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quent opportunities of hearing the scriptures
ing his brethren, however enlightened, whose ... minds are habitually engrossed by other sub
jects? Or is that economy of grace, “ which the angels desire to look into,” so easily fathomed, as to preclude the necessity of application? Far be it from me to magnify the diffi. culty of knowing “the truth as it is in Jesus.” Yet, that clear, extensive, and combining views of christianity should be obtained, without discipline and culture, is utterly inconceivable. In quest of human science, beside the perusal of rudimental books, teachers are employed, and years are spent under their tuition. But what human science embraces so many interesting objects and diversified relations, as the christian scheme of redemption ? The method, which its glorious author has prescribed for its illustration, is perfectly analogous to that, in which every other species of knowledge is communicated and acquired. Where then shall we find the person, who is too wise to profit by the regular preaching of the gospel ?
· Say, however, if you please, that there are numbers, who “ have more understanding than all their teachers.” Still the obligation to hear remains in force. For we are, 3. to note, that to divulge new doctrines, and bring “ strange things to the ear,” is not the chief design of publick teaching Impressions of piety and virtuè may subside, and acknowledged truths fail of their proper influence on the heart and life, through forgetful inattention. To this the learned, as well as the ignorant, are liable. All, who profess and believe the bible, whether they know little or much of its contents, require a friendly monitor to direct their thoughts, and urge their obedience to the plainest injunctions. They may need frequent informa. tion'; but they have uninterrupted calls for incitement. Whose theory, however incorrect, is less perfect than his practice ? : NO. 3.
. Hence, it is an essential branch of minis. terial duty to admonish and persuade. “ Wherefore,” says Peter, “ I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up, by putting you in remembrance." In performing this duty, without supposing the existence, or display of pre-eminent talents, additional illustration may be given to the most familiar subjects ; and the weight of motives, already felt and cherished, may be greatly increased. Who does not know that opinions and arguments, to which we are by no means insensible, become more interesting and operative by being presented and viewed in various lights ? Besides, a preacher of ordinary ge. nius and acquirements may incidentally suggest thoughts, which have hitherto escaped the notice of the most penetrating hearer, and which naturally lead to a long and useful train of reflexion, or impel to a more diligent and critical examination of the sacred pages. This is a more common and powerful incentive to 'reading, meditation, and watchfulness, than may be readily imagined. Let anyone, in the habit of perusing and pondering the oracles
of heaven, examine the causes, which have facilitated and formed this habit, and he will find the publick ministrations of the gospel among the most effective. These have at once furnished him with materials for devout contemplation, referred him to the only infallible standard of truth and righteousness, and kept alive in his heart that deep sense of divine things, without which a disposition for religious inquiry and improvement could not sub. sist. Thus the noble Bereans of old, having “ received the word with all readiness of mind, searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so ; and therefore many of them believed.”
. You see then, that every class and descripdon of society may derive personal advantage from the practice for which we contend. But were it otherwise ; were any too learned to be taught, and too virtuous to be edified in this way, it would nevertheless be incumbent upon them, for the sake of others, to sanction an exercise so apparently necessary to the improvement and happiness of mankind in general : And were they to forsake the sanctuary, “ the ways of Zion would mourn, because few came to her solemn feasts ;” and, “ through their
knowledge, weak brethren, for whom Christ died, would perish.”
Did people, whose learning, power, or wealth gives them an elevation and influence above their neighbours, realize the incalculable good or evil, which results to the world from their example in this respect ; and the conse. quent responsibility of their stations, they would surely " walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."
II. Having now shown, that there are conclusive reasons for hearing the word, which apply to all the different circumstances and characters of men, let us, secondly, consider the temper of mind, in which this duty is to performed. :
“Wherefore, lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the ingrafted word.” “ Filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness” stand opposed to the “ meekness” here enjoined, and imply the more gross and debasing acts of vice." These have a natural and powerful tendency to darken the understanding, and exclude the rays of divine truth from the heart. We instinctively look with a jealous eye on the men and measures, that counteract our favourite pursuits. This remark is verified in number...