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‘in the ministry of the gospel of his dear Son, which was committed to my trust, I have finished the work which he gave me to do, as a faithful ambassador of Christ, and steward of the mysteries of God, I have preached righteousness in the great congregation, lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord! thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation; I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation of mankind. He is near that justifieth me, that I have not concealed the words of the Holy One; but that the words that he gave me, I have given to you, and ye have received them. I had a desire and resolution to walk before God in every stage of my pilgrimage, from my youth up to this day, in truth, and with an upright heart, and to do that which was upright in his eyes, to the utmost of my power; and what things were gain to me formerly, these things I now count loss, for Christ: yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord ; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things; and I account them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith; that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death. I press, therefore, towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let nothing separate you from the love of Christ, neither tribulation, nor distress, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword ; though, as we hear and see, for his sake we are killed all the day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter; yea, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us: for I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor
things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus, my Lord. Therefore, love not the world, nor the things of the world ; but prepare daily and hourly for death that now besieges us on every side, and be faithful unto death, that we may meet together joyfully on the right hand of Christ at the last day, and follow the Lamb, whithersoever he goeth; with all those that are clothed in white robes, in sign of innocency, and palms in their hands, in sign of victory; who came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. They shall hunger no more, nor thirst, neither shall the sun light on them; nor any heat ; for the Lamb, that is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.--Choose rather, with Moses to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; which will be bitterness in the latter end. : Look, therefore, for the sufferings, and be made partakers of the sufferings of Christ; to fill up that which is behind of the affliction of Christ in your flesh, for his body's sake, which is the church. What can you look for, but one woe after another, while the man of sin is thus suffered to rage, and to make havoc of God's people at his pleasure, while men are divided about trifles, that ought to have been more vigilant over us, and careful of those, whose blood is precious in God's sight, though now shed every where like water. If ye suffer for righteousness sake, happy are ye; be not afraid of their terror, neither be ye troubled; and be ye in nothing terrified by your adversaries; which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For to you it is given in behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake. Rejoice, therefore, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when
his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. And if ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye ; the Spirit of glory, and of Christ resteth on you; on their part he is evil spoker of, on your part he is glorified. God will surely visit you in due time, and turn your captivity as the rivers of the south, and bring you back again into your possession in this land: though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations; yet ye shall reap in joy, though now you sow in tears: all our losses shall be recompensed with abundant advantages; for my God will supply all your need, according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus, who is able to do exceeding abundantly for us, above all that we are able to ask or think.”
After that, he blessed his children and those that stood about him, in an audible voice, in these words: “God of his infinite mercy bless you all, and present you holy, and unblamable, and irreprovable in his sight, that ye may meet together at the right hand of our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ, with joy unspeakable and full of glory, amen. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course of my ministry and life together. Though grievous wolves have entered in among us, not sparing the fock; yet I trust the great Shepherd of the flock will save and deliver them out of all places, where they have been scattered in this cloudy and dark day: and they shall be no more a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. O Lord, I have waited for thy salvation. I have kept the faith once given to the saints; for I know in whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day.” After this, the good bishop spake little more.
His sickness increased, his speech failed, and he slumbered
the remainder of his time away, till his discharge
Let incredulity itself say, if this was not an admirable close of a laborious and useful life.
One may defy all the sons of infidelity to shew us an example among their brethren, of a life so useful, and a death so great, so noble, so glorious as this of the good bishop.(2) These are all matters of fact. Most of the
persons mentioned were of the first reputation in their respective spheres of action. It would be prudent to review the whole; to compare the several instances; and weigh thoroughly the issue : for though it is not our province to determine the final fates of men, we may, from such comparison, see clearly whose situation is most eligible at the close of life, and whose case stands fairest for future felicity. Extremely weak, therefore, would it be, to let any man sneer us out of our Bible, our Redeemer, and our salvation.
Did we ever know a person lament, when he came to die, that he had taken too much pains to serve his Creator, and save his soul alive? Did we ever hear of a deist, who gloried, in his departing moments, that he had been favoured with success in making converts to the principles of infidelity? Or did we ever see a sound scholar, who was at the same time, a chaste, temperate, moral, and conscientious man, that lived and died an unbeliever.(3) Instances of a contrary nature we
(2) Be it observed what use this admirable man makes of the Sacred Writings.
6. They know not
Weeps tears of joy, and bursts into a song." (3) Bolingbroke was a man of considerable talents ; he lived and died an infidel. But he was a libertine, and much addicted to
have known many, but rarely one which comes up to this description. Persons of an affected liberality of mind, indeed are frequently found, who hector, domineer, and speak great swelling words of vanity, while health and prosperity smile upon them ; but they generally lose their courage, and appear to infinite disadvantage, when death and judgment stare them in the face. If their souls be not harrowed up with horror, as in the cases of Voltaire, Newport, Altamont, and others; at best they are sullen, gloomy, disconsolate, like Hobbes and Chesterfield ; or, hay
women and wine, we therefore wonder not that he rejected christianity, notwithstanding the high compliments which he thought proper to pay it.
Temple too was.“ a person of true judgment in civil affairs, and very good principles with relation to government; but in nothing else. He was a vain man, much blown up in his own conceit, which he shewed too indecently on all occasions. He seemed to think that things were as they are from all eternity; at least he thought religion was fit only for the mob. He was a great admirer of the sect of Confucius in China, who were atheists themselves, or left religion to the rabble. He was a corrupter of all that came near him, and delivered himself up wholly to study, ease, and pleasure."
Shaftsbury was “ a man of various talents, but a deist, at best, in his religion. He had the dotage of astrology in him to a high degree.-He fancied, that after death our souls lived in stars. He had a general knowledge of the slighter parts of learning, but un. derstood little to the bottom : so he triumphed in a rambling way of talking, but argued siightly when he was held close to any point. He had a wonderful faculty at opposing, and running things down; but had not the like force in building them up. He had such an extravagant vanity in setting himself
out, that it was very disagreeable.”
Saville, marquis of Halifax, was “a man of great and ready wit; full of life, and very pleasant; much turned to satire. He let his wit run much on matters of religion: so that he passed for a bold and determined atheist, though he often protested he was
He confessed he could not swallow every.thing that divines imposed on the world. He was a Christian by submission; he believed as much as he could.-In a fit of sickness, I knew him very much touched with a sense of religion. I was then often with him. He seemed full of good purposes; but they went off with his sickness.”
This is a specimen of the general characters of those who reject the gospel of Christ.