Imatges de pÓgina
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of reason and the declarations of the word of God, that the ways of religion are ways of pleasantness, and that the yoke of the Redeemer is easy and his burden light. What then should seduce you from the service of God, or tempt you to leave the wise course in which you have engaged?

Shall you be induced to forget your Christian obligations, or to neglect or contemn your Christian hopes, by the ridicule of the thoughtless or the scoffs of the ungodly? What! will ye be afraid of the revilings of those whom the moth shall eat up as a garment, and the worm devour as wool, and forget God your Maker? Constantly bear in mind that solemn declaration of your Lord-" Whosoever is ashamed of me before men, of him will I also be ashamed before the angels of God: and whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father in heaven."

Shall the business or the pleasures of this world induce you to forsake the service of your God? What is the world, when its riches, its honours, or its pleasures, in which ye trusted, vanish away? What is the world, when its sorrows enter into your souls? What is the world, when death is severing your hold upon it, and urging you into eternity? Oh! let not the world, its business, or its pleasures, which are vain and transitory, seduce you from the service of your God, from your duty and your felicity, and lead you to perdition: "for they who forsake the Lord shall be consumed."

Christians, let us constantly look beyond the present moment to the end of our course. Shame and misery await us, if we yield to temptation, and forsake our God. Glory and honour everlasting will be awarded us, if we continue his faithful

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Let us then " persevere in well doing," animated by the assurance, that "in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

But let us remember, that exposed as is our frail and corrupt nature to numerous and powerful temptations, the grace of God only can keep us from falling, and present us faultless before the presence of his glory. This grace then let us invoke by habitual and fervent prayer, in the worship and ordinances of his church, and by the constant and devout participation of that holy supper which is the means of its conveyance to the soul; and which, displaying, in the most affecting manner, the love of our God and Saviour, our Christian obligations and our Christian hopes, affords the most animating incentives to perseverance in our Christian course. Let us then make God our strength, and the most high God our refuge, and he will be our guide and our defence; with every temptation he will make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it; and when our course of probation is closed, the joys of his favour which now refresh us, will terminate in felicity exalted as that God who dispenses it, and lasting as eternity.

But if we forsake his service, shame and remorse will, sooner or later, embitter to us all our enjoyments; and in the world to come we shall bewail our guilt and folly under the tortures of the worm that never dies, and the fire that never is quenched. For it is the denunciation of God by his prophet"They who forsake the Lord shall be consumed." God hath said, and it shall come to pass.

SERMON XVII.

THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY,

EPHESIANS iv. 12.

For the work of the ministry.

THE apostle, in the passage from which the words of the text are selected, exhibits Christ's ascent into heaven, and the important consequences of this event. He became Head and Ruler of his spiritual kingdom, and he set apart various orders of men for "the work of the ministry."

It is my design on this occasion of administering holy orders, to lay before you a brief view of the constitution of the Christian ministry, particularly in reference to the office of a priest, to which the reverend person who has for some time officiated among you in the office of a deacon, the lowest grade of the ministry, is now to be admitted.

They who perform "the work of the ministry," taken from among men, are liable to all the imperfections and infirmities of our fallen nature. It would be a fundamental error, however, to confound the office with the person, and to consider the former as human in its origin, its powers, and its duties. It has pleased that divine Personage who is constituted the Head and Ruler of all who believe in him, to ordain that they should be associated in a visible society constituted with officers and ordinances, in order that, by communion with

these officers in the devout participation of these ordinances, they might become interested in his merits, and be established in those holy graces and virtues which will qualify them for the enjoyment of the blessings of his salvation. This spiritual society, ruled by these officers, and possessing these ordinances, is styled, in the sacred writings, the Church, and is constantly exhibited as the "body of Christ," to which men must be united, in order to derive from their divine Head the spiritual blessings which he has purchased, and which he dispenses.

This society, it must be apparent, is not temporal, but spiritual in its nature and privileges-is not human, but divine in its origin and destination. The officers who are set over it must, therefore, also be spiritual in their powers and duties-and the commission divine, by which they exercise their functions. Originating with no human authority, the commission for the ministry can proceed only from that divine Personage who "is the Head over all things to his church," and to whom "all power is given in heaven and on earth.”

When he constituted that visible society the church, to which were to be applied the merits of his precious blood, and which was to be sanctified and ruled by the spirit of his grace, he delegated the apostles to send others as he sent them, by an external commission, to be the instructors, the priests, and the rulers of his spiritual family " alway, even to the end of the world."

The apostles were, at the first, the sole officers of the Christian church: with them, and with them only, rested the power of constituting the officers of that spiritual kingdom which they were comVOL. II.

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manded to establish, and of conferring that commission, without which there can be no authority to minister in holy things: for whatever may be the qualifications of any man-let him be learned as Gamaliel, and holy as Aaron, the servant of the Lord-yet he will not be authorized to take upon him the functions of the ministry until he receives an external commission for the purpose; for, as the apostle declares, "no man taketh this honour to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron;" and Aaron was visibly commissioned to his sacred function. And our blessed Lord glorified not himself to be a high priest; but he that said unto him, "Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee."

The ministry, as the apostles constituted it, must be unchangeable-for the ministry is of divine authority; and the apostles alone being empowered to constitute it, its divine authority would be lost by any change in their appointments. They established as their successors in their standing prerogatives of commissioning to the ministry and governing the church, an order of men, among whom were ranked Timothy at Ephesus, Titus at Crete, the seven angels, as they are styled in the book of Revelation, or messengers of the Asiatic churches. From these, through their successors, has been transmitted to the present day, that external commission which is necessary in order to minister in sacred things.

This was the order first called Apostles, (or, as the word in the original signifies, messengers.) But afterwards the name Apostles was confined to the twelve disciples of our Lord; and their successors took the title of Bishops, or Overseers, which

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