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ever the eldest equal the youngest in the vanity of their dress, there is no reason to be given for it but that they equal them, if not surpass them, in the vanity of their desires.
But this by the bye
Though, in truth, the observation falls in with the main intention of this discourse, which is not framed to flatter our follies, or touch them with a light hand, but plainly to point them out; that by recalling to your mind, what manner of persons we really are, I might better lead you to the apostle's inference, of what manner of persons ye ought to be, in all holy conversation and godliness;-looking for, and hastening unto the coming of the day of God.
The apostle, in the concluding verse of this argument, exhorts, that they who look for such things, be diligent, that they be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless;—and one may conclude with him, that if the hopes or fears,-either the reason or the passions of men, are to be wrought upon at all, it must be from the force and influence of this awakening consideration in the text," that all these things shall be dissolved;"-that this vain and perishable scene must change that we who now tread the stage, must shortly be summoned away;-that we are creatures but of a day, hastening unto the place from whence we shall return no more ;-that whilst we are here, our conduct and behavior is minutely observed; that there is a Being about our paths, and about our beds, whose omniscient eye 'spies out all our ways, and takes a faithful record of all the passages of our lives ;—that these volumes shall be produced and opened, and men shall be judged out of the things that are written in them;
that without respect of persons, we shall be made accountable for our thoughts, or words and actions, to this greatest and best of Beings,
before whose judgment-seat we must finally appear, and receive the things done in the body, whether they are good, or whether they are bad. That, to add to the terror of it,- this day of the LORD will come upon us like a thief in the night of that hour no one knoweth ; that we are not sure of its being suspended one day, or one hour;— -or, what is the same case, that we are standing upon the edge of a precipice, with nothing but the single thread of human life to hold us up ;-and that if we fall unprepared in this thoughtless state, we are lost, and must perish for evermore.
What manner of person we ought to be, upon these principles of our religion, St. Peter has told us, in all holy conversation and godliness;and I shail only remind, how different a frame of mind, the looking for, and hastening unto the coming of GOD, under such a life, is, from that of spending our days in vanity, and our years in pleasure.
Give me leave, therefore, to conclude in that merciful warning, which our SAVIOUR, the Judge himself, hath given us, at the close of the same exhortation :-
Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life;and so that day come upon you unawares ;-for as a
snare shall it come upon all that dwell on the face of the whole earth- -Watch, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. Which may GoD of his mercy grant, through JESUS CHRIST. Amen.
St. Peter's Character.
ACT S, iii. 12.
And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or, why look ye so earnestly on us, as though, by our own power or holiness, we had made this man to walk?
HESE words, as the text tells us, were
spoke by St. Peter, on the occasion of his miraculous cure of the lame man, who was laid at the gate of the temple, and, in the beginning of this chapter, had asked an alms of St. Peter and St. John, as they went up together at the hour of prayer; on whom St. Peter fastening his eyes, as in the 4th verse, and declaring he had no such relief to give him as he expected, having neither silver nor gold,-but that such as he had, the benefit of that divine power which he had received from his Master, he would impart to him,-he commands him forthwith, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, to rise up and walk: And he took him by the hand, and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength; and he leaped up, stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, leaping and praising GOD.
It seems he had been born lame, had passed a whole life of despair, without hopes of ever being restored; so that the immediate sense of strength and activity communicated to him at once, in so surprizing and unsought-for a manner, cast him into the transport of mind so natural to a man so benefitted beyond his expectation. So that the amazing instance of a supernatural power, the notoriety of fact, wrought at the hour of prayer, the unexceptionableness of the object, that it was no imposture, for they knew that it
was he which sat for alms at the beautiful gate of the temple, the unfeigned expressions of an enraptured heart almost beside itself, confirming the whole; the man that was healed, in the 10th verse, holding his benefactor, Peter and John, entering into the temple with them, walking, and leaping, and praising GOD;the great concourse of people, drawn together by this event in the 11th verse, for they all ran unto them, into the porch that was called Solomon's, greatly wondering: Sure never was such a fair opportunity for an ambitious mind to have established a character of superior goodness and power. Το
a man set upon this world, who sought his own praise and honor, what an invitation would it have been, to have turned these circumstances to such a purpose? to have fallen in with the passions of an astonished and grateful city, prepossessed, from what had happened, so strongly in his favor already, that little art or management was requisite to have improved their wonder and good opinions, into the highest reverence of his sanctity, awe of his person, or whatever other belief should be necessary to feed his pride, or serve secret ends of glory and interest?-A mind not sufficiently mortified to the world, might have been tempted here to have taken the honor due to GoD, and transferred it to himself.—He might—not so a disciple of Christ: For, when Peter saw it, when he saw the propensity in them to be misled on this occasion, he answered and said unto the people, in the words of the text,-Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look you so earnestly on us, as though, by our own power and holiness, we had made this man to walk?-the God of A. braham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the Gon of our fathers, hath glorified his son JESUS. O holy, and blessed apostle !
How would thy meek and mortified spirit satisfy itself in uttering so humble and so just a declaration ?What an honest triumph wouldst thou taste the sweets of, in thus conquering thy passion of vain-glory, keeping down thy pride, -disclaiming the praises which should have fed it, by telling the wondering spectators, It was not thy own power, it was not thy own holiness, which had wrought this, thou being of like passions and infirmities; but that it was the power of the God of Abraham, the holiness of thy dear Lord, whom they crucified, operating by faith through thee, who wast but an instrument in his hands? If thus honestly declining honor,. which the occasion so amply invited thee to take; -if this would give more satisfaction to a mind like thine, than the loudest praises of a mistaken people,-what true rapture would be added to it, from the reflection, that, in this instance of selfdenial, thou hast not only done well, but, what · was a still more endearing thought, that thou hadst been able to copy the example of thy divine Master, who, in no action of his life, sought ever his own praise, but, on the contrary, declined all possible occasions of it?—and in the only public instance of honor which he suffered to be given him in his entrance into Jerusalem,— thou didst remember,-it was accepted with such a mixture of humility, that the prediction of the prophet was not more exactly fulfilled in the hosannas of the multitude, than in the meekness wherewith he received them, lowly, and sitting How could a disciple fail of proupon an ass. fitting by the example of so humble a master, whose whole course of life was a particular lecture to this virtue, and, in every instance of it, showed plainly, he came not to share the pride and glories of life, or gratify the carnal expectation of ambitious followers, which, had he af