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we warn and charge ourselves, by all the terrors written in this divine book, and by all the indignation and vengeance of God, which we are sent to display before a sinful world; by all the torments and agonies of hell, which we are commissioned to denounce against impenitent sinners, in order to persuade men to turn to God, and receive and obey the gospel, that we take heed to our ministry that we fulfil it. This vengeance and these terrors will fall upon our souls, and that with intolerable weight, with double and immortal anguish, if we have trifled with these terrible solemnities, and made no use of these awful scenes to awaken men to lay hold of the offered grace of the gospel. Knowing therefore the terrors of the Lord, let us persuade men, for we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, to receive according to our works.*

§ 45. In the last place, we entreat, we exhort and charge you, by all the joys of paradise, and the blessings of an eternal heaven which are our hope and support under all our labours, and which in the name of Christ, we offer to sinful, perishing men, and invite them to partake thereof. Can we speak of such joys and glories with a sleepy heart and indolent language? Can we invite sinners, who are running headlong into hell, to return and partake of these felicities, and not be excited to the warmest forms of address, and the most lively and engaging methods of persuasion? What scenes of brightness and delight can animate the lips. and language of an orator, if the glories and the joys of the christian's heaven and our immortal hopes cannot do it? We charge and entreat you, therefore, and we charge ourselves, by the shining recompenses which are promised to faithful ministers, that we keep this glory ever in view, and awaken our dying zeal in our sacred work.

* 2 Cor. v. 10, 11.

THE

CHRISTIAN PREACHER, &c.

DISCOURSE VI.

ON THE EVIL AND DANGER OF NEGLECTING SOULS.

§ 1. Introductory Remarks. (i.) The neglect of souls is highly criminal. 2 (ii) A readiness in men to excuse themselves for it. §3-5. (iii.) These excuses might often be over-ruled. § 6. An apology for the author's intended closeness of address. § 7. The subject stated. § 8—10. (1.) What EXCUSES may be offered for neglecting souls. 1. That we do something considerable for that purpose. § 11. 2. That the care of particular persons more pro, perly belongs to others. § 12. 3. That we have much other bu siness. § 13. Recreation. § 14. Studies § 15. Pieasures of li terature. § 16. An address to young ministers. § 17. Over-artful composition of sermons. § 18, 19. That our attempts might displease our people · § 20. (II.) The great EVIL of that ne. glect. § 21. 1. The death of the soul. § 22. 2. How many souls die around us. § 23. 3. The divine provision to prevent their death. § 24. 4. The peculiar obligations we are under to endeavour after their preservation. As christians. § 25. As ministers, obliged by the declarations of scripturè, and, § 26. Our personal engagement. § 27. (III.) APPLICATION in practical inferences. 1. To humble ourselves deeply, while we remember our faults. § 28. 2. Seriously consider what methods are to be taken for the time to come.

61. "IF thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn

unto death, and those that are ready to be slain: If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not: Doth not he that pondereth the heart, consider it? and he that keepeth thy

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soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?"*

For the explication of these words, I would offer three plain and obvious remarks:

(i.) That the omission, which is here charged as so displeasing to God, though immediately referring to men's natural lives, must surely imply that the neglect of their souls is much more criminal.

The text strongly implies, that we shall be exposed to guilt and condemnation, before God, by forbearing to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain. This must directly refer to innocent persons, brought into visible and extreme danger by some oppressive enemy, either by the sudden assault of a private person, or by some unjust prosecution under forms of law; and may particularly extend to cases, where we have reason to believe a capital sentence has been passed, in consequence of false witness, detected before execution is done. And if the neglect of that be (as you see it is) represented as highly criminal, it must be a much more heinous crime, by any neglect of ours, to permit the ruin of men's souls, without endeavouring after their recovery, when they are, as it were, drawn away to the extremest danger of eternal death, and are ready to be slain by the sword of divine justice.

§ 2. (ii.) The text seems to suppose that men would be ready to excuse themselves for this neglect. It is true indeed, that at the first sight of a miserable object, we naturally find a strong impulse to endeavour to relieve it. Our hearts, as it were, spring in our bosoms, and

* Prov. xxiv. 11, 12.

It was allowed amongst the Jews, that if any person could offer any thing in favour of a prisoner, after sentence was passed, he might be heard before execution was done; and therefore it was usual, (as the Mischna says) that when a man was led to execution, a cryer went before him, and proclaimed, This man is now going to be executed for such a crime, and such and such are witnesses against him: whoever knows him to be innocent, let him come forth and make it appear.

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urge us forward, to exert ourselves on such an occasion; which seems to be intimated by that word, which we render forbear, which often signifies to check, restrain, and hold back a person from what he is eager on doing. But the wise man intimates, there may be danger of suppressing these generous sallies of the soul, on the first view of the object; of suffering our charity to cool, and then of searching out apology for our inactivity. You may be ready to say, Behold we knew it not. I did not particularly see the danger; I did not, however, apprehend it to be so extreme: or, I did not know the innocence of the person in danger; or, if I did believe it, I knew not how to deliver him. I did not think the interposition of such a person as myself could be of any importance in such an affair. I was sorry to see innocence overborne, and weakness oppressed; but I was myself too weak to contend with the mightier oppressor; too poor; too ignorant, or too busy, to meddle in an affair, where those who were much my superiors were concerned, and had determined the case. I had no obligations to the person in danger; I had no concern with him, nor any thing to do to embarrass myself with his affairs.". -If these excuses be just, it is well. Nevertheless, the text upposses,

3. (iii.) That these excuses might often be over-ruled, by an appeal to men's consciences, as in the sight of God.

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Doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? As if he should have said 'It is an easy thing to excuse omissions, so that a fellow-creature shall have nothing to reply; but whoever thou art that readest these words, I charge thee to remember, that it is comparatively a very little matter to be judged of man's judgment; he that judgeth thee is the Lord:* And he pondereth the heart: He weighs, in a most accurate balance, all its most secret sentiments. I therefore cut off all chicane and trifling debate at once, by placing thee in his pre

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sence, and laying open thy conscience there. Thou canst answer me; but canst thou answer the heart-searching God? Does not He, the great Father of spirits, see, in every instance, how inferior spirits conduct themselves? Does he not precisely know the situation in which thy heart was, at the very moment in question? Thou sayest thou knewest it not: but he is witness whether thou indeed didst, or didst not know it. And he also sees all the opportunities and advantages which thou hadst for knowing it; all the hints, which might have been traced out, to open a more explicit and particular knowledge; every glimpse which thou hadst when thou wast (like the priest, when he spied at a distance the wounded traveller) passing by on the other side, and perhaps affecting to look the contrary way.'

§ 4. Nor was it in vain, that the wise man renewed his expostulation in a different form. He that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? As if he had said,' Consider God, as keeping thine own soul; as holding it in life;t as preserving thy spirit, by his continued visitation; and then say, O thou that neglectest the life of thy brother, whether He must not be highly displeased with that neglect? May he not reasonably expect, that while He, the Lord of heaven and earth, condescends to become thy guardian, thou shouldest learn of him, and be, according to thine ability, and in thy sphere, a guardian to the whole human race, and shouldest endeavour, in every instance, to ward off danger from the life, from the soul of thy brother?'

§ 5. And that these thoughts may enter into the mind with all their weight, it is added once more, in this pointed form of interrogation, Will not He render to every man according to his works? I appeal to thine own heart, Is He not a Being of infinite moral, as well as natural perfections, and will He not, as the judge of all the earth, do right? Would He not have remembered and rewarded thy generous care for the preservation of the miserable creature in question? And, on the other

Zuke x 31, † Ps. lxvi. 9.

+ Job x. 12. § Gen. xviii. 25.

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