Page images

with the habitual neglect of truth and uprightness; and least of all, in our solemn prayers and addresses to himself.

To leave a station of ease and affluence, and to have to combat with various straits and hardships of an uncertain world, affords but a dark prospect. But we must willingly submit to this hard lot, when not to be avoided without deserting our duty to God and his truth. And we have great encouragement given us by our divine Master and Saviour, Christ. Matthew x. 32. " Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven.” And Mark X. 29, 30. Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions, and in the world to come, eternal life.” It is of small concern in what outward circumstances we pass over the short term of life, if we can but obtain that blessed approbation in the end, “ Well done goud and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Matthew xxv. 23.

It is a great satisfaction, at this my departure from you, that I cantruly say, “ I have coveted no man's silver, nor gold, nor apparel." Acts xx. 33. In nothing have I made a gain of you, or sought to enrich myself, nor am I enriched by you at all, but what was over and above the supply of necessary wants, has been freely expended in the various ways, in which it was thouglat might be most useful for your present benefit

and future happiness. I have not sought your's, but you. And although humbled before God under a sense of many failings and neglects; yet, in some low degree, I hope I may say, that " in simplicity and godly sincerity, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly towards you." 2 Cor. i. 12.

I have endeavoured to teach you the truth which Christ our Lord taught, as far as I was able to learn it, by an impartial and diligent search of the holy scriptures. And I often reminded you, that you were not to believe any thing because spoken by me, but to examine and compare how far it was agreeable to holy scripture, our only rule and guide. And my discourses of late years, have been altogether expositions of large portions of the New Testament, with such inferences as naturally and plainly flowed from then, that you might see it was the word of God which was endeavoured to be spoken to you and not the word of man.

In these discourses I was led continually to point out to you, that religion lay not in outward forms and ordinances even of God's own appointment, though they be helps to it; but in an entire conversion and devotedness of the heart to God, influencing to sobriety, chastity, , brotherly love, kindness, integrity, in all your conversation ; to do every thing out of a sense of duty to God, ever present with, and supporting us in life, and chiefly for his infinite love to us in Christ Jesus our Lord; by whom he hath called us unto his eternal glory. 1 Pet. v. 10. And that this inward sense of God, carrjed along with you into

your daily labours and business, would sanctify them all to you, preserve you innocent and holy, sweeten the unavoidable toils and cares of the present life, and enable you to resign it with joy and in peace.

'I have often pressed upon you the duty of familyreligion-That every house should be a little church as it were, wherein all the members of it were carefully instructed in the things of God, and once at least, at the close of each day, called together to join in short prayer to God, since in your way of business you can seldom meet altogether at any other time without inconvenience. This would be a constant check upon parents in their daily conduct, and would make them hasten home with pleasure after their labours were over, to worship God in their families, which would thus become orderly and happy. And this might be a means of preventing that early depravity and corruption of the youth of both sexes, which are so alarming, and from which they are seldom to be recovered, when once you have lost this season of instruction, and of forming habits of piety and virtue. 6 Train

child in the

he should


and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Prov. xxii. 6.

Still more have I inculcated upon you the necessity of keeping the Lord's day holy, in obedience to God's primary law, when he first placed man upon the earth, never repealed since ; and which was regulated anew, and confirined by the authority and example of our Saviour Christ and his apostles-As many of each family as can be allowed, to attend the public worship of the great Creator and heavenly Father, and to be mindful afterwards of a suitable employment of your


time at home. For the spending one part of this sacred day in unnecessary worldly cares, or in sports and diversions tends to efface every serious impression made on the mind on the other part, and by degrees, leads to spend the whole of it in the same ungodly sort. Not that the service of God is to make us morose, or sad and unchearful at this, or at any time. There are ways of passing this holy day, in walking out and contemplating the works of God, in pleasing, charitable offices to our neighbours, and in innocent, useful conversation, which will chear and refresh both mind and body, far beyond those noisy and riotous games, always accompanied with prophane oaths, and generally ending in the alehouse, or worse.

A writer of great celebrity, though no clergyman, remarks :- I believe it may be laid down as a certain fact, that no master or mistress of a family can Irave a true concern for religion, or be a child of God, who does not take care to worship God by family-prayer." Hartley

To which I would add, that I have seldom found any serious religion in a parish or family, where the Lord's day was customarily prophaned. And, as he concludes - Let the observation of the fact determine" in both cases.

It has been matter of deep concern to me, that I have not seen so much of the fruits of


labours as I desired among you. Parents, ignorant themselves, and refusing instruction, must, of course, neglect all godly care of their children. Very seldom do farmers meet at markets on their worldly business, without giving more or less into drunken excesses; which

shews, that they are under the restraint of no religious principle. Much bad practice and open sin, is visible in many But I would not now complain. Let us all make haste to repent and amend-for the time is short. I would hope that more good may have been done than I know of; and that there are more truly pious than the few that appear to be so; and that some seed of the word, that has been sown, may hereafter spring up, and bear good fruit.

It will be your wisdom, and happy for you, and a cause of rejoicing to me, if, from this time forward, your lives be conducted with such Christian sobriety and watchfulness, in a daily progressive improvement in virtue and holiness, that I might be able to say, " I have laboured, and another hath entered into my labours,” John iv. 38. And that the work of my successor may

be made more easy to him, from what you have learned of me. More especially, if it. should please the “ God of all grace," That as Samson'served his country more at his death, than in his life, you also may be more benefited by this my last farewel exhortation to you, than by what I have laboured in much weakness, but great sincerity, for the ten years that I have been with you.

Soon shall all the friendships and connections of this world be dissolved, and at an end. The parting, and the separation, which death must have made betwixt us in a few years, perhaps, much sooner, is only anticipated a little. And it

And it may be a providential blessing to both you and me, if I may but thereby be approved, and found faithful unto the end, for which I desire the help of your prayers; and if this

« PreviousContinue »