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operations of the Deity? Some, we have reason to fear, never mean to let their people know their religious sentiments, from the day of their ordination to the day of their death. And their people never will know them, until the gospel shall disclose the secrets of all men before the judgment seat of Christ. There is reason to fear this from a fact, which, I believe, many wish to conceal, but which, I presume, none will dare to deny. The fact alluded to is this. The people are much more Calvinistic in their religious principles, than the ministers are. There is, perhaps, scarcely a congregation in New England, where the majority are not friendly to our shorter catechism, and the leading doctrines of the gospel, as they are explained and maintained by Calvinistic divines. But are there not many ministers who totally explode this scheme of doctrines, and embrace opinions which are absolutely inconsistent with any system of religion, which takes its origin from the eternal purpose or decree of God. And do not such ministers as these, make use of every art and *subterfuge to conceal their sentiments? Do they not preach in a dark, ambiguous, desultory manner, least their characters should be distinguished from other men's, and their principles from the true principles of the gospel?
Are we then, my fathers and brethren, are we of this number, who thus shun to appear in their true characters, and to become transparent to the view of the world? If we are honest men, we have nothing to fear from the light. There is a dignity in transparency, which universally commands esteem and respect. But there is a meanness, which wants a name, in a minister's flying to shelters or subterfuges, to hide himself from the public eye. Shall we then, my brethren, who are the salt of the earth, who are the light of the
world, and who hold the torch of divine trust to dispel the clouds and darkness of error from the paths of men; shall we put out our light, or hide it under a bushel? No! Let us trim our lamps, and make them shine, that those who are blind may see, and those who see may be blind.
Our subject next speaks to him, who is this day to commence a steward of the mysteries of God,
We have endeavored in this discourse, to display the nature and importance of a minister's duty, with a particular view to your benefit on this solemn occasion. And if the gospel has taken possession of your own heart, there is nothing which you more ardently wish, than to unfold its divine mysteries for the instruction and salvation of sinners. This important, this delightful service, God seems about to assign you. Such a distinguishing privilege demands your most grateful acceptance, and most faithful improvement. The work indeed is great. And it must appear great to you, if your mind is awake, and looks forward to the final issue of the gospel, which will eventually fix your own soul, and the souls of your hearers in a state of endless joy or endless woe. But having once put your hand to the plough, you must never look back. Your cause is the cause of God and of all holy beings, which therefore must never be deserted. You may expect to be called to great and constant exertions. You must read much, think much, pray much, watch much, deny yourself much, if you wish to possess that knowledge and fortitude, which will enable you to declare the whole counsel of God. This mode of preaching always tends to awaken the enmity and opposition of the human heart, and to raise the resentment and ob
loquy of sinners against the faithful ministers of Christ. You may therefore lay your account, that some will become your enemies, because you tell them the truth. But let none of these things move you, neither count any object too dear to be sacrificed in the cause of truth. For, the value and importance of every created object, is to be estimated according to its tendency to accomplish the gospel scheme, which contains all that is truly valuable to you, or to any other intelligent being. You have nothing to lose therefore by promoting the gospel, which will effectually secure the present and future interests of all its friends. Only take good care of the gospel, and the gospel will take good care of you.
Be entreated then to preach with all possible plainness and freedom. Unbosom yourself to your people. Let them see your heart. Make them feel more or less in every sermon, the united influence and weight of the whole counsel of God. Aim your discourses directly at their hearts and consciences. And endeavor, if possible, to make them see and feel the gospel, just as they must all see and feel it, at the day of judgment. This is your wisdom as well as duty. For, please to remember, if you conceal the gospel, the gospel will not conceal you. If you neglect to declare the whole counsel of God, the whole counsel of God shall yet be declared; and among other dreadful secrets your unfaithfulness shall be declared before your people, and before the whole assembled universe. Hence says our Lord to his ministers, "There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the house-tops." Your time is short, you must soon, at longest, take a final leave of the dear people of your
charge. If you are unfaithful, how can you bear to leave them? Your conscience will forbid you to say, "I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." And if you cannot bear to leave them, how can you bear to meet them before the supreme tribunal, where the gospel will appear infinitely different from what you represented, and from what they expected? But, on the other hand, if you plainly and faithfully declare the whole counsel of God, you will make the gospel appear in the same light, in which it will appear to to you, to your people, and to all intelligences at the great and last day. And be assured that that day, however tremendous to others, shall be joyful to you; for that day shall fully reveal and completely reward your fidelity! I have only to address one word to the church and people in this place.
BRETHREN AND FRIENDS,
If the gospel involves all your interests for time and eternity: if it must sooner or later be fully known and sensibly felt by every immortal soul among you:-can you desire to have it concealed from your knowledge; can you wish to be deceived in a point of such infinite weight and magnitude? Let me therefore, earnestly intreat each of you to adopt the language of good old Eli to the young prophet Samuel, who was sent to him with a heavy message from heaven. "What is the thing that the Lord hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me; God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee."
Preached at the Ordination of the Rev ELIAS DUDLEY, to the Pastoral Cape of the Church in Oxford, April 13, 1791.
1 TIMOTHY iv, 15.
Meditate upon these things, give thyself wholly to
THE apostle having given, in the course of this Epistle, a variety of instructions to Timothy, finally sums
up the whole in the words I have read. "Meditate upon these things, give thyself wholly to them." Which is as much as to say, "Though I have given you many and various warnings and directions respecting your office; yet all these may be comprised in this short and comprehensive injunction, Give thyself wholly to the ministry." Agreeably, therefore, to the spirit of the text and the business of the present occasion, we shall endeavour to illustrate this general truth, that ministers must give themselves wholly to their work.
In order to set this subject in a plain and practical light, I shall consider how ministers must give themselves wholly to their work; and then suggest several reasons why they must give themselves wholly to it.
The work of the ministry is a great and arduous work. This appears from the various appellations, which the Scripture gives to those who undertake it. Ministers are called laborers and soldiers, to denote the exertions and fatigue which attend their work. They are called overseers and watchmen, to intimate the care and concern which accompany their office. They are called shepherds, and pastors, and teachers,