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of heavenly truth, but never become the arena of profitless and unchristian conflict May the doctrines of the cross here distil as the dew-doctrines full of consolation to the penitent, and alarm to the rebellious; but the wisdom and power of God to salvation, to every one that believeth.
But you need not only a stated and evangelical, but also a devoted ministry. And by a devoted ministry, I mean one which is uninterruptedly occupied with its appropriate business-one which engages the best powers of the man-one characterized by a manifest attachment to the kingdom of Christ, and a deep interest in the spiritual welfare of men.
There is enough in the appropriate work of a pastor, to occupy his entire time-to absorb all his powers of thought, feeling, and action. He should, therefore, be exempt very much from secular anxieties and business; and hence he should be liberally, promptly, and cheerfully supported. It will be ruin to his influence, and destruction to his charge, if, from any cause, he is led to cherish a worldly spirit and deportment. You may have an enlightened, eloquent, and strictly evangelical ministry; and it may accomplish little towards building up the church and saving souls, unless it be really interested in the holy and heavenly office;-unless it breathe the true spirit of piety, and exemplify the varied bright virtues of the Christian character, and evince that the man regards himself as engaged in a most sacred and momentous work.
On these topics, important as they are, I cannot dwell. May the Lord, all gracious, send you a pastor after his own heart.
2. Another thing important to your welfare, is a spirit of uniform and eleva ted piety in the church.
With the fraternity of professed believers there exists a mighty influence. They are a city set on a hill, that cannot be hid. They were designed to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth. They can give energy and effect to the ministry of reconciliation, or they can abridge its influence, so as to render it nearly powerless. Their godly walk and conversation give courage and animation to the pastor. They furnish a standing and palpable testimony to the truth and importance of the messages he brings. Their bright example sends alarm to the consciences of the worldly, the vicious, and the proud. The religious prospects of any community are cheering or alarming, very nearly in proportion to the degree in which the Gospel shines forth in the lives of its professed friends.
Be aware, then, of the responsibilities resting upon you. Can it be justly asked, What do ye, more than others? Is your life characterized by backsliding, and devotion to objects of merely temporary interest? The cause of religion must feel the withering influence. Spiritual death, in all its horrors, will reign around you, and the multitude be seen eagerly pressing on to a miserable abyss. Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate. Put on the armor of light. At all times, shed around you a pure and healthful influence; and thus give efficiency to the ministry of reconciliation, and secure the blessing of Heaven on your families, and on generations that may come after.
3. You will need, also, a temper of mutual concession and forbearance. You cannot too deeply feel the importance of being at peace among yourselves. Discord and strife are not more destructive to social happiness, than to religious improvement. To whatever the contention may relate, it arrests the great work of preparing souls for heaven. And the strife is peculiarly unhappy, which arises from conflicting partialities so common in the settlement of a minister.
To expect a community to feel and think all alike, on any subject, is idle. It is not, therefore, probable, that all will think alike in reference to any preacher they may hear. It is consequently necessary to cherish a conciliating and yielding spirit. Every one should avoid claiming that his own wishes shall be
a criterion for all the rest. Such claims cannot be admitted; and from them can arise only jealousy and conflict.
To avoid circumstances so deplorable, let each restrain every feeling of envy, pride, and selfishness; and cherish only kindness, forbearance, and fraternal love. Put away, says the apostle, all anger, wrath, malice, and evil communications out of your mouth; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
In this forbearance and concession, it is not to be understood that conscience may be sacrificed-that truth, and the cause of piety and salvation, may be put in jeopardy. But while you strive together for the faith of the Gospel, and maintain an inflexible integrity, study the things that make for peace, and the things whereby one may edify another. Let nothing be done through strife, or vain-glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Thus, it is to be hoped, will the good providence of God concentrate your hearts on a spiritual shepherd worthy of your confidence; and thus may the light of this Zion break forth as the morning, and its salvation as the noonday. May you never feel, yourselves, nor entail upon those who come after you, the blasting influence of a spirit of party.
Cultivate the same temper towards all about you. It is a satisfaction to leave this interesting field of labor with ample proofs of a strengthening kindness, confidence, and friendship, between the members of the different churches. May this union in the truth and love of the Gospel be firmly cemented; and the immense moral power of these churches never be wasted in conflict, but all be directed in harmonious and vigorous action, for the honor of Christ, and the salvation of the world.
4. Let me urge a steady and zealous regard for the religious improvement of the young.
Instead of the fathers, will very quickly be the children, here, as well as elsewhere. And your destiny, as a people, is depending, under God, upon the character they assume in early life. Let their religious education be neglected, and it is easy to foresee, that this fair heritage may very soon be overrun with infidelity and vice. But let means of religious improvement be zealously pursued, and it is safe to calculate on successive generations characterized by reverence for the Gospel and devotion to the Most High.
Among the means of religious improvement to the young, the system of Bible class and Sabbath school instruction holds a prominent place. It is a means which, with us, has been attended with very important effects. There is no labor or sacrifice, in which I have stronger confidence of success, than in aiding these institutions. And it would be a most cheering fact, could I be assured this hour, that the Bible class and the Sabbath school, with their library, would at all times receive that countenance and support among you, which their great importance demands. Let the citizen sustain them as a means of producing an enlightened, sober, and elevated state of society. Let the father and the mother sustain them, as a source of temporal and immortal blessings to their offspring. Let the Christian zealously sustain them, as a nursery for the church, and for heaven. Sustain and encourge them by your counsels, your donations, your active services, and your prayers. Look to the character, and guard vigilantly the deportment of the young. Let them be trained to reverence and love all that is sacred, and to practise all that is pure, generous, and noble. Let the Gospel get its firm hold upon their hearts, and they are secure against vice and ruin; and you may then leave them and go down to the grave, with no anxiety about their welfare; for God is their defence.
5. Let me urge a generous support of the benevolent movements of the age. I have felt it my duty to keep the great system of religious charity steadily before you; both with reference to your own good, as a people, and with reference to the wants and woes of the world. And it has been matter of joy,
to notice the cheerfulness, and increasing liberality, with which you have responded to the calls of Divine Providence. It is a period calling for action, self-denial, enlarged sympathy, and unfailing benevolence. And there is every indication that the demand on the enterprise and offerings of the church is to be still greatly augmented. Our country, exalted among the nations, is to be saved, and its glory advanced and perpetuated, only by the influences of the Gospel. And the world is to be rescued from the darkness of ages to the knowledge of Christ, and the love of God. To secure these great results, must be the aim of every generous heart. And the time for bold plan and action is evidently come. Be it your ambition, then, to bear an honorable part in the holy enterprise. Nothing will give me higher satisfaction, than to hear that you are abounding in these labors of love, more and more. God has prospered you, and is still abundantly prospering you. When counting up your gains, when looking on your wealth and splendor, when sitting in your beautiful temple, and rejoicing amid rich religious privileges, O think of the destitute, millions on millions! Remember, God is no respecter of persons: he loves them, as well as you: his sun shines as brightly on their fields: the Savior embraced them in his last message; and his Gospel can prepare them, as well as you, for his second coming and glory. Enter, then, fully into his great plan of mercy, and rest not till he has the whole earth for his possession.
6. Let me urge you to cultivate, habitually, the spirit of prayer.
For every species of prosperity, man is dependent on God. But in a peculiar sense is he dependent for spiritual blessings. In addition to the stated ordinances of the Gospel; in addition to a ministry which shall clearly exhibit the momentous truths of revelation; and in addition to those other means of religious improvement, which are ordinarily associated with Gospel ordinances, you need the quickening and transforming influence of the Holy Spirit. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Paul may plant, and Apollos water; but God giveth the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither is he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase."
This dependence originates the duty of humble, importunate, and persevering prayer. "Yet for all this will I be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them." Such prayer secures the approbation and blessing of God, in all circumstances of life; but peculiarly in connection with efforts that respect the great interests of the soul. Such prayer gives beauty and strength to the church. Such prayer gives power to the ministry. Such prayer opens the windows of heaven; it causes the skies to rain down righteousness, and the earth to bring forth salvation.
Think not then, brethren, to prosper, except in cultivating habitually a spirit of devotion. Let God be acknowledged at all times. Bring to his altar, daily, the sacrifice of an humble and contrite spirit. Let your interests, as a people, be brought before God in the sanctuary, in the domestic circle, in the social meeting, and in private personal communion with his Spirit. Pray habitually under the impulse of a vigorous faith; that faith which gives substance to the divine. promises; which carries the immortal forward, and plants him down amid the scenes of judgment and a crumbling universe, and which opens new and eternal heavens to his enraptured vision.
If there be one thing on which your spiritual welfare, as a people, is peculiarly depending, that one thing is a spirit of united, fervent, and unceasing prayer to God. I see rich blessings treasured up for you in the stores of his infinite benevolence, if you cherish this spirit; but if you suffer it to languish and die, I see only blasting, and barrenness, and gathering woes, in reserve for you and your children.
I dwell on this point, because, while no duty is so intimately connected with your prosperity, there is, perhaps, none which you are so much in danger of neglecting, as the duty of prayer. The only sure pledge of success in any
important matter is the friendship of the Most High; and it is peculiarly so in matters of religion and salvation. You need continually the presence of the Holy Ghost. You need those signal manifestations of divine grace, that have, for successive generations, characterized this spot and this region. On their continuance are suspended all your rational hopes of religious prosperity. On them hang the destinies of your children, and coming generations, for eternity. Pray, then, and labor for, and expect revivals of religion. With all the imperfections, in some cases the extravagances, that have attended them a few years past, and at other periods, in one place and another, still they are from God; and they are the last hope of the church. And could I gather round me the thousands of this busy population, I would now say in the name of God-A pure revival is of more, infinitely more importance to you, as a people, than all your rising worldly prosperity, increased a million fold. For, what are silver, and gold, and parade, and costly dwellings for a day, compared with the image of God, with salvation, with an eternal heaven, with unfading crowns of glory? While, then, your ministers plant and water in this fair field of Zion, pray, pray unceasingly, for the descent of the Holy Ghost, that he may abide with you for
With this brief review of our connection, and this notice of a few things deemed specially important to your spiritual welfare, I now leave you. At such an hour, a mingled tide of feeling, reflection, and anticipation, rushes upon the mind. It is matter of devout gratitude, that our connection has been one of peculiar harmony, and that we part, cherishing sentiments only of friendship. It is matter of humble praise, that at this moment my eye can light on those among you, who, I trust, are emphatically the seals of this ministry. Ye, brethren, are peculiarly our joy and our crown. Be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Forgetting the things which are behind, reach forth to those which are before.
But it is matter of pain and grief, that, in closing this ministry, I see many still far from righteousness-without God, and without hope. As respects your salvation, my humble efforts seem to have been all in vain. Possibly they have proved only a savor of death unto death. Some of you have, at times, been alive to your guilt and ruin, and earnestly resolved to seek salvation. But your goodness was like the morning cloud and the early dew,-soon passing away. Others of you have, from month to month, and year to year, been but little, if any, affected by the Gospel. Ah! dying fellow-sinners! give heed for this once, I entreat you, to the parting voice of your friend. Begin this day the great work of salvation. Engage in it with whole heart and soul. It is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life. I tremble, I shudder, to think of the bearing this ministry may have had on your immortal destiny! Spare me -O, spare yourselves the anguish of an eternal separation!
With all of us the present is indeed a solemn crisis. We meet where we have often met and mingled our devotions at the mercy-seat; but the last page in the record of our intercourse is written, and the whole is in a moment to be sealed up. The commission I received to minister for your souls has been recalled and handed back; and its results are for disclosure at the bar of the enthroned Lamb. One and another of us will, in quick succession, be summoned to our account. My eye instinctively glances forward to that great day, when, with assembled worlds, we shall all meet again. Live, live, my immortal and beloved hearers, in steady prospect of that day. Live for God, for a dying world, for heaven, for eternity. FAREWELL!
No. 10. VOL. 10.].
BY REV. DANIEL A. CLARK, NEW-YORK.
THE SINNER'S DESPERATE DEPRAVITY.
JEREMIAH iii. 5. Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldst.
[WHOLE NO. 118.
THIS passage evidently teaches the doctrine, that men are as depraved as they can be in present circumstances. The charge is made by the infinitely Holy One, and can be fully substantiated against every member of the unregenerate family. The justice of the charge may appear from a consideration of the following positions:
I. That God in his providence has surrounded the sinner with many circumstances operating powerfully to modify human character.
II. That by these circumstances every sinner is actually restrained in his wickedness, and held back in his downward career.
III. That every sinner does make the attempt, and succeeds as far as God will let him, to sunder these ligatures that would hold him fast to reason, hope, and heaven.
VOL. X. No. 10.
Among the circumstances which illustrate the first position, I mention,
1. Education. This makes christendom differ from the dark places of the earth, which are full of the habitations of cruelty. This makes the same land differ from what it was while a land of idolatry. This makes us to differ from our forefathers when under the superstition and tyranny of the Druids. This occasions the difference between us and the savage of the western wilds. Education, then, operates greatly in modifying character, and in preventing men from being as bad as they would be.
2. Human law has a similar effect. How near right, think you, would men be, if they were not controlled by human laws? Look at some country while in a state of anarchy. Look at some city or village where the influence of law is suspended. Look at France, while under the reign of terror, when law was abrogated, and see one company after another pass under the guillotine; and the executioners of to-day the victims of to-morrow; and, tell us, is not character greatly modified by municipal law?
3. By the law of God. If men have no other belief in it, but that which may be denominated the faith of history, it still greatly modifies human cha racter. Men have been sorry a thousand times that God ever issued his law 42