« AnteriorContinuar »
Preaching, when they are exasperated and Serm. prejudiced against the Person of the Preach- VII:
A Second Sort of Hearers are compared to Seed sown on stony Ground; and they are such as do understand the Principles of Religion, and have some good Dispositions to Virtue and Piety; they hear the Word gladly, they are very attentive to what they hear preached, and are wonderfully moved and wrought upon by an affectionate Discourse, or pathetical Exhortations: Their Paffions are raised, and they resolve to follow the Advice of the Preacher, and to amend their Lives and Conversations, and to live soberly and devoutly for the Future : But alas ! these good' Resolutions foon vanish all their Promises and Vows are broken, upon the first Assault of their Sins and they go on in the same Excess of Riot, with greater Delight and Complacency than before ; and all this Irrefolution and Unsteadiness of Mind seems to proceed from hence, that their Resolutions proceed more from Fancy than Judgment; they do not act upon firm and solid Principles, and reasonable Motives; their Affections are wonderfully moved by the Sermon they hear, but VOL. II.
SERM. why, or wherefore, they know not ; they VII. cannot remember the Arguments the
Preacher made Use of, only some quaint Expression, some pretty Similitude, pleases their Fancy. But he, who would be finçerely and lastingly religious, must be fo out of Choice ; he must weigh the Motives to Virtue and an holy Life in one Scale, and the Allurements of Vice in the other, and ask his Reason which he ought to embrace, and which to refuse: He must represent Vice in its most gaudy Dress, and most tempting Circumstances ; and Virtue and Religion attended with all its Difficulties and Incumbrances; and then calmly demand of himself, whether he can be content to practise a disgraced, unfashionable Virtue, a discountenanced Ren ligion, a Course of Life, which is Enmity to this world, and directly opposite to his fensual Inclinations and Appetites ? And whether he can resist the Allurements of an agreeable Vice, attended with all the winning Circumstances of Privacy, Sensų, ality, and Success ? Or, whether, with the Seed sown upon stony Ground, he will tet his Integrity go, when Affliction and Persecution arises, swim down the Stream, and follow a Multitude to do Evil ?
À THIRD Sort of Hearers are such, SERM: as are compared to the Seed fown amongst VII. Thorns, whereby such Hearers are de signed, as bear the Word with Attention, have a true Sense of their Duty, and not only take up
firm and well-grounded Resolutions of living well, but for some Time lead good and holy Lives. They pass through the Porch of Repentance, they perform the first and the most difficult Part of their Duty, they are almost Christians, and yet not altogether such ; the Love of the good Things of this World takes up their Thoughts, and is the prevailing Interest of their Souls, and claps a Biass upon their Inclinations, so that, after they have for some Time run well, they are drawn afide, either by the Cares of this World, or the Lusts of the Flesh, so that they lose their first Love, forsake the Paths of Virtue and Religion; and finally miscarry: And the Reason seems to be, that they depend too much upon their own Strength and Ability, and neglect to make use of those Means which God has appointed for their Preservation, and to enable them to persevere; they do not persist in the Practice of those Duties which God has instituted, on Purpose to convey down his Grace and Al
SERM, fistance into their Souls; and then it is
VII. no Wonder, if God leaves them to themmselves, and gives them up to their vicious
Inclinations, and they become a Prey to their Enemies.
The last Sort of Hearers are such as are compared to Seed fown on good Ground, which bringeth forth its Fruit in due Season, and produceth a plentiful Increase. These are such, as, being well instructed and disposed by the Grace of God, and their own Diligence and Industry, retain the Truths delivered in their Memories ; seriously consider, weigh, and meditate on them, shew forth the Fruit in an holy Life and Conversation, and persevere to the End in Obedience to God's Commands; these
I fear, the least Part of those who hear the holy Gospel; which affords us a melancholy, but too true a Contemplation, that the greatest Part of the Hearers of the Word do not profit by the Word; and therefore we ought to be very solicitous and careful, that we be not only Hearers, but Doers of the Word. Which that we may be, I come to shew,
V. How we ought to hear God's Word, in order to reap Benefit thereby, that so
we may not be only Hearers, but Doers of Şerm. the fame. And,
VII. I. LET
us prepare ourselves to bear the Word of God. sider what it is we are going about ; are going to meet the
great God of Heaven and Earth, and that we shall hear him speak to us by his Ministers, about a Business of the nearest Concernment; let us therefore beseech God, that he would prepare our Hearts, for the Receiving of his Word; that he would keep our Minds steady and attentive upon the Truths delivered ; that he would enable us to treasure them up in our Memories, and to take
Resolutions of submitting ourselves to whatsoever shall be made out to be our Duty. Let us lay aside all Prejudice, either against the Truths we hear, or the Person who speaks them; and let us look
what is said, not as the Words of a poor frail Man, but as the Oracles of God. Such Preparation as this, is what is meant by keeping our Feet, when we enter into the House of God.
2. Let us hear the Word of God with Reverence and Attention; let us behave ourselves as in God's Presence, and by the decent and becoming Posture of our Bodies express M 3