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Title: A Farewell Sermon - delivered on Sunday, October 23, A.D. 1842, at the Parish Church of St. Mary Abbotts, Kensington
Author: Pott, Joseph Holden
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Farewell Sermon - delivered on Sunday, October 23, A.D. 1842, at the Parish Church of St. Mary Abbotts, Kensington" ***

Transcribed from the 1842 J. G. F. & J. Rivington edition by David Price.

                             FAREWELL SERMON,


                    ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23, A.D. 1842,

                         AT THE PARISH CHURCH OF

                      ST. MARY ABBOTTS, KENSINGTON.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                               BY THE VEN.
                          ARCHDEACON POTT, M.A.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *


                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                   PRINTED FOR J. G. F. & J. RIVINGTON,
                         ST.  PAUL’S CHURCH YARD,
                      AND WATERLOO PLACE, PALL MALL.

                                * * * * *


                                * * * * *

                             THE PARISHIONERS
                        THE PARISH OF KENSINGTON,

                         THE FOLLOWING DISCOURSE,


                              IS INSCRIBED,

                            BY THEIR FAITHFUL

                        AND AFFECTIONATE SERVANT,

                                                               J. H. POTT.

                          A FAREWELL SERMON, &c.

                             ECCLES. iii. 1.

     “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under
                                 the heaven.”

WHEN time draws on to a close with us, the last opportunities should be
carefully regarded and applied to some such purpose as may show what has
been the chief aim and the main design of past endeavours.

A sad thing it would be, indeed, if the last portion of our time were to
be reserved for some single effort: for who can accomplish at one step
that which a daily progress only can effect?

They who enjoyed long lives of old time, indulged, it must be owned, in
some complaints which showed more of the weakness of our common nature,
than of that proficiency for which the loan of life, whatever may be the
term of its duration, is bestowed.  The good king Hezekiah poured his
lamentation, when it should seem he had much cause to be contented with
what God had wrought for him in his day.  He called that “the cutting off
his days,” which it may be thought he might have met with more
complacency of mind, from the contemplation of the benefits which God had
enabled him to procure for Israel: but if there was any token of
infirmity in this, it was coupled with a pious mind, and the suit was
therefore heard and granted.  If David, too, seems sometimes querulous in
his pleas for the enlargement of his days, yet he added a good and
becoming reason for it, that he might show the power of God to that
generation in which his eventful lot was cast, and make it known to those
who were to come.

But we may remark in general, that we do not form a right judgment of the
Providence of God, if at any time we speak with disparagement of the term
of human life, as too short for the accomplishment of things which form
its proper end.  We should consider, rather, that in all cases the gift
of life is made capable of some sufficient share of the mercies and
salvation of the Lord.  It becomes so for all who partake a common
nature, where they put no impediment to the current and communication of
Divine Grace.  Let us weigh this point with care: it has a seasonable
application at this moment, since it will prevent undue regrets when any
portion of the loan of life may cease to serve the purposes to which it
may have been conducive whilst the season for its exercise endured.

If, then, it is the child who is called hence to an early grave, he goes
with the seal of grace upon him; and what was wanting here, the bud, the
blossom, and the ripened cluster, will thrive in a happier soil, and
flourish in a more propitious climate.  The thread of life, which, in
this case, was so soon severed from the parent’s bosom, was fastened to
the throne of heaven, and death has no power to dissolve it.  The
Conqueror of Satan, who brought life and immortality to light, will not
exclude those little ones, whom He once called into his presence, from
the rescued train of countless multitudes who shall hear that glad word
of introduction, “Behold, I and the children whom God hath given me.”
The privileges of the Gospel stood pledged to them in this life to render
their change blessed to themselves, and to leave that consolation, in the
day of sorrow, for surviving friends.

If the call hence comes in somewhat of maturer years, though still in the
days of youth, the young man will have lived long enough to have learned
the rudiments of saving knowledge, and to have practised the first
lessons of Christian faith and Christian duty; and thus the best end for
which the loan of life was given, will have found that happy earnest of
its future fulness.

If, again, the thread of life shall have been continued to later periods
of its course, no doubt the opportunities for all those advantages to
which life can minister, will render it at all times a blessing and a
boon.  Nor will you wonder, in comparing the longer with the shorter term
of life, that the suit of supplicating parents in our Lord’s days,
whether for the child or for the youth, was so often granted by a
restoration to a more protracted term of life.  You will not wonder that
our Blessed Lord should so mark the value of the life which now is, and
its connexion, by a right improvement of it, with the life of glory.  We
are bound, indeed, to bless God for all the dispensations of his hand,
for they all serve for good; but we must not reverse the language, not of
natural feeling only, but of more just conceptions of the purposes for
which life is given, or be led to think that death is the boon, and that
a return to this life could be no blessing.  When did our Lord make that
answer to the mourner’s suit? or when did He reprove the tears and
sorrows of survivors with that cold reply?  So little ground is there,
among the singularities of dress and manners in which some have placed so
much of their religion, for refusing to put on the mourning weed for the
departed.  There is but a single instance in the Sacred Volume of a
prohibition so enjoined; and then it was designedly portentous, denoting
the last extremity to which offences had grown up in Israel, and the
punishments which were to follow.

If now the term of life runs on, and the seasons are prolonged, old age
comes forward, and not without its burdens and privations.  Will you
plead here with old Barzillai, to whom David gave a gracious invitation,
to mark the sense he entertained of the value of past services, proposing
that he should return with him when he was restored from exile, and
brought back in peace and honour to Jerusalem?  The old man’s answer was
not entirely the most proper and becoming: “and Barzillai said unto the
king, Can thy servant taste what I eat, or what I drink? can I hear any
more the voice of singing-men or singing-women?  Wherefore, then, should
thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king?”  But Barzillai, if
this was ill spoken, showed a prudent spirit in what followed, for he
puts in a prompt plea for his son: “Behold,” said he, “thy servant
Chimham; let him go with my lord the king, and do with him what shall
seem good unto thee.”  Now David might, no doubt, have replied, “I want
you for the council-board, where your sage experience may yield me better
service than this youth can furnish.”  But David had a due regard to the
privileges of descent, and to the preference to be shown to the children
of deserving parents who may spend their lives in the service of their
country, and frequently can find no reward in this life, but in the
persons of surviving children.  It is the plain stamp of barbarism which
rests upon those governments which do not recognize this principle, and
where the hand of power makes one only testament for the frail possessor
after all his services.  David formed a different judgment; he accepted
Barzillai’s tender of his son; he followed the same course which he had
pursued with poor Mephibosheth, the son of the princely, noble-minded
Jonathan, who preferred the known will of God, and his love to David, to
the crown of one who had incurred the forfeiture of what he had so
ill-sustained.  David placed Mephibosheth at his own board, although he
could neither serve him in the field, nor attend him in his exile.  The
first order made upon the king’s return, after receiving Mephibosheth’s
excuse, was to confirm to him the grant which had before been made in his

Thus have we traced the several stages of the life of man, and in each of
them we have found that life might be a blessing, and the ground of every
blessing; and that God, ever gracious, ever merciful, might crown with
some word of benediction the closing days of each such term or period of
the life of man, just as He did the six glorious days of the creation.
The morning and the evening (for so we reckon time) were followed by a
solemn benediction, but with a special blessing for the Sabbath-day, the
crown of all that stupendous work, the day sanctified by the Creator’s
rest; the day claimed for Himself, with a marked reserve, such as the
true Proprietor of all that He had made, and of all the bounties which
distinguished man’s first abode in Paradise, was pleased to attach to one
tree in the garden, by which the first pair might be reminded of the
homage due to God, and might fulfil it by a strict regard to his

The Sabbath-day!  With what joy must its regular returns have been hailed
in the first scenes of an unblemished world; and how good and gracious
was the Author of that first hallowed institution, so that in the day of
forfeiture, not only was the first pledge of salvation given, but the
welcome respite from increasing labours by returning Sabbaths was
continued.  It had no limitation or exception in its first appointment,
nor should we presume to put such; much less was there any intimation
given in that hour that the appointment of this day, with its solemn
benediction, was but an anticipated notice of the Jewish Sabbath,
together with what was indeed peculiar to it, when, after long
intermissions or neglects, it was revived.  Can we think that when “for
every thing there is a season,” there was to be none more especially
provided, in all times, for religious observation? and that, too, when
the Sovereign Lord had set his seal to such provision, without one word
which could affect its perpetuity?  Accordingly we find a set time for
religious exercises mentioned in that new scene of discipline and trial
to which man was removed; for, indeed, he was not cast out as an alien
and an enemy, a wanderer and a wretch.

In this hour of closure for my pastoral care among you, it may not be
unseasonable to advert to things which have found their turns in hours of
teaching and persuasion.  Let me then entreat you to remember those first
acts of grace, the early grounds of good hope, which made life itself,
with all its seasons, a blessing, and, if rightly husbanded, the
seed-plot of all blessings to the sons of men.  Nothing but a new
apostasy could destroy that hope, when the term of life was continued
where it might have been cut short, in which case the human race would
have been extinguished, and that triumph would have been given to the
common foe to God and man.  Nothing but a new apostasy from God would
render man, in his state of promised rescue and encouragement and in the
new term of his probation, an enemy to God.  Before that horrible
desertion from his worship, the Most High made his visit to the
patriarchal altar, and gave that memorable declaration of his will, “If
thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?”  The ground was laid in
purpose and effect for that acceptance; and surely the assurance thus
added was not for one family.

Thus there is a Sabbath still set apart for a welcome day of rest, and
for religious exercises; a day, the joy of which I have so often shared
with you in these happy seasons of religious worship and communion.
Remember the well-timed distinctions which He who was Lord also of the
Sabbath-day, as the partner of his Father’s glory, prescribed for the
right observance of the day, divesting it of its legal strictness and
peculiarities, and still more protecting it, by an open vindication of
its essential objects, from Jewish scruples and from Jewish

O look well to the duties of the Christian Sabbath!  We want no
traditionary warrant for its transfer to the glad day of the Redeemer’s
resurrection.  The Scriptures furnish plain and indubitable vestiges of
that change.  Look well to its salutary obligations, bound upon us by the
twofold cogency of precept and example.

Remember who it was, who, after the scene of his ministerial labours,
kept his last Sabbath in the grave, and crowned with perpetual glory the
day of his triumphant resurrection.  Well might that day become not only
the day of rest from labour, but a day of gladness and release from
worldly cares and occupation, and, above all, the happy emblem of a rest
from every evil work, a respite from a bondage worse than that of servile
Egypt, a rest too from the galling yoke and ruling power of sin, which is
the privilege of faith.

Among such topics as may now claim a seasonable repetition, I may again
remind you how much it behoves us, in consulting the written word, the
rule of faith and duty, to avoid all partial views, by which restriction
one truth would exclude another; or, what is worse, a wrong conclusion
may be joined with what is only true in some respects, and both the truth
and the fallacious inference may thus gain currency together.  The
neglect of this rule has brought more strifes and divisions into the
Christian world than almost any thing that can be named.  Take an
instance if you think fit; there is more joy when that which is lost is
found again, than for that which was never lost.  This is true in that
respect; but will you strain the matter farther, and say that the
recovered sheep is of more worth than the whole flock to which it is
restored?  Will you say that the piece of silver which was missing, and
when found creates much joy on that account, outweighs all that the
purse, from whence it dropped, contained?  Will you say, that the
pardoned son, who returns to the right path by a true repentance, and
fills his father’s heart with well placed and unwonted joy, is in all
respects to be preferred to the son who never left the right path from an
early day?  The forgiving father’s answer will convict that
misconception:—“Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is
thine.”  If the elder brother may be thought to have lost his preference,
it could only be because of his envious temper and his ill-timed
remonstrance.  In avoiding partial views and misapplications of what is
true, the more numerous and more general and plainer testimonies, and
those which admit but of one construction, will be the guiding light for
reconcilement and consistency—not for preference, for that would still be
but a partial view.

I may here add a necessary caution (oftentimes suggested, for it
frequently proves needful), to give heed to the native idioms or forms of
speech, which were in use, and rightly understood, by those to whom the
word of treaty and persuasion was first addressed.  The use of learned
pains will thus appear, as well as of every method of right reasoning in
the study of the sacred Scriptures, the rule of faith and duty for which
we have to bless God daily.

I may now touch upon the best and only safe ground of trust which we have
to take in any season of review, when past portions of our lives are
recalled to our consideration.  We may look, now, to the hope of pardon,
and allowance for things done amiss, or things left undone; and blessed
be God that ground has been laid, or who could stand in judgment in the
last account?  Certainly not the boastful and punctilious Pharisee;
certainly not those who have keener eyes for the faults of others than
for their own defects.  Excellent are the words of our Lord’s apostle,
and now most seasonable in their application; thus he marks it for a
ruling principle of charity, that it “thinketh no evil,” and is not,
therefore, apt to censure or condemn.

It is but in some respects, that we can speak well of those whom we are
least inclined to censure, and most ready to regard with favour;—and with
that remark I shall fairly take leave of what concerns myself in this day
of valediction.

But I am well aware that the season of departure from accustomed scenes
of duty is a proper season for advice, and to this last tribute of
sincere affection and regard, I will now address myself.

We stand much for authority, for rights of station, and the sacred
warrant of the pastoral commission—and we do well, for without them there
would be no order in the world, no joint progress in a common path; no
peace, no security.  When every man in Israel did what was right in his
own eyes, and nothing by direction or consent, it was a day of trouble
and disaster, of ruin and confusion.  They who will own no guide in the
way they have to tread, had need be well acquainted with the road.

It would be well if such men, who despise all guides, would be content to
go alone—but was it ever so seen in all the world?  Are not such the men
who strive most eagerly to press others into their train from all
quarters where they can obtrude themselves and spread their pestilent
opinions, and lay their destructive snares?

But the rules of pastoral advice derive their obligation from the
simplest forms of truth; were it otherwise, how would they meet the
varied calls for choice and resolution which come forward in the course
of human life?  If the truth itself has no special period for the height
and measure of its growth in human breasts, yet it has for its perpetual
standard God’s own eternal attributes.  In those perfections of the
Deity, the sure test of truth is established.  Our Lord’s apostle takes
this ground; “He that cometh to God, must believe that he is;”—and
observe what follows, “and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently
seek him;”—in which two particulars, the existence of God, and the
never-failing characters of truth, wisdom, equity, and goodness in such
expressions of his favour, the sure foundations of his moral government
are laid, as well as the sum of every moral and religious obligation.
This appears in all the articles of faith, and in all the acts of duteous
service; it appears in all that God hath done for us in the great work of
our redemption more especially, and in all that he requires of us in
order to a future recompense.

Let no vicissitude in things by which men are tried, but with a sure
refuge under all events for the dutiful, tempt you for a moment to forget
that the “ways of God are equal:” it was his own challenge to backsliding
Israel, and the last result will not fail to confirm it.  Let no light
conceit at any time induce you to suppose that the great truths, upon
which the hope of our salvation is built, may be regarded as things
indifferent, for which another season may be found; or that such things,
with all their convincing proofs and trains of evidence, are placed
beyond our reach.  Can we think that our Lord’s word is not verified,
that, “Wisdom should be justified of her children?”  And with respect
more particularly to disingenuous pleas of difficulty, do we find the
rules of faith and duty things so hard to be ascertained?  Have we no
sufficient traces of them in the light of conscience; in the bright
tokens and communications of God’s own grace and solemn declarations, in
the powers of right discrimination, without which there could be no
reasonable choice of any thing that best deserves our compliance?  Have
we not (blessed be God!) the sacred, never-erring Word, which has been
written for our learning, and for our sure direction in all things
needful to salvation?

It is much to be observed, in such general statements, that the Apostles
of our Lord never failed to add to their reasonings with Jew or Gentile,
scribe or sophist, such comprehensive testimonies of the grounds of faith
and the fruits of holiness in those who continue true to their
engagement, as will leave no room for uncertain tests or bold opinions,
for endless fluctuations in the mind and conduct, with doubts and
difficulties of our own creating.  It is true, that in the revelations of
God’s will there are things which no human faculties, or even those of
the purest of created beings in the realms of light, could penetrate,
until the Most High so graciously revealed them,—things which relate to
his own Essence, with his purposes and counsels for the redemption of
mankind; but is it so hard to understand that when all was forfeited, God
should send a Saviour from the throne of glory to become the new Head of
mankind, by taking flesh, and in that nature, which He by his Divine
prerogative had power to assume, to fulfil all that wherein our common
sire had failed?  Was not this a nobler exercise of Divine wisdom, than
the creating a new race, and leaving that triumph to the common foe to
God and man, that one such race was lost?  Is it so hard to be
understood, that to vindicate the credit of God’s Holy Law, there should
be one sufficient satisfactory atonement, one sacrifice never more to be
repeated or renewed? or that, by the prevailing intercession of the same
Divine Redeemer, the gates of Heaven should be set wide to a rescued
race, whose own exertions should from thenceforth be well employed, in
spite of all the force and all the artifices of the common adversary?
The glory of Divine grace is thus exalted, when the first gifts of God
are again directed to their proper ends.  To raise children unto Abraham
of the stones of the desert, had been, no doubt, an easy task to the
Almighty; but would it have served so highly to his glory, as the
preservation and recovery of the first formed race?  Is it so hard to
perceive how signally the conspiring attributes of God, his justice,
truth, and mercy, were thus illustrated and made to meet together in that
work of redemption, which was accomplished in Christ Jesus?  Does it
require much scope of argument or pains of study to enable us to see,
that to redeem mankind was an object no less worthy of Divine
interposition, than to create them from the first?

Again, could we safely remain strangers (as some would gladly seem to do)
to the several branches of all moral obligations, when they have been
confirmed anew, and drawn out into manifest example, and set before us so
expressly for our imitation, in our Lord’s own life?

St. Paul’s brief enumeration of faith, hope, and charity, forms the sum
of what in other places he sets forth with a large detail of things
required of us, all serving to the same end and intent: only, remember
carefully what that end is,—it is not the same for which Christ wrought
and suffered, and He only could sustain; yet is it the “reasonable
service,” or “living sacrifice of the whole man,” which is required, in
order not only to our own improvement, which could not thrive without it,
but in order to a promised recompense, which, together with the freedom
of the Gospel state, were procured for us at so rich a cost.  The ransom
paid, the heritage obtained, by one only righteous Mediator, how widely
do they differ from the promised recompense for the faithful and sincere!
and yet how consistent are these things in their whole effect!  There is
one judgment-seat for both, and one form of judicial sentence, though in
different respects, is applied to both; but how different is the language
in which the same Apostle speaks of each.  There is no need to call in
the suffrage of a fellow-witness to correct his view, for both he and his
fellow-witness, when they speak of the same things, use the same
language, and declare the same consistent judgment.

And what, then, is our Lord’s compendious draft of things required of us
in the days of our probation? it is “to love the Lord our God with all
the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the mind, and with all the
strength; and our neighbour as ourselves.”  Will you strain a flight
beyond this, and regard the care for yourselves as too low a pitch for
your wishes to excel, or for the native worth of what is good?  Do but
consider that the welfare and the happiness of his reasonable creatures
formed the first object and design of the Creator, and can never cease to
be his purpose; consider, too, that any kind of moral goodness which
should not be good for us, would want just so much of real goodness, and
of its proper and essential excellency.  It was one of the vilest errors
of the heathen world, and one which prevailed much, as their earliest
historian tells us, that there was envy towards man among the gods; and
no wonder, if the rule of Providence could be placed in such hands as
they feigned for its administration.

Again, as the truth itself is always true, and virtue, which is its
image, is no less uniform and constant, most groundless and injurious
must be those restrictions which would shut out any one real virtue or
its exercise from the Christian pattern; for in so doing we should
detract just so much from its integrity.  You may reverse the proposition
if you think fit, and say, with truth, that every virtue puts on the
Christian character, not from any date of their adoption, but as they are
cherished and enhanced by new motives and inducements, and strengthened
by the bond of unity and concord in the Christian household.

Can I forget at this moment, befriended as I have been in the past scene
of my labours, that among the virtues which some would leave to the
heathen, together with the patriot spirit and the courage to maintain it,
Friendship has been made to share the sentence of exclusion?  At this
rate the noble-minded Jonathan could not be added to the list of
worthies, to recount which St. Paul found the day too short.  But the
glowing pen of David has inscribed the name of his generous and
ever-constant friend with the sons of faith, in characters which no time
shall efface.  And what then?  Had our blessed Lord no family of friends
which brought him even weeping to the grave of Lazarus?  Was it for
nothing that it was then said, “Behold how he loved him?”  Had our Lord
no disciple who was laid in his bosom at the paschal feast; to whom also
He gave his last charge concerning her who should be blessed among women?
Most gladly, therefore, shall I pay the debt of friendly obligation on my
removal from among you, and cherish that good property of mind which has
so many moral motives for exciting its first growth, and brings forth so
many moral fruits in its maturity which may be stored in everlasting

But as strange as that distinction is which would cast out real virtues
from the Christian code, I may now warn you from an opposite extreme.
Thus have words of _counsel_ been exalted above the word of the
_commandment_.  Let us weigh this also for a moment; it has been, and
continues still to be, the nurse of many fond conceits.

If you strive to put more into a vessel which is already well
replenished, will you not displace some of its contents?  And if this be
done where the hand of the Lord hath filled the vessel, that we may drink
and thirst no more, but live for ever, the loss (not to name the
sacrilege) will outweigh the gain a thousand-fold.  The boastful young
man, who would not accept the word of the commandment at our Lord’s lips
as a full reply to his inquiry, but said, “All this have I kept from my
youth up; what lack I yet?” did not receive, in answer to this
pretension, a word of counsel.  Our Lord showed him plainly what the true
breadth of the commandment was.  Thus he required no more of him than
that which became the bounden duty of many in the days of trouble which
succeeded.  Many were made to feel the force of that never-changing
precept, which demands the sacrifice of all things sublunary, where the
bond of Truth cannot otherwise be kept.  There was no sacrifice, then,
proposed to this aspiring youth, nothing counselled, beyond the verge of
the commandment; and the test to which he was put was but the fruit of
his overweening zeal.

When some of the early Christians were not contented to wait the coming
of the fore-named obligation, but sought martyrdom of their own accord,
although our Lord enjoined them when persecuted in one city to flee into
another, the Church interposed, and set a mark of public censure upon
such rash exposures of the lives of faithful men.  Will you say, then,
that St. Paul put forward words of counsel for which he acknowledged
that, in advising what was best for those days of peril, he had no
commandment?  He did so; but as he had received no commandment, so did he
impose none.  He left his converts free to follow his advice according to
their own discretion: he laid no bond upon them, no vow, no snare, no
scruple; for, indeed, he was the steady foe to things unbidden.

And what, then, are the general and never changing precepts which no
flight of zeal can surpass?  We have already taken one such comprehensive
rule from our Lord’s lips; but to enlarge a little on a theme so
seasonable at all times, we may remark, that the word of precept requires
us to weigh and esteem things according to their real worth; to seek the
kingdom of God first, and his righteousness; to prize that pearl of price
above all other things; to take readily, as St. Paul showed in his
example, what God giveth, with a thankful and becoming use of the welcome
gift, but with a just sense that what may be bitter and distasteful, if
such be the cup, will serve for good to those who love God; we are thus
enjoined to be content with such things as we have, to keep under and to
combat every evil inclination, for there lies the place and proper
exercise of self-denial; it will prove unfit and injurious when pressed
beyond its uses.  It was the aim of the apostle to set free to all things
lawful and becoming, but not to be brought under the power of any; which
shows at once the misery and inconvenience of an iron chain, whether
forged by others, and imposed upon us in their names, or adopted by our
own devices.

He who will set up better rules than these, must not expect his word to
be taken for them; he must prove them by the known declaration of the
will of God, or by sufficient reasons, tried by the sure word of the

There were not wanting, we may now remark, many who passed the season of
attendance before the coming of the promised Mediator, with some profit
to themselves and others.  We have noticed this with respect to the
patriarchal age and to the Israel of God; and it holds good, in some
measure, with relation to the Gentile world.  There were those even where
the hideous darkness of idolatry prevailed, among whom truth found its
seasonable culture.  There were those who sustained in some sort the
credit of the human race.  They sought a refuge in their own reflections
from false worship, and delusions gross, impious, and far below the
character of man.  They betook themselves accordingly to some sound
principles of moral truth and moral wisdom.  Thus the faculty of right
discrimination, and the power of conscience, when not drowned in vice and
superstition, exhibited some lines, and showed some traces of the great
Creator’s image.  They reduced the rule of life and of well-doing to some
fixed points; prudence, justice, fortitude, the love of truth, the scorn
of falsehood or deceit, self-government, with other noble qualities,
exhibited plain characters of man’s first resemblance to the Author of
his being.  Thus things which are always true and always good, kept their
place in some fair examples, and sustained the claim which such men had
to be the teachers and the monitors of others, although without authority
to teach or to direct—that want remained to be supplied, as the wisest of
them fairly owned.

Our blessed Lord, who came to bind the bruised reed, and to fan the least
spark of the smoking flax, never turned with scorn from such tokens of
good disposition and right judgment, or failed to give his word of
commendation when they came before him.  “I have not found so great
faith, no not in Israel,” were words which embraced the qualities of mind
which were always found to be most favourable to prepare the heart (the
seat of every moral property) for any seed of truth which should be cast
upon it.  Such was the good ground of which our Lord made mention in his
instructive parable of the Sower and the Seed.  A rational
acknowledgment, with a just esteem for what is good, is the soul of
faith, of which the tenth leper left a memorable proof.  Without such
moral properties faith might be the hand for receiving any benefit, but
where would be the mind to understand its value, and perceive the nature
of its obligations?  Let the nine lepers who were healed, but returned
not to give thanks, supply the answer.  But if the Gentile sages showed
indeed sound judgment in reducing rules of ethics to fixed principles,
our blessed Lord with the full warrant of divine authority formed the
draft of faith and duty, sometimes compendiously, and sometimes with
particular enumerations.

But again, with these main principles and never-changing objects of
regard, there is another word which has its special season—it is that of
pastoral entreaty; and it remains for me to press it at this time—it
results, indeed, from the whole view which has been taken.

Never then, I beseech you, my beloved brethren, consent to yield the
profession or the practice of the rule of faith and duty, for fear or
favour; for any flattering bait or treacherous inducement, never lose
sight of what is due to God, to your fellow-creatures, and
yourselves;—only remember that if we neglect to take thought for others,
that is not the care for ourselves which we are enjoined to extend to
others.  And here I cannot sufficiently commend the manifold attentions
of the prudent and sincere, which have been paid to the needs of many in
this vicinage.  O! let that care continue for your poorer brethren—let it
manifest itself in the religious instructions which your schools provide
for their children, and in a thousand instances of kindness which the
succours which the law requires cannot supply.

And yet again, amidst all these incumbent obligations, there is still
room for the words of Solomon, “to every thing there is a season;” and
the present moment constrains me yet once more to conjure you to bear
these things in mind, to keep them as the treasure of your hearts.  If
such shall be the purpose and endeavour, it matters less at what period
the foot is stayed, provided it be found in the right path when the day
of travel or of any special charge shall close.  But in such case, when
we can no longer walk together as companions, there must be the word of
exhortation for those who have to go forward—let it then be the word of
the apostle—to “walk worthy of your vocation wherewith ye are called,
with all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering, forbearing one
another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond
of peace.  There is . . . one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope
of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of
all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

To us who have walked long together, there is another cheering word on
separation, when most happily the new guide, with every hopeful
commendation, is at hand and ready to succeed.

There is but one word more, one which cannot be amplified, for it
contains the sum of every good wish, every grateful sense and
recollection of past kindnesses—there remains but the little, yet
significant and comprehensive word—farewell; “and this I pray, that your
love may abound yet more and more, in knowledge and in all judgment; that
ye may approve things that are excellent, that ye may be sincere, and
without offence until the day of Christ.”

                                * * * * *

                                 THE END

                                * * * * *

                            ST. JOHN’S SQUARE.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Farewell Sermon - delivered on Sunday, October 23, A.D. 1842, at the Parish Church of St. Mary Abbotts, Kensington" ***

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