« السابقةمتابعة »
ready attained, either are already perfect; but forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, press towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”_"Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth, that when he who is your life shall appear, ye may
also appear with him in glory.” Amen.
Preached at the Author's admission at South Leith.
1 CORINTHIANS iv. 1, 2.
Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of
Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of GOD. Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.
THE just conception and faithful discharge of the reciprocal duties in society, are the foundation both of private and public happiness. In this respect, the church of Christ is not different from other communities among men. Although Christians acknowledge but one supreme Master, yet they are taught to acknowledge among themselves subordinate degrees of authority on the one hand, and of submission and respect on the other. The God whom we serve is a God of order, not a God of confusion; and he hath pointed out, both in his word and in his providence, the necessity of doing all things decently and in good order.
The text, and the occasion likewise, lead me to speak of the mutual regards and duties which ought to subsist between a minister of Christ, and the people committed to his charge; in doing which I shall, through divine assistance,
First, Explain the account given us in the text, of the nature of our office as ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. And,
Secondly, Point out the corresponding obligations incumbent on Christians, with regard to those entrusted with this ministry.
The illustration of these particulars will tend to produce a just conception, and I trust, through the blessing of God, the faithful discharge of those important duties which you and I will henceforth owe to each other.
I am first, to explain the account given in my text, of the nature of our office as ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
And in order to have clear apprehensions of this subject, it will be necessary to look back to the origin of the office, and see wherein it differed, at its first appointment, from the circumstances in which it exists at present. I set out with observing, that the ministry of the word is in all essential points the same, ever since it was ordained as an employment. At the same time it is plain, that several circumstances attending it are
considerably varied. The ordinary call to the office, wbichi now takes place, is very different from the miraculous mission by which men were consecrated to it in former times. Their vocation was more immediate, more striking, attended with more ample powers, as well as more splendid effects. From their immediate inspiration, an authority was derived to their words, to which none of us can justly pretend. They promised, and the blessings of time and eternity were conveyed with their words; they threatened, and vengeance from heaven followed without delay. Besides, the first teachers of the gospel enjoyed from their divine Master the communication of his own powers over nature.
“ Having called the twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, and to heal all manner of sickness and disease." Accordingly, the whole history of their lives is one train of miracles, verifying the reality of these powers, and displaying the fulfilment of that splendid promise, Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do, because I
go to my Father.”
AN these extraordinary powers have now ceased. The pastors of the Christian church, in these later ages, are neither possessed of the immediate inspiration, nor of the power of working miracles, enjoyed by the apostles. They are now men in all respects like yourselves, to whom God hath
conveyed, by the hands of other men, authority to preach the word, to dispense the sacraments, and to preside over the congregations in which his providence may place them. Here then is a very manifest difference, and an evident inferiority on our side. Still, however, the original proposition stands true, that the office is in all essential points the same as exercised both by them and us. For it is easy to conceive, that the superior prerogatives which have been mentioned, vary some circumstances in the ministry only, but do not in any degree alter its nature, The essence of this sacred office, the foundations of the pastoral authority, remained unimpaired. The mission is one and the same by Jesus Christ, to all his faithful servants in this employment. His promise is unalterable, “ Behold I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” From his holy hill, where he sits as King of Zion, he provides for the perpetuity of his church, “ giving some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."
This then is the origin of that sacred office, which is still exercised among you. This is the source from which the authority is derived that is necessary for sustaining the character. It is this which constitutes our mission the same with that of the apostles, and confers on the truths