Pray for us; we are convinced that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.
Pray for us.I. SOME CONSIDERATIONS TO ILLUSTRATE AND CONFIRM THE NECESSITY OF SUCH PRAYER.
1. The awful responsibility of the ministerial office.
2. We are men of like passions with yourselves, with bodies requiring to be kept under, and with souls to save.
II. SOME SUITABLE HEADS OF PRAYER.
1. First of all, pray that "utterance may be given unto us, that we may open our mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel." The full and free declaration of " the gospel of the grace of God" is the crowning part of the Christian minister's office.
2. Again, "pray" for your minister, that in dispensing among you the Word of God, he may be enabled rightly to divide it. Much spiritual wisdom is required here.
3. But, again, "pray for us," that the truths which we preach to you may be so deeply impressed upon our own souls by the Spirit of God that they may always exert a commanding influence over our life, conversation, and whole deportment, and thus become the springs of a holy and consistent walk.
4. Again, "pray for us," that we may be made conquerors over our peculiar temptations as ministers — that we may never speak to you "smooth things" merely for the sake of pleasing you.
5. Yet, again, "pray for us," that we are bold and faithful witnesses for Christ, God would keep us lowly and humble in ourselves, and enable us to ascribe all that we are, and have, and may become, to His free favour.
III. The truth is simply this: a minister cannot be blessed without his flock being made to experience a correspondent share of blessing. YOUR PRAYERS FOR ME WILL BE CROWNED WITH INTEREST TO YOURSELVES. You will find your own souls growing in grace " and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." You will find yourselves daily becoming more ripe for " the inheritance of the saints in light." Thus it is that God graciously orders that our labours of love for one another should be reflected upon ourselves.
(H. Cadell, M. A.)
We trust we have a good conscience.I. WHAT CONSCIENCE IS.
1. It is an inbred faculty of the soul, "a noble and Divine power, planted of God in the soul, working upon itself by reflection": or thus, "the soul of a man recoiling upon itself." A faculty, I call it, because it produceth acts, and is not got and lost as habits are, but is inseparable from the soul, immovable from the subject, as neither acts nor habits are. In the understanding part it is a judge, determining and prescribing, absolving and condemning de jure. In the memory it is a register, a recorder, and witness, testifying de facto. In the will and affections, a jailor and executioner, punishing and rewarding. Say we not in common use of speech, which is the emperor of words, My conscience tells me I did or did not such a thing, which is an action of the memory? My conscience bids me do, or forbids me to do this or this, which is but an action of the will. It smites me, it checks me, it comforts or it torments me: what are these but actions of the affections recoiling upon the soul?
2. God hath given it more force and power to work upon men than all other agents whatsoever. It, being internal and domestical, hath the advantage of all foreign and outward.
3. It being individual and inseparable, there is no putting of it to flight or flying from it. It was bred and born with us; it will live and die with us. Agues a man may shake off, tyrants and ill masters a man may fly from; but this saith (as Ruth to Naomi), "I will go with thee whithersoever thou goest." It hath more immediate deputation and authority from God (of whom all principalities and powers receive theirs) than angels, kings, magistrates, father, mother, or any other superior. It is only inferior to God.
II. WHAT A GOOD CONSCIENCE IS.
1. The goodness of it is the peace of it; for stirring, accusing, and galling consciences are consequents of sin, and presuppose some evil.
2. They, secondly, prove good unto us only by accident, and God's goodness, which maketh them as afflictions, gather grapes of thorns; yea, all things work to the best of His beloved, as physicians do poison in their confections
3. And thirdly, they do not always produce this effect. Sometimes as sicknesses and purgations, they are in order to health, as in the Jews (Acts 2). Oftentimes as in Cain, Judas, Ahithophel, they destroy their owners. Good consciences, therefore, properly to speak, are only quiet ones, excusing and comforting; but here take heed the devil, the great impostor of our souls, put not upon our folly and simplicity, three sorts of quiet ones, as he doth to most: the blind, the secure, and the seared. What, then, is a good conscience? That which speaks peace with God's allowance, which is a messenger of good things between God and us, that upon good grounds is in good terms with God. It lies in the lawful peace of it, and not in integrity and freedom from sin.
(T. Adams.)Genesis 3:8). A bad conscience cannot joy in the midst of joy. It is like a gouty foot, or a gouty toe, covered with a velvet shoe. Alas! what doth ease it? What doth glorious apparel ease the diseased body? Nothing at all. The ill is within. There the arrow sticks.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Willing to live honestly.I. IN ORDER TO ILLUSTRATE THE EXCELLENCY AND IMPORTANCE OF THIS VIRTUE OF HONESTY, WE SHALL POINT OUT SOME OF THE FOUNTAINS FROM WHENCE THE OPPOSITE VICE FLOWS, OR SOME OF THE CHIEF CAUSES OF DISHONESTY. Opposites frequently illustrate each other to great advantage. The beauty and charms of Christian virtue gain strength by arousing in us an abhorrence of immoral practices. Honesty will appear more honourable by awakening a proper hatred of the odious deformity of dishonesty. With regard to the chief springs of dishonesty, they may be contemplated. Under a general consideration, dishonesty arises from the same common source with all other kinds of iniquities. It arises from the awful depravity of the human heart. But the more particular causes of dishonesty are such things as these —
1. Slothfulness, idleness, and an aversion to labour and the business of our calling.
2. Avarice or covetousness.
3. Luxury and extravagance.
4. Pride and selfishness.
II. SOME CONSIDERATIONS AND MOTIVES TO INDUCE US TO BE CONSCIENTIOUSLY HONEST IN ALL OUR EMPLOYMENTS, BUSINESS, AND CONVERSATION WITH OUR FELLOW-MEN. Can we now think a dishonest thought, contrive a dishonest scheme, or be guilty of a dishonest action? Consider the right every man has to enjoy his own, by the laws of nature, reason, religion and society, in respect to his person, property, and character. These blessings are the benefactions of heaven to all. Their right to the undisturbed possesssion of them is founded upon the grant of the God of nature and of grace.
1. Will the Almighty Sovereign see His creatures and His children rifled of their immunities and blessings, which His goodness and bounty hath conferred upon them, and not conceive resentment? Will He not whet His glittering sword, and His hand lay hold on vengeance?
2. Further consider, sincerity and honesty are the very bonds which hold society together. The religious observation of these virtues are the great means to advance its real interests. A dishonest person is a public nuisance, and may be viewed as a common enemy to mankind.
3. Consider the practice of dishonesty is prohibited in a thousand instances in the Word of God. The Divine wrath is revealed against it, both in His declarations, and in many examples recorded in the sacred history.
(A. Macwhorter, D. D.)
(F. W. Robertson.)
(Sword and. Trowel.)
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