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his education, and for all the labors of his life after he enters into the ministy. Has any one such an idea of the reason of things, as to think this to be reasonable?
If we judge of this matter by the standard of the scriptures, how shall we decide it? Under the legal dispensation provision was made for the priesthood by a special appointment of heaven; and that provision was not scanty. The tribe of Levi had forty eight cities, with their suburbs; and in addition to this a tithe, or tenth, of all the increase of the property belonging to the other tribes, so far as the productions of the soil were concerned. The priests who belonged to this tribe, had a tenth of what was allotted as the portion of the tribe.
Has that change from the legal to the christian dispensation so altered the nature of things, that the ministers of the gospel must be incumbents on the charity of their people! Is any one better qualified to decide this question than St. Paul? Hear then what he has said about it, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel, should live of the gospel. Without citing any thing farther, this passage is sufficient to show, that the ministers of the gospel have a claim, differing circumstantially, but founded on the same authority with that of the Jewish priesthood. Though the scriptures are silent as to any specific appropriation for the ministers of the gospel, it is fair to infer from the order which respected the ancient priesthood, that they are entitled to a comfortable, and honorable support.
Where this can be obtained, it ought to be satisfactory, and he who would refuse an offer of what would be adequate to the supply of all his real wants, for the sake of more, either, that he might hoard it up, or expend it in the luxuries of life, must have a mercenary mind; and aim at no higher object than what, from mistaken views, he considers his own glory.
Others, prompted by ambition seek their own glory by making a display of their talents, and are never satisfied unless they can attract the attention of the people to themselves, and never dissatisfied when this is accomplished. The majority perhaps, of those to whom the gospel is preached, judge of what they hear as they
would of a theatrical exhibition, regarding only the speaker, and the composition. The orator therefore and the fine writer, who lays out all his ingenuity, in the discussion of his subject, however superficially he may present it; and who rounds, and polishes, his periods until they become musical, will gather a crowd and excite admiration. Of course, we may conclude, that he who seeks his own glory, in popularity, will be very studious, about the selection, and collocation of words; and about his own attitudes, and gestures, in delivering his discourses.
Let it not be supposed, that I am an advocate for obsolute, and outlandish, phraseology; nor that I think a minister, to appear in character, should be dull in his manner of speaking, and vapid, in his composition. In the book of Ecclesiastes it is said, The preacher sought to find out acceptible words. Apollos, likewise, was an eloquent man,
, and Paul, when he stood before Agrippa, and answered for himself, to make what he said the more impressive, did probably, as he commonly did, Stretched out his hand.
Some attention ought to be paid to language, and to de. livery; neither is it required of us, that we be altogether indifferent, how our services are regarded. We may go safely as far as St. Paul went, unless we can detect him in a mistake, and he said to the Corinthians, I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me; for I ought to have been commended of you, for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
We shall easily discover however, that the apostle said not this from vanity, if we compare this passage with one in his first epistle to the Thessalonians, For this cause also, thank we God, without ceasing, because, when
received the word of God, which ye heard of us, ye received it, not • as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God,
which effectually worketh also in you that believe. Had he sought his own glory, it would have been very mortifying to him to have been so little thought of as a man, in consequence of the attention which was paid to the authority under which he acted as an ambassador.
Others who seek their own glory, labor to establish such an ascendency over their people, that they may be able to
dictate to them, as to every article both of faith, and practice; and that without any regard to any standard by which the subject might be tried. I would not be understood to assert, that such an extreme case, popery excepted, has ever had an existence; but it is, at least, a supposable case, and therefore, proper to be noticed. St. Peter seems to have anticipated some clerical abuse of this kind, when in his exhortation to the elders he cautioned them, not to be lords over God's heritage.
There is however something in the ministerial office, which gives to those to whom it belongs, an elevation above the generality of christians, with regard to the things which relate to their calling. Take a quotation from St. Paul's first epistle to Timothy, Let the elders that rule well, be counted worthy of double honor; especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. . Against an elder receive not an accusation but before two or three witnesses. Here is the scriptural authority by which the conduct of ministers, and people, should be governed, so far as this matter is concerned.
It appears from what has been said, that he who speaks of himself
, will invariably have his own glory for his object, in whatever particular way he may endeavor to accomplish it.
Thirdly. We are led by our subject to inquire upon what evidence our judgment should be founded, that we are sent of God to preach the gospel. This is a matter which will bear examination as well as any other; and certainly, there is no one more interesting for us to examine.
As he who speaks of himself, or the natural, unrenewed, unsanctified man, cannot be sent, it is first of all important, and absolutely necessary, before we enter upon the business of the ministry, that we should be satisfied with respect to a work of regeneration upon our hearts. Time, place, and all the circumstances, if they can be ascertained, will be interesting to be brought into view; but other evidence will be sufficient without these things; and these things without other evidence, might lead us to an incorrect decision.
Dost thou believe on the Son of God, was the question of our Savior to the man who was born blind, and upon
whom he bestowed the blessing of sight, and this is the substance of what the apostles said to those whom they baplized, and admitted to the privileges of the church. This is a great question to be considered; and there is but one way in which it can satisfactorily, be answered. St. John has informed us, and his authority is infallible, that He who believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself. To determine therefore, whether we belong to the household of God, we are to examine the state of our minds, and the exercises of our hearts. Let us take up this subject then briefly in its several particulars, bringing into view „such passages of scripture as are pertinent to this examination.
The carnal mind is enmity against God. If we find that our minds are enmity against God, we may be sure, that they are carnal; and if on the contrary, we find that we love God above every other object of affection, the conclusion will be well founded, that we are his children. It is too plain to require an argument to prove it, that God in his true character, instead of being an object of pleasing contemplation to the unregenerate sinner, never fails of being, when he is thought of, the occasion of opposition and disgust.
It is to be feared that this assembly is made up in part, of persons of this description. To sueh persons then, let my appeal be, and let me ask them, whether such feelings of enmity, as have been described, are not now, the feelings of their hearts awakened by the bare mention of the name of God? Is not the contrast so great between enmity and love, that every one who has experienced them both, will be able to judge of the difference? If we are reconciled, God has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ.
We will leave this article to attend to another, which respects the Son of God. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God. We are led by this passage to inquire what we think of the doctrine of the cross; or of the atonement of Christ. If it appears to us inconsistent, and absurd, this must be the reason, that we are in a state of ignorance, and alienation and dying in such a state, must
inevitably perish. The feelings of natural men, with respect to this affair, are essentially, alike. Much as the philosopher may differ in other things from the peasant, or the moralist from the profligate, they agree in this. Now, if I find an entire revolution in my feelings upon this point, and I can say, adopting the language of the apostle, God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; how shall I account for it, except by supposing, that a radical change has been effected in my heart?
We pass to a third particular, which relates to our manner of life. Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. We may go on adding iniquity to sin, and have much of that sorrow of the world which Esau had, and Judas, who repented of the consequences of their conduct; and what can be the end of such a life, but destruction? Is there not a vast, and manifest, difference, between sorrow of this kind, and that repentance which is sorrow for sin, considered as an evil; and the most dreadful evil, in itself? If I can trace my sufferings to sin as the cause which procures them; and hate the sin, while I am patient under the sufferings consequent upon it, have I not reason to hope that God has granted me repentance unto life?
A fourth particular shall conclude the enumeration. We know, that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. Those who are indeed the brethren of Christ ought to be loved by all mankind, because, whoever they are, they are the excellent of the earth. But do we not learn from the highest authority, that the world hates them, for this very reason? If then, we can satisfy ourselves, that we love any persons, merely because they are brethren, because they love God, and God loves them, this will be a testimony of no common importance, that we have begun to live by faith.
Every christian is presented with the evidence which has now been adduced; but it, by no means, follows, that it is the duty of every christian to become a public teacher. Before any one can conclude consistently, that he ought to act in this capacity, he must be satisfied, that he possesses other qualifications.