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the ETERNAL ALL: yet, alas! how soon are those beatifying moments elapsed! Nay, my Brethren, too frequently when addressing the Father of mercies, our minds are dark, and our pious affections are dormant. The sources of godly sorrow seem to be exhausted, and the joys of communion with our heavenly Father are far from us. We treat him without reverence, without confidence, and without delight: as if he were little superior to a dumb idol, that neither cares, nor knows, how he is worshipped. Thus we make work for bitter grief, and sorrowful confessions. Or, if not sunk so low in devotional exercises, our thoughts are frequently so volatile, so unmanageable, and so wandering; our endeavours to rouse the principles of devotion into exercise, are so feeble and so inefficacious; that there is very little which savours of true piety in our prayers, except the conflict with our own corruptions, and perhaps a concluding, God be merciful to me a sinner! or the ardent exclamation of an apostle: O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Such is the undistorted representation of the manner in which our devotional duties are too frequently discharged !
But, shall I, my Brethren, or shall you, when conscious of these abominations in our prayers, content ourselves with saying, “ Alas! we are so depraved that, without divine assistance, we cannot do otherwise;' without watching, supplicating, agonizing against them? Far be it! The fault is in us-even in our very hearts-and, therefore, we shonld take the shame. The blame belongs to us, and therefore we should condemn ourselves. In
stead, then, of consoling ourselves, when convicted of such evils, by adverting to the language of our Lord, Without me ye can do nothing; we should first endeavour to humble ourselves in the dust before God, on account of that innate corruption which renders divine assistance absolutely necessary for us; and then seek the encouragement that is exhibited by sovereign grace.
To those who have little or no regard to prayer. That there are millions of such in the world, is a lamentable fact; and, probably, some of you may be of that character. Suffer me to address you, then, with a few interrogatories; and, in the presence of God, let conscience answer. Do not some of you live habitually without secret prayer — without devoutly feeling, and solemnly acknowledging, your entire dependence on providence, for life and health; for food and raiment? Do none of you rise in the morning, receive the necessary supplies by day, and go to rest at night, without bending the knee before Him in whom you live, and move, and have your being ? You are fed, you are clothed, you enjoy health and plenty; while multitudes are emaciated with disease, and pinched with want of necessary food, and of necessary clothing. But what ungrateful and rebellious returns do you prayerless creatures make, for that divine liberality which is the source of all your supplies ! - You have sinned; you have offended the Most High; you are in his hands, to deal with you just as he pleases ; nor can any one tell how he will dispose of you: and yet you have never thought it worth your while, to read his word with diligence; to study his gospel with prayer; or
even to cry for mercy. You have heard, it may be, or might have heard, a thousand times, the doctrine of salvation by Jesus Christ, in a public ministry; but you have never seriously made it your business to understand its gracious import, nor prayed for enlightening influence. --- You are under a divine sentence of temporal death, of which you cannot doubt; are uncertain whether you shall survive another day; and are in imminent danger of eternal ruin : yet, far from being awake to your final interests far from spending your time, as walking on the brink of the grave; you sleep on in your sins, dreaming of long life, and of many happy days, in this world of wickedness, of disappointment, and of misery.--Being under the curse of divine law, you are every moment exposed to everlasting perdition; and, if death overtake you in that condition, it will be no other than the arrest of Eternal Justice, summoning you to appear at the bar God; and then your damnation will be inevitable. Yet you live without habitual seriousness --without real devotion-and without solemn prayer! But were you assured, by infallible information, that God had absolutely forbidden you to pray; or that he had determined never to regard your prayers, though ever so ardent, or ever so frequent; how dreadful would your situation be considered, even by yourselves! Dark despair would, probably, invelope your minds; a trembling horror would seize your animal frames; and your feelings would be an awful anticipation of hell. Little do you think, while in a prayerless and impenitent state, that, were God to leave you in it, you would certainly go on to treasure up wrath against the day of wrath; and must inevitably drink the wrath of the Almighty. May the Spirit of grace effectually excite you, to seek the Lord while he may be found; to call upon him while he is near; and to flee from the wrath to come! For, should you persevere in a thoughtless, impious, prayerless condition; your final sentence, from Jesus the Supreme Judge, will certainly be, DEPART, YE CURSED, INTO EVERLASTING FIRE! and all holy creatures, perfectly approving the irre. versible sentence, will unanimously say, AMEN.
[ TO THE LATE
Mr. THOMAS HOPKINS,
PASTOR OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST,
EAGLE STREET, RED LION SQUARE,
July 13, 1785.
SEPIUS ANIMUM MEUM MIRIFICE ADFECIT PAULINI ILLIUS MONITI, ATTENDE TIBI IPSI,
RECORDATIO: ET HÆC CAUSA EST, QUAMOBREM ALIIS ETIAM LIBENTISSIME ILLIUD IN ANIMUM REVOCEM.
A, H. FRANCK. WE MUST, IN THE FIRST PLACE, TAKE HEED TO OURSELVES, IF WE INTEND TO TAKE HEED TO THE FLOCK, AS WE OUGHT.
Dr. J, OWEN.