Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

glected. I say the whole, because it must needs be offensive to God, that while his worship lies neglected in a family, there is none there willing to take it up, and supply the de. fect. Besides, there is a negleet of it, where it is performed, viz. when any members of the family neglect to join therein, but unnecessarily absent themselves, or being present do not join in their hearts with the speaker.

(3.) The neglect of secret prayer. It is a positive ordinanc of God, Matth. vi. 6. and the neglect of it, as it will not readily be the sin of those exercised to godliness, Cant. vii. 11. so it is a sad sign of little desire of communion with God. · 2dly, The neglect of singing the Lord's praises, whether in public or in private. There are some who sit mute like fishes in the congregation praising God, whoare ready enough to rant in the congregation of drunkards. There are no psalms sung in their families, for they are strangers to spiri. tual mirth; but they can laugh and sing to express their carnal mirth.

3dly, The neglect of reading, and hearing the word read, in public, private, or secret. Has God commanded to search the scriptures, and will men be such neglecters of it? What irreligion is it thus to neglect the word of life, our Father's testament, the book of God that teaches the way to eternal happiness ?

4thly, The neglect of preaching the word is the sin of ministers, 2 Tim. vi. 1, 2. This is to starve souls, instead of feeding them, which will make a dreadful account. So this command condemns, (1.) The practice of the lordly prelates, the least of whose work is preaching the gospel. They will needs have Timothy a bishop: with what face can they read, then, that solemn charge, 2 Tim. iv. 1, 2, I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ ;—preach the word; be instant in season, and out of season,' &c. who (as if they would give us the perfect reverse of John the Baptist's character) are found more in the palace than the pulpit ? Matt. xi. 7, 8. (2.) Their devolving this work upon their curates and parsons, who often devolve it again upon their hirelings, Ezek. xliv. 8. (3.) Ministers having plurality of benefices and charges, whereby it is rendered impossible for them to feed them as is necessary unless they could be in se veral parishes at once. (4.) The non-residence of ministers, whereby they are under the same incapacity. (5.) All negļigence of inįnisters, whereby they lightly, and without weighty grounds, leave their flocks destitute of the preaching of the word, shorter or longer time.

5thly, The neglect of hearing of the word. People are thụs gyilty when they totally absent themselves from the pu. blic ordinances, Heb, x. 25. It is lamentable to think how God is dishonoured, and graceless people hardened, by the prevailing of this among us. Whatever religion men place in this, this command makes it irreligion. If we be in our duty to preach, people are out of their duty that neglect to hear. Thus are people also guilty, when without any necessity they do at any time absent themselves, and when they rove and wander, and do not attend to the word preached when present.

6thly, Ministers neglecting the administration of the sacraments. God has joined them together with the word in their commission, and therefore the neglect of any of them must be their sin. Christ has ordered the sacrament of his supper to bę often celebrated, i Cor, xi. 26. though he has not determined how often, I know no church so guilty in this point as our own.

7thly, People's neglecting of the sacraments, to receive them. Thus people bring guilt on themselves, by slighting and neglecting the ordinance of baptism, Luke vii. 30. unduly delaying the baptism of their children; and also in slighting the sacrament of the Lord's supper, 2 Chron, XXX. 10. Is it not a strange thing how men get their consciences satisfied, while they neglect one opportunity after another, and live in the avowed neglect of an uncontroverted ordi. nance ?

8thly, The neglect of the duty of fasting and prayer, when the Lord by his providence calls for it, whether public, or private, or secret. The neglect of public fasting and prayer is the sin of the church of Scotland at this day, seeing that Our melancholy circumstances do evidently hold forth the call of providence thereto. And for family-fasts, how is that duty absolutely neglected in most families though there is no family but sometimes has a private call thereto, by some stroke threatened or lying on them, &c. ? And how many are absolute strangers to secret personal fasting and prayer, though they want not calls thereto, either from their tempor VOL. II.

3 G

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

ral or spiritual case ? Matth, vii. 21. Thus may the church, families, and particular persons, be guilty in the neglect of thanksgiving for inercies.

9thly, The neglect of the exercise of church-discipline by church-judicatories, greater or lesser, in order to the purging ..of the church of scandalous members, Rev. ii. 14. This

has been and is the sin of the church of Scotland, for which God may justly take his keys out of our hand. And now matters are come to that pass in most congregations, through the land, and has ever so been in this congregation since I knew it, that the vigorous exercise of discipline cannot be to · edification*, Gal. v. 12. the disease being turned too strong for the cure. May the Lord convince them powerfully, and check them effectually, that make it so!

10thly, The neglect of catechising and instructing the weak. Thus ministers are guilty when they are not at pains to catechise; and those who will not be at pains to wait on diets of examination, but shun it time after time, and will rather enjoy their ignorance than come to learn. So masters of families are guilty who are at no pains to instruct their wives, children, and servants, in the principles of religion; and such as neglect that opportunity of family-catechising. You want not good helps to this, why may ye not take a Catechism, such as Allein's &c. and ask the questions, and cause them to answer? It would be a good spending of the Sabbath, profitable to you and them too. · Lastly, The neglect of spiritual conference, when God puts : an opportunity in our hands, especially on the Lord's day,

when our talk in a special manner is required to be spiritual, and we have the advantage of speaking of the Lord's word which we have heard.

3. All curtailing and mincing of God's worship and ordinances, not keeping them entire, Deut. xii. ult. Men are guilty of this,

ist, When they reject any part of an ordinance instituted by Christ, and so leave it defective and lame, as the Papists

· * Upon the author's settlement in the parish of Ettrick, he found the people, with respect to church-discipline, like bullocks unaccustomed to the yoke. And he repeatedly complains in his Diary, that when churchcensure was inflicted, or a rebuke administered, the delinquent immediately deserted his ministry, and joined the Old Diflenters, who at that time infefted that and adjacent parishes.

in taking away the cup from the people, and the reading of the scriptures in private, &c.

2dly, When they receive some of Christ's ordinances, but not all. Thus,

(1.) Churches sin, as when they receive his doctrine and worship, but not the government and discipline appointed in his house. A sad defect in some churches from the reformation, where all Christ's ordinances could not get place; as if it had been left to men what to take and what to refuse of his institutions.

(2.) Families sin, mincing God's worship and ordinances. Some will sing and read, but not pray; some pray, but do not read and sing. Some will worship God in their families in the evening, but no morning-sacrifice can get room there for their throng. Some will do all, but neglect family catechising or instruction,

(3.) Particular persons sin. How men pick and chuse the institutions of God ? Some wait on public ordinances, but make no conscience of private ordinances. Some, again, go about the private exercises of religion, but slight public ordinances. Some hear the word ordinarily, but they are habitual neglecters of the sacrament. Some pray in secret, but they pray not in their families; some in their families, but they have nothing to say to God, but what they can say before all their family; their family-prayers justle out their secret prayers. Is this to keep God's worship and ordinances entire? How can men answer to God for this way of it?

(4.) Contempt of God's worship and ordinances, Matth. xxii. 5. Mal. i. 7. This is a crying sin of our day, that is like to fill up our cup to the brim, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 16, God has a special zeal for his own worship and ordinances, and therefore contempt of them must be dangerous to a degree. There are several sorts of this contempt of God's worship and ordinances, whereby men are guilty. .. ?

ist, Inward irreverence, when we come to or are at ordi, nances without due fear of God on our spirits, Eccl. v. 1; when we rush into the presence of God, in public, private, or secret duties, without that composure of spirit which an approach to the great God requires; when we do not prepare to meet with God in his ordinances, but stand not to touch the holy things of God with unholy, unsanctified hands.

2dly, Outward irreverênce in holy ordinances, which is a plain contempt cast on them, Mal. i. 12, 13. Such are all foolish gestures in the time of divine worship, talking one with another, and much more laughing, whether in the Church or the family. They are foolish, void of discretion, as well as the fear of God, that give up themselves to these things, and know neither God nor themselves. And those are also guilty of irreverence who sleep at ordinancés, public ör private, Acts &X. 9.

3dly, An open and avowed contempt of God's ordinances, Job. xxi. 14; 15. O what guilt is on the generation this way! They do not worship God in his ordinances, and they are not ashamed of it. They do not pray, and they will avow it. It is below them to bów a knee to God, especial. ly in their families. They nèglect the hearing of the word, and they glory in it. If we offer to touch them any manher of way, they will not come to the church again. They will loiter at home for months together, and think it no fault. They never communicate, and they are not ashamed of it. Contempt of ordinańcés has been a crying sin in Et. trick these seven years, whatever it was before.

4thly, Contumacy, in not submitting to the discipline of Christ's house. People are not ashamed to sin and give scan. dal; they think not that below them; but they will comfit their scandalous offences, get drunk, swear, revel, fight one with another, as if they would regard the laws neither of God nor man. But whatever be their scandals, if it be not fornication or adultery, they contémn and slight the discipline of Christ's house. With what contempt do many entertain church-government at this day!

5thly, Mocking of those that make conscience of God's worship, Is. xxviii. 22. Dreadful is that contempt where God's ordinances are made a jest of, and a man is treated like a fool, because he makes conscience of his duty towards God. Mock at preaching and praying as men will, the day will come when they will change their note. · Lastly, Simony, Acts viii. 18. It is å desire of buying or selling spiritual things, or things annexed to them, whether the bargain succeed or not; as buying or selling of baptism, &c. 'or an office appointed by Christ in his house. This pre. vails in corrupt times of the church, especially under patronages, is oft-times the sin of those that are getting into the

« ZurückWeiter »