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What we have been observing, is not designed to represent a change of heart, as an unessential qualification in the gospel minister. For particular reasons, Christ saw fit to put one unconverted character among the twelve apostles; but it is undoubtedly the duty of every church, to seek a pastor after God's own heart. And it is the duty of those who are in the ministry, to commit this office and work to those only, who appear to be faithful men. I proceed to remark, 2. That if an unsanctified minister is the same, as a minister of Satan ; rules may be given which are of use to guard us against being imposed on; and yet it is true, that "no rules can be laid down, by which the hearers can with certainty distinguish between a sanctified, and an unsanctified minister." There is a difference between laying down rules to judge of our own hearts, and to judge of the hearts of our fellow men. There are rules by which we may know, with certainty, about our own hearts. A christian may have an assured hope about himself He may make his own calling and election sure; but he cannot, by any rules laid down, have the same assurance of his christian brother, for he cannot see and know his heart. The rules of judging of the goodness of another's heart, amount only to probability. There may be such striking evidences of grace exhibited, as to take away all uncomfortable doubts and suspicions of the genuineness of his religion; and yet it would be invading the prerogative of the searcher of hearts, to say, We know that man's heart is right We can say, He is a faithful brother as I suppose. See 1 Pet. v. 12.
But when it was said, "No rules can be laid down by which the hearer can with certainty distinguish between a sanctified, and an unsanctified minister," it was not meant there were no unsanctified ministers which could be distinguished and pointed out as such. Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment. A good heart will never take corrupt doctrines, and a wickcd life, for a mask; but a wicked heart sometimes plays the hypocrite. Men may conduct so, that we may ferceive that they are in the gall of bitterness. Thus, if a man habitually use profane language, we decide with certainty; that if he be a professor, his religion is vain : But if he use no such language, and even regularly at
tend religious duties, we dare not decide with the same certainty, that his religion is not vain. It was my object in the Sermon, to law down rules how to know those ministers, who were on the wrong side, and were in reality destroying, instead of building up, the christian faith; rather that to enable us to pronounce positively concerning any one, that he was a sanctified minister. To know those, who under the name of Christ's ministers, are opposing Christ, and whose word is eating like a canker, is a matter which deeply concerns all, who have souls capable of being saved or lost. But to be able to determine concerning the best minister of our acquaintance, that he is already a child of God, is not a matter of consequence.
As to the Methodist ministers, I am not disposed to impeach their moral character. All the charge which I shall bring against them, is what they will not deny : -I charge them with espousing, and propagating the Arminian doctrines; or the doctrines which are held forth in Mr. B's. Letters. In their view, I know that this is no fault; but in our view, it is one of no small magnitude. The things, which Mr. B has said in favor of their ministers, will not prove with certainty, that they are not the ministers of Satan transformed into the apostles of Christ. Their zeal to make converts, will not prove it. We know who it was that said, "Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him two-fold more the child of hell than yourselves." Mat. xxiii. 15. This passage
is introduced merely to show it is possible, that a fire which is not kindled from the altar of God, should burn with vehement flame. We see from the case stated by our Saviour, (who knew what was in man,) that men who have never drunk into the spirit of his gospel, but are perfect strangers to it, may nevertheless be zealous in religion, and in spreading it abroad, and in making converts to it.
Ministers' having but a small temporal support, and their preaching against other ministers' receiving wages for their labor, does not prove that they are not in the service of the prince of darkness. To enter the gospel ministry, for the sake of the temporal support connect
ed with it, is a great sin. To glorify God, and be use. ful to men, should be the ultimate end. No one should seek to enter the ministry, unless he thinks it to be the work for which he is, or for which he can be qualified; unless he has reason to think, that it is the work to which God, by his providence and grace, is calling him. I am far from wishing to see the ministers of the Lord Jesus made affluent by their salaries, and converted into "lords spiritual," and even "lords temporal." But the opposite extreme of this lordly affluence is, that they shall have nothing. Who can help but see, that the matter is established by divine authority, That the ministers of the gospel shall have a temporal support? In the 9th chapter of the 1st Corinthians, the apostle argues this matter at full length. He reasons from a divine establishment, for the temporal support of the priests and Levites under the law. After he had used this and other arguments, he adds; "Even so hath the Lord or dained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."
The apostle, in his 2nd epistle to the Corinthians, says; "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service and in all things have I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so will I keep myself. Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion, that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." 2 Cor. xi. 8—14. From this passage we learn, that Satan's ministers made their boast of preaching the gospel for nothing, that is, without receiving wages; and that this is the thing which St. Paul has most directly under his eye, when he calls them false apostles and deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And their preaching against ministers' receiving wages, and stigmatizing the true ministers of Christ for doing so, is given by the apostle as the reason, why he was determined to take no wages of the church at Corinth, and of other churches in the regions of Achaia.
But as there are none at the present day, who pretend to balance the claims of these false apostles, against the claim of the great apostle of the Gentiles, which he made for himself and all the true ministers of the gospel, namely, that they had a right to a support from the carnal things of those, to whom they ministered in spiritual things; we should not imagine there would now be any call for ministers of the gospel, to decline receiving that support, which the Lord has ordained they shall be entitled to, for the sake of cutting off occasion from them which desire occasion. At least, I think, it must be manifest to all; that decrying salaries, and even preaching without any wages, is. not, of itself, enough to rescue any one from the just imputation of being called a minister of Satan. The receiving of a salary, will not prove us to be Satan's ministers, and the not receiving of a salary, will not prove that we are not his ministers.*
*Mr. Bangs, in his concluding remarks, has this sentence: "Did we refuse to preach, until the people had stipulated to give us three, five, ten, or twenty hundred dollars annually, there might be some cause to suspect we were actuated by sinister motives, and that our ministry was founded in selfiskness." pp. 294, 295. The Methodist minister receives a salary, how much I do not know: but I conclude that it is enough, together with the hospitality of those among whom he travels, to render him comfortable. If it be not enough, he surely ought to have more. The writer of this Vindication, is far from being chargeable with being a rich and affluent minister, as is well known to those who are acquainted with his circumstances. His people are punctual in affording him his stipulated support; but he is not by this means rising to affluence. The ministers in the ecclesiastical body, of which he is a member, are not rich; they are certainly not more than comfortable. This remark, without much alteration, it is thought will apply to the Congregational and Presbyterian ministers collectively, in this country. These things are not said in way of complaint; but as a reply to the insinuation, that we are hirelings, because we receive such extravagant salaries. We will not however, say, there is no fault in this thing. But this we are bold to say That the chief Shepherd has ordained,—that his minįsters should receive a temporal support for their spiritual services. Grant this,' some man may say, but why do you not relinquish your right, as Paul did his ? Ans. There may be instances at the present day, where there is a call for this; but to suppose the call to the relinquishment of this right, to be
The making of converts, is not decisive proof, that any preacher is not in the service of the devil. We must examine into the character of those converts; into their views of divine truth, their spirit, and their practice. Ann Lee, whom the Shakers call the Elect Lady, made converts; and there seems to be a great plainness, and uniformity in their dress; and regularity, and apparent self-denial in their conduct: But are we therefore bound, without examining into their views of God's character, and their own; and without becoming acquainted with their spirit and temper, to conclude that they are real converts, and that their founder was a true prophetess, sent by the Lord Jesus to preach his gospel?
Soundness in doctrine is essential to the ministers of Christ. It is an apostolic command; "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed." 2 John verse 10. We will not at present, say what doctrine the apostle meant; let it suffice, that the text proves that a preacher may be so deficient in doctrine, as to lay a foundation for considering him as no minister of Christ, let his other claims be what they may. How forcibly is this idea expressed by the apostle Paul, Gal. i. 8: "But tho' we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Did not the apostle, in this declaration, make orthodoxy essential to the character of a gospel minister? Did he not do as much as to say; that a man cannot have so much sanctity in his deportment, or zeal in his preaching, as to claim to be heard, in the character of a gospel minister, if he do not preach the true gospel?
I have no doubt but that the preachers, who are in the Methodist connexion, think they are preaching the true gospel of Christ. We do not wish to have dominion over their faith. But what we believe, that we must speak. If we believe, as we most assuredly do, that it is a doctrine of revelation, that the all-wise God
universal, would be the same as to suppose a want of wisdom in the Lord's ordaining, that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel.