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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 amply 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.
Psalm li. 18.
Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls
There is an advice becoming the wisdom of Solomon, in Eccles. 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.” To 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 the truth of every word which we utter before him, and challenge his omniscience to take cognizance, whether what we say doth not express the real sentiments and desires of our hearts. I say, the desires of our hearts ; for these, and not the language in which we clothe them, are our prayers to God. Nay, the better the words are which we use in prayer, the more insolent is the profanation, if they are not animated by the desires which they ought to express. Too many are apt to imagine, that they have succeeded well in the exercises of devotion, if they have been able to address God by his proper titles, and to recollect those words, indited by the Spirit of God, in which holy men of old expressed their desires, and which they committed to writing, for the use of the church. But they do not consider, that the' very end for which those accepted prayers were recorded, was to regulate our hearts, instead of directing our lips; and that it is our most immediate business, when such petitions occur to our minds, to try our hearts by them, that we may truly feel what they express, before we adventure to present them to God.
It is the character of hypocrites, whom God abhorreth, that they “ draw near to him with their mouths, and honour him with their lips, while their hearts are far from him.” This is to add abuse and insult to all their other sins ; and those prayers which have proceeded from feigned lips, will, in the great day of judgment, stop the mouths of transgressors more effectually, than all the other offences with which they shall be found chargeable.
The articles of a man's belief may not always be present to his mind; or at least the practical inferences which may justly be drawn from them, may not be all so obvi. ous, as to command luis uniform attention. To counter: act indeed a plain and positive law, is such flagrant rebellion as admits of no excuse : and yet even in this case, the sinner may pretend to plead, in alleviation of his crime, that the law appeared to hini so strict and rigorous, that he could not bring his mind to consent to its denands.
But what evasion can a man find for contradicting his own prayers? Or what shall he be able to answer, when God shall say to him, “ Out of thine own mouth do I condemn thee, thou wicked servant ?” Every request which we make to God, is not only an explicit declaration, that we highly esteem, and ardently desire the benefits we ask, but likewise implies an obligation on our part, to put ourselves in the way of receiving what we ask, and to use all the means in our own power to obtain it. When therefore we do not endeavour to obtain the blessings which we ask, we plainly declare that we do not heartily desire them. And by asking what we do not desire to obtain, we make it evident that we are presumptuous dissemblers, who use greater freedom with the all-perfect Being, than we dare to use with any of our fellow mortals, who is possessed of sufficient
power to resent such unworthy and abusive treatment.
I have just now read to you a prayer of the royal Psalmist, which none of us, I suppose, will hesitate to adopt. It consists of two distinct petitions: the one respecting the spiritual, the other the temporal prosperity of the people over which the providence of God had placed him. And it will readily occur to you, that both these important interests of the nation to which we belong, are recommended to our attention in the royal proclamation which hath brought us together this day * What I propose in the following discourse, is to make a few remarks,
First, On the matter of David's prayer.
Secondly, On the order observed in the petitions contained in it.
Thirdly, On the temper of mind with which this prayer appears to have been accompanied. I will then shew what is incumbent on those who address the same requests to God, in order to prove the uprightness of their hearts, and that they sincerely wish to obtain what they ask.
I begin with the matter of David's prayer. good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem."
The first of these petitions hath an obvious reference to the tribes of Israel, considered in their spiritual state, as a religious community, or the true church of God. To
* Preached December 12. 1776, being the first public Fast after the commencement of the American war.