« PreviousContinue »
1 Thess. v. 12, 13,
And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among
you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you ; And to esteem them very highly in love for their works' sake. And
be at peace among yourselves.
THE RECIPROCAL DUTIES OF A MINISTER AND HIS
DELIVERED AT THE ADMISSION OF A MINISTER.
CHRISTIANITY has been long enough in the world to see its ministers in all the variety of situation, which the passions, the prejudices, and the interests of mankind can suggest and impose.--It has fared with the servants, as it did with the masters-on whom the multitude would one day obtrude the regal lionours and dignity, and the next, drag out to the punishment of a slave. The world has preserved no medium in this but according to the prevailing humour of the time and place, has elevated men of the ministerial profession to the highest pinnacle of
wealth and power, ranked them among, sometimes above, the gods of the earth, or pursued them into corners, loaded them with reproach, and accounted them as the “ filth of the world, “ and the offscouring of all things." It has been our lot, to exist in the age of senseless, insipid, profligate infidelity-Unbelievers of other times were men of learning, of philosophic acuteness, some of them men of virtue-they thought it necessary to employ what had at least the semblance of reason and argument, against the gospel-but the unbelievers of to-day save themselves a great deal of labour on this subject, and successfully oppose to all that can be written or spoken in defence of revealed religion, the irresistible arguments of a loud laugh, a hard heart, a stupid head, and a dissolute life. One great advantage results from this state of things the ministers of the gospel are relieved from the necessity of employing what talents they have, in defending the outworks of religion, and thereby enjoy full leisure, if they be disposed to improve it, for attending to its internal polity, and securing, or even extending, its frontier. We are, through the blessing of providence, men, brethren, and fathers, left at perfect liberty to do, and to receive, as much benefit by the gospel of Jesus as we can we are happily placed in that
MINISTER AND HIS PEOPLE. state, wherein little is to be either feared or hoped from without, where ambition has no object, and wliere, unless through our own fault, neither contempt nor malice can reach us. Happy, thrice happy, did we but know our own felicity.
You are sufficiently acquainted, my friends, with the intention of this day's meeting. This is one of the few opportunities which occur of suggesting more particular and more important hints respecting the reciprocal affections and duties of the christian priesthood, and the “ church « of Christ committed to them an office both delicate and difficult, but which, notwithstanding, I undertake with all cheerfulness, because my heart assures me, that in addressing the people, it is the reverse of my intention to magnify my order in their eyes, or to bespeak, much less to exact, an improper respect toward it; and that in speaking of the character and conduct of ministers, I have no insolent ambition to instruct others, but an earnest desire to impress my heart with a deep sense of my own duty. I could therefore wish it supposed that in the exhortations to be delivered, in so far as they are founded upon, and agreeable to, the word of God, not I, but the great apostle of the Gentiles is speaking His advices to the Thessalonian church, and through it to the churches of Christ in every age and place of the world, are addressed to the people more directly, to their ministers in an oblique manner---yet, at the same time, with clearness and perspicuity. Let us attend to them in the order wherein they are laid down in the textand may God give us understanding in all things, that we may know, and speak, and do his will.
Observe, I pray you, the modesty, the meekness, which accompany the fervour of Paul's address. Where is the stately assumption of the apostolical dignity and authority--where the pontifical haughtiness and distance ? Paul knew nothing about them. “ We beseech you, bre“ thren," is his humble, gentle language; but perhaps he is asking some boon for himself, that he is thus submissive and condescending---no such thing--there is not one word or hint about himself in the whole address. The only favour he has to ask is, that they would study their own honour and happiness, and the edification of the body of Christ. His
First request to the people is, that they “ would know them who laboured among them," that is to say, acquaint themselyes with their