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as these; they would neither study pre tences to evade their duty, nor excuses to palliate the neglect of it. For proof of this, we need only look back to the days of old. There was a time, when men thought the house of God pleasant, and his dwellings amiable. There was a time, when men thought it their duty seven times a day to praise God for his righteous judgments. There was a time, when á wise king declared, that he had rather be a door-keeper in the house of his God, than enjoy all the pleasures the tents of ungodliness could afford. But these happy days of piety are now no more; and we must now content ourselves, if we can prevail upon the tenth part of our flocks to devote two hours in the week to the service of that God, from whom all their daily blessings flow.
But whence, my brethren, arises this dreadful and alarming change? Have we found out any new and compendious method of salvation? Is not the God, whom we adore in every age, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever? Is not the gospel
still the gospel? Have we not still souls that must be eternally happy, or eternally miserable? Are we not still men; that is, creatures frail, fallible, and dependent? Have we no sins to pardon ? Have we no mercies to acknowledge? Have we no blessings to request for ourselves, our families, and our country? Why then do we desert those altars, from whence cometh our salvation? Why do we think the little we do in the service of God too much; whilst they thought every thing they could do too little to win heaven?
But whilst I blame those, who frequent no place of worship, I cannot commend their custom, who frequent every place of worship; who wander into fields and conventicles after every novel and self-commissioned teacher. I cannot call such a practice less than indecent, and if I had called it more, I think I might have justified the expression. For if it be contrary to the design of God for them to preach, it must be contrary to his will for us to hear. I am sure a Prophet of old said, The Priest's lips should keep know,
“ ledge; “ ledge; therefore the people should learn “ the law at his mouth:” and he adds this solemn reason for it; “ for he is the mes“ senger of the Lord of Hosts.",
I know the usual pretence of such people is, that they go there to seek for the means of salvation. But this pretence is no less false than it is frivolous, No man, who has the word of God in his hand, and the sacraments of God in his church, can want the means of salvation. So that if the clergy of the established church were even more ignorant and despicable than these our pretended apostles too often represent them, yet no man, through their default, need have his salvation endangered. For even our church herself doth teach, “ that the grace of " God's gifts and sacraments are no way. -6 diminished, to such as receive them by “ faith, by the inability or wickedness of "* those who minister them.”
However, though it is indeed an undeniable truth, that in every human institution, the evil will ever be mingled with
the good, and therefore I mean not to defend either the ability or the piety of every minister of the church, too many of whom are in both a disgrace to their holy function ; yet I would ask any unprejudiced man, whether it is more reasonable to expect good lives and efficacious grace in those who minister in holy things in the way of God's own appointment, or in those, who in defiance of that appointment, and in contempt of the laws of their country, disturb the peace and unity of the church by novel doctrines and needless divisions ?
And as to the ability of these men, who thus upon every occasion disparage the learning and acquirements of the clergy, I will say, and my own particular station enables me to say it with certainty, that much the greater part of them are men of gross and invincible ignorance, men, who are babes in Christ, men unacquainted with the very first principles and evidences of that religion they profess to teach; men, who after attempting without success to come in at the door of
the church, have been fain to climb up some other way; and then have found no better cloak for their own ignorance, than to rail at those, whose abilities have entitled them to that dignity, which they in vain attempted to reach.
Unless men therefore can shew, that these self-commissioned teachers have found out a new way of salvation, or that there is any difficulty in the old one; una less they can shew, that their extemporaneous effusions are preferable to the sober and-sublime words of our liturgy; unless they can shew, that the inventions of man are better than the express appointment of God; till they can do all this, I would advise them to adhere to the worship of their fathers, and to follow those lawful guides and pastors, who are appointed, both by divine and human authority, to minister to them in holy things. And let them not doubt, but that the means of salvation may be had at home as well as by deserting their families and oceupations to ramble abroad, and that God will be found of them, who diligently