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it ought to be done. The case is the same in matters of religion. The most just and pleasing delineations of the principles and duties of Christianity, will usually be found to have but a small and slow effect, in forming persons to a correspondent practice, compared with the living character of the Christian, exhibited in the temper and conduct of those who profess the religion of Christ; and especially of those who are called, and who undertake to preach it to others. Those sublime virtues and graces of Christianity, which, when properly represented in description, cannot fail to appear to be in themselves, truly excellent and desirable, are at the same time too commonly considered as impracticable, and unattainable to the generality of mankind. But when they see them actually exemplified by men like themselves, and in the same condition with themselves, they no longer despair of reaching the attainments, which they see others have made before them; and their emulation, resolution, and endeavours, are awakened to go and do likewise, to imitate the pattern set before them.
This was one reason why our blessed Lord, the author and finisher of our faith, when he came into the world to fulfil, among other offices of a Saviour, that of a Teacher of the will of God, and the duty of man, condescended to be made in the likeness of men, and to become like to his brethren in all things, that in our nature, he might present us with a visible and familiar example of what we ought to be and to do; so that to comply with the doctrines which he taught, and the laws which he prescribed, we might have only to follow his steps, and to walk as he also walked. For this purpose, also, it pleased the only wise God, our Sa
nature; even the recovering of the race of men from the ruins of their fallen condition, to the blessings of that life, which man originally enjoyed in the favour of his Maker, and the conducting of many sons and daughters, who become the children of God through faith in Christ, in the highway of holiness, to the glory of his everlasting kingdom; to that blessed life and immortality, which our Saviour has brought to light through his gospel.
But in proportion to the important nature, and the most benevolent design of the gospel ministry, are the labours and the difficulties attending the faithful execution of it. When those who are called to this service, consider the necessity that is laid upon them to preach the pure, and the whole gospel; and no other doctrines, than those of the genuine gospel of Christ; the prudence and fidelity required of them, in dividing aright the word of truth, and giving to each their portion in due season, in order to warn the wicked, awaken the secure, shake the false hope of the hypocrite, establish the weak believer, and pour the oil of joy into the disconsolate hearts of mourners in Zion;-the upright motives by which they are to be actuated, and the great ends which they are ever to keep in view, not the applause of men, or the gain of the world, but the glory of God, and the eternal interests of mankind;-and the bright example of piety, righteousness, and goodness, and of every Christian grace and virtue, by which they are to adorn and recommend the religion which they preach when they consider the unspeakable worth of the souls committed to their care, and the various opposition with which they have to contend, in their attempts to win them over to Christ and salvation, and to lead them on in the ways of God, and their duty; from the
passions and prejudices of men, from the charms, and the terrors of the world, when it smiles or frowns upon them, and from the temptations, and the arts of the Spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience, and still labours to seduce and pervert the faithful from the course of their obedience; and when they take into view the solemn, and particular account which they must give at the last day, to the great Head of the church, even the Lord Jesus Christ, their Master and their Judge of the ministry, and of the souls with which he has entrusted them :-When they seriously and attentively weigh these things, well may they, from a consciousness of their own weakness, and deficiencies, and under an affecting sense of the arduous and interesting nature of their work and charge, feel themselves constrained to say, in the language of St. Paul," Who is sufficient for these things?"In themselves, they are, indeed, utterly insufficient for them: but this is their encouragement, and it is fully equal to their utmost necessities and wishes, that their sufficiency is of God, and that their Lord has promised them his constant presence and assistance, that through Him strengthening them they can do all things which he requires of them in his service; and that when He who is the chief Shepherd, shall appear, they shall receive a crown of glory, which fadeth not away, and that shall eminently exalt and distinguish those, who have turned many to righteousness, or whose labours, to that end, have been uniformly employed with becoming zeal and fidelity. Happy indeed, happy beyond expression, is the minister of Christ, who obtains mercy of the Lord, to be faithful to his sacred and important trust, and through whose instrumentality, many are added to
that number which shall be saved; and to whom he can address himself, in the animated language of the Apostle, and say," What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?"
2. What has been said, may serve to instruct those who are hearers of the word, what sort of preaching they are to expect of their ministers, and ought chiefly to desire and value. If the pure doctrines of the gospel, in their simplicity, are to be the subjects of our sermons, it follows that you should neither expect, nor desire other any that the want of these, ; nor suppose can ever be supplied by any philosophical speculations, or flowers of human eloquence; or, as the Apostle expresses it, with any "enticing words of man's wisdom." It is not the declaring of the testimony of God, with the excellency of speech, or of the wisdom of this world; but the preaching of Jesus Christ, and him crucified, in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power, that alone can prove effectual, through the blessing of God, to save your souls. And as you would wish to experience, in this way, the saving efficacy of such doctrine, while you give us the pleasure and encouragement of your attendance on our ministrations, and of a candid hearing of the word dispensed by us, let us be favoured, at the same time, with the assistance of your prayers; that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ; and that the preaching of Christ crucified, which has been to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness, may be to you the power of God, and the wisdom of God, for your salvation. And further, let your fervent prayers be offered up to the Lord, that his word may have free course, and be glorified,
not only with you, but among all men; that the gospel may be preached to every creature of the human race, and that all who hear its joyful sound, may believe its divine doctrines, and be saved.
You have heard something of the nature of the gospel, and of the manner in which it is to be preached; and as the preaching of this gospel forms an eminent part of the sacred service, in which I have been called, and am now received, to be employed as one of your ministers. I shall take leave to conclude this discourse, with a short Address to you, suited to the occasion of my entering upon the exercise of my ministry among you.
On an occasion so important, as that of my taking upon me my part in the pastoral charge of your souls, a variety of interesting thoughts, will naturally arise in the reflecting mind; and much more might be easily and pertinently said on the subject, than I shall at present attempt. Without a few words, however, I might appear to be scarcely just to myself, and should certainly be wanting in the respect due to you.
The honor which I conceive was conferred upon me, by the call which you were pleased to address to me, I acknowledge with the sensibility of a very grateful heart. The terms in which it was dictated, I then considered, and some experience has since given me additional cause to consider, as the language of sincerity, and happily expressive of that spirit of Christian piety, friendship, and affection, which a minister of Christ must ever wish and rejoice to find in the people whom he is called to serve in the gospel. The best return that I can make for all the testimonies and expressions of your favourable sentiments, and kind regards, which