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The Prayer before Sermon.
INFINITELY great, gracious, and glo
rious Lord God, who in Compassion to Mankind hast caused the Holy Scriptures to be written for our Learning and Instruction; grant to us thy Divine Spirit to enlighten our Minds, that we niay understand thy Word aright. Enable us to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it, that by Patience, and the Comfort thereof, we may embrace, and ever hold fast the blessed Hope of everlasting Life. To this important End, accompany with thy Blessing what is about to be delivered. Remove groundless Prejudices; banish from our Minds every Unchriftian Thought; awaken every secure and careless Sinner; soften every hard and obdurate Heart; comfort the Mourners in Zion; relieve the Afficted; ease the Pained; succour the Tempted; supply the Necessitous; be a Father to the Fatherless, an Husband to the Widow, and a Friend to the Distressed. These undeserved Mercies we ask in the Name, and for the Sake, of Jesus Christ, the great Redeemer; in whose comprehensive Form of Words we sum up all our Petitions ;
Our Father &c.
: Being called upon to preach before
this Morning, I shall not amuse you for Half an Hour with curious and vain Speculations, but with Matters of infinite and universal Concern. It shall be our Endeavor to speak in a plain, popular, practical Manner; and to advance only such Truths as are worthy of a wise Man’s Ear and Attention. To your candid and unbiassed Judginents therefore, O Christians, we make our Appeal.
Rom. i. 16.
For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: For
it is the Power of God unto Salvation, to every one that believeth.
HE BIBLE is a Book of such vast Impor
tance, that I would omit no proper Opportunity of recommending it to your serious Perusal and Regard. Loose, profane, cavelling Witlings indeed, will harangue for Hours, aB
mong their Companions, against the monstrous Absurdities, the palpable Contradictions, the horrid Cruelties, and the incoherent Jargon, therein afcribed to the God of Order and Perfection. They fét the Bible at Defiance; and cry up Reason and Natural-Religion, as alone sufficient, to guide our Feet into the Way of Peace, Truth, and Happiness.
But methinks, before we draw such possitive and important Conclusions from Theoretical Reasoning upon the Strength or Weakness of the natural Powers of Man; we should do well to consider, what was the antient, and what is the modern State of those Nations, where the Gospel never shone. They have lived under the Conduct of unaslisted Reason (improved indeed by some small Remains of traditionary Revelation) for the Space of near 4000 Years. During this long Period, they have had Time enough, one would imagine, to make a thorough Experiment, whether Reafon alone is sufficient to guide Mankind into the Knowledge of Truth and Duty. Let curious Theorists conclude as Pride and Self-Importance shall dictate, the
Matter of Fait is well known and incontrovertable, That they were lost and bewildered in endless Mazes. “Even their Philosopher's per-> petually disagreed, opposed, and contradicted one another in all their Disputations to such'a Degree, that Varro reckons up no less than 280 N. pinions concerning that one Question, What was the Chief Good, or Final Happiness of Man”. Socra tes himself, one of the wisest, and perhaps one of the very best Men the Heathen World ever produced, after all his anxious Enquiries, wavered in his Belief, Whether the World was governed by One, or by a Variety of Beings. “ He was not ashamed openly to confess his Sense of the Want of a Divine Revelation. He declares it as his Judgment, that it was most natural and truly agreeable to right and found Reason, to hope for Something of that Nature”, Take his own Words:
“ It seems best to me, saith Socrates to one of “ bis Disciples, that we hope quietly; nay, 'tis
absolutely necessary that we wait with Pati
ence, till such Time as we can learn certainly “how we ought to behave our selves both to: