Imatges de pÓgina
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conduct is not only below the standard of the text, but upon examination will be found utterly inconsistent with it.

As this is a subject which greatly affects the honour and interest of religion, it is necessary to enter into the particulars of the text, and illustrate them distinctly, and in the same order. The first which occurs is holiness. The Apostle observes, "how holily" he had behaved himself. Holiness, in the lowest sense, denoteth freedom from gross and sensual pollutions. Drunkenness, swearing, lying, sabbath-breaking, gambling, with every species of impure and dissolute pleasure, are crimes which either separately or together debase, or, I should rather have said, destroy the character of a minister. However, it is not enough that his behaviour stands clear of the notorious crimes which are a disgrace to reason, and a scandal to Christianity; his office requires an eminent pitch of real sanctity, and the world generally expects it. Two things form the principal and most obvious characters of that holiness which becomes a minister of the gospel of Jesus,-disengagement from worldly, and devotedness to spiritual pursuits. Both were conspicuous in the Apostle's conduct, and ought to be studied by us with the ut most care and precision.

1st, We ought to be as much as possible disengaged from carnal and worldly things. A thirst and pursuit of riches and honor are utterly unbecoming us who call upon the rest of mankind to moderate their desires of these frivolous and corruptible things, and to lower their notions of the excellence and happiness which is imagined to arise from the possession and enjoyment of them. We who preach that "the fashion of this world passeth away,' should be dead to its vanities and pleasures. Scrambling up to preferments, enquiries into the value of benefices, fatiguing applications to the secular powers in whom the right of presentation is vested by law, and with such views incorporating with the little parties and factions of worldly men formed on worldly schemes, and animated with worldly principles, is a reproach to us who believe that the kingdom of Christ is "not of this world," and preach that "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the "things he possesseth." How far the Apostle's mind was elevated above the low and unsubstantial enjoyments of this sublunary, precarious, mutable world, may be seen

in many passages of his Epistles: "We look not at the "things which are seen, but at the things which are not "seen." In the verse before the text you may observe the generous breathings of this same happy temper: "For ye "remember, brethren, our labour and travel; for laboring "night and day, because we would not be chargeable to "any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God." The same elevation and sublimity of soul is necessary unto all the ministers of Christ. Hear the above writer speak the important sentiment in his directions to Timothy. "Thou therefore, endure hardness as a good soldier "of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth him"self with the affairs of this life; that he may please him "who hath chosen him to be a soldier." A load of affluence and grandeur is a distressful weight unto them that are at war with the powers of darkness and the vanities of life. No minister is obliged to fling away that portion of the good things of this world which providence bestows on him or his family. On the contrary, a reasonable regard to subsistence is allowable. "The Lord hath ordained that "they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel." But it is mean and inglorious to aim at nothing higher than the advancement of secular interest. Christ's soldiers fight not to earn their pay, but to please and glorify him that chose them to be soldiers. Before they descend into the world, to encounter its corrupt maxims and practices, they should lay aside every gross and entangling concern, least they bring themselves within that most alarming declaration, "No man having put his hand to the plough, "and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven."

2dly, Besides a disengagement from worldly and dishonorable pursuits, our character requires a devotedness to spiritual things. Meditation, prayer, reading, and retirement, are exercises with which we ought to be familiar. "Give attendance," saith the Holy Ghost by Paul, "to "reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Meditate on these "things. Give thyself wholly to them." To illustrate this point let it be observed, that the discoveries of truth are wholly in order to goodness. The noblest intellectual abilities are only so far truly valuable, as they are subservient to moral perfection. The chief glory of the deity consists in his spotless purity. Now, is it not matter of astonishment that we who profess to believe these things,

and to have "purified our souls in obeying the truth "through the Spirit," do not shine transcendently brighter in true holiness? It must surprize every one who compares things coolly, that we who preach so much of the intrinsic excellence and beauty of virtue, that we who profess modest and unshaken hopes of another and a better world, wherein dwelleth righteousness, are not established in an uninterrupted contemplation of it, and a spiritual and delightful intention of soul unto it. A little consideration may convince us, that we are capable of rising, by promised aids, to a conformity incomparably nearer the divine character than we commonly attain. And how is it possible to answer the expectations of the world without it? They expect an eminent pitch of virtue from us who are the public instructors of the rest of mankind, and patterns of universal imitation. Are these expectations unreasonable? By no means. The copy which the rest of mankind write after should be remarkably correct. This distinguishing pitch of holiness is recommended to Timothy, with great particularity and emphasis: "Be thou an "example of the believers in word, in conversation, in char"ity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."

To conclude this particular, both the observations on the first part of the Apostle's plan of conduct are united, with inimitable energy and address, in his instructions to the person we have mentioned so often already. "The "love of money is the root of all evil; which, while some "coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierc"ed themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O "man of God, flec these things; and follow after righteous"ness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the "good fight of faith, lay hold upon eternal life, whereunto "thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession "before many witnesses." "Take heed unto thyself, and "to thy doctrine, continue in them; for in doing this thou "shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." In these passages two things are indispensibly required of ministers, the first of which is wholly in order to the second. They must lay out themselves, with the greatest care and diligence, to acquire the improvements of understanding which are necessary to qualify them to fulfil the important duties of their office with pleasure and sucgess; but then all the improvements of the understanding,

all the treasures of the memory, all the ornaments of the imagination, all the furniture of the head, must be subservient to purity of heart and spotlessness of manners.

The Second thing observable in the Apostle's conduct is the justness of it. He behaved himself "justly." This can mean nothing less than a correct and regular behaviour both in private and public life. His own words are the best description which can be given of it: "We be"haved not ourselves disorderly among you, neither did "we eat any man's bread for nought." "Seeing we have "received this ministry, we faint not; but have renounced "the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, "nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by mani"festation of the truth commending ourselves to every"man's conscience in the sight of God." "Giving no of "fence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed, but "in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God." A minister that would behave justly, must not be ashamed to appear in the peculiarities of his order; I mean, a strictness and severity of manners, which are the proper badge of his profession. He must always be one man, speaking the same sound and inoffensive language, and following out the same neat and correct plan of conduct, in all places, and in every company. He must walk continually with his rule in his eye, and never knowingly deviate from it either to the right hand of to the left. On the right, is an affected sourness and austerity, which represents religion as too stiff and capricious. On the left is a supple and complying temper, which represents it as servile and variable. Between these extremes, equally hurtful and disobliging, lieth a middle path, which delineates the true genius of the gospel, and is emphatically styled "the way of God's commandments." This we ought to observe with the utmost precision. An arbitrary and uncommanded strictness, for which we have no warrant nor example in the word of God, is a dangerous plan, and seldom fails to supplant that religion which is saving and solid. In shunning this dishonorable and superstitious course, we must be equally cautious of running over to a broad bye-way on the opposite side,-a careless, trifling, and dissipated life, as if any thing beyond was an unnecessary preciseness, or a being righteous overmuch. In a word, we ought to ponder every step we take, and

weigh every undertaking, with all its circumstances, in the balances of the sanctuary. Unless we consider the consequences and tendencies of our actions with some measure of severity, we must live at random, and run into innumerable inconsistencies. The least impropriety is a great blot in our conduct. The world expects an exalted degree of virtue from us, and examines our behaviour with great severity. We ought, for that reason, to watch over it with equal severity ourselves, that we may in some measure answer the expectations of mankind, and make our light shine before them with such strength and evidence, as shall constrain them to glorify our Father which is in heaven.

Thirdly, The text represents the Apostle's behaviour as unblameable. And indeed it is requisite that every bishop be blameless. It is not enough that we who are ministers abstain from evil, unless every thing be avoided which has the appearance of it. It is extremely hazardous at least to go up to the boundaries which separate righteousness from unrighteousness, the lawful from the forbidden ground. To venture on these extremities is, in all men of infirmity, inexcusable presumption. I question if it be possible to make a retreat, without carrying back either guilt or disgrace, or perhaps both. In dubious cases, where there can be any dispute about the precise point where the laudable part ends and the blameable begins, a minister of Christ must take care to keep himself visibly, and to the conviction of spectators, on the safe side of the disputed limit. There ought to be nothing doubtful in his behaviour, nothing ambiguous, or that needs to be explained. Every thing liable to suspicion is dishonorable, is criminal. He lives at a poor rate, and far below his character, who is every now and then put to it to vindicate his conduct, and to prove that he has not gone over the bounds of lawful liberty. Rather than expose ourselves by levities and little frolics unbecoming our holy function, we should lean to the safer extreme of gravity and reserve. Nay, it may be sometimes necessary to forbear things perfectly indifferent in their own nature, when doing otherwise would destroy our influence, or lessen our power of doing good among our people.Perhaps it will be thought that this draught of a ministerial conversation is too sublime, and far out of the reach

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