|Thomas Smyth's Pastoral Charge|
|It is an apt analogy, though one we might otherwise overlook. Smyth also notes that in principle he disagrees with the idea of a co-pastorate, but that in this case he rejoices, given Thornwell's gifts and abilities and in light of the freedom this arrangement will provide Thornwell in his professorial duties:|
The pastoral charge presented here begins in good Presbyterian fashion with a laying of the groundwork. Smyth succinctly, yet convincingly explains the nature and order of ordination to office in the church. He states:
"Ordination does not create an office. It does not impart fitness for an office... It does not confer authority upon the office or officers,...Ordination therefore, is the solemn ratification of this ascertained call of Christ, by His church,... The importance of ordination is, therefore, apparent. No one ought to take upon himself the office of the ministry without a lawful calling."
Smyth's pastoral charge surveys the scope of pastoral career, its pitfalls and challenges, but rises to it's high point with it's definition of the Gospel and a rousing clarion call to preach "this glorious Gospel of good news":
|Concluding the text is the charge to
the people. Smyth is brief in his words to the people, yet to the
point. It is interesting to note that in the last paragraph, he says
his own days must surely be short. Born in 1808, he would have been
only 52 or 53 years old at the time, and was but four years older
than Thornwell. Yet he outlived Thornwell by eleven years and died
It will also be noted from the title page that the larger portion of this pamphlet is missing, namely, the sermon by Dr. John L. Girardeau. The text of that sermon would have occured on pages 1-27 of the pamphlet, but is missing from the text on hand at the PCA Historical Center. Efforts are being made to locate a copy of the missing text.
Smyth's pastoral and congregational charges serve as excellent models for pastors who may be themselves called upon to bring a charge someday to minister or people. For those who do not know the Presbyterian system well, this text provides a wonderfully brief, yet complete education into the nature and substance of ordination, pastoral responsibility, and congregational duty. In short, it is a message which well-deserves reprinting here, one which has been overlooked for too long.
[Every effort has been made in the Adobe PDF formated version of the text to provide an exact rendering of the original and to reproduce as nearly as possible the size, layout and margins of that text. All transcription and commentary by Wayne Sparkman, Director of the PCA Historical Center.]
ON THE OCCASION OF THE
ORDINATION OF THE REV. F.P. MULLALLY,
INSTALLATION OF REV. J.H. THORNWELL, D.D.,
AND REV. F.P. MULLALLY,
First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, S.C.
BY REV. JOHN L. GIRARDEAU
BY REV. THOMAS SMYTH, D.D.
MAY 4TH, 1860.
PUBLISHED BY THE CONGREGATION.
STEAM-PRESS OF ROBERT M. STOKES
Before proceeding to the service of ordination and installa-tion Dr. SMYTH said that in view of the very peculiar nature of the combined services now to be performed, he would endeavour to state clearly their nature and the order to be followed.
This is not merely an occasion of solemn service and Divine worship. It is the association of all that is awful and Divine with the exercise of the highest power, both of order and jurisdiction, by the Presbytery as the primary delegated court of the church.
1. In its joint character, as composed of a senate and a house of delegates,that is, of ministers and elders or representatives of the peopleall that is required for ordination and installation has been jointly accomplished.
A call has been received from this church for the services of Dr. THORNWELL, as senior pastor, and of Mr. MULLALLY, as junior pastor, which, being found orderly, was put into their hands, and by them accepted.
All the necessary examinations were made and approved, and this occasion appointed for the ordination of Mr. MULLALLY, and for the installation of both Dr. THORNWELL and Mr. MULLALLY.
2. Ordination constitutes the person ordained a minister of the
Gospel. Installation constitutes an ordained minister the
pastor of a particular congregation. Ordination establishes the ministerial relation to the church at largeanywhere and every-where. Installation establishes the pastoral relation between
[28 THE NATURE AND ORDER OF ORDINATION]
minister and the people of a particular church. Mr. MULLALLY is now,
therefore, to be first ordained a minister, and
then both he and Dr. THORNWELL are to be installed as the joint pastors of this church.
3. Ordination may be exalted too high, and also sunk too low.
Ordination is not the communication of Apostolic prerogatives, nor of miraculous power, nor of inherent grace, qualifications, or of vicarious authority. Not merely Apostles but Evangelists, (1 Tim. 3:1, 12, 15, and 45:1-3 [sic, >13:1-3]), Prophets (Acts 43:1-3) [sic, >13:1-3], teachers, (ibid), and presbyters, (1 Tim. 4:14), could and did ordain; and as these were all of the order of presbyters the claim of men who call themselves, to the exclusion of presbyters, the successors of the Apostles, is baseless, both as it regards fact and reason.
Neither did ordination by the Apostles convey ordinarily or necessarily any miraculous or supernatural gift, but in every case pre-supposed the existence of gifts and graces qualifying for the office, as in the case of the Deacons, (Acts 6:3), of Bar-nabas and Saul, (Acts 13:1-3, with Acts 11, 24, and 9:17) and of the presbyters. And besides, many of these ordinations were conferred independently of the Apostles.
Scriptural ordination was in all cases the setting apart, to some particular office, of the persons chosen to that office, and qualified for it, and in every case by men in office.
Ordination does not create an office. It does not impart fitness for an office. It does not secure validity to improper acts or unscriptural teaching by those in office. It does not confer authority upon the office or officers, nor directly and immediately call to the office. All this prerogative pertains exclusively to the Lord Jesus Christ, who has already determined the nature, and limits, and qualifications, and duties of the office, and who, also, by His Spirit, Word, and other mediate instrumentalities, call individuals into office.
[CHARGE TO THE PASTORS. 29]
Ordination therefore, is the solemn ratification of this ascertained call of Christ, by His church, in her ecclesiastical jurisdictionthe laying on of hands in scripture being the mode of recognizing and publicly declaring the call and fitness of the person ordained, and for giving precision, prominence, and solemnity, to the particular occasion when investiture with office is consummated.
The importance of ordination is, therefore, apparent. No one ought to take upon himself the office of the ministry without a lawful calling. Ordination secures permanency and succession according to the truth and order of the Gospel.
After these remarks Mr. MULLALLY was ordained in the usual form, and received the right hand of fellowship; and then Dr. THORNWELL and Mr. MULLALLY were installed, and the following charge delivered to them.
Reverend and very dear Brother, and you, my reverend, though much younger Brother, the solemn compact has now been formed and new relations established. Out of twain you have become one, and as such you have been united in bonds of holy spiritual wedlock to this chaste spouse of Christ. How wonderful is the effect of a simple service, legally performed, when two parties who may have been, until recently, strangers to one another, born in different hemispheres, and educated in different faiths, are forever after so identified in all the interests, occupations, and vicissitudes of this mortal life, as to become one flesh, one humanity in its original, complete, and undivided perfection. And how equally admirable that spiritual union now formally ratified between you who are the natives of different continents, the early disciples of such different faiths, and so lately brought to each others intimate knowledge.
[30 CHARGE TO THE PASTORS.]
Our fathers were wont, on occasions of important marriage, to rise to the height of its great argumentas the chief visible emblem of Gods greatest mystery, the wedded and inseparable union of incarnate Deityand to impress holy counsels upon the parties permitted to represent it. And thus is it made my duty to charge upon you the solemn realization of that union now formed by you, so fraught as it is with eventful consequences to yourselves, to this church, and to the church at large. How delicate and how difficult the task! How tame and inappropriate would be any ordinary and general course of remark! And assuredly would I have declined the unknown and inconvenient appointment but for tender love and heart veneration I bear to you my Brother, which have rendered me willing to fail in making the attempt, to fulfill it rather than fail to make that attempt.*
How many, and yet how diverse the relations and consequent responsibilities into which you have now been brought! Let these, therefore, shape our remarks, and that they may be peculiar and pressed upon your hearts and memories, let me indicate them by the letter P. And first, your relations are personal, and involve the necessity of cultivating piety, poverty of spirit, and the bonds of peace.
union is based on individual and undivided personality. You are each alone
before God, moving in your own orbit around the central Sun of righteousness
and dependent upon it for light and life, which must be received and reflected
by your own soul in order that it may become transforming, and the image
of God be formed there in living characters. You live or die, you stand
or fall, you remain in darkness or are changed from glory to glory, shining
more and more unto the perfect day, each one of you by yourself. In this
momentousthis one greatbusiness there can be no union, no
*I was not at Presbytery, and my anniversary and communion had to be postponed.
[CHARGE TO THE PASTORS 31]
The vineyard of the soul must be kept by each, or become unfaithful and
desert. Piety is your life and your power. Success will be measured
by the depth and earnestness of your piety. This life of God in your
soul will be the power of God unto salvation in your ministry. There
is neither official piety nor efficiency without piety. This comes neither
might nor mind, but from my Spirit saith the Lord. Remember, therefore, and reflect,morning, noon, and night, always
and everywhere,that in saving souls gifts are not grace, nor eloquence charity, nor conviction conversion, nor popularity power; and that though you speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and have all faith so that you could remove mountains, and have not charitythe love and
spirit and power of Jesus shed abroad and constraining your soulyou are but sounding brass and tinkling cymbalsyou
At this very season, in the progress of the zodiacal circle, two twin stars appear,
Following in the track of day
In divine delight.
In themselves divided they are yet united, and though dark they are resplendent with light, and though lifeless they are full of life and life-giving power, and though ever moving
They glide upon their endless way,
Forever calm, forever bright,
A blessing through the night.
And thus may you, as bright as they, the glory of the Lord ever shining upon your souls, be as two twin stars shedding through all the sad and solemn night of life the cheerful and soul-reviving light of a warm, a humble, and a glowing piety.
But while alone in their cold skies, these Gemini are the twin stars of one brilliant constellation. Their very separation causes the more perfect distribution of their light and in
[32 CHARGE TO THE PASTORS.]
fluence, and secures the harmonious order of that system to which they belong. And so may it be with you. You cannot impart, but you may greatly help or hinder each others faith, and hope, and joy. You are now given to one another that you may strive together as fellow labourers for the furtherance of the Gospel. Such a union is not now common, though provided for in all the early standards of the Presbyterian church. That this double relation should be constituted at the same time and by the same service is, however, very remarkable. One of the earliest marriage ceremonies I performed was the union of two couples who stood up together and were by one service united in a double relation, and this is the first solemnization of an analogous spiritual union of different parties at the same time in which I have ever participated. May yours be as propitious as that to which I allude. It has been said that such a copastorship requires for its perpetuity of peaceful communion, as much grace as the matrimonial co-partnership. And the remark is well founded in nature and experience. There are difficulties and dangers inseparable from it which only gracegrace upon gracegrace and mercy in every time of need can effectually remove. And the best way to secure that grace is in deep humiliation and self-distrust to realize its con-tinued needa need founded not merely on your own frail and fallible human hearts, and those all around you, but also on the malicious artifices of fiendish spirits. Remember, therefore, Paul and Barnabas, and Paul and Peter, and watch and pray lest ye fall into the snares of the devil, who, as an angel of light can deceive, if it were possible, the very elect. Determine that you will neither give nor take offencethat you will hear nothing, and repeat nothing, disparaging to each otherthat you will esteem each other better than yourselves, and rejoice in all the good done by or spoken of each other as your own.
your case the difficulties are happily small. As a father, you can receive
your associate pastor as a son, and rejoice in
[CHARGE TO THE PASTORS. 33]
the developments of his capacity and usefulness as your own; and while,
as a son, he will labour with you in the Gos-
pel, affectionate reverence will exclude all possible rivalry or jealousy, your pre-eminence of gifts, and ability to exercise
them, will free him from all anxiety to do more than supply your defect of possible labours, to sustain you in some work-
ing measure of health, and be for you hands and feet, a presence and a power among the people. So far as he is a help-
meet for you, all reasonable expectations will be met, and whatever, my young friend, God may enable you, under your so rarely enjoyed advantages, to become more than this, all will rejoice and give God thanks who shall have made your profiting to appear unto all men.
I must both hasten and shorten, and will therefore charge you to remember
that you are Presbyterian ministers
prior to your becoming pastors, and that, as your primary relation is to the church as a whole, and not to this in particular, so your first duty is to cherish the spirit of patriotic catholicity. By this solemn compact that relation is restricted and localized to a certain extent, and for certain purposes; but it is not and cannot be destroyed. This sphere of duty is a circle within a circle; a revolution upon its own axis of a body which, in conjunction with other stars, is moving in a far wider orbit, and all together around a common centre. While, therefore, you are found faithful in all local pastoral duties as the stewards of this particular house, cultivate a fervent public spirit as fellow-citizens of one commonwealth, members of one body, and the rep-resentatives of one general assembly and church of the living God.
to your relations to the body politic are those which bind you to the
pulpit as your throne of empire, and to preaching as your scepter of command.
This, my young Brother in Christ, is your high calling and your glorious
mission. You stand in the pulpit as the messenger of truth, the legate
of the skies
[34 CHARGE TO THE PASTORS.]
your theme divine, your office sacred, your credentials clear. Magnify your office. Let no man despise it. Let nothing supercede or take precedence of it. Preparation for it is your first and paramount duty. To fit you for it has required years of anxious wasting study, and to fill it well you must ever come to it with fresh and full preparation. A neglected closet is the open door for sin, Satan, temptation, backsliding, and apostacy; and a neglected pulpit will inevitably lead to a negligent people and a negligent pastor. An impoverished pasture will have a lean flock and a hunger-bitten shepherd.
your commission is to preach, and preaching is your pre-eminent employment,
so the Gospel is the sum and substance of your preachingthe power
of God and the wisdom of God unto salvation. Necessity is laid upon you,
yea, woe is unto you if you preach not the Gospel. Preach the Gospel,
the whole Gospel, and nothing but the Gospel. Preach the Gospel in its
fullness and freeness, in its purity, simplicity and sincerity, in its
universality, and unqualified catholicity, without respect of persons
or position. Preach the Gospel as a divine mystery divinely disclosed;
as a revelation revealed in words to which the holy men of God were moved
by the Holy Ghost; as an authoritative, infallible testimony given by
God as the reasonable ground for the faith and obedience, the hope and
confidence, the implicit acceptation and self-sacrificing devotion of
every creature in all the world. Preach Christ as set forth in the Gospelthe
sum and substance of Gods testimony, and the author of eternal salvation
to all who believe upon him. Preach the Gospel as a creed or doctrine,
that it may be intelligently received by a faith of which assurance is
an element and exercise, compelling to a willing obedience the heart and
the life.Preach the doctrines of the Gospel as all converging and
concentrating in the person, character, work, and offices of the one mediator
between God and man; in Christ and him crucified; in Christ as God manifest
in the flesh, and reconciling the
[CHARGE TO THE PASTORS. 35]
world unto himselfnot imputing unto sinners their trespasses. The word made flesh, God with us, God in the man Christ Jesus bearing our sins in his own body on the tree; our sacrifice, propitiation, and atonement; the ransom and the price of our redemption; spoiling principalities, and powers, and triumphing over devils, death, and hell, in his cross; coming up again from the grave glorious in his apparel, and mighty to save; the source of life and power, of justification and sanctification; the author of faith; the giver of peace; the quickener of dead souls; the purifier, enlightener, guide, and comforter; the indweller, preserver, and ever-living, ever-loving, everywhere-present personal and thrice precious Saviour, (my Lord and my God!); oh, my dear Brothers, preach this man Christ Jesus the Lord, and your doctrine will become duty, and Christ being formed in mens hearts the hope of glory will fill their souls with love and their life with praise, budding with every precious grace and loaded with the fruits of good works.
this Gospelthis glorious Gospel of good newsfirst and last,
every way, and every where, in public and in private; in the pulpit and
by the press; to the living and to the dying; to the lost and the saved.
Preach it in every method and variety of manner and of matter. Yours
is a model pulpit, and let yours be model preaching, and the practical
exhibition of its manifold diversities of form. Preach expositorily,
textually, topically, doctrinally, practically, spiritually, apologetically,
casuistically. Many men, many minds, many tastes, and in all the love
of variety, novelty, and fresh originality. Become all things to all
to win, and please, and profit all. And as there are at least six terms*
translated by the word preach, including reading,
proclaiming, talking, debating, disputing, and writing, be not brought
under the power of any man, nor put
*euaggellw, lalew., diaggellw, dialegw, parrhsiamai, didaskw
Moses was read being preached; and Pauls epistles were to be read in the churches.
[36 CHARGE TO THE PASTORS.]
man-made yoke upon the free spirit of your own and others minds.
Preach, then, every way, and in that form in which
you can best exhibit, and defend, and enforce the truth as it is in Jesus. Reading, writing, and speaking, are each essential to the full and harmonious development of your powers, to fulness, accuracy, and readiness. Better, to write and read well digested, well-expressed, and well-condensed discourses, than not to write, or to write and slavishly commit to memory, or to attempt a mental record and rehearsal, which is equally laborious and possible only to few. Other things being equal, an untrammeled delivery is undoubtedly best; but other things not being equal, it is a sacrifice of matter to manner, of substance to form, of power to prejudice, of vitality to voice, of variety to uniformity, and of preparation to pronunciation. Covet, earnestly, the best gifts, and strive, my young friend, for the mastery, both as a thinker, a speaker, and a reader, and that both in prayer and in your reading of the hymns and Scripture, in which there may be not only propriety and pleasure, but illimitable power.
Finally, on this point, in all your preaching, and in all the diversities of preparation of the spiritual aliment of the soul, so as to nourish all, remember three Psfirst, PROVE, secondly, PAINT, and thirdly, PERSUADE.
I must charge you, however, briefly, to remember the relation in which
you are brought to the people, and the pastoral duties it involves. And
of these it may be said, that though not primary they are paramount, and,
as a good old elder said to me lately, they have a tremendous efficacy
in imparting power to the pulpit and to preaching, The more of
pleasant and really pastoral visiting, free, spiritual, personal, private,
and appropriate, the better. A word in season how good it is! A thou
art the man, how electrifying it is? What aileth thee?
Why weepest thou? Where ail thou? Is it
well with thee? Oh, with what a talismanic power do they un-
[CHARGE TO THE PASTORS. 37]
the door of the closed heart, melt the frozen current of the soul, and
kindle up the flame of sympathy, and the glow-
ing embers of a warm, confiding affection, toperhapsthe only one that cares for their particular soul.
Tenderly remember the old, whose earthly hopes and pleasures lie buried deep in the grave of memory, and whose heavenly faith and hope may be faint and flickering, while the dark valley over-shadowed by death becomes daily darker, and the way more dreary. Let them feel that they are neither forsaken nor forgotten, and with words of filial cheer point their glazing eye to Him who even amid the agonies of the cross remembered and provided for a bruised and broken-hearted mother.
Remember the young, knowing that he who would have a healthy, vigorous flock, must tend well the lambs. Feed them. Gently lead them. Call them by their names, that they may know your voice and follow you. Break to them the childrens bread. Give them the pure milk of the word. Preach to them the childrens Gospel, and lead them to the gentle shepherd in whose arms and heart there is a welcome for them. Expect and labour for their present early salvation, that they may be delivered from an evil heart of unbelief and from the power and pollution of sin, and rejoice and be glad all their days.
Let the spirit of the Lord be upon you that you may know how to speak a word to the weary, and of comfort to the afflicted, and of consolation to the bereaved; that you may be able to impart, out of a full soul, the comfort with which you have been comforted of God; to bind up the broken-hearted; to give beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; to weep with them that weep and rejoice with them that rejoice
love to Christ will animate you with one absorbing passionthe love
of soulsand concentrate and direct your energies in seeking their
salvation. Like Paul, you will joy
[38 CHARGE TO THE PASTORS.]
and rejoice to be offered upon the sacrifice of their faith. As in the case of Whitfield, this predominant passion, this enthusiasm, and even frenzy of love, will beam in your face, flow in your tears, breathe in your devotions, and vent itself in the impassioned eloquence of discourse. To this it willas with Martyn, and Buchanan, and Hebersacrifice ambition, emolument, honour, social comfort and domestic enjoyment. Infinitely and insatiably greedy of the conversion of souls as Alleine was, you will seem to your hearers as McCheyne did, as if dying to have them converted; as if you felt it to be a greater pleasure, like Matthew Henry, to gain one soul to Christ than mountains of silver and gold to yourself; and like Brainard, cared not where or how you live, or what hardships you go through, so that you may but gain souls to Christ. Oh that you may so enter into this travail of soul that you may be able to say with holy Rutherford, My witness is above that your heaven would be two heavens to me, and the salvation of you all two salvations to me.
But I must charge you to give due consideration also, to the relations in which you stand to the press, the platform, and the professional chair. This is an age of printing, publishing, and reading, in which controversial and didactic theology are presented to the masses through the press, rather than through the pulpit. And while the multiplication of books must limit their circulation and sphere, their power and importance within those circles of influence will be proportionately increased, and they will come to be more an auxiliary to pastoral influence and an essential means of private pastoral instruction. The age also erects the platform near to the pulpit, and calls for frequent exposition and advocacy of the enterprises of the church, and of the community in its more free and versatile address. Careful and constant reading, polished, ready, and lucid writing, and accurate, graceful, and effective speaking are becoming more and more essential requisites in the minister of Christ.
[CHARGE TO THE PASTORS. 39]
forget not, beloved Brother, (addressing Dr. THORNWELL)
that your peculiar and prominent relation is to the professional
chair, on your inauguration to which, it was made my privilege and my
duty to address you. Your pastoral relation to this church is subsequent
and subordinate, and its propriety exceptional and personal. Disapproving
of it in the abstract, I rejoice, however, in this instance of such a
double relation, and highly commend the wisdom of this church in securing
for themselves, the community, the Seminary, and the church at large,
the benefit of your practical and experimental pulpit ministrations, free
from the cares of pastoral responsibilities. In thus benefiting themselves
they make your eminent gifts and graces, and exemplary preaching, your
clearness of method, cogency of argument, earnestness of manner, unction
of spirit, elegance of style, and profundity and yet biblicity of thought,
and perpetuated blessings to the whole church.
May it be so. May the joy of the Lord be your strength. May He preserve and invigorate you in both the outer and inner man. May your health be precious in his sight. May your life be long and laborious, and may you return late to heaven. My highly honoured Brother, God has done great things for you, and in you, and through you, whereof we are glad, and for which we glorify God, who has imparted such gifts unto men. May there be yet many years until the harvest. May what we have seen and enjoyed be but the first fruits of a tree planted by the river of life, and nourished by the dews of heaven, and always fragrant with blossoms, and laden with perpetual fruit. May your light shine before men, and your work be found perfect before God.
But I must reluctantly forbear, and repress the thoughts and feelings that struggle for utterance. Brethren, I have compared you to those twin stars, which, at this season, appear for a little time and adorn the firmament. But I would rather find your emblem in the unfaltering blaze of those greater lights
[40 CHARGE TO THE PASTORS.]
which keep their unmoving stations as beacons on the heavenly hills, and on which
may you in double luster shine on this watch-tower of Zion to give light
to them that are in darkness, and to reflect upon every pilgrims
path the light of the glory of God, as in all its fullness it shines in
the face of Jesus Christ. May the names of THORNWELL
and MULLALLY be distinguished, in
the annals of this church, for piety and usefulness. In the pithy prayer
of the affectionate old Negro, may he who made you word-speakers for him
be heart-stirrers and heart-breakers for you.*
The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon
you, and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up the light of his countenance
upon you and give you peace. The Lord bless you out of Zion, that you
may see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your lives. Loving your
Master, and finding in His service your highest honour and greatest delight,
may He crown your labours with signal success. May He greatly honour
you in the eyes of the world. May He give you the love and confidence,
the respect and veneration
*A Negroe's Touching Prayer. The Rev. Dr. Lay, the new Missionary Bishop for the South-west, was a native of the city of Richmond, and married a lady in the neighborhood. On his return there, to attend the meeting of the General Convention, he brought his wife with him, to the great delight of all the family, and especially of the old family servants. It was a great gala-day among the slaves of the household, and they expressed their joy in a variety of demonstrations. One good old Negro, who was an exhorter and a class-leader, went off alone to pray, in view of the glad event. His prayer was overheard, and this was the burden of it:
[CHARGE TO THE PASTORS. 41]
your flock, and reputation and good report among them that are without.
And when the day of life is ended, and
your work is finished upon earth, and when these earthen vessels which now contain such inestimable treasures, are
scattered into fragments and their light is extinguished, may your works follow you to heaven, and your names be
re-echoed with still more distinguished honours by applauding angels. Methinks I see the everlasting gates fly open,
and your ransomed spirits enter in, lost in transporting rapture amid the out-bursting melody of innumerable harpers,
rank above rank, and choir above choir. Methinks I see the souls awakened, confirmed, and comforted under your earthly ministry, flocking around to congratulate you upon your preeminence in glory. Methinks I see Peter and Paul, and the
most renowned of ancient and modern preachers gathering about you, welcoming you to those thrones of superior glory, where they that are wise shall shine as the light, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars, forever and ever. Methinks I see the Lord Jesus Christ himself coming forward in His glorified humanity, and as He encircles your brows with crowns of righteousness and life, exclaimThese are my chosen servants who were found faithful over all the charge put into their trust, to whom to live was Christ, and to die gain, and concerning whom it is my will that they shall be with me where I am to behold and to partake of my glory.
Visions of glory attract both their hearts and ours, so that we may all press towards the mark for the prize of our high calling, until faith and hope are swallowed up in the full blessedness of this consummated felicity.
[42 CHARGE TO THE PEOPLE.]
These protracted services should now be properly closed by a charge to the people, and as, in the failure of both the brethren appointed, it has been made my duty to carry out this re-quirement of our church, you will bear with me, dear brethren, in very briefly addressing you.
the very first thing I would impress upon you is, that in this eventful
scene you are not spectators merely, but par-ticipantsnot merely
eye-witnesses to an interesting pageant, but partners to a solemn compact.
The relations and respon-sibilities now constituted are mutual, and cannot
be separated. Have these Brethren now become your pastors?you have
become their people. Are they under obligation to preach, to reprove,
to rebuke, to make known Gods will and your duty?
you are bound to hear, to obey, and to perform. Are they, in conscious impotence, to undertake a work
Which well might fill an angels heart,
And filled a Saviours hands?
are to be strengthened with all might, obtained through your prayers on
their behalf. Are they to give themselves
wholly to the things which pertain to your spiritual welfare?you are to provide all things needful for their temporal com-
forts; to esteem them very highly in love for their works sake; to count them worthy of an adequate and honorable maintenance; and to consider it a small thing to impart freely of your carnal things in return for their spiritual gifts.
perceive, therefore, Brethren, that the solemnities of this occasion involve
you not less than those who are set over you in the Lord. For weal or
for woe you are now joined together. The relations and the responsibilities
[CHARGE TO THE PEOPLE. 43]
must be helpers or hinderers of each others prosperity and progress.
Like priest like people, is not more true than like people like priest.
It is in the power of any people to paralyse or to put life and energy
into their pastor, and to make him not only a lovely song and as one that
playeth well on an instrument, but the power of God and the wisdom of
God, to the salvation of souls. And for all that they might do, and ought
to do, they must give account when they shall stand confronted at the
bar of Him who judgeth righteous judgment.
May you so live and labour together as that this account shall be given with joy, and not with grief. Yours, I have said, is a model pulpit. May you be a model people. Model preaching will demand model practice, model piety, liberality and zealous devotion to every good cause. I congratulate you, Brethren, upon the present occasion and your future prospects. I rejoice with you in your joy. I remember your kindness to my youth, and your appreciation of my early ministrations, when you so cordially invited me to live and labour among you. Allow me, with all my heart, to pray that peace may be within your walls, and prosperity within your borders. May you go forward prospering and to prospera city set on a hill, a burning and a shining light, provoking all around you to love and liberality. May strength go out of this Zion, and may you arise and shine the glory of the Lord having arisen upon you.
occasion must now close, but we who are now assembled must meet in review
all the issues of this rehearsal. Oh, my friends, realize and lay to
heart the hastening hour. Pray, oh, pray earnestly, that when pastors
and people shall meet face to face, at that awful tribunal, instead of
mutual upbraidings and reproachesyou accusing them of unfaithfulness
or negligence, and they accusing you of coldness, formality, and refusal
to come up to the help of the Lord against the mightyyou may be
able to congratulate each other; you blessing God
[44 CHARGE TO THE PEOPLE.]
for them as helpers of your faith, and they presenting you to God as their joy and crown of rejoicing.
The time is short. These earthen vessels cannot hold out to any of us much longer, though the riches they contain may never fail. For myself, especially, the time of departure must be near at hand. And oh, my beloved Brother, (looking towards Dr. THORNWELL), if permitted to become an indweller in the new Jerusalem, how shall I long and look for your coming! And when intelligence of your approach shall be conveyed by ministering spirits, with what alacrity and ardour of love shall I ascend to the loftiest heights of its projecting battle-ments, and as the seraph minstrelsy announces your approach, how shall I exulting spring to catch you by the hand, and welcome you to the kingdom and the crown prepared for you; to the white robe, and the palm of victory; to the harp of melody; to everlasting joy; to communion of soul, as well as communion with saints and angels; to the river of life and the tree of life; and above all, and beyond all, to Jesus the light and life of all, and Himself the heaven and happiness of all His faithful followers!