« ПредишнаНапред »
V. I would apply myself to the children of the congregation, the lambs of this flock, who have been so long undet my care.
I have just now said that I have had a peculiar concern for the young people; and in so saying I did not intend to exclude you. You are in youth, and in the most carly youth : And therefore I have been sensible that if those that were young had a precious opportunity for their souls' good, you who are very young had, in many respects, a peculiarly precious opportunity. And accordingly I have not neglected you : I have endeavored to do the part of a faithful shepherd, in feeding the lambs as well as the sheep. Christ did once commit the care of your souls to me as your minister; and you know, dear children, how I have instructed you, and warned you from time to time : You know how I have often called you together for that end; and some of you, sometimes, have seemed to be affected with what I have said to you: But I am afraid it has had no saving effects as to many of you; but that you remain still in an unconverted condition, without any real saving work wrought in your souls, convincing you thoroughly of your sin and misery, causing you to see the great evil of sin, and to mourn for it, and bate it above all things, and giving you a sense of the excellency of the Lord Jesus Christ, bringing you with all your hearts to cleave to Him as your Saviour, weaning your hearts from the world and causing you to love God above all, and to delight in holiness more than in all the pleasant things of this earth : And so that I now leave you in a miserable condition, having no interest in Christ, and so under the awful displeasure and anger of God, and in danger of going down to the pit of eternal misery.
But now I must bid you farewell : I must leave you in the hands of God: I can do no more for you than to pray for you. Only I desire you not to forget, but often think of the counsels and warnings I have given you, and the endeavors I have used, that your souls might be saved from cverlasting destruction.
Dear children, I leave you in an evil world, that is full of snares and temptations. God only knows what will become of you. This the scripture hath told us, that there are but few saved ; and we have abundant confirmation of it from what we see. This we see, that children die as well as others: Multitụdes die before they grow up; and of those that grow up, comparatively few ever give good evidence of saying conversion to God. I pray God to pity you, and take care of you, and provide for you the best means for the good of your souls; and that God himself would undertake for you to be your heavenly Father, and the mighty Redeemer of your immortal souls. Do not neglect to pray for yourselves : Take heed you be not of the number of those who cast off fear, and restrain prayer before God. Constantly pray to God in secret; and often remember that great day when you must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and meet your minister there, who has so often counselled and warned you.
I conclude with a few words of advice to all in general, in some particulars, which are of great importance in order to the future welfare and prosperity of this church and congre. gation.
1. One thing that greatly concerns you, as you would be an happy people, is the maintaining of family ordçr.
We have had great disputes how the church ought to be regulated ; and indeed the subject of these disputes was of great importance : But the due regulation of your families is of no less, and, in some respects, of much greater importance. Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church, consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rules. And family education and order are some of the chief of the means of grace. If these fail, all other means are like to prove ineffectual. If these are duly maintained, all the means of grace will be like to prosper and be successo ful.
Let me now therefore, once more, before I finally cease to speak to this congregation, repeat, and earnestly press the counsel which I have often urged on heads of families here,
while I was their pastor, to great painfulness, in teaching, warning, and directing their children ; bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord ; beginning early, when there is yet opportunity, and maintaining a constant diligence in labors of this kind : Remembering that, as you would not have all your instructions and counsels ineffectual, there must be government as well as instructions, which must be maintained with an even hand, and steady resolution, as a guard to the religion and morals of the family, and the sup port of its good order. Take heed that it be not with any
of you as with Eli of old, who reproved his children but restrained them not ; and that, by this means, you do not bring the like curse on your families as he did on his.
And let children obey their parents, and yield to their instructions, and submit to their orders, as they would inherit a blessing and not a curse. For we have reason to think, from many things in the word of God, that nothing has a greater tendency to bring a curse on persons in this world, and on all their temporal concerns, than an undutiful, unsubmissive, disorderly behavior in children towards their parents.
2. As you would seek the future prosperity of this society it is of vast importance that you should avoid contention.
A contentious people will be a miserable people. The contentions which have been among yoù, since I first became your pastor, have been one of the greatest burdens I have labored under in the course of my ministry: Not only the contentions you have had with me, but those which you have had one with another, about your lands and other concerns. Because I knew that contention, heat of spirit, evil speaking, and things of the like nature, were directly contrary to the spirit of Christianity, and did in a peculiar manner, tend to drive away God's Spirit from a people, and to render all means of grace ineffectual, as well as to destroy a people's outward comfort and welfare.
Let me therefore earnestly exhort you, as you would seek your own future good hereafter to watch against a contentious spirit. “ If you would see good days, seek peace, and ensue it.” 1 Pet. iii. 10. 11. Let the contention, which has VOL. I.
lately been about the terms of Christian communion, as it has been the greatest of your contentions, so be the last of them. I would, now I am preaching my farewell sermon, say to you, as the Apostle to the Corinthians, 2 Cor. xiii. 11. : “ Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect : Be of one mind : Live in peace ; and the God of love and peace shall be with you."
And here I would particularly advise those that have adher d to me in the late controversy, to watch over their spirits, and avoid all bitterness towards others. Your tempt. ations are, in some respects, the greatest ; because what has been lately done is grievous to you. But however wrong you may think, others have donc, maintain, with great diligence and watchfulness, a Christian meekness and sedateness of spirit ; and labor, in this respect, to excel others who are of the contrary part. And this will be the best victory : For “ he that rules his spirit, is better than he that takes a city.” Therefore let nothing be done through strife or vain glory. Indulge no revengeful spirit in any wise ; but watch and pray against it ; and, by all means in your power, seek the prosperity of this town : And never think you behave yourselves as becomes Christians, but when you sincerely, sensibly, and fervently love all men, of whatever party or opinion, and whether friendly or unkind, just or injurious, to you or your friends, or to the cause and kingdom of Christ.
3. Another thing that vastly concerns the future prosperity of this town, is, that you should watch against the encroach. ments of error; and particularly Arminianism, and doctrines of like tendency You were, many
of you, as I well remember, much alarmed with the apprehension of the danger of the prevailing of these corrupt principles, near sixteen years ago. But the danger then was small in comparison of what appears now. These doctrines at this day are much more prevalent than they were then : The progress they have made in the land, within this seven years, seems to have been vastly greater than at any time in the like space before : And they are still prevailing and creeping into almost all parts of the land, thrcatening the utter ruin of the credit of those doctrines
which are the peculiar glory of the gospel, and the interests of vital piety. And I have of late perceived some things among yourselves, that shew that you are far from being out of danger, but on the contrary remarkably exposed. The older people may perhaps think themselves sufficiently fortifed against infection : But it is fit that all should beware of selfconfidence and carnal security, and should remember those needful warnings of sacred writ, “ Be not high minded, but fear; and let him that stands, take heed lest he fall.” But let the case of the older people be as it will, the rising generation are doubtless greatly exposed. These principles are exceeding taking with corrupt nature, and are what young people, at least such as have not their hearts established with grace, are easily led away with.
And if these principles should greatly prevail in this town, as they very lately have done in another large town I could name, formerly greatly noted for religion, and so for a long time, it will threaten the spiritual and eternal ruin of this people, in the present and future generations. Therefore you have need of the greatest and most diligent care and watchfulness with respect to this matter.
4. Another thing which I would advise to, that you may hereafter be a prosperous people, is, that you would give yourselves much to prayer.
God is the fountain of all blessing and prosperity, and he will be sought to for his blessing. I would therefore advise you not only to be constant in secret and family prayer, and in the public worship of God in his house, but also often to assemble yourselves in private praying societies. I would advise all such as are grieved for the afflictions of Joseph, and sensibly affected with the calamities of this town, of whatever opinion they be with relation to the subject of our late controversy, often to meet together for prayer, and to cry to God for his mercy to themselves, and mercy to this town, and mercy to Zion and the people of God in general through the world.
5. The last article of advice I would give (which doubtless does greatly concern your prosperity) is, that you would take