« AnteriorContinuar »
practice. Let the latter be-a living commentary on the, former; that the intemperate, being reproved by your sobriety; the unrighteous, by your Integrity; and the ungodly, by your uniform devotion; may be led to glorify our common Lord and Master. a
Having shits, dear Sir, pointed out some of the great lines of that work you have this day undertaken, we do call heaven and earth to witness, that your duty has been laid before you; and, that for ail the consequences of despising or neglecting it; you alone shall be answerable. We, theresore, hi the words of our apostle, "charge thee before "God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the .elect •' angels, that thou observe these things, without '' preserring one before another, doing nothing "by partiality," 1 Tim. v. 21. We proceed, in the
3. Place, To improve this subject in an address to the constituent members of this congregation. You, my brethren, in the kind providence ot God, have acquired your unanimous wish, by the present admission of our worthy brother to labour amongst you, in the ministry of the gospel.—You arc called, —you are bound thankfully to acknowlege that Lord, whose, We trust, he is, and whom he desires to serve, in the savourable dispensation.—Do your eyes now see your public teacher? and are your views of the stated means of salvation again revived? what praise is, thence, due to the gracious Head of the church, for such an interposition in your behalf; while numbers, through the Christian world, have no access to public ordinances at alt; are scattered like sheep having no shepherd; or else, through the qualities of their public teachers, have no such agreeable prospects as you ?—*. Remember that much of his usefulness, amongst
you yon, depends upoo yourselves.—That he may help you, by his labours; you must help him, by your prayers. As the zeal and saithfulness of gospel ministers bid sair to have an agreeable effect on their flocks; so, it seldom sails, that the frequent and fervent prayers of a people have a delightful effect on their pastors.—He is no more than an earthen vessel, into which the treasure must be put by the master of assemblies; else things new and old can never, by him, be brought forth, to your edification and comfort.—You are bound to make con? science of attending his ministrations; for, though you should pray for him, and he use every mean of usefulness to your fouls, if these means are not air tended, what profit to you, or comfort to him, can take place I Nor think it enough, without necessity at least, to wait upon particular means of io» , ftruction, to the neglect of others; for, as the wind bloweth where it listeth, and as the husbandmao knoweth not whether his morning or evening labours shall prosper; the very mean you neglect, may be that, whereby your spiritual interests might have been promoted: besides, if infinite wisdom hae seen meet that line should be upon line, and precept upon precept, by lightly esteeming any part of that provision, you will pour manifest contempt, not on your pastor only, but on him also who sent him. Moreover, my brethren, you must know, that his undertaking to spend and be spent for you, necessarily implies a reciprocal engagement, on your part, to attend upon his pastoral endeavours, and improve them to the best advantage.
Submission to him, in the Lord, is no less your indispensible duty.—Would the representative of some great personage meet with deference and regard, for his constituent's sake? and shall not one, employed, by Jesus Christ, to take the oversight of
your souls, and carry his laws into execution amongst yon, be received and obeyed for his mar ster's sake.?—Thongb, in difcharginj this great trust, your pastor should be obliged to exercise trft sword of discipline; or, where the circumstances of the cafe may require, to use particular freedoms with your consciences; his kindness toward you, and concern for your salvation, are no more to be, from thence, called in question, than are the integrity and compasiion of a physician, for applying Corrosives, where lenitives can take no effect.
In a word, as he will endeavour to be a comfort to you; with equal concern, should you endeaTour to render yourselves comforts to him. If it roust be acknowleged upon our part, that church members may, occasionally, be troubled by- the weaknesses or temptations, even of worthy and useful office-bearers; can my dear friend* be angry, though we take the liberty of telling you, that the tempers and temptations, the wickedness, sometimes, as well as weakness, of particular persons, in most congregations, are troublesome and vexatious to the office-beaters in them? Care,, there* fore, must be taken to guard' against whatevei may tend to weaken the hands, or discourage the heart of your minister: if yielding, on his part, for your edification, becomes his duty; compliance, oft your part, for his comfort, will be no less incumbent.
We conclude with a short address to such hearers of the gospel, as, with this congregation, have witnessed the present solemnity.
In as sar as, my dear friends, you arc ble%with such to minister among you, and to bear rule over you, as are not troublers of the church, but spiri-' tual guides, ensamples and comforts; in so sar God deals wi;h you as he has not dealt with every people: pie: wherefore, .your gratitude to him, and inr^ provement of such mercies, should bear some kind of proportion to the savours by which you are so happily distinguished. As an inducement to these exercises, allow yourselves to reflect on many Christians, in foreign parts, as well as in our neighbouring church, whose circumstances, respecting their spiritual teachers and ruleis, are so different from yours.
It has, with justice, been allowed, by'strangers themselves, that, all things considered, no such body of professors, through the whole Christian world, are so much privileged as those in our owa church. We pretend not to say, that our church is saultless, or her office-bearers unblameable ; and though we should say it, you would ly under no obligation to believe us: but we may venture to affirm, that the particulars, wherein church oflfc cers may sometimes be obliged to differ from yon-, must not always be considered as characteristical of troublers of the church; nor, therefore, as grounds upon which you may lawfully wish and pray for their excision: for, might Christians warrantable proceed upon such flimsy pretences, the real servants of Christ would soon drink deeper in the cup of sufferings, through the mistaken zeal of their hearers, than the hearers can probably ever do, through the zeal or imaginary mismanagement of their rulers. As long, my brethren, as pastors and people both are in a state of immaturity, their views and judgments cannot, in all things, be supposed to coincide; which is a maxim so evident, on the principles of reason and revelation, that the necessity of forbearance,—nay, of manifold allowances, on each hand, is as demonstrable, as any thing of the kind is capable of.—If you imagine that officebearers, in the church of Christ, are any more than
men. -men of like passions with ourselves; yon will be as grossly mistaken, as we would be, did we expect that even holy persons amengst you, should know and act, as the angels in heaven.—Are we often obliged, in judging of your characters, to admit, that the gold may be real, though mingled with much drofs? and have we not a claim, upon you, ,for the ftpae candpur in judging of ours?
By all this we mean not to insinuate, that troublers of the church may not sometimes be found, in one or another corner amongst ourselves; nor that, if they .are such, in the scripture vjews of the character, you may not wish and pray for their ..excision: we only intend to caution you against forming your judgments of ministers and elders, upon the opinions of others, especially, if of a different communion from them; upon the prejudice of education; upon such sentiments of your own minds, as may only be raw and indigested; or upon any other rule,of Judging, whatever, than the written, the unerring, word of God. If that standard was judiciously applied, to every individual, we doubt not, that,, in some instances, your former apprehensions might be found just; at thl- same time, it is a thousand to one, but some likewise, most dandled on the popular knee, and thereby least exposed to the lash of your censures, might be found greatly, perhaps grossly, wanting. For, hath not he, .who spake-as never man did, assured us, that "ma"ny who are first shall be last, and the last first?" Matth. xix. 39. 'r.
.... * • • •
• . S E R