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gifts, especially to the means and opportunities of grace. If you are able to hear the word of God every Lord's day, and yet neglect it, you cannot but think your crime to be more aggravated than his, who should have never had more than one opportunity of hearing it in all his life; and that, exactly in proportion to the superior advantages you have enjoyed, as compared with him. These are awful words of our Saviour, "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida, for if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, in sackcloth and ashes; but I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you." It shall be more tolerable for the worst of the heathens, than for those who have lived in a christian land, if they have not profited by the light of the gospel so graciously vouchsafed unto them.
Accountable as I am for what I preach, I am not at all more so than you are for what you hear. Consider this, and just reflect with yourselves how often many of you have been addressed in vain! Will the careless, thoughtless sinner, who is throwing away his soul for the pleasures and vanities of the world, say that he has never been exhorted to a serious consideration of his danger? Will the prophane swearer deny
that he has been warned to leave off his oaths, and hallow the name of God? Will the drunkard pretend that he has never been upbraided for his vile intemperance, and admonished that unless he repents and forsakes his sin, he cannot inherit the kingdom of God? Is any one delaying his religion till sickness and the bed of death? Who can say that he has not frequently been cautioned against such folly? Who in this church neglects the duty of constant private prayer, that has not nany a time been exhorted to the practice of it? Who is yet a mere formalist, a mere nominal disciple of Christ, and can plead in his behalf that he was never instructed in the insignificance of outward observances and professions, where the spirit of religion is wanting? What Christian doctrine or duty is there, concerning which those who neglect it can say they never received any information? There is scarcely any thing, which is a clearer proof to me how many must hear the word of God without profit, than the palpable fact that such numbers refuse all the invitations to the Lord's table so frequently addressed to them. I sometimes take this as a test of the efficacy of preaching, and I say, "here is a plain proof, see how many are unmoved by any thing that can be said to them!" We cannot see into
the hearts of our hearers-we cannot so ascertain
what reception the seed may have met with; but we cannot close our eyes against a positive and evident fact. It is manifest to all, that in this instance of the Lord's supper, no impression has been made upon them, and I fear we may go further, and trace back that neglect to its source in the heart, to a want of faith in Christ, and of thankfulness for the unspeakable mercy of redemption, which is commemorated at the holy table.
To be sure we have unhappily other proofs also of the inattention of many to the word of God; the drunkenness that we behold, the oaths that we hear wherever we go, the quarrelling, cheating, stealing, lying, the pride and vanity, and all the other sins that are practised under our constant observation, these are all but too clear proofs that multitudes "hear our words, and do them not."
My brethren, whose fault is it? Is it ours, or is it yours? Do not we preach faithfully enough, or do not you hear seriously enough? Are we indifferent about exhorting and instructing you, or are you indifferent about your own salvation? It is discouraging; and I confess that often in a desponding mood, (God forgive me for indulging it) I say, "it is all in vain, I cannot effect any improvement; they come and hear, but they are not the better for it, I may as well make no more
effort." It is a sinful, unbelieving thought, the offspring of man's pride, or the suggestion of the devil's malice. Rather should I be disposed to say with Peter, "Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing, nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net." We may enclose a great multitude yet, if Christ be with us, and bless our labour; we must not faint and be weary; but as God is patient and long-suffering, trying a thousand ways to touch the sinner's heart, so as to do no violence to his will, and bearing all his perverse resistance until he either repents, or is hopelessly hardened, so surely we must bear with our fellow men, and use all our endeavours to reclaim them, however long and obstinately they may refuse to hear the message which God has commissioned us to deliver to them.
"And this will we do if God permit it;" and if after years of ministering and exhorting, I could know that God had made me instrumental to the salvation of only a single sinner, how ought my heart to be filled with joy. How amply ought I to consider my toil repaid, to have been the instrument of effecting a work, at which the angels of God rejoice. We look perhaps for too great success, and at the same time labour with too little zeal, whereas we should spare no pains, if we had hope of saving but one soul from death.
But oh! if you could all be saved. And how horrid to reflect, that there may be living beings here present, persons whom we see and know, with whom we associate and converse, who seem like ourselves, and partake of all the common feelings, and properties, and enjoyments, and necessities of human nature with ourselves, to think that even some of these our acquaintance and familiar companions, whom we call by their names, may possibly not be saved, may perish everlastingly; may go to that place of weeping and wailing, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. It is not only your minister who should be interested in such a case as this,it is not only he who should labour to promote the salvation of his flock. All who know the worth of their souls, all who rejoice in the hope of heaven, all who are thankful for their redemption from sin and hell, should combine in such a work according to their means ;-should lend a helping hand in the cause of the gospel ;-should exhort, reprove, instruct the sinners with whom they mingle in their daily life ;-should remind them, as opportunity may offer, that they have souls to be saved. I want such helpmates, I want all Christians to "teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know ye the Lord." A word in season from a friend, in the