« PoprzedniaDalej »
dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." It is he, Rev. ii. i. who holds the seven stars in his right-hand, and who 'walks in the midst of the feven golden candlesticks; and it is he who, when he afcended on high, led captivity captive, and received gifts for men, and gave gifts to them, Pfal. lxviii. 18. compared with Eph. iv. 8. 11, 12. Thefe gifts, and gifted perfons, and his powerful prefence with them, for the benefit of his church and people, he hath promised to the end of the world, Mat. xxviii. 18, 19, 20. This living Jefus can make up your lofs, by railing up others. When Mofes died, the Lord fent Jofhua to lead Ifrael into the land of Canaan. When Elijah is gone to heaven, he that hath the refidue of the Spirit with him, can make a double portion thereof to reft upon Elisha. When God hath work to do, he will never want inftruments. He can perfect praife out of the mouth of babes and fucklings: and therefore,
4. Study to employ this glorious Lord Jefus, both to provide another paftor, or paftors, for you, and to blefs the provifion he fhall make for your faving good. When God calls any labourers out of his vineyard, then fupplicate the throne of grace, and cry mightily to the Lord of the harveft, that he would thruft out more labourers into it, that there may be a fucceffion of faithful minit ters, who may rightly divide the word, and faithfully break the bread of life to you, and to your pofterity, when your places fhall know you no more. Endeavour alfo to depend upon our exalted King of Zion, for his bleffing upon, and continuing of the provifion he may make for you; and for grace to make a due improvement of all the fpiritual waterings he fhall allow you, whether more tranfient or fixed. And fince he is now teaching us, that what we call a fixed miniftry is, at beft, but tranfient; as thefe that are miniflers fhould hence learn to be diligent in bringing in as much glory and honour to their Mafter's name, as they can, while they live; for when they die, they can do no more, but give an account of their ftewardship; though, alas! many that enter upon the work of the miniftry, little confider that awful account they have to give unto the
Judge of all the earth, when they depart hence, Ezek. xxxiii. 7. 8. 2 Tim. iv. 1, 2. So you, that are the people, fhould hence learn how much it concerns you to endeavour, through grace, to get as much good as you can, from gofpel-minifters, while they live; for, when once they are entered within the gloomy fhades of death, they can be no further beneficial to you, by their warnings, entreaties, counfels, comforts, or prayers. As death flops the ear of the hearer, fo it lays the tongue of the speaker. The offers they make of Christ, and falvation through him, fhould be speedily embraced; for you know not how foon the feet of thofe, who bring these glad tidings, may go down to the grave, and you be left only to lament and bewail your mifimprovement of them. Yea, as minifters must die, and appear before the divine bar, to give an account of their ministry; fo you muft alfo appear there, to give an account of your proficiency: and therefore,
5. Study to improve your minifter's death, as a mean of preparation for your own; that fo you may extract meat out of this eater, and gain out of this lofs: which you would do, if this mournful death fhould fubferve the good purpose of flirring you up to confider your latter end, fo as to be reftlefs till you be ready for it, by a readiness both of state and frame. By a readiness of state, I mean, a being brought out of a state of nature into a flate of grace, or a getting in to Christ, and being found in him. By a readiness of frame, I mean, an habitual walking in Chrift, and living by faith upon him, both for righteoufnefs and ftrength. In this cafe, as the death of your minifter was his gain, while he hath exchanged the crofs for the crown, the pulpit for the throne, a militant for a triumphant flate; fo his death now, and your own death afterwards, will also be your gain. You will go but the fame way that the most eminent fervants of God have gone, and must go to the glorious fociety of Jefus, and of all his holy prophets and apostles, that are made perfect in holiness, and shall eternally reign with him. Could they, who are rejoicing above, fpeak to you who are mourning below, they would fay to you, as Chrift faid to the women that fol
lowed him to the cross, ་ Weep not for me, but weep
6. Study to imitate your departed minifter in all the fe things that were good and commendable in him. It is true, the best of minifters, even thefe that are gone, have had their failings and imperfections; Mofes and Elias were men fubject to like paffions as we are. The moft eminent faints are to be followed by us no further than they followed Chrift; but when they are gone, all their failings fhould be buried with them, and their excellencies fhould be kept alive in our memory, in order to our imitation of them. And, indeed, there were feveral things of this nature very evident in your late paflor,
ftor, wherein you would do well to follow his example; fuch as,
(1.) His blameless and circumfpect walk, wherein he endeavoured (though finless perfection is unattainable in a mortal flate) to have a confcience void of offence toward God and toward man. Such was his caution herein, that his greateft enemies had nothing againft him, except only in the matter of God, as it is faid, Dan. vi. 5.
(2.) His meeknefs and humility. He never appeared to be of a proud and lofty temper, notwithstanding of his eminent gifts, and the great popular applaufe he had, which he feemed rather to be afhamed of, than to af-, fect; but like his Mafter whom he ferved, was meek and lowly, ftooping and condefcending to all men, and paffing by these injuries, he received from any of
(3.) His laborious concern for the fpiritual profit of immortal fouls. Such was his love to the fouls of men, that he loved to spend and be spent for them; having little pity upon his own body, in comparifon of the pity he fhewed to their fouls. And hence it may be faid of him, especially after his mouth was opened to preach the gofpel, that he was not weary in well-doing, but went about doing good. He not only wafted his bodily firength in this fpiritual work; but when his flesh and heart feemed to fail, and his body fo weak, that he could hardly bear to ftand in a pulpit or tent, yet his affections were fo much engaged in his work, that he was very unwilling to leave it.
(4.) His love to the faints. He especially embraced thefe, in the arms of his love upon earth, with whom he thought he fhould join in finging the fong of the Lamb in heaven. His love of benevolence extended unto all, as appears in the forefaid concern he had for the falvation of finners: but his complacence was with the faints, the excellent ones of the earth, in them was his delight.
(5.) His readiness to fuffer for his Mafter, and for the gofpel's fake, and his willingness to take up his cross, and follow Chrift, in the thorny road of tribulation, perfecution, contempt, and reproach for the name of
Chrift, of which fometimes he had his fhare, even in fome of the idle public prints; which yet he never refented, but generously difregarded, as one that rejoiced to be counted worthy to fuffer fhame for the name of Jefus, whom he preached.
(6.) His zeal for his Master's honour, cause, and intereft, which made him to witness, even in his private ftation, before ever he entered upon the public ministry, againt the corruptions and defections of the times; and induced him to come out to the field of battle, and join himself with the Affociate Prefbytery, as a fociety which he judged to be contending for the faith of the gofpel, for the liberties of God's people in Scotland, and for a covenanted work of Reformation, which he faw the judicatories, by their proceedings, were razing. Thus he appeared, we may say, and died in the wars; and herein alfo he ought to be imitated by all these that defire to come forth to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty, Judges v. 23. This likewife fhould be matter of encouragement to you, that were under his actual miniftry before his death. I read of Xenophon, who having a crown upon his head, the news came to him that his child was dead, and he prefently puts off his crown in token of forrow; but then enquiring how he died, anfwer was made, that he died in the wars; then he called for his crown again: even fo, your dear minifter is dead; and therefore you have caft perhaps the crown of joy off your heads; and are under difcouragement; but if you confider how he died, in the fpiritual wars, and is now a conqueror, you may put on your crown of joy again, and ftudy to take courage, and to follow his example, in fighting the good fight of faith against all inward and outward enemies, which he did to the laft, and then died in the faith he preached, witheffing a good confeffion to the end of his life. Though the particulars of his death have not, as yet fo fully reached me; yet, I am informed, that among his dying words, fome dropped from him to this purpose, "I have had many adverfaries, both "within and without, to wrestle againft; but now "mine head is lifted up above all mine enemies; and I would