« السابقةمتابعة »
into that region of horror, misled by our licentious principles, and corrupted by our scandalous immoralities.
So peculiar is the situation of a Minister of the gospel, that if his character doth not promote the interests of religion, it is injurious to them; if he does not recommend piety, by his whole deportment, he introduces, he authorises, he encourages, vice. The ministry, notwithstanding, which commits to us the care of souls, seems, not to be generally considered as an awful and solemn engagement; men wish for it, they solicit it, they are happy when they have obtained it, and they have, sometimes, recourse to means, hi order to obtain it, which propriety cannot countenance, and religion must condemn. "He that is not called, and that entereth "not by the door, into the sheep-fold, but climbeth "up some other way, the same is a thief and a rob"ber." Now one certain sign of our being called to the ministry, is an holy dread of sinking under the weight which it imposes. Alas ! we consider it merely as abounding with temporal advantages, and we are eager in our pursuit of them, not that we may possess the opportunity of being the instrument of salvation to men, but that we may obtain riches, and enjoy ease : we do not trouble ourselves with the eagagements we enter into, and the obligations we contract, towards the souls the Church hath committed to our care; whereas, if only one perish, he who redeemed them, will require of us a severe account, and it will be incumbent on us to shew, that the unhappy wretch was neither influenced by our solicitude, nor instructions, neither by our example, nor our prayers, or that he otherwise would not have perished: we hold the place of Jesus Christ, in the midst of this flock: and can we say to him, as he said to his Father—" of all those committed "to my care I have not lost one."
Suffer me, in conclusion, to address to you the words of the Apostle—Seeing, my Reverend Brethren, things are so, and seeing that your examples are to be one great criterion whereby to judge, not only of the state of your own souls, but also of the salvation of the souls committed to your charge, be steadfast and immoveable; you, especially, who discharge, with credit to yourselves, and edification to your respective flocks, the several duties of your ministry ;—let not the examples of negligence, and of conduct, little correspondent to the sacred profession, of some of your brethren, occasion in you the smallest abatement of zeal, in the faithful and diligent performance of those engagements, which may promote the salvation, or involve the ruin, of the redeemed of the Lord: let not the abuses, authorized by too many, ever prevail over you, in opposition to the precepts which condemn them: let not the indolence, the inattention, the attachment, to the perishable things of this life, which seem to pervade not-a small part of the ministry, cause you to forget the holiness of your calling, but rather fix, immoveable, your minds, upon it. Far from looking around you, where you sometimes see, in your brethren, sub*
jects of grief and lamentation, place, always, before your eyes, the Ministers who first preached the Gospel of Christ; those ancient and venerable examples, to whose zeal, diligence, and virtue, we dare not hope to attain. Never consider your ministry, at any period of it, as a situation of honorable repose: think not of appropriating any time to yourself, if you can by a different application of it, preserve only one soul from perdition: content not yourselves with going through your public and ordinary duties, after which, we are ready to persude ourselves, that we are discharged from every other: so long as you shall see among your flock, abuses to correct, sinners to reclaim, or weak Christians to support, consider not your obligations fulfilled: let zeal and charity inspire you with a solicitude, which the letter of the Canons of the Church doth not seem to impose, but which the spirit of them rigorously exacts: measure your pastoral exertions, not by stipulated rules, or by the decay of your constitution, but by the wants of your parishioners. Let not age itself, let not the long, and active, discharge of your ministerial avocations, in which you may have grown old, suggest to you a legitimate reason for ceasing from the combat, and of, at length, enjoying the repose, to which, after so many years of labour, in reclaiming men from vice, and encouraging them in virtue, you may seem to be entitled: rather let your youth be renewed, like the eagle; zeal may supply powers which nature may, in appearance, refuse; these precious remains of decay, are honorable to the ministry: be the Eleazar of the new covenant; and let not old age become a motive to any indulgences, which may not be strictly consistent, at the close of a life, dedicated to the discharge of the pastoral obligations. Continue to abound in the work of the Lord. j The nearer you approach to the close of your ministerial labours, the more ought your zeal to be invigorated. How lamentable will it be, if, at that period, you are wanting in courage and resolution; and if, by a premature repose, you forfeit the reward of an entire life of exemplary diligence, passed in the blessed employment of rescuing souls from Satan, and of presenting them acceptable unto God!
ON THE EXCELLENCE OF THE MINISTRY.
Thou that makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; and art confident, that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge, and of the truth in the law. Thou, therefore, which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?-'-'