Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[ocr errors]

them for this end. We ought at all times to attend diligently on the means of edification. And the nc glect of them is doubtless a great cause of the spiritual decays of christians, as was before observed. But when religion appears to be declining, they who dešire'a revival thereof, should awake and double their diligence, that they may not only hold fast, and maintain, and strengthen the things which remain, but also recover the ground which had been lost. They should apply themselves in great earnest to the use of the means proper for this end.. But this we shall never do, while the interests and enjoyments of this world lie so near our heart, that we are more concerned to be well accommodated for the present life, than to have true vital godliness maintained and expressed in its power by ourselves and otbers. We shall not seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, while our affections are set on things on the earth. And the means which may be used by others to promote a reformation, and a revival of religion, will not be likely to have the desired effect on those, whose minds and hearts are occupied in the the pursuit and enjoyment of earthly things, till the stream of their affections is turned out of that wrong channel.

Alas ! how little do many of us shew forth the praises of him who calls us out of darkness into his marvellous light. When our worldly interest suffers, we are tremblingly alive to feel it. But how little are we concerned at the declining state of the church? Surely, they, whose treasures and hearts cleave to the dust, do not confess by their actions, that they are strangers and pilgrims on earth.

If any think, I am warm upon the subject, I am so indeed ; and would humbly ask, is there not a cause? When the state of our churches, and the aspects of providence are considered, is it not high time for those who think our religious interest of

[ocr errors]

importance, to be awakened to a consideration of the things of our peace? What is most to be feared, is, that no abiding impressions will be made on the minds of those

who most need to have these things pressed and inculcated on them, with precept upon precept, and line upon line.

Let us now in the Second place attend with reverence to the admonition which speaketh to us from heaven. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, consider your ways.

The ways of man in scripture commonly signifies his conduct and course of life; it also signifies his state or condition whether prosperous or adverse, safe or perilous.

To consider our ways is to think of them with attention and deliberation. This is to be done in order to our forming a right judgment of our conduct, character, and state, and that we make suitable reflections, resolving to correct what has been amiss and supply what has been deficient.

Without considering our ways we can neither proceed in the way wherein we should go, nor return to it when we have swerved from it. A great part of the errors of men are owing to want of consideration.

We ought at all times to consider our ways, and walk circumspectly not as fools but as wise.' For it is of great importance to ourselves and others that the course of our lives be set, and conducted aright. Much careful attention is necessary that we mistake not the objects we are to aim at, or the means by which we are to seek for them. For there is a way which seemeth to be right, but the end there of is the ways of death.

of death. But when the days are evil and perilous, when religion and virtue are visibly decaying, we should consider our ways and state with peculiar concern, that effectual means may immediately be applied to remedy or check the growing evils : particularly,

Let us consider what our ways have been; whether we have done what we ought for the support and advancement of religion, and for the prevention and reformation of those things which are contrary to it, or whether we have been in any measure the blameable causes of the ruinous state of the house of God.We should search our hearts, and try our ways, that we may be duly sensible of our own failings, and be humbled for them with that godly sorrow which shall work repentance and reformation. Has our conversation been as becomes those who are to be the salt of the earth, and the light of the world? Have we been steady and engaged in the profession and practice of religion; diligent and punctual in attending the duties of worship, public and private, and having our conversation in the world agreeably to the rules of the gospel, in simplicity and godly sincerity? Have we walked in our house with a perfect heart instructing, governing, and leading our families in the way they should go; resolving that we and our houses will serve the Lord? Have we done our duty for the propagation of christian knowledge, piety and virtue, and the suppression of ungodliness and wickedness in our proper sphere? Thus we should review our past temper and behaviour, penitently imploring forgiveness of whatever has been amiss, and grace to help in time of need. We should so think on our ways as to turn our feet into God's testimonies : making haste, and not delaying to keep his command

-

ments.

And not only our past ways should be considered and reviewed by us, but also the way and course of life in which we are now engaged; whether we find reason to be satisfied that our present views, tempers, and pursuits are right. If we do not take pains to know ourselves, what manner of spirit we are of, our deceitful hearts, with the flatteries of friends, will be

apt to mislead our judgment. Are we now sincere. ly and resolutely engaged in the service of our God and Saviour, and in advancing his kingdom and righteousness in ourselves and others; giving up every interest and pursuit which interfere with this great object ? Are we absolutely determined to lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, that we may run with patience the race that is set before us; having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,

but reproving them, and bearing a faithful testimony against the evils which are in the world? Or are we following the multitude in the broad way, conforming to their evil examples, principles, and spirit, falling in with the prevailing degeneracy, or at best resting in the form of godliness without the power. My brethren, we must not only speak in favor of religion, and pray for a revival of it, but also stir up ourselves and others to be workers together with God in the building up of his church. Our love to religion must be not in word and tongue only, but in deed and in truth. When irreligious, antichristian principles, tempers and practices appear to be gaining ground, and the enemy is breaking in like a flood, every soldier of Christ, should repair to his standard. He who is not for him, at such a time, is against him. Let us with extraordinary exertion strive to stem the wild torrent of corruption, and kindle up to a holy flame, those sparks of heavenly fire which may lie buried in our hearts, like embers in the ashes ready to die. Let us consider our ways, whether we are now conducting ourselves in this manner. pairing of the house of God is not likely to go on prosperously, till we are sensible that this matter belongs to us, and arise, come forward and give a help. ing hand.

We must therefore consider what way or line of conduct is hereafter to be pursued by us. And here

The re

the admonition of Christ to the church of Ephesus, when they had left their first love, is equally proper for all other churches in a similar state.

a

• Remem. ber whence thou art fallen, and repent and do thy first works.' The causes of apostacy, some of which were mentioned under the second head, must be guarded against, and proper antidotes applied. Particularly, let us carefully guard against and counterwork the temptations of Satan, and this evil world, taking to ourselves the whole armour of God to withstand our spiritual enemies. Let us cherish a deep sense of the great importance of the doctrines and precepts of the gospel, and have our sentiments, temper, and manners, formed, as it were, in this divine mould; counting all things but loss for the excellenсу of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. Let not the ordinances of gospel worship be neglected or carelessly attended. Let christians consider one another to provoke to love and good works, exhorting one another daily while it is called to day, lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sịn, Let great care be taken that a good foundation of sound doc. trinal knowledge be early laid in the minds of the ri. sing generation, and that they be instructed to give a good answer to every one that may ask a reason of the hope that is in them, and that the importance of an experimental, practical acquaintance with religion, be much inculcated upon them. Let christians strive together in their prayers for a blessing on the means of grace, that the kingdom of God and his righteousness may be gloriously advanced. And finally, if it be our desire to see the King of Saints ride forth triumphant on the word of truth, and the pleasure of the Lord prospering in his hand, let us cause our light to shine before men, not only in a profession of the faith delivered to the saints, but also in a conversation agreeable to such a profession, that men may see our good works, and glorify our Father

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »