My journey hence to the sun-setting must be brief at the farthest. I only ask to live just as long as God has any work for me to do—and not one moment longer. I do not seek to measure with this hand how high the sun of life may yet be above the horizon; but when it does go down, may my closing eyes behold the bright effulgence of Heaven’s blessings upon yonder glorious sanctuary, and its faithful flock. After my long day’s work for the Master is over, and this mortal body has been put to sleep in yonder beautiful dormitory of “Greenwood” by the sea, I desire that the inscription that shall be written over my slumbering dust may be, “The Founder of Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church.”
THE JOYS OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY.
A Valedictory Discourse Delivered to the Lafayette Avenue Church, April 6, 1890.
I invite your attention this morning to the nineteenth and twentieth verses of the second chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Thessalonians:
“For what is our hope, or
joy, or crown of rejoicing?
Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ
at His coming? For ye are our glory and joy.”
These words were written by the most remarkable man in the annals of the Christian Church. Great interest is attached to them from the fact that they are part of the first inspired epistle that Paul ever wrote. Nay, more. The letter to the Church of Thessalonica is probably the earliest as to date of all the books of the New Testament. Paul was then at Corinth, about fifty-two years old, in the full vigor of his splendid prime. His spiritual son, Timothy, brings him tidings from the infant church in Thessalonica, that awakens his solicitude. He yearns to go and see them, but he cannot; so he determines to write to them; and one day he lays aside his tent needle, seizes his pen, and, when that pen touches the papyrus sheet the New Testament begins. The Apostle’s great, warm heart kindles and blazes as he goes on, and at length bursts out in this impassioned utterance: “Ye are my glory and joy!”
Paul, I thank thee for a thousand things, but for nothing do I thank thee more than for that golden sentence. In these thrilling words, the greatest of Christian pastors, rising above the poverty, homelessness, and scorn that surrounded him, reaches forth his hand and grasps his royal diadem. No man shall rob the aged hero of his crown. No chaplet worn by a Roman conqueror in the hour of his brightest triumph, rivals the coronal that Pastor Paul sees flashing before his eyes. It is a crown blazing with stars; every star an immortal soul plucked from the darkness of sin into the light and liberty of a child of God. Poor, is he? He is making many rich. Despised is he? He wouldn’t change places with Caesar. Homeless is he? His citizenship is in heaven, where he will find myriads whom he can meet and say to them: “Ye, ye are my glory and joy.” Sixteen centuries after Paul uttered these words, John Bunyan re-echoed them when he said: