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ged on heavily in the work, and with very few, if any, seals to their ministry; for God will reprove such unfaithfulness in his service.
True indeed, it sometimes happens that the faithful ministers of the gospel are for a season unsuccessful; yet they ought not to be discouraged, for in due time they shall reap, if they faint not. They who go forth weeping bearing precious seed, shall finally return rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them.
But suppose they should not see the fruit of their labours in this life, they will have the testimony of conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, they have had their conversation in the world. Let them who sow, sow in hope; the word shall not return void, but it shall accomplish that which God pleaseth, and prosper in the thing whereto he sent it.
3. Should these discourses fall into the hands of any young men who wish to engage in the work of the ministry, they will excuse me if I say, they ought first to ask themselves whether they have ever felt the transforming power of the gospel on their hearts. Ministers of Christ ought certainly to know the truth by a happy experience, or they will be blind leaders of the blind. “A preacher's first and supreme quality, that which must give life and vigour to his compositions, and just scope to all his talents, lies in his being a good man, I mean a lover of God, and a friend
A preacher who has not felt the power, and imbibed the spirit of Christianity, is the most unfit person in the world to teach and recom. mend it to others."
* Fordyce's Art of Prçachingi
In such a condition he will find it a very hard service, to be always engaged in praying, studying, preaching, answering cases of conscience, visiting the sick and dying, &c. because, whatever he may be in appearance, his heart is unfriendly to the work. If, on the other hand, he has felt the gospel coming with power, the Holy Ghost, and much assurance, he will love it, because it tends to advance the glory of God, and the salvation of sinners. Having been made happy by the gospel himself, he longs that others should taste and see that the Lord is gracious. With such a temper, it becomes his meat and drink to be daily engaged in the various parts of ministerial duty. He puts on no forbidding airs, is easy of access, and by his benevolence, affability and piety, invites the distressed of every description, to enter into the freest conversation with him ; and enjoys a most sensible pleasure, when he is the means of lessening the distresses of mankind, whether of soul or body.
4. In fine, we infer, that while the ministers of the gospel are obliged to maintain all the parts of the sacred system, so far as they understand them, they ought to insist most of all on those that are immediately calculated to promote the greatest good of mankind: such, for instance, as tend to awaken the stupid conscience, direct the anxious sinner to Christ, and edify and build up believers in their most holy faith ; i. e. to enlighten and reform the world.
The positive institutions of religion are secr ondary objects; and though good in their place, ought by no means to be set in competition with the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, and the various Christian tempers.
A pious man of a liberal mind is anxious most of all that sinners should be converted to Jesus Christ. This end accomplished, he feels happy, and is willing that every man should be fully persuaded in his own mind, with respect to what are called the circumstantials of religion. He can truly say, “Send, Lord, by whom thou wilt send.” If the Redeemer's kingdom is advanced in the world, he rejoiceth, let who will be the instruments of it ; or let it be among what denomination of Christians it may.
It is to be lamented, my brethren, that those Christians who are united in the most essential truths of the gospel, should contend so much as they do about rites and ceremonies. Such conduct tends to create animosities, separate friends, and is very injurious to the general interests of religion. It looks as if we were more engaged to convert sinners to our party, than to Jesus Christ. Let us walk together as far as we can agree; and when we are brought to a stop by different opine ions or practices, let us agree to differ, and by no means fall out by the way. We are embark. ed in a common and glorious cause ; let us then contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. Iniquity abounds, the love of many waxeth cold, and false doctrines of extraordinary magnitude prevail. Let us then stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.
“Now unto him who hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father : to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."
GOD'S COMPASSION TO THE MISERABLE.
PSALM cii. 19, 20. For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary : from
beaven did the Lord behold the earth ; to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to loose those who are appointed to death.
THE youth on whose account I have chosen this passage, for the last time appears
in this assembly. Before we shall meet here again for public worship, he will be numbered with the dead! That body, now bound in chains, will be. committed to the dust, and his immortal spirit have passed to the throne of God, to receive an irrevocable sentence! This circumstance cannot fail of promoting an uncommon solemnity through this great congregation, and of exciting compassion towards the prisoner in every humane breast. A smile on any countenance on this occasion, will be looked upon as an evidence of a want of humanity. And I take it for granted, that those of you who have believed in Jesus, who know the consolations which his religion affords, and are acquainted with the value of an immortal soul, will assist the preacher by your prayers, that the word may be spoken as becomes the Oracles of God, and prove of infinite
Preached at the desire of Levi Ames, who attended on the occasion. He was executed før burglary, Oct. 21, 1773, aged 27.
advantage to the multitude, and especially to this poor young man. If ever plainness, zeal, and an artless address were necessary, it is now; when, amidst a crowd of dying men, there is one, who knows not only the day, but the hour, yea, min. ute of his dissolution. In such a situation, where shall support be found ? Only, my brethren, in the religion of the Bible ; which amply declares the grace and condescension of Jehovah, who « looked down from the height of his sanctuary: from heaven did the Lord behold the earth; to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to loose those who are appointed to death.” The very title of this psalm discovers its suitableness to the present occasion ; it is said to be “a prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his soul before the Lord.” We may well suppose, that this unhappy youth never knew before such an affliction as the present ; which he hath indeed brought upon himself, by repeated instances of theft and robbery : yet is he the object of our pity and prayers, and may be the subject of the free forgiveness of God in Christ; seeing the abounding of sin has been exceeded by the superabundance of divine grace. And admitting that the prisoner has a just sense of his guilty condition before God, he will passionately adopt the language of the context, “ Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee. Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble ; incline thine ear unto me. My heart is smitten, and withered like grass ; so that I forget to eat my bread,” &c.
After the psalmist had thus described the case of the afflicted, he brings to mind the following comfortable considerations, such as the eternity