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merely as a dangerous one, but as a token that God is angry. And he iş so: but with whom? Not with the good. Or if he be, it is only a fatherly displeasure, that we do not become better.
And is not any way of shewing that, infinitely kinder, than leaving us unreproved, and letting us grow worse? If then you perceive yourselves to have been falling into sin or negligence; be thankful for so timely a warning, and reform. But if you do not, or if you have rectified your course; for the honour of religion be of good courage. Keep far indeed from levity of heart, speech, and behaviour: especially in relation to a providence, intended to produce very different effects: but still maintain and express a peaceful, a cheerful composure: nor let it once be said, that you were in the greatest fear, who have cause for none; while they were in none, who have cause for the greatest. Yet if you cannot help this, consider it only as a very pardonable weakness in yourselves : and instead of entertaining even a momentary thought of envying them, recollect with tender pity, how swift the hour of that inconceivably more terrible shock is coming upon them, which the words of St. John describe in so awakening a manner. And I beheld, and lo there was a great earthquake : and the sun became black as sackcloth, and the moon became as blood, and the stars fell unto the earth; and the heaven departed as a scroll, when it is rolled together ; and every mountain and island were removed out of their place. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich and the mighty, and every bond-man and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains ; and said to the mountains and the rocks, Fall on us; and hide us from the face of Him, that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand *? If you desire to be able, your only way is, to obey his commands during life, who is to determine your everlasting state after death ; observing the Apostle's exhortation, with which I conclude: See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not, who refused him that spake on earth, at the delivery of the law; much more shall not we, if we turn away from him, that speaketh from heaven : whose voice then shook the earth ; but he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake, not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made ; that those things, which cannot be shaken, may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom, that cannot be moved ; let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear : for our God is a consuming fire t.
PREACHED AT THE PARISH CHURCH OF ST. JAMES,
WESTMINSTER, DECEMBER 30, 1750, ON RESIGNING THE RECTORY.
2 Cor. xiii. 11.
Finally, brethren, farewell
You have expected for several months what you will immediately understand the choice of these words to import, my resignation of the office of your minister. If any one blames me, or is sorry for it, I intreat him to consider. Above seventeen years and a half have passed over my head in this place. I have spent the flower and vigour of my life in your service: and now I find, and must expect to find, myself growing less fit every day for the duties of so laborious a cure.
You would not wish to wear me quite out before my time: I would not wish to be burthensome, without being useful to you: and it is much better, that you should be grieved at my departure, than weary of my stay; that I should leave you, while I can do something, than continue with you, when I can do nothing : and convenient opportunities of removing are not likely, as you must be sensible, to happen frequently. Besides, the care of my diocese requires me to be absent from you near half my time : another person may be able to bestow his upon you almost entirely. In so long a space
I have given offence probably to more persons than I am aware; whether just offence, is not for me to say: my successor will have offended no one. I have undergone some pretty severe trials, with such temper and spirits as I could : but how either would hold out, in my declining age, to undergo more of them, I cannot foresee. And therefore on the whole, I hope it will not be imputed to me as a fault, that I have accepted of the offer, which his majesty's goodness hath been induced to make me. I did not solicit to be brought amongst you; nor have I solicited to quit you. I had a large income in the church, when I came hither : I have not enriched myself by
abode here: I shall not enrich myself by going from hence. Hitherto I trust I have not remarkably consulted my own ease : and hereafter, through God's grace, I shall be diligent, according to my ability, both in preaching and other duties of my profession. But it must not be thought strange, if amongst these, I chiefly devote myself to the private study of the Holy Scripture, and the daily attendance on divine worship, in the station, to which I am retiring. I return you my heartiest thanks for your kind acceptance of my labours, for your indulgence, for your liberality to me. I humbly ask your pardon for my failings and omissions, which I am sensible have been many: though I can truly say, that I have always uprightly endeavoured to promote your good in every thing, spiritual and temporal; and would willingly think I need not add, that I have in no instance attempted to do you injustice. If in any I can properly serve this parish, or any member of it, I shall ever embrace the occasion with pleasure. And for the best proof, that I can give at present, of that disposition, I beg leave to mention a few things
at parting, about your parochial affairs, your future minister, and yourselves, which I conceive may be useful to you; and concerning which I beseech you to bear the same freedom of speech from me, that you have allowed me to use, on other subjects, for so many years past.
I begin with your civil affairs. For both the management of them, and the judgment passed upon it, are points, that may considerably affect, not only your interest, but your consciences too. Conducting them right is matter of conscience, on one hand : and abstaining from unjust accusations or suspicions, and feeling sentiments of just gratitude, is so, on the other. In some of these matters I have had a share, jointly with your other vestrymen : and should by no means do them justice, were I to omit saying, that I have found those of them, who have attended, impartially and disinterestedly studious, as might indeed be expected from their ranks and characters, of promoting your general welfare ; of rectifying errors, and framing and executing due regulations. To these therefore in particular I make my grateful acknowledgments for the assistance and support, which they have so constantly and unanimously afforded me, in the most friendly and obliging manner. Nor are they few or small things, which on å fair inquiry, you will find to have been done by them for your advantage, within the last twenty years : and that more have not, is principally owing to this, that their authority extends to a less part of your concerns by far, than I believe you commonly imagine. For instance, it doth not extend to that most important article, the care of your poor : concerning the maintenance and government of whom, however, they have in my time drawn up and recommended rules,