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in the discharge of their duty, is an offence against nature and society, reason and christianity.
2. Mutual subjection may be considered, as it respects equals.
All men have the same immutable right to an equitable treatment from all with whom they have intercourse. The poor man has as good a claim to justice from the rich, as the rich man has from the
poor the private citizen from the magistrate, as the magis. trate from the private citizen. This mutual submis. sion implies, that every man should do justice to every man with whom he is concerned ; should treat his person with humanity, his character with tenderness, his conduct with candor, and his substance with equity.
All men, as far as their condition requires, are alike entitled to compassion and assistance from those around them. We are to relieve the unhappy, supply the needy, support the weak, vindicate the injured, as far as our ability will extend, and our other obligations will justify.
“ Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Equals must preserve an affable and obliging deportment; rather decline, than assume a preeminencerather yield than affect a superiority. “Love as brethren ; be pitiful ; be courteous-in honor prefer one another."
This Spirit is peculiarly beautiful and pleasant, when it runs through societies, and unites all the parts into one compact whole. Then each member seeks the profit of many in preference to his own ; cheerfully yields to his brethren the preeminence, rejoices in their distinguished merits ; and studies to rise, not on their ruin, but on his own virtue and usefulness.
Mutual subjection ought especially to be seen in families. The subordinate members should dwell together in unity, and by love serve one another. The heads should consider themselves as one in interest, and should act as having one Spirit ; not enter into
contests for superiority, undermine each other's influence and destroy domestic government; but, by mutual condescension and prudent concurrence, strengthen each other's hands and promote the common happiness. All points should be carried by cool advice and gentle persuasion ; not by pertinacious contradiction and unyielding opposition. Thus “ two are better than one, for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow."
3. There is a submission due to those, who, on some accounts, may be deemed our inferiors. * The same person may, in different relations, be to the same person both a superior and an inferior. Solomon, as king of Israel, was superior to his mother ; As a son he was her inferior. In the natural relation he owed reverence to her : In the civil relation she ow. ed obedience to him. When she interceded with the king for Adonijah, she made her motion, not with the authority of a parent but with the duty of a subject And when she came into his presence, he received, her, not as an ordinary subject, but as a parent. He rose up to meet her, bowed himself to her, and seated her on his right hand.
Farther : Superiors as such owe a respect to those who are below them. They should be easy of access; gentle in their language and condescending in their de. portment. Rulers are to be ministers of God for good to the people for whom they act—the rich are to dis. tribute to the needy-the strong are to bear the infirmities of the weak every one is to please his neighbors for their good to edification.
4. This niutual submission ought to appear in Christian churches. It is to the members of the Ephe. sian church, that this advice is addressed ; and all in that particular character are bound to apply it.
Christ has instituted a government in his kingdom; but it is a soft and persuasive, not a violent and com pulsive government.
« God is not the author of con, fusion, but of peace in all churches of the saints,
There is need of mutual submission between min. isters and the people of their charge.
‘Ministers are in some respects to be subject to their people. They are not lords over God's heritage, They have no dominion over any man's faith and conścience. They are to be servants of all men, examples to believers and helpers of their joy. Within the sphere of their office they have an authority ; but it is an authority given for edification only; not for destruction. They are to labor not for their own private emolument, but for the salvation of others; and to be made all things to all men, that by all means they may save some. They must not, indeed, seek to please men by servile compliances and temporizing arts. If they thus please men, they are not the servants of Christ. They may no farther accommodate themselves to men, than is consistent with their being under the law to God.
They are to feed the flock of God that flock especially over which the Holy Ghost has made them overseers. And while they find support and encou. ragement in this service, they are not to relinquish it for worldly honors and emoluments, nor to neglect it for the indulgence of ease, or the acquisition of lucre. They are to abide in their calling; to be quiet and do their own business ; not to forsake their charge, and ramble abroad under pretence of serving other churches, and doing more extensive good.
On the other hand, there are duties which people owe to their ministers. These duties you will find clearly stated by St. Paul. • Kuow them who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you. Esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake.”—“ Obey them who have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls.”_"Let him that is taught in the word, communicate to him that teacheth, in all good things.” "The Lord hath ordained that they who preach the
gospel, should live of the gospel.”—“ Brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course.
As ministers are not lords over Christ's heritage, so you are not blindly to follow their opinions, not implicitly to obey their mandates.
" Call no man your master, on earth, for one is your master, even Christ.” There is, however, a submission which you owe them. You are to esteem them in their office, and regard them as servants of Christ, and your servants for his sake. You may never hastily receive, nor rashly propagate an accusation against them, which might injure their char. acter, or obstruct their usefulness; but you must sup. port their just reputation both as ministers and as men.
As they are called to labor among you in word and doctrine, you must attend on their ministrations with diligence, and receive the word from them with meek. ness and be cautious that you impede not its influence on your own hearts by a cavilling humor, and hinder not its effect on others by captious objections.
As they are to warn the unruly, and rebuke open transgressors, so you must apply their admonitions as far as they are pertinent to your own case, and aid the just operations of them on all concerned.
As they are to instruct and convince gainsayers, so, when you
hear from them a doctrine diverse from your former sentiments, you are to examine it without pre. judice; and, if the evidence of truth is on their side, submit with joy to the correction of your
mistakes. If, on the contrary, you conclude them to be in an er. ror, traduce them not as heretics; talk not against them by the walls and in the doors of your houses ; but state to them the grounds of your dissatisfaction, and by friendly conference, labor to rectify their mistake, or to see your own.
As they are ambassadors for Christ, sent to open the terms of peace, submit to these terms, and become re: conciled to God,
Pray for them, that utterance may be given them to speak the word boldly, as they ought to speak. Treat them with such kindness, that they may be among you without fear, while they work the work of God. And as they communicate to you spiritual things, impart to them temporal things in such manner, that they may pursue this work without interruption. If religious knowledge is conveyed by the word which they preach; if spiritual strength is increased by the ordinances which they administer ; if God has constituted them as guides to lead you in the way to heaven, as pastors to feed you, as watchmen to warn you, and as stewards to dispense his gifts among you ; there is then every reason why you should honor them in their office, submit to them in the execution of it, and pray for them, that the word of God may be glorified.
There ought to be a mutual submission among the members of the church. For there is an authority given to all collectively over each particular member. The church is to inspect, exhort, admonish and censure her members, as their cases may require ; and each member is to consider himself as under her dis. cipline both by his own covenant and by Christ's command ; and to this discipline he is bound peaceably to submit, as far as it is administered agreeably to the gospel
Christians are to consider one another, that they may provoke unto love and good works to study the things which make for the common edification and comfort, and to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. They should not withdraw themselves from the church for every cause, either for supposed errors in it, for personal dislike to the pastor, or for disgust at a discipline, which affects them or their particular friends ; but should rather labor by gospel means to remove the cause of their offence, and to preserve the general peace.