I have taken great solace and found great hope in the Farewell Sermon which Jonathan Edwards preached to his congregation at Northampton after they unceremoniously fired him for taking a scriptural view of admission to the Lord’s table contrary to that of Solomon Stoddard (Edwards’ grandfather) who was Edwards’ longtime predecessor at Northampton.
In applying the principles of his sermon, Edwards concluded his Farewell Sermon by saying:
“…although I have often been troubled on every side, yet I have not been distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; cast down, but not destroyed. — But now I have reason to think my work is finished which I had to do as your minister: you have publicly rejected me, and my opportunities cease.
“How highly therefore does it now become us to consider of that time when we must meet one another before the chief Shepherd! When I must give an account of my stewardship, of the service I have done for, and the reception and treatment I have had among the people to whom he sent me. And you must give an account of your own conduct towards me, and the improvement you have made of these three and twenty years of my ministry. For then both you and I must appear together, and we both must give an account, in order to an infallible, righteous and eternal sentence to be passed upon us, by him who will judge us with respect to all that we have said or done in our meeting here, and all our conduct one towards another in the house of God and elsewhere.
[He] will try our hearts, and manifest our thoughts, and the principles and frames of our minds. He will judge us with respect to all the controversies which have subsisted between us, with the strictest impartiality, and will examine our treatment of each other in those controversies. There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, nor hid which shall not be known. All will be examined in the searching, penetrating light of God’s omniscience and glory, and by him whose eyes are as a flame of fire. Truth and right shall be made plainly to appear, being stripped of every veil. And all error, falsehood, unrighteousness, and injury shall be laid open, stripped of every disguise. Every specious pretense, every cavil, and all false reasoning shall vanish in a moment, as not being able to bear the light of that day. And then our hearts will be turned inside out, and the secrets of them will be made more plainly to appear than our outward actions do now.”
Edwards then spoke these words which bear eerie resemblance to the ungodly way my twelves years of ministry at Oakbrooke Bible Church were ended on Sunday, July 28:
“And then (at the day of judgment when all is illumined by the light of the glory of the righteous Judge, Jesus Christ) it will appear whether my people have done their duty to their pastor with respect to this matter; whether they have shown a right temper and spirit on this occasion; whether they have done me justice in hearing, attending to and considering what I had to say in evidence of what I believed and taught as part of the counsel of God; whether I have been treated with that impartiality, candor, and regard which the just Judge esteemed due; and whether, in the many steps which have been taken, and the many things that have been said and done in the course of this controversy, righteousness, and charity, and Christian decorum have been maintained; or, if otherwise, to how great a degree these things have been violated. Then every step of the conduct of each of us in this affair, from first to last, and the spirit we have exercised in all, shall be examined and manifested, and our own consciences shall speak plain and loud, and each of us shall be convinced, and the world shall know; and never shall there be any more mistake, misrepresentation, or misapprehension of the affair to eternity.”
The foundation of my joy in God in the wake of the ungodly way my family and I have been treated, leading to my departure from the pulpit of Oakbrooke Bible Church, is in the truth that He is the final judge of all things. He is my Judge first and foremost, and it is in the righteousness of Jesus Christ alone I stand before Him, lest I stand before Him condemned and ultimately consumed by His glory.
May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ bring reconciliation and revival where presently there is is confusion and every evil work.