Abbildungen der Seite

Christ, to the fubversion, at once, of her quiet and profperity ?

In other churches, such evils often flow from a defect in their polity and constitution; but in the church to which we more immediately belong, there are such falutary rules, such fundamental laws, as muft effectually guard against these inconveniencies : unless, by a criminal neglect, or partiality on our own part, those rulers are overlooked, and these laws dispensed with; wherefore, my reverend fa. thers and bretheren will give me leave to observe, that should we ever, in any instance, clothe men with the trusts mentioned, upon terms differing from the constitution of our church, terms short of it, or any how opposite to it; should we deliberately do so, a manifold breach of faith, plighted by our own ordination vows, would be added to all the other guilt, inseparable from such an illegal, though judicative, procedure.

Besides, as another consequence from what we have heard, will it not likewise follow, that in cafe fuch office-bearers, as were characterized, thould ever appear in the church whereof we are members, our zcal and endeavours should be exercised in order to their reformation or excision? While church members can do no more than wish, or, at molt, pray, for deliverance from such troublers; the fpheres, wherein we move, put a vast deal more in our posv. er, and greatly widen our capacity of usefulness ig that relpect : but should our fuperior advantages be peglected, or misused, when, for the relief of o). pressed Christians, we may be called to employ them; to what an awful reckoning with the chief Shepherd, when he appears, must we thereby ex. pose ourselves ?

Might we suppose that any troubler or troublers of the Christian church were now within hearing, H6

they they would be exhorted to break off their fins by repentance, and their iniquities by turning to the Lord ; with this dreadful certification, that if they did not, they should bear their punishment, who. ever they were. They would, at the same time, be told, what an awful risk they ran, by having God's oppressed people crying day and night against them. If the prayers of a Knox were more terrible to an imperial princess, than thousands of armed men ; how terrible, to the troublers of the church of Christ, should be the prayers of thousands, and ten thousands of the excellent ones of the earth !But, as it is not our business to make a supposition of this kind, the necessity of such an exhortation is altogether fuperseded.

Upon the whole, reverend and dear Sirs, let us, who bear office in this church, be concerned parti. cularly for her prosperity ; concerned, that what. ever mars edification and enlargement may be removed; that whatever can contribute toward her tran- , quility and welfare may take place ; that her priests may be clothed with falvation, her faints inay be filled with joy, and that, in every respect, the may be “fair as the sun, clear as the moon, and terrible " as an army with banners.” Let us, in the dif, charge of our several trusts, disregard the smiles and frowns of the world ; remembering, that the first, as well as the last, are dangerous and ensoaring. Let us, in our personal, private, and public, characters, endeavour to act such a part, as the friends of Christ shall have no occasion to wish or pray for our excifion; or, if, through misinformation, or narrowness of foul, they should look upon us as troublers of the church ; let our conduct give the lie to that reproach, and secure the testimony of our consciences at the same time. In a word, let us “ take heed "to ourselves, and to all the flock over which the

“ Holy

“Holy Ghost hath made us overseers, to feed the s church of God, which he hath purchased with “ his own blood,” Acts XX. 28.

2. This subject falls next to be improved in an address to the reverend brother who is now * admitted to the personal charge of this congregation.

It is happy, my reverend and dear brother, that none can, with truth, imagine I have any apprchen. fion of your proving a troubler of the church of Christ ; nor, consequeatly, infer the least intention of a direct or an oblique thrust at your principles or character, by the discourse with which your admiffion was introduced : quite the reverse have my expectations been, fince the commencement of our * acquaintance; nor havel the smallest reason to dread that your after conduct will render them abortive,

The obligations, Sir, under which you have this day laid yourself, are of such importance, as will fully justify the warmest exhortation to remember and fulfil them. Have you undertaken the pastoral charge of this congregation? Have your time, your talents, your influence, and whole endeavours, been publicly, folemnly, dedicated to the service of these souls? Then, you must not henceforth consider yourself as your own ; but, as you are a fervant of Christ, fo, as a fervant to them for Chritt's fake.--Your concern and ministerial endeavours must not be confined to one, or more, or most; but, without exception, extended to the whole of this flock : for, whatever difference the providence of God may have made between one person, or family, and another ; their fouls, you know, are equally precious, and claim, therefore, an equal attention from you.-As, by their capacities, circumstances,


* This and the address to the people followed the admission.

and tempers, they may be no less distinguished, that they are by their features or complexions ; it is your business to understand such distinctions, that your pastoral labours may be particularly accommodated to them: for, it is evident, to every student of the scriptures, at least to every adept in the knowlege of human nature, that the same method and manner of dealing will not equally fuit all the subjects of your ministry ; more than the same recipe or regimen could be supposed equally proper for all diseases and constitutions. By an acquaintance, Sir, with the State of this fock, you will probably find, that some need to be dealt with as saints, and others as sinners; that knowlege must be administer. ed to one, and reproof to another ; that discipline is necessary here, and confolation there ; that this hearer reaps most advantage from the reasoning, and that from the declamatory, way :- you will find that either reservednefs or familiarity will mar the ends of edification, if the choice of these, with whom the one or other is used, benot judiciously made ; that neither the forbidding nor engaging, the austere por affable carriage must be promiscuously observed : and, in a word, Sir, you will certainly find the neceflity of becoming, in the apostle's fenfe of the phrase, “all things to all men, that, by all " means, you may save some,” i Cor. ix. 22.

With whatever unanimity, my dear brother, - they have called you to labour amongst them, in the · work of the gospel, you are by no means to expect

that, in every measure, they will be unanimous with you. The contradiction of fioners, and sometimes of saints too, is what every servant of Jesus Christ may lay his account with; and, therefore, you will forgive me in suggesting a caution againt two extremes, to which opposition from our peo. ple may readily tempt.-Guard, on the one hand,

[ocr errors]


against yielding to opposition, from whatever quarter, where your doing so would dishonour the Lord, and be a breach of that trust he hath committed to you : but, on the other, be no less aware, left a weakness of mind, or stiffness of temper, to which the holiest on earth are liable, get the better, at any time, of reason, and insensibly block up the avenues through which proper con- viction may be introduced : for, as it is certaio, that gospel ministers ought much rather to suffer, than fin ; so, that an ingenious yielding to the force of argument is more much more virtuous and praise worthy, than a tenacious adherence to any measure or resolution, uosupported by scrip. ture or reafon. In the course, Sir, of my own ministry, J have found manifold need of this cau

tion; and I perfuade myfelf that all our fathers 1 and brethren present will justify me in thinking

your attention to it, and compliance with it, highJy necessary. - You will not, I trust, look upon the ministry

you have received of our Lord Jesus, as a by-work; but consider it as claiming all the application and diligence you are capable of: if, in order to Timothy's exhorting and teaching, it was necessary that he gave attendance to reading; if, that his

profiting might appear to all, he behoved to fir : up the gift that was in him, to meditate on divine

things, and to give himself wholly to them; and if, that he might fave himself, and those who heard him, Timothy behoved to take heed unto him. self, and unto his doctrine, and to continue in

them : i Tim. iv, 13, etc. if, Sir, fuch diligence · and application were incumbent upon Paul's own

fon in the faith, can it be thought unnecessary,

even in an unworthy servant of Christ, to stir up, · your pure mind by way of rememberance? What


« ZurückWeiter »