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guage of encouragement to the true Chriftian, and enlarges on the blessed promises secured to him; all this encouragement, all these promises, they instantly apply to themselves. But to themselves they did not apply other passages of the discourse, in which the marks of a true Christian were described; marks by which if they had examined their principles and conduct, they would perhaps have discerned themselves not to be true Christians, and of course not entitled to the benefit of any encouragement or promise. Or if the minister displays some scriptural example of the mercy of God to a grievous offender; they fail not to assure themselves that mercy will be equally extended to them. But they paid little regard to the proofs of true res pentance which the minister had also detailed as manifested by that offender: proofs which on due investigation they would have discovered to be wanting in themselves, and would consequently have been constrained to perceive that in their existing state of heart they could have no reasonable hope of mercy. To apply sermons thus partially, thus, unwarrantably, is but to blind your conscience and to harden yourself in sin,
Fourthly; Reflect that circumstances apparently small and casual seem not seldom to be selected by Him, who can crush the globe with an atom, to accomplish momentous ends. To how many finners has an individual sermon been made, as it were, the hinge of conversion, the turning point between life and death! Did you withhold your attention from the last fermon at which you were present? How know you but in that sermon was contained an elucidation of some important doctrine which you misconceive; a scriptural example of virtue most needful to your edification; a scriptural denunciation of vengeance against your own besetting sin? How know you but that to the absence of the Christian armour which that discourse would have supplied, your fall under recent temptations is to be attributed? How know you but from the absence of that armour, temptations even now impending over your head will derive their principal strength? But you have not merely precluded yourself from the advantage which you might have acquired. The neglect of that advantage is a sin for which you must render an account to God. Every opportunity which he affords you of imbibing instruction in his holy temple, is a VOL. II.
blessing, for the improvement of which you will stand responsible at the day of judgement. Beware left the preaching of his word, ordained by him for your eternal good, prove, through your wilful disregard, the cause of an increase of your condemnation.
Fifthly; Let your attention during the delivery of fermons, and your subsequent meditations on their import, be accompanied with a fervent desire that the Spirit of grace may incline your soul unto knowledge. Whoever may plant, whoever may water, it is God who giveth the increase. To him raise your heart in prayer through the mediation of his Son Jesus. So shall He enlighten you by his Holy Spirit to understand his law. So shall he cause the good seed to take root in your bofom. So shall he preserve you from the doom of the unfruitful hearer. So shall he render you a dcer of the law, bringing forth fruit. unto perfection.
To conclude. Take heed, my brethren, how ye hear. Look well to your hearts. Let the motives which bring you to this place be such as befit those who profefs to: be athirst for instruction and edification. Let your diligence in yielding faithful attention,
and your sincerity in applying to yourselves the truths which you hear, be such as become those who listen to the word of life. Who, cried the prophet Isaiah, anticipating the rejection of the preachers of the Gospel by his countrymen; Who hath believed our report (n)? When Jesus Christ appeared, and preached in their fynagogues; how few in comparison with the multitudes of his hearers were impressed with durable conviction! If the Jews could fail of being converted by the preaching of the Son of God; how easily may you fail to profit by the preaching of his ministers! Why did the Jews fail of conversion? The word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith, with genuine operative faith, in them that heard it 6). Be not ye like unto them. If any doctrine declared to you from the pulpit appear hard and strange; do not hastily pronounce it erroneous and unworthy of God. Have you never detected yourself in ignorance? Have you never known yourself blinded by misapprehenfion and prejudice? May it not be ignorance, or misapprehension, or prejudice, which prevents you from perceiving the doctrine to be true? Suspend your judge(n) Isaiah, liji. 1. (-) Hebr. iv. 2.
ment, until you shall have considered the subject maturely and with impartiality Consult your Bible deliberately at home. Compare one part of Scripture with another. Why are the inhabitants of Berea honoured with a record of perpetual praise? Because, when new doctrines were proposed to them, they searched the Scriptures diligently to learn whether those things were so. The search was not in vain. They difcovered that the doctrines were undeniably the doctrines of the word of God. Imitate these wise men in their zeal: follow them in the tract which they pursued in quest of truth. If the result of your examination leaves your doubts unresolved; have you not friends both intelligent and pious, with whom you may discuss them? Have you not ministers of religion impelled, let us trust, by inclination no less than by duty, privately to confirm your faith by spiritual instruction and counsel? Finally; fupplicate day by day your Almighty Father for grace habitually to exemplify in the busy scenes of life the efficacy of the instruction to which you listened on the Sabbath. In your prayers forget not your ministers. Intercede for them, and in that intercession you intercede for yourselves, that