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3. Let all who are to be admitted as members of the society, be accompanied by two or three of the rest, to the minister of the place, that they may receive his holy counsel and directions, and that every thing may be done with his approbation; after which, let their names be added to the list.
4. If any person thus enrolled among them, fall into a scandalous iniquity, let the rebukes of the society be dispensed to him; and let them forbid him to come among them any more, until he suitably express and give evidence of repentance.
5. Let the list be once a quarter called over; and then, if it appear that any of the society have much absented themselves, let some of the members be sent to inquire the reason of their absence; and if no reason be given, but such as intimates an apostacy from good beginnings, and if they remain obstinate after kind and faithful admonitions, let them be dismissed.
6. Once in three months, let there be a collection, if necessary, out of which the necessary expenses of the society shall be defrayed, and the rest be employed for such pious uses as may be agreed on.
7. Once in two months, let the whole time be devoted to supplications for the conversion and salvation of the rising generation; and particularly for the success of the Gospel in that congregation to which the society belongs.
8. Let the whole society be exceedingly careful that their conversation, while they are together, after the other services of religion are over, have nothing in it, that may have any taint of backbiting or vanity,
or the least relation to the affairs of government, or to things which do not concern them, and do not serve the interests of holiness.
But let their conversation be wholly on matters of religion, and those also, not disputable and controversial subjects, but points of practical piety. With this view, questions may be proposed, on which, in order, each may deliver his sentiments; or, they may go through a catechism; and every one, in rotation, may hear all the rest recite the answers; or they may otherwise be directed by their Pastor, to spend their time profitably.
9. Let every person in the society consider it as a special task incumbent on him, to look out for some other hopeful young man, and to use all proper means to engage him in the resolutions of godliness, until he also shall be united to the society. And when a society shall in this manner be increased to a fit number, let it form other similar societies, who may hold a useful correspondence with each other.
The man who shall be the instrument of establishing such a society in a place, cannot comprehend what a long and rich train of good consequences may result from his exertions.
And they who shall in such a society carry on the duties of Christianity, and sing the praises of a glorious Christ, will have in themselves a blessed earnest that they shall be associated together in the heavenly city, and in the blessedness that shall never have an end.
Proposals to the Ministers of the Gospel for doing
HITHERTO my discourse has been a more general address to persons of all conditions and capacities. I have proposed few devices, but those which are equally suitable to private persons, as to others. We will now proceed to address those who are in more public situations. And because no men in the world are under such obligations to do good as the MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL, “it is necessary that the word of God should be first spoken unto them.”
Certainly they who are “men of God," should be always at work for God. Certainly, they who are dedicated to the special service of the Lord, should never be satified, but when they are in the most sensible manner serving him. Certainly, they whom the Great King has brought nearer to himself than other men, should be more unwearied than others, in endeavouring to advance his kingdom. They whom the word of God calls angels, ought certainly to be of an angelical disposition; evermore disposed to do good, like the good angels;-ministers ever on the wing to “ do His pleasure.” It is no improper proposal, that they would seriously set themselves to think, “ What are the points wherein I should be wise and do good, like an angel of God? Or, if an angel were in the flesh, as I am, and in
such a post as I am, what methods may I justly imagine that he would use to glorify God?” What wonderful offices of kindness would the good angels delight to do for such their “ fellow servants!” We must call upon our people, “to be ready to every good work.”
We must go before them in it, and by our own readiness at every good work, show them the manner of doing it. “ Timothy,” said the Apostle, “ be thou an example of the believers.” It is a true maxim, and you cannot think too frequently of it-" The life of a minister is the life of his ministry.” And there is another maxim of the same kind—6. The sins of teachers are the teachers of sins.”
Allow me, sirs, to observe, that your opportunities to do good are singular. Your want of worldly riches, and generally of any means of obtaining them, is compensated by the opportunities to do good, with which you are enriched. The true spirit of a minister will cause you to consider yourselves enriched, when those precious things are conferred upon you, and to prize them above any lands, or money, or temporal possessions. “ Let my abundance consist in works; I heartily allow an abundance of riches to whoever desires them." Well said, brave Melancthon!
It is to be hoped, that the main principle which actuated
the evangelical ministry, was a hope to do good in the world. If that principle was then too feeble in its operation, it is time that it should now operate more vigorously, and that a zeal for doing good should now “eat up” your time, your thought, your all.
That you may be good men, and be mightily inspired and assisted from heaven to do good, it is needful that you should be men of prayer. This I presume will be allowed. In pursuance of this intention, it appears very necessary that you should occasionally set apart whole days for prayer and fasting in secret, and thus perfume your studies with extraordinary devotions: they may be also accompanied with the giving of alms, to go up as a memorial before the Lord. By such means, you may obtain, together with the pardon of your unfruitfulness (for which, alas! we have often occasion to apply to the great sacrifice,) a vast improvement in piety and sanctity; which is of great importance to form a useful minister: “ Sanctify them in (or for) thy truth,” said our Saviour. They should be sanctified, who would become instruments for the propagation of the truth. You may obtain such an influence from heaven upon your minds, and such an indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as will render you grave, discreet, humble, generous, and men worthy to be “ greatly beloved.” You may obtain those influences from above that will dispel the enchantments, and conquer the temptations which might otherwise do much mischief in your neighbourhood. You may obtain direction and assistance from heaven for the many services to be performed, in the discharge of your ministry. Finally, you may fetch down unknown blessings on your flocks, and on the whole people, for whom you are to be the Lord's remembrancers.
Your public prayers, if well composed, and well adapted, will be excellent engines to "do good.” The