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«=>f every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have
^real joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints
sure refreshed by thee, brother," Phil, v, 4-7. The sorrow and the joy of this zealous imitator of Christ were generally influenced by the
-varying stales of the faithful. When any, who had once run well, were seen loitering by the way, or starting aside from the path of life, he expressed the most sincere affliction on their account. There are some,
ttof whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ," Phil, iii, 18. On the other hand, the progress of believers was as marrow to his bones, and as the balsam of life to his heart: "We are glad when we are weak, and ye
ire strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection," 2 Cor. xiii, 9."My brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, stand
last in the Lord, my dearly beloved. Be blameless and harmless, the
sons of God without rebuke, holding forth the word of life, that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in rain," Phil. iv, 1; ii, 15,16.
Reader, whoever thou art, permit me to ask thee an important question. Art thou acquainted with that ardent charity that influenced the Apostle Paul? If his Christian love was like a rapid and deep river; is thine at least like a running stream whose waters fail not? Do thy joys and thy sorrows flow in the same channel, and tend to the same point, as the sanctified passions of this benevolent man? Relate the chief causes of thy satisfaction and thy displeasure, and I will tell thee whether, like Deraas, thou art a child of this present world, or a fellow citizen of heaven, with St. Paul.*
TRAIT XXXI. His generous fears and succeeding consolations.
When the Church is threatened with a storm, the worldly pastor has no fears except for himself and his relations. But the true minister, if he be at all disquieted with fear, when the Lord's vessel is driven with the winds, or appears to be in danger through the indiscreet conduct of false or unloving brethren, he feels much less for his own safety than for the security of his companions in tribulation. He fears especially for the weak of the flock, and for those of the faithful who are exposed to violent temptation. And these generous fears, which equally prove his holy zeal and brotherly love, without robbing him of all his joy, afford him frequent opportunities of exercising his faith, his resignation, and his hope. "We are troubled," saith St. Paul, "on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. I fear, lest when I come, I shall not find you such as I would," 2 Cor. vii, 5; xi, 3; xii, 20. "When we could no longer forbear, we sent Timothy to establish you, and to comfort
• Have you more joy when your preaching augments your income, than when tou observe a wandering sheep conducted into the right way? Then conclude that you preach more for mammon than for Christ.—M. Konuiss.
Vol. IH. 5
you concerning your faith, that no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before, that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter should have tempted you, and our labour be in vain," 1 Thess. iii, 1, 5.
Though these "fightings without," and these "fears within," are always painful to the flesh, yet they are as constantly beneficial to the soul. If they subject the true minister for a season to the keenest affliction, they prepare him in the end for "strong consolation." Observe the manner in which the great apostle expresses himself upon this point: "We would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble, which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life. We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivereth us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us," 2 Cor. i, 8, 10. "I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear," Phil, i, 12, 14. Hence, "we glory in tribulations: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us," Rom. v, 3, 5. "Blessed be God, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ," 2 Cor. i, 2, 5.
If those who are honoured with a commission to publish the Gospel were fully convinced how gracious and powerful a Master they serve, instead of being alarmed at the sight of those labours and dangers which await them in the exercise of their ministry, they would stand prepared to run all hazards in his service; as courageous soldiers who fight under the eye of a generous prince, are ready to expose their lives for the augmentation of his glory. Can it become good pastors to manifest less concern for the salvation of their brethren, than mercenary warriors for the destruction of their prince's foes? And if the Romans generously exposed themselves to death in preserving the life of a fellow citizen, for the trifling reward of a civic wreath, how much greater magnanimity should a Christian pastor discover in rescuing the souls of his brethren from a state of perdition, for the glorious reward of a never-fading crown?
The grand subject of his glorying, and the evangelical manner in which he maintained his superiority over false apostles.
The disposition of a faithful pastor is, in every respect, diametrically opposite to that of a worldly minister. If you observe the conversation of an ecclesiastic who is influenced by the spirit of the world, you will hear him intimating either that he has, or that he would not be sorry to have, the precedency among his brethren, to live in a state of affluence and splendour, and lo secure to himself such distinguished appointments as would increase both his dignity and his income, without making any extraordinary addition to his pastoral labours. You will find him anxious to be admitted into the best companies, and occasionally forming parties for the chase or some other vain amusement. While the true pastor cries out in the self-renouncing language of the great apostle: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world," Gal. vi, 14.
If the minister who is really formed to preside in the Church, were singled out from among his brethren, and placed in an apostolic chair, he would become the more humble for his exaltation. If such a one were slighted and vilified by false apostles, he would not appeal, for the honour of his character, to the superiority of his talents, his rank, or his mission; but rather to the superiority of his labours, his dangers, and his sufferings. Thus, at least, St. Paul defended the dignity of his character against the unjust insinuations of his adversaries in the ministry: "Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more." But in what manner did he attempt to prove this? Was it by saying, I have a richer benefice than the generality of ministers; I am a doctor, a prolessor of divinity, I bear the mitre, and dwell in an episcopal palace? No: instead of this he used the following apostolic language: "In labours I am more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. In joumeyings often, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils by the heathen, in perils among false brethren: in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the Churches. Who is weak and I am not weak? Who is offended and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory in the things which concern mine infirmities," 2 Cor. xi, 23-30. "From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus," Gal. vi, 17. Such are the appeals of holy prelates. But for a man to glory at having obtained a deanery, a professor's chair, or a bishopric, is in reality to boast of his unfaithfulness to his vocation, and to prove himself unworthy of the rank to which he has been injudiciously raised.
Ye who preside over the household of God, learn of the Apostle Paul to manifest your real superiority. Surpass your inferiors in humility, in charity, in zeal, in your painful labours for the salvation of sinners, in your invincible courage to encounter those dangers which threaten your brethren, and by your unwearied patience in bearing those perse. cutions which the faithful disciples of Christ are perpetually called to endure from a corrupt world. Thus shall you honourably replace the first Christian prelates, and happily restore the Church to its primitive dignity.
TRAIT XXXIII. His patience and fortitude under the severest trials.
"Charity is not easily provoked," but on the contrary "thinketh no evil." Full of patience and meekness, Christ distinguished himself by his abundant love to those from whom he received the most cruel treatment. Thus also the ministers of Christ are distinguished, who, as they are more or less courageous and indefatigable in the work of the ministry, are enabled to adopt the following declaration of St. Paul with more or less propriety: "Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are as the offscouring of all things unto this day," 1 Cor. iv, 12,13. "Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left," which enables us to attack error and vice, while it shields us from their assaults; "by honour and dishonour; by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things," 2 Cor. vi, 3, 10.
Far from being discouraged by the trials which befall him, the true minister is disposed in such circumstances to pray with the greater fervency; and according to the ardour and constancy of his prayers, such are the degrees of fortitude and patience to which he attains. "We have not received," saith St. Paul, "the spirit of bondage again to fear; but we have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself," amidst all our distresses, "beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered," Rom. viii, 15, 26. "I besought the Lord thrice, that this trial might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong," 2 Cor. xii, 8-10. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me," Phil, iv, 13.
What an advantage, what an honour is it, to labour in the service of so gracious and powerful a Master! By the power with which he controls the world, he overrules all things " for good to them that love him." Their most pungent sorrows are succeeded by peculiar consolations: the reproach of the cross prepares them for the honours of a crown; and the flames, in which they are sometimes seen to blaze, become like that chariot of fire which conveyed Elijah triumphantly away from the fury of Jezebel.
Supported by a strong persuasion that God and truth are on his side, the faithful minister is carried above all those disheartening fears which agitate the hearts of worldly pastors. Depending upon the truth of that solemn prediction, "They will deliver you up to the council, and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles;" he expects in times of persecution to appear before magistrates, and possibly before kings, for the cause of Christ and his Gospel. Nor is he aflected at such a prospect. Relying on the promise of that compassionate Redeemer, who once appeared for him before Annas and Caiaphas, Herod and Pontius Pilate, without anxiously premeditating what he shall answer, and resting assured that wisdom shall be given him in every time of need, he cries out with the holy determination of the psalmist, "I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed," Psalm cxix, 46.
When he is brought as a malefactor before the judge, while his accusers, actuated by a malicious zeal, agree to say, "We have found this man a pestilent fellow, a mover of sedition among the people," and one of the ringleaders of a new and dangerous sect; he justifies himself by answering, The witnesses who appear against me this day, neither found me trampling under foot the authority of my superiors, nor sowing the seeds of sedition among the people; "neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me. But this I confess, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets; and have hope toward God, which they themselves allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust." And supposing his accusers are not only deists, but professors of the Christian faith, he will add, This also I confess, that in conformity to those principles, which pretended philosophers term superstitious, and which lukewarm Christians call enthusiastic, "I believe" not only "in God the Father Almighty," but also in Jesus Christ his only Son, whom I acknowledge to be "King of kings, and Lord of lords, and who, after having suffered for our sins, rose again for our justification." Farther: I joyfully subscribe to that confession of faith, which is frequently in your own mouths, "I believe in the Holy Ghost," who regenerates and sanctifies every true member of "the holy catholic Church:" and I participate with those members the common advantages of our most holy faith, which are an humble consciousness of "the forgiveness of sins," a lively hope of "the resurrection of the body," and a sweet anticipation of " everlasting life." "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men," Acts xxiv, 5, 16. If his judge, already