« AnteriorContinuar »
ness into his marvellous light' Nor will they be ' as lively stones, built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ' Nor will they be 'elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ' Nor will they be 'begotten again unto a lively hope.' Nor will they be ' kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.' In short, they will not have one peculiar distinctive feature of a church of the living God, as delineated by the Holy Spirit; but will be " conformed to the world."
3. Evidence of being born of God, and of cordially embracing the truth, is an essential qualification in a minister of the gospel. And without this, no "church of the living God" can, consistently with faithfulness to him, receive any man as her minister. Let his other qualifications be what they may, if he does not appear to be " born of God," and cordially to embrace the truth, the church cannot consistently with faithfulness to her Saviour, herself, and her children ever receive him. What I said before I say now again, If an apostle, if an angel from heaven come unto her, and preach any other gospel than that which Paul preached, she ought to reject him. And no man, or body of men on earth, has, or can have the least right to force upon the church such a minister. If any make the attempt the church ought to resist it; meekly, in the very spirit of her Master; prayerfully, boldly, perseveringly. To her is committed the momentous trust, of contending earnestly for "the faith once delivered to the saints." She was redeemed by the blood of Christ, and organized as a visible body on earth, for the purpose of maintaining that truth, which he came down from heaven, and died to illustrate; in which is involved the glory of God, and the salvation of a world;—that truth which is ' in ages to come, to show angels, and principalities, and powers in heavenly places, the manifold wisdom of God.' And one of the principal means of supporting this truth is the preaching of her ministers. But if they do not believe the truth, how can they preach it? And if they do not preach it, instead of supporting, they tend only to undermine, and destroy it They had better not preach at all, than not to preach the truth. Error in the pulpit, is poison in the fountain. It carries death through all the streams.
4. Whatever difficulties the church may meet with in supporting the truth, she ought never to renounce it
That she will meet with trials in supporting it, no one can doubt. She must support it against every thing unholy in herself, and every thing unholy in others. And she must support it in a world which is so hostile to the author of it, that although the sum of infinite perfection, and on the errand of eternal kindness, they would not suffer him to live in it He opened to them a heart" full of grace and truth," but they hated him "without a cause;" and cried out, 'Away with him, awa)r with him; Crucify him, crucify him.' Yet the church must support his truth; and in this very world too where he was slain; and where,' as in water face answereth to face, so does the heart of man to man.' Her work is difficult. She needs the constant presence of God. Without it her case is hopeless. Often will she be on fire, and if her God is not in her will be consumed. But her God is in her. 'Fear not, saith he, I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine.' 'When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire thou shaJt not be burnt, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee; for I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.' 'Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.' 'Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.'
Surely then, she ought never to renounce his truth. If she should, she would renounce the very object of her existence; would give up the glory of God, and the salvation of a world. She would abandon her own children, and children's children to the interminable effects of transgression ; put out the only light that ever shone upon her darkness, and commence a march of eternal wandering away from God, and the glory of his power.
Suppose she must, to be faithful to God, and support his truth, give up half her property; suppose she must give up all; and in addition, must suffer cruel mockings, or even scourgings, and bonds, and imprisonments; suppose she must be not only tempted, but sawn asunder, or slain with the edge of the sword; or must wander about in sheep skins, and goat skins, destitute, afflicted, and tormented; what is that, compared to being with Christ when the heavens are on fire, and the elements are melting down? What are sacrifices, and trials, compared to going upward, with a multitude which no man can number, to take possession of a kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world? Nothing. Were they a thousand fold greater, and a thousand times longer continued, they would not be "worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed."
There is no man that hath sacrificed houses or lands, gold or silver, or any thing for Christ, who shall not receive an hundred fold in this present world, and in the world to come life everlasting.
5. The situation of a minister is one of amazing responsibility.
He is a captain of the Lord's host, who, under the Captain of salvation, is to lead them onward, through all their spiritual conflicts, to final victory. And their conduct, in the day of trial, will depend much upon his. If, when called to face 'flesh and blood, principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places,' he turns out to be a traitor or a coward, or even unskilful in wielding the sword of the spirit, it may cost a multitude of souls.
If he does not know the truth, does not believe it, or has not experienced the exceeding greatness of its mighty power,—if he does not think it worth contending for, does not know when enemies attack it, or has not the power, and disposition, with weaptms which are not carnal, but mighty through God, to repulse them, he had better be any thing than a minister. He had better labour at any honest calling, to obtain his bread, than to be set up for the defence of the gospel, if he does not know the gospel, does not love the gospel, and is not willing when God calls, to sacrifice all to support it The gospel is a ' savour of life unto life, or of death unto death.' All who hear it must be raised to an exceeding, and ,eternal weight of glory; or sink down deeper and deeper amidst the wailings of the bottomless pit forever.
My Dear Brother,
You are entering upon a great work, at an important time, and in a most interesting place. Upon the spot which first received the Pilgrims, which heard their prayers, saw their tears, and now encloses their dust; and among those very descendants, for whose salvation they sacrificed, toiled, suffered, and bled, you are to be placed for the defence of the gospel. The gospel which you are to preach is that which was preached by Paul; which was supported by the church at Ephesus; and of which, 1 the church of the living God, has been the pillar, and the ground,' in every generation. It was embraced by the Puritans of England; and was by them planted on these shores. It has laid the foundation of all our social, civil, and religious institutions; and is now pouring a flood of blessings, greater than was ever before enjoyed, upon the millions of our land. And profitable as it has been, and is