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pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." Here he addresses the disciples in a manner as if Christ himself were present and speaking through him; styling himselfexpressly an ambassador for Christ. Now an ambassador is always considered as representing his sovereign; and whatever he does in this character is considered as the act of the sovereign. The same idea is implied in their call to office, being "called of God;" and is embraced in the very nature and duties of the office; for as pastors, they are to feed and govern the flock; as teachers, to instruct them; as priests, to offer the sacrifices of the people; as apostles or messengers, to make known the terms of salvation; as having the ministry of reconciliation committed unto them, to administer, in Christ's behalf, the terms of the covenant of reconciliation; as stewards of the manifold mysteries of God, to give to each one his portion in due season, and as wise master builders, "to show themselves approved unto God, as workmen that need not be ashamed; rightly dividing the word of truth.'
These various offices show the elevated and responsible nature of the station assigned in the church, to those who serve at the altar. But the authority attached to the office, is altogether spiritual, confined exclusively to the administration of concerns, purely ecclesiastical. They claim no control whatever over the freedom or property of a single individual; nor nor do they look for any thing, on the part of private Christians, beyond a voluntary compliance with such provisions as are indispensably necessary to the orderly conducting of the affairs of the body, to which they belong, and to the secure enjoyment of the rights and privileges of each individu. al member. Least of all, do they claim any control over atheists, deists, infidels, hereticks, or schismaticks. The intercourse with their respective flocks is purely Christian; the intercourse of
congenial spirits, linked together in one body; every member of which is actuated by the same motive and directed by the same head, without the least diversity of feeling or clashing of interests or designs: where all are embarked in the same glorious undertaking; all are animated by one heart and one soul in building up the walls of the city of God; all are disposed to discharge the duties of the station assigned them; all are equally inclined to the exercise of humility and submission, or, in the words of the apostle, to "submit themselves one to another in the fear of God ;" and all cheerfully make every sacrifice and observe every rule, which may be requisite to the peace, prosperity, and happiness, of the body to which they belong.
In the exercise of the authority, vested in those who minister in sacred things, they are charged not to conduct as "lords over God's heritage; but to be ensamples to the flock," in all meekness, condescension, and love, and in the exercise of every virtue and grace. Nor are they to take the oversight by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind." Every exercise, therefore, of constraint or violence, and every instance of mercenary conduct is so far a deviation from the sacred canon, and a departure from the spirit and design of the Christian ministry. Nor are ministers, in their instructions, to be regarded as infallible. They are to take the revealed will of God for their guide, and are to be respected no farther, than they conform to this only infallible standard.
The perpetuity of the pastoral office follows as a necessary consequence of this statement of its origin, nature, and design. Having been appointed by God, by him alone can it be abolished. So long as the church," the pillar and ground of truth," exists on earth, so long must it retain its constitution and its ministry. Its spiritual necessities are always the same, and will always re.
quire the same spiritual functionaries. tend.
Nothing can be more detrimental to the interests, nor can any thing more speedily accomplish the downfal, of any portion of the kingdom of Christ, than jealousy among the people respecting the exercise of the sacred functions of the sacerdotal office. When extensively diffused, it can never fail, like all rebellions against regular authority, of destroying the body in which it prevails. Opposition to the peculiar rights of the clerical profession is, in fact, opposition to religion itself; and all endeavours to undermine the influence of that profession in its own peculiar province, fall but little short of treason against the kingdom of Christ; which, if successful, must terminate in the subversion of every religious and moral institution. The form of religion may indeed, be preserved awhile by the spirit of sectarisın: but the true spirit will be wanting; and when the only fostering spirit which supports them-the rancorous spirit of strife and emulation, which keeps up one form of religion inerely to put down another, expires, and is buried amid the ruins which it has created; all interest in religion will subside, and every institution for the support of religion and morals will be ábandoned and abolished.
IV. The early messengers of Christ were sent as "lambs among wolves." Under these images the difficulties are described with which they had to con
While on the one part were exhibited the mildness and simplicity of lambs, they were met, on the other, by the ferocity of wolves. Indeed, in every place, they were persecuted by men in authority; and many of them suffered martyrdom in its most excruciating forms. But these traits of character are not wholly confined to the age in which the apostles lived. The respective parties have occasionally changed sides, and the clergy (I mention it with grief at the depravity of human nature) have at times laid aside the meekness of the lamb, to assume the fierceness of the tiger. But it has been the predominant disposition of mankind to be highly incensed at those, who preach the doctrines and inculcate the duties of the gospel in their native purity and simplicity. To please men, we must exalt them; but the scriptures inculcate humility as much more becoming. To please men, we must extol their capacities, give them lofty notions of their intellectual powers, and persuade them of their ability to comprehend every part of revelation; but the scriptures inform us, that "great is the mystery of godliness ;" and that angels desire to look into it, and veil their faces in sublime adoration. To please men, we must discourse on their own infallibility, on their entire competency in themselves to form correct decisions, especially on religious topicks, on their qualifications to be their own teachers, and the fitness of every man to be his own priest, in offering up his religious oblations but the scriptures address them and say, except ye be converted and become as little children," i. e. humble and teachable," ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." To please men, we must lay but little stress on religious ordinances, we must represent publick and private worship and the sacraments, as ceremonies, the observance of which is submitted to every man's convenience and discretion but the scriptures
plainly enjoin them, and moreover doubtless room for other remarks; but it is time to draw to a close; and with this view I would, by way of improvement,
assert that whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." Now if the messengers of Christ should fail of pleasing men under these circumstances, they are liable to severe reproach, nay, if they offend in one point they are deemed guilty of all, and the offence is beyond the reach of pardon. Notwithstanding the boasted light, refinement, and liberality of the age, the faithful ministers of Christ have many obstacles to overcome,many hardships to endure, much ignorance, prejudice, and virulence to encounter, and gross corruption and wickedness (in high places too, and in the very midst of this boasted light, refinement, and liberality) to struggle with. In fine, if they would always exhibit the plainness, sincerity, and simplicity, of lambs, they will still find no lack of wolves. Finally the apostles and disciples were instructed, should any city or village reject their message, to "shake off the dust from their feet as a testimony against them." This was in conformity to a custom, existing among the Jews, on their return from foreign countries, of shaking off the dust that clave to them; thus expressing their sense of the purity of their own country, and their abomination of the idolatries of the heathen. These is no reason for believing that this was instituted, as a religious rite, to be perpetuated in the church. No notice is taken of any solemnity in the days of the apostles, or at any subsequent period. It was however an expressive ceremony, calculated to display in a lively manner the folly of those who should reject the gospel, and their exposure to the rebuke of good men and to the indignation of an angry God.
Thus, in pursuance of the plan proposed for this discourse, have I remarked on the chief instructions and the principal circumstances, attending the first mission of the apostles and disciples of our Lord. There is
1. Infer the truth of a religion, propagated in a manner so artless, and as far as human contrivance is concerned, so inadequate. Inadequate, because the means and instruments emplayed were, in themselves, so utterly incompetent to the production of such wonderful effects. The success attendant on the labours of the apostles plainly indicates divine agency. ganism may be traced back to remote antiquity, having sprung up in ages of gross darkness, and having been always protected by power and popular prejudice. Mahometanism originated in evident imposture and was propagated by the sword: but Christianity sprung up in one of the most enlightened periods of the world, under the apparent efforts of men, incapable of imposture, who sacrificed their lives in attestation of their sincerity; and made its way, in opposition to the wealth, the learning, the power, the wit, and the talents of the world, leagued in hostile array against it. This circumstance, alone, is sufficient to demonstrate the truth of its pretensions. No plausible account has ever yet been given of its origin which does not also admit it to be divine.
2. The passage under consideration affords much scope for reflection on the respect due to the pastoral office. When the gospel is carried by missionaries to the heathen, there can be no doubt as to their being the messengers of God, and carrying the word of God; or, which is the same thing, a message from God to their fellow-creatures. And where lies the difference between that and preaching the same word and delivering the same message to the heathen at home, or preaching from the word of God to their fellowChristians? when they preach the gospel, what is this but declaring the word of God; God speaking through
them; the word of truth not being theirs, but God's? It is true, they have this treasure in earthen vessels; and mankind are unhappily too apt to estimate the treasure by the vessel which contains it, instead of respecting the vessel on account of its treasure. If they paid less regard to the gifts, the talents, or peculiarities of the man, and more to the message which is brought to them, they would profit better, and the noble design of the ministry would be more effectually answered. But the great passport to publick attention at present is talents, not authority. The question is not, Is he a messenger from the skies? but, Is he a candidate for the temple of fame? It is not, Has he intelligence from heaven? but, Has he a wreath from the bowers of science? It is not, Has he a commission to enlist soldiers for the army of Christ? but, Is he a champion, qualified to lead on troops to victory, and establish his own empire on the ruins of his adversaries? Our views, alas, are be come altogether secular or carnal; our veneration is paid to men, and not to the office they sustain; earthly considerations take precedence of heavenly; the design of the ministry is perverted, and the spirit of religion nearly destroyed.
Finally, the passage leads us to reflect on the mutual responsibility of ministers and people in the discharge of their relative duties. The latter should receive the message from God with lively gratitude for the gift, and with benevolence and good will toward those who are employed on the errand of grace and mercy. Why should rational beings forfeit their claim to this character by harassing, like wolves, those who are sent to them to promote their best interests in time and eternity? What fault can be found with their message, which consists in the good news of salvation to lost and perishing sinners? What, with the terms of salvation, the moral requirements, the sobriety, the temperance,
chastity, truth, and justice, which religion enjoins? Can there be the least shadow of propriety in considering the ministers of God, as the enemies of mankind? But I repress the notes of remonstrance, as fitter for other ears than those I now address. "I hope better things of you," my hearers, "although I thus speak." Yes, my brethren, while there are some, who reject the messengers of Christ, blessed be God, there are others of a very different stamp, who are the salt of the earth, who are the main pillars and ornaments of society, and "of whom the world is not worthy;" who give the gospel message a welcome reception. May such enjoy its bright rewards in time and eternity.
Let us, my brethren of the clergy, consider the all important trust, committed to our charge. Let us realize the great responsibility of our station and the solemn account to be rendered at the bar of God. Let us not shun to declare the whole counsel of God, nor fear to preach the whole truth, whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear. In our intercourse with the flocks committed to our care, let us endeavour to copy the example of the great Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, devoting all our time and talents to their good, being instant in season and out of season, and being ready even to lay down our lives for their sakes. Let us not seek ourselves, but them ; and "may they be our hope, our joy, and crown of rejoicing, in the day of the Lord's appearing. In the publick councils of the church, let us lay aside selfish views and local partialities, and be actuated by a single eye to the glory of God and the prosperity of our spiritual Zion.
For the Gospel Advocate.
[WE present to our readers the following interesting tract published by the church of England tract society, with a few slight alterations and omissions, which were necessary to adapt
it to the service of the Episcopal church in this country.]
THE FORMS OF THE CHURCH OPPOSED TO FORMALITY.
THERE is no temper of mind that is more frequently and clearly condemned, both by the holy scripture, and by that which is its echo, the liturgy of our church, than a formal self-righ teous spirit. It appears from the scripture that it is hateful to God; and that, wherever it prevails, it must be destructive to the soul, as it effectually excludes the sinner, in whose heart it reigns, from all the benefits of redemption by the blood of Christ. Faith in him and a self-righteous spirit are direct opposites, and cannot dwell together in the same bosom. This plainly appears from the parable of the pharisee and publican, the former of whom trusted in himself that he was righteous, and despised others; while the latter, self-condemned, smote upon his breast, and cried, "God be merciful to me a sinner." conclusion of the parable assures us that the conscious sinner, and he only, is justified or accepted in the sight of God, while he, who, in any age or station, or of whatever moral character, "trusteth in himself that he is righteous," can have no interest in the merit of Christ, and therefore must remain under the guilt of his sins.
The forms of the church to which we belong, show us what is the temper required in those who would join acceptably in her service. It is the temper of the publican abovemention ed. It is a spirit of contrition and self-condemnation for sin,-it is a spirit of exclusive reliance for hope and salvation on the blood and merit of our Lord Jesus Christ. It renounces every thing that is our own in our applications to the throne of grace; it throws itself at the foot of the cross of Christ, pleading mercy as flowing to condemned criminals through him who is the only propitiation for sin.
But it is not intended in this appeal to the consciences of those into whose hands these pages may fall, to rest the truth of its title on this general statement of the spirit which is required in the worship of our church, and without which whosoever joins in her devotions acts the part of a hypocrite before God. But the appeal will be made to specifick parts of her service, with the hope that all who read it may, by the blessing of God, be brought, if they possess it not already, to that frame of soul which she requires.
It might be sufficient to refer to those frequent petitions for mercy which are wholly inconsistent with any notions of merit in ourselves, and which, indeed, suppose him who offers them to be conscious of sin and selfcondemned. An appeal to mercy and a claim of merit are as opposite to each other as are the east and west; and therefore while we cry "Lord, have mercy upon us;" "Christ have mercy upon us;" we declare the conviction of our minds, that we deserve that punishment for our sins, which the law of God has threatened, when it enacts, that "the soul that sinneth shall die;" and we renounce all hope but what is derived from the gracious promises of our offended God in Christ Jesus our Saviour.
We might also appeal to the conclusions of all our forms of prayer and praise, which are offered in the name and through the mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord. These conclusions are full proof, if we mean what we