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This conclusion, I say, we must all come to sooner or later ; either in repentance or in death. We must, one day or another, every one of us, turn our eyes inwards, and acknowledge that we ourselves, no less than every other soul to which Christ and His Gospel have been made known, are called on to resign and deny our own selves ; to give up every notion of choosing or making our own happiness; and to wait patiently for comfort and salvation, till God see fit to bestow it upon us.
This sounds like too hard a lesson; and so indeed it would be, if we only considered our own frailty, and did not remember the supporting grace of the Holy Spirit, so bountifully promised in Holy Scripture to every one who will but ask for it in earnest in the name of Jesus CHRIST. Pray earnestly for this grace : beseech God, night and day, to make you patient and resigned; quiet and temperate in prosperity, contented and thankful in adversity. Endeavour, with all your hearts, to mean what you say, when in repeating the Lord's Prayer you come to the words, “ Thy Will be done in earth as it is in Heaven.”
And that we may pray for resignation as we ought to do, let us endeavour to think on it as much as we can at other times, and to disengage our thoughts from the world. Let us use ourselves to recollect, in the midst of our pleasure and our business, how soon all these things will pass away for ever; how soon we shall be left alone with our God and our conscience, in a world of which we only know that it is to last for ever and ever. By forcing ourselves, as it were, every now and then, to think earnestly upon these things, we shall gradually unfasten the ties which bind us to this lower world; and shall learn to wait, more and more patiently, for the God of all patience and consolation.
Finally, let us refresh ourselves from time to time by looking to the great and good examples of holy men, living and dead. We have most likely known some, we have certainly heard and read of niany, who have found comfort and salvation in waiting patiently for the Lord. At any rate, we have heard and read of ONE, Whose whole life, from His cradle to His grave, was one act of Divine resignation. We have read, and heard, and from the bottom of our hearts we are bound to acknowledge, that even Christ pleased not Himself. To His pure and heavenly mind how irksome must have been the years He spent on earth ;
beholding as He did, and understanding to the full the wickedness of those among whom He lived ; and yet He did not hurry away from us, but waited, calm and resigned, for the time appointed of His Father.
• Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the LORD. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts; for the coming of the LORD draweth nigh."
FINAL MEETING OF PASTORS AND PEOPLE.
COLOSSIANS i. 28.
“ Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom ; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
This being the Sunday next before Christmas Day, is one of the four Sundays which the Church of Christ has appointed for the solemn office of ordaining Priests and Deacons, to minister the Word and Sacraments of Jesus Christ under the Bishops, the successors of His Apostles. In that office, no doubt, many congregations were engaged to day. The persons to be ordained priests took their solemn oaths before God's altar, to forsake, as much as in them lies, all worldly cares and studies, and to devote themselves entirely to the serving God in His Church, and saving the souls committed to their charge. They swore to be diligent, orderly, persevering, in every kind of pastoral duty ; and especially to set a good example in all things. Then, after earnest prayer, the Bishop's hands were lạid upon them, and they received authority from the Holy Ghost for the work of a Priest in the Church of God. Which awful covenant between God and them they presently sealed by the Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ; and so went out of the holy place, where the Bishop's hands were laid on them, commissioned messengers of our LORD and SaviouR, fellow-workers with Him in the divine office of bringing lost souls to God, and feeding the redeemed with the true Bread from Heaven.
Now though we may very few of us have ever been witnesses of this sacred ceremony of ordination, yet we are deeply concerned in it. For the Church of Christ is one body, of which the ministers and pastors are principal members; and if they any how fail of God's blessing, either through their own unworthiness, or any thing wrong about their appointment, it is not only their own loss, or the loss of the particular congregation in which they minister, but the whole Church is the worse for it: according to what St. Paul tells us, “ If one member of the Body," and much more so principal a member, "suffer, all the members suffer with it: and if one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”. Therefore, the Church of God in her public services very much impresses on us the duty of remembering the clergy every where, offering for them the sacrifice of prayer and intercession, always in our morning and evening devotions, and very particularly, as often as we draw near the Holy Table where we communicate with CHRIST. For then and there we mention before God especially, all whom He has chosen to be Bishops and curates, beseeching Him to give them His grace, that they may both by their life and doctrine set forth His true and lively Word, and rightly and duly administer His holy Sacraments. And four times in a year we add to our devotions a prayer, that GOD would at those times so guide and govern the minds of the Bishops and pastors of His flock, that they may lay hands suddenly on no man, but faithfully and wisely make choice of fit persons to serve in the sacred ministry of His Church.”
This, as I said before, is one of those times of ordination. We are then fulfilling the instructions of the Church, if we call on you at this time especially, to remember in your prayers those whom the Holy Ghost has set over you, to be Bishops and Priests among His people, and to beg a blessing on those His servants, who in any part of His Church, however distant, have this morning been called to that most sacred office.
Another hint we may take from St. Paul's expression in the text; the purpose of his ministry was, to “ present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” We shall do well to think of the
Pastors' office as intended to prepare us for the great and terrible Day. Consider the thing in this manner.
In all other human pursuits and employments, you may judge, after no long time, whether a person has been successful or no. Wait till next harvest only, and you will know whether the husbandman's trouble, which he now takes in tilling the ground, will or will not bear good fruit. A few months, or at most a few years, will show the tradesman what profit or loss his trade is likely to bring. The physician in like manner will speedily find out what effect his medicines take on the patient : and so of most other occupations. Only the pastor and guide of souls must wait till another world opens on him, before either himself or others can judge positively of the fruit of his labours. There is in the counsels of Almighty God an hour fixed, unknown to us, in which it will be openly revealed to the world, what souls are saved and lost, and what share the conduct of each of God's ministers has had in saving or losing them. Up to that hour, we may indeed praise or blame, but we can hardly be sure that we praise or blame rightly. But that hour will settle all.
It seems to me that this consideration, if one turn one's mind steadily to it, has something in it very serious and awful. Here is a set of persons appointed by our LORD Himself, whose proper business and employment it is to prepare men's souls for His coming in person to examine them. As often as you see one of them, you see a living, speaking witness of God's message by Jesus Christ, and Christ's message by His Apostles, concerning the judgment of the quick and dead. The sight of a clergyman should remind you of eternal things, and bring them home to your mind, as things which will one day be here ; as naturally as the sight of a soldier reminds you of war, or the sight of a man sowing corn, of harvest. And this, I say, however lightly some may treat it, is in very truth an awful and serious thought. And if it be scorned or neglected now, yet it will not depart for ever. It will be a bitter remembrance awaking in your mind, when the hour shall come for all wasted talents to be accounted for.
Now, if Christian people would use themselves to look at God's clergy in this light, namely, as persons sent to prepare themselves and their brethren for the day of judgment, they