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they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." And people must give the glory of every thing of this nature to God. Not to the minister: though they ought to have a very tender regard for those ministers whom God hath made instrumental for their conversion and edification; (they are their spiritual fathers, and a very great value they ought to have, yea, they will have for them ;) but yet as the good they have experienced by them, was from the divine blessing, so the praise of all must be entirely ascribed to the divine being.
XI. How ought such as God is calling to, and are engaging in the ministerial work, to do it in the strength of heaven; and with an entire dependence on help from above? Verily, they that are like to be most serviceable in this work, will be most humble in their own eyes, will have the greatest sense of their own nothingness; and after all their study and pains; after their learning and knowledge; after all their attainments and qualifications, their language will be agreeable with that, "Unto me who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? I will go in the strength of the Lord; I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only. If thy presence go not with me, carry me not up hence: but if the Lord will be with me, and prosper me in the work that I go about, praise shall wait for thee, O God, and unto thee shall the vow be performed."
XII. Is it as you have heard? Let those of us whom God has put into the ministry, with an entire dependence upon Heaven, endeavor, and this more and more, the conversion, edification, yea, and salvation of souls: let us be sure to see to it, that we ourselves are converted, that so when we have preached unto others, we ourselves may not be castaways. When we have been made keepers of the vineyard, may not be found not to have kept our own vineyard. And let us use all possible means and endeavors, that ourselves be edified; that ourselves be built up in our most holy faith; that we ourselves be lively and thriving Christians; and then let us do our uttermost to convert and edify, and save others. Let us endeavor to be so in our studies, so in our pulpits, so in our visits, so in our whole conversation, that we may be in the way to attain this great end. In our studies let us be most diligent, that so we may provide the most agreeable doctrines, find out such acceptable words as may both please and profit. In our pulpits let us be vigorous; in our visits, advantageous and in our whole walk and deportment, most circumspect and exemplary; and if God will please to make us useful, and any way advantageous in the converting, and for the edification and building up of souls, as he will have glory, so we shall, as
the apostle speaks, Rom. xv. 17, have whereof we may glory through Jesus Christ, in those things which pertain to God. For undoubtedly the success of our labors, is our most solid reputation: and that minister has the best and greatest name, that is most beneficial and advantageous to the souls of men.
Finally. When those who are called to the ministerial office are very young, how ought the people that call them to that office, to do all they can, that so they may be a means for the converting and edification of souls? In all those ways (in which it is proper for them) people should endeavor to be helpful to their ministers. Most remarkable are the words of David, 1 Chron. xxix. 1. "Solomon, my son, whom alone God hath chosen, is yet young and tender. And the work is great, v. 5. And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?" When such as are chosen and called to this great work are young and tender, certainly every one should consecrate his service (in what is suitable for him) for the carrying on the work of God.
I shall therefore close with one word to the church and congregation in this town, who have called a person that is young to the pastoral office among them, and whom the Lord has inclined to accept their invitation; and who is now solemnly to be separated to the work whereto he is called.
Honored, reverend and beloved in our Lord Jesus Christ :
What remains but that you receive him as a minister of the gospel; a gift received by Christ of his Father for you, and now graciously bestowed upon you. That you look upon him not only as a minister of the gospel, but as your minister, set by the Lord of the harvest to labor amongst you; set by the Great Shepherd over you, to feed and rule you. Our hearts' desire and prayer to God for him is, that he may so plant and water, as that there may be an abundant increase; that the seed which shall be sown, may be blessed to the bringing forth of fruit, thirty, sixty, yea an hundred fold.
And for yourselves, that you will hold him in reputation, that you esteem him very highly in love, and be at peace among yourselves. "O how good and how pleasant is it for brethren to dwell together in unity!" Give him double honor, do not readily be offended at hin, do not easily be prejudiced against him; have a care of grieving him, and making his heart sad; encourage him to your uttermost in his work; let him have a continual remembrance in your supplications to God. And endeavor above all, to improve and be fruitful under his ministry. Let sinners fear to remain in an unconverted state. And let such as have been enabled to receive Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, rooted and
built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, (and we trust you shall still be taught,) abounding therein with thanksgiving. Be deeply humbled this day that you profited no more under the former means which you were blessed withal, and endeavor to do better for the time to come. Let such as are in their early time, be persuaded to remember their Creator; and let such as are qualified for special ordinances, and as yet have not attended their duty, make haste and delay no longer, as to their coming to the same and let those who have for some time (it may be long) enjoyed those ordinances, see to it that they flourish in the courts of God, that they bring forth fruit in old age. Oh! how will this rejoice the faithful ministers of Christ, to see their people walking in the truth; when sinners are converted, and converts are edified and built up under our ministry, what greater joy and comfort can we have in this world? And these will be matter of joy and rejoicing to their faithful ministers in the day of Christ so the apostle tells his Philippians, it is the argument he uses to influence them to a holy and blameless life, Chap. ii. 15, 16. "That ye may be blameless and harmless, as the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life, that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain." And how does he express his esteem of his Thessalonians, and benefit he expected from them? 1 Thess. ii. 19, 20. "For what is our hope or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy." Oh! that it might be thus as to all our people, and the Lord grant that it may be thus as to you of Bristol in particular. AMEN and AMEN!
A Sermon, delivered at the Thursday Lecture in Boston, May 2, 1723, and entitled, "A Good Character, or a Walk with God Characterized, with some Dues paid unto the Memory of Mr. Joseph Belcher, the late Reverend and Excellent Pastor of Dedham, who expired April 27, 1723," concludes with the following paragraphs:
But for our more particular and effectual application of what has been thus insisted on, I have a sorrowful invitation to introduce a very eminently righteous, and sincere and singular servant of God, and walker with him, who bath shone among us as the moon among the lesser lamps, and to exhibit his bright example before you.
Antiquity gave that gloss upon the order to the prophet, “Lift up thy voice like a trumpet." Why like a trumpet, rather than like the thunder? Because for a trumpet, the hand as well as the mouth is applied in the using of it.
We have had an excellent preacher of a walk with God, who was an excellent pattern of what he preached unto us: God has newly taken to himself one who walked with him; one who lived what he spoke, who did what he taught, and was a walker in the path of the righteous, as well as a preacher of righteousness; and so, one who lifts up his voice like a trumpet, in calling us to that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.
We are commanded, "Remember them who have spoken to you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation." And if we now remember the never-to-beforgotten JOSEPH BELCHER, and follow him in that walk with God; whereof he did more than speak to us from the word of God; and be encouraged by the hope in his death, and the comfortable resignation and serenity which we saw in the end of his conversation; it will be no more than what the commandment of our God has called us to.
Our Saviour having told us, "If any man serve me, him will my Father honor," the honor which we pay to the memory of one worthy to be had in everlasting remembrance, who expended the best spirits of his life, yea, shortened it by being so expensive of them, in the service of that glorious Lord, is to do a work agreeable to his eternal Father; yea it is a work in which the
intention of the Father has part of its accomplishment it is part of the honor intended for him.
If any are of the opinion that the laudable characters given of our departed friends are sometimes misplaced, or sometimes overdone to a degree which is the painting of a dead face, and very much defeats the end that characters are to be given upon, there is not one honest man in the world that will be able truly to charge either of the faults on that which I am now giving, of a man of whom I may say what we read of another, "He hath a good report of all men, and of the truth itself." I will therefore not fear to add,
"We will bear witness of him, and ye know that our witness is true." Such an exemplary walker with God as ought not to go away without the lamentations of our Israel, is come to the period of his pilgrimage. But how short a pilgrimage! Despatched in as few years as there are Sabbaths in a year! A burning and a shining light that must be for no longer a season rejoiced in. To say much in a little on such a subject, and say nothing but what every body must own to be true, is the true stroke of credible panegyric, and the right point of steering, which I shall now keep unto. Briefly then; every body will own the truth of my testimony, when I testify, that my deceased brother was one who deserved all that he received, and it was more than a little that he received of praise in all our churches.
Considered as a Christian, he was a tree of righteousness that had all the fruits of the Holy Spirit, growing with a charming verdure upon him. A very fruitful, watchful, prayerful Christian, and one of those whereof, alas, how few are left! Even as the "shaking of an olive-tree, and the gleaning of grapes, when the vintage is over!" One of the holy set that so lessens every day among us, and the withdraw whereof with so little succession to it, threatens a very dreadful change upon us, and is one of the tokens which they who dwell in the wilderness may tremble at!
But among the articles of his piety, very conspicuous was the well-governed speech, and the management of the helm, with which he very much prevented what in the computation of the ancients, makes half the sins of our lives. He spoke so little, and what he spoke had such a guard upon it, and he had such an evident aversion for evil speaking, generally choosing to speak nothing of them who could not have much good spoken of them, that I may truly say, to speak with the tongue of men and angels, (men possessed by angels,) were not a glory equal with that of having a tongue under such an holy regulation.
A gentlemanly temper and carriage, with a sweetness of disposition which was a varnish upon these virtues in him, added yet more lustre unto them, and unto the praises of Him who enriched him and adorned him with them.