Obrázky na stránke

sion. Some, of whom we have spoken under a former head, will take umbrage if we insist on matters of faith ; others, if we inculcate practice. Some will be displeased if our discourses be long; others, if they be short. The former, perhaps, from a want of love to the service of the sanctuary ; the latter, often from mere indolence, a dislike to the exercise of private reflection, and self-examination. Some, from a blind attachment to what is old, will reprobate every thing new in the forms of worship, or modes of conveying religious instruction. Others, like the Athenians, ever athirst for what is new, will indiscriminately condemn whatever is old. While every lust, which has acquired preponderancy in the habits of men, and biassed their understandings in its favour, will present a rooted prejudice against the truth; and excite enmity towards those who shall faithfully proclaim it. The ser.. vant of God, however, neither partial to prejudice, nor intimidated by enmity, must be courageous and undeviating, in the manifestation of the truth. Flattering words, to nourish the sinner's self-conceit, and deceitful peace ; base accommodations to depraved humours and hurtful prejudices; that mean and worldly spirit, miscalled by its vassals tenderness, which forbears to advance truth, because offensive, however useful or necessary, he will guard against, he will dread, as the sentence of condemnation itself.The character of faithful. ness, in the servants of the church, will be completed, if, to constancy and boldness, be added, that gentleness and humility, which is becoming in all stations, but peculiarly so in servants—“ The ser

yant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle

“ unto all men; in meekness instructing those that

oppose themselves.”*_To conclude this part of our subject, peruse the account which the apostle, in opposition to the misrepresentation of false teachers, was constrained to give of his own spirit and deportment: and mark how his diligence continued unabated, his faithfulness unshaken, by continued toil, by personal sufferings, by ungrateful treatment, by multiplied persecutions, by harassing care-_“ Are they ministers of Christ? I am more : “ in labours more abundant, in stripes above mea“ sure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. “ Of the Jews, five times received I forty stripes,

save one: thrice was I beaten with rods, once “ was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night " and a day I have been in the deep; in journey“ ings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, " in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by “ the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the “ wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among “ false brethren ; in weariness and painfulness, in

watchings often, in cold and nakedness; besides “ those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”+

On the other hand, my friends, if you wish us indeed to serve you, to serve your best interests in time and in eternity,“ be swift to hear, slow to

speak, slow to wrath."I Receive, with meekness, the engrafted word, which is able to save

your souls."S Let charity guide your judgments; and let the law of kindness dwell upon your lips. Attend not to our public instructions, with a captious disposition. Listen not with readiness to every 2 Tim. ii. 24, 35. of 2 Cor. xi. 23-1&. # James i. 19.

§ ibid. 21.

vague account of blemishes in our private character. How can we preach with pleasure, with energy, or with usefulness, if we know that many have prepared themselves to carry away an evil report; and by ridicule or reproach, to destroy the good impressions which others may have received ? How can we converse with you in private, with free.. dom or advantage, if we have reason to believe that you only watch for our halting; that you sift every action with a jaundiced eye? Such usage, operating on a weak mind, may intimidate and unnerve it; and acting on a bolder spirit, may irritate or harden it; but has been seldom found to correct or improve. We boast not of an exemption from imperfection; we ask not of you implicit faith: but we pray and beseech you,

, “ by the meekness “ and gentleness of Christ,” to cherish that divine principle which “ suffereth long, and is kind; " which is not easily provoked; which thinketh

no evil ;, and which hopeth all things”* that are good.

Finally, my dear christian friends and brethren, to whom we have been ordained servants on behalf of Christ, let me briefly remind you of the difficul. ty of our duties; and entreat your sympathy, your countenance, and your prayers. If we propose to “ preach not ourselves,” to be uninfluenced by the views of temporal riches, of earthly fame, of the gratification arising from the dissemination of our own opinions, we have need of grace, to mortify within us those principles, by which almost every mind is powerfully impelled to seek such objects. If we resolve to preach Christ Jesus the Lord,” in

See I Cor. xiii, 4, 5, 7.

an age when the doctrine of salvation by the cross is considered, even by many who profess to believe, as an antiquated prejudice, and when by others the very existence of a revelation from God to man is made a subject of derision, for this too we have need of grace; that we may be neither moved by contempt, nor corrupted “ through philosophy and “ vain deceit, after the traditions of men." And if we determine to renounce the maxims and practices, which have gained for priestcraft its reproachful name; to maintain the humble character of servants; and in that, to labour, with industry and fidelity, for your profit; have we not here also need of grace ? for pride is natural to man; and that the difficulties of ministerial faithfulness and diligence are neither few nor small, has been already shewn. When we think of these things, when we consider the population of this city and neighbourhood, and reflect on our own inexperience, our souls would faint within us, but for our trust that we shall not be forgotten in your prayers,

our hopes of the supplies of the Spirit of Christ," and of seeing “ the goodness of the Lord, in the “ land of the living.” When we compare our own youth, and small attainments, with the age, the piety, and the knowledge of the fathers, who have gone before us in this charge, we are “ with

you, in weakness, and in fear, and in much

trembling;” not so much lest we “ shall not " find you such as we would," as lest we shall be “ found unto you such as ye would not."*_ With the apostle, then, brethren, we request you,“ Pray ** for us, that the word of the Lord may have free

* Sec 1 Cor. ii. 3; and 2 Cor. xii. 20.

66 As

« course, and be glorified; and that utterance may “ be given unto us, to open our mouths boldly, to 66 make known the mystery of the gospel."* “ for us, God forbid that we should sin against the

Lord, in ceasing to pray for you.”+ “ We will “ now say, Peace be with you: and because of “ the house of the Lord our God, we will seek

your good.”I

2 Thess. iii. 1; and Eph. vi. 19. 1 Sam. xii. 23. Psalm azü. 8, ).


« PredošláPokračovať »