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sic worth: and let it not be thought|felt your need of a Saviour, and acany disparagement to prefer the quired a disposition to love and company of pious Christians, who adore him. And how will the conare almost as poor as their Master duct of angels, who though they chose to be, above that of the most never sinned, and need no pardoning accomplished persons who are stran- mercy or renewing grace, yet glorify gers to his saving grace. God with all their powers, for his
And my brethren of low degree, love to fallen men, rise up in judglet me exhort you to be contented ment against the ingratitude and and patient in your humble condi- perverseness of perishing sinners, tion; watch against envy, repining, who make the very condescension covetings, and distrust. Seek the of Emmanuel the pretence for retrue riches, the ornament which in fusing him the glory due to his the sight of God is of great price, name.
the honour that cometh from Him, Let us also inquire, how far we and the pure pleasures which he resemble these heavenly worshipbestows. With these the meanest pers in the temper of our minds. accommodations will make your Exalted and holy as they are, they hearts thankful: and if your children despise not sinful worms, dwelling be poorly provided for, and you in houses of clay; while they adored are overlooked in times of difficulty the Son of God, as tabernacling in by your neighbours; think of the human flesh, and thus "made a virgin mother and her holy infant little lower than the angels for in the stable; reflect on your sin- the suffering of death." They fulness; and instead of murmur-complain not of the special honour ing, lift up your hearts in joyful shown to worthless man, by this thanksgivings: for few of you are union of the Deity with our nature, so poor as the divine Saviour of and not with theirs: they are not sinners was during the whole of his reluctant to our felicity, and obhumiliation. ject not to our being made equal But, my friends, what do you with them. Yea, they willingly think of this lowly Redeemer? Do and joyfully minister to the heirs of your ideas of his dignity, excellency, salvation, in the meanest cottage, love, and salvation, accord to the work-house, or dungeon; nor do views of these holy angels? Or do they deem the poorest believer an you see in him no form or comeli-unmeet object of their condescendness; nor any beauty for which you ing and compassionate servcies.should desire him? Do you heartily This is genuine excellency: but sing, "Glory to God in the high-have we been taught to resemble est, and peace on earth, good-will and imitate them? Are we thus towards men?" Or is there no-attentive to the needy, ready to thing in this great event to excite sympathize with the afflicted, and your attention and admiration? freed from selfishness, envy, and You can never be meet for the joys contempt of inferiors? Above all, of heaven unless you learn on earth let us remember and imitate "the to see and admire the glories of re-grace of the Lord Jesus, who though deeming love. The songs of an- he was rich, for our sakes became gels would grate in your ears, and poor; that we through his poverty discompose your hearts; were it might be made rich." He hath possible for you to enter the man- said, "The poor ye have always sious of the blessed, without having with you; and when ye will ye may
546 ON THE CELEBRATION OF CHRIST'S NATIVITY.
do good to them." He hath ap- the poor in spirit, the weeping pointed his needy disciples to be penitent, take encouragement, from his representatives and receivers; the astonishing instance of the that in supplying their wants we Lord's good-will to sinful men, this may express our love and gratitude day commemorated. And let all, to Him, and copy his most endear- that have tasted this grace, and can ing example. rejoice in the love of God our SaThis season is generally attended viour, remember that they are subwith an interruption of secular bu-jects to the Prince of peace: that siness, and some additional expense; they may be animated to pray for yet the time and money are gene- universal peace, and by all suitable rally worse than thrown away means, to follow after peace, to while professed Christians, like seek the peace of the church, and Israel worshiping the golden calf, the peace of the world; and by "sit down to eat, and drink, and well-doing to put to silence the igrise up to play." But if we have a norance of foolish men. spiritual taste, and judge as angels do; we shall rather abridge ourselves of customary indulgences, than "make provision for the flesh," when commemorating the humble birth of the self-denying Saviour. We shall express our joy, and employ our leisure, in acts of solemn worship and grateful praises: and instead of expensive feasts for the wealthy, we shall abound in hospitality and kindness to the poor, and be glad to contribute to promote FROM the calling of Abraham, to the cause for which the Son of God the time of Samuel, the Lord had became incarnate. shown peculiar favours of inestimaThe sensual and ungodly mirth ble value to his chosen people. of vast multitudes, at this festival, Especially He showed his word
GOODNESS OF PROVIDENCE AN EXCITE-
1 SAM. vii. 12-Then Samuel took a
is madness! They abound in the unto Jocob, his statutes and his works of the devil, because the Son judgments unto Israel: he dealt of God was manifested to destroy not so with any nation, and as for them! When the very event thus his judgments they had not known commemorated will increase the them." Psal. cxlvii. 19, 20. But weight of their condemnation; un-they had always manifested a perless they can be persuaded to fol- verse and ungrateful disposition, low the apostle's counsel, "Cleanse and were continually provoking your hands, ye sinners, and purify him with their idolatries and rebelyour hearts, ye double-minded; be lions." Therefore was the wrath afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let of the Lord kindled against his your laughter be turned into mourn - people, insomuch that he abhorred ing, and your joy into heaviness. his own inheritance: and he gave Humble yourselves in the sight of them into the hand of the heathen; the Lord, and he shall lift you up." and they that hated them ruled James, iv. 7-10. over them. Their enemies also But let the heart of those re- oppressed them, and they were joice that seek the Lord." Let • Preached January 1, 1796.
brought in subjection under their ed directly to attack them. But in hand. Many times did he deliver answer to the earnest prayers of them; but they provoked him by Samuel and the people, these fortheir counsel, and were brought low midable enemies were entirely defor their iniquity. Nevertheless he feated. And on this memorable regarded their affliction, when he occasion, "Samuel took a stone, heard their cry." Psal, cvi. 40-44. and set it between Mizpeh and Phineas and Hophni, the priests, Shen, and called the name of it the sons of Eli, had by their wicked- Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath ness caused a most deplorable preva- the Lord helped us." He set up a lence of impiety among the people: monument of God's kindness to Isthis provoked God to deliver them rael (not of Israel's triumph over into the hands of the Philistines, the Philistines); to perpetuate the who carried off the ark of the cove-memory of his gracious interposinant, which had been presumptu- tion in their behalf, and to declare ously brought into the field of battle. their gratitude to future generaFor the Lord was able to vindicate tions. his own glory, and to honour that The history of Israel may be consymbol of his gracious presence even sidered as the Lord's experimental among his avowed enemies, without trial of human nature. The expericountenancing the vain confidence ments of the chymist on an ounce of his hypocritical worshippers. The of gold or mercury, when properly Philistines were soon constrained to repeated and established, authorize restore the ark; but while it was general conclusions concerning the neglected in Israel, they retained properties of all the gold or mercury their superiority over that nation. in the world. Thus the dealings of During the space of twenty years, the Lord with Israel, as a specimen Samuel, who at the beginning of of the human race, when rightly these troubles was a very young understood, warrant general concluman, seems to have laboured with sions concerning the dispositions zealous and unwearied diligence, in and propensities of all mankind : bringing the people to repentance, for the whole is, as it were, one and reviving true religion among mass, and has the same nature and them. At the end of this time it properties. It is therefore mere is said, "All the house of Israel self-flattery to suppose, that we lamented after the Lord." The should have acted better than they narrative of the subsequent reforma- did, if we had been left to ourselves tion is indeed very brief; yet there in exactly the same circumstances: is reason to conclude, that it was and it is a vulgar prejudice to imaone of the most signal revivals of vital godliness, that stands upon record: for" the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only."
gine that the Israelites were more wicked than other nations. Their history was more impartially written, and their conduct tried by a stricter rule: in all other respects
A general assembly was convened the records of any country tend to at Mizpeh, where Samuel was pub-establish the same conclusions conlicly owned as judge of Israel: while cerning human nature.
they were earnestly seeking the Lord The history of the visible church with fasting, prayer, and other reli- in every age entirely coincides with gious observances, the Philistines, that of the Israelites: special merjealous of their proceedings, march-cies conferred; base ingratitude and
rebellion; severe chastisements, and us with all things needful, we expethe triumph of cruel enemies; hu- rienced, and should acknowledge, miliation and revivals of religion, the Lord's distinguishing goodness. followed by gracious providential The possession and continued use deliverances, form the compendium of our limbs, senses, and faculties ; of the whole but "Hitherto hath the measure and peculiarity of our the Lord helped us," and "the natural abilities; and the advangates of hell have not prevailed." tages of our education, by which The experience likewise of be- we were severally brought into our lievers harmonizes in many respects present comfortable way of subsistwith the records of Israel: and it ence: as well as the possessions is therefore peculiarly useful, to re- which in different ways have acview with care and attention, at crued to many, with all that distinstated times, all the Lord's deal-guishes every one's situation in ings with us, and our conduct to- society from that of others, should wards him: "For hitherto hath he be traced back to the special kindhelped us."-To assist such a re-ness of the Lord. We should each view, at the entrance of another of us remember, with good old year, will be the object of the pre- Jacob, that "God hath fed us all sent discourse: in which I shall our life long unto this day." Gen. consider, xlviii. 15. He hath given us our temporal provision, whatever it hath I. The import of the words been; and if we have lived thirty, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped forty, fifty, or more years, without us;" and some particulars to which experiencing the want of food or they may be referred. the other necessaries of life, we have II. Inquire what is meant by abundant reason to say, Hitherto Setting up an Eben-ezer," accord-hath the Lord helped us." The ing to the common, and not impro-provision afforded us hath laid us per use of the expression. under as deep obligations to gratitude, as if we had been fed by I. The import of the words, miracle, according to the kindness "Hitherto hath the Lord helped of the Lord to Israel: and in some us," and some particulars to which respects we have had a decided they may be referred. advantage over them: for our sup1. The Lord hath hitherto helped ply has been more pleasant, in its us all in his superintending provi- nature and variety, than manna dence. We came into the world from the clouds, and water from indigent and helpless: our wants the rock would have been. were numerous and urgent, and we earth is the Lord's, and the fulness were utterly incapable of making of it." "He openeth his hand and any provision for them. All these filleth all things living with plenwants the Lord alone supplied; teousness:" and he hath put it in and others were merely the instru- our power to obtain a portion of ments by which he conferred his his bounty.
bounty. Numbers die in infancy, Nor have our dangers been fewer because they are not properly taken than our wants. What multitudes care of and provided for: but we are swept away by various sickwere preserved; and in the kind-nesses and disasters, in every stage ness of parents or friends, as well of human life, even from the earliest as in the ability given them to supply infancy? How many have all their
days embittered by perpetual dis-tricated from the difficulties in which ease? What frequent instances do they were involved. And have we we witness of such, as have been not, my friends, abundant cause for deprived of their limbs or senses; gratitude to our kind protector and or even rendered most pitiable ob- deliverer? jects by incurable insanity? If then Let us not on this occasion forget we have been favoured with a com- the special mercies we enjoy in this fortable state of health; if violent favoured land. The nation has inmaladies have not seized on us, or deed, within our days, been frehave been removed; if the use of quently engaged in war, and great our eyes, ears, senses, limbs, and complaints have been made: but understandings have been conti- few of us know any thing experinued, or restored to us; whatever mentally of the horrors attending second causes have occurred, we on actual warfare. We have not should thankfully say, "Hitherto been shut up in besieged cities, hath the Lord helped us." or witnessed the dismay, carnage,
Our lives and comforts are like- and devastation of such a scene. wise exposed to perpetual dangers Streets flowing with human blood, from wicked men. If then we have or strewed with mangled corpses; lain down in peace, one night after the groans of the wounded and another, and risen in safety; if we dying; the ruins or smoke of houses or our dear friends have journeyed made the graves of the inhabitants; from time to time, during the course with all the dire effects of places of our past lives, without having taken by assault, and given up to been injured, or even alarmed by plunder and devastation, have not robbers and murderers; or if, to been rendered familiar to our senses. show us our danger, and remind us We have not beheld the fields raof our invisible protector, we have vaged by hostile armies, the labeen alarmed, and yet preserved bour of the husbandmen destroyed; from material detriment, how ought towns and villages reduced to ashes; we to bless and praise the Lord for and the neighbourhood rendered alhis peculiar kindness to us? Every most a desert; except as the engines time we have gone from home, by of destruction, the conflicting arland or sea; or have parted with mies, the cries of the dying, or the our beloved relatives, thus called more affecting lamentations of surinto distant parts; and on our re- viving parents, widows, and orphans, turn have met them in safety, with- give a sad variety to the dreary out having experienced fatal disas-scene. How few comparatively of ters, or heart-rending distresses, the human race have passed so large should excite us to renew our grate- a portion of their lives, without ful acknowledgments to the God of sharing these sorrows, or having our lives. their hearts pained by these woful Some of us can say, 'We were spectacles? Is there then no cause never, during all our past years, on this account to set up our Ebendisturbed by the midnight alarm of ezer, and say, "Hitherto hath the fire in our habitations; our pro- Lord helped us?" If any doubt of perty, or part of our families were it, a few months' residence in a never thus tremendously taken from country that is made the seat of us.' Others may indeed have been war, would effectually teach them, thus alarmed and endangered, but provided they be peaceably diswere mercifully preserved; and ex-posed, to value a land of peace;