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In reviewing the principal contents of the present essay, the reader will recall to his remembrance the general rule laid down at its commencement; that the standard maintained by any body of Christians, respecting the steps preparatory to the ministry, will always be proportioned to their standard respecting the origin and nature of the ministry itself. He will recollect that this rule is illustrated and confirmed by the known practices of the Anglican church, and of the generality of English protestant dissenters—that the human ordination of the preachers of the Gospel, so prevalent among modern Christians, derives no authority from that ordination of presbyters which is recorded in Scripture, as having taken place in primitive times; because the bishops, presbyters, and deacons, of the early church, although rulers, managers, and even teachers, were not officially the preachers of the word—that Friends, who allow no ministry, in connexion with worship, but such as they deem to spring from the immediate influence of the Spirit, can take no part whatever in the steps which precede the exercise of the gift; but conceive it to be their duty to leave the whole work of selection, preparation, and ordination, to the Lord himself—that Jesus Christ, according to their apprehension, chooses his own ministers beforehand, and that no man may interfere with his choice—that he
prepares them for the office, by the work of his grace—that this preparation is of itself sufficient, without literary attainment; although mental cultivation and learning are, in themselves, desirable, and produce, collaterally, a good effect, even on our religious services—that a practical knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, more especially, is of indispensable use to the Christian preacher—that, when the Lord has chosen and prepared his ministers, he anoints them for their service, sends them forth on his own authority, and directs them in the course of their labours—that, nevertheless, the decision of the question, whether the minister be really acting under divine authority or otherwise, rests not so much with himself as with the church—finally, that the views and practices of Friends, in relation to these several particulars, are in precise accordance with a variety of declarations and examples recorded in Holy Writ.
Having completed my argument on the present subject, I may venture, in conclusion, to suggest to the consideration of my friends an important practical reflection. It has often and justly been observed, that every species of true excellence and virtue has its imitating and corresponding vice; and certainly it is the duty of Christians, while they earnestly endeavour to embrace the one, to be no less diligent in avoiding the other. Now, that passive course, which it is the object of the present essay to recommend—that absence of all human interference with the sole prerogative, and peculiar work of the Lord—however excellent and desirable in itself— will, I believe, be found to have its imitating and corresponding vice in spiritual dulness and inactivity, in a real neglect of the divine call, and in the omission of required duty. Such is our own liability to error, and such the artfulness of our spiritual enemy, that the very doctrine of our own insufficiency may be made a cover for inertness, and for a culpable and cowardly secession from the good fight of faith. The mental poverty and discouragement, also, to which even the Lord's servants are liable, may often be so fostered as to prevent their laying hold of that arm of power which is able to support them in the most arduous conflicts, and to qualify them, notwithstanding all their weakness, for their labours in the Gospel of Christ. Exposed as we are to these points of danger, and very generally placed in a condition of outward ease and security, we had need exercise a constant care, lest, while we are making a high profession of spirituality, our conduct should be marked by indolence in the service of our Redeemer.
Now, where is the preservative against such an indolence? Surely it will not be found in the desertion of those pure and exalted principles which it is our especial duty to uphold in the church, but rather in watchfulness unto prayer. Let us, then, be more diligent in seeking the animating and strengthening influence of the grace of God: let us be alive to every touch of the divine finger: let our hearts breathe the expressions of Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth ;” and, since “ the harvest truly is plenteous” and the labourers “few,” let us unite in earnest supplication to the Almighty, that he will be pleased yet more abundantly to pour
forth of his Spirit upon all flesh, and thus to “send forth labourers into his harvest."
ON THE PECUNIARY REMUNERATION OF THE MINISTERS
OF THE GOSPEL.
When Jesus Christ sent forth his seventy disciples to heal diseases, and to proclaim the approach of the kingdom of heaven, he forbade them to provide any stores for their journey. They were to place their confidence in the providential care of their heavenly Father; and, in the houses which they might visit, they were freely to avail themselves of the hospitality of their friends, for the supply of their bodily wants. * Into whatsoever house ye enter,” said he to them, first say,
Peace be to this house; and if the Son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give; for the labourer is worthy of his hire.” So also the apostle Paul, when addressing his Corinthian converts, among whom he had been labouring in the Gospel of Christ, asserts the claim upon them, which, when so engaged, he clearly possessed, for such a provision of "carnal things” as his necessities might require. “Have we not power,” says he, “to eat and to drink?.....or I only and Barnabas, have we not power to forbear working? Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also ? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written : that he that ploweth should plow in hope ; and that ho
i Luke x. 5-7.
that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? .... Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple ? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.”
The provision of the Mosaic law which is here cited—when regarded in its highest sense, as applying to the labourers in the cause of righteousness—appears to express, in a manner at once fuN and simple, the principle on which the apostle asserts his right to a provision for his natural wants. “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn;" or, in other words, While the ox is treading out the corn, thou shalt not muzzle him. When the seventy disciples of Jesus forsook, for a time, all their secular employments; when they went forth, in the name of their Lord, to heal the sick, and to preach righteousness; when they were engaged in travelling from place to place, in order to publish to their countrymen the glad tidings of salvation; it is plain that their whole time was occupied in their religious services; and, deprived, as they were, during such services, of the opportunity for earning their own bread, it was right that they should cast themselves, without reserve, on the kindness of their friends. It would have been improper in the visiters to decline such assistance, and shameful in the visited to withhold it. Very similar were the circumstances of the apostle Paul, who had sacrificed his original pursuits, and knew no settled or permanent home; but moved about from place to place, according to the will of his Lord, in order to diffuse, among his fellowmen, the truths of Christianity. Since he was constantly engaged in these missionary efforts, and devoted his time and talents exclusively to the work, he possessed an undeniable moral claim on those in whose behalf he laboured, for the supply of his outward necessities.
The same rule, respecting the maintenance of the ministers of the Gospel, is admitted in the Society of Friends. Occasions frequently occur, as has been remarked in the preceding chapter, when our ministers, as they apprehend, are sent forth from their homes by their divine Master. Constrained by the gentle influences of his love in their hearts, they visit the churches which are scattered abroad; and for a time devote themselves, without intermission, to the exercise of their ministerial functions. During the progress and continuance of such undertakings, they cannot be expected to provide for themselves; and it is, therefore, a practice generally prevailing in the Society, to pay the expenses of their journeys, and to maintain them during the course of their labours. Like the seventy disciples, to whom we have already alluded, they eat and drink at the houses which they visit; and if they be found true evangelists, it is universally acknowledged by their brethren, and not only acknowledged but felt—" that the labourer is worthy of his hire;” or, as the sentiment is expressed in the Gospel of Matthew, that “ the workman is worthy of his meat.”ri
1 1 Cor. ix. 4-14.
Although, however, Paul upholds the general rule, that the ox, when actually treading out the corn, is not to be muzzled, he was evidently very jealous of its being in any degree misapplied, or extended beyond its true bearing. Deprived as he was of any permanent home, and singularly devoted, both in mind and time, to the duties of an apostle, he might very reasonably have depended solely upon the churches for his food and raiment; but no sooner did he take up his residence in any place for a considerable length of time, than he began to apply himself to some manual labour, in order that he might earn his own bread, avoid being burthensome to his friends, and throw no impediment in the way of the Gospel. “If others be partakers of this power over you,” says the apostle to the same Corinthians, " are not we rather? Nevertheless, we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the Gospel of Christ. ...... What is my reward, then ? Verily that, when I preach the Gospel, I may make the Gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the Gospel." As the apostle declined receiving a maintenance from his friends at Corinth, so he observed the same line of conduct at Ephesus; where, indeed, he not only supported himself, but contributed to the support of others. Diligent as he was, during his abode in that city, in the exercise of his ministry—“ teaching publicly from house to house,” and warning “every one night and day with tears"-he was, nev
1 Ch. x. 10.
? 1 Cor. ix. 12, 18.