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at his coming, Have we taken offence when no offence was given? Are pride, are selfishness and impropriety, in no degree chargeable upon us, in our conduct towards our Ministers? Have we counteracted their influence, vexed their spirits, circulated suspicions against them, contributed to confusion and disorder, with their evil works? Have we offended and dishonoured the master, in his servants?
Considered in itself, the advice, "Go "wherever the Gospel is preached," cannot possibly be objected to: but we have seen it proposed and explained, " go to the sectaries, "and leave the Minister of the parish;" and introduced by a rash and self-sufficient condemnation on the one hand, and by a selfimportant approbation on the other. "We "are the people," is said in effect, and " with "us wisdom dwells." See, my friends, that 4C Go seek the Gospel," be not, with some, leave your duty, discourage the faithful servants of God, injure the Gospel. See, my friends, that you take not up a report or circulate it, which you do most effectually by insinuation that you believe it; and where every security for preaching the Gospel is given, think not it is less certainly found, than where there is little or none at all.
There is a maxim on the subject of innovations, which I am afraid is also much perverted and abused, " If this work be of God, "it will prosper." It is perverted and abused, assuredly, if it render men inattentive to present and evident duty.
They who can justify themselves in taking no partin opposing, or in zeal in forwarding and encouraging, a new course of things, by the observation of Gamaliel respecting the apostles, must be in circumstances similar to those in which he pronounced it, for persuading the council to " refrain from the apos"ties, and let them alone." Caution and hesitation, and serious reflexion, in thwarting the work of God, or "fighting against "God," were recommended, with much reason, at a time when it was asserted that, interpositions of God were vouchsafed to men; when a divine commission was claimed; when the state of the country, the expectations of the period, the consistency and
X intrepiintrepidity, and success of the apostles, not to say any thing of the predictions of the prophets, countenanced and supported these claims and declarations. Gamaliel said well "take heed to yourselves what ye intend to "do to these men:" but the firm belief of the all-ruling and over-ruling providence of heaven, and a full assurance that his purpose mail stand, will never justify us in indifference towards all projected schemes and innovations, or in either favouring or opposing them, of whatever nature they may be. Of whatever nature they are or can be, they will terminate as God wills. Events are of God, but they are judgments and visitations, for reproof and for correction; as well as mercies, for the establishing of purity, peace and salvation. The very worst passions of men may praise God, *. e. be over-ruled to manifest his perfections, and forward, ultimately, the plans of his administration, who bringeth good out of evil, and makes a Pharoah's hard heart, and the infamous treachery of a Judas Iscariot, to display his glory, and promote the happiness and salvation of mankind. "The wrath of man," and their wicked passions " work not the righteousness of God:"
and andtmuch infamy and guilt attach to those who may, nevertheless, in spite of themselves, forward the plans of Providence, at once in* attentive to their duty, and the tendency and effects of their plans and enterprizes.
Alas! my friends, we have seen, in our times, new doctrines and systems in morals, and.in politics. There have been, and there are, opposing factions,opposing nations,opposing interests. Supine indifference or zealous favour towards all, cannot be vindicated by the maxim, " If it is of God, it will prosper," nor towards any, by referring to the councils and purposes of God. Our concern is to inquire, and discover, where lies our duty ? what are we required to be and to do ?" To the law "and the testimony," 4et us betake ourselves. "Secret things belong to God. What is re"vealed belongs to us." And is it not revealed, and known and preached, and inculcated, with all earnestness, that divisions are to be avoided, peace is to be followed, and the duties you owe to your Ministers to be performed?
I Very much suspect also that leaving the Ministers of the Church, on account of not
X 2 being being pleased, not being edified, not being comforted, cannot always be justified. There can be no impropriety, at least, in observing that such pleas may be brought, and have been brought, by caprice, by weakness, by ignorance: that there were men of " itch"ing ears," from the beginning. Let it be remembered, also, that such allegations have been brought against those who have ministered to the satisfaction, edification, and comfort, of judicious Christians. Let it especially be seriously considered that, want of success and effect, in the ordinances, is as much to be ascribed to the hearers, as to the preachers, of the Gospel. So said the apostles : they were to some " the savour of death unto death." So said our blessed Lord. Read and consider the parable of the sower, in particular; and the expostulation, "Woe "unto thee Chorazin; woe unto thee Beth"saida, for if the mighty works which were "done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago "in sackcloth and ashes, &c."