Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

in pieces. Remember the declaration of Christ himself, Whosoever shall fall upon this stone shall be broken ; that is, whosoever shall reject him while in a humble form in the days of his flesh, shall perish, but on whomsoever this stone shall fall, it shall grind him to powder ; that is, whosoever shall reject him in his state of exaltation, shall perish in a still more terrible manner. And will not all these alarming considerations have weight with you, to persuade you to make him your only foundation ?

If you have already made him so, then be assured you are safe and immovable forever. Let storms of private or public calamity rise and beat upon you ; let your fears and doubts rise to ever so high a deluge ; let temptations make ever so severe attacks upon you, still the foundation on which you stand abides firm and unshaken. Nay, let all nature go to wreck, and seas and land, and heaven and earth be blended together, still this foundation stands firm, and the living temple built upon it will remain immoveable forever. You that believe need not make haste, you need not be struck into consternation upon the appearance of dinger, nor fly to unlawful means of deliverance ; your all is safe, and therefore you may be serene and calm. Is the burden of guilt intolerable, and are you ready to sink under it? Or are you sinking under a load of sorrow? Whatever be the burden, cast it upon the Lord, and he will sustain you. This foundation is able to bear you up, however great the pressure. Come ye, that are weary and heavy laden, come, and build your hopes, and place your rest here. O! what joyful tidings are these! I hope they will prove a word in season to some soul that is weary.

What now remains, but that I should n:ore explicitly point out this precious stone to you all, by illustrating the emphatical word behold, prefixt to the text.

Behold, ye poor sinking souls, behold with wonder and gratitude : here is sure foundation for you : cast your whole weight, venture your eternal all upon it, and it will support you. Say no more, “ Alas! I must sink forever under this mountain of guilt ;" but turn to Jesus, with sinking Peter, and cry, Help, Lord, I perish ; and he will bear you up. Yes, whatever storms may blow, whatever convulsions may shake the world, you are safe.

Behold, ye joyful believers. See here the foundation of all your joys and hopes. Do you stand firm like Mount Zion? See, here is the rock that supports you. Gratefully acknowledge it, and inscribe this precious stone with your praises. Point it out to others as the only ground of hope for perishing souls.

Behold, ye wretched self-righteous Pharisees, the only rock on which you must build if you expect to stand. Your proud selfconfident virtue, your boasted philosophic morality, is but a loose, tottering foundation. Virtue and morality are necessary to complete and adorn the superstructure ; but when they are laid at the bottom of all, they will prove but a quicksand.

Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish ! perish you must if you set at nought this precious stone. To you this only foundation is like to prove a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence. To you the nature of things is inverted; the only ground of hope will heighten your despair ; and the Saviour of men will be your destroyer.

Behold, ye glorious angels, behold the firm foundation divine love has laid for the salvation of guilty worms. It is as firm as that on which you stand. Are the affairs of mortals beneath your notice ? No, we are concerned with Jesus too who is your head ; and our connection with him must give us an importance in

your view. Therefore join with us in celebrating the praises of this foundation. This precious stone appears to you in all its splendours : its brilliancy dazzles your admiring eyes. We also admire it as far as we know it ; but to us it is like a foundation laid deep under ground, that supports us though we see it not. When shall we be placed in your advantageous situation, the heights of the heavenly Zion, where it will appear full to our view, and be the object of our delightful contemplation forever and ever!

SERMON 29.

THE NECESSITY AND EXCELLENCE OF FAMILY-RELIGION.

I TIM. V. 8. But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

THE great Author of our nature, who has made us sociable creatures, has instituted various societies among mankind, both civil and religious, and joined them together by the various bonds of relation. The first and radical society is that of a family,

which is the nursery of the church and state. This was the society instituted in Paradise in the state of innocence, when the indulgent Creator, finding that it was not good for man, a sociable creature, to be alone, formed an help meet for him, and united them in the endearing bonds of the conjugal relation. From thence the human race was propagated ; and when multiplied, it was formed into civil governments and ecclesiastical assemblies. Without these associations the worship of God could not be publicly and socially performed, and liberty and property could not be secured. Without these, men would turn savages and roam at large, destitute of religion, insensible of the human passions, and regardless of each other's welfare. Civil and religious societies are therefore wisely continued in the world, and we enjoy the numerous advantages of them. But these do not exclude, but presuppose domestic societies, which are the materials of which they are composed ; and as churches and kingdoms are formed out of families, they will be such as the materials of which they consist. It is therefore of the greatest importance to religion and civil society that families be under proper regulations, that they may produce proper plants for church and state, and especially for the eternal world, in which all the temporary associations of mortals in this world finally terminate, and to which they ultimately refer.

Now in families, as well as in all governments, there are superiors and inferiors ; and as it is the place of the latter to obey, so it belongs to the former both to rule and to provide. The heads of families are obliged not only to exercise their authority over their dependents, but also to provide for them a competency of the necessaries of life ; and indeed their right to rule is but a power to provide for themselves and their domestics.

This is implied in my text, where the apostle makes the omission of this duty utterly inconsistent with christianity ; and a crime so unnatural, that even infidels are free from it. man provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

The apostle, among other things, in this chapter is giving directions how widows should be treated in the church. If they were widows indeed ; that is, widowed and entirely destitute of relations to support them; then he advises to maintain them at the public expense of the church. (ver. 3, 9, 10.) But if they were such widows as had children or nephews, then he orders

If any

tainly a most lamentable thing that any who have enjoyed such opportunities for instruction, who have been solemnly and frequently warned, exhorted, and persuaded, and who have come under the strongest obligation to this duty, should notwithstanding live in the wilful and habitual neglect of it. For persons to omit it for want of instruction about its obligation might be very consistent with a tender conscience, and nothing would be necessary to bring such to the practice, but to convince then it is their duty, which it is very easy to do ; but to omit family-religion in our circumstances, my brethren, discovers such a stupid indifferency about religion, or so inveterate an aversion to it, that it is lamentably doubtful, whether a conviction of the duty will determine you to the practice of it. When persons have long habituated themselves to sin against light, it is hard to take any effectual measures to deal with them. All that the ministers of the gospel can do, is to convince their understandings, to persuade, to exhort, to invite, to threaten ; but such are accustomed to resist these means, and now they find it no great difficulty to master them. I therefore make this at. tempt with discouragement, and hardly hope to succeed with such of you as have hitherto obstinately fought against conviction ; and the attempt is still the more melancholy, as I know that, if what shall be offered does not prevail upon you to make conscience of family-religion, the additional light you may receive will but render you more inexcusable, increase your guilt, and consequently your punishment. This is one of the tremendous consequences of the ministry of this neglected, disregarded gospel, that may strike ministers and people with a solemn horror. However, I am not without hopes of success with some of you, who have not yet been cursed with a horrid victory over your consciences. I hope that when you are more fully convinced of this duty, you will immediately begin the practice of it. But though I had no expectation of success, I am still obliged to make the attempt. Though nothing can animate a minister more than the prospect of success, yet he is not to regulate his conduct wholly according to this prospect. He must labour to deliver his own soul, by warning even such as may not regard it. He must declare the whole counsel of God, whether they hear, or whether they forbear. I shall therefore, my dear brethren, endeavour honestly this day to bring you to Joshua's resolution, that you and your houses will serve the Lord ; and let him who is hardy enough to despise it, prepare to answer for it at the supreme tribunal; for he despiseth not man, but God.

I would not have you perform any thing as a duty, till you have sufficient means to convince you that it is a duly ; and I would not confine you to an over-frequont performance of the duty I am now to open to you ; therefore, when I have briefly mentioned the various parts of family religion, I shall,

I. Prove it to be a duty, from the law of nature and scripture. revelation.

II. Shew in what seasons, or how frequently family-religion should be statedly performed.

III. I shall consider what particular obligation the heads of families lie under, and what authority they are invested with to maintain religion in their houses. And,

IV. And lastly, I shall answer the usual objections made against this important duty.

As to the parts of family-religion, they are prayer, praise, and instruction. We and our families stand in need of blessings in a domestic capacity, therefore in that capacity we should pray for them ; in that capacity too we receive many blessings ; therefore in that capacity we should return thanks for them; and singing of psalms is the most proper method of thanksgiving. Further : Our domestics need instructions about the great concerns of religion, therefore we should teach them. But I need not stay to prove each of these branches to be a duty, because the following arguments for the whole of family-religion, will be equally conclusive for each part of it, and may be easily accom. modated to it. Therefore,

1. I shall prove that fainily-religion is a duty, from the light of nature and of scripture.

To prepare the way, I would observe that you should hear what shall be offered with a mind in love with your duty when it appears.

You would not willingly have a cause tried by one that is your enemy ; now the carnal mind is enmity against God, and consequently while

you

retain that carnal mind, you are very unfit to judge of the force of those arguments that prove your duty to. wards him. If you hate the discovery, you will shut your eyes against the light, and not receive the truth in love. Therefore lie open to conviction, and I doubt not but you shall receive it from the following arguments.

If family-religion be due to the supreme Being upon the account of his perfections, and the relation he bears to us--if it be one great design of the institution of families, if it tend to the

« ElőzőTovább »