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people; so glorious the prize that Christ has set up to engage you to run the race that is set before you.
I would now conclude with a few words to the people of this congregation, whose souls are now to be committed to the care of that minister of Christ whom they have chosen as their past or.
Let me take occasion, dear brethren, from what has been said to exhort you-not forgetting the respect, honour, and reverence, that will ever be due from you to your former pas tor, who has served you so long in that work, but by reason of a ge and growing infirmities, and the prospect of his place being so happily supplied by a successor, has seen meet to relinquish the burden of the pastoral charge over you to perform the duties that belong to you, in your part of that relation and union now to be established between you and your elect pastor. Receive him as the messenger of the Lord of Hosts, one that in his office represents the glorious bridegroom of the church; love and honour him, and willingly submit yourselves to him, as a virgin when married to a husband. Surely the feet of that messenger should be beautiful, that comes to you on such a blessed errand as that which you have heard, to espouse you to the eternal Son of God, and to fit you for, and lead you to him as your bridegroom. Your chosen pastor comes to you on this errand, and he comes in the name of the bridegroom, so empowered by him, and representing him, that in receiving him, you will receive Christ, and in rejecting him, you will reject Christ.
Be exhorted to treat your pastor as the beautiful and virtuous Rebekah treated Abraham's servant. She most charitably and hospitably entertained him, provided lodging and food for him and his company, and took care that he should be comfortably entertained and supplied in all respects, while he continued in his embassy; and that was the note or mark of distinction which God himself gave him, by which he should know the true spouse of Isaac from all others of the daughters of the city. Therefore in this respect approve yourselves as the true spouse of Christ, by giving kind entertainment to your minister that comes to espouse you to the antetype of Isaac. Provide for his outward subsistence and comfort, with the like cheerfulness that Rebekah did for Abraham's servant. You have an account of her alacrity and liberality in supplying him, in Gen. xxiv. 18, &c. Say as her brother did, ver. 31, "Come in thou blessed of the Lord."
Thus you should entertain your pastor. But this is not that wherein your duty towards him chiefly lies: the main thing is to comply with him in his great errand, and to yield to the suit that he makes to you in the name of Christ, to be his bride. In this you should be like Rebekah; she was, from what she heard of Isaac, and God's covenant with him, and blessing upon
him, from the mouth of Abraham's servant, willing for ever to forsake her own country, and her father's house, to go into a country she had never seen, to be Isaac's wife, whom also she never saw. After she had heard what the servant had to say, and her old friends had a mind she should put off the affair for the present-but it was insisted on that she should go immediately and she was asked, whether she would go with this man," she said, "I will go :" and she left her kindred, and followed the man through all that long journey, till he had brought her unto Isaac, and they three had that joyful meeting in Canaan. If you will this day receive your pastor in that union that is now to be established between him and you, it will be a joyful day in this place, and the joy will be like the joy of espousals, as when a young man marries a virgin; and it will not only be a joyful day in East Hampton, but it will doubtless be a joyful day in heaven on your own account. And your joy will be a faint resemblance, and a forerunner of that future joy, when Christ shall rejoice over you as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, in heavenly glory.
And if your pastor be faithful in his office, and you hearken and yield to him in that great errand, on which Christ sends him to you, the time will come, wherein you and your pastor will be each others' crown of rejoicing, and wherein Christ and he and you shall all meet together at the glorious marriage of the Lamb, and shall rejoice in and over one another with perfect, uninterrupted, never ending, and never fading joy.
Note. SERMON XVIII. at the funeral of David Brainerd, is annexed to his
In order to a right understanding and improvement of these words, these four things must be observed concerning them.
1. Who she is that is here represented as having had strong rods, viz. the Jewish community, who here, as often elsewhere, is called the people's mother. She is here compared to a vine planted in a very fruitful soil, verse 10. The Jewish church and state is often elsewhere compared to a vine: as Psalm lxxx. 8, &c. Isa. v. 2. Jer. ii. 21. Ezek. xv. and chap. xvii. 6.
2. What is meant by her strong rods, viz. her wise, able, and well qualified magistrates or rulers. That the rulers of magistrates are intended is manifest by verse 11. "And she had strong rods for the sceptres of them that bare rule." And by rods that were strong, must be meant such rulers as were well qualified for magistracy, such as had great abilities and other qualifications fitting them for the business of rule. They were wont to choose a rod or staff of the strongest and hardest sort of wood that could be found, for the mace or sceptre of a prince; such an one only being counted fit for that use; and this generally was overlaid with gold.
It is very remarkable that such a strong rod should grow out of a weak vine: but so it had been in Israel, through God's extraordinary blessing, in times past. Though the nation is
* Preached at Northampton on the Lord's day, June 26, 1748, on the death of the Honourable John Stoddard, Esq, often a member of his Majesty's council, for many years chief justice of the court of Common Pleas for the county of Hampshire, judge of the probate of wills, and chief colonel of the regiment, &c. who died at Boston, June 19, 1748, in the 67th year of his age,
spoken of here, and frequently elsewhere, as weak and helpless in itself, and entirely dependent as a vine, the weakest of all trees, that cannot support itself by its own strength, and never stands but as it leans on or hangs by something else that is stronger than itself; yet God had caused many of her sons to be strong rods fit for sceptres; he had raised up in Israel many able and excellent princes and magistrates, who had done worthily in their day.
3. It should be understood and observed what is meant by these strong rods being broken and withered, viz. these able and excellent rulers being removed by death: men's dying is often compared in Scripture to the withering of the growth of the earth.
4. It should be observed after what manner the breaking and withering of these strong rods is here spoken of, viz. as a great and awful calamity, that God had brought upon that people; it is spoken of as one of the chief effects of God's dreadful displeasure against them: "But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered, the fire hath consumed them." The great benefits she enjoyed while her strong rods remained, are represented in the preceding verse: "And she had strong rods for the sceptres of them that bare rule, and her stature was exalted among the thick branches; and she appeared in her height with the multitude of her branches." And the terrible calamities that attended the breaking and withering of her strong rods, are represented in the two verses next following the text: "And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty ground. And fire is gone out of a rod of her branches, which hath devoured her fruit." And in the conclusion in the next words, is very emphatically declared the worthiness of such a dispensation to be greatly lamented: "So that she hath no strong rod to be a sceptre to rule this is a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation."
That which I therefore observe from the words of the text, to be the subject of discourse at this time, is this, viz. When God by death removes from a people those in a place of public authority and rule that have been as strong rods, it is an awful judgment of God on that people, and worthy of great lamentation.
In discoursing on this proposition, I would,
1. Show what kind of rulers may fitly be called strong rods.
2. Show why the removal of such rulers from a people by death is to be looked upon as an awful judgment of God on that people, and is greatly to be lamented.
I. I would observe what qualifications of those who are in public authority and rule may properly give them the denomination of strong rods.
1. One qualification of rulers, whence they may properly be denominated strong rods, is great ability for the management of public affairs. This is the case when they who stand in a place of public authority, are men of great natural abilities, men of uncommon strength of reason, and largeness of understanding; especially when they have a remarkable genius for government, a peculiar turn of mind fitting them to gain an extraordinary understanding in things of that nature. They have ability, in an especial manner, for insight into the mysteries of government, and for discerning those things wherein the public welfare or calamity consists, and the proper means to avoid the one, and promote the other; an extraordinary talent at distinguishing what is right and just, from that which is wrong and unequal, and to see through the false colours with which injustice is often disguised, and unravel the false and subtle arguments, and cunning sophistry that is often made use of to defend iniquity. They have not only great natural abilities in these respects, but their abilities and talents have been improved by study, learning, observation, and experience; and by these means they have obtained great actual knowledge. They have acquired great skill in public affairs, and things requisite to be known, in order to their wise, prudent, and effectual management; they have obtained a great understanding of men and things, a great knowledge of human nature, and of the way of accommodating themselves to it, so as most effectually to influence it to wise purposes. They have obtained a very extensive knowledge of men with whom they are concerned in the management of public affairs, either those who have a joint concern in government, or those who are to be governed; and they have also obtained a very full and particular understanding of the state and circumstances of the country or people, of whom they have the care, and know well their laws and constitution, and what their circumstances require; and likewise have a great knowledge of the people of neighbouring nations, states, or provinces, with whom they have occasion to be concerned in the management of public affairs committed to them. These things all contribute to render those who are in authority fit to be denominated strong rods.
2. When they have not only great understanding, but largeness of heart, and a greatness and nobleness of disposition, this is another qualification that belongs to the character of a "strong rod."
Those that are by divine Providence set in a place of public authority and rule, are called "gods, and sons of the Most High," Psalm lxxxii. 6; and therefore it is peculiarly