« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
able ? Appointed, like the primitive preachers of christianity, to be fishers of men, is it not perfectly reasonable, that we should manifest as great activity with our feeble lines, as St. Paul was accustomed to discover in the use of his capacious net ? If that Apostle, filled with holy zeal, was enabled to convert morę sinners at a single discourse, than many pastors are known to convert in a thousand sermons, should we not, by our uncommon assiduity, supply, as much as possible, the want of that incomprelien. sible energy, which accompanied his ministerial labours ?
6. Ministers are compared to labourers, who go forth to cultivate the lands of their master. Now St. Paul, as the foremost of these labourers, wrought night and day with an extraordinary instrument, which marked out furrows of an uncommon depth, and ploughed up entire provinces on a sudden. He made the fullest proof of his mi. nistry, and, by the most astonishing efforts, spread the seed of the Gospel, from Jerusalem, round about unto Illyricum. How vast a difference between the former and latter pastors of the christian church ! Many of us are content to stand altogether idle, till « the night cometh, in which no man can work :" while others, who are disposed to some little occu. pation, employ themselves as workmen, who have need to be utterly asahmed of their insignificant labours. At best we hold but a tardy instrument ; an instrument, which with immense toil will but barely graze the earth, we are called to cultivate. And shall we, thus unhappily circumstanced, per. mit our plough-shares to gather rust during six successive days, and then leisurely employ them about an hour upon the seventh : Surely such a mode of conduct is as contrary to common sense, as to the example St. Paul has left us.
7. So astonishing is the inconstancy, the weak. ness, and the depravity of the human heari, that in
spite of all the persevering industry of this Apostle in the vineyard of his Lord, it still brought forth briars and thorns, to the anguish of his soul. “Behold,” saith he to the Corinthians, “ the third time I am ready to come unto you, for your edifying. For I fear, lest when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not : lest there be debates, envy. ings, wraths, strifes, back-bitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: and lest wben I come, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many, which have sinned already, and have not repented.”
We shall close this chapter by proposing the fol. lowing queries, which may be reasonably grounded upon the preceding passage. If the natural and supernatural talents of St. Paul ; if bis zeal, his di. ligence, and his apostolic authority were insufficient to engage his flock to conduct themselves, as followers of Christ; if their want of piety drew from him tears of lamentation, and obliged him to renew his painful efforts with redoubled solicitude ; can those pastors be said to possess the spirit of the Gospel, who behold with indifference the disorders of that falling church, which Christ has purchased with his own blood ? And if the extraordinary la. bours of St. Paul were not sufficient fully to answer the design of the sacred ministry, is it not presumption indeed to imagine, that our trivial services are sufficiently complete?
A FURTHER REPLY TO THE SAME OBJECTION.
ni WHEN we attack a prejudice, that is obstinately defended, it is frequently as needful to mul. tiply arguments, as it is necessary in a siege to mul. tiply assaults. Pursuing this method, we shall en. deavour, upon new grounds, to establish the doc. trine contended for in the two last chapters.
1.1. After exhorting Timothy to labour without ceasing, St. Paul assigns the following reason for such injunction, : “ Know," saith he, “ that in the Jast times" of the christian church, “men," who make a profession of faith,“ shall be lovers of their ownselves, despisers of those, that are good....lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God: having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." Now, if Timothy was exhorted to use all diligence, in opposing those evils, which were then only making their approach ; is it reasonable, that we should be remiss, who are unhappy enough to see those last times, in which the decay of piery, predicted by the Apostle, is become universal ? On the contrary, is not this the moment, in which we should strenuously resist the overflowings of ungodliness, and fortify those who are not yet swept away by the impetuous torrent ?
2. When the great Apostle benevolently carried the word of God to sinners of every different nation, he thereby armed against himself the authority of magistrates and priests, as well Jewish as pagan. His universal philanthopy, exposed him to the most cruel persecutions. Thousands, and ten thou. sands were set in array against himn; and the inhabitants of every kingdomn seemed determined to resist or destroy him, in his spiritual progress. He saw these surrounding dangers ; but he saw them
without discovering any symptom of fear : and ra. ther than discontinue his painful labours, he cheerfully proceeded to encounter every theatening evil. We, on the contrary, are appointed to build up the children of the kingdom in their most holy faith. And shall we labour less, because we can labour with less danger? Shall we neglect the duties of our sacred function, because our superiors in church and state permit us to convert sinners, command us to preach the Gospel, erect us temples for tlie public celebration of divine worship, and allow as salaries, that our ministry may never be interrupted by secular cares? The ministerial services, which St. Paul performed with such unabating zeal, when his reward was imprisonment and stripes, must we be engaged to discharge by emoluments and honours ? And, after all, shall we limit our constrained obedi. ence precisely to that point, which will merely se. cure us from public deposition and disgrace?
3. What was the error of Demás ; a man, as notorious by his fall among the Evangelists, as Judas among the Apostles ? Demas loved this present world, and, ceasing to imitate the diligence of St. Paul, ungratefully left him to labour almost without a second. And will unfaithful Evangelists presume, that they may imitate, without fear, the apostacy of Demas, and renounce, with impunity, the example of St. Paul ? If such is their unhappy per. suasion, we submit the following queries to their serious. consideration. Are the souls of men less valuable ; is sin of any kind less detestable, or the law of God less severe, in the present day, than in the carlier ages of the christian church? Have pastors a right to be remiss, while the night of incredulity is blackening around them ? Are the attacks of an. tichristian philosophers less frequent and audacious at present, than in foriner times? Or, finally, is the appearance of our omnipotent Judge no longer ex pected in the world?
4. If the Apostles and primitive pastors have removed many threatening impediments out of our way ; if they have procured for us our present advantages by the most amzing exertions, and at the prodigious price of their blood - surely it can never be imagined, that they acted with so much resolution, and suffered with so much constancy, that we might become the indolent readers of their unpa. | ralleled history. Was it not rather,' that, animated
with a becoming sense of their great example, we zmight make the highest improvement of our inestimable privileges ? Esti v B12" 12.15. The mountains are now laid low, the valleys are filled up, the crooked ways are made straight, sand we have only to carry that salvation to sinners, for which such wonderful preparations have been made. And are we negligent in running on the er, rands of everlasting love ? And are we backward in bearing the happiest tidings to the most hapless of - creatures ? No excuse then can possibly be made
for the coldness, except that, which the author of Emilius has put into the mouth of a fictitious character: Of what importance is it to me, says the vi. car Savoyard, what becomes of the wicked! I am. but little concerned in their future destiny. An excuse for the want of zeal, which can never be pleaded, without reflecting the utmost disgrace upon. humanity.
6. Ye pastors of a flock ever prone to wander ? choose whom you will follow, philosophers or Apos, tles ; the indefatigable zeal of St. Paul, or the cruel indifference of the sceptical vicar. But, if you take the latter for your model, we solemnly entreat you to Jay aside the profession, while you so shamefully renounce the duties of the holy ministry. “As I
live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the · death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from.
his way and live.”. With you, however, it is a mat. ter of very inconsiderable importance, whether the: