Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

rits, you may injure yourselves, and disable thein from doing you that service, in which they are cheerfully spending their lives, though perhaps they apprehend they are thereby shorten. ing them.

And, once more, be not unwilling to use a proper freedom with them in your religious concerns. Officiously to pry into the secrets of families and persons, is a meanness which a generous man will scorn ; and particularly to know them is a burden, and often a snare too, which a wise man will gladly decline: but some knowledge of your spiritual state and experience is necessary to our knowing how to address you, and to address God on your account. Nor can you expect such suitable assistance from your spiritual physicians, as might otherwise be hoped for, if you will not communicate to them some parti. culars of your complaints.

On the whole, my dearly beloved, Fulfil you our joy *, and let it be your great care so to receive our message, and so to improve it, that it may be the delight of our souls now lo proclaim the honours of our Redeemer amongst you, as your servants for Jesus sake, and that the more tenderly we love you, the more abundant satisfaction we may find in our present labours, and our future account. Amen.

* Phil. l, 2.

SERMON II.,

A CHARGE Delivered at St. Ives, Huntingdonshire, on August 12, 1742, at the Ordina

tion of the Reo. Mr. John Jennings.

MY DEAR FRIEND AND BROTHER,

I DOUBT not but your own sagacity has prevented me in observing, that the discourse we have been just now hearing is in effect a charge, though with great dexterity couched under the form of a popular address. Your general work has been well represented to you, and you have been instructed as to the authority by which you are to act in it, the subject on which you are chiefly to insist, and the end which you are to pursue. The particular offices in which you are to endeavour to serve Christ, in serving the souls of men, have also been happily touched upon; and the grand arguments which should engage you to attend this service, with diligence, resolution and delight, have been powerfully suggested. It would therefore be easy for me to go over all the most natural branches of it, in an application of it to you, by which I might well answer the whole purpose of the province particularly assigned to me, in the work of this day. But lest by such a repetition I should seem unseasonably sparing of my own labour, as well as a sense of my inability to express these things in a more agreeable manner, than that in which they have already been handled, I shall now attempt a method something different; only observing, that the hints I am now to address to you will appear with some peculiar advantage, when considered in their connection with the preceding discourse.

I am willing to believe, Sir, that in consequence of what my reverend brother has been laying before you, your heart is now glowing with a vigorous, yet humble resolution, that, in the divine strength, you will emulate the character and conduct of the great apostle, and will preach not yourself, but Christ

Jesus the Lord; and that you will be ready to approve yourself the servant, the lowly affectionate servant, of the meanest of your brethren for his sake. I will suppose your enquiry to be, How may I serve this great master in the most acceptable and successful manner? How may I conduct myself, so as another day to hear him saying to me, Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord*? I know not how to answer such an enquiry better, in a few words, than to remind you of another lively and proper expression of the same apostle St. Paul, when speaking of the blessed God he says, I serve him with my spirit in the gospel of his Son t. You serve God in the same gospel.--I hope it will indeed be the same.-God forbid we should any of us introduce any other. Labour therefore to do it with your spirit, with all the united powers of your soul, and labour at all times to keep your spirit in a proper situation for it.

For your assistance in this respect, I shall make it my present business to shew you, as well as I can, what must be the situation and temper of that spirit, which would, in the happiest manner, serve Christ in the great work you have this day under. taken. This will give me an opportunity of suggesting hints which will have their use, not in this or that particular respect alone, but in every circumstance through which you pass, and in every service to which you are called out, That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished and prepared to every good work I. Nor can I think of any thing which appears to me a more proper supplement to the many particular advices I have given you, with respect to your business as a preacher and a pastor, in those academical lectures on that subject which you have heard from me, and the hints of which are still in your hand. Permit me now to remind you that they come recommended to you by a very material circumstance, as several important passages in them were taken from the lectures of my honoured tutor your reverend and worthy father ; whose name will long be precious in the churches, and my relation to whom I must always esteem as, under God, one of the greatest blessings of my life. You will no doubt frequently review them, and pardon me if I say, you will in effect hear two fathers speaking in them, with an united voice ; if the most endearing affection, and the most intimate converse, even from your infant years, can give me a title to that tender name.

If you desire to serve Christ with your spirit in his gospel,

*Mat. xxv, 21.

[ocr errors][merged small]

I confess you undertake a difficult task. So difficult, that were there not a much better spirit than our own, in the strength of which we attempt it, even The supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ* himself, I know not how any of us could encourage our younger brethren, or how we could find any encouragement ourselves, in the midst of so many infirmities, temptations, and oppositions. But at once exhorting you, my dear Son, to be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus t, and praying, as the apostle expresses it, that the Lord Jesus Christ may be with your spirit I, I proceed to give you some hints, as to that frame and temper in which it must be your business, and mine, to preserve our spirits, if we desire they may be fit for so great a service. And my younger brethren who hear me this day, of whom there is so large an appearance, will I hope consider a great deal of what is now to be said, as their own concern as well as ours, and lay it up in their niemories, as against their own ordination-day. Not to say how much every preacher, and every private christian is obliged, on the common principles of religion, to cultivate the main branches of the temper I am to recommend. Now, with respect to this, I may indeed say as Solomon does, Keep thine heart with all keeping ş; bestow the utmost attention upon it, and let every thing be done that can be imagined, with any appearance of propriety, in subserviency to so great an end. May it be your constant care, and the grand, noble point of your ambition, to have a mind as well ordered as possible. So that no one irregular affection may be admitted or encouraged, no one good affection wanting or languid. But the general exhortation may farther be illustrated in such particulars as these which I shall touch upon, not as ex. hausting the subject, but as containing some of the most material instances of watchfulness and duty, to which it may lead. . Be solicitous, my dear friend, if you would serve God with your spirit in the gospel of his Son, that your spirit be habitually devout-and humble-that it be elevated and free-that it be attentive, and active—that it be courageous and resolute—that it be tender and gentle.

1, 2. Let it be your care that your spirit be evangelically devout; that it be set upon God, upon God in Christ. He is your Master, and you are always in his sight; labour to act as continually in it. Converse much with him and you will love him the more, and, by a very natural consequence, you will serve him the better. Labour after the knowledge of the divine Being, so far as feehle mortals can attain it: and see to it that it be a practical knowledge, affecting your heart with those powerful emotions of reverence and love, due to the great Father of the world, and to your God and Father in Christ. Know and honour him under the various views in which he appears by the light of nature and revelation, realizing to your own mind continually, his existence and his presence" () my soul, there is a God, and such a God as I discourse of to others and he is this day, this moment, present with me, and observing what regard I will shew him, and what effect all the discoveries he has made of his greatness and goodness will have upon my mind and my life.”

* Phil. i. 19.

+ 2 Tim.ii. 1.

12 Tim. iv, 29.

Prov. iv. 23.

Let this engage you to make devotion a considerable part of your business, and to attend to it as such. You will often be speaking to God, in the name and presence of others; and a regard to your own reputation will engage you then to address him, in a solemn, reverend, composed and affectionate manner. It will engage you to awaken and regulate your thoughts, while employed in social prayer, which indeed seems to me by far the most difficult part of our public work, as performed in such assemblies as ours. But surely that minister has great reason to suspect the integrity of his own heart that can pray with some copiousness, affection, and pleasure with others, and in secret can only find in his heart to run over a few hasty, inattentive, and customary words, in such a manner as he would be ashamed to do, if any one of his fellow-creatures was present. Guard against this, my dear brother ; and especially guard against it in the evening, when the fatigues arising from the labour of the day, may expose you to the peculiar danger of it. And for that purpose take time to retire, if possible, before the fatigue becomes too great and sensible, that there may be flame for the evening sacrifice. Be assured, that as prayer is the food and breath of all practical religion, if I may be allowed the expression, so secret prayer in particular is of vast importance; insomuch that I verily believe that if a man were to keep a particular and accurate journal of his own heart but for one month, he would find as real and exact a correspondency between the temper of his soul at seasons of secret devotion, and in other parts of his life, as we find between the changes of the barometer, and of the weather.

To furnish out matter for prayer, let meditation be called in to your assistance; and let the word of God, above all, be the subject of your meditation. You know it is placed among the most distinguishing characters of a good man, that His de

« ZurückWeiter »