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duct is very exceptionable, continue to be admitted at ftated times, to the feals of God's covenant.
How inexcufeable are we in this neglect? If the firft Christians, without the help or fanction of an establishment, kept fo ftrict a difcipline, what might we do, who have the countenance and approbation of the civil power. In discipline then, be ftrict, regular, and impartial. Efpecially be impartial. It is commonly want of impartiality, that makes us fail in ftrictnefs. You will have many enemies to impartiality in difcipline. You will have the great and wealthy, many of whom, though they live in open defiance of the laws and ordinances of Chrift, yet will be much offended, and complain of it as a grievous injury, if by a judicial fentence you deprive them of his name. Nay, you will find in every congregation fome profeffing piety, who, though they are well pleased with, and commend the ftrict exercife of difcipline in the case of others, yet when it comes to touch themselves, or their own relations, will ufe many arts to evade it. But if you be firm and unbiaffed in fo good a caufe, it will have a fenfible effect.
This leads me to exhort you in the whole of your work, public and private, to beware of the fin of manpleafing. I do not fay, beware of popularity: because, in the fenfe to which common language hath confined that word, it is but one half of the fnare. Besides, in propriety of speech, popularity fhould fignify only being accepted and beloved, which in itself is neither duty nor fin, but a bleffing. Man-pleafing fignifies, in Scrip ture, having this as the end and motive of our actions, rather than being acceptable to God. You ought, indeed, for edification, to avoid difpleafing any without neceffity. But as in this, fo in every other thing, you should have a far higher principle, than merely courting the favor either of great or fmall, good or bad. It is, doubtlefs, a mean and despicable principle, to act only with a view of gaining the applaufe of the vulgar and ignorant. But I have often wondered, how fome fhould fo boldly and uncharitably lay this to the charge of their brethren, without confidering how eafy it is, with at least,
equal justice, to presume that they are under the influence, and acting with a view to please the great. I am fure, there is a much stronger temptation to this than the former. And, if am not mistaken, fawning and fervility hath been the road, in which ambitious and corrupt churchmen have travelled to preferment in every age. The truth is, they are equally deteftable in the fight of God. But the laft is much more deftructive to the interest of religion than the first. The favor of the multitude can scarcely be obtained, without either the truth or the appearance of piety; but the favor of the great is often obtained by filence, and fuffering them in their crimes, being affiftant in their pleasures, or fubfervient to their political defigns.
To deliver you, Sir, from both, remember the condition on which you hold your office. "Son of man, "I have made thee a watchman to the house of Ifrael : "therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them "warning from me. When I fay unto the wicked, Thou "fhalt furely die; and thou giveft him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way to fave "his life: the fame wicked man shall die in his iniquity, "but his blood wili I require, at thine hand."* Forget then the foolish accufations of popularity or vanity; and confider, that your people are daily carried to their graves, and you must give an account of every foul that perishes through your neglect.
To conclude, be much in earnest prayer to God, that he would fit you for your work, and crown your labours with fuccefs. Prayer is abfolutely neceffary the to ftedfaft. nefs and growth of every believer, and efpecially to a minifter. If you believe the gospel, you will believe that "every good gift cometh from above;" that God only can make you an able and ufeful paftor; and this will make you importunate with him for a plentiful measure of the Holy Spirit to fit you for his fervice. And I defire to join in praying, that God, for Chrift's fake, would make you an "able minifter of the New Teftament,"-and help you to preach the gofpel, not with the wifdom of "words," but with "the Holy Ghost fent down from "heaven."
• Ezek. iii. 17, 18.
OU have heard the charge given to your minifter. Are there then, fo many duties incumbent on him by his ftanding in the relation of a pastor to you? is not the relation mutual? And are there not feveral corref pondent duties incumbent on you as his people? I beg your patience, while I put you in mind of a few of the moft important and neceffary.
In the first place, It is evidently your duty diligently to attend upon his miniftry. It is plainly impoffible that you can profit by him, if you do not hear him. I am forry that there are many in thefe days, who pour contempt upon the ordinances of Chrift's inftitution. But in par ticular, there hath been, of late, a great and remarkable defertion of public worship by those of higher rank. There is a happy opportunity in this cafe to put all fuch among you in mind, that having fubfcribed a call to their minifter, they stand bound by confent to attend upon him. Is it not furprising to think, that any should forget the terms in which that invitation runs. You intreat him "to take "the charge of your fouls, and promife him all due obe"dience and fubmiffion in the Lord." Can a man honeftly fubfcribe this, who feldom comes within the walls of any church? One would be counted infamous in the world, who fhould act in the face of a figned obligation, in any other matter, or who even should falfify a folemn promife. And, is it lefs criminal, because it relates to
eligion and the fervice of God? It is indeed feldom refented or punished by men, because the offence is not immediately against them, but it remains to be punished by that righteous God, "To whom vengeance belongs,"and who will not be mocked."
In the next place, my brethren, let me intreat you to be tender of the character of your minifter, and of minifters in general. As their office makes the guilt of their fins great, and as a ftain on their character is most hurtful to religion, on both accounts, you ought not rafhly to receive an accufation against them. I do not mean to ask indulgence to the unworthy, I give them up freely to that reproach and contempt which they juftly deferve. But let it fall upon the perfon, and not upon the office. Do not transfer the faults of particulars to the whole order. It is easy to observe the different reception which the faults or miscarriages of minifters meet with, from perfons differently difpofed. The good are affected with grief and concern for the offence, or filled with zeal and indignation against the finner. But loofe and careless perfons difparage the profeffion, and blefs themselves in their own uniformity and confiftency of character. You may spare your reflections, "That minifters are but men, minilters "are but like other men," and the like, when, I affure you, we deny it not. We have all the fame great intereft at stake. We often speak the more earnestly to you, left, while we preach the gospel to others, we ourfelves fhould be caft-aways; and many times defcribe the workings of a deceitful, wandering, flothful, worldly mind, by taking the copy from our own.
It falls very properly in my way on this occafion, to take notice of a reproach thrown upon minifters, by the mistake or perverfion of two of the queftions usually put at an ordination, and which you have just heard put to your minifter. They are fuppofed by many to be fuch as no man can anfwer with truth, and fo quite improper to be put at all. The first of them is in the following terms, "Are not zeal for the honor of God, love "to Jefus Chrift, and defire of faving your fouls, your
"great motives, and chief inducements, to enter into the. "function of the holy miniftry, and not worldly defigns "and interefts." This is malicioufly interpreted to fuppofe, that a minifter in accepting of a fixed charge, hath no view or intention, primary or fecondary, of being provid ed of a maintenance. This would be both unnatural and unreasonable. They that ferve at the altar, muft live by "the altar." The plain meaning is, That the great mo-, tives of a minifter, in confecrating himfelf to this employment, and accepting the particular station affigned him, ought to be the honor of God, and intereft of religion, as expreffed above. And furely, that this fhould be cafe, hathnothing in it incredible in our country, the provifion for the miniftry not being fo large, but a man of tolerable abilities hath a much greater hazard of fifing to wealth and dignity in many other employments. But alas! how ignorant are they who cavil at this question? Do they not know that every Christian is bound habitually and fupremely to regard the glory of God in all his actions. This is not peculiar to minifters, except fo far as they ought to be exemplary in every thing. Wo to every man in this affembly, be his employment what it will, if he does not habitually point his whole actions to the glory of God. "Ye are "not your own; ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God with your bodies, and your spirits, which are "God's."*
The other queftion is this, "Have you used any undue "methods by yourself or others, in procuring this call?" It is impoffible to find fault with this question, but by leav ing out the word, undue. And indeed, it is fo far from being wrong, that there would be no harm if it were more particularly explained. It was probably intended to dif courage all briguing and folicitation, other than a man's real character does for it!elf, or the free unbiaffed judgment of others, inclines them to do in his behalf. I apprehend it does not reach a reproof to all thofe, who either promote or hinder fettlements from political connections, or in expectation of temporal favors: and to thofe who, by promises or threatenings, endeavor to influence their inferiors
I Cor. vi. 19, 20.