Page images

and walked unto the house of God in company. Ps. lv, 14. In some families, there is a good practice for one member of the family to put in writing full heads of the sermon, and to let it be read over before family prayer in the evening. Such a practice must greatly help the minister's labour and the hearer's profit. It must also be a benefit to those members of the family who were prevented hearing. It has been observed, "If attendance on children, or other necessary occasions, cause us to keep our servants at home, when others are busied in the service of the church, we should do our endeavours to supply the loss of public instruction, by our private admonitions, and by rehearsing at home. those good directions which we received in the public ministry." With this should be joined, questioning the children of the family, and their being instructed in some catechism.*

VIEW THE SUBJECT BROUGHT BEFORE YOU WITH REFERENCE TO PRACTICE. Each doctrine or duty which may have been treated of in the Sermon, should be practically considered as it affects your future conduct. Has the subject of the minister been the law of God in its purity, excellence, and extent? let it suggest these thoughts-I see how guilty I am, I feel that I cannot be justified by that law which I must acknowledge to be just and good; how great my ruin;

* Among the multitude of little works of the present day, in the catechistical form, it might be difficult and invidious to mention any in particular; the Church Catechism broken into short Questions; the Exposition published by the Bristol Church of England Tract Society; the Rev. W. Marsh's Catechism, and the useful Catechisms of the Rev. Basil Woodd, and his Abridgment of Gastrell in the catechistical form, with Dr. Watts's Catechisms and his Scripture History, will be familiar to our reader.

how immense the necessity of a redeemer and sanctiñer! Let me go to him without delay for pardon and strength. Has the subject been our salvation by the death of Christ? let it be thus improved; O how evil is sin that required such sufferings from a Being so glorious; how great God's love; let me thankfully part with every thing that would hinder my obtaining an interest in so great a salvation! Has the subject been our fallen nature! let it lead you to think, O my miserable condition through sin, who can utter all the malignancy of sin! what an infinite mercy that I have not been left to perish in so great a ruin, but though I am fallen in Adam, there is a way of recovery in Christ. Has the subject been repentance? let it lead you to self-enquiry, whether you can discern in your own heart the marks of true repentance; let it shew you how hard your heart is, that sorrows so little for your many sins, and how great the Saviour's grace that gives repentance! In this way practically apply to your own individual conduct the various truths delivered to you, that you may be really edified by what you hear.

Besides recollecting, meditating on, conversing about, and practically viewing the truths which you hear, REFER CONSTANTLY ΤΟ THE WORD OF GOD. The Bereans, as we have noticed in the preceding chapter, searched in private, whether the doctrine of the Apostles accorded with the Scriptures: they did this daily, diligently studying and investigating the different testimonies of the word, just as a judge carefully goes through all the evidence that has been presented before him, omitting nothing that is material, that he may give a right judgment. Every faithful minister will rejoice to find his people thus searching the Scriptures for themselves. It is a first principle of

the protestant religion. It is the very point to which it is most desirable that our hearers should be brought, that their faith may be in God, and not in man. The daily study of the Bereans seems to say to us, "Do not be content merely with hearing the Gospel from your minister on the Sunday: let the holy Bible itself be your chief confidence, your every-day companion. Nor is it a light matter on which your judgment is to be formed. It concerns eternity, and more imperatively demands attention than any other subject whatsoever, for thus faith cometh, and from faith, salvation." See the happy Bereans now in eternal bliss. Partakers through faith of Christ's salvation, they were blessed in him; and could we now behold them, we should see them rejoicing before the throne of God, blessed through all eternity, having entered into the full enjoyment of that promise, whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Is not that glory worth a little sacrifice and self-denial, worth a little giving up of our prejudices, and passions, and sinful indulgences; worth submitting our dark understandings to the clearlyrevealed mind of God, and the gracious teachings of his Holy Spirit?

But while Christians have an undoubted right to try all that they hear by the divine standard, do not abuse this right, and make it foster pride; do not make your own opinion, instead of scripture, the judge. Where hearers do this, a faithful sermon, full of scriptural truth, may be reproached by one as legal, by another as Antinomian, by another as Calvinistic, by another as Arminian, by another as mere morality; while all the time, the plain truths of the Bible only were delivered. Be not thus partial judges of your ministers. There are those who enjoy religious advantages, which millions

earnestly covet, who put away all from them, and, as i surfeited with the heavenly manna, despise and reject the bread of life. O then let us be serious and humbl enquirers; and not presumptuous judges of what we hear!

But the most important work after all is, in retirement, and with all earnestness, to PRAY for the blessing a God. He, he only, giveth the increase. O let us honou his Spirit by looking for that aid, as the only efficien improver of all we hear, the only guide, sanctifier, and comforter of our souls. No regulations, however excellent, without the blessed Spirit's holy and heavenly grace, will do us any good. Satan does not fly from human words and resolutions. He is eager to take

away the precious seed. Let us go to our closets then, let us kneel before God, let us earnestly, with uplifted hands, and all ardour of desire, spread the sermon which we have heard, and our own insufficiency to obey, before Him whose grace is sufficient. He will give grace to help in time of need. As the minister should go from his knees to the house of God, and return thither; so the people will find rich spiritual blessings from a similar course. It is the office of the Holy Spirit to bring to our remembrance the things which we have heard. John xiv, 26. Let the substance of the sermon be turned into prayer and intercession, and we shall receive the life-giving influence of the Holy Spirit, making it the power of God to our salvation.



O Lord God, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, I give unto thee unfeigned thanks for the

[ocr errors]

ght of thy Gospel, and for the opportunity which I ave now had of hearing thy holy word.

Pardon my dulness and inattention, my unbelief and carelessness; and notwithstanding my many defects, O do thou give me an abundant increase to the good seed which has been sown in my heart. Let thy Holy Spirit bring thy word to my remembrance, and make it sanctifying, and fruitful to thy glory, and my eternal good. Let not my spiritual enemies prevail against me; but may I have grace from thee duly to improve my present advantages, and to become wise unto salvation.


O thou, who to them that have no might increasest strength; thou, who art my reconciled Father in Christ Jesus, full of compassion, and plenteous in mercy, thou knowest my great weakness, and how soon temptations and trials, and the cares of the world would hinder all real profit from thy word. I look up then to thee, I look even to thee alone, to cause that which I have heard to be an abiding blessing to my soul. May thy Holy Spirit write thy law in my heart, and cause me to walk in thy statutes and judgments. O give me a spiritual discernment of the truth, and incline my heart to a practical obedience to it, so that I may not only be a hearer but a doer of the word. May I thus, by the fruits of a holy life, glorify thy great name, and have it made manifest to my own conscience, that thou hast from the beginuing chosen me to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth. All this, with every spiritual blessing, I ask in the worthy name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

« EelmineJätka »