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• The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts.” Mal. ii. 7.
Our honour will a'so be most effectually secured by the exhibition of genuine piety. How dreadfully is a Minister's character degraded by actual crimes ! How dishonourable is it to the holy Redeemer, that bis messengers should be the servants of sin ! How dangerous is it to the church, when her teachers countenance iniquity by their own example! It is real godliness, united with ministerial gifts, that make a preacher shine. Aaron's venerable .brow was ornamented with this important honourable inscription, « Holiness to tbe Lord." May true piety appear as conspicuous in our conduct, as its emblem did upon the sacred High Priest's forehead !
" Girded with truih, and cloth'd with grace,
My priests, my ministers shall shine:
Made an appearance so divire."
We expect the Gospel to have great effect upon the hearts ·and lives of others ; and shall it have less upon our own?' Considering our familiarity with it, ought it not to have inore? Surely, the nearer we live to God, and the more we resemble Christ, the more we shall awe the wicked, be respected by the saints, and honoured by the great God himself.
Various are the services that devolve on the ministers of Christ; all which should be discharged with reputation. In the pulpit, in the church, and in the world, they are called to "make full proof of their ministry.
The pulpit is a minister's throne ; hence are issued forth the sovereign mandates of the King of kings. Here divine truth is to be displayed in the most clear and convincing light, supported by the most cogent and irresistible arguments, defended with the warmest affection and zeal, and applied with the most pressing solicitation. To teach as one “having authority," is not to be dogmatical and selfimportant, but to commend the truth to every man's conscience, It is pleasing, indeed, to be received as an angel of God, but truly important to have the simplicity of a little child. We are not to command men by our own authority, .but to beseech them by the meekness of Christ. True dig.
nity is perfectly consistent with self-diffidence. The Lord is our glory, as well as our strength. “How.beautiful, then,
are the feet of them who preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"
With regard to our private intercourse amongst our people. In this also the ministerial character should not be forgotten. By the serious and well-bred Christian we shall not be contemned, but by the illiberal we may.
An advantage may, very probably, be taken by some, of our dependent state, our want of popular talents, or even our peculiar turn of mind; but an independent spirit will rise superior to such indignities. Be courteous to all, but pervile to none. While we are cheerful coinpanions, let us remember the important office we sustain ; this will curb levity. To assume a forbidding air of importance is unbecoming; to use too great formality will be inconvenient. Let us always distinguish between our persons, which sprung from the dust, and our office, which descended from heaven. Consult the different tempers and circumstances of persons, and act accordingly. The behaviour that will conciliate the affections of some, may expose us to the dislike of others. " But wiss dom is profitable to direct." In company, a savour of divine things should appear. “ Our speech should be always with grace--good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” In religious conversation, spirituality and familiarity may be blended; but upon indifferent subjects, some reserve will be necessary. This will procure a degree of reputation from all, both to our profession, and our persons.
From our relations we shall not receive much honour. Our Lord himself did not enjoy it, and he has cautioned us not to expect it. “A prophet is not without honour, except in his own country, and among his own kindred."
Nor must we expect to be highly esteemed by an ungodly world. Our conduct and our maxims will be so opposite to theirs, that it will provoke tbeir malice rather than their regard. Good sense and affability, however, will redder us respectable, even to those who fear not God. When irreligious men perceive that our abilities are superior to their own, they will, notwithstanding our peculiarities, revere us. In short, it behøves us to evidence our divine commission to all, that none may despise our message on account of the messenger. Thus, probably, we may avoid indignities, which if, after all, we do receive, will be our glory, rather than our disgrace.
If we meet with applause, let us not be exalted above measure. Remember, “a man cap receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.' To turn sinners to the Lord, and
to fit saints for their everlasting rest, will render us truly honourable now : And there is a brighter day hastening, when " they, who have turned many to righteousness, shall shine as the stars for ever and ever." How glorious will that period be! How delightful for pastors to appear at the head of those of their respective flocks, who were the heirs of salva'tion; to receive from the “chiet Shepherd a crown of glory that fadeth not away!” Animated with this prospect, may we bear down every opposition---long for souls as with the bowels of Christ---eagerly aspire after this peculiar glory--and, at last, hear the plaudit of our divine Master, “ Well done, good and faithful servants, enter ye into the joy of your Lord!”
SYNERGOS. 1 DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TENDER AND SCRUPULOUS CONSCIENCE.
I TIMOTHY, i. 5. A
the soul, by which the understanding is enlightened to know, and to apprehend the spirituality of God's law; the will is brought into an uniform subjection to its precepts, and the affections are sweetly drawn to love, and to delight in all that is truly excellent. - From this blessed "renovation, próceeds a quick apprehension of evil, which not only alarms the mind on its first appearance, but sensibly pains and fills the heart with a holy jealousy and dread of being defi ed by its pollutions. This keen discernment in discovering and rejecting the emotions and assaults of sin, increases and becomes more acute, as a clearer knowledge of the sacred Scriptures is obtained, evidencing hereby that the irradiations of divine light, and the operations of the divine Spirit influence the whole soul.
Whereas a scrupulous conscience is the product of ignorance, and an unrenewed mind; for although God's own children are sometimes exercised with unbelief and doubts respecting their spiritual state, and, in particular actions, what is, or, what is not their duty; yet, as they grow more established in the faith, they are enabled to draw the line between scruple and duty. Persons destitute of the grace of our Lord * Jesus Christ, may have a scrupulous conscience, but none without his grace can have a tender one. The doubts' and perplexities of these graceless 'characters arise not from a fear
of ef sin, or acting contrary to God's word, but lest they should deviate from the common received notions of right and wrong, or do any thing inconsistent with the opinions they have been accustomed to espouse. Hence it is that such persons are often afraid, where no real cause for fear is; and their scruples increase with years, and grow into rooted habits of prejudice and superstition, fettering the mind in blindness and bigotry, mixed with an unprofitable spirit of inquiry; of whom it may justly, be said, “ They are ever learning, yet never able to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
ON BAD NEWS,
[A LETTER TO A FRIEND.] MY DEAR FRIEND, YOU te
tell me you are often cast down, and tremble at the arrival of bad news---and ask how this is consistent with the description of a Gospel believer in Psalm, cxii. 7. “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings.” As you request my thoughts on the subject, I will freely impart them.
Considering the moral condition of the world, you cannot be surprised that very little good news should come to our
It is the seat of Satan ; he rules in the darkness of it. It is the kingdom in which “sin reigns;" in which rebels wage war against him, who is their righteous and natural Lord; where poor sinners are perpetually tormenting themselves, and contending with each other under the influence of the most cruel passions, as envy, pride, revenge, covetousness, and ambition. Is it then to be wondered at, that an offended insulted Creator should permit his rebellious creatures to be sensible that it is an evil thing that they have forsaken Him, and should suffer calamities and death to infest the earth? Is it strange that such tyrants, as sin and Satan, should make their slaves miserable and wretched, that wild confusion and desolation should overspread whole countries, and that strife, and hatred, and jealousies should prevail in neighbourhoods, and smaller societies? We cannot be astonished, then, that good news is scarcely to be heard from any quarter, excepting that from whence it is least expected, and which, alas ! is least attended to--..I mean from heaven. Bad news fiies apace. It arrives from every point of the compass. Every day is a messenger of something or other that produces painful sensations, A distant child, or other near relation, is struck with
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an alarming sickness; a dear old friend or acquaintance is no more; 'such a family is fallen into distress; a connexion in trade is by some sudden accident dissolved; business fails ; a storm at sea, or a fire on land has destroyed our property ; and, it may be, our friends and relations. Or, we hear, perhaps, that an eminent professor has given heed to some strange doctrine, or fallen into some grievous crime, by which the weak in faith are stumbled, the strong disheartened, and the unbelieving world scoff and triumph.' These are tidings which wound and distress; and when one melancholy report quickly succeeds another, like those to Job, we tremble, and ask with anxiety, what will be the doleful news of to-morrow?
It is no wonder, my friend, that you should grieve and shudder too. Reason, nature, humanity, religion encourage, , at least they do not forbid, these dispositions, provided they be not carried to such an excess as to make us wretched, and weaken our hope and trust in the Lord. The religion of faith does not deprive a man of his natural feelings---does not harden his nerves into iron, nor his heart into brass ; nor make him proof against all the painful impressions which disagreeable news produces. Confidence in God does by no means quench the generous flame of philanthropy, patriotism, and zeal for the honour of Christ and the good of souls. Rather hard-heartedness and insensibility, under alarming dispensations are offensive to God, and threatened with his displeasure, Jer. ii. 30. Amos, vi. I---6. The best of Christians have corporal infirmities, and those which are called nervous, attended with tender spirits. The most eminent of God's people have discovered the keenest sensibility when distressing intelligence has been brought to their ears. Who, that wc ever read of, were more agitated than Jacob, job, and the brave David, when they respectively heard the doleful news of their children's death?
How did good old Eli tremble for the ark of his God? and when he was informed of the melancholy truth, that it was taken, it quité overwhelmed his spirits, and bereaved him of his strength? Did not the flesh of David tremble at God's judgments ? Psalm, cxix. 120. And was not the heart of the devout and magtanimous Hezekiah, shaken with the most direful apprehensions of what was coming upon him? Isaiah Xxxvii. 3. The worst of men, on the contrary, are sometimes the least affected. Unfeeling wretches there are, destitute of every spark of benevolence, who, if their own interest thrives, care not how it fates with others. Dating, desperate spirits are also to be found, which neither foar God nor mian,who, let their