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charge them. But the priest and Levite received adequate provision, when laid aside by age or infirmity. After a period of thirty years of active service, they were paroled pensioners upon the blessings of God to Israel for the remainder of life. The spirit of this arrangement, was once the rule of the Church in New England.
When a minister has given the best of his days to the service of the Church, for the consideration of food and raiment, it is not reasonable that his old age should be neglected, and unprovided for. If death shall make his wife a widow, and his children orphans, there is no provision made for them. Their wants are forgotten, ere the sod has become green upon the fresh grave of their protector. Forbidden by his duties to the Church to make provision for his family while living; and when he is dead they are soon forgotten, as having ever sustained any relation to the Church, different from the widow and fatherless of any other man. Death cancels all obligations of the Church to the minister's family. Dead men's services, it is not the rule of the Church to recompense. For neglect of the Levite, God often visited his people with severe displeasure. If neglect of these relative duties is any less a sin now, than in ancient times, we have failed to understand the plain teachings of the Bible. There are numberless demands upon a minister's income, because he is a minister, of which the Church have little or no knowledge-demands by the Church, and for the Church, which no private member in called to meet. Besides, it is hardly fair to compel the purchase upon credit of every article consumed, at barter prices, and then charge the exorbitant expense to a lack of economy. It does require good economy to live upon a small salary paid in promises, or to lay up money from unpaid obligations. We believe it to be the duty of the Church to adopt the pastor and his family as their own children, and to make common cause with them for their sustenance. It is the right and duty of the pastor, to adopt the Church as his inheritance. As he labors in spiritual things, it is needful that he should be wholly given to his work. For his temporal wants, it is the duty of the Church to provide-not only while in active service, but also for the wants of inactive age. When the pastor can rely upon such a provision, one of his heaviest burdens is removed. The dark hours of solicitude which now cause despondency and foreboding want, would be illumined with light. Then the oft repeated inquiry-what will become of my family? is answered. For Christ's sake they belong to the Church, and when his work is finished, he can die in peace. Now he is determined to know nothing but Christ, and him crucified, because now he can serve his generation by the will of God.
The usefulness of the ministry depends very much upon the co-operation of the people. The lack of service on their part, compels a lack of service on the part of the ministry. When a
minister's investments for future need, consist in confident reliance upon the justice, and generosity of his people, then may his whole energies be under command, to make full proof of his ministry. It will be seen by these considerations, that a permanent, and useful ministry, is a matter committed very much to the will and co-operation of the Church. The pastor's duties to his people will be discharged, as they fulfill their duties to him.
But it often occurs, that a minister's popularity is greatest at the beginning of his labors, and continues to wane, until the people are clamorous for his removal. In such cases fault is generally mutual. The pastor is chosen, and settled upon short acquaintance, and with very little prayerful consideration. The people may have looked for prosperity and success, without co-operation, and become cold and selfish over the disappointment. They had placed their confidence in an arm of flesh, and not in the Lord, from whom alone cometh the increase. Disaffection, when once engendered, is not apt to lessen. The relation entered upon was but an experiment, instead of a solemn reality, by which they were to live, and in which they were to die. They were married with the consideration, that the covenant might at any time be broken, and hardness of heart procure a divorce.
There is one difficulty ever connected with the pastoral relation, for which no adequate remedy has yet been found. The minister is a man subject to like passions as other men. This is unfortunate; but there is no disguising the fact. He is compassed about with infirmity. He does not understand all mystery, nor all knowledge. He has not the tongue of an angel. He cannot remove mountains. His faults are very conspicuous, by virtue of his position. He is liable to feel sad under afflictions, and to be desponding under discouragements. From the influence of unexpected trials, his self-possession may forsake him. His fortitude is not always proof against ingratitude and reproach. He never becomes entirely insensible, on the one hand to flattery, nor on the. other, to scandal and backbiting. Sickness, and old age, seem to affect him very much as they do other men. If he were perfect, he might be able to give satisfaction to all, who assume to be conservators over his conduct. If he could all the ideal of every required standard-if he could live upon angels' food, so as to perform more labor at less expense-if he could preach by inspiration without study, and satisfy both the bad and the good, without giving offence to either-if he were not liable to sin, or grow old and infirm-or to sicken, and die like other men; and in fine, if he were not a worm of the dust; a sinner to be saved by grace, and one who must through great tribulation enter into the kingdom of God, then might the Church possess in him an ascension gift, of every desired qualification. Then, if such a pastor could find a perfect people, free from all jealousy, and evil speaking, and selfishness, and fault-finding-a people after his
own heart, then might he be content to dwell with them. But, as pastor and people are only redeemed sinners, and are in constant need of restraining grace, each is called to put on charity above all things and mutually bear each other's burdens. Thus may they dwell together in unity.
Another requisite of the people, to prove the ministry, is a capacity to hear the gospel preached unto them. The gift of hearing, is more essential than the gift of speaking, to make the word preached effectual. To hear with earnest attention; to hear with a mind free from prejudice, and open to conviction; to hear as hungering and thirsting for spiritual nourishment; to hear as listening to the words of God, and as bound to the judgment seat, are qualifications of very rare occurrence. A gifted minister can prepare but few superior sermons. The deficiency may be remedied by the gift of hearing. But the gift of hearing as described, is possessed by very few in any one congregation. The larger part of an audience never give earnest attention to a whole serinon. Some seem to have a settled arrangement to sleep during a portion of the time of public worship. Others are listless and indifferent-whose minds like the eyes of the fool, are roving to the ends of the earth-unappreciating, and unblest. It is safe to say, that a minister preaches the gospel to less than one fourth part of his congregation. The rest are forgetful hearers, whose characteristics are described in the parable of the
It so happens, that the pastoral relations are seldom disturbed by the earnest, and prayerful hearers of the gospel. The connection between the closet and the pulpit, is too intimate and full of blessings, to allow of sacrilegious invasion. But such as hear but little or not at all-or hear for criticism, and fault-finding, are usually the source of those evils which defeat the designs of the gospel, and unsettle both the Church and the ministry. The faithful hearer proves the word, by being a doer. But the forgetful hearer treasures up in memory no correct impress of his own character, and in his present state, and future prospects, appears the negative proof of an accepted gospel; a savor of death unto death. A good hearer, is the best possible remedy for a poor speaker. The hearer's fixed and earnest attention is of great service to stimulate, and encourage the preacher. There is a living sympathy between the pew and the pulpit, and between the closet and the study. The one prepares the seed and the other the soil, for its reception. God gives the early and the latter rain, and the bountiful harvest. The indifferent features; the vacant expression of a forgetful hearer-the wandering eye and roving imagination of thoughtless irreverence, are less hopeful objects of address, than the dry bones of the valley of vision. These revived at the voice of the prophet. One earnest hearer is worth any
number of stupid, and forgetful hearers, to encourage the hope of blessing, from the dispensation of the gospel.
We may specify in conclusion the necessity of keeping the heart. Out of it are the issues of life, and out of it proceed evil thoughts; and that world of inquity has never been tamed of mankind. This world so full of scandal and evil speaking, stops not at the sacred enclosure of the Church. The holiest relations of earth, the depraved heart loves to invade. The most sacred interests of earth, it loves to set on fire and destroy. A little fire is easily enkindled to a mighty flame, which mocks all efforts to control or subdue.
The unfailing promise is made, "whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." This is your encouragement to labor; to scatter the good seed of the kingdom with an unsparing hand. For he that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly. The same promise touching the harvest of the seed sown, is one of fearful import to the wicked. The seeds of sin and death existing in the natural proclivities of the soul; nurtured and multiplied by an irreligious life, betoken a harvest united with lamentation and woe; for he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption. Faint not nor grow weary in the vineyard because much of the good seed may fall by the wayside, or upon stony ground, or among thorns, and thereby fail of the desired result. Paul may plant and Apollos water, but God must give the increase. Be not weary in well doing for in due season ye shall reap if ye faint not.
The Saviour may be crucified afresh, to make his toiling servants often sad in this tearful pilgrimage. Perils surround every footstep, to impress the warning-"Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." With due regard to the instructions of the Great Teacher, your mutual testimony will make full proof of the ministry, not only in sowing the seed but in gathering the harvest. Keep in remembrance the important truth, that the relations this day consummated, must needs be of very short continuance. The trial and proof of the ministry here, will soon be closed up for the adjudication of a higher court. May it then appear, that together you have lived, and loved, and labored, and triumphed, and the final award of "well done" seal the verdict of sovereign grace.
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