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2 Cor. iv. 13.

We also believe, and therefore speak.


O understand what ought to be the character, and what principles fhould animate the conduct of a minifter of the Gofpel, cannot be without profit, even to a private Christian. It will teach him whom to prefer, when he is called, in providence, to make a choice. It will teach him to hold fuch in reputation for their office fake, and to improve the privilege of a regular gospel miniftry, if he himself is favored with it. And I think it muft incline him to make daily fupplication to the Lord of the harveft, to fend forth faithful laborers into his harvest.

But though there were no fuch general advantage to be derived from it, my particular charge, and the very afpect of this audience, would eafily juftify me in making this, for once, the immediate fubject of difcourfe.

Now, if we would know the character of a faithful minister, we cannot better, or more immediately reach our purpose, than by looking into the character, and observing the conduct, and springs of action, of the apostles of our Lord, who received their commiffions immediately from

himself, and were not only the first, but the best and most fuccessful minifters, that ever were employed in the church of Chrift.

The Apostle Paul, whofe call was fo fingular, and whose labors were fo diftinguished, has, in his epiftles to the feveral churches, planted or watered by him, given us a great light into the chief aims he had in the exercise of the ministry. In this chapter, and the preceding part of this epiftle, he fhews the Corinthians, with what visible faithfulness and fincerity he had acted, and what diligence he had uled in promoting their eternal happiness.

To fave time, I forbear going through the connexion of his difcourfe, and only obferve, that in the words of our text, he fhows what kept him faithful and influenced him to fo much diligence in the work, to which he was called, by alluding to an expreffion in the 116th Pfalm. It is written, I have believed, therefore bave I spoken. We also believe, and therefore speak. In this he intimates, that our inward perfuafion of the great truths of the everlafting Gofpel, could not but have a powerful influence upon him and others, to prefs the important message, and watch over the fouls of thofe committed to their charge.

In difcourfing further at this time, I intend to confine myfelf to this fingle truth, which may be eafily deduced from the text: That one of the most effentially neceffary, and the most extenfively useful qualifications of a good minifter, is, that he be a good man, that he have a firm belief of that Gofpel he is called to preach, and a lively fenfe of religion upon his own heart. After I fhall have explained and confirmed this obfervation, I will conclude with fome practical reflections.

Though I have mentioned real religion as one of the most effentially neceffary qualifications, I am not ignorant, that taking the words in a ftrict fenfe, gifts are more neceffary to the being of a miniftry, than even grace itself. To make the efficacy of the ordinances to depend upon the inward state of the adminiftrator, is a Popish error, and is exprefsly guarded againft by the Affembly of Divines, in our fhorter Catechifm, in the following words;

The sacraments, and it is equally true of every other ordinance, become effectual to salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them, but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in them, that by faith receive them.

But fome degree of capacity is evidently neceffary in the most absolute fenfe. A man who is altogether void of knowledge and utterance, or who is deaf and dumb, may be a faint, but cannot be a minifter. This conceffion, however, takes nothing from the force of the obfervation, that real religion is of the greatest importance, and most abfolutely neceffary to the faithful discharge of a minif ter's facred truft. That I may fet this in as clear and ftrong a light as I am able, let me intreat your attention to the following obfervation,

I. Real religion in a minister will make him knowing, and able for his work. It is neceflary for any one who intends himself for the office of the miniftry, by diligent study, and the use of those means, with which God in his providence hath furnished him, to improve his underftanding and acquire a stock of knowledge, that he may be a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the way of truth. In this he can have no fuch incitement as concern for his Mafter's glory. Nay, he that is truly religious, is taught of God, the belt of masters, and will have fome of his moft profitable lessons from his own experience..

Let me the rather intreat your attention to this, that those who are molt apt to difparage piety, are also apt to fpeak in terms of high approbation on the fubject of literature and science.-Obferve, therefore, that true religion ferves both to give a man that knowledge which is neceffary to a minister, and to direct and turn into its proper channel the knowledge which he may otherwife acquire. It is an approved maxim in every fcience, that practical and experimental knowledge far exceeds that which is merely fpeculative; at leaft, though the last may make the prettieft fhow, the firft is by much to be preferred for ufe. Any wife man, Any wife man, if he was to go a dangerous

voyage, would readily prefer as his pilot, one who had much experience, and had failed often that way himself, to one, who had ftudied navigation in the most perfect manner afhore. So, my brethren, every man who regards his foul would choose for his spiritual guide, one, who appears to have the wifdom to fave his own, and would expect by him to be beft directed how to avoid the rocks and fhelves in his paffage, through this dangerous and tempeftuous ocean of life.

But if this maxim holds true in other science, it holds yet more strongly in Religion, which cannot be truly known unless it be felt. There is an infeparable con, nexion between faith and practice, truth and duty; and therefore he that is a stranger to the one, is ignorant of the other. I am not infenfible that a bad man may efpouse, and plead for a great part of the fyftem of divine truth; but as he cannot cordially embrace it, fo I am inclined to think that he never truly understands it. The Apostle Paul declares, that it is only by the Spirit of God which is given to every real Christian, and more efpecially to every faithful Minister, that a man is enabled to treat rightly of divine things, Now we have received, not the Spirit of "the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might "know the things that are freely given to us of God; which "things we fpeak, not in the words which man's wisdom "teacheth, but which the Holy Ghoft teacheth, comparing

fpiritual things with fpiritual. But the natural man re"ceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are "foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, for they "are fpiritually difcerned." As the real Chriftian from that character is beft difpofed to feek after, fo he is by the fame means beft fitted to improve and apply his knowledge of spiritual things. This will appear, if we confider what ought to be the great work of a minifter. He hath to do chiefly with the hearts and confciences of his people. His bufinefs is to convince the ungodly; to awaken the fecure; to enlighten the ignorant; to direct and ftrengthen the weak in the faith, and in general as a wife physician, to adminifter the medicine proper to the various conditions and diforders of his hearers. Now it muft, at first fight,

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appear, that he who is a stranger to the power of godliness, and knows nothing of the fpiritual life himself, must be utterly unfit for difcerning how it thrives, or affifting and promoting it in others. That man muft furely be moft powerful in fearching, and most skilful in guiding the confciences of others, who has been accuftomed to examine and direct his own.

I only farther obferve upon this particular, that true religion will purify, and direct into its proper channel, the knowledge he may otherwife acquire. It is a great mistake to think, found learning is an enemy to religion, and to fuppofe that an ignorant miniftry is the best or fafeft. There is no branch of human knowledge of which a Divine may not be the better, or which a good man will not improve to the glory of God and the good of others; though fome of them are more important than others; and it is neceffary to give to any of them, only fuch proportion of our time, as is confiftent with our great and principal aim. Now true religion is the great preserva tive against mistake or abuse of any kind on this fubject. A bad man is apt to ftudy, merely to gratify his own fancy; and there is a false luxury and delicacy in feeding the mind as well as the body. A bad man is alfo exceedingly prone to intellectual pride and felf-fufficiency; than which, there is not a vice more dangerous in itself, or more contrary to the character of a Minifter of the New Teftament. But he who is fanctified by divine grace, as he has every motive to diligence in acquiring knowledge, fo the fingle purpofe to which he will wish to apply it, is to ferve God in the Gofpel of his Son.

II. Real religion in a minifter will make him happy and chearful, ready and willing to do his duty. There is a great difference between the prompt, and speedy obedience of a fervant who loves his mafter and his work, and the reluctant labor of him who only deceives him, that he may eat of his bread. A truly pious man undertakes the office of the miniftry from love to God, with a view to promote his glory, and what he hath counted his interest in the world: viz. the welfare of the fouls of men. An unholy minifter undertakes this employment only as a

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