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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 be 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
ll ever advance our eternal interests. Prenfee is sometimes marked by strong partialities in chings. The Jews were more willing to hear Paul The Hotove Son me; but when he had once mentioned risk being sent to the Gentiles, their indignation was so ennen, they refused to bear a word more. The angry Prenses were greted by his saying that he was a Prirsee. Arts. While the preacher speaks agree♫ as the bearers own opinion, they will attend, but will not merari farther. O what self-conceit, and self-gwenace and folly, is there in this! They expect the peearner sbocid not preach simply the truth, but vist mu plete them. Thus it was that Balak sent de Binim. Numb. xxiv, 10, 11. They wish him to jess and curse, not as the truth is, but according to their presidives. But there are those on the other hand, wie pre sch implicit confidence in the words of their teacher, as to receive every thing on his credit, without evazzination or reflection. This is making man their evofidence, instead of the divine word. peria, pesotical, 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 conviction of his own just deservings, cried out, It is the Lard, het 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, tells them to lay apart all filthiness, and superfluity of naughtiness. The term fillkiness denotes those lusts, appetites, and sins which defile the soul, such as, all 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,
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 hear 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 hear, in the way of tical rules, only bearing in 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 heed, teaches us to GUARD THOSE DANGERS TO WHICH WE ARE Let us consider in what respects we should
1. TAKE HEED 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 hear 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 proclaiming 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