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SERM. Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, and es VI. ternal Son of God, leaving the Bosom of

his Father, that he might preach the Gofpel to Mankind, and perform the Office of a Priest, in offering himself a Sacrifice to attone for the Sins of the whole World.

But because those, who are the chief Contemners of the Clergy, pay very

little Deference to the Holy Writ, and have unlearned Religion and good Manners together, it

may
be useful to make it

appear, that this is confirmed by the common Consent of most People and Nations, which, as Tully tells us, is the Voice of Nature itself,

And, here, it would be an endlefs Talk to turn over the voluminous Histories of Kingdoms, and to make an Abstract of what we find recorded there on this Subject ; it may suffice to give you a Taste, and to enquire what those excellent Persons have thought, who have treated on those Matters.

I SHALL begin with Tacitus, who tells us, that, amongst the old Germans, Sacerdotibus juxta ac Regibus honor habitus eft : And, Servius on the third Æneid of Virgil, Majorum hæc erat confuetudo, ut Rex esset etiam Sacerdos vel Pontifex. The greatest Potentates in the World did not

think the Priesthood below their Dignity, Serm, but joined the Scepter and the Crosier to- VI. gether. Thus Midas, King of Phrygia, was consecrated a Priest to Orpheus, as Justin tells us ; and the Lacedemonian Kings did always sacrifice in Person,

Xenophon records the fame of Cambyses; Curtius of Alexander; Halycarnasseus of Romulus, that, as to all those Things which concerned the Gods, he took Care of them himself: In Imitation of whom Julius, Augustus, and all the succeeding Emperors, both Pagan and Christian, even till Gratian's Days, retained the Title of Pontifex Maximus : Amongst the Mahometans, the Sultan

pays the most distinguishing Marks of his Reverence and Esteem to the Mufti, and there is no Divan in which his Prefence is not required.

But to come nearer Home, if we inquire what Honours our Ancestors paid to the Clergy, we lhall find, that they have often mingled with the Royal Blood, and that the Sons and Brethren of our Princes have been consecrated Bishops; nay, that several of our Kings have exchanged their Sceptres for the Pastoral Staff. It is evident that, in the Times the Saxos bore Rule, they were ranked amongst the greater Thanes ; and, in the Norman Days,

esteemed

SERM. esteemed equal to the Barons ; and were VI. admitted to all the Offices of Ho

nour and Trust : And so it continued, even till the last Century, when Atheisin and Deism, Immorality and Profaneness, like a Deluge, had overflown these Kingdoms, and swelled to so prodigious an Heighth, that it overturned the most facred Things, and discomposed the venerable Face of our Government, both in Church and State.

I SHALI. not attempt to give you a Catalogue of Clergymen, who have been advanced to the highest Honours in the Kingdom, or shew with what Justice and Fidelity they discharged those Trusts ; but only remark that, in the Catalogue of Lord Chancellors given us by Spelman of one Hundred and seventy, near one Hundred of them were Clergymen.

But left it Thould be said, that those Honours and Privileges were conferred only on those Clergymen who move in a superior Orb, those Angels of the Church; who have the Government committed to their Care, I shall instance in those Honours which they enjoy, in common, with the inferior Clergy, and what these are,

(1.) The

Luke xii. 42.

Tit. i. 7.

Ezek.

i Pet, ii,

Rev. i.

20

(1.) The Titles which are bestowed Serm. upon them in the Holy Scripture. They are VI. called the Stewards whom God has fet over his Family, the Shepherds of the Flock, the Oracles of God, the Light of the i Pet. iv. World, the Stars in the Right-band of 10: Chrift, the Angels of the Churches.

(2.) Let us consider the Person whose xxxiv. 10. Messengers they are, and whom they re-25. present. They are the Ambassadors of i Pet. iv. Jesus Christ

, the Ministers of God in a pe- Mat.v. culiar Manner, not only as Magistrates by 14. Way of Subordination, but because it is from Christ alone, the supreme Head of the Church, that they derive their Authority, and receive their Commission, as to spiritual Matters, and not from Men.

(3.) The Businesses in which they are employed are, the dispensing the Divine Mysteries, the conveying down those spia ritual Mercies; which at the same Time fill the Soul of the Devout with Joy and Gladness, and strike the debauched and profligate Wretch, with Horror and Amazement; the dispensing those Sacraments which seal to us a Title to our eternal Inheritance in the heavenly Canaan, and the Abfolution of our Sins. Hear what the judicious Hooker fays upon this Subject : ' The executing the Ministerial VOL, II

K

· OM CE

SERM.' Office tranfateth out of Darkness inVI. to Glory, raiseth Men from Earth,

' and bringeth down God himfelf from · Heaven; by blessing the visible Éle

ments, it maketh them invisible Grace ; it giveth daily the Holy Ghost, and dif

poles of that Flesh which was given for ' the World, that Blood which was • poured out to redeem Souls ; when it

curseth, the Wicked perish, and, when • it revoketh the fame, they revive.'

From all which it appears, that, in ali Ages, the Priesthood has been had in great Honour and Esteem ; and, if the Worth and Dignity of it is to be rated from its Usefulness, there is the highest Reason that its Professors should be had in double Honour, and reverenced Trap éxtaçiooś, ex

ceeding abundantly, as it ought to be ren3 Theff. dered, for their Work's Sake, because

this excels all other Professions, as much as the Soul excels the Body or Estate.

And now, methinks, I hear the profane Deist objecting against what has been said, that this is preaching up ourselves, instead of preaching the Gospel ; that, of all Men, it doth not become a Clergyman to be the Herald of his own Praise and Glory. But let these Men know, that there was a Time, when e

v. 13.

yen

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