« ElőzőTovább »
these, how ungrateful, or displeasing foever, must not be baulk'd, though perchance we thereby incur the Censure, and provoke the Anger of some. 'Tistrue, much Prudence is here to be used : And to that purpose all personal Reflections, and needless Provocations carefully avoided. It is the Duty of a Minister of Christ, by all honest Means, to preserve a good Opinion amongst the People, to be Courteous, Inoffensive, Patient, condescending to their Infirmities and Mistakes, because he is thereby enabled to do the more Good; this will procure a greater Respect to his Person, and Authority to his Doctrine. But in truth that Opinion is bought too dear, which is pur
pur- NE chased by betraying a Man's Trust, and violating the Integrity of his Conscience which is procured by a fordid and mercenary Compliance with Men's Vices. Whatever treatment we meet with here for being Faithful to God, and to the Souls of Men, it will not fail of a glorious Reward hereafter. It will be a reviving Consolation to us when we come to leave our Flocks, and to give an Account of our Stewardship, to the great Shepherd and Bishop of Souls: With what Joy and Exulta
tion of Spirit did St. Paul triumph in this Aits zc. Matter? And now bebold, I know that ye all
whom I have gone preaching the Kingdom of God, shall see my Face no more. Wherefore I take you to Record this Day that I am pure from the Blood of all Men, for I bave not Jhunned to declare unto you all the Council of God. Another Thing required is 2dly,
25. 26. 27.
2dly, Courage and Constancy. The Difficulties which attend our Ministry, are many, and presling : And the Apprehension of them made an inspired Apostle cry out. Who is fufficient for these Things? To condescend to the Weaknesses of fome, to remove the Prejudices, to correct the Errors, and to compose the Passions of others, is not only a Trial of a Christian's Patience, but requires a good Stock of Resolution and Courage. There is scarce any Age, where there are not some Sins that are Epidemical, and Popular ; and it is a dangerous Thing to encounter any Thing that is popular, that brings a Man under an ill Name, and a general Odium. But what is Censure ? What is Reproach ? What is Persecution to a resolved Servant of Christ? He must expect, and from the Example of his Great Mafter, he must contentedly bear the Indignities of a crooked Generation. When he is reviled, he must bless; when he is defamed, he must intreat : When he is injured, he must forgive; when he is persecuted, he must fuffer. This (I confess) is not very pleasing to Flesh and Blood; but no matter for that, this is our Comfort (and it is an abundant one,) the Testimony of our. Conscience, that in Şimplicity, and Godly Sincerity, not with Fleshly Wisdom; but by the Grace of God, we have had our Conversation in the World. I proceed now to the 4th and last Thing im plied in being Faithful, And that is
4th. The Piety and Exemplariness of our Lives. This, though mentioned laft, is by no means the least Instance of our Duty : Indeed it is that which gives Weight and Force to our Arguments, and carries with it a moré deep and lasting Conviction than any Words can do. Men will never be perswaded to believe or practice those Truths they hear from our Mouths, when they see them openly contradi&cd in our Lives, or could we fuppose that, how can we expect that the Holy God should give a Blessing to such Endeavours, or suffer any Religious Design to prosper in such wicked and unhallowed Hands? The wise Common-wealth of Athens, made it a Crime no less than Capital, for any,
who was guilty of scandalous Immoralities, to presume to make a Speech to the People, though he was the most polite and taking Orator in the City. If this was thought a prudent and necessary Caution to preserve the Reputation of Morality in a Heathen Common-wealth ;' sure the Reasons to restrain and punish such, are much more Cogent in a Christian Church and Kingdom.
The Truth is, (my Brethren] not only thie Obligations we are under, by vertue of our common Christianity ; not only that Compalfion we ought to have for the Schisms and Wounds of a bleeding Church; Not only those folemn Vows and Engagements we made to God at our Ordination; I say not only these should oblige us to great Care and Strictness of Life : But moreover, the very nature of
our Calling; the course of our Studies; the frequent and unintermitting returns of our Duty, are so many daily Monitors to us; they put us under the most happy Advantages of living well, and of being always in the fear of God.
He must be a very strange Man, who hath foe lemnly put himself into the immediate service of
God, who talks much and often to the People, of the Necessity of Faith, Repentance, and a good Life ; and yet can trample the Divine Commandments under his Feet ; wallow in his Vomit, and lay down in his Sensuality. Who is constantly employed in the Study and Contemplation of a better Life, and yet feels no warmth in his Soul, no holy Vigours
, no Endeavours, carrying him after those unfeen Glories ; Who by Profession is engaged to take care of other Men's Souls, and yet takes no care of his own; Who is so frequent in his Devotions, both
private and publick (as the very Nature of his i Work, the Canons and Constitutions of this
Church require him to be) and yet can live a prophane and unfanctify'd Life. Wherefore, my Brethren, let us be faithful to our Trust, by being Examples to the Flock committed to our Charge; and by living as becomes the Stewards of the manifold Grace of God. Let us always bear in Mind that Account we have to give of our Stewardship, and what a dreadful One it will be, if at that Day, not only our own,
but the Blood of others be required at our Hands. of Oh consider, with what Force and Sting, those
Arguments whereby, we have pressed others to a good Life, will be turned upon our selves! And every Sermon we have preached rise up in Judgment, be an Article of Condemnation against us.
I have now done. And if any thing in this Discourse may seem too plain, and free in this very Reverend and Learned Audience, I have only this Apology to make ; that it proceeded from a well meant [if it should chance to be interpreted an Indiscreet] Zeal : That in much Sincerity, and with an honest Intention I have delivered
Soul. And with the same Sincetity 1 bumbly Address to tbe Throne of God, that be would for ever bless and proteết this Church, by his good Providence Reformed and Establisbed amongst us. Cloatb ber, O Lord, with a strict and exemplary Holiness in ber Priests and People, preserve ber in Truth and Purity, in ber Peace and Unity, in ber Worship, Discipline and Patrimony to the Worlds End. For his Sake, wbo, gave himself for the Church, that bé might fan&tify and cleanse it, and present it to bimself a glorious Church, even Jesus Christ the Righteous, To whom with Thee O Father! and Thee (Holy Ghost ! Three Persons, but one Eternal God be ascribed all posible Praise, Thanksgiving and Adoration, Now and for ever