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favour. The reason is, they have never had the work of humiliation deep enough on their spirits.
2. When the simplicity of gospel-worship is forsaken, and is adulterated with men's inventions, Matth. xv. 2. 2 Cor. xi. 3. And even thus the idolatry of the mass, and the superstitious service of the church of England, have dared to set up their face, with the countenance of not a few, in a land of light. England once had the simplicity of gospelworship established among them. Had it not been so far received in vain, they had not sit down again on their old dregs; and had our rulers had a due regard to the simplicity of the gospel, they had not in their union with them, consented to their fixing themselves on these dregs of theirs, contrary to moral duty forbidding to consent to sin, and to the superadded obligation of the covenant. And it may be, were the temptation laid to our doors, it would appear that we have received the gospel in vain too. For when once people decline from God's institutions, and obtrude their fancies for Bible duties, it is hard to say how far they may go. But beware of this. Let us be spiritual in our walk with God; it is the best preservative that I know against it.
3. When they are ashamed to appear for it, and have not a brow to keep and hold fast what the Lord has given. In vain is it received, that people have no confidence to hold fast when they have it, Rev. iii. 11. How many are ashamed of gospel truths and ways! they will be gibed out of them. We must contend for the faith; and this is a day wherein the Lord seems to be calling this church to contend for those privileges which he has given her, and none have power to take from her, particularly that of appointing fasts and thanksgivings; though we should manage our contendings in such a way as becomes the matters of the God of order. Prayers, tears, and the word of their testiinony, are the most proper arms of the church.
4. When the gospel cannot look gross immoralities out of countenance among people. Surely in vain is it there received where the devil reigns at ease notwithstanding, Luke xix. 8, 9. Truly much in vain is the gospel received among us this way.
Ah ! Sirs, is it not so when profane swearing is so frequent, Sabbath-breaking, contempt of gospel-ordinances, uncleanness, every one devouring another, lying, cheating, abound, and common honesty is rare to be found? &c.
Truly it is a sign that there is little power with ministers preaching, and little room it gets in people's hearts.
5. When it leaves professors upon their dregs of formality, as well as the profane in their profanity. It is but cold entertainment the gospel gets when it gets room once or twice à-day in people's houses, but has no access to their hearts, to raise up there the power of godliness ; truly it will never set them the length of heaven, 2 Tim. iii. 5. Ah for the deep lethargy that this generation is fallen into! conversion work is much at a stand, soul-exercise is grown a stranger to the most part; there is no growth but in naughtiness and self-conceit.
6. When gospel-ordinances and gospel-ministers are contemned. Were not the gospel received in vain, the house where his honour dwells, and the galleries where he walks, would be prized; and the feet of them that bear the glad tidings would be precious. But, alas! all is contrary here. His ordinances are trampled upon, his servants are discou. faged, and broken on every hand. Few want brow enough to break over the awful hedge that God has set about them; • He that despiseth you, despiseth me.' We are as little troubled with the scrupulous in coming to us for information from the word concerning different practices, as with cases of soul-exercise.
7. When they are not thankful for it. The Lord hath done great things for us; but the generation is waxed wanton, so as there seems to be a sort of fondness to see the church in confusion again. Well, come when it will, it is like we will cool of that heat, and learn to prize what is now lightly let of.
8. Lastly, Most of all when Christ is not received by faith into the soul, Matth. xxii. Were there never so much strict ness of life, mortification, reeling amongst the affections, and this be wanting, all is to no purpose. Unbelief, or rejecting of Christ, is the great quarrel that God pursues in time and eternity against the hearers of the gospel. But, ah! is not the preaching of Christ sapless at this day? are not our eyes held, that we cannot behold his glory. he is despised and ejected of men still.
I shall conclude with an improvement of this subject: Take heed ye receive nor the grace of God, the gospel
vain. Two things ye would especially take heed to in this matter.
1. Take heed the gospel leave you not still out of Christ. It is certain, (1.) That the gospel finds people growing upon the old stock, and out of Christ, Ezek. xvi. (2.) That without Christ men are without hope: let them profess or be what they will, if they be not ingrafted into Christ, they are nothing, Eph. ii. 12. John xv. 6. (3.) That the gospel is the great mean appointed of God to bring sinners to Christ, the ministry of reconciliation, 2 Cor. v. 18. It is by this that sinners are brought to the marriage of the King's Son, Matth. xxii. O take heed ye receive not the gospel in vain. The cry, Cant. iii. 2. ult. Go forth, Oye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart,' is come to your ears ; beware ye sit not still. These invitations, Psal. xxiv. 7. • Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in ;' and Rev. iii. 20. Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me ;' beware they leave you not so. There is a treasure in this field, one pearl of great price in this market, and it is in
is in your offer. 2. Take heed it leave you not without a saving change in your hearts and lives. It is impossible you can be saved without this, John iii. 3. · Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Heb. xi. 14. And this gospel is the mean of it, i Pet. i. 23, 24, 25. Faithful mi. nisters will be in pain till Christ be formed in people, Gal. iv. 19. What is their preaching, beseeching, exhorting, &c. but pains to bring forth? But, alas ! we may sit down with that, Isa. xxvi. 18. · We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind, we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth, neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. O for that day when that promise shall be accomplished, ver. 19.• Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shallthey arise: awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.' And this is a change that must be carrying on while here, Eph. iv. 21. and that by the same means it was begun, unless ye receive VOL. III.
the grace of God in vain, John xv. 2. O! Sirs, what branches of the old man is this knife snedding off; what hellish weeds is the gospel in its ordinary preaching to you plucking up? Sure they are not wanting in our hearts and lives, and sure there will be some execution doing on them, if ye receive not the gospel in vain.
Dear friends, God has sent you the gospel, and has set up his ordinances among you; despise not the treasure, because it is in such an earthen vessel. I would fain see the gospel doing good, a day of God's power to Ettrick again. I dare not think I have been altogether useless here: but truly, when I look upon the case of this parish in general, and on the success of my ministry in it, my heart sinks, being afraid that I have bestowed labour in vain, yea, worse than merely in vain: and God, though most justly, has dealt bitterly with me, and put a heavy, heavy piece of work in my hand. But O that the doleful effects of this reached no farther than to me! O that it were well with you, though my eyes were held not to see it for my comfort! But the works of the flesh are manifest, and continue and grow under a preached gospel, to which the appetite is lost, while the beauty and glory of practical godliness is under a dreadful vail amongst us. i would not willingly stand in the way
your mercy; but if I be indeed the stumbling-block that lies between you and Christ and the power of godliness, I pray the Lord may remove that block out of your way, what way he thinks best, that another face for Christ, for the gospel and true godliness, might be put upon the parish of Ettrick. But stand I must in my post, till he that set me in it call me off; and I desire to be doing while it is to-day, ere the night come on when there shall be no more working. Wonder not that this matter is laid out with this weight: We are workers together with God, and therefore have need to blush and be humbled, that we cannot be more deeply concerned that ye receive not the grace of God in vain
of God in vain. Consider, 1. We are workers with God. It is not our own but our Lord's work that we are about. God has made our
* The author here plainly alludes to the distracted state of the parish, and the sea of trouble he was tofsed in, on account of the ppmanageable spirit of the parishioners, ted by the malignant leaven which the Old Dir. senters spread through it, and of which he repeatedly, and heavily complains in his Memoirs.
Lord and Master heir of all things, and he has sent us forth to court a spouse for him. There is none than can say so much to the commendation of their Lord as we may : for he is white and ruddy, the chief among ten thousand, yea, he is altogether lovely; and there is no bride so unworthy as the daughter of Zion. And shall our Lord get the naysay off the hands of ugly, hell-hụed, beggarly souls, and the prince of darkness be preferred to the Prince of Peace ? Our Lord has got the gift of the kingdom from his Father, and of this land among others, Psal. ii. 8. and he has sent us out to beseech you and command you in his name to sub- . mit to our royal Master ; and must we take him word, that ye will not have this man to reign over you ? Luke xix. 14.
2. God works with us. We are but the voice of one crying; the Speaker is in heaven, and speaks from heaven, though by men, Heb. xii. 25. Therefore the slighting of our message is a slighting of the Lord himself; See Matth. xxviii, 20. •Lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world.' Have ye never' had the secrets of your hearts made manifest by the preaching of the word? why then fall ye not down before our Lord ? why say ye not, We will go with you, for the Lord is with you? O fight not against God.
3. The message we bring you is the grace of God; and shall it be received in vain ? This gospel,
(1.) Is most necessary grace. What a dismal darkness overclouded the world by Adam's fall, more terrible than if the sun, moon, and stars, had been for ever wrapt up in the blackness of darkness, in which we should for ever have lain, had not this grace appeared as a shining sun to dispel it, Tit. q. 11. So the word rendered appeared properly signifies." And shall we now like night-owls flee from the face of the rising sun, and like wild beasts get into our hellish dens, when this sun is up? Are we struck blind with its light, and such creatures of darkness, that we will love dark. ness rather than light?
(2.) It is an uncommon grace. This sun enlightens but a small part of the world. The most part are yet without the gospel; and this land had it not always. Nothing but grace brought it to, and has kept it with us. And shall we receive it in vain? Ah? will not the wild Americans think us unworthy of a place in the same hell with them?