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alms out of our abundant superfluities, to tolerate the most dangerous errors, without daring to lift up the standard of truth, and to behold the overflowings of vice, without attempting to oppose the threatening torrent. Such would be the mistaken charity of a surgeon, who, to spare the mortifying arm of his friend, should suffer the gangrene to spread over his whole body. Such was the charity of the high priest Eli toward Hophni and Phinehas; an impious charity, which permitted him to behold their shameful debaucheries with too favourable an eye; a fatal charity, which opened that abyss of evil which finally swallowed them up, and into which they dragged with them their father, their children, the people of Israel, and the Church, over which they had been appointed to preside.
The good pastor, conscious that he shall save a soul from death, if he can but prevail with a sinner to forsake his evil way, uses every effort to accomplish so important a work. And among other probable means, which he employs on the occasion, he tries the force of severe reprehension, rebuking the wicked with a holy authority; and, if it be necessary, returning to the charge with a spark of that glowing zeal with which his Master was influenced, when he forced from the temple those infamous buyers and sellers who had profaned it with their carnal merchandise. Thus St. Paul, on receiving information that scandalous errors had been discovered in the conduct of a member of the Corinthian Church, immediately wrote to that Church in the following severe and solemn manner: "It is reported that there is fornication among you. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump," and that the plague in any single member of a society is sufficient to infect the whole company? "Purge out therefore the old leaven, and put away from among yourselves that wicked person. If any that is called a brother be a fornicator, keep not company with such a one, no not to eat. Be not deceived: fornicators shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Flee fornication, therefore, and avoid the company of fornicators. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. Farther, I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already concerning the lascivious person that is among you, to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus," 1 Cor. v, vi.
When the true minister has passed the severest censures upon sinners, and beholds those censures attended with the desired effect, he turns to the persons he lately rebuked with testimonies of that unbounded charity that" beareth all things, and hopeth all things." More ready, if possible, to relieve the dejected than to humble the presumptuous, after having manifested the courage of a lion he puts on the gentleness of a lamb, consoling and encouraging the penitent offender, and never ceasing to intercede for him, till his pardon is obtained both from God and man. Thus St. Paul, who had so sharply rebuked the Corinthians in his first epistle, gave them abundant consolation in his second, and exhorted them to receive with kindness the person whom he had before enjoined them to excommunicate. It is easy to recognize the tenderness of Christ in the following language of this benevolent apostle: "I wrote unto you my first epistle out of much affliction and anguish of heart, with many tears, not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you," 2 Cor. ii, 4. "Great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation. God, that comforteth them that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus, my messenger, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, and your fervent mind toward me. For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance. For ye were made sorry after a godly manner. For behold, what carefulness it wrought in you! What clearing of yourselves! What holy indignation! What fear! What vehement desire! What zeal! What revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. Moreover, we were comforted in your comfort. Yea, and exceedingly the more joyed'we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all. And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, while he remembereth the obedience of you all, and how you received him, together with my reproof, with fear and trembling. I rejoice, therefore, that I have confidence in you in all things," 2 Cor. vii. And with respect to the person who has caused us so much distress, "Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that now ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore, I beseech you, that ye would confirm your love toward him. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: Nay, I have already forgiven him for your sakes, as in the presence of Christ," 2 Cor. ii, 6-10.
Great God! appoint over thy flock vigilant, charitable, and courageous pastors, who may discern the sinner through all his deceitful appearances, and separate him from thy peaceful fold, whether he be an unclean goat or a ravenous wolf, permit not thy ministers to confound the just with the unjust, rendering contemptible the most sacred mysteries, by admitting to them persons with whom virtuous heathens would blush to converse. Touch the hearts of those pastors who harden thy rebellious people, by holding out tokens of thy favour to those who are the objects of thy wrath: and permit no longer the bread of life, which they carelessly distribute to all who choose to profane it, to become in their unhallowed hands the bread of death. Discover to them the impiety of offering their holy things to the dogs: and awaken in them a holy fear of becoming accomplices with those hypocritical monsters, who press into thy temple to crucify thy Son afresh; and who, by a constant profanation of the symbols of our holy faith, add to their other abominations the execrable act of eating and drinking their own damnation, and that with as much composure as some among them swallow down the intoxicating draught, or utter the most impious blasphemies.
AN OBJECTION ANSWERED.
Before we proceed to the consideration of another trait of the character of St. Paul, it will be necessary to refute an objection to which the preceding trait may appear liable. "Dare you," it may be asked, "propose to us as a model, a man who could strike Elymas with blindness, and deliver up to Satan the body of a sinner 1"
Awsw Er. The excellent motive, and the happy success of the apostle's conduct in both these instances, entirely justify him. He considered affliction not only as the crucible in which God is frequently pleased to purify the just, but as the last remedy to be employed for the restoration of obstinate sinners. Behold the reason why the charity of the primitive Church demanded, in behalf of God, that the rod should not be spared, when the impiety of men was no longer able to be restrained by gentler means: determining, that it was far better to be brought to repentance, even by the sharpest sufferings, than to live and die in a sinful state. To exercise this high degree of holy and charitable severity toward a sinner, was, in some mysterious manner, "to deliver up his body to Satan," who was looked upon as the executioner of God's righteous vengeance in criminal cases. Thus-Satan destroyed the first-born in Egypt, smote the subjects of David with the pestilence, and cut off the vast army of Sennacherib. St. John has thrown some light upon this profound mystery by asserting, "There is a sin unto death," 1 John v, 16: and the case of Ahab is fully in point; for when that king had committed this sin, a spirit of error received immediate orders to lead him forth to execution upon the plains of Ramoth-Gilead, 1 Kings xxii, 20, 22. This awful doctrine is farther confirmed by St. Luke, when he relates, that in the same instant, when the people, in honour of Herod, "gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god and not of a man, the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten up of worms, and gave up the ghost," Acts xii, 22, 23. The punishment thus inflicted, by the immediate order of God, was always proportioned to the nature of the offence. If the sin was "not unto death," it was followed by some temporary affliction, as in the cases of Elymas and the incestuous Corinthian. If the crime committed was of such a nature that the death of the sinner became necessary, either for the salvation of his soul, for the reparation of his crime, or to alarm those who might probably be corrupted by his pernicious example, he was then either smitten with some incurable disease, as in the case of Herod; or struck with immediate death, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, who sought to veil their hypocrisy with appearances of piety, and their double-dealing with a lie. Had M. Voltaire considered the Christian Church as a well-regulated species of theocracy, he would have seen the folly of his whole reasoning with respect to the authority of that Church in its primitive state. And convinced that God has a much greater right to pronounce, by his ministers, a just sentence of corporal punishment, and even death itself, than any temporal prince can claim to pronounce such sentence by his officers: that daring philosopher, instead of pointing his sarcasms against an institution so reasonable and holy, would have been constrained to tremble before the Judge of all the earth.
Finally. It is to be observed, that when this kind of jurisdiction was exercised in the Church, the followers of Christ, not having any magistrates of their own religion, lived under the government of those heathenish rulers, who tolerated those very crimes which were peculiarly offensive to the pure spirit of the Gospel. And on this account God was pleased to permit the most eminent among his people, on some extraordinary occasions, to exercise that terrible power, which humbled the offending Church of Corinth, and overthrew the sorcerer Elymas in his wicked career. If it be inquired, What would become of mankind, were the clergy of this day possessed of the extraordinary power of St. Paul? We answer, The terrible manner in which St. Paul sometimes exercised the authority he had received, with respect to impenitent sinners, is not left as an example to the ecclesiastics of the present day, unless they should come (which is almost impossible) into similar circumstances, and attain to equal degrees of discernment, faith, and charity, with this apostle himself.
If " charity seeketh not her own;" and if it is required, that the conversation of the faithful should be without covetousness, it becomes the true minister, in an especial manner, to maintain an upright and disinterested conduct in the world.
Though it be true, that "they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar;" yet nothing is so detestable to the faithful pastor as the idea of enriching himself with the sacred spoils of that altar. Observe how St. Paul expresses himself upon this subject: "We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Having, therefore, food and raiment, let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which, while some have coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God," who art set apart as a minister of the everlasting Gospel, "flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness," 1 Tim. vi, 7-11. With regard to myself, "I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content. Every where, and in all things, I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need," Phil, iv, 11, 12. "Neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness. For ye remember our labour and travail, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you. Ye are our witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly, and unblamably, we behaved ourselves among you that believe, 1 Thess. ii, 5, 10. Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you; for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you," 2 Cor. xii, 14, 15. Behold the disinterestedness of the faithful shepherd, who is ever less ready to receive food and clothing from the flock than to labour for its protection and support! Behold the spirit of Christ! And let the pastor, who is influenced by a different spirit, draw that alarming inference from his state, which he is taught to do by the following expression of St. Paul: "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his," Rom. viii, 9.
Happy would be the Christian Church were it blessed with disinterested pastors! Avaricious ministers, who are more taken up with the concerns of earth than with the things of heaven, who are more disposed to enrich their families than to supply the necessities of the poor, who are more eager to multiply their benefices, or to augment their salaries, than to improve their talents, and increase the number of the faithful: such ministers, instead of benefiting the Church, harden the impenitent, aggravate their own condemnation, and force infidels to believe that the holy ministry is used, by the generality of its professors, as a comfortable means of securing to themselves the perishable bread, if not the fading honours, of the present life.
His condescension in labouring at times with his own hands, that he might preach industry by example, as well as by precept. .
Seen is the disinterestedness of the true minister, that though he might claim a subsistence from the sacred office to which he has been solemnly consecrated, yet he generously chooses to sacrifice his rights when he cannot enjoy them without giving some occasion for reproach. To supply his daily wants, he is not ashamed to labour with his own hands, when he is called to publish the Gospel, either among the poor, or in those countries where the law has not appointed him a maintenance, as among heathen nations and savage tribes: nor will he refuse to do this when his lot falls among a slothful people, animating them to diligence in their several vocations by his prudent condescension, that the Gospel may not be blamed. In such circumstances, if his own patrimony be insufficient for his support, no disciple of Jesus will blush to follow the example of St. Paul, who gives the following representation of his own conduct in cases of a like nature: "Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that you might be exalted, because I have preached to you the Gospel of God freely? When I was present with you and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: in all things I have kept myself from being burthensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth. But that I may cut off occasion from them that desire occasion," and who would not fail to represent me as a self-interested person, were they able to charge me with the enjoyment of my just rights among you, 2 Cor. xi, 7-12. "I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel: ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak; and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive," Acts xx, 33, 35. Ye know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you, neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you; not because we have not power,