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IT was prescribed in the Law of Moses, that every first-born among the Jews should be dedicated to the service of the temple and the altar j or, as it is expressed by St. Luke, "called holy to the Lord,"
Christ Jesus, the first-born among his brethren, represented by the first-born among the Jews, fulfilled this law, and explained what was figurative and mysterious in it. His consecration to the altar. is the foundation of our holy ministry; we are, as it were, the first-born of the new-covenent; succeeding, in this instance, to the Jewish privileges.
We, who are an holy priesthood, are separated from the world, that we may avoid all profane intercourse with it; that we may so devote ourselves to the offices of Religion, as never afterwards to desert the sanctuary, in order to enter into "the tents of ungodliness."
The demeanor of the Clergy ought not, it is true, to be marked by unsocial rigor, and forbidding austerity: called, as we are, to bring sinners to salvation, and, as their visible angels, to con. duct them, we must seem in some degree, to imitate their customs, and adopt their manners.
Our ministry, indeed, necessarily occasions an intercourse with men; and if we would avoid all society with sinners, we must, as the Apostle speaks, "go out of the world ;'* but the spirit of the Christian priesthood leads us to conquer its temptations, by withstanding, and not, by personal flight, to escape them.
It is not, indeed, the love of the world which pleases by its kindness, and engages by its attentions, that I shall now either combat with argument, or reprehend with severity. No! it is that love of the world which exposes us to shame, which familiarizes us to dissipation, dishonors the priesthood, and gives offence to every pious mind; jt is that powerful attachment to its cares and pleasures, which weans us from the holy duties ef the sanctuary; it is that useless, idle, worldly life, which hurries us from one folly to another;. enchains us to the conviviality of sinners,, to the delights of their conversation, and the allurements of their voluptuousness; and leads us, by imperceptible degrees, from the engagements of the world to its amusements, from its amusements to its dangers, and from its dangers to its sins*. Now nothing, surely, is sa incompatible
* "If practical. Christian Piety and Benevolence, and: Sei/ Government, with constant Zeal to promote them all upo^ With the holiness of our calling, and the spirit of our ministry, as this life of dissipation, of perpetual engagements, of general inattention, pursued, it may be, without the remotest design of evil. Let us illustrate this truth ;—it is sufficiently important of itself to form, not a principal part, but the sole object, of this exhortation.
The spirit of bur ministry is a spirit of Separation from the World; of Prayer; of Labour, of Zeal; of Knowledge; of Piety :—let us observe each of these characteristics. Now, they all become extinct amidst worldly avocations,and secular engagements.
I. A spirit of Separation from the World. I mention this first: the ministerial office consecrates us to whatever concerns the reality, or the appearance, of Religion, and exempts us, at the same time, from a discharge of many of the public offices of society. From the period we are ordained we cease in one sense, to be citizens and members of the state; united with other men, by general duties, to its interests, we form a separate
Earth, are not the first and chief Qualities, which your Parishioners and acquaintance will ascribe to you; if tHey will Speak of you as noted on othe*r accounts, but pass over these articles; and when asked about them be at a loss what to say, excepting possibly that they know no harm of you; all is not right: nor can such a Clergy answer the design of its institution any where; or even maintain its ground in a country of freedom and learning, though a yet worse may in the midst of slavery and ignorance."—Abp. Secker.
people. It is not that we plead exemption front obedience to the laws, and "the powers that are ordained of God;" we are to exhibit to the rest of men an example of allegiance; we do not cease to be members of the state, because we are not called upon to discharge the civil offices it requires of the rest of its members. The celebration of the Ordinances of Religion becomes our chief/ and, almost, our only, duty; works of piety and charity, as far as is in our power, our indispensable obligations, thereby recommending our char* acters, and adorning our lives; the study of the Holy Scriptures, our highest pleasure, and professed avocation.
In a Minister of the Gospel, then, every thing is holy and separated from common use: a Clergyman ought to be distinguished by inherent gravity, the more readily to command respect from others, and by that degree of veneration which is necessary to give solemnity to his admonitions* and effect to his exhortations.
II. The spirit of our ministry is, in the second place, a Spirit of Prayer*: prayer is the ornament of the priesthood, the leading principle of our character; without prayer, a Minister is of no use to the Church, nor of any advantage to mankind: he sows, and God gives no encrease; he preaches, and his words are only like "sounding brass, or
* Vide, Charge XIV.