A PASTOR’S DYING APPEAL
John Brown of Haddington
My dear hearers, having through the patience and mercy of God, long laboured among you, not as I ought – far, very far from it – but as I could, I must now leave you, to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to give an account of my stewardship. You cannot say that I ever appeared to covet any man’s silver, or gold, or apparel, or ever uttered one murmur about what you gave me; or that I sought yours, not you. You cannot charge me with idling away my devoted time in vain chat, either with you or others, or with spending it in worldly business, reading of plays, romances, or the like. If I had, what an awful appearance should I soon have before my all-seeing judge. You cannot pretend that I spared either body or mind in the service of your souls; or that I put you off with airy conceits of man’s wisdom, or any thing else than the truths of God. Though I was not ashamed, as I thought providence called me, to give you hints of the truths presently injured, and the support of which is the declared end of the Secession, yet I laboured chiefly to show, and inculcate upon your consciences, the most important truths concerning your sinfulness and misery, and the way of salvation from both, through
Christ; and laboured to hunt you out of all your lying refuges, and give your consciences no rest, but in Christ, and Him crucified. The delight of my soul was to commend Him, and His free and great
salvation to your souls, and to direct and encourage you to receive and walk in Him.
I call heaven and earth to record against you this day, that I laboured to set death and life, blessing and cursing, before you, and to persuade you to choose life, that ye might live. By the grace of God, I have endeavoured (however poorly) to live holily, justly, and unblameably among you. And now I leave all these discourses, exhortations, instructions, and example, as a testimony for the Lord against you, if you lay not your eternal salvation to heart, as the one thing needful, the better part that shall not be taken from you.
But I have no confidence in any of these things before God as my judge. I see such weakness, such deficiency, such unfaithfulness, such imprudence, such unfervency and unconcern, such selfishness in all that I have done, as a minister, or a Christian, as richly deserves the deepest damnation of hell. I have no hope of eternal happiness, but in Jesus’ blood, which cleanseth from all sin; in redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of my sins, according to the riches of his grace. It is the everlasting covenant of God’s free grace, well ordered in all things and sure, that is all my salvation, and all my desire.
Now I die firmly persuaded of the truth of those things which I preached unto you. I never preached unto you any other way of salvation than I essayed to use for myself. I now, when dying, set to my seal that God is true. After all that I have said of the sinfulness of your hearts, I have not represented to you the ten thousandth part of their vileness and guilt. Knowing, in some measure, the terrors of the Lord, I endeavoured to persuade you, that it was a fearful thing to fall into the hands of His wrath; but who knows the power of His wrath? Knowing, in some measure, the deceitfulness of sin, and sevices of Satan, I laboured to warn you of them. But what especially delighted my heart, was to set before you the excellencies, the love, the labours of our Redeemer, and God in Him, giving Himself, and applying Himself to sinful men; and to represent to you the work of God on the heart in the day of His power, and the exercise of the heart in its diversified frames. What I saw, and tasted, and handled, both of the bitter and the sweet in religion, delivered I unto you. Little as I am acquainted with the Lord, I will leave it as my dying testimony, that there is none like Christ; there is nothing like fellowship with Christ. I dare aver, before God, angels, and men, that I would not exchange the pleasures of religion which I have enjoyed, especially in the days of my youth, for all the pleasures, profits, and honours of this world,
since the creation till this present moment, ten thousand times told. For what then would I exchange my entrance into the joy of my Lord, and being for ever with Him? Truly God hath been good to a soul that but poorly sought Him. O what would He be to yours, if you would earnestly seek Him! With what heart-ravishing power and grace He hath testified against my wicked and unbelieving heart, that He is God, even my God! And now whom have I in heaven but Him? nor is there any on earth whom I desire besides Him. My heart and flesh fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. Left early by both father and mother, the Lord hath taken me up, and been the orphan’s stay. He hath given me the heritage of those that fear Him. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. I have a goodly heritage. God is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup; He maintaineth my lot; yea, mine own God is He; my God that doth me save.
Had I ten thousand worlds in my offer, and these secured to me for ever, they should be utterly contemned. Doubtless, I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, and I do count them but dung to win Him, and to be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law; but the righteousness of God, which is through faith.
Now, when I go to give my account to God, think what it must be. Alas! must it be that in too great conformity to your careless neighbours some did not attend the means of grace at examinations, meetings for prayer and spiritual conference as ye ought? Must it be that after labouring for many years among you, I left less lively religion in the congregation than I found in it at first? Must it be that ye were called, but ye made light of the marriage with Christ, and of His great salvation? Must it be that ye contented yourselves with a form of godliness, without knowing the power of it? Must it be that some few, trampling on their most solemn engagements, forsook me, having loved this present world? Must it be that others were not careful to train up their seed for the Lord? Must it be that ye often heard the most searching sermons, or the most delightful, and went away quite unaffected? Or, must it be that you were awakened; that your souls looked to Jesus, and were enlightened; that ye believed with your heart unto salvation; that ye harrowed in the seed of the truth, which I sowed upon you, by serious meditation and fervent prayer; that ye laboured to win souls to Christ?
Alas! I fear many of you will go down to hell with a lie in your right hand; go down to hell with all the gospel sermons and exhortations you ever heard, in your conscience, to assist it to upbraid, gnaw, and torment you?
My dearly beloved hearers, shall I see you next in everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels? Shall I see these faces all in
flames at the last day, and these eyes, which often looked at me, looking lively, bright horror at the judgment seat of Christ? Must I hear that Redeemer bid you depart from Him as cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels? And must I, who have so often prayed for your salvation, and preached for your salvation, add my hearty Amen to the sentence of your eternal damnation? God forbid!
Let me then beseech you now, without a moment’s delay, to consider your ways. Oh, listen to the Lord’s invitations, believe his self-giving declarations and promises, which, times without number, have with some measure of earnestness been sounded in your ears! For the Lord’s sake dare not, at your infinite peril, to see me again in your sins, and refusers of my glorious Redeemer and Master. Oh, give Him your hearts! Give Him your hearts! I never complained of your giving me too little. Nay, I thought myself happier than most of my brethren, as to all outward matters. But I always thought and complained, that you did not use my Master, Christ, as I wished, in your hearts, lives, and houses. And now, I ask nothing for myself, or any of my family, but make this my dying request that you would now receive my Master, Christ into your hearts and houses.
Could my soul speak back to you from the eternal state; could all my rotting bones and sinews, and every bit of my body, speak back to you from the grave, they should all cry, Oh that you were wise, that you understood this, that you would consider your latter end! Oh that you would give my Master, Christ, these ignorant, guilty, polluted, and enslaved hearts of yours, that He, as made of God to you wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, might enter in and fill them for ever with His grace and truth! Oh say not to a dying, a dead minister, yea rather say not to a living Redeemer, and His Father, and blessed Spirit, Nay.
Dearly beloved, whom I wish to be my joy and crown in the day of the Lord, suffer me to speak from the dead to you. Let me obtest (witness to) you, by all your inexpressible sinfulness and misery, by all the perfections, words, and works of God, by all the excellencies, offices, relations, labours, sufferings, glory, and fulness of Christ, by all the joys of heaven, and horrors of hell, now to make serious work of the eternal salvation of your souls. Try what improvement you have made of all my ministrations. Call to mind what of my texts, sermons, or other instructions, you can; and pray them over before the Lord, applying them closely to your own conscience and heart. Wash yourselves thoroughly, in the blood of Jesus Christ, from all the sins of holy things, since you and I met together.
I recommend to you, young persons, my two Addresses annexed to my Catechisms; and to you, parents and masters, my Address in
the Awakening Call, and my Sermons on the raising up Children to Christ, as a part of my dying words to you. They will rise up in judgment against you, if you contemn them.
With respect to your obtaining another minister, let me beseech you, by much fervent prayer, to get him first from the Lord. And let it be your care to call one whose sermons you find to touch your consciences. May the Lord preserve you from such as aim chiefly to tickle your fancy, and seek themselves rather than Jesus Christ the Lord! Let there be no strife among you in calling him. And when you get him, labour, at his entrance, to receive his message from Christ with great greediness.
O how it would delight my soul to be informed, in the manner of the eternal state, that Christ had come along with my successor, conquering, and to conquer. How gladly should I see you and him, by hundreds, at the right hand of Christ, at the great day, though I should scarcely have my ten! O if Christ were so exalted, so remembered among you, as to make me scarcely thought of! I desire to decrease, that He may increase.
Now, unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His blood, and hath given us everlasting consolation, and good hope through Christ, be honour, and glory, and dominion, and blessing, for ever and ever. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief.