« הקודםהמשך »
Ghost, a “faith which purifies the heart;" —which inclines you to be willing to be saved in the manner he appoints; which inclines you to cast aside every other dependence, and to adhere to him as your only hope, which leads you to accept him in his three great offices of Prophet, Priest, and King; as Prophet to instruct you, as Priest to atone and intercede for you, and as King to rule over you. Such, my Brethren, is the faith, by which alone we can “overcome the world,” or produce in our lives the “peaceable fruits of righteousness.”
And what is repentance? Is it the breaking off a few sins, from worldly prudence, which may be found to be troublesome and incoñvenient; or is it a mere reformation of the outward conduct? It is neither. This is partial amendment, but not true repentance. True repentance is a change of mind as well as a change of life. It is an inward loving and practising of what God commands; and a hating and avoiding of what he forbids. In the language of Scripture, it is a “conversion from sin to God;" a “being renewed in the spirit of our minds;" a “putting off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts of the flesh,” and a "putting on the new man, which is created in righteousness and true holiness."
But I will not dwell longer on his Public Ministrations; though I might recal to your recollection his great solemnity in all the offices of religion; his tender and earnest exhortations to a diligent use of
the means of grace; his unwearied endeavours in building you up in the practice of every virtue, and his readiness to improve every alarming dispensation of God's providence to your eternal welfare,
Nor shall I detain you long in referring to the other duties you had a right to expect from him. His ill state of health would not allow him, indeed, to visit in his parish as much as he could have wished; but did he not always superintend the visiting of his Curate? Was it not his practice to invite you singly to his study, to prepare you for the LORD's table; or to give you such advice as your case seemed to call for? If any were sick or afflicted among you, has he not been visited, and comforted, and, if poor, relieved? Have infectious, contagious, or other virulent disorders, ever prevented us from kneeling at your bed sides, and comforting your drooping spirits with the healing balm and consolations of religion?
Again, has he not reproved by word, or in writing, every open transgressor, --whether rich or poor? This, my Brethren, is the most difficult part of ministerial duty. Sinners dislike being disturbed in their unhallowed courses, and will not bear reproof for their vices: hence, the most discreet and gentle admonitions of their minister will convert some bad men into personal enemies, who will not scruple, by every wicked means in their
to lessen his influence in his parish, and strengthen
the bands of wickedness against him.-Of this open hostility, perhaps no man of equal faithfulness ever experienced less than he whose departure hence fills, our bosoms with sorrow. His reproofs left a testimony in his favour, in the consciences even of those who were not benefited by them; nor need we wonder, when we consider his great prudence and discretion, and his deep insight into the deceitful windings of the human heart. His maxim was, 'to hate the sin, and love the sinner; to consider what was his own duty, and the temper and spirit in which he was required to discharge!it; then to perform it faithfully that he might deliver his own soul; the consequences of his reproofs he fearlessly left with God and the sinner.
Has he not, also, been the means, through your pecuniary assistance, of instructing the Children of the Poor in their duty: both to God and man Has he not been just and liberal in his worldly dealings,-charitable and humane in all his conduct? These things he hath done, and done them, you will readily allow, in the true spirit of Christianity, and according to the direction of St. Paul, when he says, “ The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle towards all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves."
With regard to his Private Devotions, I would willingly draw a veil over them, till « He who seeth in secret shall" reveal “them openly;" but, as you
were interested in the benefit to be derived from his prayers, and cannot otherwise duly appreciate his character, it is fit that you should know, that he remembered you at the throne of Grace in private, and with his family; that in the composition of his sermons, he sought the direction of God's good Spirit; and before and after their delivery, retired to his closet, to implore the same Divine agent so to imprint his words upon your hearts, as to bring forth the fruits of holiness in your lives; 50 deeply was he convinced that, whether Paul plant, or Apollos water, it is God alone who can give the increase.
Such being the manner in which he discharged the arduous duties of a Minister of Christ, may we not reasonably conclude that, through the Grace of God, he has so improved his talents, as in the great day of account, to meet the approbation of his Judge, and receive from his lips the joyful salutation, “ Well done, thou good and faithful servant, -enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Comfort yourselves, my sorrowing Brethren, with this blessed hope, that your faithful Friend and Pastor has gone to his reward; and while you grieve for his loss, be unwearied in your prayers to the God of heaven, that his Successor may be animated by the same ardent and enlightened spirit of piety, and that he may so“ take heed to himself and to his doctrine, as to save himself and you that hear him.”
But it is time to address a few words to different classes of my hearers; and
Ist. To those who have thought him too strict in the discharge of his important duties.
Let me plead with you in justification of our żeal. “ We are ambassadors for Christ' and “stewards of the mysteries of God." Now what is the duty of an ambassador, but to représent his king, and manage his interests, in foreign countries : or of a steward, but to conduct the affairs of his employer to the best advantage; so the duty of a minister is to speak as God in his word directs. What then are his directions ?. They are to this effect. “I have created man with an immortal soul, which he, by his disobedience, has ruined and undone; but I am unwilling that he should perish for ever. I havė, therefore, given my Son to redeem him, and my Spirit to sanctify and prepare him for the enjoyment of heaven. 0, Son of Man! I honor thee with the dignity of my ministry. I command thee to teach these great and important truths to my people; keep continually before thine eyes the immense worth of each single soul; give thyself wholly to thy sacred duties ; be instant in season and out of season." “Reprove those who sin, that others may be afraid to offend.” « If thou warnest not the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, he shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand." " Take heed, therefore, unto thyself, and to all the flock, over which