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undeniably proves the contrary. While the former Society for Reformation of Manners consisted of chosen members only, though neither many, rich, nor powerful, they broke through all opposition, and were eminently successful in every branch of their undertaking; but when a number of men, less carefully chosen, were received into that Society, they grew less and less useful, till, by insensible degrees, they dwindled into nothing.
2. The number therefore of the members is no more to be attended to, than the riches or eminence. This is a work of God. It is undertaken in the name of God, and for his sake. It follows, that men who neither love nor fear God have no part or lot in this matter. “Why takest thou my covenant in thy mouth;” may God say to any of these; -- whereas thou [thyself] latest to be reformed, and hast cast my words behind thee?” Whoever, therefore, lives in any known sin, is not fit to engage in reforming sinners: More especially if he is guilty in any instance, or in the least degree, of profaning the name of God; of buying, selling, or doing any unnecessary work on the Lord's Day; or offending in any other of those instances, which this Society is peculiarly designed to reform. No: let none who stands himself in need of this reformation, presume to medille with such an undertaking. First let him “pull the beam out of his own eve:” Let him be hinself unblumeable in all things.
3. Not that this will suffice: Every one engaging herein, should be more than a harmless man. He should be a man of Faith ; having at least such a degree of that “evidence of things not scen,” as to aim “not at the things that are seen, wbich are temporal, but at those that are not scen, which are cternal;” such a faith as produces a steady fear of God, with a lasting resolution, by his grace, to abstain from all that he has forbidden, and to do all that he has commanded. He will more especially need that particular branch of faith, Confidence in God. It is this faith which “removes mountains ; ” which “ quenches the violence of fire;” which breaks through all opposition ; and enables one to stand against and “chase a thousand,” knowing in whom his strength lies, and, even when he has the “sentence of death in himself, trusting in Him who raiseth the dead.”
4. He that has faith and confidence in God, will of consequence be a man of Courage. And such it is highly icedful every man should be, who engages in this undertaking : for many things will occur in the prosecution thereof, which are terrible to nature; indeed, so terrible, that all who “confer with flesh and blood,” will be afraid to encounter them. Here, therefore, true courage has its proper place, and is necessary in the highest degree. And this, faith only can supply. A believer can say,
“I fear no denial; no danger I fear;
Nor start from the trial; for Jesus is near.” . 5. To courage, Patience is nearly allied; the one regarding future, the other present evils. And whoever joins in carrying on a design of this nature, will have great occasion for this. For, notwithstanding all his unblameableness, he will fiud himself just in Ishmael's situation, “his hand against every man, and every man's hand against him.” And no wonder : If it be true, that “all who will live godly shall suffer persecution,” how eminently must this be fulfilled in them, who, not content to live godly themselves, compel the ungodly to do so tov; or, at least, to refrain from notorious ungodliness ? Is not this declaring war against all the world ? Setting all the children of the Devil at defiance? And will not Satan himself, “the prince of this world, the ruler of the darkness ” thereof, exert all his subtlety, and all his force, in support of his tottering kingdom ? Who can expect the roaring lion will tamely submit to have the prey plucked out of his teeth? “Ye have (therefore] need of patience; that, after ye have done the will of God, ye may receive the promise.”
6. And ye have need of Steadiness, that ye may “ hold fast [this] profession of your faith, without wavering.” This also should be found in all that unite in this Society; which is not a task for a “ double-minded man,”—for one that is “unstable in his ways.” He that is as a reed shaken with the wind, is not fit for this warfare; which demands a firm purpose of soul, a constant, determined resolution. One that is wanting in this, may “set his hand to the plough ;” but how soon will he “look back ?" He may, indeed, “endure for a time; but when persecution, or tribulation,” public or private troubles, arise, because of the work, “inmediately he is offended.”
7. Indeed, it is hard for any to persevere in so unpleasing a work, unless Love overpowers both pain and fear. And therefore it is highly expedient, that all engaged therein have “ the Love of God shed abroad in their hearts; ” that they should all be able to declare, “ We love Him, because He first loved us." The presence of Him, whom their soul loveth, will then make their labour light. They can then say, pot from the wildness of a beated imagination, but with the utmost truth anu sobcrness;
“ With thee conversing, I forget
All time, and toil, and care:
While thou, my God, art here." 8. What adds a still greater sweetness, even to labour and pain, is the christian “ Lore of our Neighbour.” When they “ love their neighbour,” that is, every soul of man, “as them. selves,” as their own souls; when “the love of Christ constrains” them to love one another, “eren as He loved us ;” when, as He“ tasted death for every man,'' so they are “ ready to lay down their life for their brethren ;” (including in that number every man, every soul for which Christ died ;) what prospect of danger will then be able to fright them from their “labour of love?” What suffering will they not be ready to uudergo, to save one soul from everlasting burnings ? What continuance of labour, disappointment, pain, will vanquish their fixed resolution ? Will they not be
«« 'Gainst all repulses steeld, nor ever tir'd
With toilsome day, or ill-succeeding night?" So love both “hopethi” and “cndureth all things :" So “charity never faileth.”
9. Love is necessary for all the members of such a Society, on another account likewise ; even because “it is not puffed up :” it produces not only courage and patience, but Humility. And ( how needful is this for all who are so employed ! What can be of more importance, than that they should be little, and mean, and base, and vile, in their own eyes ? For otherwise, should they think themselves any thing, should they impute any thing to themselves, should they admit any thing of a pharisaic spirit, “trusting in themselves that they are righteous, and despising others ;” nothing could more directly tend to overthrow the whole design. For then they would not only have all the world, but also God himself, to contend with; seeing, He “ resistcth the proud, and giveth grace (only) to the humble.” Deeply conscious, therefore, should every member of this Society be, of his own foolishness, weakness, helplessness; continually hanging, with his whole soul, upon Hina who alone hath wisdom and strength, with
an unspeakable conviction, that.“ the help which is done upon earth, God doeth it himself,” and that it is He alone who “worketh in us, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure."
10. One point more, whoever engages in this design should have deeply impressed on his heart; namely, that “ the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” Let him therefore, learn of Him who was meck, as well as lowly; and let him abide in Meekness, as well as humility: “With all lowliness and meekness," let him “ walk worthy of the vocation wherewith he is called.” Let him be “gentle toward all men,” good or bad, for his own sake, for their sake, for Christ's sake. Are any “iguorant, and out of the way?” Let him have a compassion” upon them. Do they even, oppose the word and the work of God, yea, set themselves in battle-array against it? So much the more hath he need “in meekness to instruct those who thus oppose themselves," if haply they may “escape out of the spare of the Devil,” and no more be “taken captive at his will."
IV. 1. From the qualifications of those who are proper to engage in such an undertaking as this, I proceed to show, Fourtbly, with what Spirit, and in what Manner, it ought to be pursued. First, with what Spirit. Now this first regards the Motive, which is to be preserved in every step that is taken; for, if at any time “the light which is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness ! But if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” This is, therefore, continually to be remembered, and carried into every word and action. Nothing is to be spoke or done, either great or small, with a view to any temporal advantage; nothing with a view to the favour or esteem, the love or the praise, of men. But the intention, the eye of the mind, is always to be fixed on the glory of God, and good of man.
2. But the spirit with which everything is to be done, regards the Temper as well as the motive. And this is no other than that which has been described above. For the same courage, patience, steadiness, which qualify a man for the work, are to be exercised therein. Above all, let him “take the shield of faith :" this will quench a thousand fiery darts. Let him exert all the faith which God has given brim, in every trying hour. And let all his doings be done in love: never let this be wrested from him. Neither must many waters quench this love, nor the floods of ingratitude drown it. Let, likewise, that lowly mind be in him, which was also in Christ Jesus;
yea, iud let him “be clotbed with humility,” filling his heart, and adorning his whole behaviour. At the same time, let him “put on bowels of mercies, gentleness, longsuffering ;” avoiding the least appearance of malice, bitteruess, anger, or resentment; knowing it is our calling, not to be “ overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good.” In order to preserve this humble, gentle love, it is needful to do all things with recollection of spirit; watching against all hurry, or dissipation of thonght, as well as against pride, wrath, or surliness. But this can be no otherwise preserved than by “continuing instant in prayer,” both before and after he comes into the Ticke, and during the whole action; and by doing all in the spirit of sacrifice, cisering all to God, through the Son of his Love.
3. As to the outward Manner of acting, a general rule is, Let it be expressive of these inward tempers. But to be more particular : Let every man beware, Not to “do evil that good may come.” Therefore, “putting away all lying, let every man speak the truth to his neighbour.” Use no fraud or guile, cither in order to detect or to punish any man; but “ by simplicity and godly sincerity, commend yourself to men's consciences in the sight of God.” It is probable that, by your adhering to these rules, sewer offenders will be convicted; but so much the more will the blessing of God accompany the whole undertaking.
4. But let invocence be joined with Prudence, properly so called ;- not that offspring of hell, which the world calls prudence, which is mere craft, cunning, dissimulation ; but with that “wisdom from above,” which our Lord peculiarly recommends to all who would promote bis kingdom upon earth : “ Be ye therefore wise as serpents," while ye are “harmless as doves.” This wisdom will instruct you how to suit your words, and whole behaviour, to the persons with whom you have to do; to the time, place, and all other eircumstances. It will teach you to cut off occasion of offence, even from those who scck occasion, and to do things of the most offensive nature in the least offensive manner that is possible.
5. Your manner of speaking, particularly to offenders, should be at all times deeply serious, (lcst it appear like insulting or triumphing over them,) rather inclining to sad; showing that you pity them for what they do, and sympathize with them in what they suffer. Let your air and tone of voice, as well us wouli, loc dispassionals, calm, mild; yea, where