« AnteriorContinuar »
often beyond his power. His fidelity in “declaring the whole counsel of God,” and in discharging the various duties of his sacred office, was conspicuous to all. He laboured continually, as a good steward, to prepare for that solemn account which he should one day give to God. His diligence in visiting the sick has, perhaps, never been exceeded. His unceasing attention to this part of a minister's duty, in all kinds of weather, and at all hours of the day and night, is supposed to have injured his health and to have contributed to shorten his valuable life. His zeal was active, unwearied, pure, and affectionate. In the service of his Divine Master, whatever his hand found to do, he did it with all his might. He trod in the steps of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, boldly and discreetly labouring to win souls and to edify the church. . His piety towards God was fervent: he may be said, like Enoch, to walk with God as a dutiful child, and as a faithful servant, in the exercise of devotion, praise, and all holy affections. His love towards men was warm and active. It would be difficult to give a just delineation of his character, as an affectionate husband, a tender father, a kind master, a faithful friend, a good neighbour, and a loyal subject: suffice it to say, that in all the relative duties of life he set an example worthy of the , closest imitation. From the love of God which was “shed abroad in his heart,” proceeded the love of his fellow-creatures; and this love was manifested in his whole deportment. His patience in suffering, and his resignation to the will of God, were remarkable during the whole of his pious and useful life, especially in his last illness, which continued nearly two years, and was very severe. He bore it without murmur or complaint, and often prayed to God, that, if more of suffering was necessary for him, he might experience more. His last words were, “O my Saviour!—The Lord is with
me!” And while his friend, the Rev. John Crosse, vicar of Bradford, who had assisted him a long time in serving his church during his illness, was praying with him, he literally fell asleep, and rested from his labours, on Thursday, April 2, 1812, in the 58th year of his age. His funeral exhibited a spectacle seldom seen: more than forty clergymen, with great numbers of his beloved people, habited in the deepest mourning, attended; and the concourse was so great, that more than a thousand could not obtain admittance into the church. The funeral service in the church was read by the Rev. Thomas Whitaker; and in his own vault, under St. James's Church, by the Rev. William Winter. An impressive sermon was preached on the solemn occasion by the Rev. John Crosse. By his people, their beloved pastor was deeply lamented; and there is reason to hope, that many present were influenced, by what they saw and heard, to follow his doctrines and example, in the hope of meeting him in a better world. May all who read this short and imperfect sketch, earnestly seek the Divine grace, to enable them to follow him as he followed Christ! May they learn, like him, to be zealous in the service of God, useful to the church, ornaments to society, friends to the poor, and patterns to all of true piety! And may the Lord raise up in his room faithful pastors, who shall, by their life and doctrine, glorify his name, and promote the eternal salvation of the souls committed to their charge Amen. C.
ACCOUNT of the Life of the Rev.
At the first establishment of the Re
formation in Scotland, an order of
men was appointed in the church
who were called Readers. They were
not allowed to preach, nor to ad
minister the sacraments, but merely to read the Common Prayer-book. It appears, from Knox's First Book of Discipline, that great care was taken, in the infancy of the church, to select for the office of readers men of approved piety; but in process of time they degenerated, and sunk into contempt, and the people were thereby strengthened in their prejudices against set forms of prayer. Ón the re-establishment of Episcopacy, at the Restoration, the order of Readers was revived ; but there was no uniformity in the mode of performing their office. In some parts of the kingdom they read forms of devotion compiled by their ministers; and in other parts they only read portions of Scripture, with the Lord's Prayer and the Doxology. In the northern dioceses the readers #. rehearsed the Apostles' reed and the Decalogue; and the clergy in those parts were more conformable to the ceremonies which had been transplanted from the Church of England, than their brethren of the southern and western dioceses. At this period the readers, generally speaking, were despised by the people; and great irreverence prevailed during the performance of their tasks, both within and without doors. Scougal deeply lamented this state of things. We have seen how he laboured in his parish to remedy the evils which had prevailed in regard to public worship; and when seated in the chair of theology, he earnestly inculcated upon the candidates for holy orders, the obligation which lies upon a clergyman to see that all things connected with the service of Almighty God be done decently and in order. Lectures on the pastoral care formed a considerable and interesting part of Professor Scougal's course of instruction from the theological chair. They included the following heads: the nature and dignity of the clerical function,-the importance and difficulty of the pastoral office,— the necessary qualifications of can*idates for holy orders, the charac
ter, temper, and spirit of a minister of the Gospel,-and the manner in which a clergyman ought to perform the public and private duties of his office. His prelections on those important topics unfortunately have not come down to us *: but he has given the substance of them in a sermont which he preached before the Synod of Aberdeen; some extracts from which, together with a few gleanings on the same topics from the sermon at his funeral, by Dr. Gairden, will, I have no doubt, be gratifying to many of your readers. The Professor illustrates the nature and dignity of the Christian priesthood, from a view of the relation in which ministers stand to their heavenly Master, and to the flocks over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers, in the following passage:—“All men are created for the honour of God, and are infinitely obliged to serve him; yet because the greater part of mankind have their souls fettered in the distracting cares of this life, and almost buried in their bodies, it hath pleased the Divine Wisdom to call forth a select number of men, who, being delivered from those entanglements, and having their minds more highly purified, and more peculiarly fitted for the offices of religion, may attend continually on that very thing; and while the labourer is at his plough, the craftsman at his forge, and the
* It appears, from the preface to an edition of Scougal's Serinons printed at Edinburgh in 1747, that he left behind him an unfinished Treatise of the Pastoral Care, but we are not told whether it was then extant.
f The title of the above-mentioned sermon is “The Importance and Disficulty of the Ministerial Function," from 2 Cor. ii. 16. Who is sufficient for these things 2 Bishop Burnet, if I am not mistaken, was indebted to this excellent sermon for some valuable hints in writing his treatise on the Pastoral Care. The Bishop and the Professor were of the same school, and were animated by the same spirit; although, with great veneration for the memory of the Bishop, it is a tribute due to the Professor to say, that his mind appears to have been more “drawn up to high and heavenly things."
merchant in his shop, the minister ought to be employed in the exercise of devotion, for advancing the interest of piety and the honour of his Maker. The priesthood under the Law was a very sacred and venerable thing, and no profane hand might intermeddle with the meanest offices that belonged to it. But certainly, as the Gospel ministry is so much more excellent and sublime, being entrusted with the administration of those holy mysteries which were but shadowed in the former, how pure and holy ought those lips to be, by which God speaketh unto his people, and by which ministers speak unto him; and those hands, which are employed in the laver of regeneration, and to handle the bread of life.” “Consider next the weight and importance of the ministerial function, in relation to the people committed to our charge. We have to do with rational and immortal souls; those noble and divine substances, which proceeded from God, and are capable of being united to him eternally, but withal in hazard of being eternally separated from him. We may say with reason of our work that which the painter did vainly boast of; laboramus attermitati. The impresses we make, shall last for ever. My beloved, the most serious of our thoughts come very far short of the inestimable worth of the depositum, that treasure which is committed to our care. He who created and redeemed the souls of men, doth best understand their value; and we see what value he putteth upon them by the pains he is pleased to take about them. Their salvation was contrived before the mountains were brought forth, before the foundation of the earth was laid: the design was formed from all eternity, and glorious are the methods by which it is accomplished. Eternal salvation, as Gregory Nanzianzen saith, was the aim of the law and the prophets, and of the manifestation of God in the flesh. For this purpose, the Saviour suffered and died; and shall we undervalue
the price of his blood, or think it a small matter to have the charge of those for whom it was shed 2 st is the church of God we must oversee,
and feed that church for which the
world is upheld, which is sanctified by the Holy Ghost, and on which the angels themselves do attend. What a weighty charge is this we have undertaken, and who is sufficient for these things #" To these solemn and affecting considerations, the Professor subjoins the following awful reflection on the dreadful consequences of miscarriage in the discharge of this high and holy calling. . . It reflects dishonour on the Saviour, hazards the souls of our people, and doth certainly ruin our own. I say it reflects dishonour on our blessed Saviour, as the faults of servants do commonly prejudice the reputation of their masters, and the failings of ambassadors are imputed to their princes. We stand in a nearer relation to God, and are supposed to be best acquainted with his will, and to carry the deepest impression of his nature on our minds. And ignorant people will entertain the meaner thoughts of the holiness of God, when they miss it in those who are called his servants. Certainly it is no small reproach which the faults or miscarriages of ministers do bring upon the ways of godliness, and the holy religion we profess. It is no small affront that is hereby put on the blessed Author of it; greater, without question, than all the malice and spite of his open enemies is able to practise; for hereby he is crucified afresh, and put unto open shame. And O, how great is the hazard our poor people run by our negligence or failings, even as much as the worth of their souls amounteth to . If the watchmen be not faithful, and give not timely warning, the sword will readily come, and the people be taken away in their sins. Causa sunt ruina populi sacerdotes mali. But if the negligence and miscarriage of a ministerdoth hazard the soulsof others, it doth certainly ruin his own; which made St. Chrysostom say, Equidemer ecclesia ministris non arbitror multos servare; words so terrible, that I tremble to put them into English; and yet, if a man should speak fire, blood, and smoke; if flames could come out of his mouth, instead of words; if he had a voice like thunder, and an eye like lightning, he could not sufficiently represent the dreadful account that an unfaithful pastor shall make". What horror and confusion shall it cast them into at the last day, to hear the blood of the Son of God plead against them, to hear our great Master say,"It was the purchase of my blood which ye did neglect: I died for these souls of whom ye took so little pains: think not, therefore, to be saved by that blood which ye have despised, or to escape the torments whereunto many others are plunged through your faults s”
“The indolent enjoyment of preferment" (1 quote the words of a very reverend and animated writer) “to the neglect of ‘doctrine, reproof, instruction in righteousness, is “destroying the work of God for meat,’ and carries the guilt of a breach of faith and trust upon the very face of it. “Woe to the idle shepherds, that feed themselves: should not the shepherds seed the flocks?' Alas! we watch over human souls, as they that must give account;-a thought that could make even Chrysostom tremble, who had relinquished all the advantages of wealth and nobility, to devote entirely his sublime talents to the Gospel; whose life was labour, and whose labour was divine. Let our light, if it cannot cast so strong a glory, at least so shine, that our prefiting in the word of God • may appear unto all men:’ then indeed, when the motives and arguments of the Gospel shall evidently have sunk deep into our own bosoms,and, rising thence in the majestyof supreme dominion, dilate their influence over the whole of our exterior conduct, men will fall down and worship God, and report that he is in you of a truth.”—After a just reprehension of an imitation of the manners of the world in a clergyman, which follows the above passage, the same writer subjoins, in a tone worthy of his office and character, “What shall be thought of an inlitation of its vices 2 Why, it is a tremendous thought ! the very mention of it may make the ears *ingle! and Ict the uncution of it suffice for
The Professor illustrates the importance of the pastoral office by a view of the great ends of the ministerial function; which are no less than to awaken a world lying in wickedness from its spiritual lethargy; to call sinners to repentance, by displaying the terrors of the wrath to come ; to exhibit Christ crucified as the only foundation of acceptance to the truly penitent; to produce in the soul that divine life which is hid with Christ in God; and to guide and animate believers in their heavenly course. He then proceeds to consider the disficulties of the pastoral office, as resulting from the corruption of our fallen nature *, the machinations of our spiritual adversaries, the allurements and cares of the world, the perverse tempers and unreasonable humours which are too prevalent among professing Christians, and from the arduous nature of the clerical functions both publie and private. The following passage is selected from his observations on the difficulty of preaching. “Preaching t is an exercise that many are
argument. One portentous observation, however, which Grotius makes upon the case of Eli's sons, I beg leave to recite in his own words. “In talibus autem criminibus Deus deprecationes non semper audit.’”— Dean Nicholl's Sermon at the Visitation of the Archdeacon of Leicester. * “Let me appeal,” says Professor Scougal, on this source of difficulty in the Christian ministry, “to the conscience and coperience of every one, what difficulty they find in dealing with their own souls, in regulating their own passions, and in mortisying their own corrupt affections; yet here we have the advantage of a nearer application: we can carry home our reasons with more force upon ourselves than others. Our thoughts and meditations must be more clear and lively than our words and expressions are. If it be hard, then, to persuade ourselves to be good, it is sure much liarder to persuade others to be so.” t There are many excellent reflections upon preaching, as well as directions for the right performance of this important branch of ministerial duty, in the ninth chapter of
Bishop Burmet's Pastoral Care; and also in
Professor Hill's Theological Institutes.
ambitious of, and none more than those that are least qualified for it; and it is probable the desire of this liberty is no small temptation to some of our giddy people to go over to that sect and party where all ranks, and both sexes, are allowed the satisfaction to hear themselves talk in public. But it is not so easy a matter to perform this task aright; to stand in the presence of God, and to speak to his people in his name, with that plainness and simplicity, that seriousness and gravity, that zeal and concern, which the business requires; to accommodate ourselves to the capacity of the common people, without disgusting our more knowing hearers by the insipid flatness of our discourse; to excite and awaken drowsy souls, without terrifying and disturbing more tender consciences; to bear home the convictions of sin, without the appearance of some personal reflection:—in a word, to approve ourselves unto God as workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”—The following passage occurs in his considerations on the difficulties attending the private duties of the pastoral office. “Certainly the greatest and most disficult work of a minister, is in applying himself particularly to the several persons under his charge, to acquaint himself with their behaviour and the temper of their souls, to redress what is amiss, and prevent their future miscarriages. Without this private work, his other endeavours will do little good; and considering the great variety that is among the humours and dispositions of men (equal almost to that of their faces), this must needs be an infinite labour. What a martyrdom is it for some modest and bashful tempers, when they find themselves obliged to use freedom and severity in reproving the faults of those who in quality or age are above themselves | And O! what a hard matter it is to deal with people that are ready to leave the world, and step in upon eternity— when their souls do, as it were, hang
on their lips, and they have one foot (as we use to say) already in the grave "— After enumerating the various disficulties of the mimisterial function, and subjoining many excellent reflections, the Professor closes this part of his subject by the following apostrophe: “My reverend brethren, and right reverend fathers, we have been endeavouring to lay before you the importance and difficulty of your employment; and ye know them much better than we can tell you. But these things ought not to discourage you, or make you faint under the weight; but rather to animate and excite your care. As Alexander said once, of an eminent hazard he had encountered, that now he had met with a danger worthy his courage; so may I say of your work, that it is a business worthy your zeal, and the love and affection which you owe unto your blessed Master. And, indeed, ye can give no greater testimony of it, than by a faithful and conscientious discharge of the duties of your calling. If your work is great, your reward is infinitely greater; and you have Omnipotence engaged in your assistance. Up, and be doing, and the Lord shall be with you. Only let us be careful to maintain such a deep and constant sense of the engagements we lie under, as may awaken us unto the greatest diligence and watchfulness both over ourselves and others.” As to the qualifications requisite in candidates for holy orders, Professor Scougal laid great stress upon literary accomplishments. The first champions of the Protestant Reformation were no less distinguished b their learning than their piety. It would be disficult, perhaps, to produce, in any period of the church since the apostolic age, men more eminent in holiness, and more zealously devoted to the work of the Christian ministry. And they were, withal, men of superior learning, well versed in the original languages of the sacred oracles, thoroughly conversant in ecclesiastical history, and