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and contests. Then it will appear whether I acted uprightly, and from a truly conscientious, careful regard to my duty to my great Lord and Master, in some former ecclesiastical controversies, which have been attended with exceeding unhappy circumstances and consequences : It will appear whether there was any just cause for the resentment which was mani. fested on those occasions. And then our late grand contro- . versy, concerning the qualifications necessary for admission to the privileges of members, in complete standing, in the visible church of Christ, will be examined and judged in all its parts and circumstances, and the whole set forth in a clear, certain, and perfect light. Then it will appear whether the doctrine which I have preached and published concerning this matter be Christ's own doctrine, whether he will not own it as one of the precious truths which have proceeded from his own mouth, and vindicate and honor as such before the whole universe. Then it will appear what is meant by “ The man that comes without the wedding garment ;" for that is the day spoken of, Matth. xxii. 13. “ Wherein such an one shall be bound hand and foot, and cast into utter darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And then it will appear whether, in declaring this doctrine, and acting agrecable to it, and in my general conduct in the affair I have been influenced from any regard to my own temporal interest or honor, or desire to appear wiser than others; or have acted from any sinister, secular views whatsoever ; and whether what I hare done has not been from a careful, strict, and tender regard to the will of my Lord and Master, and because I dare not offend him, being satisfied what his will was, after a long, diligent, impartial, and prayerful inquiry ; having this constantly in view and prospect, to engage me to great solicitude not rashly to determine truth to be on this side of the question, where I am now persuaded it is, that such a determination would not be for my temporal interest, but every way against it, bringing a long series of extreme difficulties, and plunging me into an abyss of trouble and sorrow. And then it will appear whether my people have done their duty to their pastor with respect to this matter ; whether they have
shown a right temper and spirit on this occasion ; whether they have done me justice in hearing, attending to and considering what I had to say in evidence of what I believed and taught as part of the counsel of God; whether I have been treated with that impartiality, candor, and regard which the just Judge esteemed due ; and whether, in the many steps, which have been taken, and the many things that have been said and done in the course of this controversy, righteousness and charity, and Christian decorum has been maintained ; org if otherwise, to how great a degree these things have been violated. Then every step of the conduct of each of us in this affair, from first to last, and the spirit we have exercised in all shall be es.amined and manifested, and our own consciences shall speak plain and loud, and each of us shall be convinced, and the world shall know ; and never shall there be any more mistake, misrepresentation, or misapprehension of the affair to eternity.
This controversy is now probably brought to an issue between you and me as to this world ; it has issued in the event of the week before last : But it must have another decision at that great day, which certainly will come, when you and I shall meet together before the great judgment seat: And therefore I leave it to that time, and shall say no more about it at present,
But I would now proceed to address myself particularly to several sorts of persons.
1. To those who are professors of godliness amongst us.
I would now call you to a serious consideration of that great day wherein you must meet him who has heretofore been your pastor, before the Judge whose eyes are as a flame of fire.
I have endeavored according to my best ability, to search the word of God, with regard to the distinguishing notes of true piety, those by which persons might best discover their state, and most surely and clearly judge of themselves. And these rules and marks I have from time to time applied to you, in the preacliing of the word to the utmost of my skill, and in the most plain and searching manner that I have been able, in order to the detecting the deceived hypocrite, and establishing the hopes and comforts of the sincere. And yet it is to be feared, that after all that I have done, I now leave some of you in a deceived, deluded statc ; for it is not to be supposed that among several hundred professors, none are deceived.
Henceforward I am like to have no more opportunity to take the care and charge of your souls, to examine and search them. But still I entreat you to remember and consider the rules which I have often laid down to you during my ministry, with a solemn regard to the future day when you and I must meet together before our Judge ; when the uses of examination you have heard from me must be rehearsed again before you, and those rules of trial must be tried, and it will appear whether they have been good or not; and it will also appear whether you have impartially heard them, and tried yourselves by them ; and the Judge himself, who is infallible, will try both you and me : And after this none will be deceived concerning the state of their souls.
I have often put you in mind, that whatever your pretences to experiences, discoveries, comforts, and joys have been, at that day every one will be judged according to his works ; and then you will find it so.
May you have a minister, of greater knowledge of the word of God, and better acquaintance with soul cases, and of greater skill in applying himself to souls, whose discourses may be more searching and convincing ; that such of you as have held fast deceit under my preaching, may have your eyes opened by his ; that you may be undeceived before that great
What means and helps for instruction and selfexamination you may hereafter have is uncertain ; but one thing is certain, that the time is short, your opportunity for rectifying mistakes in so important a concern will soon come to an end. We live in a world of great changes. There is now a great change come to pass ; a controversy is at an end which you have continued for so many years : But the time is coming,
and will soon come, when you will pass out of time into etefa nity; and so will pass from under all means of grace whatsoever.
The greater part of you who are professors of godliness have, (to use the phrase of the apostle)" acknowledged me, in part:" You have heretofore acknowledged me to be your spiritual father, the instrument of the greatest good to you that ever is, or can be obtained by any of the children of men. Consider of that day when you and I shall meet before our Judge, when it shall be examined whether you have had from me the treatment which is due to spiritual children, and whether you have treated me as you ought to have treated a spiritual father. As the relation of a natural parent brings great obligations on children in the sight of God; so much more, in many respects, does the relation of a spiritual father bring great obligations on such whose conversation and eternal salvation they suppose God has made them the instru. ments of : 1 Cor. iv. 15. “ For though you have ten thou. sand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers ; for in Christ Jesus, I have begotten you through the gospel."
II. Now I am taking my leave of this people I would apply myself to such among them as I leave in a Christless, graceless condition ; and would call on such seriously to consider of that solemn day when they and I must meet before the Judge of the world. .
My parting with you is in some respects in a peculiar man. ner a melancholy parting ; inasmuch as I leave you in most melancholy circumstances ; because I leave you in the gal! of bitterness, and bond of iniquity, having the wrath of God abiding on you, and remaining under condemnation to everJasting misery and destruction. Seeing I must leave you, it would have been a comfortable and happy circumstance of our parting, if I had left you in Christ, safe and blessed in that sure refuge and glorious rest of the saints. But it is otherwise. I leave you far off, aliens and strangers, wretched subjects and captives of sin and Satan, and prisoners of vindictive justice; without Christ, and without God in the world.
Your consciences bear me witness, that while I had opportunity, I have not ceased to warn you, and set before you your danger. I have studied to represent the misery and necessity of your circumstances in the clearest manner possible. I have tried all ways that I could think of tending to awaken your consciences, and make you sensible of the necessity of your improving your time, and being speedy in flying from the wrath to come, and thorough in the use of means for your escape and safety. I have diligently endeavored to find out and use the most powerful motives to persuade you to take care for your own welfare and salvation. I have not only endeavo ored to awaken you, that you might be moved with fear, but I have used my utmost endeavors to win you : I have sought out acceptable words, that if possible I might prevail upon you to forsake sin, and turn to God, and accept of Christ as your Saviour and Lord. I have spent my strength very much in these things. But yet, with regard to you whom I am now speaking to, I have not been successful : But have this day reason to complain in those words, Jer. vi. 29. « The bellows are burnt, the lead is consumed of the fire, the founder melteth in vain, for the wicked are not plucked away." It is to be feared that all my labors, as to many of you, have served no other purpose but to harden you ; and that the word which I have preached instead of being a savor of life unto life, has been a savor of death unto death. Though I shall not have any account to give for the future of such as have openly and resolutely renounced my ministry, as of a betrustment committed to me ; yet remember you must give account for yourselves, of your care of your own souls, and your improvement of all means past and future, through your whole lives. God only knows what will become of your poor perishing souls, what means you may hereafter enjoy, or what disadvantages and temptations you may be under. May God in his mercy grant, that however all past means have been unsuccessful, you may have future means which may have a new effect ; and that the word of God, as it shall be hereafter dispensed to you, may prove as the fire and the hammer that breakéth the rock in pieces. However, let me now at part