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the wicked 5" and such families -will be made to fed it, sooner or later, if they repent not. What can be the reason that so many of those who sit under a lively heart-searching niinistry, profit so very little thereby? It is because they neglect, prayer, and while they do this, they will never prosper: All the seed falls by the high-way side, they do not cover it by prayer; therefore it is all lost and gone, and no good fruit appears. If you believe that you have an immortal spirit within you, bound for eternity, then set about prayer in earnest; neglect it no more, at the peril of your soul. If God has given you a family, then pray with them constantly: Offer unto the Lord the morning and evening sacrifice. Do not so disgrace yourself as to say, "I cannot pray ;" you must do it, or perish everlastingly. Never make any pretensions to religion, till you both pray in secret, and in your family also.
But some men, who really fear God, will say, ** I h'avje neither gifts nor courage: My gifts are so remarkably small, and I am so filled with fear, that I cannot pray with rriy family, or I gladly would. I am convinced that it is my duty, and I should account myself happy, if I could do it; but at present it is not in my power." Then in the name of the Lord, procure a form of prayer, till you can do better; and in the mean time, plead with God in private, for the gift of prayer, and you know not how soon he may grant your desire. But you are inexcusable, whoever you are, if you neglect prayer in your family. If you have children or servants and they should be lost through your neglect of prayer, how will you answer it, before the awful tribunal of God, when they may stand forth and accuse you .of this dreadful omission? If God hath given you an house, then turn it into a church, build an altar to the Lord there, and offer the morning and evening sacrifice of prayer and praise.
Is there a more lovely sight on this side of heaven, next to the great congregation, than to see a whole family seriously and solemnly engaged in the worship of God? See that good man, he is a prophet, a priest, and a king, in his own house. As a prophet, he teaches all under his care, to fear and serve the Lord, by constantly reading, and if he is able, explaining the holy scriptures to them. As a priest, he offers the morning and evening sacrifice of prayer and thanksgiving, with them: He encourages his beloved wife, his dear children, and his servants, if he have any, to join with him in singing the praises
of the Lord, and in worshipping him in the beauty of holiness. And as a lung, he endeavours to govern them in the fear of the Lord, and it is the delight of his very soul to make all under his care happy, as far as his influence will go,, Like holy Joshua, he resolves, ",I and my,house will serve the Lprdj" and accordingly he may sing, .... . , , -'
** Trussing in the strength divine,
"I vow to serve the Lord, '- 't "Christ shall be, by me and mine,
"Acknowledg'd and ador'd; "Jesus to my house apd me,
"Now let thy salvation come, "O prepare our hearts to be
"Thine everlasting home."
Our God hath a praying people, and for their comfort it is here said, The Spirit of God will help our infirmities, will graciously assist us in prayer. Let us therefore continue devoutly praying to our gracious God, till we shall see his unclouded facCl and prayer shall end in everlasting praises,
HOW FAITH PURIF1ETH THE HEART,
. Acts xv. 9. i • , '- i.
And put ho difference between ui and them, purifying their hearts by faithi
T- ' . J: . '' - -:.'
HE sacred historian informs us, when life and immortality
were first brought to light by the gospel, the whole multitude of them who believed were together, and were of one heart and of one soul. As they had received the Prince, of Peace, and found salvation in him, by the renewing power of his Spirit, he had brought them to be of a mild, gentle, humble, loving and peaceable disposition^ so that brotherly love, peace, and unity feigned among them. But it also appears that this happy tranquillity did not continue long; Satan the god of discord, the author of all strife and contention, envied them the enjoyment of that great peace and quietness with which they were favoured^ and set his agents to work, to deprive them of this blessing. For this end he stirred up certain persons, who were members <5f this holy society, who. beirtg of a Jewish extraction, were exceedingly zealous for the observation of the Mosaic rites and ceremonies; These men Insisted, that the Gentile converts should be circumcised and observe the law of Moses, or they could not be saved. In hoW early a period did men, wise in their own eyes, begin to mix human inventions with the religion of Jesus Christ; to make' those things necessary to salvation which God hath not made necessary, and to make the door of the church narrower than he hath made the gate of heaven i What confusion was occasioned in the church at Antioch by this means^ we learn from the account here given: We are told that certain men who came down from Jndea taught the brethren and said: "except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved;" But might ndt the people have replied, we are already saved, we have Obtained salvation through faith in Jesus Christ? all you can say upon that head will not affect o* at all.
The apostles had constantly taught them, if any man be cir*
cumcised, he thereby becomes a debtor to the whole law; by submitting to the Jewish rite of circumcision, which is a part of the law of Moses, he thereby acknowledges that law to be still in force, and lays himself under an obligation to observe every other part of it 5 and in effect confesses that Christ is not yet come in the flesh. The apostles had no small contention and disputation with these men, and finding that they could not fully satisfy the people, they consented to go to Jerusalem, to consult the rest of the apostles and elders respecting this question. We cannot suppose that either Paul or Barnabas had any scruple on their minds; as thtfy very well knew, that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth: But to give full satisfaction to the brethren, they were willing to undertake the labour of this journey for their sakes. "And being brought on their way by the church." Were we to understand by the church here, that public building erected for the worship of God, which is commonly so called, then we should make the sacred historian to speak what is impossible to be true, as every one knows the building could not accompany the apostles on their journey, therefore by the church here, and in every other part of the scriptures, we are obliged to understand the people; who having embraced the gospel, were united in holy fellowship: part of these from Antioch in a friendly manner bore the apostles' company on their way to Jerusalem. And when they had accomplished their journey, they were joyfully received by the church and the apostles and elders, and they declared all those things which God had wrought by their ministry, how he had owned them in their labours, and crowned them with abundant success, and no doubt all present greatly rejoiced to hear this good news. They then entered upon the question; and when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up and said, "Men and brethren, ye know how that a
food while ago God made choke among us that the Gentiles y my mouth should hear the word of the gospel and believe, and God who searched! the hearts bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he had done to us, and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." As if he had said, we must be convinced that our gracious God hath made no distinction between the Jews and Gentiles, but hath taken away the middle wall of parutiou, and hath evidently received the Gentiles as well as the Jews into his favour, and now deals with them in every respect in as gracious a manner, as with the Jews: why should we prrtend to make ourselves wiser than God, and make a distinction where he hath made none, and by so- doing, "put a. yoke upon the necks of the disciples, which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear." Is it not enough that God hath purified the hearts of one and all, without exception, who through grace have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
And as it pleased God to purify the hearts of those who in old time believed in the Son of his love, he deals in the same gracious manner at this day with all who believe in the same precious Saviour; but as many people are in doubt concerning this, and many more totally deny and ridicule every tiling of this nature; in speaking from these words, I shall endeavour to prove from the sacred scriptures,
First, The absolute necessity which lies upon every man, to experience the purifying influences of the Holy Ghost.
Secondly, Shall endeavour to shew, the way which God hath appointed, for us to experience this unspeakable blessing.
i. I shall shew the necessity of our experiencing the renewing influences of the Holy Spirit.
This will appear if we consider, that state of mind in which every man without exception is born into the world. Does the scriptures shew, or does it appear from our own observation, that we are born pure, holy, and upright? Was it really so, then we should not need the purifying influences of the Spirit of God, but alas! is it not as clear as the shining of the sun at noon-day, from every part of the scriptures, and does not universal experience shew the same thing; that the very reverse of this is.true; and that what David saith respecting himself is equally true respecting every man that is born of a woman: "Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." And we have a greater than David, who hath set his seal to this humiliating truth, even the Lord of life and giory. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." That which is horn by natural generation according to the order of God, is flesh, that is, it is carnal, unholy, and unclean, therefore it must be purified. This degrading truth was revealed to man, well nigh from the foundation of the world, for after the account given by Moses, of the melancholy fail of our first parents, he informs us that " Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his own image," and not in the image of God in winch he had been created; a siuful and degenerate son like himself. Thus it was in the beginning,