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clearest Arguments, and hears without the least Desire of reforming himself? If ever we expeét to receive any Benefit from the Preachiing of serious Truths, we must endeavour to cleanse our Hearts from all Iniquity, and froin the Sin that does most easily befet us; we must prepare the Ground of our Hearts, so that the good Seed may fructify in us; we mutt pray to God, earnestly and frequently, that he would be pleased to affist us in removing all those Hindrances, which prevent the Influences of the most moving Discourses; and that he would stir up in us fincere Desires of reforming our Lives. Nothing, O God, is too hard for the Operation of thy Grace! Rectify my corrupt Will, that it may never put a false Bias upon my Understanding' ; and work in me such a Disposition and Temper of Mind, that I may receive Profit and Advantage from all the pious Exhortations of thy Minifiers.
II. From Ignorance of the Principles of Religion. Some people have been so neglected in their Education, that they are not acquainted with the Grounds of their Christian Profession; they know not either what they are obliged to believe, nor what they are obliged to practise: Now though Sermons may sometimes stir up in such Minds Desires of reforining their Lives, yet they are so much at a Loss how to put them in Execu. tion, that it in a great Measure deprives them of the Advantage of such holy Motions : Now
when the Grace of God touches the Hearts of such Persons, they ought to apply themfelves to their spiritual Guides, and enquire of thein what they should do to be faved : If they can read, they should procure fome pious Books, that will direct them in the Manner of perforining their Duty to God, their Neighbour and themselves; and which will lead them, as it were, by the Hand through the whole Course of their Christian Duties. Thus St. Paul, upon his Conversion, was ailmonifhed by a Voice from Heaven to apply himself to Ananius; and it is reported of St. dugyitin, when he was touched to change his Course of Life, that he heard a Voice which ordered him to consult the Epittles of the great Apofile, where he found all those Directions which were necessary to guide him in his prefent Circumstances. I lament, O God, ihe Ignorance and Blindness of my Mind; Inftruct me in all the Particulars of my Duty; arid grant that I may apply. myself to all those Means thou hast established, in understanding those great Things thou requireft of me.
ÍII. From the false Apprehensions of the Impossibility of doing their Duty. They have so long indulged their vicious Inclinations, which they have strengthened by ill Habits, that the Difficulty of reforming them damps all their Attempts. Among all the Temptations of the Devil, this appears the most
· dangerous, dangerous; because it naturally inclines Men to despair of a Change : But it is at the same
Time the least planlible; because nothing is more chimerical than this pretended Impoffibility. Men must form an extravagant Opinion of the Goodness of God, to imagine that he solicits them by the Voice of the Preacher to any Thing they are not able to perform : He knows our Abilities better than we do ourselves, and provided we do but fincerely resign ourselves to the pressing Instances of his Word, he stands always ready to supply us with supernatural Strength, which will make it not only possible, but easy to conquer our moft inyeterate Habits. I am resolved, O Lord, that I will no longer be discouraged by my own Vileness : Though my Sins be as Scarlet, thou canst make them as white as Snow: though they be red like Crimson, through thy Grace they may become as Wool.
To the End that you may receive Profit and Advantage from the Word of God preached to you ;
I. Attend to what you hear. The most edifying Discourses can have no Effect upon us, if we do not give them the Attention of our Minds; for Arguments do not work like Charms, but so far prevail upon us, as we consider the Force and Power of them. To work ourselves up to this Attention, we must remember that the Word preached comes from the great God of Heaven and Earth :
won the oat the US Attenti. Mein.
that the Meffage delivered is from the King of all the World; that through the great Uncertainty of Life, it is doubtful whether we Thall enjoy such another Opportunity of being instructed in our Duty; that if we trifle away the present Season of God's gracious Invitation, we may in vain lament the Loss of it to all Eternity. These Confiderations should discharge our Minds of all vain and wandering Thoughts; we should not be careless or negligent when Matters of such great Importance are laid before us; for what can be able to provoke us to serious Attention, if Things that relate to our eternal Happiness or Misery, have not Power to prevail upon us to listen to them?
II. *Beg the Afhance of God's Grace to make the Word preached effectual to you. All Ordinances for our spiritual Improvement, receive their Power and Efficacy from the Co-operation of God's Holy Spirit; we may hear the Words, and comprehend the Sense of the Arguments; but it is the Grace of God that touches our Minds with the Weight and Moment of them. But we have no Reason to expect this supernatural Influence, if we neglect to defire it; and it is no Wonder Men hear Sermons so frequently, to very little or no Purpose, when they miscarry in this preparative Work; when they go out in their own Strength, and apprehend no Want of that Affiftance which is neceffary for their
Illumination. Say therefore with David, the
Royal Prophet, Lord, open thou mine Eyes, that "; ; I may see the wondrous Things of thy Law;
make me to understand the Way of thy Precepts. : III. Endeavour to remember what you hear,
It is not to be imagined that all People have Memories good enough to carry away the entire Discourse that is made ; but if they hear attentively, it is impossible but that something that is delivered will ftick with them, especially if they endeavour to carry fomething away with them. It is not enough that we are affected with the Sermon, our greatest Duty is still behind, which is, to put those good Instructions into practice. Now, how is it possible to perform any Thing, if we remember nothing? Our Care therefore muft be, to store our Memory, at least, with the great End and Design of the Discourse; and we must carry away with us what the Preacher chiefly aimed at : Something will affect us, and that we must make our own. Let us therefore follow St. Paul's Advice. To give the more earnest Heed to those Things that are spoken, lest at any Time we should let thеm lip.
IV. Apply what you hear to your own Soul. If we do not think ourselves particularly concerned in what is delivered by the Minister, we shall neither attend nor remember what may redound to our Profit and Adyantage; and except we apply Instructions to our