Imágenes de páginas

out of the ruins of the fall, to become a habitation for God through the Spirit; and as the true Solomon, he calls and employs his ministers in every age and clime, as labourers to accomplish the great and glorious design. Let us therefore indulge a few reflections on the character of a minister, as a labourer engaged in the work of the Lord.

Talents are necessary to every kind of labour, and especially to the work of the ministry. One great design of our Lord's ascension was to receive gifts for men; and therefore he gave, some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists ; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.-Eph. iv. 11, 12. For however valuable and extensive a man's talents may be, whether natural or acquired, like those which Saul of Tarsus possessed, and so admirably cultivated at the feet of Gamaliel, still he must be indebted to Christ for those talents which can alone make him a good workman in the house of God. Paul frankly acknowledges this—I was made a minister according to the gift of the grace of God, given unto me by the effectual working of his power.-Every builder has an exclusive right to hire his own workmen; who are under obligation to look to the hand of their master for direction, encouragement, and support in the performance of their labours. Most assuredly, as our Master hath said, without me ye can do nothing; so every faithful labourer, with Paul, can say, I can do all things through Christ strengthening me.-A workman engaged to erect an edifice, recieves the plan already prepared by his employer. The foundation, elevation, size, form and diversity of its parts; all so minutely drawn and accurately described as to make it a complete rule for his various operations. Such is his veneration for his Master's wisdom, intention and faithfulness in all his engagements, that so far from indulging a wish to vary from his plan, whether to accommodate and gratify himself, or to comply with the dictate of others, he will not indulge the liberty of adding or diminishing the smallest parts of the whole. Moses, you know, erected the Tabernacle in the wilderness, with all its furniture, in all things according to the pattern which God showed him in the Mount; and Moses was faithful

to him that appointed him. Happy that minister and conscientious labourer of Christ, who takes the NEW TESTAMENT in the hand of his faith, as the unerring plan of his Lord and Master, for the erection of his church, the communication of his truth, and the glory of his grace! Such a one will ever bear upon his mind those solemn sentences with which the New Testament is closed, denouncing the judgment of the Almighty, upon those unfaithful ones who shall add unto these things, or take away from the words of this book. It is expected that a good workman knows the nature and qualities of the materials which he is to use; and likewise the tools, or instruments, with which he is to perform his labours. Certainly, some correct knowledge of human nature is indispensably necessary to every Gospel minister. In fact, these form his only materials, being called to preach the Gospel to every creature. The Bible contains the history of man, in all the variety of classes, the evil and the good; analyzes the heart, and lays open its complicated springs in the multiplicity of its thoughts, the expressions of its desires, and the actions of life. No volume exhibits mankind, in such a vast variety of sentiment, habit, profession, custom, manner, and character, in such just and true colours, as the Bible; because it is the truth as inspired by the Spirit of God. In proportion as the light of Christ shines into a minister's own heart, while he is reading the history of man in the pages of Scripture, he will perceive, more or less, similar tempers and dispositions in himself, as a world in miniature. By this knowledge he makes some correct estimate of the various characters around him; and particularly of those whom it is his more immediate duty to address in the name of the Lord. He will warn the wicked; direct the inquirer; comfort the sorrowful; strengthen the weak; and know how to give a polish to the virtues and graces of the Christian character. Besides, knowing the difference between a state of nature, and of grace, he is more competent to exercise a judgment of charity and truth, in the selection of fit materials to be used in building the house of the Lord. The variety and use of instruments, or what I called tools, to work with, are important considerations. A man having his materials on the spot, and a chest of tools by his side, without

knowing their uses, and how to apply them, will of course be incompetent to labour, and by no means entitled to the appellation of a workman. The means used by the labourer, I would be understood to mean, the great variety of truth contained in the Gospel of Christ. We wish young men under the care of this Society, not only to know that there are great truths contained in the Bible, but to learn their variety, their intrinsic qualities, their uses, and how to apply them, so that, they may prove workmen indeed that shall not need to be ashamed, and like Timothy, their profiting may appear unto all.-It is necessary for me only to add one more outline to the character of a Gospel labourer. The more correct and laborious the workman, the more highly he estimates the value and improvement of time. While the days occupied in labour produce a present gratification to an industrious faithful man, he will always cherish the impression that, time is not so much his own, as the property of his employer. The diligent, faithful minister of Christ knows how to appreciate these sentiments and apply them to himself. Time is short. At best, we are labourers by the day; and we know not what a day may bring forth, whether life or death. Rightly to apportion the parts of time is wise in man, but more so in a minister of Jesus Christ. The time required for daily examining his Master's design and directions contained in the Bible ; the selection and preparation of appropriate truths as instruments for his labour; reflections on the classes of his hearers as materials for his operation; together with the time required for his actual service in preaching and administering the ordinances, and also for visiting the sick and the afflicted; all these leave no time to spare for useless purposes. Besides a skilful workman will know when his work, or parts of his work, are done. This does not merely apply to those preachers, who, for the want of study, know not how to leave off when they have done; but, to all parts and duties in the study, at home or abroad; for a wise man will habitually learn to value, apportion, and employ his time, so that one duty shall not clash with another and create perplexity. By these prudential measures he can perform more service in his day's work, and with greater ease and success, than one that has

time for every thing and yet does little, and perhaps nothing to advantage.—My text now admonishes me,

II. To examine the particular duty which Paul enjoined upon Timothy. It is, rightly to divide the word of truth. This was necessary in order that the sacred Scripture may be clearly understood by the hearers. And more so while some divided the word incautiously and thereby prevented their hearers from desirable edification ; there were others who divided the word erroneously, like those teachers who crept into the churches of Galatia, confounding things that differ, darkening counsel by words without knowledge, and thereby deluding the people.The subject to be divided is, the word of truth. In Daniel, the tenth chapter, and the twenty-first verse, the Old TestaMENT is called, the Scripture of truth. The Apostle calls it the word of truth; and as such we receive both the Old and New Testaments. Not only because they contain the communicated, and written mind of God to man; but, the Bible is true in itself; harmonious in all its parts, its history, doctrines, promises, precepts, and whatever is necessary to be known of the true God, of Christ Jesus, or of ourselves, in order to eternal salvation. While it is of the highest consequence for every Christian to know and believe, and receive the Scriptures as the word of truth, which cannot deceive him: it is much more so to a minister of the Gospel, who will thereby carry in his own heart an internal evidence of its authenticity, which all the powers of infidelity cannot possibly destroy. Just as a workman believes the prepared plan drawn by his Master to be true and perfect, so will he proceed in his labours without doubt, or fear of success. The special duty required is, to divide this word of truth. That is, with the greatest caution and fidelity to exhibit its various parts, connexion, dependence, harmony and uses, so that they may clearly be perceived and understood. Some have supposed, that Paul alludes to the cutting open the animals which were to be offered in sacrifice, thereby disclosing their internal parts, that according to the law in that case recorded, they might be known to be sound and fit for the intended offering ; but, I cannot find that the sacraficing priests were ever called workmen. By others it is thought the Apostle intended the Jewish doctors who were in the habit of cutting, altering and expounding the Old Testament, and thereby deceived the people. I, however, choose still to follow the character of Timothy, and every other correct minister of the Gospel, as a workman, employed in the erection of a building. An intelligent workman takes his master's plan, examines and measures all the variety of its parts, in order to make a correct application of dimensions to all the materials used, so that it may prove a building fitly framed together; and without this, every mechanic knows, that confusion must attend the erection ; durability is absolutely impossible; and the workman would be charged with folly. This is precisely the case in application to a Christian minister, as to the performance of his duty in dividing the word of truth; whether we consider the full plan of the Bible, or any select part of truth which it contains. As this is of so much importance, I will name a few of those subjects which need rightly to be divided, in order to preserve the glory of divine truth, and benefit those who wish to know the truth, enjoy its sacred influence, and thus be made free from error. The difference between the Law and the Gospel ; which the Apostle has so clearly stated in his writings, particularly in the third chapter of the second epistle to the Corinthians.—The complete WORK of Christ for us in his life, death, and resurrection; and, the work of the Spirit of Christ within us.—The election of grace as the sovereign act of God the Father in Christ; and the effect of that grace by which, individually, his redeemed are called out of darkness into his marvellous light.— The difference also between the Jewish congregation; and the Churches of Christ, described in the New Testament.—The characters of men, drawn in the word of truth, and still existing both in the world and in the church; thus separating the precious from the vile.—And, without adding any more, what every Christian, and especially every minister, ought both to know and feel within himself is, the astonishing difference between a state of nature, and a state of grace; the old man, and the new; the flesh, and the spirit; for these are contrary the one to the other, so that we cannot do the things which we would. These are some of those great subjects imperiously necessary

« AnteriorContinuar »