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of heaven; and that he must pray with Christians in this vale of tears, who would join in the worship of angels in the sanctuary above. Surely these were the considerations which possessed the heart of the holy Psalmist, when he uttered those sublime expressions of charity and devotion, the hearing of which is sufficient to warm the coldest heart. I was glad when they said unto me, we will go into the house of the Lord-Jerusalem is built as a city that is at unity iu itself ; for thither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord, to testify unto Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord-O pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee-for my brethren and companions' sakes I will wish thee prosperity ; yea, because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek to do thee good.
And now, my brethren, give me leave to inform you, that I have chosen this particular subject, because the season of Lent is at hand, and our case is particular. You all know it was my practice, when I came first to this place, to have weekly prayers at the church : but my congregation, which was always small, did at length fall away so, that I was discouraged from proceeding any farther. This was the first accident I had ever met with of the kind since I entered into the ministry; which made it the more grievous to me. However, I will not give up a good cause in despair ; and that the fault may not lie upon myself, I have determined to speak my mind freely, having some encouragement so to do. You were slack in sending your children to be catechised: but when I spoke to you upon that subject in the church, I found an immediate attention for the better: who knows, but that what I shall now say may be attended with the like happy effect? At least I am per
suaded you will do me the justice to believe, that, your benefit is the principle object I have in view. Therefore let us consider the case fairly and impartially. I know the excuse you have to offer for not attending the prayers of the church on Wednesdays and Fridays-you are busy, and have not time.And indeed, I must admit this excuse as sufficient with those whose employment or situation places them at a great distance from the church, and whose families depend upon their daily labour : therefore I must argue the case more particularly with those who are near the church. To them I answer, that the time of their attendance is short ; not much more than half an hour twice in a week; and that this little portion of time cannot occasion any very great interruption in their affairs. Let them ask their own hearts seriously, whether they would not be prevailed upon to spare twice as much time, on any day in the week, upon motives of curiosity or vanity? And is the favour of God so light a matter ? Will they always think, that a trifling visit, or an empty sight, is rather to be sought than the pardon of their sins, and the blessing of heaven? Will they think so in the hour of death, or the day of judgment ? If they dare not insist upon such excuses then, in the presence of God, why should they depend upon them now.
But let me suppose charitably, that they are persuaded in their own minds, that the business of their calling is the first thing required of them; that the worship of God ought to give way to it; and that their diligence will turn to a better account than their devotion: if this is their reckoning, they will find on farther consideration, that it is very ill grounded. For man in this life is never independent of God; he doth not work alone; but God worketh with him in
every thing that is good and lawful. If he conforms himself to the will of God, his work will be more likely to prosper, than if he consulteth himself only. If the wisdom of the earth is not tempered and regulated by the wisdom of heaven, it will at last find itself disappointed. And however strange this may seem to a man, who at the week's end thinks himself well able to reckon up all the profit of his labour ; yet I can tell him of a much stranger thing, which is undoubtedly true upon Christian principles, though it sounds like a contradiction-He that saveth his life shall lose it-He that saveth his life against the will of God, shall lose it against his own will; or, he shall save for awhile the life of his body, and lose for ever the life of his soul. May it not well be said then, he that saveth his time shall lose it? He shall be out in his reckoning; his time, by some unforeseen interruptions and miscarriages, shall be rendered less profitable than he expects : or, he shall lose the grace of God by preferring a very inconsiderable reward of a very small portion of his labour: whereas, he, who will bestow some of his time upon God, shall see the remainder sanctified, and find that he has enough and to spare for all other purposes. It is an old proverb that the wealth honestly gotten goes far: and it is equally true, that the time which hath God's blessing upon it shall be much increased in its value. Providence hath many ways of disappointing worldly men in their calculations. A fit of sickness may confine them much longer against their will, and much more to the hurt of their temporal affairs, than a regular attendance for several years upon the hours of
the hours of prayer. When the Jews were become carnal, they reasoned as Pharaoh did before: who said, Ye are idle, ye are idle, therefore ye say, let us go and do service to the Lord our
God. So they argued that the time spent in divine worship was just so much time lost to themselves and their affairs. But God shewed them the folly of this reasoning: he led them into captivity, where they had no church, but sighed and lamented for the want of one, saying, how shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? Their sabbaths and festivals had been neglected on motives of worldly profit: therefore so much time as they had stolen from God, so much and more did he cut off in judgment from the enjoyment of liberty and property in their own land: and I make no doubt but this is the reason why many are not blessed in their property, and find unexpected miscarriage in their affairs ; which might have been prevented, had they but lifted up their eyes unto the hills, and considered themselves rather as the servants of God, than the masters of their own time.
I hope you will consider these things, that the house of God is the house of prayer—that you may lose your time by saving it—and that for a little time well spent you may purchase the blessing of God here, and the riches of eternity hereafter, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
THEN SAID JESUS UNTO HIS DISCIPLES ; IF ANY MAN
WILL COME AFTER ME, LET HIM DENY HIMSELF, AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS, AND FOLLOW ME. MATTH. xvi. 24.
Our blessed Saviour, in these words, hath proposed himself to us, as the captain of our Salvation, made perfect through sufferings. And he, that wishes to come after him, must consider himself as the follower of a self-denying, suffering Saviour; a disciple, whose profession is signified by the sign of the Cross; to which his whole character must be conformed, till the cross shall be exchanged for the crown.
But here you are to observe, that there is no necessity imposed, no compulsion ; a proposal is made, which it is in our power to reject, if we are so disposed. It is only said, if any man is willing *, if he chooses to follow Christ, these are the conditions of so doing; he must deny himself; he must take up his cross. The profession of a Christian is a service of choice: he must not follow Christ, as malefactors follow the officers of justice, because they cannot avoid it; but as one who seeks the rewards and blessings of the Christian profession; and having set down to consider the cost, determines to take it upon him, with all its present disadvantages. With this spirit and
Ει τις θελει. .