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of Christ, who teaches a heavenly doctrine, who preaches that the love of money is the root of all evil; which, while some have coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows; who declares, how hardly shall they who have riches, enter into the kingdom of heaven; who calls men to set their affections on things above, and not on things on the earth ; who denounces, that covetousness is idolatry, be free from the suspicion of this sordid passion! What success can be expect in his ministry, who comes down from his pulpit to covet the mammon of unrighteousness, and to modify his doctrine according to his worldly interests?
The minister of Christ may, and indeed, must take some care of his own house, lest he deny the faith and be worse than an infidel; they that preach the Gospel, are ordained of the Lord to live of the Gospel ; the labourer is worthy of his reward; he that feedeth a flock, eateth of the milk of the flock. But there is a wide distinction between the moderate and entirely subordinate dictates of Christian prudence, and the being greedy of filthy lucre; for well may the Apostle call the base vice of covetousness by this degrading epithet-it is FILTHY LUCREignoble, dishonourable, odious, the wages of the vilest prostitution,-a vice which not only ill
becomes a minister, but which defiles, pollutes, effaces all the purity and dignity of his office. For the true minister of Christ is of
of a ready mind. He is not only willing, in opposition to constraint from without, but he is devoted with all his heart to his calling, in opposition to covetousness from within. He brings a spontaneous, ready, ardent mind to the discharge of his duty; his whole soul is in it; the ministry is his passion; he meditates on the things which relate to it, and GIVES HIMSELF WHOLLY to them. He is like a shepherd, whose affections are bound up with his flock, and who seeks their good with a prompt and ready zeal ; who thinks nothing of his labour, if he can heal their maladies and supply their wants ; but anticipates, forecasts,
; provides for them to his power, and even beyond his power; as Jacob is said to have served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her. A minister of Christ can thus undertake labours, bear difficulties, return good for evil, support affronts, make sacrifices of ease and comfort, endure prejudice, reproach, unkindness, misrepresentation ; devise expedients for enlarging his means of usefulness, spend and be spent for the good of souls. He can appeal to his people, with St. Paul, I have coveted no man's silver, nor gold, nor apparel; and then add, as to the difficulties which may be opposed to him, What mean ye, to weep and to break my heart; for I AM READY, not only to be bound, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus ; for none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself; so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.
But there is a third branch of the temper of a Christian shepherd, which I hasten to notice: Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
For there may be a willingness in opposition to constraint, there may be a certain zeal and eagerness of mind in opposition to the mere love of money; and yet this alacrity may spring from ambition, the love of power, the desire after external influence and honour.
0, what mischief has not the haughtiness and false dignity of ecclesiastics done to the cause of Christianity! The frightful tyranny and oppression of the Church of Rome springs from this one source, the lording it over God's heritage.
The heavy labours of unwilling ministers, have confessedly done great harm, in every age, to the church; the base, though concealed, covetousness of sordid ministers has done more; but the haughty spirit of domineering,
ambitious priests, has done infinitely the greatest mischief of all. I wrote unto the church, saith the beloved disciple, but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth us not: wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words; and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
Surely if there be any thing which is opposed to the very genius of Christianity, it is pride; if there be any thing which totally disqualifies a minister for a just conception of the Gospel he is to preach, it is ambition; if there be any thing which steels the heart of his people against the doctrine he delivers, it is the lust of rule. O let the minister of the lowly Jesus, if any other man, be contrite in spirit, let him re
, member, that if he is lifted up with pride, he will fall into the condemnation of the devil ; let him call to mind his own sinfulness, his guilt and demerit, the errors to which he is prone, the obligations he owes to divine mercy, , the weak and fallen state of mankind, the folly and absurdity of a pardoned rebel lording it over those whom he ought to pity, and conciliate, and save. Especially, in the delivery of the more awful parts of his message, and in the exercise of that due authority which the Lord
hath given for edification not for destruction, let him act with peculiar tenderness and humility. He must indeed declare the whole truth of the Gospel, he must have a conscientious regard to Christian discipline in the church, he may at times be compelled even to rebuke offenders sharply, that they may be sound in the faith ; but in doing this, let him guard, above all things, against his own spirit, against self-will, against intemperance and heat, against harshness and disdain. Let him feel and act with evident pain and reluctance; and let him rejoice in confirming again his love to those who have fallen. Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles, said our Saviour, exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them; but it shall not be so among you ; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister, and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many.
And here it is to be observed, that the Apostle doth not say, Neither as being lords over the flock; but neither as being lords over GOD'S HERITAGE — the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood — the flock which he claims as supreme Lord, which he esteems as his portion and peculiar treasure,