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ing of the wise man ; The words of the wise are pleasant, if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips. It is expected, that there should be an agreement between the character of the speaker and the things which are spoken. Excellent speech becometh not a fool, Exhortations to holiness come with an ill grace from the lips of one who indulges himself in iniquity. The opposite of this is what I mean by the doctrines and duties of religion being fitted in your lips. It is this that will make your face shine, when you come forth in your public labours, like the face of Moses, when he had been conversing with God in the holy
4. It is this that will give a spiritual savour to your conversation, in your visits to your friends. Though religious visits may be abused; yet you know brother, the necessity there is for them, if you would ascertain the spiritual condition of those to whom you preach. There are many faults also, that you may discover in individuals, which it would be unhandsome, as well as unfriendly, to expose in a pointed manner, in the pulpit, which, nevertheless, ought not to be passed by unnoticed. Here is work for your private visits; and, in proportion as you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you will possess a spirit of love and faithfulness, which is absolutely necessary to successful reproof. It is in our private visits also, that we can be free with our people and they with us. Questions may be asked and answered, difficulties solved, and the concerns of the soul discussed. Paul taught the Ephesians, not only publicly, but from house to house. Now, it is being full of the Holy Spirit that will give a spiritual savour to all this conversation. It will be as the holy anointing oil on Aaron's garments, which diffused a savour to all around him.
5. This also will teach you how you ought to behave yourself in every department you are called to occupy. It will serve instead of ten thousand rules; and all rules without it will be of no account. This it is that will teach you to be of a meek, mild, peaceful, humble spirit. It will make such a spirit be natural to you. As touching brotherly love, said the Apostle to the Thessalonians, ye need not that I write unto you, for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
6. In short, It is this that will denominate you the man of God. Such was Barnabas, and such, my brother, was your predecessor whose memory is dear to many of us; and such,according to all that I have heard, was his predecessor, whose memory is equally dear to many here present.† Each, in his day, was a burning and shining light; but they shine here no more. May you, my brother, and each of us, be followers of them, as they also were of Christ!
Another part of the character of Barnabas is,
III. He was FULL OF FAITH. It may be difficult to ascertain, with precision, the real meaning and extent of this term; but, I should think, in this connexion, it includes, at least, the three following ideas having the mind occupied with divine sentiment; being rooted and grounded in the truth of the gospel; and daily living upon it. The first of these ideas distinguished him from those characters whose minds are void of principle; the next, from such as are always hovering upon the borders of scepticism ; and the last, from those who, though they have no manner of doubts about the truth of the doctrines of the gospel, yet scarcely ever, if at all, feel their vital influence upon their hearts and lives. Let us review each of these a little more particularly.
1. His mind was well occupied, or stored, with divine sentiment. How necessary is this to a gospel minister! It is to be feared that many young men have rushed into the work of the Lord without any decided principles of their own; yea, and have not only begun in such a state of mind, but have continued so all through their lives. Alas! what can the churches expect from such characters? What can such a void produce? How can we feed others with knowledge and understanding, if we ourselves are destitute of them? To say the least, such ministers will be but unprofitable servants. But this is not all; a minister that is not inured to think for him
*The Rev. David Evans, who was ordained pastor of the Church at Thorn, August 7, 1782, and died February 21, 1787. aged 31.
The Rev. William Butfield, who was ordained pastor of the Church at Thorn, February 15, 1755, and died March 23, 1778, of the small pox, aged 30.
self, is constantly exposed to every false sentiment, or system, that happens to be presented to him. We sometimes hear of a person changing his sentiments; and, doubtless, in many cases, it is jus and right he should change them; but there are cases in which that mode of speaking is very improper; for, in reality some persons have no sentiments of their own to change; they have only changed the sentiments of some one great man for those of another.
2. He had a firm persuasion of the truth of that gospel which he preached to others. He was rooted and grounded in the gospel. The great controversy of that day was, whether the gospel was true; whether Jesus was the Messiah; whether he, who so lately expired on the cross, was the Son of God; and whether his death was the way to obtain eternal life. There were great temptations for a person, who should view things through a medium of sense, to think otherwise. The popular opinion went against it. To the Jews it was a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness. Those who adhered to the gospel, thereby exposed themselves to cruel persecutions. But Barnabas was full of faith; he was decidedly on the Lord's side; he believed on the Son of God, and had the witness of the truth of his gospel within himself.
Preaching the gospel is bearing a testimony for God; but we shall never be able to do this to any good purpose, if we be always hesitating and indulging a sceptical disposition. There is no need of a dogmatical, over-bearing temper: but there is need of being rooted and grounded in the truths of God. Be not carried about said the Apostle to the Hebrews, with strange doctrines: it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace. But he elsewhere condemns the character of those who are ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
3. That gospel which he preached to others he himself lived upon. The word preached, we are told, did not profit some, because it was not mixed with faith in them that heard it. This will equally hold good in the case of the preacher, as of the hearer. If we mix not faith with the doctrine we deliver, it will not profit us. Whatever abilities we may possess, and of whatever use we may be made to others, unless we can say, in some sort with the apos
tle John, That which we have seen with our eyes, and looked upon, and our hands have handled of the word of life,—that declare we unto you, our own souls may, notwithstanding, everlastingly perish! This is a very serious matter; and well deserves our attention, as ministers. Professors, in the age of Barnabas, might be under greater temptations than we are, to question whether Jesus was the true Messiah; but we are under greater temptations than they were, of resting a mere implicit assent to the Christian religion without realizing and living upon its important truths.
The studying of divine truth as preachers rather than as Christians; or, in other words, studying it for the sake of finding out something to say to others, without so much as thinking of profiting our own souls, is a temptation to which we are more than ordinarily exposed. If we studied divine truths as Christians, our being constantly engaged in the service of God would be friendly to our growth in grace. We should be like trees planted by the rivers of waters, that bring forth fruit in their season; and all that we did would be likely to prosper. But if we study it only as preachers, it will be the reverse. Our being conversant with the Bible, will be like surgeons and soldiers being conversant with the shedding of human blood, till they lose all sensibility concerning it. I believe it is a fact, that where a preacher is wicked, he is generally the most hardened against conviction of any character whatHappy will it be for us, if, like Barnabas, we are full of faith in that Saviour whom we recommend, in that gospel which it is our employment to proclaim.
IV. We now come to the last part of the subject, which is held up by way of encouragement: AND MUCH PEOPLE WAS ADDED UNTO THE LORD. When our ministry is blessed to the conversion of sinners, to the bringing them off from their connexion with sin and self, to a vital union with Christ; when our congregations are filled, not merely with professors of religion, but with sound believers; when such believers come forward, and offer themselves willingly for communion, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you then it may be said, that much people is added unto the Lord. The connexion between such additions,
and eminency in grace and holiness in a minister, deserves our serious attention.
I think it may be laid down as a rule, which both scripture and experience will confirm, that eminent spirituality in a minister is usually attended with eminent usefulness. I do not mean to say, our usefulness depends upou our spirituality, as an effect depends upon its cause; nor yet that it is always in proportion to it. God is a sovereign; and frequently sees proper to convince us of it, in variously bestowing his blessing on the means of grace. But yet he is not wanting in giving encouragement to what he approves, wherever it is found. Our want of usefulness is often to be ascribed to our want of spirituality, much oftener than to our want of talents. God has frequently been known to succeed men of inferior abilities, when they have been eminently holy, while he has blasted others of much superior talents, when that has been wanting. Hundreds of ministers, who, on account of their gifts, have promised to be shining characters, have proved the reverse, and all owing to such things as pride, unwatchfulness, carnality, and levity.
Eminency in grace, my brother, will contribute to your success in three ways.
1. It will fire your soul with holy love to Christ, and the souls of men; and such a spirit is usually attended with success. I believe you will find, that, in almost all the great works which God has wrought, in any period of time, he has honoured men of this character, by making them his instruments. In the midst of a sore calamity upon the murmuring Israelites, when God was inclined to show mercy, it was by the means of his servant Aaron running with a censer of fire in his band, and standing between the living and the dead! The great reformation that was brought about in the days of Hezekiah, was by the instrumentality of a man who wrought that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God: and then it follows, And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God,and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, HE DID IT WITH ALL HIS HEART, and PROS