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form; a Light shining out before Men, to enlarge the Interests of Godliness, and Truth!
In a Heart that is thus joyful in the Lord, and lifted
in Love to Him; there is something truly noble; and in this is our Dignity, that we are thus endued with Voice and Utterance to express the gratitude of the Creature, for the goodness manifested in the works of Nature and Grace! And as Speech was given to Man for this purpose, and to Man only, here below; were we to be Silent, this Earth which we inhabit would be a perfect Blank amid the harmony of God's works; or else dumb Nature would be stirred up to shame us for our apostacy.
Prayer, Praise and Supplication to God, are therefore, an holy Incense, made up of all devout affections; and the heart is thus taught, as it were, to beat Concert with heaven's own melody!
But our Prayers are not to be offered up for ourselves only;—“ We are to make Supplication for All Saints!"
The ancient Christians, my Brethren, were the Admiration of the whole world, for their Love to each other. They were not only fruitful in all good and social Offices, cherishing and assisting each other, when present; but they constantly remembered each other when apart, in their Supplications before the Throne of Grace.
And, truly Brethren, if we would consider our life in this world, in the same light in which the first Christians considered theirs, and as St. Paul considers it in the text; if we would look upon our life here, only as a State of Trial, as a Pilgrimage towards a better country; if we would always bear in mind the numerous Dangers, Difficulties and Temptations to which, as Men, we are all subject~then, indeed, we would be convinced that not only We Ourselves, but all our Fellow-travellers towards Heaven, stand in much need of divine assistance; and we could not help being earnest in Prayer and Supplication before God, that his assisting Grace and Spirit may be ever ready, not only for us, but for all who labour and aspire, after the attainment of everlasting glory!
In the last place, our apostle in the text, after recommending to the Ephesians to remember, in their Prayer, all Saints, or the whole Church of Christ, militant here on earth; intreats also their Prayers for Himself—" And for Me also, says he, that utterance may be given unto Me, that I may open my Mouth boldly, to make known the Mystery of the Gospel!" Brethren, if it be a Duty to remember the Whole Church of Christ, and to pray for all Saints—all true believers, its members; it is a particular Duty to be earnest in supplication for those who are called to Minister unto the Saints, and to instruct others! It is a matter of General Concern that they should be found Faithful, and should open their mouths boldly, to discharge their great Trust-a trust, no less than that of making known the Mystery of Gospel-Salvation!
This is a very important trust, indeed; and whoever will consider, that it is committed to Earthen Vessels, to poor frail Mortal Men, will think that they, of all others, stand in need of the Prayers, and Good-will, and Charity, and fervent Support, of Others!
For what are We, Brethren, the wisest and best of Us, (without relying upon, and imploring, divine Assistance) to charge ourselves with so mighty a Work, as that of training up immortal Souls for Eternity?
To make known unto them, the mystery of the Gospel—to open our Mouths boldly, and declare to the whole World, that no man can obtain Salvation, by the Works of the Law, and trusting to his own Righteousness—to convince and persuade them that Heaven is not our Birth-right; that we are not able to earn it of ourselves, that we cannot claim it by Virtue of our best Works; that we must seek it, as of Grace through the Merits of Christ; that we can do no acceptable Service, unless it proceeds from true motives of Love to God; and is referred to Him for Acceptance, in that new and better way which He hath pointed out; and further-To open our mouths, and declare boldly to the World that we must renounce all Ungodliness, that we must harbour no private Şin or offence, but that we must live Righteously and Soberly in the world;—In short, to make known the Terrors of the Law as well as the sweet Promises of the Gospel; to reprove Sin boldly, and as occasion requires; and to encourage
Virtue and Holiness—I say, to do all this, and to be ready thus to accommodate ourselves to the
ge. neral benefit of others, by a fit Choice and Manage. ment of Gospel-subjects and topics, requires no small Exertion, Vigilance and Care! But, above all, to
rise with Dignity, Plainness and Majesty in our Sermons, to the more lofty parts of the Gospel Schemeto display the Riches and Wonders of Redeeming Love; to launch forth into the boundless Scenes of Eternity-to lead the Meditations of men, beyond even Death and the Grave, and a Judgment to come, and to lift and enlarge their Souls to the brightening prospects of Heavenly Glory—these are vast and awful subjects! and whoever is called to treat of them, for the instruction of others, hath much need to Pray even his Hearers, as St. Paul did, for their Supplications at the Throne of Grace; that utterance may be given to them, and that they may open their Mouths boldly to make. known such divine Mysteries. It may be hoped also, that if, through human frailty, the Preachers of the Gospel are defective in any part of their duty, not owing to negligence or want of zeal, it may be gently veiled over for the Gospel's Sake; especially among the sober and pious part of every Christian Congregation!
Yet some there are, who, from the least fancied affront or injury, or from disappointment or difference in any worldly Matter, far from making any allowance for human frailty, far from forgiving any offence, as they would wish to be forgiven of God, will busy themselves to multiply offences; will stab and traduce the Characters of their Teachers, through the private Malignity of their own Heart; and, as if they were factors for Satan, will neither reap any benefit from the ordinances of religion themselves, nor suffer others to reap any! But this is a Spirit far different from what the Apostle enjoins to all Christians in the text, and I trust will never find a place among the members of our Church; but that your prayers will be constant for the success of the religion of Jesus, in what place, and by whomsoever, it is truly and faithfully preached!
Wherefore, then, trusting that such is the Spirit of all present; let us now conclude, in the words of part of our excellent Church-service; Most humbly “ beseeching Almighty God, who by His holy Apostle “ St. Paul, in the text, has taught us to make Prayers “ and Supplications, and to give Thanks for all men, " that he would inspire continually the universal “ Church (all true and professing Christians, of
every name, and every country) with the Spirit of “ Truth, Unity and Concord, that all who confess “his holy Name, may agree in the Truth of his holy “Word, and live in Peace and Godly Love;—That “ he would give grace to all the true Ministers of “ his Gospel; that, both by their lives and doctrines, “ they may truly set forth the same, and rightly and
duly administer its holy ordinances; so that all “ professing Christians, and especially we who are “ here present, may with meck Heart and due Re
verence hear and receive the same; truly serving “ God in holiness and righteousness all the days of “ our lives.”
May we all, as Fellow-Christians and FellowTravellers together through this Valley of Tears, this Wilderness of Sorrow, Weakness, Suffering and Sin, become so sensible of our mutual Wants, our mutual Infirmities, and our Need of Forgiveness from on High; that we may be constantly ready to