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I hope, I trust, and I pray to God, that all of you, who bear me, may have such a sense of your sins and wickedness, such a feeling that you must suffer for them unless you repent and are baptized in Christ, that you will all resolve this night to be christened in time, and that you will prepare yourselves for it by attending my instructions every Sunday evening, for the first wish of my heart, and my prayer to God is, that ye may all be Christians, and so live in this world, that your souls may be saved at the great, the terrible day of judgment.
And now to God, &c.
Sr. MATTHEW vi. 6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, which is in secret, and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
OUR blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ, now begins to tell his disciples and those who heard him, that they must not do good actions, or pray to God in order to be praised by men, but to please God, who sees every thing that is done in secret, and rewards openly and publicly. He tells them that, when they did alms, that is, gave away any thing in charity, they were not to sound a trumpet before them, as the hypocrites did in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory or praise of men. Verily I say unto you, our Saviour says, they have their reward. Thou wilt praise them, it is true, and say, they are good people, and this is the reward they seek, and this is the only reward they will have. They will have no reward from their Father, which is in Heaven. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: do it privately and secretly, not seeking the praise of men, but do it, because it is a duty, and God orders it, and will be pleased with you for doing it, that thine alms may be in secret, and thy heavenly Father, which seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly. He tells them too, when they pray, not to love to do so standing in the streets, and seeking that others may see them, and say, how good and religious these people are: this is vile hypocrisy, and they, who pray to God, not to please him and to seek his favour, but to be thought highly of by men : these have their reward in this world in being praised, they have no reward from their Father which is in Heaven. But thou, says our Saviour, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, which is in secret, and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. My friends and hearers, it is highly necessary and right to cantion you and every body else against being vain-glorious, and boastful, seeking praise from men. We generally like to be thought well of by people we know, and we wish them to praise us. And perhaps, it is pleasant to us, and may be useful to get this their liking and their praise. But still we are not to do any thing good, and abstain from any thing bad, in order to get their good-will and praise. No, we are to be good and religious, we are to give our alms, and pray to God, because God orders us to do so, and we wish to please him. We wish for his favour, we wish him to be pleased with us: we regard his good liking, better than that of all the world besides : and, my friends, if we seek his favour, he will know that we do so, for he seeth in secret, and knoweth all hearts, and he will reward us before angels and before men. We are all bound to held and assist each other, being all of us poor, helpless, and dependent beings. And although you, my friends, cannot be expected to give away , sums of money, yet it may be in your power to give some relief to other negroes poorer and more in want than yourselves. You who are strong may assist the weak with your labour, you may some of you be able to give some food to the hungry, some garment to the naked; and, remember, that if you do these good acts, not to be seen by men, but to please, serve, and obey your Heavenly Father, who commands all of us, his creatures, to help each other, your Saviour tells you, that God will see what you do, and reward you for it. Again : we are weak, ignorant, and helpless: God is powerful, wise and, strong: