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brought on themselves by, a wretched choice - that of refusing duly to hear aright.
Hearing the word aright is then a duty of vast importance; and a duty which it will be desirable more fully to explain. The church of England, ever alive to man's insufficiency, beautifully states this duty in a prayer in the Litany—“That it may please thee to give to all thy people increase of grace, to hear meekly thy word, and to receive it with pure affection, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit.” The same duty is fully summed up in the following answers in the Assembly's Catechism –“ It is required of those that bear the word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation, and prayer, examine what they hear by the Scriptures, receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind as the word of God; meditate, and confer of it in their hearts, and bring forth the fruits of it in their lives.”
But let us enter more particularly into our Lord's direction, Take heed how ye luear, in the way of practical rules, only bearing iù mind, that while the grace of the Holy Spirit blesses the word to our real good, that same Spirit prepares the heart to receive it aright, and gives suitable dispositions that we may hear with profit.
We will first shew what is to be guarded against in hearing; then explain the nature of due hearing; and lastly, give some practical directions that may assist us thus to hear.
I. The precept, take keed, teaches us to GUARD AGAINST THOSE DANGERS TO WHICH WE ARE EXPOSED. Let us consider in what respects we should take heed :
I. TAKË HELD TO YOUR MOTIVES IN GOING TO HEAR: What is the object which you have in view ? There are many unworthy ends, such as curiosity, criticism, entertainment, or even mere general information about religious topics. These are not the ends at which we should aim. Hearing is not to gratify men's curiosity, but to save their souls; yet it is rather some novelty that attracts most men's attention that the simple statement of the most solid truths. If there be a funeral sermon for any public character, crowded congregations will attend, and eagerly listen to those parts which relate to the individual; if there be a missionary sermon, those parts which contain facts relative to the heathen will excite most attention. If we may judge of men's motives by their conversation, some come merely like the Athenians, to bear something new; some to know what will be said on any particular doctrines by the preacher, or to be able to talk about him, and his style, and manner of preaching: others come rather to see what is passing than to hear; but *** to enter the house of God, to have our eyes and ears entertained and not our hearts reformed, must certainly be most displeasing to God." Inconstancy of attendance is frequently connected with this spirit, and such lose the benefits of that full course of divine truth which regular hearers attending one ministry receive. Let us, like the poor man at the pool of Bethesda, who patiently waited many years, and at last was blessed by the Saviour, patiently attend the ministry of the Gospel, and we shall also doubtless receive a blessing. The preaching of the word is an act of grace proclaim'ing infinitely more than the remission of human penalties, or any temporal evil; it proclaims God's favour to sinners for their eternal good. Shall we spend the time in criticism, curious remarks, and the like, * we should be eagerly listening to the message, PEPSI directions, and embracing its blessings?
Tate head of INATTENTION. There is ofted a Le bearing rets prejudicial to all success in 22. the wistry. It was the case with the has ad Air, sans Isaiah, ye deaf, and look, ye ta'ns; and St. Paul, in the Epistle to i Heas Prices the same thing-Ye are dull of LETS "
Tutte time ye ought to be reachers, e lied*****lach ar again, ichich be the first t","dymas Gied. Heb. v, 11. Such are
il as to temporal thous; but of spiritual things te sy, mati * Pryk is i'! Val. i, 18. They have cmiär fortoshose who asked, When will the new uz & ? Y el xil cern; and the sabbath? tàzt Hy my ****** rent? Amos viii, 5. It is observed by Cradeck, that A minister may have a great congregation, and set but for hearers, if their minds be stutina with the worted before they come; if they bring their trades, their bargains, their plough, their worldly busness along with them. David says of idols, They hare ears, bul kaar wel. We have too many such idols in our congregations." Some are asleep, even when they have no bodily infirmity to plead : what a dishonour do they put on religion! what an infectious and evil example to others! what contempt of the presence of God! The Bible records one instance in which drowsiness bad nearly been followed by irrecoverable death, to be as it were a warning to all sleepers. When Paul was preaching at Troas, and continued his speech until midnight, there sat in the window a certain young mani named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep; and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and
fell from the third loft, and was taken up dead. There seemed some excuse for drowsiness at so late an hour, and during so long a discourse; but the record seems left not merely to evidence the divine power in his restoration to life, but also to be a caution against that which brought him into dauger. While every allowance should be made for natural weakness and infirmities, which disable seme from that attention which they desire to give, and which it is their grief and burden that they cannot give; while we would give to such every advantage of our Lord's kind remark, the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is reak; yet such should remember his question -What! could we not watch with me one hour? And here much might be done, by moderation in food, or by taking a short rest at home previously, or perhaps by standing up part of the time. But there are those who, though they have no natural infirmity, seem, as soon as the sermon commences, to compose themselves as if they designed to sleep through it. O let such remember the majesty and dignity of the great Jehovah in whose house they are assembled ! How can they receive a message from him, or obtain the gifts of his Spirit, or the riches of his grace, in such a drowsy state of mind! Some manifestly attend so carelessly and negligently, that what is preached, can harılly be profitably received by them. If they are not thinking of something else, they yet think no longer of what they hear, than while the words are sounding in their ears. Let these things be felt and mourned; let them discover your alienution from God, your ruin and depravity, and thus lead you to be earnest in seeking divine grace. Attention is absolutely needful to profitable hearing; just as while the mouth of the vessel is closed, it is in vain that we attempt to fill it, by pouring any liquid npon it; so inattention effectualls closes the ear and prevents the reception of knowledge, however abundant the instruction given may be! Lose not all your labour and time in coming to bear. When Samuel attends to God's voice, and says, Speak, for thy servant henreth, then lie receives the revelation of the divine will. 1 Sam. iii, 1–14. In the time of Nehemiah, on the revival of religion, it is said, that the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the lun. Nehem. viii, 3. And so in the time of our Lord it is said, all the people were very attentive to hear him; EngeuXTO, hanged on him, as it is in the margin.) Luke xix, 48. Do you wish to be preserved from inattention ? remember the importance of hearing, and the danger of negligence. It helps attention to look at the minister, and is an indication of it; the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue, were fastened on our Lord, when they were eagerly interested. Luke iv, 20. Remember also, that the spirit of attention comes freely from God our gracious Father: The Lord opened Lydia's heart, that ske attended to the things which were spoken of Paul. Acts xvi, 4. « The Lord turns away the eye and ear of sinners from seeing or hearing vanity, causes his voice to be heard, cures the spirit of slumber, and awakens out of sleep, that he may give light and life."
Take heed of PREJUDICES. Some come to hear with their minds filled with their own notions. They have adopted bigh doctrinal views, and cannot bear to have practice insisted upon; or, on the other hand, they dislike to have the doctrines of the Gospel prominently brought forward, and had rather hear moral disquisitions on the excellence of virtue, which never trouble the conscience, nor renew the heart. They have an undue partiality for or against particular