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brance of thee is not enough ; O do thou, thereforc, fix in me such a Remembrance of thee, as is suitable to the infinite Love I am to remember; work in me all those holy and heavenly Affections, which become the Remembrance of a crucified Saviour; and do thou fo dispose my Heart to be thy Guest at thy holy Table, that I may feel all the sweet Influences of Love crucified, the strengthening and refreshing my Soul, as my Body is by the Bread and Wine. O merciful Jefu, let that immortal Food which in the holy Eucharist thou vouchsafest me, instil into my weak and languishing Soul, new Supplies of Grace, new Life, new Love, new Vigour, and new Resolution, that I may never more faint, or droop, or tire in my Duty. Amen, Lord Jesus, Amen.
C H A P. X.
Einber Days in December.
HAT Fast doth the Church observe at
this Time ? Ă. The fourth Season of the Ember Days, which are the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the thirteenth of December. The Sunday following being one of the stated Times to supply the Church with Pastors and Ministers, who are to feed and govern the Flock of Christ.
0. Since the Church is a complete Society, wherein some govern and others are governed; what
is the Duty of all Lay-Christians to their spiritual
A. To honour and esteem them highly for their
Q. Wherein consists that Honour and Esteem
A. In considering them as those that bear the great Character of Ambassadors from Christ, as 2 Cor. 5. St. Paul calls them; and as Instruments of con- 20. veying to us the greatest Blessings we are capable of receiving, because they relate to our eternal Salvation; and consequently regarding them as commissioned by him to that holy Office. So that the Authority they have received to preside over Christians as Governors of the Church, must always be owned to come from God; and this religious Regard to their divine Million must be expressed in the whole Course of our Conduct towards them,
Q. What is that Respect and Reverence we ought to sew towards them.
A. The expresling by our Words and Actions, all thac Honour and Esteem we have for their Character in our Minds; which will oblige us to treat their persons with great Civility in Conversation, to speak all the good we can of them in their Absence, and to throw a Veil over their real Infirmities; never to make them the Objects of our light Mirth, nor to proclaim'their Failings in order to reproach their Persons, becaule it may tend to disparage and debase their Office. Nor to use any
féurrilous Words or contemptuous Behaviour towards them, because the Disrespect cast upon them is an Affront to their Master, whose Person they represent; for though they may be inferior to others in some human Accomplishments, yet God hath promised particularly to assist them in the faithful Discharge of their holy Calling.
Q. But befides their Character, bave not the Clergy many personal Qualifications to challenge from us Respect and Efteem?
A. As long as Piety and Virtue, Learning and Knowledge have any Credit and Reputation in the World, and that Men are concerned that others should be formed to the same valuable Principles, that their Minds should be cultivated and their Manners regulated; fo long the Clergy will have a good Title to the Honour and Efteen of all wise and good Men. The very Method of their Education gives them great Advantages for their Improvement in all Sorts of necessary and polite Learning, and raises them above the Level of those with whom they are equal in all other Circumstances; and the Subject of their constant Studies being Matters of Piety and Religion, it is reasonable to suppose, they live under more lively and stronger Imprefsions of another World, than the rest of Mankind; and Experience sufficiently convinces us, how much the Nobility and Gentry of the Kingdom are beholden to their Care, for those Impressions of Piety and Knowledge which are stampt upon their Education. In the most ignorant Ages, what Learning flourished was in their -Body, and by their Care was conveyed down to Pofterity. In the most diffolute Times, the great
eit Examples of Piety were in their Order, and we have yet remaining eminent Monuments of their magnificent as well as useful Charity, , both to the Bodies and Souls of Men.
Q. But if the Ministers of God do not eet suitably to the Dignity of their Character, may we not contemn thein ?
A. Their Character should certainly defend them froin Contempt, and the Relation they have to God should secure them from our ill Usage. And in order to this it is necessary to consider, that as there is an inherent Holiness, whereby Men's Actions and Affections are in fome Measure conformable to the Laws of God, in which Sense good Men in all Ages were esteemed boly; so there is a relative Holiness, which consists in some peculiar Relation to God's Service, of which Things, Times, Places, and Persons, are capable. In this last Sense the Tribe of Levi was called the holy Tribe, as those that are dedicated to the Service of Christ under the Gospel are called God's Ministers ; not that it was always true of them, that they Mal. 2.6; walked before God in Peace and Equity, and 8. turned many from Iniquity; for too often they were gone out of the Way, and caused many to Jiumble at the Law; but because they had a particular Relation to God in the Performance of that Worship which was paid to him. And though they may be bad Men, yet the Effect of Artic. 26 Christ's Ordinances is not taken away by their Wickedness, nor the Grace of God's Gifts diminijhed from such who receive the Sacraments rightly and by Faith, which are effectual by reaJon of Christ's Injtitution and Promise, although they be ministered by evil Men. Just as a Pardon
passed by an immoral Lord-Keeper, or a Sentence
their Efficacy depends not upon the QualificaS. Chryf. tions of those in Commission, but upon the SoveHom. 85. reign Authority from whence they both receive in S. Joh. their Commilion. So that the Advantages we Edit. Par. receive by their Ministrations, and the Relation
they have to God, should still preserve some
Q. What is the ill Consequence of despising ibe
A. It diminishes that Credit and Effect which their spiritual Administrations ought to have upon the Minds of Men, and makes them less capable of doing that Good which their Profession obliges them to attempt; for, as much as we take from the Opinion of their Piety and Integrity, so much we lessen their Power in promoting the Interest of Religion, whose Fate very much depends upon the Reputation of those who feed and govern the Flock of Christ. And this the Enemies of Religion are very sensible of, who omit no Opportunity of exposing their Persons, and representing their sacred Function only as a Trade, whereby they procure an advantageous Sublistence.