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and hallow the name of God? Will the drunkard pretend that he has never been upbraided for his vile intemperance, and admonished that unless he repents and forsakes his sin, he cannot inherit the kingdom of God? Is any one delaying his religion till sickness and the bed of death? Who can say that he has not frequently been cautioned against such folly? Who in this church neglects the duty of constant private prayer, that has not many a time been exhorted to the practice of it? Who is yet a mere formalist, a mere nominal disciple of Christ, and can plead in his behalf that he was never instructed in the insignificance of outward observances and professions, where the spirit of religion is wanting? What christian doctrine, or duty is there, concerning which those who neglect it can say they never received any information? There is scarcely any thing, which is a clearer proof to me how many must hear the word of God without profit, than the palpable fact that such numbers refuse all the invitations to the Lord's table so frequently addressed to them. I sometimes take this as a test of the efficacy of preaching, and I say, “ here is a plain proof, see how many are unmoved by any thing that can be said to them !" We cannot see into the hearts of our hearers—we cannot so ascertain what reception the seed may have met with ; but we cannot
close our eyes against a positive and evident fact. It is manifest to all, that in this instance of the Lord's supper, no impression has been made upon them, and I fear we may go further, and trace back that neglect to its source in the heart, to a want of faith in Christ, and of thankfulness for the unspeakable mercy of redemption, which is commemorated at the holy table,
To be sure we have unhappily other proofs also of the inattention of many to the word of God; the drunkenness that we behold, the oaths that we hear wherever we go, the quarrelling, cheating, stealing, lying, the pride and vanity, and all the other sins that are practised under our constant observation, these are all but too clear proofs that multitudes “ hear our words, and do them not."
My brethren, whose fault is it? Is it ours, or is it yours? Do not we preach faithfully enough, or do not you hear seriously enough? Are we indifferent about exhorting and instructing you, or are you indifferent about your own salvation? It is discouraging; and I confess that often in a desponding mood, (God forgive me for indulging it ;) I say, “it is all in vain, I cannot effect any improvement; they come and hear, but they are not the better for it, I may as well make no more effort,” It is a sinful, unbelieving thought, the
offspring of man's pride, or the suggestion of the devil's malice. Rather should I be disposed to say with Peter, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing, nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.” We may enclose a great multitude yet, if Christ be with us, and bless our labour; we must not faint and be weary; but as God is patient and long-suffering, trying a thousand ways to touch the sinner's heart, so as to do no violence to his will, and bearing all his perverse resistance until he either repents, or is hopelessly hardened, so surely we must bear with our fellow men, and use all our endeavours to reclaim them, however long and obstinately they may refuse to hear the message which God has commissioned us to deliver to them.
“ And this will we do, if God permit it;" and if after years of ministering and exhorting, I could know that God had made me instrumental to the salvation of only a single sinner, how ought my heart to be filled with joy. How amply ought I to consider my toil repaid, to have been the instrument of effecting a work, at which the angels of God rejoice. We look perhaps for too great success, and at the same time labour with too little zeal, whereas we should spare no pains, if we had hope of saving but one soul from death.
But oh ! if you could all be saved. And how horrid to reflect, that there may be living beings here present, persons whom we see and know, with whom we associate and converse, who seem like ourselves, and partake of all the common feelings, and properties, and enjoyments, and necessities of human nature with ourselves, to think that even some of these our acquaintance and familiar companions, whom we call by their names, may possibly not be saved, may perish everlastingly; may go to that place of weeping and wailing, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. It is not only your minister who should be interested in such a case as this, it is not only he who should labour to promote the salvation of his flock. All who know the worth of their souls, all who rejoice in the hope of heaven, all who are thankful for their redemption from sin and hell, should combine in such a work according to their means ;--should lend a helping hand in the cause of the gospel ;-should exhort, reprove, instruct the sinners with whom they mingle in their daily life ;-should remind them, as opportunity may offer, that they have souls to be saved. I want such helpmates, I want all christians to“ teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know ye
for sin, may be more effectual than all the sermons, delivered to a large collection of
persons, which want that individual and circumstantial application, and of which each may appropriate to himself as little as he pleases.
To conclude, my brethren, (for although I seem to have said nothing, and to have a thousand thoughts striving for utterance, which I am not able to give them, I must close my address, and suffer you to depart for another week,) it is my earnest desire by all means to save some. « 1 say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost •that I bave great heaviness, and continual sorrow in my heart.” What can I do for you? How can I promote your spiritual improvement ?
Oh that I could by any means turn you all from your sins, implant in your hearts christian principles and affections, and make you devote your whole lives to the glory of God, and the salvation of
souls! But this is beyond the power of man; one “may plant, and another water, but it is God only that giveth the increase. May God incline me ever to look up to him for success in my ministry, and to labour without any presumption, or trust in my own weak exertions, but solely in dependance on his aid and blessing; and may he hear my prayer on your