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a new trophy of the Redeemer's beneficent victories; a new worshipper to join the heavenly choir to all eternity; and a new instrument to excite other sinners to seek for the same blessings.—For alas ! men are blind, willingly blind, to the glory of God in all respects! Even the displays of his being and perfections in the works of creation fail of suitably affecting their hearts; “ they glorify him not as God, neither are thankful." But the gospel, professed, adorned, and preached in the world, calls their attention to an interesting subject : and when “ God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shines into our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ,” 2 Cor. iv. 4–6. that light is reflected as it were on every other object; and we learn by degrees to glorify God, for all the displays he hath made of himself; and as a spiritual priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Thus sinners on earth are trained up for the worship of heaven; of which the highest and most delightful strain will be, “ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God with his blood;' “ Salvation to our God that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb." Hallelujah. Amen. The adoring praises of the heavenly host may therefore be also considered, as an affectionate expression of their longing desire, that by the gospel of Christ, the divine glory might fill the earth as well as heaven; while peace with God and with each other should be enjoyed by all its inhabitants, through the adorable good-will shewn to guilty man.

NI. Then let us endeavour to bring this matter home to ourselves by some practical deductions.

We may learn from this subject how insignificant all earthly distinctions are, in the judgement of the heavenly host. They see no glory in them, nor dishonour in the want of them. The Lord of all descends to dwell on earth, to be a Prince and Saviour: and angels celebrate the august event, the most important that had ever occurred from the beginning of the world. But he appears not in an imperial palace, or with the appendages of royalty ; but in a stable, and laid in a manger !. And let us not forget, that this was the settled purpose of unchangeable wisdom and everlasting love; in order to pour contempt on all that splendour, which we are prone no idolize.

Not only are vanity and vexation inscribed on the pomp, wealth, and luxu. ries of the world, by this remarkable appointment; but they are pronounced mean, ensnaring, and polluting. We should therefore inquire how far our judgment coincides in this respect, with that of angels, and the Lord of angels? The rich and noble should remember, that their distinctions are as withering flowers; at the same time that they are talents entrusted to their stewardship, of which a strict account will shortly be demanded. Let them not then “ be high-minded, or trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God.” “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches." Yea, “ God forbid that" any of us “ should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ ; by whom the world is crucified to us, and we unto the world.” Jer. ix. 23, 24. Gal. vi. 14. We should well consider the words of the apostle, “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted; but the rich in that he is made low.” James, i. 9–11. “ Mind not then," my brethren, “ high things, but condescend to men of low estate :" cultivate humility, courteousness, indifference about the world, and self-denying beneficence, in the midst of abundance : this will abate envy, secure you from the snares and perils of your situation, and render the talents entrusted to you a blessing to many, and more abundantly to yourselves. “How hardly," says our Lord, “shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" But “the things that are impossible with men are possible with Him." Yet this consideration, should exite in you peculiar caution, watchfulness, and prayer, that your riches may not prove the ruin of your immortal souls.

Think, my brethren, of the stable, the carpenter's shop, the feast on barley

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bread and small fishes, the well in Samaria, and of Him who had not where to lay his head; that you may learn not to despise the poor, lest you reproach your Maker and disdain the Saviour of the world. Heavenly glory and excellency may be clad in coarse raiment, or lodged in a mean cottage. Learn not to judge of men by outward appearance; but to estimate characters according to their intrinsic worth : and let it not be thought any disparagement to prefer the company of pious Christians, who are almost as poor as their Master chose to be, above that of the most accomplished persons who are strangers to his saving grace.

And, my brethren of low degree, let me exhort you to be contented and patient in your humble condition ; watch against envy, repining, covetings, and distrust. Seek the true riches, the ornament which in the sight of God is of great price, the honour that cometh from Him, and the pure pleasures which he bestowe. With these, the meanest accommodations will make your hearts thankful: and if your children be poorly provided for, and you are overlooked in times of difficulty by your neighbours ; think of the virgin mother and her holy infant in the stable ; reflect on your sinfulness; and instead of murmuring, lift up your hearts in joyful thanksgivings: for few of you are so poor as the divine Saviour of sinners was during the whole of his humiliation.

But, my friends, what do you think of this lowly Redeemer? Do your ideas of his dignity, excellency, love, and salvation, accord to the views of these holy angels? Or do you see in him no form or comeliness ; nor any beauty for which you should desire him? Do you heartily sing, Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good-will towards men ?" Or is there nothing in this great event to exite your attention and admiration ? You can never be meet for the joys of heaven, unless you learn on earth to see and admire the glories of redeeming love. The songs of angels would grate in your ears, and discompose your hearts; were it possible for you to enter the mansions of the blessed, without having felt your need of a Saviour, and acquired a disposition to love and adore him. And how will the conduct of angels, who though they never sinned, and need no pardoning mercy or renewing grace, yet glorify God with all their powers, for his love to fallen men, rise up in judgment against the ingratitude and perverseness of perishing sinners, who make the very condescension of Emmanuel the pretence for refusing him the glory due to his name?

Let us also inquire, how far we resemble these heavenly worshippers in the temper of our minds. Exalted and holy as they are, they despise not sinful worms, dwelling in houses of clay; while they adored the Son of God, as tabernacling in human flesh, and thus “ made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death." They complain not of the special honour shewn to worthless man, by this union of the Diety with our nature, and not with theirs : they are not reluctant to our felicity, and object not to our being made equal with them. Yea, they willingly and joyfully minister to the heirs of salvation, in the meanest cottage, work-house, or dungeon ; nor do they deem the poorest believer an unmeet object of their condescending and compassionate services. This is genuine excellency: but have we been taught to resemble and imitate them? Are we thus attentive to the needy, ready to sympathize with the afflicted, and freed from selfishness, envy, and contempt of inferiors ? Above all, let us remember and imitate “ the grace of the Lord Jesus, who though he was rich, for our sakes became poor; that we, through his poverty might be made rich.” He hath said, “ The poor ye have always with you; and when ye will ye may do good to them.”. He hath appointed his needy disciples to be his representatives and receivers ; that in supplying their wants we may express our love and gratitude to Him, and copy his most endearing example.

This season is generally attended with an interruption of secular business, and some additional expence-; yet the time and money are generally worse than thrown away: while professed Christians, like Israel worshipping the

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golden calf, “ eit down to eat, and drink, and rise up to play. But if we have a spiritual taste, and judge as angels do; we shall rather abridge ourselves of customary indulgences, than “ make provision for the flesh," when commemorating the humble birth of the self-denying Saviour. We shall express our joy, and employ our leisure, in acts of solemn worship and grateful praises: and instead of expensive feasts for the wealthy; we shall abound in hospitality and kindness to the poor, and be glad to contribute to promote the cause for which the Son of God became incarnate.

The sensual and ungodly mirth of vast multitudes, at this festival, is madness! They abound in the works of the devil, because the Son of God was manifested to destroy them! When the very event thus commemorated, will increase the weight of their condemnation; unless they can be persuaded to follow the apostle's counsel, “ Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded; be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into heaviness." “ Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall list you up.” James, iv. 7-10.

But “ let the heart of those rejoice that seek the Lord." Let the poor in spirit, the weeping penitent, take encouragement, from the astonishing instance of the Lord's good-will to sinful men, this day commemorated. And let all, that have tasted this grace, and can rejoice in the love of God our Saviour, remember that they are subjects to the Prince of peace; that they may be animated to pray for universal peace, and by all suitable means, to follow after peace, to seek the peace of the church, and the peace of the world ; and by well-doing to put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.

SERMON XVI.

PREACHED JANUARY 1, 1796.

GOODNESS OF PROVIDENCE AN EXCITEMENT TO

GRATITUDE.

1 SAMUEL, VII. 12.

Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name

of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

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From the calling of Abraham, to the time of Samuel, the Lord had shewn peculiar favours of inestimable value to his chosen people. Especially “ He shewed his word unto Jacob, his statutes and, his judgments unto Israel: he dealt not so with any nation, and as for his judgments they had not known them." Psal. cxlvii. 19, 20. But they had always manifested a perverse and ungrateful disposition, and were continually provoking him with their idolatries and rebellions." Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance: and he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them. Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought in subjection under their hand. Many times did he deliver them ; but they provoked him by their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity. Never

theless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry." "Psalm cvi. • 40-44.

Phineas and Hophni, the priests, the sons of Eli, had by their wickedness caused a most deplorable prevalence of impiety among the people : this provoked God to deliver them into the hands of the Philistines, who carried off the ark of the covenant, which had been presumptuously brought into the field of battle. For the Lord was able to vindicate his own glory, and to honour that symbol of his gracious presence even among his avowed enemies, without countenancing the vain confidence of his hypocritical worshippers. The Philistines were soon constrained to restore the ark; but while it was neglected in Israel, they retained their superiority over that nation. During the space of twenty years, Samuel, who at the beginning of these troubles was a very young man, seems to have laboured with zealous and unwearied diligence, in bringing the people to repentance, and reviving true religion among them. At the end of this time it is said, “ All the house of Israel " lamented after the Lord.” The narrative of the subsequent reformation is indeed very brief; yet there is reason to conclude, that it was one of the most signal revivals of vital godliness, that stands upon record : for “ the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only."

A general assembly was convened at Mizpeh, where Samuel was publicly owned as judge of Israel : while they were earnestly seeking the Lord with fasting, prayer, and other religious observances, the Philistines, jealous of their proceedings, marched directly to attack them. But in answer to the earnest prayers of Samuel and the people, these formidable enemies were entirely defeated. And on this memorable occasion, “ Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” He set 'up a monument of God's kindness to Israel, (not of Israel's triumph over the Philistines ;) to perpetuate the memory of his gracious interposition in their behalf, and to declare their gratitude to future generations.

The history of Israel may be considered as the Lord's experimental trial of human nature. The experiments of the chymist on an ounce of gold or mercury, when properly repeated and established, authorize general conclusions concerning the properties of all the gold or mercury in the world. Thus the dealings of the Lord with Israel, as a specimen of the human race, when rightly understood, warrant general conclusions concerning the dispositions and propensities of all mankind : for the whole is, as it were, one mass, and has the same nature and properties. It is therefore mere self-fattery to suppose, that we should have acted better than they did, if we had been left to ourselves in exactly the same circumstances: and it is a vulgar prejudice to imagine that the Israelites were more wicked than other nations. Their history was more impartially written, and their conduct tried by a stricter rule: in all other respects the records of any country tend to establish the same conclusions concerning human nature.

The history of the visible church in every age entirely coincides with that of the Israelites : special mercies conferred; base ingratitude and rebellion ; severe chastisements, and the triumph of cruel enemies; humiliation and revivals of religion, followed by gracious providential deliverances, form the compendium of the whole : but “ Hitherto hath the Lord helped us,” and “ the gates of hell have not prevailed.”—The experience likewise of believers harmonizes in many respects with the records of Israel: and it is therefore peculiarly useful, to review with care and attention, at stated times, all the Lord's dealings with us, and our conduct towards him : “ For hitherto hath he helped us.”—To assist such a review, at the entrance of another year, will be the object of the present discourse : in which I shall consider,

I. The import of the words “ Hitherto hath the Lord helped us;” and some particulars to which they may be referred.

II. Inquire what is meant by Setting up an Eben-ezer,” according to the common, and not improper use of the expression.

I. The import of the words, “ Hitherto hath the Lord helped us," and some particulars to which they may be referred.

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1. The Lord hath hitherto helped us all in his superintending providence. we came into the world indigent and helpless: our wants were numerous and urgent, and we were utterly incapable of making any provision for them. All these wants the Lord alone supplied ; and others were merely the instruments by which he conferred his bounty. Numbers die in infancy, because they are not properly taken care of and provided for: but we were preserved ; and in the kindness of parents or friends, as well as in the ability given them to supply us with all things needful, we experienced, and should acknowledge, the Lord's distinguishing goodness. The possession and continued use of our limbs, senses, and faculties; the measure and peculiarity of our natural abilities; and the advantages of our education, by which we were severally brought into our present comfortable way of subsistence: as well as the possessions which in different ways have accrued to many, with all that distinguishes every one's situation in society from that of others, should be traced back to the special kindness of the Lord. We should each of us remember, with good old Jacob, that “ God hath fed us all our life long unto this day." Genesis xlviii. 15. He hath given us our temporal provision, whatever it hath been; and if we have lived thirty, forty, fifty, or more years, without experiencing the want of food or the other necessaries of life, we have abun. dant reason to say, “ Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.". The provision afforded us hath laid us under as deep obligations to gratitude, as if we had been fed by miracle, according to the kindness of the Lord to Israel : and in some respects we have had a decided advantage over them : for our supply has been more pleasant, in its nature and variety, than manna from the clouds, and water from the rock would have been. “ The earth is the Lord's and the fulness of it.” " He openeth his hand and filleth all things living with plenteousness :" and he hath put it in our power to obtain a portion of his bounty.

Nor have our dangers been fewer than our wants. What multitudes are swept away by various sicknesses and disasters, in every stage of human life, even from the earliest infancy? How many have all their days embittered by perpetual disease? What frequent instances do we witness of such, as have been deprived of their limbs or senses; or even rendered most pitiable objects by incurable insanity? If then we have been favoured with a comfortable state of health ; if violent maladies have not seized on us, or have been removed ; if the use of our eyes, ears, senses, limbs, and understandings have been continued, or restored to us; whatever second causes have occurred, we should thankfully say, “hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

Our lives and comforts are likewise exposed to perpetual dangers from wicked men. If then we have lain down in peace, one night after another, and risen in safety; if we or our dear friends have journeyed from time to time, during the course of our past lives, without having been injured, or even alarmed by robbers and murderers; or if, to shew us our danger, and remind us of our invisible protector, we have been alarmed, and yet preserved from material detriment, how ought we to bless and praise the Lord for his peculiar kindness, to us ? Every time we have gone from home, by land or sea ; or have parted with our beloved relatives, thus called into distant parts; and on our return have met them in safey, without having experienced fatal disasters, or heart-rending distresses, should exite us to renew our grateful acknowledgments to the God of our lives.

Some of us can say, ' we were never, during all our past years, disturbed by the midnight alarm of fire in our habitations; our property, or part of our families were never thus tremendously taken from us.' Others may indeed have been thus alarmed and endangered, but were mercifully preserved; and extricated from the difficulties in which they were involved. “And have we not, my friends, abundant cause for gratitude to our kind protector and deliverer?

Let us not on this occasion forget the special mercies we enjoy in this favoured land. The nation has indeed, within our days, been frequently en

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