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confirm your love towards him. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: Nay, I have already forgiven him, for your sakes, as in the presence of Christ. (2 Cor. ii. 6—10.)
Great God! appoint over thy flock vigilant, charitable, and courageous pastors, who may discern the sinner through all his deceitful appearances, and separate him from thy peaceful fold, whether he be an unclean goat, or a ravenous wolf. Permit not thy ministers to confound the just with the unjust, rendering contemptible the most sacred mysteries, by admitting to them persons, with whom virtuous Heathens would blush to converse.
Touch the hearts of those pastors, who harden thy rebellious people, by holding out tokens of thy favour to those, who are the objects of thy wrath : And permit no longer the bread of life, which they carelessly distribute to all, who choose to profane it, to become in their unhallowed hands the bread of death. Discover to them the impiety of offer. ing their holy things to the dogs: And awaken in them a holy fear of becoming accomplices with those hypocritical monsters, who press into thy temple to crucify thy Son afresh ; and who, by a constant profanation of the symbols of our holy faith, add to their other abomi. nations the execrable act of eating and drinking their own damnation, and that with as much com posure, as some among them swallow down the intoxicating draught, or utter the most impious blasphemies.
AN OBJECTION ANSWERED.
BEFORE we proceed to the consideration of another trait of the character of St. Paul, it will be necessary to refute an objection to which the preceding trait may appear liable. “ Dare you," it may be asked, “ propose to us as a model, a man, who could strike Elymas with blindness, and deliver up to Satan the body of a sinner?”
ANSWER. The excellent motive, and the happy success of the apostle's conduct, in both these instances,
entirely justify him. He considered affliction not only
as the crucible, in which God is frequently pleased to o purify the just, but as the last remedy to be employed
for the restoration of obstinate sinners. Behold the reason, why the charity of the primitive church de. manded, in behalf of God, that the rod should not be spared, when the impiety of men was no longer able to be restrained by gentler means ; determining, that it was far better to be brought to repentance, even by the sharpest sufferings, than to live and die in a sinful
To exercise this high degree of holy and charit. able severity toward a sinner, was, in some mysterious the manner, to deliver up his body to Satan,' who was
looked upon as the executioner of God's righteous Tel: vengeance in criminal cases.—Thus Satan destroyed the
first-born in Egypt, smote the subjects of David with the pestilence, and cut off the vast army of Sennacherib. St. John has thrown some light upon this profound mystery, by asserting, “There is a sin unto death :' (1 John v. 16:) And the case of Ahab is fully in point ; for when that king had committed this sin, a spirit of error received immediate orders to lead him forth to
execution upon the plains of Ramoth-Gilead. (1 Kings ini xxii. 20, 22.) This awful doctrine is further confirmed
by St. Luke, when he relates, that in tbe same instant, when the people, in honour of Herod, “gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a God and not of a man ; the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory : And he was eaten up of worms, and gave up the ghost.' (Acts xii. 22, 23.) The punishment thus
inflicted, by the immediate order of God, was always ** proportioned to the nature of the offence. If the sin
not unto death,' it was followed by some temporary affliction, as in the cases of Elymas and the inces
tuous Corinthian. If the crime committed was of such si a nature that the death of the sinner became necessary, En either for the salvation of his soul, for the reparation
of his crime, or to alarm those, who might probably be corrupted by his pernicious example, he was then either smitten with some incurable disease, as in the case of
Herod ; or struck with immediate death, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, who sought to veil their hypocrisy with appearances of piety, and their double. dealing with a lie. Had M. Voltaire considered the Christian church, as a well-regulated species of thescracy, he would have seen the folly of his whole reasot. ing with respect to the authority of that church in its primitive state. And convinced, that God has a much greater right to pronounce by his ministers a just settence of corporal punishment, and even death itsek. than any temporal prince can claim to pronounce such sentence by his officers : That daring philosopher, in. stead of pointing his sarcasms against an institution so reasonable and holy, would have been constrained to tremble before the Judge of all the earth.
Finally. It is to be observed, that when this kind of jurisdiction was exercised in the church, the followers of Christ, not having any magistrates of their own reli. gion, lived under the government of those Heathenisi rulers, who tolerated those very crimes, which were pe culiarly offensive to the pure spirit of the gospel. And on this account God was pleased to permit the most eminent among his people, on some extraordinary occa. sions, to exercise that terrible power, which humbled the offending church of Corinth, and overthrew the sor. cerer Elymas in his wicked career. If it be inquiredWhat would become of mankind, were the clergy of this day possessed of the extraordinary power of St. Paul ? We answer-The terrible manner, in which St Paul sometimes exercised the authority he had received, with respect to impenitent sinners, is not left as an ex. ample to the ecclesiastics of the present day, unless they should come (which is almost impossible) into similar circumstances, and attain to equal degrees of discern. ment, faith, and charity, with this apostle himself.
IF 6 charity seeketh not her own;' and if it is required, that the conversation of the faithful should be without covetousness; it becomes the true minister, in
an especial manner, to maintain an upright and disin9 terested conduct in the world.
Though it be true, that they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar;' yet nothing is so detesta. ble to the faithful pastor, as the idea of enriching him
self with the sacred spoils of that altar. Observe how E St. Paul expresses himself upon this subject.
brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Haying, therefore, food and
raiment, let us be therewith content. But they that s will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into
many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: Which while some have coveted after, they have
erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through } with many sorrows.
But thou, O man of God,' who art set apart as a minister of the everlasting gospel,
• flee these things : and follow after righteousness, godBliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.' (1 Tim. vi.
7-11.) With regard to myself, I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content. Every where, and in all things, I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.' (Phil. iv. 11, 12.) • Neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness ; God is witness. For ye remember our labour and travail, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you. Ye are our witnesses, and God also, how
holily, and justly, and unblamably, we behaved out. selves among you that believe. (1 Thess. ii. 5, 10. Behold the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you; for I seek not yours, but you : For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you.' (2 Cor. xii, 14, 15.) Bebold the disinterestedness of the faithful shepherd who is ever less ready to receive food and clothing from the flock, than to labour for its protection and support! Behold the Spirit of Christ! And let the pastor, who is influenced by a different spirit, draw that alarming inference from his state, which he is taught to do by the following expression of St. Paul: • If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Rom. viii. 9.)
Happy would be the Christian church, were it blessed with disinterested pastors! Avaricious ministers, who are more taken up with the concerns of earth, than with the things of heaven, who are more disposed to enrich their families, than to supply the necessities of the poor, who are more eager to multiply their benefices, or to augment their salaries, than to improve their talents, and increase the number of the faithful-Such minis. ters, instead of benefiting the church, harden the impenitent, aggravate their own condemnation, and force in. fidels to believe, that the holy ministry is used, by the generality of its professors, as a comfortable means of securing to themselves the perishable bread, if not the fading honours, of the present life.