This leaflet sourced by Trev Ashmore was first printed on the above date by C. Plumbe Machine Printer, Sutton, Mansfield, and Clay Cross. The writer Rev William Goodacre left instructions for its publication and distribution among his parishioners immediately following his death; proving to be his final sermon.
My Dear Parishioners,
Once more I take up my pen to address you. It may be for the last time. If so, I pray God that you may regard my closing words; and I exhort you, I beseech you, as a dying man, do not neglect the duties of religion. We are accountable creatures, I assure you I feel it deeply ; as the time of my departure draweth nigh. An awful account must mine be.
The number of souls committed to my care makes my responsibility awful. I do not say that I have not thought of this before, but I have not thought enough of it. Who is sufficient for these things? May I hope that some will have happiness eternal, and I, under God, be the happy instrument of their salvation? How many may be in misery hereafter, and ascribe their sufferings to my neglect or unworthy conduct?
Dreadful reflection!! The love of you, my dear parishioners, the desire of your happiness, and the wish, before God, to free my own soul, induces me as I lie in bed, thus to address you. I enter into no arguments of the value of God's approval. You have your bibles to read, you have access to many good books and tracts. You have the opportunity of hearing God's word. Use these means. I known that people often regard the last words of their friends ; and it is with the hope that you will pay more attention to my words when I am dead, than when alive, that I write these few lines.
Keep holy the Sabbath day. The breach of the Sabbath is one of the crying sins of this land, especially in populous districts. I have often bewailed it amongst you. Take your children with you to the house of prayer. Instruct them in good, restrain them from evil. Many cannot go to God's house, because they have not decent clothing; I am sorry this is often really the case, but very often the money which would buy clothes is improperly spent. To go to worship God, in decent attire, is desirable, but still God looks at the heart and not the outward garb. Go in the best manner you can. Could I prevail with you to attend to the duties of the Lord's day, other duties with their attendant blessings would follow. The good is beyond calculation. Try it, but trust not yourselves, pray to God for His guidance.
My dear parishioners, - Why will you neglect the public worship of God? Many of you belong to Friendly Societies, as Odd Fellows, Druids, and others. How often have I urged this duty at your anniversaries, both from the pulpit and in our social intercourse afterwards.
The standing rule of going together to church is a public acknowledgement of the duty of serving God. You have acknowledged it - some have promised, but few have performed. Why is this? I cannot regard it as personal; the good and kindly feeling you have almost uniformly shown towards me, is a proof that it was not against me. Why then was it? It is the enmity of the heart to the things of God. It is the Spirit only that can quicken; but you must put yourselves in the way that the Spirit may reach you.
God invites all to be happy. God helps all that seek help. God forces none - because man is accountable, but He assists whatever is needful - therefore if man be not happy it is his own fault, and he must bear the consequence of being God's enemy.
Your Societies may have some abuses. One is, your annual convivial meetings are apt to degenerate into intemperance. This evil I am happy to say, of late years, has been much less. Do away with it altogether.
Now, as religion, the true fear of God, is the best remedy of social evils of any, pay more attention to your rules. Think of the bearing of that regulation of your societies, attending the House of God on your anniversaries; and, as I have often said to you personally, so say I now, with my dying breath.
Be consistent members, and worship God weekly, for the sake of your own souls and your dear children's souls.
Pay more regard to my successor than you have done to me. I mean, pay regard to his instructions. Personally you have been kind to me, and I do not complain ; but the power of sin has more prevailed in your hearts, that my words have done. May my successor's labours be blessed to the salvation of your souls. And now, my dear brethren, if I see you no more till we meet before the judgement seat of Christ, that God's blessing may rest upon you and yours - that the Holy Spirit may assist you in your own souls, and in your dear children - that after as many comforts as the God who knows best what to bestow may see fit to give you in this world, you may, with your families, (thro' believing in and obeying Jesus Christ), arrive at eternal happiness, is now, and at the hour of death, will be the fervent prayer of your friend and pastor.
Written 05 Nov 07 Revised 23 Mar 09 © by Gary Elliott