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To the Pastoral care of the Congregational Church and Society, in Weston, North
Fairfield Parish, JUNE 8th, 1836.
BY CHARLES PRENTICE, A. M.
PASTOR OF THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH IN SOUTH CANAAN, CONN.
WESTON, June 8, 1836. Rev. CHARLES PRENTICE, DEAR SIR:
In accordance with the unanimous vote of the North Fairfield Congregational Church and Society, and the particular wish of the Church, we, the undersigned, committee of arrangements, in their behalf, do tender you our thanks, for the very able and impressive sermon, delivered at the ordination of the Rev. Charles T. Prentice, this day; and under the full conviction, that your discourse is eminently calculated to advance the cause of the dear Redeemer, and the interests of the Church, we respectfully solicit a copy for publication.
We remain, Reverend and dear Sir,
CANAAN, July 4, 1836. To Messrs. IsaaO BENNET, JESSE WAKEMAN, JAMES BALDWIN,
ALFRED Burr, and JEREMIAH OAKLEY, GENTLEMEN:
In conformity to your request, I hereby transmit you a copy of the discourse, which I delivered at the ordination of my son, for publication, with my fervent prayer to God, that its publication, may “ advance the cause of the dear Redeemer, and the interests of the Church." I am, Gentlemen, most respectfully and affectionately Yours, in our common Lord,
ACTS Xx: 26, 27. “ WHEREFORE I TAKE YOU TO RECORD THIS DAY, THAT I AM
PURE FROM THE BLOOD OF ALL MEN : FOR I HAVE NOT
THESE words are part of an address delivered by St. Paul at his last interview with the elders of the church of Ephesus. The interview was at Milėtus, whither the Apostle had summoned them to meet him; and it was attended with circumstances of the most tender and thrilling interest. He was assured, either by express revelation from heaven, or by what he deemed deci. sive providential indications of the fact, that the present would be his last opportunity of addressing the dear christian friends and fellow-laborers then before him, with whom he had spent, in most delightful intercourse and communion, some of the happiest days of his life. He reviewed, in concise, yet most impressive manner, the scenes through which he and they had passed together at Ephesus. He showed, particularly, with what assiduity he had labored, amid what trials, conflicts, and persecutions, and with what results. He was able to make an appeal which must have been responded to with cheerfulness and sincerity by every one present, that he had not labored in vain, nor spent his strength for naught; but had, so far as human instrumentality is concerned, secured the great ends of the Christian ministry. He had discharged with fidelity to his Lord and Master, and with affection and tenderness to his dying fellow men, the appropriate duties of his office—and although as,
sured that bonds and afflictions still awaited him, yet he affirmed~" None of these things move me; neither count I my life dear unto myself—so that I might finish my work with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” He felt that he could appeal with entire confidence to his hearers, yea, to the heartsearching God himself, that he was "pure from the blood of all men.” And Oh how important, my brethren, that every one inducted into the sacred office, should so discharge the appropriate duties of the ministry, as to be able to adopt the triumphant language of the Apostle, at his parting interview with the elders of the church at Ephesus. What faithfulness in the discharge of duty, however self-denying ; what purity of principle and conduct, and what ennobling motives, distinguished the great Apostle of the Gentiles! And such characteristics should be predicable of every one as he commences his ministerial labors, and should distinguish him throughout the whole course of his ministry—that he may be able to say, at its close, and when called to give an account of his stewardship—"I take you to record this day that I am pure from the blood of all men; for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” It will hence be natural in the prosecution of this subject, to consider the import of the gospel message, and the results of its faithful announcement.
And what I now propose to offer in elucidation of the subject, will be arranged under three topics of inquiry, viz: What is a minister of Christ bound to announce ? Why is the announcement of such a message requisite on his part? And in what manner should it be done ?
1. What is a minister of Christ bound to announce ?
The Apostle affirms that he “ had not shunned to declare all the counsel of God.” By“ the counsel of God,” is no doubt meant the revelation of his will, and by all the counsel of God, his whole will, as in any way disclosed. The holy scriptures, then, of the old and new testament, comprise what the minister of Christ has it in charge to announce; for “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the
man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished, unto all good works."
The various details with which “ the oracles of God” are fraught, are all to be regarded as important in their nature, relations, and ultimate bearings. The details alluded to are found in the historical, biographical, doctrinal, experimental and practical parts of the inspired records.
The bible was, no doubt, prepared with a view to universal extension for the use of all nations. How proper, then, that its history should carry us back to the commencement of time itself-that the history of the creation of the heavens and the earth should be recorded by an unerring hand-that the remembrance of it might be perpetuated, and not be lost among the fabulous narratives of the heathen ; that a true account of man's apostacy from primeval innocence and rectitude might be furnished ; that men might contrast their present circumstances with those in which their great progenitors were placed, and thereby become possessed of ample evidence of their need of redemption through the blood and righteousness of the Messiah. The sacred writer of the Pentateuch carries us back, at least, a thousand years beyond any authentic human records extant. And how interesting the fact, that we have access to records that can be depended on, and records which respect not only the creation of the universe and the great apostacy in paradise, but also the deluge and other events and revolutions throughout the patriarchal ages, as well as in the times of the prophets, judges, and kings of Israel and Judah, and through every intervening period down to the coming of the Messiah.
Who can read without interest the inspired accounts transmitted to us, of God's dealings with the church under the former dispensation, of its continuance, progress, and extension-of the deliverance of the chosen tribes from Egyptian servitude-of the delivery of the law amid such terriffic scenes at Mount Sinaiof the overthrow of the devoted nations of Canaan, and of the settlement of the Israelites in the promised land. Who can do otherwise than exclaim with the Psalmist, “() that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men."