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esteemed it as done unto himself, and would have treated you accordingly at the great day. Are you a poor man who have gone, or given any thing to this diversion? Then it has done you most hurt of all. It has made you throw away for an idle sport abroad, what your wife and family wanted at home. If so, you have denied the faith, and are far worse than an infidel. But suppose it cost you no money, was it not hurt enough, if it cost you any of your time? What had you to do to run after trifling diversions, when you ought to have been employed in honest labour? Surely if the rich think, that God hath given them more than they want, (though it will be well if they do not one day think otherwise ;) yet you have no temptation to think so. Sufficient for your day is the labour thereof.
I have but a few words to add,--and those I speak not to them who are unwilling to hear, whose affections are set upon this world, and therefore their eyes are blinded by it. But I speak to them in whom is an understanding heart, and a discerning spirit:-who, if they have formerly erred, are now resolved, by the grace of God, to return no more to the error of their ways; but for the time to come, not only to avoid, but also earnestly to oppose whatsoever is contrary to the will of God. To these I say, Are you young? So much the rather scorn all employments that are useless, but much more, if they are sinful. For you are they, whose wisdom and glory it is * to remember your Creator in the days of your youth.” Are you elder? So much the rather bestow all the time which you can spare
from the necessary business of this life, in preparing yourself and those about you, for their entrance into a better life. For your day is far spent, and your night is at hand. Redeem, therefore, the little time you have left. Are you rich? Then you have particular reason to labour that you may be rich in good works. For you are they to whom much is given, not to throw away, but to use well and wisely; and of you much shall be required. Are you poor ? Then you have particular reason to work with your hands, that you may provide for your own household. Nor when
you have done this, have you done all. For then you are to labour that you may give to him that needeth. Not to him that needeth diversions, but to him that needeth the necessaries of nature, that needeth clothes to cover him, food to support, his life, or a house where to lay his head.
What remains, but that we labour, one and all, young and old, rich and poor, to wipe off the past scandal from our town and people. First, by opposing to the utmost, for the time to come, by word and deed, among our friends, and all we have to do with, this unhappy diversion, which has such terribly hurtful consequences. By doing all we possibly can to hinder its coming among us any more. And, Secondly, by shewing all the mercy we can to our afflicted neighbours, according as God hath prospered us, and by this timely relief of them, laying up for ourselves a good foundation against the day of necessity. Thirdly, By our constant attendance on God's public service, and blessed sacrament, and our watchful, charitable, and pious life. Thus giving the noblest proof before men and angels, that although even after we were troubled, we went wrong, yet upon more deeply considering, how God hath blown his trumpet among us, we were afraid. We then shall say, with an awakened heart, Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. Now, therefore, while time is, let us put away far from us every accursed thing; “ For if we hear this voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die.”
*** Every experienced Christian will readily observe, that Mr. Wesley wrote the preceding Sermon before he was fully acquainted with the power of Divine Grace. Nevertheless, it evidently discovers a mind under the influence of the fear of God, and a sincere desire to know and please him. The arguments he makes use of to prove the sinfulness of attending public diversions, are striking and unanswerable, and demand our most serious regard. We stand upon the brink of eternity! There is only a step between us and the unfathomable gulf! Are not sensual divers' sions and amusements solely calculated to divert our thoughts from God, and the things of grace and glory? Is it possible then for any one of us to be present at those scenes of riot and dissipation, with a single eye, with a pure intention to please God? Previous to our entrance into the field of folly, can we retire in secret, and kneel down at the feet of the Almighty, and intreat his blessing upon the premeditated madness that we design, not only as a spectator of, but a party concerned and interested in the success of it? Would not our presence in such deplorable scenes, harden and darken the minds of those who noticed us? Is it possible to retire from the race ground, or any other place devoted to folly, without a guilty conscience? And could we then deceive purselves with the imagination, that we had been giving all diligence to be found of Christ, in peace without spot and blameless ?
ON THE HOLY SPIRIT.
The following Sermon was preached at St. Mary's, Oxford, on Whit
Sunday, 1736, and was found among the Papers of the late Mr. Wesley.
2 COR. III. 17.
THE Apostle had been shewing, how the gospel ministry was superior to that of the law: the time being now come when types and shadows should be laid aside, and we should be invited to our duty by the manly and ingenuous motives of a clear and full Revelation, open and free on God's part, and not at all disguised by his ambassadors. But what he chiefly insists upon, is not the manner, but the subject of their ministry :,“ Who hath made us able ministers,” saith he, 6 of the New Testament : not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.” Here lies the great difference between the two dispensations : that the law was, indeed, spiritual in its demands, requiring a life consecrated to God in the observance of many rules, but not conveying spiritual assistance, its effect was only to kill and mortify man; by giving him to understand, that he must needs be in a state - of great depravity, since he found it so difficult to obey God; and that, as particular deaths were by that institution in ficted for particular sins, so death, in general, was but the consequence of his universal sinfulness. But the ministration of the New Testament was that of a “ Spirit which giveth life :” a Spirit not only promised, but actually conferred: which should both enable Christians now to live unto God, and fulfil precepts even more spiritual than the former, and restore them hereafter to perfect life, after the ruins of sin and death. The incarnation, preaching, and death of Jesus Christ, were designed to represent, proclaim, and purchase for us this gift of the Spirit: and, therefore, says the Apostle, “ The Lord is that Spirit, or the Spirit.”
This description of Christ was a proper inducement to Jews to believe on him; and it is still a necessary instruction to Christians, to regulate their expectations from him. But I think this age has made it particularly necessary to be well assured, What Christ is to us? When that question is so differentiy resolved by the pious but weak accounts of some pretenders to faith on one hand; and by the clearer but not perfectly Christian accounts of some pretenders to reason on the other. While some derive from him a righteousness of God, but in a sense somewhat improper and figurative; and others no more than a charter of pardon and a system of morality : while some so interpret the gospel, as to place the holiness they are to be saved by, in something divine, but exterior to themselves; and others, so as to place it in things really within themselves, - but not more than human. Now the proper cure of what indistinctness there is one way, and what infidelity in the other, seems to be contained in the doctrine of my text, “ The Lord is that Spirit.”
In treating of which words, I will consider,
I. The Nature of our fall in Adam; by which it will appear, that if the Lord were not that Spirit, he could not be said to save or redeem us from our fallen condition.
II. I will consider the Person of Jesus Christ; by which it will appear, that the Lord is that Spirit. And,