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J I I I I I J
Recordare corum Deus mi, in hac re, et ne Sinito deleri benignitates. quas exercuerunt erga Domum Dei et erga obfervationes ejus.
Of the Spiritual Famine.
AMOS VIII. 11.
BEHOLD, THE DAYS COME, SAITH THE LORD GOD, THAT I WILL SEND A FAMINE IN THE LAND, NOT A FAMINE OF BREAD, NOR A THIRST FOR WATER, BUT OF HEARING THE WORDS OF THE LORD.
DEARLY BELOVED BRETHREN,
E have for a short time experienced fomewhat of this FAMINE of hearing the words of the Lord in his holy temple and on this our FIRST MEETING together after its removal,-there are many matters peculiarly proper, useful, if not abfolutely neceffary, to be laid before: you in order therefore that we may have time for fuch purposes, you will permit me to wave all critical difquifitions on the TEXT, and to avail myself of the obvious application; namely,
FIRST, the infinite importance of PUBLIC RELIGION, the want of which is here reprefented as a famine.
SECONDLY, the deep obligation we are under to THOSE, by whose special bounty this Spiritual Famine of hearing the words of the Lord has ceased: thofe in particular that have generously beftowed on this community a commodious place to affemble in, for the noble purposes of adoring the infinite goodness and mercy of our heavenly Father-and of rendering him thanks for the great benefits Bb 2
we have received at his hands.-The conclufion will be obvious and affecting;—namely, what returns these advantages fhould naturally excite in a chriftian's breaft.
Thefe are topics of that feraphic virtue-GRATITUDE; topics that would animate the most infenfible, and warm the coldest preacher; but my with is rather to inform your judgment, than to agitate your paffions. A fimple narrative is now the only object, in which we fhall endeavour to trace our establishment from the first erection of the CHAPEL to this period in which it is fixed by ACT OF PARLIAMENT to become, after certain contingencies, a PARISH
I am afraid we shall not be able to accomplish our purposes in a very few words; but in order that I may not be too great a trefpaffer on your time and patience, I shall dismiss the first article with a few general reflections; and for the reft a short commemoration of benefactions and benefactors.-Were I, indeed, to give way to my own particular fenfe of benefits received; when I confider the object, I have but too much reafon to fear the very emotions of gratitude might give offence. To deferve'praife, and yet to decline it, has always been one property of trafcendent merit. But MINISTERS in future ages, as they will always feel, fo will they, fearlefs of illiberal imputations, indulge their hearts, in acknowledging the comfort, which the bounties we are this day to enumerate, have procured for them. They will proclaim their obligations, and with propriety produce characters, which we are bound only to contemplate with filent veneration. They will not want fuitable helps from able and impartial hiftorians to fecond the feelings of their own hearts; and enable them to draw portraitures where religion, with inward greatnefs,-unaffected goodness, purity of manners, and every moral grace that can fhed honour on human nature fit triumphant. They may enumerate inftances of REGAL condefcenfion to all the various fons and daughters of affliction ;-may
point to where the helplefs and unprotected orphan, refcued, at once, both from the natural and fpiritual famine, rejoices in her innocence, and the whole train of virtues infeparably connected with it. They may open fcenes, that will fend their hearers to their homes, replete with thofe luxurious tears that feeling hearts pour forth over actions that raife man's nature to its deftined height, and prepare it for thofe habitations, where intemperate envy, impudent ingratitude, unreasonable faction, illiberal and infatuated licentiousnefs have no being :-but all is harmony,-ecftacy and happiness,through boundless ages, and unfathomable eternity.
But to proceed to a few ftrictures on our first article.-As the existence of a God, that great and good being, who created and preferves the world, is the natural and univerfal belief of all nations and people; fo from that belief arises this fundamental principle of religion that he is the proper and only object of our adoration.That his public worship is of infinite importance.-That it is no less our truest interest, than our highest duty to affemble ourselves together in his holy temple; and confequently, that no greater misfortune can befal any community than the famine mentioned in our text," the famine of hearing the words of the Lord;"-more grievous in its nature and confequences, than even a famine of bread, or a thirst for water:-and though bleffed be God!-there are already in this our land innumerable places fet apart for the glorious purposes of adoring our Creator ;-yet every ferious chriftian will certainly feel, and forely lament the famine of hearing the words of the Lord; fhould fuch places be either at too inconvenient distance, or where he has no legal right to be feated,-no appointed pastor to refolve his doubts,-to comfort him in his ficknefs, or at ftated times to read to him the words of the Lord, and. administer to him the bleffed facraments; in a fpiritual fenfe, he would feel the want of a fixed place of worship,-in the same manner, as a man is apt to feel the want of a comfortable home.—