« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
mind eagerly seconded their proposals ; yet the consideration of my youth, and the dread that I was unprepared for the employment, held me back from the attempt, till after a little while my acquaintance with Mr. Thomas Wilson commenced : encouraged by him in the hope that I might be a labourer for God, I commenced preparatory studies for the ministry, under the directien of my honoured friend, the Rev. William Hordle, of Harwich, and, recommended by him, entered the seminary at Hoxton. Thus, Sir, a persuasion of the great importance of the preaching of the gospel, a consciousness that God had imparted to me that tone of mind which seemed adapted to the employment, the earnest wishes of intelligent and useful Christians, the clear and evident direction of divine Providence, and, I hope, the glow of zeal for the honour of our glorious Redeemer and the good of man, united together to direct my (coming] to the ministry of the word.
Why do you choose to exercise your Ministry among
Protestant Dissenters ? The close alliance of the church [of England with the] state, were there no other argument against it, would be enough to influence my mind in refusing to enter within its pale. But my conscience also objects to many of the terms of communion it imposes, and its acknowledgment of a human head; to several of its prescribed ceremonies, which appear to me unlike the simplicity that is in Christ, and very unnatural characteristics of a kingdom which cannot be of this world. Yet, while these are my decided sentiments, I shall always respect and love the zealous followers of the Lamb, whom Heaven acknowledges, as his friends among the members of the established church. May grace, mercy, and peace, ever be with them; may the work of God succed among them. From all that I can collect from the New Testament, it appears obvious to me, that all that is meant by a church of Christ, is a company of faithful men determining to unite together in his faith and service-bowing to his directions submissively yielding themselves up to him—and resolving to walk in all his ordinances and commandments, blameless! These churches are, I believe, to be found among those of the congregational order, and therefore I am united to them.
What are the principal topics on which you mean to
insist in your future ministrations? My earnest ambition, Sir, is to declare the whole counsel of God, and to give to every one his portion of meat in due season. In order that this may be effectually done, I know that the
Mediator's excellencies must be particularly displayed, and the glories of the cross largely insisted on. I intend, Sir, in humble dependence on the strength of Christ, without regard. ing either the smiles or the frowns of man, to endeavour to approve myself the faithful servant of God. In my discourses, Christ shall be all in all. His person, work, and great salvation, shall be constantly exhibited in their bearings, upon every part of the scheme of religion I have beheld in the Bible, and admired. The solemn truth, that man is totally depraved, and altogether defiled by sin ; the necessity of regeneration; the suitableness of the atonement our Lord has made; the nature and blessedness of the influences of the Holy Spirit ; the various consolations and directions contained in the gospel of Christ, shall all be illustrated and discussed in my ministry, according to the ability Jehovah shall bestow. The doctrines of grace shall maintain a high precedence in all my ministrations : yet will I, with the most industrious care, labour to shew that they are doctrines according to godliness. The holiness of the religion of Christ shall be enfored from every subject. Thus will I labour to secure the approbation of God, to preserve an honest and good conscience, to promote the glory of the great and precious Redeemer of sin. ners, and to win souls to Christ. The terrors of the Lord shall be declared to the ungodly; the sure support of our covenant Lord shall be preached to the faithful; and Christ shall be preached to all.
CONFESSION OF FAITH. I do, Sir, with pleasure, in the presence of this congregation, deliver to you the sentiments I hold dear to my heart, and those views of the truth as it is in Jesus ; which, having imbibed myself, I intend to communicate to my fellow men. The sentiments I hold, I trace up to their source when I mention the Bible, the book of God, which holy volume, attested by every evidence that consistency, dignity, purity, miracles and divine effects can afford, I receive as the standard of truth, as God's revelation of his own mind and will to men. Regarding the Bible, then, as able to make us wise unto sal vation, I receive as positive and important truths, all that it teaches concerning God, the world, salvation, heaven and hell. I believe, then, from the testimony of divine truth, that God is a spirit, holy, infinite, unchangeable, and perfect in all the attributes of deity. That in the Godhead, there are three divine and glorious persons, equal in power and honour~the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This sublime mystery I dare not attempt to explain ; because I know, that we cannot by Searching find out God, nor trace the Almighty to perfection.
Yet do I most cordially receive the fact, admiring the vari. ous parts each of them has undertaken in the economy of our salvation, and adoring a triune God as the proper object of Christian worship. I believe that Jehovah's omniscience foresaw from all eternity all the events that should take place in the universe, and that he orders all things after the counsel of his own will. I believe that his almighty power created all the things that do appear, and still supports and upholds them in the state of existence in which he has wisely placed them. I believe that the persons in the Godhead did, foreseeing the fall and ruin of Adam and his posterity, enter into a covenant engagement with each other, that through their grace, the lost rebel might be restored to divine favour and friendship, and to communion with the whole Trinity. In this covenant, I believe all the blessings of grace are deposited for all the faithful ; Christ is its surety. He has made that atonement this covenant secured, and the blessed Spirit communicates the happy effects of it to the souls of all good men. It was by virtue of the arrangement of this covenant that Christ appeared once in the end of time, to put away sin by the sacri. fice of himself. Gradual discoveries of his glory have been made to the Jewish church ; but at length he came to redeem Jacob, to ransom him out of the hand of him that was stronger than he. By his sufferings, his obedience unto death, and the whole of his mediatorial work, I believe he has purchased the church ; redeemed and saved the goodly company of men, who by the Eternal Father were for this purpose give en into his hands before time began. And having on earth finished the work given him to do, I believe that he ascended to glory, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and ever liveth to make intercession for sinners, that their corruptions may be purified, their graces may be matured, and they be finally with him, where he is, to behold his glory. I believe that the Holy Spirit works on the human mind, when the time, the set time, to favour the individual, is come; that he affects the heart with compunction for sin ; that by the instrumentality of the gospel, he calls the sinner out of darkness into marvellous light; that by the influence of divine truth, he sanctifies the soul; that by the application of the promises of scripture, and by his own internal witness, he gives strong consolation to the heirs of God, for such I consider those whom he has convinced of sin, and led to Jesus ; called, enlightened, sealed, and established, they give evidence of a divine work upon their souls, by appearing in the beauties of holiness ; by adorning the doctrine of God, their Saviour, in all things; such characters I believe that Jehovah views as his church on earth ; his family, below, only separated by death from the blest society above ; and for their
sakes all nature stands; to promote their present and eternal happiness, the gospel was published in the world ; ministers have been commissioned to serve the Lord, and qualified for the office ; separate churches have been raised; the ordinances of Christ's appointment, viz. the Lord's supper adminis. tered to believers in Jesus ; and Baptism, designed for those who from heathen countries were proselyted to the Christian faith, and for all the infants of believers--have been preserved amongst us. In their hearts, the fruits of grace must abound; they must walk with God, and be conformed to the divine image. Such characters must, I believe, endure to the end, and be saved; their perseverance, I consider as resting on the power of God, on the nature of the covenant-Divine faith. fulness, and the very tendency of the principles of grace.
I consider justification from sin; the pardon of every offence;' the gradual sanctification of the soul, and its preparation for heaven, as all blessings of grace, freely bestowed upon the unworthy ; obtained without money and without price. I view the preaching of the gospel as God's appointed means for the translation of sinners from darkness to light, and for the edification of his mystical body, the church, by the exhibition of Christ crucified, it had pleased God to save them that believe.
Through the grace of God, every humble believer will, I know, eventually appear before the Saviour in glory everlasting. To that state of joy and felicity, I believe all real Christians to be daily tending; and am happily persuaded, from the testimony of God, that those who serve him here shall reign with him above. Hence the spirit of a good man, when it is separated from the body, is by its beloved Saviour, received to the final dwelling of the just, where it waits for the time appointed for the trumpet to sound, and the dead to be raised, to be again united to the body, then glorified, and made like the body of the Redeemer.
I anticipate, Sir, the last judgment I believe that God is coming to vindicate the right of his own government; to declare the equity of his holy providence, at which we have in our ignorance often murmured; to banish the impenitent, the unholy, and all who would not obey the gospel, into torments, more awful than we can ever imagine, and lasting as the existence of the soul. On that day, Sir, I believe that we shall give an account of ourselves unto God, and if found. clothed in the Mediator's righteousness, we shall be declared approved of God, and welcomed to the joys of heaven. This, Sir, is the outline of what I conceive to be the faith delivered to the saints ; these are the fixed principles I have cordially received myself, and intend to make known to others. Oh! that my faith in them may be operative and influential, in
supporting my mind under the severe, sharp trials, with which my Father in heaven has thought fit to exercise me; and may 1 be enabled, in simplicity and godly sincerity, to declare these truths to the people of my charge.
In the presence of God, then, his holy angels, those his servants in the ministry, and this assembled congregation, I resign myself, my body and soul, my ministry, my all, to the care and protection of the Great Head of the Church.
'The Lord God of my fathers be with me, as he was with them: let him not leave me, nor forsake me.' And I most earnestly and humbly request the prayers of my own congre. gation, of my brethren and fathers in the ministry, and of all who witness these solemnities, that God would enable me to fulfil the duties of my sphere, that he would ever preserve me from backsliding in religion, that he would fix my wayward heart, and preserve it alive to God; that the ministry be not blamed.
I do solemnly determine, as far as in me lies, to live to his glory; to set a watch over my temper, speech and deportment, that they may not disgrace the gospel of Christ. I purpose, relying on the all-sufficient grace of the Master whom I serve, that I will be instant in season and out of sea. son; that I will reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering; that I will labour as for God, and as in the immediate prospect of eternity. May he assist me to instruct the ignorant-to cheer and direct the sick and the dying-to influence the young
to rise and follow Christ-and to do real and extensive good in this large and populous town; and when I have done the labours allotted for me below, after having spent a holy and an useful life--oh! may I but hear the Lord say, well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord.'