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husbandman, for a distant harvest. Trials we shall have, of many kinds; and many, arising solely from our fidelity to God: but we shall bear up under them, going “ through evil report and good report,” till we have fought our fight, and finished our course: and then at last we shall be welcomed as faithful servants into the joyous presence of our Lord. Who would not wish for such happiness as this? Only then let our hearts experience what our lips have uttered, and that happiness is ours: only let our professions be verified, our promises fulfilled, and our prayers realized, and all will be well: God will see in us the heart which he approves, and will honour us with testimonies of his approbation to all eternity.
My second observation is, If there were in us such an heart, what blessings would result to all around us! The careless minister may spend many years in a populous parish, and yet never see one sinner converted from the error of his ways, or turned unto God in newness of life. But the faithful servant of Jehovah will have some fruit of his ministry. God will answer to him that prayer at the close of the ordination service, “Grant that Thy word, spoken by their mouths, may have such success, that it may never be spoken in vain !” God indeed does not make all equally useful; but he will leave none without witness, that the word which they preach is His Word, and that it is “ the power of God unto the salvation of men." Behold, wherever such a minister is fixed, what a change takes place in reference to religion! The obstinately wicked, who either hear him with prejudice or turn their backs on his ministry, may possibly be only more hardened by the means he uses for their conversion; and circumstances may arise, where those who would once have plucked out their own eyes for him, may become for a while his enemies: but still there are many that will arise and call him blessed; many will acknowledge him as their spiritual father; many will bless God for him, and shew in their respective circles the happy
effects of his ministry. They will love his person; they will enjoy his preaching; they will tread in his steps; and they will shine as lights in a dark world. What, then, might not be hoped for, if all who have undertaken the sacred office of the ministry, fulfilled their engagements in the way we have before described ? What if all prayed the prayers, instead of reading them; and laboured out of the pulpit, as well as in it; striving to bring all their people,“ not only to the knowledge and love of Christ, but to such ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ, as to leave no room among them, either for error in religion, or for viciousness of life?" If there were such exertions made in every parish, we should hear no more complaints about the increase of Dissenters. The people's prejudices in general are in favour of the Establishment: and the more any persons have considered the excellence of the Liturgy, the more are they attached to the Established Church. Some indeed would entertain prejudices against it, even if all the twelve Apostles were members of it, and ministered in it: but, in general, it is a want of zeal in its ministers, and not any want of purity in its institutions, that gives such an advantage to Dissenters. Let me not be misunderstood, as though by these observations I meant to suggest any thing disrespectful of the Dissenters; (for I honour all that love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, of whatever church they be; and I wish them, from my heart, every blessing that their souls can desire :) but, whilst I see such abundant means of edification in the Church of England, I cannot but regret that any occasion should be given to men to seek for that in other places, which is so richly provided for them in their own church. Only let us be faithful to our engagements, and our churches will be crowded, our sacraments thronged, our hearers edified: good institutions will be set on foot; liberality will be exercised, the poor benefited, the ignorant enlightened, the distressed comforted; yea, and our “wilderness world will rejoice and blossom as the rose.” O that we might see this happy day; which,
I would fondly hope, has begun to dawn! O that God would arise and “take to him his great power, and reign amongst us!” O that he might no longer have to express a wish, “that there were in us such an heart;" but rather have to rejoice over us as possessed of such an heart; and that he would magnify himself in us as instruments of good to a ruined world! The Apostle to the Hebrews represents all the saints of former ages as witnesses of the conduct of those who were then alive; and he urges it as an argument with them to exert themselves to the uttermost: “Having then,” says he," so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Thus let us consider the Reformers of our church as now looking down upon us, and filled with anxiety for the success of their labours : let us hear them saying, • We did all that human foresight could do; we shewed to ministers what they ought to be; we bound them by the most solemn ties to walk in the steps of Christ and his Apostles : if any shall be lukewarm in their office, we shall have to appear in judgment against them, and shall be the means of aggravating their eternal condemnation.' I say, consider them as spectators of our conduct; and endeavour to emulate their pious examples. Let us consider, likewise, that the Liturgy itself will appear against us in judgment, if we labour not to the utmost of our power to fulfil the engagements which we have voluntarily entered into; yea, God himself will say to us, “ Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant.” May God enable us all to lay these things to heart; that, whether we have already contracted, or are intending at a future period to contract, this fearful responsibility, we may duly consider what account we shall have to give of it in the day of judgment!
Let us, СХСУ.
THE DANGER OF PROSPERITY.
Deut. vi. 10–12. It shall be, when the Lord thy God shall
have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee goodly cities which thou buildedst not, and houses full of good things which thou filledst not, and wells digged which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive-trees which thou plantedst not ; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
WE cannot but notice in this passage the confidence with which Moses assured the Israelites respecting their ultimate success in reference to their occupation of the land of Canaan. They had not yet passed over Jordan; yet does he speak to them as if they were in full possession of the land : so certain was it that God would fulfil to them all the
promises which he had made unto their fathers. At the same time, we cannot but be struck with the intimation which is here given of man's proneness to ingratitude, and of the tendency of prosperity to deaden all the finer feelings of the soul. The caution which he gives them will lead me to set before you, I. The natural ingratitude of man
This will be found uniformly operating,
[We are struck with the peculiar goodness of God to IsraeĪ, in putting them into possession of so many blessings, for which they had never laboured. But, in truth, this was only an example of what he has done for man from the beginning of the world. Adam, when formed in Paradise, found every comfort prepared to his hand And thus it is with every child that is born into the world. Every thing, according to his situation in life, is provided for his accommodation; and he has the full benefit of the labours of others, to which, of course, he has never contributed in the smallest particular. And through the whole of our lives we enjoy the same advantages; God having so ordained, that every man, in seeking his own welfare, shall contribute to the welfare of those around him. One man “ builds houses;” another “ fills them with good things;” another “digs wells;" another plants trees of different descriptions; and all, in following their respective occupations, provide accommodations for others, which it would have been impossible for them ever to have enjoyed, but for this ordination of God, who has made private interest the means of advancing the public welfare. The only difference between the Israelites and us, in this respect, is, that what they gained by a bloody extermination of the inhabitants, we enjoy in a sweet and peaceful participation with the lawful owners.
Now, of course, it may well be expected that we should trace all these blessings to their proper source, and be filled with thankfulness to God, as the author and giver of them all. But the evil against which the Israelites were cautioned, is realized amongst us, to a great extent: we rest in the gift, and forget the Giver. In as far as we have any thing to do in providing these things for ourselves, we run into the very same error against which they were cautioned; ascribing the attainment of them to our own skill or prowess, instead of regarding them altogether as the gift of Goda. In this we do not merely resemble the beasts, but actually degrade ourselves below them: for “ the ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; whilst we neither know, nor consider," nor regard, our adorable Benefactor b.] 2. In relation even to the concerns of his soul
[The deliverance of Israel from Egypt was typical of our deliverance from a far sorer bondage. But is it possible that we should ever be unmindful of that? Suppose it possible for man's ingratitude to extend to all that Israel experienced in Egypt, in the wilderness, and in Canaan; is it possible that his depravity should be so great as to render him forgetful of all the blessings of redemption? Can it be, that man should forget what his incarnate God has done for him, in relinquishing all the glory of heaven, and assuming our fallen nature, and bearing our sins in his own body on the tree, that he might deliver us from the bondage of corruption, and bring us to the everlasting possession of an heavenly inheritance ? Yes: it is not only possible, but certain, that men are as unmindful of this as they are of their obligations for temporal blessings : yea, it is a fact, that many are far more thankful for their temporal mercies, than for this, which infinitely exceeds them all. And to what shall we compare their guilt in this respect? It has been seen that their ingratitude for temporal blessings reduces them below the beasts: and I am not sure that their ingratitude for spiritual benefits does not reduce them below the fallen angels themselves : for, whatever the guilt of those unhappy spirits may be, this we know at least,
a Deut. viii. 17, 18.
b Isai. i. 2, 3. with Jer. ü. 32.