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refusal to render to the Lord the glory due to his name, and to recommend his holy religion to mankind. And, even if their conduct in some respects be suited to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, the observers are left to ascribe it to other causes and thus an opportunity is lost of evincing the excellent tendency of evangelical truth.
This profession of our faith should especially be made by attending on the ordinances of God, according to the directions of his holy word: and this also forms an important method of "letting "our light shine before men." In the primitive times, when a Jew or gentile began to attend on the preaching of the gospel; and when, professing "repentance towards God, and faith towards our "Lord Jesus Christ," he was admitted by baptism into the visible church; when he associated habitually with Christians, statedly joined in their public worship, and commemorated the love and sufferings of Christ at his table; he then avowed himself the servant of the one, living and true God, and the disciple of the only-begotten Son of God. This conduct would be fully understood by his former companions, and he might expect contempt, reproach, or persecution, as the consequence. We indeed live at a time, when most men in our land choose to be called Christians; and such a variety of discordant opinions are maintained by the professed disciples of Jesus, that the mere circumstance of attending public worship is no explicit avowal of our peculiar religious sentiments. But it is known that in some places the mystery of the Trinity, the perfections of God, the righteousness of his law and government, and the
wisdom and sovereignty of his providence, are maintained. Connected with these doctrines, man's accountableness to his Creator and Governor, a future judgment and a state of eternal retributions; the fallen condition of the human race, the evil and desert of sin, the justice of God in the condemnation of sinners, and his free mercy in their salvation, are strenuously insisted on: and the person, redemption, and mediation of Emmanuel, Jesus the Son of God; regeneration and renewal unto holiness by the Spirit; repentance and fruits meet for repentance; justification by faith alone; love to the Saviour constraining to devoted obedience; and patient continuance in well-doing, animated by the hope of eternal glory, are the principal topics to which the attention of the auditors is called. These things are evidently enlarged upon in some congregations, and not in others and, if a man be convinced that they are the doctrines of scripture, he ought seriously and statedly to attend at some place of worship, answering to this description; avowing that his conduct is the result of examination, conviction, and regard to the authority of God. In doing this, not only hearing the sermons, but joining in every part of the service with reverent devotion, and associating with those who hold and adorn the same principles, he will make a very distinct and intelligible profession of his faith: and, in bringing his family, and others whom he can influence, to attend on the same ordinances, he may "let his
light shine before men," and exhibit an edifying example to his neighbours. To render this the more impressive, he should not only appropriate
the Lord's day to this purpose, but embrace opportunities of attending on any day when it does not interfere with other duties: coming early, and shewing in his whole deportment that he takes delight in the worship of God, and in hearing his word. Such a conduct tends exceedingly to draw men's attention to the gospel, and to promote vital godliness in the world.
It may further be observed, that all these ends are more decidedly answered, when the believer, after mature deliberation, statedly attends at the same place of worship, than when he wanders from one to another: for thus he sets an example of constancy in his attachment to the truths and ordinances of God; and he more effectually ensures the attendance of his family. Perhaps it may be added, that this conduct indicates a more healthful state of soul, and best promotes "growth "in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and "Saviour Jesus Christ."
Our light should also shine before men by instructive and pious conversation. "The mouth "of the righteous speaketh wisdom and his tongue "talketh of judgment:" and it is remarkable, that the most opposite effects are ascribed to the tongue in the sacred scriptures. The psalmist calls it "his glory:" and Solomon declares that "the mouth of a righteous man is a well of life:" that "the tongue of the just is as choice silver;' that "the lips of the wise feed many;" and that "the tongue of the wise is health."-On the other hand, "The tongue is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison it is a fire, a world of iniquity;-it "setteth on fire the whole course of nature, and
" is set on fire of hell." The fact is indeed undeniable, that the gift of speech, when abused, is the grand instrument in the propagation of atheism, infidelity, impiety, blasphemy, heresy, licentiousness, discord, and every other evil, through private circles and large communities, all over the earth. Yet this same gift, under the influence of divine teaching and holy affections, is also principally instrumental in diffusing the light of the gospel among mankind: not only by public preaching; but by the private instructions of parents and masters, and by familiar conversation. The speech of prudent zealous Christians, being "sea"soned with salt," being pure, pious, and affectionate," ministers grace unto the hearers." It is therefore emphatically true, that "life and death "are in the power of the tongue;' "for out of "the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." If then we be the disciples of Christ, and partakers of his grace, we shall, after his example, " from "the good treasure of our hearts bring forth good "things." For, even if we "keep our mouth as "it were with a bridle" from all corrupt discourse, but do not embrace opportunities of profitable conversation; we shall be found guilty of burying our talent in the earth.
All indeed have not the gift of properly introducing religious topics in mixed companies, where they are too generally unwelcome, however prudently and seasonably managed: but every man has a little circle, in which he may speak with freedom on the great concerns of salvation. Most
persons have relatives, and many have families, among whom they are peculiarly bound to communicate the knowledge of the gospel. There are also seasons in which almost any one will endure the serious and affectionate introduction of religious subjects; especially in times of peculiar affliction, or when death hath visited his house. In some companies a man is, as it were by common consent, called to take the lead in discourse, and may select his subject: and in most situations some opening will be found for a serious remark, which may be afterwards recollected, if it do not at the time introduce further conversation. The event of such reflections frequently gives us reason to say, "A word spoken in due season, how good " is it!" And upon careful examination it will be found, that far more good is done in this
is in general supposed.
An objection, however, will naturally arise in the mind of many, from the consideration of the aversion and contempt commonly expressed for this kind of conversation. But it is certain that the rules, prescribed by the Lord himself to his people, could not be reduced to practice, without exciting the same disgust and reproach.1 Even the conduct of Christ must be involved in the same censure: for he hath set us an example of this duty, and also of the manner in which it ought to be performed. In fact, the opposition of men, who have no habitual seriousness in religion, rather recommends, than forms an objection to pious discourse: and surely we ought not to neg
'Deut. vi. 6-9; xi. 18-21.