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SAINT PAUL, &c.
THE PORTRAIT OF LUKEWARM MINISTERS.
THE essence of painting consists in a hapa. py mixture of light and shade, from the contrast of which an admirable effect is produced, and the animated figure made to rise from the canvass. Upon this principle we shall oppose to the portrait of St. Paul, that of lukewarm ministers and false apostles, whose gloomy traits will form a background peculiarly adapted to set off the character: of an evangelical pastor.
If the primitive church was disturbed and mis.. led by unfaithful ministers, it may be reasonably presumed, that, in this more degenerate period of its existence, the church of God must be miserably overrun with teachers of the same character. There is, however, no small number of ministers, who. form a kind of medium between zealous pastors, and false apostles. These irresolute evangelists. are sincere to a certain point. They have some desire after the things of God, but are abundantly more solicitous for the things of the world. They form good resolutions in the cause of their ac. knowledged Master, but are timid and unfaithful, when called upon actual service. They are some. times actuated by a momentary zeal, but generally iufluenced by servile fear. They have no expericnce of that ardent affection and that invincible courage, with which St. Paul was animated. Their wisdom is still carnal ; they still confer with flesh and blood. - Such was Aaron; who yielded, through an unmanly weakness, to the impious solicitations of his people. Such was Jonah, when he refused to exercise his ministry at Nineveh. That this prophet was possesed of a confidence in God; and a desire for the salvation of his fellow-creatures, we have every reason to believe : but we find, that neither the one, vor the other, was sufficiently powerful to engage him in a service, which appeared likely to endanger his reputation among men. Such were also the Apostles before they were endued with power from on high. To every pastor of this character, that expression of Christ, which was once addressed to the most courageous man among his disciples, may be considered as peculiarly applicable : “ Thou art av offence unto me, for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but 'those, that be of men.". .. Lukewarmness, false prudence and timidity, are the chief characteristics, by which ministers of this class may be distinguished. Perceiving the excellence of the Gospel in an obscure point of view, and having little experience of its astonishing effects, they cannot possibly discover that religious zeal, which is indispensibly necessary to the character they affect to sustain. 179"