Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

« he was fanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done

despite to the Spirit of grace.” Thus the neglect of the Lord's day, and of public Christian worship, is nothing less than to trample under foot the Son of God, contemn the blood of the everlasting covenant, reject the only sacrifice for fin, and do despite to the holy Spirit. It is falling away from Christianity. How could Chris. tianity be preserved in the world without public worship and ordinances? How could it be remembered that Jesus died and rose again? How could the flame of love be cherished ? With the loss of public worship, the loss of the Lord's day must follow; or be observ. ed for no religious or useful purpose; but merely in recreations and every excess. Thus important is the Lord's day, and the devout remembrance of it. This day and its institutions are the principal means of keeping alive the spirit of religion and the knowledge of redemption. To neglect them is the fure way to the loss of Christianity, both name and thing. See then the great sin and danger of forgetting this day; of forgetting the design of it-of casting contempt on the public ordinances of it—of dishonouring the day by unnecessary worldly labour, journeying, or conversation on fecular affairs, or by vain and trivial amuse

How deplorable is the state of that people, who have no fanctuary dedicated to God and his Sonwho have lost the remembrance of the Lord who bought us?

If Christianity be true, it is of the higheft importance. Among the gifts bestowed on the church, when the head of it “ ascended up above all heavens, that “ he might fill all things,” were “ apostles, prophets,

evangelists, pastors and teachers”—extraordinary and ordinary ministers. The following words fhew for what purpose they were given—" For the edify“ ing of the body of Christ : Till we all come in the “ unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the “ Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure “ of the stature of the fulness of Chrift.” Providing

ments.

for a succession in the ministry of reconciliation, he promised them

his presence while they keep to his instructions. “ He that heareth you, heareth me ; and “ he that despiseth you, despiseth me.” The gospel is preached for a witness, whether men will hear it or not. If they receive it, they improve the means God hath ordained for their instruction in righteousness and growth in grace: If they reject it, they refuse the means of religion, and have no cloak for their sin and folly.

In the light of the Christian revelation, the separation of the Lord's day from other days, and the institutions of the Christian sanctuary, we are lift up to beaven. God forbid that these privileges should be abused or neglected. Happy for us, if we really know their value. The present age appears to be in no dan. ger of a superstitious regard to the Lord's day. Lib. erties are taken and permitted which consist not with the sanctification of it. Heads of families would render an essential service to their house, and to society, by a care that this day may be religiously observed by all under their inspection and government. A reformation in this matter must begin with them. And for their laudable endeavors in this thing, their children and household will remember them in time to come, and call them blessed.

May our young people consider feriously of what moment it will be to them, in all time to come, to remember the Lord's day in their youth—to honour the memory of their Redeemer, and reverence the house of God, and the ordinances of it.

o that there were this heart in them! God would think upon them for good. The generation to come would be a generation of his praise. The hearts of all pious men would rejoice. Aged saints, with such a prospect that religion would adorn those who are to come after them, might exult, “ Let thy servant de

part in peace; for mine eyes have seen thy falva« tion."

SERMON XI.

THE EXCELLENCE OF RELIGION.

PROVERBS xii, 26.

THE RIGHTEOUS MAN IS MORE EXCELLENT THAN HIS NEIGHBOUR; BUT

THE WAY OF THE WICKED SEDUCETH THEM.

THE

HE neighbour, with whom the righteous man is compared, is the wicked man. We will, first, point out the characteristic difference between the righteous man and his vicious neighbour. Secondly, Exhibit the excellence of religion in various particular illustrations of the subject.

We propose, FIRST, to point out the characteristic difference between the righteous man and his vicious neighbour.

When it is said, The way of the wicked seduceth them, it is implied that the way which the righteous choose is plain, safe and happy. “The path of the just is as “ the shining light, which shineth more and more. The

way of the wicked is as darkness, they know not at “ what they stumble.” They cherish vain and imagi. nary hopes of happiness. The choice they make, the course they pursue, deceives them to their own destruction. The pious man bewares of the error of the wicked. “Every one who doeth evil, hateth the light, “ neither cometh to the light, left his deeds should be “ reproved.” Because these are evil, he prefers darkness to light. “But he that doeth truth, cometh to " the light, that it may be made manifest that his deeds

are wrought in God.”

The difference between the righteous man and his neighbour consists not in any distinction of birth, rank or external circumstances; of natural abilities or human acquirements. The former may be of mean parentage, and the latter a prince by birth. The former may be placed in the lowest room, and the latter called up to the highest. The former may be poor, and the latter rich. The former may have but one talent, and the latter five. The former may be despised, reviled and persecuted ; and the latter esteemed, applauded and highly favoured. These things notwithstanding, the righteous man is more excellent than his neighbour.

Let us attend to the standard of excellence, as applied to intelligent creatures. No distinctions, which nature or providence has made, no adventitious qualities, or merely human acquisitions, constitute this ex cellence. It is a renovation of the soul after the image of God; the imitation of his moral perfections ; acquiescence and joy in his government; firm confidence in his promises; a view of him as our reconciled God through the Mediator; together with the highest fatisfaction and hope springing from the persuasion of his special love. If the perfections of God are infinitely amiable, the just object of the supreme veneration and delight of all his intelligent offspring, then a conform ity to him in righteousness and true holiness conftitutes an excellence with which no other may compare. We feel agreeable sensations in contemplating the beauties of nature and art. Natural beauty and harmony are pleasing. Benignity of temper and fuavity of manners are attractive. Much more should those dispositions of the heart be engaging, which conform the offspring of God to their divine Parent, who only is holy--effentially, perfectly and immutably so—the source of all good; the original of all excellence.

We propose the following distinct illustrations of our subject. Religion is excellent as it implies a thoughtful, candid mind, attentive to the nature and consequences of its volitions and actions, and impressed with a sense of accountableness-As it involves supreme love of the greatest and best of Beings, and universal charityAs it also involves the various virtues of self-government. Its excellence further appears upon a comparifon with the opposite character.

First, Religion is excellent; for it implies a thoughtful, candid mind, attentive to the nature and consequences of its volitions and actions, and impressed with a sense of accountableness.

A rational creature, on probation for eternity, and yet living without reflection, is like the beasts that perish. Or if he reflects with no other view than to accomplish the end of his appetites, this is but to make reason subservient to the passions. The inspiration of the Almighty hath given us understanding, that we might contemplate him in his works; consider our relation to him as his creatures, entirely dependent and infinitely indebted; the end for which we were made; and the account, which, as moral agents, we must render to him. Candid enquiry, on all important subjects, and especially on the most important, denotes impartial fearch after truth; a faithful use of means for the discovery of it; attention to evidence exhibited, in opposition to finifter views or prejudices, which pervert the judgment. The only object in view is, to

know the truth, the good and right way. The spirit * of religion always desires to know and do the will of

God. It seeks his direction, and follows where he leadeth. Not exercising itself in things too high for the human intellect, it receives his testimony, without demanding, How can these things be? Why hath God thus determined? We receive the witness of man, who may deceive or be deceived. Shall we hesitate whether to admit the witness of the God of truth ? He guideth the meek and humble in his righteous paths. Such shall understand; but the wicked, leaning to their own understanding, shall not. Humble enquiry,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »