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SER MON XVII.
Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved ; let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting boliness in the fear of God.
Acts, xvi. 30.
On Hearing of Sermons.
2 Tim. iii. 7. Ever learning, and never able to come to the
Knowledge of the Truth.
A DESCRIPTION equally emphatical and
disheartening! But to whom is it applicable? If there were such characters in an age painfully emerging from Jewish and Pagan darkness; are there such in modern days? If such characters are to be found among the most obscure and misguided sects; are there such in the bosom of the national church? In ancient and in modern times, among sects and in the establishment, of such characters there have been and there are multitudes. Is it possible? Shall man be ever learning, and never able to attain knowledge ? Shall man labour, shall he labour in the pursuit of religious truth, and reap no fruit from his exertions? VOL. II.
The event is possible and frequent. In vain the husbandman scatters the seed, if the soil is not duly prepared to receive it. The soil may be well prepared and the seed may spring up green among the furrows : but it is in vain that you expect a plentiful harvest, if you permit the rising plants to be smothered by weeds. Is it reafonable to imagine that the seed of the Gospel, the feed from which you look for the bread of life, will flourishi and arrive to maturity; if you bestow on its cultivation less reflection, less solicitude, than are necefsary for the grain which is to support your mortal body? The word of God will in, vain be preached unto you,
be not disposed to embrace it. The word of God will in vain be preached unto you, if afterwards
suffer it to be overwhelmed by the business or the pleasures of the world.
My purpose is to endeavour to lead you to that frame of mind, with which a Chriftian ought to consider the discourses which he hears from the pulpit. Let me request your serious attention. For on the attention with which you regard the general truths now to be laid before you depends not only the benefit, such as it may be, which might be received, under the divine Blessing, 15
from the present discourse: but much also of the advantage to be derived from the fu. ture discourses, which the ministers of relia gion may address to you. That
you may survey with a comprehenfive eye the extent of your duty, it may
be useful that you should previously turn your thoughts to mine. In the first place, there fore, I shall briefly mention the duties of a Christian Preacher : and shall then proceed to the duties of a Christian Hearer,
1. Go ge into all the world, faid our Lord to his disciples, and preach the Gospel to every creature,
Woe unto me, said St. Paul, if I preach not the Gospel. I determined to know nothing among you, said the same Apoftle on another occasion, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified (a). A Christian Preacher is not to set before the congregation a system of religion in part devised or modified by his own fancy. He is not to consider what species of doctrine will prove most agreeable to the natural imaginations of the heart, He is not to follow the speculative opinions of the wisest of men ; nor to establith moral truth and moral duty on the basis of human authority. He is to look to the (a) Mark, xvi. 15. 1 Cor. ix. 16. ii. 2.