26 DECEMBER (PREACHED NEW YEAR’S EVENING 1774)
An appeal from the heart
‘They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.’ Jeremiah 50:5
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: 1 Thessalonians 2:1–16
If ever a sense of the worth of souls is impressed upon my heart (and I hope it sometimes is), if ever I find myself willing to spend and be spent for you, if I can ever adopt with sincerity the Apostle’s words, and say, Being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us [1 Thessalonians 2:8], it is peculiarly so at the return of this opportunity. To the most of you, I preach frequently and I have no new tricks to set before you now. Why then is my heart engaged on a New Year’s evening more than at other times? Why do I stand up at these times with a solicitude as if I had never preached before, or as if I expected never to preach again? I have frequently entertained a hope upon this account, that my concern was a token for good, a token that the Lord was about to do great things for us, and that the seed I endeavour to sow among the young people should, in the course of the year, spring up abundantly and give us the prospect of a plentiful harvest. Painful experience has taught me my own insufficiency, that though I should address you with the greatest earnestness, though I should accompany every word with tears, though I could even weep blood, all my earnestness will be in vain, unless the Lord himself is pleased to take the work into his own hands and apply the word by his own power to your hearts. This has been my prayer, and from entreating the Lord, I now come to entreat and beseech you, that you would hear with attention and receive with meekness the word which, by his blessing, is able to save your souls—that I may not have to return again and say, Lord, who hath believed our report? [John 12:38].
FOR MEDITATION: [written to be sung before this sermon]
Now may fervent prayer arise
Bless, O LORD, the opening year
Winged with faith, and pierce the skies;
To each soul assembled here;
Fervent prayer shall bring us down
Clothe thy word with power divine,
Gracious answers from the throne.
Make us willing to be thine.
SERMON: JEREMIAH 50:5 [1/7] [TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE]