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performing a kind action toward the rich and the prosperous, many of whom are so ready to forget the indigent and afflicted, that when one thinks upon the great day of account, one is ready, as the world generally appears, to congratulate the poor, and to tremble for the richi. Let benevolence to both, therefore, remind you of St. Paul's words to Timothy, Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us all things richly to enjoy ; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life*.
And before I close this head, I must also beseech you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, that you endeavour to exercise a meek and gentle temper under contradiction and opposition. I hope and believe you will meet with very little of this sort, from so kind, so generous, and so obliging a people, as that to which you have the happiness of being related : yet there is no soil so good, but some root of bitterness may spring up in it, and if not among your own people, and among your nearest brethren in the ministry, yet among others injuries may arise ; but if you are reviled, revile not again; if you are injured, let forgiveness be all your revenge ; for it is all christianity allows, and all that is good for us to take. And if you should, which is always too supposable a case, be called out to combat with error and immorality, venture to do it in the spirit of meekness. It is the method which the God of truth and holiness has taught us. The servant of the Lord, says the apostle, must not strive, but must be gentle towards all men, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if peradventure God will give them repentance t. We must be cautious lest the old serpent find out a way of brooding over our hearts, and diffuse his venom there, while we mistake the fermentation it occasions to be only a warmth of zeal for Christ, and so do the work of his enemy in his name. I cannot, for my part, apprehend satire to be an ordinance of Christ; at least I believe, he will be more ready to excuse those who have erred on the tender, than on the severe extreme. The knowledge I have had of your natural disposition, prevents my enlarging on this head, which, with regard to you alone, it might not here have been material to mention : nevertheless it is a sin that easily besets young divines, who, as I suppose, with their wits
and passions warm about them, have had the chief hand in bringing theological fury into a proverb. As for you, Sir, what. ever personal ill usage you may meet with in life, Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good *, and trust in him who has given you the command, to bear you harmless while you are careful to observe it. Goodness will, on the whole, not only be fafe, but victorious; and the wisdom of this and all the other rules of our great master, will be de. monstrated, not so much by debate, as by experience. Go on, therefore, my dear friend and brother, not only in this respect, but in all others, to conduct your spirit by these, and you will find them your ornament and defence.' The satisfaction of a well-governed, and of an acceptable and successful ministry, will infinitely over-balance all the pains you can take with your spirit, to keep it in such a temper. God will approve the effect of his Holy Spirit's agency on your heart; and when I have said you will be the object of his approbation and delight, it is little to say the happy fruits of this care, which will appear in the sight of your fellowcreatures, will entitle you to their veneration and affection, and gain a degree of both, which neither the exalted stations, the most flourishing circumstances, or the most extensive genius and learning, could possibly secure in the neglect of these things. And as there is no room to doubt but divine grace will bless your labours, while conducted on such principles, you will be continually laying up in store new treasures, to be possessed in the celestial world, among multitudes whom God will make you an instrument of bringing into the way to it, or of conducting in those peaceful and blissful paths.
I conclude with exhorting you, my friends of this congregation, to continue your affectionate regards to my dear brother, who has now commenced a more intimate relation to you than before, and is become your pastor. Never give him reason to repent that he is so, and that he has preferred you to other congregations, who would gladly have engaged his settlement among them. Encourage his valuable labours by your constant attendance, and by your friendly care for his support: above all, endeavour to improve in religion by his means. I am well satisfied that he Seeks not yours but you t, and will think he Lives indeed, if you stand * Rom. xii, 21.
+ 2 Cor. xii, 14. ,
fast in the Lord*. You will not, I persuade myself, grieve him by any personal unkindness; God grant that none of you may distress his soul, by undoing your own! God grant that none of you may send him back to his great master with lamentation, on account of your refusing to accept of that message of pardon and life he brings ! I do indeed hope Better things of you, and things that accompany salvation t ; and conclude with my hearty prayer, that he may rejoice in every soul of you in the day of the Lord, That he has not run in vain, nor laboured in vain f. Amen. * 1 Thess. iü, 8. + Heb, vi. 9.
Phil. ii. 16.
A CHARGE Delitered at Norwich, on June 20, 1745, at the Ordination of the
Rev. Mr. Abraham Tozer,
MY DEAR BROTHER,
W HEN I consider the rational and edifying manner, in which the solemnities of ordination-days amongst us are adjusted and conducted, and recollect what I hope I may justly call the various and delightful tokens of the divine presence in our assemblies on such occasions, I cannot but esteem it my happiness to have been an attendant on so many of them. My memory goes back with joy to many former years, in each of which providence has given me, in one part of our country or another, to see young ministers, who have a Good report of all men, and of the truth itself*, after having approved themselves to christian societies, generally by some considerable series of probationary labours, unanimously chosen by the respective churches, and invited to the pastoral office over them without one dissenting voice. With delight have I heard their faithful and affectionate testimony to the great truths of the gospel, in judicious summaries of the christian religion, drawn up by them in such expressions as they freely chose, without the imposition of human forms; summaries, which, in this connection, I must acknowledge to have been in the number of the most affecting and edifying public discourses. If I have ever known the spirit of prayer poured forth, as in a kind of celestial torrent, to add at once dignity, sanctity, and transport to our assemblies, it has been on such occasions : And the exhortations of my brethren in their sermons and charges, have often been the means of humbling, of melting, and of animating my soul.
The present pleasure attending these sacred hours, the religious improvement received from what has passed in them, the
* 3 John, ver. 12,
cheering prospect which they give relating to the church in future years, and even in generations yet to come, do all concur to demand my thaukfulness, that I have so often on such seasons been called to Go with the multitude to the house of God*. But I will freely own, the enjoyment has often been abated by the obligation I have been under to officiate, not only in some public work, but especially in the part which is now devolved upon me. Nor should I, after having delivered so many charges, as well as opened my heart so fully to you, dear Sir, in a more private manner, on almost every subject relating to the ministry, know how to set myself with any spirit to what must be in a great measure a repetition of former things; if I did not recollect, that what is immediately addressed to one's self, in the midst of such peculiar solemnities, may have some singular weight, beyond what the same thing would have in a more private address, or if thus publicly offered to another per. son. And therefore I persuade myself, you will hear me with all attention and regard, while I give a little vent to the fulness of my heart, in such fraternal congratulations, admonitions and encouragements, as may suit the present occasion, and may, by the divine blessing, be of some service to you, and my other beloved and honoured brethren, who are sharing in the honours, the labours, and the burdens of this evangelical ministry, to the full exercise of which you have now been solemnly called and set apart.
1. Let me most cordially and affectionately congratulate you, my dear brother, that you have now been thus publicly called and devoted to the ministerial and pastoral office.
Paul esteemed it matter of most joyful reflection, when be said, I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, that he hath counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry t. And I thank him from my soul, as the great head of the church, that he is still raising a succession of those who are to bear it, and that you, dear Sir, are numbered among them. I most heartily congratulate you, on the honour,—the pleasure,—and the usefulness of that station of life, on which you now enter.
1. I congratulate you on the honour of your office.
For with whatever contempt ignorant and profane mer may treat it, it is highly honourable in its simplest forms; and needs none of the external ornaments which men can hang about it, to render it so. If it be honourable, to be, though confessedly in a lower sense, than the title was applicable to the apostles, An
* Psal. xlii. 4.
+ 1 Tim. i. 12.