« AnteriorContinuar »
having, according to the Lord's direction, composed and finished the song, which was intended to keep him and his instructions in remembrance to the latest posterity, adds these words: "Set "your hearts unto all the words which I testify "among you this day, which ye shall command "your children to observe to do; for it is not a "vain thing for you; for it is your life."1 In like manner, the apostle Peter says, " Yea, I think it "meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir "you up, putting you in remembrance, knowing "that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, "even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. "Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able, "after my decease, to have these things always in "remembrance; for we have not followed cun"ningly devised fables."2 No doubt, therefore, St. Paul meant that the Christians, whom he addressed, should especially keep in remembrance the public instructions and private admonitions of their deceased pastors.
The word of God sometimes resembles the seed which is sown early in the season, and often for a long time seems buried and lost, but at length beyond expectation vegetates and produces a crop. It is certainly the bounden duty and the highest interest of all who hear the gospel, to use every proper means to fix in their memory the instructions given them, and without delay to act according to them: but, alas! the conduct of numbers is widely different. Yet peculiar circumstances frequently bring to their recollection the truths which they had heard and forgotten; and surely none is more likely to produce this effect than the death of their faithful monitors. This indeed ought to be one of the improvements made of such events; and not uncommonly it is so. Then the memory and heart frequently dwell, with deep regret and conscious guilt, on the various interesting topics, on which the deceased pastor used to enlarge with solemn, pathetic, and affectionate earnestness in his public ministrations. Then his special private cautions, counsels, encouragements, and admonitions, while "he watched for their souls, as "one that must give account," occur to their re"collection. Then they remember that he " kept "back nothing that was profitable to them," (even though it might give them umbrage ;) "but taught "them publicly, and from house to house." And these reflections are salutary in their tendency, and often prove the means of their conversion and salvation.
1 Deut. xxxii. 46, 47. '2 Pet. i. 12—16.
In this manner, my brethren and fellow sinners, you should, at this mournful season, remember your deceased minister ; and I doubt not that a few hours from time to time appropriated to such recollections, and accompanied with prayer for the assistance and blessing of God, would amply repay you for all the painful sensations of the mournful employment.
The convictions also, which were produced in the minds and consciences of men by the labours of ministers, should be called to remembrance after their death, with peculiar seriousness and earnestness.
Few attend, even occasionally, on the true ministers of Christ, without being at some times deeply impressed and affected. Many are led, with trembling, to say, " Go thy way at this time, "when I have a convenient opportunity I will call "for thee. Some are ready to exclaim, " Almost "thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Numbers "hear gladly, and do many things," so long as the favourite sin escapes reproof. Many secretly form purposes, or half purposes, of complying with the preacher's exhortations; being painfully convinced that this is their duty, and absolutely necessary to "deliverance from the wrath to come." "By manifestation of the truth," ministers " com"mend themselves to every man's conscience "in the sight of God." Thus many transient effects are produced, and strong remonstrances are made by men's consciences against the ungodliness and wickedness of their lives; which are nevertheless overpowered by pride, love of sin, and regard to this present world. Even believers are frequently convinced, by the word of God, of many things which they perceive they ought to do, and purpose ere long to attend to: yet by various means they are induced to defer complying with their convictions; and thus both they and others are losers to a degree which can never be calculated.
In these respects men are peculiarly required to "remember those who have had the rule over "them, and have spoken to them the word of "God." And here I would most urgently enforce on you the duty and importance of calling to mind all the convictions which you ever received, and all the effects which you have experienced, however concealed from your fellow-creatures, during all the, years that you have attended the ministry of our deceased brother. Do you not well remember that on many occasions he told you almost the thoughts of your heart; and led you to fear that the eyes of the congregation would be turned upon you? Yes: his words constrained your consciences, in some instances to say, "Thou art the "man." You often could not help saying in your hearts.' This is true; this is good counsel: this is meant in love, though I feel disposed to resent it. It would be well for me if I complied with this admonition.' How important then is it that you should call these things to remembrance on the present occasion 1
But many of you have been favoured also with his private counsels and instructions. And what were these? Recollect them, I beseech you, and earnestly beg of God to shew you whether, in neglecting to profit by them, you did not sin against the light, do violence to your own consciences, and even " quench" and" resist" the Holy Spirit. But it is not yet too late: oh then now at length endeavour to profit by them.
Others, I trust, will recollect, with lively gratitude to God, the admonitions and counsels which their pastor gave them while he lived, and the important benefit which they derived from them.
Let each, however, retire into himself, and endeavour to recal to mind all that has passed, in public and in private, between your late pastor and your souls; and I cannot have a doubt that you will find the review exceedingly profitable,
The ministers of Christ are often called upon to visit their people, and to pray with them, and in their families, when they are in health and peace, and still more frequently when they are sick, or under outward trials, or distressed about their souls: and surely, when such ministers are removed, their people should especially call to remembrance all their prayers for them and theirs; many of which no doubt were peculiarly pathetic, affectionate, and appropriate.
In this respect I would most earnestly intreat you to remember your deceased minister; and in your retired hours to dwell on the recollection of the fervour with which he hath, in many instances, recommended your souls, and the souls of your dear children and relatives, to the special blessing of God our Saviour; and also those particular requests, which he offered for you and them, no doubt, according as he judged your state and situation to require. Such a remembrance of him, may, in various respects, both excite and direct your own prayers for yourselves, and all around you: and I trust, in numerous instances, the answers which you have received to them " will re"dound in many thanksgivings unto God."
Several of those, who have attended the ministry of a faithful pastor, have for a time made a profession of religion, and excited, alas! only to disappoint, his hope and persuasion of their conversion. —' This person' (he would say,) ' is a seal of my ministry: he will be my crown of rejoicing in the day of Christ.' Thus many apply to ministers under distress of conscience, and by apparent ingenuousness in opening their hearts to them, and by every token of contrition, godly sorrow, and desire of spiritual counsel, acquire their special affection and confidence. Yet after a time these