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ground can they hope to prevail in their speaking—he, brethren, the individual who now addresses you, wherefore do
you listen to him ? and why does he demand your attention ? but because, whether he speak “ for doctrine, or for reproof,” he refers himself to the Bible, he looks into, and speaks from the written word of God, and thence is authorized to declare,“ Thus saith the Lord God."
Therefore, “be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”3 Imitate the noble and worthy conduct of the Bereans, praised by the sacred historians. These noble converts to the faith preached unto them, tested the truth, and weight, and worth of what they heard, by a patient reference to the written and acknowledged word of God. “They,” it is said, “ searched the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so." Therefore did many of them believe. They became “ wise unto salvation through 3 Ephes. v. 17.
4 Acts xvii. 11.
faith which is in Christ Jesus." 5 Therefore did they not come, neither must any of us, my brethren, come in the folly and sinfulness of Ezekiel's hearers; they came, that is, to hear, but not to do; they came in idleness, or in listlessness, or out of inere curiosity, certainly not from a desire of “ instruction in righteousness,” or to be advised for their good :-“for their heart," it is stated of them, still went after their covetousness."6 And so, however faithfully delivered, the word profited them nothing. They were inwardly set, predetermined, as we may say,
6 not to do it:" and the marvellous loving-kindness of the Lord, in sending all his servants, the prophets, to admonish, reprove, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine" 7
was utterly in vain : and “ to Israel he said, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobe. dient and gainsaying people.”
5 2 Tim. iii. 15. 7 2 Tim. iv, 2.
6 Ezek. xxxiii. 31. 8 Rom. x. 21.
O! my brethren, “ be not we rebellious, like that rebellious house." Let us not in self-conceit, or out of mere indolence, make a “mock at the counsel of the Lord.” Nothing can be more important, nothing more true, nothing more solemn, than the words of that book, the written oracles of God, which you hear read and expounded to you every Sabbathday. They are, in plain and simple truth," the words of eternal life,” and “shew unto us the way of salvation.” “ With meekness," with patience, with docility, yea, with all readiness of mind, are we to “ receive the engrafted word which is able to save our souls,”9 that we may walk in the statutes of the Lord, and keep his ordinances, and do them. “And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for them, whose heart walketh after their detestable things, and their abomi. nations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord God.” 1
9 James i. 21.
Most awful and responsible, whether as regards ministers or people, is now the situation of the christian multitude. If fidelity and diligence in delivering the word be required on the one hand, the heart's desire to hear, nay, more, the firm resolve to profit with God's grace by the hearing, is equally requisite on the other. In a word, if either minister, or people do not well, sin lieth at the door, against each man individually. And when this life being ended, and after the long sleep of the grave, the archangel's trumpet shall awaken christian men to judgment; then, brethren, shall it be good : yea, a joyful and happy hour shall that awakening be to those, who in singleness of heart have attended to the word which came forth from the
1 Ezek. xi. 20, 21.