Page images

awake to whatever is going on around him; quick and alive in detecting and exposing evil; loud and earnest in giving the alarm to the party imperilled by it.

Do not, then, I beseech you, my brethren, be offended when rebuked by your minister for sin. Remember that in laying open your faults, in warning you of their consequences, his object is your true welfare; to lead you to repent and forsake them; and so, through God's mercy, to save your souls alive. Remember that we have an account to give of you, as well as of ourselves; that we shall be chargeable before the throne of Christ, if we keep back any part of the counsel of God,-either the promises or the threatenings of the Gospel. And, remember also, that you too will have to answer in the same awful presence, for the way in which you receive our message: for the use, or abuse of the opportunities now afforded you. Remember that it is not upon the minister whose voice has been raised against sin, that God will visit in the day of judgment, but upon those reckless, and hardened, and impenitent persons, who in spite of warning, go on still in their wickedness. Remember the continuation of that passage out of Ezekiel which I quoted before, "If thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked

L 2

way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul."

And now to bring my subject to a close. This being the last opportunity I shall have of speaking to you, there are many things I had desired to say: many things that you might have expected to hear from me. I might, for instance, have given you a kind of general exhortation to be true to your religious duties I might have once again called upon you to hold fast the profession of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ without wavering: I might have warned you to beware how you neglected so great a salvation: I might have urged upon you the necessity of proving your faith by its fruits, by

[ocr errors]

provoking to love and good works:" I might have pointed out the sad, and grievous error into which they fall who suppose that sin may be committed, and yet the sinner go unpunished on account of the Atonement of the Cross: I might have shown you that the heavy wrath of the Almighty is proclaimed from heaven against all ungodliness, all unrighteousness of man; that the wilful sinner, the habitual breaker of God's holy commandments, -the drunkard, the adulterer, the thief, the malicebearer, the covetous-have no part in the inheritance of the Lord's people; that purity of heart, chastity of body, temperance in all things, are what

the Gospel commands, and what God will require of all who through the sacrifice of His dear Son, look to be admitted into the kingdom of heaven.

I might have done all this, and mentioned many other things beside, which I could have wished to have left printed in your remembrance: but, on consideration, it seemed to me better to confine myself as much as possible to the single precept of the text, to the earnest recommendation of what the Apostle advises,—the yielding due and proper obedience to your spiritual rulers: and for this reason; because if I mistake not, there is contained and implied in this single charge all that I could have said at greater length.

Take it, then, my brethren, as my parting counsel the best advice that one who truly cares for your welfare has to offer, and may God graft it in your minds: " Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves in all things to their instruction." Remember that your minister, whoever he may be, is set over you in the Lord: and the authority which he claims is not an authority over your persons; not over your actions, except so far as they are influenced by his teaching,-but only the right to help, and direct you in your pilgrimage through this world, and on your road toward a better.

Remember that he is God's minister to you for

good; that when he speaks as I do now from this place, he speaks not of himself, but as it is given him from above. Remember that he is bound by a most solemn vow, to rebuke, exhort, instruct, comfort, according as the necessity of the case shall require, and to do all that in him lieth to make you wise unto salvation: that-in one word—he watches for your souls: yes, and is accountable, strictly accountable to his heavenly Master, for the manner in which he conducts himself in that most anxious and arduous office,-accountable for his fidelity in preaching; for his diligence in exhortation; for the constancy of his prayers both for himself and for his flock; for the purity, and consistency, honesty, and sobriety, of his own life and conversation. And consider that if your minister will have to answer thus narrowly for the performance of his duty towards you, so no less strict will the reckoning be that God will require at your hands over whom he presides. Consider that you will have to answer, at the dreadful day of judgment, for the manner in which you have availed yourselves of the wholesome instruction provided for you. You will have to answer for every sabbath misused; for every absence from the service of this holy place; for every disregard of the warnings here addressed to you; for every hour's delay in neglecting the one thing needful. You will have

to answer for refusing to hear, and also for neglecting to heed, the message of your appointed minister. Consider, I beseech you, these things, my brethren; for your peace now, and your happiness hereafter, is involved in them: "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account: that they may do it with joy and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you."

And now, my brethren, I must say to you, as I did this morning to many of your number-Farewell. It is a painful word, and I cannot speak it calmly. But painful as it is, it is a word that I should be loth to omit on this occasion: for it is a word expressive of good wishes, good hopes, mingled with keen regrets; and, therefore, well fitted to represent my feelings towards you. As such, then, receive it from me. Accept my heartfelt wishes for your happiness. Accept my sincerest regret at being separated from you. Accept my hope, my humble but earnest hope, that we shall one day meet again; if not in this world, yet in one far better. Again, then, and from the bottom of my heart, let me say to every one here presentFare you well.

And this reminds me that my ministry among you is now closed. May God pardon the errors I have committed in it: and if in any the least de

« PreviousContinue »