Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

love for their work sake, and to give them a support, which is the best suited to render them the most extensively useful.

Fourthly, The ministers of the gospel ought to give themselves wholly to the duties of their office. Do they love their office? Are they thankful for their office? Do they esteem their office a peculiar privilege? Then surely they ought to exert themselves, with unwearied diligence, in the faithful discharge of all its duties. These are various and important enough to employ all their time and all their abilities. The greatest and best of men have found themselves unequal to the arduous task, and felt themselves ready to sink under the weight of their sacred work. Even Paul was so sensible of the difficulty and importance of ministerial duties, that he cried out, under a deep sense of human weakness and imbecility, “who is sufficient for these things?" Ministers have no time to spare for amusements, for diversions, or for the peculiar studies of any other profession than their own. And if they had time, the nature of their office, forbids them to dissipate their minds by the cares, the pleasures, or the pursuits of the world. But some, perhaps, may plead necessity for negleciing the duties of their office. This necessity very seldom takes place. Let ministers therefure consider their solemn vows to Christ, and by a faithful discharge of their office, convince their people, that they are entirely devoted to their service; and then if their complaints be not removed, their consciences will be eased. This however, is certainly that course of conduct, which Paul directs Timothy and every other minister of the gospel to pursue. “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth, entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath Occa.

13

chosen him to be a soldier. Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.”

Fifthly, The ministers of the gospel should cheerfully submit to that state of self-denial, in which, the nature of their office requires them to live. Their peculiar station deprives them of many worldly en: joyments, and naturally subjects them to a life of selfdenial. They have no grounds to expect that honor, that ease, that astfluence, or that independence, which attends many other employments of life. These alluring prospects they are called to renounce, and cheerfully submit to more humble and self-denying circumstances. To such a state of humility and selfdenial, Christ and the apostles cheerfully subjected themselves, through the whole course of their ministry. Paul, in particular, made great sacrifices to his office, and readily submitted to all the scenes of selfdenial, which he knew would attend the preaching of the gospel. He says, “when it pleased God, who sep. arated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,

to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.Flesh and blood would naturally say, “spare thyself, and plunge not into all the dangers and mortifying circumstances, which overwhelm the despised preachers of the cross.” But, resisting these solicitations of nature, and yielding to the motions of grace, he resolved to obey the call of Christ, and preach the gospel, at the hazard of every worldly interest. This was a signal act of self denial. For, he was a young man of shining talents, and of great expectations; at least, the great men of the nation had fixed their eyes upon him, and had given him a mark of their particular esteem and regard, by granting him

a commission to execute a very important design. But all these flattering prospects he cheerfully gave up, for the sake of the ministry. And when he was called to the trial, he made good his resolutions, and courageously endured the afflictions of the gospel. The account of his trials and sufferings, is enough to make the first clergymen in Europe, the prelates of all established churches, and all who sustain the ministerial character, ashamed of themselves, whenever they complain of the burdens of their office. “He was in labors abundant, in stripes above measure,

in prisons frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times he received forty stripes save one.

Thrice was he beaten with rods, once was he stoned, thrice he suffered shipwreck, a night and a day he was in the deep, in journeyings often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils by his own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perilsin the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness, in painfulness, in watching often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." Yet after all this, in the close of his life hecould sincerely say, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.”. He always maintained such a grateful sense of the distinguishing privilege of being a minister of the gospel, that he felt as though he could never do nor suffer enough to promote the cause of Christ and the salvation of sinners. Surely then we, who sustain the same office, ought to feel the same spirit, and cheerfully go through all the trials that attend us in the course of our ministry. If we love our office; if we are thankful for it; how readily should we take up the cross, despise the pomp and splendor of the world, and silently walk in the low vale of obscurity, neglect, and dependence?

Sixthly, Christ has laid his ministers under the most endearing obligations to be faithful in their office. He has raised them up. He has given them their noble powers and faculties. He has enriched their minds with all their treasures of knowledge and grace. And besides all this, he has put them into the highest and best office in his kingdom.

They are bound therefore by their office, by their gifts and graces, and by all the ties of love and gratitude, to preach the gospel with the utmost plainness and fidelity. Paul felt the weight and influence of all these tender motives, and accordingly chose to be the servant of Christ, rather than the servant of men; and to displease all the world rather than to displease Him, who had put him into the ministry. He renounced the hidden things of dishonesty. He walked not in craftiness, nor handled the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth, commended himself to every man's conscience in the sight of God. In all his Epistles, but especially in those to the Romans, and Ephesians, he inculcates, without the least palliation or reserve, the doctrine of native depravity, of regeneration, of election, of divine sovereignty, and of divine operation in forming the vessels of mercy and the vessels of wrath. And this faithful discharge of his office, he tells us, gave him peculiar comfort and satisfaction in the nearest views of eternity. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Now, my fathers and brethren, if we are the ministers of Christ, we shall likewise feel the force of these strong and tender obligations, to be faithful in our offices We shall not seek to please men, but we shall

seek to please Christ. We shall tell men the truth, even though they should become our enemies for telling them the truth.

We shall plainly lay open the depravity and corruption of the human heart. We shall airn to strip sinners of their selfrighteousness, and drive them from all their refu ges

of lies. We shall endeavor to make our hearers understand and feel the most disagreeable, which are indeed the most important and profitable doctrines of the gospel. And we shall labor to lodge in their consciences as well as in our own, a lasting evidence, that, having declared the whole counsel of God, we are pure from the blood of all men.

Seventhly, It is a privilege to hear, as well as to preach the gospel. It was a privilege of the gentiles to hear Paul, as well as a privilege of Paul to preach to the gentiles. And it is a privilege of the people now to hear the ministers of Christ, as well as a privilege of the ministers of Christ to preach to the people. Indeed, the opportunity of hearing the gospel, is one of the highest privileges that mankind can ever enjoy. What greater privilege can Christ bestow upon any people, than to raise up an able and faithful minister, and furnish him with his richest gifts and graces, and send hini among them, to open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God? This great and invaluable blessing, my hearers, you all enjoy, who enjoy able and faithful ministers. How then will you be able to answer it to Christ at the day of judgment, if you esteem it a burden rather than a privilege, to hear them preach; and from Sabbath to Sabbath, neglect to appear in the house of God, to seek the law at their mouth? You had better misimprove any other day in the weck. than misimprove the Sabbath. You had better mis improve read time and harvest, than misimprove the

« ElőzőTovább »