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merce; how it is attended with loss of conscience, loss of character, the destruction of family happiness, the forfeiting of God's blessing, the prospect of beggary, infamy, and eternal damnation. These things he may iepresent; but unless admonition is seconded with some activity, and some authority from the laws, it will not be of sufficient weight; because, when things are left to this, and reformation is forwarded by nothing but admonition, it looks as if people were not in earnest.
Another evil is the profanation of the Sabbath. We have too many examples of persons exercising their worldly business in defiance of sobriety and decency; of others absenting themselves from the church for years together, and attending no other place of worship; as if it were the opinion of the place, that men are at liberty to live without God in the world.
Of all these abuses which I have set before you, there is not one, for the preventing of which I am not ready to do my part: but it is the chief business of this discourse to remind you, that I can do nothing of myself, against the sense, and without the hearty concurrence of my neighbours. When the minister of a parish stands single in the exercise of discipline and the work of reformation, he can only make himself enemies, who will hate him without a cause, instead of amending themselves.
In an age when civil and ecclesiastical authority are both grown decrepit with old age and want of exercise, the defects of lawful government must be supplied by confederacies and associations of one party against another. This is a poor substitute for regular authority; but in some cases, it is the best the times allow us. Therefore, they who wish to preserve order, must unite against those who wish to break it. There is nothing that appears odious in the application of such remedies as the law affords, if the many unite against the few, who are then left without that countenance and defence which they borrow from the neglect of their superiors. The minister can do little for his parish in this way, unless the majority are with him, and desire that he should succeed. Indeed it is universally true, that nothing can be done for those who will do nothing for themselves. It is thus in the education of youth, and the instruction of the ignorant; none can be taught to much purpose, but they who are desirous to learn. Even God's grace works only with those who will work along with it: Ye% and outblessed Saviour himself, when upon earth, though ever ready to do good, could do none to those who were not disposed to look for it, and ready to receive it.
I wish to see this place a pattern of regularity and sobriety, not an example of dri_nkenness, profaneness, and ill manners. If ever I hear it spoken of under this latter character, I am hurt and grieved, as if I had heard some evil report against myself, or my own family. And does it not concern you, my Brethren, to feel as much for yourselves as I feel for you? Religion, reason, and good policy, the authority of God, and the common sense of man, call upon you to do what you can against the spreading evil of bad examples and corrupt communications. Vice is an expensive thing to all that practise it, and to all that connive at it. A wicked parish will ever be an idle parish; and an idle parish (as men are to live by their industry) must be a poor parish; and the more the poor increase in any place, the fewer shoulders are left to bear the burthen; and then some who do not deserve it, and have no share in the general corruption, are broken down with the weight of it.
I am sometimes very uneasy when I revolve these things in my mind: yet under all these difficulties, I have two considerations on which to repose myself. I have lived long enough in the world to know, that however sincerely a man may wish to have every body do what is right, he must be content to see much evil which he cannot prevent, and to hear many falsehoodswhich he can never hope to silence. If it is his desire to resist prevailing evils, they will not be imputed to him, though he should not succeed: let those look to it, who might forward his good intentions and do not. The other consideration, with which I comfort myself, is this, and a very common one it is; that if we cannot do as much as we would, we must still be willing to do as much as we can. If some advantages are denied to us, others will always be left to us. I can instruct the children of my parish; I can visit the sick, and comfort those who have no comforter but God and myself; 1 can help the poor in some of their occasional distresses; (and with God's help) I can preach the Gospel freely; and if my labours should not prosper here so much as might be wished, and my evening lectures should not be so well attended as when novelty recommended them, I must then consider my country as my parish, if it will give me leave; I must hope that what I speak here, will be better attended to somewhere else, and be doing some good, when I can speak no longer. In the mean time I shall not be discouraged: this sermon may do more good than I can yet foresee, and may stir up some others to be like-minded with myself. God send it may do so; the advantage will not be to me, but to us all: and as the time is approaching, when some yearly regulations are to take place, I trust you will all remember what has now been said to you. I have only to tell you farther, that a
the time is short; and that all worldly interests and worldly considerations will soon be of no value to any of us: but that the zeal we exercise for the honour of God, and the benefit of the place in which we live, will follow us into the grave, and rise with us again to judgment; when they that have done good shall go into life everlasting.
YE HAVE THE POOR WITH TOU ALWAYS, AND WHENSOEVER YE WILL, YE MAY DO THEM GOOD. MARK XIV. 7"
W HEN we enquire into the oeconomy either of the natural or the moral world, we are anxious to account for the origin of evil; io in the political world, a like question may be raised concerning the origin of poverty; how it comes to pass, that, as the text asserts, we have the poor with us always f Why could not all men have been born in the same station, and lived together on terms of equality, like flie oaks of the forest, or the lillies of the field, or the cattle which feed upon a thousand hills? When we see but a little way into the constitution of things, we may perplex and distress ourselves with such questions: but when we see farther, we shall discover, that the general form and condition of society in civilized states, is as. much the appointment of God, as the form and structure of the human body; and that the several orders of which it consists, are as uecessary and useful to each other, and as fully display the wisdom of God, as the head of all government, and the author of all regularity; as the limbs, and members, and faculties of the body demonstrate his power and goodness as the Creator ot the world.