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cause to confess and lament our impenitency, and aga glect of observing days of fasting and humiliation for our own fins, and the sins of the land and church of which we are members and office-bearers. Alas, what a bad token is it! When judgments are visibly impending over us, that there is fo little of an inclination or willingness to appoint and keep fuch days with our peau · ple, for enumerating, confessing and spreading out our heinous and God-provoking fins before the Lord, such as our ignorance, unbelief, atheism, unthankfulness, un. fruitfulnefs, treacherous dealing, &c. See a more full enumeration of our sins in the postscript of this dilcourse.
inthly, If we would advance the church's credit, and avert her reproach, let us all be careful to preach to our people by our lives as well as by our lips, to confirm our doctrine in the pulpit by our conversation out of it. Let us mind, that a loose way of living will foon de molish all that is built by the most lively way of preaching; for our people have eyes to see how we walk, as well as ears to hear what we say. Hence it was that the Apostle Paul gave such a weighty advice to Timothy, a young minister, 2 Tim. iv. 12. « Be thou aa example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” And as the A. poftle advised others, fo he lived himself: Observe how he appeals to the Thessalonians, among whom he had laboured, concerning the exactness and exemplariness of his ministerial walk, iTheff. q. 10. « Ye are witnefles, and God also, how holily, and justly, and unblameably, we behaved ourselves among you that be. lieve. And this holy and shining conversation of the Apoftle contributed much to the success of his doctrine, Alas, thining doctrine, without a shining walk, will never enlighten nor enliven our hearers. If, after we have preached against pride, pallion, covetousness, injustice, intemperance, lightness, unchastity, contention, uncharitableness, unmercifulness, malice, revenge, &c. 'we ourtelves should be found guilty of any of these evils; if we be worldly, intemperate, malicious, unjust, com. reatious, or unmerciful ; if we be light or frothy; if a. ny corrupt communication proceed out of our mouths ; then we just pull down with the one hand, what we build up with the other. We tempt people to think, we do not ourselves believe what we would persuade them to believe ; that we only talk of these things because it is our trade, and we get our living by it. It is not easy to express the mischievous influence which looseness in a minister's walk hath upon the intereft of religion amongst a people; hence it is that the Spirit of God saith to ministers, Isa. lii. Il. " Be ye clean that bear the vefsels of the Lord.” And Chrift faith to his disciples, who were designed to be ministers, Matt. v. 16. "“ Let your light so thine before men, that they may see your good works.” It adds greatly to the crea dit and prosperity of a church, when her ministers have holy and shining conversations ; whereas it exposeth her to fad reproach when it is otherwise. « Lord give not up thy heritage in Scotland to this reproach."
Queft. When may it be said, that a minister's conversation is of a shining character ? and how shall we attain to it?
Ang. In order thereunto, let us, 11, Study Meekness, patience, and peaceableness of spirit; and, when we meet with provocations, let us labour to rule our fpirits, and keep reason upon the throne. Let us neither be soon angry, nor long angry. To be patient under reproaches and bad usuage, and ready to forgive injuries, is such a sweet Christian disposition, as would very much adorn our character. That is a noble advice the apostle gives, 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25. “The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.”
2dly, Let us study justice and righteousness in all our dealings with others, even to a shoe-latchet, that we may be able to appeal to our people, with the prophet Samuel, whom have we injured or wronged ? So doth Paul appeal to the Thessalonians, with refpect to his just dealing among them, i Theff. ii. 10. The least appearance of injustice or unfair dealing in a minifter, is most reproachful to his character, and ex
ceedingly marrs his success; and therefore the apostle directs the man of God to be just, and follow after righteoufnets, 1 Tim, vi, II. Tắt, i. 8. .
3dly, Let us be clothed with humility, which is a fhining ornament in a minister's conversation. We are not to be puffed up with our parts or attainments, or to despise those who fall short of us ; but we must be willing to become all things to all men, and servants to every one, for the good of their souls. And thus we would resemble our Master, who was meek and lowly, and taught us by his example to humble our. selves to serve one another. It hath been observed, that God uses to bless the labours of those of meaner parts, who are humble and diligent, when those of greater parts, who are lifted up, are blasted.
4thly, Temperance, fobriety and chastity are very a. dorning to a minister's walk. He ought to have power over his appetite, to restrain it, as to cating or drinking, and never to be enslaved to any base luft, Tit. I. 7. 8. 2 Tim. ii. 22.
Sthly, If we would adorn our character, let us be difengaged from the world as much as may be, that we may attend our spiritual work of serving God, and winning of souls without distraction. Our eyes should not be dazzled with the glittering lustre of gold and Glver ; but we ought to fhew a generous contempt of these things, as those who firmly believe the great and everlasting things of that world we preach to others, and unto which we press men to elevate their minds and affections. What a reproach is it to those who preach this doctrine to others, and live contrary to it themselves ?
6thly, Let us study, when we converse with others, to mix something that is spiritual and edifying. We are called the salt of the earth, and therefore ought to feason the places and companies where we are, with some favoury and useful discourse; this is much bet. ter than foolish talking and jesting, which is not convenient for those of our character, Eph. v. 4. For a minister to have nothing of God, of Christ, of Heaven, or of serious godliness, in his mouth, but when he is in
the pulpit, is an evidence that he is not very zealous to promote the great ends of his office, the glory of God and the falvation of mens fouls; for, if he were, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth would speak, and be ready to drop fomething now and then to the honour of God, and the confirmation of those truths we deliver in public. ' '
Thus I have mentioned several things that would make a minister's conversation of a shining character; which, if studied, would tend very much to promote the reputation and welfare of this church, and to avert her reproach. And, having said so much to my bree thren of the ministry, I shall now conclude with,
A WORD TO THE PEOPLE.
LET me exhort you to join with ministers in this necessary work of weeping and wrestling for the church of God, and especially for his heritage in the land of your nativity. Though the command in the text be directed to ministers, yet elsewhere we find it extended to people of all ranks, Psal. cxxii. 6. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love ihee. Well, then, let me beseech you all to werp, and cry with us, “ spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach.” And with your tears and prayers see that ye join your most earnelt endeavours to promote the credit and welfare of the church, according to the stations wherein God hath fet you. 1. Are ye magistrates ? Exert yourselves, both by your authority and example, to discourage vice and immorality. 2. Are ye elders ? See to affist ministers, by reproving sin, and informing against it. 3. Are ye teachers of youth? Labour to instil the principles of religion and virtue into the young gereration very early, and train them up in the abhorrence of vice, and whatever hath a tendency to it. 4. Are ye parents and heads of families ? See that young ones be taught both to read and pray; catechise both children and servant3 VOL. I.
upon the fabbath-evening; call them to an account what they remember of the fermons they have heard ; perform family-worship with them in all its parts: Be careful to reprove fin, such as lying, swearing, sabbathbreaking, neglect of prayer, &c.: And, whatever be your rank or itation in the world, I exhort you to set apart time for mourning and weeping for your own Gins, and the fins of the land, which may provoke the Lord to leave us and give us up to reproach. Pray for the ministers which are planted among you; and pray ear. neilly for a faithful soul-winning ministry to be raised up in the church, and planted in vacant congregations ; and that all impediments in the way may be removed, and the in.coming of a corrupt ministry prevented, pray that the Spirit of God may be poured down from on high upon us and all our endeavours, which would Tetrieve the credit of the church, and avert her reproach. Amen.
Containing an Enermeration of fume Sixs to be confeffed and
mmourned over, upon Fast-days, and other occasions.
1. TI E abounding atheism of many in the land, both in heart and life: the praétical atheism of those who live as if there were no God nor Providence to govoon the world, who put the creatures, the world, and fuif in God's room, and ascribe their mercies to fortune, their own wisdom and industry, rather than to God.
2. The gross immoralities which abound among us, as drunkenness, uncleanness, lying, backbiung, defraudinig, profanie (wearing, false swearing in matters of commerce, profaning the Lord's day, by walking and travelling unneceflarily, transporting goods, and oDierwife.