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day, I should consider myself as inexcusable. No, my brethren, I have better things to set before you; and things which accompany salvation. And I bless God, that in taking leave of you,
he has made me desirous above all things to be instrumental in promoting your spiritual welfare. “I commend you to God, and to the word of his
In the chapter before us we find the apostle taking leave,-a last leave of the pastors of the Ephesian charch; to whom he had so often preached the unsearchable riches of Christ. The lext is part of the solemn and affecting charge which he delivered on that interesting occasion. He appears himself to have been endued with great firmness; but his hearers were touched to the quick; for he had told them, that they should see his face no more. “ And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him; sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more." this, he had touched a string, which vibrated with a powerful impulse through every heart.
Last words have some claim to more than common attention ; especially in cases of high responsibility, and long and intimate connection between the parties. An unusual interest and expectation are excited by the circumstances ; and, the faithful and wise servant will avail himself of them to further the object nearest his heart, hop-: ing that the ear which had long been closed, or dull of hearing, may now be opened to the voice of wisdom, and receive the words of eternal life. Doubtless I am speaking to numbers, who, but: for the present circumstances, would not be here;
and probably some, who are not in the habit of frequenting public worship at all. As the friend of your souls allow me to express my deep concern for you. Your situation is one of appalling danger. If you die unregenerate, unholy, or without the saving knowledge of Christ, you are lost for ever.
O that he may shew you mercy by my unworthy lips ; that this may be the day of his power to make you willing to believe in and to follow him.
The minister, who preaches on such an occasion as this, knowing that many important things must be omitted, will find a difficulty in selecting those which are most proper and needful. There is danger also lest his sensibility, being overmuch excited, should incapacitate him for the prudent and faithful delivery of his message. I am quite aware of the difficult and affecting circumstances in which I stand; and that I must render an account to God of my conduct under them. To this day I have often looked with trembling ;with emotions not to be described, (more particularly when I have considered the people) and which have sometimes risen so high, that it has been a question, whether my natural constitution could endure the process. If we are insufficient for the ordinary calls of the ministry, how shall I meet one so extraordinary and trying in many points of view ; and close the labours of so many years
in way pleasing to God, and most profitable to the souls of the people? I have prayed to Him, whose grace alone is sufficient for me ; that he would carry me through these difficulties, and teach me all that I ought to say to you. And I am thankful, that he has led me to a passage quite as proper
for my own direction and encouragement as it is for
yours. There is every thing in the text which I want, every thing, I conceive, which you ought to desire. There is God, and the word of his grace;--an all-sufficient Refuge, and an infallible rule. I cannot wish you to be satisfied with less; nor is it in my power to inform you, where you can find more. Bear with me, while I press
these upon you with earnestness and plainness of speech.
First, I commend you to God. Surely the voice of the Lord here is powerful, and full of majesty.* To commend you
you to God, is to say every thing in a few short words. Thousands of volumes, if you could read them, could add nothing
to it. I send you at once to the fountain of all blessing and excellency; to a sure and never-failing Friend, who waits to be gracious. I press the Apostle's counsel upon you, and remind you of David's example. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul ? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him. I will go unto God, my exceeding joy. My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.”+ Go, then, my brethren, and remember, and tell others for their good, that when your minister took leave of you, because he could shew you no greater kindness, he commended you to God. Let these words dwell upon your minds, that you may live according to the tenor of them. They will then prove like the nail in the building, which being carefully introduced, will keep all
To commend you to God implies several things
Ps. xxix. + Ps. xliii. and lxii. 5.
on your parts; and amongst others, repentance, faith, prayer, obedience.
It implies repentance. If you are unconverted, God commands you to repent ; to be grieved for the rebellion of your hearts and lives, and to return to him, from whom you have deeply revolted, In case you are returned, and are now in Christ, you will still be sensible of daily failings, and consequently have occasion for daily repentance, And if
your repentance be sincere, you will mourn for sin, not merely because it leads to death and hell, or because of its mischievous consequences in the present world; but because it is hateful to God, and opposite to his authority and will, who is infinitely worthy of your affections and obedi
And this is what the Apostle calls godly sorrow, which worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of.*
It implies faith. " He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”+ But take heed, that your faith in God, and your knowledge of him may agree with the revelation he has given of himself, lest you be left to the egregious folly of idolizing the fiction of your own vain imaginations. If you would come to God, set up no idols in your hearts. The religion of the Bible is the most rational thing in the world; and it is therefore indispensable that our reason be entirely subject to itFaith and knowledge grow and increase together, and act reciprocally on each other. God communicates the knowledge of himself through his beloved Son to all who believe. “They, who believe on the name of Christ, become the sons of God, and behold his glory. He that hath seen Christ, hath seen the Father. For he is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God is given in the face of Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath revealed him."* It is therefore evident, that we know nothing of God, except as we believe in Christ, receive his testimony,
* 2 Cor. vii. 10. + Heb. xi. 6
and see the Father in him. And this we can do only through the influence of the Spirit, who "glorifies Christ, and receives of his, and shews it to us.”+ Happy they, who thus come to God. They find in him a most loving Father; in Christ a compassionate and tender Elder Brother; and in the Holy Spirit, whose temple they are, an infinitely condescending Sanctifier and Comforter.
It implies prayer ; and that the prayer of faith. « For he that cometh to God must believe that he is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”! You are to view God as a Rewarder, full of compassion and gracious, and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon him. He has had compas. sion on us his sinful and dying creatures, and has promised blessings of inestimable value, most needful to dispel our fears, and to render us holy, happy, and glorious. And you are to come to God, believing his word, and expecting the fulfilment of his promises. Beware of sloth, and of a cold, lifeless formality in prayer, and of an indifference whether your petitions are granted, or
Jobri, i. 18.
• John, i. 19–14. and xiv. 9. Heb. i. 3. 2 Cor. iv. 6.
† John, xvi. 14. Heb. xi. 6.