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THE first office of our Lord's ministry in Jerusalem was .an exercise and display of zeal against the abuses which dishonour the glory of his Father, and the sanctity of his Temple. That divine meekness, which had hitherto distinguished his whole conduct, was, on this occasion, changed into, an holy severity. He could not endure a public offence, which insulted Religion in the Lord's sanctuary. In vain did the Pharasees tolerate this abuse, in vain was it supported by universal and ancient custom; these seem the very considerations which awakened his indignation; and the more difficult and dangerous the remedy appeared, the less delay and caution did he use in abolishing this profanation of the temple.
The first example which our Lord hath left to his Ministers in the public exercise ef their profession, is observable in the zeal which he exhibited against those vices that insult the glory of God, and profane the holiness of religion. He sends us, indeed, as lambs, who are to be silent and gentle in the midst of ill-treatment; but who are directed to raise our voice, and "to cry aloud," when the glory of the Lord, whose ministers we are, is disparaged by the negligent, affronted by the careless, and contemned by the profligate. He disapproved, it|is true, the zeal of the two disciples who called for fire from heaven on an unbelieving city; but he blamed only their unrestrained indignation, and unhallowed bitterness: He condemned the zeal which would punish rather than reclaim, and taught us, that, without charity, zeal is no more than violence of temper, and not an impulse of grace.
I this day propose to your attention, that a true, religious zeal, is essentially requisite in the character of a Christian Minister. And, then, why this zeal is so seldom found among us.
I. From the period in which the Church has associated us to the holy ministry, we become "Ia"bourers together with God," for the salvation of our brethren; we, in some measure, enter into the priesthood of the blessed Jesus, who became a priest for the purpose of destroying the dominion of sin, of restoring to his Father the glory of which the malice of men had robbed him, and of forming a spiritual, faithful people, an assembly of saints, to glorify him throughout the earth.
Thus, a Minister of the Gospel is charged with the interests of the Lord, and with the holiness of men: his prayers, his desires, his studies, his exertions, are all to be directed to the salvation of his brethren, as to their only end; whatever does not relate to this grand object is foreign to the design of his vocation ; his time should be employed, and his talents devoted, to induce men to '* worship their Father in spirit and in truth;" he who is embarrassed with other cares, renounces the dignity of his high calling.
Elijah ascending to heaven, and leaving the spirit of his zeal to his disciple Elisha, was a type of Christ, who, after having sat down at the right hand of his Father, sent the spirit of zeal upon his disciples, which was to be the seal of their mission and the credential of their ministry; and, in consequence, to reform mankind, and to carry to all nations the knowledge of salvation, and the love of the truth. No sooner were they filled with the Holy Ghost, than these men, before so timid, and so diligent to conceal themselves from the fury of the Jews, despised danger, and defied punishment: they bare testimony in presence of the high priests, of the resurrection of Jesus, and "departed from the council, rejoicing to be thought "worthy to suffer shame for his name."
But the ardour of their zeal could not be confined to the land of Judea; they went from country to country, from nation to nation; they spread themselves throughout the extremities of the earth; they preached "the foolishness of the cross" to