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VOUCHSAFE, O God, to direct me in this work, and bless this discourse for the good of my flock; that both I and they may glorify Thee for the truths they shall hear. Render them tractable and obedient to Thy Word, and me faithful in delivering it; that I may save myself, and them that hear me, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

LUKE viii. 18.

4. 9; Heb.

Take heed how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; See Mark and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.

GOOD christian people; I am going to set before you the great blessing of attending to the Word of God, whether read or preached to you, and the true way of profiting thereby; as also, the very great hazard you run, of living under the light of the Gospel, and the ordinances of God, and not being bettered by them.

There is nothing more certain, than that many christians are eternally ruined for want of considering the truths they hear every Lord's Day, and by not laying them to heart.

2. 1-4;

James 1.21; 1 Thess. 2. 13; 4. 1.

They come, indeed, to the church; and they hear the Scriptures read to them. They hear what God commands, and what He requires of them. They are put in mind of what must certainly come hereafter; of death, of judgment, of heaven, and of hell. And yet they return home as little affected, as if these things were not true, or as if they did not at all concern them. And what is the consequence of this? Why, they are called christians, though they do not the things [Luke 6. 46.] which Christ hath commanded them. They hope for salva

SERM. tion, without being converted; and under this delusion they die, and go into eternity.


To prevent this destructive consequence, our Lord has given this following strict charge to all His followers: TAKE HEED HOW YE HEAR. Take heed, for your salvation depends upon it, that you remember, and make good use of, what you hear: FOR WHOSOEVER HATH, that is, hath benefited by what he hath already heard, God will increase his knowledge and his graces: BUT WHOSOEVER HATH NOT, that is, have not minded what they have heard, or have not profited by it; such are unworthy of more favours, and, by a just judgment of God, will be deprived of the knowledge and graces which they seemed to have.

TAKE HEED, therefore, How YOU HEAR: that is, whether you come prepared to hear with a serious, teachable temper; with a purpose to learn your duty, and to practise what you hear.

TAKE HEED HOW YOU HEAR: and that you hear those only who, by the order and providence of God, are appointed to instruct you. Never, sure, was more need of this caution. [2 John 7.] Many deceivers, saith the Apostle, are entered into the world many lewd, profane, and antichristian books; many agents of Satan, and seducing spirits; and therefore beware and avoid them as you love your souls.

Lastly: TAKE HEED HOW YOU HEAR. Remember whose ministers you hear, whose word, whose commands, whose promises, whose threatenings, you hear. They are not the words of man, but the Word of God, delivered by His own Son, confirmed by miracles, and reported to you by His own ministers.

It may be, you imagine, that you know your duty as well as the preacher who is appointed to instruct you. Be it so. But remember, that whatever his talents and yours may be, [Rom. 13. he is a minister of God to you for good, if you hear and obey 4.] his godly admonitions. And remember too, that the most eloquent, learned man on earth cannot edify you without God's blessing. And lastly, that God has made, and can make, His Word, out of the mouth of the meanest of His ministers, effectual for the conversion of those that hear them with reverence.

Well then; whoever hopes to benefit by hearing, must come with humility, and a teachable temper of mind; must resolve to receive instruction, reproof, and advice, as coming from God; and must strive to remember what he hears.

It will startle you, and, I hope, will affect your hearts, to hear the true reason why the generality of people do not profit by sermons, and by the Word of God read to them. It is not I, but JESUS CHRIST, who tells you, that "the seed is the Word of God:" that "those by the way-side are they that hear. Then cometh the devil;" observe that; "then [Luke 8. 11, cometh the devil, and taketh the word out of their hearts, lest 12.] they should believe and be saved."

You see who it is that tempts you to sit down with indifference, when the Word of God is read or spoken; who it is that suggests to your mind other matters, when you should be attending to the things which concern your souls: you hear from Christ Himself, that it is the devil, and that the end thereof is damnation. Let this dreadful truth, I beseech you, oblige you at this time, and at all times, to hearken with attention to the Word of God. And remember what our Lord said to those that heard His Word, and would not mind it: "It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in [Matt. 10. 15; 11. 24.] the Day of Judgment, than for you."

It behoves you therefore, as ever you hope to escape this dreadful judgment; it concerns you, I say, to come to church with a teachable temper, with a sincere desire, whether to learn, or to be put in mind of your duty. It concerns you to hear with an humble, attentive mind, and with a full purpose of heart to order your life accordingly; and then the Word you hear will become indeed, what St. Paul calls it, the Word [Rom. 1. of Salvation to every one that believeth.


And that you may always attend to what is written in the Gospel with the greatest regard, and assurance of being true and certain, take notice of and remember what was declared by God Himself in a voice from heaven, This is My beloved [Luke 9. Son, hear ye Him.

It is not a poor, ignorant creature, as I am, who tells you WHAT YOU MUST DO TO BE SAVED; what you must do to escape eternal misery; but it is the Son of God Himself, sent from heaven for this very end; to shew unto us the way to life



SERM. everlasting. It is Him you hear, when you hear His Word; and it is Him you disregard, when you mind not what is said to you by His ministers.

But then, because it is not sufficient for a man to hear the truths of the Gospel, unless, through the grace of God, he applies them to himself, and considers how much he himself is concerned in them, and that otherwise he will be little the better for hearing the Word read or preached; I will, therefore, shew you how the most plain and unlearned christian may and ought to apply the things he hears, every one to himself, and put them in practice. I will also shew you, how the truths you hear may always suggest to your minds suitable petitions, in order to obtain the grace of God, without which all you hear, all you know, will signify nothing towards your salvation.

For example: suppose the sermon you heard was concerning THE DANGER OF INCONSIDERATION, or the sad effect of that little care and concern which the generality of christians have for their salvation.

Such a serious subject, if you mind it, must needs affect you; and you will be apt to say within yourself, 'I see plainly, that if I pass my days in a wretched, negligent manner, without taking care of my soul, without considering what will come hereafter, whether I think of it or not, I can expect nothing when I die but misery everlasting. I see plainly, that I must not satisfy myself with the bare name of being a christian, without considering what the Christian Religion requires of me. If I do so, I shall be dealt with worse than an heathen. GOD Himself has declared, that great will be the punishment of wicked men; and great the reward, great the happiness, of such as fear to offend Him, of such as are careful to obey His commands. And shall not this awaken me? Shall I go on, and live as if no harm would follow? Will not inconsideration ruin me, as well as if I were guilty of the greatest crimes? I take all possible care of my worldly concerns, and to avoid temporal evils; and shall I not be concerned for evils that will last for ever? It is true, I see others as little concerned as I am myself; but will this be any comfort to me, if we are all miserable at the last?

'I should be astonished to hear a man say, that he does not

believe one word of the Gospel: and yet, it is plain, it will be the same thing in the end, with those that have not believed one word of the Gospel, and with those that have not laid the truths of the Gospel to heart. I am resolved, therefore, what I will do: I will go home, and beg of God to touch my heart with a lasting sense of the danger I am in; that He will give me great concern for my soul; and that He will not suffer me to lead a careless life any longer.'

And you will be confirmed in these good purposes, if you shall be so happy (for so the providence of God often orders matters for our good);—if you shall be so happy, as in some other sermon to be put in mind of the wretched condition of one who leads a careless and a sinful life: and this both with respect to himself and to God.

If, for example, you have been plainly told, what you cannot but know to be true, that a person who leads a careless and a sinful life, can never be truly easy, or pleased with himself; that he is always doing that which he inwardly condemns; that he is afraid of that light which would let him see the danger he is in; and that though he has often proposed to lead a new life, yet he has as often neglected to do so.

If you have been told, what is as true as the Gospel, that while you live in wilful sin, there is not the filthiest creature so odious in your eyes, as you are in the eyes of God; that you are governed by the devil, and are in his service, and doing his work; that every moment you put off your repentance, you are despising the goodness and long-suffering of God, [Rom. 2. 4.] who continues your life for no other end, but that you may not be damned. If you hear, and are not startled at this, it [Rom. 1. is because you are given over to a reprobate mind.

Every man, who is not so given over, will certainly be afraid for himself; and if he hears a sermon concerning REPENTANCE, and a sinner's return to God, he will probably come to some such resolutions as these:

'I am convinced, from God's own Word, that a sinner has no other choice but either repentance or damnation. As long, therefore, as I have no hopes of pardon, I can have no comfort in life and as long as I defer my repentance, I can have no hopes of pardon. And I see plainly, from what I


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