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tration. Should I fay fo to this audience without diftinction, it would be to many a dangerous and flupifying poi fon. A juft and holy God, is a confuming fire to all the workers of iniquity. Thofe who are ftill in their fins, should tremble to think of the government of God.
Befides public preaching, you must be diligent among your people" from houfe to houfe." You must not negle family inftruction, and perfonal admonition or reproof. This is, if not the molt ufeful part of a minifter's work, at least abfolutely neceflary to the fuccefs of his preaching. It is alfo by far the moft laborious part, from which flothful men are moft apt to excufe themfelves. A man may gratify his vanity by preaching, and public per formances; or, the neglect being vifible, he may be com pelled to regularity by fear of reproach or perfecution. But diligence in private, can fcarcely arise from any thing but a fenfe of duty, and of the prefence and obfervation of God.
The exercife of difcipline is another part of your duty which muft not be omitted. It is of very great mo ment to the intereft of religion. It is a faying of one of the first reformers, "They that defire to banifh difcipline, defire to banish Chrift from his church." There muft needs be offences in the Chriftian church. But when difcipline is neglected, then the offence becomes unfpeakably more dangerous, especially to the young and weak. It makes them think lightly of the character and privileges of a Chriftian, when there is either a promifcuous admiffion to church-communion, or when openly wicked. perfons are fuffered to continue without cenfure. When you come to inftruct young perfons, in order to renewing their baptifmal engagements in the Lord's fupper; or, if ever you have occafion to inftruct a heathen in order to baptifm, I can affure you, from experience, you will find the unhappy effect of the low ftate of difcipline among us. It will immediately flrike yourfelf, and thefe catechumens will foon betray, by their difcourfe, how hard it is to have a juft fenfe of the fanctity of the Chriftian character, while fo many profane perfons are fuffered to be called Chrif tians; and not a few whofe conduct is very exceptionable,
continue to be admitted at flated times, to the seals of God's covenant.
How inexcufeable are we in this neglect? If the first Christians, without the help or fanction of an establishment, kept fo ftrict a difcipline, what might we do, who have the countenance and approbation of the civil power. In difcipline then, be ftrict, regular, and impartial. Efpecially be impartial. It is commonly want of impartiality, that makes us fail in ftrictnefs. You will have many enemies to impartiality in difcipline. You will have the great and wealthy, many of whom, though they live in open defiance of the laws and ordinances of Christ, yet will be much offended, and complain of it as a grievous injury, if by a judicial fentence you deprive them of his name. Nay, you will find in every congregation fome profeffing piety, who, though they are well pleafed with, and commend the ftrict exercife of difcipline in the cafe of others, yet when it comes to touch themfelves, or their own relations, will ufe many arts to evade it. But if you be firm and unbiaffed in fo good a caufe, it will have a fenfible effect.
This leads me to exhort you in the whole of your work, public and private, to beware of the fin of manpleafing. I do not fay, beware of popularity: because, in the fenfe to which common language hath confined that word, it is but one half of the fnare. Besides, in propriety of speech, popularity fhould fignify only being accepted and beloved, which in itfelf is neither duty nor fin, but a bleffing. Man-pleafing fignifies, in Scripture, having this as the end and motive of our actions, rather than being acceptable to God. You ought, indeed, for edification, to avoid difpleafing any without neceffity. But as in this, fo in every other thing, you fhould have a far higher principle, than merely courting the favor either of great or fmall, good or bad. It is, doubtlefs, a mean and defpicable principle, to act only with a view of gaining the applaufe of the vulgar and ignorant. But I have often wondered, how fome fhould fo boldly and uncharitably lay this to the charge of their brethren, without confidering how eafy it is, with at leaft,
equal juftice, to prefume that they are under the influence of, and acting with a view to please the great. I am fure, there is a much stronger temptation to this than the former. And, if I am not miftaken, fawning and fervility hath been the road, in which ambitious and corrupt churchmen have travelled to preferment in every age. The truth is, they are equally deteftable in the fight of God. But the laft is much more deftructive to the intereft of religion than the firft. The favor of the multitude can fcarcely be obtained, without either the truth or the appearance of piety; but the favor of the great is often obtained by filence, and fuffering them in their crimes, being affiftant in their pleasures, or fubfervient to their political defigns.
To deliver you, Sir, from both, remember the condition on which you hold your office. "Son of man, I "have made thee a watchman to the houfe of Ifrael: there"fore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning "from me. When I fay unto the wicked, Thou fhalt "furely die; and thou giveft him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way to fave "his life: the fame wicked man fhall die in his iniquity, "but his blood will I require at thine hand."a Forget then the foolish accufations of popularity or vanity; and confider, that your people are daily carried to their graves, and you must give an account of every foul that perishes through your neglect.
To conclude, be much in earnest prayer to God, that he would fit you for your work, and crown your labours with fuccefs. Prayer is abfolutely neceffary to the ftedfastnefs and growth of every believer, and especially to a minifter. If you believe the gospel, you will believe that "every good gift cometh from above; that God only can make you an able and ufeful paftor; and this will make you importunate with him for a plentiful measure of the Holy Spirit to fit you for his fervice. And I defire to join in praying, that God, for Chrift's fake, would make you an "able minifter of the New Teftament,"-and help you to preach the gospel, not with the wisdom of words," but with "the Holy Ghoft fent down from "heaven."
a Ezek. iii. 17, 13,
YOU have heard the charge given to your minifter Are there then, fo many duties incumbent on him by his flanding in the relation of a paftor to you? is not the relation mutual? And are there not feveral correfpondent duties incumbent on you as his people? I beg your patience, while I put you in mind of a few of the most im portant and neceffary.
In the first place, it is evidently your duty diligently to attend upon his miniftry. It is plainly impoffible that you can profit by him, if you do not hear him. I am forry that there are many in thefe days, who pour contempt upon the ordinances of Chrift's inftitution. But in particular, there hath been, of late, a great and remarkable defertion of public worship by thofe of higher rank. There is a happy opportunity in this cafe to put all fuch among you in mind, that having fubfcribed a call to their minif ter, they ftand bound by confent to attend upon him. Is it not furprising to think, that any should forget the terms in which that invitation runs. You intreat him "to take "the charge of your fouls, and promife him all due obe"dience and fubmiflion in the Lord." Can a man honestly fubfcribe this, who feldom comes within the walls of any church? One would be counted infamous in the world, who fhould act in the face of a figned obligation, in any other matter, or who even fhould falfify a folemn
promife. And, is it lefs criminal, because it relates to religion and the fervice of God? It is indeed feldom refented or punished by men, because the offence is not immediately against them, but it remains to be punished by that righteous God, "To whom vengeance belongs,and who will not be mocked."
In the next place, my brethren, let me intreat you to be tender of the character of your minifter, and of minifters in general. As their office makes the guilt of their fins great, and as a flain on their character is most hurtful to religion, on both accounts, you ought not rafhly to receive an accufation against them. I do not mean to ask indulgence to the unworthy, I give them up freely to that reproach and contempt which they juftly deferve. But let it fall upon the perfon, and not upon the office. Do not transfer the faults of particulars to the whole order. It is easy to observe the different reception which the faults or thifcarriages of minifters meet with, from perfons differently difpofed. The good are affected with grief and concern for the offence, or filled with zeal and indignation against the finner. But loose and carelefs perfons difpa rage the profeffion, and bless themselves in their own uniformity and confiftency of character. You may spare your reflections, "That minifters are but men, minifters "are but like other men," and the like, when, I assure you, we deny it not. We have all the fame great interest at stake. We often speak the more earneftly to you, left, while we preach the gospel to others, we ourselves fhould be caft-aways; and many times defcribe the workings of a deceitful, wandering, flothful, worldly mind, by taking the copy from our own.
It falls very properly in my way on this occafion, to take notice of a reproach thrown upon minifters, by the miftake or perverfion of two of the queftions usually put at an ordination, and which you have just heard put to your minifter. They are fuppofed by many to be fuch as no man can answer with truth, and fo quite improper to be put at all. The first of them is in the following terms, "Are not zeal for the honor of God, love to Jefus Chrift, "and defire of faving your fouls, your great motives, and VOL. II.