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Three Sermons on Christian Zeal

Three Sermons on Christian Zeal

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY JOB ORTON

Philippians II. 21.
For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ^ s.
BY JOB ORTON

Philippians II. 21.
For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ^ s.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Nov 19, 2013
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11/19/2013

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THREE SERMOS O CHRISTIA ZEALBY JOB ORTO PREFACE. Many excellent treatises have been published of late in defence of tolera- tion and liberty ; and many attempts made to increase that candom- and moderation, for which the present age hath been celebrated. It is hoped that these A\Titings have produced, and will produce, some very good eftects. But is there not reason to lament that, amidst this zeal tor liberty, and this progress of moderation and charity, there is a great want of zeal for the support and advancement of real practical religion, and for the good of souls? Many have sho^^^l a zeal for or against subscription to articles of taith of human contrivance ; and some, on each side the question, much bitterness. But where shaU we find a true, well-regulated zeal for the indisputable truths of the gospel, and that sobriety, righteousness, and godliness which all are sensible, and acknowledge, that it strongly inculcates ? ^^ here shall we perceive a zeal to use, and lead others to use, the appointed means of religion; family-prayer, and instruction, secret devotion, the religious observation of the Lord's day, and the pious education of youth ? ^^ here shall we find an habitual concern and readiness to " exhort one another daily." and "provoke one another to love and good works r" Shall we look for these, where they may most naturaUy be expected, among the ministers of the gospel ? But are not too many of them the persons who, considering their office, quahh- cations, and obhgations, are most culpably remiss therein ? Have they not contracted much of the spirit of this world ? Do not their an-, dress con- versation, and manners savour too much of the levity and dissipation ot the ao-e ' Are none of the sacred character to be found at the theatre, the card-table, and other fashionable diversions ; " shining in every public place  —but the pulpit :" as if they thought it unbecoming to appear m common life with any thing of the dinne about them ? Do none of these make the Lord's dav a common ^dsiting day, or permit it so to be perverted and pro- faned by their families ? Do not some content themselves with short, general, cold harangues from the pulpit, in the strain of a pagan philosopher, which, however learned, elegant, and pohte, the generality of their hearers can neither rehsh nor understand ? Are not catechizing, the instruction of youth, and personal visits to the families under their care with a religious view, shamefuUy neglected; while their zeal is employed about learned trifles or mere amusements, or in censuring those who make it the aim of then- ministry and the business of their lives to win souls ? What is the conse- quence of this remissness ? What, indeed, is naturally to be expected ? 1 lie ministry is sinking into contempt; the house of God much forsaken; and
 
even well-disposed persons decline attending upon their pubhc instructors ; not so much because their sentiments differ from those of their fathers, as because they discern few or no marks of that seriousness and earnestness, for which most of them were eminent. Many in the higher ranks among us pursue their pleasures on God's holv day; and, when they attend pubhc worship, too much consider it in the light of an amusement, and rehsh no preachers but such as will entertain them. They forget that the house ot God is not a place of amusement, but instruction ; that a preacher s business is not to entertain, but edify ; that there are other places enough and too many, for pubhc amusement, without seeking it m the sanctuary'. Ihus their rehgion becomes quite easy, genteel, and fashionable. " It assumes the habit and complexion of the world, and is so blended with the folhes ol the age, that it makes a motley appearance, and becomes more ridiculous than pure unmixed foUy itself." They seem to think a careless, trifling dissipated life perfectly consistent with true piety; and thus fatally deceive their own souls It is to be feared that the sanction of the respectable names and examples ot some Christian ministers, leads them further into the vanities and snares ot the nge, than even those ministers would uish them to go. Many m the lower ranks either throw off the appearance of religion or forsake then 494 PREFACE TO CHRISTIA ZEAL. regular instructors to follow every ignorant, confident exhorter, who hath nothing to recommend him but the appearance of that zeal and earnestness which they very naturally expect to find in a preacher of righteousness. Thus they are led into the wilds of enthusiasm ; contract an eager zeal for notions, phrases, and forms ; their spirits grow conceited, turbulent, and cen- sorious ; and very few of them ever become sober, humble, discreet, judicious, regular Christians. That this is the state of things among us is, I fear, too plain to be denied, and every active Christian will lament it ; while he cannot but \vith pleasure and thankfulness observe, that there are yet many Christian ministers whose spirits and address are serious, their air and conversation grave and manly, becoming persons of a sacred character ; who labour in the word and doctrine, teachmg publicly and from house to house. Thus they magnify their office and adorn Christianity ; and their esteem and success are answerable to such a pious and honourable conduct. I should be sorry if any should take occasion, from these hints, to think me an enemy to any Christian ministers or their usefulness. Can it be wrong to represent and blame those irregularities and neglects which are so visible and notorious ; and which the laity, even those of them who are most irregular and disorderly themselves, loudly condemn ? Had I been their enemy, I should have been silent ; or said that all is well, and applauded the present generation for their rational sentiments, their refined judgment and taste, and their polite manners. But alas ! what are all these, while seriousness, gravity, charily to the souls of men, and zeal to do good, are almost lost from among us ; and
 
while those few, in whom these dispositions are found, are often censured, misrepresented, or neglected ? The learned and venerable Bishop Bull long ago observed, (and oh that the present race of ministers would attend to his remark !) that " the preacher who is not clothed \vith righteousness and zeal, though other^vise richly adorned with all the ornaments of human and divine literature, and these gilded over with the rays of a seraphic prudence and sagacity, is yet but a naked, beggarly, despicable creature ; of no authority, no use or service in the church of God." How desirable and seasonable is it, that every one, who hath the interest of religion, the credit of the gospel and its ministers, and the welfare of our country, at heart, should attempt to remove these irregularities, and bring professing Christians, especially ministers, to a wiser and better way of thinking and acting ! Fain would I say something to rouse the languid spirits of the indolent and lukewarm ; and to preserve, invigorate, and increase that zeal, which is yet to be found in some, both in public and private stations. The feel)le attempts of the weak may rouse the slumbering virtue of the strong. He who is not capable of working himself, may be useful by quickening and encouraging others. I would in this view say with Horace, in the language of my motto (which for the sake of the English reader, may be thus translated), " ot that I dare to active zeal pretend, But only boast to be religion's friend ; To whet men on to act. and like the hone. Give others edge, though I myself have none." With this intent I put into my readers' hands tliese plain discourses, and hope for their serious attention fo the motives and arguments urged in them. These ought to come with peculiar weight ujjon the hearts of Christian ministers, as the text and context more particularly refer to them. 'I'here seems a ])eculiar propriety in begging the attention of dissenting ministers to them at this time ; when their most reasonable desires and hopes have been again disajipointed. I earnestly wish they may conctu- as unanimously and heartily in their zeal for real religion, and the salvation of the souls imder their care, as they have done in their zeal for religious li])LMty, the rights of conscience, and the authority and honour of its only La\^•giver and Judge. This would secure and increase their interest and credit, and certainly engage the assistance, favour, protection, and rewards of " the Bishop of souls." Kidderminster, Sept. 15, l/^T^. J. O. CHRISTIA ZEAL. DISCOURSE I.

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