« PreviousContinue »
stand in the way of his merciful designs to you, I can only request him “ to send by the hand of whom he will." I must tell you, that I have but little hope that the gospel will be more successful in time to come. · For those evils prevail here, which have the most
powerful and direct tendency, to prevent the success of the gospel. I will mention two, which are publickly known and generally noticed. I mean religious contentions and divisions, and a neglect of publick worship. These evils tend to increase each other, and open a wide door to almost every other evil. Occasions of strife and contention have been multiplied among us; and have had the most distructive influence on the peace of families and neighbourhoods. They have alienated the affections of neighbours and friends from each other, and dissolved the strongest bonds of society. A society divided against itself, is as surely brought to desolation as a family. This evil has had a dreadful effect on religious order in this place. These things have destroyed a serious regard to the ordinances of God, and filled the minds of many with deep, and I fear, lasting prejudices. People at variance, are no ways prepared to unite in the worship of God, and they often sensibly feel it ; and hence it is often the case that persons offended with their neighbours, or with the society of which they are members, will for that very reason absent themselves from the house and worship of God. This shows the pernicious influence of strife and debate on the minds of people, and the religious interest of society. As this
is an evil which has prevailed more than usual among us, so you should be more guarded against it.
I must also say, that a disregard of the Sabbath, and neglect of the worship of God, the naturally at. tending evil, does also awfully prevail. The worship of God in publick, is as plain a duty as any in the whole circle of revealed truth. The Sabbath, and publick worship were instituted for the benefit of man. And if any say, he gets no good by attending, it must be his own fault. Certainly he has no reason to expect any from staying at home, when God requires him to attend on his worship in publick.
And when we consider that it is God's usual manner to meet his people, when in the way of duty, is there not encouragement for this? But notwithstanding the plainness of the duty, it seems more and more neglected in this place. I cannot describe to you the mortification I feel, to be obliged to preach so often to bare walls, which is generally the case when the weather is cold or stormy, or even the appearance of either. Certainly people who are well, had they a proper regard to the authority of God, and the good of their own souls,' would attend, and not let such weather keep them from the house of God, as would not divert them from their usual employments. But is it not true, that the same weather which would not prevent people from attending on their worldly business on a week day, will confine many on the Sabbath to their houses? What is the import of this, in the eyes of God and man? Is it not this ; the worship of God, and the instructions of his word, are of little
or no importance ? How can you ans it to Christ, who died to give you the gospel, when you consider this gospel not worthy of your regard ? Let me ask you, my hearers, do you not believe, that if there were as great and prevailing inattention among this people, in making provision for their bodies, as for their souls, that multitudes would be in a starving condition ; and that poverty and distress would stalk through our streets ? I presume, you will all answer in the affirmative. Have we not then just cause to be alarmed with our own, and the stupidity of others ?. Has not Christ taught us to pay no regard to the body, compared with our concern and engagedness for the salvation of our souls ?
These evils, you are sensible prevail among us in a lamentable degree. And what shall I say? Can I set before you stronger motives and arguments than I have repeatedly done ? I can only call you again to repentance, and assure you, without this, you cannot enter on this year with any hope of the presence and blessing of God. Years multiplied and improved, in this manner, will do you no good. Should you commence this year without consideration without reformation, is there any probability you will improve it well, should you live to spend it ? Every year you misimprove is an evidence, a pledge that you will continue to misimprove them. And I now solemnly declare to you, in the name of the great God of heaven and earth, that unless you repent of these great and prevailing evils, that should God give you prosperity in your worldly affairs this year, he will send his curse
with it. He
curse your very blessings. Remember" the curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked,” let its other circumstances be what they may
1. do not complain of personal injuries. Your kindness to me, I readily acknowledge. And yet if I know any thing of my own heart, could I see a spirit of inquiry after God, and a desire to be instructed in the way of salvation--could I hear you inquire “ what shall we do to be saved,” it would afford me greater pleasure-open to my heart a richer fountain of joy, than any temporal riches you could bestow on me or mine. Such are habitually my feelings respecting you. My poor, discouraged heart would then rejoice; and I should come to you in this house with a satisfaction which God hitherto has denied me.
I feel unworthy of this satisfaction. But in such a case, you, my hearers, would be the principal gainers. Such an event I cannot even hope for, until you put away these evils from you.
The heavenly dove will fly far from regions of strife ; and before God converts sinners in this place, his house will be filled. You will here come and earnestly implore his mercy. His Sabbaths will not be days of unholy idleness with
will consider “ one day in his house better than a thousand."
Must I again say, how far we are from this? How little hope is there, that these joyful appearances will be seen among us?
Your years are passing away, never to return. O that this year might be a year of release to many souls
in this place. It is probably the last yed with some. The last golden sands are dropping Pass not over lightly what has been spoken, nor be offended with my liberty of speech. What I have said, is the expression of my concern for you. I know they are words of truth and soberness. God hath said, “ those who honour me, I will honour, but they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”