Imatges de pÓgina
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lic ordinances. They are the ordinary means of profiting by the dispensation of the gospel; and should be esteemed by us as the power of God, and the wisdom of God for promoting our salvation. Are we grateful for the enjoyment of the comforts of the present lise? let us be no less sensible of the value of those privileges, which minister to cur preparation for the life to come. Let us esteem the house of prayer and religious instruction as that sacred sanctuary, in which we may be admitted to communion with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ; in which our souls may be nourished in the principles of holiness, which may bring forth the fruits of righteousness. It is to the practice of assembling together on this sacred day, in places dedicated to the service of our Maker; that we must ascribe, in a great measure, that regard to decency and propriety of conduct, which still characterizes us as a people. It is by the serious impressions which are here produced, that the profession of Christianity is maintained, and the practice of it still attended to, by every serious man.--If this be the case, how careless, therefore, must they be, who neglect the assembling of themselves together; who come hither only occasionally, as their humour or inclination may suggest ? Can they expect to be equally pious, who seldom join with their brethren in adoring their Creator, as those who rejoice when it is said unto them, let us go up to the house of the Lord ? Can they expect to be equally virtuous, who seldom hear the lessons of religious and moral obligation; as those who statedly give heed to the words, by which they and their house may be saved? Can they receive as much edification at home, where they are perhaps engaged in the most trifling avocations; as those who continue stedfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayer? “I speak not these things, to shame you; but as my beloved friends, to warn you.'

It is surely much to be regretted, that, when all of us might so easily attend the weekly devotions and exhortations of the sabbath, many, who have no sufficient reason to withdraw themselves from the communion of the faithful, should be found so indifferent to their own edification, as to forsake the ministrations of the church, according to their pleasure. Can they be employed at home in any other offices that are equally useful, and equally conducive to their improvement ? Do they think the time spent in the house of God too long, and that they cannot command their attention, for engaging in the exercises which are there prescribed? Or have they no relish for such services, and consider it a weariness to which they cannot submit, without a painful effort ? Alas! how shall they be qualified to serve God day and night for ever and ever, who could scarce support the burthen of ministering to him at distant intervals, for a short season in his temple on earth. If there be any such in a Christian assembly; it must not be dissembled, that their hearts are not right in the sight of God; and that they should endeavour to acquire a relish for devotional exercises, as the most effectual means of converting them from the error of their ways; that they may henceforth delight to do his will after the inward man. If any are conscious that they have hitherto neglected religious ordinances, and been remiss in their attendance upon the house of prayer; let them be persuaded, by a regard to the welfare of their souls, to give heed to the things which belong to their peace, before

, they be hid from their eyes. “ Now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation ; let us therefore seek the Lord while he is to be found, and call upon him while he is near." We shall find, that by worshipping God in the beauty of holiness, we shall gradually improve our devotional feelings; acquire an increase of useful knowledge, and be stirred up to the practice of righteousness. Then shall the sabbath be our delight; then shall we experience more joy and gladness in the service of the sanctuary, than the men of the world enjoy, when their corn, and their wine, and their oil do most abound.

While we would thus exhort those who forsake the assembling of themselves together, to do so no more, by every motive arising from their present and future welfare; it is delightful to congratulate those who regularly attend the ministrations of the sanctuary, for the regard which they pay to so important a duty, and for the good example which they exhibit to others. Surely your labour shall not be in vain; ye shall reap the advantage of your faithful services, in the improvement of your minds, in the reputation of your characters, and in the approbation of God and man. Continue to assemble for the worship of your Maker, and to render him the glory that is due unto his name; continue to inquire in his temple, and hear what he will speak for your edification; continue to listen to the words of everlasting life; continue to teach your children and household to keep the way of the Lord; and ye may verily expect, when ye have finished the course of your pilgrimage on earth ; that ye shall be admitted, through the merits of your Saviour, " to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to an innumerable company of angels, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.”

SERMON XIII.
ON TRUST IN GOD.

1 PETER V. 7. Casting all your care upon him, for he careth

for you.

THERE is no truth which reason and religion more clearly evince, than the protecting care of the Almighty over the works of his hands. For, as he hath brought them into existence by his power, it is reasonable to suppose that he should uphold them by his providence. This is evident, with respect to the regulation of the laws of nature, which require the constant energy of the Deity to support and controul their operations. They cannot act of themselves; since they have no inherent power to produce any effects, but what is derived from the agency of their Creator, by whom they all consist. Therefore, every vicissitude which occurs in the system of the universe must be ascribed to Him, “ of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things."-But while we are ready to acknowledge the supreme direction of the author of nature in the material world; we may perhaps be sceptical with regard to his controul over human affairs. Though we may admit the necessity of his constant exertion in maintaining the sun and the planets in their orbits, in refreshing the earth with rain from heaven, and sending the wind out of its treasures; yet we may conceive that he hath left mankind to act according to the counsel of their will, and arrange their fortune according to their own devices. This, however, is not the case ; for, as his kingdom ruleth over all," he doeth according to his pleasure in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.” This is a truth which revelation declares, and which is confirmed by the experience of mankind. Accordingly we find, that human wisdom often fails in accomplishing its purposes, from the intervention of some casual accidents, which could neither be foreseen nor prevented ; that “ the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” We observe also, that many fortunate incidents occur, in the lives of individuals, which are brought about in the most unlikely manner; from which we are led to conclude, that " though the lot is cast into the lap, yet the whole disposing thereof is from the Lord.”-Since it appears, then, that a providential interposition is exercised over human affairs; what cause of confidence and joy should this afford to those who commit their ways to the direction of the Almighty, since we are assured, that “ he will direct our steps?” This is the disposition which religion teaches us to cultivate; a disposition, by which we should depend upon the interposition of our heavenly Father, to make all things work together for our good; by which we should cast all our care upon him, since he careth for us; and by which we should be “ careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let our requests be made known unto him; that he may do exceeding abundantly for us, above all that we are able to ask or think.”

But though this should be the conduct which we ought to maintain; yet how many of us live in the world, as if there were no Supreme Disposer of events; how many engage in prosecuting worldly schemes, without seeking unto God, and committing the success of their cause to his direction; how many perplex themselves with the issue of their affairs, without considering that “the Lord maketh rich or maketh poor; that riches and honour come from him, and in his hand it is to make great and give strength unto all.” This is a spirit which is unbecoming in those, who profess to believe in the superintend

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