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privilege, to have the eyes of our understanding opened, to have our affections purified, to have our whole faculties of body, soul, and spirit enfranchised with the glorious liberty of the sons of God ? It is, indeed, no trifling privilege. And it can be attained, and it must be cherished, by no ordinary care. The spirit of God is a delicate thing. (2) It will not inhabit an unprepared heart. It will not fix its residence in any soul, that does not perseveringly seek its blessed. influence, and yield to its gracious attraction. To take heed unto ourselves then is to continue instant in prayer; it is to be diligent in the study of holy Scripture; it is, to observe, to cherish, and to pursue, every wise and good desire which we feel within us; convinced, that such desires proceed only from that Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning; who is both able and willing, to increase the measure of our grace, if we rightly employ that grace, which is already granted.
Take heed unto thyself; that thou grieve not the holy spirit of God. On this caution, will depend the efficacy of thy pastoral exertions. Without it, a clergyman, may, indeed, contribute to the civilization of outward manners. He may promote the temporal comfort of those around him. He may, through his instructions, produce a degree of moral reformation in his parish. But he cannot speak with that holy energy, he cannot live with that simple, unostentatious piety, which have ever been the most effectual means, and the most favoured instruments, of diffusing pure and undefiled religion. And how may God's spirit be grieved ? The answer is plain and obvious. Not merely by flagitiousness of conduct, but, by a careless, indolent, unreflecting secular life; by a mind halting between two opinions, anxious to unite things in their nature incompatible, the indulgences of worldly pleasure, and the security of true religion.
On us, my brethren, this holy vigilance
is peculiarly incumbent: For, may it not be said, that a clergyman of our Church is providentially placed within the sphere of God's highest attractions ? That office of ordination, by which he is dedicated to the service of a Divine Master, contains, in itself, the noblest exemplification of religion. That apostolic liturgy which he reads, unites in almost every portion of it, the awful majesty of the Old Testament, with the winning graces of the New. Those sacramental services in which he ministers, exhibit, at once, a rationality which completely satisfies the judgment, and a spirituality, which occupies and elevates the imagination and affections. These are amongst our peculiar privileges. Whilst those duties, which place a minister of our Church, in common with all other ministers, in immediate contact with mortality, evince to him what bitter apprehensions commonly terminate a life of sinfulness, or even a life of levity; and the scenes of humble penitence, of holy hope, of victorious and
triumphant faith, which he is sometimes happily called to witness, afford a practical attestation of this great truth, that God's gracious influences are then most fully operative, when they are felt to be most indispensably needful. And these altogether, constitute an assemblage of motives, to seriousness, to sobriety, to a dedication of his whole heart, which can surely be resisted by no conscientious minister, by no good man. Wo, then, to those pastors, if such there be, who are cold, and careless, and selfish, and secular, amidst such complicated incite-, ments to be workers together with God ! For, unless their hearts be touched ; unless they turn to that path which they have avoided, or forsaken ; unless their future devotedness be exemplary, as their past delinquency has been shameful, no common condemnation, no ordinary retribution, will await them at that day.
II. But ministers must, also, take heed unto the doctrine. It is their bounden duty, their solemn engagement, (I shall
use the express words of our Ordinationservice,) “ to instruct the people committed to their charge, in the doctrine necessary to eternal salvation ; as far as in them lies, to bring their flocks unto an agreement in the faith and knowledge of God, and ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ; with all care and diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines, contrary to God's word.” This is a most weighty engagement. It argues the necessity of much scriptural, much historical, much controversial knowledge. And, were there not a promise of divine assistance, we might well exclaim, Who is sufficient for all these things ? This assistance is happily held forth, to all, who will not slight it. Let us not, however, deceive ourselves. God is not mocked. Unless there be diligence on our part, we need not expect that He will answer our prayers. We must “ apply ourselves wholly to this one thing ; and draw all our cares and studies this way.” We must “ be dili