Page images
PDF
EPUB

precept." The humble minded will consider that it is the Word of God, and not the word of man, which demands his attention; and, therefore, however weak and unworthy the instrument of conveying it may be, he will hear it with becoming reverence. He considers that the corruptions of his own heart and the temptations of the world around him, being ever ready to betray, it is necessary that the promises and threatenings of the Gospel be frequently sounded in his ears; and baneful is the vanity,-tremendous the danger, of that mortal by whom they are lightly regarded.

To attention, seriousness, and meekness must be added candour and impartiality. We should receive all revealed truths with the same readiness, and give the same credence to the minister of the Gospel when he promulgates God's dreadful judgments, as when he publishes his gracious promises; when he reproves the sins of which our consciences condemn us, as when he inveighs against those by which we are less tainted. It is written that God is merciful and long suffering, slow to anger, not extreme to mark what is done amiss. But it is also written, that he will by no means pardon the incorrigibly wicked ; that without holiness no man shall see the Lord : and if we be impartial hearers, both these doctrines will have equal weight and influence. It is written, “This is a faithful saying, that Christ

If we

Jesus came into the world to save sinners." It is also written, that he “gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” These different texts of scripture should teach us to regard Christ both with gratitude and godly fear,-remembering that, as he once came down from heaven, to save the world, so he will assuredly come again to judge it. All these declarations being founded on the same authority, should meet the same reverence. really valued our eternal happiness, we should not cherish any desire to be deceived concerning our spiritual state, any unwillingness to have our eyes opened to real danger, any wish that the preacher should speak peace where there is no ground for it, any dislike of the boldest and plainest representation of our offences, nor any fostering of that fatal self-deceit which palliates, disguises, or conceals our own favourite sins.

Further, we should be convinced, it is not merely by attending God's house, or even being occasionally moved by what we hear, that we perform a service, in itself holy and acceptable. For what saith the apostle?—“Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only.” We should therefore hear, with a serious desire, an earnest prayer for divine grace, that we may improve, and apply, and practise what we hear; and little do we consider this great end of hearing God's

C

Word, if we at once dismiss from our minds the things delivered, or the pious thoughts they have inspired; or, if we consider the time we attend, or seem to attend here, as an irksome sacrifice to worldly custom, and an unwilling tribute to the demands of religion. No, my brethren, the true and serious Christian will studiously revolve the precepts and admonitions he has received ; will ask his own heart, “How have I heard ?How have I been benefited ?- What vices must I correct?—What holy resolutions must I form?" He will compare the things delivered with the volume of truth, his only infallible director. In the societies of friends and fellow-christians, he will take sweet counsel concerning what he has heard ; and instead of dwelling on the defects of the preacher, he will converse respecting the importance of the things delivered. These he will inculcate on his children and domestics; and teach them, like himself, to hear with profit and improvement. And the Word, thus received, however imperfectly delivered, will, by the powerful influence of God's holy spirit, prove mighty in operation. Seed, thus deposited, shall bring forth abundantly; and the labour, both of the planter and the waterer, shall be blessed by his gracious and merciful assistance, who alone giveth the increase. On yourselves, then, you see, my fellow-christians, it in some measure depends, whether the offices of religion shall

conduce to your benefit or not. The day will come when we shall be required to render an account of all those means of grace which God hath vouchsafed to us: and when it will be more tolerable for those who never heard God's Word, than for those, who, having heard, have despised or neglected it.

But, lastly, remember what Saint Paul says of some hearers, “the Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed or imbued with faith, in them that heard it;" faith, that it is in truth the Word of God; faith, that it was given for our instruction in righteousness; faith, that, if duly attended to and obeyed, it will, through the merits of Christ, save our precious souls. For, “other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

In this, our day of grace, therefore, let us fervently pray, that it would please our heavenly Father to “increase our faith:” let us endeavour to know and to meditate on the things which belong to our eternal

may of God, which bringeth salvation,” enlighten our understandings and purify our affections, that we may receive the divine Word with gladness and singleness of heart, never forgetting that blessed are they, and only they, who hear the Word of God, and keep it.

peace: and

“the grace

SERMON II.

FOR NEW-YEAR'S DAY.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF TIME.

1 COR. VII. 29.-" Time is short."

TIME, though incomparably the most precious of all temporal gifts, is that of which, commonly, we are most profuse; as if, in spite of daily experience, we could possibly entertain so absurd and groundless an opinion, as to fancy the store inexhaustible. Respecting time, indeed, a great fallacy is imposed on our moral perception, in the different views of its past and present duration. The same term of years, which, when reviewed, appears short, in prospect seems comparatively long. And from whence does this arise; Either, because it is the nature of hope to flatter; or, because in reverting to our past lives, we can recal to memory many things which occurred within that period; while on the time which is to come it is of course impossible

« PreviousContinue »