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Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope •
ACTS ix. 4.
Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?..
Who then can be saved?
ACTS xi. 23.
Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad
In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us ...
2 PET. iii. 14.
Be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace•••••
ACTS xvi. 14.
1 PET. i. 16.
Be ye holy, for I am holy..
Whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul
HOSEA Viii. 2.
Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee....... 159 SERMON XX.
ROM. viii. 28.
We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his nurpose
2 TIM. ii. 7. Consider what I say.
THE venerable apostle, being now such a one as Paul the aged, addresses himself to Timothy as his own son in the faith, on the important work of the ministry; and in doing this, he calls up his attention, and places the solemn charge full before him. But if that which related to the salvation of others demanded so much serious consideration, surely that which concerns our own salvation can do no less; and if that depends on the belief of the truth, it can no less depend on the attention we pay to truth. The best instruction may be lost upon us for want of it, and we may read and hear in vain. It becomes us therefore diligently to attend to what is spoken, and so to "consider" it as to ponder it in our hearts, and weigh the matter well.
Confining our remarks at present to our hearing the word, we shall first notice-the manner in which we are to consider it-and secondly, the motives which should lead to it.
1. Shew in what manner we are to hear the word.
1. Consider well the matter or import of what is spoken. Whether it be doctrinal or practical, whether it proclaims the terrors of the law or the glorious grace of the gospel, whether it relates to things generally
believed, or in some degree doubtful, of greater or less importance, it ought to be well considered by us. When Baruch the scribe read the words of Jeremiah to the king, he attended to three or four leaves of it, and then took the roll and cast the whole of it into the fire. (Jer. xxxvi. 23.) Thus too many do by a sermon they hear till they meet with something that disgusts them, and then all the rest is rejected. Some little incorrectness or inadvertency; or it may be some sen timent which militates against their preconceived opinions, awakens their prejudices, renders the whole unprofitable, and turns the food into poison. Let i not be so with you; but "consider what I say."
2. Attend to the truth and propriety of what is deli vered. "The ear trieth words, as the mouth tastet meat;" and if we be circumcised in heart and ears, we shall try the spirits of men whether they be of God and the doctrine they preach, whether it be according to godliness. "Itching ears" are forbidden, but try ing ears are commanded. One and another may speal to us in the name of the Lord, and this and that may b affirmed as true; but it becomes us, like the nobl Bereans, to search the scriptures daily, whether thes things be so or not. The bible is the only standard o truth; and if any man speak, let him speak as the ora cles of God. Let us consider what we hear, and con sult our own understanding; but let us not make tha the test of truth, but employ it as the means of ascer taining what is, and what is not, agreeable to the un erring word. Reason must never go alone, but tak the scriptures for her guide, and then she may walk in safety." In thy light we shall see light;" but with out this we are all in darkness. The right of pri vate judgment has been too often denied, and th duty too much neglected, but both are sanctione by the word of truth. "Let the prophets speak, tw or three, and let the others judge. In matters a faith and worship, the apostles themselves disclaime
all authority: "Not that we have dominion over your faith," says Paul; "but are helpers of your joy." Whatever be our affection and esteem for him who speaks, our assent to what he delivers must only be proportioned to the evidence he may bring to support it. As God has given him a mouth to speak, so he has also given us an understanding to judge. We must therefore take nothing upon trust; but " try all things, and hold fast that which is good." 1 Cor. xiv. 29. 2 Cor. i. 24.
3. Consider the weight and importance of what is delivered. All divine truth is important, but every part of it is not alike so. There are principles which ie at the foundation, and affect the salvation of our souls; these therefore claim our highest consideration. The work of a faithful minister is no light concern: when he has addressed God in your name, he then addresses you in God's name. Having to deal with you about your immortal souls, an invisible and future state, he may well say with Moses, "Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify unto you this day; for it is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life." (Deut. xxxii. 47.) Hearing the word is a divine ordinance, and the manner of hearing should correspond with its end and design; and this is not to gratify our curiosity, nor merely to inform the understanding, but to purify our hearts and regulate our lives. Every sermon we hear will either be to us a savour of life unto life, or a savour of death unto death. If the gospel be not the power of God unto salvation, it will both justify and aggravate our condemnation, and prove a sore judgment where it is not received as a special mercy. Hence the great Teacher and pattern of all other teachers so frequently used that solemn warning-" He that hath ears to hear, let him hear! Let him diligently weigh what he hears, and carefully understand and improve it.
4. Consider the personal concern you have in the truths delivered. We must hear for ourselves, and not