Imatges de pÓgina

as seen in its Nature and Work.


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men.” And in the Epistle to the Hebrews it is said: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.” In this speaking sense you are to be prophets, rather than priests. The divine appointment of the Christian ministry is specifically set forth in the New Testament. Christ selected twelve apostles, as He called them, individually, to follow Him. He had gathered them around Him for instruction. And also the sending forth was a public and a solemn act. He had retired into a mountain; all night He had been in prayer; and when it was day He called His disciples around Him, and out of them He chose twelve, whom He sent abroad to preach the Gospel and heal all manner of sicknesses. Christ represents Himself as sent into the world to preach. He says, quoting the well-known prophecy of Isaiah, and applying it to Himself: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach 'deliverance to the captives." And in His inimitable prayer He says of His apostles: As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the the world." Among His last words were those of the great commission : “Go ye forth and preach the Gospel to every creature." In entering, then, into the ministry, you ally yourselves with God, and take upon you an office which He Himself specifically ordained.

Secondly. The greatness of the ministerial office is also seen in its nature and its work. This is illustrated by comparing it to various earthly offices and duties. The word "preach," in its primary signification—or, at least, one of the apostle's words for preachingmeans to proclaim.Kuput, or herald, was an officer carrying and announcing a message, and was usually sent by a king or commanding officer in an army. His message was short, and was given without explanations or reasons. So John the Baptist simply proclaimed: "Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” In the same way, Christ entered on His own ministry, and when the disciples were first sent forth, the simple message He gave them was:




Dignity, Momentousness, and

ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” The man was a herald or preacher, no matter what the character of the tidings which he bore. Jonah was sent to Nineveh, and his prophetic message was: Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” So also Nehemiah was accused of appointing preachers to proclaim himself king. As the Gospel was unfolded, this idea of a herald was enlarged by making it the bearer of Good tidings, and instead of heralds they became evangelists. Instead of Christ's saying, as He sent His disciples forth, “Go, herald !” we have “Go, preach !” You are sent forth not only to cry, “ All flesh is grass ;” but to cry also, “The Word of the Lord endureth for ever." Your office is not to speak of yourselves, nor to speak words which the wisest men have uttered; but to speak the message which God has given you. This message of good tidings he has put in writing. It has been printed. We have it in our hands. It has been made plain upon tablets, that he may learn who readeth. The office of the ambassador is one of the highest filled by a citizen. He bears a message from his governmenta message he may not add to, and from which he must not subtract. His words are the words of the nation. His person is secured by the power of the nation. He represents in his person the honour and dignity of the nation. The grander and stronger the government, the greater the ambassador. What, then, must be an ambassador for Christ! If you enter on this office you are ambassadors sent by Christ to represent Him, to utter His words to all the people. He is pledged to care for you, and to protect you; and you are not to think of yourselves as your own, but as belonging to Christ. You are to take His words and utter them in the ears of the people, whether they will bear or whether they will forbear.

The preacher is represented as a watchman : "I have made thee a watchman unto Zion,” said the Lord to Ezekiel. The watchman guards the city. The lives of the people are in his hands. His post is one of infinite moment. His whole office is to watch against enemies, against dangers. All this requires a firm purpose, a sleepless eye. Often on the ocean I have gone

Arduousness of the Preacher's Work.


to the prow of the vessel and looked out into the darkness of night. I have found the watchman not one moment from his post, his eye gazing far over the sea, where he might discern at the greatest distance and at the earliest moment any cause of possible danger. The lives of the crew and passengers were in his hands. The mist might come down heavily, the wind might blow furiously, the storm rage incessantly; but still on and ever the watchman looks out in the one direction. The whales may sport in multitudes around the vessel, the whole sea behind him be in a phosphorescent glow. His own great object is not to care for these things, but to look ahead! So you are watchmen. You are on the ship. The vessel may be running toward shore; there may be breakers ahead. You are to sound the alarm. False teachers may be surrounding you. The literature of the day may be corrupt. You will find infidel ideas among the people. The youth may be in danger of being ensnared and led astray. You are God's commissioned watchmen to guard them from danger. This very naturally leads us to think of the ministry as a work. It is 80—in all its forms, from beginning to end, from youth to age. He that desireth the office of bishop desireth a good work. Jesus said to His disciples : “Work while it is day.” Paul and Barnabas

separated for the work whereunto they were called. We are workers together with God. This work is sometimes compared to a vineyard, in which the minister has to bear the burden and the heat of the day. St. Paul directs Timothy to be a worker. He says: "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the Word and doctrine. And the labourer is worthy of his hire."

Christ says: “Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest that He send labourers into the harvest." No labour is heavier than that of the harvest-field, especially as it was performed in the olden time. Some of us, who are older, remember the severity of the labour; how we bent over and drew in with our sickle the leaning grain, in the rays of the hot sun. The field was large; the grain was cut handful by handful; and



No Rest for the Minister.


the reapers at night came home only to get their rest for the next day.

Such is your work. “Say not ye, “ There are four months and then cometh the harvest.' • The field is white already for the harvest, and you are the reapers.The grain is ripe and ready to perish. “He that reapeth receiveth wages.” Some of the grain is falling, and a plaintive voice is on the breeze : “The harvest is past; the summer is ended; and we are not saved."

If you ever look upon the ministry as a life of ease, either abandon the thought at once, or abandon the ministry. It is a busy hive, with no room for drones. There is work in the pulpit, and out of the pulpit; work in the study, and out of the study; work in public, and in private. Of the early disciples it is said: “Daily, in the temple and from house to house, they ceased not to preach.” St. Augustine says: “Nothing in this life is more difficult, laborious, and wearing, than the life of a presbyter.” Luther says: “The labours of the ministry exhaust the very marrow from the bones, and hasten forward old age and death.” Of the man who hid his talent it is said : "Thou wicked and slothful servant." Slothfulness is repre-sented as the height of wickedness. Men cannot afford to take ease in other callings. They must bear the heat of the day, and take their share in the storm. And the minister must not, darenot rest; nor will there be ever invented moral mowingmachines to take the place of the old-fashioned sickle of the Gospel.

The minister not only reaps, but he serves. The word minister signifies servant. It once had not the dignity which to-day is attached to it. St. Paul calls himself " servant of the Lord Jesus” and a slave. When he alludes to his preaching he says: “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Christ's sake." Christ sets the example by girding Himself and by washing His disciples' feet. He arrayed Himself in the garb of a servant. " He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments, and took a towel and girded Himself. After that He poured water in a basin, and began to


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wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded.” And it is added : • Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well, for so I am. Verily, verily I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his Lord; neither is he that is sent greater than He that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."

We cannot mistake such a lesson as this. Our work is a service. The poorest and the wickedest have claims upon us. We are also informed that the way to true greatness is through service. “He that would be greatest amongst you, let him be the servant of all.” We have also the example of Christ in His service to humanity.

He said: “ The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” We find Him always doing good. He comforted the sorrowing; He poured eyesight on the blind, opened deaf ears, raised the sick,

and relieved every possible affliction. He passed by no form of degradation, no loathsome disease. He touched the poor outcast leper and made him clean.

What a busy service did Christ lead !

On foot He travelled over the hills and valleys of Palestine. He preached in the temples and synagogues, and on the mountain sides, and by the shores of the sea, to congregations and single individuals. He taught multitudes by day, and spent part of the night on the mountain side in prayer. Unaccompanied by His disciples, He walked until weary. He sat down at the Well of Jacob, and in His weariness spake those words of life that still ring through the world. That sublime utterance: God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth,” is still ringing through the world.

He was never too weary to do good. The service we owe is first one of body, soul, and spirit, to God, which the apostle declares to be a reasonable service-consecrated to God, devoted entirely to Him as a sacrifice slain, yet alive. Then we owe a service to humanity. As Christ gave Himself to the service of the world, so He dedicates all who are consecrated to Him to like service. That service is teaching the children; comforting the sorrowing; relieving the poor and the wretched ; following the

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