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self; or if his conversation be unbecoming the gospel, no accuracy in his doctrinal statements can adequately supply the defect. No powers of elocution can make amends for the want of personal holiness. For if he be not faithful to his own soul, how can I expect that he will be faithful to mine? If, for instance, a minister be a man of the world, proud, and sensual, how shall he warn the people against conformity to the world, and press upon them the duties of self-denial and humility? or, if he should attempt to do it, will not even the ignorant of the flock perceive his hypocrisy? The conduct of every faithful minister in the parlour should be an echo to his voice in the pulpit. The doctrine delivered there is to be taught and exemplified here; and his social visits, as far as lieth in him, should be means of grace. By their fruits therefore, ye shall know them. To this test our Lord has directed us; and it is best understood by all men. To ascertain whether any doctrine be sound requires certainly a knowledge of the scriptures; not how ever a critical knowledge; for then how shall the poor and unlearned judge? but that which is believing and practical, and is accompanied with the entire subjection of the mind to their authority. In the pursuit of truth you will do well to imitate the candor,teachableness, and diligence in searching the scriptures, of the Jews at Berea, which the inspired writer of the Acts has commended. Search the scriptures with earnest prayer, humility, and selfdenial, renouncing your own wisdom that you may learn of Christ; and let practical obedience mark every step of your progress in doctrinal knowledge. Should it be evident, that the aim of any minister
*Acts, xvii. 11.
is not to exalt himself, or to advance the interests of a party, but to set forth the Saviour in the full glory of his person, offices, and salvation; and that the drift of his preaching is uniformly to follow the Bible, and not to make the Bible follow him; these are strong proofs, that he is a servant of God; and faithful. For he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true." And if you perceive the effect of his preaching is to increase your love to the word of God, and to excite you daily to read and meditate therein, that you may regulate your conversation by it, then, I say, be thankful to God, because he has given you "a pastor according to his own heart, to feed you with knowledge and understanding."
And now, my beloved brethren, friends, neighbours, and strangers, farewell! May it be well with you in time, and eternity! But though this is indeed my heart's desire, I am bound to observe the line which my Lord and Master has drawn in his word. His ministers must declare, that it shall be well with the righteous: and they are to cry, woe unto the wicked! for it shall be ill with them.‡ It can never be well with sinners while they are unconverted, nor till they are born of the Spirit, and are accepted in Christ. You can neither fare well, nor do well without a new heart, and a new nature. O remember, that the most dreadful and destructive thing in the world, and your nearest, and most deadly enemy, is sin. The greatest folly you can commit is to seek your portion and satisfaction from the world instead of seeking them in God. And the heaviest judgment that can befal you in this life is, to be left to yourselves, and to have your
* John, vii. 18. + Jer. iii. 15. ‡ Isa. iii. 10.
own way. On the other hand, to know, love, and serve God is the only true happiness. Communion with him is the sweetest of all enjoyments vouchsafed to man on earth. The most excellent treasure is Christ reigning with the riches of his grace in the heart, and governing the life. The highest honour to be attained here is that which God bestows on his servants ;-and more especially when he calls them to suffer for his sake. The most profitable employment is the prayer of faith. The greatest outward blessing (after the scriptures) is an enlightened and faithful ministry. The gospel is the only remedy for all the troubles of human life. The most precious things of a prospective nature, which you cannot possibly contemplate too much, nor seek too eagerly, nor desire too intensely, are those which the gospel unfolds, even eternal life, in mansions of love, peace, and joy unutterable, where the faithful will receive a crown of righteousness and glory that fadeth not away.