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rather to be used and handled.
Such a thing religion is, my friend; it is to be taken in hand and
practisect, and not to be only looked at or talked of. Religion is real, open, and undisguised, like a staff in the hand. It is to be felt and experienced in the very heart and soul, and not a cloak or disguise for falsehood and hypoc. risy. Therefore my Job, do not stand contending with mere looking at religion, or talking of it ; but lay hold on it, handle, and em. brace it. Again,
A staff is an instrument for travellers. A person takes it with him wherever he goes, as his constant companion ; though, when going abroad, he leaves all his other goods and companions at home. Thus Jacob went from his father's house, having neither vrealth nor company but his staff.* The angel had his staff, i and so had Elisha. The disciples were commanded to take nothing for their journey, save a staff only.) So every one that travels towards Heaven, must take religion with him, to be his constant companion wherever he goes,otherwise he cannot travel towards that better country. We are not ashamed to take our staff with us into
any company or place we go: no, we take it to fairs and markets; upon Lord's days and week days ; when we go among pious persons or prophane. In like manner, my friend, may you and I never leave our religion at home when we go abroad ; nor abroad when we come home : never be ashamed of it in any compa* Gen. xxxii. 10. ^ Judges vi. 21. 2 Kings iv. 29. || Mar.
ny; but let it be as open & constant, with us, as the staff in our hand, which we carry ever with us. Furthermore,
A staff is a weapon, both offensive and defensive. It serves to defend and protect the own. er, as well as to offend and hurt his enemy, Thus it is a military weapon, or a piece of armour. David took his staff in his hand, when, he went to encounter with Goliah.* Benaiah took his staff only with him, when he went to 'en' gage with the robust Egyptian.t In this, also, religion will answer exceeding well?; it will de fend the believer, and offend his adversary. The grace of faith, in particular, hath these qualities. It defends the believer, by quenching all the fiery darts of the wicked :f it overcomes the world and the devil. The glorious exploits and victorious triumphs of faith, are recorded in Hebrews, chap. xi. See how relig, ion, under the name of wisdom, is applauded by Solomon ; Get wisdom, get understanding : forget it not, neither decline from the words of my mouth : forsake her not, š she shall preserve thee ; love her, und she shall keep thee.
Wis. dom is the principal thing. | Oh! may Job and I ever carry this excellent and useful weapon with us, until we have entirely gained the victory, and have nothing more to fear, in the field of battle. The church of Christ hath no weap. on but her religious staff; yet she is to her en. emies terrible as an army with banners. Morever,
72 Sam. xxxii. 20, 21. 1 Eph. vi. 16, Prov. iv. 4, &c;
1 Sam. xvii. 40.
A staff serves to support, help, and direct. It supports the weak, helps the lame, and directs the blind : so it serves, in some measure, instead of strength to the weak, aged and infirm; instead of legs to the lame, and of eyes to the blind : Thy staff doth comfort me, saith the Psalmist. Jacob, in his weakness and old
age, worshipped, bearing on the top of his staff. * God promiseth his people length of days in Je. rusalem, and that very man should be with his staff in his hand for every age.t Now, the spiritual staff will not only answer to the literal, for these purposes, but exceed it, as much as the soul doth the body, and as eternity is more important than time; for it makes the weak strong, the lame to walk uprightly, and the blind to see clearly It strengthens the weak hands, and confirms the the feeble knees. It opens the eyes of the blind, and brings men from darkness into God's marvellous light. It enables the lame to leap as an hart. Oh ! happy the owner of this staff! may you and I find much benefit by it. Again,
A staff is a riding and a walking instrument : I make use of it both ways, though more in the former; as I ride much, and walk but little. Balaam riding on his ass, had his staff in his hand. As a staff will suit both the horseman and the footman, so religion well becomes the rich and poor, high and low, persons of all ranks and degrees. It is neither beneath the prince, nor above the peasant ; but very commodious, nay, absolutely necessary for both The rich
• Heb. xi. 21 Zech, viu. 4,
man cannot ride safe and bold without his spir. itual staff; neither can the poor man walk welt without it; therefore, my Job, whether you be a footman or a 'horseman, venture not without this staff ; you will find it exceeding useful ; for her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace, both to the master and servant. But,
A staff adds to the weight of the traveller, yet enables him to go faster. It makes him heavier, and yet nimbler ; it might seem to hinder, but : really helps. It is a burthen, and still an advan. tage. In this respect, it is like shoes to a per-son on a journey, though they add to his, weight, they enable him to walk better. Wings. are an additional weight to the bird, but without them he could not fly. Religion is called a. yoke and a burthen. In this light you may suppose it to be a weight and trouble ; but the burthen is light, and the yoke easy. ;, a burthen: that helps on the bearer, and a yoke that draws him forward.. Some think religion to be perfect slavery, but imagine sin to be the most extensive liberty that can be enjoyed. :: whereas, the persons who have tried both, know by experience, that such as are under the dominion of sin, are slaves and captives with a witness !. but those who are truly religious, enjoy the best liberty, and are free indeed. Christ appeared to: destroy the works, or snares of the devil; to: proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison those that were bound. If the Son make you free, then are you free indeed. Therefore, my dear friend, let not the weight of
this staff frighten you. If you make use of it, instead of being a hindrance, you will find it will have a mighty tendency to facilitate and accelerate your journey heavenward. To fear the Lord, and depart from evil, shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. In short, without this staff, you can never enter into glo. ry. I may note further, that,
A staff is both a driving and a drawing instru. ment, especially such an hooked one as you. gave me. It will drive open gates before me when I ride, and draw others to me. God's heavy and grounded staff of judgment scattered the Assyrians. * In Zech. xi. 7. we read of a staff called Bands; and some tell us, that the very term religion (from religio) signifies tying, or binding. Again, religion doth draw the saints to God; to love one another ; to love the gospel ; to love gospel principles and practice, and at last it will draw them to Heaven itself. It directs one what to shun, and what to embrace ; what to reject, and what to choose : it makes one wise unto salvation. Finally, A staff is used for ornament.
A person of ten takes it in his hand, not so much for its as. sistance in walking, but because it adorns the traveller. Judah adorned himself with his signet, bracelet and staff. We read of a staff cail. ed Beauty.f Be it known unto you, my friend, that religion is the greatest ornament in the world, and is, in the sight of God, of great price. Those who are religious indeed, are an ornament and credit to the gospel now ; il and
*Isaiah xxx. 32 † Zech. xi. 10. 1 Pet. iii 4. 1 Tit. ii. 10.