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seek him, 'as well in a church, as in fields or tabernacles ; for he is not far from every one of us.
· And whilst I condemn those, who thus ramble from field to field, or from tabernacle to tabernacle for instruction, I will not, I cannot approve their practice, who spend their Sundays in rambling from church to church. I mean not to give offence to any man who does this ; but let the censure fall where it will, I must say, that it is an indecent, it is an unjustifiable custom, which ought to give offence to every sober mind. For, let me ask any serious and thinking person, Is it decent to spend the sabbath, which God commands to be kept holy, in this rambling and unsettled way? Is it decent either wholly to neglect the prayers of the church, or to come in when they are half finished ? Is it decent to take off the devotions of a congregation by a noisy entrance or an impudent state? And.is it not much more indecent than all these, to turn their backs upon God's worship, which they too often do, if they happen
not to likc the voice of the minister or the appearance of the congregation"; if the one has not the powers of eloquence to soothe their ears, or the other affords not the charms of beauty to captivate their eyes ?
· I know farther, such men will tell me, that they go to hear the best preachers ; that is, for so they mean by it, the most pleasing speakers :, for it is the sound, much oftener than the sense, which constitutes their idea of a best preacher. But what anindecent and childish plea is this! Is the church then become a playhouse, where men are to seek for pleasure in hearing ? Are the ministers of God become actors ? Were they ordained to entertain you? Are our discourses to be weighed in the nice scales of criticism, or tried by the rules of oratory ? Must we join with the popular phrenzy for politics or rant for liberty, before we can be heard ? Must we 'adopt the language of fiction, and borrow the gestures of the theatre ? Must we paint to your imaginations enamelled meads and purling streams, gentle zephyrs and Elysian fields ? Must we scatter from the pulpit the flowers of poetry, or weave the silken tale of romance, before ye will deign to listen to us? If some have done this to draw after them the admiration of gaping ignorance, sorry I am to say it, that they little understand either the nature of their own office, or the dignity of the religion they profess to teach, which stands not in need of borrowed ornaments or theatric rant. What! has truth then no weight ? Have the, tidings of salvation no influence ? Has the word of God no power ? Has heaven no charms? Has hell no terrors, unless we add to them poetic fiction or theatric gesture ?
For shame, O Christians, think more .nobly! spend not your sabbaths in pursuit of soft speeches or new-fangled in. structors. Reflect for a moment for what different purposes we stand' here, and for what different ends this place and day were intended. Judge, if not more favourably for us, at least more wisely for yourselves. It is indeed happy, where A VOL.Iy.
sound conspires with sense, and the powers of eloquence adorn the truths of the Gospel: But, after all, is a well turned period or a mellifluous voice able to save you? Can they add to the certainty of God's word, or increase the riches of your Redeemer's kindness? Can they prevail upon God to remit his vengeance to the unrepenting sinner, or to hear the prayer of an impure supplicant? Can they secure heaven to you without faith, or happiness without works ? No: if heaven and happiness be gained, they must be gained by other means than listening to soft speeches and pleasing instructions. It is not the voice of angels, nor the tongue of seraphs, that can save you : they may instruct and advise you : but you must save yourselves. And can nothing but the voice of the charmer instruct and advise you ? May not 'à man be an useful and sufficient, though not a pleasing instructor ? Was St. Paul wanting in knowledge, because he was rude in speech? Is not truth, truth, from whatever mouth it comes ? Is not God able to bless his word in the hands of the meanest of his servants, and out of the mouth of babes in utterance to ordain strengthi? Why then should mer desert their proper and lawful teachers in the church, even though they are less pleasing ones ? They may gain heaven under their instructions; and would they have more?: , ;
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But this is not all: consider farther what a discouragement you throw upon the ministry by leaving your own churches. For to what purpose do we labour to feed our focks, if they will not attend us? How shall we heal the diseased, if they fly from us? How shall we address ourselves to the particular circumstances and capacities, of our congregations, if they are composed of a motley throng, whom chance or curiosity has brought together? It is a part of that solemn charge, which is given to every one of us at our admission into the ministry, “ that we should Jos never cease to apply our care and dili*6 gence, till we have brought all those, © who are or shall be committed to our “ charge, to that agreement in the faith şi and of the knowledge of God, and to F2