift to be the Son of God. But without entering here into any critical niceties (which do not in the leaft affect the main object of this difcourfe) I fhall only obferve in general, that even after making every abatement, which either grammatical accuracy, or parallel paffages, may feem to require, the very loweft meaning we can affix to the text, in any degree confiftent with the natural force of the language, and the magnitude of the occafion, is this: that the centurion, comparing together every thing he had feen, and rifing in his expreffions of admiration, as our Lord's encreafing magnanimity grew more and more upon his obfervation, concluded him to be, not only a person of moft extraordinary virtue, and moft tranfcendent righteouínefs, but of a nature more than human, and bearing evident marks of a divine original.