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unwearied diligence, the business of instructing, and warning, counselling and comforting the souls committed to their charge! How will they spring forward, from time to time, with fresh vigor and delight, to the most painful services for their good! What will they not be ready to do! What will they not be content to suffer, may they but find the work of the Lord thus prospering in their hands! To their people they will be ready to say, with a kind of elevation and rapture, as the apostle Paul, to his beloved Thessalonians : " What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? are not even ye,” now, as we trust you will be “in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, at his coming ?"
But bow very differently must a faithful watchman be affected, when he finds a contrary temper and conduct prevailing among his people! How will his mind be filled with grief, when they oppose their perverse humors, to his sincere and hearty endeavors to do them good—When they resist and violate the good rules of order and discipline, which, according to Christ's direction, he desires to maintain in his church-When they refuse to attend his ministrations, or disregard them, when they do attend—When they stop their ears against his most tender and faithful counsels ; or “ become his enemies, because he tells them the truth”-When “they hate reproof, and despise the voice of their teacher!” What trial can be greater than this! What grief can enter deeper into the secret springs of the soul than this ! This will cause bim “to weep in secret places ;" and to discharge the fullness of his heart, in unutterable groanings before God. With what mournful accents will he adopt the language of the prophet? “Behold I have labored in vain, and spent my strength for naught! All the day long have 1 stretched forth my hands, unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”
Hard, methinks, must those hearts be, and stubborn those tempers, which will not be softened and subdued, by a candid consideration of these things; and brought to pay a tender, affectionate, and submissive regard to their pastors, when in the faithful discharge of their duty. Gratitude and ingenuity must constrain them to do it, one would imagine, even if they did not extend their thoughts to the last inducement hereto, suggested in our text, which however is worthy their serious and attentive regard, viz.
The injury they do themselves, by such a temper and conduct, as grieves and disheartens their ministers. That is unprofitable for you. This expression may seem to you not very emphatical ; but the sentiment contained in it, is very weighty and important; the soft language, in which it is clothed, should make it, like the oil, in which a razor is set, to cut the deeper. By conducting so as to grieve your faithful pastors, you greatly prejudice yourselves. Their hands being thereby weakened, and their hearts discouraged; the firmness of their minds lost, and their thoughts broken and dissipated; they cannot labor among you, in so profitable a manner; their instructions will be less accurate, spirited and seasonable, and so less likely to be beneficial to you. Or if God should specially support them, under all these trials, and enable them to prosecute their labors, with unbroken assiduity and vigor ; may it not justly be expected, that he should withhold the influences of his Spirit ; without which the best means will profit you nothing? They will only serve to make your hard hearts harder, and your blind eyes blinder, and so seal you up to ruin.
Oh! what a heavy load of guilt do those bring on themselves, who so evilly requite the goodness of God, in sending the gospel to them, and the fidelity of their spiritual guides, in tenderly watching for their souls ! The account will sit heavy on them, in the great day, without repentance; and open such an endless scene of horror and anguish before them, as we can, at present, but very faintly conceive of. But the hearts of their faithful pastors, which they made sad, for a while, shall rejoice for ever; and their sorrows shall be remembered no more.
I have not time to make any other application of these serious truths, than in the addresses, which custom seems to require, upon such occasions.
And, first, I turn myself to my dear brother, at whose desire I am now speaking.
You have heard, Sir, some articles of ministerial duty laid down; how every faithful pastor must rule in the church of Christ, and watch for the souls of his charge. You will from hence easily collect, both the difficulty and importance of the work, which you are entering upon. Indeed, long before now, I doubt not, you have settled it in your mind, that faithfulness in the pastoral office will not at all consist with a life of indolence and
And could we think it reasonable, that so glorious a reward, as the gospel promises to Christ's faithful ministers, should stoop down, like fruit upon a full laden bough, to be plucked by every idle and wanton band ?
Here is a large number of precious and immortal souls, who now put themselves under your pastoral care, for whom you must watch, as expecting to give account. You are sensible that it is your duty to exert yourself in every proper way for their good; to point out the path of duty before them, and lead them, if possible, into the way of life and happiness by Jesus Christ. As they all belong to your charge, so they must all have a share in your tenderest affections, in your daily labors, in your fervent prayers. Cherish therefore a kindness and sensibility of heart jowards them all. Seek a testimony in their own bosoms, that you
naturally care for their state. Love sweetens every difficulty, and the labors of it are their own reward.
Study the worth of souls; their rational and immortal nature; and what Christ has done and suffered to redeem them from sin and misery ; and then the most painful labors, the most ardent desires, and the most unwearied endeavors, to bring them to the knowledge and participation of this redemption, will appear most reasonable. Be not discouraged at the prospect of difficulties; but let that which is the support of all Christ's faithful ministers be yours, the promise of his gracious presence. Remember who has said, “ My grace is sufficient for you ;” and stretch forth your soul to him, in fervent prayer and humble confidence, for daily supplies of grace and strength.
And nothing is more needsul ; nothing can have a greater influence on your fidelity, than to keep your eye much fixed upon the great day of accounts. Realize it ; bring it near, in your devout meditations. He who now calleth you into his vineyard, will soon call you to give account of your labors there. Should you then appear to have been unfaithful in your trust, so that through your neglect, souls committed to your care continue impenitent in sin, and perish, for ever; (God forbid this should ever be the case ;) what an awful account will you have to give to the great Judge! How will you bear the resentment of his angry countenance ! How will you endure to hear the cries of this, and the other wretched creature upbraiding your unfaithfulness! “Oh my negligent and cruel minister! My soul was committed to your care, but you watched not for it; you never warned me of my danger; you never directed me to Jesus Christ, the saviour of sinpers, and now am I undone for ever!”
But if you are faithful to God, and to the souls committed to your charge: “ If you stir up the gift that is in you, and make full proof of your ministry ;" then you may look forward with comfort to that important day, “when Christ shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God; when he shall sit upon his seat of judgment, and all nations shall be gathered before him ;” and you, Sir, and the people of your charge, as well as others. Then, if your faithful labors have been attended with success, you will appear at the head of a numerous progeny of spiritual children, and be able to say, “Lord, bere am I and the children which thou hast given
Or if your fidelity should not be attended with desired success; yet you will be “ free from the blood of all men ;” and receive the plaudit of your Judge ; “Well done, good and faithful servant ; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Be your fidelity, dear Sir, animated by the realizing anticipation of these honors; “when they that be wise shall shine as the
brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever."
And now, suffer me, beloved brethren, of this church and congregation, in the next place, to congratulate you, upon the agreeable prospect of having a man set over you in the Lord, who, we hope, will be a pastor after God's own heart.
The great Repairer of breaches is now filling up the place of your late worthy pastor,* who, we trust, is gone to receive the reward of his faithful labors among you. • Remember him who has had the rule over you, and spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow. Remember how you have received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.” The lips which, not long since, fed many, are now closed in darkness. The voice you have often heard with pleasure, and, I hope, with advantage, you must hear no more. But, blessed be God, you are not long left as sheep without a shepherd, nor have been dispersed and scattered in your destitute state. We rejoice with you, to see with how much peace and unanimity, you have invited one to take the pastoral care over you. And now, behold the man, whom Providence has marked out for this great work among you.
Behold him answering to the call of God; Whom shall I send to watch over, and feed this destitute flock ? Lord, “here am I, send me.” He leaves his native place, and dear relations, at a distance, and comes to labor in this part of Christ's vineyard. We trust you will never suffer him to want for tender and affectionate friends among you. Let your affections, which you have so judiciously placed upon birn, never grow languid and cold, but continue and increase. Esteem him highly in love for his works' sake; and let this appear by your carriage towards him. Do not look for perfection in him, but always remember that your ministers are men, subject to like passions with others. Be willing to cover the small failings you may observe in him, with a mantle of love and charity: From gross errors, we trust, through the grace of God, he will preserve himself. Be tender of his person and reputation ; let neither be needlessly exposed. Let him have a constant remembrance in your prayers.
I trust, he seeks not yours, but you; and that you cannot do him a greater kindness, or give him greater satisfaction, or stronger encouragement, than by making it appear that you are profited by his ministry. Submit to his serious instructions, and obey the wise rules of discipline, which, out of a tender concern for your good, as well as in obedience to Christ, he will endeavor to maintain. Oh do not grieve and discourage him, by an unteachable and refractory disposition ; if you should ; the present grief will
* The Rev. Mr. NICHOLAS LORING.
indeed be his; but the blame will be yours; the loss and the punishment will be yours. We wish there may ever subsist between you and him those kind and mutual regards, which the relation demands. We pray he may long come to you in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ; and that ye may be each other's joy and comfort, in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Finally, to this numerous assembly let me say—You are sensible, that the important duty of Christ's ministers, in watching for the souls committed to their charge ; and the account which they must give of their fidelity herein, doth not supersede the obligations lying on every one, to care for his own soul, and to give account of himself to God. It becomes you all therefore, to watch for your own souls, as they that expect to give account. Now you enjoy a day of grace, and the means of grace : You do not forget, I hope, that the continuance hereof is very uncertain ; that the date of life is short ; that death is approaching, and that after death is the judgment. If you neglect the opportunities you now enjoy, of obtaining pardon of sin, peace with God, and purity of mind, through the merit of Christ's blood, and the power of his Spirit; the season of God's grace will soon be at an end, and the door of his mercy shut. Your guilt and folly, in neglecting the kind offers of grace in the gospel, and abusing your singular privileges, will set heavy on you at death, and fill you with unutterable confusion before your Judge. There will then remain no way of escaping that awful sentence; “ Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire.” 0! let every one consider this, before it be too late. Submit, heartily submit to the methods of grace proposed to you in the gospel. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Improve all advantages to grow in the knowledge of God, and in a conformity to him; that at length you may be admitted into his blessed presence, to enjoy him for ever, in his glorious kingdom. AMEN. .