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true God, and Jesus thine anointed prophet and our heavenly teacher, and to follow his instructions, which lead us unto thee!
We thank thee for the examples of all thy holy servants, who have gone before us in the narrow way that leadeth unto life; and especially for all those whom he, our Lord and Master, approved in his day of trial and ministry here upon earth: for those whom he
approveth shall be blessed of thee.
Enable us to follow them in their deep reverence, affection, and esteem for him, the chosen messenger of thy favour to us; who desired life for no other end but to do thy will, O God, and to be thy instrument in saving us from sin and misery, and was contented at last to resign it in torments for the same great purposes for which he lived; that we may become his true disciples, and that others
may thereby be won over to honour him, and to follow truth and righteousness ; unto which it was his most earnest desire, and the labour of his mind, to bring the men of that time and of all future generations; that through thy blessing and powerful aid, we also, in our turn, may be serviceable in this great work of holiness and human happiness ; and some may re
member our names for good, when we ourselves shall be no more.
And suffer us at no time to be ashamed or afraid to stand up for and to confess the excellency, the worth, and the importance of the gospel, as a method and expedient contrived by thine infinite wisdom, to bring the sinful sons of men back to thyself ; teaching us nothing but what is holy, just, and good, and praiseworthy, and that those who excel therein, are thy chosen ones whom thou delightest to honour:
That thus walking uprightly according to thy sacred truth, and diligently following every good work; when the end of our mortal race comes, we may be gathered to the number of those who have nobly contended for the truth; and afterwards, in thy due appointed time, may be raised to an endless life and happiness, through thy boundless mercy revealed to us by Jesus Christ our Lord !
Now unto Thee, O Father! who art the only living and true God, &c.
The Lord bless us, &c.
December 21, 1783.
MATTH. X. 32, 33.
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men,
him will I confess also before my Father which is in beaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, bim will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven,
Many of our Saviour's precepts were appropriated in a peculiar manner to his apostles and first followers, and only so far belong to us that come after them, as our circumstances may happen to resemble theirs.
Of this kind is a great part of what he here prescribes to his twelve chosen disciples, when he sent them out by themselves for a short space in his lifetime, to preach the gospel in some of the towns and villages of Galilee ; to initiate them thereby in their great work of teaching mankind the way to eternal life, which was to devolve upon them after he had finished the part assigned to him. Thus he says, (ver. 9, 10.) “ Provide neither
gold, nor silver, nor brass, in your purses, nor scrip for your journey;" ise, no satchel to carry
their provisions : for there was no convenience of inns in those times and countries, as with us : “ neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves :" i. e. not more than one of each sort : “ for the workman is worthy of his meal.”
This was to teach and inure them to rely on divine Providence, whilst they were engaged in so good a cause; that neither then nor at any future time, the fear of wanting the necessaries of life might tempt them to desert or neglect their duty : for, that God would secretly incline the hearts of well-disposed persons to receive them :
Although this prohibition of making no provision for themselves, respected only that, their first mission, and was laid upon them with a view that the unexpected support they should meet with, might be an encouragement to them in times to come to trust in God in the most destitute circumstances : for Christ himself afterwards revoked it. (Luke xxii. 35, 36.) They were not to look for extraordinary helps, where their own forecast and labour might be sufficient for them.
The passage prefixed to my discourse is introduced immediately after our Lord had warned his apostles of the great dangers to which they would be exposed in the service of the gospel, and assured them of their heavenly Father's providential care over them ; in which he goes on further to encourage them by the promise of an infinite recompense hereafter.
For whosoever shall confess, or rather make public confession, (for that is the meaning of the word in the original) of his belief in me and my doctrine, and labour to bring others to the knowledge of what is so important to them, him I will publicly own and acknowledge as belonging to me before my heavenly Father ; to whose everlasting favour all such my true disciples shall be introduced :
But whoever shall be ashamed or afraid to make public profession of believing in me, and thereby discourage others from becoming my disciples, shall be hereafter disowned by me, and forfeit all claim to the promised happiness of
This command of thus publicly confessing Christ, though primarily and immediately