« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
In addition to the regular stipulations proposed in my settlement, many of you, my brethren and friends, have often administered to my necessities. Ye have not only said, "Be ye warmed and filled," but ye have also given "those things which are needful to the body." And although there was not a trumpet sounded before you, in these acts of charity, yet be assured, the smallest of them have been noticed, and are placed on record as a token of gratitude. They are not only written with pen and ink, but they are also engraved on the tablet of a grateful heart.
When, ah! sad recollection, but in justice to brotherly love I name it; when pale sickness visited any family, and the king of terrors called from my bosom the object of my affection, the interest which my particular friends and neighbors took in my affliction, and the many acts of kindness and needful favors shewn at the time, have made too deep an impression ever to be erased from my memory, till this most feeling heart forgets to be grateful. Her remains, with the last fruit of her womb, being deposited in the same grave, are left with you. The embellished marble, which distinguishes the spot, I leave as a lasting monument of my affection, and as a testimony of your respect.
But it would be a criminal neglect in me, should I omit to mention in this place, the many kind respects which have been shewn to my present partner in life, (who would have been happy to have spent her days with you,) and the peculiar attention that has been paid to our children, some of whom are already old enough to begin to experience the happy effects of brotherly love.
Time would fail me, nor will it be expected on this occasion that I should mention every token of respect or mark of kindness, but there is one circumstance more, which I am unwilling to pass over. Your giving me, for three years successively a seat in the Legislature, I consider not only a mark of your confidence, but a token of sincere respect; which has met my full satisfaction, and merits my grateful acknowledgments.
The cordial agreement, and continued marks of brotherly love in the church, is also a circumstance highly worthy of notice. Not a single complaint has been offered, not a single labor has been had with a brother or sister, during my ministry in this place, as will appear from the records. It
is true, to our great regret, we have been under the painful necessity of dismissing one brother, by his own request, for reasons best known to himself; but we humbly trust, that when brotherly love shall have had its full operation, the breach will be healed, and he will return to his first love. For, like Onesimus, of whom Paul writes to Philemon, "perhaps he, therefore, departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him forever; not as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved"*
The punctuality in fulfilling your engagements with me, has been such as to meet my satisfaction. Although it has not been at all times so prompt as could have been wished, yet in the end it is presumed there will be no failure. And if there has been a little remissness in a few individuals, which rendered it necessary for me to go abroad, and to be absent from my family more than was convenient, yet by this means several vacant societies have been supplied in some degree with preaching, which otherwise, perhaps, would have been wholly destitute. And it appears now, that this remissness of a few, has eventually turned to my own benefit ; and whether to the advantage, or disadvantage, of those who possibly meant it unto evil, time alone will determine. However the inattention of a few shall never make me forget the kindness of many; and my only desire and sincere prayer to God for those who have neglected their duty, is that, being sufficiently humbled, the neglect in them to exercise a spirit of brotherly love may be overruled for their own good; even as the neglect of brotherly love in Joseph's brethren, eventually terminated (but no thanks to them,) to their own advantage.
Finally, brethren, your condescension in dismissing me, agreeably to my request, and pursuant to the call which I have received, it being apparently very contrary to your wishes, I consider an act of brotherly love. It was indeed in your power to have prevented it for one year, which, per, haps, would have prevented it finally, for in that time, the Society in Charlestown, might possibly have been otherwise supplied. But in this you have looked beyond your own private interest. You have consulted my feelings and interest, and the interest of the cause in general, as well as your
Phile. 15: 16.
own. The cause and interest of the Redeemer are one; and whoever feels interested in that cause must be condescending. It appears that I may be more extensively useful there than by remaining here, and a permanent establishment with my family is what I have ever desired. It is true, I may now be disappointed, but the prospect, and my prayers, are otherwise. All these things, I presume, have had their proper weight in your minds; and their forcible operation is that which has given so ready an answer to my request. In all this I see evident tokens of brotherly love. And these concurring circumstances; these marks of friendship, and the harmony in which we have lived, notwithstanding the pleasing prospect before me, render my departure almost insupportable!
Such an amicable separation, where there has been such a general satisfaction, is a circumstance which but rarely happens. I say general satisfaction; because we have divine authority in considering those "who are not against us, on our part ;" and therefore, notwithstanding the remissness, before mentioned, we may justly consider those, who have not been so opposed as to support a different doctrine, as being silently in our favor; and if I may draw a comparison from the few sabbaths, on which you have had preaching of any other denomination, I shall be justified in saying, there has been a general satisfaction: and as it respects those who are full in the faith, I know of no exception. My only desire is, that the same spirit of brotherly love may still continue; and although it has become expedient that we should separate, may this not be a means of lessening our affection; but may we still keep the "unity of the Spirit, in the bonds of peace."
My regret at the thoughts of leaving you would be considerably lessened, could I but fix my eyes on one who would be my successor; one who would so dispense the dew drops of divine grace, as not only to keep the church and society together, but to insure a gradual increase. And such an one, I humbly trust, I have recently had in view; one who has already labored with you in word and doctrine; one who is endued with peculiar gifts, and capable of much improvement; one who bids fair to be very useful in the cause; and, in my opinion, would be an ornament to any
society and could a door of utterance be opened for him here, and he be disposed to go in thereat, my jey would be full.
But I must, though reluctantly, draw towards a close. can say with the apostle, "I have kept back nothing which I thought that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house." "I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or' apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have administered unto my necessities." "Wherefore," notwithstanding my many imperfections, and moral infirmities," I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For (according to the best of my abilities) I have not shuned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." And although I hope to have the pleasure of visiting you occasionally, yet it is very possible, and perhaps probable, that many of you, "among whom I have preached the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more." And grievous indeed would it be unto me, if "after my departing, grievous wolves should enter in among you, not sparing the flock." But, brethren, I hope better things of you. I trust that you will "stand fast in that liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and not be entangled again in the yoke of bondage." "And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among them which are sanctified."*
May you ever keep the cause of Christ nigh your hearts; and may the best of heaven's blessings ever attend you. May you soon be blest with another pastor; and may my successor, whoever he shall be, be more successful in disseminating the light and truth of the gospel, and building up the cause and kingdom of Christ, than I have been. May the doctrine of God our Saviour, which embraces the best good of each individual of moral nature, ever drop from this desk like the rain, and distil like the dew; and may you often meet within these walls to hear the life giving word of divine grace dispensed, to unite in humble supplication to the giver of every good and perfect gift, and to tune your hearts and voices in hymning doxologies of praise and thanksgiving to God and the Lamb. And may you
*See Acts, Chap. 20.
never lose sight of that glorious period, which the beloved apostle, John, saw in vision, when " every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea," shall burst forth into one extatic song of thanksgiving and praise, saying, “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever."*
Finally, brethren, may I be supported, while I bid you all an affectionate FAREWELL. "Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with and bless you;" which may God grant for the sake of Jesus Christ his Son, and our Redeemer. AMEN AND AMEN.
DELIVERY OF THE SCRIPTURES AND CHARGE TO THE REV: ABNER KNEELAND, BY THE REY. THOMAS JONES.
GOD who at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past, unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, said the apostle Paul. This Holy Bible is the history of the divers manners" and "sundry times, by and in which, God spoke unto the fathers by the prophets and of what he hath spoken unto us by his Son. The chosen similitades of this book, represent that there was an original and supernatural revelation from God to man: but that man soon and very early deviated from the marked path of wisdom and the dispensation of the Gospel, is the medium of regenerating man into the truth of eternal life hid in God from the beginning.-The medium of bringing man to the original design of God in his formation, even to the knowledge of the life and immortality brought to light in Christ, in favor of mankind, his many brethren who were given this grace of heavenly immortality in Christ, before the foundation of the world. And all the dispensations recorded in this book, develope God's original, immutable design, to raise mankind his off
* Rev. 5, 13.