Immagini della pagina

the reformation of his brother; and therefore he goes directly to God himself, who hath the hearts of all men in his hand, and can turn them as the rivers of water. He lays the finner's case before the compassionate Saviour, not by way of complaint, but to move his pity, and to obtain his help.

He uncovers the poor leper in the fight of • the Physician who can heal him; and at the

same time would be extremely well pleased, that his loathsomeness were hid from every other eye. True grief will restrain us from speaking evil of our neighbour, or detecting his secret faults, except in cases of absolute necessity, when the concealing them would either be hurtful to the innocent, or prejudicial to the public interest. Nay, it will be painful to us to hear of the miscarriages of our brethren; and we shall be very llow to believe, any reports to their disadvantage, without the strongest and most convincing evidence; and after all, we shall neither despise nor hate them, far less expose them to the contempt and hatred of others : on the contrary, we shall pity them, and pray for them in secret, commending

G 2

, their

[ocr errors]

their case to the God of love, before whom all their fins are already naked and open, and earnestly implore his pardoning mercy and fanctifying grace in their behalf, with the same fervour and importunity that we ask these inestimable blessings for ourselves.

3dly, Our grief for the fins of others, if pure and genuine, will be accompanied with proper endeavours to reclaim them. Every true mourner will consider himself as “ his.

brother's keeper,” and will leave no means unattempted to prevent his ruin. He will not think it enough to plead with God for mercy to the finner ; he will likewise plead with the finner to have mercy upon himself. He will set his guilt and danger before him in the most prudent and affecting manner he can; and though he meet with many tepulses, nay, though his labour of love fhould be requited with fcorn and hatred, yet he will repeat his application again and again, and take hold of every favourable opportunity that presents itself; remembering, that “ he who converteth a sinner from “ the error of his way, shall save a soul from W death, and hide a multitude of sins," and


may look for more distinguished honour in that day, “ when they that be wise, shall “ shine as the brightness of the firmament; * and they that turn many unto righteous“ ness, as the stars for ever and ever," Once more,

4thly, If we are in truth possessed of this gracious temper, if our grief for abounding iniquity flows from the pure fountain of love to God, and zeal for his glory, we shall own his cause in the most perilous times, and reckon nothing too dear to be hazarded in his service. That faying of our Lord will be continually founding in our ears, “ He that is ashamed of me and of my “ words, in this adulterous and perverse “ generation, of him also shall the Son of “ man be ashamed, when he cometh in the * glory of his Father with all the holy an“ gels.” Many can weep in secret for the fins of others, who have not the fortitude to appear against them in public. But such persons would do well to consider, that neither their tears nor their prayers can avail them any thing, so long as they fold their hands like the sluggard, and neglect the

• proper

proper" means for obtaining what they ask. God permits, 'nay commandeth us, to caft our care upon him; but he giveth us no allowance to dispose of our work in that way. -We must be doing in a humble dependence upon his grace; and then we may both alk, and hope to obtain, his blessing upon our endeavours. But if we pray, and fit still; if we lie howling upon our beds, when we should be abroad at our labour; we offend God in ead of pleasing him ; and can look for no other answer but this, “ Who < hath required these things at your hand ?"

-This, my brethren, is very necessary to be attended to. There is hardly any man who maintains the profession of religion, who will not readily acknowledge, that we stand in great need of a reformation ; yet where is the man to be found who seems heartily disposed to contribute his assistance ? -When God is calling, “ Who will stand “ up for me against the evil doers ? Who “ will rise up for me against the workers of

iniquity ?" instead of replying, with the Prophet Isaiah, “ Lord, here am I, send me," we are rather inclined to say, each one for


[ocr errors]

himself, Lord, such another person is fitter for the work, send him; but I pray thee have me excused.--I shall be accounted a zealot, faith one, if I engage in this service: I shall offend my friends, faith another: A third pleads the doubtfulness of the event: A fourth kath fome worldly gain or preferment in view, and therefore it is too early to appear for God as yet; but he resolves, that after he hath got his aim in the service of the devil, then he will turn about, declare himself to be on the Lord's side, and confess him openly, when it can no longer hurt his secular interest. These maxims, however oddly they may found, are in reality the hinges upon which the bulk of nominal Christians turn: by these despicable rules do they square their conduct, in a matter which of all others, is the most weighty and interesting. Whereas the true mourner prefers the glory of God, and the interest of his kingdom, to every thing else. He is not governed by the low and flexible maxims of worldly policy; he doth not consult with flesh and blood, but makes the will of God, and the dictates of conscience,

« IndietroContinua »