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sion there, in behalf of all believers, he has we have no heart to consult, or to value, this caused the glad tidings of salvation to be pub- inestiinable treasure put into our hands? lished through the world; declaring, “ that Many inquiries, more curious than useful, whosoever cometh to him, (without one ex- have been started concerning the divine proception) he will in no wise cast out,” John vi. cedure with the Heathen nations, and those Are not these proofs of unspeakable, unex- who never heard of the gospel of peace. ampled love? We have seen, that he fully "The Judge of all the earth will (undoubtperformed the work he undertook ; that he edly) do right,” (Gen. xviii.) and will be jushas made an end of sin; (Dan. ix.) brought tified at the great day, when every man shall in an everlasting righteousness, spoiled prin- receive according to their works. Till then cipalities and powers; (Eph. ii.) triumphed we must wait for the knowledge of what he over all our enemies, broke down the parti- has not seen fit to reveal. But thus much he tion-wall, and brought life and immortality to has already told us, that however it may go light by his gospel, 1 Tim. i. We read, that with those who know not the gospel, dreadful he is highly exalted ; " that God has given will be the doom of those who, having it pubhim a name that is above every name;" (Phil. lished among them, refuse to obey it. “The 11.) that he is “ far above all principality, and servant who knew not his master's will shall might, and dominion;" and what more can be beaten with few stripes,” Luke xii. But be said of his power? Read his own declara- this will not be our case; at least our ignotion, “ All power is given me in heaven and rance will be rather an aggravation than an in earth,” Matt. xxviii. Were these two excuse; a wilful, obstinate, infatuated ignopoints, the power and the love of Christ, rance. We have the words of eternal life in rightly understood, and fully believed, earth our hands; “ line upon line, precept upon would be full of heaven. But, alas! we are precept:" but how do we imitate those fools, and slow of heart to receive all that (whom perhaps we have been ready to blame) Moses and the prophets, (Luke xxiv.) the spoken of in the parable, who, when they reevangelists and apostles, have written for our ceived a kind and gracious invitation to a instruction. From hence proceeds our indif- royal feast, made light of it, and “all with ference, and that we need so much to be one consent began to make excuse !" Luke pressed to search the scriptures, though we xiv. It is easy to apply this to the Jews of readily acknowledge that in them we have old; so David could clearly judge in the case the words of eternal life.
of the rich man who killed his poor neighIV. It remains, therefore, in the fourth bour's lamb, (2 Sam. xii.) but had not the and last place, that I add a few words to re- prophet helped him, he would not have colcommend and enforce the command in the lected that he himself was the person intendtext, “Search the scriptures,” from the ar- ed. But to bring the general iruths of scripgument there subjoined, " for in them ye ture home to the heart is the work of God; think ye have eternal life;" and we think and, perhaps, while I am speaking at random, right; for it " is eternal life to know the only he may rouse the consciences of some to say true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath in particular, Thou art the man. Then they sent:" (John xvii.) and every article of this will soon see how much it behooves them to knowledge is contained in the Old and New search the scriptures, when they understand Testament; nor can any part of it be met the weighty meaning of the words, eternal with any where else. Yet let conscience life. judge this day, as in the presence of the liv Some of us, I hope, do already make coning God, the searcher of hearts, before whom science of frequent reading the scriptures; our private judgments must shortly come un- but let us remember the force of the word der a review: has any book a smaller share search. It is not a careless superficial readof the time, the memory, or the aflections of ing, or despatching such a number of chapters many of us, than this book of God? Do not in a day, as a task, that will answer the end. the successive returns of business and amuse- I have already reminded you, that it is a bument so far engross our time and our thoughts, siness will need your best application; a sethat we have either no leisure, or no disposi- rious, impartial, humble, persevering inquiry, tion, to attend to the things which pertain to accompanied with earnest prayer for the light our peace ? Consider, “ in them we think we and assistance of God's Holy Spirit. When have eternal life.” We know we are posting we set about it in this method, we shall soon to eternity as fast as the wings of time can find happy effects; pleasure and instruction carry us; we know that the consequences of will go hand in hand; and our knowledge our behaviour in this span of life will attend advance as the growing light. The precepts us into an invisible unalterable state; and we shall inspire us with true wisdom; teach us confess, that the necessary directions for our how to order all our affairs, respecting both conduct in these most important and preca- worlds; to fill up our several stations in life rious circumstances, are to be found only in with propriety, usefulness, and comfort; and the Bible; what words then can describe our to avoid the numerous evils and distresses fatal insensibility, if, all this acknowledged, which those who live by no rule, or by any
other rule than God's word, are perpetually I have believed," 2 Tim. i. Every thing we running into. The promises shall be a sup- see shall be at once a memorial to remind port in every trouble, a medicine in every us of our Redeemer, and a motive to animate sickness, a supply in every need. Above us in his service. And at length we shall all, the scriptures will repay our trouble, as be removed to see him as he is, without a they testify of Christ. The more we read cloud, and without a vail; to be for ever of his person, offices, power, love, doctrine, with him; to behold and to share the glories life, and death, the more our hearts will of that heavenly kingdom “which (Matt. cleave to him: we shall, by insensible de- xxv.) he has prepared (for his followers) grees, be transformed into his image. We from before the foundation of the world.” shall, with the apostle, say, “I know in whom | Amen.
PREACHED IN THE PARISH CHURCH OF OLNEY,
Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.
In thy name shall they rejoice all the day; and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.-Psalm Luix. 15, 16.
TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE PARISH OF OLNEY.
MY DEAR FRIENDS :-I have principally two motives for publishing these Discourses. The one is, to exhibit a specimen of the doctrine that is taught and most surely believed amongst us, to satisfy those who desire information, and to stop, if possible, the mouth of Slander. I cheerfully submit them to examination, in full confidence that they contain nothing of moment which is not agreeable to the general strain of the word of God, and to the principles of the church whereof I am a minister, as specified in the Articles, Liturgy, and Homilies. And that what I now print is to the same purport with the usual course of my preaching, I doubt not but all who statedly hear me, will do me the justice to acknowledge.
My other motive is, a desire of promoting your edification. It is my comfort that many of you live by the truths of the gospel, and highly prize them. You will not, therefore, be unwilling to view the substance of what you once heard with acceptance. But it is to be feared, that the far greater part of the congregation have need to have the things pertaining to their peace pressed upon them again and again, for a different reason; not because they know them, and therefore love to have them brought to their remembrance, but because they have hitherto heard them without effect. For the sake of both, therefore, I am willing to leave an abiding testimony amongst you. I hereby take each of your consciences to witness, that I am clear of your blood; and that, to the best of my knowledge and ability, I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God.
In the choice of the subjects I have selected for publication, I have not been solicitous to comprise a succinct scheme of gospel-doctrine, but have given the preference to such topics, which the peculiar circumstances of the times, and of my hearers, make me desirous might be had in continual remembrance.
The exposition of the third commandment, which was first delivered in your hearing, I afterwards preached (nearer the form in which it now appears) at London; and as it led me to touch on some particulars of a very public and interesting concern, I have given it a place in this volume. And I shall think myself happy indeed, if it may please God to give weight to the testimony of so obscure a person, with respect to a grievance under which the nation groans.
As long discourses are in many respects inconvenient, I have chosen to publish no more than a brief summary of what you heard more at large from the pulpit. And as I aim to speak plain truths to a plain people, I have purposely avoided any studied ornaments in point of expression, being desirous to accommodate myself to the apprehensions of the most ignorant
May it please the God of all grace to accompany my feeble endeavours to promote the knowledge of his truth, with the powerful influence of his Holy Spirit! And I earnestly entreat all who know how to draw near to a throne of grace by Jesus Christ, to strive mightily in prayer for me, that I may stand fast in the faith, and increase in the knowledge of Jesus the Saviour; and that, for his sake, I may labour, without fear of fainting, in the service to which he has been pleased to call me. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all !-I am your affectionate friend, and servant in the gospel of Christ,
JOHN NEWTON. Olney, January 20, 1767.
THE SMALL SUCCESS OF A GOSPEL-MINISTRY.
At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.—Matt. xi. 25.
Our blessed Lord perfectly knew before and messenger; and they, so far as they hand the persons who would profit by his have received his Spirit, judge and act as be ministry: but his observations, conduct, and did. discourses, were intended as a pattern and 1. Those who have indeed tasted that the instruction to his followers. He is said to Lord is gracious, have had such a powerful have marvelled at the unbelief of some, and experienee in their own souls of the necessity at the faith of others; not as though either and value of the gospel, that in their first was strange to him, who was acquainted with warmth, and till paintiul experience has conall hearts, and always knew what he himself vinced them of the contrary, they can hardly could do; but it is spoken of him as a man, think it possible that sinners should stanu and to show how his ministers and people out against its evidence. They are ready to should be affected upon the like occasions. say, "Surely it is because they are ignorant: In the preceding verses he had been speak- they have not bad opportunity of considering of Capernaum, and other places, where ing the evil of sin, the curse of the law his mighty works had been performed in and the immense goodness of God manifested vain. He had denounced a sentence against in his Son; but when these things shall be them; and foretold that their punishment plainly and faithfully set before them, surely would be heavier in proportion to the greatness they will submit, and thankfully receive the of the privileges they had abused. But this was glad tidings.” With such sanguine hopes not his pleasing work. Mercy and grace Melancthon entered the ministry at the dawn were his delight, and he usually expressed of the Reformation: he thought he had only sorrow and pain for the obstinacy of sinners. to speak and to be heard, in order to comiHe wept for his avowed enemies, and prayed | vince; but he soon found himself mistaken, for the murderers who nailed him to the cross. and that the love of sin, the power of prejuIt was not without grief that he declared the dice, and the devices of Satan, were such approaching doom of these cities; yet rais- obstacles in his way, as nothing less than the ing his thoughts from earth to heaven, he mighty operations of the Spirit of God could acquiesced in the will of his heavenly Father, break through. And all who preach upon and expressed the highest satisfaction in his his principles, and with his views, have appointinent. He knew, that however some known something of his disappointment would harden themselves, there was a rem- Speaking from the feelings of a full heart, nant who would receive the truth, and that they are ready to expect that others should the riches and glory of the divine sovereignty be no less affected than themselves. But and grace would be magnified. Before I en- when they find that they are heard with inter upon the particulars, this connexion of difference, perhaps with contempt; that those the words will afford us ground for some ob- whose salvation they long for, are enraged servations.
against them for their labour of love; and I. That the small success and efficacy of that they cannot prevail upon even their the preached gospel upon multitudes who I dearest friends, and nearest relatives,-this hear it, is a subject of wonder and grief to grieves and wounds them to the heart. the ministers and people of God. It was so 2. They have been convinced themselves, to our Lord Jesus, considered as a preacher that unbelief was the worst of all their sins
and therefore, though they pity all who live the knowledge of grace and the practice of in the practice of sin, yet they have a double holiness, fail of success, yet they shall be acgrief to see them reject the only means of cepted. The servants of Christ may in their salvation: and that this contempt will lie humble measure adopt the words of their inore heavily upon them, than any thing they Lord and Master, in the prophet: “Though can be charged with besides. It gladdens Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious the heart of a minister to see a large and at- in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be tentive assembly; but how is this joy damped my strength,” Isaiah xlix. 5. When he sent by a just fear, lest any, lest many of them forth his first disciples, he directed them, should receive this grace of God in vain, and whenever they entered, to say, “ Peace be to have cause at last to be wail the day when this house! and it a son of peace be there," the name of Jesus was first sounded in their if there be any who thankfully accept your ears!
salutation and message, “ your peace shall It seems plain then, that those who are in- rest upon it; if not, it shall return to you different about the event of the gospel, who again," Luke x. 6. That is, your good satisfy themselves with this thought, that the wishes and endeavours shall not be lost for elect shall be saved, and feel no concern want of proper objects, but, when they seem for unawakened sinners, make a wrong in- to be without effect on others, shall be proference from a true doctrine, and know not ductive of the happiest consequences to yourwhat spirit they are of. Jesus wept for those selves: you shall receive all you were dewho perished in their sins. St. Paul had sirous to communicate. Thus his ministers great grief and sorrow of heart for the Jews, are to declare his whole will, whether men though he gave them this character, “ That will hear, or whether they shall forbear. And they pleased not God, and were contrary to if they do this with a single eye to his glory, all men.” It well becomes us, while we ad- and in humble dependence upon his blessmire distinguishing grace to ourselves, to ing, they are not answerable for the event; mourn over others: and inasmuch as secret they shall in no wise lose their reward. things belong to the Lord, and we know not 2. Faithful endeavours in the service of but some, of whom we have at present but the gospel shall not wholly fail. Though all little hopes, may at last be brought to the will not hear, some certainly shall both hear knowledge of the truth, we should be patient and obey. Though all are by nature equally and forbearing after the pattern of our hea- averse and incapable, yet there shall be “a venly Father, and endeavour, by every pro- willing people in the day of God's power,' bable and prudent means, to stir them up Psalm cx. 3. If the wise and prudent turn to repentance, remembering that they can-away from the truth, there are babes to whom not be more distant from God, than by nature it shall be revealed. The Lord renews unto we were ourselves.
us a pledge of his faithfulness in this concern II. The best relief against those discour-every time the rain descends. For thus he agements we meet with from men, is to raise has promised, " As the rain cometh down, our thoughts to God and heaven. For this and the snow from heaven, and returneth the Lord Jesus is our precedent here. He not thither, but watereth the earth, and said, " I thank thee, O Father.” The word* maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may signifies, to confess, to promise, or consent, give seed to the sower, and bread to the eatand to praise. As if it had been said, “Ier: so shall my word be that goeth forth out glorify thy wisdom in this respect, I acknow- of my mouth: it shall not return unto me ledge, and declare that it is thy will, and I void, but it shall accomplish that which I express my own consent and approbation." please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereOur Lord's views of the divine counsels were to I sent it," Isaiah lv. 10. perfect, and therefore his satisfaction was 3. The divine sovereignty is the best complete. It is said, " Ile rejoiced in spirit," thought we can retreat to for composing and (Luke x. 21,) when he uttered these words. strengthening our minds under the ditficulAnd the more we increase in faith and in the ties, discouragements, and disappointments knowledge of God, the more we shall be sa- which attend the publication of the gospel. tisfied in his appointments, and shall see and The more we give way to reasonings and cosiy, “ He hath done all things well.” It is rious inquiries, the more we shall be perplexneedful for our comfort to be well establisheded and baffled. When Jeremiah had been in the truth suggested in my text, That the complaining of some things that were too Lord hath provided for the accomplishment hard for him, the Lord sent him to the potof his own purposes, and that his counsels ter's house, and taught him to infer, from the shall surely stand. From this doctrine we potter's power over the clay, the just right may infer,
which the Lord of all hath to do what he will 1. That were the faithful labours and en- with his own, Jer. xviii. 6. It is only the deavours of ministers and others, to promote pride of our own hearts that prevents this
consideration from being perfectly conclusive The original word, bouncy 04456, occurs Mali. iii. Luke xxii. 6, and Rom. av. 9.
and satisfactory. How many schemes dero