« AnteriorContinuar »
MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS, &c.
THE BAPTIST MAGAZINE.
ADDRESS TO THE STUDENTS OF THE STEPNEY
At Carter Lane Meeting, June 24, 1813.
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evan
gelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.—2 Tim. iv. 5, 6.
Being requested to address a word of exhortation to my younger brethren, I doubt not but I shall be heard with candour and attentioa ; and tbat, not only by these immediately addressed, but by all my younger brethren in the ministry. You will not suppose either, that I mean to compare myself to an apostle, or you to an evangelist ; but the work is in substance the same, wbether it be in the hands of extrordinary or ordinary men. And as Paul argued the importance of Timothy's work irom his own approaching dissolution, I may be allowed to enforce it on you from kindred considerations ; namely, that many of your elder brethren are gone, and others are going the way of all the earth.
You will not expect me, my dear young men, to discourse to you on the advantages of literary acquirements. I might do sn, indeed, and that from experience. I know the value of such acquirements, both by what I have been enabled to attain, and by the want of that which I have not attained: but it is more congenial with my feelings to speak of things of still greater importance. Three things in particular are suggested by the passage which I have read, and these I shall recommend to your serious attention ; namely, The work itself to which you are devoted the duties inculcated as necessary to the discharge of it-and the considerations by which it is enforced. Emulate these men of God in evangelizing your respective neighbourhoods. Fourthly: FIDELITY in discharging your trust. Make proof of thy ministry. The word means thoroughly to accomplish that which you have undertaken. Such is the import of Col. ir. 17. Say to Archippus take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it. Were you to present a soldier with a sword, and bid him make full proof of it, he could not misunderstand you. Would you see an example, look at that of the great apostle in the context, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
The work itself to which you are devoted, is called a ministry. The word signifies, as you are aware, service. The leading character of a minister is that of a servant. This is an idea that you must ever bear in mind. It is a service, however, of a special kind. Every Christian is a servant of Christ, but every Christian is not a minister of the gospel. A deacon is a servant, as the word also signifies ; but his service respects temporal things ; yours is that on account of which the office of deacon was appointed, that you should give yourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. It is that which Jethro assigned to Moses, Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God. Your living under the gospel dispensation renders this a pleasant work: it must, if you enter into the spirit of it, be pleasant to study and impart the gladdening doctrine of salvation.
I bave observed two extremes relative to this work; one on the part of ministers themselves, and the other on the part of the people. That on the part of the ministers has been an abuse of their office of ruling, a fondness for power, aspiring to the exercise of dominion over their brethren. It has always grated in my ears to hear such language as this :- My church, my deacons, &c.. as if churches were made for them, rather than they for churches.
Do not emulate this empty swell. True greatness will revolt at · it. He that will be great, let him be the servant of all. Think of
the woe denounced against the idol shepherd, The sword shall be upon his arm, and his right eye shall be darkened. Thiok es. pecially of him who said, I have been among you as one that serveth.
· The extreme on the part of the people is this : from the idea of ministers being servants, some of them seem to have imagined that they are their masters. It is true that they have a Master, and to whom they must give an account; but it is not to the people of their charge. As Christians, they are accountable to one another, the same as other Christians; but as ministers, to Christ only. In serving the church of God you will act as a faithful steward towards his lord's family ; who renders service to them all, but is accountable to his lord only. Serve the church of Christ for his sake.
Let me next direct your attention to the duties inculcated as necessary to the discharge of the ministry. These will be found to consist in four things. First : VigilanCE. Watch thou in all things. This is a general quality that is required to run through all our work. If any of you enter the ministry as furnishing you with a genteel post in society, you will be at best a drone, and had better be any thing than a preacher. You are watchmen, and must be awake when others are asleep. Secondly: PATIENCE. Endure afflietions. If you cannot bear these, you bad better let the ministry alone. If you be good ministers of Jesus Christ, you will not only be afflicted in common with others, but the afflictions of others will become yours. Who is offended and I burn not? You must care for all, and expect on some occasions, when you have done, to receive evil for good. Thirdly : Activity in the great work of evangelizing men. Do the work of an evangelist. Without considering you as evangelists in the full import of the term, there is a portion of the work pertaining to that office wbich is common to us all as ministers. Wherever Providence may station you, my dear young men, be concerned to evangelize your neighbourhood. Look at the situations of a number of ejected ministers, and see if the effects of their evangelical labours do not remain to this day. Who can look over the churches in Cambridgeshire, without seeing in them the fruits of the labours of Oddy and Holcraft? Who can review those of Bedfordshire, and not perceive in them the effects of the labours of Bunyan ; labour's for wbich he suffered twelve years' imprisonment? The same remarks might be made respecting other parts of the kingdom.
But here allow me to be a little more particular. If you would make full proof of your ministry, first attend to personal religion. This is often inculcated by the apostle. Take heed to YOURSELVES, and to all the flock.— Take heed to TATSELF, and to thy doctrine, &c. Many people will take our personal religion for granted; as though a man who teaches others must needs be religious himself: but woe unto us if we reason in this way. Tremble at the idea of being a graceless minister ; a character, it is to be feared, not very unfrequent! To what is it owing that some of our churches have been prejudiced against an educated ministry? I may be told, to their ignorance ; and in part it is 30 ; but in part it is owipg to other causes :- The lightness, the vanity, the foppery, and the irreligion of some young men, have produced not only this effect, but an abhorrence of the very worship of God as by them administered. Who were ever known to be prejudiced against a Pearce, a Francis, or a Beddome, on account of their education ? If there be individuals of this description, let them be disregarded as ignorant, and let them be told that vicious characters are found among the uneducated, as well as the educated. But be it your concern, my dear young men, to shun these evils. The instructions which you receive, if consecrated to Christ, will be a blessing to you ; but if your object be to shine before men, they will be a curse.
Secondly: Let the time allotted you for education be employed in acquiring a habit of useful study.--To make full proof of your ministry, you must give yourselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the work. Meditate on these things, and give yourselves
wholly to them; and this to the end of your lives. Let no one 02 imagine that he will leave his present situation fully qualified for
the work. If by prayer and a diligent application to study, you acquire such a habit of close thinking, as that on entering the work it shall be your delight to prosecute it, this is all that will be expected of you. It is for the want of this babit of study, that
there are so many saunterers, and have been so many scandals LED among ministers. i.
Thirdly : In every stage of literary improvement, be concerned
to have it sanctified and subordinated to God as you go on. On callef this depends its utility. It were desirable that the study of lan
are not guages and sciences should commence in early youth, and that hed to the
religion should come after it to make the last impression, seeing it religion should con
is this that ordinarily stamps the character. Could we be certain zion for
that the faith of Christ, and the gifts suited to the ministry, would follow an early education, this would be our course : but as this cannot be, our dread of an unconverted ministry makes us require religion as the first qualification. Only pursue learning, that you may be better able to serve the Lord, and all will be well. It is - thus that our brethren in India, though their attainments were not
made in the earliest stages of life, have retained their spirituality, ; but on
and increased in usefulness.
Let us conclude by noticing the consideration with which these exhortations are enforced.-For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. This language denotes an anxiety in the apostle that the work of God might go on when he should have fallen asleep; and if we be worthy of the name of Christian ministers, we must feel a portion of the same. Dear young men, to you we look for successors in the work. It is not for me to say, how long your elder brethren may continue ; but we have seen stars of no ordinary magnitude set within a few years! It seems but yesterday since they were with us, and we were the juniors among them. Now we are obliged to take their place, and you, beloved youths, will soon have to take ours. We do not
wish to hold ourselves up as your examples ; but the cause in · which we have been engaged, and in which the Lord has not
to be ne of
their eyes em be
will beza n, they i