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the glories of immortal life; when he puts his hand on the door of heaven; and, opening it for the entrance of his flock, discloses to them the throne of GoD and the Lamb, the innumerable company of angels, the general assembly of the first born surrounding the tree of Life, and singing with transport the eternal hymn; "Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him, that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. Amen!"
IV. Let me from this view of the Gospel, urge every member of my audience to secure its blessings.
To this divine, this indispensable employment, every motive calls you, which can reach the heart of virtue or wisdom. The terms, on which these blessings are offered, are of all terms the most reasonable. You are summoned to no sacrifice, but of sin, and shame, and wretchedness. No service is demanded of you, but services of gain, and glory. "My son, give me thine heart," is the requisition, which involves them all. Remember how vast, how multiplied, how noble, these blessings are! Remember, that the happiness of heaven is not only unmingled, and consummate; not only uninterrupted, and immortal; but ever progressive. Here all the attributes of body and mind; the peace within, and the glory without; the knowledge, and the virtue; the union of minds, and the beneficence of the hand; gratitude to GOD, and his complacency in his children; together with the peculiarly divine system of providence in that delightful world; will advance with a constant step towards the ever-retreating goal of absolute perfection. The sanctified infant will here hasten onward to the station, occupied by Abraham, Moses, and Paul. These superiour Intelligences will regularly move forward to that of angels; and angels will lift their wings to a summit, to which, hitherto, no angel ever wandered, even in the most vigorous excursions of thought. Thus will this divine assembly, make a perpetual progress in excellence, and enjoyment, towards bounds, which ever retire before them, and ever will retire, when they shall have left the heights, on which Seraphs now stand, beyond the utmost stretch of recollection.
To this scene of glory, all things continually urge you. The seasons roll on their solemn course; the earth yields its increase; to furnish blessings to support you. Mercies charm you to their author. Afflictions warn you of approaching ruin; and drive you to the ark of safety. Magistrates uphold order, and peace, that you may consecrate your labours to the divine attainment. Ministers proclaim to you the "glad tidings of great joy ;" and point out to you the path to heaven. The sabbath faithfully returns its mild and sweet season of grace, that earthly objects may not engross your thoughts, and prevent your attention to immortality. The sanctuary unfolds its doors; and invites you to enter in, and be saved. The Gospel still shines to direct your feet, and to quicken your pursuit of the inestimable prize. Saints wait, with fervent hope of renewing their joy over your repentance. Angels spread their wings to conduct you home. The Father holds out the golden sceptre of forgiveness, that you may touch, and live. The Son died on the cross, ascended to heaven, and intercedes before the throne of mercy, that you may be accepted. The Spirit of grace and truth descends with his benevolent influence, to allure and persuade you.
While all things, and GoD, at the head of all things, are thus kindly, and solemnly employed, to encourage you in the pursuit of this inestimable good, will you forget, that you have souls, which must be saved, or lost? Will you forget, that the only time of salvation is the present? that beyond the grave there is no Gospel to be preached? that, there, no offers of life are to be made? that no Redeemer will there expiate your sins; and no forgiving God receive your souls? Of what immense moment, then, is the present life! How invaluable every Sabbath; every mean of salvation! Think how soon your last sabbath will set in darkness; and the last sound of mercy die upon your ears! How painful, how melancholy, an object, to a compassionate eye, is a blind, unfeeling, unrepenting immortal!
But, O ye children of Zion, in all the perplexities and distresses of life, let the Gospel be "an anchor to your souls, sure and steadfast." To the attainment of the happiness, which it unveils, VOL. II.
consecrate every purpose, and bend every faculty. In the day of sloth, let it quicken you to energy. In the hour of despondency, let it reanimate your hope. In the season of wo, let it pour "the balm of Gilead" into your hearts. View every blessing as a token of love from the GoD, to whom you are going; as a foretaste of immortal good. Stretch your imaginations to the utmost; raise your wishes higher and higher, while you live: not a thought shall miss its object: not a wish shall be disappointed. Eternity is now heaping up its treasures for your possession. The voice of Mercy, with a sweet and transporting sound, bids you "arise, and come away." Your fears, your sorrows, your sins, will all leave you at the grave. See the gates of life already unfolding to admit you. The first-born open their arms to welcome you to their divine assembly. The Saviour, who has gone before to prepare a place for your reception, informs you, that "all things are ready." With triumph, then, with ecstasy, hasten to enjoy the reward of his infinite labours in an universe of good, "and in the glory, which he had with the Father before ever the world was."
THE PREACHING OF PAUL BEFORE FELIX.
A SERMON PREACHED AT THE ORDINATION OF THE REV. SAMUEL MERWIN, AS PASTOR OF THE UNITED SOCIETY IN NEW-HAVEN, 1805.
ACTS xxiv. 25.
And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judg ment to come, Felix trembled; and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee,
In the preceding Chapter we are informed, that certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, to kill Paul. In consequence of this conspiracy, his sister's son, having heard of their design, disclosed it to Lysias, the Chief Captain or principal Roman Officer, who resided at Jerusalem. To prevent the execution of it, Lysias sent Paul to Cesarea, to the custody of Felix, the Roman Governor of Judea. In the Context we are further informed, that Ananias, the Chief Priest, and other Jews of distinction, appeared at Cesarea, to accuse Paul before the Governor. As they were unable, however, to support their accusation, Paul, contrary to their hopes, escaped. Still, Felix, was willing to gratify them, so far as he could consistently with the appearance of propriety; and, therefore, kept him confined at Cesarea. During this confinement, it seems, he frequently sent for him, and communed with him. On one of these occasions at least he gave him leave to discourse concerning the Faith in Christ.
At this time Drusilla, here called his wife, was present. This woman was the daughter of Herod Agrippa; was contracted to Epiphanes; was married to Azizus; and now lived in adultery with Felix. Felix himself, therefore, was an adulterer. He was also an iniquitous ruler; as is evident from his conduct towards Paul. Paul was accused, but was cleared; and ought to have been instantly set at liberty. Two reasons prevented his release; the disposition of Felix to gratify the Jews, and his hope of receiving a bribe from Paul. Both these reasons are incapable of being felt by a just man; yet Felix was governed by them both.
Such was a part of the audience, to which the preaching of St. Paul, mentioned in the text, was addressed; the part, to which it was especially addressed. I have dwelt on the subjects of this Introduction the more particularly, because they contribute in a peculiar manner to the illustration of the text, and give it a force and importance which it could not otherwise possess.
Considered in connection with this story, the text appears to me to contain one of the most perfect single accounts of the great Duty of preaching the Gospel, and the manner in which it ought to be performed, to be found in the Scriptures. On this Duty only do I intend to insist in the following discourse. All the other duties of a Minister, together with those, which a Church and Congregation are bound to render to him in the other concerns of his Ministry, I shall leave to be inculcated by such, as come after me in the solemn services of this Day.
In the account, given in the Text of St. Paul's preaching, there are three things, which especially merit our attention: 1st. The Subjects, and
2dly. The Manner, of his Preaching; and
3dly. The Effect which it had on a part of his audience.
1st. The Subjects of St. Paul's preaching, recited in the Text, are these three; Righteousness, Temperance, and Judgment to come: or, more agreeably to the Greek, Righteousness, SelfGovernment, and the Judgment which shall be hereafter.
Righteousness, although used often to denote moral rectitude generally, signifies, in its original and proper sense, Justice; the