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passions. The ear is pleased and the taste is gratified; but like the auditors of Ezekiel, they hear the words of the preacher and do them not.
What then are the dispositions with which a Christian ought to listen to discourses from the pulpit? How shall he so learn, that he may be able to attain unto the knowledge of the truth?
The first requisite is reverence for the Word of God. To explain and apply the Word of God is the object of every fermon. To hear the word of God explained and applied is the object of every serious hearer. And preaching is one of the means of grace and salvation ordained by the great Lord of the church. Attend then with devout regard to the ministry of the Word. Consider that every doctrine which the preacher unfolds, every command which he inculcates, every promise, every threatening which he displays before you, are avowedly delivered from the Bible. They are not the doctrines, the commands, the promises, the threatenings, of the preacher ; but of God. And he who in any case despises a rule of faith or of practice, which the minister truly declares to him from the Bible, despises not man, but God.
In the next place, attend with a teachable mind. Unless you are converted, faid our Lord to his followers, and become as little children ; you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Humble yourself in the house of your Maker. Be prepared to receive unwelcome truths; truths which contradict your favourite opinions, or declare war against your favourite practices. Away with all pride, all obstinacy, all prejudice. Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and receive with meekness the word which is able to fave your
fouls. Thirdly; Whatever be the truth which the preacher delivers, apply it, as far as it is applicable, to yourself. You are listening for yourself, not for your neighbour. Whether this portion or that portion of the sermon be applicable to your neighbour, is not your concern.
Thou art the man. You are the person to whom whatever yo!
hear is addressed. Apply it to the benefit of
But apply what you hear fairly. Many persons become most dangerous self-deceivers, by applying parts of fermons to themselves, and making no such application of other parts. If in one part, for example, the sermon speaks the lan
guage of encouragement to the true Chriftian, and enlarges on the blessed promises fecured to him ; all this encouragement, all these promises, they instantly apply to themselves. But to themselves they did not apply other passages of the discourse, in which the marks of fa true Christian were described ; marks by which if they had examined their principles and conduct, they would perhaps have discerned themselves not to be true Christians, and of course not entitled to the benefit of any encouragement or promise. Or if the minister displays some fcriptural example of the mercy of God to a grievous offender'; they fail not to assure themselves that
will be equally extended to them. But they paid little regard to the proofs of true repentance which the minister had also detailed as manifested by that offender: proofs which on due investigation they would have discovered to be wanting in themselves, and would consequently have been constrained to perceive that in their existing state of heart they could have no reasonable hope of mercy. To apply sermons thus partially, thus unwarrantably, is but to blind your conscience and to harden yourself in fin.
Fourthly; Reflect that circumstances apparently small and casual seem not seldom to be selected by Him, who can crush the globe with an atom, to accomplish momentous ends. To how many finners has an individual sermon been made, as it were, the hinge of conversion, the turning paint between life and death! Did
your attention from the last sermon at which you were present? How know you but in that sermon was contained an elucidation of some ima portant doctrine which you misconceive; a fcriptural example of virtue most need ful to your edification ; a scriptural denunciation of vengeance against your own besetting fin? How know you but that to the absence of the Christian armour which that discourse would have supplied, your fall under recent temptations is to be attributed ? How know you but from the abfence of that armour, temptations even now impending over your head will derive their principal strength? But you have not merely precluded yourself from the advantage which you might have acquired. The neglect of that advantage is a sin for which you must render an account to God. Every opportunity which he affords you of Ambibing instruction in his holy temple, is a - VOL. II.
blessing, for the improvement of which you will stand responsible at the day of judgement. Beware left the preaching of his word, ordained by him for good, prove, through your wilful disregard, the cause of an increase of
condemnation. - Fifthly; Let your attention during the delivery of sermons, and your subsequent meditations on their import, be accompanied with a fervent desire that the Spirit of Grace may incline your soul unto knowledge. Whoever may plant, whoever may water, it is God who giveth the increase. To him raise your heart in prayer through the mediation of his Son Jesus. So shall He enlighten you by his Holy Spirit to understand his law, So shall he cause the good feed to take root in your bofom. So shall he preserve you from the doom of the unfruitful hearer. So shall he render you a doer of the law, bringing forth fruit unto perfection.
To conclude. Take heed, my brethren, how bear. Look well to your hearts. Let the motives which bring you to this place be such as befit those who profess to be athirst forinstruction and edification. Let yourdiligencein yielding faithful attention,