« PreviousContinue »
ways and hedges, and compel them to come in.” (Luke xiv. 23.) By the account of it which he has left behind him, I find he delivered his last
message with more than common freedom and earnestness: There is something in the conclusion of it so peculiarly solemn, that I know not how to pass it by in silence ; and God Almighty grant, that its coming in this manner as it were from the grave, may give it an additional solemnity and success!
“I know noť (says he, and you well remember the fervour with which he spoke it); I know not • how I can better improve this subject, than by • using my endeavours to compel sinners to accept o of the gracious and generous invitations of the • Gospel. Oh, no longer .withstand the kind pro' posals of your Saviour, and the offers of his grace. · Lay down your weapons; put away the evil of
your doings ; cease to do evil, and learn to do "well: and, under a deep sense of your guilt, fly to
Christ, as your only refuge. I entreat you, in the name of God, to repent, and forsake your evil ways. I entreat you, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come and partake of that plentiful provision, which, in the Gospel, he has made for perishing
souls. I conjure you, by all that is solemn and • sacred; by the terrible threatenings of the law, " and the sweet promises of the Gospel ;-I conjure * you, by the terrors of a guilty conscience, by the • agonies of death, by the powers of the world to
come, by the joys of heaven, and by the terrors • of hell ;-) beseech you, by the love of God, by ..the compassions of a Saviour; as you value the
peace and welfare of your souls ;-I pray you, in • Christ's stead, Be ye reconciled to God. Finally,
• I call heaven and earth to witness this day, I have • set before you life and death. Oh that • choose life! Methinks I know not how to part ' with you without gaining my point.'
And did he, my friends, did he part with you, without gaining his point? Oh, Sirs ! how could you withstand such pressing solicitations ! How could you find it in your hearts to refuse him? What excuses could you make to put him off? Perhaps the same that Felix made to Paul: “Go thy way for this time; when I have a more convenient season I will send for thee.” But, you see, God and salvation are not to be trifled with: you refused to hear him then, and you shall never hear him more! Remember, therefore, I beseech
how received and heard ; and hold fast, continuing in those things which ye have learnt; and, now that he must break the bread of life to you no more, gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost: pray earnestly for the Comforter, which is the lloly Ghost, to “teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance” whatsoever he hath said unto you. It is remarked of the disciples of John, that, as soon as they heard of his death, they went and told Jesus: shall I recommend their example to you, as worthy your imitation ? You cannot apply to a better friend. In the days of his flesh, it is said of him, that " when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd :” and we are assured that heaven has not abated the tenderness of his nature, or caused him to be less affected with the infirmities of ours. Go, therefore, ,
and tell Jesus of your loss: tell him what a breach this melancholy providence has made in your church ;-tell him how your hearts tremble for the ark of God;—and pray to him, as he is Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth a faithful labourer into this part of his vineyard, who shall be “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed ;” one who shall “ rightly divide the word of truth,” and “give to every one his portion in due season.
“ Now the God of all patience and consolation grant you to be like minded
to be like minded one towards another, according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind, and with one mouth, glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Amen.
PREACHED BEFORE AN ASSEMBLY OF MINISTERS,
HELD AT EXETER, MAY, 1755.
HEBREWS xii. 17.
For they watch for your souls, as they that must give
The very mention of a future judgment carries a sacred solemnity with it, gives an air of importance to every subject that is connected with it, and disposes us to receive every intimation of duty with meekness and faith. Should the heavens open, and the transactions of that day immediately commence; should we “ see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory,” attended by thousands of angels, and ten thousands of his saints ; should we see the throne erected, and the judge in awful majesty seated thereon ; and should our names be among the first that were called upon to give an account of our stewardship; and should, among other things, the improvement of this opportunity be particularly inquired into (as it certainly will); what account would you wish to give of it? In what manner would you choose to have the proceedings of this day recorded in the book of remembrance ?
Under the deep impression of such sentiments as these, I would hope the following discourse will
meet with a favourable reception; and this hour be so usefully filled up, that we may recollect it with "pleasure, and give an account of it with joy.
I will not take up a moment of your time in .critical inquiries, and questions that minister strife rather than edifying: it is sufficient to observe, that, among the excellent duties which the Apostle had been recommending as the fruit of faith, he comes to those which people owe to their former and present pastors.
With respect to those that are “ fallen asleep in the Lord,” he thus exhorts them: “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken to you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” (ver. 7.) And having enlarged upon this, and recommended and enforced it from other topics, he proceeds, in the verse in which our text is, to remind them of their duty to their present ministers.
If I had intended this discourse for you, whose souls ministers are to watch for, the former part of this verse would have suggested several very important considerations: “Obey them which have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.” Obey them, not as lords over God's heritage, but as examples to the flock; not as temporal princes, but spiritual guides. Receive them as ambassadors for Christ, and reverence in them the authority of their divine Master. They presume to make no laws of their own, but only explain and enforce the laws of Christ: and as far as they do so, they may demand obedience and submission ; and every instance of disrespect and contempt offered to them, is an affront to God. As our Saviour has expressed it