Imágenes de páginas

Pharisee of old, "I thank God, that I am not "as other men are:" I am no drunkard, no swearer, no sabbath-breaker: I go to church and to the sacrament, and I give alms. Alas! my brother, you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity: for, unless you feel yourself to be "a miserable sinner," you are proved to be a hypocrite by your own confessions. Perhaps in the spirit of proud boasting, like the Jews of old, you may be saying, because you are a member of our excellent establishment, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the "Lord are we:" as if an outward relation to the best visible church on earth would intitle you to the privileges of Christianity. The temple of the Lord was the place where confession of sin. was made, where prayer and praise were offered, and Christ was glorified. Is your heart the temple of the Lord? Is it the seat of contrition, of prayer and praise?-Vain otherwise is your boast of membership in any visible church whatsoever.

But many also of our congregations are Antinomians: persons who are practical enemies to the law of God and to the holiness which it enjoins. They feel not the necessity of purity in the heart and conduct, and of giving up their "souls and bodies to be a reasonable, holy, "and lively sacrifice to God." While they profess themselves members of our church, and join in her worship, they take no care to conform their hearts and lives to the precepts of the gospel. Such pitiable persons are here shewn the necessity of repentance in order to salvation. The solemn words of the Baptist (Matt. iii. 2.) are laid before them, " Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Repentance


implies a change of heart and life. He is not a Christian who is one outwardly, neither is that * Baptism, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Christian who is one inwardly, and baptism is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter. " The wicked man must turn

away from his wickedness which he hath com

mitted, and do that which is lawful and right, “ if he would save his soul alive.” While living “ after the course of this world, fulfilling the “ desires of the flesh and of the mind," what proof have we to give that our faith is “ the faith of God's elect?” Ask yourselves, therefore, Brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, are your confessions of sin, and professions of faith in the Son of God, accompanied with resolutions of devoting yourselves to Himn without reserve or delay; and with earnest desires after that grace, which alone can enable you to prove your sincerity, and adorn the doctrine of God your Saviour in all things?

Once morem a large portion of our congregations, we would charitably hope, often consists of those, who come to the house of God with a Divinely-wrought desire of worshipping Him in an acceptable manner. These are often oppressed with fear and harrassed with doubt, lest their persons and sacrifices should be rejected. When they consider into whose presence they are come, and with whom they have to do, they “ stand afar off, smite upon their breasts, " and cry, God, be merciful to me a sinner." While others trifle, they are serious: while others can enter the house of God with levity


* “How many parts are there in a sacrament? Answer. Two: the outward visible sign, and the inward spiritual grace.”—See Church Catechism.

and indifference, 66 they tremble at his word" and presence. Their sins are many, and they feel them: "the remembrance is grievous to "them, and the burden intolerable." They are unworthy to enter into the house of God. They dare not absent themselves, because God is only to be found in the instituted means of grace; yet they tremble to appear before Him. Esther's language is their's: "If I perish, I perish." For the encouragement of such persons several comfortable passages are adduced. The language of David, Psal. li. 3, 9, they can in sincerity adopt: therefore they are informed, that their present state of mind is most acceptable to God. Ps. li. 17. For their comfort, the character of God is drawn, Joel ii. 13. "He "is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and "of great kindness, and repenteth him of the "evil." By a quotation from Dan. ix. 9, 10, they are assured, that "To the Lord our God

belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we "have rebelled against him." They are exhorted to follow the example of the Prodigal, to "arise and go to their Father, and say unto "Him-Father, I have sinned against heaven " and before Thee, and am no more worthy to "be called Thy son." To all this a gracious declaration is annexed, that, "if we confess "our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us "our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrigh"teousness."



On the Exhortation that follows the Sentences, at the Opening of Morning and Evening Service. 10 the passages adduced from Holy Scrip

ture, with which the morning and evening service of our church begins, succeeds an exhortation, addressed by the minister to the people, on the proper frame of spirit which they ought to cultivate and maintain during the season of solemn worship.

Dearly beloved Brethren, the Scripture “ moveth us in sundry places to acknowledge « and confess our manifold sins and wickedness, « and that we should not dissemble nor cloak « them before the face of Almighty God our

heavenly Father, but confess them with an « humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart, “ to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of “ the same by His infinite goodness and mercy. “ And although we ought at all times humbly “ to acknowledge our sins before God, yet ought

we most chiefly so to do, when we assemble « and meet together, to render thanks for the “ great benefits which we have received at His

hands, to set forth His most worthy praise, to « hear His most holy word, and to ask those “ things which are requisite and necessary, as “ well for the body as the soul. Wherefore I “ pray and beseech you, as many as are here

present, to accompany me, with a pure

[ocr errors]

"heart and humble voice, to the throne of the heavenly grace.'


Our church supposes her ministers to be influenced by an ardent affection for the souls of men. If this were not the case, the language we are directed to use would be the language of hypocrisy. With respect to numbers of persons who compose our congregations, we can have no personal attachment to them. Human friendship, therefore, cannot authorise us to call them our dearly beloved Brethren." But Divine charity comprehends, within the circumference of its wide embrace, all mankind. That they are redeemed by the blood of Christ, is sufficient to recommend them to the benevolence and beneficence of those who are partakers of their Master's spirit. Similar to this in our liturgy was the style of address adopted by the first ministers of Christ. St. Paul calls the Romans his dearly beloved.' * He expresses himself to the Corinthians in the same endearing terms. The manner in which he writes to the Philippians, is still more remarkable, and deserves to be quoted at large: "Therefore, my breth❝ren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and "crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly "beloved." Our church could never intend, on an occasion so solemn, or in a place so sacred, to put the language of idle unmeaning compliment into the mouths of her ministers. No, she supposes all her sons to be partakers of the spirit of Him, who died to save sinners: and the conclusion, which she seems to draw, is just, that all who are "moved by the Holy



[ocr errors]

* Chap. xii. 19.

† 1 Epist. x. 14. Chap. iv. 1. See also 1 Pet. ii. 11.

« AnteriorContinuar »