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was visited, was crowned with the shocking and desolating scene, which swept away all his sons and daughters, observe how the sentiment of my text sustain his spirits. "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of Lord." The words of pious Eli on the death of his abandoned sons, show his submission to the rightful claims of God the giver. "It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good." When visible wrath from heaven was revealed in consuming Aaron's sons, he held his peace: He had no right to complain: Ile dare not murmur. For the righteous God doeth righteously. God said to Abraham: Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and go into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt-offering, on one of the mountains which I will tell thee. Does he expostulate with God or plead delay? No; but in the morning with all things prepared, he sets out with Isaac to the destined spot. On the third day he arrives in view of the place; and addresses the servants who accompanied him saying, "tarry ye here with the ass, till I and the lad go yonder and worship, and return." He places the wood upon the shoulder of his son, the intended victim, and with the fire and knife, the instruments of death, in his own hand, they set out together. With unsuspecting innocence, Isaac inquires: "Father, here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt-offering?" "Son," said the father, with entire composure, "God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt-offering." Arrived at the place, Abraham builds the altar, piles the wood, binds his son, and lays him upon it. With extended arm, the knife is raised for slaughter. The appointed angel loudly cries from heaven, "lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him, for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." For this Abraham was blessed with the multiplying of his seed like the sand of the sea. Through this all nations of the earth in him was blessed.
Parents consider, that whatever any may gain, they are infinite losers, if they lose their souls. How great is the folly, then, of the toil and labor that has for its object the worldly ease or comfort of the child. So far as heaven and its blessedness excels the things of earth or rises above the things of hell; so far do endeavors for the salvation of souls rise in importance above efforts for the procuring of any thing else. On bended knees, then, daily dedicate yourselves with your children to the Lord: and doing this daily, in the reliance of your souls on your covenant God, if their glass shall be run while you live to plead, on their dying bed you will be enabled in faith to deliver them over to your Savior's arms. Amen.
1 COR. 9:14.
BY WILLIAM M'MILLAN, D. D.
LATE PRESIDENT OF FRANKLIN COLLEGE, OHIO.
ON THE SUPPORT OF THE MINISTRY.
Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
The apostle in this chapter shows in very express terms, that the ministers of the gospel should be supported by those to whom they preach. From the seventh verse and onward, he first shows that he as well as other ministers of the gospel had a right to a maintenance on the principles of natural equity; for, who expected others to employ their time, strength, and skill, in their service, without affording them a support? The soldier when fighting for his country, being thereby deprived of the opportunity of attending to his private concerns, had his charges borne by the state. The person employed in planting a vineyard was allowed a maintenance from its produce; and he who tended a flock, was used to eat the milk of the flock. And who could think it equitable to refuse them of this recompense for their labor. Ought not, therefore, the ministers of the gospel who give up other prospects of supporting themselves and families, that they might promote the spiritual good of others, be maintained in a comfortable and decent manner by them. But this was not merely the dictate of human reason; for in truth the law gave an emblematical intimation of it, when it forbade the Israelites to muzzle the ox which was employed in treading out the corn. If the ox must not be refused a share of that abundance which men enjoyed through his labor, surely the laborious and patient minister should be supported by those who received far richer blessings by his instrumentality? And if the husbandman should plow and sow in hope, or with the expectation of obtaining a recompense for his labor; so also should the ministers of Christ, who had sown the seed of the word of God, which was about to produce the excellent and permanent fruits of salvation, be recompensed for their labors.
The apostle in verse thirteenth adduced another proof that ministers should be maintained by the gospel. For it was well known, that the priests and Levites who attended on the worship of the temple, and so spent their time in that service, as not to be at leisure for those employments by which the other Israelites supported themselves and their families, were maintained from the first-fruits-oblations and sacrifices there presented. Such are the arguments the apostle uses in favor of the maintenance and support of the ministers of the gospel. And, therefore, he draws this conclusion in the words of our text, that even so the Lord Jesus had appointed, or ordained, that those who preach
his gospel should be supported by the people, for their services in that sacred function; and not be obliged to engage in any other. If God was particular in regulating the temple service, and appointing the priests and Levites a due proportion of the fruits of the earth for their support, that they might devote themselves wholly to the service to which he had appointed them; even so the Lord Jesus, as he had erected a gospel church and appointed the administration of his word and ordinances, has ordained that those who are appointed to this sacred service should be supported by the people, that they may devote themselves wholly to it.
Having thus explained the words in their connection, that which is designed in the further prosecution of this subject is, to show
THE NECESSITY OF A DUE SUPPORT BEING ADMINISTERED TO THE PREACHERS OF THE GOSPEL, BY THOSE TO WHOM THEY PREACH.
That it is the duty of people to pay their ministers, rests upon this simple principle of justice, that no one has a right to claim the services of another without rendering him a compensation; and those who preach the gospel are plainly warranted by the word of God to look for the reward of their labors: For, even so hath Christ ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
Taking it, then, for granted that this is a duty which none, we presume, who is either acquainted with Scripture or the principles of equity and justice, will be disposed to contradict, I shall endeavor more particularly to urge the necessity and enforce the observance of it upon the hearers of the gospel. But before this, I would observe, that promising, by way of subscription or otherwise, to compensate a man for his ministerial labors, is not what is meant by administering a due support unto him; for some by their conduct seem to manifest that this is all that is requisite, and when applied to for it, or urged, rather threaten to break off from the congregation than pay. Nor do we in tend that the clergy should be supported in affluence, or their families kept in idleness at the expense of the people. Nothing is farther from our view: this has proved the source of many evils in the church. But by administering a support unto them is intended, that a due competency of the necessaries of life be afforded as a compensation for their labors, in order that they may be enabled to support themselves and their families without worldly embarrassments. And this they have a right to look for, as they have relinquished other means of subsistence in order that they may dispense the bread of life to perishing man. Let me, then, enforce the necessity of this truth from the advantage it would prove to us as a people, as also its tendency to promote the interests of Christianity.
That by affording a duc support to the ministers of the gospel, and thereby preventing them from worldly embarrassments, and the necessity of engaging in occupations, not only foreign to, but inconsistent with, their main employment, would prove an advantage to the people cannot be doubted, especially if they be men who have the spiritual welfare of mankind at heart. Hereby they would have more opportu nity of study and preparing themselves for the work of the sanctuary,
and consequently be better enabled to give more accurate notions and ideas of the doctrines of Christianity, which is the grand bulwark and defence of religion; yea, is the foundation upon which it is built. Now, how can it be expected, that a man who is under the necessity of laboring the three-fourths of his time to support himself and his family, can improve himself to any considerable degree in the knowledge of the doctrines of religion, or that he will be able to show forth things new and old from the treasury of God's word. And this a large portion of the clergy in this country are under the necessity of doing, otherwise they must come to a state of starvation. It is true, that were they paid punctually and seasonably what is promised them, they might perhaps be able just to live and no more, without making any future provision for their families, which other men are warranted in doing. But it will hold true with regard to many clergymen of the country, that little more than half of what is promised them is paid at all; and if it is paid, it is generally in such a manner that they know themselves very little the better of it. To depend for a living from a congregation in this country is often like leaning upon a broken staff. Hence ministers are under a necessity of laboring, or engaging in some other occupation, in order to obtain a livelihood. And so it happens, that they are not unfrequently branded with the name of worldlings; but necessity has no law; they must work, or live in meanness and poverty. But this is not all: attending to worldly occupations or employments unfits the mind, in a measure, for study, and unqualifies it for the duties of the ministry. The mind is usually most exercised concerning that about which a person has been and is most employed. This results from the laws of nature; the best of men are sensible of it. It is therefore not reasonable to expect that a man, just coming out of the throng of business and the hurry of the world can preach to that advantage, or with that correctness, which he might otherwise do. If the people, then, would consult their own advantage, and wish to obtain the real benefit of a gospel ministry, it would be better to contribute more liberally to the support of it, and be more punctual in their engagements. The perplexities and concerns of the world by no means comport with the spiritual functions of the ministry. And the more a man is om embarrassing circumstances, the more, of course, will his perplexities in this respect subside, and he be better prepared to attend to the duties of his office.
But some may be ready to object and say, that the apostle Paul by his own hands administered to his necessities; and that no one, notwithstanding, was a more able and successful minister of the gospel than he. This is very true; but there is no reasoning from extraordinary to ordinary cases. Paul was an extraordinary character, under the immediate influence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which none without blasphemy can pretend to in the present day. Besides, this same Paul declares, that Christ, the institutor of the gospel ministry, has ordained that they who preach the gospel should live of it.
But the necessity of this appears not only from the superior advantage it would prove to ourselves as a people, but also from the more general benefit of religion. By this means the minister would be better enabled to attend to the duties of his office. He might preach
more frequently, and attend to the duties of catechising and risiting more regularly; which duties many find it very difficult if not impossible to attend on, and which is altogether owing to their embarrassing circumstances. Nor is there any reason to expect that he will attend on them with that particularity he might, and no doubt would do, were he better supported by his people. If he has to make his living by the world, he must attend to it. He cannot serve two masters at the same time. We often hear it trumped up, though perhaps in an indirect manner, that it is the duty of a minister to attend to this service and that, but not a sentence about what is the indispensable duty of the people in order to his performing the duties of his office in a proper manner. Were a better support afforded, how much more might religion be promoted, as opportunity would hereby be afforded of attending more punctually to its public offices. But as long as things are so, there is no just reason to expect these advantages, unless we can always find men who are endued with the extraordinary gifts and zeal of apostles, and are willing and can forego every temporal advantage, for the sake of the spiritual edification of their people. It requires no small degree of self-denial, in a minister, to relinquish his business, which he must necessarily engage in to obtain a livelihood, and attend to that of a people who will scarcely thank him for his trouble, much less compensate him for it. But why, then, it may be inquired, do so many devote themselves to the ministry in this country, if things are generally so as stated? If it be out of lucrative motives that any devote themselves to this office, they widely mistake their aim; and this they will very soon find by their own experience. We have reason, then, to hope, that it is out of mere disinterested motives, that so many devote themselves to the gospel ministry; and which, of course, proves, in some respects, a fortunate circumstance to this country; otherwise they would have but few to break the bread of life amongstTM
But with this last advantage is nearly connected, a more general promotion of the interests of Christianity. By this means, not only might religion itself be more promoted, but the doctrines and principles of Christianity be more particularly investigated. The ministers of the true gospel might thus be better qualified to defend the cause they have espoused; and be able more effectually to obviate error, and overthrow the systems which sectarian zcal and bigotry are establishing in our country. How such an cffect is connected with a more liberal support being administered to the ministers of the gospel is obvious. I shall therefore dismiss this subject with only just observing, that in addition to the arguments proving it to be the duty of a people to support a gospel ministry, let the consideration of their own advantage, the benefit of religion, and the interests of Christianity, enforce the necessity of a punctual attendance to it.