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the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way.” A pastor, who is sensible of his own infirmities, will not fail to treat sinners with meekness and compassion.
Heb. xiü. 17. “They watch for your souls, as they that must give account.” A most dreadful consideration this ; insomuch as that St. Chrysostom said, upon reflecting upon it, “It is a wonder if any ruler in the Church be saved." It will be work enough for every man to give an account for himself; but to stand charged, and to be accountable for many others, who can think of it without trembling? O God! how presumptuous was I, to be persuaded to take upon me this charge !
Who will value himself upon ecclesiastical dignities, who considers that Judas was chosen to be an Apostle ?
O Good Shepherd ! I beseech Thee, for myself and for my flock, to seek us, to find us, to lead us, to defend us, and to preserve us to life eternal.
If God be satisfied with a pastor, it is of little importance whether he please or displease men.
Tit. ii. 15. “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee;" that is, for want of exercising ecclesiastical discipline.
The following are truths which cannot be preached too often : viz. the bondage of man by sin, the necessity of a Deliverer, the manner of our redemption, the danger of not closing with it, the power of grace to deliver us, &c. A pastor should do all this, and act with the dignity of a man who acts by the authority of
The Authority of Bishops. We are willing enough to desire to imitate Jesus Christ and his Apostles in their authority, without thinking of following them in their humility, their labours, self-denial, &c.
A Bishop is a Pastor set over other Pastors. They were to ordain Elders. They might receive an accusation against an Elder. They were to charge them to preach such and such doctrines, to stop the mouths of deceivers, to set in order the things Matt. v.
that were wanting. And, lastly, this was the form of Church government in all ages, so that, to reject this, is to reject an ordinance of God.
19. " Whosoever shall do and teach the commandments, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of God." It is in this the true greatness of a Bishop does consist, not in the eminence of his see, multitude of attendants, favour of princes, &c.
Bishops were called to sit in Parliament, to give their counsel according to God's Law; as the civil jadges were to give their advice according to the temporal laws in matters of difficulty.
Mark x. 44. “Whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.” The greatest Prelate in the Church is he who is most conformable to the example of Christ, by humility, charity, and care of his flock, and who, for Christ's sake, will be a servant to the servants of God.
O Sovereign Pastor of souls ! renew in Thy Church, and especially in me, this spirit of humility ; that I may serve Thee in the meanest of Thy servants. If I lie under the necessity of being served by others, let it be with regret, and let me exact no more service than is necessary.
Luke x. 3. “Behold I send you forth as lambs among wolves." It belongs to Thee, O Lamb of God, to guard both me and my flock from wolves who assault us, either openly or in sheep's clothing. I depend entirely upon Thee, in whatever relates to my own preservation, or that of the people committed to my care.
Luke xix. 20. Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin." O my Saviour! I tremble to think how I have followed the example of this slothful servant ; and what reason I have to dread his doom. Rest is a crime in one who has promised to labour all the days of his life ; and in me, therefore, it is a great evil, not to be always doing good. Pardon me, my God, for what is past; and let me not imagine that, because I am free from gross and scandalous crimes, that, therefore, I lead a good life. O LORD, give me grace proportionable to the talents Í have received, and to the account I am
to give ; that I may faithfully perform all the duties belonging to
Amen. Whoever is associated to the Priesthood of Christ, ought in imitation of Him, to sacrifice himself for the advantage of His Church, and for all the designs of God.
Luke xxii. 26. “ But ye shall not be so; but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve." A bishop does not know his office in the Church, if he pretends to distinguish himself by power, imperiousness, and grandeur ; or by any other way than by humility, and by a great concern for souls. Marks of distinction are rather a burthen, which he bears out of necessity, but complains of them secretly to God. He considers himself as the servant, not as the Lord of souls. Even Jesus Christ made Himself our pattern in this.
Translation of Bishops and Pastors.
Self-love is too often at the bottom, and not the glory of God or the good of souls. When men’s labours are attended with tolerable success, yet, because either they can better their temporal condition, or think that a more public station would be more suitable to their great capacities, they leave their station for one more full of dangers, without any prospect of being more serviceable to God or to His Church, and the souls of men ; not considering that this is the voice of pride, self-love, and covetousness, and an evil example to others, to whom we do, or should, preach humility, as the very foundation of Christianity.
The greater share we have in the authority of Jesus Christ, the greater must we expect to have in His sufferings; the cross being the reward of faithful pastors.
To leave a clergy and a people to whom one is perfectly well known, to go to another to whom one is a stranger, and this for the sake of riches, which are supposed to have been renounced, this was unknown to the first ages of Christianity.
He is but the vain image of a Pastor, an idle shepherd, who chooses to abandon his flock, and leave them to the conduct of
those who have no concern for them, and entrust the salvation of those souls to others, for whom he himself is responsible to God. He may be learned, he may be employed, &c. but he cannot be a good shepherd.
John ix. 34. “ Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us ? And they cast him out."
This is the character of a wicked pastor ;—to treat their flock with imperiousness, and ill language; to be impatient to be told their duty, and to be over-hasty in turning men out of communion, and breaking unity.
From the time a pastor is mercenary, he has an indifferency for the interests of Christ and his church, and is ready to give all up upon the prospect of worldly honour and advantage.
On the other hand, nothing renders a pastor more amiable in the sight of God, or draws down more graces and blessings, than contempt of earthly things, and of the conveniences of life, that he may approve himself a faithful minister of Christ.
He lays down his life, who lays down the love thereof, for his flock.
John x. 37. “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not."
Since Jesus Christ put his doctrine upon this issue, let me not expect to be his minister, if I do not show forth in my life, the works becoming such a person.
A minister of state talks of nothing but of the interests of his prince, &c. So should we, if this were most at our hearts.
John xiii. 20. “ He that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me."
Acts vi. 2. “ It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables."
That is, spiritual affairs must not be left for the sake of temporal.
They who are the first in authority, ought to be the first in discharging their duty, and in setting a good example to others.
2 Cor. iv. 5. “Ourselves your servant for Jesus' sake." An air of imperiousness does not become a servant.
2 Cor. viii. 23. “They are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.”
A faithful pastor is the glory of Christ, because his whole life is a continual sacrifice to the glory of Him who has sent him. And because Christ himself has made him faithful, &c.
A true pastor has but one thing at heart, which is the performance of his duty; and this is that which secures his peace, his confidence, his hope, &c.
1 Tim. i. 3. " That thou mayest charge some that they teach no other doctrine."
This is one of the chief duties of a bishop, to be watchful concerning the purity of the doctrine, that none corrupt it, but that they confine themselves to the truths taught by the apostles, (ver. 4.) that they avoid such as only minister to questions, [disputes] rather than to godly edifying.
1 Tim. iii. 2. “A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, (modest) of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach ; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre :—but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity ; not a novice, lest, being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must have a good report of them which are without ; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
My God, what qualifications are these ? And how rash was I to undertake such a work, without sitting down and counting the cost, whether I was able to finish it ? Thou only canst supply all my defects, which I beseech Thee to do.
Enable me, I beseech Thee, to come as near as possible to this character ; that I may teach the mysteries, defend the faith, maintain the truths of the Gospel ; that I may be a pattern to my flock, edify the Church, both by my discourses and example, and hearty zeal for the salvation of souls, and a care to secure my flock from the corruptions of the age. Amen.