« PreviousContinue »
Accept, dear sir, for yourself and the society, my grateful acknowledgments for the honor thus done me. In compliance with their desire, I have added my sig. nature to the rules; and I feel myself, together with my family, cordially disposed to attend the meetings of the society, when circumstances may allow is that pleasure. But from my various engagements, the im. perfect state of my health, and the place and seasons of meeting, ibat will probably be most convenient to the members generally, I am apprehensive, that I shall but rarely have it in my power to attend with them.
The rery small services which I have rendered towards the establishment and organization of the society, they have much too highly appreciated. There seemed, indeed, but little need or room for any aid, which I could contribute to the laudable undertaking ; as, in my view, it appeared to be conducted, by those most inmediately concerned, and engaged in it with a spirit of christain zeal and discretion, which promised, through the blessing of God, the most desirable result.
The pious design met, at once, my entire approbation, and my heart bas felt an high gratification in the success, which has thus far attended the counsels and efforts, which bave been employed for realizing the important benefits contemplated.
The Lord your God and Saviour, will, I trust, “establish and prosper this work of your hands, in which you have hopefully engaged, with a view to his glory, in the promotion of the great interests of your own souls, and the advancement of his cause in the world, as far as your influence and usefulness can be extended, in the stations which you occupy in the church, and in the community. “The Lord will assuredly be with you, while you are with him." And as you would expect his presence
and favour, let it be still your leading aim, and your most solicitous care, that the great“ name of your
God may, in all respects, be glorified in and by you, through Jesus Christ your Lord" and mediator: and that you may maintain and cultivate a spirit of love, and harmony among yourselves ; ever studying “ to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace; remembering that there is one body, and one spirit, even as yc are called in one hope of your calling."*
Cherishing such dispositions, and manifesting them in the general tenor of your conduct, you may, with humble confidence hope, that your Lord, according to the promises of his truth and grace, will be in the midst of you, when from time to time you meet in his name for his worship; and that his blessing will render the religious services in which you unite, subservient to the important purposes of drawing your souls nearer to himself, in the exercises and pleasures of the most improving and delightful communion ; of uniting your hearts more closely and tenderly to each other in christian affection, sympathy, and fellowship; and of making you thus eminently helpful to each other, under your various labours and trials, temptations and sorrows, and instrumental to the establishment and advancement of each other's faith, and hope, and peace, and joy on earth, and the increase of each other's meetness for the incorruptible, unfading inheritance of eternal glory and felicity, reserved for the friends and followers of Christ in heaven. While in this way, your walk may be maintained more closely with God, your
* Ephes. iv. 1-4.
light may at the same time, shine more brightly before men, and many around you, “taking knowledge of you, that
you have been with Jesus,” may be excited and animated, to desire and resolve, that they will become “followers of you, as they see you are of Christ."
Thus your society may be enlarged, which “though its beginning has been small, yet may its latter end be. come greatly increased ;" and thus also new members might be added to the church among such as shall be saved. How interesting, how delightful the thought! that thus you would be pursuing the course, and improving the means most favourable to the growth of your infant institution, of your own souls in grace, and in the knowledge of your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the church of Christ; and especially of that branch of it with which you are most intimately connected!
The prosperity of " the church, which God our Saviour has bought with his own blood,” will, I trust, ever lie near your hearts, and be constantly remembered by you in your prayers. Ilaving thus dearly purchased it, and still regarding it as the apple of his eye, he has spoken glorious things of it, and promised to do great things for it, and these things he will be found able and faithful to accomplish, in their season. “Yet for these things will he be inquired of by his people, that he may do them.” And he puts a special honor upon them, when he represents himself as condescending to perform what he has purposed and promised to do, in answer to their prayers : and what greater honor and encouragement could be given to social prayer, in particular, than what our blessed Lord has given to it? when he says, “If even any two of you shall agree
on earth, as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."* May this promise be graciously fulfilled to you, as it has been in innumerable instances to others, who, in the Lord's appointed way, have sought and found him, who have asked in faith, and conformably to his declared will, have received the blessings of his grace and favour for themselves, and for others, for whom they have prayed!
In the humble and animating hope that this may be your happy experience, pray constantly and fervently for the peace of Jerusalem; for "the outpouring of the spirit from on high" upon all the branches of the church, that “the Lord's work may be revived," and his salvation be displayed in them with great glory “ in the midst of these years ;" and that the church itself may “be established, and be a praise in all the earth," and all the nations of tribes of mankind become united in it as brethren of one family, “ loving each other with pure hearts fervently, and by love serving one another." And in the view of this most desirable state of Zion's peace and prosperity, forget not to pray for its pastors ; and especially for those under whose pastoral care you are placed, that, having “ the ministry of reconciliation committed to them,” they may faithfully preach the gospel to their hearers, and that, by the co-operating influence of divine grace, it may prove “ the power of God, to the salvation of those who hear its joyful sound.” How interesting the subject of your prayers, and bow animating the hope which you are authorized to cherish in them, when in praying for the ministers of the gospel, you are directed
Matthew xviji, 18, 10.
to pray, that through their ministry " the word of the Lord may have free course, and bę glorified every where as well as among yourselves;" and when you are assured, by many great and precious promises, that by the universal spread of the light, the truth, and the grace of the gospel, all the people dwelling on the face of the whole earth, shall be taught the knowledge of the only living and true God in Jesus Christ, bis Son ; and shall be brought to praise and serve him as their God and Saviour, “from the rising of the sun, even to the going down thereof;" and " the whole earth shall be filled with his glory!"
That part of the plan of your society, which relates to the establishment of a small, but select library ; consisting chiefly of books on divinity, (inculcating the purest evangelical sentiments, and the best adapted to promote christian practice) appears to me to be a well judged, and very important measure ; as it will provide a rich source of improvement to the mind and the heart, and will probably have a considerable effect in promoting the increase of your members, and strengthening the bonds of their union.
It has long been my wish to see a Library, consisting principally of this description of books, owned by our church, and at once adequate to the wants, and appropriated chiefly to the use, of our congregations. The advantages of such an establishment for dissemin. ating correct sentiments and enlarged information on religious subjects, and in exciting the attention of many persons, to their best, their spiritual interests ; to the things of their present and eternal peace. I trust that to the members of your society at least, the books which you may now obtain, and which may be gradual