« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
ment of our several talents, to promote the cause of Christianity in our several circles. It seems evident, on scriptural principles, that the company of real be. lievers, who unite in prayer for the land, constitutes its best security in these alarming times; and in proportion as they, understand and perform their several parts consistently, the number of them may be ex. pected to increase. While therefore, they to whom the care of outwardly providing for our national defence, are sedulously employed, in enlisting and disciplining soldiers, and manning our navy, by which the force of the nation becomes gradually more formidable: it is our concern to use every means of increasing the number of true Christians, and of promoting their edification; that these peaceful warriors may be multiplied, and rendered more expert and prompt in the use of their spiritual armour. If every real believer should, in the course of a few years, be an instrument of adding but one or two to this company; the number would be soon doubled or trebled. If every faithful minister should be prospered, besides his other use. fulness, in calling forth one or two to preach the gospel fully and effectually; what a progress might we expect to make in a course of time! And if Christians in general were better acquainted with every part of their holy religion; they would more 'edify one an. other, and “ let their light shine much more before “men."
Parents, masters of families, and all especially who have influence over others, should diligently study the duties of their several relations, and earnestly pray to
be enabled properly to fulfil them. They should be very assiduous in correcting whatever is faulty in their own conduct and tempers, and in exhibiting genuine Christianity in its native beauty by their examples; while they endeavour, by their conversation and every suitable means to recommend it to others. The effect of such a plan, if generally adopted and cordially en. tered on by all real Christians, would probably in the course of a few years be immense. This, this, my brethren is the grand thing wanting among us: the revival of religion must begin in the church; and when they who preach and profess the peculiar doctrines of Christianity, shall with one consent make it their lead. ing aim to “ let their conversation be, as it becometh “ the gospel of Christ,” while “they stand fast in one “ spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith " of the gospel;” I have no doubt but a general and rapid spread of true religion will be witnessed; not. withstanding all the conspiracies of infidels, or the ef. forts and expectations of such, as sedulously devise to substitute a more philosophical system in the room of " the doctrine of God our Saviour.” Indeed, whenever it shall please the LORD to enlarge the boundaries of his church, according to the prophecies of his holy word; he will, we may be confident, previously purify her from all false doctrine, superstition, and iniquity; and rouse his people from lukewarmness; take them off from unprofitable disputes; cure them of their propensity to make some doctrines, that are much con. troverted but ill understood, and excuse for neglecting
their most evident duties; and excite them to improve their several talents to the glory of his name.
Let me further observe, my brethren, that the principle, on which I have attempted to explain the dealings of Providence in respect of this nation, is no other than that of Christianity itself: so that every true believer, reviewing his past experience and conduct, will perceive and thankfully acknowledge, that the LORD “ hath wrought,” in respect of him," for his own " name's sake;" and will be able to form the senti. ment into a powerful plea, in prayer for all that is yet wanting to complete his salvation; and to enable him through life to act consistently with his profession, and to be “ stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the “ work of the LORD, as knowing that his labour is not “ in vain in the Lord.” Whatever wisdom or ability is necessary to the magistrate, the minister, the parent, the head of a family, or the man possessed of wealth and influence, in order to fill up his station to the ho. nour of the gospel; he may on this ground confidently expect it, in answer to his prayers, notwithstanding his conscious unworthiness: because the glory of God is concerned in the conduct of every individual who professes his truth; which will be dishonoured, yea, blasphemed, among unbelievers, if he act inconsistently with his profession.
To conclude, it is not necessary, that I should speak particularly to you my brethren, on the way in which we ought to celebrate a day of publick thanksgiving. The disciple of Christ cannot mistake carnal mirth for humble gratitude. My rejoicing, for the most seasona
ble and important victories, must be mingled with sympathetick tears on account of the numbers, whether friends or foes, who are bowed down with a load of sorrow for events connected with our national suc. cess. This cannot consist with boisterous exulting joy: but it suits with the spirit of reflecting admiring gratitude, and tends to preserve the mind from every extreme.
Though unable, from peculiar circumstances, to adopt the same plan; yet I cannot but bear my testi. mony on this occasion to the conduct of those ministers and congregations, who accompany their grateful tribute of adoring praises to our gracious God, with publick collections for the relief of the widows and orphans of those our defenders who have fallen in battle, or for other charitable purposes. A hint is sufficient: your
individual liberality may supply the want of a publick contribution; and the money that numbers spend in intemperate feastings, and other customary expressions of joy; if employed in relieving distress, and making glad the heart of the sorrowful, as the genuine effect of evangelical principles, will be “fruit “ which shall abound to your own account;” yea,
it will be,“ a sacrifice, acceptable, well-pleasing unto “ God,” through Christ Jesus our Lord; to whom, with the Father and the eternal Spirit, the One God of our salvation, be ascribed glory and honour, praise and thanksgiving, for ever and ever, Amen.
PSALM CXVI. 2.
Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore
will I call upon him as long as I live.
THIS Psalm is not expressly ascribed to David: yet it is generally supposed to have been written by him. He is called in scripture “the man after God's own “ heart:” and it has often been enquired on what account this high character is given him. Among other reasons, this may be assigned; that in every circum. stance of danger and difficulty, he made the Lord his Refuge and Confidence, and sought him by the fervent prayer of faith; and whenever he obtained deliverance and success, he ascribed all the glory to God, and ren. dered to him the tribute of adoring grateful praise.
I purpose to apply the verse, which I have read, to our concern in the publick affairs of the church and nation.--Not one only, but multitudes in concert, both
• Preached at the close of a series of lectures, on the signs and duties of the times, by a society of clergymen, in or near London, and published at their unanimous request, 1802.