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but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.”
If you would lay a solid foundation to expect the death of the righteous, it must be by living the life of the righteous. You will not imagine, that I mean to intimate the most righteous life which any can live, to be meritorious of peace in death, and felicity in the world to come.
When we have done all, we must say we are unprofitable servants; and place our dependence on the free mercy of God, through the mediation of Christ, for pardon and salvation. But there must be those religious principles in your hearts, which produce, in your lives, the fruits of righteousness; in order to your having a meetness for, or title to the happiness of the heavenly world, according to the gospel. “The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Let your hope of dying well be laid in nothing short of repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; proved to be true and genuine, by an habitual love to holiness, and delight in the service of God—by a hatred of all sin, and a constant care to avoid the appearances of it. If this is become your habitual temper, and governing practice, there is nothing in death, at which you need to be affrighted. You may adopt the language of the apostle; "For me to live is Christ; and to die is gain.
S E R M 0 N
PREACHED AT NEEDHAM, NOVEMBER 7, 1792,
REV. STEPHEN PALMER
ORDAINED PASTOR OF THE CHURCH AND FIRST SOCIETY
IN SAID TOWN.
PASTOR OF THE FIRST CHURCH IN DEDHAM.
PRINTED AT THE
APOLLO PRESS, IN BOSTON,
2 TIMOTHY ii. 2.
" And the things which thou hast heard of me, among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
The apostle Paul employs no small part of his epistles to Timothy and Titus, in giving directions for the introduction of proper persons into the work of the evangelical ministry, and for the due performance of the duties of that station. If we are not able minutely to determine, how far the character and office of these first ministers of Christ may apply to Christian pastors and teachers, at the present day, yet all will allow, that it is especially from these epistles, that we are to collect wbat the duties of the pastoral office are ; and what qualifications are requisite in those who enter into it. Two leading ones, which
indeed be comprehensive of all others, we find in the words which I have now read. Faithfulness and ability. They must be “ faithful men, able to teach others.” To such only Timothy is directed to commit the gospel, as a sacred deposit.
By the expression, the things which thou hast heard of me before many witnesses, the apostle undoubtedly intends the gospel, in the great doctrines and duties of which, Timothy had been instructed by him. The same, says he, commit thou to faithful men. This passage hath often been adduced, by Episcopal writers, as an argument, that the people are to have no voice in choosing their religious teachers. Timothy, they say, was bishop of Ephesus. In him was vested the sole power of setting ministers over certain churches, within his diocese. I humbly conceive the passage contains no argument of this sort. It only proves that Timothy had power to ordain. This he had as an elder or bishop, which terms, every honest man acquainted with the original language of the New Testament, must acknowledge are used to denote the same office. There is no intimation, that the people had not liberty to choose their ministers, and present them to Timothy, who was authorized to set them apart to the work to which they had been chosen, by ordaining them, and solemnly committing to them the gospel of Christ.
It seems he was to be acquainted with the characters of those to whom he committed this important trust; and be satisfied that they were faithful men, and able to teach. It will be the business of the following discourse, to explain these qualifications, and then to add some practical remarks, and particular addresses, suitable to the subject, and to the present occasion.
First, they who are introduced into the office of public Christian teachers, must be faithful men.
Faithfulness signifies sincerity and uprightness, by which temper of mind a person should be influenced, both in entering into the pastoral office at first ; and in performing all the duties of it, through the course of his ministry.
Faithfulness implies sincere, good, and upright views and motives, in entering into this sacred employment. The faithful man's desire and design must be, the promotion of the great ends of the gospel ministry, which are to honor God; to build up the kingdom of Christ, and advance the salvation of men.
Now, in order to his being truly governed by these motives, is it not evidently necessary, that he be a man of real goodness of heart, of undissembled piety and religion ? Must not a man, who is destitute of renewing grace, if he is acquainted with the springs of action, in his own mind, be sensible, that he hath no real concern for the glory of God, and the advancement of the kingdom of his Son? How can he then, from upright and faithful motives, take upon him the pastoral office? Can he honestly consider himself qualified to serve Christ, in this employment, when he hath no consciousness of a sincere affection to him? Can be view himself as a fit person, to preach those doctrines, which are, in general, disagreeable to the governing temper of his mind; and the sanctifying influence of which he hath not experienced on his own heart? Can he justly conceive, that he is a suitable instrument, to inculcate and promote that holy, spiritual, and divine life, to which he is a stranger, and which he refuses to maintain ? Certainly not.
Must not that faithfulness then, which should possess a man who enters into the work of the ministry, imply that he finds in himself, a sincere and ardent love to his divine Master, in whose service he is engaging ? That he hath diligently endeavored to become acquainted with that service, and feels an affection to it? That be bath reason to think that, through grace, he is in some good measure qualified to perform it? And that he finds a