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two or three hundred, yet my purpose here was to prove the dignity and necessity of the office and order episcopal, only that it might be as an economy to convey notice and remembrances of the great duty incumbent upon all them, that undertake this great charge. The dignity and the duty take one another by the hand, and are born together: only every sheep of the flock must take care to make the bishop's duty as easy as it can, by humility and love, by prayer and by obedience. It is, at the best, very difficult; but they who oppose themselves to government, make it harder and uncomfortable : but take heed, if thy bishop hath cause to complain to God of thee, for thy perverseness and uncharitable walking, thou wilt be the loser; and for us, we can only say, in the words of the prophet, "We will weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people *:" but our comfort is in God: for we can do nothing without him, but in him we can do all things: and, therefore, we will pray, Domine, dabis pacem nobis; omnia enim opera nostra operatus es in nobis:" "God hath wrought all our works within us; and therefore he will give us peace, and give us his Spirit +."
Finally Brethren, pray for us, that the word
Jerem. ix. 1.
Isa. xxvi. 12.
of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you; and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for all men have not faith *."
• 2 Thess. iii. 1.
PREACHED AT DUBLIN.
And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing. Luke, xii. 42, 43.
Τίς ἐστιν ἄρα πιστὸς καὶ φρόνιμος οἰκονόμος.
THESE words are not properly a question, though they seem so; and the particle is is not interrogative, but hypothetical, and extends who' to whosoever;' plainly meaning, that whoever is a steward over Christ's household, of him God requires a great care, because he hath trusted him with a great employment. Every steward ὃν καθέστηκεν ὁ Κύριος, 50 it is in St. Matthewa; ὃν καταστήσει ὁ Κύριος, 8o it is in my text; every steward whom the Lord hath or shall appoint over the family, to rule it and to feed it, now and in all generations of men, as long as this family shall abide on earth; that is, the apostles, and they who were to succeed the apostles in the stewardship, were to be furnished with the same power, and to undertake the same charge, and to give the same strict and severe accounts.
In these words here is something insinuated, and much expressed.
1. That which is insinuated only is, who these stewards
* Cap. xxiv. 25.
are, whom Christ had, whom Christ would appoint over his family, the church: they are not here named, but we shall find them out by their proper direction and indigitation by and by.
2. But that which is expressed, is the office itself, in a double capacity. 1. In the dignity of it, it is a rule and a government: whom the Lord shall make ruler over his household." 2. In the care and duty of it, which determines the government to be paternal and profitable; it is a rule, but such a rule as shepherds have over their flocks, to lead them to good pastures, and to keep them within their appointed walks, and within their folds: didova σTOMETpior that is the work, "to give them a measure and proportion of nourishment:" Topn Ev nag, so St. Matthew calls it: meat in the season;" that which is fit for them, and when it is fit; meat enough, and meat convenient; and both together mean that which the Greek poets call aquarin suunvor, the strong wholesome diet.'
3. Lastly: Here is the reward of the faithful and wise dispensation. The steward that does so, and continues to do so, till his Lord find him so doing, this man shall be blessed in his deed. "Blessed is the servant whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing." Of these in order.
1. Who are these rulers of Christ's family? for though Christ knew it, and, therefore, needed not to ask; yet we have disputed it so much, and obeyed so little, that we have changed the plain hypothesis into an entangled question. The answer yet is easy as to some part of the inquiry: the apostles are the first meaning of the text; for they were our fathers in Christ, they begat sons and daughters unto God; and were a spiritual paternity, is evident: we need look no further for spiritual government, because in the paternal rule all power is founded; they begat the family by the power of the word and the life of the Spirit, and they fed this family, and ruled it, by the word of their proper ministry: they had the keys of this house, the steward's ensign, and they had the ruler's place; for they sat on twelve thrones, and judged the twelve tribes of Israel,' But of this there is no question.
And as little of another proposition; that this stewardship was to last for ever, for the power of ministering in this office and the office itself were to be perpetual: for the issues and
Hesiod. Egy. 765. Gaisford. p. 57.
powers of government are more necessary for the perpetu+ ating the church, than for the first planting; and if it was necessary that the apostles should have a rod and a staff at first, it would be more necessary afterwards, when the family was more numerous, and their first zeal abated, and their native simplicity perverted into arts of hypocrisy and forms of godliness, when heresies should arise, and the love of many should wax cold.' The apostles had also a power of ordination and that the very power itself does denote, for it makes perpetuity, that could not expire in the days of the apostles; for by it they themselves propagated a succession. And Christ, having promised his Spirit to abide with his church for ever, and made his apostles the channels, the ministers and conveyances of it, that it might descend as the inheritance and eternal portion of the family; it cannot be imagined, that when the first ministers were gone, there should not others rise up in the same places, some like to the first, in the same office and ministry of the Spirit. But the thing is plain and evident in the matter of fact also: "Quod in ecclesiâ nunc geritur, hoc olim fecerunt apostoli," said St. Cyprian: "What the apostles did at first, that the church does to this day "," and shall do so for ever: for when St. Paul had given to the bishop of Ephesus rules of government in this family, he commands that they should be “ observed till the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ;" and, therefore, these authorities and charges are given to him and to his successors; it is the observation of St. Ambrose upon the warranty of that text, and is obvious and undeniable.
Well, then, the apostles were the first stewards; and this office dies not with them, but must for ever be succeeded in; and now begins the inquiry, Who are the successors of the apostles? for they are, they must evidently be, the stewards to feed and to rule this family. There are some that say, that all who have any portion of work in the family, all the ministers of the Gospel, are these stewards, and so all will be rulers. The presbyters surely; for, say they, presbyter and bishop is the same thing, and have the same name in Scripture, and, therefore, the office cannot be distinguished. To
Epist. 73. ad Jub.
d1 Tim. vi. 14.