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"mind." Lucre is always joined in the New Testament with the epithet filthy, and is always used of ministers, pointing out one principal snare to which they would be exposed.
Again, St. Paul said to the elders of Ephesus, "Take heed unto yourselves and to all the flock, "over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you "overseers,”—that is, bishops,-for it is agreed, I believe, that the word was used at first both of bishops and elders-" to feed the church of God, "which he hath purchased with his own blood; for "grievous wolves would enter in, not sparing "the flock; and of their own selves would men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."1
But I must forbear. I will only quote two or three passages more from the Epistles of St. Paul to Timothy and Titus. "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example to the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in "spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give at"tendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
Neglect not the gift that is in thee...... Medi"tate upon these things, give thyself wholly to "them, that thy profiting may appear unto all "men. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the "doctrine: continue in them, for in doing this "thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear "thee."2-Again, "But thou, O man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." 3
1 Acts xx. 28-30.
31 Tim. vi. 11.
21 Tim. iv. 12-16.
Lastly, "In all things shewing thyself a pattern "of good works; in doctrine shewing uncorrupt"ness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that can"not be condemned, that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil "thing to say of you."1
My brethren, I would "magnify mine office," though I would abase myself. The work of the ministry appears to me so great, that nothing else comparatively seems worth doing. Christ would not lead an army, nor divide an inheritance, nor be made a king, nor sit in the great council of his nation; but he would " preach the gospel. " to the poor."
This gospel tends immediately to promote all that is good and praiseworthy among men. It not only teaches men to save their souls, but it makes them good subjects, obedient servants, faithful friends, upright tradesmen, just and equal masters. It does more to bind men to each other by the strongest bonds of moral obligation, and thus to preserve good order in civil society, than parliaments, and laws, and magistrates, and prisons. A gentleman of large landed property lately declared, that on one of his estates the people were quiet, and sober, and industrious, and were never disposed to injure his property; whilst on another they were turbulent and profligate, idle and injurious. And he publicly confessed, that the difference arose from the one people having the instruction of faithful, pious ministers, and the other not. If pure Christianity were
'Titus ii. 7.
universally known and obeyed, the whole face of human society would be changed.
But, "Who is sufficient for these things?"-for preaching a doctrine so pure, for living a life so holy, for answering the demands which the passages I have quoted clearly make on them? Especially when we consider further, that all this is to be done by them in a wicked and corrupt world. When men in general are engaged in a great and arduous work, they commonly are supported by the honour and praise of men. Fame is their stimulus and reward. But we have often to preach the gospel under hardship, illusage, and misrepresentation. We have to go through evil report and through good report." We have to bear the calumny and unkindness of men, for declaring the very truths which our Articles require us to preach, and which we have solomnly promised to preach. And, in return, we are to arm ourselves with meekness, patience, prudence, and fortitude. To persevere in faithfully preaching the gospel requires more courage and boldness than to be a hero, and as much meekness and willingness to endure suffering as a martyr.
II. But I must not dwell longer on these points, I come, secondly, to consider who we are who are employed about "these things." Whom does God commission to preach the gospel?
Not angels-though we might have thought that this office would best have become thembut us men. Angels could not have spoken in the same manner as sinners, who had tasted the bitterness of sin, and the sweetness of mercy.
We, my brethren, whom God condescends to use, are of the same nature as yourselves, born in sin, children and vessels of wrath in ourselves; vessels of mercy by the alone grace of God. We were enemies and alienated in our minds by wicked works; but God hath "reconciled" us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us "the ministry of reconciliation," and sent us to say to our fellow-sinners, " Be ye also reconciled "to God." We are men" of like passions" with you: not men of like passions in the sense of being men under the influence of sinful affections like the worst of mankind, but men of the same fallen nature with you; the same evil propensities, the same appetites, the same sin " dwelling "in" us, the same dislike of shame, hardship, reproach, and pain, as others men just like others, except as the grace of God has made us to differ, and as we possess qualifications for our peculiar work.
But many of us have. not been like Samuel, John the Baptist, and Timothy, who served God from their earliest youth, and entered on their ministry with all the advantages of long habits of plety, and with a previous stock of knowledge, and who had happily been preserved from sinful habits and connexions. Many of us entered the ministry with corrupt and worldly motives, and have since been awakened to a sense of our duties. Or, if we began our ministry in some measure aright, yet we have to look back with shame on our youth wasted in folly and sin; and thus, though we have to adore that grace of God which first converted and pardoned us, and then
condescended to send us out for the conversion and salvation of others; yet we have to lament opportunity and time lost beyond recovery, and mischief done to ourselves and others.
The reason why we have "this treasure" of the gospel" in earthen vessels" is, "that the "excellency of the power may be of God, and "not of man ;" and this excellency often appears most clearly when the frailty and weakness of the instrument are most apparent, perhaps even when the vessel itself is broken to pieces. "Not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble are called." There are a few ministers in every age who are men of considerable talents and learning, and some have natural powers of persuasion and eloquence; but in general ministers are men of an ordinary stamp, and not remarkable for genius, learning, or accomplishments. I
doubt much whether St. Paul had the extraordinary genius which it is the fashion to ascribe to him. He was undoubtedly a man of sound understanding, a conclusive reasoner; and capable of delivering his message in a commanding and most impressive manner. The force of his language is also at times surprising. But he does not appear to me to have been a man of brilliant genius and first-rate talents. He tells us himself that he was rude in speech." This "plainness "of speech" arose, no doubt, in part from his determining "to know nothing but Jesus Christ "and him crucified;" but I confess I see nothing in his natural endowments beyond what was solid and manly. I find something like the energy of Demosthenes in his writings, but