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ministry which we have amongst us, but these in themselves are but dead, and more than dead, they are killing, if they are only in themselves. We have much need to see that our ministers, God's priests amongst us, have themselves the oil which they are to empty out of themselves amongst the people of God; and therefore it was that the apostle feeling this so deeply, continually implores the prayers of his people, continually implores those whom he had to rule and govern, to instruct and teach, and with whom he worshipped, that they would help him in prayer to God that he might be enabled to be a faithful minister of Christ, as he says in the 6th chap. of his Epistle to the Ephesians, in the 18th and 19th verses, “ Praying always with all prayer and supplication of the spirit, and watching with all perseverance and supplication for all saints and for me, that utterance may be given unto me that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.” “ To pray for me," --that he expects much grace from God upon his own soul, and in his own heart through the prayers of those upon whom he was to pour out the fruits of that spirit, that they also through him might be owned and blessed of God. And if we have to regard God's ministers as his priests for public worship, to stand before the Lord as his anointed ones, we have to regard them also as teachers for instruction. They are pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints ;-their business it is to bear witness for God, and to speak as the apostle says, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth but which the Holy Ghost teacheth ; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. They are not men who are to teach out of the thoughts of their own minds, but who are well instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven, bringing out of their blessed
treasure, the Bible, and only from the Bible, by the teaching and light of God's spirit, those truths which bear witness to God's Son, and teach us how to be wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Another part of the ministerial office, and a most important part of the office, is declared to be the pastor, the man who is to go from house to house, from family to family, from heart to heart, and to ask, How is it with your souls? Here, brethren, is one of the greatest deficiencies of the Christian church in the present day, a deficiency arising from many causes, and a deficiency concerning which it may not be unsuitable in this place, and at this time, to say a few words more directly applicable to ourselves. The pastoral office is indeed one of the appointed means of pouring the oil of God's spirit into the hearts of God's people. It was of the pastoral, not of the public, teaching alone that the apostle spake to the elders of Ephesus, as you will see in the twentieth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles : there he speaks of himself, and says, in the twentieth verse, “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have sought you publicly and from house to house." Now, what have we in our Church of England, at this moment, for the supply of this divinely appointed golden channel for emptying the oil of God's spirit into the hearts of his people? We have the pame of pastor, and it is but the name. Look at the district connected with this church ; we have within it eight thousand souls entrusted to one minister. Where can the pastor be there ? As far as the church is concerned, but one pastor is provided here for eight thousand souls. It is indeed true that, by other means, there are three additional ones added to this church, but
it is not by any public provision that any more than one of them is appointed. And yet, even taking the four, what are four men amongst eight thousand people ? And if I may venture here to make a reference, in connection with such a subject, to myself, as having the care, the chief care, of souls in this district,-in the providence of God many other things are entrusted to me; I shall not say higher ministry, for there is no higher ministry than to go to the sick-bed and to comfort Christ's afflicted ones, or to go after the wandering sheep and bring back the wandering individuals, as he who is the greatest minister of all did, when he tarried beside the well. But one cannot be attending to every duty, and the pastoral work in this place has become to me, personally, an impossibility now. All that is pos
, sible for me in this respect to do, is to do what I can with those fragments of time which other duties leave to me for seeing the people committed to my charge individually as I am able to do. It will always give me great pleasure to be sent for if there be a heart that needs soothing, or a soul that needs counsel : but as to the general care of the district, it would be impossible, even if I had individually nothing else to do ; for there is no possibility, even with all we have here, to perform fully the pastoral office, which is one of the chief appointments of Christ for the edifying of the body of Christ. But yet it would be very easy to supply them, if there was a deeper sense of the need and blessing that is attached to the house-going ministry ; if each family in this place were to subscribe but two pence in the week, it would give us all that is needed for the pastoral care of souls in this place. But if we had money, that would not bring men; we need to pray the
Lord of the harvest that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
Brethren, the time is hastening onwards — the midnight hour is coming—the day when the Son of man shall be announced in the trumpet blast from heaven, and that voice shall be heard, Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him." But feebly, indeed, does our church supply that need which shall so plenteously furnish that pastoral golden pipe that is to bring into each household and into each heart the golden oil of God's spirit, that there may be an enlightened, sanctified, holy, healthy church to be a chaste virgin for Christ when he shall come in his glory and his glorified church with him.
But now there are other ordinances entrusted to the ministry and committed to the people, which we also need to dwell upon, if we would rightly understand the instruction and admonition which our blessed Saviour gives us here: “ They that were wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” One great means of blessing to our souls, as well as of homage to God, is public worship; that we have in part: we have our Sabbath services, and those services, comparatively at least, well attended ; but if we have felt as we ought the unction of God's spirit, we should earnestly crave that every word of prayer, that we use might be indeed living words, meaning what we say and expressing what we feel. We should earnestly pray that we may truly realize in prayer, the unity of one body, pouring out the language of one heart to the one God, the Saviour of us all. If this were indeed the case, we should have a more lively feeling of devotion as we meet together in the house of God. We would not, probably at least, have the languid response that we now have in the appointed services of our church, where it is but a voice here and there that ventures to allow itself to be heard in response in those words of holiness and prayer to God, when we are joining together in public worship. If we had more vigorously the life of God amongst us, we would not wait from Sabbath to Sabbath for one stated time of prayer; we would not have so few to be found here on Wednesday evenings as now we have, or so few who had time to come on a Friday morning; nor should we find so great a difficulty in assembling a sufficient congregation for daily prayer; for let us remember, that in a darker dispensation than our own, when there was less of the power of God's spirit, there was yet that appointment of daily prayer, the nine o'clock service and the three o'clock service, in which the worshippers went up every day to worship God. It is not the duty of all to do this ; indeed it would be contrary to the duty of many to do so; but yet it could not be but that, in a population of eight thousand people, a sufficient number would be found who had leisure from the duties of life to meet together each day in God's house, and pour out to him language animated by the spirit of prayer.
Brethren, remembering that Christ is speaking of the preparedness for the bridegroom's coming, have we not other ordinances which he has provided for us? There is the holy table of the Lord; why is it that it is not better attended ?—why is it that it is not fully realized ? Is it an appointed means of grace ? Has it especial promises given to it? Is it indeed true that the
of blessing which we bless is the communion of the blood of Christ, and that the bread which we break is the com