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ments? We have engaged to preach like Christ in matter and spirit. We have bound ourselves to adopt every article in his creed, and to preach as far as we know, every sentiment which he preached, though at the hazard of our interest, reputation and lives. But shall we have love, resolution, and self-denial enough to carry us through such trials, unless we imbibe the spirit, and copy the life of Christ? O! let us then live better, that we may preach better, and die better, and be better prepared to meet our people at the bar of Christ; where we must shortly stand upon a level with the lowest in the flock, and receive that final sentence from the mouth of the great Bishop of souls, which will either wring our hearts with despair, or fill them with a flood of joy.
I hope, my dear Brother, you will let these thoughts sink deep into your heart, at this serious moment. Permit me to remind you, that you are to make Christ the great pattern, end, and object of your preaching, Endeavor, therefore to live, and pray, and preach like Christ. He is this day sending you to preach to this people in his own room; and committing the eternal interests of their precious souls to your care and charge. For Christ's sake, be faithful to your trust. If any of this flock are scattered, or lost, or perish by a famine of the word, their blood will be required at your hands. Remember that Christ, your Lord and Master, will keep his eye upon you, and watch you every moment. He will be with you in the study, and observe you in your private preparations. He will attend you to the pulpit, and hear you preach. He will sit with you at his table, and observe your behavior at the head of his family; and he will accompany you among the people, and mark all your conversation and carriage against the day of judgment. Let Christ then be al
ways in your eye and in your heart. Converse with him, consu't him, and engage that gracious presence of his, which he hath promised to all his faithful ministers. Often ask yourself, how would Christ preach? how would Christ live?-how would Christ converse?-how would Christ behave under this trial, or that trial? how would he treat this church and congregation, were he in my place and situation? And always aim to follow the example of Christ, both in living and in preaching. Only do this, dear Brother, and be assured, you shall meet your whole flock at the last day with joy; and be unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish!
The church and congregation in this place, will permit me to ask them, in this serious connexion, whether they are willing to receive a plain, searching, faithful minister of the gospel. Such a minister, we really hope you are this day to receive from the great Head of the church. And should he prove to be of this character, he will do great execution here, and fit every one of you for heaven, or hell. It is a serious and important circumstance, to have a minister of Christ live among you, whose presence will resemble the presence of Christ; who will exhibit religion before your eyes wherever you see him; who will teach you by example, what it is to live for eternity; who will put vice and irreligion to the blush, and strike an awe upon the mind of every secure and thoughtless sinner; and who will from sabbath to sabbath, lay open the blackness, turpitude and malignity of the human heart, and bring God near to you, and you near to God, and make you feel that there is but one alternative before you, either to believe, and be saved, or to refuse, and be damned. You will moreover please to
lay it up in your minds, that your treatment of such a minister, will be considered as your treatment of Christ himself. If you love him, you will love Christ; if you are kind to him, you will be kind to Christ; if you hear him, you will hear Christ; and if you receive him, you will receive Christ: But if you despise him, you will despise Christ; if you abuse him, you will abuse Christ; if you reject him, you will reject Christ; and one day know to your cost, that there has been a minister of Christ among you.
In a word, let me say to this whole assembly, take heed how ye hear. Serious and eternal are the consequences of your living under the preaching of the faithful ministers of Christ. You may indeed be able to despise and reject the solemn messages, which they bring to you from sabbath to sabbath, till the day of grace and space of repentance are no more: But you will not be able to despise the voice of Christ, who on earth, spoke as never man spake; and who, at the day of judgment, will speak as he never spoke before, and say to all impenitent gospel sinners, behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish!
Preached at the Installation of the Reverend DAVID AVERY, to the Ministerial Office in the church in Wrentham, May 25, 1786.
1 TIMOTHY i, 12.
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.
MANY of those favored persons whom Christ has employed as signal instruments of promoting his wise and gracious designs, have been raised up and qualified for his service, in a manner very unexpected both to themselves, and to the world. The Lord Jesus raised up Joseph, Moses, and David; and prepared them for the noble and important parts, which they had to act upon the stage of life, by a series of surprising and mysterious causes and events. But the most remarkable instance of this nature, that we find in all the sacred pages, is the great apostle Paul. Christ, by a miracle of grace, took him out of the kingdom and service of Satan, and employed him in promoting and defending that glorious cause, which just before, he had been laboring with all his might to overthrow and destroy. And this wise and gracious conduct of Christ so deeply affected his heart, that he could never speak of it without the warmest gratitude, and the highest expressions of admiration and praise. "By the grace of God I am what I am. Unto me who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that
he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry." This text, without any comment, plainly implies, that those, whom Christ furnishes for the ministry, are thankful for their office.
We shall therefore first show, that Christ furnishes men for the ministry; and then suggest several reasons, why those, whom Christ furnishes for the ministry, are thankful for their office.
It belongs to Christ, as the Governor of the world, and as the Head of the church, to raise up and qualify men for the service of the sanctuary. This Paul more than intimates in the words of the text. And every where in the New Testament, ministers are represented as the servants and ambassadors of Christ, and as his peculiar, ascension gifts to the church. Christ is said to give not only apostles, and prophets, and evangelists, but also pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, and for the work of the ministry. Hence we may justly consider Christ as forming and qualifying, as well as authorizing all his own ministers, in every age of the church.
The weakest eye is capable of discerning a great diversity in the characters of men as to their natural powers and abilities. This difference, indeed, sometimes appears almost equal to that, which draws the line of distinction between us and the various tribes of sensitive natures. Solomon, Socrates, and Newton, to name no more, differed as much from some of the lowest of our own species, as one star differs from another star in glory. But all this diversity of intellectual furniture originates from Christ, who endows mankind with various abilities, according to the various services, in which he designs to employ them. Some men he means to employ in preaching the Gospel, and for that reason, enriches their minds with such Occa. 11