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under whose public and private instructions, your youthful days have been spent, I trust, not only much to your comfort, but greatly to your advantage in preparing you for the due discharge of the duties of that profession, in which he was so many years engaged. Herein you will also imitate the pattern of your predecessors in this place.
Labor, by plain, serious and fervent addresses, to bring divine truths home to the hearts and consciences of your hearers; that sinners may be awakened, convinced, and made willing to accept the mercy of God through Christ, as offered to them in the glorious gospel; and that saints may be quickened, comforted, and built up, in their most holy faith. The work is great and arduous. Great assistance, and great comfort, you may expect in it, if you are faithful. Often recollect, for your encouragement and support, who hath said, "my grace is sufficient for you." Be strong then, my son, in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
Often anticipate in your thoughts the approaching day, when your work will be finished, and you will meet those, who have been the people of your charge, at the bar of our final Judge. One serious thought of this kind, will be powerful, to break the force of a thousand temptations to sloth and unfaithfulness. Bear in mind the uncertainty of life, and how short your opportunity may be, in which you can do any thing for the good of your dear people. I wish you, my dear friend, great success in your labors. May God make them instrumental of saving good to many souls; and grant, that "having turned many to righteousness, you may shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever."
In the next place, I take the freedom to address the beloved church and society, in this place.
My dear friends,
When I profess to feel myself tenderly interested in your welfare, I trust my sincerity will not be suspected. I have been, for about thirty-seven years, ministering to a beloved and kind people, nearly connected with you, and from among whom your ancestors principally proceeded.* The Rev. Joseph Belcher, my venerable, though not immediate predecessor, assisted in embodying this church, and preached, on that occasion, from those words, Titus ii. 14. "A peculiar people, zealous of good works." Perhaps he might view the words, as in a good degree, characteristic of your ancestors, then living. I wish they may be of their posterity. In his
* Needham was set off from Dedham, and incorporated as a town, in the year 1711. Here the preacher introduced another anecdote concerning the Rev. Mr. Belcher. The design of it was, to show the favorable opinion he had of this church and society, in its infant state, and his concern to prevent a man's becoming their pastor, whose abilities were small, and his character doubtful; and that they might obtain one able and faithful. He had the satisfaction of seeing his wishes accomplished, when the Rev. Mr. Townsend was settled among them.
records of baptisms, and admissions into church-fellowship, now in my hands, I find the names of many respectable families still among you. He assisted in the introduction of your first minister, whose memory is dear to me, as I trust it is to many of you. He acted the part of a father and guide to me, when I came, young and unexperienced, into this neighborhood. I mourned with you, when he was taken from your head. In your settlement of another pastor, and in all the changes through which you have since passed, whether prosperous, or afflictive, I have taken a sympathetic part with you. And I now sincerely rejoice with you, as I doubt not all the members of the ecclesiastical council do, whom you have invited hither, on the present occasion, that, after a season of darkness and perplexity, you have been led, in answer to your humble prayers, so peaceably and unanimously to choose a pastor, who, we hope, will approve himself one after God's own heart.
Behold the man, who is, this day, devoting himself, his time, and strength, to the service of God and your souls. From a particular acquaintance with him, I am led to believe that he enters on this arduous work, from truly Christian motives, and that he will endeavor, by the help of divine grace, to be faithful in the performance of it. Shall I bespeak your affection to him? I trust he already enjoys it. Cease not to give him substantial evidences of it, by treating his person and character with tenderness and respect; by praying for him, with constancy and fervor; by attending his ministrations, with candor and meekness; and by making ready and punctual provision for his comfortable support.
I hope you will find united in him, a good share of that gravity, that humility, that circumspect and exemplary conduct, which so eminently appeared in your first minister; and of that free and easy address; of that pleasant and sociable turn, which are agreeable traits in the character of your late pastor.
From gross failings, I trust through grace, he will keep himself. His human infirmities you will cover with a mantle of love. Let no jealousies, and suspicions be entertained to his disadvantage, Let nothing deprive him of your esteem, short of full proof that he is become unworthy of it; and then, I hope he will enjoy it to his latest moments. Give him not occasion, my dear friends, by your disregard to his pious instructions, and unprofitableness under his ministry, to complain that "he labors in vain and spends his strength for nought." This will weaken his hands and dis
Such as Fisher, Newell, Fuller, Kingsbury, Metcalf, Mills, Ware, Paine, Dewing, Gay, Okinton, and others. A considerable part of the present inhabitants of Needham, and equally respectable as those whose names are mentioned above, have come into the town since, from other places.
courage his heart. But remember that while this gives him present grief, it may be the foundation of everlasting sorrow to you. We wish you may enjoy a rich and lasting blessing in him; that many of you, and of your children may have reason to view him as a spiritual father, he "having begotten you to God through the gospel." And that he may be able to say, in the great day of Christ's appearing, "Lord, here am I, and the children which thou hast given me." And so that ye may be each other's "crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus."
I shall close with a few words to this whole assembly. You have heard, my brethren, some of the articles, in which your ministers should show themselves faithful. They are especially bound to do so, in preaching to you Jesus Christ, and the gospel method of salvation through him. This is the main point in which their instructions are to centre. Instructions of this kind, have you not all long enjoyed? The great inquiry, which I would wish every one to make, is this?"Have I been brought to know Jesus Christ, with that knowledge which renews the heart, and reforms the life?" If you have not, to what valuable purpose have you sat under the preached gospel? If you continue practically ignorant of this only Redeemer of lost men, your condemnation will be awfully aggravated, by the means of religious instruction afforded to you. O, my friends, there is no time to trifle in this matter. The day and means of grace will soon be at an end with you. Be entreated to "consider in this your day, the things which belong to your peace, before they are hid from your eyes."
As to those of you, who have been "born of incorruptible seed, by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever," certainly you must have an ardent affection to the sacred truths of the gospel. Having "tasted that the Lord is gracious," you will like "new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby." You will hardly need urging to a steady and devout attendance on the preached gospel. This you know is a method appointed by the great Head of the church, to feed and nourish your inward man, and to build you up in all the graces and comforts of the spiritual and divine life. Have you obtained that" precious faith" which "cometh by hearing?" Let the apostle's exhortation be acceptable to you. "Add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly-kindness and charity; for if these things be in you and abound, they will make you, that ye shall be neither barren, nor unfruitful, in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. So an entrance shall be administered to you abundantly, into his heavenly and eternal kingdom." AMEN.
PREACHED IN THE FIRST SOCIETY IN DEDHAM,
ON THE 7TH DAY OF FEBRUARY, 1796,
FORTY YEARS AFTER THE AUTHOR'S INDUCTION
THE WORK OF THE GOSPEL MINISTRY.
BY JASON HAVEN, A. M.
PASTOR OF THE FIRST CHURCH IN SAID TOWN.
PRINTED BY THOMAS FLEET, JR., AT THE BIBLE AND HEART.