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individuals. Prejudices may arise from various causes, from education, the opinion of others, early associations, and the like. But the love of sin, and the want of a holy submission to the mind and will of God, are the principal causes. Prejudices may he taken up against the very best of ministers. Jeremiah had to complain in his day, (Jer. vi, 10.) To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear! Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken! behold, the word of the Lord is to them a reproach, and they have no delight in it! The Jews were prejudiced against our Lord Jesus Christ. They were offended with him on account of the meanness of his birth, (Matt. xiii,57.) and therefore he could neither do any mighty works, nor preach the Gospel among them. Often on this account they rejected his words. We have a remarkable instance of this, Luke iv, 16-30. Every thing seemed hopeful and promising in the commencement of that discourse; the subject was full of consolation ; they were deeply interested, (ver. 20.) they all bare him witness, and wondered at his gracious words; and then Satan injects a prejudice, Is not this Joseph's son? Our Lord meets the prejudice by appealing to sentiments common among themselves, and to the history of their fathers; but still, so powerful was the stream of prejudice, that the very means employed to abate it, only swelled it the more; and though our Lord was the preacher, all they in the synagogue were filled with such wrath, that they sought to destroy the Lord himself. Thus they rejected his Gospel, and perhaps perished for ever. There is a great difference between being cut to the heart, (Acts vii, 54.) and being pricked in the heart. Acts ii, 37. O let us guard against those prejudices which may ruin, and cultivate that broken and
tender spirit which will ever advance our eternal interests. Prejudice is sometimes marked by strong partialities in little things. The Jews were more willing to hear Paul in the Hebrew tongue; but when he had once mentioned his being sent to the Gentiles, their indignation was so excited, they refused to hear a word more. The angry Pharisees were quieted by his saying that he was a Pharisee. Acts xxiii. While the preacher speaks agreeably to the hearers' own opinion, they will attend, bat will not regard him farther. O what self-conceit, and self-ignorance and folly, is there in this! They expect the preacher should not preach simply the truth, but what will please them. Thus it was that Balak sent for Balaam. Numb. xxiv, 10, 11. They wish him to bless and curse, not as the truth is, but according to their prejudices. But there are those on the other hand, who place such implicit confidence in the words of their teacher, as to receive every thing on his credit, without examination or reflection. This is making man their confidence, instead of the divine word. plain, practical, self-condemning, and heart-exposing instructions which they receive, offend and prejudice some, so that they cannot bear to hear. What a contrast to this was the spirit of Eli, who, looking beyond the instrument of conveying the distasteful and painful truths which he heard, fixed his eye on the great Governor of all, and humbling himself under the couviction of his own just deservings, cried out, It is the Lord, bet him do what seemeth him good! 1 Sam. iii, 18. It is the gracious office of the Holy Spirit to remove prejudices from the mind, and therefore the Apostle prays, that the Epehsians might have given to them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, the eyes of their understanding being enlightened.
Take heed to PUT AWAY YOUR SINS. This direction is needful even for Christians. The Apostle James, speaking to those begotten with the word of truth, that is, truly regenerated and converted by the Gospel, teils them to lay apart all filthiness, and superfluity of naughtiness. The term filthiness denotes those lusts, appetites, and sins which defile the soul, such as, ali gluttony, drunkenness, excess, and uncleanness; all eager pursuit of worldly things,* needless indulgence of the body, covetousness, and earthly-mindness. These things, under whatever name the world may sanction them, are to be laid apart as exceedingly opposite to truly receiving the word of God. The more our heart hankers after, or desires, or relishes such things, the less we are disposed to regard divine truth. They are like superfluous and hurtful weeds that take up the room of other things, and render the soil unprofitable; they hiuder the reception and growth of the good seed. Then all superfluity of naughtiness, the overflowings of malignity, as self-will, pride, and hatred, equally hinder the due reception of the word. Yet the regenerate man is not free from such temptations, and the inward working of the heart after such sins. St. Peter, speaking also to those born of God, tells them to lay aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings. These things are to be put away with godly sorrow for our natural corruption, and much care and earnestness.
* I know one good man who has found it a most beneficial practice, to put aside all the ordinary employments of the family after six o'clock on Saturday evening; the needles of the ladies, and the dolls of the children are laid aside, and every preparation is made for giving all the Sabbath, as much as may be, to its holy duties.
Directions for Hearing the Word.
THE subjects of the Christian Ministry are truths of
immense moment. Our total ruin by nature, our awful danger, our utter inability to help ourselves, the astonishing love of the Almighty in giving his Son to die for sinners, the free and full salvation provided for the guilty, deliverance from the divine wrath, with its tremendous issue in eternal ruin, and restoration to peace with God, to holiness, to eternal life and glory; such subjects demand a consideration suitable to their unutterable magnitude. But there is this additional reason for regarding and receiving them-our future, our final happiness depends on a cordial reception; our future, our final, our eternal loss, must be the result of a wilful and persevering rejection of them. Our Lord gives a solemn admonition on this very point-Take heed, therefore, how ye hear; for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.
What motives to hear aright, have you here, both in the promise and in the threatening! The promise assures you, to him that hath, shall be given. He that disposes you to hear aright, and retain what you hear, shall multiply his blessings on you. Your delight in, and obedience to, his word, shall be a sure evidence that you belong to Christ, and are going to his glory. While you are thus hearing, he will replenish you with his grace, and in the very use of the means your soul
shall be quickened, nourished, and strengthened. Sometimes, indeed, God magnifies the riches of his grace, in the unexpected and sudden conversion of a notorious sinner; but ordinarily "he only visits with the power of his word, those who humbly wait to know what he would have them to do, and sends unqualified hearers not only empty but hardened away." And as his riches are inexhaustible, so he is never weary of enriching his sons. Que truth duly received, shall prepare the way for another; that for a third, till they come to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. They shall grow in gruce, and in the knowledge of Christ, till they appear in Zion, and are filled with all the fulness of God.
But how solemn is the threatening to those who neglect to hear aright-Whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he seemeth to have. Negligence in hearing is the sure way to lose all the advantages which you possess. All the means of grace thus unimproved will be taken away. Thus God sent upon Israei a famine of hearing the word of the Lord. Such a famine is, as we have shewn, the worst of all famines; for it is the inlet to every other evil. All our fancied knowledge, gifts, and attainments, shall be found of no avail, where there is not inward religion, a heart sanctified, and devoted to God. They who bury their talent in a napkin, shall have it taken from them. They who hide their light under a bushel, are in danger of being left in outer darkness, destitute of every thing, save the distressing and agonizing remembrance of wilfully and irrecoverably lost opportunities of attaining the highest blessing, and escaping never-ending sorrow; save the torturing reflection that all their present misery, with the sad prospect of its eternal duration, was