« VorigeDoorgaan »
motive to bring you. For "neither is he that "planteth any thing; neither he that watereth; "but God that giveth the increase." And we may be sure he will give it to those, who attend on his ordinances with pious minds: and we may justly expect, that he will withhold it from those, who, instead of coming, because it is their duty, come to hear this or that man discourse.
But then I must beseech you to observe at the same time, that as neither piety without morals, nor morals without piety, nor heathen piety without Christian, will suffice; so neither will the outward acts of any thing, without the inward principle of it; and the true principle is a reverent esteem and love of God. Other inducements may allowably be joined with this; but if this be not also joined with them, what we do may be prudence, may be virtue, but it is not religion; and therefore, however right, so far as it goes, doth not go far enough to entitle us to reward, or even to secure us from punishment; which nothing can more justly deserve, than to have little or no sense of filial affection to our heavenly Father, and of thankful love to our crucified Redeemer, and gracious Sanctifier, who have the highest right to the utmost regard that our souls are capable of feeling.
You must resolve, therefore, not only to be Christians externally in your lives, but internally in your hearts. And, let me remind you further, you will resolve on neither to good purpose, if you trust to yourselves alone for the performance. You will contrive, perhaps, great schemes of amendment and goodness, but you will execute very little of them; or you will do a good deal, it may be, in some particulars, and leave others, equally necessary, undone; or you will go on a while, and then fall, and when you thought you
(5) 1 Cor. iii. 7.
were surest of standing; or, what seeming progress soever you may make, you will ruin it all, by thinking too highly of yourselves for it: or some way or another you will certainly fail, unless the grace of God enable you, first to be deeply sensible of your own guilt and weakness; then to lay hold, by faith in Christ, on his promised mercy and help; in the strength of that help to obey his commands; and, after all, to know, that you are still "unprofitable servants."" Now this grace you
may certainly have, in whatever measure you want it, by earnest prayer for it, humble dependance upon it, and such honest and diligent use of the lower degrees of it, as he hath promised to reward with higher degrees; and you can have it no other way. If ever, therefore, when we exhort you to duties, moral or religious, we omit to mention the great duty of applying for strength from above to be given you, not for your own sakes, but that of your blessed Redeemer, in order to practise them, it is by no means because we think such application unnecessary; but because we hope you know it so well to be absolutely necessary, that we need not always remind you of it. But if we are, at any time, wanting to you in this respect, or any other, be not you therefore wanting to yourselves, but "work out your own salvation" from this motive, which alone will procure your success, that "God "" worketh in you both to will and to do. And I "pray God to sanctify you wholly, and preserve your whole spirit, soul, and body, blameless, "unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."3
Having said thus much to you in general, I desire you, children, to take notice of what I am going to say, in the last place, to you in particular. Your condition is of the lower kind, but your instruction hath been better than many of your su
(6) Luke xvii. 10.
(7) Phil. ii. 12, 13.
(8) Thess. v. 23.
periors have had. If therefore your behaviour be bad, your condemnation will be heavy; and if it be good, you may be to the full as happy, in this world and the next as if ever so high you were of rank. For true happiness comes only from doing cur duty, and none will ever come from transgressing it; but, whatever pleasure or profit sin may promise, they will soon turn into pain and loss. Remember, therefore, as long as you live, what you have been taught here. Remember particularly the answers to these two main questions; "What is thy duty towards God;" and "What "is thy duty towards thy neighbour?" And be assured, that unless you practise both, when you go hence to services and apprenticeships, all the money and labour that hath been spent on you, will be spent in vain; you will be a disgrace to the education and teaching that you have had: you will probably be very miserable here, and certainly so for ever hereafter. But, if you practise both, you will make an honest and grateful return for the kindness that you have received from your benefactors; which I hope you will never forget, but imitate, if God enables you to do it; you will be loved of your Maker and fellow-creatures; you will live in peace of mind; you will die with comfort, and be received into everlasting bliss.
Think, then, I entreat and charge you, seriously and often of these things. And, to remind your. selves of them more effectually, be diligent in reading such good books as are given you at your leaving school, or otherwise put into your hands; be constant in coming to church, on the Lord's days; at least such of you, as go away before you are confirmed, take the first opportunity, after you are fourteen, to apply to your minister, where ever you are, that you may be well instructed for that holy ordinance, and then admitted to it. Within a reasonable time after this, prepare your
selves, and desire him and your friends to assist in preparing you, to receive the Lord's Supper; con. cerning which you have heard very lately, how expressly it is required of all Christians, (a name that comprehends young as well as old) for the means of improving them in every thing that is good. And may God give his grace to you and to us all, that by the help of those means, with which he hath so plenteously favoured us, we may each of us improve daily in the knowledge of his truth, and the love of our duty, "till at length we come unto a perfect man, unto the measure "of the stature of the fullness of Christ."9
(9) Eph. iv. 13.
"Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."-ACTS viii. 17.
THE history, to which these words belong, is this. Philip the Deacon, ordained at the same time with St. Stephen, had converted and baptized the people of Samaria; which the Apostles at Jerusalem hearing, sent down to them Peter and John, two of their own body; who by prayer, accompanied with imposition of hands, obtained for them a greater degree, than they had yet received, of the sacred influence of the divine Spirit; which undoubtedly was done on their signifying in some manner, so as to be understood, their adherence to the engagement, into which they had entered at their baptism.
From this and the like instances of the practice of the Apostles, is derived, what Bishops, their successors, though every way beyond comparison inferior to them, have practised ever since, and which we now call Confirmation. Preaching was common to all ranks of ministers; baptizing was performed usually by the lower rank; but, perhaps to maintain a due subordination, it was reserved to the highest, by prayer and laying on of hands, to communicate further measures of the Holy Ghost. It was indeed peculiar to the Apostles, that on their intercession, his extraordinary