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spiritual things, is it a great thing if we should reap (some of) your carnal things ?”
Great and excellent are the ends and uses to which the ministry is directed, and among them that of christian unity, holds a distinguished place.- Abide in me, said our Lord, and I in
powers of language cannot more forcibly describe the duty of continuing in the communion of that fellowship, which subsists under one everlasting head. “ As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches.” These words are plain and simple ; they admit but of one construction --the necessity of a fruitful bond of union, as to faith and worship with Jesus Christ, the one true vine. Without this. privilege there can be no safety. No thriving shoot, no bud of promise, no leaf, no cluster for the gatherer, no happy vintage : and no cup of blessing for the table of the Lord.
How much then does it behove us to be faithful, constant, and sincere, in our attachment to that spiritual house, which in
this happy land, still stands, according to the form and plan of its first establishment.
Let us at all times bear in our remembrance, all that God hath done for those whom he hath called into the fellowship of his church, and united under its appointed ministry, as plants grafted into a living stock, and brought within the safe enclosures of his favoured vineyard.
In the success of the gospel, are involved the honour and glory of God. The good man considers it, as an august display of the divine perfections, as gaining the Deity everlasting praises from angels and men, as dear to the eternal mind, in its design and accomplishment, and as vouchsafed to men with a kindness that enraptures the imagination, and warms the heart. As a creature, therefore, of the Most High God, he will feel concerned for the prosperity of a work upon which, from before the foundation of the world, his Creator hath bestowed his care, and the success of which he earnestly desires, and hath sent his Son to promote. He considers Christianity as opening to the sinner, the only means of reconciliation with his Maker, as affording to man the best instructions for the conduct of life, and as offering to the inhabitants of this region of infirmity and sorrow, the most powerful motives to virtue and contentment, and the most enlivening prospects of immortality. -As a philanthrophist, therefore, he will feel interested for the safety of the church, that house of mercy, in which the penitent may find forgiveness, and the dying be cheered with soothing consolations, and animating hopes. -As a patriot he will devoutly wish that the altars of his country may never be destitute of ministers, nor its temples of worshippers and friends.--As a Christian, when philosophy comes forth, armed with darts, which she has winged with wit, and dipped in poison, he will be fearful that they may wound the lambs of the Redeemer's fold, though by his more experienced followers, they will be avoided. And when the professors of the faith, apostatize or neglect the ordinances of the church, or relapse from the zeal, the holiness, the purity, the circumspection, which the gospel requires, he will ponder the solemn and memorable enquiry of Christ,
(which the evangelist hath recorded,) “ when the son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth ?” and exercise a more than common vigilance, for the preservation of the « faith once delivered to the saints.”
Not injudicious and intemperate will his concern for the ark of God be, but sincere and deep, like that of Eli; whose story is well adapted to this subject, and which (wheresoever the gospel is preached throughout the world) is worthy to be told as a memorial of him. he sat by the way side, one came from Aphek—what is there done,” says he, “my son ?” With inimitable tenderness, the messenger replies, “ Israel is fed before the Philistines, and there hath been a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons, also, Hophni and Phinehas are dead, and the ark of God is taken ;">at the mention of the capture of the ark of his God, the good old man swocned, fell backward from his seat, and expired. He could hear of the flight of Israel with humble acquiescence,- he could hear of the slaughter of the people, with silent sorrow---He could hear of the death of his children, with chastised regret - but when the ark of God was taken, when the delight of his heart, the hope of his country, the glory of Israel, was gone, overpowered with sorrow, his spirit failed him, he fell, and died.
Long, thou venerable seer, long as the scriptures shall endure, shall piety turn with fondness to thy story; and animated by thy example, may every friend of virtue, who cannot behold the happiness or misery of his fellow creatures, with cold insensibility, esteem religion as the guardian of his race; and consider all attacks upon her ministers and services, as arrows aimed at the shades of his ancestors, and the dearest interests of the world.