« הקודםהמשך »
adoration; to you, as “the flock over which the HOLY GHOST had made him overseer." Faithful, indeed, he has been in the discharge of these duties, and great have been your religious advantages in having such a Minister to preside over you for the last twenty-two years. But, by the same Almighty arm, that placed him amongst you, he is removed to the blessed mansions above, where, I trust, he will meet with many of your departed friends and relations, whom his example and sound doctrine, under the blessed guidance of God's Spirit, have nourished up into eternal life; and who will be his crown of rejoicing in the great day of decount. His time of reckoning, my Brethren, is now come; and yours is delayed only a little longer, that you may work out your salvation, and prepare to meet your God. You have received your talents, which are yet in your hands; and among these talents are the religious advantages you have long possessed ; let me ask, then, how have you used them? Have you gained by trading with them, or have you buried them in the earth? These are momentous questions, to which, it much concerns you all to return faithful answers, Let me entreat you, therefore, to look back on your past lives, and consider how you have improved your talents; for the parable teaches us that those only who do so shall meet the approbation of their Judge.
2dly. I proceed to give such a description of the conduct and Ministerial Character of our departed Friend and Father, as will justify us in believing, that he shall receive from the lips of his Saviour the joyful salutation, “ Well done good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
His talents, indeed, were numerous and great, and, therefore, proportionally great was his responsibility; for of him, to whom much is given, will much be required. But I would not even glance at his great literary attainments, which were all made subservient to Religion, and which, thus united, ranked him high in his profession; and would have enabled him to have discharged its highest offices with benefit to the Church, had it pleased God to have called him to the discharge of such offices. It is not, however, with what he might have been ; but what he was in the discharge of his duties as a Parish Priest in this place, that I am more immediately concerned, and to which I mean chiefly to direct
attention. What then are the duties of a Minister? They are many and diversified, and such as God only can enable the best of his servants adequately to fulfil; but his principal duties may be thus briefly summed up.
It is the duty of a Minister publicly to preach. “ the whole counsel of God," through all its doc-, trines and duties, laying the foundation in the expiatory sacrifice of CHRIST, and building thereon the superstructure of good works: it is his duty privately to instruct and comfort the sick and afflicted: to reprove, warn, and exhort “ the whole as need requires, and he sees occasion to be given:” it is his duty to pray for all, and set his parishioners an example of all purity in faith and practice. Such are a few of the great duties of the “Stewards of the mysteries of God.” Let us now enquire how these duties have been discharged by him, whose loss we all deeply deplore. And in this enquiry, I shall dismiss every prejudice, and as far as I am able, divest myself of that partiality, which, an uninterrupted friendship for nearly seven years, and the sacred connexion subsisting between us may be supposed to have produced.
With regard to his Public Ministrations; one of the points to which he frequently and earnestly directed your attention, and which he justly considered of the last importance to be rightly understood, in order to your making any advancement in the Divine Life, is, the relation in which we stand to God by nature; that “we are born in sin and children of wrath;” that Adam, by transgressing the command of the Most High in paradise, fell from his original righteousness; and not only became mortal, and subject to all the pains and sorrows incident to mortality; but contracted a corruption of nature, and incurred the penalty of eternal death. “By one man,” says St. Paul, “sin
entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
Upon this universal depravity of man, and his consequent liability to eternal punishment, is founded the necessity of a Redeemer, who might, by suffering in our stead, reconcile us to our offended God. These great doctrines of the Fall and Res covery of man, are closely connected. As it could only drive us to despair to know that we are sinners and liable to God's wrath, without also knowing that a way of Salvation is provided for us; so it could profit us nothing to know that we have a Saviour, unless we also know our state of alienation from God; for in this case we should never apply to him for salvation. As we must be sick before we apply for medicine, so we must be conscious of our sins and offences against God, before we can supplicate pardon and mercy; 'the Holy SPIRIT must convince us of our sin and danger, or we shall never go to Chris't as our Saviour; we must be “pricked in our hearts," or we shall never enquire with the earnestness of the Jews of old, “ what we must do to be saved ;" we must feel that we are sinking into the pit of destruction, before we shall cry out in the language of the disciples, « LORD save, we perish.”
To those who, by the blessing of God are thus convinced of sin, and feel its burden, it is the duty and privilege of the Christian minister to point out “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” And, oh! with what earnestness and tender solicitude for your highest welfare did your late affectionate Pastor direct you to this “fountain opened for sin and uncleanness,”in the full assurance that you might wash and be clean! He knew that the Saviour had voluntarily interposed between us and his Father's wrath; that he had left the glories of his heavenly kingdom, and came upon earth, to suffer death upon the cross for us men and our salvation. He had found him to be precious to his own soul; and this love of CHRIST constrained him to preach his offered salvation to others, that they too might find rest from the burden of their sins, and derive from his fulness all spiritual blessings necessary for their future warfare.. The unsearchable riches of CHRIST crucified was his delightful theme. Here, all the energies of his powerful mind seemed to be concentrated, and the benignity of heaven beamed in his countenance while accents of
grace and mercy flowed from his tongue. Nor did he ever neglect to press upon you the conditions, Faith and Repentance, on which alone you can become partakers of CHRIST's offered mercy ;-a faith, not merely historical, but of Divine origin,* wrought in your hearts by the HÓLY
*“As the increase and perfection, so the original, or initiation of Faith is from the Spirit of God, not only by an external proposal in the word, but by an internal illumination in the soul; by which we are inclined to the obedience of Faith, in assenting to those truths; which unto a natural and carna man are foolishness." Bp. Pearson on the Creed, Art. 8.