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power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” So far it is well : your apprehensions are just, and well founded; and your situation more replete with danger than you have ever conceived it to be. Do not however rest here. Let the views you entertain excite you the more earnestly to press into the kingdom of God. Let them engage you to a more diligent use of the means of grace, and, above all, let them lead you to fix your hope and trust on the Redeemer, whose blood alone can cleanse you from all sin, and whose intercession is able to save “to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.” Heb. vii. 25. Apply to him with humble faith and ardent prayer, and though you may be tempted to cherish doubts of the extent of his power and grace, say with him of old, “Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.” Lay aside, as far as possible, every other concern; postpone your attention to every other object, till you have reason to believe you have obtained mercy, and are renewed in the spirit of your mind. Address the throne of grace with increasing importunity, remembering who hath said, “Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find.” “Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.” In all your addresses to God, make use of the name and intercession of Christ, plead the efficacy of his blood, and the encouragement he hath afforded sinners in his gospel to return to God. Keep a continual watch over your words, thoughts, and actions: keep your heart with all diligence. Guard, with the utmost care, against levity and sloth, two of the most dangerous snares that can entangle the souls of men. If you ask how you may know whether you are partakers of the special grace of God 2 we reply, This will be best ascertained by its fruits. When you feel a fixed hatred of sin, an intense thirst after holiness and perfection, and a delight in the word and ways of God, when you are habitually disposed to dwell on the thoughts of Christ and heaven, when the Saviour appears unspeakably precious, as the pearl of great price, and you are habitually ready to part with every thing for his sake, you may be certain that you are born of God. These are the fruits of the Spirit, which sufficiently demonstrate the influence and presence of that blessed Agent. Till you have experienced effects of this kind, you are in a wretched state, though surrounded with all the brightest earthly prospects, because you are estranged from God, and exposed to his eternal wrath and displeasure.
ON HEARING THE WORD :
From the MINISTERS & MESSENGERS OF THE BAPTIST CHURCHES
[WRITTEN IN 1813.]
ON HEARING THE WORD.
THE subject on which we addressed you, at our last anniversary, was the proper method of Reading the Word of God; as a natural sequel to which, we beg leave, on the present occasion, to suggest a few hints of advice respecting the duty of Hearing it. Preaching is an ordinance of God not entirely confined to the christian dispensation. From the Old Testament history, it appears that Ezra, upon the return of the Jews from Babylon, assembled them in the streets of Jerusalem, and ascending a stage, or pulpit, for the advantage of being better seen and heard, read the law in the ears of the people, and gave the interpretation thereof. It is probable that he did little more than, agreeable to the natural import of the phrase interpretation, translate, paragraph by paragraph, the Hebrew original into the Syriac, or Chaldee, which had become, during a captivity of forty years, the vernacular language of the Jews. From that time, however, synagogues were erected in all the cities throughout Judea, and regular officers appointed to read, first the Pentateuch, and, after the persecution by Antiochus, the Prophets, and explain them in ample paraphrases or comments. Such was the origin of preaching. When the fulness of time was come for God, in his infinite mercy, to send forth his Son, his appearance was first announced by John's proclaiming in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord ; which, after a short time, was succeeded by the personal ministry of Christ and his apostles, with whom the dispensation of the gospel, properly speaking, commenced. After his resurrection, our Lord extended the commission of the apostles to all nations, saying, Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; or, as you have it in Mark, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Upon the formation of christian churches, an order of men was appointed in each society for the express purpose of preaching the Word and administering the sacraments : wherein the wisdom and kindness of the Great Head of the church is eminently conspicuous; for such are the necessary avocations of life, so little the leisure most christians possess for the acquisition of knowledge, and such the deficiency of many in the elementary parts of education, that they will always, under God, be chiefly indebted to this appointment for any extensive acquaintance with divine truth.