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forth ministers to preach the glad | “all that the father giveth me shall tidings of the grace of God, knowing come unto me, and that they do come by that where that is sounded God will means of the preaching of the Gospel." bring his people; for it is written,
DELIVERED BY THE REV. J. G. WARD,
AT ST. JAMES'S CHURCH, SUNDAY, JANUARY 17, 1831.
Psalm, iv. 4.—“ Stand in awe, and sin not ; commune with your men heart, and in your
chamber, and be still."
One great cause why sin is so feebly | force the duty of communing with resisted, and that we see and feel it to ourselves. “ Stand in awe, and sin be so universal, is, that we persist in not; commune with your own heart, neglecting the means prescribed for and in your chamber, and be still." overcoming it. God, in the Bible, has First, then, we must consider the state been pleased to express plainly the of our soul as to its chief and eternal nature of sin, and the seductive arts interests. Men are apt to think all is by which the great enemy of mankind right if they avoid the commission of seeks to promote it in the world ; but heinous crimes; and all well enough He has also as plainly instructed us if they preserve a fair character in the how to overcome it. Serious reflec-world. Yet in the pursuits of that tion-meditation-self-examination-world, how are all their hopes, their prayer, and the Holy Sacraments, mind, and their strength wasted-whethese are some of the chief means or- ther in business, or the affairs of the dained by Him, who knoweth all our household, they are equally devoted, necessities and all our infirmities. If and even when nothing is immediately we have diligently sought and applied to be done, every thought is directed ourselves to them-well; but other how to remove obstacles, and to make wise, if we have neglected and des- smooth the way; the grand concern of spied them, we must fall. And, in the soul is overlooked and forgotten, fact, men do fall every day from this and left “ to work out its own salvavery neglect; walking as in no fear of tion," without “ fear or trembling." harm or danger, they give no time to consider well, my brethren, whether meditation, they have no communion this may not be your case, whether with God, or with their own hearts ; you do not go on trusting all will be and religion, if they have recourse to well at the last, and wishing to know it at all, is but to them a mere form- as little as possible of your spiritual they know nothing of the spiritual concerns at present? Remember, connature of prayer. Thus men fall into fidence is not security! And there is a many grievous errors which they are most fatal confidence which leads men ever ready to lay to their weakness to shut their eyes on all that influences and infirmity, but which are alone the the welfare of their souls. The Spirit effect of their presumption and wicked declared unto the church of Laodicea, ness. It ought to be the care of every “ Thou sayest I am rich, and inChristian minister to impress this on creased with goods, and have need of the minds of his congregation; and ac- nothing; and knowest not that thou cordingly my design to-day is, to en- art wretched and miserable, and poor,
and blind, and naked.” And doth not declares, “ Except a man be converted the Spirit also in these words address and become as a little child, he shall all those who sit down indifferent, or not enter into the kingdom of heaven." careless of their future state? Is it Do I fulfil all righteousness without not alarming to hear in the word of ve do I sincerely desire and pray God these assertions of our poverty for the assistance of the Holy Spirit in and nakedness (though we know it my endeavours, and do I by my actions not)—for it may be we have wilfully prove that the Spirit of God is in me? despised the grace of God, and are In all these, and various other points treading the road which leads to ever- of like kind, must you try yourselves : lasting destruction ; even now, per- they who are deceived, or wilfully haps, on the brink of perdition, be-blind, may “cry peace ;" but it is cause we turn away from the means peace without support, it will fail of making ourselves acquainted with them at the end. And now, my brethat spiritual state which must decide thren, of whom must you enquire these our future happiness or misery. Will questions? Not one of your most any of you then be thus content to go intimate friends could answer them ; on blindfold ? Rather search your own your own heart alone is capable of hearts-if you are in the right way, it doing so,-dive then to the bottom of will afford you greater comfort to that heart, that it may bear witness persevere;
if f you are in error, it may to the good or evil. Let it not be induce you to turn from it while it is pleaded by any one, that this were a yet time. Question yourselves, there- useless task, because we are told that fore, for though perhaps highly es- “the heart is deceitful above all things teemed of men, they judge the outside and desperately wicked;"—when God alone! Seek your own spirit-search so charges us with wickedness and your heart, its temper, its passions, infirmity, it is to encourage us to and the principle by which you are “repent and turn unto Him," and is guided. Ask yourselves—is not my never calculated or intended to fill us carnal spirit indulged, at least in with despair. Only exert yourselves thought? Are my passions subdued, to the utmost-comply with the prinand my temper controled by a sense of ciples of His holy law-rely on His what is right? Do I seek the praise Almighty Power--pray for His enof men, or the praise of God? Am I lightening spirit, and doubt not but He just and charitable to my fellow.crea- will remove the veil from your hearttures ? Try yourselves by the Gospel He will shed light into its inmost reof Christ. Have I a sincere faith-a cesses—and his powerful grace worksteady view of God, my Maker and ing together with your hearty desires Redeemer ? Have I a firm reliance on shall enable you not only to know but His mercies, and an awful dread of amend all its errors.—Thus far we have any thing incurring His displeasure ? admitted the necessity of communing Does it act upon my whole life, puri- with our own hearts ; but the text fying every action and every thought ? goes further, inasmuch as it sets forth Again, the Gospel says, “Repent, that certain times and opportunities for ye may be saved.” Have I humbly doing so. Every time and place is come to repentance and salvation from indeed proper for serious thought and a thorough sense of my utter unwor- meditation, though, in the midst of thiness? Do I abase myself, looking worldly business and company, it were, up to Christ alone for pardon and for perhaps, next to impossible to enter grace? Finally, are my good resolu- into communion with the heart. How tions sincere and earnest ? The Gospel | lamentable, then, the state of those who are wholly occupied with these , what fruit you will reap at the last if things—it is the ruin of a multitude you continue in your present courseof souls, when thoughts of sin and say to your heart, have I kept the comdanger are swallowed up daily in vain mandments, have I done all things to cares and transitory pleasures. “Be the glory of God, have I been content not ye so deceived, my brethren,” | with whatever he has bestowed, whetake heed that you find or make time ther blessings or corrections; and, to leave the affairs of the world, turn- finally, have I “done unto all men as ing your reflections to the hope that is I would they should do unto me?"in you as Christians. Whether abroad Commune thus with your own heart, or at home, in the field or in the house, so shall sin not have dominion over take heed that at some hour you be you,—neglect the inquiries, and it found alone. Have you leisure ?- will have power to deceive and blind happy is it for you. Is your time you. Let nothing interrupt the confully occupied ? Put off some of your stancy of this duty, let it be fulfilled occupations; better is it to be poorer without reserve, not with the mere in this world, than not provide for form of stated prayers. Moreover, that which is to come. I will repeat if the Lord should be pleased to the words of my text, to remind you prolong the opportunity by keeping that there is a season when no man sleep from your eyes, it is an occasion can plead an excuse. “Commune with to be improved as often as he send it. your own heart, and in your chamber, The waking soul is alone with God; and be still.” In the hour of retiring though silence be broken, the still to rest, then, neglect not to have re- small voice is at hand, and blessed course to this effectual help. Then, they who hear and receive it in their when the business of the day—its temp- hearts! Then, how vain do all the tations and its cares are over-when cares and pleasures of this world apall sounds are hushed, and every good pear-how utterly unworthy the silly or evil thing is past recall, registered mind that could be set upon them. for erer in the book of the Lord, when Then, how is the remembrance of every men kneel down in their closet to sin as a drop of gall in the bitter cup! commune with their God, and pray But thanks be to God and to Jesus for forgiveness through the merits of a Christ! Thanks be to that Almighty crucified Saviour, that they may rise power which hath permitted light to hereafter in the perfection of His ho- shine through darkness, and promised liness, then search your heart !-Search pardon through the merits and suffermore especially the spirit of that day ings of a crucified Redeemer. Brethren, of your life—what you have thought, may such consolations ever attend your
have spoken, what you have serious reflections night or day, (for done, and what you have left undone. God forbid that you should omit comCompare your growth in righteous- muning with your own heart), and ness with the days that have gone be- may He grant you that holy joy and fore-prove whether you are “living comfort, both now and ever, that you to the flesh or to the spirit," and how may zealously live unto righteousness you would appear if God should re- and sin not! quire your soul that very night-think
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2 Peter, i. 16. We have not followed cunningly devised fables." There seldom has occurred a period | idleness—the willingness of the poor in the history of our country which to become receivers, as well as of the affords so many subjects of deep and rich to be givers of moral blessings. extraordinary interest as the present. And the Christian contemplates the Nor (if we except the time when the eventful scene with mingled feelings God of creation visited this earth, and of the most anxious solicitude and exhibited a display of stupendous warm thankfulness to God, who has power over the elements of nature, - cast his lot in times when his
be. or that time when, after a night of hold and his ears hear what many worse than Heathen darkness, the sun prophets and kings have desired to of learning and religion arose at the witness, but could not.
He discerns, æra of Reformation)—can we mention at this moment, a mighty contest beany in the history of the world more tween the powers of darkness and calculated to awaken astonishment, Immanuel, leader of the heavenly admiration, and gratitude to God than hosts. He sees the predictions of the the days in which we live. The phi- prophets, and of Christ, the LORD losopher must behold with wonder God of the Holy Prophets, already that rapid march of human intellect receiving their incipient accomplishwhich outstrips, almost in a few years, ment. His word going forth swiftly, the attainments of past centuries, and subduing all its opponents—the which shows us the grown men of an- idols of Egypt trembling in their tiquity to have been but children in shrines—the Dagons falling powerless the arts which embellish life, or the before the ark—the fables of Rabbins, sciences which dignify the human cha- the reveries of the false prophet—the racter. The moralist may dwell with wild mythologies of the Brahmins and admiration upon the emancipation of the Buddhites, the Veda and the Shasthe lower classes from the slavery ofter, bowing to the superiority of the ignorance—the triumphs of national Bible--Princes the nursing parents of education—the elevated tone of moral the once despised church-and the feeling—the extinction of many per- mighty ones of the earth, counting nicious habits—the substitution of their highest honour to 'sit at the feet sound principles and active industry of Jesus, and to learn his word. for visionary theories or destructive It is, indeed, an eventful period, a
time in which no faithful follower of the subject of public addresses from Christ can retire from the field, or lay the pulpit and elsewhere, that it might aside his armour. The enemies of seem almost superfluous to notice the Christianity, and of the Bible, which objections of infidelity ; yet, when the contains Christianity, have exchanged alarm is sounded, few wish to be sus. the subtle devices of the serpent for pected of indifference-few but wish the open rage of the devouring lion. to be actively employed on the side of No longer contented with tainting, by truth. It is with this view I would the venom of their example or their assert the divine origin and the authen. writings, the springs of private hap- ticity of the Christian system, and ad. piness, or poisoning the streams of duce to you such evidence as may domestic and social enjoyments ; they satisfy you that the Bible is truly what crawl from their lurking places, and it purports to be a revelation from swelling with accumulated venom,
be- God. come transformed into monsters of FIRST—We have no way of ascerferocity, whom no bounds can taining in general whether that which fine, no chains can bind, no threats purports to be a revelation is really so or can appal. Yet the possible results do not, except by the accompanying evinot dismay the Christian. Already dence of miracles, performed by the have they tended rather to his en- persons who assume the character of couragement. He sees the Christianity inspired teachers—or prophecies deliof the Bible stamped by the highest vered by them at the time, which pro. judicial authority, as an essential in- phecies are miracles to the persons who gredient in that constitution which in after times witness their accomplishsecures his liberty, his property, his ment. And when we see, or are aslife-recognised as the very soul and sured upon credible testimony, that a spirit of its laws, as that which regu- human being (like ourselves in every lates and tempers their severity of other particular) has done something penalty, and gives sanction and vigour which exceeds the ordinary powers of to their obligations. He sees that nature—or has uttered distinctly, with Christianity neither dreads nor shrinks great minuteness of time and circumfrom investigation (as her enemies stance, predictions of events, the most have falsely asserted), but, enthroned unlikely to happen-and at such a disin the hearts of a grateful people, she tance of time and place from the scene will not suffer the rude and unhallowed of these events, as that no human approach of ignorance and impiety. wisdom could possibly foresee and She will be addressed with reverence guard against all intervening contin-she will be treated as the ambassa-gencies; and when amongst these predress from heaven-she will not with dictions it is foretold, that miracles hold her credentials from the meanest should in future times be performed by or the most illiterate, who seek them others—and when we see that all these in a becoming spirit; and in this events did actually take place as they country, where she has given stability were so predicted—then we have the to the altar and the throne, where she strongest evidence which the mind is has infused her benignant spirit into capable of receiving, that those persons the code which regulates society, she were not false claimants to inspiration, claims and has found protection in the but delivered to us an exposition of courts of human judicature. Indeed, the real will of God; and more espemy brethren, the subject of our text cially so, if the truths which they dehas been so often and so ably made | livered were such as man stood in ab