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account of our improvement, we shall be found in that happy number, to whom he will say " Well "done, good and faithful servants, enter ye into the "joy of your Lord.”


An Ordination Sermon.

MALACHI ii. 7.

For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.

IN compliance with established usage, on the solemn

occasion of the ordination of a minister for the Church of Christ, I shall this morning discourse on some of the duties which are intimately connected with the priestly office. But, although the priests of the Lord are more immediately concerned in the observations which I am about to make, they are applicable in a more remote degree to Christians of every description. The priest's lips should, indeed, keep knowledge, because he is appointed to be the teacher of God's people but the people also ought to be able to give a reason of the faith that is in them; to be prepared to defend the ark of God; and, more especially, at a season when scoffing infidels, with unusual confidence, attempt to wound not only the discipline of the Church,

but the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. Let me, then, entreat your attention to the observations which I shall now lay before you.

That there is a supreme, intelligent Power, who superintends and directs the universe, is a sentiment universally prevailing among mankind; and, from the general testimony of history, we learn, that in every nation of the earth which had attained to the smallest degree of civilization, a particular order of men was set apart and devoted to the services of religion. The legislators and rulers of the earth have always been sensible, that religious fear is one of the strongest bonds of peace and good order in civil society; and that this pious reverence and fear of God can never be effectually maintained and diffused among the people, without a settled priesthood. The heathen who knew not the will of God as it is revealed in the Holy Scriptures, had their temples and their priests; and their religious services, though commonly depraved with many absurd and abominable ceremonies, were, nevertheless, performed with great pomp and solemnity.

When God selected the posterity of Abraham to be his own peculiar people, in order to correct the delusions of idolatry, and to keep alive in the earth the knowledge and the worship of the one true God, he revealed his will to the children of Israel, and instituted a priesthood to minister in his name; and it is said"The Lord separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the "ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the "Lord to minister unto him, and to bless in his "name." In some of the preceding verses of this chapter, whence the words of the text are taken, the


dignity and importance of the Levitical priesthood are represented in very expressive language-"Ye shall "know that I have sent this commandment unto you, "that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the Lord "of hosts. My covenant was with him of life and peace. The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips. He walked with "me in peace and equity, and did turn many away "from iniquity. For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his "mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of " hosts."


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When the Son of God assumed our nature, and came to introduce the new dispensation of the Gospel, and to establish his Church in the earth; he continued the same necessary order of things; he commissioned and sent forth men to preach his word, to administer his sacraments, to intercede for, and to bless his people. He directed them to ordain others, and invest them with the same ecclesiastical powers; and promised to be with them and their successors, to the end of the world. Accordingly the Christian Church has never been destitute of a regular priesthood. Christianity could not otherwise have existed and been transmitted through successive ages. For without a priest, there could have been no sacraments; and without the sacraments, there would be no Christian religion. The economy of Moses is, in every view, far inferior to the institution of the Gospel. "The law was indeed given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus "Christ." Christians have more ample promises, and more exalted expectations; and with much greater propriety it may be said, that under the dispensation VOL. II.


of the Gospel, "the priest's lips should keep know(C ledge," since he is engaged in the work of communicating instruction on subjects of the highest importance; and that the people should "seek the law at his "mouth," since he comes to them with a commission from on high; "he is the messenger of the Lord of " hosts."

From the words of the text, I am naturally led, in this discourse, to dwell upon the following important considerations:

That he who undertakes to teach others, should endeavour to be well instructed himself" The "priest's lips should keep knowledge;"

That the Christian priest, in the execution of his office, appears in the most dignified character

which it is possible for a frail mortal to sustain; for he is the messenger of the King of kings, and Lord of lords; he is employed about matters which relate to nothing less than eternal salvation; And, therefore, that the people should gratefully receive the message which he brings; cheerfully attend upon his ministrations; and affectionately seek instruction in the law of God, at his mouth. The minister of the word of God should, first, endeavour to acquire an extensive knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. These contain the revelation of the divine will; the whole scheme of redemption through a suffering Saviour; all that we are to believe and do, in order to render this short life a preparatory state to an eternal existence in perfect felicity. The Scriptures contain inexhaustible treasures of wisdom and knowledge. As we cannot, by searching, find out the nature of God to perfection; so, it is probable, that

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