« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
eireles the happy effects of his ministry. They will love his person ; they will enjoy his preaching; they will tread in his steps ; and they will shine as lights in a dark world. What then might not be boped for, if all who have undertaken the sacred office of the ministry, fulfilled their engagements in the way we have before described? What if all prayed the prayers instead of reading them; and laboured out of the pulpit as well as in it; striving to bring all their people, “ not only to the knowledge and love of Christ, but to such ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ, as to leave no room among them either for error in religion, or for viciousness of life?" If there were such exertions made in every parish, we should hear no more complaints about the increase of Dissenters. The people's prejudices in general are in favour of the Establishment: and the more any persons have considered the excellence of the Liturgy, the more are they attached to the Established Church. Some indeed would entertain prejudices against it, even if all
the twelve Apostles were members of it, and ministered in it; but, in general, it is a want of zeal in its ministers, and not any want of purity in its institutions, that gives such an advantage to Dissenters. Let me not be misunderstood, as though by these observations I meant to suggest any thing disrespectful of the Dissenters; (for I honour all that love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, of whatever church they be; and I wish them from my heart every blessing that their souls can desire :) but, whilst I see such abundant means of edification in the Church of England, I cannot but regret, that any occasion should be given to men to seek for that in other places, which is so richly provided for them in their own church. Only let us be faithful to our engagements, and our churches will be crowded, pur Sacraments thronged, our hearers edified : good institutions will be set on foot; liberality will be exercised, the poor benefited, the ignorant enlightened, the dis. tressed comforted; yea, and our “ wilderness world will rejoice and blossom as the rose.”
O that we might see this happy day; which, I would fondly hope, has begun to dawn! O that God would arise and 6 take to him his great power, and reign amongst us!” O that he might no longer have to express a wish, “ that there were in us such an heart;" but rather have to rejoice over us as possessed of such an heart; and that he would magnify himself in us as instruments of good to a ruined world! The Apostle to the Hebrews represents all the saints of former ages as witnesses of the conduct of those who were then alive; and he urges it as an argument with them to exert them. selves to the uttermost: “Having then, says he, so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Thus let us consider the Reformers of our Church as now looking down upon us, and filled with anxiety for the success of their labours : let us hear them saying,
66 We did all that human fore. sight could do: We shewed to ministers
what they ought to be: we bound them by the most solemn ties to walk in the steps of Christ and bis Apostles: if any shall be luke-warm in their office, we shall have to appear in judgment against them, and shall be the means of aggravating their eternal condemnation." Let us, I say, consider them as spectators of our conduct; and endeavour to emulate their pious examples. Let us consider likewise, that the Liturgy itself will appear against us in judgment, if we labour not to the utmost of our power to fulfil the engagements which we have voluntarily entered into: Yea, God him. self will say to us, “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant.” May God enable us all to lay these things to heart; that, whether we have already contracted, or are intending at a future period to contract, this fearful responsibility, we may duly consider what account we shall have to give of it in the day of judgment.