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dangerous errors, if they wish to check the progress of infidelity, and promote the great interest of the Redeemer's kingdom, let them declare the whole counsel of God, and unfold, as clearly and fully as possible, the great scheme of redemption. This is their indispensable duty, and in the faithful discharge of this duty they will find a great present satisfaction, and a great future reward.
4. If it be the great design of the work of redemption, to display the glory of God; then it is a peculiar privilege to be allowed to preach this everlasting gospel to a sinful and perishing world. The apostle Paul entertained a lively and grateful sense of the favor of God, in giving him this desirable employment: "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” At another time, speaking of the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to his trust, he breaks out in this grateful language; "and I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me. faithful, putting me into the ministry.” The ministerial office is a good office, and affords the best advantages to those who faithfully discharge it, to attain all that is worthy to be desired in the present life. It gives them a peculiar opportunity of acquiring the largest portion of divine knowledge. All good ministers, have a high relish for divine knowledge, and desire to dive into the deep things of God, and to enlarge their minds with clear and extensive views of his character, his designs, and works. Deep and critical researches into the great work of redemption, never fail to gratify this pure desire after pure knowledge. Studious and pious divines enter the widest field of mental improvement. They move in Осса.
a higher sphere than mathematicians and astronomers, or natural and moral philosophers. These study the science of means, but divines soar to a higher region, and study the science of moral ends, which is the highest science in nature. The unsearchable riches of Christ afford materials for the most noble and agreeable discoveries. These are the objects which now employ the attention of principalities and powers in heavenly places, and will employ their attention, and the attention of all holy creatures, to endless ages. The ministers of the gospel may be considered as the lowest order in the highest school in the universe. The knowledge of all other arts and sciences shall fail, but the divine science which they are pursuing shall last forever, and their progress in it shall be like the rising sun, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
But the improvement of the heart is more desirable than the improvement of the understanding; and the ministerial office is highly favorable to the growth of grace. While pious ministers are feeding their people with the sincere milk of the word, they enjoy the best opportunity of increasing their holiness, as well as knowledge. Divine truth has a direct tendency to nourish and strengthen every holy and benevolent affection. Hence our Savior said to his Father, in his last prayer for his disciples, "sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” While ministers are pursuing their proper business, their minds are sensibly employed about the most important truths and the most glorious and amiable objects. They are naturally led to contemplate God as forming the great scheme of redemption, as entering upon the execution of it, at the creation of angels and men, as pursuing it, in the course of providence, ever since to the present day, and as still carry
ing it on to the second coming of Christ; when all its glorious fruits and effects shall fully appear, and be perfectly enjoyed by all holy beings, without interruption and without end. While musing on such boundless and interesting scenes, they will feel the fire of devotion kindling in their breasts, and find their holy calling enlarging and comforting their holy hearts, and preparing them for the enjoyment of all the good which shall flow from the work of redemption.
These opportunities of growing in knowledge and in grace are mere personal advantages; but the ministerial office affords another, which is much more valuable and important, and that is the opportunity of doing the greatest good that can be done by created agents. To ministers in particular is this grace given, that they should serve God in the gospel of his Son, and be employed as instruments in forming vessels of mercy, and qualifying them to be members of the church of the first-born, who will be the most amiable creatures in the universe, and above all others serve to display the glory of God in the sight of principalities and powers in heavenly places. And what greater service can be done for God and man, than to fit immortal souls to display his glory and enjoy his favor forever?
Permit me now to apply this subject to the Pastor elect.
DEAR SIR, Let your heart rise in gratitude to God, who is about to grant you the great privilege of preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ. This is the most desirable work in which you can be engaged. It is to unfold the mystery which has been hidden for ages from the greatest part of mankind, and which displays all the
perfections of the Deity in the most amiable light. If I should tell you, that precious and perishing souls were about to be committed to your care and instruction, I should remind you of a serious and pertinent
a truth; but this subject holds up to your view a greater and more solemn truth, that the glorious gospel is to be committed to your trust, in which not only you and your people, but God, and Christ, and all moral beings, will be forever deeply interested. This trust, solemn and important as it is, we have too much reason to fear, has often been betrayed by those to whom it has been committed. And are you in no danger of þetraying it? May you not conceal or corrupt those truths which you ought to explain and inculcate? And, instead of employing all your learning and ingenuity in unfolding the great scheme of redemption, may you not exert all your abilities to make men ignorant of the glorious gospel of the blessed God? But if you understand the gospel you will be able, and if you love the gospel you will be disposed, to keep the faith, amidst all the errors and delusions which may prevail through the land. You will not only teach the pure doctrines of the gospel, but contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. You will not forget, that you are set for the defence of the gospel, and must be responsible to him whom you profess to serve, for the corruptions of Christianity which you either propagate, or do not endeavor to the utmost of your power to expose and restrain. If you preach the same gospel which Paul preached, and in the same manner, you may expect to find some who will be come your enemies because you tell them the truth. But if you are faithful, you will find a sufficient shield and support in the gospel itself, which, in its final operation, will secure the interests of the universe, and
your own interests among the rest. Seck first the kingdom of God, and you have the promise of Christ, that all things necessary shall be added. Go on your way rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God, which shall be fully displayed by that gospel you preach. You have nothing to fear but unfaithfulness, which alone can rob you of your future and eternal reward. Only take heed to yourself, and to your doctrines, and
you shall both save yourself and them that hear you, and be each other's joy and crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus.
This Church and Congregation are about to receive a minister, from whom they have reason to expect a faithful dicharge of his duty. And if he does plainly and faithfully unfold the great scheme of salvation, they will derive great good, or great evil, from his ministry. The gospel will make impressions on their minds, which never can be erased, and which will prove a savor of life unto life, or a savor of death unto death. Those who sit under the best preaching, are of all persons in the most hazardous situation. While the kingdom of God is brought nigh unto them from sabbath to sabbath, they must either enter in, or reject the counsel of God against themselves. But nothing can aggravate their guilt so fast, or raise it to so high a degree, as rejecting the counsel of God; because this is opposing the whole scheme of redemption, and all the designs and works of God, as well as all the good of the universe. How can those escape who neglect so great salvation? To oppose the gospel is to rush on certain and awful destruction. So says divine truth himself: “whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."