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one who seems to feel what he speaks, and who lives as he teaches.
Experience greatly confirms the whole of this reafoning-for wherever an eminently pious minifter has lived, and labored long, there is commonly to be found the most knowing, ferious, fober-minded, and judicious people; nay, the very memory of fuch a minifter, is often long continued, after he is gone, and his example is propofed by his hearers, to their children's children.
From all these confiderations, I conclude, that the most important qualification of a good minifter, is to be a believing preacher, and that if he faves his own foul, he will be the probable mean of faving them that hear him. I proceed now, to make fome improvement of the fubject.
Reverend fathers and brethren,
As we would with our people to do, let us take heed how we hear, and make a faithful application to ourselves, of what hath been faid upon the fubject. Let it engage us to a ferjous examination of ourselves, left while we preach the gospel to others, we ourfelves fhould be reprobates. This ought to be the fubject of our frequent and ferious thoughts, for feveral reafons. We are in danger of thinking ourselves too eafily fafe, by comparing that outward regularity, to which our office itself, even from fecular motives, obliges us, with the licentious extravagance of profane finners. We are in danger of mistaking our frequent thinking and speaking of the things of God, in the way of our calling, for an evidence of true religion in ourfelves. We may alfo, perhaps, miftake thofe gifts with which God hath furnifhed us, for the benefit of his own people, as the fruits of the fpirit, and of gracious difpofitions in our hearts. A minifter is as much liable to felfdeceit as others, and in fome refpects, more fo. We have therefore much need, often to make trial of our state, as well as to give all diligence, to make our calling and election fure.
But let us beware of imagining, that this difcourfe is only applicable to fuch, as have no real faith in Chrift. God forbid that there were any minifter among us, a com
plete unbeliever, counting the Gospel a fable. But faith, and every other gracious difpofition grafted upon it, are capable of many degrees of improvement and ftrength; and in proportion to the ftrength of our faith, and the impreffion we have of divine things, will be our diligence, and confequently our fuccefs, in the work of the ministry. Let us therefore imprefs our minds, with a more and more lively fenfe of the important truths which we teach and hear. Let us not ftarve ourselves, while we are feeding others but ftudy to arrive at a greater degree of love to God, and delight in him, a greater conformity to his bleffed image, in purity of heart, and integrity of life. Let us in a special manner, ftudy to attain to more and more intimate communion with God in fecret, which is the fign of our dependance upon him, and the very exercise of love to him, which is the mean of conftancy, and the fource of joy in religion.
Above all, let us fet our affections upon the things that are above, where our Redeemer fits at his Father's right hand. As our profeffion is to be pilgrims and strangers in the earth, to live by faith, and not by fight, let us study to raise our hopes of, and defire after, the heavenly inheritance. By this we fhall not only believe, but know and feel the value of true religion, which cannot fail to make us diligent in seeking the good of others.
Oh! my brethren, what reafon have we to be inwardly ashamed at the weakness of our faith, and the coldness of our love, as they fhow themselves, by our indifference in the duties of our office? We are often ready, both to complain, and wonder that our hearers are fo little affected with the most awful confiderations, that they can hear with indifference of everlasting happiness, and fet without fear under the denunciations of eternal wrath: that we cannot perfuade them, it is of importance to think what fhall become of them forever. But is it not alfo to be wondered at, that we ourselves can often speak of these things with fo little emotion? Can we ever be fufficiently affected with the danger of our hearers, when we confider, that we mult either fave them by convincing and converting them now, or deliver our own fouls, by wit
neffing, juftifying, and perhaps pleading for their condemnation at the last day? However plain and fimple these truths are, of the final judgment of minifters and people, they are quite unfathomable in their meaning and importance to both. It is ftrange that we can think of them without the deepest concern, or even speak of them with
Let us pray that the Lord would increase our faith, that believing we may speak, and that our fpeech may be with fuch efficacy, by the bleffing of God, as many finners may be thereby brought to everlasting life; that we may approve ourselves to him that fent us; and that when Chrift the chief fhepherd fhall appear, we may receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
HAVE been led to the choice of this fubject, by that dif penfation of Providence, which, though contrary to all human probability, hath brought me to this new charge of prefiding over the inftruction of youth, in the liberal arts. I find alfo that in the courfe of my attendance on it, I fhall have frequent opportunities of preaching the glorious gospel of the bleffed God to you, of this congregation and neighborhood. Let me therefore beg your attention to the inftructive paffage which I have juft now read, that both teachers and scholars, minifters and hearers, may preferve a juft fenfe of their relation to one another, and VOL. II. 4 G