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is taken out of his hands by a present and peacespeaking Redeemer. Instead of imparting the consolations of the gospel, it is his privilege to sit as an humble and silent learner, to contemplate and admire the conquests of grace in a soul that is filled with the transporting foretastes of a blessed immortality. There are, however, other cases which excite in the
any religious sensibility, emotions of a very opposite and distressing kind. It is sometimes our lot to be summoned to the sick bed of one, who, when in health, was disposed to put far off the evil day, and, who, when God called, refused :-and now that calamity has come upon him, and fear and anguish have taken hold of him, he at length consents to receive a visit from the minister, whose admonitions he has long and steadfastly rejected. In compliance with a wish which, we are told, he has expressed, and which, we fear, has been extorted by the extremity in which he is placed, we hasten to his dwelling. We find him in the agonies of dissolution. The cold sweat of death is on his face. His soul is agitated by a fearful looking for of judgment. He is unable to converse; and after catching from the quivering lips of the dying man a few broken and incoherent expressions, we have but barely time to commend him, in a short religious exercise, to that God, who, though he is rich in compassion, is yet a consuming fire to the wicked,—and his trembling spirit is gone to Him who gave it. We cannot affirm with certainty that his soul is lost ; but the least we can say is, that his unchanging destiny is shrouded in awful gloom, and his exit was such as to give rise to the most fearful forebodings.
Again, it is sometimes our lot to be called to the bed of a sick and dying man whose exercises, though of a still different, are not of a less dangerous character. His life, perhaps, has been marked by an outward regard to religion, and a decent respect to the . duties of morality. His mind is tranquil, and he is willing to die. Inquire of him concerning the state of his soul and his prospects for eternity, and he will tell you that he has never been vicious—his sins have been few and trifling-he has injured no one, and has always endeavoured to do as well as he could. His sorrowing friends around him officiously interfere, and confirm his representations in a manner which too plainly discovers that they consider them as sufficient evidence that he is a christian; and, then, subjoin in his own and the ministers hearing-he has been the most patient sufferer that ever was-he is perfectly resigned and willing to die. Now, in a case of this description, what is a minister of Jesus to do? We have this treasure of the gospel in earthen vessels, and have the sympathies and feelings of other men. The desire of the relatives is easily discerned. They wish us to administer comfort. Shall we, then, say to this sick and dying man, peace, peace :-your soul is no doubt in the Ark of safety !-or, taking his cold and almost lifeless hand, shall we affectionately and faithfully deliver to him the message of God, and tell him, though it cuts us to the heart, that his hope is as the spider's web? Undoubtedly this is our duty, and however painful, we must not shrink from its performance, but use our endeavours to pluck, if possible, this self-righteous brand from the burning, and though his body is weak, to wake up his drowsy soul before it drops into hell.
VI. The last particular to be noticed, is the com-. pensation to which the Apostles were entitled. For the workman is worthy of his meat.
We deem it a subject of rejoicing rather than regret, that, according to the existing laws of this Commonwealth, the ministry is supported by the voluntary contributions of the people, instead of compulsory exactions; which in our opinion, but illy comport with the spirit of the gospel. Nor can we withhold the expression of our belief, that were most of those permanent funds, which are established in many societies, and from which the salaries of ministers are either entirely or partially derived, devoted to some other purpose, the change would contribute not a little to the increase of an active, benevolent and enterprising spirit in the churches.
That the ministers of the gospel have valid claims to a pecuniary compensation for their services, will probably be questioned by none in this assembly. These claims are supported by numerous and explicit declarations of scripture,—are countenanced by the example of the Apostles,-and are susceptible of a vindication on the common and acknowledged principles of reason and justice. The ministers of religion, it will not be disputed, perform labour; not of the manual, but of the intellectual kind, which is much the most severe of the two, as those, who have tried both, can abundantly testify. They have moreover, incurred expences in acquiring their professional qualifications—have foregone all other opportunities for gaining a livelihood, and, like the Levites of old, have no part nor inheritance among their brethren. It is, therefore, a dictate of reason and of justice that they
should be remunerated; and the compensation that is made to them is not to be regarded in the light of a charity. They have a right to it.
But to what extent should they be compensated ! We can only reply to this inquiry in general terms, as circumstances, by which the particular amount of compensation is to be determined, vary at different times, and in different places. None, however, who acknowledge their right to any compensation, it is presumed, will deny, that they are entitled to as much as shall afford a competent maintenance for themselves and their families—as shall relieve them, provided they are discreet in the management of their affairs, from the perplexing embarrassments of debt-as shall enable them to appear, both at home and abroad, with a respectability becoming their station to be hospitable, and to set to others an example of liberality -to as much as shall be necessary to furnish them with the intellectual and literary furniture that is requisite to aid them in the prosecution of their prafessional studies and, in fine, to as much as shall afford them a favourable prospect of laying up something in store on which themselves and their families can subsist when disabled from professional pursuits, by age, infirmity, or any adverse contingency.
We are not pleading, my brethren, for splendid livings to be given to the ministers of the gospel, or, that they should be supported in any unwarrantable extravagancies. We would speak, in no other terms than those of reprobation, of the individual who enters the priestly office for a piece of bread. It is better for ministers to be poor, than to be pampered ; and we are fully of the opinion, that, in the eye of the Omniscient, it is no greater sin for a minister to
be given to “ strong drink,” than to be “ greedy of filthy lucre.” But what we are pleading for, is simply a decent competency: a competency, which, I regret to say, is not generally afforded in our American churches. On this subject, a distinguished writer of our own country, who had every facility for obtaining correct information, affirms, that “not one man in twenty in the United States, were he obliged to live upon the salary allowed by his congregation, could escape from beggary and rags. The ministry," he adds,“ is but little better than a starving profession.” In these observations there is much point, and too much of truth. Ministers from the scanty pittance that is afforded them by their congregations, are not unfrequently driven upon the reproachful necessity of resorting for a livelihood to agricultural pursuits, or to that ruinous system of school-teaching, which either deprives them of health, or prevents them from giving themselves, as they should do, wholly to the ministry. Occupations of this nature, when undertaken except for the sole purpose of recreation, have a tendency to empoverish the intellect, and to secularize the views of ministers; and it deserves to be noted, that scarcely any of them, at the present day, are ever known to arrive at any thing like opulence in their condition, but those who have been forced, by the incompetency of the support
derived from their congregations, to turn their attention to some other employment. Afford to ministers the competency for which we plead, and with that the most of them will be satisfied ; but withhold from them this, and you will urge them upon the adoption of a scheme by which they will be likely to become in a measure enriched. On this article more might