« AnteriorContinuar »
perusal. Speaking of this visiting from house to house, he says, (p. 351,) “We shall find many hinderances, both in ourselves and the people.” 1. In ourselves there is much dullness and laziness, so that there will be much ado to get us to be faithful in the work. 2. We have a base, man-pleasing temper, so that we let people perish rather than lose their love; we let them go quietly to hell lest we should offend them. 3. Some of us have also a foolish bashfulness. We know not how to begin, and blush to contradict the devil. 4. But the greatest hinderance is weakness of faith. Our whole motion is weak, because the spring of it is weak. 5. Lastly, we are unskillful in the work. How few know how to deal with men, so as to get within them, and suit all our discourse to their several conditions and témpers; to choose the fittest subjects and follow them with a holy mixture of seri. ousness, terror, love, and meekness!
| 136. But undoubtedly this private application is implied in those solemn words of the apostle: “I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing, preach the word; be instant in
season, out of season; reprove, revuke, exhort, with all long-suffering."
| 137. O brethren, if we could but set this work on foot in all our Societies, and prosecute it zealously, what glory would redound to God! If the common lukewarmness were banished, and every shop, and every house, busied in speaking of the word and works of God, surely God would dwell in our habitations, and make us his delight.
1 138. And this is absolutely necessary to the welfare of our people, some of whom neither repent nor believe to this day. Look around, and see how many of them are still in apparent danger of damnation. And how can you walk, and talk, and be merry with such people, when you know their case ? When you look them in the face, you should break forth into tears, as the prophet did when he looked upon Hazael, and then set on them with the most vehement exhortations. O, for God's sake, and the sake of poor souls, bestir yourselves, and spare no pains that may conduce to their salvation! What cause have we to bleed be. fore the Lord that we have so long neglected this good work! If we had but
engaged in it sooner, how many more might have been brought to Christ! And how much holier and happier might our Societies have been before now! And why might we not have done it sooner ? There were many hinderances; and so there always will be. But the greatest hinderance is in ourselves, in our littleness of faith and love.
T 139. But it is objected :
§ 1. “This will take up so much time that we shall not have leisure to follow our studies." We answer, 1. Gaining knowledge is a good thing, but saving souls is a better. 2. By this very thing you will gain the most excellent knowledge, that of God and eternity. 3. You will have time for gaining other knowledge too. Only sleep no more than you need; "and never be idle, or triflingly employed.” But, 4. If you can do but one, let your studies alone. We ought to throw by all the libraries in the world, rather than be guilty of the loss of one soul.
§ 2. “The people will not submit to it.” If some will not, others will. And the success with them will repay all your labor. O let us herein follow the ex
ample of St. Paul! 1. For our general business, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind: 2. Our special work, Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock: g. Our doctrine, Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ : 4. The place, I have taught you publicly, and from house to house : 5. The object and manner of teaching, I ceased not to warn every one night and day, with tears : 6. His innocence and self-denial herein, I have coveted no man's silver or gold: 7. His patience, Neither count I my life dear unto myself. And among all other motives let these be ever before our eyes: (1) The Church of God, which he hath purchased, with his own blood : (2) Gricoous wolves shall enter in; yea, of yourselves shall men arise, speaking perverse things.
1140. Write this upon your hearts, and it will do you more good than twenty years' study. Then you will have no time to spare: you will have work enough. Then likewise no preacher will stay with us who is as salt that has lost its savor. For to such this employment would be mere drudgery. And in order to it, you will have need of all the knowledge you can procure, and grace you can attain.
T141, The sum is, Go into every house in course, and teach every one therein, young and old, to be Christians inwardly and outwardly; make every particular plain to their understandings; fix it in their minds; write it on their hearts. In order to this, there must be precept upon precept, line upon line. What patience, what love, what knowledge is requisite for this! We must needs do this, were it only to avoid idleness. Do we not loiter away many hours in every week ? Each try himself; no idleness is consistent with a growth in grace. Nay, without exactness in redeeming time, you cannot retain the grace you receive in justification,
T142. Why are we not more holy? why do we not live in eternity walk with God all the day long? why are we not all devoted to God ? breathing the whole spirit of missionaries ? Chiefly because we are enthusiasts; looking for the end without using the means. To touch only upon two or three instances : Who of us rise at four or even at five, when we do not preach? Do we know the obligation and benefit of fasting or abstinence? How often do we practice it? The neglect of