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WORDS OF ADVICE
TO MY FLOCK.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves;
ALTHOUGH these pages will not contain any sentiments or doctrines different from those, which I have constantly preached in public and taught in private; although they will contain no interesting anecdotes to excite your curiosity, or engage your passions; yet I am induced to hope they will meet with a favourable reception at your hands, since they are offered to you with an earnest and affectionate desire to promote your temporal and spiritual welfare, and will possess an advantage which a preached discourse could not afford you; namely, of refreshing your memories at different times with its contents, and of calmly and dispassionately considering those truths I shall enforce, and the importance of that advice I shall offer. I also trust, that these my pastoral admonitions, may reach the hearts of that portion of my flock, who seldom afford me an opportunity of addressing them on the sabbath day. I ask then for your attentive perusal of the following pages,-I ask for your candour, I ask for your patience.
Many truths will be advanced, much counsel will be offered which will doubtless prove unacceptable to a great portion of my readers: but in addressing you thus, I claim from you the credit of proving myself your sincere friend and faithful pastor, by unhesitatingly acquainting you with your real diseases, warning you of your approaching danger, and directing you to the only safe and certain remedy. Whatever observations I may be induced to offer, will certainly be dictated by a deep sense of that duty which I owe to my God, with an anxious concern for your eternal welfare, and with
a careful desire neither to exaggerate nor to conceal the truth; with an heartfelt wish to rouse your minds to a rigid examination of your real condition in the sight of God, and of persuading you to judge yourselves before the time cometh when you must be judged by the Lord.
I would here remark, that I address all those who reside within the boundaries of my parish: not only those who are natives of, or who claim a settlement in the parish, but those, also, who are residents in it, for all such, wherever they come from, whoever they are, compose the flock over which I am the authorized and lawfully appointed pastor; and I pray, that, in thus addressing you, I may have grace given me, so to discharge my duty to God, to my own conscience, and to you, as not to court your approbation, and to disregard your censure, and may the blessing of God accompany this address.
My brethren, it was not, to me, an unimportant, a common hour I assure you, which called me to the spiritual charge of so many immortal souls: I felt that I had cause for much self-abasement, humiliation, and of prayer. That so weak and erring a mortal should have been commissioned by God, to preach, to teach, to exhort, "with all authority, gentleness, and longsuffering," raised in me a sense of my own unworthiness and incompetency for such an office: and deeply sensible was I that by His grace and power alone, who had called me to this work, could I be enabled to perform it, and often indeed have 1 trembled at the idea, that after having preached to others, I, myself, might be a "castaway.” And do you imagine, my brethren, that my residence amongst you has cancelled these feelings, that these lively emotions have abated? Think you, that they were only the fleeting sensations of the passing hour? that your minister has had no painful moments, no inward struggles, no heartburning anxieties, no doubts, no fears, since his residence here? Think you, that his pastoral duty is quite performed, his labours at an end, when he quits the pulpit at the sabbath close? Oh! if thus you think, you little know your pastor's heart,-you know but little of your shepherd's cares. If I felt for your souls when we were strangers to each other, time, and my knowledge of you all has increased, and not diminished this feeling towards you. Receive then, my beloved brethren, my admonitions and my charges, as the
advice and opinion of one, who is appointed to "watch over your souls, to whom you are bound by God's law to submit yourselves, as one that must give an account, and who is anxiously and prayerfully desirous to do so with joy and not with grief."
The subjects to which I shall allude are many and will comprise the observance of the Lord's day, public worship, private prayer, the sacraments of our church, baptism, and the Lord's supper;-and I shall mention those habits which tend much to an increase of immorality; I shall then state those means which are best calculated to increase, under God's blessing, true piety; and in so doing, I shall have to address collectively these different classes of my parishioners. Nominal christians,-the careless and open profligate,-the real children of God: and in their individual capacities, the farmer,—the labourer,—the parent,-and the youth.
Now in reviewing the real spiritual condition of a parish, I am aware it is impossible for man to distinguish at all times the tares from the wheat; and in endeavouring to separate the one from the other he would often be guilty of condemning the innocent, and as often of applauding the guilty but one method, by which a minister can justly estimate the amount of godliness amongst his flock, is by observing how the solemn ordinances of God are observed or neglected for although the outward observance of these is not at all times a positive proof of true piety; the neglect of them is a most positive, undeniable evidence of impiety, and of utter indifference to the laws of God, and to the soul's welfare. Now judging upon this principle, weighed in this balance, Will not some of you, my brethren, be found wanting? Let us take one of the first, public ordinances of God, one of the most powerful means of grace,—the sabbath day. How is this observed amongst us? There cannot be a more decisive proof of the want of true piety in an individual, in a family, or in a parish, than the misapplication or desecration of this day.
Examine first, what the word of God says,- "And he said unto them, this is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning." "See, for that the Lord hath given