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it is surprising they do not observe it; and it must appear still more wonderful, when we consider that the persons who are chiefly chargeable with this inconsistency among us, cannot be supposed ignorant of the meaning of this excellent prayer, which, by their own ordinances, they oblige themselves to use so frequently, and even press as a necessary form upon others. But surely to pronounce the words of it cannot be of such efficacy as to atone for actions which contradict the sense of it; nor indeed do I suppose that they expect this from it. I rather believe, that inveterate prejudice and strong delusion hinder many of them to perceive this obvious inconsistency.
But let us, my brethren, “ stand fast in that liberty wherewith. Christ hath made us free, and not suffer ourselves to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Let us show our sincerity in using this petition, by resisting all attempts to remove the candlestick from among ourselves; let us bless God for the religious privileges we enjoy, and not suffer them to be violently wrested out of our hands, under any pretence whatever : let us not even expose them to the smallest danger, but guard them as the most valuable part of our. property; and especially, let us be careful so to improve them, that we may never provoke God himself to deprive us of them. In the
4th and last place, Let us extend our regards to those dark and miserable corners of the earth,
which are full of the habitations of cruelty and wickedness.
Let us not only pray, that the gospel may be sent to them; but let us do what we can to make our prayers effectual, by embracing every opportunity which the providence of God affords us, of conveying to them this inestimable blessing. It is our honour and happiness to have a Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge erected among us by royal letters patent, (and countenanced by an annual donation from his Majesty of L.1000 Sterling), whose business it is to attend to this very thing. The progress they have already made, is at once a convincing proof of their fidelity, and a manifest token of the divine favour and acceptance ; hitherto, indeed, their pious endeavours have been mostly laid out in the remote and barbarous parts of our own native land, though they have not been wholly confined to these. They have been enabled to employ some missionaries abroad; of whose success among the Indians, especially of late, they have received such agreeable accounts, as gives the delightful prospect of a large accession to the kingdom of our Redeemer. The fields are already growing white in those parts, and promise a rich and plentiful harvest, were more labourers employed to gather it.
Here then is an opportunity, which God, in his Providence, affords us of obtaining the answer of our own prayer. By this Society, he demands a
proof of our sincerity, and, as it were, offers us the honour to become fellow-workers with himself in gaining new subjects to his Son.
Let us with thankfulness embrace the offer, and contribute as liberal an assistance as we can for carrying on this glorious design.
You must all be sensible, that your substance cannot be employed to a better purpose, nor indeed laid out in a way more truly advantageous to yourselves. This is charity to the souls of men, and, in the noblest sense, “ lending to the Lord," (Prov.) xix. 17.), who will not fail to repay with usury.
This is a certain way of laying “up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where there is no corrupting moth nor rust, and where thieves cannot break through to steal.” What is thus devoted to the immediate service of the Redeemer, can never be lost to the giver, but shall descend in showers of blessings upon his own head.
« The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he who watereth shall be watered also himself,” (Prov. xi. 25.)
Such liberality will afford us, in the mean time, a most refined and delicate pleasure; an enjoyment not confined to a day, but which lives and improves by reflection; and then it shall be am. ply recompensed at the resurrection of the just, (Dan. xii. 3.) “When they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and
they that turn many unto righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”
Yea, this will bring down the blessing of God upon our land; the vigorous prosecution of this noble design will be a better defence to us than the most potent fleets or numerous armies, as it will engage the Lord of Hosts on our side, “ who will be a wall of fire about us, and the glory in the midst of us."
But I hope I need not multiply arguments to persuade you to so reasonable a duty: the glory of the Redeemer, the salvation of precious and immortal souls, our own present and eternal interest, all unite their force in exciting us to it. Let us then, whilst we pray “ Thy kingdom come,” do every thing in our sphere that may contribute to promote it; and then shall we triumph in eternal glory, when the body of Christ shall be completed. Amen.
Preached Dec. 12. '1776, being the first public East after the
Commencement of the American War.
Psalm li. 18.
Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion : build
thou the walls of Jerusalem.
THERE is an advice becoming the wisdom of Solomon (in Eccl. v. 2.), “ Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth : therefore let thy words be few." То pray to the Most High God is a very solemn thing, even when we view him as seated on a throne of mercy. He is always present with us, whether we think of him or not : but when we pray, we, by our own deed, place ourselves in his sight, and solicit his attention. And is not this a very solemn and awful thought? We speak to one who looks immediately into the heart, and who requireth “ truth in the inward parts.” Nay, we appeal to him as the Searcher of hearts, for