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superior to their own. How a minister of Christ be ever so common is it to ascribe every guarded in his speech, ever so such appearance to weakness or inoffensive in his carriage, ever hy pocrisy. In the generality of so distant in reality from injur. wicked men this is not so prop. ing others; if he be more erly malice as self-defence. If frequent and more affectionate they should allow the excellence in preaching, if he is more assidu. of such a character, it would ous in the duties of his function, be condemning themselves out of this must naturally excite the retheir own mouths. Their inward sentment of the lazy, slothful part reflection, in all probability, is of his profession. This of itself, perfectly similar to that of the is injury enough to those who Pharisees, when Christ asked love their worldly ease, and have them, Whether the baptism of more pleasure in the possession John was from heaven, or of of their benefice, than the exer. men ? " They reasoned with cise of their office. Is this surpris. themselves, saying, If we shall ing! Not in the least. His con. say from heaven, he will say un. duct does indeed molest their qui. to us, Why did ye not then be. ' et: it either forces them to great. lieve him ?” In the same man. er diligence, or holds up their ner, should any coufess the ex. real character to light, and ex. cellence of a conduct opposite to poses them to contempt andscorn. their own, it would be impossi. In order at once to confirm I ble to avoid saying to them, Why and illustrate this truth, observe do ye then so sin against light that the force and malignity of
Every one will see, that this envy in defaming of characters, must necessarily hold most is always in proportion to the strongly in the case of those nearness of the person to whom whose office, or whose work, is the character belongs. Distance, of a public nature. They are either of time or place, greatly like. a city set on a hill, As abates, if not wholly extin. their character is most conspic. guishes it. Suppose the charuous, it is, by necessary conse. acter of a person drawn, who quence, most useful to the good, lived many ages ago, or even at and most provoking to the wick present in a very distant couled. Faithful ministers of Christ, try ; suppose him represented as for instance, are the lights of the eminent in virtue of every kind, world, and by their piety and as remarkably diligent, as indediligence, are a standing reproach fatigably active in doing good ; to the world lying in wicked. there are few who shew any disness. But, in a particular inane position to call in question the ner, they must be the objects of the fact, or impute it to sinister mohatred and resentment of those of tives. But let the same be the their own order, who will not apparent character of any man follow their steps. This is an among his contemporaries, and evident consequence of the prin. how many are immediately up 10 ciple above laid down. As their arms against him ? How implic. character suffers most by the itly do they believe, and with comparison, their passions must what pleasure do they spread ev. necessarily be most inflamed. Letery idle calumny to his prejų.
dice? How is his piety immediate. pot well attested evidence of ly converted into hypocrisy, his their piety and integrity, but zeal into faction and ill nature, that, being of different sentiments his feryor and diligence into af. from their accusers, the excel. fectation and love of popularity ; lence of their character is too and, in a word, every valuable good a support to their cause. quality into that vice, by which 2. Another reason why the it is most commonly or most art. servants of God are represented fully counterfeited.
as troublesome is, because they That this difference of judg. will not, and dare not comply ment is entirely owing to the with the sinful commandments of reason I have assigned, will fur. men. In matters merely civil, ther appear, if you consider, good men are the most regular that so soon as a connexion of citizens and the most obedient the same nature happens, by any subjects. But, as they bạve a accidental circumstance to be es. Master, in heaven, no carthly tablished, the same invidious re power can constrain them to de. sentment immediately takes place ny bis name or desert his cause. against the most distant charac. The reply of Peter and Johu to ters. What inveterate preju. the Jewish rulers when they were : dice do infidels generally show. commanded 6 not to speak at against the characters of the all or teach in the name of JeScripture saints, and those of sus," was in the following terms, the fathers of the Christian “Whether it be right in the sight church, because the establish of God, to hearken unto you ment of such characters does more than unto God, judge necessarily and manifestly infer ye."* With what invincible the overthrow of the cause in constancy and resolution did which they are embarked. In Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed. the mean time, the wise men of nego refuse to bow before Nebthe heathen nations are suffered to uchadnezzar's golden image ? possess, without contradiction, The case of Daniel was perfectly all the reputation which their similar, whom even the king's countrymen in after-ages have commandment could not restrain thought fit to bestow upon them. from prayer to God. Nay, sometimes to serve a cer. When good men are unhappi. tain purpose, their character is ly brought into these circum. increased and magnified beyond stances, their conduct is an ap. all reasonable bounds. What' parent contradiction to authori. pains have been taken by those ty. How ready are lordly and Christians, who patronize the oppressive tyrants to style it ob. modern inventions and improve stinacy and pride ? And when ments in theology, to undermine are there wanting slavish and the characters of the most emi. submissive flatterers near every Dent champions of the ancient inferior tribunal, to aggravate faith? What would some per the crime, and to cry, “ If thou sons teach us to believe of Athan. let this man go, thou art not nasius and Augustine in earlier, Cesar's friend ?" It is not to be Calvin, Luther, and Melancthon imagined, indeed, but such as aro in later times ? Not that we have
* Acts iv. 19.
strangers to true religion, must done. Thus it comes to be con. be greatly provoked at those sidered not only as withdrawing who will not comply implicitly his own allegiance, but as cor. with their commands. There rupring and seducing others. is a remarkable passage in a And no doubt, it tends to draw letter of Piny the younger, to the attention of the world to the the emperor Trajan, which plain. disputed command, and makes ly points out the sentiments en. some, perhaps, sift and examine tertained by many on this sub. what they had before blindly ject. He was a man in other gone into without suspicion. matters abundantly humane, and Hence it naturally follows, that yet hear his own account of his whenever such interference haptreatment of the Christians when pens between human and divine brought to his tribunal. “1 authority, good men must be asked them if they were Chris. coosidered as disorderly and tians; if they confessed, I asked troublesome; and those of them them again threatening punish. of all others most troublesome, ment. If they persisted, I com. who with the greatest constancy manded them to be executed; for I adhere to their duty, or who, did not at all doubt but, whatever with the greatest honesty and their confession was, their stub- boldness, resist and oppose cor. bornness and inflexible obstina. rupt measures. cy ought to be punished.”
3. One other reason why the ser. There is a love of dominion vants of God are accused as natural to all men, which is un. troublesome, is because they are, der no control or restraint in in many instances, obliged, to those who are void of religion. bear testimony against the sins of This must naturally dispose them others, and openly to reprore to carry on their schemes, and them. Reproof is plainly, of to insist on having them univer. all others, the greatest offence sally complied with. It frets and provocation of the proud, and provokes them, therefore, and draws down their heaviest reto find any who will not be sub- sentment : ând yet it is often un. servient to their pleasures. A re. avoidable. There are some cases fusal to obey, on a principle of in which every Christian without conscience, is expressly setting exception, must feel the con. bounds to their authority, and straint of this divine law. “Thou saying, hitherto shalt thou go, shalt in any wise rebuke thy but no further. How few are neighbor, and not suffer sin upable to bear this with patience, on him."'* Some sins are so fla. the history of the world in eve grant in their nature that, even ry age is one continued proof. to witness them with silence,
Such refusals also, do always would imply some participation reflect some dishonor upon the of the guilt. In such cases it is measures to which they stand in the glory of the poorest and opposition. Whatever any per meanest servant of God, to reson refuses to do, he, as far as in sent the dishonor that is done to him lies, represents as wrong his name, and reprove the most and sinful; and, in so'ne re. exalted sinner. spects, unworthy or unfit to be
* Lev. xix. 17.
But this duty, and the odium of their practice. When they arising from it, falls most fre., “perceived that he spake against quently to the share of the proph. them,—they took counsel against ets and ministers of God, who him to put him to death ;' and have received a commission to accomplished it so soon as they speak in his name and to plead could do it with safety. But his cause. The faithful discharge there cannot be a better examof their duty, includes in it ple, or indeed, a more lively and plainness and boldness in reprov. well drawn picture of the effect ing sin of every kind. They must of plain and just reproof, than assert and maintain the truth, and in the case of Stephen, when point out the errors opposite to pleading his cause before the it, with all their guilty fruits, Jewish rulers. " Ye stiffand all their dreadful conse. necked, and uncircumcised in quences. How offensive this to heart and ears, ye do always re. human pride ? It must certainly sist the Holy Ghost; as your fa. either convince or provoke, re. thers did, so. do ye. Which of form or inflame. When right. the prophets have not your faeous Lot says, in the mildest thers persecuted ? and they have terms, to the lustful Sodomites, slain them which shewed before, “I pray you brethren, do not of the coming of the just One; so wickedly," how fierce is the of whom you have been now the answer? And they said, stand betrayers and murderers. When back. And they said again, this they heard these things, they one fellow came in to sojourn, were cut to the heart, and they and he will needs be a judge."'* gnashed on him with their
How marry martyrs to truth teeth.”+ It is plainly for this have there been since the world reason that the apostles, in their began ? Without mentioning prayers for assistance, do almost those in the Old Testament, you constantly ask, that they may see John the baptist lost his life be endued with a proper degree by reproving the incestuous a. of boldness and resolution, “And dultery of Herod and Herodias. now, Lord, behold their threat. Our blessed Savior gives the fol. enings; and grant unto thy serlowing account of the hatred of vants that with all boldness they the world to him, and the con. may speak thy word.” I Many trary reception it gave to his other prayers are to be found in temporising brethren, “The the apostolic writings which run world cannot hate you; but me in the same strain.ş it hateth, because I testify of it,' It is very natural for every that the works thereof are evil.”: one at this distance, to imagine, By consulting the history of the that he could have been in no gospel you will find, that what danger of making such an obsti. gave rise to the conspiracy of ihe nate resistance to the truth, or Scribes and Pharisees against him, persecuting, with such implaca. was his dragging off the mask ble enmity, those who espoused under which they lay concealed, it. But, my brethren, all worldand discovering the errors of their ly men, in every age, have still doctrine, and the licentiousness
† Acts vč. 51, 52, 54. + Aots iv. 29. * Gen. xix. 9.
$ See Eph. vi. 19. 2 Thess. iij. 2.
the same abhorrence of the faith. clergy: " I kňow that you fut servants of God; the same seek my life, and will shortly impatience of reproof, when it kill me : But why? I speak the touches themselves. Our Sa. truth to you, I reprehend your vior draws their character with pride and haughtiness, avarice, great beauty, in speaking to and luxury : therefore I please the Pharisees ; 6 Wo unto you you not.” And in the fourScribes and Pharisees, hypo. teenth century, an ancient writ. crites, because ye build the tombs er speaks of the court of Rome of the prophets, and garnish the in the following terms: "For sepulchres of the righteous'; what can you conceive will hap. and say, If we had been in the pen where virtue was long ago days of our fathers, we would extinct and buried? There sure. not have been partakers with ly truth is the highest crime, and them in the blood of the proph. of itself sufficient to procure the ets. Wherefore ye be witnesses hatred of many. For how can unto yourselves, that ye are we expect but that should hap. the children of them which kill. pen, where a true word cannot ed the prophets,”* It is very be spoken without a great' re. delicately hinted in this last verse proach, where the worst of men that they were of the same na- are promoted, where simplicity ture, that they grew, as it were, is esteemed madness, where upon the same stock, and there. good men are rendered ridicu. fore it might be expected that lous, insomuch that now scarce they would bring forth the same any of them doth appear to be fruit. I cannot but here men. laughed at. These few things tion a remark of a very eminent truth itself hath dared to speak, writer upon this passage; “That whence you may gather what all nations partake much of this you are to think of many others. disposition of the Jews, to hon, which fear doth force me to con. or the dead saints, and persecute ceal.” Ş It is unnecessary to the living." +
cite many passages to this pur. I have taken notice above, pose; I shall therefore conclude that in every period of the church with the following just reflection the most faithful of the servants of the pious, diligent, and cath. and ministers of God, have, in olic Mr. Baxter; “I see there in fact, been counted trouble. is no help for it, but we must' ofsome by corrupt and worldly fend wicked men. It is imposmen. The same passages of his. sible to avoid it, but either by tory constantly shew, that this our silence or their patience. Si. has arisen chiefly from their at- lent we cannot be, because the tempts to stem the tide of pre. word of God commands us to vailing vice; from their boldness speak; and patient they can. and faithfulness in reproving not be, because sin has the dofashionable crimes. In the minion in their hearts.” twelfth century, Arnulphus, a
Witherspoon. devout man, and excellent Whitby's App. to his book on Hostpreacher, speaks thus to the worship.
& Petrarch's Ep. * Matt. xxiii. 29, 30, 31. t. Tillotson.