Imágenes de páginas

but the minister's relief is, that discomforts are of short duration in any one locality, and are soon resigned to other, and successive wanderers. The death of other men, or the removal of other men may cause his removal, because the contingencies of his life are in the hands of other men, and beyond his own control. Other men may appropriate the avails of active life, to supply old age with competence, and quiet release from temporal want; but the avails of a minister's active life must be devoted to the Church, and to the world for Christ's sake; and when his vigor fails, and the unpardonable sin of gray hairs silvers his headthen as a worthless, worn out servant he must shift for himself, to live if he can, or die neglected.

Amidst all these conflicting powers, he must prove his ministry, to fulfil a divine requirement laid upon him. To do this, it will be clearly seen, that fortitude, and faith must enter largely into the evidence, which proves his work. There must be a fortitude which falters not-a faith which penetrates the vail, to rest in the things unseen and eternal. To the Church, and the world, he must look for no adequate recompense. For this God has made promises in the future; and though he now receives more than he deserves-and more than he in justice is entitled to receive-yet not to the amount promised for service in the vineyard. This is a wise arrangement of the Master. No earthly wisdom can appreciate it-no earthly policy can apply it. It is to be spiritually discerned and spiritually applied by faith-faith which looks to the Church as a means and to God as its end. God has made us ambassadors for Christ-plenipotentiaries of his government, to negotiate a peace with rebel man, upon the conditions of the plan of redemption. As Christ's ambassadors, the outfit, and compensation, must come from the government which sends them forth. What pertains to the wants of the body, is of minor importance; and these wants the Church is directed to provide, because the laborer is worthy of his hire. But for the more important necessities of the ministry, God has made special provision in pormises, where faith can rest in secure hope of future reward. These promises lift the spiritual man above the depressing contingencies of this world.

Whoever cannot forsake all that he hath, should not attempt to preach the gospel; for when tried by the afflictions consequent upon this high calling, he will be found wanting, in the most essential qualifications. There is no station which man can occupy in this life, around which so many trials cluster. These are often of the most aggravating character. The minister must share his part of the common ills of life to which other men are subject; and besides these, he must bear the ills which afflict the Church of God, in a relation to them, which no other man can sustain. Is there apostasy, or backsliding, or clashing faction, or betrayal of Christ? the erivenomed malice of this depraved


world visits these defections upon the watchman, with peculiar pleasure. If the flock stray from the fold the shepherd must bear the blame. If spiritual death prevails, and the cause of Christ languishes, the minister is held responsible. It is his fault that the people are not aroused, and the work of God revived. the Holy Spirit apply the word, and awaken inquiry, and solicitude, and gather sinners into the Kingdom of Christ? Lying rumor and dark insinuation go forth to blast the reputation, and destroy the influence of the ministry. Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, and in the garb of a professed disciple, not unfrequently steals in upon the religious confidence. He would fill the pulsations of the religious heart, so as to give the more fatal stab. These trials must be experienced in order to be appreciated, or understood.

But if the trials of the ministry be many, and severe, the joys and rewards are in proportion. There is no work on earth, so much united with heaven, and none so much connected with all that is redeeming here below, as the work of winning souls to Christ. The commission for this work bears the seal of our ascended Lord, and the promise of his presence and grace. Successful results contemplate battles fought, and triumphs won. They contemplate kingdoms, and crowns, and golden harps, filling every power, and capacity, with the fruition of heaven. In view of such a consummation, present trials are but light afflictions, designed to assist in working out the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Here are the reasons why the apostle could glory in infirmities-in distresses-in necessities-because of the large overbalance of rewards.

But faith must have its corresponding works, to make full proof of the ministry. The study and the pulpit must bear witness that faith and works are earnestly united, to make the man of God perfect, and thoroughly furnished. The charge of Paul to Timothy, loses none of its fitness in theory, or application now, because uttered in primitive times; "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Self instruction is indis pensable, to impart instruction to others. Profitable instruction is the result of mental toil, sanctified by prayer, and adapted to the peculiar wants of men. An accurate knowledge of human nature is indispensable to the success of the Christian Minister. Without this knowledge, the giant intellect may waste its strength in vain, where a much smaller capacity may be employed with telling effect. In no pursuit in life, and in no profession, is a good supply of practical common sense more needed, than in the profession of the Ministry. It deals more than all other professions with the depraved, and deceitful heart. There should be skill in discerning the secret workings of the heart, from its outward manifestations. To secure this qualification, there must be

intimate self acquaintance. For as in water face answereth to face, so doth the heart of man to man.

The pastor needs to become acquainted with the financial character, habits, and standing of his people. In a man's financial habits, as seen in his dealings with his fellow-men-his heart-the whole man is more fully revealed than in all things else. The man appears in his dealings without disguise, and through this one source of knowledge, the christian's value is measured, and registered. If he is penurious and overreaching in his worldly pursuits, if he is small and unmanly in his dealings with his fellow-men, they will judge him as a christian by what he is as a Largeness of heart and smallness in dealings are extremes seldom found in the same character. Smallness in dealing may be connected with strict honesty-but not with large usefulness. The miser may have a form of godliness, but he cannot have a godly reputation. The spirit of benevolence and the spirit of selfishness cannot dwell together in the same heart. A pure pharisaism may be scrupulous in tithing the smallest matters-but wholly unscrupulous in passing over judgment and the love of God. A pure pharisaisin may pray long and fervently and flourish a trumpet in alms-giving; and yet devour widows' houses to answer the grasping selfishness of the heart. What multitudes barter their christian character and usefulness for paltry considerations. "The love of money is the root of all evil." This is more than a proverb. It is the declared existence of a moral disease whose nature and extent must be understood. These necessities must be traced out in the financial habits of every day life. It is needful to know the man, to understand the value of the christian. It is needful to know the easily besetting sins of the community, and of its individual members, in order to apply divinely adapted remedies. The success of the ministry depends upon a discriminative adaptation of the gospel to the peculiar necessities of men. Every grade of character and intellect must be reached. The thoughts and intents of the heart must be discerned and laid open. Becoming all things to all men may by all means save some. But an accepted gospel will not bring every sinner to Christ. While to some it may be the savor of life unto life, to others it will be the savor of death unto death. But if the watchman gives timely and faithful warning, the blood of the dying soul will rest upon his own head. Another item of testimony, is a question of time. The unfolding of the whole gospel, is not the work of a month, or a year. It is parallel with the christian's full growth, and is the work of a life time. The full proof of the ministry contemplates the relations of a settled pastor-a life labor in a given field.

The thorough and systematic study of the year, is but a work begun. This must be pursued, and perfected in successive years. Permanence, while it allows the fruits of mental toil to ripen in a

rich experience, compels the necessity of meeting difficulties, instead of fleeing from them. The hireling fleeth because he is an hireling, and careth not for the flock. But the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. A changing ministry is tempted to be irresponsible; to flee from danger, and difficulty, when courage and council are most needed. The shepherd should be at his post if ever, when the wolf enters the fold. This feeling of irresponsibility is everywhere working untold mischief, both to the ministry, and the church. Every change is liable to produce factions in the Church, and from these come instability, and consquent weakness. Every change of the ministry produces a restlessness, if not a recklessness-causing the minister to regard himself as a homeless wanderer on the earth. No industrial pursuit will bear to be thus tantalized, and broken up by repeated changes. If the maxim is true any where that "a rolling stone gathers no moss," its moral is most significant to a changing ministry. Both minister and people are subjected to a wasting friction, and both are mutually worn out to no good purpose. For such mutual injuries, there is no adequate compensation. The one can form no habits of thorough and systematic study,-and can lay no extended plans of usefulness. The other is tempted to cultivate itching ears for novel gratifications, much more than the christian graces. They will be liable to acquire a morbid religious appetite for anything but sound doctrine. These results, everywhere so apparent, indicate the necessity of time to make full proof of the ministry. Plans of usefulness must extend over a series of years, to provide for the necessities of childhood unto maturity-to cultivate the seed sown until ripened, and gathered into the garner of God.

To prove the ministry fully in the relations of a pastor, more than one witness is required. It avails but little for the minister to say as did Ruth to Naomi-"thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou lodgest I will lodge, and where thou diest I will die, and there will I be buried! God do so to me, and more also, if aught but death, part me and thee." Such a resolution must be confirmed by the Church in whose hands are its conditions. Compelled by any effective caprice to change often his field of labor, the minister may make full proof of his capacity to endure hardness, in the hardest allotment of the Christian soldier, but he cannot make full proof of his ministry as a settled pastor. The co-operation of his people is an indispensable part of the testimony, to make full proof of his ministry with them. The duties of the Church to a settled pastor, it is of vital importance to understand, and to discharge.

II. This will introduce us to the second part of our subject viz: The evidence required of the Church, to prove the ministry.

The arrangement which God ordained in the law of Moses, for the religious instruction of the Jews, is worthy of careful study.

It is a model of divine wisdom, and directly pertinent to our subject, as important testimony. In the possession of the land of promise, the tribe of Levi was to have no inheritance with his brethren. The Lord was his inheritance. To this tribe was committed the religious instruction of the other twelve tribes. To this tribe pertained the duties of the priesthood-the tabernacle, and the service of the altar of sacrifice. For the sustenance of the Levites the twelve tribes were made responsible by tithes and offerings. The proportion of tribes stood as one to twelve, and the number of the people, about as one to sixteen. This divine apportionment was made with a full knowledge of man's capacities, and man's necessities. As the twelve tribes prospered, the increased tithes and offerings would give to the tribe of Levi his share in the prosperity, and as the twelve suffered adversity, the decreased tithe would make the Levite an equal sharer in the


The pastor of a specific Church sustains the relation of the Levite-whose inheritance, under God, is the people over whom he is placed. Let the Church make common cause with the pastor as in the divine arrangement made with the Jews, and there is scarcely no Church so feeble, as not to be able to support the gospel. Should common cause be made as God required of the Jews, there is no question of the more bountiful bestowment of temporal and spiritual blessings, as a divine reward. Why should the members of the Church lay up a given amount of property, more or less, every year, and the pastor who devotes his time to spiritual things lay up nothing, and have no claim upon the property of his people? By what rule of right may a Church increase in wealth, and the servant of the Church have no claim upon that wealth? Why may a private christian lay aside property to make old age comfortable, and still put it out of the power of his minister to do any such thing? If the Church is weakened in numbers, and in wealth, why should not the pastor bear his share in the reverses of providence? It is certain that a minister cannot devote his whole time to the spiritual welfare of his people, and at the same time be burdened with the temporal demands of his family. As his mission to the Church is of a spiritual character, he sustains in this work the position of a servant. But he cannot serve God and mammon. If his time and strength are divided between the demands of his household and of the Church, both must suffer. If the church, by neglect, subject him to harrassing solicitude in temporal things, they are the losers in spiritual things.

In the Jewish arrangement to which we have referred, the Levite was released from public service at the age of sixty years. The high priest held his office during life, assisted in old age by his colleagues in the sacred office. As his duties were not burdensome, they were continued to the limit of his ability to dis

« AnteriorContinuar »