« AnteriorContinuar »
from considering, that to you likewise days will certainly come, (unless you are suddenly snatched out of life) when you will say and feel that the world, and all in it, can afford you no pleasure. But there is a Saviour, and a mighty One, always near, always gracious to those who seek him. May you, like her, be enabled to choose him, as the Guide of your youth, and the Lord of your hearts. Then, like her, you will find support and comfort under affliction, wisdom to direct your conduct, a good hope in death, and by death a happy translation to everlasting life.
I have only to add my prayer, that a blessing from on high may descend upon the persons and families of all my friends, and upon all into whose hands this paper may providentially come.
JOHN NEWTON. Charles' Square Hoxton, Oct. 13, 1785.
SUBJECT AND TEMPER OF THE GOSPEL MINISTRY:
PREACHED IN THE
PARISH CHURCH OF ST. MARY WOOLNOTH,
ON SUNDAY, DECEMBER 19, 1779.
THE DAY OF HIS FIRST PUBLIC SERVICE IN THAT CHURCH,
JOHN NEWTON, RECTOR.
Being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.—1 Thess. ii. 8.
(FIRST PRINTED IN 1780:)
TO THE INHABITANTS
OF THE PARISHES OF
ST. MARY WOOLNOTH AND ST. MARY WOOLCHURCH,
THIS SERMON IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED AND PRESENTED,
BY THEIR AFFECTIONATE SERVANT
IN THE GOSPEL,
THE SUBJECT AND TEMPER OF THE GOSPEL MINISTRY.
EPHESIANS, iv. 15.
-Speaking the truth in love.
The words in the original have a more comprehensive sense than in our version, AANBEVOUTES EV ayarn. They extend no less to conduct than to speech ; and comprise, in one short sentence, that combination of integrity and benevolence which constitute the character of a true Christian. But as our morning service has been already much prolonged, I mean not to enlarge at present upon this important subject. I propose my text rather as a kind of motto, to introduce a brief account of the feelings, desires, and purposes of my heart, on this my first appearance before you. The inhabitants of these parishes, to whom I more immediately address myself, have a right to be informed, now the providence of God has placed me in this city, and in this church, of the views with which I have undertaken the important trust lately committed to me, and of the manner and spirit in which it is my desire to discharge it. If these inquiries be upon any of your minds, accept my answer in the words I have read; I came, and by the grace of God, I hope to abide amongst you, “ speaking the truth in love."
I should be utterly unworthy your attention, I should deserve your contempt and detestation, if, under the solemn character of a minister of Jesus Christ, and with a professed regard for his service and the good of souls, I should presume to speak any thing amongst you, but what I verily believe in my conscience to be the truth. The apostles were ambassadors for Christ,* and we, however inferior in other respects, are so far concerned in this part
of their character, as to be equally bound to conform to the instructions of our Lord and Master. The Bible is the grand repository of the truths which it will be the business and the pleasure of my life to set before you. It is the complete system of divine truth, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be taken,t with impunity. Every attempt to disguise or soften any branch of this truth, in order to accommodate it to the prevailing taste around us, either to avoid the displeasure, or to court the favour, of our fellow mortals, must be an affront to the majesty of God, and an act of treachery to men. My conscience bears me witness, that I mean to speak the truth among you. The principal branches of the truth as it is in Jesus,” according to St. Paul's expression, are summarily contained in the Articles, which I have just now read and given my solemn assent to in your hearing. These I acknowledge and adopt as a standard of sound doctrine, not merely because they are the Articles of our church, but because, upon mature and repeated examination, I am persuaded they are agreeable to the Scripture. I am to enlarge on the declarations of the Scripture and of the Articles concerning the depravity of fallen man, the evil of sin, the method of salvatiou by grace, through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. I am to bear testimony to the dignity and excellency of the Redeemer's person and characters, the suitableness of his offices, the efficacy of his blood, and obedience to death on the behalf of sinners, and his glory as Head of the church, and Lord of heaven and earth. I am to set before you the characters, obligations, and privileges of those who believe in his name ; and to prove that the doctrines of the grace of God are doctrines according to godliness, which, though they may be abused by men of corrupt minds, have in themselves, when rightly understood, a direct and powerful tendency to enforce universal obedience to the commads of God, and to promote the peace and welfare of civil society. I am likewise to warn all who hear me, of the sin and danger of rejecting the great salva. tion revealed by the Gospel. These will be the subject of my ministry; and, if what I shall offer upon these heads be agreeable not only to the articles which I have subscribed, but to the Scriptures, which we all profess to believe, it must of course be admitted that I shall speak the truth.
* Cor. v. 80.
Rev. xxii. 18,19.
But the cause of truth itself may be discredited by improper management; and, therefore, the Scripture, which furnishes us with subject matter for our ministry, and teaches us what we are to say, is equally explicit as to the temper and spirit in which we are to speak. Though I had the knowledge of all mysteries,* and the tongue of an angel to declare them, I could hope for little acceptance or usefulness, unless I was to speak “ in love.” The Gospel is a declaration of the astonishing love of God to mankind; it exhibits the perfect exemplar of love in the character of Him who, when upon earth in the form of a servant, “went about doing goodt and exerted the most unbounded benevolence to all around him. The servant of the Lord, of that meek and merciful Sayiour, who wept over his avowed enemies, and prayed for his actual murderers while nailing him to the cross, learns at his Sav. iours feet to bear a cordial love to all mankind. Man, considered as the creature of God, is the noblest and most important of his works in the visible creation, formed by him who originally made * 1 Cor.
| Acts, X. 38.