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* obey God rather than men ;” and their practice thereupon our example: “ who s filled Jerusalem with their doctrine, and
daily in the temple and in every house “ ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus 46 Christ.”
Since then you see, my reverend brethren, from what has been said, that we are truly and regularly sent, and are therefore to preach the word of him who sent us; and since preaching is an instituted means for promoting the glory of God and the good of souls, we ought carefully to adapt our discourses to this excellent end; teaching and informing the judgments, and inclining the wills and affections of all our hearers, so to believe and so to live, as becometh Christians.
And to make our preaching the more effectual, we must take care to practise what we preach: to let our light so shine before men, in word, in "conversation, in charity, in faith, in purity, that they, seeing our good works, may glorify our Father which is in heaven; and that
those, who are of the contrary part, may have no evil thing to say of us. And if any, notwithstanding, will maliciously reproach us, we have that way to clear ourselves, which the wise Plato resolved upon, so to live, that none shall believe
Therefore, seeing we have received this ministry, as we have received mercy, let us not faint, but let us renounce the hidden things of dishonesty ; not walking in craftiness; not handling the word of God deceitfully ; but by manifestation of the truth let us commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. Let us feed the flock which is among us, and be an example to them; knowing that when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, we shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away; and that they, who turn many to righteousness, shall shine as the stars for ever and ever.
And if we, my brethren of the laity, be thus truly and regularly sent, as you have
heard heard we are, then you are to receive us as such, and so to account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. And if it be our duty to preach, it is yours to hear; to frequent our public assemblies at the time and place appointed, and attend the sermons we preach. For the Apostle's question immediately before my text, “How “ shall they hear without a preacher?" may well enough be inverted, and we máy with equal justice ask, “ How shall we 66 preach without a hearer ?” . .
Brethren, we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake; who, as St. Paul tells us, “ has given some Apostles, " and some Prophets, and some Evan" gelists, and some Pastors and Teachers;" the design of which is added in the following verses, “ for the perfecting of the 66 saints, for the work of the ministry, for " the edifying of the body of Christ; till " we all come in the unity of the faith " and of the knowledge of the Son of * God, unto a perfect man, unto the
5. measure of the stature of the fulness of “ Christ.” And surely there must be diligent application and due attendance upon their ministry for attaining so great and good an end. Surely men must put themselves in the way to Heaven, by frequenting the house of God, if ever they mean to go to Heaven. Surely they must tread the courts of the Lord's house here, if ever they wish to enter the courts of his glory hereafter.
Must it not, therefore, afford matter of melancholy consideration to every serious Christian to see so general a neglect and decay of public worship? What shall we think of those (I will not say, the young and inconsiderate only, for the grave and grey-headed are too often among the number), who never enter the house of prayer but by sudden fits and starts, through accidental whim or childish curiosity, to kill the splenetic hours of a rainy Sunday, or display the elegance of a new fashion? And what again shall we think of those still more unhappy persons, who never come there at all? What can
we think, but that they are lost to all sense of shame, decency, and religion; that they neither fear God nor regard man? For sure I am, that the laws both of reason, God, and man, make it indispensably every man's duty to frequent his church; and if these will not bind him, I freely own, I know not what can.
I do not indeed take upon me to say, that no cause will excuse our absence from church; but surely I may say, that every cause will not. We may be allowed at proper times to consult the health and convenience of our bodies, if need so requires; but we should remember, that we have souls as well as bodies; and that if the wants and infirmities of one be great, the wants and infirmities of the other are still greater, and of infinitely more consequence to us.
But were men seriously disposed to obey God; were they at all in earnest about religion; had they any real concern about their salvation; they would neither find out, nor embrace, such trifling pleas