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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 societi 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
be said ; but I am aware that this exercise has already been extended to a length that demands an apology. I shall close with a few observations to this congregation, and to him who is expected soon to be their pastor.
Christian Brethren. After experiencing for some time a suspension of your religious privileges,* we are happy to meet you to-day in the Sanctuary, to place over you in the Lord, the individual whom
you have unanimously selected to be your pastor. The occasion to you is one of deep and solemn interest, and calls for an expression of your warmest gratitude. Evince it, then, by receiving this youthful herald of the gospel as an angel of God. Remember that he comes to you on an errand of mercy, and charged with an embassy from the King Eternal. He comes to the members of this church for the work of the ministry—for the perfecting of the saints-for the edifying of the body of Christ, till they shall all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.-He comes to the impenitent in this congregation to beseech them in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. His business is serious; he is to watch for souls as one that must give an account; and in preaching to you the gospel, he will be unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved and in them that perish : To the one he will be a savour of life unto life, and to the other of death unto death.-You are sensible that it is a solemn concern to preach the gospel ; and so it is to hear it. It is the two edged sword that cuts in every direction. Recollect that the Lord Jesus has identified his faithful ministers with himself, and that their ministrations cannot be despised with impunity.—He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me, and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me. Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of Judgment than for such as shall turn away from Him that speaketh to them by his ministers from heaven.
* Rev. LYMAN BEECHER, D. D. was dismissed at his own request from the Pastoral charge of the First Ecclesiastical Society of Litchfield. in February, 1826.
But, my brethren, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. We have confidence in you, that you will esteem your minister very highly in love for his work's sake-that you will treat him with kindness and respect—that you will not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is, but will regularly and devoutly attend on bis public performances that you will aid him in all his lawful attempts to advance the kingdom of Christ among you—and, especially, that
will frequently and fervently intercede for him at the throne of grace. May he continue to deserve the affection which, we doubt not, you have so sincerely expressed for him ; and may you continue to bestow it, till your mutual attachments shall glow with an intenser and a purer warmth in the Paradise above.
My dear Brother. You have been called in the Providence of God to minister to a people distinguished for their intelligence, and who have the reputation of being indulgent and affectionate to their pastor. Your situation, though in many respects eligible, it is not to be concealed, is in others some