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plan for the benefit of a kingdom, and having add to the unavoidable offence of the gospel, the means necessary to accomplish it within by debasing our zeal with the unhallowed his power, should be deterred from carrying fire of an angry spirit: but we degrade our it into execution, though it was approved by character, if we appear too solicitous to conall competent judges, merely because he ciliate the good opinion of men, or to depend could not bear to be misunderstood, or misre- upon their favour. The Lord who employs presented, by the very lowest of the people, us, will take care of us; and to live in a spirit or by the children who play in the street of unreserved dependence upon him, wvi! His want of spirit, upon such a supposition, raise us to a noble independence with respect would doubtless be esteemed a want of wis to creatures. All hearts are in his hands. dom. But this is a faint representation of our He will protect our persons and characters, folly, if, believing ourselves to be the servants supply our wants, control our enemies, und of God, being convinced, as we say, of the raise us friends, so far as he sees it needfil, worth and danger of souls, and knowing that without any solicitude on our parts, if we the gospel of God, committed to our trust can but put our trust in him. Such are the (1 Thess. ii. 4,) is the only possible mean of principles of Christian fortitude. He who is their recovery ; a regard to the fear or favour wise to win souls, loves his fellow-creatures, of men should prevail on us to suppress or but he cannot fear them, because he fears the soften our message, and to accommodate our-Lord. He will neither provoke nor dread selves to their taste, instead of conforming to their frowns, nor will he meanly court their our instructions, lest we should displease smiles. He knows that if they receive his them. Would an earthly king bear with an message, they will love him for the truth's ambassador who was guilty of such timid sake, and he neither expects nor desires their treachery? We cannot, my brethren, think favour upon other terms. By the cross of too humbly of ourselves, but we may magnify Christ he is crucified to the world, (Gal. i. our office, and we ought. In this sense at 14,) and the world to him. He has chosen least, we are ambassadors for Christ, (2 Cor. his side. He will serve the Lord, (Joshua v. 20,) that the message we are to deliver, is xxiv. 25,) and he will use his utmost influnot ours, but his by whom we are sent. We ence to prevail on others to serve him likeare not answerable for the success, but we are wise; so far as he succeeds, he feels a joy suiunder the strongest obligations to be faithful. perior to the joy of harvest, or of those who And he whose we are, and whom we serve, divide the spoil, Isa. ix. 3. When he cannot is well able to support us. Let us not fear the succeed, he is grieved, but not disconcerted; reproach of men, nor be afraid of their re- and, for the most part, his calm but steadfast
, vilings, Isa. li. 7. In the sight of our Lord perseverance in well-doing, will gradually God, all the nations of the earth collected, are establish his character, stop the mouth of caless than nothing, and vanity, inconsiderable lumny, and extort a reverence to his person, as the drop that falls unperceived from the even from those who cannot bear his doctrine. bucket, or the dust (Isa. xl. 15,) which cloaves 5. I shall mention but one particular more, to the scales without affecting the balance. which, though experience shows to be not so The apostles were wise to win souls. They absolutely necessary as those which I have tried the spirit of the world before us, and were already specified, because, in fact, it has been d23):21 and insulted by it. They were ac- too little regarded by many who have been Canto the otiscouring and filth of all things, wise to win souls, yet is certainly a branch anl suffered much shame for their Lord's of that wisdom, which, as ministers, we ought sake; (1 Cor. iv. 19; Acts v. 41;) but they es- incessantly to ask of God I mean a due at teeme: shame, in such a cause, their highest tention to the importance of union amont honour. Jes'is endured the cross, and des- those who are engaged in the same cause pised the shaine for them and for us. He A great stress has indeed been often lail was buffeted, spit on, treated as a madman, upon uniformity of sentiment and modes of a demoniic, and laughed to scorn. Let us worship; but this, in the present state of hugo forth bearing his reproach, in meekness inan nature, can no more be effected cither of wisdom; instructing those who oppose, not by force or persuasion, than men can be forced rendering railing for railing, but pitying and or persuaded to a uniformity of stature or praying for them: but let us be firm and un- complexion; and if it were practicable, it noved, and not hesitate to speak the truth might prove of little value. The form of in love, whether they will hear, or whether religion may be strenuously contended for by they will forbear. Weshall not speak wholly those who are strangers to the power of it'; in vain; and to be instrumental in saving one but the best form we can conceive, if destitute soul from death, is an honour sufficient to of power, is lifeless, like the body without the compensate for all the slights and contempt soul. The true unity of spirit is derived from we can meet with from an unkind world. It the things in which those who are taught and is, indeed, our duty to study to find out ac- born of God agree, and should not be affected ceptable words, to endeavour to please men by those in which they differ. The church for their edification, and to be careful not to lof Christ, collectively considered, is an armyi
they serve under one Prince, have one com- most happy here, are most sensibly ashamed mon interest, and are opposed by the same of themselves,) shall we not, even then, be enemies. This army is kept up, and the ashamed to think how often, in this dark places of those who are daily removed to the world, we mistook our friends for foes, and church triumphant, supplied entirely by those that, while we thought we were fighting for who are rescued and won from the power of the cause of God and truth, we were woundthe enemy, which is chiefly effected by the ing and worrying the people whom he loved, gospel-ministry. This consideration should and perhaps indulging our own narrow, selfremind ministers, that it is highly improper ish party prejudices, under the semblance of (I might use a stronger expression) to waste zeal for his glory? much of their time and talents, which ought II. I hope what I have hitherto offered, to be employed against the common foe, in though more directly addressed to ministers, opposing those, who, though they cannot ex- may not be altogether uninteresting or unactly agree with them in every smaller point, useful to the rest of my auditory; but you are perfectly agreed, and ready to concur who are not in the ministry, if you have tasted with them, in promoting their principal that the Lord is gracious, have a desire, in design. A wise statesman, who has a point common with us, to win souls. And there is much at heart which he cannot carry with- not only ample room and scope for your en out assistance, will gladly accept of help from deavours, in concert with ours, but without persons of all parties on whom he can prevail concurrence on your parts, we can expect but to join with him, and will not, at such a crisis, little success. You, likewise, if animated preclude himself from this advantage, by an by the wisdom which is from above, even unseasonable discussion of more minute con- those of you who are in the most confined cerns, in which he knows they must, and situations, may be greatly instrumental in will be against him. When I see ministers winning souls. of acknowledged piety, and respectable abili 1. By your example. If you walk agreeties, very busy in defending or confuting the ably to your profession, blameless and harmsmaller differences, which already too much less as the children of God, shining as lights reparate those who ought to be of one heart in the world, Phil. ii. 15. When we preach and one mind, though, while they are all falli- a free salvation by the blood of Jesus, they, ble, they cannot be exactly of one judgment; who know no better, misrepresent our docthough I give them credit for their good inten- trine, as being unfavourable to the practice of tion, I cannot but lament the misapplication of morality, supposing that by the stress we lay their zeal, which, if directed into another chan- upon faith in his atonement, as the only solid nel, would probably make them much more ground of hope for acceptance with God, we successful in winning souls. Let us sound encourage men to expect to be saved at last an alarm in the enemy's camp, but not in our whether they obey his commandments or not. own! I have somewhere met with a passage We endeavour to convince them of their misof ancient history, the substance of which, take, and to prove, that as without faith it is though my recollection of it is but imperfect, impossible to please God, (Heb. xi. 6,) so it I will relate, because I think it very appli- is no less impossible for any person to possess cable to this part of my subject. It is an ac- true faith, without earnestly endeavouring to count of two large bodies of forces which fell please and obey him in all things, from prinin with each other in a dark night. A battle ciples of love and gratitude. The proof of immediately ensued. The attack and resist- this is easy to those who understand the scripance were supported with equal spirit. The tures, and acknowledge their divine authority. contest was fierce and bloody. Great was But many, yea, most people, are more likely the slaughter on both sides, and on boih sides to be convinced by what they observe of you, they were on the point of claiming the vic- than by what they hear from us. We assure tory; when the day broke, and as the light them that our gospel teaches those who receive advanced, they soon perceived to their asto- it, to renounce all ungodliness and worldly nishment and grief, that owing to the dark- lusts, to live soberly, righteously, and godly; ness of the night, they had been fighting, not | (Tit. ii. 12;) to be temperate in prosperity, with enemies, as they had supposed, but with patient under affliction; to fill up their sevefriends and allies; they had been doing their ral relations in life, with integrity and dilienemies' work, and weakening the cause gence; to be cheerfully submissive to the they wished to support. The expectation of will of God under all changes; to be meek, each party to conquer the other, was founded gentle, and benevolent, forbearing and forupon the losses the opponent had sustained; giving: in a word, to do, in all cases, to and this was what proportionably aggravated others, as we would they should do unto us, their lamentation and distress, when they had Matt. vii. 12. Happy for us, it when we sufficient light to show them the mischief look round upon our hearers, we can with they had done. Ah! my friends, if shame be confidence say, “Ye are our epistles, known compatible with the heavenly state, as per- and read of all men,” 2 Cor. iii. 2. If any haps in a sense it may (for believers, when ask us concerning the tendency of our doc.
trines, shall we send them to you, that they to preach the gospel, but in this way, you may notice, not only your serious and con- may greatly assist those who are. Brethren, stant attendance upon public worship, but pray for us. Our work is great; the diffithe good order of your families, your be- culties we have to surmount, the snares and haviour as husbands or wives, parents or temptations which surround us, and our inchildren, masters or servants, your punctu- firmities, are many. Who is sufficient for ality in business, and to all your engage these things? The apostle Paul, distinments and promises, and the tenderness you guished as he was by the eminence of his discover to the characters and concerns of grace, experience, and services, set a high your neighbours ? Shall we send them to value upon the prayers of God's people. you, when you are in trouble, when you are Hear how he pleads with them, with an visited with sickness and strong pain, or earnestness, like that of a needy beggar rewhen the desire of your eyes is taken away questing alms: " I beseech you brethren, for with a stroke (Ezek. xxiv. 16,) that they the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the may see with their own eyes and be satisfied love of the Spirit, that you strive together in that you have neither followed cunningly your prayers to God for me,” Rom. xv. 30. devised fables, nor contented yourselves with And pray, “That the word of the Lord may mere lifeless notions of the truth ; but that have free course, may run and be glorificd," your religion is real and powerful, and not 2 Thess. ii. 1. The Lord has promised to only inspires you with a good hope respect- do great things for his people, but he has said, ing a future state, but is the source of your that he will inquired of by them, to do it comfort, and the spring of your conduct in for them, Ezek. xxxvi. 37. Prize, and imthe present life? may we venture, my prove, your great privilege of access to the friends, to make this appeal ? then undoubt- throne of grace, by which every believer in edly you are wise to win souls. A pro-Jesus, like Israel of old, has power with God fession like yours cannot be without an in- and with man. In answer to effectual ferfluence within your own circle. Do any vent prayer, the army of Sennacherib was persons, who know your whole deportment, destroyed in a night, (Isa. xxxvii. 21, 36,) affect to scorn or pity you ? if they treat you and Peter was delivered from a strong prison as hypocrites, they are hypocrites themselves, and from the malice of Herod, Acts xii. 5, they are contradicted by their own conscien- 12. The efficacy of prayer is still the same. ces. I will not say they love you, but be as- If the Lord were pleased to pour out a spirit sured they secretly reverence you. It is only of prayer and supplication upon his people, the trifling half-professor, who hears the gos- we should find our public ordinances more pel and talks about it, but dishonours it by lively and more fruitful. We should then his practice, whom the world really despise. hope to be more successful in winning sonis, And who can blame them for despising such and you might justly claim a principal share characters? But alas for those who, by thus in the comfort and honour of seeing that causing the ways of truth to be evil spoken good work prosper, to the success of which, of, lay stumbling-blocks before the blind, Lev. your prayers would largely contribute. Next xix. 14.
to the immediate assistance and consolations The effects of a consistent conversation of the Holy Spirit, nothing encourages a becoming the gospel in those who profess it, faithful minister so much, as when he thinks were remarkably exemplified in the first he can perceive that, while he is speaking, Christian church at Jerusalem. They were his hearers are drawing down a blessing apparently like sheep without a shepherd, upon his words, by their prayers: it adds sheep in the midst of wolves. They were wings to his zeal, gives him a double imsurrounded by the very people who had pression upon his own heart, of the weight lately murdered their Lord. But the holi- and importance of the truths he delivers; and ness, love, joy, peace, union and simplicity, enables him to dispense them with a double which aniinated their conduct, impressed an impression, of demonstration and power, upon awe upon the beholders, so that no poor pre- the hearts of others. tender durst presume to join them; (Acts v. 3. By affording your countenance and as13;) and though divested of all outward ad- sistance, according to the ability the Lord vantages and support, the people were con- has given you, to promote every prudent strained to magnify them. Were this spirit and well directed scheme which is set on foot more general anongst us, I believe it would for the more effectual spreading of that be more effectual to stop the mouths of gain knowledge which is necessary in order to sayers, and to silence the cavils of infidels, win souls, from the dominion of sin, to the than all our books and sermons. And the service of God. Among these there are few twelve apostles, were they now living if any, which I can more warrantably comamongst us, would probably preach to little mend to your attention, than the laudable purpose, unless a measure of this spirit were and benevolent object of the Society for prodiscoverable in their professed admirers. moting Religious Knowledge among the
2. By your prayers.—You are not called | Poor,-an institution, which it has pleased Vol. Ir.
God signally to prosper, both by the large in-; and yet your heart may be in a state of alienar crease of their fund from year to year, and tion from God; you may have amiable quali the many instances of the known happy ef- fications, which entitle you to the esteem of, fects which have followed the perusal of the your fellow-creatures, as you are members books they have distributed. Many more of society, and be at the same time destitute instances, as yet unknown to us, we trust of the faith and hope of the gospel. Pere will be manifested in the great day, when mit me, before we part, to offer one considera. the Lord shall appear in glory. Though tion to your serious thoughts. We read that the beginning of this Society was small, eight persons only were saved in the ark, they have, since the year 1750, when it was (1 Pet. iii. 20,) and only four of these, Noah first formed, distributed more than four hun- and his three sons, were men. Considering dred thousand books, upwards of one hundred the large dimensions of the ark, I think we and five thousand of which were Bibles and may take it for granted, that Noah and his New Testaments; the rest were small and sons did not build it without assistance; and plain books, well adapted to the capacities there were no men to assist them in escaping and circumstances of those who have, mostly, from the tiood, but such as afterwards perishbut a confined education, and who have not ed in it. What an awful case! To afford their much time for reading. The number of books help to build an ark for the preservation of bestowed annually has been on the increase others, and then to remain out of the ark from year to year. In the course of the last themselves, until the flood came and sweps year, according to the printed account, the them all away. There is a day of wraih number of all the different books was fifteen approaching. It will burn like an oven; it thousand five hundred and eighty. How will ravage like a food. The gospel points much these donations may have multiplied out a refuge. The believer in Jesus Christ, the means of religious knowledge among like Noah in the ark, is in perfect safety; people otherwise destitute, in these king- he is already delivered from condemnation, doms, in our Plantations, and in America, and shall stand before the Lord in humble who can say, who can even conjecture ? And confidence, when he shall come to judge the we hope, by the benefactions of this year, the world. Your concurrence in this charitable Society will he able to do more the following design of distributing Bibles among the poor, year than in any former.
that they may be timely warned to flee from People who are in danger of perishing for the wrath to come is commendable:-thus lack of knowledge, are still very numerous. you assist in preparing an ark for them; the The much which has been done, is little com- very book or books which your money will pared with what the Society might yet do purchase, inay be blessed to the saving of were their resources equal to their wishes. I souls, and consequently you may be the intrust my request, that you will strengthen strument. Can you bear the thought of betheir hands at this time, will not be in vain; ing instrumental to the salvation of others, and that the brief account I have given you and to lose your own soul, and be yourself a of their design and progress, will render far- cast-away at last, after all the means and opther solicitation needless. To bespeak the portunites you have been faroured with, aibenevolence of my stated congregation, when ter all the warnings and calls you have had, a collection is proposed, I seldom do more after all the good you may have done asa memthan inform them of the occasion, and that it ber of society? Alas! is it possible that you has my good wishes. After the repeated can believe there is a flood coming, and that proofs I have had of their generosity, I an ark is prepared, and not flee, instantly need do no more. Nor will I suppose that it flee, for refuge to the hope set before you? is necessary to use any farther arguments to O may the Lord make you truly wise, and prevail with you.
effectually win your soul to himself! There may be some persons present, who Brethren, the wisdom spoken of in my text will kindly assist us in procuring the means is very different from the wisdom of this of religious knowledge for others, who are, world, which knows not God. But the hitherto, unacquainted with the power and the scripture cannot be broken; let us therefore comforts of religion themselves. May the abide by the sure decision of that word which good Lord now awaken their desires to ob- cannot deceive or disappoint us. They are tain the one thing needful, the pearl of great truly wise, who are wise to win souls; and price! That knowledge which is necessary though they may be now obscured by mis for the poor is equally so for you, whatever representations and reproaches, they shall your situation in life may be. Will you shine, ere long, as the brightness of the firpity others, and not feel a concern for your mament, and they that turn many to righown case? You may deserve thanks from us teousness, as the stars for ever and ever, for your ready assistance in this good work, Dan. xii. 13.
THE GREAT ADVENT;
PREACHED IN THE PARISH CHURCH OF ST. MARY WOOLNOTH,
ON THURSDAY, APRIL 23, 1789.
THE DAY OF GENERAL THANKSGIVING FOR THE KING'S HAPPY RECOVERY.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the arch
angel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first ; then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meel the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.--1 Thess. iv. 16, 17.
Our beloved king is now on his way, place, will awaken painful sensations, which amidst the acclamations of an affectionate he who knows our frame does not condemn. people, to St. Paul's Cathedral: there he The tendency of the gospel is to moderate and will, this day, make his public acknowledg- regulate, but not to stifle or eradicate the ment to God, who heard his prayer in the feelings of humanity. We may sorrow, but time of his trouble. It will be a joyful sight provision is made that we should not sorrow to thousands; and, perhaps, there is not a like those who have no hope; “ Blessed are person in this assembly who has not felt a the dead who die in the Lord,” Rev. xiv. 13. desire to be one of the spectators. But Iam It is but a temporary separation; we shall see glad to meet you here. Many of you, I them again to unspeakable advantage. “ For doubt not, earnestly and repeatedly prayed if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, for the recovery of our gracious Sovereign; even so they also that sleep in Jesus shall and you judge with me, that the most pro- God bring with him.” The change of exper expression of our gratitude and joy, is to pression here is observable, Jesus died. unite in rendering praise to God upon the Death to him, was death indeed; death in all very spot where we have often presented our its horrors; but he died for his people, to united prayers. And I infer, from the large-disarm death of its sting, to throw a light ness of the congregation, that few who sta- upon the dark passage to the grave, and to tedly worship with us are now absent, those open the kingdom of heaven to all believers. excepted, who, residing in or near the line For now they that believe in him shall never of procession, could not attend with proprie- die, John xi. 26. He so dispels their fears, ty, nor perhaps with safety.
and enlivens their hopes, that to them death If he in whose name we are met shall be is no more than a sleep; they sleep in Jesus pleased (as his word encourages us to hope) and are blessed. And when he who is their to favour us with the influence of his Holy life shall appear, as he certainly will, and Spirit, and to enable us, in the exercise of every eye shall see him, they also shall apthat faith which gives subsistence and evi- pear with him in glory, Col. iii. 4. " For the dence to things as yet future and unseen, to Lord himself shall descend from heaven, realize the subject of my text to our minds, with the voice of the archangel and the we shall have no reason to regret our coming trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall together upon this occasion.
rise first." The immediate design of the apostle, in But I think I am warranted to consider these words, is to comfort believers under a the text in a more general view, and to actrial, which some of you, perhaps, feel at this commodate it to the happy event which dehour, and to which any of us may be called mands our especial thankfulness and praise sooner than we are aware, the removal of our on this day. Let our thoughts rise from the christian friends or relatives, with whom we King's splendid, though solemn procession have often taken sweet counsel, to a better to St. Paul's, to contemplate that great adworld. Such a stroke, whenever it takes vent of the King of kings, the idea of which