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edge him in all our ways, and he has promised to direct our steps.
It remains that we consider what encouragements we have to engage in this duty. These arise,
1. Froin the very nature of God, who is disposed, by his benevolence, to do good to his creatures. He is said to make the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man. He sends his rain on the evil and on the good, and causeth his sun to shine on the just and unjust. He is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.
2. We derive very great encouragement, in our addresses to God, from the many declarations of scripture. His language to us, necessitous creatures, is, “ Seek ye the Lord while he may be found ; call upon him while he is near.” “ Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you : for every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”
Not to multiply passages like these, which hold up to our view the same encouragement, I shall only add the text; “O thou who hearest prayer."
This expression not only teacheth us that God hears prayer, but that he answers it. Thus Jacob had power with God, and prevailed. Elijah's prayer was also heard and answered. David says, “ This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and delivered him out of all his troubles.” Dan. iel was heard from the den of lions; the three Jewish believers from the fiery furnace; Jonah from the whale's belly. Peter was delivered from
his prison through the strength of prayer. The history of the church and of the world furnishes us with many striking answers of prayer.
In your own private lives, Christians, you have had a rich experience of this pleasing truth, that God heareth prayer. When ready to sink under trouble, you have sought the Lord, and he hath answered you. . Let us remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.
A few reflections must close the subject. · 1. We learn, that prayer is one of the most important duties of the Christian life. As it is founded in the relation we stand in to God, as his dependent creatures, our obligation can never cease, so long as we have a want to deplore, or he a favour to bestow.
2. What a blessed privilege we enjoy in disa charging this important duty. Our heavenly Fa. ther permits us, in this solemn act, to draw near to him; and graciously invites us to come, with the humble boldness of children to a father. În this way we converse and enjoy communion with God. We leave our wants with him, and in due time receive gracious answers of peace ; or, if denied the things we ask, we rest satisfied that a God of infinite goodness has done right. Christians, you know the preciousness of this privilege : for often have you gone to a throne of grace burden: ed with sorrows and afflictions, and ready to sink in despondency; but found yourselves comforted in leaving your cause with God, and casting your cares upon him.
We add, in concluding the subject, that the want of a disposition to pray, is a sad omen of a
bad heart. A Christian, in the lively exercise of grace, cannot live without prayer. Daniel could not be denied the privilege even for thirty days. Let such then as cast off fear and restrain prayer. before God, consider their awful situation. However secure they may now feel, let them remém. ber, that the time may come, yea, may not be far distant, when they may attempt to pray, but allo in vain. They will be constrained to use the emphatic language of Job, “O that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him; on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him.” To increase their perplexity, they may have to complain with the prophet, “ Also when I cry and shout, he shuteth out my prayer."
Let such be exhorted to seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near ; lest his fury break forth upon them like fire, and burn, that none can quench it.
The Lord grant that we may all be prepared for the great final day, by being adorned in the perfect righteousness of the Saviour, that so an abundant entrance may be ministered unto us into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord JesusChrist. Amen.
SE R M ON XVI.*
THE GOSPEL MINISTRY.
PROVERBS, xi. 30. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life ; and he that winneth
souls is wise.
By “the righteous” is meant the real believer, who is made “righteous by the obedi. ence of One;" and who, having been renewed in the spirit of his mind, acts agreeably to the strictest rules of uprightness, under the influence of evangelic principles.
By his fruit we understand his Christian tem pers, his holy life, and his godly conversation. On these accounts he is a tree of life, deep rooted, and laden with those fruits which are to the praise and glory of God. He hath his fruit unto holi. ness, and the end will be everlasting life : whom David beautifully describes, Psalm i. 3. “ And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season : his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
The text is descriptive of all good men, but especially of the faithful ministers of the gospel ; who are said to watch for souls as they who must give an account.
* Delivered in Salem, at the ordination of the Rev. Lucius Bolles, January 9, 1805.
I. Let us consider the nature and great im. portance of the object of their ministry, with the means best calculated to accomplish it.
II. Shew in what respects he who winneth souls is wise.
I. The nature and great importance of the object of the gospel ministry, to win souls, with the means best calculated to accomplish it.
Solomon uses the term souls to signify the • whole person. In this sense it is used in the sacred scriptures, and in common conversation. In Acts xxvii. 37. Paul says, “ We were all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls." We say in common, when we describe a shipwreck, in which all the people were lost, every soul perished.'
He might also intend to convey to us the idea, that the soul is the man, or his most important part. The body is mere matter, mysteriously united to the mind, and under its direction and influence. Hence it is, that by an act of the will, we can extend an arm, and bring it again to the body; we can walk, run, and perform the various functions of animal nature, unless prevented by some natural cause : and, as it has no consciousness, it cannot be accountable. It follows, that the soul is the man, or his most important part; and being a conscious, intelligent agent, will ultimately be called to give an account of every thing done in the body,
“ How complicate, how wonderful is man!