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causes, on account of which it is so often and so inconsiderately done.
My brethren of this church, you will not suppose that it is with any particular application to you, that I have been led to a consideration of this subject on the present occasion, further than as it is applicable to the churches generally at this day. Instability marks our country and age, and the causes of it are everywhere multiplied. On this account an able and faithful minister is the more highly to be prized ; and we the more rejoice with you in the prospect now opened to you. The solemn bearing—the deep, the everlasting importance of the relation which these solemnities are designed to consummate, I need not explain to you. The choice of one to be to you a minister of Christ, and his consecration to the office of one to be to you and your children the messenger of the Lord of Hosts, and to watch for your souls with reference to the day when you and he must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ to receive your sentence for eternity--of one to meet you from Sabbath to Sabbath in public assembly, there to lead your worship before the throne of God, and dispense to you the word of life, and by all the influence he can exert or call down upon you and your children, make it the single business of his life to form you and them for a glorious immortality ; what single transaction is there in the progress of life which you or he will remember with deeper interest in the ages of eternity. In this transaction you will naturally suppose that he who now addresses you feels a peculiar interest. The feelings of a father towards him on whom your choice bas fallen cannot but embrace those to whom he is to sustain so dear and sacred a relation ; while the years that have fled away since once, in youthful days, I stood in this sacred place, before him who for nearly half a century had been your pastor, admonish me that I must soon have done with earthly things. Should he who is now to succeed to his place remain in it half that time, and be to you a faithful minister of Christ and should you receive him as such, and obey the word by him dispensed to you in the name of the Lord, and, after you and I and he shall have finished our course, should we all meet before the presence of Him who died for all,washed from our sins in his blood, then shall I give thanks to God that he gave me such a son, and made him such, and you, that he gave you such a minister, and bound you to him for Jesus' sake; and he more than we all, will give thanks for the grace conferred upon him in putting him into the ministry, and the mercy which he will have obtained of the Lord, through your prayers to be faithful. Such a result,glorious beyond all our comprehension as it is, is not too glorious for the riches of divine grace to bestow,or our hearts to hope for. Be this then our united and unceasing aim, relying only, and relying constantly and joyfully on him who said, “ All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you ; and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Amen.
· Then began he to upbraid the cities where most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee Chorazin! woe unto thee Bethsaida! for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.—Matt. xi. 20, 21.
We have here the 'merciful and grieved Saviour pronouncing a woe. He pronounced it; he repeated it. How presumptuousand mistaken the speech of those who affirm, that the gospel has no woe. It has a woe, and it is upon those who have lived under the sound of it, beholding its wonders, listening to its invitations, but who have not repented and embraced it. Woe unto thee Cho. razin! woe unto thee Bethsaida! for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. They would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” The woe, then, is in part for having let pass unimproved the proper season of repentance. If in your circumstances, Christ means to say in this passage, these old inhabitants of the world would have repented years ago—would have repented under some of the earlier calls and exhibitions of the Gospel. You have passed these and have not repented. The woe then is based in part upon the diminished probability of your repentance, as persons who have past the most fitting season of repentance.
Let us then here consider some of the grounds of peculiar exposure to the gospel woe, in the case of those who have long been under the gospel, without yielding to it. The fear is, the danger is, that they will die without repenting.
1. Because, first, they have witnessed, without saving con. viction and effect, the peculiar and attesting works of the gospel. We refer now to those works which demonstrate this scheme of mercy to be the scheme and truth of God; to those things which are both evidence and motive. In the time of Christ and the apostles, they were chiefly miracles. To miracles the Saviour alludes in the text. “ If the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes."
The works, which the Gospel performs now, though different, are equally convincing to the understanding and influential on the heart. They equally attest the presence, the power, the seal of God. Take the work of regeneration. It is not a miracle ; but really as great a work as any miracle. This work is accomplished only by the power of God—it is performed upon, and before men. They see the process and the result; a neighbour arrested, cut down by the Spirit of God, and changed radically, and raised up to be henceforth a servant of God. Those who have been long in a christian community, where the word is preached, have witnessed many such instances of radical change and reformation; haters of God becoming lovers of his character and service; careless, worldly men, becoming earnest seekers of the divine favor and of an inheritance among the sanctified; the profane and wanton becoming persons of pure and prayerful lips and lives. Changes of this sort have been accomplished before the impenitent and unbelieving, which they knew at the time nothing else than the Gospel and power of God, ever did, or ever could effect in the character of man. They have occurred in the families of those still impenitent-one taken and another left; the husband has seen the wife transformed-the brother the sister; the parent the child. The subjects of this work have attested to those around them, solemnly and cogently,that it is a great change, this work on the heart, a palpable and blessed work, an undoubted reality, the production of the Almighty Spirit. But those without, have not believed so as to seek the same great change for themselves. To such the language of the Apostle is applicable. Behold ye despisers and wonder and perish, for I work a work in your days which you shall in no wise believe though a man declare it unto you. These persons have the testimony of God, the author of the work; the testimony of men, the subjects of the work; and after all do not repent and believe, and become new creatures themselves.
Not only the gospel's power to change and reform men has been witnessed; but also its power of hope and consolation. It is sufficient to refer to its power of hope and consolation in death. Instances of this have occurred in the immediate circles of those, who, through continued impenitence, are daring a death of gloom, an eternity of despair. They have seen those dear to them, in calmness and joy, approaching the verge of life-fall without fear into the embrace of the king of terrors ;--even desiring to leave the body and go into the dread future : They have seen all this, and known the cause : The truth in Jesus had done its work upon those so departing : They were new creatures in Christ Jesus. Hence they showed forth the peace and power of their hope. The witnesses of the scene (and have you not all witnessed some such scene) received an argument, absolutely conclusive,of the stability and power of the christian hope. You knew then, you do know now,that this reforming, all sustaining gospel is the blessed authoritative Gospel of God; especially when you saw the dreadful opposite of the scene above described, that man dying in his sins: perhaps he died in stupidity. Perhaps not; if not, you understand the difference between dying, as this hope helps us, in calmness and joy and dying in the horror and despair of unforgiven sin.
All these things have been arguments and motives,enforcing the claims of Christ, and adapted to bring to repentance those who have lived in the midst of these privileges. The withstanding them increases the danger that such will die without repenting.
2. But I remark again, that the gospel has probably made a nearer approach. Most of those who have lived for some time under its teaching and appeals, have been the subjects of some special influence. The truth has been made real and vivid upon their minds by the Holy Spirit. They felt that they were sinners; they believed fully for a season in the necessity of being born again. They resolved, as they thought, to seek an interest in Christ whom they perceived to be near and ready to save them. They were almost persuaded, brought almost to the point of submission,but they grew tired of this anxious attitude, this spiritual striving, or some temptation came in, and they shook off their seriousness, meaning to repent at some more favorable time. I believe that almost all in christian communities have had experiences of this sort; even those who are now the most completely under the power of sin. We have arrived then at this point. The gospel has tried upon such, its most solemn and efficacious truths, and its special influences. They have seen its most remarkable works, have felt its most urgent motives, and been bowed beneath its convicting spirit; and all, without a change of heart and life ; and how does the danger increase, the probability grow, that they will die without repenting!
3. There is another step in our argument. The gospel has all the while been losing its novelty and freshness; and with these, has lost much of its power, relatively, to seize the attention and interest the mind. By stated,frequent,repetitions through successive years, it gets stale to men destitute of religious affections and sympathies. They seem to care but little about it-appear vacant, indifferent,when underits strains of mercy--willeven sleep quietly in their pews,
beneath its richest proffers and most startling appeals. It is, indeed, one of the most difficult parts of a minister's work, to get a tolerably decent exterior attention, when he stands up in the hallowed place, a messenger, bearing from God his great and free mercy, to his needy, dying, fellow men. Whilst angels in heaven are