« PreviousContinue »
These gentlenen differ also about the immortality of the soul, Respecting this important article of belief, the modern champions of Dasm arc as much in the dark as their clder brethren of the He then worki. Ioked, they are involved in deeper shades of darkness than they, because they have seen the light which discovered it, and have hated and despised it. Lord Herbert ad. mitted that the soul was immortal; but those who have followed him, have laboured with the utmost diligence and anxiety to get rid of the belief of it altogether. Hobbes denied any distinction bet ween soul and body: - Chubb represents it as absolutely doubtful whether the soul be material or immaterial, or whether it
distinct froin the holy; and if it be, whether it be equally perishable with the body, and shall die with it, or shall subsist after the dissolution of the body, -- Bolingbroke maintains, that the soul is not a distinct substance from the horiy; and ibat the whole man is dissolyed at death.* What a gloomy state are these men willing to take up with! All the hopes of life and immortality they are willing to relinquish at once; if they may be but freed from their dread and apprehension, and be allowed, without danger of the conscquence, to live as they plase. They can give up the hopes of Heaven, to be freed from the fears of Hell! What miscrable men! to take up with annihilation - to be willing to be no more.- Oh! what will you gain by losing every thing? You must be in an evil case when this is your best portion and highest hone,
These men too differ about a future state of retribution. That there is another world, that there will be a future reckoning, and that there is a place of happiness and misery in that world, where all will be fixed for cver, are truths of serious concern; about which we stand much in need of soine certain information. But the champions of Deism show the darkness which they labour nnder about the matter, by their disagreement respecting it. Lord Herbert allowed that there was a future state of retribution ; but the most that have followed him have laboured to get rid of the belief of it, and have tried to persuade themselyes that there was no such thing. Hobbes denied a future state--Chubb endeavqured to subvert it --- Hume endcavoured to overturn all the proofs of it. Bolingbroke maintained that the doctrine of future rewards and punishments is a fiction, which hath no real foundation in nature and reason; and that to pretend to argue for tuture retributions from the unequal distributions of this present state, is absurd and blasphemoust. The same writer tells us again that the design of his scheme is, that “the burning lake may disappear." Paine tells us, “ it we knew that a future judgment was a fact, we should be the nicre slaves of terror."
How uncasy are these men at the prospect of an hereafter! Oh! miserable, iriserable men, to live in a situation, and rest contented
with it, while the very possibility of such a thing makes your the mere slaves of terror. "How mad the conduct which leads you to close your eyes upon danger, and to aim at ease !y keeping it out of sight! Know ye not that if the danger be real, your ilisbelief of it will not put an end to it? Remember then, there is another thing still necessary to your safety, besides cavilling at these things, and denying them. You must prove that they have no existence. We ask, Can you visprove them: We appeal to yourselves. You cannot. The very possibility of these things proving true, ought to make you consider, and scrionsly cuquirc into, their nature and evidence. Reinember that you stand us much in need of a revelation on your system, as we stind in need of the information which revelation communicates. You need a revelation to show you (as you have no certainty in yourselves!) that these things are mere unfounded chiineras; and that therefore you may fearlessly go on, and live as you plcase. Till you obtain this, do not take it for granted that there is no hereafier, or that death is eternal sleep ; or fancy, because you persuade yourself that the burning lake has disappeared, that it is extinguished. Take waruing - You are ceriainly hastening to fire unquenchable.
Do you say Christians differ as much as we? This is not true Real Christians do not differ as to any thing essential to Christianity. They are all agreed as to those important articles wherein you cssentially ditfer -- and also in others which voir overlook or deny. They all believe in one God - in inan's guilíy, ruined condition, as a sinner, — The sufliciency of Jesus deait for their salvation, - and the certainty of life an:1 immortality through his blood. Though professors of Christianity difer, this does not alter the case; because genuine Christianity is plainly revealed, and cannot be altered. They only are its genuino friends who embrace it as a wbole, and live according to it, bav. ing their conversation and conduct conformed to its precepis. It has described the character and conduct of those who believe it in truth; and those to whom these will not apply, have ncither part nor lot in the matter. Look for such as these, and seek to bu like them, by believing in Jesus Falkland.
How solemn, yet delighiful, have been the engagements of this morning! Surely, I can appropriate the language of the church of old, and say, “My Lord has taken me to his banqu.ting house, and his brinner over me was love; I sat down wirler his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweei tu my taste.” Oh! that my soul may have the savour of these rich enjoyments long in remembrance, and whilst she is humbled under a sense of her unworthiness of such privileges, may she be refreshed and invigorated by the participation of them, to pursue with greater alacrity ber immortal course. Oh! that such divine entertainments as these may raise me above the grovelling delights of this vain anul transitory state, and make me earnestly long after those yet more glorious and ravishing pleasures, which are laid up in reserye for the righteous, when, through tile iron gate of death, they shall pass into the immediate presence of their Saviour and their God; and be put in possession of that fulness of joy which is found at his right hand for evermore!
How deeply has every one present been interested in the transactions which have just taken place! To the dear servant of God who has been set apart to the pastoral oflice, they must have been peculiarly solemn. He has entered into a sacred engagement to feed and watch over the flock of his divine Master; to go in and out before them, and gui-le their footsteps in the path that leads to glory and to Gol. To him it henceforward appcrtains to strengthen the weak, to counsel the ignorant, to succour the tried and tempted, to comfort the aflicted, to reclaim thie wanderer, to reprove the stout-hearted and rebellious, nay, to raise the dead! The eyes of the church will be turned to him for an example; and, perhaps, forgetting that he is a man of like passions with themselves, they will be ready to expect too much from him; the eyes of the world will be upon him to watch for his haliny, an: io magnify every little infirinity into a crime. Angels and Devils will be looking on äs strict observers of his actions; and God himself will mark, with his allscrutinizing eye, his faithfulness or negligence in the great work to which he has called him. How weighty, how important the charge! Wellmight even an apostle cxclaim, “ Who is suffi. čient for these things :" What shoulder, what heart is strong onongh to ler such a burden, and not be crushed under it? Not one of the sons of mortality is equal to the task, independent of the infinite power and omnipotent arin 'of Jehovah 3esus. But here we turn to the bright side of the subject; here is a fund of grace and of strength laid up, which is fully adequate to all his neccis; and, by clrawing daily supplies from this inexhaustible treasury, he may fulfil the important duties of his high and holy calling with credit to himself, and with honour to his God; may meet the eyes of men and angels with an undaunter courage, and snain even the heart-searching glance of the Almighty wil humble satisfaction and joy.
Be thon, ici, O their great Shoplierd of thy flock, be thout rver with him! and liol mp his going's in thy paths, that his footstepis slide not! Eeft to himself, he will be more likely to lead thy sheep istray than to restore them from their wanderings; but guiding himself by thec, he shall conduet them into
green pastures, and lead them beside the still waters of 'comfort and of peace. O! support him by thy grace under all his trials and discouragements ; direct him by thy Spirit into all truthi ; ratify in Heaven the connexion this day formed; and, if it be thy will, spare him long, we beseech thee, to be a blessa ing to thy church in this place; and make him thy honoured instrument in converting numbers from the error of their ways; and in comforting, establishing, and building up those who are already brought into thy fold.
To the church over which he is ordained, this service has likewise a voice. “It reminds us of the vows of God which are upon ns, and calls us to renewed vigilance and activity in the pero formance of the most sacred duties to our God, to our pastor, and to each other. If it is justly expected of the Bishop ta guick, instruct, and care for the people, it is not less incumbent upon them to receive his tuition with affection and thankfulness, and reduce his precepts into practice; to esteem him very highly in love for luis work's sake, and take care to respect hin them selves, and to maintain his respectability in the eyes of others; to promote, by all the means in their power, his comfort and the success of his labours; and particularly to live in peace and harinony among themselves, and endcavour so to walk that they may be his joy and crown, rather than a cause of sorrow' and 'hea vicess to his soul; to make due allowance for the imperfections to which human nature in its best estate is liable; and, above all, to hold up his hanıls, ånil assist liim in his work, by fervent and unremitted prayer. But here we are ready to repeat the question, “Who is sufficient for these things?" and we answer as before, None, unless they are assisted by Christ Jesus. If the pastor must derive strength froin him for the discharge of his duties, to the very same source must the people apply for ability to fulfil theirs; for without him we can do nothing. May he then condescend to afford to each individual amongst us the aids and infinences of his blessed Spirit, and so direet all our con dịct and conversation, that we may adorn tire floctrine of God our Suviour in all things; encourage the heart of our beloved minister, and help cach other forwaril in our lieavenly journey, And , may he cement all our lrcarts closer and closer to himself, and to each other, that we may be ever ready to all the kind oilices of mutual friendship and afection, and trus force an unbelieving world again to excluim, "Şæ low these Christians Hove!"
Nor could the ministers or meinliers of other charches be und concerned spectators of these solemnities; they must have incea remindet of former engagements, and of their obligatious to fula fil them; for surely, if a contract just entered into is binding, that cinnot be less. so whicli has subsisted for years, and been cmsolidated by lont-continued labours of love, on the one handler by frequent testimonials of esteem and aliection, on the other. Such, too, with ourselves, must have experienced the sacred pleasure which ever flows from the recollection of the day of our espousals to our heavenly Bridegroom; and the period when we first obtained a name and a place amongst his dear people. May such recollections inspire us with a lively sense of gratitude to that gracious Leader, wbo bas conducted us safely ihus far in our Christian course, and induce us to devote ourselves afresh to him, whose we are, and whom it is at once our duty and our delight to serve.
But can we hope that in an assembly of several hundreds of people, there were not some to whom these ideas do not apply? some careless sinners, who have hitherto lived in the neglect of their souls, and been saying in effect to the Most High, “ Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways?" If there had been none of this description, it would surely have been the most privileged, the most singular congregation that was ever known : and if such there were, what aspect
did the ser vice of the day bear to them ?---had it no message, no admonition for them ? O, yes, it bad! It represented to them the awful state of rebellion and consequent misery into which the posterity of Adam were fallen, which rendered it necessary for an act of free pardon and sovereign mercy to be passed in their favour in the court of heaven. It proclaimed the amazing goodness and compassion of the Almighty, in not only passing such an act, and sealing it with blood divine ; but in instituting a standing gospel ministry, to promulgate the same, and point out the medium through which alone the benefit of it can be obtained : and in raising up and qualifying instruments in all succeeding ages for this important purpose : and it loudly warned them of the dreadfulthe unspeakably dreadful consequences of slighting such a gracious institution, and thus rejecting the counsel of God against themselves. O that the warning may prove effectual! Forbid, O Father of mercies, forbid it that the means which thou hast kindly ordained to be a savour of life unto life, should prove by sad perversion, a savour of death_unto death, to any who have attended with us this day! Forbid that thy dear ministers, whose desire and whose study it is, to bring them to a knowledge and enjoyment of salyation, should be obliged to appear at the last great day as swift witnesses against them, and approve the righteous sentence that dooms them to endless woe! Rather do thou, we pray thee, convert them by thy grace, and cause them to give up their names to thy people, that they may participate with us in all the sweet enjoyments of Christian communion and sacred ordinances below; and at last assemble with us and all the blood-bought throny around thy throne above; and there celebrate the high praises of redeeming grace and love, through the countless ages of a blissful eternity:
E. T. Sandwich.