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SERMONS



NATHAN PARKER, D . D



LATE PASTOR OF THE SOUTH CHURCH AND PARISH.



PORTSMOUTH, N. II



PUBLISHED BY A COMMITTEE OF THE PARISH.



MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR,



HENRY WARE, Jr.

Professor of Pulpit Eloquence and the Pastoral Care in Harvard University.



PORTSMOUTH:

J, W. FOSTER, AND J. F. SHORES

BOSTON.
RUSSELL, ODIOttNE, AND MKTCALF.

1835.



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1835,

By John W. Foster,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of New Hampshire.




boston:
v r i n t e d 1! v tittle a k d w e v. k
No. 8, School Street.



jf



CONTENTS.



MEMOIR.



SERMON I .

MAN ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD ALONE IN MATTERS OF FAITH.

There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy : who
art thou, that judgest another? — lames iv. 12.



SERMON II.

DISTINCTION BETWEEN SAINTS AND SINNERS.

Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you,

except ye be reprobates ? — 2 Corinthians, xiii. 5. - - - lf>

SERMON III.

THE DUTY OF EXERTING A RELIGIOUS INFLUENCE.

He which converteth a sinner from the error of his way, shall

save a soul from death. — James v. 20. 25



SERMON IV.

ERRONEOUS COMPARISONS OF THE PRESENT WITH THE PAST.

Say not thou, what is the cause, that the former days were better
than these ? For thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this.
— Ecclesiastes vii. 10.



IV CONTENTS.

SERMON V .

A CHILD-LIKE DISPOSITION ESSENTIAL TO THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER.

Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of
God as a little child, shall in no wise enter therein. — Luke
xviii. 17. 43



SERMON VI.

SCRIPTURAL DEFINITIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER.

If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. — 1 Corinthians v. 17. 53



SERMON VII.

JOV IN HEAVEN OVER THE PENITENT SINNER.

Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner, that repenteth. — Luke

xv. 9. G3



SERMON VIII.

AIDS AND ENCOURAGEMENTS IN THE WAY OF VIRTUE.

See, I have set before thee this day life and good, death and evil.
— Deuteronomy xxx. 15. - -



SERMON IX.

RIGHTEOUSNESS THE TEST OF CHRISTIAN CHARACTER.

He, that doeth righteousness, is righteous. — 1 John iii. 7. - 86

SERMON X .

CONSCIENCE.

And herein do 1 exercise myself to have always a conscience void

of offence toward God, and toward man. icts xxiv. 16. - 94



SERMON XI.

SOLICITUDE FOR THE REVIVAL OF RELIGION.

Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in

thee ? — P.w/;/> lxxxv. 6. - - 103



CONTENTS V

SERMONS XII. & XIII.

AMUSEMENTS.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose

under the heaven. — Ecclesiastes iii. 1. Ill

Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. — 2 Timothy iii. 4. 121

SERMONS XIV. & XV.

THE SABBATH.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou
labor, and do all thy work ; but the seventh day is the sabbath
of the Lord thy God ; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou,
nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man servant, nor thy maid
servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy
gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the
sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day ;
wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
— Exodus xx. 8— 11. 130,139



SERMON XVI.

THE PILGRIM FATHERS OF NEW ENGLAND.

I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.
Psalm lxxvii. 5.



SERMON XVII.

THE DUTY OF FORBEARANCE.

Forbearing one another in love. — Ephesians iv. 2. ICO

SERMON XVIII.

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS.

The people were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught them as

one having authority. — Matthew vii. 28, 29. .... 1G9

SERMON XIX.

THE YOUNG RULER.

Then Jesus, beholding him, loved him, and said unto him, one

tbing thou lackest. — Mark x. 21. 184



VI CONTENTS

SERMON XX.

THE INFLUENCE OF GOD UPON THE HUMAN SOUL.

No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me,

draw him. — John vi. 44. 197

SERMON XXI.

THE WAY OF TRANSGRESSORS.

The way of transgressors is hard. — Proverbs xiii. 15. - - - 208

SERMON XXII.

PRAYER.

Pray without ceasing. — 1 The ssalonians v. A7 . .... 219

SERMON XXIII.

EDUCATION.

Apply thine heart unto instruction. — Proverbs xxiii. 12. - - 231



SERMON XXIV.

IDLE CURIOSITY IN MATTERS OF RELIGION.

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that he saved ? And
he said unto them, strive to enter in at the strait gate : for
many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be
able. — Luke xiii. 23, 24. - - 241



SERMON XXV.

CHRISTIANITY A COMPASSIONATE RELIGION.

O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me ; neverthe-
less, not as I will, but as thou wilt. — Mattheio xxvi. 39. - 252

SERMON XXVI.

THE OFFICE OF THE CHRISTIAN TEACHER.

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus

Christ, and him crucified — 1 Corinthians ii. 2. - - - 263



CONTENTS. Vll

SERMON XXVII.

THE PIETY OF JESUS.

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. —

Hebrews xii. 2. 276

SERMON XXVIII.



THE CLOSE OF THE YEAR.

The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. —

Jeremiah viii. 20. 266



SERMON XXIX.

THE INFLUENCE OF WEALTH.

The poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. —

Ecclesiastes ix. 16. 295



SERMON XXX.

THE CHRISTIAN RACE.

Let us run with patience the race, that is set before us. — Hebrews

xii. 1. " - 304



SERMON XXXI.

PROFANATION OF THE LORD'S SUPPER.

He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh
damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. —
1 Corinthians xi. 29. 312



SERMON XXXII.

THE CONNEXION BETWEEN FAITH AND A GOOD CONSCIENCE.

Holding faith and a good conscience, which some having put away,

concerning fiiith have made shipwreck. — 1 Timothy i. 19. - 320



SERMON XXXIII.

SELF-EXAMINATION.

Know yc not your own selves .' — 2 Corinthians xiii. 5. - - 329



Vlll CONTENTS.

SERMONS XXXIV. &, XXXV.

THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES.

Can ye not discern the signs of the times ? — Matthew xvi. 3. 336, 347

SERMON XXXVI.

ENCOURAGEMENT TO TIMID BELIEVERS.

Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. — John xiv. 27. 357
SERMON XXXVII.

THE PRODIGAL SON.

I will arise, and go to my father, and will say unto him, father, I
have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more
worthy to be called thy son ; make me as-one of thy hired
servants. — Luke xv. 18, 19. 307

SERMONS XXXVIII. & XXXIX.

CHRISTIANITY ADAPTED TO MAN'S MORAL WANTS.

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. — 1 Timothy

i. 15. 375,364

SERMON XL.

THE USES OF AFFLICTION.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted. — Psalm cxi.x. 71. - 393



ERRATA.

Page 'M, line 31, for is read in.

" 45, " 14, for bought read brought.

" 95, " 28, after pity read upon.

" 115, " 25, for grace read grave.

"125, " 13, after is read it.

"183, " 21, for pursing read pursuing.

" 22S, " 8, for hearts read heart.

" 346, " 11, for the read this.



MEMOIR OF DR PARKER.



1 How shall we mourn thee ? — With a lofty trust !
With a glad faith ! — whose eye, to track the Just,
Through shades and mysteries lifts a glance of love."

.Mrs Hcmans.



The author of this volume of Sermons was one of those
men who leave a mark on the society in which they lived.
He did not leave the world as he found it. He impressed
upon it the character of his mind, teaching and example.
His friends feel that he ought not to pass away without a
memorial, nor without some attempt to extend and perpet-
uate the influence of his character and principles. His
principles are set forth in his sermons as they came from
himself. His character presents an example of personal
and professional fidelity, upon which all Christians, and
especially Christian ministers, may dwell with improvement.
I may not succeed in my attempt to display it ; but
I can truly adopt the words of John Newton in a similar
case; — "If it have the same effect upon my brethren in
the ministry while they read it, that it had upon me while
writing it, it will humble and shame them." May it also
encourage and quicken them !



X MEMOIR.

Nathan Parker, was born at Reading, Massachusetts,
on the fifth day of June, 1782. He was the son of a
respectable farmer, and happily knew nothing in his
younger days of those luxurious indulgences by which
so many promising minds are made effeminate and slothful.
He was accustomed in later life to congratulate himself
on this circumstance, and to say that he owed most of
what was good in his character, to his early privations
and hardships. He often spoke with peculiar gratitude
of the influence of his grandmother. The native ele-
ments of his character developed themselves without
constraint or forcing, and gave earnest of the person
that he was to be ; " the child was father of the man."
The buoyancy of spirits, the energy of purpose, and the
power of influencing others, which distinguished him in ma-
ture life, are said to have been traits of his boyhood. It is
said that he was " a great favorite with other boys, and king
among them in their sports." When at the age of ten or
twelve, he was severely afflicted by inflammatory rheumatism
for a long period, " he would sometimes cry all night from
the pain, and the next day, as soon as he had got his break-
fast, be off on his crutches after partridges, which he caught
in snares. He was never in the least degree vicious," it is
added, " either in disposition or conduct." And such
was his desire for improvement, during one period, that he
would rise before others in the morning in order to secure
time for reading and study.

It is not surprising, that, with such qualities, the young
farmer's boy was removed from following the plough, and
sent, like Amos of old, to the service of the prophets. It
belongs to the yeomanry of New England to reverence
learning, and many are their sturdy sons, whom they have



MEMOIR. XI

released from the furrow, and sent out, at no small personal
sacrifice, to be fitted for the husbandry of the church, or
the honorable toils of the state. Nathan, the youngest of
two sons, was to be of this number. Having received
his preparatory education at Boxborough, from his relative,
the Rev. Joseph Willard, minister of that place, he became
a member of Harvard College at the age of seventeen, and
was graduated in 1803.

The succeeding year he passed at Worcester, as teacher
of the Grammar School ; availing himself of that honorable
office, to earn the means of pursuing his professional studies,
while he gratified his love of action and usefulness by
imparting instruction. He had intended to study law, but
being led to change his purpose, he the next year entered
the family of Dr Bancroft as a student in Theology, and
there remained until he began to preach. During his resi-
dence in this place he endeared himself to all who knew
him, and with the venerable and distinguished divine with
whom he was domesticated, he formed a friendship which
continued unbroken and cordial until his death. His
letters abound in expressions of attachment to him and his
family.

In 1805 he was appointed Tutor in Bowdoin College,
Maine, where he remained for two ye'ars. discharging its
duties, and at the same time preaching on Sunday when
opportunity presented. In the month of May, 1808, he
preached in the way of exchange in the pulpit of the South
Parish of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, then vacant after
the death of Dr Haven. He was a stranger to the place
and the people ; few of them knew even the name of the
young man whose clear good sense and simple earnestness
of manner were taking hold upon their minds. The im-



All MEMOIR.

pression was decided. They desired to hear him further,
and the result was that the society gave him an invitation to
settle as its minister on the sixth of July, in which the
church concurred by a distinct vote on the thirtyfirst,
and he was ordained on the fourteenth day of September.

It is not possible to place a young minister in any con-
gregation without exposing him to great trials. They will
be different in different situations, but in all they are great.
Youth, inexperience, diffidence ; the flattery of some, the
cavils of others, the indifference of more ; the urgency of
these to persuade him to a worldly policy and of those to
bring his religious movements to their own standard of zeal
or lukewarmness ; the consciousness that he is watched
both by well-wishers and ill-wishers, and a trembling sense
of insufficiency and responsibility; — all this, and much
more, fills his path with perplexity and trial ; and he enters
with weakness and fear and much trembling on a work that
seems the more difficult the more thoughtfully he surveys it.
In the situation which Mr Parker had entered, besides
these common causes of solicitude, there were other
peculiar circumstances of trial. For it was not then, as it
is now, a large, flourishing and eminent congregation,
to be called to whose superintendence is one of the highest
honors the church has to offer. On the contrary, it was a
feeble and depressed society, struggling for very existence.
It had been for three years without a pastor, and, suffering
the evils of a destitute church, had dwindled away from
its prosperity in the good days of Dr Haven, till it presented
but the remnant of its former strength. In a word, all was
languishing. The very situation of the meeting-house, be-
ing at an inconvenient distance from the larger part of the
worshippers, helped to discourage ; and only the religious



MEMOIR. Xlll

confidence of a few spirited men prevented the dissolution
of the society. In undertaking the charge of a congregation
under such unpropitious circumstances, he acted on his
favorite principle, — we must do our duty, and leave the
result with God. " I thought the path of duty plain," he
said, "and I became the minister of this people. With
what feelings I entered on the office, it were vain to attempt
a description. I considered that I was only making an ex-
periment, and expected that a short time would terminate
my connexion with this people."* But Providence ordained
that he should continue, and granted him a signal recom-
pense of his fidelity and devotion. It is an example to
encourage others to attempt fearlessly any work which
Providence may assign them, assured that disinterested
efforts in the cause of Christ cannot be lost.

As his history from this time is but the story of his min-
istry, I shall complete my view of this before going on with
the personal narrative of his life. He appears to have laid
down for himself two great principles, from adherence to
which his success, through the Divine blessing, mainly result-
ed. The first was, to maintain a perfect independence ; as
he himself says, " It was among the resolutions with which I
entered on my ministry, to conduct it in all respects as if I
were to be forever in the office which I then entered ; to
adopt no temporary expedients to gain favor ; but to pursue
the path of duty whenever it was discovered, and wherever
it might lead."f To this principle he strictly adhered ; and
not less so to the second, which was, to make his profes-
sion his only care, and to allow nothing to interfere with
his attention to that great concern. One might fancy that

* Sermon on leaving the old ineeling-liouse, 1825.

* Ibid.



XIV MEMOIR.

he was constantly repeating to himself the words of the
Apostle, Give thyself wholly to them; and he became a
minister only, as Paul was an apostle only. He felt that
he should be unworthy of his place, if he could not devote
himself to it exclusively. He carried this feeling so far
that he used to say, " My parish first, then my family."
And this claim of his people was in his view so paramount
and sacred, that he would not allow himself any hours on
which they might not intrude, nor any studies or pur-
suits beyond the range of his profession ; all was theirs ; —
he scarcely permitted himself in recreation except for their
sakes, and absence from their circle was impatiently borne
by him as if with a sort of homesickness.

Entering his office with such views, he carried into all
its departments the spirit which ensured success. The
narrative of his life is simply the illustration of this remark.
When we have related how it affected his preaching, his
pastoral service, his various devices for doing good, and the
power of his personal character, we have told the whole
history of his ministry and showed the secret of its
efficiency.

I am inclined to dwell somewhat at large on the charac-
ter of his Preaching, because it seems to me to have been
formed on the most just principles, and to offer important
suggestions for the consideration of those engaged in the
same work. The single aim of his preaching seems to
have been usefulness. In the choice of his subjects, and
in his mode of composition and delivery, he sacredly ex-
cluded all consideration of himself, his own reputation or the
mere taste of his hearers ; he considered simply what would
do good. His sermons were thus remarkably characteristic



MEMOIR. XV

of himself, — plain, unpretending, unambitious, but strong
in manly sense, and pre-eminently serious and evangelical.
He loved those views best which are most peculiarly
Christian, and that mode of presenting them which appeals
most directly to men's sense of responsibleness. The
adaptation of Christianity to man as being in a state of im-
perfection and sin and needing great exertion to bring him
to holiness and God, seemed to him the view on which the
preacher should rest. Therefore he was accustomed to
address men as sinners, exposed to ruin and needing to be
reclaimed. Whence repentance was esteemed by him the
grand theme of the pulpit. Whatever my subject may be,
he used to say, I always come round to repentance before
I have done with it. Christ began with it, and men will
need it, at least as long as I am here to preach to them.
He thought it a sad error to address promiscuous congre-
gations as if all were interested in religion and needed but
to make progress in it. He knew that the great majority
need to be persuaded to begin a religious life ; and, as he
remarked shortly before his death, he esteemed those the
best sermons which urge men to begin to be religious and
teach them how to begin. It was this idea which suggest-
ed his advice to a young preacher, to remember, in preparing
every sermon, that it might be the last discourse which
some impenitent sinner would have the opportunity to hear ;
and to say something which should be suited to touch the
heart of such an one.

His adherence to these maxims gave a weighty and
affecting tone to his pulpit. It also established a central
point about which all his teaching revolved, and to which
all was referred. It enabled his hearers to discern to what
the whole svstem tended, and showed them what use is to



XVI MEMOIR.

be made of every truth. Some preachers fail of presenting
any such rallying point. They discourse at random on a
great variety of topics, but have no one grand idea running
through them all, by which they are connected together
and made to appear as parts of one great whole. In con-
sequence of which their ministry has no unity, no purpose,
no tendency to any result ; the blows they strike may be
powerful and true, but there is no concert between them,
and they are as those that beat the air. Mr Parker had an
aim from the first ; he fixed his attention on one object,
and had reference to that in all that he preached ; thinking
every discourse thrown away which did not help to effect
it. In consequence of which his preaching was altogether
practical, and progressive toward a definable result.

Not that he neglected the discussion of truth and avoided
theological speculation. On the contrary he was fond of it,
and often pursued it with evident delight in a train of close
and even metaphysical reasoning. His hearers speak with
fond recollection of many such efforts, when his strong and
sagacious sense pursued and dissected some knotty subject,
and laid it open to the satisfactory comprehension of all.
But he regarded such discussion as wholly subservient to a
further end, as simply preparatory to the application he was
to make to the conscience and the heart. He esteemed it
little less than sacrilege to spend the sacred hour of public
worship in debating some problem in ethics and divinity, and
to leave it without pointing out to the hearers the use they
should make of it. He knew that speculative truth is good
for nothing, except so far as it acts upon the character ;
and that it is made to act on the character, not by simply
being explained to the understanding, but by being made
also interesting to the affections and urgent to the con-



MEMOIR. iVll

science. When thus applied, he recognised it as the Chris-
tian orator's great instrument ; and hence he did not regard
that as the most truly practical preaching which deals only
in the inculcation of outward virtue, and contents itself
with the enforcement of positive precepts. " Precepts are
of little use," he said, " when the doctrines which enforce
and support them are not regarded." Remembering that
men are to be sanctified by the truth, he was not backward
to urge the doctrines of religion ; he knew that they are
the only foundation on which holy principle and steadfast
virtue can be erected, and that no man will care enough for
religion to build up for himself a religious character, unless
he is interested in the glorious realities which religious doc-
trine unfolds. But he would not treat those doctrines
controversially, in the way of debate and disputation. He
thought this more likely to hinder than to promote the
practical influence he desired. He explained them agreea-
bly to his own view of them, and in their own connexion
with duty, leaving erroneous views to perish of themselves.
As he himself expressed it, " he acted on the maxim, that
the best way to refute error is to preach the truth ; and he
did not think it his duty to bring forward and refute in a
controversial manner the errors which exist among Pro-
testant Christians, any more than to bring forward and
refute the errors of Popery."

Instead of controversially, he may rather be said to have
preached religious doctrines experimentally ; for it was in
their bearing on the affections and desires, the joys and trials
of the spirit ; on the struggles of the soul with its temp-
tations and sorrows, and in the encouragement, strength,
and peace which they impart in the various conflicts of the
spiritual life, that he habitually delighted to think of them



XV111 MEMOIR.

and speak of them. Hence the unction and impression
which the most serious and devout found in his discourses,
and the interest which they had to those who were anxiously
seeking for the way of life.

Thus his preaching was useful from its constant union of
sound instruction with affectionate exhortation. It excited
the mind to a train of thought, and on that thought built
an appeal to the heart and conscience. Without any dis-
play of what is called oratory, or of the elegance and splen-
dor which excite admiration and applause, it possessed
that truth, straight-forwardness, energy and fervor, which
enchain attention, fasten conviction, and leave lasting
impressions. In all this it was, as I said, a fac-simile
of the man ; and not least so in the fact that it lost
nothing, in respect to its power, but rather gained,
from familiarity. As those who knew him most inti-
mately, best appreciated his uncommon worth of character,
so those who most habitually heard his preaching best
realized its uncommon power. Its sway over the heart,
its strength to move the affections, to impress and over-
come, — though sometimes felt by strangers, who have
been known to carry away lasting impressions from a
single sermon, — were yet best understood by those who
found it the more irresistible the more they were accus-
tomed to it. How far more valuable than that showy
oratory, which astonishes and captivates those who hear
it for the first time, but which palls upon repetition, and
puts to sleep those who are accustomed to it.

In his preparation for the pulpit, though he had no re-
gard for the merely literary excellences of composition, he
yet was conscientiously careful ; laborious, however, rather



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