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forth ministers to preach the glad tidings of the grace of God, knowing that where that is sounded God will bring his people; for it is written,
"all that the father giveth me shall come unto me, and that they do come by means of the preaching of the Gospel."
DELIVERED BY THE REV. J. G. WARD,
At St. James's Church, Sunday, January 17, 1831.
P-alm, iv. 4.—" Stand in ant,anil tin not ; commune with your own heart, and in four chamber, and be etill."
Okb great cause why sin is so feebly resisted, and that we see and feel it to be so universal, is, that we persist in neglecting the means prescribed for overcoming it. God, in the Bible, has been pleased to express plainly the nature of sin, and the seductive arts by which the great enemy of mankind seeks to promote it in the world; but He has also as plainly instructed us how to overcome it. Serious reflection—meditation—self-examination— prayer, and the Holy Sacraments— these are some of the chief means ordained by Him, who knoweth all our necessities and all our infirmities. If we have diligently sought and applied ourselves to them—well; but otherwise, if we have neglected and desspied them, we must fall. And, in fact, men do fall every day from this very neglect; walking as in no fear of harm or danger, they give no time to meditation, they have no communion with God, or with their own hearts; and religion, if they have recourse to it at all, is but to them a mere form— they know nothing of the spiritual nature of prayer. Thus men fall into many grievous errors which they are ever ready to lay to their weakness and infirmity, but which are alone the effect of their presumption and wickedness. It ought to be the care of every Christian minister to impress this on the minds of his congregation; and accordingly my design to-day is, to en
force the duty of communing with ourselves. "Stand in awe, and sin not; commune with your own heart, and in your chamber, and be still." First, then, we must consider the state of our soul as to its chief and eternal interests. Men are apt to think all is right if they avoid the commission of heinous crimes; and all well enough if they preserve a fair character in the world. Yet in the pursuits of that world, how are all their hopes, their mind, and their strength wasted—whether in business, or the affairs of the household, they are equally devoted, and even when nothing is immediately to be done, every thought is directed how to remove obstacles, and to make smooth the way ; the grand concern of the soul is overlooked and forgotten, and left "to work out its own salvation," without "fear or trembling." Consider well, my brethren, whether this may not be your case, whether you do not go on trusting all will be well at the last, and wishing to know as little as possible of your spiritual concerns at present? Remember, confidence is not security! And there is a most fatal confidence which leads men to shut their eyes on all that influences the welfare of their souls. The Spirit declared unto the church of Laodicea, "Thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable, and poor,
and blind, and naked." And doth not the Spirit also in these words address all those who sit down indifferent, or careless of their future state? Is it not alarming to hear in the word of God these assertions of our poverty and nakedness (though we know it not)—for it may be we have wilfully despised the grace of God, and are treading the road which leads to everlasting destruction; even now, perhaps, on the brink of perdition, because we tarn away from the means of making ourselves acquainted with that spiritual state which must decide our future happiness or misery. Will any of you then be thus content to go on blindfold? Rather search your own hearts—if you are in the right way, it will afford you greater comfort to persevere; if you are in error, it may induce you to turn from it while it is yet time. Question yourselves, therefore, for though perhaps highly esteemed of men, they judge the outside alone 1 Seek your own spirit—search your heart, its temper, its passions, and the principle by which you are guided. Ask yourselves—is not my carnal spirit indulged, at least in thought? Are my passions subdued, and my temper controled by a sense of what is right? Do I seek the praise of men, or the praise of God? Am I just and charitable to my fellow-creatures? Try yourselves by the Gospel of Christ. Have I a sincere faith—a steady view of God, my Maker and Redeemer? Have I a firm reliance on His mercies, and an awful dread of any thing incurring His displeasure? Does it act upon my whole life, purifying every action and every thought? Again, the Gospel says, "Repent, that ye may be saved." Have I humbly come to repentance and salvation from a thorough sense of my utter unworthiness? Do I abase myself, looking up to Christ alone for pardon and for grace? Finally, are my good resolutions sincere and earnest? The Gospel
declares, "Except a man be converted and become as a little child, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Do I fulfil all righteousness without reserve—do I sincerely desire and pray for the assistance of the Holy Spirit in my endeavours, and do I by my actions prove that the Spirit of God is in me? In all these, and various other points of like kind, must you try yourselves: they who are deceived, or wilfully blind, may "cry peace;" but it is peace without support, it will fail them at the end. And now, my brethren, of whom must you enquire these questions? Not one of your most intimate friends could answer them; your own heart alone is capable of doing so,—dive then to the bottom of that heart, that it may bear witness to the good or evil. Let it not be pleaded by any one, that this were a useless task, because we are told that "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked;"—when God so charges us with wickedness and infirmity, it is to encourage us to "repent and turn unto Him," and is never calculated or intended to fill us with despair. Only exert yourselves to the utmost—comply with the principles of His holy law—rely on His Almighty Power—pray for His enlightening spirit, and doubt not but He will remove the veil from your heart— He will shed light into its inmost recesses—and his powerful grace working together with your hearty desires shall enable you not only to know but amend all its errors.—Thus far we have admitted the necessity of communing with our own hearts; but the text goes further, inasmuch as it sets forth certain times and opportunities for doing so. Every time and place is indeed proper for serious thought and meditation, though, in the midst of worldly business and company, it were, perhaps, next to impossible to enter into communion with the heart. How lamentable, then, the state of those who are wholly occupied with these things—it is the ruin of a multitude of souls, when thoughts of sin and danger are swallowed up daily in vain cares and transitory pleasures. "Be not ye so deceived, my brethren," take heed that you find or make time to leave the affairs of the world, turning your reflections to the hope that is in you as Christians. Whether abroad or at home, in the field or in the house, take heed that at some hour you be found alone. Have you leisure?— happy is it for you. Is your time fully occupied I Put off some of your occupations; better is it to be poorer in this world, than not provide for that which is to come. I will repeat the words of my text, to remind you that there is a season when no man can plead an excuse. "Commune with your own heart, and in your chamber, and be still." In the hour of retiring to rest, then, neglect not to have recourse to this effectual help. Then, when the business of the day—its temptations and its cares are over—when all sounds are hushed, and every good or evil thing is past recall, registered for ever in the book of the Lord, when men kneel down in their closet to commune with their God, and pray for forgiveness through the merits of a crucified Saviour, that they may rise hereafter in the perfection of His holiness, then search your heart!—Search more especially the spirit of that day of your life—what you have thought, what you have spoken, what you have done, and what you have left undone. Compare your growth in righteousness with the days that have gone before—prove whether you are "living to the flesh or to the spirit," and how you would appear if God should require your soul that very night—think
what fruit you will reap at the last if you continue in your present course— say to your heart, have I kept the commandments, have I done all things to the glory of God, have I been content with whatever he has bestowed, whether blessings or corrections; and, finally, have I "done unto all men as I would they should do unto me ?"— Commune thus with your own heart, so shall sin not have dominion over you,—neglect the inquiries, and it will have power to deceive and blind you. Let nothing interrupt the constancy of this duty, let it be fulfilled without reserve, not with the mere form of stated prayers. Moreover, if the Lord should be pleased to prolong the opportunity by keeping sleep from your eyes, it is an occasion to be improved as often as he send it. The waking soul is alone with God; though silence be broken, the still small voice is at hand, and blessed they who hear and receive it in their hearts! Then, how vain do all the cares and pleasures of this world appear—how utterly unworthy the silly mind that could be set upon them. Then, how is the remembrance of every sin as a drop of gall in the bitter cup! But thanks be to God and to Jesus Christ! Thanks be to that Almighty power which hath permitted light to shine through darkness, and promised pardon through the merits and sufferings of a crucified Redeemer. Brethren, may such consolations ever attend your serious reflections night or day, (for God forbid that you should omit communing with your own heart), and may He grant you that holy joy and comfort, both now and ever, that you may zealously live unto righteousness and sin not!
London: Published for the Proprietors, by T. GRIFFITHS, Wellington Street, Strand; and Sold by all Boohsellers in Town and Country.
Printed by Lowndes and White, Crane Court, Fleet Street.
DELIVERED BY THE REV. W. A. EVANSON,
AT ST. LUKE'S, OLD STREET, MAY, 1831.
2 Peter, i. 16.—" We have not followed cunningly devised fables."
There seldom has occurred a period in the history of our country which affords so many subjects of deep and extraordinary interest as the present. Nor (if we except the time when the God of creation visited this earth, and exhibited a display of stupendous power over the elements of nature,— or that time when, after a night of worse than Heathen darkness, the sun of learning and religion arose at the sera of Reformation)—can we mention any in the history of the world more calculated to awaken astonishment, admiration, and gratitude to God than the days in which we live. The philosopher must behold with wonder that rapid march of human intellect which outstrips, almost in a few years, the attainments of past centuries,— which shows us the grown men of antiquity to have been but children in the arts which embellish life, or the sciences which dignify the human character. The moralist may dwell with admiration upon the emancipation of the lower classes from the slavery of ignorance—the triumphs of national education—the elevated tone of moral feeling—the extinction of many pernicious habits—the substitution of sound principles and active industry for visionary theories or destructive
idleness—the willingness of the poor to become receivers, as well as of the rich to be givers of moral blessings. And the Christian contemplates the eventful scene with mingled feelings of the most anxious solicitude and warm thankfulness to God, who has cast his lot in times when his eyes behold and his ears hear what many prophets and kings have desired to witness, but could not. He discerns, at this moment, a mighty contest between the powers of darkness and Immanuel, leader of the heavenly hosts. He sees the predictions of the prophets, and of Christ, the Lord God of the Holy Prophets, already receiving their incipient accomplishment. His word going forth swiftly, and subduing all its opponents—the idols of Egypt trembling in their shrines—the Dagons falling powerless before the ark—the fables of Rabbins— the reveries of the false prophet—the wild mythologies of the Brahmins and the Buddhites, the Veda and the Shaster, bowing to the superiority of the Bible—Princes the nursing parents of the once despised church—and the mighty ones of the earth, counting their highest honour to sit at the feet of Jesus, and to learn his word.
It is, indeed, an eventful period, a
time in which no faithful follower of Christ can retire from the field, or lay aside his armour. The enemies of Christianity, and of the Bible, which contains Christianity, have exchanged the subtle devices of the serpent for the open rage of the devouring lion. No longer contented with tainting, by the venom of their example or their writings, the springs of private happiness, or poisoning the streams of domestic and social enjoyments; they crawl from their lurking places, and swelling with accumulated venom, become transformed into monsters of ferocity, whom no bounds can confine, no chains can bind, no threats can appal. Yet the possible results do not dismay the Christian. Already have they tended rather to his encouragement. He sees the Christianity of the Bible stamped by the highest judicial authority, as an essential ingredient in that constitution which secures his liberty, his property, his life—recognised as the very soul and spirit of its laws, as that which regulates and tempers their severity of penalty, and gives sanction and vigour to their obligations. He sees that Christianity neither dreads nor shrinks from investigation (as her enemies have falsely asserted), but, enthroned in the hearts of a grateful people, she will not suffer the rude and unhallowed approach of ignorance and impiety. She will be addressed with reverence —she will be treated as the ambassadress from heaven—she will not withhold her credentials from the meanest or the most illiterate, who seek them in a becoming spirit; and in this country, where she has given stability to the altar and the throne, where she has infused her benignant spirit into the code which regulates society, she claims and has found protection in the courts of human judicature. Indeed, my brethren, the subject of our text has been so often and so ably made
the subject of public addresses from the pulpit and elsewhere, that it might seem almost superfluous to notice the objections of infidelity; yet, when the alarm is sounded, few wish to be suspected of indifference—few but wish to be actively employed on the side of truth. It is with this view I would assert the divine origin and the authenticity of the Christian system, and adduce to you such evidence as may satisfy you that the Bible is truly what it purports to be—a revelation from God.
First—We have no way of ascertaining in general whether that which purports to be a revelation is really so or not, except by the accompanying evidence of miracles, performed by the persons who assume the character of inspired teachers—or prophecies delivered by them at the time, which prophecies are miracles to the persons who in after times witness their accomplishment. And when we see, or are assured upon credible testimony, that a human being (like ourselves in every other particular) has done something which exceeds the ordinary powers of nature—or has uttered distinctly, with great minuteness of time and circumstance, predictions of events, the most unlikely to happen—and at such a distance of time and place from the scene of these events, as that no human wisdom could possibly foresee and guard against all intervening contingencies; and when amongst these predictions it is foretold, that miracles should in future times be performed by others—and when we see that all these events did actually take place as they were so predicted—then we have the strongest evidence which the mind is capable of receiving, that those persons were not false claimants to inspiration, but delivered to us an exposition of the real will of God; and more especially so, if the truths which they delivered were such as man stood in ab