Page images
PDF
EPUB

When he can say with truth, I have not Jhunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God;' nor have suppressed any Christian truths through ignorance, noth, fear, or regard for man; nor have I purchased my own ease, or temporal advantages, at the expence of the truth, or the dignity of my facred calling.

When a man can say with truth, as the apostle did, I have wronged no man, I have corrupted no man, I have defrauded no man.

When he can truly tell the people of his flock, that without ceaħng he makes mention of them in his prayers. That as he prays for a blessing upon his own labours, so he prays for a blessing upon theirs, upon their families, and upon their children.

When a pastor has such a real love for his flock, as that he can truly fay with the same apostle,' Ye are in our heart to live and to die with

you. Such a pastor cannot but hope, that such a love for his flock must recommend him to the love of Christ.

And such, by the way, was the love of your paftor for you, good Christians, of this parish; it was in his heart to live and to die

with you.

A good proof of which is now to be seen amongst his papers ; namely, a presentation to a very considerable living in Ireland, which was freely sent him, which yet he never would make use of.

Rom. i. 9. i 2 Cor. vii

. 3:

[ocr errors]

E 2 Cor. vii. 2.

This perhaps may not be credited, at least not much minded by those whose hearts are set upon preferments;—who count their flock their own no longer then they can change them for a better, without any visible profpect of being more serviceable to God, to his church, or to the souls of men.

And yet most surely a time is coming when it will be more satisfaction, more profit to a paltor, to have edified the poorest parish, than to have changed for the richest benefice, without an assurance of doing much more good; which is seldom, I fear the case.

But to return to St. Paul, and the reasons he had for concluding that his death would be a gain to him.

He was called by Jesus Christ to the ministry. He consulted not with flesh and blood, but was obedient tổ the heavenly call.

He became a true follower of Jesus Christ, both in his labours, and in his sufferings; and in his contempt of the world, its pleasures, profits, honours, and all its idols.

The opposition which the gospel met with in every place did not hinder him from preaching it sincerely; and with what wonderful success God was pleased to bless his labours, the Christian world is sensible of.

As also with what a steady resolution he exercised the power of discipline committed to him by Jesus Christ, which is manifest from his delivering the incestuous Corinthian

[ocr errors]

to

to Satan, notwithstanding the countenance he had even from some powerful Christians of that place.

In short; his manner of life, his faith, long-suffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, as he himself assures us, were well known to the church.

So that he was possessed of all those qualifications which render a man meet to be partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.

And therefore he might with good assurance fay, There is laid up for me a crown of righteoulness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day."

From all which it appears, that afflictions of any kind are fo far from being a sign of God's displeasure, that they are distinguishing marks of his favour to such as fear him,that the faithful discharge of the duties of a man's proper state is one of the surest marks of his being in the way to happiness;—and lastly, that the troubles we meet with, whether in the way of our duty, or in the way

of God's providence, are designed, in mercy, to wean us from this world, to make us weary of its corruptions, and that we may desire to repose ourselves in the grave in hopes of a better life.

This was the case of our friend and brother lying dead before us; whose faith and patience having been exercised with a great variety of trials, and very uncommon, as well as

very

* 2 Tim. iv, 8.

may be

very grievous afflictions; yet he never repined or charged God foolishly, but looked upon them as the effects of his mercy, and saw approaching death with that comfort and steadiness of mind, that for my part, I wish may be my own case when I come to die.

II. This leads us to the second particular, which

be very proper to be enquired into at this time; namely, Whether every minister of Christ may not (if it is not his own fault) be able to say with St. Paul, and with some reasonable assurance, TO ME TO DIE IS GAIN?

St. Paul was a man of like passions and infirmities with us;-of himself he could do no more towards working out his own salvation, than the weakest of us:-he stood in need of, and was supported by the same grace

which any of us may have for asking, provided we alk it with the same sincerity, and make use of the graces God has given us.

You have heard what it was which made the prospect of death a comfort to him; namely, an unwearied diligence in the duties of the ministry, out of a principle of love to Christ, and for the souls of men.

Every Christian, as he hopes for heaven when he dies, has a work upon his hands, and is bound to consider seriously what he came into the world for, and what will be expected from him.

But a minister of Christ has others to answer for, as well as himself. And his falva

tion

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

tion depends very much on the salvation of his flock. What is our hope? (faith St. Paul) are not even ye in the person of our Lord Christ at his coming ?

I shall therefore, think this no improper occasion, when one of our brethren lies dead before us, to put the living in mind of their duty, and of the account we must give, when it comes to be with us as it is with him.

Now, the great business of our Lord Christ on earth, being to establish the Christian religion; that is, to put mankind into the way of salvation; in order to this he took our nature upon him, and made known to us what God expected from us, in order to fit us for heaven and happiness.

He made known to us the condition of the dead: that some are in paradise waiting for an happy resurrection, and that others are reserved in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day.

He appointed certain ordinances, as sure means of grace and salvation to all such as should sincerely close with them.

And he appointed an order of men, whose duty and business it should be, at the peril of their souls, to administer these ordinances; to publish these glad tidings; to pray for and bless his people in his name; and to administer the facrament of reconciliation to such, and to such only, as profess with hearty repentance and true faith to turn unto God.

« PreviousContinue »