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the church to exclude from its privileges the scandalous, most assuredly the people ought to put no hindrances in his way; but rather uphold and support him; and those who themselves become the subjects of such discipline, ought, instead of opposing the ordinance of Christ, meekly to submit to it, endeavour to profit by it, and be led to that repentance which it is designed to work in them.On this point the Apostle has instructed people in their duty. "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account." Heb. xiii. 17.
5. It is another duty of a people to give a sufficient worldly maintenance to their minister. This has been denied. But it is astonishing how any person, who professes to believe the Scriptures, can for a moment doubt on this subject. For no duty is more plainly taught in the word of God. If some were to speak on this point in certain places they would be charged with selfish motives"; but I can speak with confidence as I address a people who know, and who have ever manifested a willingness to do their duty in this respect. Under the Old Testament dispensation, God took special care that the priests and Levites, who were appointed to minister in holy things, should be provided for by the people. And in the New Testament the duty of supporting ministers of the gospel is repeatedly taught. Christ told his disciples, whom he sent forth to preach," the labourer is worthy of his hire." Luk. x. 7. And in the epistles of Paul we read, “Let him that is taught in the word, communicate unto him that teacheth, in all good things." Gal. vi. 6. "If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things, live of the things of the temple? And they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." 1 Cor. ix. 11, 13, 14. From these texts the duty is as plain as any duty which is taught in the Bible. Ministers ought to be relieved from worldly cares and embarrasments; for they have enough to do in the discharge of the duties of their office, without being encumbered with these; and it is their duty according to the injunction of the word of God,
to give themselves wholly to those things which pertain to
the ministerial work.
6. Once more, it is the duty of people to pray for their minister. This also is a duty frequently taught in the Scriptures. Paul in the most solemn manner besought the Romans that they would pray for him. "Now, I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me." Rom. xv. 30. He exhorted the Ephesians "praying always, with all prayer, and supplication in the Spirit &c. And for me that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel." Eph. vi. 18, 19. To the Colossians he wrote, "praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ." Col. iv. 3. The same request he made of the Thessalonians and the Hebrews. "Brethren pray for us." Thus earnestly did Paul seek the prayers of christians. And if he who was an apostle and divinely inspired felt their prayers to be of so much importance, most assuredly ministers in the present day have need of the prayers of their people, and it is their duty to pray for their minister; and this is their interest as well as their duty; for their prayers will tend to procure divine assistance for their minister, and thus he will be enabled better, and more usefully to his people, to perform his duty.
And now in view of this subject let minister and people examine themselves, whether they have performed the duties of the relation which they sustain to each other. Wherein we have come short and transgressed, let us be humbled. And let us set ourselves more faithfully to perform our duty.
The relation which we bear to each other is a very important one, and the manner in which we perform its duties, will have a solemn bearing on our final account.Let us ever keep this account in view, and let it influence our conduct in this, and all the other relations of life.-AMEN.
THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT.
EXODUS XX. 13.
"Thou shalt not kill."
All the commandments of God show, that while he aims at his own glory, he also seeks the best happiness of his creatures. Hence sin, which is a transgression of the divine commandments, while it is rebellion against the authority of God, is at the same time opposed to the best interests of men; and the man who is in any way instrumental in promoting a spirit of disobedience to the commandments of God, is an enemy to human happiness. An attentive consideration of all the commandments will prove the truth of these remarks. And they are especially forcibly proved by the commandment which at present claims our consideration. Thou shalt not kill." For this commandment regards the dearest temporal interest of man, viz. his life.
We shall in the ensuing discourse
I. Take a brief view of what is required by this commandment.
II. Consider some of the sins forbidden.
I. What is required in the sixth commandment.
The answer to this question we have contained in our catechism, question 64.
"The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others."
With respect to our own lives it requires, that we avoid presumptuously rushing into danger, or putting our lives in peril, unless duty calls us to it; that when our lives are threatened by others, we use all lawful means to avoid the threatened danger, and if necessary and lawful defend ourselves against their murderous designs; that we avoid all those practices which tend to injure our
health, and eventually to shorten our lives; and also that we use those things which are necessary for the support of nature, and the preservation of health, and also for the restoration of health when it is impaired; such as meat, drink, sleep, labour, recreation, and medicine.
With respect to the lives of others we are in duty bound, by this commandment, according to our places and opportunities to dissuade others from those courses, which tend to impair their health, and eventually to shorten their lives; to endeavour to prevent them from laying violent hands upon themselves, and taking away their own lives, by an act of suicide; to discover to them secret plots which may be laid against their lives, by others, when known to us; to defend them when it is in our power, against the assaults of others; and to administer to their necessities, when they may be suffering, and in danger of perishing through want, even though they be our
But while it is our duty to preserve our own lives, and the lives of others, we may remark that we ought to use none, but lawful endeavours. With respect to others, it would be wrong to conceal one who had forfeited his life, by transgressing the righteous laws of the land, and prevent the course of justice. It would be wrong to prevent justice from taking place, to the condemnation of such an one, or to rescue him by stratagem or by force. And with respect to our own lives, it would be wrong to violate our consciences to save them; as in times of persecution, when the christian is called, either to deny Christ or suffer death; in such a case he is to lay down his life rather than deny Christ. This is abundantly taught in the Scriptures; and is confirmed by the example of a cloud of witnesses, whose conduct is approved in the word of God, who were tortured, not accepting deliverance;" Heb. xi. 35; and who cheerfully resigned their lives rather than wound their consciences.-We proceed,
II. To consider the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment.
According to our catechism, question 65,
"The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbour unjustly, and whatsoever tendeth thereunto."
This answer consists of three parts, viz.:
1. Suicide, or taking away of our own lives.
2. Taking away the lives of others unjustly. And
3. Whatsoever tends to the destruction of our own lives, or the lives of others.
In the remainder of this discourse, your attention is invited to a consideration of the two former. And,
1. The taking away of our own lives. This is denominated suicide or self-murder, and is directly forbidden by this commandment. "Thou shalt not kill." This when committed by persons not void of reason is a very grievous sin. It is assuming a right over our lives which belongs only to God, or to those to whom he may give it. It is contrary to the first law of nature, implanted within us by the Author of our being, viz. self-preservation. It argues a high degree of discontent and impatience under the hand of God, and a determined unwillingness to submit to his providential dispensations. It is a bold and presumptuous withdrawing from the scene of labour and of duty, which God has prescribed, before our work is done. It is listening and giving place to the devil, who tempts men to this rash deed, and obeying him rather than God. It is a presumptuous rushing uncalled to the awful bar of God. And it is in express violation of the command of God, and leaves generally no space for repentance. This deed must therefore, unless when committed by a person so deranged as not to be a moral agent, or accountable for his actions, be a most heinous sin. Thus it has been esteemed by those countries generally, on which the light of the gospel has shone; and thus the word of God considers it, which declares that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him;" 1 John iii. 15.
From these observations, some may perhaps be ready to ask, do all self-murderers perish? I answer, if they truly repent of their sin, they shall be saved as well as other penitents; and it is a possible case that the self murderer may give himself his death wound, and survive long enough to become sensible of his crime and repent of it. But most generally, all opportunity for repentance is cut off. And further as has been already hinted, if a person commits this act in a state of derangement, as a person deprived of the exercise of his reason cannot be accountable for his actions, he cannot be accountable for this