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Thus much I thought fit to say to all Christians in general that are met together upon this occasion.
I have but one word to add to you, that are like to receive the greatest benefit by the building and dedicating this goodly structure.
You have built, and it is now consecrated, a convenient and decent place of worship; it will very much increase your guilt, if you neglect to attend the service of God, as often as it is here performed.
If the angels of God attend here to bring your prayers before God, will any of you be indifferent, whether or no you come hither? Will you dare to spend the Lord's day, without just cause, at home, when the angels are here to meet you? Will you let your children be exposed to judgments and dangers, by suffering them to be idle and to play at home, when their angels (which, our Saviour saith, see the face of God) are in the congregation of the faithful ? Will not all those, that are without reason elsewhere, be exposed to the power of the devil, without a helper?
I beseech you, that this house of God may not be a snare and a cause of increasing your guilt and misery. But that you may attend the service of God hereafter to be performed in it; and after such a manner as shall evidently shew, you consider where you are, and what you are doing.
I have shewn you very particularly, that all things conspire to make you careful of your thoughts, and words, and actions, whenever hereafter you enter this place.
All things conspire to drive away profaneness and negligence :
The presence of the angels of God, the use and service this house is now set apart for, the business which brings us hither, the blessings we may expect to meet with here, and the danger of departing from God's house with a curse instead of a blessing:
And now, O God, we most humbly beseech Thee, since Thy name is recorded in this place, let Thine eyes be open, and Thy ears attent unto the prayers that shall be made in it.
May the inhabitants of this town never provoke Thee, by any wickedness, to withdraw Thy presence from this house,
SERM. which we have dedicated to Thy honour; but may they, in XCII.
all their necessities, have this place to flee unto, this house of defence nigh at hand.
May Thy sabbaths be here remembered, and devoutly kept; may Thy sacraments be here administered and received with great devotion; may the youth be instructed, the aged put in mind of their duty, and all made living
temples of the Holy Ghost ! that Thou mayest bless us, [Rev. 4. and that we in return may honour Thee, “ for Thou art 11.]
worthy, O Lord, to receive honour, and glory, and power; for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they
are, and were created.” (Luke 2. Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, good-will 14.)
towards men,” for ever and ever.
PREACHED AT A PUBLIC PENANCE.
THE POWER OF GOD'S MINISTERS TO REBUKE SINNERS
AND RECEIVE THEM ON REPENTANCE.
Josh. vii. 19, 20. And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to
the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto Him; and tell me now what thou hast done : hide it not from me. And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus hare I done.
The very text I have chosen, (the occasion of which you may see at your leisure,) the text, I say, teacheth us after what manner we ought to treat such as have fallen into any grievous sins, in order to bring them to a sense of their
My son, saith Joshua, the prince and leader of the people of Israel; My son !—to a man who for his sin had deserved and was immediately put to death.
And shall not we, with the same tenderness, and with greater, if it be possible, receive the confession of one of our fellow-Christians, who professeth, and we hope sincerely, to turn from his evil ways ?
What passions other people have upon such occasions as these, I cannot tell ; but for myself, I profess, so many mortifying and sorrowful thoughts come into my heart at such times as these, that those who undergo the shame of public penance scarce suffer more than I do, who have inflicted it. I consider myself as one, subject to the same infirmities, the
SERM. same temptations, and the same dangers, with those that have
fallen; and that it is owing to the mere mercy of God, and
Such a sorrowful occasion as this even forces one to re-
to have provoked God to have given the very best of us up (Exod. 34. to our own heart's lusts, but that God is gracious and merci.
ful, long-suffering, forgiving iniquity and transgression.
Add to this, that as we are Christians, and all of one body, the Church; one member cannot suffer, but all the members must suffer with it.
We have a notable instance, in this very chapter, (of which the text is a part,) to what judgments a whole Church and people are liable for the transgressions of particular persons, until the crimes are confessed and punished.
The children of Israel are beaten by their enemies; their leader rends his clothes; the elders of Israel are under great sorrow and confusion, and know not which way to turn themselves for help; and all this, because of one man who
had sinned, who had broken the command of God.
sharply blames the Corinthians, that they had not bewailed
But we, that are God's ministers, have stiil greater reason
All these things laid together, you will all be satisfied, as
best of us upon these occasions, and that every one for himself, as well as for this our brother, ought with penitent hearts, and humble spirits, to smite our breasts, and say, God be merciful unto us miserable sinners.
And oh! that I could speak upon this sad occasion, and you would so seriously attend to what I say, that by the favour of God, we might, for the future, have fewer instances of the wickednesses we are subject to, when God gives any of us up to ourselves, for the hardness of our hearts.
“My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto Him; and tell me now what thou hast done, hide it not from me.”
From this exhortation we learn, first, that when any man has done foolishly, and broken the commands of God, the greatest glory he can give to God, and the only amends he can make, is to confess his fault, not only to God, but (where scandal has been given) unto man also.
“ And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done."
From this humble and ready confession (even where his life was at stake) we may learn, secondly, that when a man's conscience is truly awake, and well informed, he will not scruple to confess his fault, and take shame to himself.
And these are the two things that I shall endeavour to convince
you of in the discourse I am now going to make to you, which I pray God give His blessing to.
I. And first, I will shew you how we are said to glorify God in the public confession of our crimes.
We all profess to helieve that God is Almighty, that He can do whatever He pleaseth; which belief ought in all reason to keep us from offending Him by breaking His laws; for, “ by the fear of the Lord,” (saith the Wise Man,) (Prov. 16. “men depart from evil.” And whom shall we fear, if we fear not Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell ?
But notwithstanding we all profess to believe the Almighty power of God, there are but too many who live without any fear of God in their hearts.
Now, when a sinner, struck with a sense of his guilt, and the terrors of the world to come, freely professeth hat he fears the mighty power of God, and that God can punish him both in this world, and in the next, though he should escape in this; when this fear forceth him to confess those crimes, which otherwise he would be ashamed and afraid to