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ever advantages thou hadst by education, whatever share of learning, whatever knowledge of things or men, was committed to thec, for the promoting of virtue in the world, for the enlargement of my kingdon ? Didst thou employ whatever share of power thou hadst, whatever influence over others, by the love or esteem of thee which they had conceived, for the increase of their wisdom and holiness? Didst thou employ that inestimable talent of time, with wariness and circumspection, as duly weighing the value of every moment, and knowing that all were numbered in eternity ? Above all, wast thou a good Steward of my grace, preventing, accompanying, and following thee? Didst thou daly observe, and carefully improve, all the influences of my Spirit ? Every good desire ? Every mcasure of light ? All his sharp or gentle reproofs ? How didst thou profit by “the Spirit of bondage and fear,” which was previous to “the Spirit of adoption ?” And when thou wast made a partaker of this Spirit, crying in thy heart “ Abba, Father,” didst thou stand fast in the glorious liberty wherewith I made thee free? Didst thou from thenceforth present thy soul and body, all thy thoughts, thy words, and actions, in one flame of love, as a holy sacrifice, glorifying me with thy body and thy spirit ? Then“ well done, good and faithful servant! Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!”
And what will remain, either to the faithful or unfaithful Steward ? Nothing but the execution of that sentence, which has been passed by the righteous Judge; fixing thee in a state which admits of no change, through everlasting ages! It remains only, that thou be rewarded, to all eternity, according to thy works.
IV. J. From these plain considerations we may learn, first, How important is this short, uncertain day of life! How precious, above all utterance, above all conception, is every portion of it!
“ The least of these a serious care demands:
For though they are little, they'are golden sands!" How deeply does it concern every child of man, to let none of these run to waste; but to improve them all to the noblest purposes, as long as the breath of God is in his nostrils !
2. We learn from hence, secondly, That there is no employment of our time, no action or conversation, that is purely indifferent. All is good or bad, because all our time, as every
thing we have, is not our own. All these are, as our Lord speaks, Tu a7.XoT5i«,--the property of another; of God our Creator. Now these either are or are not employed according to his will. If they are so employed, all is good; if they are not, all is evil. Again: It is His will, that we should continually grow in grace, and in the living knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ: consequently, every thought, word, and work, whereby this knowledge is increased, whereby we grow in grace, is good; and every one whereby this knowledge is not increased, is truly and properly evil.
3. We learn from hence, thirdly, That there are no works of supererogation; that we can never do more than our duty; seeing all we have is not our own, but God's; all we can do is due to Him. We bave »ot received this or that, or many things only, but cverything from Him : therefore, every thing is His due. Ile that gives us all, must needs have a right to all: So that if we pay bim
алу thiug less than all, we cannot be faithful Stewards. And considering, “every mau shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour; cannot be wise Stewards, unless we labour to the uttermost of our power; not leaving any thing undone, which we possibly can do, but putting forth all our strength.
4. Brethren, “Who is an understanding man and endued with knowledge among you ?” Let him show the wisdom from above, by walking suitably to his character. If he so account of himself, as a Steward of the manifold gifts of God, let him sce that all his thoughts, and words, and works, be agreeable to the post God has assigned him. It is po small tbiny, to lay out for God all which you have received from God. It requires all your wisdom, all your resolution, all your patience, and constancy;-- far more than ever you had by nature; but not more than you may have by grace. For His grace is sufficient for you; and “all things,” you know, “are possible to him that believeth.” By faith, then, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ; “put on the whole armour of God; and
shall be enabled to glorify Him in all your words and works; yea, to bringerery thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ!
Edlinburgh, .!!!, 1768.
BEFORE THE SOCIETY FOR REFORMATION OF MANNERS,
ON SUNDAY, JAN. 30, 1763,
At the Chapel in Wesl-Street, Seven Dials.
“Who will rise up with me against the wicked?"
Psalm xciv. 16.
1. In all ages, men who neither feared God nor regarded man, have combined together, and formed confederacies, to carry on the works of darkness. And herein they have shown themselves wise in their generation ; for by this means they more effectually promoted the kingdom of their father the Devil, than otherwise they could have done. On the other hand, men who did fear God, and desire the happiness of their fellow-creatures, have, in every age, found it needful to join together, in order to oppose the works of darkness, to spread the knowledge of God their Saviour, and to promote his kingdom upon earth. Tudeed He himself has instructed them so to do. From the time that men were upon the earth, he bath taught them to join together in bis service, and has united them in one body by one spirit. And for this very end He has juined them together, “ that He might destroy the works of the Devil ; ” first in them that are already united, and by them in all that are round about them.
2. This is the original design of the Church of Christ. It is a body of men compacted together, in order, first, to save each his own soul; then to assist each other in working out their salvation; and, afterwards, as far as in them lies, to save all men from present and future misery, to overturn the kingdom of Satan, and set up the kingdom of Christ. And this ought to be the coutinued care and endeavour of every meniber of his Church; otherwise he is not wortlay to be called a member thereof, as he is not a living member of Christ.
3. Accordingly this ought to be the constant care and endeavour of all those who are united together in these kingdoms,
and are commonly called, The Church of England. They are united together for this very end, to oppose the Devil and all his works, and to wage war against the world and the flesh, his constant and faithful allics. But do they, in fact, answer the end of their union? Are all who style themselves “Members of the Church of England ”heartily engaged in opposing the works of the Devil, and fighting against the world and the flesh ? Alas, we cannot say this. So far from it, that a great part, I fear the greater part of them, are themselves the World,—the people that know not God to any saving purpose; are indulging, day by day, instead of “mortifying, the fleshi, with its affections and desires ;” and doing, themselves, those works of the Devil, which they are peculiarly engaged to destroy.
4. There is, therefore, still need, even in this Christian Country, (as we courteously style Great Britain,) yea, in this Christian Church, (if we may give that title to the bulk of our nation, of some to “rise up against the wicked,” and join together “against the evil docrs.” Nay, there was never more necd than there is at this day, for them “that fear the Lord to speak often together” on this very head, how they may “ lift up a standard against the iniquity” which overflows the land. There is abundant cause for all the servants of God to join together against the works of the Devil; with united hearts, and counsels, and endeavours, to make a stand for God, and to repress, as much as in them lies, these “floods of ungodliness,
5. For this end a few persons in London, towards the close of the last century, united together, and, aster a while, were termed, The Society for Reformation of Manners; and incredible good was done by them, for near forty years. But then, most of the original members being gone to their reward, those who succeeded them grew faint in their mind, and departed from thic work. So that a few years ago, the Society ceased; nor did any of the kind remain in the kingdom.
6. It is a Society of the same nature, which has been lately formed. I purpose to show, First, The Nature of their Design, and the Steps they have hitherto taken : Secondly, The Excellency of it; with the various Objections which have been raised against it : Thirdly, What manner of men they ought to be, who engage in such a Design: and, Fourthly, with what Spirit, and in what Manner, they should proceed in the prosecution of it. I shall conclude with an Application both to them, and to all that fear God.
1. 1. I am, First, to show the Nature of their Design, and the Steps they have bitherto taken.
It was on a Lord's Day, in August 1757, that, in a small company who were met for prayer and religious conversation, mention was made of the gross and open profanation of that sacred Day, by persons buying and selling, keeping open shop, tippling in ale-houses, and standing or sitting in the streets, roads, or fields, vending their wares as on common days; especially in Moorfields, which was then full of them every Sunday, from one end to the other. It was considered, What method could be taken, to redress these grievances ; and it was agreed, that six of them should, in the morning, wait upon Sir John Fielding for instruction. They did so: He approved of the design, and directed them how to carry it into execution.
2. They first delivered Petitions to the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor, and the Court of Alderinen; to the Justices sitting at Hicks's Hall; and those in Westminster; and they received from all these honourable benches much encouragement to proceed.
3. It was next judged proper to signify their design to many persons of eminent Rank, and to the Body of the Clergy, as well as the Ministers of other denominations, belongiog to the several Churches and Meetings, in and about the cities of London and Westminster; and they had the satisfaction to meet with an hearty consent and universal approbation from them.
4. They then printed and dispersed, at their own expense, several thousand books of instruction to Constables and other Parish-Officers, explaining and enforcing their several duties : And to prevent, as far as possible, the necessity of proceeding to an actual execution of the laws, they likewise printed and dispersed, in all parts of the town, dissuasives from Sabbath-breaking, extracts from Acts of Parliament against it, and Notices to the offenders.
5. The way being paved by these precautions, it was in the beginning of the year 1758, that, after notices deliyered again and again, which were as often set at nought, actual informations were made to the Magistrates, against persons profaning the Lord's Day. By this means they first cleared the streets and fieldsofthose notorious offenders, wbo, without any regard either to God or the King, were selling their wares from morning to night. They proceeded to a more difficult attempt, the preventing Tippling on the Lord's Day, speuding the time in Ale