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CHRISTIAN DUTIES TO
respect; and so far to submit to them as is necessary to enable them comfortably to discharge the duties of overseers of the flock. “ Obey ihem that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves : for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account ; that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is un profitable for you."
As far as they imitate Christ, it is your duty to imitate them. “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation ; Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever."q
Though the ministerial character is no shield where the conduct is inconsistent with it, yet you are not lightly to listen to reports to their disadvantage. “ Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses." The remarks on the guilt and mischief of evil speaking apply here with double force. In injuring the character of a minister of the gospel, a peculiar injury is done to religion itself. Parents who profess to value religion, and who are in the habit of criticising and carping at ministers in the hearing of their children, take a ready way to train their children for perdition. Children thus taught by their parents to despise the ministers of the gospel, will most probably go on in sin, till they sink to hell ; and may then ascribe their eternal damnation in a great degree to the unchristian conduct of their parents.
The members of a Christian church are bound by the express commandment of God, to contributé according to their ability to the support of their pastor, and in doing this discharge a duty acceptable in the sight of God. “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things ? So hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."$ “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived ; God is not mocked : for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” “Not because I desire a gift; but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.” *
(p) IIeb. xiii. 17 (9) Feb. xiii. 7. 8. (r) 1 Tim. v. 19.
(s) 1 Cor. iv. 11, 13, 14.
(1) Gal. vi. 6, 7. * The covetousness of some professors of religion, leads them to rejecu slight this appointinent of the Most Iligil, and perhaps to misrepresenta
MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL.
283 The members of churches should pray for their pastor, and for each other. The importance of such prayer is strikingly displayed by the earnest desires expressed by the apostle Paul, for the prayers of Christian brethren. If such an apostle, miraculously converted, endowed with the gift of tongues and miracles, who had been taken up into the third heaven, and to whom the Lord had actually said, My grace is sufficient for thee;—if such an apostle needed the prayers of his brethren, and ascribed much to their efficacy, what must ministers of the gospel now do! “ 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." “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you." “ Pray for us."
$ 10. These remarks rest upon the supposition, that the minister you attend is worthy of your confidence and affection. If he be not a man of this description, why do you attend on his ministry ? why connect yourself with the church to which he ministers? Your spiritual welfare may be so much promoted by the ministrations of a pious and faithful pastor, that it should be in your esteem an object of the first magnitude, to enjoy such ministrations, and to worship, not where your fancy may be pleased, but where your heart may be impressed with divine truth; where your growth in grace may be advanced; where the preacher in good earnest preaches
revile those for whose support it is intended. The real Christian will act a different part, and bow with submissive deference to the will of God. What is thus contributed to the support of a Christian minister, is not a remunera, tion for work done, it is not wages for preacbing ; but it is contributed upon the obvious principle, that ministers and their families have the same natural wants as others. If a minister be not possessed of private property sufficient for the maintenance of his family and himself, those wants must be supplied by bis own exertions, or by the contributions of the people to whom he ministers. If they are supplied by his own exertions, his time and attention must necessarily be employed on secular concerns, and diverted from the great work of his calling. In this case the flock will suffer more than he. To prevent this, God has ordained, that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel. According to this view, an idle, inactive minister, has little claim upon the people of his charge. His time inight as well or better be occupied in the shop or the counting-house, as in polite worldly visits, or the study of refined literary trifles of the day, that have no reference to his great work. But he who employs the energies of mind and body in active labours to promote the cause of the Saviour, has an undoubted claim on the people of his charge for support while thus engaged; and they should consider, that were the same labour, and the same portion of energy, and activity, employed in promoting the worldly interests of himself and family, it is probable he would by rapid strides be hastening on to affluence, though now his labours are only accompanied day by day with daily bread.
(u) Rom, xv. 30-32. (v) 2 Thess. iii. 1. (w) Heb. xiii, 18.
laboport while aviour, Hass of mind e na referenly visits, etter be occuclaim u
MOTIVES FOR as for eternity. A Christian should esteem such a pastor as one of the best friends; nor should foibles or imperfections alienate regard; for who on earth has no imperfections ? Consider such a friend as the helper of your faith. Be not backward to unfold to him your trials and your conflicts. Treat bim as a friend, in whom you can confide; a friend who is anxious to promote your welfare; as an under-shepherd, who watches for your soul. Such conduct will tend to your pastor's comfort, and to the advancement of your best, your eternal interests.
$ 11. Many and important are the motives, that should stimulate you to cherish brotherly love. There is much in the character and situation of your Christian friends, to call this heavenly grace into exercise. They are dear to Christ; are the purchase of his blood; the objects of his care; his flock; his friends ; his jewels. Thus dear to him, should they not be dear to you? They are your fellow-travellers to heaven, with whom you hope to spend eternal days. In heaven the family of Jesus will mutually love for ever, and should not love reign in their hearts through the few dark days of mortal life? The sorrows you now endure they feel; the foes with whom you wrestle they encounter; the desires that glow in your heart animate theirs; the hopes that cheer you encourage them. Now, too, the God you love they love; in the Saviour whom you trust they confide; the blood that cleansed you has cleansed them; the Spirit that dwells in you dwells in them; and all that enriches you is their portion. You hope hereafter to inhabit the same heaven; to belong to the same family; and, beneath the unclouded lustre of the same eternal day, to ascribe blessing and honour to the same Redeemer. Thus united by renewing grace, united in privileges, in trials, in joys and in sorrows, in hopes and in prospects, in friends and inheritance, united in bands that are to last for ever, should you not be united in heart and affection ? Love and gratitude to your exalted Lord also call for love to your fellow-pilgrims. He commands his disciples to manifest such love, and in the earnestness of his heart prayed that it might be displayed by them. Will you not devoutly cherish that heavenly grace which is the subject of commands so binding, and prayers so fervent and divine ?
(x) John xiii. 34 ; xvii. 11, 23.
285 If you regard your Redeemer's honour you must cherish love. “ By this," said he, “ shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."y So exemplary was the love of the early Christians to each other, that even their enemies bore testimony to its power, when they said, 6. See how these Christians love one another.” This love recommended their divine religion so much, that the apostate emperor Julian represented their love to each other as contributing not a little to spread Christianity.
If you regard the peace of your own mind, you must cherish brotherly love. The word of God declares the possession of this to be one of the clearest evidences of conversion, and its absence to be as clear an evidence of a state of sin and death. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren: he that loveth not his brother abideth in death."? In short, of such immense importance is this heavenly grace, that all the knowledge, gifts, and talents in the world, are nothing without love.
$ 12. The religion of the gospel demands from its votaries the active exertion of their different powers, in promoting the glory of God and the welfare of man. The Lord Jesus represents his disciples as servants, whose Master intrusts them with a portion of his property, which during his absence they are to improve. All have something intrusted to them to improve. While some have five talents, others have two; but they who have the least have one. Yet these talents are not their own. He delivered to them his goods. The Lord Jesus has intrusted at least one talent, perhaps many, to your care. Your time, your sabbaths, your means of grace, your property, your opportunities for usefulness in any way, your health, your strength, whatever you possess that can benefit man, or glorify God, is a talent intrusted to you by the eternal Master. They all belong to him. They are but lent to you. O reckon all you have the Lord's. Important motive for faithfulness ! Impressively important, when it is considered how rich a reward heavenly love will bestow, where even one talent has been sedulously improved ; and how the mere neg. lect of improving even one, renders him to whom it was lent a wicked and a slothful servant.
$ 13. Many are the modes by which Christians may pro(v) John xiii. 35. (2) 1 John iii. 14, 19. (a) 1 Cor. xiii.
ON MODES OF mote the glory of their God and Saviour, and the eterna interests of their fellow-mortals. Among these are the following:
Conversing seriously and prudently on vital religion with those who are destitute of its blessings. An old writer mentions the case of a pious man, who by his zeal in conversing with his neighbours and acquaintance, in their shops, or their fields, had been the instrument of converting thirty of forty persons. A Christian of small abilities, in an obscure village in Leicestershire, has pursued the same course, and a number of persons are said to have been converted by his means,
Seconding the exertions of Christian ministers, by in- li ducing friends or neighbours to hear the word of life; and by encouraging, and directing, such as appear the subjects of serious impressions. Incalculable good has thus, under the divine blessing, been effected. It is recorded of a General Baptist church in Yorkshire, that soon after its origin, each member, with this view, “ made it a point of duty to en. deavour to bring one careless sinner under the sound of the gospel, and to use every Scriptural method to engage him to embrace it. And when the object of his cares had enrolled himself among the followers of Christ, he looked about for another wandering sheep, that he might endeavour to bring also into the fold of the church. Were such a spirit and such conduct general among the friends of Christ, what immense good would result from it."
Some years ago the writer visited a young man, who lert this world in peace and hope. He belonged to a family, which most or all were strangers to religion, and he, till withia a few years of his happy departure, had been so too. A Christian friend frequently invited him to the house of prayer: These invitations were often slighted, but he at length attend. ed, and listened to the word of life. In short, he became disciple of the Saviour, and after a short course in the chu below, was moved, there was full reason to believe, to tu church triumphant. I know an instance in which a young woman sought, in the same way, to promote the everlast, benefit of a female acquaintance. Her efforts long seemio vain. She who was the object of them promised to com with her invitations, but still delayed. At length, when ?
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