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of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament.”—2 Cor. iii., 5, 6. “Whereof I was made a minister according to the gift of the grace of God, given unto me by the effectual working of his power.”—Eph. iii., 7. It is included in that promise which belongs to the gospel Church; “ I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.”—Jer. iii., 15. That promise was fulfilled after Christ's ascension, when—" He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”—Eph. iv., 11, 12.
Yet for this our blessed Lord had directed his disciples to supplicate a throne of grace ;—“ Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”—Matt. ix., 38. Hence the act of setting men apart for the ministry has always been accompanied with solemn prayer to God. Christ himself set the first example of this, when, previous to his appointment of the twelve apostles," he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” Luke vi., 12. That example was followed in the earliest ages of the Church.-See Acts i., 24, 25; vi., 6 ; xiii., 3 ; xiv., 23. And it is in conformity with the same, that our own Church, impressed with the solemnity of that season in which her ministers are set apart for their office, urges upon the atten. tion of her members that they should be seasons of especial prayer. In order to this, she has appointed that her ordinations should take place at four particular seasons of the year, viz., the Sundays after Ember days ;* and during those weeks in which the Ember days occur, she has provided prayers to be used daily, that God may “ so guide and govern the minds of his servants, the Bishops and Pastors of his flock, that they may lay hands suddenly on no man, but wisely make choice of fit persons to serve in the sacred ministry of the Church ;' “that He who has appointed divers Orders in his Church, would give his grace to all those who are to be called to any office and administration in the same, and so replenish them with the truth of his doctrine, and endue them with innocency of life, that they may faithfully serve before Him to the glory of his great name, and the benefit of his holy Church.”
And surely such an appointment calls for the attention of all her members! If we believe that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” what a large increase of spiritual blessings might we reasonably hope for at the bands of her ministers, if each member of our Church would make a point of thus devoting the Ember weeks to that important object for which they were intended. And when we consider the responsibility attached to those to whom is committed the sacred trust of sending forth labourers into the Lord's vineyard, or the greatness of the work to which those labourers go forth, it is an important part of the duty of every one who feels an interest in the success of the gospel, to make his earnest prayers to God that “there may never be wanting a supply of faithful and zealous men to serve him in his Church ; that when God provides such,“utterance may be given unto them that they may open their movth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel."-Eph. vi., 19; that such
1. The first Sunday in Lent. * The Ember days are the Wednesday, ) 2. The Feast of Pentecost. Friday, and Saturday after 3. September 14.
4. December 13.
may be workmen that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”—2 Tim. ii., 15; that God would endue them with wisdom from above, with affectionate interest in the souls of men, and with patient perseverance in their work and labour of love. It will be in a devoted attention to this duty awakened among professing christians, that we may look for the fulfilment of God's gracious promises in answer to the prayers of his people, with reference to which he says, “ I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them."-Ezek. xxxvi., 37.
2. As having a reference to the success of their ministry. It was for this object that the apostle entreated the prayers of the Thessalonians ; “ Brethren, pray for us, that the word 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.”_2 Thess. iïi., 1, 2. It is the character of human nature to oppose the progress of the word of God; the corruption of the human heart rejects its truths and casts aside
its authority ; evil-designing men obstruct its influence, by endeavouring to bring contempt upon its doctrines, or substituting that which is of human invention for the truth as it is in Jesus. In opposition to this influence of human corruption, the ministers of the gospel are set for the defence and propagation of the truth ; that they may declare the whole counsel of God, that they may preach the, gospel to every creature, and faithfully and explicitly deliver that message with which they are entrusted, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. But whilst it is God who in the course of his providence opens a way for the dissemination of the truth, and directs that light which it conveys to regions of darkness and of the shadow of death, it is He who also shines into the heart to give the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; who so brings home the word to the conscience that it becomes an engrafted word which is able to save the soul; so that in this respect, " neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.”—1 Cor. iii., 7.
It is the character of those who themselves are made partakers of the saving influence of the Gospel, thus to feel that the power is of God; and in the outward enjoyment of the ministry of the word, their minds are always directed to the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls for his blessing. And if ministers would not wish to labour in vain and spend their strength for nought, if they love the souls of their people, and desire to see them in
the possession and enjoyment of the influence of true religion, they will strongly urge upon them the necessity of continued and earnest prayer for a blessing on themselves and their ministry; " 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.” Rom. XV., 30. In this
30. In this way all may promote the influence of religion, and be workers together with God and his ministers in setting forth the salvation
3. As looking forward to a future season of mutual rejoicing in the gifts that have been bestowed upon ministers; “ Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf."-2 Cor. i., 11. As those gifts and graces by means of which a person is fitted for the ministry come from God, if these gifts are called down upon the heads and into the hearts of ministers by your effectual and fervent prayers, they will at length redound to your account; and you will have reason to rejoice in the fruits of their ministry, when otherwise they might have remained unprofitable and ineffectual instruments, as to any spiritual influence of true religion, produced through their means, in
souls. Ministers are anxious that their connection with the people of their charge may thus be a ground of mutual comfort; and they are looking forward to that period when this rejoicing shall be fully realized; "For what is our hope, or joy, or