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manners: but endeavour, with impartiality and prudence, to distinguish between cases of this kind. Then the simple and sincere, though improperly officious, will not be treated with resentful harshness; but with some resemblance of what is beautifully denominated, the meekness and gentleness of Jesus Christ. But alas! how poorly we imitate our Perfect Pattern!
It is of such high importance, that a pastor possess the government of his own temper, and a tolerable share of prudence, when presiding in the management of church affairs; that, without these, his general integrity, though undisputed, and his benevolence, though usually considered as exemplary, will be in danger of impeachment among his people. Nay, notwithstanding the fickleness and caprice of many private professors with regard to their ministers; it has long appeared probable to me, that a majority of those uneasinesses, animosities, and separations, which, to the disgrace of religion, take place between pastors and their several churches, may be traced up, either to the unchristian tempers, to the gross imprudence, or to the laziness and neglects of the pastors themselves.
Take heed to yourself, respecting your temper and conduct in general. Every one that calls himself a Christian should fairly represent, in his own dispositions and behaviour, the moral character of Jesus. The conversation of every professor should not only be free from gross defects; it should be worthy of general imitation. But though each member of this church be under the same obligations to holiness, as yourself; yet your spiritual
* 2 Cor. x. 1.
gifts, your ministerial office, and your pastoral relation, suggest a variety of motives to holiness, which your people do not possess. Make it your diligent concern, therefore, to set your hearers a bright example, formed on that perfect model, the temper and conduct of Jesus Christ.
Yes, my Brother, it is required that Pastors, in their own persons and conduct, especially in the discharge of ministerial duties, give a just representation of the doctrine they preach, and of Him in whose name they dispense it. But, in order to. do this, though in an imperfect manner, what integrity, benevolence, humility, meekness, and zeal for the glory of God; what self-denial and readiness for bearing the cross; what mortification of corrupt affections and inordinate desires of earthly things; what condescension and patience; what contempt of the world, and heavenly-mindedness, are necessary; not only the scripture declares, but the nature of the thing shows.
Persons who are not acquainted with the true nature and genius of evangelical doctrine, will be always disposed to charge the gospel itself with having a strong tendency to encourage those immoralities which appear in the character of its professors, and especially of those that preach it. Hence an apostle says, Giving no offence in any thing that the ministry be not blamed. For what can persons, otherwise uninformed, with more ap-. pearance of reason conclude, than that the ex-: ample of those who propagate the doctrine of salvation by grace, through Jesus Christ, is an authentic specimen of its genuine tendency in the hearts and lives of all those who believe and avow
ît? In the ministry of religious teachers, there is an implicit language, which is commonly considered by their hearers as importing, that what they do and are, if disgraceful, is the effect, not of their natural depravity, or of peculiar temptations; but of their doctrinal principles. Hence the ministers of Christ are commanded, in all things to show themselves patterns of good works. To be examples to believer in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Yes, my Brother, the honour and preferment, to which our divine Lord calls his ministers, are, to give a just representation, in their own conduct, of the graces of his Person, and the holiness of his doctrine, to others. For whatever apparently splendid advantages a man may have, with reference to the ministry; if they do not enable him the more effectually, in his christian course and ministerial work, to express the humility, the meekness, the self-denial, and the zeal of the Chief Shepherd, together with the holiness of the doctrine he teaches; will redound but little to his account another day.*
I will now adopt the words of our Lord, and say, Take heed and beware of covetousness. That evil turn of heart which is here proscribed with such energy and such authority, is, through the false names it assumes, and the pleas which it makes, to be considered as extremely subtle, and equally pernicious. It evidently stands opposed, in Scripture, to contentment with the allotments of Providence; to spiritual mindedness; and to real
* See Dr. Owen's Nature of Apostasy, p. 441-444.
piety.* It is an extremely evil disposition of the heart; of which, notwithstanding, very little account is made by the generality of those who profess the gospel of divine grace; except when it procures the stigma of penuriousness, or the charge of injustice. But, whatever excuses or palliatives may be invented, either to keep the consciences of covetous professors quiet, or to support a good opinion of others respecting the reality of their piety; the New Testament declares them unworthy of communion in a church of Christ, and classes them with persons of profligate hearts and lives.† The existence and habitual operation of this evil, therefore, must be considered as forming a character for hell. Nor need I inform you, that, for a long course of ages, myriads of those who assumed the appellation of Christian Ministers, have been so notorious for an avaricious disposition, for the love of secular honours, and for the lust of clerical domination, as greatly to promote infidelity, and expose Christianity to contempt.
Take heed, then, and beware of covetousness. For neither the comfort, the honour, nor the usefulness of a man's life consisteth in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and, possessing the necessaries of life, without being indebted to any inan, be content with such things as you have: for He who governs the world hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. For as a man's happiness does not consist in THINGS, but in THOUGHTS,
* Col. iii. 5. Eph. v. 5. 1 Cor. v. 11. 2 Cor. vi. 9, 10.
† 2 Cor. v. 11.
Psalm x. 3. 1 Cor. vi. 10.
that abundance after which the carnal heart so eagerly pants, is adapted to gratify-not the demands of reason; much less the dictates of conscience; nor yet the legitimate and sober claims of appetite; but a fond imagination; pride of show; the love of secular influence; the lust of dominion; and a secret desire of lying as little as possible at the mercy of Providence. I have somewhere seen it reported of Socrates, the prince of pagan philosophers, that on beholding a great variety of costly and elegant articles exposed to sale, he exclaimed, 'How many things are here that I do not want!' So, my Brother, when entering the abode of wealth we behold the stately mansion, the numerous accommodations, the elegant furniture, the luxurious table, the servants in waiting, and the fashionable finery of each individual's apparel; with what propriety and emphasis ought each of us to exclaim, How many things are here which I do not want; which would do me no good; and after which I have no desire!' For we should not forget who it was that said, How hardly shall a rich man enter the kingdom of heaven!
I said, Possessing the necessaries of life, without being indebted to any man. For this purpose, resolutely determine to live, if practicable, within the bounds of your income; not only so as to keep out of debt, but, if possible, to spare something for the poor. Supposing, my Brother, that, either through the afflicting hand of God, or the criminal neglect of your people, unavoidable straits approach; be not afraid of looking poverty in the face, as if it were, in itself considered, a disgraceful evil. For poverty is a very innocent thing, and absolutely