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do better for yourself, or for your church and congregation, than to spend one day, at least, in private fasting and prayer, and in reviewing the mercies of your whole life, before you enter upon the duties and trials of the pastoral office. It cannot but be exceedingly interesting at this solemn moment, to member all the ways in which the Lord thy God hath ied thee, these seven and twenty years to humble thee and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldst keep his commandments, or
Methinks I can see you upon your knees, in your closet, while I am writing this letter, and hear you breathe out the sentiments of the following prayer.
O thou infinite Source of being and of blessedness; wilt thou suffer thine unworthy servant to come to the throne of grace in the way of thine own appointment, even through Jesus Christ, who is the
the truth and the life. I thank thee that I was not born in a heathen land. I thank thee that I was not taught in childhood to bow down before stocks and stones; but that my infant tongue was taught to lisp, “Our Father who art in heaven," before I could "discern between my right hand and my left.” I thank thee that while many other children about me were left to grow up in ignorance and vice, I was taught to fear God and keep his commandments, to keep the sabbath and reverence the sanctuary. I thank thee that when I was a giddy and thoughtless boy, I was guided, guarded and restrained by parental watchfulness and solicitude. I bless thee for all
. the advantages of education in the family, in the
school, in the academy, and in the college ; and I thank and praise thee that when I was impenitent, and stupid, and wandering, and loving to wander from the right way, thou wast pleased in infinite mercy, to pour out thy spirit upon the institution with which I was connected, and to arrest my attention; to show me the desperate wickedness of my heart, and as I humbly trust, to make me “ willing in the day of thy power."
O thou Infinite Redeemer, I bless and praise thee, that when I cried, “Lord what wilt thou have me to do ?” my feet were directed to the Seminary in A-, and that there I enjoyed such excellent advantages for spiritual, as well as intellectual and professional improvement. I thank thee that my forfeited life and health were spared, and that in due time I was licensed to preach the gospel. I thank thee that I found so much undeserved favor among the churches, in my occasional labors, before I came to this place, and “ I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted ine faithful,” as I humbly hope he has in some small degree, “putting me into the ministry.”
But, O Lord, what am I, or my father's house, that thou hast bestowed this honor upon me? Why was I taken, while others, far less unworthy, were left? Why am I here, and not a miserable dissipated prodigal, starving upon husks ? Why was I not cut off in my impenitence, and why am I not now in the world of blasphemy and despair, instead of being called to “ beseech sinners in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God ?" O Lord God, thou knowest ; and I know
that it is infinite mercy which has made me to differ from the vilest outcast on earth, or the most miserable reprobate in hell.
And now, O Lord, here I am in all my unworthiness, in all my unfitness, just introduced into the pastoral office. It was but yesterday that I heard thy voice, “O son of man I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel, therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” But, “Oh Lord, behold I cannot speak, for I am a child.” How shall I go out and come in before this people ? I can do nothing in my own strength; wilt thou strengthen me. I am a man of unclean lips; wilt thou touch my lips with a live coal from off thine altar. Wilt thou, O Lord, endow me with a double portion of thy spirit. Wilt thou put thoughts into my heart and words into my mouth. Wilt thou clothe me with righteousness and salvation, that thy saints may shout aloud for joy. Suffer me not to be deterred by frowns nor allured by flatteries, from making full proof of my ministry. In preaching the word, and in the discharge of every pastoral duty wilt thou make me faithful unto death, and then bestow upon me a crown of life, through the infinite merits of Jesus Christ, “to whom be glory in the church, throughout all ages, world without end, Amen.''
" Very affectionately, &c.
MY DEAR E.
now affectionately and faithfully “speak unto you, that you go forward.” Life is short. The work to which you have been set apart is a great work, and you have no time to lose. On the next Lord's day, you will meet your people for the first time in the sanctuary, as their pastor and minister. You have met them there often; but it was before you was set over them in the Lord. If rightly improved, it will be a day long to be remembered by them and by you. You will then, if the Lord spares your life and health, enter publicly and solemnly upon your ministry in L- It will be an eventful occasion-a golden opportunity for laying out your work, and making the right impression. Your church and congregation will come together, expecting to hear appropriate introductory discourses, and prepared to listen candidly to such an outline of your reciprocal duties, as the occasion calls for, and as is sanctioned by immemorial usage.
Such another opportunity will never return. Once lost, therefore, it will be lost forever. You may have deeper hold upon the affections and confidence of your people, five or ten years hence, than you have
But there is nothing exactly like the first love” of a church and people to the man of their choice, when the tender recollections of his ordination
are all fresh in their minds. If he is young and inexperienced, they feel for him, and are ready, as by common consent, to say, when he comes to them with his commission fresh from the court of heaven, “ Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear whatever is commanded thee of God.”
The two leading topics of your first sabbath, will be your own duties as a minister and pastor, and the duties of your people.
In regard to yourself, let me advise you, my dear son, to be perfectly frank and explicit in stating your views, with regard to what the great Head of the church expects and requires of you, as a gospel minister. Keep back nothing. Lay open your whole heart. The people will love you the better for it, and have the more confidence in you, as long as they live, even though your doctrines should not please them all. Men universally love to know before hand, what they are to expect. You will recollect, that while you was preaching as a candidate, I strongly advised you to exhibit a faithful outline of your theological opinions, so that every man might act understandingly upon the question of giving you a call. I presume you did. But now, something more will be expected. All your hearers may not agree with you, on every point: it would be singular if they should ; but all will respect you the more, for a clear and conscientious statement of the views and feelings with which you enter upon your great work.
First of all, settle it both with your church and congregation, that you hold yourself responsible to God, and not to man, for the system of doctrines