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them away with our own hands : yet forgive me to say, that they are chargeable with a crime not less than this, who either openly attempt, or secretly wish, to bring one to the throne of these kingdoms, wbose principles oblige him to pull down what we apprehend to be the kingdom of Christ, and to carry us back to that antichristian slavery, from which we have so happily escaped.
There is such a manifest inconsistency between this petition and the practice of such people, that it is surprising they do not observe it; and it must appear still more wonderful, when we consider that the
who are chiefly chargeable with this inconsistency among us, cannot be supposed ignorant of the meaning of this excellent prayer, which, by their ordinances, they oblige themselves to use so frequently, and even press as a new cessary form upon others. But surely to pronounce the words of it cannot be of such efficacy as to atone for actions which contradict the sense of it; nor indeed do I suppose that they expect this from it. I rather believe, that inveterate prejudice and strong delusion hinder many of them to perceive this obvious inconsistency.
But let us, my brethren, “ stand fast in that liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and not suffer our. selves to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage." Let us show our sincerity in using this petition, by resisting all attempts to remove the candlestick from among ourselves; let us bless God for the religious privileges we enjoy, and not suffer them to be violently wrested out of our hands, under any pretence whatever : let us not even expose them to the smallest danger, but guard them as the most valuable part of our property; and especially, let us be careful so to improve them, that we may never provoke God bimself to deprive us of them. In the
4th and last place, Let us extend our regards to those dark and miserable corners of the earth, which are full of the habitations of cruelty and wickedņess.
Let us not only pray, that the gospel may be sent to them; but let us do what we can to make our prayers effectual, by embracing every opportunity which the providence of God affords us, of conveying to them this inestimable blessing. It is our honour and happiness to have a Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge erected among us by royal letters patent, (and counteDanced by an annual donation from his majesty of 1000 pounds Sterling) whose business it is to attend to this very thing. The progress they have already made, is at once a convincing proof of their fidelity, and a manifest token of the divine favour and acceptance; hitherto, indeed, their pious endeavours have been mostly laid out in the remote and barbarous parts of our own native land, though they have not been wholly confined to these. They have been enabled to employ some missionaries abroad; of whose success among the Indians, especially of late, they bave received such agreeable accounts, as gives the delightful prospect of a large accession to the kingdom of our Redeemer. The fields are already growing white in those parts, and promise a rich and plentiful barvest, were more labourers employed to gather it.
Here then is an opportunity, which God, in his Providence, affords us of obtaining the answer of our own prayer. By this Society, he demands a proof of our sineerity, and, as it were, offers us the honour to become fellow-workers with himself in gaining new subjects to bis Son. Let us with thankfulness embrace the offer, and contribute as liberal an assistance as we can for carrying on this glorious design.
You must all be sensible, that your substance cannot be employed to a better purpose, nor indeed laid out in a way more truly advantageous to yourselves. This is charity to the souls of men, and, in the noblest sense, “ lending to the Lord,” (Prov. xix. 17.) who will not fail to repay with usury.
This is a certain way of laying “ up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where there is no cotrupting moth nor rust, and where thieves cannot break through to steal.” What is thus devoted to the immediate service of the Redeemer, can never be lost to the giver, but shall descend in showers of blessings upon his own head. “ The liberal soul shall be made fat, and be who water. eth shall be watered also himself.” Prov. xi. 25.
Such liberality will afford us, in the mean time, & most refined and delicate pleasure; an enjoyment not confined to a day, but which lives and improves by reflection : and then it shall be amply recompensed at the resurrection of the just, (Dan. xii. 3.) “ When they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many unto righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."
Yea, this will bring down the blessing of God upon our land; the vigorous prosecution of this noble design will be a better defence to my than the most potent fleets or numerous armies, as it will engage the Lord of Hosts on our side, “ who will be a wall of fire about us, and the glory in the midst of us.
But I hope I need not multiply arguments to persuado you to so reasonable a duty: the glory of the Redeemer, the salvation of precious and immortal souls, our own present and eternal interest, all unite their force in exciting us to it. Let us then, whilst we pray “ Thy king.
dom come,” do every thing in our sphere that may contribute to promote it; and then shall we triumph in eternal glory, when the body of Christ shall be completed. Amen.
Preached Dec. 12, 1776, being the first public Fast after the
Commencement of the American War.
PSALM li. 18.
Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the
walls of Jerusalem.
THERE is an advice becoming the wisdom of Solo. mon (in Eccl. v. 2.) “ Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth : therefore let thy words be few.” To pray to the Most High God is a very solemn thing, even when we view him as seated on a throne of mercy. He is always present with us, whether we think of him or not; but when we pray, we, by our own deed, place ourselves in his sight, and solicit his attention. And is not this a very solemn and awful thought? We speak to one who looks immediately into the heart, and who requireth “ truth in the inward parts.” Nay, we appeal to bim as the Searcher of hearts, for the truth of every word which we utter be. fore him, and challenge his omniscience to take cogni. zance, whether what we say doth not express the real sentiments and desires of our hearts. I say the desires of our hearts; for these, and not the language in which ws clothe them, are our prayers to God. Nay, the better the words are which we use in prayer, the more insolent is the profanation, if they are not animated by the desires which they ought to express. Too many are apt to imagine, that they have succeeded well in the exercise of devotion, if they have been able to address God by his proper titles, and to recollect those words indited by the Spirit of God, in which holy men of old expressed their desires, and which they committed to writing for the use of the church. But they do not consider, that the very end for which those accepted prayers were recorded, was, to regulate our hearts instead of directing our lips; and that it is our most immediate business, when such petitions occur to our minds, to try our hearts by them, that we may truly feel what they express, before we adventure to present them to God.
It is the character of hypocrites, whom God abhorreth, that they “ draw near to him with their mouths, and honour him with their lips, while their hearts are far from him.” This is to add abuse and insult to all their other sins; and those prayers which have proceeded from feigned lips, will, in the great day of judgment, stop the mouths of transgressors more effectually, than all the other offences with which they shall be found chargeable.
The articles of a man's belief may not always be present to his mind; or at least the practical inferences which may justly be drawn from them, may not be all so obvious as to command his uniform attention. To counteract indeed a plain and positive law, is such a flagrant rebellion as admits of no excuse : and yet even in this case,