Page images

their edification. And he aims not to promote his own glory, but the glory of him who sent him *. He is, indeed, glad to see them attending upon the means which God has promised to bless. But the faithfulness and closeness of his addresses to their consciences, by which many are sooner or later disgusted and driven away, is a proof that he does not want them merely to make up a number about him. They who make the office of a preacher an occasion whereby to promote their own interest or reputation, may, perhaps, obtain the reward they seek; but it is such a reward, as can only satisfy a weak and mercenary mind. And from him, whose name they prostitute, they can only


But true Christians will, and do, fet a high value upon the ministers, who with fimplicity and godly sincerity, preach the gospel of peace, in such a manner as to evidence that they are influenced by a regard to the glory of God, and to the good of fouls. And they give proof of their affection in more ways than by speaking well of them. + John vii. 18.

1. By the satisfaction with which they

cept a faithful ministry, as a balance to the trials they meet with in common life. There are many poor, and many afflicted people, who have little comfort in the things of this life, and in their own houses. Some are pinched by penury, and some who live in opulence, yet dwell, as the Pfalmist expresses it *, in the fire and among lions. They suffer not less than the others, though in a different way, from the unkindness and opposition of their nearest connections. But in the house of God, they are satisfied and comforted. And, according to the words of the prophet, though the Lord is pleased to give them the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction of, yet, since their teachers are not removed into corners, but they have free access to the preaching of his word, and can attend upon a minister who careth for their fouls, and meets them, when they are weary, with a word in season, they bear their appointed cross with cheerfulness. Though they have much bitterness of heart at home, known only to themselves, they have a pleasure which a stranger intermedleth * Pl. Ivii. 4. + Ifa. XXX. 20. H 2


not with, when they go up to the house of the Lord. But if the instrument, who is the messenger of God to them for good be removed, and they are deprived of these opportunities, the regard they bore him is manifested, by their sorrow for losing him ; which often affects them more sensibly than all their other griefs.

2. By taking kindly and in good part his most searching discourses in public, or even his reproofs and admonitions in private, if needful. For they know that he watches over their souls, as one who must give an account *. And because they love him, they do all in their power to make the fervice a pleasure, and not a grief to him, They do not with him to speak smooth things to them, or to entertain them with the difcussion of points in which they have little concern, but to hear that which is suitable to their own cafe and circumstances. And if the preacher discovers to them, that through inadvertence, they have allowed themselves in any wrong practice, or have lived in the omifsion of any duty, instead of

* Heb. xiii. 17.

being offended with his plain dealing, they love him the better for it.

3. By their tenderness and sympathy with him in all his exercises ; and by their care, according to their ability, to make his situ

that might give him just occasion for complaint or grief. The trials of a faithful minister, are neither few nor small. His work is great; he is sure to meet with enemies and discouragements. He travels in birth for fouls *; he is pained by the opposition of the wicked, the inconstancy of the wavering, and the inconsistency of many who make profession of the truth. He feels many anxieties for those who are enquiring the way to the kingdom, left they should be turned aside and hindered; and too often the hopes he had indulged, of some who discovered a concern for religion, are disappointed. His inward conflicts are many. He often walks in much weakness, fear, and trembling it. When he considers what he is, what he ought to be, and what he has to do, he is often distressed, afraid, and ashamed, and unable to speak. His path is spread * Gal. iv. 19. ^ > Cor. ii. 3. H3


with snares, his heart wounded with temptations. But his judicious hearers have some knowledge of what he endures for their fakes, and in their service; they love him, pity him, and pray for him, and their kind attention comforts him under all his tribulations.

Sometimes their regard is rather improperly expressed ; as when they not only value his ministry, but hold him so highly a favourite, that they can hardly hear another, A preference is certainly due to the person who is made especially useful, but no faithful preacher should be lighted. Though gifts and abilities are not equal in all, yet, they are all the Lord's messengers, and entitled to regard.

Again, it is an improper regard, if they yield themselves implicitly to him, to be governed by his will. So far as we speak agreeably to the scripture, which is the rule and standard of faith and practice, both to you and to us, we are authorized to require your ataention and obedience; but you are not bound to receive what we propose, merely upon our own authority. There are those who account ignorance the mother of devo- .

« PreviousContinue »