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ness hath declined and languisbed, till a cold formality hath at length given way to the open profession of infi. delity itself. It was the observation of a judicious and pious writer upon this subject, “ That where a great and universal neglect of preaching Christ hath prevailed in a Christian nation, it hath given a fatal occasion to the growth of Deism and infidelity; for when people have heard the sermons of their ministers for many years. together, and find little of Christ in them, they bave taken it into their heads, that men may be very good, and go safe to heaven, without Christianity; and therefore, though they dwell in a land where the gospel is professed, they imagine there is no need they should be Christians." To wbich I may add, that it is no less observable, on the other hand, that wherever there has been any revival of religion, it hath uniformly been introduced and carried on, through the blessing of God, by preaching the peculiar doctrines of Christianity. These, and these alone, have been, and ever will be, “ the wisdom and power of God unto salvation."
The application of what hath been said to the ministers of religion, is so direct and obvious, that I need not enlarge upon it; and therefore any further improvement I am to make of the subject, shall be addressed, not to them that preach, but to those that hear. And what hath been delivered, may serve to inform them what sort of preaching they ought chiefly to value. I am afraid, that by many the great and essential truths of the gospel are too little regarded: like the Athenians of old, they require something new, something that may gratify an itching ear, and furnish matter for a vain imagination to work upon. But this, my brethren, is equally perverse and foolish. Who should regard wbat a servant saith, if he doth not deliver the mind of his master? And yet I have often observed, that the greatest number of hearers never seem so well pleased, as when ministers speak of those things that are most foreign to their instructions. Did we come upon a disagreeable errand; were we charged with an embassy in which they to whom we speak have little or no concern, such conduct might be accounted for; but when the message we bring is not only most gracious, but likewise treats of matters in which they are immediately and most deeply interested, what words can express the folly and perverseness of those who shut their ears against it, while they greedily open them to every thing else? Hear what the angel said to the shepherds at Bethlehem, (Luke ii. 10.) “Behold 1 bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” And what were these tidings which an angel was sent to publish, and introduced with such a high commendation of their importance and worth? They are recorded, (verse 11.) “ Unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” “ And suddenly,” as it follows, 6 there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will towards men.” And yet, be astonished, 0 heavens! blush, U earth! this gospel-sermon, which an. gels reckoned themselves honoured to preach, and delivered with such rapturous exultation and joy, is, by multitudes in our day, thought trifling, and stale, and unworthy of their attention. To remedy this shameful, but growing evil, hath been the principal aim of my present discourse. I have told you what is your duty, that from thence you may learn your own; for the one must necessarily be suited to the other. The same authority which commandeth us to preach, doth virtually command and oblige you to hear; and if the pure doctrines of the gospel ought to be the subject of our ser. mons, it naturally follows, that you should neither ex, pect nor desire any other. Ponder with due attention those awful words in the two verses preceding my text: “ If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” And let each of us pray in terms of the verse that immediately follows, that “God, who com. manded the light to shine out of darkness, may shine in the hearts of both preachers and hearers, to give the light of the knowledge of his glory, in the face of Jesus;" that “ we all, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of God, may be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord." Amen.
Preached on a Communion-Sabbath.
Colossians i. 15,-19.
Who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of
every creature: for by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell.
OUR Lord Jesus Christ is unitornəly represented to us in the sacred Scriptures as the Saviour of fallen man; a Saviour absolutely necessary; pay, as the only Saviour. To this character he laid claim, in clear and express terms, when he said to Thomas, “ I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” And in this important light did Peter set him forth at the bar of the Jewish Sanhedrim: When speaking of him as the stone set at nought by the builders, which was now become the head of the corner, he added these memorable words: “ Neither is there sal
6 vation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Of the same import was the testimony of that illustrious prophet who was sent to prepare the way before him, and to introduce him to his publie ministry by baptism : “ He that believeth on the Son bath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." Accordingly we are told by the apostle John, that “this is the command of God," the first in order under the gospel dispensation, and which claims the title of his peculiar commandment, “ that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ."
It is, or at least it ought to be, unnecessary to observe, that this intimation of the divine will is sufficient, by itself, to constitute our duty. It surely belongs to the great Lord of all, to dispense his own grace by what hand, and in what manner, it pleaseth him; and in no case doth it become the creatures of his power to say unto him, What dost thou? or, Why dost thou thus ? Elihu spake the words of truth and soberness, when he saitaunto Jols, “ God is greater than man: why dost tbomen
strive against him? for hy, giveth not acount con his mailer;" thalis he is not bound to explain the reason- of liis conduct; and none hath a right to demand that he should. But glory to his name, that with regard to the greatest of all his works, that dispensation of grace which angels desire to look into, and upon which the happiness of a whole order of his creatures doth depend, it cannot justly be said that he giveth no account of this matter. He hath not interposed his authority as Sovereign, and commanded sinners to believe on his Son, that they may be saved; but he hath likewise, in some measure, unfolded the secrets of his eternal counsel, and in particular, given us such encouraging views of that mighty One upon whom he bath laid our help, as render his command to believe on him at once the