Thomas Wilson.

The works of the right reverend father in God, Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man (Volume 2) online

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And now we are qualified to praise God, and to give Him
thanks for all His mercies ; which we are to do in the fol-
lowing Psalms and Hymns: and pray take notice, that the
Psalms are appointed to be read over no less than twelve
times in every year, for this great and good reason : that we
may learn (by hearing and repeating them so often) to pray
to and praise God, in the very words or expressions of the
Holy Ghost ; which, to be sure, will always be most ac-
ceptable to the Divine Majesty.

Then follows a Lesson out of the Old Testament. The


Old Testament was written in order to establish the great
article of a Divine Providence ; and to give men right notions
of God's glorious perfections, of His almighty power, His
infinite wisdom, His justice, goodness, and truth.

When the minister saith, Here beginneth the Lesson ;
say in your heart, God is going to speak to me j shall I not
vouchsafe to hear Him with attention ? God grant that I
may hear, and understand, and bring forth fruit an hundred

It is in these books, that we have an account of what has
happened from the creation to the coming of Christ; and
particularly of the two states of maa, his innocency and his
fall. That God having made man. He promised to make
him happy for ever, if he would be obedient to His com-
mands : but man, failing in this, forfeited all his right to
eternal happiness, and became subject to sin and to death.
That to convince us of His infinite goodness, love, and mercy,
from the moment man fell, God promised a Redeemer, for
Whose sake his repentance should be accepted, on condition
he would live according to that light and reason which God
had given him.

After this, men abusing their reason, and falling into
idolatry, God gave them, by His servant Moses, written laws
to walk by ; and from time to time raised up prophets, either
to explain the true meaning of those laws, or to foreshow
what would be the sad consequence of their persisting to
provoke God by their wicked lives.

And to convince men of His in^mte justice, and hatred of
sin, it appears in these books that He has punished sinners
in all ages, without respect of persons ; once in the destruc-
tion of the whole world, except eight persons; at another
time, by fire and brimstone from heaven; and by infinite
other sore judgments, by the sword, famines, pestilence, and

All these things were written for our instruction ; that
we may profit by hearing them read; and that we may
learn to fear, and love, and obey, this great and good God,
Who can make us infinitely happy, or miserable beyond

Remember therefore, I beseech you, our Saviour's words :


S E R M. "If they hear not (if they mind not) Moses and the Prophets,
neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the

31.] ' dead." So dreadful is the consequence of not attending to
the Word of God when read in the Church.

After this follows one of the most devout Hymns of Praise
that ever was made by man, to the praise of God the Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost, to Whom you were dedicated in bap-
tism ; beginning with these words : " We praise Thee, O
God," &c.

That you may join with the Church with greater devotion,
[I Sam. 2. remember what God hath declared ; " Them that honour Me,
^•'•^ I will also honour."

Then will be read the Second Lesson out of the New
Testament. In attending to what you hear out of the New
Testament, you will be convinced, that it was one and the
same Spirit which was the Author of both the Old and

Prepare yourself to hear the history of Christ Jesus your
Saviour, and the manner of your redemption, as truths on
which your salvation depends. Our Saviour Himself gives
us warning what will follow, if we do not mind these things :
[Matt. 10. " It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the
'^ day of judgment, than for people who have an opportunity of

hearing the Word of God, and despise it."

Here you have the terms of your salvation, and the ex-
ample of your Saviour, set before you. Here you have an
account of the Son of God, the promised Redeemer, taking
our nature upon Him ; instructing us what we must believe,
and what we must do, to be saved ; suffering what our sins
had deserved ; satisfying the justice, and restoring us to the
favour of God.

And that no man, no, not the most unlearned christian,
may be discouraged from reading and hearing the Scriptures,
Matt. 11.25. our Lord gives God thanks, for that He reveals these truths,
and makes them easy to the humble, obedient, and willing
christian. And indeed the Gospel does not only teach chris-
John 6. 63. tians their duty, but also inspires them with grace to under-
stand, and power to perform it.

That therefore you may profit by the Word of God, re-
member and observe these two rules: first; apply what you


hear as spoken to yourself. This command, this promise, this
threatening, this reproof, this direction, this warning, I will
take to myself. And secondly ; fail not to beg of God, at
the end of every Lesson, that He may enable you to under-
stand, and love, and obey His holy Word.

In this Word are contained all the articles of your
CHRISTIAN faith; which, that we may remember them the
better, they are all summed up in the Apostles' Creed,
which ought to be repeated with great deliberation. And if
every one would secretly beg of God, in the words of the
apostles. Lord increase my faith, at the end of the Creed, [Luke 17.
God would most surely increase his faith, and it would be- '-'
come a sure shield against all the assaults of the devil.

After this, we proceed to make our prayers and supplica-
tions to God for the graces and blessings we stand in need of.
For kings, and all that are in authority, that we may lead
quiet and peaceable lives : for the ministers of God, who
shew unto you the way of salvation ; and to whom the word
of reconciliation, and of life eternal, is committed : and
lastly, for all estates and conditions of men, that our charity
may render our prayers more acceptable to God.

The Litany is a part of our service, which will be attended
to, and joined in, by every devout christian, who fears the
judgments of God, or fears for himself.

And pray do not think that those often repeated words,
LET us PRAY, are said without reason. Every one knows for
himself, how very apt our minds are to wander in prayer :
and these words are designed, and should always put us in
mind, to whom we are speaking, that our thoughts may
go along with our lips, when we speak to Him Who knows
our hearts.

You cannot but observe, that we conclude all our prayers
with some such expression as this, — through Jesus Christ our
Saviour ; that we may ever remember that it is for His sake,
and for what He has done and suffered for us, that God gives
us any thing we pray for.

When the minister goes to the Altar, prepare to hear, with
the greatest attention, the Commandments of God, which at
your baptism you vowed to keep all the days of your life. As
often as these are read, you have an opportunity of seeing


SERM. wherein you have offended against any of these commands,

'- — and of begging God^s pardon for what is past, and His grace

to observe them better for the time to come, in these most
affecting words, which the Church has provided, Lord, have
mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this Law ; which
should never be hurried over, but said with the greatest

When the Epistle and Gospel are read, and you re-
member that they are portions of Sacred Scripture, taken
out of the Book of your salvation, you will hear them with
greater attention.

Sometimes you will hear the most instructive sermons or
parables of Christ ; at other times you will hear the miracles
He wrought for the confirmation of our faith.

And, to encourage us to follow His blessed example of
patience, humility, submission to the will of God, and dis-
regard for this world, we have set forth, in the Gospel, His
most sure promise of grace and consolation while we live, and
of happiness eternal when we die. And to hinder us from
growing secure and careless, we shall often and often hear
in these Gospels the dreadful doom which unconverted, har-
dened, and impenitent sinners shall surely meet with in the
next world.

At certain solemn seasons, you have a particular account
of what Jesus Christ has done and suffered for our redemp-
tion and salvation, that we may never forget His love.

And in the several Epistles, you will hear, every man his
duty very particularly set down, in the words not of man, but
(as they are indeed) the words of God.

And some part or other of this Word you will hear every
Lord's day explained in the sermon, and pressed upon you,
in order to enlighten the minds of the ignorant, to awakeu
the consciences of the careless and profane, and such, as hold
the truth in unrighteousness. But then, as you hope to
profit by sermons, you must come to church with an humble
and teachable temper ; submitting to receive instruction, re-
proof, and advice, from the person whom the providence of
God has set over you.

If the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is to be adminis-
tered, and you lightly turn your back upon that holy Ordi-


nance ; you must not expect, that God will hear any of the
prayers that you have made. Do this in remembrance q/" [Luke 22.
Me, were the dying words of Jesus Christ. You refuse to
obey this command (for such in truth it is) ; and yet hope
that God, for His sake, will hear you when you call upon

Do not deceive yourself. It is by this Sacrament, that the
subjects of Christ are distinguished from the subjects of
Satan. Have a care, therefore, lest it happen to you as it
did to the Egyptians; lest the destroying angel, finding you [Ex.12. 13.]
without the blood of the lamb, the mark of your high calling,
should have power to destroy you.

Consider, that this Sacrament is to christians what the tree
of life was to Adam in Paradise; it was to make him im-
mortal ; so that when he deprived himself of that food, he
was left to his natural weakness, which ended in death, and
misery till death. And whoever deprives himself of this
bread of life will be left to themselves, to the power of Satan,
and to death eternal.

Do but lay to heart, how many tears it cost St. Peter for [Luke 22.
a crime so near akin to this, and you will not lightly turn '
your back upon this Sacrament; it being in effect saying,
/ am not one of Jesus Christ's disciples.

And now the public service of the Church concludes with a
most solemn blessing, pronounced by the priest of God.

That you may always dispose yourselves to receive this
blessing with devotion and advantage, I will shew you the
certain blessed fruits of doing so. In the book of Numbers, [chap. 6.
there is a special charge given to the priests, by God Him- ~ -'
self, to bless the people. There is a special form for doing
it; and there is a special blessing promised to follow upon
the priest's blessing : And I, saith God, will bless them.

In Dent. x. 8, it is expressly said, that God separated
the tribe of Levi, to bless in His name. And accordingly,
2 Chron. xxx. 27, we have the priests blessing the people;
and it is there added, "that their voice was heard, and
their prayer came up to God's holy dwelling-place, even
unto heaven."

Had the blessing of the priest under the Law such a good
effect, and has not Jesus Christ given His ministers as great


SERM. a power? That would be to have very unworthy thoughts

'— — of the Gospel ministry indeed : a ministry to which, St. Paul

Cor. 5. 18. expressly tells us, God has in an especial manner committed
the power of reconciling men to God.

I will set before you the devotion with which the people of
God received the blessing of the priest ; a pattern not to be
despised. It is in the fiftieth chapter of Ecclesiasticus, at
the 20th and 21st verses, you read as follows; "When they
had finished the service, then the priest lifted up his hand
over the whole congregation to give the blessing of the Lord
with his lips ; and they bowed themselves down to worship,
that they might receive a blessing from the Most High."
And a blessing most certainly every christian receives from
the Most High, according as he is disposed for such a mercy,
and as he has qualified himself by his devout behaviour in
the service of God.

The public service being ended, a serious christian will
not conclude that he has done all that is required of him.
He will rather consider where he has been; what he has
been doing; what he has heard; what he has prayed for.
He will consider, that he has been at the house of God,
where he has heard God speaking to him by His own
minister. He will give God thanks for the helps and means
He has vouchsafed him of knowing his duty, and of perform-
ing it. He will call to mind what he has heard, and beg of
God that he may profit by it ; that he may live as he has
been taught, and as a christian ought to live. In short, he
will not let the world take possession of his heart as soon as
he comes out of the church, but will endeavour to edify his
soul by some such thoughts and short petitions as these :

' I have been professing openly my faith in God the Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost, to Whom I was dedicated in baptism.
I have been told by His ovm minister, and out of his oivn
[1 Thess 4. Word, what my duty is ; how I ought to walk so as to please
God. I have been praying for such blessings as may make
me happy while I live, and for such graces and virtues with-
out which I shall be most miserable when I die. If I do not
profit by these things, they will most surely rise up in judg-
ment against me.
- 'To be so often told what will please and what will dis-


please God, and not to mind it : to know that He is terrible
in judgment, and not to fear Him : to know that He is
gracious and merciful, and not to love Him : to be so often
put in mind, that God sees all my actions, and not to be
afraid to offend Him : to pray so often, and so long for
God's graces, without laying it to heart, that it must be
my own fault if I do not obtain His grace and assistance
to mend my life.

' What will this end in ; if I pass one Lord's day, one year,
after another, without growing better by the many sermons I
hear ; by the prayers offered so often to God for me ; by the
times appointed for the taking care of my soul ? Is this the
way of preparing for eternity, — for an eternity of happiness
or misery ? Shall I still continue to keep these thoughts out
of my mind ? Shall I shut my eyes, and not see the danger
of being lost for ever ? God forbid, will every one say, that
has any grace : I will rather pray God to deliver me from
hardness of heart and contempt of His Word. And since
He has promised to hear the petitions of such as ask in His
Son's name, I will, for His sake, beseech Him to pardon my
imperfections and indevotions. And I will endeavour for
the time to come, that my devotion and zeal shall be answer-
able to my wants. And then, I am sure, I shall return home
with a blessing.'

I pray God we may all do so, as often as we meet here to
worship God ; and that our behaviour, when out of the
church, may be such as becomes the true disciples of Jesus

To Whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all
honour and glory.



May I ever read and preach Thy Word, O God, with the same spirit with
which it was written. Give me, and all that shall hear me, a lively
sense of the almighty power of a true faith, to enable us to over-
come all the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil : and
piirify all our hearts by this faith, that we may profit by Thy Word, be
converted and saved, through Thy mercy in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Heb. iv. 2.

The WOT d preached did not ^n'ojit them, not being mixed with
faith in them that heard it.

Amongst the great number of christians, who every Lord's
day hear the Word of God read, explained, and preached;
how many are there, who by their lives shew plainly that
they do not profit, are not bettered, by it !

This is a melancholy consideration ; and therefore it will
be necessary that you should know, ivhat is the true reason
why people do not profit by sermons. We are told in the
words just read to you, that it was for want of faith.
See Deut. God had promised the children of Israel the land of
Canaan, for an inheritance for themselves and their pos-
terity. They were told that they would meet with difficul-
ties, and so they would not go forwards ; that is, they would
not take God's word, that He would deliver them out of all
the difficulties and dangers they should meet with. This
highly displeased God ; and, for a punishment of their un-
belief, they were none of them who thus distrusted the
promise of God, not one was suffered to set a foot in that
good land.

Now this is the case of too many christians. The blessed
God would have all His creatures enjoy that happiness for

1. 32, &c.


which they were created. As matters now stand with us, we
cannot possibly be happy, till our natures are mended, and
changed for the better. We foresee some difficulties in doing
this; we will not give credit to the word and promise of
God, that He will make us able to overcome all difficulties,
and sufficiently reward us when we have done so.

What will this end in? Why; just as it did with the
children of Israel. They never saw the land of Canaan, by
reason of their unbelief. And, as sure as they did not enter
into the promised land, so sure shall not any christian see
the heavenly Canaan, the kingdom of heaven, who will not
attend to, and give credit to, God's Word, His promises, and
threatenings, and order their lives accordingly.

Now, this Word, and these promises, and threatenings, are
read and preached every Lord's day. How then comes it to
pass, that the generality of christians are not bettered by it ?
The answer is the text just now read : " The word preached
did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that
heard it."

You see, christians, how much depends upon a true and
saving faith, even no less than your eternal salvation or

It would be an high presiimption for any minister of Christ
to say this, without authority from God's Word. Hear then
what our Lord Christ saith, "Go ye into all the world, and Mark 16.
preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and
is baptized shall be saved ; but he that believeth not shall be
damned :" that is, he that believeth the Gospel, which con-
tains God's mercy to man, and man's duty to God, and is
baptized, and promiseth and yieldeth sincere obedience to
that Gospel; every such person, man or woman, shall
certainly be saved. And as certainly, every one, man or
woman, who believeth not that Gospel, which also containeth
God's ivrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousnes of men ; Rom. i. is.
whoever receiveth not this Gospel, nor believeth it when
preached to him, shall be damned.

Now, if these two concerning truths do not awaken every
one who hears them, it must be for want of attending to
them; or, in the words of the text, /or want of faith in them
that hear them.


»4< thp: true reason why people

;erm. But to awaken, and to cure us of this want of faith, this
-XIL — must be the work of Thy grace, O blessed God ! To Thee
we must apply for grace to hear Thy Word with seriousness
and attention ; and for faith to profit by what we hear.

We are assured, that without faith it is impossible to please
God. We are assured also, that a saving faith is the gift of
God. And this gift and grace will not be denied to any one
who begs it of God with a desire to be bettered by it. So
that every one is without excuse, who does not hear the Word
preached, and profit by it.

The ministers of God are appointed by Him, to read to you
and to explain the truths of the Gospel. To make Jesus
Christ and His Gospel known unto men. To endeavour to
convince them of the danger they are in without a redeemer.
To shew men what they must do to be saved. To beg of God
to bless their instructions. To endeavour to awaken the
consciences of the careless, and to make them feel, if possible,
the diseases they labour under, and the wounds which sin
hath made in their souls; that they may more cheerfully
embrace the means which the mercy of God hath provided
for their recovery.

For God is so wonderfully good and merciful to His un-
happy creatures, as to promise, that He will pardon the
greatest sinners who shall repent and return to their duty,
and will make them happy for ever.

When these things are heard and not minded, as if people
had no concern in them, no wonder they do not profit by our
sermons: for conversion and salvation are not always the
effect of sermons, but the grace of God accompanying them,
and the disposition by which they are heard and received;
namely, if they are heard with pleasure, attended to with
seriousness, &c.

Now, to keep these merciful truths in your minds; to per-
suade you to attend to them ; to give credit to them ; not to
ruin yourselves by not minding them : these are the end of
all our sermons. And may God give His blessing to them,
and to all that hear them with faith and attention.

In order to this, you must first know what that faith is,
the want of which is the occasion of people's not profiting by
sermons. Why ; in few and plain words, faith is the believ-


ing, the giving entire credit to, the truths which God has
made known to us in His holy Word. And this faith is to
be attained by hearing, attending to, and dwelling upon, these
truths ; and begging of God so to open and set them upon
our hearts, that we may not be easy, till, by God's grace, we
live like people who sincerely do believe such truths.

Perhaps you will say, we do believe the truths of the Gospel.
Pray have a care of deceiving yourselves. Remember the
words of the Apostle, The very devils believe and tremble. James 2.
They know every article of the Creed to be true, and this
makes them tremble.

You will wonder, when I tell you, that there are men in
one respect even worse than devils ; they are such as know
and dare not deny, the truths of the Gospel, and yet do not
tremble, nor are they afraid for themselves.

But you will perhaps ask — if the devils believe, why may
not they be saved ? Why ; their case is this : they do indeed
know, that every article of the Creed is true ; but they are so
hardened in sin and pride, that they will not ask God's pardon,
His grace, and help, to restore them to His favour. And, whe-
ther people will believe it or not, this is the case of all wicked
men, with this only difference, that they are yet in a state of trial
(which those evil spirits are past, and have lost) ; whereas the
wickedest of men in this life are still in a state of trial, and
in a possibility of being saved, if they can but humble them-
selves before God, acknowledge their iniquities, and that they
have transgressed against the Lord their God ; if they will but
beg of God, of His great mercy, and for His Son's sake, to
increase their faith, to awaken their consciences, and to give
them the graces they stand in need of, with full purpose of
heart of doing what they believe they ought to do. All such,
though their sins be never so many and great, are yet in a
state and way of salvation and happiness.

By this you see, christians, that there is something more
necessary to salvation than barely believing the truths of the
Gospel. These you may know, and believe, and yet be ruined
for ever. Every serious christian, therefore, will be desirous
to know what more is necessary to make our belief a saving
faith. And may God grant, that we may so explain this
heavenly grace, that not one of us may have rest in his soul.


lE^RM. till we obtain of God (for faith is the gift of God), till we

obtain such a faith as will enable us to profit by the truths

of the Gospel, when proposed and explained to us by God's

In order to this, you shall in the first place hear such
truths as are proper to awaken men, and to convince them.
That the care of their souls ought to be the great concern of

Online LibraryThomas WilsonThe works of the right reverend father in God, Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man (Volume 2) → online text (page 8 of 49)