« PreviousContinue »
she' Seal of his Commission: whereas Sermon
Preaching is the Commission itself: And ^-y-\j therefore, the outward Evidence and Authority of Christianity being once established, the Work of Conversion was thenceforward to rest upon Preaching, by a standing Ordinance in the Church of Christ for ever.
- JiBut the carnal Reasoner, ever wise in his own Conceit, will be ready to ask, If Reading will not do the Business full as well ? Are there not as good Sermons in Print, as any that are Preached? And therefore, may we not receive as good Improvement in our Closets, as at Church?
I answer, that Reading even the best Books, however excellent a Means of Knowledge in its proper Place, will not do so well under the Neglect ofGospelPreaching, where People have the Opportunity of attending on it. We have no Warrant to set up this or that Method of Improvement, in Opposition to a Divine Command. Faith and Grace are the free Gifts of God, which he will bestow upon his ownTefms: And if he has been pleased to annex these to Preaching, in Conjunc
L 2 tion
Sermon tion with other Ordinances, what hail UttStr \s~Y\- to reply? Follow God in his own Wayy if thou hopest to obtain the Blessing.
When EUJha directed Naanian to go
ancs wash in "Jordan seven Times, with
a Promise that he mould be cleansed of
. liis Leprosy, the conceited Syrian, like
these Self-Willers, was for being Healed
i Kings \'.h is own Way, or not at all.' Are iict, fays
he, Abana and Thar par Rivers of Damascus
'fretUt than all the Waters of Israel? And
better Rivers perhaps they might be; but
yet he might have washed in them Seventy
Times Seven, and not have found his Cure.
'In like Manner, the Three Thousand that
''were converted on the Day of Pentecost,
"nhd" the P.imtich that was going down to
.'ÆtBiopiqm his Char rot, might have read
irll their Lives long, without attaining to
a saving Knowledge of Jesus Christ, if
lie had not' brought the former to hear
'St. Peter, and sent Philip to preach to the
'latter. *.' *
But to come to the particular Effect
which St. Peters Preaching had upon
his Hearers, as expressed in the Veffe of
;the'Text .: Tbeywere pricked in their Heart,
'- ^ and end said unto Bet er, and to the rest cf $/'$?*"?" Apostles, Men and Brethren, what stall we ^\-^j Jos ;'..-..
r.T. An undiscerning Reader may be led by
Sermon on Account of their being Jews, but Sin^-ySohers; and as such, liable to the Wrath and Vengeance of Almighty God: And the inward Remorse and Anguish of Soul which they felt at this Time, was the Power of the Spirit of God working in them j whose Office we are told it is, to John xvi, convince the World of Sin. It was a Stroke 8- of the fame Sword, which smote St. Paul
to the Heart at his Conversion, when trembling and ajlonisted he first owned Christ Acts ix. 6. for his Saviour, and cried out, Lord, What wilt thou have me to do? And which, upon the like Occasion, pierced the Jailer to the Quick, when he so hastily addressed Acts xvi. Paul and Silas in the Prison, with, Sirs, 3°' What must I do to be saved? Nor is the Spirit less mighty in its Operations n6w, than 'it was then: The Word of God is still quick and powerful, and when sertt home to the Heart by an Impulse of Divine Grace, does as fully convince, and effectually reform, as if it came out of the Mouth of St. Peter or St. Paul.
And here I am led to speak a Word of sudden Conversions. It must jndeed be alJpwed, that Cases of this Nature are not
so frequent now, as they were in the Times se*mo» .of the Apostles. — They might then be u/*y>j Necessary to answer the Design of the 'speedy Propagation of Christianity; and the Rapidity of the Progress which the Gospel made upon its first Entrance into the World, afforded, among many others, a strong Proof of its Divinity.— Besides, the Benefit of an early v Education in the Principles of the Christian Religion, and constant Opportunities of attending on the Means of Grace, are Advantages which we enjoy, but they did not: And therefore it is, that the Business of Religion is now suffered to be carried on by more gradual Advances in the Soul, and as it were Step by Step j whereas Numbers of them were usually proselyted to the Faith at cjie Time by a single Sermon: So that fie Kingdom of God, or the Coming of the Son tf Man in the Gospel Dispensation, might well be compared to Lightning, Matth. which cometb out of the East, and jhineth even unto the Weft; so quickly did the Light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, coming from the Eastern, diffuse itself over the Western Parts of the World. — But tho5 .>\ L 4 'it