“But the God of all grace who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
The minister of Christ is intended to execute two offices for the people of his charge. He is to speak for God to them, and for them to God. The pastor hath not fulfilled the whole of his sacred commission when he hath declared the whole counsel of God. He hath then done but half. The other part is that which is to be performed in secret, when he carrieth upon his breast, like the priest of old, the wants, the sins, the trials of his people, and pleads with God for them. The daily duty of the Christian pastor is as much to pray for his people, as to exhort, instruct, and console. There are, however, special seasons when the minister of Christ finds himself constrained to pronounce an unusual benediction over his people. When one year of trial has gone and another year of mercy has commenced, we may be allowed to express our sincere congratulations that God has spared us, and our earnest invocations of a thousand blessings upon the heads of those whom God has committed to our pastoral charge.
I have this morning taken this text as a new year’s blessing. You are aware that a minister of the Church of England always supplies me with the motto for the new year. He prays much before he selects the text, and I know that it is his prayer for you all to-day. He constantly favors me with this motto, and I always think it my duty to preach from it, and then desire my people to remember it through the year as a staff of support in their time of trouble, as some sweet morsel, a wafer made with honey, a portion of angel’s food, which they may roll under their tongue, and carry in their memory till the year ends, and then begin with another sweet text. What larger benediction could my aged friend have chosen, standing as he is to-day in his pulpit, and lifting up holy hands to preach to the people in a quiet village church – what larger blessing could he implore for the thousands of Israel than that which in his name I pronounce upon you this day: – “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.” (Sermon, 0292)