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while you remain conscious, that you have not yourselves heard Jesus, and so learned that he is the Christ? But it may be, you have been busily employed in speculations on matters of religion; whence you have collected what may be called a justness of sentiment or opinion. Still give me leave to ask you, Of what avail will your notions be, however just in themselves, if they have taken no hold on your hearts? Though the Samaritans had exhausted all their skill in curious inquiries, and had even proceeded so far, as to propagate with some appearance of zeal, the story the woman told them; yet if they had not themselves gone out of the city to see Christ, and had not brought forth the fruits of love and obedience iņ their lives, their faith would have been justly questionable by all around them. Rest not therefore in any thing short of a real experience of religion. This, and this only, will give life and vigour to your profession; inspire your hearts with a noble resolution, amidst the attacks of infidelity and temptation; render the path of duty, in some degree at least, easy and pleasant; and yield you substantial comfort in that tremendous hour, when all the feeble supports authority can afford, will sink under the ruins of dissolving nature. May the good Spirit of God possess you of this divine blessing; to whose almighty influence and grace we therefore humbly and fervently commend you! To conclude,
3. How great is your happiness, Christians, who have not only tasted of the distant streams of religion, as they have flowed down to you through the testimony and experience of others; but have also drank at the fountain of divine knowledge and consolation! You have believed, not for the saying of other men ; but have yourselves heard Jesus, and known that he is the Christ the Saviour of the world. By the light of his instructions, accompanied with the influence of his Spirit, you have seen your misery and danger, and the sufficiency and suitableness of the remedy which almighty grace has provided. And whilst you have committed your immortal interests into the hands of Christ as your Saviour; from a sense of duty and gratitude, you have yielded yourselves to his goyernment as your king. Give God the glory of all your hopes. Rejoice in Christ, by whom you have access by faith into the grace wherein you stand a. Having tasted that the Lord is gracious, desire earnestly the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby b. Use the means which God has appointed for confirming your faith, and enlarging your experience ; at the same time imploring that influence from above, which can only render them effectual.
Be cautious that you mingle not your own conceits with the sober exercises of real religion. And though you are sensible that no happy experience of which you may be possessed, can have sufficient force to convince others; let it nevertheless be your constant concern, by the purity of your lives, to oblige them to take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus c. In one word; amidst all the painful exercises which may attend the discipline of the heart, in your way through this world, be comforted with the animating prospect of that bliss and glory, which shall be the certain and joyful issue of such experience, in the realms of light and perfection above. a Rom, v. 2, 61 let. ii. 3,
c Acts iv, 13.
THE UTILITY OF LEARNING TO A CHRISTIAN MINISTER:
S E R M ON,
PREACHED AT BROADMEAD, BRISTOL,
AUGUST 27th, 1783,
BEING THE DAY OF THE ANNUAL MEETING
THE UTILITY OF LEARNING TO A CHRISTIAN MINISTER.
ACTS xxvi. 24, 25.---And as he thus spake for himself, Festus
said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself, much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus ; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
SOUND judgment and a warm heart are eminent qualifications of a Christian minister. They are the gifts of God, and ought to be devoutly acknowledged as such. And one way of expressing our gratitude for them, is by seeking to excel therein, as the apostle exhorts the Corinthians, for the edifying of the church.
What therefore is of use to improve these gifts which God has bestowed, or in other words, to enable a minister to reason with clearness, and to persuade with energy, ought to be treated with respect, and cultivated with attention. . Now true learning is that thing. To explain and improve this point is the object of the present discourse.
The apostle Paul, having been delivered by the Jews into the hands of the Romans, after several examinations, was brought by Festus before Agrippa. This Agrippa was the son of Herod Agrippa, who put James to death and committed Peter to prison; and the great grandson of Herod the Great. He had considerable territories in the neighbourhood of Cesarea, the seat of the Roman governor; and happening to be there at this time on a visit to Festus, was desirous of hearing Paul himself. Accordingly, at the commandment of Festus he was brought forth, and permitted to make his defence to king Agrippa. This he does with great force of reason and elocution. He first of all congratulates himself on the idea, that the prince before whom he pleaded his cause, having been bred up among the Jews, was expert in all their