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of it wed with abeached, it Picablene
of it we have almost loft: Thus the Word 35 preach'd with abundance of Care ; but altho' it is thus preached, it profiteth but little.
Now since this Unprofitableness of the Word Preach'd cannot but be a great Discouragement to Those, whose Office it is to Preach it; since it will likewise be highly destructive of the eternal Welfare of Those, wboje Duly it is to hear it, we must needs esteem it a Matter of the greatest Moment, Service, and Concern to Mankind; and what well deserves our most serious Application of Thought; to endeavour the Prevention of 'these evil Consequences of the Word Preach'd, by conducing all that lies in our Power, to make it bring forth its proper and expected Fruit.
This therefore is what I have determind to bend my Thoughts upon at this Time; that so, by the Concurrence of Divine Help, I may contribute in some Degree towards remedying this great Evil of the Unprofitableness of the Word Preach'd. And in order to this, I shall make it my Business,
Firf, To enquire into the Causes, why the Word Preach'd doch nor Profit. : - . Secondly, To represent the Folly, and Danger of being influenc'd by them. .
First, I am to enquire into the Caufes, why the Word Preach'd doch not Profit. And the first Cause I shall aflign, is Ignorance in the Fundamentals of Cbriftianity. Unlefs there is a good Foundation laid, we cannot tacionally expect to build a durable Fabric :
Dangendy, To re doth not praufes, why
And unless Men are well acquainted with the Principles of the Doctrine of Christ, 'cis altogether as absurd to think of going on to PerfeЕtion.
In all Sciences whatsoever, there are certain Rudiments and Terms of Art necesary to be learn'd, before any valuable Progress can be made in them: And as they who are Strangers to the Elements of Astronomy, Medicine, and the like, cannot receive much Advantage from the best Lectures that may be read about chem; so the best Sermons that can be preach'd, will communicate but little Profit to those who are ignorant of the Grounds of Divinity.
We are often oblig'd, in handling Divine Subjects, to make use of such Ternis as these; to'wit, the Covenant of Grace; the Merits of Christ ; the Righteousness of a Re. deemer ; Repentance from dead Works; Faith; Hope; the Resurrection of the Dead; Eternal Judgment, and the like. These are some of the Principles of the Christian Religion, and if the Meaning of these Words is not throughdy understood, together with those which bear a near Relation to them, how can the Sermon be throughly understood which makes mention of them! But by how much the lefs the Sermon is understood, by fa much the less muft it necessarily Profit.
Would Men carefully examine into the Arguments upon which their Faith is found ed: Would they endeavour to inform them, Selves throughlý of the Nature of their Re
ligion: Would they train up their Children in the Knowledge of the Grounds of their Profession: Would they be diligent in hear. ing these expounded in the Church, and be willing, for further Instruction, to apply themselves to those whom God hath appointed in watch over their Souls: The Discourses which are deliver'd from the Pulpit would be then better understood, the Word Preach'd would be then attended with great Success.
But so long as People take up their Religion upon Trust, and can give no better Reason why they are Chriftians, than because they were bred for so long as they reckon Catechising an Exercise proper only for Children to mind; when at the same time, if themselves, who are Men in Age were question d about the plainest Truths, they wou'd be found to be Babes in Christ: So long as they are contented to abide in Spiritual Ignorance, and are asham'd to be made wise unto Salvation : So long, I say, as the Soil is thus barren and unmanur'd, the Seed of the Word may be plentifully sown; but the Harvest truly will be but fmall.
Secondly, Another Cause of the Unprofitablenefs of the Word Preach'd, is Worldly-mindedness. This our blessed Saviour hath taken Notice of, as a great hinderer of the Efficacy of Preaching. For in his Parable concerning this Matter, which we meet with in the 13th of St. Mattbera, wherein he molt aptly compares the Word Preach'd to Seed lown in the Ground, he teļls us, that some Seed fell
among Thorns, and the, Thorns sprung up, and chonk'd them. And what he meant by those Expressions, he himself has explain'd at the 22d Ver. of that Chap. He ibat received Seed among Thoris, is he that beareth the Word : And the Care of this world, and the Deceatfulness of Riches, choak the Word, and it becometh unfruitful.
Every body knows, that Thorns do greatly damage the Grain among which they are suffer'd to grow, by overshadowing its Blade when shot up, by weakning the cherishing Influence of the Sun, or by drawing off too large a Share of the Fatness and Moifture of the Earth from its Root. And 'ris equally certain, that when worldly Affectious, and covetous Desires reign in the Heart of Man, they are no less injurious with refpect to the Word Preach'd. For they en. gross his most active Thoughts: They make his very Soul, as it were, cleave to the Dust: They hurry him on to a furious Pursuit of the Wealth of this prefent Life, and thereby render him careless and unmindful of those Discourses, which concern the Life which is to come. .
'Tis in vain to talk of procuring an Inberitance in Heaven, to those who are fully bent upon laying up for themselves Treasures upon Earth: Where Mens Treasure is, there their Hearts must be also: This will perplex them with Anxiety and Solicitude about, many needless Things, so that they will
want an Opportunity and Leisure to regard the one Thing that is needful.
Moreover, when Men are wedded to the World, they are too much in Love with Riches, to be willing to part with any of them in Obedience to Christ's Commands, and therefore it is not very strange that sermons, which declare their Obligation to such an Obedience, fail of having a due Infuence upon them. Such narrow-fould Wretches, as are continually groveling upon the Earth, have no Guít or Relifh of those re. fin'd Joys, which eternally flow from God's Right Hand, and upon that Account they will not be persuaded to seek diligently after them: They place but a mean Efteem and Value upon the Crown of Glory, which fadeth not away; and for that Realon they start back at the Thoughts of being at any Charges, in order to obtain it. . We have an Instance of these fas Conse.
quences of Worldly-mindedness, in the roth of St. Mark, where we read of a young Man, who came to Christ to know, what he should do to inherit Eternal Lie: After he had told Christ, that he had observ'd the Commandments from his Youth, Yesus said unto bim, One Thing thou lackest : Go thy way, fell that thou hast, and give to the Poor, and thou Sbalt have Treasure in Heaven, and come take up-the Cross, and follow me. But mark what follows: He was fad at that Saying, and went away grieved, for be had great Polesions : Upon these his Heart was fixed : In these his