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lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest: I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart: I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation." (Psalm 19.) 1 2903 JAN 2
"Reprove"--that is, endeavour by arguments to enlighten and convince, as well as by melting expressions to affect and persuade. Be ready to give to every man a reason of the hope that is in you; but do not affect a dry, disputatious way of preaching, which, however it may display your own learning, tends little to the use of edifying.
Rebuke:This is one of the most disagreeable parts of ministerial duty; and in which, though it is bound upon us with peculiar solemnity, we are generally and sadly defective: What minister can read without blushing, without trembling, that awful passage; "Son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked man from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand!" (Ezek. xxxiii. 7.)--O my brethren! what have we all to answer for! How many are there, in each of our congregations, going on in their iniquity to this hour unwarned, and all from our criminal cowardice! We are afraid they will only abuse us for our good intentions, and hate us for our officiousness (as they call it): we had therefore better be quiet, and say nothing, and let every one do as he please. So we argue, and so we act though we cannot but know that it is highly unjustifiable and absurd, to venture upon
the displeasure of God, and endanger the salvation of an immortal soul, rather than hazard the frowns of a fellow worm. If God be pleased to bless our endeavours, how soon can he turn their anger into gratitude ---It was a wise man's observation; "He that rebuketh a man, afterward shall find more favour than he that flattereth with his tongue." (Prov. xxviii. 23.) When he comes to reflect, that if it had not been for your seasonable, though per haps sharp, reproof, he might have gone on till he had perished in his iniquity, he will be the first to thank you. Or, if he doth not, God's approbation is reward enough,
Let me only add, that it is expected that you "reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine."---It is not enough to begin, well, but there must be a "patient continuance in welldoing." The rule is, "Take heed unto thyself, and unto thy doctrine; continue in them: for in so doing thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Tim. iv. 16) and the promise is," Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a
crown of life." (Rev. ii, 10.).
I make no apology for the freedom of this address, though I ought to make many for the length of it. And yet, after all, I am ashamed that it is so defective. If I were to begin all again, there are many counsels and cautions which now I think I would find, or make, room for.But no matYou have the Bible in your hands, and the Spirit in your hearts, which will teach you all things; "even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him, but ye know him, for he dwelleth in
you, and shall be with you." Under the influence of this all informing and all-comforting Spirit, may your work go on pleasantly and prosperously! May you be growing Christians and useful ministers! May your light shine before men, and your work be found perfect before God! May your lips feed many, and your lives give weight to your instructions! May you be helpers of your people's faith, and they be helpers of your joy! And, in this melancholy dearth of converts, while your brethren in the ministry are lamenting that they labour in vain, and spend their strength for nought; may you have many to be your joy and your crown! May the pleasure of the Lord prosper in your hands; and his word in your mouths be quick and powerful! May the good-will of Him that dwelt in the bush animate and sweeten all your labours! May you have flourishing souls, and flourishing churches; and God nigh unto you in all things that you call upon him for!" The Lord bless you and keep you: the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you: the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you, and give you peace the Lord bless you out of Zion, that you may see the good of Jerusalem all your days!" And if you should live to see the time when the Lord will build up Zion, and appear in his glory; may you then honour God by your forwardness and zeal, and may God honour you with signal success! May the names of STOAT and SALTREN be distinguished in the annals of the church, for piety and usefulness; and, when you rest from your labours, may your works follow you, and your names be re-echoed with still more distin
guished honours by applauding angels and an approving God! And, when the business of the general judgment is over, and every one takes his seat according to his sentence, if you do not sit immediately on the right hand of Christ, or on his left, in his kingdom; may you rank high, and fill an elevated station, in that world, where " they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever!".
THE NATURE AND IMPORTANCE OF THE GRACE
PREACHED MARCH 4, 1787.
1 COR. xvi. 23.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
THE season is now returned that calls many of you to sea again, and I have devoted this afternoon to taking leave. It is natural for your friends, when you are going abroad, to say, I wish you well? by which, in general, nothing more is meant than wishing you fair winds, short voyages, good health, a brisk market, large remittances, and a safe return.* All this I wish you, as much as any of them but I think I wish you something better than all this, when I shake you by the hand and say, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you."
But it is not the sea that carries away all our friends: there are others whom we highly esteem. who propose to leave us soon by land: and I would take this opportunity to take leave of them too. And if I were to do it in common language, it would be, God bless ye'-that is, in the world's
May you have a safe and pleasant
Bideford's being a sea-port, will account for several allusions to sea-faring terms in this and some other sermons.