Page images

were more daring for God, we should be more successful. We are often pale-faced cowards: we are thrown in the way of worldly men ; we have an opportunity of speaking for God; the occasion demands it; the men of the world expect it from us; they know what our principles are, they know what our conduct ought to be; but we are afraid of giving offence. Is a skilful surgeon afraid of giving offence when he tells the patient that such and such means must be instantly adopted or life is in jeopardy, that life is good for nothing, that it will be sacrificed if such and such means are not instantly adopted? And why is he listened to so thankfully? Why is he listened to so thankfully? And why are his means, however distressing and painful, readily submitted to? For this reason; that men know the value of their bodies; but, God knows, they don't know the value of their souls. No; men do not know the value of the never-dying soul--the soul that must exist to all eternity in conscious happiness or in conscious woe! Why then are we not more valiant for truth in the world? Why are we not more bold and daring to take a decided step, whatever may be the consequences to ourselves—a decided step, when called to do it in the way of duty? Lastly, with regard to the similarity of the case, let us hope that our attempt in the name of the Lord may also be crowned with success. If Samson asked for help from God, it was a peculiar juncture; it was a crisis in the history of the man and in the history of the nation. He called upon God to help him; God heard his prayer, and endowed him with supernatural strength: he made the mighty effort, and God gave the mighty blessing. And what was the result you well know.

Such, then, was the case of Samson. He did not go, trusting in himself. It was a day of great trial and of great difficulty, but it was a day of daring faith, of mighty effort in entire dependence upon God. Brethren, what a solemn spectacle do we present, assembled for the last time as a pastor and a flock! Behold, here we are gathered together. We must meet again; but where? At the bar of the final Judge of quick and dead. We must meet together, but for what purpose? To pray and to preach? No; to be judged for the deeds done in the body. The great white throne shall be set; the dead, small and great, shall appear before God; the judgment shall be set, and the books shall be opened; and every soul of man now present, and every soul of man that hath ever lived, shall be there: you and I shall consequently be there. Brethren, are there not some who, if they were to die to-night, would be eternally lost? I would to God I could think that were not so it would rejoice my

soul to leave a people, all of whom I could hope, in the judgment of charity, were devoted to God. But I pray you remember the words, "Examine yourselves whether ye be of the faith." Do not be content except with satisfactory evidence. Go into the matter thoroughly; try your own hearts; judge your own selves; for, if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged of the Lord.

The effort on the present occasion you know, and I know, is one made under deep affliction. At first I thought that one sermon this day would be as much as I ought to preach; but I considered that time was short, and eternity was long. I began to think, "Who knows but some who have never before listened to the word may listen to it now? Who knows but some that have turned a deaf car hitherto, may now, in answer to my people's prayers, receive the Holy Spirit, and begin to live a new and a holy life?"

But let me turn to the points of DISSIMILARITY. Samson, led by the Spirit of God to punish the wickedness of the Philistines, was seeking their destruction: heaven knows that we are seeking your salvation. We do wish indeed to bring you down, but it is in order to raise you up: we do wish to alarm you, but it is in order subsequently to comfort you: we do wish to shew you your danger, but it is in order to lead you to flee for refuge to the hope set before you in the Gospel.

Again, Samson came to avenge injuries that had been offered unto him we come to return thanks for many acts of kindness shown to us and yet why do we not spend the greater part of our sermon in acknowledging those things? Because we feel we have something more important to do. Many a soul is at stake now within these sacred walls. I could go up to some persons, if it were proper, if the decencies and proprieties of life permitted it, I could go up to some persons, and I could say to some, "You are the man that I have been seeking to bring down in the sense of sin, and to lead you to call upon God." I could go up to another, and I could say, "I have watched "I have watched you narrowly; I have seen how you have been going on, and I am forced to report this; that I leave you with a heart as hard as a rock; I leave you with a heart as cold as ice; I leave you as far from God almost as it is possible to be on this side the grave." I could say so to some; and I could say so to some who have been very kind to me; I could say so to some who have been most respectful to me; I could say so to some who have sought to make my cup overflow with comfort: and O what do I want? To see them drinking of the cup of salvation; to see them

tasting of the waters of life; to see them receiving the consolations of the Holy Spirit. I come then to make the effort: I know that all that man can do is in vain, and therefore I say, "Strengthen me, O strengthen me this once, O God." It is the last effort. Yes, there are many in this church of whom I believe they will never hear my feeble voice any more as long as they live, warning them of their danger, and telling them where to look for help and salvation. Ah, brethren! if God do not help us, we are met together in vain. I have lived long enough to learn this, that the good that is done on the earth, the Lord doth it himself; that vain are all human efforts : we may preach, and you may pray; but unless it please Almighty God to send down his Holy Spirit, all our efforts are in vain.

Further, Samson, in offering up the prayer that he did offer, and in making the effort that he did make, spread death and desolation around him; we wish to spread life and salvation around us. We believe, that if our people pray for us, our God will bear testimony to the word of his grace. We believe that, inefficient as we are, our God is able to send down such a rich effusion of his Holy Spirit as we have never known before in this place. Come, lift up your hearts. Are there not some parents whose children are here, but they are growing up without religion? Pray for their conversion now. Is there not one case-more than one, two, three, five, or ten-is there not the individual who is deeply interested about some beloved relative-the husband for the wife, or the wife for the husband-the parent for the child, or the child for the parent-the brother for the sister, or the sister for the brother? The word of God has been preached; they have heard sermons delivered; but, alas! alas! there they are as far from God as ever. Can I reach them to-night? No; but if you pray God for me I may. If the truly devout, the truly sincere and consistent Christians will lift up their hearts for a special blessing, and for the parting blessing, I believe before God that a parting blessing and a special blessing will be given. O, it may be replied by the man of the world, "Why need you put yourself so much out of the way for us? Don't be concerned about our souls." No, I would not, if you could be concerned about them yourselves. I could be much more easy, I could be much more peaceful and happy, if I knew that all were under real concern about their everlasting welfare. But how many do I leave just as worldly as ever! At church to-night—at cards to-morrow; in the house of God to-night-in the theatre, perhaps, within twenty-four hours. Gay, trifling, thoughtless creatures, passing rapidly through this world in their way to another,

[ocr errors]

unconvinced, unconverted, and then, by and bye, the stroke of death comes; they feel themselves prisoners under his grasp; they try to shake it off; but there is no shaking it off: and what then? Then the clergy are sent for; then, all in a few hours, the work of conversion is to be hurried through; persons are to be satisfied of their eternal state; they then look for the consolations of religion. Ah! my dear hearers, don't deceive yourselves; if you live a worldly life, you must expect to die a dreadful death; if you turn away your ears from listening to the Gospel now, don't expect consolation from the Gospel in the hour and moment of your deepest horror. "Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh ;" and you know whose words they are. They are, perhaps, the most dreadful words in the Bible; because they are words of Almighty God, the God of infinite pity and of infinite mercy-making mock of the sinner who had long refused this mercy before, making mock of the sinner in the day of his distress, and refusing to listen to his prayer. Brethren, do not trifle with God; do not trifle with the preached Gospel. Remember, this is a matter for your life; and God Almighty give you grace that you may listen to it.

But here is my hope: I do anticipate that some who have hitherto been careless and unconcerned, and to whom I have been able to render no spiritual good, may from my successor receive the word of life and truth. Yes, you are not going to be deprived in this place of a faithful ministry. Let me give you this as my parting advice: stand by your minister; hold up his hands, cheer his heart: he will preach the better for it let him see a united people, and he will come among you with the greater delight. Let him find that you are ever glad to support the varied and various objects of religious charity which he brings before you: I hope I shall never hear that the collections of St. Mark's decline: I hope I shall always find this report concerning you, that you keep up your good character, your good character for Christian liberality. But above all, pray for him; above all, I say, pray for him, if you want to get a blessing for your own souls. Pray for your minister: I will engage he will come among you in the spirit of prayer. A truly Christian letter, which I had from him when first the matter was announced to him, told me the spirit and temper of the man of God who is coming to labour in this place. At the same time I doubt not your prayers will follow my dear fellow-labourer in the Gospel who is going to

be curate at the mother church. I am sure we all must feel under great obligations to him for the faithful and laborious manner in which he has discharged the duties of his ministry while he has been amongst you. It is somewhat distressing to think that we have both been recently called to suffer the same affliction; and our sorrows and our trials have called forth the sympathy of our people in a way that I believe we shall both never forget to the day of eternity. Yes, so hold up your new minister; comfort his heart, sympathize with him in his sorrows, if God visits him with them; and show him that he has a people on whose love and whose liberality he may calculate.

But to turn back to the subject before us: the effort of Samson was a last effort. How many Sunday nights, when that clock has stood whereabouts it now stands, approaching the hour of eighthow many Sunday nights for nine years have I looked round upon this congregation, or at least the congregation assembling in this place, and thought thus: What has been done this sabbath-day? What wanderers have been reclaimed? What mourners have been comforted? What saints have been edified in their most holy faith? What has been done? And then, as we have usually concluded at the hour of eight, I have thought thus-Another sabbath is over: and thus-Another sabbath is over. There came first our sabbaths for eighteen hundred and twenty-eight, and then for twenty-nine, and then for thirty, and so on even until now and how many who used to worship with us have gone to their eternal reward! O that it may please God (for that is the burden of my prayer tonight)—O that it may please God to grant that some might this night be called effectually by the power of the Spirit to forsake their sins, and to turn to God. How many young people do I leave behind me without any thing like saving religion! You who are to be the parents of another generation, and to rise before long to take the place of fathers and mothers going off the stage of life. O my dear young friends, often have I in this place tried to seize hold of the youthful heart; and, thank God, it has not been told you in vain. I was yesterday looking over a large packet of pastoral letters received from my flock, and I could not help shedding tears of joy and gratitude for the number of young men whose religious history was therein brought before me, who once were darkness, but who now are light in the Lord-who once were afar off, but are brought nigh by the blood of Christ. Samson made his feeble effort; and what was the consequence? Some who came to make sport were the very persons who fell in consequence of his prayer. And who can tell but that some poor scoffer who came within these sacred walls

« PreviousContinue »