Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

more public attempts. Attend therefore to the religious concerns of your children and servants; and do it with a gentleness suited to their age and circumstances. Frighten them not with a rigorous and austere severity; but, as St. Paul expresses it with regard to himself, be Gentle among them, even as a nurse cherisheth her children*. In short, let us all Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christt; and let us candidly receive one another, As we hope that Christ, with all our infirmities, hath received ust.

3. "What abundant encouragement is here for the feeblest soul, to commit itself to Christ!"

Let me now, on that encouragement, particularly address the exhortation to those, whose circumstances render it peculiarly their concern.

Let me address it to you, my younger friends, even to the children that hear me this day. We speak of the gentleness and goodness of Christ, on purpose to invite you to him. Go to him by faith and prayer, and say, "Blessed Jesus, I come to thee a poor weak tender creature; but it was in regard to such weakness, that thou hast been pleased to speak so graciously. I believe what I have heard, and I mean to venture my soul upon it. I flee to thee, as the helpless lamb to its shepherd, when hungry that he may feed it, when pursued by wild beasts, that he may defend it. Lord, open thine arms and thy bosom to me, though I am so inconsiderable a creature. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou ordainest praise§ Fill my heart with thy love, and my mouth with thy praise, and lead me on, till I may come to praise thee amongst the angels in heaven, and to serve thee as they do."

Let me address the exhortation also to the tempted and sorrowful soul. O thou afflicted, thou who art tossed with the tempest, and not comforted! Look unto Jesus. Let thy conflicts and dangers drive thee to him, though Satan would thereby attempt to drive thee from him. Accustom not thyself, to think of Christ as dreadful and severe. Terrify not thyself with the thought of the iron rod of his vengeance, whilst thou feelest thyself disposed to submit to the golden sceptre of his grace, to the pastoral rod by which he guides his sheep. And when thou findest thy doubts arising, flee to the representations and assurances of his word, so largely insisted on above; and

1 Thess. ii. 7.

§ Psal. viii. 2. Mat. xxi. 16.

+ Gal. vi. 2.

Rom. xv. 7.

Isa, liv. 11.

SERMON VIII.

POWER AND GRACE OF CHRIST.

The Evidences of Christianity briefly stated, and the New Testament proved to be Genuine.

2 Pet. i. 16.- -We have not followed cunningly devised Fables.

IT is

is undoubtedly a glory to our age and country, that the nature of moral virtue has been so clearly stated, and the practice of it so strongly enforced, by the views of its native beauty, and beneficial consequences, both to private persons, and societies. Perhaps in this respect, hardly any nation or time has equalled, certainly few, if any, have exceeded our own. Yet I fear I might add, there have been few ages or countries, where vice has more generally triumphed, in its most audacious, and, in other respects, most odious forms.

This may well appear a surprising case; and it will surely be worth our while to enquire into the causes of so strange a eircumstance. I cannot now enter into a particular detail of them. But I am persuaded, none is more considerable than that unhappy disregard, either to the gospel in general, or to its most peculiar and essential truths, which is so visible amongst us, and which appears to be continually growing. It is plain, that like some of old, who thought and professed themselves the wisest of mankind, or in other words the freest thinkers of their age, multitudes amongst us have not liked to retain God and his truths in their knowledge: And it is therefore the less to be wondered at, if God has given them over to a reprobate mind*; to the most infamous lusts, and enormities; and to a depth of degeneracy, which, while it is in part the natural consequence, is in part also the just, but dreadful punishment of their apostacy from the faith. And I am persuaded, that those who do indeed wish well to the cause of public virtue, as every true christian most certainly does, cannot serve it more

⚫ Rom. i. 28.

૨૧.

effectually, than by endeavouring to establish men in the belief of the gospel in general, and to affect their hearts with its most distinguishing truths.

The latter of these is our frequent employment, and is what I have particularly been attempting in the preceding discourses on the Power and Grace of the Redeemer: The former I shall now, by the divine assistance, apply myself to, in those that follow. And I have chosen the words now before us, as a proper introduction to such a design.

They do indeed peculiarly refer to the coming of our Lord, which the apostle represents as attested by that glory, of which he was an eye-witness on the Mount of Transfiguration, and by that voice from heaven which he heard there: But the truth of these facts is evidently connected with that of the gospel, in general. I am persuaded therefore, you will think they are properly prefixed to a discourse on the general Evidences of Christianity. And I hope, by the divine assistance, to propose them at this time in such a manner, as shall convince that you, the apostles had reason to say, and that we also have reason to repeat it, We have not followed cunningly devised fables*.

I have often touched on this subject occasionally, but I think it my duty at present to insist something more largely upon it. You easily apprehend, that it is a matter of the highest importance, being indeed no other than the great foundation of all our eternal hopes. While so many are daily attempting to destroy this foundation, it is possible, that those of you, especially, who are but entering on the world, may be called out To give a reason of the hope that is in yout. I would therefore, with the apostle, be concerned, that you may be ready to do it. It may fortify you against the artifices, by which the unwary are often deceived and ensnared, and may possibly enable you to Put to silence their foolishness. At least it will be for the satisfaction of your own minds, to have considered the matter seriously, and to be conscious to yourselves, that you are not christians merely by education, or example, as, had you been born elsewhere, you might have been Pagans or Mahometans; but that you are so upon rational evidence, and because, as the sacred historian expresses it, you Know the certainty of those things in which you have been instructed§.

To open and vindicate the proof of christianity in all its extent, would be the employment of many discourses; nor would it, on the whole, be proper to attempt it here. All that

2 Pet. i. 16, 17, 18. +1 Pet. iii. 15. + 1 Pet. ii, 15. § Luke i. 4.

SERMON VIII.

POWER AND GRACE OF CHRIST.

The Evidences of Christianity briefly stated, and the New Testament proved to be Genuine.

2 Pet. i. 16.We have not followed cunningly devised Fables.

IT is

is undoubtedly a glory to our age and country, that the nature of moral virtue has been so clearly stated, and the practice of it so strongly enforced, by the views of its native beauty, and beneficial consequences, both to private persons, and societies. Perhaps in this respect, hardly any nation or time has equalled, certainly few, if any, have exceeded our own. Yet I fear I might add, there have been few ages or countries, where vice has more generally triumphed, in its most audacious, and, in other respects, most odious forms.

This may well appear a surprising case; and it will surely be worth our while to enquire into the causes of so strange a eircumstance. I cannot now enter into a particular detail of them. But I am persuaded, none is more considerable than that unhappy disregard, either to the gospel in general, or to its most peculiar and essential truths, which is so visible amongst us, and which appears to be continually growing. It is plain, that like some of old, who thought and professed themselves the wisest of mankind, or in other words the freest thinkers of their age, multitudes amongst us have not liked to retain God and his truths in their knowledge: And it is therefore the less to be wondered at, if God has given them over to a reprobate mind*; to the most infamous lusts, and enormities; and to a depth of degeneracy, which, while it is in part the natural consequence, is in part also the just, but dreadful punishment of their apostacy from the faith. And I am persuaded, that those who do indeed wish well to the cause of public virtue, as every true christian most certainly does, cannot serve it more

⚫ Rom. i. 28.

૨૧.

effectually, than by endeavouring to establish men in the belief of the gospel in general, and to affect their hearts with its most distinguishing truths.

The latter of these is our frequent employment, and is what I have particularly been attempting in the preceding discourses on the Power and Grace of the Redeemer: The former I shall now, by the divine assistance, apply myself to, in those that follow. And I have chosen the words now before us, as a proper introduction to such a design.

They do indeed peculiarly refer to the coming of our Lord, which the apostle represents as attested by that glory, of which he was an eye-witness on the Mount of Transfiguration, and by that voice from heaven which he heard there: But the truth of these facts is evidently connected with that of the gospel, in general. I am persuaded therefore, you will think they are properly prefixed to a discourse on the general Evidences of Christianity. And I hope, by the divine assistance, to propose them at this time in such a manner, as shall convince you, that the apostles had reason to say, and that we also have reason to repeat it, We have not followed cunningly devised fables*.

I have often touched on this subject occasionally, but I think it my duty at present to insist something more largely upon it. You easily apprehend, that it is a matter of the highest importance, being indeed no other than the great foundation of all our eternal hopes. While so many are daily attempting to destroy this foundation, it is possible, that those of you, especially, who are but entering on the world, may be called out To give a reason of the hope that is in yout. I would therefore, with the apostle, be concerned, that you may be ready to do it. It may fortify you against the artifices, by which the unwary are often deceived and ensnared, and may possibly enable you to Put to silence their foolishness. At least it will be for the satisfaction of your own minds, to have considered the matter seriously, and to be conscious to yourselves, that you are not christians merely by education, or example, as, had you been born elsewhere, you might have been Pagans or Mahometans; but that you are so upon rational evidence, and because, as the sacred historian expresses it, you Know the certainty of those things in which you have been instructed§.

To open and vindicate the proof of christianity in all its extent, would be the employment of many discourses; nor would it, on the whole, be proper to attempt it here. All that

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »