Sayfadaki görseller

which nothing but the right hand of God, stretched out to those that cry unto him, can possibly save and deliver us: it therefore supposes that Churchmen pray every day-twice a day—as they certainly ought, either at the Church, or in their families, or both. What must (or rather what does) become of families who do not pray together? What must become of single persons who do not pray for themselves by themselves ? By disuse they become more and more averse to their duty, and farther from God in their lives and conversations; and he, of course, is farther from them. Such persons therefore as do not accustom themselves to pray; what are they? Are they true members of the Church of England ? If they do not pray, they are not Christians; and cannot be said to be members of any Church: they cast themselves out of all Churches. Their life is a passage through storms and tempests over a dangerous sea : what will become of them in life? What will become of them in death? What will become of them after death? For the soul will continue in such a state after death, as it lives and dies in. If it dies without prayer, it will continue without God. The souls of the righteous are represented to us in the Revelation as still continuing in prayer, and uttering to God what was the petition of their lives, how long, O Lord, holy and true *, &c. In this language do they cry unto God to fulfil that righteous judgment upon the world, which the Church of the living prayeth for; particularly in the Buria! Service, where we call upon God to accomplish the number of his elect, and to hasten his kingdom.

Enough has been said, I hope, to convince you, what it is, in propriety of speech, to hear the Church;

# Rey, vi. 10,

that it is not to hear with your ears only, but to understand with your heart ; to keep up to the sense of her doctrines, and the life and spirit of her forms. When our blessed Saviour described in few words the character of Nathaniel, he said, behold an Israelite in deed : for all were not Israel in spirit, that were of Israel by their birth and education. So may we now say of him, that keeps up to the life, while he follows the forms of the Church; behold a Churchman indeed: and it is devoutly to be wished, that the portrait I have drawn were more frequently verified. But as there were not many Nathaniels when Christ visited the Church of Israel; so it is to be feared, that of the Nathaniels of the present day there is no great number: and there will be fewer every day, if the delųsions and deceptions, with which mankind are so easily drawn away, should increase upon us as they have of late years. I have shewn you plainly how the character is to be attained; and instead of blaming me, as if I had brought up a new doctrine to disturb your consciences, you are to examine yourselves impartially by this plain rule of hearing the Church. You may have persuaded yourselves that if you believe the facts of Christianity, you have the religion of the Church; and that nothing more is necessary.

But the facts of the Christian history are all without you: what is it that happens within you ? Do you believe the inward distempered state of your nature; and that the Gospel is a remedy, sent from Heaven to those who are poor and blind, and naked*? To believe the Gospel truly, is not to believe that there is such a thing as the Gospel, (for the Devils know that;) but that it is the power of God for the salvation of man; that there is

Rev. iii, 17.

no life without the spirit of it; no teaching without the light of it: that the wisdom of nature can never shéw us the will of God; and the works of nature never render us acceptable to Him: that if laws are written in the heart, they are God's laws, transferred to the heart, according to his promise, by the power of his Grace. If this be your religion, we may then truly say that you are a Churchman; and every good man will allow it. But if you take the outside of Christianity, Christianity will never be more than the outside of you: your religion will be a form, and you yourself will be a lifeless Christian. On this subject, no rule is so worthy to be remembered, as that short and plain rule of the Apostle: he is a Jew, which is one inwardly* For all the gifts of God's religion are inward: nothing but signs are outward; and if the Churchman is an outward Christian, he is nothing but the sign of a Christian ; with no more true life in him, than the sign of a man's head, which is painted on a board': and how bright and glaring soever the colours may be, it is but a board at last.

I do not say these things with design to reflect upon any person in particular : my design is to stir up the minds of you all by way of remembrance, and prevent a fatal security, of which there is too much in all places. Many are prevailed upon to leave the Church, and frequent other assemblies, because there is nothing but forın amongst us: and whoever he may be, that contributes to the truth of the accusation, he is partaker in other men's sins; he is answerable for the ill use that is made of the fact, to intice people from the sober and edifying worship of the Church. Be in earnest then in your profession: be sincere, and alive,

# Rom ii. 29

as you ought to be, and you will disarm them: perhaps you may convert them from the error of their ways : but if not, you will secure yourself: the Church of God will be to you what he intended it should be to all; and the promises made to it will be made to you.

And now, my friends, having taken courage to speak a little plain truth to Christians of our own sort; reason and duty require, that I should be as plain when I speak of Christians, who are of a different sort, who think they are better than we are. The godliness which we want they profess to have. They know that our ungodliness will not save us in the Church, but they think that their own godliness will save them out of it. How far that may be true or false, is a question which deserves great consideration : and I shall, for your security, answer it as far as I amiable on a plain principle, the application of which will require but few words. I conclude at present with a prayer for both parties : not that you, or I, or they, may distinguish ourselves; for which all mankind are so given to strive; but that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]





I REMINDED you, in a former discourse, that Christians are betrayed into the two great errors, of living in the Church without godliness; and of professing godliness without living in the Church. In opposition to the former of these, I shewed you, that true godliness is the sense and spirit of all the forms and services of the Church; and that forms and services have no meaning, unless they are so understood and applied. Men may call themselves Churchmen, while they are without the life of the Church : but they are not Churchmen indeed, and will certainly fall short of the benefits of their profession. This case, I think, was made so plain, that no reasonable person could misunderstand it.

That you 'may not fall into the other error, of professing godliness independent of the Church, I am now to shew you what dangers there are on that side; and to do this effectually, I shall lay down a plain and easy doctrine, which none can deny, and which all

may understand. When this is done, we shall be upon firm ground ; and may apply the doctrine as we find occasion,

« ÖncekiDevam »