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V. I shall add a few words on the other verse, rendering it, " Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, "and to day, and for ever." It will not be expected that, at the close of a sermon, any thing' adequate can be said on so comprehensive a text; but a few hints may not be unappropriate.
The church has lately lost some of her faithful shepherds: but the great, the good, the chief shepherd still liveth; and "because he liveth" his true disciples "shall live also." The priests of Aaron's race were not permitted " to continue, by "reason of death;" and the case is the same as to the most eminent pastors of the Christian church: but our great High Priest is " the same yesterday, "and to day, and for ever; and " is able to save "to the uttermost all them that come to God by "him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession "for them."—" Put not your trust in princes, nor "in the son of man, in whom there is no help. "His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his "earth, in that very day his thoughts perish."1 But that Son of man, who is also the Son of God, though he expired, yet he rose again; all his thoughts of love, and all his precious promises, shall be established, and " blessed are they who put "their trust in him."
It sometimes happens that ministers " who have "run well," are strangely hindered and changed; and even those who regard them as their spiritual fathers can only weep over them and pray for them: but Jesus is the same unchangeable Saviour and Counsellor throughout all generations.
1 Ps.cxlvi. 3; 4.
'You,' the apostle would have said to the Hebrews, f you have witnessed the martyrdom of Stephen, and the more recent martyrdom of James the apostle, and the decease of other Christian pastors. You have seen how Jesus strengthened, supported, and comforted them; and you do not doubt that, when they breathed their last, saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," he actually did receive them to himself, and that where he is, there they are also. Fear not, therefore, " Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever;" and, when your time shall come, he will strengthen, support, comfort, and receive you also.'
In more common cases, you, brethren, have perceived that his grace has eventually proved sufficient for his servants in life and death; though they had at some times distressing fears, and were grievously harassed, nay foiled by their enemies. You do not doubt that they conquered all through Jesus, and by depending on his grace: doubt not then, while looking to him, that his grace will render you also conquerors over every enemy and temptation. You too may say, " I can do all "things through Christ who strengtheneth me:" why then should you not, even at present," glory "in your infirmities" and trials, that the power of "Christ may rest upon you?"
Remember that Jesus " holds the stars in his "right hand." He sends forth ministers; he qualifies, upholds, and prospers; he stations and removes them; by his light they shine; in his strength they are strong; and by his grace they are successful. They fulfil his will, and finish their testimony; and then he takes them home to himself, and they " enter into the joy of their Lord." This gracious unchangeable Saviour sent you one of his faithful ministers, when few of you knew your need of the blessing, or were disposed duly to value it. He hath, in a course of years, made many of you sensible of the immense value of the gift, and of the heavy loss sustained by you, now that it has been withdrawn: and perhaps some are ready to say, ' It can never, no never, be made up to us.' But remember that " Jesus is the same yesterday, "and to-day, and for ever." He hath all hearts in his hand; he openeth and none can shut. He can raise up, and qualify, and station among you another pastor " after his own heart." What he hath done, he can again do. Is his hand shortened i Do not limit him. He " waiteth to be gracious." Seek then this blessing by fervent, combined, and persevering prayer: wait on him, and wait his time: be not impatient; and "do not despise "the day of small things," or the youth of any pious- minister whom God may send among you.
If, my brethren, you thus " wait on the Lord," humbling yourselves for every failure, of which you are conscious, in improving by the advantages hitherto vouchsafed you; I doubt not that you will say in the event, " O Lord, I will praise thee; "though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is "turned away, and thou comfortest me."
In fine, Jesus, when on earth, sought the lost, instructed the ignorant, encouraged the brokenhearted: he "did not quench the smoking flax, "nor break the bruised reed:" he received and saved the vilest who sought to him. But he frowned on the self-wise Sadducee and the self-righteous Pharisee, and on the haughty, self-sufficient, and presumptuous of every description. Such as he was when on earth, and had been from the beginning, in this and in every other respect, such is he now enthroned in glory; such will he be found at the day of judgment, and through the countless ages of eternity.
In drawing to a conclusion, it is not at all necessary for me to recapitulate what has been spoken concerning your deceased pastor, or to expatiate in his praises. He wants no " epistles of commen"dation to you, or letters of commendation from "you. Ye are his epistle." No applause of man could possibly benefit him: even revilings, though injurious to the revilers, and perhaps to others, could not in the smallest degree affect his happiness. Could he speak, I am confident he would say, ' Waste not the precious time of this important opportunity in speaking about me; but endeavour to enter into my labours, and bring home eternal things to the hearts and consciences of your numerous auditory.' One thing however, I would add concerning him. He was in his youth brought to know the divine Saviour, and to trust, love, and serve him. He entered into the ministry from proper motives, and for right purposes; which, alas! is but seldom the case. He was stationed among you, at an early period of his ministry. He had no attractions of emolument for continuing among you. He possessed talents of a peculiar kind, well suited to procure him situations which to a worldly mind would have appeared more eligible. But he had here a large field for his ministry; a good opening, as he judged, " to "win souls;" and he chose to abide with his flock: and accordingly he filled up the important, arduous, and honourable station of a parochial minister among you for more than thirty years. Yes, my brethren, he was willing " to spend and "be spent" among you; though there were some seasons when he feared that his love was not answered by reciprocal affection. And I trust that, in many instances, he thus lived to "overcome "evil with good." At length he has ended his life among you; and, as his labours were useful, so I hope even his death will not be without benefit to your souls.
As I have endeavoured, throughout, to apply the subject to your hearts and consciences, I shall not now detain you much longer.
Some, in this assembly, may be merely occasional hearers; and some may perhaps wonder what it is, which renders the death of one clergyman so much more noticed than that of many others. I shall here only observe, that decidedly preaching man a lost sinner; Emmanuel, God manifest in the flesh, a divine, all-sufficient, most gracious Saviour, yea, the only Saviour for condemned sinners; the love, the cross, the resurrection of Jesus; his ascension, intercession, present glory, and future coming to judgment; and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit: in short, preaching Christ "the way, the truth, and the "life," "our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification "and redemption," is alone effectual to interest the feelings and win the hearts of the hearers. This preaching, connected with a suitable con