Page images
PDF
EPUB

supercilious look, and a haughty, disdainful air, notwithstanding he may have put on the garb and occupied the place of a minister, is, in reality, a disciple of Christ ? Such, a stranger the sheep will not follow, but will flee from him ; for they know not the voice of strangers. Here they can discern no imitation of Christ, no edifying example. Here is a domineering figure, the Image of a heathen despot, for which there is not an appropriate niche in the temple of God.

St. Paul charges the Christian minister Thou, O man of God! flee these things ; and follow after godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. (1 Tim. vi. 11.) He also directs, that the servant of the Lord must be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves. (2 Tim. ii. 24, 25.) Our Lord inculcates upon the stewards and ministers of his church the duty of humility, in opposition to the haughty pride of the Scribes and Pharisees, who love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.—Be not ye called Rabbi ; for one is

your master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren. He that is greatest among you shall be your servant. Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased ; and he only that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Matt. xxiii.)

St. James earnestly exhorts that, in things which pertain to the ministration of religion, no distinction should be made between the rich and the poor :-My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the

poor, Stand thou there, or sit here, under my footstool; are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But

ye have despised the poor. (James, ii. 1-6.)

The members of the church, both ministers and people, are commanded by another apostie-Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honour preferring one another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. (Rom. xii. 10. 16.)

And again :- In lowliness of mind, let each. esteem other better than themselves. · Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputationdescended from his heavenly rank and dignity-and took upon him the form of a servant. (Phil. ii. 3—7.)

And lastly, St. Peter, in the verses subsequent to our text, thus continues his exhortation :-Yea, all of you, be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

From all which it evidently appears, that - in these virtues of meekness and humility, as in all other Christian graces, the minister

of Christ is indispensably required to shew an edifying example to the flock. And how can he discharge this obligation, who carries himself as a lord over God's heritage ; who feels himself exempt, by his rank, by his academical honours, by his superior wealth, or by the prerogative of his station, from the great duty of condescending to men of low estate? His pride restrains him from copying the pattern and obeying the precepts of his Saviour. He can neither follow the steps nor the instructions of his Lord's apostles. His character, therefore, is by no means calculated to promote the improvement, or to preserve the integrity, of the church. Though it he still the duty of the flock to observe, and do what he bids them observe, they can hardly recognise in his person the servant of their blessed Master, since, under his ministry, they are almost precluded the means of spiritual advancement. And the evil consequent upon this, is much to be deplored. If the uninformed, the wavering Christian, apply to his pastor for counsel and instruction, he is repelled by a look of disdain, or silenced by a short and haughty reply. In this

distress, it becomes his obvious resource to withdraw to some separate meeting-house, for the purpose of worshipping the unknown God. Here he is admitted by the teacher, as a being of the same species, and cherished as a brother.

His pastor is too much engaged in schemes of self-importance, to seek, or even to have missed, the poor strayed sheep. But God will require his flock, at the hand of such shepherds as these. Let us, then, my brethren, with heartfelt conviction of the high and awful responsibility of our station, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Heb. xii. 1, 2.)

Let it be our stedfast aim, with diligence, fidelity, and singleness of heart, to feed the flock of God which is among us, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind ; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock: that thus, when the chief Shepherd shall

« PreviousContinue »