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urge are various and numerous. I shall, however, only touch upon them. Let me then persuade you, Sirs, to your duty.
1. From considerations of humanity and kindness.
Good-nature, or a desire to make their fellow-creatures happy, is what some possess, who yet enter not into the spirit of real religion. How great a reproach then would it be to the Christian name, were those who profess it to be defective in this amiable temper, wherein they of all others ought to excell! God forbid ! that such a charge should ever lie against the disciples of the meek, the compassionate, the friendly Jesus. No. The grace of God, wherever it prevails, softens · the heart, meliorates the affections, and melts the soul into tenderness and love. And if it be so, how can a society composed of Christian members be without bowels of kindness towards their minister? It cannot. A general idea of the nature and duties of this important office would, methinks, be sufficient to excite the humane and benevolent feelings of their breasts: what effect then, must a recollection of the numerous difficulties and discouragements, which attend it, produce ? Here I might put you in mind of the many sad conflicts which they, who serve you in the gospel, endure in common with others as Christians; conflicts with sin, with Satan, and with the world-of the extraordinary anxieties, fears and temptations, which are peculiar to them as ministers—of the painful labours, not only of public preaching, but of continual meditation and study—and of the distress they often feel, occasioned by the various tempers, passions and prejudices of mankind, by the unsuccessfulness of their ministry in some instances, and by the sloth and indifference, not to say the unworthy conduct of many under a profession of religion. But it were endless to be particular. A considerate person will easily give me credit when I affirm, that the difficulties attending this sacred office are great-very great. Surely then the sincere and faithful servant of Christ hath,
the principles of humanity, no inconsiderable title to your regard. -I speak not this, my friends, from any doubt of your tender and affectionate disposition, No. I am well persuaded you possess this amiable temper. You have given many
strong and convincing proofs of it.-From motives of goodnature therefore, which have an easy access to your hearts, I go on,
2. To those of justice.
Degenerate as mankind are, there is such a thing as honesty in the world. And where may we so reasonably expect to find it, as among those who call themselves Christians! If indeed any such are destitute of it, however splendid their external profession may be, they have no claim to that venerable character. Well! And are not the duties I have been recommending the dictates of truth and equity? If God in his word has authorised such a relation, as that which subsists between my brother and you, and if you have mutually and voluntarily entered into it; as he is obliged to the performance of the duties he has undertaken, so are you to yours. The regards therefore which a people shew to their minister, are to be considered not as the obligations of benevolence only, but of integrity and righteousness. Is it fit, is it reasonable, is it just, that a man should devote his time, his strength, his spirits, his abilities to the interests of others, and to their most essential interests too; and receive none of those returns that have been mentioned ? How can persons answer it to God or their own consciences, to treat those with whom they stand thus connected, or their ministrations, with indifference and neglect? From this topic the apostle reasons in his epistle to the Corinthians, and elsewhere. But the matter is so clear, I forbear to enlarge. It speaks for itself.—Let me proceed therefore a step farther, and argue,
3. From motives of self-interest.
This, of all other principles, is the most prevalent in the human heart. Convince a man, thoroughly convince him, that his interest is concerned; and the object proposed, be it what it may, will instantly become important: it will immediately engage his attention, his passions, and his pursuit. Well! and wherein does our truest interest consist? The question with a good man is quickly decided. He is come to a point upon the matter. It consists in the favour of God, and a growing conformity to his image. Now the means of reliwhat energy,
gion which Christ has instituted in his church, are clearly adapted to promote our good in each of these respects, that is, to excite in our breasts a lively and cheerful sense of the divine favour and friendship, and to confirm and strengthen our attachments to truth and holiness. If therefore the means of religion are to be diligently used, in order to the attaining these important ends; we are surely consulting our own good, when we are affording all the support, assistance and encouragement that lies in our power, to those whom God has appointed, and we have chosen, to be helpers of our faith and joy. We are consulting, I say, our own interest, our best, our noblest, our most essential interest. Every proper token of affection and regard to them will be richly repaid. Our diligent attendance on their ministry, our fervent prayers for the success of their labours, and above all, our exemplary conversation, will have the happy effect to quicken and enliven them in their work. And so shall we contribute to our own 'honour, happiness and usefulness. With what warmth, what spirit,
do the apostles address the Thessalonians upon these matters !-We live, if ye stand fast in the Lord a. “ If ye adhere firmly to Christ, to his doctrine and institutions, cultivating the Christian temper, and adorning your profession with the fruits of righteousness; we live-ye make us happy, fill our hearts with joy, and inspire us with new vigour and resolution in the discharge of our duty. And so will ye in return, be farther benefited by our labours, to which ye have thus afforded so noble an assistance.” In like manner we hear them reasoning with the Corinthians ;-Do we begin to commend ourselves ? or need we as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you ? Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men : forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart b.-To this motive of self-in, terest I will add, 4. That of a public spirit. a 1 Thess, iji. 8.
6 2 Cor. iii. 143,
By a public spirit I mean a readiness to contribute what lies in our power, towards the welfare of our fellow-creatures, both in an individual and social capacity. A truly noble temper this ! Now religion is the only effectual means of promoting the real happiness of mankind, as it holds up to their view the brightest prospects in another world, and as it best enables them to answer the true ends of their existence in this. Godliness is profitable unto all things, having a promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come a. Nor is it less adapted to promote the good of society in general, since it strengthens and invigorates all those virtuous and friendly affections which are of the greatest public utility. If therefore the Christian ministry, which has the interest of religion for its immediate object, is of divine appointment; it is surely noble expression of a public spirit, to do our utmost for the support of it. By countenancing, assisting and encouraging the ministers of Jesus in their work, we give the strongest proof of our tender compassion for the ignorant, the guilty, and the miserable, and of our generous concern to spread the inestimable blessings of knowledge, peace and happiness among all around us. Have you then, my friends, been convinced of the truth of religion upon the most clear and substantial evidence? Have you been satisfied, from your own experience, of its pleasantness, importance and utility ? And have you been charmed with the happy fruits of it, which you have observed in the tempers and lives of others ?-Let me appeal to these convictions, to these experiences, to these reflections, accompanied with all the genuine feelings of humanity, for your obligations to the several duties I have been recommending.
But the consideration which of all others most demands our attention is,
5. And lastly, the honour due to the grace of God, so illustriously displayed in our redemption by Christ. To publish to the world this faithful saying, this saying worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners b, is the grand object of the Christian ministry. Nor is it indeed in the power of men or angels fully to describe the
61 Tim. i. 15.
a 1 Tim. iv. 8.
wonders of this astonishing instance of divine mercy and goodness.-Amazing love !-unparalleled grace! The Son of God becomes incarnate, bleeds and dies, to redeem us from endless woes, and to exalt us to a perfection of felicity and glory. O the height, the depth, the length, the breadth of the love of God in Jesus Christ ! It passeth knowledge. At these reflections, Christians, every divine passion in your breasts must surely kindle into a flame. And amidst that warm glow of wonder, love and gratitude you feel, is it not your first concern to know how you may most effectually advance his glory in the world to whom you are so deeply indebted ?—You cannot be at a loss, while you reflect on the nature of that dispensation of religion which Christ has established, and on the duties which of consequence you owe to his ministers and to one another. He that receiveth whomsoever I send, says the Saviour, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent
Be persuaded therefore by the love you bear to Christ, and by your concern for his honour and interest, to express an affectionate and becoming regard to my brother, whom you are yourselves satisfied he has sent, and who has this day devoted himself to your service in the gospel.
Thus by all the motives of humanity and kindness, of justice and equity, of self-interest, of a public spirit, and of zeal for the glory of God, and the honour of Christ, would I
urge the duties that have been laid before you, so far as you shall find them agreeable to the dictates of truth, reason and the word of God : at the same time expressing my full satisfaction of your cheerful readiness to conform to the divine will.
And now to close the whole, and yet farther to enforce what has been said, if that were necessary, let me carry your views forward to that bright and glorious day, when the ends of all these institutions and duties I have been recommending, shall have been fully accomplished; and both you, my friends, and your minister shall receive your reward at the hands of the blessed Jesus; you of all your tenderness and affection for him, and he of all his cheerful and painful labours for you.
0 what mutual congratulations! what pleasing reflections ! what
a John xiii.