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through Christ Jesus, which he had preached to others, and intimated that he was well satisfied and comfortable.
In applying our subject to this congregation, I shall address myself to some, I hope many, present, as persons who highly valued, and profited by, the labours of our deceased brother, and who therefore cannot but feel that his gain appears to be their heavy loss. It is indeed a case that demands our sympathy and condolence: but it also demands our submission to the wisdom and sovereign will of God. "He gave, and he hath taken away; and "blessed be his holy name."
You have abundant cause for gratitude, that the Lord was pleased to send his messenger of peace among you, and that he hath of his special mercy inclined and taught you to embrace the gracious invitation to be reconciled to God; and, if you can indeed say, "To me to live is Christ," no doubt
will in the event be satisfied, that even the removal of your minister was rendered subservient to your advantage. "For we know that all things "work together for good to them that love God, "to them who are the called according to his pur"pose." And the Saviour says virtually to you on this occasion, as he once did to Peter, "What I "do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know "hereafter." He liveth, and "because he liveth
ye shall live also." He, who hath the keys of "death and the eternal world," has taken his servant home to himself; but he has the fulness of the Spirit: "He holds the stars in his right hand," and he is able to make up every loss, even such a loss as we are apt to think irreparable.
You, my brethren, will no doubt on recollection be conscious that you have not so fully profited by your advantages, as to have no cause on that account to humble yourselves before God, and to consider this dispensation as a fatherly rebuke for not duly valuing and improving his mercies. Accept therefore, I pray you, the word of exhortation, while I intreat you to consider your ways, to take this occasion of anew humbling yourselves before God, accepting his salvation, and devoting yourselves to his service; and then unitedly to beseech "the God of the spirits of all "flesh" to place over you a faithful, able, and affectionate pastor, instead of his dear servant whom he hath taken away from you. Let not local circumstances, which may seem to make it probable, and almost certain, that this will be the case, render you forgetful that you are notwithstanding entirely dependent on God, nay, as entirely as if the probability lay wholly the other way. The enemy of your souls will spare no pains to defeat any plans concerted for your good, and the Lord only can prevent his success. The hearts of men are known to him alone, and the wisest and best may err in the choice they make: they may not be able to obtain a person exactly suited to the situation, or the person appointed may fail of answering the expectations reasonably formed of him. Faith and prayer, therefore, are your only resources: you should say with David, "Truly my expectation is
only from the Lord, from whom cometh my sal"vation." And, if a minister should be placed over you, in answer to your united and fervent prayers; and you should continue to pray for him,
and to watch against all prejudices, which are apt on such occasions to intrude, and all endeavours to disunite you; and should encourage him by your converse, example, and attention to his ministry; you may hope that he will daily be rendered more and more a proper instrument for the work; and that you and your families and neighbours also will have to say, with increasing satisfaction, the Lord "hath done all things well!"
But I fear I am addressing a large number, who are conscious that they have not thus profited by the labours of the deceased; and that they have no right to say, "To me to live is Christ." It is probable you feel sorrow very little proportioned to your late loss; but your case is on that very account far more to be deplored. A minister of the gospel is the Lord's ambassador, a messenger of peace and reconciliation. Often has your deceased pastor" besought you in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God; " I doubt not many times with tears as well as prayers: but the love of the world, aversion to religion, and an unhumbled spirit, have hitherto influenced you to " refuse him that "spake to you; " and you are "still in your sins," carnally minded, and " enmity against God." He has now recalled his ambassador, which you know is the general preparation for a declaration of war. But, my fellow sinner, "Hast thou an arm like "God? and canst thou thunder with a voice like his?" Why then dost thou venture on the unequal contest? Take care lest the owner of the vineyard, in which thou hast hitherto stood a barren fig-tree, now, no longer prevented by the intreaties of the vine-dresser, should give the
command, "Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?" Alas! such persons have little reason to hope that death would be their gain: "for the "wicked is driven away in his wickedness; but "the righteous," and he alone, "hath hope in "his death."-But beware also lest any of you should now be left to judicial hardness; to be deluded by false doctrine; or to give up all regard to the ordinances of God, which attachment to an individual sometimes induces many to attend on, who forsake them when that inducement ceases, and rush into vice when the restraint is withdrawn. But, could your late minister once more address you from this place, what language do you think he would now adopt? Would he not say, "Draw nigh unto God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, "and purify your hearts, ye double minded: Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laugh"ter be turned into mourning, and your joy into "heaviness; humble yourselves under the mighty "hand of God, that he may exalt you in due "time." "Seek the Lord while he may be found; "call upon him while he is near." ye will hear his voice, harden not "Repent and believe the gospel."
"To-day, if your hearts." Repent and
"be converted that your sins may be blotted out." "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt "be saved." "How will you escape, if you neg"lect so great salvation?" "Fear lest, a promise "being left you of entering into his rest, any of
you should seem to come short of it." "Give diligence to make your calling and election "sure." "Take heed, lest you should have a
name to live, and be dead." "Cleave to the "Lord with full purpose of heart: "Walk with " him in all his ordinances and commandments: "Prepare to meet your God :" and "give all dili66 gence that you may be found of him in peace, "without spot and blamelsss."
Were your deceased minister, I say, to come again to you from the dead, could he address you in any language more suitable than that of these exhortations of the holy prophets, and of the apostles of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? Thus he hath
often exhorted you, thus he would again exhort you; nay, being dead, he thus speaketh to you: thus the surviving ministers address you, as with one voice; and the loving Saviour of sinners himself assures you, that, "if you believe not Moses and "the prophets, neither would you be persuaded though one rose from the dead."