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LECTURES ON THE SHORTER CATE
CHISM OF THE WESTMINSTER AS-
Our Catechism teaches us, that the duty we here contemplate, is to be performed
1. With diligence; that is, says Fisher, “ with a careful observing
and embracing of every seasonaThe manner in which the word ble opportunity that may offer in of God is to be read and heard, providence, for reading and hearthat it may become effectual to ing the word of life.” How easily, salvation, is to be the subject of the my young friends, do we find time present lecture, and is thus slated and opportunities to think of what in our Catechism-"That the word we love; to attend to that in which may become effectual to salvation, our hearts and affections are much we must attend thereunto with interested; to pursue after and imdiligence, preparation and prayer; prove in that in which we find our receive it with faith and love; lay happiness, and in which we believe it up in our hearts, and practice it our highest and best interests are in our lives.”
deeply involved? Now, let the To secure the salvation of the reading and hearing of the word soul, must be acknowledged to be of God be the thing which we the great concern and chief busi- thus regard, and we shall find ness of life, by all who profess to much time to read and meditate believe in a future state of rewards on the Holy Scriptures, and we and punishments. If this be so, shall seize many an opportunity to and if it is from the word of God hear the gospel preached, which alone that we can learn the way of we should otherwise neglect; and salvation, then it is obviously not this too, without permitting one too much to say, that an attention duty to crowd out another, or to the word of God should be re- being chargeable with the neglect garded as the principal object of of any obligation, which our place our existence in this world, and or station in life imposes on us. that we ought to treat it accord- Believe it, my dear youth, the want ingly. How few, alas! do this; of diligence in reading and hearand yet, in doing it, consists our ing the word of God, arises pringiving that attention to the divine cipally from the want of love word, the revealed truth of God, to the exercise. If you could, which our duty demands, and the with truth, say with the Psalmist, answer before us enjoins.
“ Thy testimonies are my delight Ch. Adv.-Vol. X.
and my counsellors—The law of plations.
We must take some thy mouth is better unto me than time, and put forth vigorous efthousands of gold and silver- forts, to make our thoughts quit how love I thy law! it is my me their hold on the world, and beditation all the day-How sweet come concentrated on divine and are thy words unto my taste! yea, invisible things; to change their sweeter than honey to my mouth! employment from thinking on se-Therefore, I love thy command- cular occupations and pursuits, to ments above gold, yea, above fine meditations on sacred, revealed gold-I prevented the dawning of truth; to turn their current from the morning, and cried: I hoped earth and time, to heaven and in thy word-Mine eyes prevent- eternity. In making this preparaed the night watches, that I might tion,“ we should consider that the meditate in thy word-I rejoice at word has the authority of God thy word as one that findeth great stamped upon it; that it is. Himspoil.”—Were this, I say, the self that speaketh to us therein; very language of your hearts, how that it is his ordinance for our many books of little value, to say salvation; and will be the savour nothing of those of pernicious ten either of life or death unto us. dency, would you lay aside, for the We should " duly consider how reading and studying of the bible? we need instruction, or, at least to What a blessed familiarity would have truths brought to our rememyou acquire with its holy truths? brance, and impressed on our heart; How clearly would you under as also that this is an ordinance stand, and how faithfully apply that God has instituted for that them? How readily would you purpose: And as it is instamped forego every place and opportuni- with his authority, so we may dety of even lawful, not to speak of pend on it, that his eye will be unlawful amusement, if it inter- upon us, to observe our frame of fered with the hearing of a ser- spirit under the word: And we mon, a lecture on the sacred Scrip- ought to have an awful sense of tures, or any occasion of acquiring his perfections, to excite in us a religious instruction or improve- holy reverence, and the exercise of ment? And be assured, if the other graces necessary to our en: word of God shall ever become gaging in this duty, in a right effectual to your salvation, it will, manner.”+ The chief reason why in some good degree, produce the reading and hearing of the these very effects on your hearts word of God produces so little efand practice. You will, in this fect is, that people go to it in a manner, prove that your attention careless, thoughtless manner.
If to the reading and hearing of God's they would endeavour to prepare word has been diligent.
for it, in the manner that has now 2. Preparation; that is, some spe- been briefly stated, we should witcial preparation, for reading and ness other results; its power and hearing the word of God is neces influence would be seen and felt, sary, if we hope to experience its far oftener and more generally salutary and saving effects. The than they are, both in the convichuman mind is so constituted, that tion and conversion of sinners, and it cannot readily pass from one the edification and comfort of the subject to another of a different people of God. Especially would character, without some prepara- this be the case, if to what has ration; and least of all is it rea been recommended, there should sonable to expect this, ywhen the be added transition is to be made from sensible objects, to spiritual contem
3. Prayer. This is, indeed, es- faithful labours! Then should we sential. « We are not sufficient of see, more conspicuously than we ourselves to think any thing as of have yet seen, the fulfilment of the ourselves; but our sufficiency is of promise—“My word shall not reGod." “ Without me,” said the turn unto me void, but it shall açSaviour, “ye can do nothing." complish that which I please, and Let us never forget that it is God it shall prosper in the thing wherealone who can rightly dispose and to I sent it." effectually enable us to perform any 4. In order to the word of God religious duty-perform it so as to becoming effectual to salvation, we be either acceptable to him, or pro must receive it with faith and love. fitable to our own souls. If, there. The sacred writer speaks it to the fore, prayer to God for his gra- high praise of the Bereans, that cious aid be neglected, all other “they received the word with all means or efforts for obtaining edi. readiness of mind;" and the aposfication, will be likely to prove en- tle, in writing to the Thessalotirely fruitless. We ought to con- nians, uscs this remarkable and fess with humility before God our emphatick language-"For this inability to hear his word in a cause also thank we God without right manner, without his special, ceasing, because when ye received gracious assistance; and to plead the word of God which ye heard his condescending promise to give of us, ye received it not as the the Holy Spirit to those who ask word of men, but (as it is in truth) him. Devotional exercises of this the word of God, which effectually kind, have a natural tendency to worketh also in you that believe.” put us in a suitable frame of mind In these passages of sacred writ, to read or hear divine truth with we have both the sanction and the advantage, as well as to obtain illustration of the doctrine of our those divine succours on which Catechism, in the points now beprofitable reading and hearing fore us. To receive the word with must always depend. Especially all readiness, is to open our minds when we are about to go to the freely and thankfully to the teachpublick worship of God in his sanc- ings of the Holy Spirit in the lively tuary, we ought to pray that God oracles, indited by his own inspirawould assist his `ministers in tion-to give to them that welcome preaching his word, so that what reception into our minds, which they deliver shall be agreeable to we yield to a message of our best his mind and will; and also, that friend, in relation to our most imit may be carried with resistless portant interests. We receive the power to
the consciences and word in faith, when it comes to us hearts, both of ourselves and of all as being, not the word of man, but our fellow worshippers. Othat as it is in truth, the word of God, there were more fervent and effec on which we place the most impli
that divine truth might cit reliance, as being a communibe purely and faithfully set forth, cation from that great and glorious and be made the power and wis- Being whose attribute it is, that dom of God unto salvation, to he cannot lie, and on which, therethose who hear it! (that the fore, we may rest whatever relates, ministers of the gospel, and the not only to our happiness in this teachers of sabbath schools and world, but to our eternal well-being Bible classes, had a larger share rest all our interests, hopes, and in the fervent pleadings of God's expectations, as on a foundation people, for the right discharge of more stable than the pillars of cretheir sacred duties, and for his ation; “for heaven and earth shall special and signal blessing on their indeed pass away, but my words,"
says the Saviour,“ shall not pass rection, and character, from the away." Whether the word of God temper of the heart: “For out of therefore speak to us in promises, the abundance of the heart, said or in threatenings, of facts, or in our Lord, the mouth speaketh.” doctrine, we shall, if we receive it “The tree is known by his fruit, a in faith, take all that it declares good man out of the good treasure as the most unquestionable verity, of his heart bringeth forth good and as such bring it home to our things.” He whose heart is right hearts and consciences, according in the sight of God, will discover to its import, as applicable to our it by obedience to all God's comown state and character, and as it mandments. He will be a truly relates to others, to the church devout man. Communion with of God and the world of mankind. God will be his delight. He will This faith, moreover, will work be cordial and exemplary in the effectually in them that thus be worship of his Maker, both in prilieve; that is, it will be “a faith vate and in publick.
He will feel that worketh by love.” We shall such an indebtedness to his Recordially love the word of God; deemer, that he will withhold no love it just as we have it the sa. effort or service, by which the cause cred volume; love the whole and of his dear and adored Lord may every part of it; love that which be promoted. He will be ready to warns and reproves, as well as speak a word for his Saviour whenthat which encourages and com ever a favourable opportunity offorts us; love to apply it, and love fers. He will contribute liberally to obey it. For we are to add, of his substance, according to his
5. That we must lay it up in our ability, for supporting and extendhearts and practice it in our lives. ing the influence of the gospel. He Laying up the divine words in our will feel the importance of endeahearts, is a striking and beautiful vouring to adorn and recommend expression, full of important mean the religion of Christ, in his whole ing. It teaches us to regard the - life and conversation. His light truth of God contained in his word, will so shine before men, that they as a precious and invaluable trea- will take knowledge of him that sure; and our hearts as the place he has been with Jesus; and seeing of deposite, where we are to lay it his good works, they will be led up for safe-keeping, and for con- by his example to admire the grace stant use, as we have occasion to of God in him. His religion will draw upon it. Happy, indeed, is appear in every thing with which he who does this: happy the man
he has a concern. It will make whose memory is richly stored him conscientious in all that he with the word of God; whose un does. By the influence which the derstanding, aided and enlightened gospel has upon him, he will be by the Spirit of grace, apprehends rendered a better man in all the its true scope and design; whose relations of life, in every connexwill readily and delightfully ion which he holds with society; chooses all that it enjoins, and re he will be a better husband, a betfuses all that it forbids; and whose ter father, a better son, a better affections are most powerfully at- neighbour, a better friend, a better tracted by it, most firmly attached citizen. He will be just and upto it, and most delightfully exer- right in all his dealings; he will cised under the influence of its sa endeavour to owe no man any thing cred truths. Now, in whomsoever but a debt of love; he will fulfil this is realized, the whole life and all his engagements and contracts conversation of the party concern with punctuality; and his regard ed will receive its colour, tone, di- to truth will be so sacred, that his
LISHED WORKS OF THE REV. RO-
word will be as much accredited ing, you will have evidence that as his oath.
the word of God “dwells in you My beloved youth-It is a re- richly, in all wisdom and spiritual gard to this last part of the answer understanding, and that it will before us-it is by practising the eventually and surely be made eftruth of God in our lives—that our fectual to your eternal salvation. character is to be ascertained. It is only the man who lives religion, that is truly and savingly religious. EXTRACTS FROM THE LATELY PUBThe inward principles of faith, love, and a renewed heart, are, indeed, the source and spring of a holy life, without which it can ne
The subject of the first article of
the Eclectic Review for March last, ver appear in its genuine excellence and lustre. But men may
is, “ The Works of the Rev. Robert
Half, A. M.” It contains, among talk and profess much-and sometimes they do—about their inward
other things, a number of extracts feelings and exercises, when their from his sermons not heretofore lives are far from exemplary; and published--and none of them fully all this religion of the tongue is written out. But Mr. Hall could extremely suspicious, while they scarcely write or speak what was do not practice what the gospel re
not worth preservation; and some quires. “Show me thy faith by of these unfinished discourses are thy works”-is the demand which considered by his friends, and by we have a right to make of
the Reviewers, as containing pas
every Let nothing, I entreat you, sages not inferior, in solid excelshort of this, satisfy you in regard lence, to any of the publications to your own spiritual state. If you
which received the finish of his have clear views of God's holy own hand, and were published belaw, and right apprehensions of fore his death-that is, they conyourselves, you will indeed see tain as much bullion, though not as cause continually to lament your beautiful a form, or as high a poimperfections and short comings lish. In making a selection for our in all you do. Yet you may have, readers, we have felt at a loss what and ought to have," the testimony to take, and what to leave, for we of your conscience that in simpli- must leave more than we take. city and godly sincerity, not with We have determined, on the whole, fleshly wisdom, but by the grace to give the following portion of the of God, you have your conversa. Review, just as it lies in the work: tion in the world.” You may know,
« One of the most finished serand ought to know, whether
mons in the fifth volume, is the do' sincerely endeavour to dis- xxxivth, on the Third Commandcharge every duty that you owe ment. Having, in the first place, both to God and man; whether you briefly shown that, in this comlament your defects, ask divine as. mandment, are alike forbidden, sistance, and put forth your stre- perjury, and the profane use of the nuous endeavours to correct every name of God on trivial occasions, error, to amend whatever you do whether in mirth or in anger; the amiss, and to live in all things as preacher proceeds to evince the becomes the disciples of Christ criminality and impiety of the latever imperfect, and yet ever press- ter practice, by showing that it is, ing forward after perfection, as an 1. in direct opposition to those object of earnest desire, and of passages of Scripture which idengradual approximation. Thus do- tify the character of God with bis