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thrown out to excite a temporary glow of benevolence, it is founded on my personal knowledgebe assured, it is utterly impossible for Episcopal congregations, in many places, to support a minister without extraneous aid; and so extensive is the field of distribution, that the sum allotted to each missionary is so small, that, with the contributions of the people, it affords him but a scanty support. And yet who is entitled to higher estimation than the missionary, who has to seek after his scattered flock, and by constant and laborious attention to form them into congregations, and then to excite them to build a place of worship, and to guard them from the influence of erroneous opinions or enthusiastic practices, that would draw them from the sound and sober principles of their church? „I state confidently the opinion, that we only want the means of aiding in the education and support of ministers, to establish our church in many places where, without these means, the hope of doing so must be relinquished. Surely to no object can your bounty be more beneficially bestowed than to sending the truths and ministrations of the Gospel of salvation, as set forth in the church that engages your esteem and confidence, to those of your brethren who are destitute of them, to those who earnestly desire to enjoy, and who will bless the beneficence that grants the much prayed-for boon. There will be a time when wealth can no longer minister to your temporal comfort, or consequence, or gratification. By the pious use of it, make to yourselves friends of this false, this uncertain mammon, that when you fail-and fail we all must-in that hour that separates us for ever from the world, you may be received into everlasting habitations.
ON THE DANGER OF FORSAKING THE SERVICE OF THE LORD.
ISAIAH i. 28.
They that forsake the Lord shall be consumed.
BRETHREN, there are probably none among us who have not been devoted to God in baptism, and on whom have not thus been imposed the name and the obligations of Christians; and there are doubtless few among us who, in the ordinance of confirmation appointed for the purpose, have not publicly assumed the vows of baptism, and thus personally pledged themselves to the service of the Lord. There are some among us (alas, that their number is not greater!) who, commemorating the death of their blessed Lord and Master in his holy supper, "have offered and presented themselves, their souls and bodies, a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto God."
But man is bound by the law of his nature to obey that almighty Being by whom he was made an intelligent and immortal creature. Every discovery which reason opens to him of the transcendent perfections of the Lord of the universe, urges the duty of offering to this great and glorious Being the homage of his heart and of his life. Every day's preservation increases his obligation to serve his gracious Preserver: and as he advances into
life, daily sustained by the power and blessed by the bounty of that benignant Benefactor who satisfies him with good, gratitude joins her voice to the voice of reason and nature, and loudly commands him to show forth, by the obedience of his life, the praises of his God.
Devoted, then, as we all are to the Lord, and bound by the most solemn obligations to serve him; and yet liable, through the corruption of our nature and the power of temptation, to forget and to violate our engagements, it is of the utmost importance that we constantly bear in mind the guilt, the folly, and the danger of forsaking the service of the Lord.
It is the awful denunciation of the prophet"They that forsake the Lord shall be consumed."
The guilt-the folly-and the danger of forsaking the service of the Lord: this is the subject to which I now call your attention.
I. The guilt of forsaking the service of the Lord arises from the considerations
1. That we thus violate the general obligations of reason;
2. And that we also violate our own express and solemn engagements.
1. In forsaking the service of God, we violate the general obligations of reason.
If we refuse to the eternal Maker and Preserver of the universe the homage and obedience which are his due; if, however free we may be from gross irregularities, we are still in heart devoted to worldly pursuits, and strangers to the influences of divine grace purifying our hearts and raising our affec
tions to things above; if, by open and repeated transgressions of the laws of God, we set his authority at defiance-we are guilty of contemning the most solemn obligations which reason can impose; we violate the laws of that Almighty Creator who formed us after his own image, and can in an instant recall that life which he gave us of that gracious Preserver who guards us from the numberless dangers to which we are exposed, who keeps our souls in life, and suffers not our feet to be moved of that merciful Benefactor who bestows on us all our blessings and enjoyments, crowning us with mercy and loving-kindness. If, then, we violate those obligations to God which reason most solemnly sanctions, and forsake his service, which enjoins no duties but those which promote the perfection and purity of our nature, and yield the highest joys of which our souls are susceptible, surely we act contrary to our character as reasonable beings. Let us then take heed lest we forsake that service of the living God which reason approves, and which is the perfection and the felicity of our nature; and wherever the world, by its temptations, its ridicule, or its persecutions, would seduce us from our God, let us call to mind that, in forsaking his service, we shall incur the guilt of violating obligations sanctioned by the strongest dictates of reason and nature.
2. And we shall also violate our express and solemn engagements.
If we have not acknowledged, in some solemn act of religion, the force of those obligations by which reason binds us to the service of God, we labour under the imputation of the greatest folly, ingratitude, and guilt. But our parents or spon
sors most probably devoted us in baptism to the service of God; and the vows then made for us, most reasonable and conducive to the perfection of our nature, we are bound to discharge. And have we not assumed these vows in the ordinance of confirmation, or at the supper of the Lord? Christians, we are solemnly pledged to the service of God: take heed lest we forsake him. Tremendous is the guilt of violating the vows of our Christian vocation, and thus putting him to an open shame who died for us, and grieving that Holy Spirit of God whereby we were sealed unto the day of redemption. Glaring is the impiety which can renounce the service of the God of goodness, and enlist under the banner of the prince of darkness-which can forsake those paths that lead to peace and to the glories of heaven, and pursue the way that leads to misery, to the chambers of hell. Tremendous the presumption, which can brave the power, the justice, the vengeance of the living God.
II. For not less conspicuous than the guilt, are the folly and danger of forsaking the service of the Lord.
1. We shall thus incur the reproaches of our own minds;
2. We shall lose the esteem of the pious; and, 3. We shall forfeit the favour and incur the just displeasure of God.
1. If we forsake the service of God, we shall incur the reproaches of our own minds.
God has stamped on his laws such traits of excellence, and has so fitted them to the powers VOL. II. 29