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ready to prevail. Let not any think it beneath them to do it. You well know that David, who was not only a man of an admirable genius, but a mighty prince too, was far from thinking it so; on the contrary, deeply impressed with the divine condescension in all the gracious visits he had received from him, he calls, as it were, the whole pious world around him, that they might be edified and comforted by the relation : Come, says he, and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he has done for my soul*. He proclaimed it, not with his voice and harp alone, but with his immortal pen : And many other noble and excellent persons concurred with him ; and the invaluable treasure of their experiences, in as great a variety of circumstances as we can well imagine, is transmitted to us in the book of psalms. Can any just reason then be assigned, why they who live under a nobler dispensation, and a more abundant communication of the Spirit, should be entirely silent on this subject ?
There may indeed be an over-forwardness which is the apparent effect of pride and self-conceit, and which, with thinking people, may bring even the sincerity of the speaker into question, or put his indiscretion beyond all possibility of being questioned. But it would be very unreasonable to argue, that because a thing may be done ill, it cannot possibly be done well.
Why may not intimate friends open their hearts to each other on such delightful topics? Why may not they who have met with any thing peculiar of this kind communicate it to their minister! And though I must in conscience declare against making it absolutely and universally a term of communion, yet I am well assured, that in some instances, a prudent and serious communication of those things to a christian society, when a person is to be admitted into fellowship with it, has often answered
very valuable ends. By this means God has the honour of his own work; and others have the pleasure of sympathizing with the relator, both in his sorrows and his joys; they derive from hence some additional satisfaction as to his fitness for an approach to the Lord's table; they learn with pleasure the divine blessing which attends the administration of ordinances among them; and make observations and remarks which may assist them in offering their addresses to God, and in giving proper advices to others who are in circumstances like those related. To all which we may add, that the ministers of Christ do, in particular, learn what may be a means of forming them
* Psal. xvi. 16.
to a more experimental manner of preaching, as well as in many instances discover those, before unknown, tokens of success which may strengthen their hands in the work of their great Master.
It is by frequent conversations of this kind, that I have learnt many of the particulars on which I have grounded the preceding discourse. I hope therefore you will excuse me, if on so natural an occasion I have borne my public testimony to what has been so edifying to me, both as a minister and a christian. And the tender regard which I have for young persons training up for the work of the ministry, and my ardent desire that they may learn the language of Sion, and have “ those peculiar advantages which nothing but an acquaintance with cases, and an observation on facts can give," has been a farther inducement to me to add this reflection, with which I conclude my discourse ; humbly hoping that what you have heard upon this occasion will, by divine blessing, furnish out agreeable matter for such conversation as I have now recommended, to the glory of God, and to the advancement of religion among you. Amen!
Directions to awakened Sinners.
Acts ix. 6.And he, trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what wilt thox
hare me to do? THESE
HESE are the words of Saul, who also is called Paul*, when he was stricken to the ground as he was going to Damascus: And any one who had looked upon him in his present circumstances, and known nothing inore of him than that view, in comparison with his past life, could have given, would have imagined him one of the most miserable creatures that ever lived upon earth, and would have expected that he should very soon have been numbered amongst the most miserable of those in hell. He was engaged in a course of such savage cruelty, as can, upon no principle of common morality, be vindicated, even though the Christians had been as much mistaken, as he rashly and foolishly concluded they were. After having dragged Many of them into prison, and given his voice against some that were put to death, he perseculed others into strange cities; and had now obtained a commission from the Sanhedrim at Je. rusalem to carry this holy, or rather this impious war into Damascust, and to bring all the proselytes to the religion of the blessed Jesus, Bound from thence to Jerusalemi; probably that they might there be animadverted upon with greater severity than could safely have been attempted by the Jews in so distant a city, under a foreign governor.
But, behold, as he was in the way, Jesus interposes, cloathed with a lustre exceeding that of the sun at noon 5. He strikes him down from the beast on which he rode, and lays him prostrate on The ground, calling to him with a voice far more dreadful than that of thunder, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou mel?
Any one would have imagined, from the circumstances in which he now beheld Saul, that divine vengeance had already
Acts ix. 2:
* Acts xj. 9.
+ Acts xxvi. 10-12.
begun to seize him, and that full execution would quickly have been done. But God's Ways are not as our ways, nor are his thoughts as our thoughts*. Christ laid him almost as low as hell, that he might raise him as high as the third heaven ti of which he afterwards gave him a view in vision, to anticipate his reception into it. This day of his terror and astonishment was, in a nobler sense than any other, the day of his birth; for he is brought to bow himself at the foot of an injured Saviour, to offer him as it were a blank upon which to write his own terms of
peace; and as soon as he heard that this glorious person was Jesus, whom, in his members he had so long persecuted, he makes his submission in these lively comprehensive words, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? This was not a time for a long speech; but he that discerns all the secret recesses of the spirit, knew these few words were full of a most important meaning, and expressed not only a grief of heart for all that he had before been doing against Christ and his kingdom, but the sincerest resolution for the future to employ himself in his service, waiting only the intimations of his wise and gracious will, as to the most proper and acceptable manner of beginning the attempt.
There is, methinks, a poignant kind of eloquence in this short expression, far beyond what any paraphrase upon it can give: And our compassionate Lord accepted this surrender. All his former rebellions were no more remembered against him; and before he rose from the ground to which he fell, on so terrible an occasion, Christ gave him an intimation, not only that his forfeited life should be spared, so that he should get safe into the city to which he was bound, but that he should there be instructed in that service which Jesus, whom he had persecuted, would now condescend to receive at his hands.
I represent the case thus largely, because I hope it is a case which in some measure suits the experience of some that hear me this evening. Paul tells us, it was for this reason, among others, that he himself obtained mercy, though he was the chief of sinners, that in him, as the chief, Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them who should afterwards believes.
Is there, then, in this assembly, any awakened and convinced sinner; any one that, apprised of his folly, and sensible of his misery, is desirous to fall at the foot of Christ, and say with Saul, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? That which I see not, teach thou me ; and wherein I have done iniquity I will do so no more*!—To such would I now especially address : And while I put the question, is there any such among us? I would fain persuade myself, there are several: For I humbly hope, that all the labours that have been bestowed in the preceding discourses are not in vain, nor all the prayers that have been offered for their success in vain ; prayers, which I doubt not have been carried by many of you into your families and your closets, as well as jointly presented to God in this public assembly. Trusting therefore that it is thus with some, and praying that it may be a more frequent case, I proceed,
* Isa, ly, 8.
$ 2 Cor. xii. 2.
# 1 Tim. i. 15, 16.
Sixthly, to give some directions to such, who are awakened by divine grace to a sense of their misery in an unregenerate state, and are brought to desire recovery from it.
To such I propose to give directions : And to what purpose would it be to undertake to offer them to any others? Who would pretend to teach those who are unconcerned about their salvation, what methods they are to take in order to their becoming truly regenerate ? This, methinks, would be like giving directions how those might learn to write who do not desire it, and will not take a pen into their hands. All I could say to such, while they continue in this character, would vanish into empty air : It would not, probably, be so much as observed and remembered. I speak therefore to awakened souls, and to such it is pleasant to address on this head. Ananias undoubtedly undertook this message to Saul with cheerfulness, to tell him what Christ would have him to do : And I would with pleasure and cheerfulness engage in the like work; humbly hoping that some will hear with observation and attention, will hear for themselves, and so Hear for their goodt. And to this purpose let me advise you,—to attend to the impressions that have been made upon you with great seriousness,--to break off every thing that is contrary to them,—to seek for further knowledge in religious matters,--to pour out your souls before God in earnest prayer,
—to communicate the state of your case to some experienced christian,—to acquaint yourselves with such as are much in your own circumstances,--to fly immediately to Christ, as ready to receive all that come to him,--to dedicate yourselves to him, and to his service, in the most solenın manner,-to arm yourselves to encounter with the greatest difficulties in your christian
* Job xxxiv, 32.
+ Job v. 27.