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refuse to pray for their ministers, they abuse a precious privilege, and injure both themselves, and those who watch for their souls.
Fourthly: Since faithful ministers desire and request the professors of religion to pray for them, they must be extremely ungrateful and inconsistent, if, instead of complying with such a reasonable desire and request, they complain of them for preaching boldly as they ought to preach. Those who profess religion are generally the first and loudest in complaining of bold and faithful preaching. The Scribes and Pharisees made the first and most bitter complaints against the plain and faithful preaching of Christ, and found much more fault with him ihan even publicans and sinners. When the apostles plainly and boldly preached the gospel in various parts of the world, they met with more opposition from Jews than from Gentiles. And after they had gathered large and flourishing churches, the opposition and defection of professing christians did more to obstruct the spread and success of the gospel, than the opposition and prejudices of Pagan idolaters. This was a sore trial to Paul, who laments the inconsistent conduct of the Galatians, who had once professed to love his person and preaching. He asks them, “Where is, then, the blessedness ye spoke of ? for I bear you record that if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. Am I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” Speaking of his preaching on another occasion, he says, “ At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me; I
pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” Professing christians, at this day, are often the first and fiercest to object against those who preach the gospel most plainly and boldly. Though the men of the world do really dislike such preaching, yet they are generally afraid to complain of it, until they hear and see professors of religion complain, object and oppose. But is it not extremely inconsistent and absurd for professing christians to complain of ministers for preaching the same doctrines which Christ and the apostles preached, and which they have professed to believe and love? This looks like gross hypocrisy; but there is reason to fear that real christians do sometimes fall into such inconsistency, and greatly injure the cause which they profess to promote. There is scarcely any thing more embarrassing and discouraging to faithful ministers, at the present day, than the feelings and conduct of professing christians, in respect to their preaching plainly and boldly the first principles of the oracles of God. Though they believe the doctrine of the sacred Trinity, the doctrine of divine decrees, the doctrine of divine agency, the doctrine of moral depravity, the doctrine of regeneration, the doctrine of disinterested benevolence, the doctrine of unreserved submission, the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and the doctrine of eternal rewards and punishments; yet they cannot plainly and boldly preach these great and solemn truths, without wounding the feelings and exciting the displeasure of those who call themselves christians. It must be very disheartening to faithful ministers of Christ, to be blamed, reproached and opposed, for preaching as they ought to preach; and as the good of souls requires them to preach; and as all professors of religion are bound to pray that they should preach. This spirit of opposition to divine truth, which is too visibly prevailing, not only among the men of the world, but among professing christians, bears a dark aspect upon true religion; and directly tends to stop the mouths, and weaken the hands, and discourage the hearts, of those who mean to preach the gospel boldly as they ought to preach it.
The truths which we have now exhibited will, we hope, be duly considered by those for whom this discourse is principally designed, and excite them to make some suitable reflections and resolutions on this serious occasion.
In the first place, the Pastor elect will spontaneously realize his own insufficiency for the laborious, difficult and important work, in which he has faithfully and successfully labored for a number of years, and in which he still resolves to spend his days. Though he has assiduously cultivated his superior men. tal powers; though he has collected a large fund of classical and theological knowledge; though he has experienced the power of religion on his own heart; though he has seen much of human nature, both in its rude and in its cultivated state; and though he has had peculiar experience in preaching the gospel; yet he is not sufficient of himself to discharge the weighty and solemn duties of the gospel ministry. This, we presume, he has most sensibly felt; and the more he realizes his constant need of divine assistance in every part of his pas. toral office, the more he will sincerely desire the prayers of his people, that he may have strength, and courage, and utterance given him, to preach to them boldly and faithfully as he ought to preach. But whether the people of God remember, or forget him in their prayers, he will resolve to preach the truth and the whole truth with freedom and confidence. He will set his face as a flint, put away the fear of man which bringeth a snare, renounce self dependence, and trust in the Lord Jehovah,
in whom there is everlasting strength. He will humbly resolve to be valiant for the truth. He has come upon the stage at an awful crisis; and who knows but he is destined to do much for the propagation of the pure doctrines of the gospel, and for the refutation and suppression of enthusiasm, superstition and heresy. He has long been placed in a very instructive school; and it must be his own fault, if he have not learned wisdom, prudence, patience, humility, meekness, zeal, fortitude and fidelity, by the things which he has seen, and by the scenes through which he has been called to pass. A new field is now opening before him. Let him take courage, and renewedly devote hiinself to the service of God, and sincerely determine to be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that his faithful labors shall not be in vain in the Lord.
The people, in this place, will now please to reflect that it is their part to pray for their minister, ihat his mouth may be opened, his understanding enlightened, and his holy zeal enlivened, to preach to them boldly as he ought to preach. God is about to try you again in regard to the important duty of praying for your pastor. If you have been negligent in the discharge of this duty in times past, you will resolve to be more faithful in time to come. You have good reason to believe that your chosen minister will sincerely desire your prayers for him, that he may be both faithful and successful in laboring for your good; and we charitably hope that it is your present intention and resolution to comply with his reasonable desire and just expectation. Let me, however, entreat you, as Paul did the Ephesians, to “watch thereunto with all perseverance." In this point you will be extremely apt to fail. Upon your first receiving a pastor whom you highly esteem and love, you will not forget him at the throne of grace. But there is danger of your growing gradually remiss in praying for that divine assistance to be given him, which, the longer and the more faithfully he preaches to you, he will the more ardently desire and the more sensibly need. While, therefore, the man you have chosen 10 watch for your souls, is now standing before you, and implicitly saying, Brethren, pray for me, that utterance may be given me, that I may preach boldly, as I ought to preach, the important and precious truths of the gospel; will you not reply from the heart, God forbid that we should cease to pray for you? Amen.
SERMON X VII.
RECONCILIATION OF SINNERS TO GOD.
ORDINATION OF REV. ZOLVA WHITMORE, NORTH GUILFORD, CONNECTICUT,
SEPTEMBER 5, 1821.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us ; **
pray you in Christ's stead, Be ye reconciled to God. 2 COR. V. 20.
Ever since mankind became disaffected to God, he has been calling upon them, in various ways, to become reconciled to him. He has called upon them to return to him, at one time by his own voice; at another, by the voice of angels; at another, by the voice of prophets; at another, by the voice of his Son; and last of all, by the voice of those whom he has sent forth “into all the world,” to “ preach the gospel to every creature.” Hence says the apostle, “ All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, Be ye reconciled to God." Here one thing is implied, and another asserted. It is implied that sinners are in a state of alienation from God; and it is asserted that he intends to reconcile some to himself in time to come, as he has done in time past, by the instrumentality of his sacred ambassadors, whom he has appointed for this important purpose. The whole import of the text may be comprised in this general observation:
It is the proper business of the ministers of Christ to exhort sivners to become reconciled to God.
In order to set this subject in a proper light, it seems necessary to show that sinners are disaffected to God; then, that it is the proper business of the ministers of Christ to exhort them to become reconciled to God; and lastly, that there is a propriety in their exhorting them to such a reconciliation.
I. I am to show that sinners are disaffected to God. This is plainly supposed in the text; for if they were not disaffected to God, there would be no occasion of their becoming reconciled to him. They have not the love of God in them, but are lovers of their own selves. Their supreme love to themselves excludes every spark of supreme love to God; and constitutes that carnal mind which is enmity against God, and not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. They are as really disaffected to God, as those who first rose up in rebellion against him. They wish there were no God, and the belief of his existence gives them pain. They say unto him in their hearts, “ Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways." God describes them as ungodly, unholy, unrighteous, rebellious creatures, who would not have him to reign over them, but would fain flee out of his hands. Still they are unwilling to acknowledge that they hate their Creator, Preserver and Benefactor. But when they are constrained to look within, their hearts tell them that they have always cherished hard and unfriendly feelings towards God. They are conscious of having hard thoughts of God, for bringing them into the world in connection with Adam, who involved himself and all his posterity in sin and guilt. How many have complained that by the disobedience of one many should be made sinners ! And there is no explanation of this doctrine that will satisfy their minds, or remove their complaint. They complain as much of being brought into the world depraved by Adam's sin, as for Adam's sin. It is not so much the way by which they are become sinners by Adam which makes them think hard of God, as his conduct in ordering it so that they should become sinners, by a constituted connection with their great progenitor. They are all displeased that God did not order it otherwise. They feel as though they never could forgive God for making Adam their public head, when he knew the fatal consequences which would flow from it, in this world, and in the world to come. Though secure and stupid sinners think but little about this subject; yet when they come to be awakened to realize their fallen guilty state, their hearts rise in enmity against God; because they make themselves believe that he has injured them, by