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“ doth a little folly, him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour."* Some are honoured for their station, and some for their general character. Both parties have a talent with which they are put in trust; and as they may do much by it for the good of others, they must hold it as public property; and hold it, too, with fear and trembling. For Christ must least of all be wounded in the house of his friends; and the faults of persons in high places, and much more of
persons generally esteemed, are more than mere patterns of evil; they will be taken in fact, however unwarrantably, for justification of what is wrong, and be pleaded as precedents, which people who say they pretend to little may safely follow. However, example, even if it were perfect, which with the best it is not, is but an instrument, and the excellency of the power is of God alone. I say, then, your prayers are indispensable; and, except as the spirit of prayer increases, the sin of the world will never decrease. Preaching is a prophesying to dry bones, till the spirit of the Lord breathes upon those slain, that they may live ; and “no man can say, that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”+ Then, brethren, pray for us your ministers, that the word of God may have free course and be glorified; and pray, too, for those around you, and * Eccles. x. 1.
t. 1 Cor. xii. 3.
whom we have in charge. If we do not pray
for you, you have not your rights at our hands; nor have we any good ground to look for it, that any other work of our's among you should be anything else but vain in the Lord. If you do not pray for us, and for the success of our ministry, neither we nor your neighbours have our rights at your hands, nor may you expect a blessing. And this good lesson our church teaches you, by instructing the minister to say, in the midst of the service, “ The Lord be with you,”— and you to reply to him, “ And with thy spirit.” And so be it, brethren ; let us not be in one another's debt; and, moreover,
“let supplications, prayers, and intercessions be made by you for all men.” Have your brethren upon your hearts in the church, and in your private devotions too; intercede specially for those whose cases you are specially acquainted with : be this your habit, in conjunction with those other works and practices which I have mentioned ; and though rivers of tears may still run down your eyes, because iniquity will still abound too much, yet you will have done something which, at all events, God will accept in Christ.
3. And now there is one class more, -and in it I mean to include myself and all that hear meto whom a few words must be spoken, before I make an end. Those, I mean, who commit sin.
Some live in it wilfully and habitually, others are surprised into it, beside their general purpose, and in spite of their prayers, occasionally. Be the case, however, as it may, with any of
sin is that which makes wise men weep, when they see it in others. What is each of us then to do, when he perceives it in himself ? Let us all humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt us in good time. Let us all flee for refuge to the hope set before us in Jesus Christ. Let us all confess, and lament our own miscarriages, and be angry with ourselves for having made our good God angry. Zeal must begin at home; and every self observer, every man who has been used at all to consider what treatment, if I may so speak, he himself has received personally from Almighty God; every man whose own recollections lead him, as whose may not ?—to say unto the Lord, surely goodness and mercy
have followed me all the days of my
say, every reflecting person without exception, will be able to see some peculiar reasons why sin in him was exceeding sinful, exceedingly ungrateful, exceedingly inexcusable.
How have we all requited God; foolish people and unwise as we are every one of us, let us come to him ourselves with weeping, and with supplications let him lead us; let us “remember and be confounded, and never
life : every
open our mouth any more, because of our shame, if he will be pacified towards us for all that we have done.” From us he desireth not sacrifice, and delighteth not in burnt offerings. But though not in a way of payment, he doth look for one thing, and will be pleased with it.
“ The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."*
* Psalm li. 17.
PECULIAR MERCIES AWFUL THINGS.
Amos iii. 2.
“ You only have I known of all the families of the earth ; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
This is God's word to his people Israel, written for our learning. It delivers to us this doctrine which concerns us deeply, and which therefore, by God's help, shall be the subject of
Peculiar mercies are very awful things : for they who have them must account for them, and therefore, unless they can give a good account of them, as having employed them to God's honour, and for the purposes for which he bestowed them, they must look for condemnation in
proportion to the good abused.
1. I shall first submit to you some considera