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16.]

SERM. whose ministry you cannot hope to be acquitted before God, LXXXVII.

who (by His Son) has declared to His ministers, “he that (Luke 10.

despiseth you, despiseth Me, and God that sent Me."

As for ourselves, my brethren, God forbid that we should

be of the number of those whom the Prophet Jeremiah Chap. 1. 6. speaks of: “their shepherds have caused them to go astray;" Chap. 11. 6. or of those the prophet Zechariah mentions: “their own

shepherds pity them not." Our great Master has set us another sort of example. And we shall follow His example, , if we are indeed sensible of the condition of a soul destitute of the grace of God. We shall lament the condition of all such, we shall pity, we shall pray for them, and endeavour to rescue them out of the hands of the enemy. Above all, we shall strive to do this by our good examples, by lives as free as may be from the pollutions of the world.

It is true, it is a great mistake people run into, when they think that a life of strict purity and holiness belongs only to the clergy. As if holiness were not to be the business of every one who hopes to see God in peace.

But thus much we may learn from this way of reasoning : that a clergyman, who does not form his life according to the rules of the Gospel, of all men living must not hope to go to heaven.

And though a man may be a true minister without these qualifications (as a very villain may be an ambassador from a good king); yet the scandal would be so great, and the doom so heavy, that it is enough to startle even those that think they may not be of that number, and to make them jealous of their ways. .

To conclude : however well we may wish the work of the ministry to prosper; without the blessing of the Lord of the harvest, neither the wishes nor the endeavours of the labourers will prosper. For whatever parts or qualifications a man has, unless the Spirit of God incline and enable him to go through the work, he will by no means be equal to the burden he undertakes.

Therefore, our Saviour not only bids us pray the Lord of the harvest, to send, to dispose, to qualify, to enable the labourers; but prayed Himself, and continued all night in prayer, for that purpose ; by virtue of whose intercession the Church of God has hitherto been, and will to the end of the world be, supplied with pastors and teachers. But still it is our duty to pray for God's good Spirit to go along

with us.

The holy Scriptures give us many instances of the power of this Spirit, when given to men designed for any office ordained of God. And truly, if we had not more reason to depend upon His guidance and blessing, than upon our own good wishes, or best endeavours, the work would go but very indifferently forward.

But Christ, who has commanded us to feed His flock, who has promised to “be with us unto the end of the world,” (Matt. 28

20.] will, we hope and pray, bless our present undertaking, and all our labours.

To Whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

SERMON LXXXVIII.

PREACHED AT AN ORDINATION.

THE GREAT BLESSING OF A STANDING MINISTRY.

2 Chron. 30, 27;

Ecclus. 50.

James 5. 14.

NUMB. vi. 22—27. See Exod. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and 28. 29; Deut. 10.8;

unto his sons, saying, on this wise ye shall bless the children of

Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless thee, and keep thee : Joel 2. 16; the Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto 21, 22; thee: the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give 2 Cor. 3. 6; 5. 18;

thee peace. And they shall put My name upon the children of Heb. 13.17; Israel, and I will bless them.

That which I purpose to do at this time, good Christians, is to lay before you THE GREAT BLESSING OF A STANDING MINISTRY ; that you may know how to value so great a blessing, and be thankful to God for it; that you may not be tempted by a wicked world to despise God's ministers; but that you may reap all the benefit of their prayers, whom God has appointed to pray for you and to bless you; and whose prayers for you He

He has promised to hear, if you do not make yourselves unworthy of His blessing.

I have taken a text out of the Law of Moses. It is the solemn blessing with which the priests dismissed the congregation by God's own appointment. The Christian Church uses the same blessing in effect. They both recommend the people to God's blessing and protection.

TAE LORD BLESS THEE, AND KEEP THEF; that is, preserve and keep thee from all evil; the LORD MAKE HIS FACE TO SHINE UPON THEE, by delivering thee out of all thy troubles ; AND BE GRACIOUS UNTO THEE, in pardoning thy sins, and passing by thine iniquities : the LORD LIFT UP THE LIGHT OP H18 COUNTENANCE UPON THEE, or make thee glad and

joyful; AND GIVE THEE PEACE, that is, all manner of prosperity.

And then, that the people might not imagine this to be only an empty ceremony, without any real effect, God assures them, that when His priest thus blesses them in His name, that He will bless them according to the blessing pronounced over them. And in the ancient prayers of the Greek Church, the people answered, the LORD KEEP YOU, Sir, to BLESS AND SANCTIFY US MANY YEARS & ; to shew how sensible they were of the benefit of receiving God's blessing by His minister.

And this is what I would endeavour to make you sensible of; that is, of THE GREAT BLESSING OF A STANDING

MINISTRY.

And this I shall do, by setting before you, in order, the work of a minister of God; that you may know how much His ministers contribute to your salvation; and that you may esteem them accordingly. But I must first shew you by what authority they act.

Now, the design of the Christian religion being to restore mankind to the mercy and favour of God, from which we are sadly fallen, it pleased God to send His only Son, to instruct us in the true and only way of becoming holy, that we might be capable of being happy. This He did in His own person while He continued upon earth ; but being to return to heaven, He gave authority to His Apostles and their successors, to finish the work which He had begun; that is, to preach the Gospel to all succeeding generations, that the world might have an opportunity of knowing the good pleasure of God, and what men must do to be saved.

The power and commission which Christ gave them is well worth your hearing with the greatest attention. You will find it in the twenty-eighth chapter of St. Matthew, and at the eighteenth verse; and it is as follows: Jesus, speaking to His Apostles, said unto them, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth ;” that is, in heaven to send down the Holy Ghost to guide you into all truth; and in earth, to establish a spiritual kingdom there. therefore, and make disciples to Me in all nations, baptizing

• [Missa S. Chrysost. ap. Goar. Eucholog. Græc. p. 86.]

“Go ye,

SER M. them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the LXXXVIII

Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo!” that is, let the world take notice of it, “lo, I am with you,” I, who have all power in heaven and earth, “I am with you,” am present with you in the work of your ministry, both to prosper your labours, and to protect your persons, “unto the end of the world;" -with you, while you live, and with your successors after

your death.

2 Cor. 5. 19.

The Apostles having received this commission for themselves and their successors, they immediately set about the work of the ministry ; declaring to all nations, “that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” And that “He had committed unto them,” to them and to their successors, “the Word of reconciliation ;" that is, He has committed unto them the preaching of the Gospel, upon the receiving and obeying of which God will be reconciled to mankind.

So that you see very plainly, that our salvation depends, under God, upon the ministry of those whom Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost have appointed to reconcile men to God.

Jesus Christ knew very well to what a perverse world He sent them: He knew likewise that they were men,-men of like passions with those to whom He sent them; and therefore, to guard them and His own authority, as much as may be, from contempt, and to oblige the world to hear them with reverence, He declares, that He will look upon Himself as injured, in the contempt any man shews to His ministers ; and that in them God is heard, or despised. “He that heareth you (saith our Lord) heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me despiseth Him that sent Me."

This is one of the blessings of a stANDING MINISTRY. We have men commissioned by Jesus Christ, who stand obliged to teach nothing but what they have learned from Him, what He has commanded them ; who are under the conduct of His Spirit; and who have the promise of Christ to be present with them in the exercise of their ministry.

We now come to consider, in WHAT THEIR MINISTRY CONsists. And, in the first place, as stewards over the house of

Luke 10.

16.

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