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5 follow him with unsuitable expressions of applause, he E meets them with unfeigned indignation, arrests their
impious plaudits, and rejects their idolatrous adulations, = crying out with St. Paul—Sirs ! why do ye these
things ? we also are men of like passions with you; and preach unto you, that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God.' (Acts xiv. 13, 15.) We are neither the way, the truth, nor the life: But we point to you that way, which the truth has discovered, and through which eternal life may be obtained, entreating you to walk therein with all simplicity and meekness. And remember, that instead of affecting in our discourses that vain wisdom, which the world so passionately ad.. mires, we faithfully proclaim Christ: And, to humble us the more before God and man,
we preach Christ crucified.” (1 Cor. i. 23.)
By this humble carriage the ministering disciples of Christ are principally known. By this they copy the amiable example of John the Baptist, who cheerfully humbled himself that Christ might be exalted, crying out in the language of that self-renouncing teacher-· Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world! There standeth one among you, whom ye know not, whose shoes' latchet we are not worthy to unloose. We baptize with water: But he baptiseth with the Holy Ghost.' Beware then of entertaining too high an idea of our ministry; and remember, that · He must increase' in your estimation, but we must decrease.' (John i. 26, 33; iii. 30.)
After beholding John the Baptist, who was accounted greater than any of the prophets, abasing himself in the presence of Christ; and after hearing St. Paul, who was far superior to the Baptist, exclaiming in the humility of his soul—'I live not ; but Christ liveth in me'-how can we sufficiently express our astonishment at the couduct of those titular apostles, who either set up a vain philosophy in the place of Christ, or employ the cross of their Lord, as a kind of pedestal, for the support of those splendid monuments, by which their pride is endeavour.
conceited orators! When shall we rank you with the faithful ministers of the humble Jesus? When shall we behold the character you have assumed, and the con duct you maintain, sweetly harmonising with each other? When shall we hear you addressing your flocks, wità the unaffected simplicity and condescension of the great
. apostle: "We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord ; and’ far from elevating ourselves above you, on account of the commission we have received, 5 selves your servants for Jesus' sake. (2 Cor. iv. 5.) Then we might with propriety salute you, as humble imitators of St. Paul, as zealous ministers of the gospel
. and as faithful servants of that condescending Saviour, who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.' (Matt. xx. 28.)
His Universal Love. True Christians are distinguished from Jews, Ma. hometans, and all other worshippers, by that spirit of universal love, which is the chief ornament and glory of their profession. But among evangelical pastors this holy disposition appears in a more eminent degree. They feel for the inconsiderate and the sinful that tender compassion, of which Christ has left us an example. Their conduct answers to that beautiful description of charity with which Paul presented the Corinthian church, and which may be considered as an emblematical representation of his own character from the time of his conversion to the Christian faith. Universal love is that invigorating sap, which, passing from the true vine into its several branches, renders them fruitful in every good work. But this divine principle circulates through chosen ministers, with peculiar force, and in more than ordinary abundance, as so many principal boughs, by which a communication is opened between the root and the lesser branches.
The faithful pastor entertains an affecting remembrance of those benevolent expressions, which the good Shepherd addressed to the apostle Peter, and in the person of that apostle to all his successors in the ministry, repeating them even to the third time : Lovest thou me? Feed my sheep.' As though he had said, The greatest proof you can possibly give of your unfeigned attachment to me, is, to cherish the souls which I have redeemed, and to make them the objects of your tenderest regard. Such is the affectionate precept, which every faithful minister has received together with his sacred commission, and to which he yields a more ready and cheerful obedience, from a firm dependance upon the following solemn declaration of his gracious Master“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, he shall say' to all the children of love, “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done good unto one of the least of these my brethren,' whether their wants were corporal or spiritual, “ye have done it unto me.' (Matt. xxv. 31, 40.)
The love of the evangelical pastor, like that of St. Paul, is unbounded. • God,' saith that charitable apostle, will have all men to be saved, and to come, unto the knowledge of the truth: I exhort, therefore, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men : For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.' (1 Tim. ii. 4.) But not content with submitting to the exhortation of St. Paul, with respect to the duty of universal prayer, he endeavours to copy the example of that apostle in labouring for the salvation of all men: “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.' (1 Cor. ix. 22.) Being by regeneration • a partaker of the divine nature,' (2 Pet. i. 4,) he bears a lovely, though imperfect resemblance to his heavenly Parent, whose chief perfection is love. Like the High Priest of his profession, he breathes nothing but charity; and like the Father of lights, he makes the sun of his bene. ficence to rise upon all men. To describe this lesser
rable variety, with which it distributes its light and its heat, is to delineate with precision the character : faithful pastor.
His particular Love to the Faithful.
THE universal love of the true minister manifess itself in a particular manner, according to the different situations of those, who are the objects of it. When he finds the whole conduct of professing Christians conform able to the nature of their sacred profession, he loves them with a pure heart fervently,” (1 Pet. i. 22,) and giving way to the effusions of holy joy, he expresses his affection in words like these : “ Brethren, we are comforted over you, in all our affliction and distress by your faith : For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.' And what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before God.' (1 Thess. iii. 7. 9.) In these expressions of St. Paul an astonishing degree of affection is discovered. Now we live'--as though he had said, We have a two-fold life, the principal life which we receive immediately from Christ, and an accessory life, which we derive from his members through the medium of brotherly love. And so deeply are we interested in the concerns of our brethren, that we are sensibly affected by the variations they experience in their spiritual state, through the power of that Christian sympathy, which we are unable to describe. Thus when sin has detached any of our brethren from Christ, and separated them from the body of the faithful, we are penetrated with the most sincere distress : And, on the contrary, whenever they become more affectionately connected with us, and more inti. mately united to Christ our common head, our spirits are then sensibly refreshed, and invigorated with new degrees of life and joy.
Reader, dost thou understand this language? Hast thou felt the power of this Christian sympathy ? Or has thy faith never yet produced these genuine sentiments of brotherly love ? Then thou hast spoken as a person equally destitute of sensibility and truth, whenever thou hast dared to say—“ I believe in the communion of saints."
When a minister, after having been made instrumental in the conversion of sinners, perceives their faith decreasing, and their love growing cold, he feels for them, what the Redeemer felt when he wept over Jerusalem. Not less concerned for the remissness of his believing hearers, than St. Paul was distressed by the instability of his Galatian and Corinthian converts, he pleads with them in the same affectionate terms: Ye know,' ye who are the seals of my ministry, “ how I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And ye despised me not, but received me as an angel of God. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of ? For I bear you record, that if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes and have given them to me. Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth ? My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you,' I tell you with sorrow, that after all my confidence in you, “I stand in doubt of you.' (Gal. iv. 13—20.) 'Our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same (I speak as unto niy children) be ye also enlarged. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers ; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness ? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel ?