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pursue these kinds of conduct? Nay, more; how can they exhort, and command, them; reward them for obeying; and punish them for disobeying ! The bare advice, or exhortation, given to other sinners, and prompting them to pray, and strive, that they may be saved, is, in the view of these parents, unlawful; and they refuse to give it. But to their own sinful children they not only give advice, of the same unlawful nature; but add to it their exhortations and commands, their rewards and punishInents. Suppose the child of such a parent should refuse to obey such a command, or any other, because he was, and because his pa. rent knew he was, a sinner, and could not, therefore, lawfully do the thing commanded, nor his parent lawfully command him to do it: what could the parent answer, consistently, I mean, with his own principles 2 Plainly, he could not reprove the child for his refusal; nor afterwards advise, exhort, nor command, him to do anything, until after the child should have hopefully become a Christian. But, in this case, what would become of children; and, ultimately, of the world? If children were not advised; what useful thing could they know 2 If they were not exhorted, and commanded; what useful thing would they do ; what useful habit would they establish, or even imbibe Without such habits, what valuable end of their being could they answer? They would evidently become mere beasts of prey; and make the world a den of violence and slaughter. In the same manner, and on the same principles, no person, entrusted with the government, or instruction, of mankind, can advise, exhort, or command them, while sinners, to do any thing, cxcept to repent and believe. Civil Rulers, and Instructors, are daily called upon by their offices to advise, or otherwise direct, such as are plainly sinners. Every law and regulation of a State, or Seminary of Science, is possessed of this nature ; and is a greater transgression on the part of the Lawgiver, or Ruler, than advice can be; because it contains a stronger expression of his will, and a more powerful inducement to the conduct, which is prescribed. When parents therefore, or others, advise: they are, according to the Objection, guilty. When they exhort, or command; they are more guilty. When they reward, or punish; they are most guilty. As Civil Rulers and Instructors are obliged, equally with Ministers, to do what is right, and avoid what is wrong; they can no more be justified, than Ministers, in advising, exhorting, or commanding, sinners to do any thing, which is unlawful. Hence, unless their subjects, or pupils, should first repent and believe, they cannot require them to do any thing, antecedently to their Repentance. The world, of course, must be uninstructed, and ungoverned, until the Millennium : and, what is still more to be lamented, the Millennium itself, according to the usual course of God’s Providence, will never arrive. Among the regulations, which exist in all Literary Institutions, one, ever esteemed of high importance, is the establishment of Public Prayers. At these, students, universally, have hitherto been required to be present. But on the scheme, which I oppose, this requisition is altogether unlawful. In every such Institution, there is conclusive reason to believe, that the great body of the members are impenitent. None of these, therefore, can, according to this scheme, be lawfully required to attend this worship, nor the public worship of the Sabbath. But what would become of a literary Institution, if this attendance were not required 2 What would these very parents say, if it were to be dispensed with in the case of their own children? A Christian is the Master of a Family; but, as is sometimes the fact, is obviously the only Christian in the family. According to this scheme, it is plain, he cannot set up family worship; because he can neither require, nor advise, the members of his household to be present at this religious service. Ministers, usually at least, preach more or less to sinners; and customarily endeavour to suit their sermons to the circumstances of impenitent men. But they can never lawfully advise sinners to be present, that they may hear them preach. Nor can a Parent be justified in directing his children to be present; or to stand up to worship; or to listen, that he may learn, and perform, his duty : for, in all these things they are still sinners, and will commit sin, Nor can a Minister advise his sinful pa. rishioners to support him; or to build, or repair, a Chūrch; or to do the external acts of charity, justice, or truth; or to arm in defence of his country; or to obey its laws, and magistrates. In all these things, when done antecedently to regeneration. they are as really sinful, as in praying, and in striving, for salvation. The very persons, who rely most upon this Objection, rejoice universally, when mankind are, in any place, awakened to solemn consideration concerning their guilt and danger. But every awakened sinner prays: and no person can by any ordinary means prevent him from praying. Why do these men rejoice? Certainly not in the sin, which the persons awakened are supposed to commit. Certainly not in the abominable character, which these prayers have in the sight of God. In what, then, do they rejoice 2 Undoubtedly, in the prospect of the sinner's sanctification, and return to God. Of course, there is such a prospect. In this angels would also rejoice. 3. It is objected, that advising Sinners to pray will encourage them to sloth, and quiet them in sin. That this consequence may follow, I shall not deny. But it will follow, only from an abuse of the doctrine, which is here taught. A bad man may pervert a good doctrine to bad purposes: but this is no objection against the doctrine itself. These very consequences have, I verily believe, flowed from the doctrine of my objectors in ten instances, where in one, they have flowed from that, which I am supporting. It is the duty of all men immediately to repent of their sins, and turn to God, with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. These things I would always preach; and wish my hearers always to believe, and feel. For this end I would exhort them to be present, that they might hear, and feel, them. For the same end I would exhort parents, to teach them to their children in the morning of life, that they may know, and feel them from the beginning. Nor am I less desirous, that they should read the Scriptures, that they may find, and feel, the same things in them, as uttered by the mouth of God; that my own errors may in their minds be corrected, and the truths, which I preach, enforced by that holy book. For the same reasons I wish them to mark the lives, and enjoy the conversation, of Christians; that they may be enlightened by their views, and deeply affected by the excellency of Religion, manifested in their conduct. The religious writings of others I recommend, for the same important purposes. I preach, and write, with the hope of doing some real good to mankind. That others, with the same design, possess more ability to accomplish this interesting purpose, I cannot entertain a doubt. The same reasons therefore, which make me wish, that the Congregation, allotted to me, may be present, to hear my discourses, must, with enhanced force, render me desirous, that they should also read the writings of others. Finally; Whatever is thus taught, enforced, and gained, I urge them to make by solemn meditation a part of their own habitual course of thought; compare with their own moral condition; and bring home to their hearts, by asking God to sanctify them, and to bless the Means of knowledge and amendment, which He has been pleased to put into their hands. In all this I see no natural cause of sloth, or quiet in sin. On the contrary, there is here, if I mistake not, more done to awaken, engage, and encourage men to seck salvation, than on the scheme of the Objector. When I remember, that Divines of the first reputation, and the greatest success, have thus preached; and that in the use of these very Means, the great body of mankind, who appear to have been, or to be now, Christians, have become Christians; I feel assured, that this is the proper manner of persuading others to assume the same character, and placing them in the way to a blessing from God.
THE ORDINARY MEANS OF GRACE.
HEARING THE WORD OF GOD.
LUKE viii. 18.
In the last discourse, but one, I distributed the principal Means of Grace under the following Heads: I. The Preaching of the Gospel; II. The Reading of the Scriptures; III. Prayer; IV. Correspondence with religious men; W. Religious Meditation; particularly Self-Examination; and, VI. The Religious Education of Children. In that discourse, also, I endeavoured to exhibit the Influence of these Means in the Work of Salvation. The next object, which I propose, is a Separate Consideration of these several subjects ; that their respective efficacy may be more particularly displayed. It will be remembered, that they are all, here, to be considered as Means, in the application of which, holiness is originally communicated, as well as Means of $mproving in holiness. The direction in the Text is, I apprehend, a direction given