Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

the great day, nor suffer me to sink under the weight of their guilt." I say, persons have little to expect from such cries, at the close of a sinful, careless life, cries extorted from them, merely by fearful apprehensions of that strange punishment which is prepared for the workers of iniquity. A meetness for heaven must be obtained, by the sanctifying grace of God, and the practice of piety and holiness, in order to the peaceful and happy death of the righteous.

I mean not to limit the grace of God; nor do I say, that he never extends his pardoning and sanctifying mercy to a sinner, in the last hours of his life; though I think we have no reason to suppose this to be a common case. The case of the penitent thief on the cross, which has been often mentioned as an instance of it, seems to have very little in it to the purpose. Can we say that he was not in a gracious state before, though he had fallen into gross sin? Or can we determine that he did not repent of that sin before this last hour? That was a time of wonders and miracles, and such marvellous displays of the power and grace of the Redeemer, as are hardly to be expected in common times.This might be the first time, in which he had any knowledge of the great Saviour of lost men, and so the earliest opportunity for his faith to act upon him. This is not the case of sinners, who have been born and brought up under the light of the gospel; or who have for many years heard, and disregarded the calls and invitations of it. I therefore conceive little encouragement of finding mercy, at the close of life, is to be derived to gospel sinners, from the history of the penitent thief on the cross, to whom our Saviour was pleased to say, "this day shalt thou be with me in paradise."

And have we not other arguments to prove, that the appearing penitence, and earnest cries, and religious promises of sinners, when they are, or suppose themselves to be, on a death bed, or near the close of life avail little to obtain safety in death, and happiness in the future world? Those who are raised up from such a state, and have their lives prolonged, too seldom give evidence, by their after behavior, that their repentance was real, thorough, and genuine. And where has God promised to hear the last cries of sinners, who have obstinately persisted in their evil ways, till death stares them in the face? Hath he not given frequent, and alarming intimations to the contrary? Are not those awful words, in Proverbs i. 24, &c. to be taken in this view? "Because I called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded: I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh. When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me,

but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me."

If you would lay a solid foundation to expect the death of the righteous, it must be by living the life of the righteous. You will not imagine, that I mean to intimate the most righteous life which any can live, to be meritorious of peace in death, and felicity in the world to come. When we have done all, we must say we are unprofitable servants; and place our dependence on the free mercy of God, through the mediation of Christ, for pardon and salvation. But there must be those religious principles in your hearts, which produce, in your lives, the fruits of righteousness; in order to your having a meetness for, or title to the happiness of the heavenly world, according to the gospel. "The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Let your hope of dying well be laid in nothing short of repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; proved to be true and genuine, by an habitual love to holiness, and delight in the service of God-by a hatred of all sin, and a constant care to avoid the appearances of it. If this is become your habitual temper, and governing practice, there is nothing in death, at which you need to be affrighted. You may adopt the language of the apostle; "For me to live is Christ; and to die is gain."

SERMON

PREACHED AT NEEDHAM, NOVEMBER 7, 1792,

WHEN THE

REV. STEPHEN PALMER

WAS

ORDAINED PASTOR OF THE CHURCH AND FIRST SOCIETY

IN SAID TOWN.

Rev.

BY JASON HAVEN, A. M.

PASTOR OF THE FIRST CHURCH IN DEDHAM.

PRINTED AT THE

APOLLO PRESS, IN BOSTON,

BY BELKNAP AND HALL.

1793.

B

SERMON.

2 TIMOTHY ii. 2.

"And the things which thou hast heard of me, among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."

THE apostle Paul employs no small part of his epistles to Timothy and Titus, in giving directions for the introduction of proper persons into the work of the evangelical ministry, and for the due performance of the duties of that station. If we are not able minutely to determine, how far the character and office of these first ministers of Christ may apply to Christian pastors and teachers, at the present day, yet all will allow, that it is especially from these epistles, that we are to collect what the duties of the pastoral office are; and what qualifications are requisite in those who enter into it. Two leading ones, which may indeed be comprehensive of all others, we find in the words which I have now read. Faithfulness and ability. They must be "faithful men, able to teach others." To such only Timothy is directed to commit the gospel, as a sacred deposit.

By the expression, the things which thou hast heard of me before many witnesses, the apostle undoubtedly intends the gospel, in the great doctrines and duties of which, Timothy had been instructed by him. The same, says he, commit thou to faithful men. This passage hath often been adduced, by Episcopal writers, as an argument, that the people are to have no voice in choosing their religious teachers. Timothy, they say, was bishop of Ephesus. In him was vested the sole power of setting ministers over certain churches, within his diocese. I humbly conceive the passage contains no argument of this sort. It only proves that Timothy had power to ordain. This he had as an elder or bishop, which terms, every honest man acquainted with the original language of

« VorigeDoorgaan »