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if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, seeing they crucify the Son of God afresh.” *
23. They encourage the persecuted and afflicted; telling them, "When they pass through the fire and water, God will be with them," and that " when they are tried they shall come forth as gold, and be the Lord's in that day when he maketh up his jewels." "The suffer
ings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed t." We are compassed with a cloud of witnesses; Jesus endured the cross, and is set down at the right hand of the Majesty on high ; whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and that for our profit; chastening yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness" And more particularly, those that lament relations dead in Christ, are told they shall go to be happy with them, though the dead shall not return; "Sorrow not as do others that have no hope; for those that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." §
in the faith receive;
§ 24. There are also particular lessons for strong Christians, viz. to be tender to the weak, and to be publicspirited, that as Ephraim should not envy Judah, so neither should Judah vex Ephraim." "Him that is weak let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; let none put a stumbling-block in his brother's way; let not your good be ill spoken of; hast thou faith? have it to thyself; - bear the infirmities of the weak; let every one please his neighbour for his good to edification ." Knowledge puffeth up; but charity edifieth;-let not your liberty be a stumblingblock to the weak, nor through thy knowledge let thy weak brother perish, for whom Christ died; if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world stands ¶." Again, they are told that “a mark is set upon the men" that deplore the sins of the times; and 66 a book of remembrance is written" for those who distinguish themselves by their piety in times of abounding wickedness. "Thou hast a few names who have not de
§ 1 Thess. iv. 13, 14.
1 1 Cor. viii.
filed their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy."*
§ 25. You find also a suitable portion for those who are groaning under corruption; who complain they were "shapen in iniquity," and their actual errors are past understanding;" although "I am carnal, sold under sin, and what I would I do not, and what I hate that do I ; in my flesh dwells no good, and to perform good I find not, yea, with the flesh I serve the law of sin, (Oh wretched man that I am!") yet, "I consent to God's law, and delight in it after the inner man; it is not then I that do this evil, but sin that dwelleth in me. I thank God thro'
Jesus Christ; with my mind I serve God's law, and God will deliver me from the body of this death t." And they are told how God hath "laid on Christ our iniquities;" and he will be "the Lord our righteousness and strength." “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." +
§ 26 The Humble and Penitent, who are of a contrite spirit, and tremble at God's word, are comforted: "Ye were sorry indeed, it was but for a season; - it was after a godly manner; I rejoice in it; such sorrow worketh repentance not to be repented of;-it wronght in you carefulness, fear, desire, zeal, and revenge; you have ap-proved yourselves clear in this matter."§
§ 27. They who want Direction, and cry out, that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes !" are sent to God for counsel. "If any man lack wisdom, let him aşk it of God, and it shall be given him." ||
§ 28. The Deceiver and the Deceived (viz. those of evil minds, who seduce others, and those that are misled in the simplicity of their hearts) are to be distinctly and differently treated; "On some have compassion, and others save with fear."¶
§ 29. As for those of the house of Israel in desertion, who mourn after the Lord, who walk in darkness and see no light, and say, "the Lord hath forsaken me," there. were, I believe few, if any, in those days of the plentiful effusion of the Spirit, when the gospel-church was in its infancy, and "a nation was to be born in a day;" but few, say, who had doubts about their sincerity; they had persecutions, distress, and exercises of another sort; and those were sufficient. I am apt to think such cases were also rare in the beginning of the reformation from popery; which seems to be the occasion of some of the first reformers confounding faith with assurance. However, there are laid up in the New Testament, some proper hints of counsel for such as should in after-times labour under the hidings of God's face; as "To examine themselves ;for this to beseech the Lord; -to clear themselves of sin; not to faint in well-doing;" and the like.
§ 30. Brethren, from your acquaintance with the Scriptures, you will easily perceive that I could run this specimen much farther through the sacred writings; and if you peruse the writings of the most powerful and successful preachers, particularly the Puritan Divines*, you will see that they herein imitated the great leaders of the Christian profession; and were large in their particular application to several sorts of persons; suiting their discourses to all the variety of the hearts of men, and sorts and frames of Christians, according to the precepts of Christianity, and I may add of true oratory. In this way they found their own hearts warmed, and thus they reached the hearts of their hearers; whilst many were imagining the minister had been told of their case, and made the sermon for them; and so was verified that passage, "The word of God is
* Of these a copious list may be seen in the Appendix. Properly speaking, those are termed Puritans who were professed favourers of a further degree of reformation and purity in the church than were publicly countenanced before the Act of Uniformity, in the reign of Charles the Second, 1662. After this period the term Nonconformist became common; to which succeeds the appellation Dissenter. Yet it is observable that the Puritans, generally speaking, only wanted the church reformed; the Nonconformists, liberty from unreasonable impositions; and most modern Dissenters object to all civil establishments of religion.
quick and powerful, a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." +
§ 31. Now, what success can we reasonably expect, if we do not take into close consideration the cases of our several spiritual patients? If a man, professing physic, should administer or prescribe one constant medicine for fevers, and another for consumptions, and so for other distempers, without considering the age, constitution, strength, and way of living of his patient, and not vary his method and medicines as those vary, we should hardly call this the regular practice of physic. Nor can I think this general and undistinguishing way will be more safe, or likely to answer its end, in divinity than in medicine.
§ 32. (II.) Now I rest persuaded, brethren, the thing is so evident you cannot but allow it is best to suit ourselves to all the variety of tempers and experience of the hearers, if it can be done; and I hope some thoughts may be successfully offered upon the way how this skill may be attained.
1. Above all, then, carefully study your own hearts, and preach over the ruder sketches of your sermons to yourselves first*; by which means the correspondent workings of your own hearts and affections may furnish you with proper thoughts wherewith to apply closely to all, whose temper, experience, and case are like your own: for what is supplied to your imperfect notes, out of the applicatory meditations of your own minds on the subject, will very probably, according to the usual way of the spirit, happily and powerfully reach those of the same make in like cir
§ 33. 2. But, alas! one man's experience falls far short of all the variety of men's hearts, and of the Spirit's work;
+ Heb. iv. 12.
The method recommended here by the Tutor, was, we are informed by Mr. Ortón, exemplified by the pupil, Dr. Doddridge, with great advantage. I would here insert the passage, but that I take it for granted the Christian Preacher will have Orton's in his library the valuable publication referred to, Memoirs of the Life, Character, and Writings of Dr. Doddridge, 2d edit. p. 26, &c.
nay, those whose heads are turned for close and regular thought, and whose time has been spent in study and letters, as they go on more rationally and evenly in religion, have less variety of experience than many of a different mould and way of thinking. Here it will be needful then to look out of ourselves, and take a large view, in order to be acquainted with cases and tempers different from our own; and with such methods of the Spirit's work, as we ourselves have never experienced, but many others have. Now the best and original way of getting this acquaintance with men, and with God's workings in them (and I may add, of Satan's workings also) is by conversing freely with the serious people of our flock.
$34. I know your thoughts will prevent me with an objection; you will say This is almost impracticable, especially amongst persons of politeness and figure; these, alas! too rarely will use any such freedom with us, in laying open their hearts, and communicating their experience to us, as may give us the needful information. If we ever do arrive at any acquaintance with the experience of Christians, little thanks are due to such as these; they expect we should preach suitably to them, and that with as much reason as Nebuchadnezzar demanded of the wise men to interpret a dream they knew not. The middle and lower sort of people, indeed, are more unreserved to grave ministers of age and standing, but will hardly use the same freedom with young men.
§ 35. To help you over this difficulty, I would observe, that, as for the polite, and men of some thought and reading, your own experience, with the allowances and corrections a moderate skill in human nature will enable you to make, may lead you into happy conjectures at their way of thinking. Besides, in the time of their visitation, under some sore affliction, you will find them more communicative; and an hour's free discourse with such as can give a rational and intelligible account of themselves, in a season when they are disposed to do it, is as valuable and useful as it is rare and difficult to enter into.
§ 36. 3. Again, have an eye upon the serious youth, whom nature and providence has designed to place in a