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perance and licentiousness, with all their dire effects. The devotees of riches, power, fame, or pleasure become rivals, and interfere with each other : thus their malignant passions are excited, and they are tempted to the most destructive and atrocious crimes. The departure from God makes way likewise for rebellion, enmity to his perfections and government, and direct opposition to his commands and cause : and hence spring impiety, infidelity, atheism, superstition, every species of false religion, and every form of virulent persecution.

Thus man has forfeited his felicity in the favour. of God, incurred his awful displeasure, lost his own capacity of enjoying a happiness adequate to his desires, and rendered himself the slave of the vilest affections. And, as happiness is in its own nature one and unchangeable, he could by no means have avoided the most dreadful miseries, during the whole of his existence, had not his offended God brought "life" and felicity, as well as “im“mortality, to light by the gospel.”

It is therefore the especial intent of revelation, to make the one living and true God known to his apostate creatures, in the mysteries and perfections of his nature, as far as necessary; in the righteousness of his law and government; and in his readiness to shew mercy and confer happiness even on rebellious man. It was evidently the design of the Lord to bring us back to himself; to provide for the pardon of our sins, and to give us a title to eternal life, in a way honourable to his perfections; to reduce us to a proper disposition of mind, that we might thankfully receive these blessings and make due returns for them; to effect a cordial reconciliation between himself, the great and glorious Creator, and us rebellious creatures; and to teach us to love, reverence, worship, and obey him, that, being renewed to his holy image, we might enjoy true happiness for evermore in his favour and service.

Revelation was also intended to train up a people, who might be the instruments of God in promoting his cause among men ; in alleviating and counteracting the miseries and mischiefs of the world; and in doing good to one another, till their removal to a state of perfect holiness and felicity. Finally it was designed to bring fallen men to that blessed state ; that being made equal with the angels, they might for ever unite with them in the most sublime worship and delightful service of their infinitely glorious Benefactor.

Now, if these are the special ends and purposes of revelation, as every impartial and diligent inquirer must be convinced they are, we may readily see,

II. The inefficacy of hearing without practising, to accomplish any one of them.

But the importance of the subject is inexpressible, and demands a more particular investigation. The apostle supposes in the text, that the persons he addressed did hear the word of truth, and not false doctrine: for, the more deeply men are impressed by erroneous sentiments, and the more entirely these become practical principles, the greater mischief is done; as such deluded persons are inflated with pride, buoyed up in self-confidence, and encouraged in gratifying their corrupt passions even as a part of their religion. These are the produce of the “tares,” which the enemy

sows in the field while the servants sleep: but the self-deceivers, that abound where the good seed is sown, are such hearers as receive the doctrine of truth into a carnal mind by a dead faith, and pervert it through the artifice of Satan and the deceitfulness of their own hearts.–Our present business therefore lies with those who statedly, or occasionally, attend on the real gospel of Christ.

It may here be proper to make a digression in order to mention some descriptions of hearers only, und not doers; that we may hold the mirror to every individual, and help him to discover what manner of man he is. Many persons form a part of our congregations, who come from habit or constraint. Children or domestics belonging to religious families, and many others in different situations, are accustomed to attend divine service, where the word of truth is preached. They know that this is expected from them : and they submit to it, as a stated tax on their inclinations, which they pay for the sake of coincident advan tages. Such persons commonly forget that they are addressed by the preacher, and concerned in his instructions. They come and go, as it were, mechanically; but scarcely think of complying with the exhortations which are most earnestly enforced. They receive the seed “ by the wayside ;” and “ the devil takes it away, lest they

should believe and be saved.”—If this observation should reach the ears of any persons who answer to the description, let them remember, that for once at least they were particularly addressed ; that the subject comes home to their case ; and that not only the preacher, but the apostle speaks

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to them, as if by name, saying, “Be ye doers of “ the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your “ own selves."

There are likewise speculating hearers, who study religion as other men do mathematics : either to gratify curiosity and love of discovery ; or because they hope to render it subservient to worldly interest and reputation; or vainly imagine that a sound creed is the one thing needful, the sure and only passport to heaven. These men are often very severe on blind Pharisees, who think to be saved by “ a form of godliness :” but they cannot see that a form of knowledge is equally worthless, and far more dangerous; because it produces a more desperate kind of pride and self-preference; for “knowledge puffeth up.” They consider hearing, speculating, disputing, and criticizing preachers and doctrines, as the whole of religion. Their notions abide inactive in their minds, and produce no change of character. Even the apparent morality or piety, which is sometimes connected with them, results from other principles ; while their spirit and conduct, in many respects, are diametrically opposite to the real tendency of the doctrines for which they contend. Such persons, however, seldom persevere in stated attendance, where the whole truth is preached: and, as the

completion of their system is the main object with them, they often grow weary of hearing even that partial statement which they approve, and which they have fully understood.

Another description of hearers mistake the means of becoming religious for religion. They hear several sermons every week from their favourite preachers : though perhaps they scarcely understand, and never bestow any pains to remember and practise, what they hear. Sometimes they ground their confidence on attending such ministers as are noted for distinguishing faithful ness; and, as they manage to endure this plaindealing, they suppose themselves approved; for they understand that many hypocrites are offended by it. But at the same time, they never seriously think of examining themselves by the doctrine, or of following the exhortations, thus repeatedly inculcated.

We must by no means omit to mention those hearers of the gospel who seek entertainment in places of worship, when conscience remonstrates against other amusements. These are amateurs of oratory, good language, and graceful delivery; they admire the flights of a fine and vigorous imagination; or perhaps they are pleased with close reasoning, or the discussions of an acute logician: though numbers of this class are as deficient in judgment as in piety. They gratify themselves, however, by hearing preachers whose talents suit their taste, whatever that may be. This employment sometimes agreeably fills up a vacant hour which might otherwise be tedious: and they endure even the truth for the sake of the manner in which it is delivered! Such persons attended Ezekiel. “ Lo thou art to them," said the Lord to his prophet,

as a very lovely song of one that hath a “pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words but they do them • not.”1

Ezek. xxxiii. 30-34.


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