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cheering and happy effects of the government of case; yea, happy is that people whose God is such a just, pious, and kind ruler: He shall be the Lord.' as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds: as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.' It is certain that God, in his providence often blesses nations for the virtues, and

punishes them for the crimes, of their princes. What evil may come on nations in consequence of the wickedness of their kings, is exemplified in Jeroboam and Ahab;-what good, in David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah.

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Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds, Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?' Ezek. xxxiv. 2.

WHOEVER enters on the great work of the Christian ministry ought himself to be an enlightened, believing, converted, and truly religious man. "Unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?' Nay, religion must not only exist, but be in a thriving state, in a minister's own soul, in order to his going on vigorously, and in order to his having a reasonable expectation of much success in his ministry. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free spirit; then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee.' Supposing that ministers personally know, believe, and obey the truth, the following are some of the chief duties they owe to their people.

It would tend powerfully to prompt rulers to the faithful discharge of their various duties, were they properly to consider, and habitually remember, that their authority is delegated,-that they themselves are the subjects of the King of kings, and responsible to him. They are expressly called God's ministers,' or servants. 'He is the minister of God to thee for good; he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.' They are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing:' Rom. xiii. 4, 6. While this relation to God is very honourable to them, the thought of it should keep them humble and dutiful, and remind them that it is his honour and not their own they should seek to promote; his holy will and not their own caprice they should exert themselves to work out. The hour is coming, too, when rulers will have to stand before the bar of Him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor. Surely such considerations should lead rulers to study and pray that they may act for the glory of God and the good of man, according to the rules of the unerring word. They should learn a lesson from the command given to the king of Israel, Deut. xvii. 18, 'It shall be when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, out of that which is before the priests the Levites: and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of his law, and these statutes, to do them: that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment to the right hand, or to the left; to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.' Happy the king that so acts! for, great as is his honour on earth, it shall be far greater in heaven. Happy, too, the people who are so governed, and who manifest corresponding dutifulness on Christian prin- flocks. ciple! Happy is that people that is in such a them.

It is their duty to feed the flock; that is, to instruct them. Knowledge is the food of the mind. Jehovah makes this gracious promise to his people, Jer. iii. 15, I will give you pastors according to mine heart, who shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.' Now, the chief way in which they feed, that is, instruct, or teach, the people, is by the public preaching of the word. Whatever other means may be useful, this is the most useful of all. In order to preaching being effectual, it must be sound, sensible, plain, varied, solemn, earnest, doctrinal, experimental, practical, discriminating, decided, faithful, and affectionate. But it is also the duty of ministers to feed, or instruct, their flock, in private. I have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,' Acts xx. 20. The visitation of families and of the sick, and the religious instruction of the young, are laborious and important parts of ministerial duty. So, also, is personal dealing with individuals, especially such as are under concern about their souls. Remember,' said Paul, that by the space of three years ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.'


Another duty of ministers is to rule their
They have to take the oversight' of
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of God are said to have the rule over them,' Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 24. They should exercise the government and discipline of the church, impartially, firmly, and tenderly.

Ministers should also watch over and defend their flocks. The church, the fold of Christ, is still exposed to be infested by raging lions, and ravenous wolves; still exposed to persecution, and temptation, and to seducing teachers, John x. 12, 13.

Again, ministers owe their people a good example. They should be ensamples to the flock.' 'Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity,' 1 Tim. iv. 12. Every false step a minister takes will bring dishonour on religion, cast a stumbling-block in the way of inquirers, grieve the people of God, and give occasion to his enemies to blaspheme. Whereas, the minister who is very exemplary in his life is likely to be thought in earnest, and to be useful in his preaching.

The minister, too, who would be useful, must abound in prayer. It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing. God only can give the increase. 'I once said to myself, in the foolishness of my heart,' writes a devoted minister, 'what sort of a sermon must that have been

the properly exercised mind, the most refined and exquisite pleasure. Now after forty years preaching of Christ, I think I would rather beg my bread all the labouring days of the week, for an opportunity of publishing the gospel on the sabbath, than without such a privilege, to enjoy the richest possessions on earth,' said Mr Brown. 'I do not wish for any heaven upon earth, besides that of preaching the precious gospel of Jesus Christ to immortal souls,' said Henry Martyn. My witness is above,' said Rutherford to his flock, 'that your heaven would be two heavens to me, and the salvation of you all as two salvations to me.' Let every pastor whose heart is in his work, think of these examples, and be encouraged to proceed. Let him think, too, of the example of the holy prophets and apostles, particularly of the apostle Paul. Above all, let him think of the perfect pattern, 'the chief Shepherd,' the 'good Shepherd, who gave his life for the sheep,' of whom it is said, 'He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.'


which was preached by Peter when three thou-And we beseech you, brethren, to know them

sand souls were converted at once?

What sort

of sermon! Such as other sermons. There is nothing to be found in it extraordinary. The effect was not produced by his eloquence, but by the mighty power of God present with his word.' This can only be expected in answer to earnest prayer. The word of God cautions ministers very strongly against selfishness, and enjoins on them great disinterestedness. They must not 'feed themselves,' or make it their object to secure their own profit, their own aggrandizement, and their own indulgence. On the contrary, they should aim supremely at the glory of God and the salvation of souls, and be willing to deny themselves, and to labour, and endure hardship, and suffer, in the cause.

How solemn the thought of the infinitely important results of the ministry! They are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one they are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.' Well may they exclaim, ‘And who is sufficient for these things!' The difficulties and trials of the Christian ministry are indeed very great; but so are its comforts and encouragements. In the very midst of its labours and anxieties, it brings along with it, to

which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake, 1 Thess. v. 12, 13.

SUPPOSING ministers to be, with reasonable allowance for human infirmity, enlightened, pious, and faithful, what are the chief duties which their people owe to them?


1. They should esteem them very highly:-SO the apostle expressly teaches, in writing to the Thessalonians; We beseech you, brethren, to know them who labour among you,' that is, to acknowledge them in their true character, ‘and to esteem them very highly," for their work's sake.' The ridicule, obloquy, hatred, and contempt, with which the ministerial office, and the most faithful men who hold it, are frequently loaded, are preeminently sinful, and ought to fill those who are thus guilty with shame and remorse. Let none think lightly of the ministerial office. It is a very dignified office, as its origin is divine, and as its object transcends in importance that of every other.

2. People should love their ministers. Their reverence should be not of the nature which alarms and repels, but of the nature which

within the reach of the poorest, or by both these methods conjoined, it is the imperative duty of a Christian people to provide for the maintenance of the Christian ministry. Justice demands this. The welfare of the people also requires that their teachers should be exempted from the necessity of seeking a livelihood by other means, be at leisure to give themselves wholly to the pastoral duties, and be enabled to live in a state of decent respectability. Let him that is taught in the word communicate to him that teacheth in all good things.'

endears and attracts. As ministers should be the view of bringing the outward means of grace 'affectionately desirous' of their people's welfare, so this feeling should be met with corresponding affection on the part of the people. The relation is indeed very intimate and very endearing. If ministers be themselves very affectionate, and possessed of very amiable qualities, they deserve to be loved for their own sake; and if they are in earnest in their work, they should be loved for their work's sake,' and according to the excellence and greatness of their labours. If their hearers would benefit by their ministry, they must cherish this affection to them. Benevolence, too, should lead people to do all they can to comfort and encourage their ministers; and it is of great use, in this way, for them to know that their hearers love them.

3. They should attend to their instructions. The minister's, like the priest's lips of old, should 'keep knowledge, and the people should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.' They should wait regularly on his public ministrations, hailing the return of such seasons, and saying, or feeling as if they would say, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! They should listen to them seriously, believingly, obediently. They should attend to their admonitions and reproofs. They should suffer the word of exhortation,' and receive with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save their souls.' They should also meet their minister and encourage him in his private labours for their instruction. They should all welcome his domestic and personal endeavours for their good. The young, in particular, should make it a point to attend the meetings he holds

for their benefit.

4. They should submit to the government and discipline exercised by the ministers and other office-bearers of the church. Church rulers are not, indeed, entitled to lord it over God's heritage, or to assume dominion over their faith:' but they are entitled to obedience in judging and acting according to the word of God. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.' 'Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you.'

5. They should see that their ministers receive proper temporal support. Whether it be by the contributions of those only to whom they minister, or by a legal and national provision, with

6. People should pray for their ministers. Whatever exertions may be made, and whatever outward privileges may be enjoyed, all will prove in vain, unless the influences of God's Holy Spirit be bestowed; and these influences are only promised, but positively promised, in answer to prayer. Let all, then, who have any desire that those who labour among them should be of use to them, or to their fellow-worshippers, apply to God, in earnest and persevering prayer, that he would accompany the ministry of the word with that divine power which alone can make it effectual for convincing and converting sinners, and for building up saints in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation. Let there be deeply impressed on their consciences the duty of habitually attending to this exercise, the exercise of express, particular, and full prayer, for a blessing on their ministers, and their labours. Let them attend to this in secret, and in their families; and let them join heartily in those parts of the public prayers that refer to the subject. 'Brethren,' said Paul, 'pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified.' If there were far more true prayer, there would be far more success in particular districts, and throughout the world. Let every Christian say, and act on the saying, 'For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.' 'Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence; and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusa lem a praise in the earth.’


Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another,Rom. xii. 10.

TRUE benevolence, or love to man, is an essential feature of the Christian character, and a leading

evidence of the reality of religious principle; | beholds transgressors, 'rejoiceth not in iniquity, while its absence demonstrates a state of total but rejoiceth in the truth,' and does all he can to irreligion, and the want of love to God. 'By this reclaim sinners, to encourage believers, and to shall all men know that ye are my disciples,' said promote the cause of true religion in the world. our Lord, if ye have love one to another.'


Christian love implies inward good will to men, or wishing them well. It is, as Paul expresses it, the being kindly affectioned.' It is, however, more than mere natural affection and natural benevolence, which are found in those who are estranged from God, and which are necessary to the very existence of society. It is similar to these, but it is a great improvement on them. It is all that is amiable in human nature sanctified by divine grace, and regulated and directed according to the word of God.

Existing in the heart, love should be expressed in words. The way in which Christians speak to men, and speak of them, should be kind. It should, indeed, be free from base flattery and vain compliment; but it should also be free from uncharitableness, passion, and backbiting. They should not speak harshly and offensively to men in their presence; nor should they delight in taking up and spreading false or unfavourable reports of them. Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people.' Christians should not be severe to mark; nor should they be needlessly given to censure. Men may be greatly distressed, or greatly cheered, by the way in which they are spoken to.

True benevolence, however, goes forth also in actions. Verbal professions are false and vain, if they are not justified by corresponding conduct, where it is in our power. 'My little children,' says the apostle John, 'let us not love in word, neither in tongue,' that is, not in word and tongue only, but in deed, and in truth.' We should observe the rule laid down in the words, 'in honour preferring one another.' Grasping at the chief place, or the best of every thing for one's self, introduces much heart-burning and misery into society; whereas, readiness to give the preference to others preserves peace, and diffuses happiness. Benevolence requires that, according to our ability, we contribute pecuniary or other actual assistance to those who are in need of it. This is the very plain criterion of the sincerity and value of professions of benevolence.

It is important to remember that true benevolence, enlightened Christian charity, seeks to promote the spiritual, as well as the temporal welfare of men. It remembers that it will profit a man nothing to gain any temporal object, however great, if he lose his soul. The man of Christian charity, therefore, grieves when he

There is one way in which Christian charity finds a most pleasing and effectual expression, and in which the poorest may exert themselves as well as the richest, and that is the way of prayer. Without the blessing of God, we cannot be of any real, permanent service to our fellow-creatures; but prayer is the great means of engaging that blessing, whether we regard the operations of his providence, or the influences of his grace.

If we would attain to true charity, we must seek it as the fruit of the Spirit, and in connection with the faith of the gospel. The works of the flesh are hatred, variance, &c., but the fruit of the Spirit is love.' 'Now the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.'

The motives to the cultivation of Christian love are various and powerful. Its happy effect on ourselves; for, while to hate is to be miserable, to love is to be happy. Its influence in promoting the happiness of others; for, were it universally cherished, more than half of the evils which afflict society would be relieved, and men's comfort and prosperity mightily increased. The consideration of our brotherhood; for, even as fellow-creatures, we should feel bound to each other by common ties, and 'think nothing human foreign to us;' and especially, the relation which the disciples of Christ bear to each other as such, and as forming the same family by adoption and regeneration, should be felt as constraining to mutual love and good offices. Let brotherly love continue.' 'Love as brethren; be pitiful, be courteous.' 'As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.' Another motive is found in the love of God to us. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.' well as model, have we in the example of the Redeemer's love to us! Though we cannot do any thing meritorious, or miraculous, there is still much in his love that should be imitated by us.' A new commandment I give unto you,' said he, "That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.' 'Walk in love,' says the apostle Paul, 'as Christ hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.'


And then, what a motive, as


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Finally, what an encouragement have we to to expect to find opponents, and even enemies. cultivate this grace of love in the consideration It cautions us against being easily provoked.' that it will last for ever, and con-titute a great It calls on us to bear much, and to bear long. part of the happiness of heaven! In the thir- It tells us that we must not take the law into teenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corin- our own hands. It positively prohibits revenge. thian, in which the apostle so beautifully expa- Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but tiates on the grace of charity, or love, we read, rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, 'charity never faileth.' And now abideth faith, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord?' hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of v. 19. This precept requires us cordially, entirely, these is charity.' Faith is the root, hope the and in every sense, to forgive those who have injured blossom, and charity the fruit. Faith is the us, if they repent and acknowledge their fault, cheering spring, hope the warm summer, and Luke xvii. 3, 4. But what if they do not repent? charity the productive harvest. Faith and hope Then there is a still finer field for the exercise of are two wings that will raise us to heaven, this Christian grace. If they obstinately cherish but there we are to drop them. Faith, hope, and a bad spirit, that is no reason why we should do charity are three friends that will accompany us so likewise. They then furnish us with what we all the way to the gate of paradise; but there we should regard, not as a model but as a beacon. must bid adieu to faith and hope; charity alone If we cannot then cherish the love of approbation, will enter in with us through the gate into the or complacency, we should still cherish the love of city, and take her seat by our side when we sit benevolence towards them. Nor is this all: we down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the should be ready to do them good, if it be in our kingdom of heaven. power. If thine enemy hunger, feed him: if he thirst, give him drink.' That is, if our enemy, or the person with whom we are at variance, be in any distress, let us come forward to relieve and comfort him. Let us watch the opportunity and seize the moment of his standing in need of help, and render him all the offices of kindness we possibly can. evil for evil, let us return him good for evil. And Instead of recompensing him with if there be nothing else we can do, let us at least pray for him. Let us also persevere in this way, notwithstanding numerous and long continued injuries; let not our patience be worn out; let us not be overcome of evil,' but let us endeavour to overcome evil with good.'


• If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of eril, but overcome eril with good, Rom. xii.

20, 21.

How superior to all human teaching is the divine morality of the gospel! Nor is it in any thing more admirable, or more exalted, than in regard to the way in which it requires that we should feel and act towards those who have injured us. Revenge was not only permitted, but applauded, by most of the heathen writers, and generally perpetrated when it was practicable. Witness the rule laid down by Cicero that a virtuous man should hurt no one, except he be provoked by an injury: and witness the savage conduct of many of Homer's heroes, and the destruction of Carthage and Corinth by the Romans. There are rare exceptions to be found in heathen authors, but such is the general rule. Many of the Jews, too, who should have known better, held that the obligation to forgive and love applied only to those of the same nation with themselves. Not so the law of God, and the code of Christian morals.

The precept of forgiveness does not, indeed, require us absolutely, and in all cases, to lay ourselves open to injury, or to take no means whatever to vindicate our rights. But it reminds us


Such is an outline of the duties Christians owe to their enemies: and to the discharge of these duties the motives are various and of great force. Our own happiness will be thereby immediately and greatly promoted. Malice and the desire of revenge necessarily disturb and harrass the mind, and are accompanied with sullenness and discontent. On the other hand, forgiveness and kindness to those who have acted a hostile part towards us, are accompanied with placidity and enjoyment. The most malevolent being in the world is the most miserable: whereas, He who is the greatest example of forbearance and forgiveness is infinitely blessed for ever.

The public happiness will also be greatly promoted by such forgiveness and kindness. Much farther threatening evil will be thereby prevented.

The consideration that this forgiving disposi tion is essential to our own forgiveness by God, and to the Christian character, should also influ

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