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know what a large and weighty Task the Concerns of the Publiek are ; how many Difficulties arise; which the wiseft Councils cannot foresee, nor the greatest Diligence surmount : And hereupon they Thould be so far from being the first in censuring and accusing the publick Conduct, that they ought, in Reason and Equity, to be the Correctors of others; whofe Ignorance in these Matters fhall, at any Time, betray them into too great Freedom and Severity.
When St Paul, standing before the Council of the Jews, made a solemn Profession of his Innocence, and that he had walked in all good Conscience before God, even until that Day, the Declaration was thought an insolent Boaft, and offended the HighPriest to that Degree, that he commanded him to be smitten on the Mouth. Provoked at this opprobrious Usage, the 'Apostle indeed charges him with Hypocrify, in fitting there to judge him after the Law, and yet commanding him to be smitten contrary to the Law: And, though the Grossness of the Affront he received might justify the Severity of this Charge, yet, when he is put in Mind, that it was the fupreme Magistrate of whom he had said this, so far was he from vindicating, that he prefently revoked it, and condemned himself for it. I wist not, Brethren, that be was the High-Priest ; for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the Ruler of thy People. Instead of despising Dominion then, and speaking evil of Dignities; instead of reviling the Gods, and cursing the Rulers of the People, what is the Advice that this fame Apostle gives us, equally conducive to our own Happiness and Interest, as well as theirs ? ? exhort, says he, that, firs of all, Supplications, Prayers, Intercesions, and giving of Tbanks be made for all Men, and especially for Kings, and all that are in Authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable Life, in all Godliness and
Honesty; for this is good and acceptable in the Sighet of God our Saviour.
2. Between Paftor and People. THE Ministers of God were, at all Times,
a diftinet Order of Men, invested with a peculiar Character, and appointed to the Office of preaching the Word, administering the Sacraments, and ordaining others to succeed in their Function: They are the spiritual Fathers of the Flock of Chrift: That there is such a Relation between them and their respective Congregations, St Paul has more than intimated, when he tells the Corinthians, that, though they might have ten Thousand Instructors in Chrift, yet had they not many Fathers; none, indeed, besides himself; for in Christ Jesus, says he, I have begotten you through the Gospel.
St Paul, being about to take his Leave of the Church of Ephesus, sends for the Elders that prefided therein, and gives them this Injunction; Take Heed unto yourselves, and all the Flock, over which the Holy Ghost bas made you Overseers, to feed the Church of God, which ke bath purchased with bis own Blood; for I know this, that, after my Departing, hall grievous Wolves enter in among you, not sparing the Flock; and also of yourselves shall Men arise, Speaking perverfe Things, to draw away Difciples after them; and therefore watch. In fris canonical Epistles to Timothy, he abounds with such Exhortations as these ; Take Heed unto thyself, and uinto thy Doctrine : Continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both fave thyself and them that hear thee : Study, therefore, to jew thyself approved unto God'; a Workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. Preach the Word; be instant in Season and out of Season;
reprote, rebuke, exhort, with all Long-suffering and Doĉtrine ;
and be thou an Example of the Believers, in Word, in Conversation, in Charity, in Spirit, in Faith, in Pu, rity; and, to compleat the Duty of God's Clergy, St Peter's Exhortation runs thus; Feed the Flock of God, which is among you, taking the Overhight thereof, not by Constraints but willingly; not for filthy Lucre, but of a ready Mind; neither as being Lords over God's Heritage, but being Examples to the Flock; and, when the chief Shepherd. hall appear, Be hall receive a Crown of Glory, that fadeth not away : For they that be wise ball shine as the Brightness of the Firmament ; and they that turn many to Righteoufness, as the Stars for ever and ever.
These are some of the Lines, wherein the Spirit of God has drawn the pastoral Care and Duty, by which he reminds every one, that has undertaken the sacred Function, that he ought to preach such found Doetrine, as may not be reproved, and in a Manner adapted to the Capacities of his Hearers ; that he should guard them against fuch Errors in Opinion and Practice, as are contrary to the Principles and Rules of the Gospel ; that he should be very diligent and industrious in his Calling ; in instructing the Ignorant, in reproving the Wicked, in exhorting the Negligent, in strengthening the Weak, in visiting the Sick, in comforting the Amicted, in confirming those that stand, and reducing those that err ; that he fhould execute this Office freely and willingly, not so much for the secular Advantage and Emoluments of it, as for the spiritual Good and Salvation of thofe Souls, that are committed to his Truft ; and, above all, that he should be blameless himself, and, in his own Person, shew the People an Example of religious Behaviour, recommending them daily to God's Care and Protection, and always, without ceasing, making Mention of them in bis Prayers.
Nor is the Scripture less express in declaring the Rights of the Church, and what the Duties of the People are with regard to their Ministers. We beseech you, Brethren, says St Paul, to know them whicha labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you ; and to estebm them very highly in Love, for their Works Sake ; for they are
Ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech us by them, and they pray you, in Chrift's stead, to be reconciled to God. Obey then therefore that have the Rule over you, and submit yourselves ; for they watch for your Souls, as they that must give an Account, that they may do it with Joy, and not with Griefs and let him, ibat is taught in the Word, communicate to him that teacheth, in all good Things, for as they, which wait at the Altar, are Partakers with the Altar; even so hath the Lord ordained, that they, which preach the Gospel, should live by the Gospel.
Thus Honour and Respect, Submission and Obedience, an high Efteem, and a liberal Maintenance, are what the People owe to their Ministers, besides their daily Prayers to God for his Blefling, and Success upon their Labours.
St Paul, writing to the Ephesians, exhorts them to pray always with all Prayer and Supplication in the Spirit, and to watch thereunto with all Persevetance and Supplication, as for all Saints in general, fo more particularly for himself; that Utterance might be given unto him, and that he might open bis Mouth boldly, to make known the Mystery of the Gospel : And what he requests for himself in this Place, he elsewhere enjoins to be done for every one, that is employed in this sacred Office : Finally, Brethren, pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may have free Course, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked Men; for all Men bave Hot Fairl,
And indeed, if spiritual Knowledge, whereby we discern our Duty, is conveyed by the Word, which God's Ministers preach, and if spiritual Strength to perform our Duty is communicated by those sacraments, which they administer ; if they are appointed by God, as Guides, to direct his People in the right Way to Heaven ; as Pastors, to feed his Flock; as Watchmen; to prevent any Danger, that might surprise his Church ; and as Stewards, to take care of those of his Houshold : If fo many and so valuable Blessings, I say, are imparted to the People of God by these Instruments, then will they deferve the Love of those, to whom their Ministry is so serviceable; and that Love will express itself, as in other Acts, so particularly in praying to God for those, by whom he bestows his Mercies and Loving-Kindnesses unto them.
And, if the Consideration of the Advantages, which God's People reap from the Ministry of their Pastors, engages them to pray for them out of Love and Gratitude ; the Weightiness of their Charge, the great Difficulty of executing it as they ought, and the great Peril, that attends their not executing it, are no less powerful Motives, to engage all good Christians to pray for them out of Pity and Compassion. The more eminent their Dignity is, and the more beneficial their work is, if rightly performed, the greater Danger do those, that assume this Dignity, and undertake this Work, expose themselves to, if they are guilty of any Thing, which may bring a Blemish upon their sacred Function, or if they do this work of the Lord deceitfully. There is sufficient Reason therefore, that they, who are called to this Function, Should not only themselves constantly fly unto God, for the Pardon of their Defects, and for a plentiful Supply of his Grace ; but should beseech all good Christians likewise to strive together will