Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

for the Priests and Levites; and by the honor to which, as the immediate attendants of the Divine presence, they were admitted. In the same manner is the Lord the inheritance of those, who, in the sense we have been considering, renounce, for his service, all inheritance with their brethren. Do ye not know, says St. Paul, that they which minister about holy things, live of the things of the temple ? And they which wait at the altar, are partakers with the altar? Even so haththe Lordordained, that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel. This illustrious apostle himself, and those who first trod with him the wine press of the vineyard, might refuse to be partakers of this privilege, and suffer all things, laboring, working with their own hands, as his language is, because, with the miraculous powers given them, and the extraordinary presence and existence of the Holy Ghost, their work could not thus be hindered, or have its usefulness diminished. By their authority, however, the right of the ministers of Christ to support from those to whom they minister, is unquestionably established. Behold, then, here their inheritance which cometh of the LORD. On their brethren, with whom, in other things, they have no part or inheritance, sacredly rests their charge. The obligation is as obvious as any other of the Christian profession; and the faithful followers of the Savior can never either question, evade, or be impatient of it. If, however, amidst a general insensibility among those who name the name of Christ, to the things which his law demands, his ministers ever are, as in some circumstances they are, denied the care and support their office claims; yet have they, in a nobler sense, an inheritance of the Lord, in the honor* of waiting on him in the courts of his house, and ministering there to those who shall be heirs of his salvation. However the ministers be esteemed in the world, think not we idly magnify our office, when we say it has an appointment that is of heaven; it is an important branch of the

* "God chose Levi for this separation before any other tribe, for Moses' sake: whom he would honor by advancing the house of his father to the highest pitch of dignity that mortal man could attain to. For what greater honor than to be the ambassadors of the LORD of Hosts, to be admitted to the inspection of his most sacred mysteries--to be God's Kampos, his proper and peculiar portion! Would to God they either knew or believed this, who think their house disgraced and their blood stained, if any of their kin become of the Clergy. It was not so, in God's opinion." -Mede's Discourses.

glorious plan of grace concerted in the councils of heaven, for recovering fallen sinners to glory, honor and immortality. Shall it not then be honorable in our eyes? If the Levites were honorable because God had separated them from the people, and brought them to him, to do the service of the Tabernacle; if under a dispensation so much inferior in excellency and glory, it were better and more honorable to be a door keeper in the house of the LORD than to dwell in the secure and high places of human strength and pride, how much greater dignity must belong to their office, of how much greater honor must they be thought worthy, in the eyes of angels and the spirits of the just in heaven, and all the righteous and the good upon earth, who faithfully minister in the latter house, and serve the altar of the Son of God? Yes! Ambassadors of God, and messengers of his grace to guilty men, fellow workers with him in making ready a people prepared for his coming, great is the honor with which, at his hands, they are clothed. If the ministration of death written and engraven on stones was glorious, which glory was to be done away, how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious ? and if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth doth exceed in glory!

It is another sense of the language of the text applied to the ministers of Christ, that they have an inheritance of the LORD in the moral happiness with which it is of the nature of their work to reward those who exercise it with fideliry. They who thus faithfully wait upon the LORD, are the chosen, however humble, instruments by which heaven dispenses its best and choicest blessings to mankind. Ministers of the reconciliation, which Jesus died upon the cross to effect, of heaven with earth, it is the great purpose of their calling to bring their sinful and unhappy fellow creatures to peace with themselves and God, and thus aid them to acquire fortitude for the trials, consolation for the sorrows of the world, and how to meet even with death itself with equanimity and joy. If then, they behold the blessing they have implored resting on their labors, rich amidst all their poverty, is their inheritance of the LORD. If then, as instrumental agents of the spirit of grace, they have planted the seeds of holiness and peace in the hearts of men, tended the springing blades, and watered them with the tears of solicitude and love, they see heaven crowning them with increase, must not their hearts be glad? If, when they have faithfully labored, by example, and word, and persuasion, and all the means proper to their office, they see the fruits of their labors in the increase of the practical efficacy of religion, or if they have seen the spirit of the desponding sinner revived by their instrumentality, the proud offender arrested in his progress to perdition, and humbled at the feet of Jesus; if they see God, by their means, adding to the Church such as shall be saved, if they have been employed by him to carry his effectual consolation to the afflicted, and light up the flame of hope and joy in the bosom of the dying; if thus it should have been the pleasure of heaven to bless the work committed to their hands, in the increase of the faith, the virtue and the happiness and peace of their fellow mortals, then have they an inheritance of the LORD, more valuable than all that for it they have renounced, preferable to all that the world could have conferred.

But great and real as may be the happiness rising from this source, to those who minister in the sanctuary of the Redeemer, yet it is often balanced by sorrows inseparable from their calling, At the utmost the success of their labors can be but imperfect; and in the relapse of some, whom they had seen turn to God, in the insensibility and indifference with which others may hear the word of God at their mouth, in the successful hostility of a proud, a profligate, or insidious infidelity, even in their sphere of appointed labor, seducing and leading captive the minds of many, and substituting its gloom and desolation, for the cheerful and peaceful hope which Christianity inspires; or dangerous error of religious opinion insinuating itself to the spoiling of the minds and conduct of those for whom they had prayed and labored, that they might continue in the faith as the Church has held and taught it, grounded and settled in these, and other circumstances, they find the Cross which they, like their master, must bear before a gainsaying and unfriendly world. Yet, have they abundant compensation for even these severities of their condition, in the assurance that the LORD is their inheritance in heaven: who, if they are faithful unto death, will give them a crown of life. We trust and believe, my brethren, that the ministering servants of the Lord in general, are able to make full proof of this consolatory assurance; and amid the worst and most painful circumstances of their condition, amid all their privations and afflictions, to say with the apostle, none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God. At least, we trust and hope, they labor so to approve themselves to God faithful stewards of his mysteries, rightly dividing the word of truth, as to have hope toward God, that he will accept them at the last; and for their poverty give them the treasures of his kingdom; for their sorrow, the joy that they have who stand before his throne in heaven, and for their obscurity on earth the glory that is at his right hand for evermore,

In dwelling on this part of the subject, I have hoped to suggest some grateful and animating reflections to the minds of those, who are now to be separated by the LORD to stand before the LORD, and minister unto him, are about to renounce all inheritance with their brethren. My young friends, the most solemn and important hour of your lives is at hand. In a manner the most awful that human wisdom could devise, you are about to devote yourselves to a work the most important that human life can know. By a vow, wbich Christ himself stands ready to witness and record, you are going to dedicate yourselves to him, in the near and important relation of his ministers, until death shall discharge you and send you to render up your account in heaven. These views of the business before you, we have no doubt, without this suggestion of them, are present in all their solemnity to your minds. The season of your preparation for this sacred service, has been passed in a manner sufficiently honorable to you to forbid any apprehension that you do not well understand and feel the solemn and momentous purport of the obligations which you are going to assume. Yet, in the spirit of affectionate solicitude, as well for you as for the cause with which your lives and characters are in future to be connected, I cannot forbear to to avail myself of an occasion, the circumstances of which are so well calculated to enforce and give efficacy to advice, to address to you a few words of exhortation.

It were a pernicious error, then, let me say to you, my friends, to suppose that the years of this inferior ministry may be well

[ocr errors]

enough passed, if care be taken, merely to provide, before they expire, for a compliance with the letter and form of the increased requisitions, with which the Church will meet your demand to be admitted to the higher departments of her service. Yet this is an error to which you will, in various ways, be tempted. Early popularity, and the warm approbation and applause of partial friends may lead you to attach more than their just importance to acquisitions already made. The fascinations of general literature may lessen your relish for the laborious and unfashionable reading, much of which is indispensable to your future respectability and success; and the pleasures of society, (of which it is amiable to be fond,) may have, in the condition of life in which your lot is cast, a power to which more time must be sacrificed than it is possible for you to spare, without injury to yourselves and injustice to your master's work. Resist then, we beseech you, these and all other temptations that may peculiarly beset this interesting season of your life, and consecrate it to the studies and exercises which are necessary to your future usefulness and honor. Let the period of your service in this outer court of the sanctuary, in which

you

will be free from the cares and toils for others, which, when the pastoral relation has once been instituted, will throw high obstacles in the way of a due attention to yourselves, either in heart, or mind, or life, be regarded as your golden opportunity of improvement, as well in all the virtues as the knowledge, proper to the character you will have assumed. Resolve, we beseech you, and supplicate without ceasing, the aid of the spirit of grace to make the resolution effectual, that the expiration of that probationary stage of your ministerial life, shall not find you unprovided with any principle of conduct necessary to the true spirit and intent of your calling, or any acquisition in the knowledge it requires, which in that period, might have been attained. We do not, however, recommend this early diligence to grow in professional knowledge and virtue, as the means of lessening the burden of a more advanced stage of the ministerial course, and preparing the way for an easy life hereafter; but that the increased burden of its more advanced periods, may find you strong enough to bear it. All its stages alike, it becomes us ingenuously to assure you, are full of care and labor. Once enlisted in this warfare, you cannot put

off

« PoprzedniaDalej »