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"be a christian." And there are young people, how shall I describe them? they had betimes convictions and impressions; their early days were the time of their visitation; they asked for God their Maker; they often retired to pray; they loved the sabbath; they heard the gospel with sensibility; but alas! "their "goodness was as a morning cloud and early dew, "which passeth away." But "was it not better with . you than now?" Ah! had you still "hearkened to "his commandments, then had your peace been as a "river, and your righteousness like the waves of the "sea." Will this discourse revive your former feelings, and cause you to return? or will it only hold you up as a warning, to guard others against trifling with conscience, and falling away after the same example?
On some of you, I fear, the address has been more than useless. I could wish you had saved yourselves' the mortification of hearing a discourse, in which there' was nothing agreeable to your taste, and which you determined from the beginning to disregard; I could wish you had withdrawn yourselves from an assembly, which will one day furnish only witnesses against you. By an unsanctified use of the means of grace, you aggravate your sin, increase your misery, and render your conversion more difficult. In endeavouring to be your friends, your ministers become your enemies; in trying to save, they condemn; though ordained to be "the savour of life unto life," your corruption renders them "the savour of death unto death;" and those affectionate importunities and faithful warnings, which if they had been followed would have secured
your happiness, will surround your minds when you come to die, and render your recollection painful, and your prospect intolerable; for you will "mourn at "the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, "and say, How have I hated instruction, and my "heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the "voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them "that instructed me! I was almost in all evil in the "midst of the congregation and assembly."
THE GOSPEL DEMANDS AND DESERVES
MARK. iv. 23.
IF ANY MAN HAVE EAES TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR.
THE sages of antiquity delivered much of their knowledge in comprehensive sentences. Each of the wise men of Greece was distinguished by some aphorism. All nations have had their peculiar proverbs. The generality of mankind are much more influenced by detached and striking phrases, than by long addresses, or laboured reasonings, which require more time and application than they are either willing or able to afford. "The words of the wise are as goads, "and as nails fastened by the master of assemblies." The good effects of preaching are commonly produ ced by particular expressions, which leave something for our own minds to develope or enlarge, which please the imagination, which are easily remembered, and which frequently recur. This method of instruction our Lord and Saviour adopted. We often read of "his sayings ;" and there is no sentence, which He so frequently repeated, as the words which I have read. This alone should powerfully recommend them to
our regard; but they have higher claims, and we shall view them, I. As implying the AUTHORITY OF THE SPEAKER. II. As suggesting THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SUBJECT. III. As appealing to IMPARTIAL IV. As demanding PRACTICAL IMPROVEMENT. "HE THAT HATH EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR.
I. Here is implied THE AUTHORITY OF THE SPEAKER. And who can advance claims on our attention equally numerous and powerful with His? "He entered "into the synagogue, and taught. And they were "astonished at his doctrine; for he taught them as "one that HAD AUTHORITY, and not as the scribes." He possessed every thing from which a teacher could derive influence.
He had all the authority which is derived from knowledge. Religion was the subject he came to teach; he knew the whole, and the whole perfectly. With all the case of intelligence, he speaks of things which would swallow us up; they were familiar to Him. He speaks of God without any embarrassment; "He was in the bosom of the Father." He speaks of heaven without any emotions of wonder; it was his Father's house. He mentions the treachery of Judas without any surprise; "he knew from the be 'ginning who would betray him." Nothing in the behaviour of his enemies, or of his friends; nothing in the denial of Peter, or dispersion of his disciples, astonished him; "he knew what was in man." He was fully acquainted with the capacities and dispositions of his hearers. He knew how much they were.
able to bear; when it was necessary to produce evi dence, or to leave obscurity; how to touch by suitable motives, all the hidden springs of action; and by appropriate illustration, to remove prejudices, dissolve doubts, and satisfy desires concealed in the minds of the owners, who "finding the secrets of the heart "made manifest," were filled with admiration, and exclaimed "never man spake like this man." Both his subject and his audience were completely under his management.
He had all the authority which is derived from unimpeachable rectitude. This gives a speaker peculiar firmness and force. A consciousness of vice, or even of imperfection, has a tendency to make him partial or timid. And where is the teacher, who is sensible of no failings; who exemplifies universally those high instructions he delivers? "In many things we offend "all." He alone could say, "which of you con vinceth me of sin?" It debased none of his actions, it mixed with none of his motives. His tempers were all heavenly; his example embodied and enlivened every doctrine he preached. In him were none of those omiffions which call for the proverb, "physician, "heal thyself." He spake fearless of the reproach of his hearers, and unchecked by the reflections of his own conscience.
He had all the authority flowing from "miracles, "and wonders, and signs.” Think of a speaker, who could call forth the powers of heaven and earth, and. establish his doctrine by their testimony; who could end his discourse and say, all this is true; witness, ye winds and waves-and they "cease from their raging."