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house. Till this is done, and that in good earnest, the Methodists will be no better.
Our religion is not deep, universal, uniform : but superficial, partial, uneven. It will be so till we spend half as much time in this visiting, as we now do in talking uselessly. Can we find a better method of doing this than Mr. Baxter's? If not, let us adopt it without d-lay. His whole tract, entitled, Gildas Salvianus, is well worth a careful perusal. Speaking of this visiting from houfe to house, he says (p. 351.)
“ We shall find many hindrances, both in ourselves and the people.
1. In ourselves, there is much dulness and laziness, fo 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 men perish rather than lose their love: we let them go quietly to hell, left 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 hindrance is weakness of faith. Our whole motion is weak, because the spring of it is weak.
5. Lastly, we are unskilful in the work. How few know how to deal with men, so as to get within them, and fuit all our discourse to their several conditions and tempers: To choose the fittelt subjects, and follow them with a holy mixture of seriousness, terror, love, and meekness ?"
But undoubtedly this private application is implied in those folemn words of the apostle, I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Chrisl, who fall judge the quick and dead at his appearing, preach the word; be instant in feafon, out of seafon : Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering
O brethren, if we could but set this work on foot in all our societies, and profecute it ze lously, what glory woulu reduunu to God! If the common lukewarmness:
were banished, and every shop and every house bufied in speaking of the word and works of God; surely God would dwell in our habitations, and make us his delight.
And this is absolutely necessary to the welfare of our people, some of whom neither repent nor believe to this day. Look round, 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? Methinks when
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 fake, and the sake of poor fouls, beftir yourselves, and spare no pains that may conduce to their salvation !
What cause have we to bleed before the Lord this day, 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 we have made our focieties before now? And why might we not have done it sooner? There were many hindrances: And fo there always will be. But the greatest hindrance was in ourselves, in our littleness of faith and love.
But it is objected, I. “ This will take up so much time, we shall not have leisure to follow our Itudies.”
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 not more than you need : " and never be idle, or trillingly 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 foul.
It is objected, II. “ The people will not fubmit to it.” If some will not, others will. And the success with them, will
O let us herein follow the example of St Paul. 1. For our general buGness, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind: 2. Our
fpecial work, Take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock : 3. Our doctrine, Repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Chrift: 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 niotives, let these be ever before our eyes: 1. The church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 2. Grievous wolves Jhall enter in : yea, of yourselves fall men arise, Speaking perverse things.
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 falt that has lost its favour. For to such this employment would be mere drudgery. And in order to it, you will have need of all the the knowledge you can procure, and grace you can attain.
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 line upon line, precept upon precept. 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 received in justification. Quest
. 2. 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?
Answ. Chiefly because we are enthusiasts; looking for the end without using the means.
To touch only upon two or three instances: Who of you rises at four
Or even at five, when he does not preach? Do you know the obligation and benefit of fafting or abstinence ? How often do you practise it? The neglect of this alone is sufficient to account for our feebleness and faintness of spirit. We are continually grieving the Holy Spirit of God by the habitual neglect of a plain duty. Let us amend from this hour.
Queft. 3. How shall we guard against fabbath-breaking, evil-speaking, unprofitable conversation, lightness, expensiveness or gaiety of apparel, and contracting debts without due care to discharge them?
Answ. 1. Let us preach expressly on each of these heads. 2. Read in every fociety the sermon on evilspeaking. 3. Let the leaders closely examine and exhort every person to put away the accursed thing. 4. Let the preachers warn every society, that none who is guilty herein, can remain with us. 5. Extirpate buying- or selling goods which have not paid the duty laid upon them by government, out of every society. Let none remain with us who will not totally abstain from this evil in every kind and degree. Extirpate bribery, receiving any thing directly or indirectly, for voting at any election. Shew no respect to persons herein, but expel all that touch the accursed thing. And strongly advise our people to discountenance all treats given by candidates before or at elections, and not to be partakers in any respect of such iniquitous practices.
Quest. 4. What shall we do to prevent scandal, when any of our members fail in business, or contract debts which they are not able to pay ?
Answ. Let him who has the charge of the circuit, desire two or three judicious members of the society to inspect the accounts of the supposed delinquent; and if he has behaved dishonestly, or borrowed money without a probability of paying, let him be expelled.
N O T E S.
We need not.enlarge on the great duty of visiting from house to house. The section fo far explains itself, and is full of the
most pathetic exhortation. We will, therefore, only make a few brief observations, and proceed.
In the plantations, which make the chief part of these states, and in which, of course, the chief part of our focieties refide, the preachers cannot visit many of our competent families in a day. But they may almost daily visit many of the poor--many of those who most want their help. Various disagreeable circumstances arising from the inattention of the poor to cleanliness, &c. may attend our zealous observance of the directions given in this section on the present subject, as far as it respects them. But where is our zeal for God, where our crucifixion to the world, where our regard for fouls, if such considerations move us in the Jeast? Our Lord gives it as one grand proof of his being the Melliah, that “ the poor have the gospel preached to them,” Matt. xi. 5. O then, if we love Christ, if we wish to be his ministers and disciples, let us not forget the poor. We have but little silver or gold to offer them; but we have what is infinitely more precious, even grace, pardon, holiness, Christ, heaven. Let us, therefore, labour at least as much in the houses of the poor as of the rich or competent: and this we certainly fall, if we be not interested by carnal or temporal motives--if we breathe the true spirit of missionaries.
The following texts of Scripture are applicable to the duties enforced, or the fins condemned, in this section.
1. On the relative duties. Ephef. vi. 4. Te fatbers, provoke not your children to wrath; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. See also Col. iii. 21. Ver. 20. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord. See alfo Ephes. vi. I. Col. iii. 19. Husbands, love gour wives, and be not bitter against them. See also Ephes. v. 25-31. Ver. 22. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own hufbands, as unto the Lord. See also Col. iii. 18. Col. iv. I. Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. See also Ephef. vi. 9. Col.i. 22. Servants, obey, in all things, your masiers, according to the flesh, not with eye-service, as men-plealers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God. See also Ephes. vi. 6.
2. On the observance of the fabbath. Gen. ii. 3. God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it. Exod. xx. IO, II. But the leventh day is the fabbath of the Lord thy God. Wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day, and hallowed it. xxiii. 12. On the seventh day thou shalt rest. Numb. xv. 32–35. They found a man that gathered sticks on the fabbath-day. And the Lord faid unto Mofes, The man shall be surely put to death. See also Neh. xiii. 15--22. Ifai. Iviii. 13, 14. If thou turn away thy foot from the fabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the fabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable,