Page images

I cannot help, also, upon this occasion, putting you in mind of the neglected duty of worshipping God in your families. These smaller focieties, in which the members are connected by the Itrongeft ties, and stand in the nearest and most endearing relations to one another, how proper are they for the joint worship of God? and how great is the fio of neglecting it? How can you expect any thing else, but either an angry providence, or hardening and lupifying prosperity, which is infinitely worse, unless you call on the name of God? whereas, by mingling your voices in his praises on earth, you prepare yourselves for his service in heaven. I cannot go through all the excuses offered for this neglect; but wo shall be to that man, who is too busy, too proud, or too modest, to worship, in his family, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who made him by his power, and upholds him by his providence.

In the third place, Let me improve this fubject for the trial of those whose state is more doubtful. How. ever many open enemics there are to religion in these days, it is to be lamented, that there are many alfo, who continue their attendance upon the ordinances of God, but in a cold and formal manner, and refting upon the form, without the power, lay themfelves aflecp in fecurity. Bring yourselves to the test, then, and fuffer conscience to discover the truth, however painful and mortifying. Is there any of you, who has heard of the employment of the saints above, as confifting in the service of God, who are not able to conceive the happiness or delight of fuch work? Is there anyamong you, who weary of the service of God, not from weakness of body, but from aversion of mind, who, im mediately after, return to the world, and its enjoyments, with eagerness, and lightness of mind, like a bullock, when he is loofed from the yoke? Such have good reason to suspect their condition, and to fear, that they are unrenewed in heart. But, I hope, there are not a few, who, from their heart, call the Sabbath, a delight, the holy of the Lord, and honour• able; who esteem a day in God's courts better than

a thousand;' whose highest joy it is, to have their hearts captivated with his love, and their affections enlarged in his praise; and whose indisposition often to this work, by sloth or worldliness of mind, is their greatest grief. Such, my brethren, have good reason to look forward to that happy time, when they shall serve him with unwearied vigour and alacrity; and shall behold the smile of his countenance without one mortifying frown.

In the fourth place, I would improve this subject for the consolation of the afflicted. The hope of glory is the true and proper source of consolation; whether your forrow arises from fuffering, or from fin; for both thefe shall be perfect strangers to the happy abode of the saints above. If you are under the anxiety of worldly care, the oppression and reproach of the ungodly, the attacks of sickness, the gradual loosening of the pins of this feeble tottering frame; if these weaken the strength, and mar the melody of your present fongs, and compel you to mix your praises with groans, remember, that, in a short time, these complaints will be at an end, the harps of God will be given you, and skill to handle them. If a

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

q 원

fenfe of inherent corruption, if grief for an absent or an angry God, make your hands to hang down, exert the hope of being made not only perfectly happy, but perfectly holy, and serving him day and night in his temple. : This leads me, in the last place, To direct you, to improve this subject for animating your present de votion. Nothing is more proper for this purpose, than the lively hope, or rather anticipation of the heavenly employment. Let us overcome our present Sloth, by entering, in faith and hope, within the vail, and considering how we shall then praife him: thes there shall be no wandering thought, no cold hear?, no faultering tongue, no flagging spirits. And, as without all question, fome are here present, not a few, I would charitably hope, who shall enter into that temple of the living God; so we know not how foon any of us may be sent for, to leave this worldly fanctuary, to be above the use of present ordinances, and to join the innumerable company about the throne. In the prospect of this, Psal. cxlix. 1, 2.

-Let us sing unto the Lord a new song, and his * praise in the congregation of saints. Let Ifrael re

joice in 'him that made him; let the children of • Zion be joyful in their King. Amen.



Ministerial fidelity in declaring the whole

counsel of God.

Acts xx. 26, 27.


Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am

pure from the blood of all mnen: for I have not Journed to declart unto you all the counsel of God.




HESE words are a part of the apostle Paul's

discourse to the elders of Ephesus, when taking leave of them, under a firm perfuafion, or ra. ther a certain knowledge, that he would never agaia fee them in the body. My present situation, of which none of you is ignorant, has determined me to the choice of this passage, as a very proper subject, from which I may conclude the exercise of my ministry among you. I had once occasion, on leaving another charge, to have taken a formal farewel of a very af. fectionate people, but had not courage to attempt it. The circumstances attending the removal, which, if Providence prevent not, seems now to be at hand, are such as do not lessen, but greatly increase the difficulty of speaking from such a subject. And yet,

in another view, they seemed to urge it so strongly, and to present such an opportunity of being useful, as I durft not wholly decline. Every Christian ought to be an observer of providence. Nothing will more effectually promote his holiness and comfort. And both a minister and his people ought to improve the aspect of providence, when it hath any thing peculiar in it, to their mutual benefit.

Let me therefore intreat you to attend to the following discourse, with patience and composure. This requelt I the rather hope you will comply with, as there is nothing intended that is personal, further than must necessarily arise from the subject itself, or be unavoidably suggested by your own thoughts. I bless God that I have no complaint to make of want of duty, or affection upon your side; neither is it any part of my purpose to justify my own conduct, during the time that I have had the honour and happiness of being entrusted with the ministry of the gospel in this place. I shall there. fore only fay, that whether I have been able to deJiver my own foul, by fidelity in duty, and by purity of principle, I am certain, that very much has been laid to the charge of many of yours. Least of all do I intend to endeavour to fatisfy you of the motives which have induced me to accept of a call to a distant part of the world, and, in some degree, a different employment in the church of Christ. For this, I know that an account must be given, in due time, to a much greater Judge, with whose approbation either the applaufe or cenfure of men are not worthy to be laid in the balance. The single purs

« PreviousContinue »