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give us a christianity such as appears in the convert; and are content to show to the world, this as our highest specimen and best form of religion. My brethren, is it not time we were pondering the question with profound seriousness and much prayer, whether we are not dishonoring Christ and doing violence to religion, by consenting to exhibit it ever in embryo as in the convert, or in caricature as in the backslider? We owe it to the world, we owe it to our dear ascended Lord, to lift up to the gaze of men, in this skeptical and unbelieving age, and especially in this new world, where busy millions are laying the foundations of many generations, an example of christianity in its full proportion and proper glory. To do this, we must have in our churches, not converts who can not grow, nor backsliders who grow only in sin, but saints shining as lights, and perfected in grace. Who can tell how much religion needs in our time and in our country, how much it needs in every one of our congregations, the credit and the authority which comes only from a successful endeavor to perfect the saints. And how impatiently does Christ our Master wait, till we have regard enough for his honor, to lay aside our worldliness, and put on our righteousness, and hold forth to men an example of his religion as it is, when after the blade and the ear, there comes the full corn in the ear. This will be done so soon as the work of the ministry is understood and accomplished, as a work of perfecting the saints and edifying the body of Christ.
Having shown you the work of the ministry, what it is, and how important it is, I conclude the discourse, by remarking,
1. That this is a work requiring, in all cases, the co-operation of three consenting parties.
The minister of Christ can do nothing by himself. Mere preaching, however faithful or frequent or impressive, will never perfect a saint. The minister must preach; the saint must prac tice; and the Holy Spirit must sanctify both the preaching and the practice, else the endeavor is vain. Let either party fail, let the minister be negligent in the matter, manner, or degree of his preaching; or the saint be negligent in hearing, or heeding, or obeying; or let the Holy Spirit abandon the case and there will be no improvement and no growth. The perfection of the saints is in all cases a work requiring the concurrent agency of three consenting parties. I remark,
2. There ought then, to be a distinct and perpetual understanding between the pastor and the members of his church, in regard to the work which he is commissioned and expected to do among them.
Every member of the church ought to understand that the pastor is sent to him for the special purpose of improving and perfecting his religious character; that in all his studies, selections and sermons, he is, if he deserves the name of a minister of
Christ, earnestly engaged in this one endeavor; and that discouragement and distress are sure to ensue, if he fails in this, his chief work. On the other hand, a pastor ought to be made to understand that every one of the members of his church expects him to labor expressly and earnestly for this end. He ought to have, animating and directing him in all his preparations, the living assurance that his people, particularly his religious people, desire to be improved, desire to grow in grace, desire to get on to higher states and riper attainments in godliness; and that unless he assists them, by instruction and admonition and constant endeavor, he disappoints and displeases them. Such ought to be the understanding between a pastor and all the members of his church.
And then, with this mutual u derstanding as to the real object and proper work of the ministry, each party ought,
3. To be specially vigilant and careful to perform its prescribed and indispensable task.
The pastor ought, in all his preparation, to keep in mind what he is sent of Christ to do. Every address, every prayer, every sermon, ought to be selected and framed with special reference to the improvement of his christian flock. Not omitting to preach the whole truth, nor forgetting that he is sent to offer the gospel to all men, he should at the same time make the edification of the body of Christ, his great aim, his pre-eminent work. No other object ought to be allowed to come in and divert him from this one business. No fierce gales of popular excitement; no lordly pressure of great events; no regard to public opinion; no desire of popular applause; nothing should for a day seduce his thoughts from his one appointed work. His business is the perfecting of the saints of God. Let him do it, and do it faithfully. On the other hand, the saint who is to be perfected, ought to be equally vigilant and equally faithful in his specific work. The pastor is to perfect his people in his appointed way, by preaching. The hearer is to contribute his part in his appointed way, by doing. Hence the admonition, Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. The whole experiment fails if it fails here. If the christian neglects or defers to do, if he merely hears and omits to obey, all is disappointment, all failure. It is the imperative duty of every member of the church to carry out the divine plan and obey the word, that so the ministry may do its work, perfecting the saints.
Brethren of this Church, and you their pastor elect and willing, I give you hearty joy and much congratulation, on the auspices of this happy hour. Especially do I rejoice and give thanks, with you, floc. of God, knowing as I do, the tried excellence and christian repute of him whom you have chosen to be set over you in the Lord. Long may he live and labor in this inviting vineyard. And may every returning year witness, as I
doubt not it will, the same untiring zeal, and the same assiduous care, and the same prudence, and the same manifest success, which have marked his previous ministry, and given him already the confidence of the wise and the fellowship of the good.
Be it yours, my brethren, to understand from this hour your several responsibilities. Let it be his to seek with diligence and zeal and much simplicity of love, your christian improvement, your growth in grace. And be it yours, be it the desire and purpose and settled habit of every one of you, to do the work which the Gospel enjoins. So shall Christ and his religion have the honor in this community, of an example in which the ripest graces and rarest traits of a consummate and perfected piety, shall shine forth to the gaze of many beholders. So shall the work of the ministry begun to-day, be done and well done among you. Which may God grant through the gift and the working of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.
BY REV. J. S. PATTENGILL,
WALTON, N. Y.
HOW SHALL THE MINISTRY BE PROVED?
"Make full proof of thy ministry."-2 TIMOTHY iv. 5.
The Apostle had been suddenly driven from Ephesus, by persecution, before he had completed the organization of the Church; and before he had corrected existing errors from which the Church was likely to suffer. Paul instructs Timothy to complete this work; and for this purpose the First Epistle to Timothy was evidently written. He is directed to discharge the duties of a local missionary in the Apostle's absence-or to act the part of a conservator in matters of doctrine and practice as specified in the Epistle.
The second Epistle seems to have a double object in view; to give Timothy charge as a minister of Christ, in his relation to the Church at Ephesus, and to request his presence at Rome as soon as possible. As if he might not be spared until Timothy should reach him at Rome he writes his last Epistle as a dying man. And, as if he might be spared, he urges Timothy to come to him
with all diligence. Under such circumstances the message has an important significance.
It is the parting counsel of the most eminent of the Apostles. As a father, he addresses Timothy as his dearly beloved sonenjoins him to hold fast the form of sound words-to endure hardness as a good soldier-to avoid entanglement with the affairs of this life-to correct errors of doctrine and practice already apparent, and to show himself approved unto God by diligent study, so as to divide rightly the word of God to all.
He warns him that perilous times were approaching—that fables and forms of godliness would arise to supplant the Gospel -that false teachers would be sought, to gratify the itching ears of deluded disciples; and urges him to follow his own example of fidelity in all things through persecution and trial, to the final triumphs of the Cross. With a heroism which no battle-field ever exhibited, and with a triumph which no conqueror of kingdoms or empires ever experienced, he utters, as with dying breath, this unparalleled charge, as the crowning work of God's chosen instrument of mercy to men.
"I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom-preach the word! be instant in season, out of season. Reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. Watch thou in all things; do the work of an evange list; make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only but unto all those also that love his appearing."
I leave the battle-field, and lay aside my armor for the crown of victory. I leave the field of conflict to you, and to other soldiers of the Cross. To all them that love the appearing of Jesus Christ, the charge of the Apostle is addressed. When Timothy had fought and conquered-when he had finished his course, and received his crown, other soldiers were summoned to the same field of strife, and of triumphs. The charge-"Make full proof of thy ministry," is yet the trumpet call to battle with similar enemies, in view of similar conquests and crowns. This call is not only to the watchmen, and leader of God's elect, but to all who fill the ranks of that great army which no man can number. They are to stand upon Mount Zion with palms of victory in their hands. The same great battle is to be fought upon this ground; not perhaps amidst violent persecutions, but amidst perils, in view of which, the text is a pertinent charge, and the promise connected, a much needed encouragement.
In these circumstances, HOW SHALL THE MINISTRY BE PROVED?
I. In the discussion of this question we may first examine the evidence connected with the ministry.
The general duties of the ministry are well understood, so far as they lie upon the surface, and are open to the public eye. The efforts of the pulpit-the daily intercourse of life, the duties connected with the social meeting, and such as are required in the midst of affliction and bereavement, are those parts of a minister's work, which appear upon the surface, and upon which the public judgment is made up. But the more important duties and difficulties of his office, are beneath the surface, and concealed from the public eye. Many of these are of such a nature, that he cannot reveal them, without personal violence to his own feelings-or public injury to the cause of Christ. Some of these we may state in this connection, without doing violence to either.
How the minister shall discharge the duties which he owes to his household, and not entangle himself with the affairs of this life, is a question not always easy to settle. The claims of the pulpit and the study, and the social demands of the people are not always in agreement. The weak must be strengthened-the sick must be visited—the tempted must be counseled, the desponding encouraged, and the mourner comforted. Jealousies must be healed and public scandal, and conflicting evils must have a medium of conservative influences, to prevent ruinous conflict But who shall counsel, and comfort, and encourage, and hold up the minister of Christ, when his heart is sad, and desponding, and darkness beclouds his path? The hopeless living must be warned, and won to Christ, or perish-the hopeless dead must receive a Christian burial after a life of active resistance to the Gospeland of unceasing opposition to the ministry. Account must be rendered at the bar of God for the trusts of the Gospel, and the souls of men-in view of that solemn position which the minister must ever occupy, between the living and the dead. Any other man may provide for the future wants of his family, without sacrificing his Christian character, or Christian influence. But the minister cannot do this. Any other man may seek relaxation from crushing anxiety, and exhausting toil, but the poor minister has no resting place but the grave. His bow must ever be bent, his lamp must ever be burning. Any other man may receive commiseration for his frailties; but the minister's faults are allowed no public pardon. Any other man may have a home for himself and family, where the purposes and social affections of life may root downward, and grow upward, until ripened friendships are gathered in a good old age; but the minister is a pilgrim, and a stranger, having no certain abiding place He has no home which frailty may not destroy-which caprice may not blast, and of which, neglect may not rob him. Other men in other professions, and employments, may add comforts and conveniences to make home attractive for their oror enjoyment as their own;