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If in the title of this volume the Author has used the word "Minister," in rather an unusual latitude, its adjective will serve to explain and restrict it. The "Domestic" minister intends not the pastor or preacher, not the servant of the Most High God, who officially shows unto men the way of salvation—but he who adopts the resolution of Joshua—As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
The preservation and spread of religion should not depend exclusively on a particular order of men, however important their function may be. All Christians, in their respective stations, ought to co-operate with those who are by designation workers together with God.
It ought to be a matter of thankfulness that the number of ministers properly so called, who enter into the spirit of their office, and preach the truth as it is in Jesus, is exceedingly increased. But compared with the field and the vastness of the work, the labourers are yet few. And few they would be found if multiplied a thousand-fold; and we should still need the property, the talents, the influence, the example, the exertions, the prayers of all the subjects of divine grace.
And can their services be dispensed with now? God is not the God of confusion, but of peace: and He has said, Let every thing be done decently and in order. It is his providence that determines the bounds of our habitation, and furnishes the several stations we occupy; and into these we are to look for our duties and opportunities. Men are often led out of their own proper sphere of action in order to be useful; but it is ignorance, if not discontent and pride that tempts them astray.
As the stream of a river is most lovely and beneficial when it patiently steals along its own channel, though it makes not so much noise, and excites not so much notice as when it breaks over its banks, and roars and rolls as a flood—so good men are most acceptable and useful in their appointed course. Wisdom will estimate every man by what he is, not out of his place and calling, but in them. There we naturally look after him; there we unavoidably compare him with his obligations; there we see him habitually; and there he gains a character, or goes without one.
It is to be feared that some even of the stricter professors of religion have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. It blazes at a distance; but it burns dim at home. In a day like the present, there will be many occasional calls of public duty; but it will be a sad exclamation to make at a dying hour, " My own vineyard have I not kept" In the spiritual still more than in the temporal neglect, "He that provideth not for his own, especially those of his own house, hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." „