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feemed to urge it fo ftrongly, and to prefent fuch an opportunity of being ufeful, as I durft not wholly decline. Every Chriftian ought to be an obferver of providence. Nothing will more effectually promote his holiness and comfort. And both a minifter and his people ought to improve the afpe&t of providence, when it hath any thing peculiar in it, to their mutual benefit.
Let me therefore, intreat you to attend to the following difcourfe, with patience and compofure. This request I the rather hope you will comply with, as there is nothing intended that is perfonal, further than muft neceffarily arife from the fubject itself, or be unavoidably fuggested by your own thoughts. I blefs God that I have no complaint to make of want of duty, or affection upon your vde; neither is it any part of my purpose to justify my own conduct, during the time that I have had the honor and happiness of being intrusted with the miniftry of the gospel in this place. I fhall therefore only fay, that whether I have been able to deliver my own foul, by fidelity in duty, and by purity of principle, I am certain, that fiery much has been laid to the charge of many of yours. Leaft of all do I intend to endeavor to fatisfy you of the motives which have induced me to accept of a call to a diftant part of the world, and, in fome degree, a different employment in the church of Chrift. For this, I know that an account must be given, in due time, to a much greater Judge, with whofe approbation either the applaufe or cenfure of men are not worthy to be laid in the balance. The fingle purpose, therefore, of the following discourse, fhall be to give you fuch a comprehenfive view of the truths of the everlafting golpel,-of the importance and difficulty of a minifter's work; as may direct you in the choice of another paftor,-increase your efteem of fuch as are faithful, and excite you to guard against every thing that may either difcourage them in their work, or prevent their fuccefs.
The apostle Paul had planted the church of Ephefus, and he had spent a part of his time there, very confiderable, if we confider the extent of his commiffion, and his many apoftolic journies to different parts of the world. In the
whole of his difcourfe, to the elders of that church, whom he had fent for in his paffage to Jerusalem, we fee thé greatest tendernefs and affection, and an earneft concern, to engrave upon their hearts the truths which he had taught them while refiding there. And, in the words of the text, you fee the foundation on which he takes them to record, that he was free from the blood of all men; for, fays he, I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. I omit every thing that might be occafionally introduced from the text, or context, fuch as minifters being chargeable with the blood of those who perifh by their neglect, and the doctrine of the gofpel being the counfel of God, that I may fix your attention, where certainly the emphasis of this declaration lies, viz. That he had declared to them all the counsel of God, and that he had not shunned to do fo, or that he had not been deterred, by any difficulties, from the faithful difcharge of his truft. Therefore, in difcourfing further, on this fubject, I will endeavor, through divine asfiftance,
I. To confider the fidelity of a minifter, as confifting in a full and complete declaration of the counfel of God. II. To confider the difficulties which may lie in his way, or tempt him to shun any part of his work..
III. To make a particular improvement of the fubje&t, by giving you my parting advices, in the fpirit of this paffage, and in a way, to the beft of my judgment, fuited to your fituation.
Firft then, Let us confider the fidelity of a minifter, as confifling in a full and complete declaration of the counfel of God. This is a circumftance which the apostle feems to have laid particular firefs upon, in his difcourfe to the elders of Ephefus, as he not only refts his folemn appeal to themfelves, in this paffage, upon it, but had mentioned it before, verfes, 20, 21. And how I have kept "back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have "fhewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from houfe to houfe, teftifying both to the Jews, and alfo to
"the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward "our Lord Jefus Chrift." It is, indeed, a circumstance of the utmost moment, as minifters may be fuppofed much more ready to fall fhort in this refpect than in any other. It is probable that many more are chargeable with concealing truth, than afirming falfhood; with neglecting duty, than committing crimes; with not building the houfe, than wilfully pulling it down. Agreeably to this, we find the charge of the prophet, against unfaithful shepherds, is chiefly or only for neglect of duty, Ezek. xxxiv. 2, 3, 4. "Son of man, prophefy against the fhepherds of "Ifrael, prophefy and fay unto them, thus faith the Lord "God unto the fhepherds, wo be to the fhepherds of Ifrael, "that do feed themfelves: fhould not the fhepherds feed "the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye cloth you with the "wool, ye kill them that are fed; but ye feed not the "flock the difeafed have ye not ftrengthened, neither "have ye healed that which was fick, neither have ye "bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have 66 ye fought that which was loft, but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them." But that you may have as comprehenfive a view as poffible, of the character of a faithful minifler, given in the text, obferve, that integrity in declaring all the counsel of God, implies the follow. ing particulars.
1. Declaring all the truths of God, without any excep tions. The revealed will of God is of great extent and compass. It takes in all that we are to believe concerning God, and all the duty which God requires of man. gives us an account of the original, and of the fallen ftate of man; of the early purpofe of divine mercy, and the fteps that were talien, from age to age, in carrying it into execution; of the perfon, undertaking, and fufferings of the Saviour; of his laws as a teacher, and his dominion as a king. Together with all this, we have a history of Providence, and many fpecial examples, inftructions, and warnings of the moll particular kind. Now, my brethren, he who would declare all the counsel of God, must pay a due regard to every part, and, as far as time and health
is given him, endeavor to make his people acquainted with the whole. This, to be fure, cannot be done all at once, and at the fame time. Doubtless there are fome truths of more importance than others. As the foundation must be laid before the ftructure can be raifed, and the foundation and the corner ftones are of more moment than the finishings of the furface: yet there is a mutual fubfer. viency of every one in its place to another, and not the leaft can be wholly omitted without a real injury to those that are retained.
There is a precioufnefs in every truth that hath the ftamp of divine authority upon it; and, therefore, to neglect any of them, and count them trifling, or of little moment, argues a want of reverence for the word of God. The holy fcriptures, as they are full and complete, containing every thing that is necessary; fo they are perfect and faultlefs, containing nothing that is unneceffary. Se. rious perfons have often borne teftimony to the great utility of fuch parts of the facred oracles, as are commonly treat. ed with moft indifference. Nay, I cannot help thinking, that the veneration due to God, who doth nothing in vain, obliges us to believe the utility even of those paffages whole purpose we ourfelves may not as yet have clearly perceived.
They are therefore greatly to be blamed who are at no pains to make known the counfel of God, in its full extent; but how much more those who fatisfy themselves with infifting upon fome things, which may be most agreeable to their own taste and difpofition, to the entire neglect of others that are perhaps of equal or of greater mo ment? We fee this happen too frequently, that things which fill almoft every page in the holy fcriptures can fcarce obtain a place in many fermons. We fee some induftriously avoid the truths of the everlasting golpel, and others the duties of the moral law. The evil of this is the greater, that there is fuch a relation between the feveral parts of God's revealed will, that if any one is left out, every view given of the rest must be not only partial but unjuft. He who truly understands the fcriptures, will foon perceive, that there is fuch an infeparable connexion VOL. II
between one truth and another, that you can hardly admit one without admitting or rejecting the whole; and that none of them can be withdrawn, or concealed, without a manifeft injury to the beauty and fulness of the general fyftem.
But, of all others, the most wonderful fet of men are thofe, who are for concealing fome of the truths of God, left they should be abused. The fovereignty of God, his eternal purpose and the freenefs of his grace, are often paffed by, under this ridiculous pretence. I would defpife the wisdom of fuch perfons; it is arrogance; it is împiety. I do not know any truth that cannot be abused by perverse and corrupt minds, or that has not, in many inftances, been abused. But is this a reafon for concealing them? No. I would preach them openly; I would preach them fully; I would endeavor to guard them against the abufe; and let finners know, that, if they wreft the good word of God, they do it to their own deftruction. Oh! that there were more fubjection of mind to the wif dom of God: more of a deep and inward conviction, that whatever he hath appointed, is, for that very reason, wifeft and beft. There would not then be fo many attempts to explain away what is clearly contained in the New Teftament; but we fhould join, from the heart, with "O the depth the apostle Paul in saying, Rom. xi. 33. "of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! "how unfearchable are his judgments, and his ways paft "finding out?"
2. Integrity of declaring all the counsel of God, implies preaching the truths of the gofpel in their full and juft proportion. Under the former particular, I have fhewn the neceflity of doing juftice to every truth; let us now add the duty of giving their full room and place to important and fundamental truths. In order to make a juft portrait of a human body, it is neceffary, not only to have all the parts, but to have every one in the true proportion it bears to another. If one member is fwelled to an unnatural or monftrous bulk, and others are fhrunk or fhrivelled away almoft to nothing, it will make the most unseemby figure. Agreeably to this, he, who would faithfully