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having received a charge from his prince to supply the poor with food, or the sick with medicine, not only refuses to acquit himself of his acknowledged duty with diligence and impartiality, but strenuously opposes those who endeavour to supply his lack of service. Such a minister seems to maintain a system as absurd and cruel, as would be that of either ofthose characters just alluded to, who should pretend, that no one had authority to administer alms to the poor; or medicine to the sick, except such as received pensions from the prince for that purpose; and that even these would act in a disorderly manner, if they should dare to distribute alms or remedies except on the sabbath day, and then only during particular hours. .
So long as any pastor seeks his own glory, SO long he will be subject to some degree of that contemptible jealousy, which will not suffer him to behold with pleasure the more abundant and successful labours of his brethren. But, the faithful minister of Christ, whose chief desire is the prosperity of the church, is actuated by a totally different spirit. Though he has a peculiar satisfaction in beholding the success of his own spiritual labours ; yet, when he hears the Gospel published by others, and even by such as are apparently influenced by unworthy motives, he greatly rejoices in their success. His charity, which neither envies an: other's prosperity, nor seeks his own particular advantage, expresses itself, upon so delicate a subject, in the language of St. Paul...."Some indeed preach Christ, even of envy and strife, supposing to add af. fliction to my bonds. What then ? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and I will rejoice." ..
Influenced by envy, or rendered insensible by their lukewarmness, wordly. ministers absolute Birangers to the generous pleasure here mentioned by the Apostle : nor have they the least idea of act. ing in a criminal manner, when they will not permit the truths of the Gospel to be freely declared by all, who are disposed to announce them. 02. The good pastor, by whatever name he may be distinguished, lives only to publish the Gospel, and to convert the souls committed to his charge : to restrain him then from attending to these important labours, is to force him aside from the rue end of his calling, and must appear to every enlightened mind a greater act ofcruelty, than to withhold the rich from giving alms, or to detain an expert swimmer from saving his drowning brethren. If such a pastor, in any period of his life has acted like a monopolist of the Gospel, and, by denying to the poor in spirit, what was freely given for their support, has caused in any place a famine of the word; he believes himself abundantly more culpable than those " avaricious merchants, who, by forming a monopoly of grain in the East Indies, caused a grievous famine in that country, by which an innumerable multitude of its inhabitants perished. Those covetous men denied to the bodies of their neighbours a perishable nourishment ; but he has withheld from the souls of his brethren that precious manna, which might have preserved them to everlasting life. Such was the crime of those, whom our Lord addressed in the following words...." Woe unto you, Scribes, and Pharisees, Hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of Heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them, that are entering, .. to go in. Observe St. Paul's sentiments of such characters. With respect to those Jews, “ who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own Prophets, and have persecuted us ; they please not God, and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles, that they might be saved,” filling up by this means the measure of their sin : “ for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost."
If the characier, which the Apostle here de. scribes was odious in a Jew, without doubt it is more so in a christian, and still doubly detestable in a minister of the Gospel, whose heart should continually be animated with a fervent desire for the conversion of sinners, and the salvation of all mankind. , Was it possible for those who are distinguished by this trait of the character of Anti. christ to discover the turpitude of their own con. duct, they would acknowledge themselves abun. dantly more guilty than the robber, who should force away from a famished pauper the morsel of bread he had begged in his distress. They would pronounce, without any hesitation, that the foster. mother, who neglects the infant she has undertaken to cherish, and prevents her charitable neighbours from affording it any nourishment, is still more excusable than the pastor, who, not content with re. fusing 10 feed the flock of Christ, endeavours to scatter his sheep, wherever they are found feeding, seeking out accusations against those, who have led them to a refreshing pasture, and studying by every means to withdraw the Gospel from those pemitent sinners, who, “ as new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby."
Happy will be the age, in which christian pastors shall no longer be found, like the Scribes in the days of_St. Paul, labouring to fill up the mea. sure of their iniquities ! Then truth and piety shall no longer be restrained by the fetters of prejudice and bigotry! Then the faithful shall worship God, and publish the Gospel, with as much freedom, as the dissipated indulge themselves in the sports of the age, or the malevolent in slandering their neigbours !
THE ENGAGING CONDESCENSION OF HIS HUMBLE
CHARITY avoids all appearance of haughtiness, and is never seen to act in an unbecoming manner. On the contrary, full of courtesy, she fears lest she should give offence to any ; and, full of benevolence, she labours for the edification of all. Hence the charitable pastor cannot act otherwise than with a holy condescension towards all men, and especially toward the ignorant and poor, with whom the ministers of the present age will scarcely deign to converse : and, without ever slipping his foot into the pit of error, he sometimes approaches it, with a happy mixture of compassion and prudence, for the relief of those, who are unable to extricate themselves from it. " Though I am free from all men," writes St. Paul, “ yet I have made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews, : to them, that are without law, as without law, that I might gain them, that are without” a witten « law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak : I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the Gospel's sake. *All things are lawful for me," continues he, “but all things are not expedient ; all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. When ye sin against the brethren" by wounding their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh, while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. Whether therefore, ye eat or drink,
or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of · God. Even as I please all men in all things, not
seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved."
Behold that sweet prudence of charity, which our Lord recommended to his disciples, when he pointed out the folly of putting new wine into such bottles, as were unable to resist the force of the fermenting liquor. And of this affectionate dis. cretion he himself gave them a striking example, when he said ; “ I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." If this condescending carriage was lovely in the blessed Jesus, it will ever appear amiable in his humble imitalors, who can say, with the Apostle Paul, to the weaker members of the church : 66 We have fed you with milk, and not with meat ; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it."
Special care is, however, to be taken, that this charitable condescension may never betray the interests of truth and virtue. ,6 Ahstain," saith St. Paul, “ from all appearance of evil. Be ye followers of me, even as I slso am of Christ." For “ heitin do I exercise myself to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men." and " our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you ward, among whom we have laboured in the Gospel."
If there exist pastor's, who lack this condescen. sion toward the poor, or who are destitute of that humble charity, which can familiarize itself with the most ignorant, for their edificacion and comfort : if there are ministers to be found, who are evermeanly complaisant to the rich, and who are void of holy resolution in the presence of the great, insteach, of conducting themselves with that mingled hamilily and dignity, which are suitable to the characier they sustain....may the one and the otber