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rience, that makes them lowly and teachable. With a meek spirit a man will not at once quarrel with what he hears, however it may appear to him mysterious and inexplicable, but will wait, in the posture of a learner, for clearer light. Instead of objecting to an awful denunciation, he will tremble at it; instead of doubting a gracious promise, he will desire an interest in it. Sensible of his own ill-deservings, and great depravity, convinced of his own ignorance and weakness, he feels the need of a revelation like the Gospel, full of mercies, and gladly receives it in its length and breadth; in all its doctrines, however contrary to the carnal mind, and however offensive to the proud heart; and in all its cepts, however strict, and however opposed to his selfindulging pleasures. Bearing in mind our guilty and ruined state, even remembering our own innumerable transgressions and demerits, let an abased, lowly, contrite spirit mark our hearing. Let us listen as to words whereby we may be saved. We are lost and undone; the Gospel is a system of recovery; but it is either a savour of death unto death, or a savour of life unto life, just as it is received. A man feeling his ruin is humbled; a man in real distress gladly receives aid. The minister speaks not in his own name, but in the name of the great God. Where the word of a king is, there is power. Eccles. viii, 4. Though it be then contrary to your natural inclination and to your previous views, remember, if it be the word of God, it cannot be despised with impunity, and there must be an immense blessing in humbly receiving and obeying it. In few things do we more manifestly exhibit want of reverence to God, than in slighting and despising his word; in few things does that humility and lowliness (which in his sight are of great estimation) more shine,
than when we unfeignedly submit to and reverence his declared will and his revealed word.
9. COMPARE ALL YOU HEAR WITH THE WRITTEN WORD Of God. This was the practice of the Bereans. Even when an inspired Apostle preached, they searched the scriptures daily whether these things were so. Acts xviii, 11. Nothing has any divine authority but as it comes from God, or is according to his word. Yield your mind up then to the plain will of God, and to nothing else. Have a simple regard to his authority. As long as we receive doctrines merely on the word of ministers, we build our faith on human opinions, and it may be shaken by other human opinions; but when the Holy Scriptures are made the sole foundation of our faith, and we compare all we hear with the word of God, and receive it only as it is drawn from that pure fountain of divine truth-we have then a divine testimony, and build on that which, like its Divine Author, is not variable, and cannot be shaken. We are bound, as reasonable and accountable creatures, thus to form our own judgment of what we hear, and not to take our sentiments only on man's authority. That authority may justly demand from us patient consideration, but not unqualified submission. All the fathers and ecclesiastical writers put together do not form the rule of judgment-God's holy word is our final judge. The apostle doubtless wished the Galatians, in considering either him, or an angel from heaven that should preach another Gospel accursed, to form their own judgment on what they heard. Let us have a high reverence of the Divine Word as the only umpire in sacred truth; let us be well acquainted with it, that by it we may try the spirits; 1 John iv, 1. We may otherwise be misled by deceivers and false teachers, and take that for the word
of God, which is indeed only the fancy of an ignorant,
10. Hear in the SPIRIT OF OBEDIENCE. The directions of St. James (chap. i, 22–25.) on this point are very express. We shall have to consider them more fully in another place. Hearing is not the end of our attendance on the ministry; it is but a means of assisting us to practical obedience, and it is a vain thing merely to hear, and learn our duty, if our lives never be the better. Determine then that you will, by the grace of God, practise all that is delivered to you by his ministers from his word. Often ask yourself, How can I best discharge the duties that have been brought before me? How can I most carefully shun the sins that have been pointed out? Submit yourselves, your
* He farther adds, "Try what you hear by the work it has on your soul: the whole scripture specially aims at three thingshumility, comfort, and obedience. 1. To abase man in his own eyes, and to lay him in the dust. 2 To refresh his soul, and to bring his bones, which have been broken, to rejoice. 3. To frame his heart to a constant desire and care to please God. The doctrine which tends to further these three is true; that which is an impediment to any of these three must be rejected as unsound."
souls and body, your estate, your family, all you are and have, to God's holy word. Often lift up your heart in secret ejaculations, while hearing, with reference to this end—' Lord, write this thy law on my heart!" 'Lord, teach me to do thy will!' If you hear in a spirit of obedience, you will hear with a desire personally to obey. You will not be thinking of others, and be wishing, O that such a one, my relation, my neighbour, my master or mistress, or servant, heard this, it just suits them!' let your thoughts rather be such as these - —' O let me take heed how I hear, that I may obey; this reaches my case-here I am guilty-here I must amend my ways-I am the man concerned-let me begin to practise this duty, to believe this promise, to rest on my Saviour, to seek his Holy Spirit, and to aim at his glory in all I do!' Thus shall we receive the best profit by hearing. If any man will do his will, ke shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God. John vii, 17.
PRAYER BEFORE HEARING.
O most gracious Jehovah, the Fountain of Light, and the Giver of all Wisdom, and my reconciled Father in Christ Jesus, I render to thee my grateful thanksgivings for the light of thy truth, and the many spiritual advantages which thou hast given to me.
Open, O Lord, I beseech thee, mine eyes, that I may know the hope set before me. Open mine ears to hear thy truth. Thou hast said, The preparation of the heart in man is from the Lord: O do thou then prepare my heart to hear. It is careless and unimpressed; it is hard and stony; it is too often filled with worldly thoughts, and vain and sinful passions; O Lord, create in me a clean heart. O Lord, make my heart soft, and
tender, and humble, that I may receive thy word with all readiness of mind and meekness of spirit.
O give me thy Holy Ghost largely and fully. May the blessed Spirit be my teacher, and sanctify me by thy truth. Give me grace to desire the sincere milk of the word. Give me a simple faith in every part of thy revealed truth, and an unfeigned submission of mind to it.
Lord, help me to hear in the spirit of prayer, of faith, and of love. Sanctify my memory to retain, and iny affections to embrace thy truth. Remove far from me all prejudices. Deliver me from the love of darkness, from besetting sins, worldly fears, and whatever may obstruct a cordial reception of thy holy will. Give me a childlike spirit, that I may be teachable and humble, and give full credit to all that thou my heavenly Father hast said.
Q Heavenly Father, my tender and compassionate God and Saviour, let me not be satisfied with the word merely, or the outward reception of the promise: but may receive Christ Jesus, the only Lord and Saviour, into my heart, and be filled with his Spirit, and enjoy that blessed fellowship which all thy people have with thee and thy Son Jesus Christ.
And let thy word have free course and be glorified, not only in my own soul, but among all that shall hear that word, and in every place, till it be known and received through the whole world, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.