Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the subject, and how it will promote your eternal interests.

Be sure never to hear without prayer : he that hears a minister says one, before he has prayed for him, is like him that sets down to his meat before he has craved a blessing. I fear the cares of the world, the multiplicity of business that closes the Saturday evening, the hurry and preparations for the body on a sabbath day morning, sometimes render professors very forgetful of this part of their duty. Lay it down as a rule, if you wish to profit, never to neglect this. Short and silent ejaculations also may be easily addressed to the divine throne. This will tend to keep the mind in a right frame, and you may expect that your supplications shall not be in vain. · Above all, hear with a design to reduce to practice. It is the best eulogium you can pass on a preacher, to let him see that his sermons are pub. lished in your temper and life. It is not having a great memory, or merely retaining the several parts or divisions of the sermon, but feeling its effect upon our hearts, that is of the greatest consequence. But even our memories would not be so bad, had we but a greater relish for the word : * an affectionate hearer will not be a forgetful hearer; love helps the memory,” if not as to all the particulars, yet as to the main thing. As a good woman, answered one, who asked her what she remembered of the sermon ? she said, she could not at present recal much, but she heard that which should make her reform some things as soon as she came home.

Many things more might be observed upon this subject, but I shall only just say, Be sure to be

VOL. I.

in the house of God by the time service begins. If ministers were to be as irregular as some hearers are, they would soon be considered as defi. cient in want of character; if they were to serve the people as the people every Lord's day serve them, they would be deemed unfit for their office. But why is it a crime in one and not in the other ? Why is the leader of the worship to begin almost by himself, and for half an hour afterwards to be disturbed in his devotion by the noise occasioned by late hearers ? Let it always be said of you, that you are in your place at the commencement of divine worship. Beware of every impediment that lies in the way : people talk of difficulties in this respect, but such difficulties may easily be removed.

The next thing to which your attention may be directed is this : if you feel and enjoy the influence of the divine word, ought you not to obey the injunction of your divine Saviour, in commemorating his love at the ordinance of the Lord's supper? Hence it will become necessary that you join some christian community. It is for you to judge, after an impartial examination of what is said by authors on church government, to what denomination you should belong : but avoid the imputation of being a religious wanderer. It is a false maxim by which some are actuated, who boast with an air of triumph that they belong to no party, have not joined any church, and do not intend to put themselves under the power or influ. ence of any body of people whatever. This is only saying that they will live as they please, without being amenable to any one for their conduct; . and thus, if they wander into error, who shall re-:

siufferings is it no event use of Goshen

claim them? if they fall into sin, who shall reprove them ? or if they sink into trouble, who will sympathize with them?

As to the Lord's supper, it is lamentable to think how many neglect it ; but how this can be done by any conscientious christian without incurring guilt, I cannot conceive. Nothing can be plainer than his command, “ This do in remembrance of me:" and where we have been brought to know the grace of God in truth, what is it that should prevent us from fulfilling his command? Is it not here that we commemorate his sufferings, have a token of his love, find our faith strengthened, our humility deepened, our love inflamed, our fellowship with the saints renewed, our detestation of sin increased, and our gratitude excited ? Then surely it is both our duty and privilege to comply. But perhaps you, my dear reader, as well as many others, have many objections to bring forward: you are saying, “ I am unworthy : my heart is often so insensible, my thoughts so wandering, my love so cold, I am afraid to approach.” And who is not unworthy ? which of the saints but what have to complain of the hardness of their hearts, * the sad imperfection of their natures, and the indifference of their love? Converse with them, and they will tell you they feel the same as you; and had they stopped till they had been above this, they never could have approached at all. But perhaps you have stumbled at that passage, “ He that eateth and drink. eth unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself."* But this word does not mean the everlasting damnation of the soul, but signifies judgment, and evidently refers to temporal calamities, with which those stood in danger of being inflicted who prostituted and abused this ordinance as some did in the Corinthian church. But then you say, If I should sin after I have received, how great must be my ingratitude, how complete my misery. But is not attending God's ordinances one of the surest ways to be kept from sin ? Will not the same objection also apply to all other means you use, and the enjoyments you have of the divine blessing? Be assured these are all objections which are too weak to deserve attention, so as to keep you from celebrating this ordinance. Come, therefore, however unworthy ; do not expect to find that in yourself which can only be found in Christ. Do not think you are to be excluded, because you have not the experience, gifts, or grace as others. God looks not at the ineasure, but at the nature of that good which is in you. “ The child that cries is surely as much a child, as the child that talks or sings.” Come venture, then, though with trembling steps. The Saviour waits for your coming. He sees all your heart, he knows all your fears. You perhaps are trying yourself; you hold the balance in your hand, putting one motive into this scale, another into that, and you can scarcely tell which will preponderate. Come, and Christ will decide. He sees you do not want to be deceived. He

* An eminent minister used to say, “ That, for his own part, he had no other evidence in himself of being in a state of grace than that he was sensible of his deadness."

[ocr errors]

* 1st Cor. xi. 29.

As it have only to San. Be no tale

knows his own grace will turn the scale. He will pronounce in your favour. Yes, you shall hear him say, “ All thy sins are forgiven thee : thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.” .

As it respects the community to which you.belong, I have only to say, Always endeavour to cultivate a spirit of love. Be no tale-bearer, nor. tale-hearer. Hate detraction. Bear with the infirmities of others. Pray for all. Venerate your teachers : do nothing that shall wound their feelings, or weaken their exertions. Never be for. ward. Submit to elders. Fill up your place. Weep with them that weep, and rejoice with them that rejoice ; thus you will be a blessing to society, an honour to your profession, and an example to all around.

But you are to meet with difficulties as well as to experience pleasures. We must come now, therefore, to give you some advice relative to the exercise of faith and patience. Indeed, your life henceforward is to be a life of faith, and your conduct to exhibit and exemplify the grace of patience. All will not be clear, you must therefore trust. All will not be easy, you must therefore bear. But remember, whatever darkness there. may be in Providence, however difficult things may appear, you must trust, and not be afraid. Faith will irradiate the house of affliction, and gild the path of sorrow : it will teach you, that, however the providence and the promise vary in the way, they will meet in the end. This will wipe away the tear of grief, and present to you the source of comfort. The cloud may sometimes seem stationary, and you may imagine it is about to burst with destruction upon your head;

« EelmineJätka »