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alterations, the commission of St. Paul is the commission of every faithful minister of the church. Observe the tenor of it. In person, or by my ambassadors, in a manner either extraordinary, or ordinary, "I appoint thee a minister, and a witness of those things, which thou hast seen, (or experienced,] and of those things, in the which I will appear to thee; and I will deliver thee from the hands of the people, and from the Gentiles,' that is, from the hands of hypocritical professors, and from ignorant sinners, unto whom I now send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from the darkness of error, to the light of truth, and from the power of Satan to God,' that is, from sin, which is the image of Satan, to holiness, which is the image of God, that
they may receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance i among them which are sanctified, by faith that is in me.' in (Acts xxvi. 16–18.) Such was the office to which St.
Paul was appointed, more especially among the Gentile nations; and such, without doubt, is the office of every pastor, at least, within the limits of his particular parish. As for taking the ecclesiastical habit, reading over some pages of a liturgy, solemnizing marriages, baptizing infants, keeping registers, and receiving stipends, these things are merely accidental, and every minister should be able to say, with St. Paul, Christ sent me, not (principally) to baptize, but to preach the gospel.' (1 Cor. i. 17.)
It is evident from various passages in the different offices of our church, that our pious Reformers were una. nimously of opinion, that Christ himself appoints, and, in some sort, inspires all true pastors; that he commits the flock to their keeping, and that their principal care is the same with that of the first evangelists, namely, " the conversion of souls.” And truly, the same Lord, who appointed his disciples as apostles, or ocular witnesses of his resurrection, has also appointed others as pastors, or witnesses of a sccondary order, and suffragans of the first evangelists. If the witnesses of a higher order were permitted to see Christ after his resurrection, those of a secondary order have felt the efficacy
of bis resurrection, being raised together with him,' or regenerated through the reception of a lively hope, by the rising again of Christ from the dead.” (1 Pet. i. 3; Col. iii. 1.) So that every true minister, who bears his testi. mony to the truths of the gospel, whether it be from the pulpit, or before tribunals, is supported by his own particular experience of Christ's resurrection, as well as by a conviction founded upon the depositions of the first witnesses. Now this conviction, and this experience, are by no means confined to the ministering servants of God; but the hearts of the faithful, in their several generations, have been influenced by them both ; if it be true, that they have constantly stood prepared, to seal with their blood these two important truths, Jesus Christ • died for our sins, and rose again for our justification.' Millions of the laity have been called to give this last proof of their faith, and, beyond all doubt, it is abun. dantly more difficult to bear testimony to the truth upon a scaffold, than from a pulpit.
If St. Paul and the other apostles are considered as persons of rank far superior to our's, they themselves cry out, “O sirs ! we also are men of like passions with you.' (Acts xiv. 15.) If it be said that God inspired the Apostles with all the wisdom and zeal necessary to fulfil the duties of their high vocation ; it may be replied, that our churches implore for their established pastors the same wisdom and zeal, grounding such prayers upon the authority of many plain passages of holy scripture. Now unto him that is able to do ex. ceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church, by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end.' (Eph. iii. 20, 21.)
Moreover, it is an error to suppose, that the apostles needed no augmentation of that divine light, by which spiritual objects are discerned. St. Paul, who was fa. voured with an extraordinary inspiration, and that suffi. cient to compose sacred books, in which infallibility is to be found, writes thus to believers : Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face. Now I
know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known.' (1 Cor. xiii. 12.) A humble, but happy confession! which, on the one hand, will not suffer us to be discouraged when we are most sensible of our inadequate light; and teaches us on the other, how necessary it is to make incessant application to the Father of lights ;' equally guarding us against the pride of some, who imagine themselves to have apprehended all the truth ; and the wilful ignorance of others, who pronounce spiritual knowledge to be altogether unattainable.
Now, if the apostle Paul could but imperfectly discern the depths of evangelical truth, and if angels themselves desire to look into these things,” (1 Pet. i. 12,) who can sufficiently wonder at the presumption of those men, who are so far persuaded of their own infallibi. lity, that they regard all truths which they are unable, to fathom, as the mere reveries of fanaticism? But, turning our eyes at present, from the pernicious error of these self-exalted Christians, let us consider a subject, in which we are more interested, than in the extraordinary vocation of St. Paul to the holy ministry.
REFLECTIONS Upon the ordinary Vocation to the holy Ministry.
"The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few : Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into his harvest.' (Matt. ix. 37, 38.) Retaining in memory these remarkable words of our Lord, the conscientious man is incapable of thrusting himself into the holy ministry, without being first duly called thereto by the Lord of the harvest, the great “Shepherd and Bishop of souls.'
The minister of the present age is not ordinarily called to the holy ministry, except by carnal motives, such as his own vanity, or his peculiar taste for a tranquil and
principally from his father and mother, who have detere mined that their son shall enter into holy orders. Very frequently if the candidate for holy orders had sincerity enough to discover the real inclination of his heart, be might make his submissions to the dignitaries of our church, and say ; • Put me, I pray you, into one of the priest's offices that I may eat a piece of bread.' (1 Sam. ii. 36.)
It is not thus with the real believer, who consecrates himself to the holy ministry. He is not ignorant, that • Christ glorified himself to be made an high priest:' And he is perfectly assured, that no man has a right to take upon himself the sacerdotal dignity, but he that is called of God,' either in an extraordinary manner, as Aaron and St. Paul, or at least, in an ordinary manner, as Apollos and Timothy. (Heb. v. 4, 5.) As it is a matter of the utmost importance, to understand by what tokens this ordinary vocation to the holy ministry may be discovered, the following reflections upon so interesting a subject may not be altogether superfluous.
If a young man of virtuous manners is deeply penetrated with this humiliating truth—“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God:' (Rom. iii. 23:) If, further, he is effectually convinced of this consolatory truth—'God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life :' (John iii. 16:) If his natural talents have been strengthened by a liberal education ; if the pleasure of doing good is sweeter to him than all the pleasures of sense ; if the hope of converting sinners from the error of their way,' occupies his mind more agreeably than the idea of acquiring all the advantages of fortune; if the ho. nour of publishing the gospel is superior, in his eyes, to the honour of becoming the ambassador of an earthly prince: In short, if by a desire, which springs from the fear of God, the love of Christ, and the concern he takes in the salvation of his neighbour, he is led to consecrate himself to the holy ministry ; if, in the order of Providence, ou tward circumtances concur with his
own designs; and if he solicits the grace and assistance of God with greater eagerness than he seeks the outward vocation from his superiors in the church by the imposition of hands; he may then satisfy himself, that the great High Priest of the Christian profession has set him apart for the high office to which he aspires.
When, after serious examination, any student in theology discovers in himself the necessary dispositions mentioned above; then having received imposition of hands, with faith and humility, from the pastors, who preside in the church, he may solidly conclude, that he has been favoured with the ordinary vocation. Hence, looking up to the source of the important office, with which he is honoured, he can adopt with propriety the language of St. Paul: ' I thank Jesus Christ our Lord, for that he hath counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.' (1 Tim. i. 12.) Though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me, yea, wo is unto me if I preach not the gospel ;' for then I should be found unfaithful to my vocation. (1 Cor. ix. 16.) "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ.' (2 Cor. v. 19, 20.) And, if he becomes not like that wicked and slothful servant,' who refused to administer to the necessities of his master's household, he will be able, at all times, to say, “Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not: But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.' (2 Cor. iv. 1, 2.)
A person of this description, searching the depths of the human heart, of which he has acquired a competent knowledge by the study of his own, meditating with attention upon the proofs, and with humility upon the mysteries of our holy religion, giving himself up to the study of divine things, and, above all, to prayer and