« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
can say, The winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land, the fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell, Cant. ii. 12. What is all this but God's quickening grace, restoring the believer to his blessed joy. Oh! my brethren, I have not time to show you in how many ways the Redeemer's grace is displayed; but wherever this grace is, what reason have you that are partakers of it, and I, to pray that it may be with us all; the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, says John here, be with you all it is not said all ministers, it is not said all of this or that particular people, but with all believers. O! my friends, remember what Mr. Henry said, he desired to be a Catholic, but not a Roman Catholic. I have often thought since I went to see the water-works, that it was an emblem of Christ; there is a great reservoir of water from which this great city is supplied; but how is it supplied from that reservoir? why by hundreds and hundreds of pipes: but where does this water go, does it go only to the dissenters or to the church people, only to this or that people? no, the pipes convey the water to all; and I remember when I saw it, it put me in mind of the great reservoir of grace, that living water that is in Christ Jesus, and the pipes are the ordinances by which his grace is conveyed to all believing souls, God grant we may be of that happy number. O what a mercy it is that Christ has said, I will be with you always, even to the end of the world, Matt. xxviii. 20. and therefore we must look upon this prayer to be efficacious now, as it was the moment the words dropt from the
apostle's pen. I believe the most minute philoso-
they were as weak, as blind, as obstinate, and worldly-minded as others, till Jesus Christ changed their hearts; and that same grace that changed their hearts, changes now the hearts of God's people; and blessed be God, that same grace is with all his people.
It is so in his ordinances. Here is the difference between a Formalist and a Christian; the Formalist goes to ordinances, but then he does not feel the God of ordinances, and that is the reason most formal people don't care to go to church very often: who cares to go to the house of a person he does not love? they will only just knock at the door, and ask if such a person is at home, and are very glad to hear the servants say their master or mistress is not at home; the visit is paid; so it is with many people that go to church and meeting; and I do not doubt but there are many Methodists, hundreds and hundreds, that have been at the ordinances, who never felt the God of ordinances converting them to this day.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with his people in prayer. Who can pray without grace? they may laugh at is as they will, but God give you and I a spirit of prayer; let them laugh as they please; what profit will it be to us to read this book without the grace of God. What a horrid blunder has the bishop of G-r been guilty of? What do you think his lordship says, in order to expose the fanaticism of the Methodists? Why, says he, they say they cannot understand the scriptures without the Spirit of God. Can any man understand the scriptures without the Spirit of God helps him? Jesus Christ must open our un-> derstanding to understand the scriptures, and the Spirit of God must take of the things of Christ
and show them unto us; as we are taught to pray, O Lord, thou hast caused thy holy scriptures to be written, &c. as in the second Sunday in Advent; and here the bishop pretends to tell us, there is no need of it; here our collect and bishop disagree very much. So with respect to all ordinances it is the same: what signifies my preaching, and your hearing, if the Spirit of God does not enlighten? Formal ministers can steal a sermon, and add a little out of their own heads; but a minister of the gospel cannot preach to purpose without the assistance of the Spirit of God, no more than a ship can sail without wind. As for a carnal man he may take his sermon in his pocket, and you will find his sermons always the same; but spiritual preachers are seldom so; sometimes they are in darkness, so as to speak to those that are in darkness; sometimes they are tempted, so as to speak to those that are tempted; sometimes they have a full gale, and go before the wind, and this is all by the assistance of the Spirit of God, and without this a man may preach like an angel, and do no good at all. So in respect of hearing the word of God, I declare I would not preach again, if I did not think that God would accompany the word by his Spirit: what are we but sounding brass and tinkling cymbols? If the word is preached in the strength of the Spirit, it will be attended with convictions and conversions, and the grace of God will be both with preacher and hearer.
The grace of God is with his people in his Providence. O! says bishop Hall, a little aid is not enough for me. My going on the water puts me in mind of what I have seen many times: if the sailors perceive a storm a coming, they do not
chuse to speak to the passengers for fear of frightening them, they will go quietly on deck, and give orders for proper care to be taken; and if a sailor can tell of storms approaching by the clouds, why can't God's people tell why God does so and so with them? The people of God eye him in his Providence; the very hairs of their heads are all numbered, and the grace of God is with them in the common business of life. Some people think that the Methodists preach so and so to make them neglect their business, and we preach at unseasonable times: we would not preach at this time, but that we are going to part from one another; no, we preach that the grace of God may attend them in their counting-houses, and woe be to those persons that do not take the grace of God with them into their counting-houses, and in their common business. O what blessed times would it be if every one made the grace of God their employ, that when the Lord comes he may say, Lord, here I am waiting for thee.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is with his people when sick and when dying. O my dear souls, what shall we do when death comes? What a mercy it is that we have got a good master to carry us through that time! As a poor converted Negro that saw a believer who was dying in comfort, said, Master don't fear, Jesus Christ will carry you safe through the dark valley of the shadow of death.-But the time would fail, if I was to show you in how many respects the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ helps us; but what I have said will show, that we need all join in a hearty Amen; Amen, I pray God it may be so, so it is, so may it be! May be what? why that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, convicting, restraining,