A final sermon from a pastor
In 1662 John Whitlock preached his final sermon. The Act of Uniformity led to many godly ministers in the Church of England (two thousand at least) being no longer permitted to serve their congregations in 1662. They were amazingly gracious about those who followed, but you cannot help but see the pain at the prospect of the gospel not being preached by some of their successors. In their final sermons, you see their hearts for their people. What moved me, was the way that Whitlock longed to see the truth take hold in hearts after his preaching was to go. His sermon was on holding fast to the truth (Revelation 3:3). This is a summary of the advice that he passionately gives and I hope you find it useful.
1. 'Love the truth.'
Remember what you have heard. Love truth and you will more easily remember it. Love the truth and you will not forget because affection is a great aid to memory. 'Look upon the Word and ordinances of God as your treasury.' Psalm 119 takes up this idea. I wonder, do we simply aim to fill our heads with information, or do we work to love the truth? Why not pray for a love of God's truth now?
2. 'Apply and appropriate truths.'
When you hear a truth from the Bible, apply it to yourself and you are more likely to remember it. 'Though men may forget others business, they will hardly forget their own.' Point taken!
3. 'Contemplation on what you have heard.'
Did you write it down in a notebook or in your smart phone? (that last bit was my words rather than Whitlock's!) Dig it out and think about it. 'Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart' Luke 2:19.
4. 'Holy conference.'
Talk about what you have heard with others. Whitlock knew that preaching from the Bible was unlikely to be taken seriously from the pulpit in the future, so he encouraged the lay folk to talk about God's truth amongst themselves. Do you have a gang of Christian friends to have a holy conference with; a home group perhaps?
5. 'Commit truths to the Spirit's keeping.'
The Spirit has promised to bring all things to our remembrance and to take from Jesus' Word and give to us. So seriously ask God to store the truths in your heart and supply them for you when you need them.
6. 'Practice the things you have received and heard.'
Kent Hughes talks about storing up God's Word for the day of trouble. Who knows when that will come in your life? Will it be during serious illness or during a spiritually dry season? Maybe you can take the advice from John Whitlock. Also, smile with me that the sermon that was meant to be his last has been published and is being read by people even today. I wonder if the sermon of the man who followed him is being read half as much?
Sermon found in 'Sermons of the Great Ejection' (Banner of Truth).