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elect only, Acts xiii. 43. As may as were ordained to eternal life believed. Its edifying efficacy, both in holiness and comfort, it has on the saints.

2. The spring of its efficacy is not from itself, nor the preacher, but from the Spirit's operation by and with it, i Cor. iii. 5. 6. Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord

gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered: but God gave

the increase. 3. The inward mean which the Spirit makes use of to render it etlicicious, is the faich or belief of it, resting upon God's faithful word for the efficacy, Heb. iv. 2.

I shall conclude with a few inferences.

Inf. 1. Prize your Bibles, and read them diligent. ly, is your families and by yourselves, and look on that exercise as a mean appointed of God for your

fouls good, Joho v. 39. Search the scriptures. Alas! the dust of many people’s Bibles will be a heavy witness against them at the great day: which should excite us all to the care!ul perusal of them.

2. Prize the preaching of the word, and attend it confcientiously; and remember that the neglecting and deserting it is not such a light thing as many Jook on it to be; since it is the fpiritual means wbich the Lord makes use of converting finners, and edify; ing faints; and is necessarily productive of the most terrible consequences to thote who contemn it,

3. Let not the one juftle out the other. God has joined them ; do not ye then put them alunder. Think not that because ye bear the preaching, there. fore ye may neglect reading the Bible; nor to fit at home without necessity on the Lord's day, thinking to do as well with your Bibles, as attending the ditpenfation of the word. For as the preaching fends you to your Bible, your Bible would send you to the preaching, if ye would hearken to it, i Cor. i.

And the Bible is read in vain if it do not in'pire you with a sincere love to the preaching of the word.


4. The word is necessiry for "faints as well as finr.ers. It is falle growth by which people grow be. yond it, either in preaching or reading, before they get to heaven. Nay, all such growth and progress is an arrant delusion.

5. Lastly, Look to the Lord himlelf for the ellicacy of the word; and labour to believe the word, that it may profit your souls. For without faith the word will be unprofitable to you, and without the influence of the Spirit, ye will reap no benefit by it.

How the Word is to be read and heard.

/ LUKE viii. 18. Take heed therefore how ye ?

bear. THIS is an admonition inferred by our 'Lord from

the parable of the fower in the preceding part of the chapter, in which he had shewn the very different events of people's hearing the word. To fome it is effectual, to more it is not : Take heed therefore bow

ye hear, says he. Much depends on the right manner of hearing the word ; and the case is the fame as to the reading of it, for therein we are to hear God speak by his word. Men may hear what is very good, yet get no good by it, unless they hear in the due manner.

The doctrine of the text is,

Doct. As the hearers of the word would profit by it, they would take heed how they hear it.

Here I thall consider that one point, How we Mould hear? or, “How is the word to be read and " heard, that it may become cflectual to falvation ? Anf. " That the word may become cflcétual lo falva.

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tion, we must attend thereunto with diligence, “ preparation, and prayer ; receive it with faith and “ love; lay it up in our hearts ; and practise it in " our lives."

There are three things necessary to be heeded and practised, if we would so manage these ordinances, as they may become effectual for our salvation,

I. Some things are to go before hearing,
II. Some things are to go along with it.
III. Some things are to follow after it.

I. Some things are to go before hearing; namely, preparation and prayer,

First, Preparation. We should prepare ourselves for the ordinances, as Jacob said, Gen. xxxv. 2. 3. Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments. And let us arise, and go up to Bethel ; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. It is true God may by his sovereign grace catch the unprepared heart by his word, as he says, Il. lxv. 1. I am fought of them that afked not for me; I am found of them that fought me not : and there are not wanting instances of such a surprising dispensation of grace. "But it is the way of preparation in which we have ground to look for good by it, If. Ixiv. 5. Thou meetest him that rejoiceth, and worketh righteousness; those that remember thee in thy ways; otherwise we are not in the way of getting good by it.

This preparation lies in these five things.

1. Getting the heart impressed with an awful fenfę of the majesty and holiness of that God into whose presence we are going, and whose word we are to hear, Psal. lxxxis. 6. Though the voice is on earth, the speaker is in heaven, and we fhould consider it so as to come to hear what God says to us, Acts x. 33. And the more of this be on our spirits, we may

espect the more good by the word, If. lxvi. 2.

2. Banishing out of the heart worldly cares that are lawful at other times, Matth. xiii. 7. We should say to all these as Abraham did to his young men, Abide ye

here, and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, Gen. xxii. 5. The heart going after the world at such a time, renders the word ineffectual: but a contrary disposition is a token for good.

3. Application of the blood of Christ to the foul for removing of guilt, and doing away any controversy betwixt God and the foul, Amos iii. 3. How can two walk together, except they be agreed? Plal. xxvi. 6. I will wall mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O Lord. The laver stood before the entrance into the temple, that they might wash there who were to go in : So spiritually, before the throne . there is a sea of glass like unto crystal, in which filthy polluted louls are to wash, ere they be admitted to the throne, Rev. iv. 6. ' And happy they who come thus washed to hear the word; for they may expect to hold communion with Christ therein.

4. Purging the heart of carnal and corrupt lufts and affections, i Pet. ii. 1. 2. . This is to put off one's fhoes when coming on the holy ground, laying by the earthly frame, and putting on a hcavenly one. For what good effect can be expected on the heart, filled with corrupt lufts, passions, and prejudices, nourished, and noi striven against ? Surely none at all. Whereas if the heart be purged from these, the happiest effecs may be looked for. It is impoflible to profit by the word, where the heart is full of vain and carnal thoughts and projects.

5. Lastly, Stirring up in the heart spiritual desires, 1 Pet. ii. 2. As new-born babes; desire the fincere milk of the word, i hat ye may grow thereby ; longing for communion with God, feeing his glory in the fanctuary, the fupply of foul-wants, and particularly for something suitable to our case. And therefore a deep confideration of our own case is a necessary ra

preparation, 1 Kings viii. 38. and if properly attended to, would be attended with great blessings.

This preparation for the ordinances is necessary, considering two things especially. (1.) The greatness of him with whom we have to do, Heb. xii. 28. 29. Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear : for our God is a consuming fire. One would not rush without consideration into the presence of his prince: why then should one rush thoughtlessly into the presence of his God? (2.) The weight of the work: To hear God's mind declared to us is a business of the greatest importance, eternity depends on it to us, life and death hang upon our improving or not improving it, 2 Cor. ii. 16. To the one, says the apostle, we are the savour of death unto death ; and to the other the Savour of life unto life. And were this duly considered, it would stir us all up to the most diligent preparation.

Secondly, Prayer. We should be much in prayer before we go to ordinances, family.prayer, and secret prayer, and therefore ought not to spend the Lord's day morning so as not to have time for these. If ye would have good of the word read or preached, pray and pray earnestly before it. Pray,

1. For assistance to the minister. Hence the apostle fays, Brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, 2 Thefl. ii. 1. Pray that the Lord himself would come out with him, directing him, instructing him, and exciting him, what to speak, and how to speak. It is rare to {ee a lively people under a dead ministry; and there, fore people's own interest ihould engage them in concern for ministers.

2. For a meal to yourselves, Psal. cxix. 18. Open thou mine eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of thy law. Pray that God would direct the word to your case, and send it home on your hearts with his blefl: ing, that ye may be enlightened, fancified, strengthencd, humbled, or raised up by it, as your case re

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