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ON THE PECUNIARY REMUNERATION OF THE MINISTERS or
WHEN Jesus Christ sent forth his seventy disciples to heal diseases, and to proclaim the approach of the kingdom of heaven, he forbade them to provide any stores for their journey. They were to place their confidence in the providential care of their heavenly Father; and, in the houses which they might visit, they were freely to avail themselves of the hospitality of their friends, for the supply of their bodily wants. “ Into whatsoever house ye enter," said he to them, “first say, Peace be to this house; and if the Son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give ; for the labourer is worthy of his hire;" Luke x, 5—7. So, also, the apostle Paul, when addressing his Corinthian converts, among whom he had so diligently laboured as a minister of the Gospel of Christ, asserts the claim upon them, which, when so engaged, he clearly possessed, for such a provision of “carnal things” as his necessities might require. “Have we not power,” says he, “to eat and drink?.... or I only and Barnabas, have we not power to forbear working? Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or
On the Pecuniary Remuneration of Ministers, 8c. 173 who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also ? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?...: Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple ? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel;" I Cor. ix, 4414. · That particular provision of the Mosaick law which is here cited-when regarded in its ulteriour sense, as applicable to the labourers in the cause of righteousnessappears to express, in a manner at once full and simple, the principle on which the apostle asserts his right to a provision for his natural wants. « Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn;" or, in other words, While the ox is treading out the corn, thou shalt not muzzle him. When the seventy disciples of Jesus forsook, for a time, all their secular employments; when they went forth, in the name of their Lord, to heal the sick, and to preach righteousness; when they were engaged in travelling from place to place, in order to publish to their countrymen the glad tidings of salvation;---it is plain that their whole time was occupied in their religious services; and, deprived, as they were, during the continuance of such services, of the opportunity for earning their own bread, it was right that they should cast themselves, without reserve, on the kindness and liberality
of their friends. It would have been improper in the visiters to decline such assistance, and shameful in the visited to withhold it. Very similar were the circumstances of the apostle Paul, who had sacrificed his original pursuits, and knew no settled or permanent home; but moved about from place to place, according to the will of his Lord, in order to disseminate, among his fellow-men, the truths of Christianity. In as much as he was constantly engaged in these missionary labours—in as much as his time and talents were devoted exclusively to the work of an evangelist -in so much he possessed an undeniable moral claim on those in whose behalf he laboured, for the supply of his outward necessities.
The same rule, respecting the maintenance of the ministers of the Gospel, is admitted in the Society of Friends. Occasions frequently occur, as has been remarked in the preceding chapter, when our ministers, as they apprehend, are sent forth from their homes by their divine Master. Constrained by the gentle influences of his love in their hearts, they visit the churches which are scattered abroad; and, for a time, devete themselves without intermission to the exercise of their ministerial functions. During the progress and continuance of such undertakings, they cannot be expected to provide for themselves; and it is, therefore, a practice generally prevailing in the Society, to pay the expenses of their journeys, and to maintain them during the course of their labours. Like the seventy disciples, to whom we have already alluded, they eat and drink at the houses which they visit; and, if they be found true evangelists, it is universally acknowledged by their brethren, and not only acknowledged, but felt—" that the labourer is worthy of his hire;", or, as the sentiment is expressed in the Gospel of Matthew, that “ the workman is worthy of his meat;" ch. x, 10.
: Although, however, Paul upholds the general rule, that the ox, when actually treading out the corn, is not to be muzzled, he was, evidently, very jealous of its being, in any degree misapplied, or extended beyond its true bearing. Deprived as he was of any permanent home, and singularly devoted, both in mind and time, to the duties of an apostle, he might very reasonably have depended altogether upon the churches for his food and raiment; but, no sooner did he take up his residence in any place, for a considerable length of time, than he began to apply himself to some manual labour, in order that he might earn his own bread, avoid being burthensome to his friends, and throw no impediment whatsoever in the way of the Gospel “ If others be partakers of this power over you," says the apostle to the same Corinthians, “ are not wè rather? Nevertheless, we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the Gospel of Christ....... What is my reward, then? Verily that, when I preach the Gospel, I may make the Gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the Gospel;" I Cor. ix, 12. 18. As the apostle declined receiving a maintenance from his friends at Corinth, so he observed the same line of conduct at Ephesus; where, indeed, he not only supported himself, but contributed to the support of others. Diligent as he was, during his abode in that city, in the exercise of his ministry-teaching publickly from house to house," and warning “every one night and day with tears”-he was, nevertheless, enabled to address the Ephesian elders in the following terms: “I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel; yea, ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me;" Acts xx, 33, 34. And, after thus adverting to his own conduct, he proceeded to enjoin a similar course upon those whom he was addressing: “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive;" ver. 35.
On the whole, therefore, while the general rule is to be admitted, that the preacher of the Gospel, during the periods when his time is exclusively devoted to his ministerial functions, may properly derive his sustenance from those among whom he is thus engaged ; it is quite evident that, according to the mind of the apostle Paul, any application of this rule, beyond its true limits, is inconsistent with the purity of the divine law, and injurious to the cause of Christianity.
Now, it is the opinion of Friends, that the limits of the rule are transgressed, and the rule itself dangerously perverted, in the practice, so usual among Christians, of hiring the ministers of the Gospel. Here, I must beg my reader to understand that, in using the word" hiring,” it is altogether foreign from my intention to express any thing in the least degree offensive to Christian ministers of any denomination.
That a considerable proportion of these persons are truly the servants of the Lord Jesus, - that many of them undertake the oversight of the flock "not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind," and are incomparably more intent upon the winning of souls than upon their own temporal advantage.--I both know and am happy to acknowledge. But we are here discussing a general principle; and I use the word in question simply because it is the only one which can properly express my meaning. It is, then, indisputably a practice prevalent in many Christian societies, to hire their ministers; that is to say, to engage the services of their ministers in consideration of pecuniary salaries. As a gentleman agrees with his servant, and a merchant