« PreviousContinue »
to be found ;-how earnestly Jesus Christ has been recommended to you, in his glorious offices of Prophet, Priest, and King;-and how often, and how plainly, the Spirit of Christ has spoken to your heart the very same thing, which the Minister uttered in your ears. Many there are, I assure you, many even in Christian England, who never heard the things which you hear; and which not a few of you have had the opportunity of hearing from your earliest childhood. I repeat it, thereforeyour privileges have been great indeed; and solemn is the account of them which you must render to the Lord Jesus, "in the great day of his appearing and glory."
What will that account be, which each individual among you will then deliver in? Will it be, that you rejected "the things which belonged unto your peace? Or, that you knew and welcomed " the day of your visitation ? "
If I had the power and if you knew that I had the power, to draw aside the impenetrable veil which conceals the future world from our view; and to inform you, one by one, what will be his lot in that awful day of account; nothing (I am persuaded) could exceed the eager and alarmed curiosity, with which you would listen to my words. But I pretend to no such power: however I may
fear for some, and have hope respecting others, among you, I have determined to "judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart. Must the truth, then, remain entirely unknown, till that period shall arrive? No; the judgment, which neither I nor any other man has authority to pronounce, may even now be anticipated by yourselves. "The counsels of the heart" cannot be entirely unknown to the heart in which they are conceived: "the things of darkness" are not "hidden" from him who, alas! is familiar with them. If, therefore, any of you be a blasphemer of God, a hinderer or slanderer of His word, an adulterer, or be in malice, or envy, or in any other grievous crime; if you be conscious, that you have no supreme love to Christ, to his gospel-his house-his Sabbath-his commandments; if you have never yet cast yourselves at his footstool, seeking reconciliation with God through the atonement of his most precious blood-shedding;' then, deceive not your own selves : as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between thee and death!? On the other hand, if any of you be willing and able to say, 'I am a grievous sinner, but-Jesus died for me! and his Spirit has given me
a heart to trust in his blood, and in some small measure to obey, honour, and love him :' then, let not that man despair, even though he may justly abhor himself, because he does not more heartily love the Lord. A mark has been set upon him by the Spirit of holiness; let him assure himself that it is genuine; and, while he thanks his Saviour for it, let him "rejoice in hope of the glory of God!"
My book will find out individuals of this description; and may (through the goodness of God, to whose blessing I humbly commend it!) prove the means of" building them up on their most holy faith." I wish them to make it a Family book. On every Sabbath-day, there is some hour unoccupied by the public services of the Church: during that hour, let their children and servants be gathered together, to hear one of these Short Sermons. The simple reading of it will not detain them for one quarter of the time that I have named: but there will be found, at the foot of the page, many references to those parts of the Bible to which the Sermon alludes; and it would be an employment, at once interesting and profitable, for the children to look out some of the texts referred to, and afterwards commit them to memory. Moreover, when God, by the preaching of his word, has spoken to the family, let the family then speak to Him in prayer; "commending them
selves to the Lord, in whom they have believed."
Το you, then, in the first instance, my Parishioners and friends, I dedicate this Volume. But I am not without a hope, that it may prove more extensively acceptable: that other families may use it, in the manner which I have recommended to you; and that those friends of the poor, the ignorant, and the sorrowful, who are prompted by "pure and undefiled Religion" to "visit them in their affliction," may here find the elements of Christian Instruction ready prepared for their use ;-in so short a compass, as not to burden the attention, and in a style which all may understand.
Believe me to be, my dear friends,
Your faithful and affectionate
Servant in the Gospel,