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"-what things we and our's have need of." No doubt our departed brother seemed, (when at any time, his thoughts recurred to this interesting subject,) to hear the Lord say " Leave thy fatherless children, and I will "preserve them alive; and let thy widow trust in me:" "and no doubt blessings, in answer to his many prayers, are in reserve for them. Yet, this my brethren, does not alter our duty: our God works by means and instruments; and every one of us should count it an honour and a privilege, to be employed in promoting so good a work. "The liberal deviseth liberal things, and "by liberal things shall he stand."
Many persons, on these occasions, have much curiosity to hear what the deceased spake, and what was the measure of his confidence and joy in the closing scene: and indeed this is very natural; and in many instances the last words of eminent christians prove very useful to survivors. We have, however, little comparatively recorded in Scripture in this respect. Of the manner in which Abraham and Samuel, Isaiah and Daniel, James and Peter, and many other illustrious characters in both Testaments, left this world, we know nothing: and indeed, in general the most important enquiry is, * How men live?' except there be any thing in the manner of their death, peculiarly different from the tenour of their lives. Had our dear friend been taken away by a sudden stroke, or rendered at once incapable of speaking; it would not in the smallest degree have weakened my confidence respecting him. "He walked with God, and he was not: for God took him." His disease was of that nature which precluded much discourse; but he was calm and resigned; he expressed die same confidence in the mercy of God 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 you 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 ac"cording to his purpose." 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 has the keys of death "and the eternal world," hath 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 bumble 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 entreat you to consider your ways, to take this occasion of renevvedly humbling yourselves before God, accepting of 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 of men may err in the choice they make: they may not be able to obtain a person exactly suited to the situation, or the person ap)x>inted may fail of answering the expectations reasonably formed of him. Faith and prayer, therefore, are your only resources: you should with David say, " Truly "my expectation is only from the Lord, from whom "cometh my salvation." 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 de. plored. 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 bast hitherto stood a barren fig-tree, now, no longer prevented by the intreaties of the vine-dresser, should
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give the command—" Cut it down, why cumberetb *' 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, "has 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 near to God, and he will draw *' near to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and "purify your hearts, ye double-minded: Be afflicted, "and mourn, and weep'; let your laughter be turned i4 into mourning, and your joy into heaviness; hum»' ble 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." "To-day, if ye will hear his voice, har"den not your hearts." "Repent and believe the ** Gospel." "Repent and be converted, that your "sins may be blotted out." "Believe in the Lord *' Jesus Christ, and thcu shalt be saved." "How will *< you escape, if you neglect 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