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and prudence. They need to be crucified to the world, and the world to them, by the cross of Christ. They ought to be willing to take up their cross daily, and endure the afflictions of the gospel. They ought to seek the honor which cometh from God, and renounce that which cometh from men. They ought to savor the things which be of God, and not those which be of men. They ought to love God, and Christ, and the souls of men, so much, as to be willing to be poor and despised, and abused by men, in the faithful discharge of their duty. They ought, in a word, to be so holy, and harmless, and pure, and heav- . enly minded, as to be proof against all the frowns and flatteries of those who wish to weaken their hands, discourage their hearts, and destroy their influence. If' those who enter upon the ministry are possessed of these superior qualifications, they may hope, through
, the divine goodness, to war a good warfare, to keep the faith, and endure unto the end, so as to receive that crown of righteousness which is reserved for those who are faithful unto death. But if any presume to run before they are sent, and to preach before they are qualified, they have reason to expect that they shall one day fall into the corruption of the times, and become a reproach to the sacred order, and a stumbling to those whom they ought to have reproved and reclaimed.
3. It is the duty of all good men, at this day especially, to aid and assist the ministers of the gospel in the discharge of their office. No men have greater difficulties to encounter than ministers, and therefore, no men stand in more need of assistance than they. They are pleading the cause of all good men, against the united opposition of all bad men. Good men, therefore, ought to do all in their power to counte
nance and assist them. And in compassion to ministers, God has been pleased to lay his special commands upon all good men to help them. The duties which good men owe to ministers, are plainly pointed out, and strongly enjoined, in the word of God. I will read a number of plain passages to this purpose. “The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts.” “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account.” “We beseech you, brethren, to know them that labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and esteem them very highly in love for their work sake." “Remember them that have the rule over you; who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” “Brethren, pray for us.” “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from them that believe not.” “Finally, brethren,
that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified; and that we may de delivered from unreasonable and wicked men.” These precepts require good men, in particular, to hear their ministers, to recere their ministers, to esteem their ministers, and to pray for their ministers. It is high time,
. for all real Christians, to awake from their stupor, and by their prayers and exertions, to aid the ministers of the gospel in their difficult and important work. If Christian professors would unite with Christian ministers, in the common cause of Christianity, we might reasonably hope that religion would gain ground, and vice and infidelity would every where fall before it.
But it is time to conclude the discourse, with such addresses as are usual on such an occasion as this. And, in the first place, I turn to him, who is about to take the pastoral care of this people.
DEAR SIR, You are entering upon a work of great difficulty and danger. You will fare better than any who have gone before you in the ministry, if you should not meet with any who wish and endeavor to draw you from the path of duty. The people, to whom you are going to minister, we presume are as well disposed towards the gospel, and towards the preachers of it, as religious societies in general. But the corruptions of the times have reached this as well as other places. You are, therefore, entering upon the work of the ministry at a very dangerous period. And though we hope you are really friendly to God and to his cause, yet the seeds of rebellion are not entirely destroyed in your own heart. There is something still within you, which exposes you to be moved from your stedfastness. Moral corruption spreads its poison very insensibly, and often gains the possession of the heart before the man is aware. You cannot, therefore, be too watchful against its pernicious influence. To defeat the designs of those, who may wish to weaken your hands and heart in the cause of God, you cannot take a more direct and effectual method, than to become “an ensample to the flock.” It is the proper business of ministers to set, and not to follow, example. Instead of suffering yourself to be formed to the spirit and manners of others, make it your constant aim and endeavor to form others to the spirit of the gospel and the life of religion. If your people perceive this to be your steady and governing principle of
action, they will have but little hope, and of consequence but little courage, to make the attempt of corrupting either your heart, your life, or your preaching. If you appear to regard God more than man, and the good of your people more than their censure or applause, they will feel a power in your preaching, and a force in your example, which they can neither gainsay nor resist; especially if you discover, at the same time, a readiness to please, and even to oblige them, in all things which are consistent with the duties of your office. Conscience is always on the side of the faithful minister, and against every rebellious child of Adam: And it is this, which gives every minister, who speaks for God, and with his words, the ascendency over the most hardened and obstinate sinners. Only fear God, and make his word the standard of your preaching, and you need not fear to deliver the most disagreeable truths to your people, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear; for they will feel that there is a man of God among them,
A good soldier esteems it an honor to be called to the post of danger. And if you are a good soldier of Jesus Christ, you will esteem it an honor to plead his cause in a day of declension. It is a cause which will certainly prevail somewhere; and if you do your duty, you may humbly hope that it will prevail in this place. But, should you be so unhappy as to find religion decaying among your own people, and among those around you; let it not damp your spirit, but awaken you to be more fervent in your devotions, more indefatigable in your studies, more, zealous in your preaching, and more holy and exemplary in your living. The united exertions of the enemies of religion, ought to rouse the united exertions of those who are set for the defence of the gospel, to
check upon the growing spirit of error and irreligion; and we hope you will not be wanting, in your desires and endeavors, to awaken stupid sinners to a sense of their danger and duty.
There can be no neuters in the cause of Christ. He that is not for him, must be against him; and he that gathereth not with him, must scatter abroad. You must be conformed either to Christ or to the world. You must either preach rebellion against God, or bear your public testimony against it, both in preaching and in practice. On this day of your solemn consecration to the sacred office, you are solemnly called upon to choose whom you will serve, whether Christ or his enemies. Be entreated to make a wise choice, and never depart from it, because the consequences will be infinitely important. So our Lord hath taught you, in the most striking language: “Who then (says he) is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing. Verily I
Verily I say unto you, that he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that servant shall say in his heart, my Lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Son of man,hear what your Lord saith unto you,and be not thou rebellious, like such a rebellious servant: but be thou faithful unto death, and the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give you a crown of life, which shall never fade away.