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ON BEING CALLED TO THE CHRISTIAN
YOU recollect the words of our blessed Lord to his disciples, when he appeared to them, assembled together, after his resurrection: his design was to confirm their faith, by his presence, and to dispel their terror by his Gospel, which he bequeathed to them, as the blessed result of his victory, and the dearest pledge of his remembrance.
It was not sufficient to assure them that they should be ministers of his evangelical dispensation:—Go, I send you, teach all nations in my name. It was also necessary to raise their spirits, sunk and dejected as they were, by his passion and death, by inspiring them with high sentiments of that important and sublime ministry, in which they were soon to be employed. And to impress their mind with the utmost force, he compares their mission to his own,—" As my Father hath sent me, so send I you."
As though he had said to them;—As I have been upon earth the ambassador of my Father, so shall you be mine among men: as my Father was «in me, reconciling the world unto himself, so shall I be in you, exercising myself a ministry of reconciliation; as they who have seen me, have seen the Father, they who see you, shall see me also; and ye shall be the representatives of my person upon earth, and a striking image of my power and authority; as the Father abode in me, doing all my works, so will I abide in you, and will baptize, will give the Holy Spirit, and will speak, before princes and kings. The Father hath placed me at his right hand, "and hath put all enemies under "my feet: ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judg"ing the twelve tribes of Israel." The Father hath given evidence from on high, by appearing in the clouds: and I shall one day appear, on a cloud of glory, surrounded by all the heavenly spirits, to bear testimony of you, before the assembled world. In a word, as I have glorified my Father on earth, so shall I be glorified in you, by your confessing my name, and promulgating my doctrine: but, as the mission which I have received of my Father is the principle and foundation of all my authority and greatness, the mission with which I entrust you shall be alone the foundation of yours :—" As my Father hath sent me, so send I you." To this last reflection it is, that I confine the subject of this discourse. The high parellel presents us with sublime, and, at the same time, awful ideas, of our ministerial calling.
"Let no one," says the Apostle, "take this ho"nour to himself, but he that is called of God, as "Wtes Aaron." If Christ was sent of his Father, in order to begin his work, we are to be sent by Christ, in order to continue that same work; and as we are called to the same glorious ministry, it is proper that the marks of our vocation be the same. Now, were our Lord to appear this day id the midst of us, as he formerly appeared to his assembled disciples, could he say to each individual among us—" As my Father hath sent me, so have I sent you?"
I shall not attempt to prove that we ought to be called to this holy office of the priesthood, before we take legal possession of it, for in so doing, the legality of the call is implied; I had rather appeal to your conscience, and prevail with you to enquire of yourselves—Am I called? Is it the calling of Christ, or the voice of man, that has placed me in the sanctuary? Is this holy state, which I have chosen, the state to which the Almighty hath appointed me? Am I in my place, or do I occupy the place of another ?—and, as Christ was sent by his Father, am I sent by him*"?
* I entirely omit the first part of this discourse, since little advantage could be derived from it by a Protestant Clergyman; and likewise the second part, which relates to the approbation of the Pastor by the people. The Prelate eloquently asks, " If many parishes would not say of their Pastors, we will not have this man to preside over us? If the people among whom I have lived, had the choice of their minister, could I flatter myself that their choice would fall on me?" I may, I hope, without offence, be permitted to observe, that, in the appointment of ministers, it is greatly to be desired that the people over whieh
That we may know whether we are called to the sacred ministry, we may judge from the innocence
the pastor is commissioned to preside, should be a person whom they approve. If, knowing his moral character, they justly dislike them; if, when they hear him in the Church, they are unanimous in their opinion, that, from his manner of reading and preaching, their Church and Communion will be deserted; or if, whatever be his qualifications, his voice is s» w^ak that it cannot be heard; ought not every congregation to have the privilege of protesting against such nomination? A congregation cannot be happy in a Clergyman whom they despise; a congregation will never observe, uniformly and seriously, the Ordinances of Religion, under the ministry of a Clergyman, however exemplary his conduct, and excellent his discourses, whose elocution is such as to excite general dissatisfaction; and if the Church be large, and his voice low, it is impossible that those who cannot distinctly hear, should derives any benefit from the discharge of his public duty. It is greatly to be lamented, that there should be in our Church, and in our Church only, such abundant cause of complaint on these topics.
I would not be understood to mean, that every congregation ought to have the choice of its own Minister, God forbid! for a regulation so injudicious would banish from the Church every good, and introduce into it every evil. But it cannot, surely, be thought that the security of the Church, and the interests of the Gospel, are promoted by imposing upon a congregation a clergyman who is not calculated,in almost a single instance, to obtain the approbation, and ensure the affections, of his hearers. An appeal to the Diocesan, not originating in personal pique^ in wanton caprice, or in previous attachment to a more popular preacher, but founded on impartial justice, and supported by incontrovertible reasoning, ought to be allowed. And sure I am, the greatest good would result from such a measure to the whole community: the State would receive from it a most powerful support; the Church would acquire such strength as to bid defiance to the insinuations of scepti
of our life, and from our attachment to our pro.- , fession.
Now our conscience is the best evidence of the innocence of our life. But, as the irreproachable manners of the priesthood have been the subject of a former exhortation, I shall proceed to shew the necessity of an attachment to the holy functions of the sacred profession. Our Lord, at an early period of his life, withdrawing from the eyes of his parents, entered into the Temple, where he was found among the doctors, making alreadjrfull proof of his ministry. Samuel, when a child, stood daily in the Temple before the Lord; and the Scripture observes, that he awoke from his sleep, when he thought that the commands of Eli, the High Priest, called him to the discharge of any duty which affected the decency and beauty of the Lord's Temple. This anticipated predilection, this previous attachment to the obligations of our vocation, has not, infrequently, appeared in those whom heaven pre-ordained for the service of the altar; and it hath always been considered as a sign of our calling, and a happy presage of our proficiency in it.
cism, and the combinations of schism; and Religion itself, by a more general and devout observance of its ordinances, would be more uniformly practised.
It would be well if the second part of Massillon's Discourse was seriously read by every Patron, before he presents to a living, and by every Incumbent before he nominates to a cvwu;y, whether perpetual or stipendiary. •