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'« I hope I truly find in my heart a willingness to comply with all the commandments of God, which require me to give up my. self wholly to him, and to serve him with my body and my spirit. And do accordingly now promise to walk in a way of obedience to all the commandments of God, as long as I live."
Such kind of professions as these I stood ready to accept, rather than contend and break with my people. Not but that I think it much more convenient, that ordinarily the public profession of religion that is made by Christians, should be much fuller and more particular. And that (as I hinted in my letter to Mr. Clark) I should not choose to be tied up to any certain form of words, but to have liberty to vary the expressions of a public profession the more exactly to suit the sentiments and experience of the firofessor, that it might be a more just and free expression of what each one finds in his heart.
And moreover it must be noted, that I ever insisted on it, that it belonged to me as a pastor, before a profession was accepted, to have full liberty to instruct the candidate in the meaning of the terms of it, and in the nature of the things proposed to be professed; and to inquire into his doctrinal understanding of these things, according to my best discretion ; and to caution the person, as I should think needful, against rashness in making such a profession, or doing it mainly for the credit of himself or his family, or from any secular views whatsoever, and to put him on serious selfexamination, and searching his own heart, and prayer to God to search and enlighten him that he may not be hypocritical and deceived in the profession he makes ; withal pointing forth to him the many ways in which professors are liable to be deceived.
Nor do I think it improper for a minister in such a case, to inquire and know of the candidate what can be remembered of the circumstances of his Christian experience ; as this may tend much to illustrate his profession, and give a minister great advantage for proper instructions ; Though a particular knowledge and remembrance of the time and method of the first conversion to God, is not to be made the test of a person's sincerity, nor insisted on as necessary in order to his being received into full charity. Not that I think it at all improper or unprofitable, that in some special cases a declaration of the particular circumsiances of a person's first awakening and the manner of his convictions, illuminations, and comforts, should be publicly exhibited before the whole congregation, on occasion of his admission into the church ; though this be not demanded as necessary to admission. I ever declared against insisting on a relation of experiences, in this sense, (viz.a relation of the particular time and steps of the operation of the Spirit, in first conversion) as the term of communion : Yet, if by a relation of experiences, be meant a declaration of experience of the great things wrought, wherein true grace and the essential acts and habits of holiness consist ; in this sense, I think an account of a person's experiences necessary in order to his admission into full communion in the church. But that in whatever inquiries are made, and whatever accounts are given, neither minister nor church are to set up themselves as searchers of hearts, but are to accept the serious, solemn profession of the well instructed professor, of a good life, as best able to determine what he finds in his own heart.
These things may serve in some measure to set right those of my readers who have been misled in their apprehensions of the state of the controversy between me and my people, by the forementioned misrepresentations.
A FAREWELL SERMON.
2 COR. I. 14.
AS ALSO YOU HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED US IN PART, THAT WL
ARE YOUR REJOICING, EVEN AS YE ALSO ARE OURS IN THE DAY OF THE LORD JESUS.
I HE apostle, in the preceding part of the chapter, declares what great troubles he met with in the course of his ministry. In the text and two foregoing verses he declares what were his comforts and supports under the troubles he met with. There are four things in particular.
1. That he had approved himself to his own conscience, ver. 12. “ For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with feshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you wards."
2. Another thing he speaks of as matter of comfort, is that, as he had approved himself to his own conscience, so he had also to the consciences of his hearers, the Corinthians, whom he now wrote to, and that they should approve of him at the day of judgment.
3. The hope he had of seeing the blessed fruit of his labors and sufferings in the ministry, in their happiness and glory, in that great day of accounts.
4. That, in his ministry among the Corinthians, he had approved himself to his Judge, who would approve and reward his faithfulness in that day.
These three last particulars are signified in my text, and the preceding verse ; and indeed all the four are implied in the text : It is implied, that the Corinthians had acknowledged him as their spiritual Father, and as one that had been. faithful among them, and as the means of their future joy and glory at the day of judgment, and one whom they should then see, and have a joyful meeting with as such. It is implied, that the apostle expected at that time to have a joyful meeting with them before the Judge, and with joy to behold their glory, as the fruit of his labors ; and so they would be his rejoicing. It is implied also that he then expected to be approved of the great Judge, when he and they should meet together before him ; and that he would then acknowledge his fidelity, and that this had been the means of their glory ; and that thus he would, as it were, give them to him as his crown of rejoicing. But this the apostle could not hope for, unless he had the testimony of his own conscience in his favor. And therefore the words do imply, in the strongest manner, that he had approved himself to his own conscience,
There is one thing implied in each of these particulars, and in every part of the text, which is that point I shall make the subject of my present discourse, viz,
“ Ministers, and the people that are under their caro, must meet one another before Christ's tribunal at the day of judgment.”
Ministers, and the people that have been under their care, must be parted in this world, how well soever they have been united : If they are not separated before, they must be parted by death ; and they may be separated while life is continued. We live in a world of change, where nothing is certain or stable ; and where a little time, a few revolutions of the sun, bring to pass strange things, surprising alterations, in par. ticular persons, in families, in towns and churches, in countries and nations. It often happens, that those who seem most united, in a little time are most disunited, and at the greatest distance. Thus ministers and people, between whom there has been the greatest mutual regard and strictest union, may not only differ in their judgments, and be alienated in affection, but one may rend from the other, and all relation be
tween them be dissolved ; the minister may be removed to a distant place, and they may never have any more to do one with another in this world. But if it be so, there is one meeting more that they must have, and that is in the last great day of accounts.
Here I would shew,
1. In what manner ministers, and the people who have been under their care, shall meet one another at the day of judgment.
2. For what purposes.
3. For what reasons God has so ordered it, that ministers and their people shall then meet together in such a manner, and for such purposes.
I. I would shew, in some particulars, in what manner ministers and the people who have been under their care, shall meet one another at the day of judgment. Concerning this I would observe two things in general.
1. That they shall not then meet only as all mankind must then meet, but there will be something peculiar in the manner of their meeting,
2. That their meeting together at that time shall be very different from what used to be in the house of God in this world.
1. They shall not meet at that day as all the world must then meet together. I would observe a difference in two things.
(1.) As to a clear actual view, and distinct knowledge and notice of each other.
Although the whole world will be then present, all markind of all generations gathered in one vast assembly, with all of the angelic nature, both elect and fallen angels ; yet we need not suppose that every one will have a distinct and particular knowledge of each individual of the whole assembled multitude, which will undoubtedly consist of many millions of millions. Though it is probable that men's capacities will be much greater than in the present state, yet they will not be