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them in the Lord; and to admonish them! You have accepted their invitation; and it is now incumbent on you, sincerely and heartily to endeavor, to promote their good; by faithfully preaching the word to them; by maintaining a godly discipline among them; and by giving them such private counsels, exhortations, and reproofs, from time to time, as you think will be beneficial to them. Cherish a heartfelt affection, and a tender concern for them. The more fervently you love them, the more easily, and cheerfully, will you go through a variety of labors and difficulties, to promote their everlasting welfare. They profess to esteem you highly in love; let your ministerial work be so faithfully performed among them, as to deserve and secure the continuance of this esteem. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus:" That grace you will find sufficient for you, if you humbly rely upon it. For your encouragement and support, under a sense of your own weakness, and the apprehension of trials and difficulties, daily recollect, who hath said to all his faithful ministers, "Lo! I am with you alway, even to the end of the world, amen;" and plead the fulfilment of this promise.
Remember that you must one day give account of your conduct, in the ministerial office, to the supreme Judge of the world. Let the solemn consideration hereof, be a powerful motive to fidelity, in watching for souls. Think, Sir, what an awful account it will be, if you should be allowedly and habitually slothful, in your Lord's work; and any of your people perish through your negligence. Their blood will be required at your hands. But if you approve yourself faithful to God, and to the souls committed to your care; you may look forward with comfort to the great reckoning day. If your labors prove instrumental of "turning many to righteousness, you will shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever." Or if your sincere endeavors to do good to souls, should not be attended with desired success, yet remember for your comfort, that "your work is with the Lord, and your reward with your God." Isa. xlix. 4, 5. You will be free from the blood of all men ;" and receive the plaudit of your Judge: "Well done good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!"
In the next place, I turn myself to the church and congregation in this place. Beloved Brethren: a sovereign God was pleased, after long and painful sickness, to take away your late worthy and beloved pastor,* when he was scarce arrived to what we call the meridian of life. I hope you have been endeavoring to see his hand in the afflictive providence, and to make a religious improvement of it. The lips, which for a season fed you with knowledge
* The Rev. Joseph Parsons.
and understanding, are now closed in darkness. And the voice, which has often spoken the word of God to you, you must hear no more. You do well seriously to consider, "how you have received, and heard; and to hold fast, and repent." The heavenly treasure of the gospel is in earthen vessels. But though the prophets, the ministers of Christ, do not live for ever; yet he provides, and sends a succession of them. We rejoice, that he is, this day, repairing the breach, lately made upon you. We rejoice to see, with how much peace and unanimity, you have called one to take on him the pastoral office among you; one whom we are well satisfied in; and one (let me say, from a long and intimate acquaintance with him) who, I am persuaded, enters upon the work with a hearty desire to build up the kingdom of Christ, and to do good to your souls. Now, my brethren, behold the man, whom Providence has called into the gospel harvest here! Behold him answering to that inquiry; “whom shall I send, to feed and watch over this destitute flock?" "Lord, here am I, send me." He leaves his native place, and dear relations, and comes to spend his days and strength among you. I hope you receive him, as a gift of our ascended Saviour; and will esteem him highly in love for his work's sake; and will manifest that you do; by a diligent and serious attendance on his public. ministrations; by a ready submission to that godly discipline, which it will be his duty, and his endeavor to maintain among you; by a meek attention to the private counsels, admonitions and reproofs, which he may give, accommodated to your particular circumstances and characters; by your daily and fervent prayers to God for him; by treating his person and character tenderly, being ready to cover, with a mantle of love and charity, those failings and imperfections in him, from which we cannot expect any man to be wholly free; by cheerfully affording him such a portion of your worldly substance as shall be sufficient for his decent and honorable support; and by cultivating a spirit of peace, and harmony among yourselves. We wish and pray, that he may be instrumental of doing much good to your souls, and to the souls of your children; and that you may enjoy a rich and lasting blessing in him. We hope the affection between him and you, will always continue strong and mutual; and that after having faithfully performed the duties severally incumbent on you, towards each other, in this life; you will be each other's joy and comfort, in the day of the Lord Jesus.
To this numerous assembly let me say,-You should all seriously consider, that while the ministers of Christ are earnestly seeking, by a variety of labors, to promote the salvation of your souls, your concurrence in the same great design is necessary to its success.
Neglect not then "to work out your own salvation, with fear and trembling," while you enjoy external helps herefor, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, without which you can do nothing. God's Spirit will not always strive with you. While you continue to oppose his motions, and to disregard the things of your peace, you constantly hazard the everlasting well-being of your souls. The seasons of grace will soon be at an end, and the door of divine mercy shut; and if they are so, before you have made your peace with God, through the great Mediator; with what unutterable confusion and distress, will you appear before your Judge! There will then remain no way to escape that awful sentence, from his decisive lips; "depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire." "Consider this, all ye that have hitherto been forgetful of God, and your souls, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you."
As this is the first, so probably it will be the last time, of my speaking, to, by far the greater part of, you. Let me now earnestly entreat every sinner here present, without further delay, to accept, heartily to accept, of Christ, in all his offices; and to comply with that method of salvation which is proposed to you in the gospel. This is what I hope many of you have already done. Let such be careful to improve all the advantages they enjoy, to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Among these advantages, you are to esteem the labors of Christ's ministers. Oh! seek to reap all the benefit by them, which you can; to strengthen your faith; to inflame your love to God; to confirm your Christian hope; to perfect your humility and patience; to increase your holy desires; to heighten your spiritual joy; and to regulate your whole conversation, that it may be as becomes the gospel of Christ. In this way go on, with steadiness and perseverance, until you arrive at the measure of the stature of perfect men in Christ; until you are prepared for the society of the spirits of just men made perfect in heaven; and for the presence of God, and your Saviour; in whose presence is fullness of joy; and at whose right hand, are pleasures for evermore. AMEN.