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how we should yield ourselves to be properly stirred by them, and impressed.
Let, then, each man know it to have been naturally his case, and suppose it still to be so, unless he can shew proof to the contrary, that he has ample cause to tremble at the purity and strictness of the word of truth ;let each man, I say, take up this conviction, and study to keep it alive within him, during all his intercourse with that sacred volume. And, in order thereto, never be willing either to read or hear the smallest portion of it with irreverent and inattentive minds. Whether or not, one may again take it up, the heart (originally hard) will be made harder, by every such instance of neglect: to slight a thing of importance to-day, is the very worst preparation for reverting to it with reverence to-morrow, or at any future period. Accordingly, every wise person will give heed, on all opportunities, to Holy Scripture, with a view to further by it his repentance and salvation, lest he become, in default of doing so, more dangerously impenitent than before. One of this description will not suddenly betake himself to the Bible, from any trifling employment or conversation, but will previously recall his thoughts, and breathe a prayer to the Divine Author of it, that his stony heart may be wrought upon by
a perusal of it's highly interesting revelations. Likewise afterward, he will not directly hasten into the midst of worldly occupations, if by any means he can have time to pause a little, and let that which he may have profitably learned take root within him.--This, my brethren, is the way to provide that the word of righteousness and of life shall have a good effect. Thus received and cherished, one chapter, or even one verse, may prove far more touching and beneficial, than all its chapters otherwise read through and through. The nature and spirit of the book will seem like a newly discovered treasure. You will be apt to rend your hearts, though not your garments, on perceiving, the first time, how angry the Lord may well be at your deficient obedience, in many respects, to His will. You will thence proceed anxiously to inquire what He hath said concerning sinners, and will fully embrace His great salvation, in order to your deliverance from the wrath to come. All, no doubt, must die, notwithstanding their best repentance and conversion. Yet, if any, like Josiah, will humble themselves, and turn unto God, through fear of His judgments, He will not leave them to die eternally. He will give them peace, and a . good hope for the present, and at their latter end, and having redeemed and sanctified them
by His Son and Spirit, will, hereafter, bless them for ever in the glorious mansions of His heavenly kingdom.
HAGGAI i. 7.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts ; Consider your ways. SCARCELY ever hath a message
a from God unto His people, been delivered with a greater urgency of repetition, or in terms of more commanding import, than this, which I have just recited. All Scripture is given by Divine inspiration, and should accordingly be received throughout with an uniform obedience and respect; yet, lest any should be willing to let it slip, the commandment before us is introduced with a special declaration of it's high authority;—“ Thus saith the Lord of hosts." Whatever He saith, though once only, we are bound seriously to observe and to obey ; but here the same words are delivered a second time by the Prophet in His name. With the omission of a single intervening verse, we have to read,6 Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; “Consider your ways:"_“Thus saith the Lord “ of hosts; Consider your ways."
The original occasion of this injunction, re
peated in such an impressive manner, was the unworthy remissness of the Jews about rebuilding the temple of the Lord, after their return from Babylon. By His mercy they had been suffered to go free, and again to occupy their native land. Instead, however, of shewing a zeal to do him honour, commensurate with the great things which He had done for them, “ The time,” they said, “ is not come,
, 66 the time that the Lord's house should be - built.” The building and adorning of habitations for themselves to dwell in, seemed, in their eyes, of greater importance than the raising up of His holy habitation from it's ruins. That, in consequence of some hinderances which had interrupted their first exertions to restore it, (Ezra iv.) they determined to leave a while longer in the dust, and accordingly took up a habit of asserting, one to another, that the time for attempting it afresh, was not come. Whereupon, the word of the Lord upbraided them, by the prophet Haggai, expostulating “ Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your “ ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?” And then he required of them, as I have stated, to consider their ways, signifying that it betokened a wrong bent in them, thus to prefer their own convenience, and was, in fact, causing ill success and unfruitful seasons to be judicially