PREACHED AT THE ORDINATION
THE REV. JAMES M’GILL,
WORK OF THE MINISTRY,
REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, HIGHTAE;
TUESDAY, 21st JULY, 1829.
PASTOR OF THE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, WHITHORN.
PUBLISHED BY REQUEST.
DAVID HALLIDAY, DUMFRIES:
M. OGLE, J. KEITH, GLASGOW; T. NELSON, EDINBURGH;
A. GARDNER, PAISLEY; G. TODD, STRANRAER;
AND A. WALKER, WHITHORN.
The Profits (if there shall be any) arising from the Sale of this Sermon, are, with the Rev. Mr. M’Gill’s approbation, to be devoted to the Theological Library, belonging to the Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, in Scotland.
HONOUR DUE TO THE TEACHING ELDER.
1. TIM. v. 17. “ LET THE ELDERS THAT RULE WELL BE COUNTED WORTHY OF DOUBLE HONOUR, ESPECIALLY THEY WHO LABOUR IN THE WORD AND DOCTRINE.
THE Epistle of which the text forms a part, was written by Paul, under the guidance of the Divine Spirit, for the direction of Timothy “his own son in the faith,” “that he might know how he ought to behave himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”[Chap. iii. 14, 15.] The duties which arise out of the relations of life, whether domestic, political or ecclesiastical, are reciprocal between the parties occupying these relations. Paul treats at greatest length of the duties of church rulers, especially christian “bishops;” but he overlooks not the duties of the people. And Timothy is enjoined, plainly and publicly to demand of them, that “the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.”
The persons spoken of in my text are “elders,” or presbyters. Presbyter ‘is a term of official authority,’[M’Leod] and came to be so, no doubt, from the circumstance that, in the first instance, the oldest and most experienced would be chosen, as best qualified, for the discharge of official work.—These elders “rule”—they possess authority. Terms expressive of the authority belonging to parents, and civil rulers, are, in the New Testament, employed to denote the authority with which such characters in the christian church, are invested.—The elders of whom Paul speaks are supposed to “rule well”—to exercise their authority “for edification and not for destruction”—for the purposes for which the church’s Head has invested them with it, and in the manner he has directed.—If they do so, they are entitled to “double honour.” Their official character entitles them to honour; the excellence of their administration, to an increase of honour.—This holds true “especially” of “those who labour in the word and doctrine.” There are elders who rule only: there are others who also “labour in the word and doctrine,”#3 or, in other words, who are ministers of reconciliation. To the latter, the apostle says, the injunction especially refers.
The church of Christ is one, in every age of her existence: and she is still under that dispensation, which had commenced when this epistle was writ. ten. The duties which arose out of the relations of her ordinary office-bearers then, must still be incumbent, as the same relations continue.—“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for instruction in righteousness.” The successors of Timothy may, therefore, nay, they must, preach the same doctrines, and urge the same duties, that he was commanded to teach and enforce. My text is a part of “the counsel of God,” “all” of which I must “declare.”
On occasions like the present, the duty of the pastor has often been fully stated and illustrated: and it is well that, in entering on his important duties, the christian pastor should have his character and work fully in view. But the present seems a fit opportunity, for likewise pointing out, at some length, the duties of the flock to their pastor, to him who is to “rule” and “labour” among them “in the word and doctrine;” and it is well that the people, when the pastoral relation is formed, should have the duties incumbent on them, which arise out of that relation, fully before them. And though you have heard them already well pointed out, yet it is often by “line upon line, and precept upon precept,” that the Lord instructs his people.—The similarity of my own situation to that of my young friend, now invested with pastoral and presbyterial office, may, in the eyes of some, expose me, in the discussion of the subject, to the charge of selfishness. But I dare not, out of deference to the sentiments of such, keep back any part of revealed and necessary truth—the more necessary on an occasion like the present, because a young pastor must feel a delicacy in urging, upon his own flock, duties, which a stranger may urge without any such embarrassment. I proceed, therefore, at once to endeavour to explain the duty mentioned in my text—shew the principles on which it should be performed— and urge on you the performance of it.—I am
I. To shew what is included in the “honour” due to the teaching elder: and I beg it to be distinctly understood, that it is only of an elder, whose character and conduct correspond with his office, and with the description of them given here by Paul, that I speak throughout the discourse.
1. Respect, or esteem, is implied in the expression used in my text, and is, in the word of God, expressly enjoined to be paid to the teaching elder. Phil. ii. 29,—“Hold such in reputation.” 1 Thess. v. 13,—“Esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.” Other fellow christians may be esteemed for their personal attainments; but the christian pastor is to be honoured because of the office he bears, and the work he performs. He appears as the ambassador of Heaven; and disrespectful conduct towards an ambassador, as such, is regarded as an insult offered to him whom he represents. “He that despiseth you, despiseth me.” [Luke x. 16.] He fills an office, the very highest with which man can be invested, and is engaged in a work, the most important to which man can apply his powers —that of turning sinners “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God!”. There is not an object on the face of the earth, more fitted to excite contempt and pity, than a creature vested with ministerial office, but destitute of the requisite qualifications, and inattentive to the solemn duties devolving on him. But there is not among the sons of Adam, one more entitled to respect, than a christian pastor worthy of the name: and the thought that “he is the servant of the Most High God who shews the way of salvation,” should fill christians with a holy dread of doing any thing disrespectful to him, or likely to bring him into disesteem.
This respect may be viewed in relation to his failings. They know nothing of human nature, who suppose the ministers of Christ to be faultless. No: The best of them are but “earthen vessels,” [2 Cor. iv. 7.] they are “compassed with infirmity.” [Heb. v. 2.] Their imperfections may appear in their public ministrations, and their hearers may see them overcome by temptation: and there is a danger, that the discovery of personal infirmities, which the halo of the ministerial office had concealed even from the eye of imagination, may cause superstitious veneration for the person, to be succeeded by contempt for both the person and the office. Now, the failings and the faults of the christian pastor, are neither to be admired nor imitated: but he is to be respected in spite of these. Never should a flock attempt to conceal glaring immoralities of a pastor, the knowledge of which may be necessary for the exercise of the judicial authority of the church, and the preservation of her purity. But the failings and imperfections of an “elder who rules well, and labours” in his work notwithstanding of them, should be carefully concealed. Members of the church who have observed them, should, as far as possible, shut their own eyes to them; they should, at least, not point them out to others. Rather should they throw over them the mantle of charity; for by contemplating them much themselves, they would diminish their own respect, by making them known, they would diminish the respect of others, for their pastor; and if the person be not respected, his message cannot, and benefit from his ministrations is not to be expected.
The respect due to him who “rules well” may be viewed in relation to his excellencies. These the members of the church should contemplate, admire and imitate; and these they should point out to others, not with ostentatious parade, or at the expense of other pastors, but with christian prudence and wisdom, to excite their esteem. They should esteem his official ministrations, public and private, the ministerial gifts and graces that these may bring to view, and the example he may set in his holy deportment.—The sentiments of esteem cherished in the heart, should be manifested by respectful deference towards their object in intercourse with him; by silencing the tongue of calumny, when it would attempt to blacken his character; and by speaking to his commendation, when unjustly accused or depreciated. A minister’s character is essential to his usefulness; and it is almost impossible to conceive, what trifles, what inadvertences, will sometimes break in on it, and excite feelings of indifference, if not something worse. Now, against every thing in sentiment, in language, or in conduct, that would have a tendency to lower the pastor in their own eyes, or in the eyes of others, should christians carefully guard.—His opinions and practice should be respected too. There are some subjects on which christians may hold considerable variety of sentiment, and some things in which their practice may be various; and yet they may “hold fast the form of sound words,” and “walk together in love.” Now, in such matters, church members should not openly oppose the known sentiments or conduct of him whom they have chosen as their instructor and guide, without, at least, having very strong reasons for doing so, and having given a candid hearing and full consideration to the reasons he may assign for his opinions and practice. To do otherwise, is to shew that they have very little respect for his judgment, and cannot trust him as their guide.
But there are, it is to be lamented, in christian churches, some persons, who contemplate, not excellencies, but defects; like flies, they seek for ulcers and sores, delight in them, feed on them, and use every effort to make them larger, that they may be sure of a constant and abundant feast while the object of their malice lives, provided his character can outlive their wicked attempts. Indeed they care not much on whom they feed; but an office-bearer, a christian bishop, affords a peculiarly delicious repast. There are some, who think it of mighty consequence, to shew what importunate boldness and familiarity they can use in conversation with their teacher, how resolutely and dogmatically they can oppose him, and what deficiencies or mistakes they can point out to others in his ministrations. If they can increase the estimation in which they are held for intelligence and wisdom, they are pleased, though it should be at expense of the reputation and the usefulness of him, whom they should “esteem very highly in love for his work’s sake.” Such characters are nuisances in christian societies. They give not half honour, far less “double honour,” to their own pastor, or the pastors of others, however “well” they may “rule,” and however diligently they may “labour;” and thus prevent their own edification, and the edification of many others.
2. Love is nearly allied to esteem and honour. It includes complacent delight and satisfaction, and, at the same time, warm attachment to its object, and desire of its happiness. It is the reigning affection in the school of Christ. Love he manifested: and love he enjoined on all his followers. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” [John xiii. 34, 35.] Ministers of the gospel, then, cannot be exempted from the obligation, nor excluded from the benefit, of this command. But they are especially mentioned as objects of this love, in the laws of Zion’s King. 1 Thess. v. 13, “Esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.” They should be loved; and if they are not loved, they cannot be esteemed. And this is just what might have been expected, from the situation they occupy, and the work in which they are engaged. You love the friend who watches over your interest, who warns you of danger, and who labours for your good: and why should you not love those who “watch for your souls as they that must give account,” who “seek not yours but you,” who “preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that they may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus,”—for this purpose “labouring and striving according to his working, which worketh in them mightily.”
I know the passions are not altogether, nor directly, under our control; that there are objects, which, independently of our will, excite particular passions into operation. But we have them under our control in a secondary way: we can, at least, modify them to a certain extent. We may, by accustoming ourselves frequently to the presence of an object which once excited our dislike or hatred, have this feeling first very much weakened, afterwards subdued, and perhaps, in the end, the opposite affection of love excited by the same object. We may produce an effect somewhat similar, by reasoning and reflection. And if christians are attentive to their duty, in cherishing respect and esteem for those “who are over them in the Lord, and admonish them,” by reflecting on their excellencies, love will inevitably soon follow.
The affection cherished should be real; and if real, it will be operative. There cannot be love felt towards any object, without leading to seek the happiness of that object. Love to their pastor, then, should deter christians from every thing that would mar his happiness—from that compliance with the maxims and customs of the world, that irregularity of deportment, and that neglect of the means of grace and duties of religion, which would grieve the heart of him who “wishes this, even the perfection” of his flock: and should prompt to all those nameless tender attentions, that respectful deportment, that love and harmony among themselves, and especially that regular attention to the means of grace, and that profiting by them, which may convince him that his “labour is not in vain in the Lord,” and cheer him with the prospect of giving in his account “with joy and not with grief.”—And this love should be permanent. There is a danger, sometimes, that when the glow of novelty has passed away, and the excitement of a new formed relation is over, professedly warm attachment may be succeeded by coldness and indifference. Paul “bears the Galatians record, that if it had been possible, they would have plucked out their own eyes, and have given them to him,” when they “received him as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.” But, he has to ask, “Where is then the blessedness ye spake of?” [Gal. iv. 14, 15.] It is a lamentable thing when those who would “gladly spend, and be spent” for their flock, have to say, “The "more abundantly we love you, the less we are loved.” [2 Cor. xii. 15.] When the Gospel of the grace of God is taking proper effect, christians will feel towards their spiritual fathers and instructors, something approaching to filial attachment; and pastors will feel attachment towards their flocks, like that of parents towards their children. [1 Cor. iv. 14. Gal. iv. 19.] And where such reciprocal love is not found, there is, of course, mournful reason to fear, that the root of the matter is awanting in both parties; that the work of the ministry is but formally discharged, and that the Gospel comes to the people “in word only,” and not “in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.”
3. Obedience is due to the teaching elder. Ruling without obedience is a contradiction in terms. “The elders that rule well” must be obeyed. Obedience is expressly enjoined in several passages of scripture. Heb. xiii. 17, “Obey them that have the rule over you.” 1 Cor. xvi. 16, “Submit yourselves unto such.” It may aid us in forming some conception of the nature of this obedience, to notice, that the original term employed in the latter passage, is the same that, in Rom. xiii. 1, is used to express the “subjection” due to the civil magistrate; and that a cognate word is, in 1 Tim. iii. 4, applied to the “subjection” which children owe to their parents, and to which christian bishops should have their children trained. The authority, in the one case, is purely spiritual, which it is not in the others: but, in all the cases, it is obvious, the obedience should be enlightened and scriptural. To no commands enjoining any thing sinful, should we, at any time, yield obedience, from whomsoever they may emanate: they are in themselves immoral, and “we ought to obey God rather than men.” The parental relation is not formed by voluntary compact, as ecclesiastical and political relations are. But, as we are not to yield obedience, “for conscience’ sake,” as to “the minister of God for good,” to the commands of civil rulers that are not scripturally qualified, and do not exercise their power in a scriptural way, and for scriptural purposes,—for their commands are immoral in their origin: so neither are christians to obey rulers in the church, destitute of the qualifications her Head has required, or invested with authority on principles He has condemned. But to “elders who “labour in the word and doctrine, and “rule well,” conscientious obedience is due.
Obedience is due to them when exercising authority as rulers, in courts of judicature in Christ’s house. This authority they cannot exercise individually, but in conjunction with their co-presbyters. But, when they pass scriptural decisions, a conscientious submission is due, however these may wound the pride, or hurt the natural feelings, of those respecting whom they are pronounced, or of their relatives. Christians should remember the declarations—Mat. xvi. 19, “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven;” and John xx. 23, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”—Obedience is due when they are dispensing the censures of Christ’s church, however much the natural inclination might lead to resist or avoid these.—Obedience should be yielded to them when “labouring in the word and doctrine.” They come, it is true, to “pray” sinners to “be reconciled to God;” but they come, it is also to be remembered, as the “ambassadors” of Heaven. Their messages can not be slighted without great guilt; for, while they may assume the form of entreaties, they have in reality the authority of commands. They preach repentance and remission of sins through the name of Christ; and “this is God’s commandment that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ.” [1 John iii. 23.] Hearers of the Gospel are not to put an implicit faith in their teachers; they are not to receive, on their authority, what they preach. They are enjoined to “try the spirits whether they are of God.” [1 John iv. 1.] The heralds of the cross “speak as to wise men,” who must “judge what they say;” [1 Cor. x. 15.] imitating the “noble” Bereans of old, who “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [Acts xvii. 11.] Whatever is unscriptural, hearers are to reject: but whatever of scripture truth is stated, however humbling to the pride, or painful to the feelings, they must receive; else they resist the authority of Christ, and of course contract great guilt. Mat. x. 40, “He that receiveth you, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me.” Luke x. 16, “He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.” In one word,—when warning is given, it must be attended to; when duty is urged, it must be performed; when truth is stated, it must be embraced; and when salvation is offered, it must be received, else “the truth” is not “obeyed”
4. The “elder that rules well, and labours in the word and doctrine,” must be imitated. Officebearers in the church, especially “pastors and teachers,” are not only invested with authority to rule; but they are not to be “lords over God’s heritage, but ensamples to the flock.” [1 Pet. v. 3.] Such was the duty enjoined on Timothy, chap. iv. 12, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” When this example is set, it should be imitated. Heb. xiii. 7, 8, “Remember them who have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation; Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.” They should be imitated in their devotion to the study of God’s word; for though private christians are not to investigate it with a view to expound it publicly, they are to make the “testimonies” of God “their delight, and their counsellors:” [Psal. cxix. 24.] in their spiritual mindedness; for all need “to be spiritually minded,” which is “life and peace:” [Rom. viii. 6.] in their holy diligence, as they “give themselves wholly” to their work; for all should be “not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord:” [Rom. xii. 11.] in their holiness; for “without holiness no man shall see the Lord:” [Heb. xii. 14.] and in their abstaining from the company of the wicked, and seeking the society of the saints; for “he that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” [Prov. xiii. 20.] In short, the example they set, in the cultivation of their talents, the exercise of every heavenly principle, and in “growth in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” should be conscientiously imitated by their flock. By doing this, christians will shew that they esteem the example set them worthy of imitation: by acting otherwise, they will withhold “honour” from their pastors, as they did not deserve to be imitated.
5. The teaching elder who “rules well,” is entitled to the confidence of his flock. We naturally repose confidence in the friend whom we love, and who is as our own soul. We intrust him with our secrets; we unfold to him our griefs; we ask his counsel and sympathy in our difficulties: and by doing so, we honour him. An affectionate esteem of their pastors, should lead christians to act similarly towards them.
An affectionate pastor will feel an interest even in the temporal prosperity of his people. It may sometimes happen, that, from his education or his knowledge of the world, he may be able to give some of them judicious counsel even in temporal difficulties: and in such a case they should not be backward to avail themselves of it.
But a minister’s time is too sacred and too valuable to be spent in the trifles of a present life, though he may be able and it is his duty to shew how christians may “honour the Lord with their substance,” and conduct even their worldly concerns in subserviency to the Divine glory and the good of Zion. If he “rule well,” he will feel a deep interest in the spiritual concerns of those committed to his charge, as being of paramount importance: and it is with regard to these, that I would particularly urge his flock to confide in him. “The priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth.” [Mal. ii. 7.] A minister’s time should not be encroached on merely for the purpose of gratifying idle curiosity, or enjoying recreation. Thus there may be interrupted a train of thought, which, when once broken in upon, cannot be recalled; or thus he may be called away from the important exercise, of wrestling for their eternal interest, and labouring for their spiritual good, when in a frame of mind not easily regained. But surely no one, who loves the souls for which he watches, and for which he must give an account, will grudge to devote a reasonable, nay a considerable, portion of his time to conversation with those who are labouring under convictions, or pressed with fears, or distressed with difficulties, regarding any portion of Divine truth; that, if possible, he may thus give them comfort or assistance which he has failed to afford them in public. More good may sometimes be done by private conversation, than by public ministrations. Private applications of the kind I have supposed, would help to guide him “who labours in the word and doctrine” “rightly to divide the word of truth;” and they would cheer him in his labours, as being evidences of at least some religious concern, and probably some saving good resulting from his work. In fact, where they are awanting, there is reason to fear, evidence is thus given of something more important being awanting. I urge no pharisaical, ostentatious parade of religious experience, nor pretence of concern and of difficulty which have never been felt, for the purpose of obtaining an esteem for piety to which there is no title. But I do urge that deep interest in eternal things, which would often lead to the inquiry—“Men and brethren, What must we do?” Recommending, of course, that, when a particular day, or part of a day, is set apart by a minister for conversation, that time should always be taken, and thus the convenience of the pastor, as well as of the applicants, conscientiously studied. And to whom, if christians feel difficulties, can they so well make them known, as to him whom they have intrusted with the charge of their souls?
6. Christians should profit by the ministrations of the elder who “labours in the word and doctrine.” This, like the duty last mentioned, seems, at first sight, more intimately connected with their own interest than with his “honour.” But so closely connected is it with his “honour,” that, if they do not profit by his labours, all the other marks of respect they may shew him, are but servile adulation. If they “hear” him not, they “despise” him, and of course despise Christ. [Luke x. 16.] Is it not just those that profit thus by his ministry, that are to be the pastor’s, “hope, and joy, and crown of rejoicing, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming”? [1 Thess. ii. 19, 20.] When hearers profit not, then they deprive him of his “glory and joy.” They should, “therefore fear, lest, a promise being left them of entering into his rest, any of them should seem to come short of it;” for unto them is the Gospel preached, as well as unto the Jews of old, whom “the word preached, did not profit, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” [Heb. iv. 1, 2.]—Christians should profit by the “labours in the word and doctrine” on which they wait, by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ that they may be saved. The exhibition of the solemn glories of the cross, and the sounding of the thunders of the law, should make them flee from the wrath to come and layhold on eternal life—flee every false and wicked way, and abstain from every appearance of evil. Curbing and mortifying every sinful propensity, advancing in every gracious affection, and following after that holiness “without which no man shall see the Lord,” they shall, in due time, be “made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” In order to this, they should “grow in the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” For what were pastors and teachers given, but for “the perfecting of the saints, and the edifying of the body of Christ, till they all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man?” [Eph. iv. 11-13.] But the members of the Church will never grow up to perfect men, unless they make the requisite appropriating use of the “milk” and the “strong meat,” which the “stewards of the mysteries of God” set before the babes in Christ, and those of riper years. They must therefore hear with attention, self-application, and faith. They must wait on pastoral ministrations with regularity, suffering no trifling occurrence to cause them absent themselves from the house of God:—and with punctuality; for it is not more disgraceful, than it is injurious to themselves and their fellowhearers, and molesting to the teacher, to indulge in the habit, too prevalent among us, of entering the house of God after His worship has commenced—sometimes after it has pretty far advanced, and that, too, with the calm appearance of self-satisfaction, as if punctuality had been as obvious, as the want of it is glaring. This habit is the more inexcusable, as a very little care and attention would remedy it. When “the man of God” takes his station, the flock should be “all there present before God, to hear all the things that are commanded him of God.” [Acts x. 33.]—And to profit by the “labours in the word and doctrine,” there should be a conscientious attention given to the social duties of religion, without which, a blessing on the more public ordinances need not be expected.
7. “The elder who rules well and labours in the word and doctrine,” is worthy of the co-operation of those among whom he labours. He is engaged in an important work: but for comfort and success in it, he depends much on the co-operation, especially of his fellow rulers in the congregational session in which he presides, but also of all those under him. He, and indeed every christian, should daily study how he may do most for the glory of God, and be most useful in his generation; and he should question himself on these important topics. His questions should, of course, bear, in the first instance, on the interests of the divine glory in the congregation of which he has the charge. But they must not be confined there. They must embrace the neighbourhood in which he resides, the religious community of which he is a member, the nation to which he belongs, the kingdom of Christ throughout the world. Some of the schemes he forms may require money, others of them time and labour, for their success. And to whom can he so naturally look, on whom can he have so strong a claim, for assistance, as his fellow rulers, and those who have chosen him to point out to them the way in which they may most successfully “honour the Lord with their substance,” and “glorify him with their bodies and spirits which are his?” We do not suppose that christians are bound to sacrifice their interests to aid in the schemes of every fanciful visionary; but neither do we suppose “the elder who rules well” to be such a character. When we reflect on the unparalleled growth of some religious institutions, that, not many years ago, had beginnings so small as to excite the smile of some, and make others despond, we must be satisfied that something more than merely apparent inadequacy of the means proposed to accomplish the desired end, is necessary to warrant us to pronounce any scheme visionary. Though the beginning be small, the blessing of God may make the latter end greatly increase. Christians, then, must judge for themselves, and try, by the standard of the “law and the testimony,” every object they are desired to further, and every means employed for its furtherance. But, as there are many plans laid, and means employed, for the amelioration of the human race, respecting which it is impossible to find any thing more than general principles in the word of God; something is surely due, by a christian people, to the knowledge and sentiments of the teaching elder ruling over them by their own choice, whose views may be supposed to be more expanded, as well as judicious, than theirs could be reasonably expected to be. Such is the aid that christians may afford to their pastors in these “works of faith and labours of love,” that you find Paul speaking of even “women who laboured with him in the gospel,” [Phil. iv. 3.] although they must, of course, have “kept silence in the churches,” as they were “not permitted to speak.” [1 Cor. xiv. 34.] Whether, therefore, he wish to form libraries and associations for the good of the youth of the congregation, or the improvement of the population around, or the extension of the religious community to which he belongs at home, or the diffusion of christianity abroad; if the co-operation he asks, in the shape of pecuniary contributions or personal exertions, be withheld, if his flock do not, “as God hath prospered them,” afford him every facility and assistance in their power, they dishonour him; they shew a contempt for his judgment; they may expose him to ridicule, by the failure of plans that were judicious, and would have been successful had they done their duty; and they may lay themselves obnoxious to a bitter curse for not “coming to the help of the Lord against the mighty.”
8. Temporal support is due to the “elder who rules well and labours in the word and doctrine.” This is a subject, on which, I confess, inclination would lead me to be silent. The people are, in general, so jealous of a wordly spirit in their ministers, and oftentimes so ready to attribute it to them when making very just pecuniary demands; that, for the sake of preventing even suppositions of such a spirit, it may sometimes be proper to forego what might otherwise have been claimed, or keep silent what might otherwise have been uttered. And it is matter of regret, that clerical avarice and extortion have been, in reality, the cause of such a disposition in the people. But judgment forbids me to yield to my inclination. “A bishop must be “not greedy of filthy lucre:” [1 Tim. iii. 2, 3.] but private christians, too, must “take heed and beware of covetousness,” [Luke xii. 15.] they “must mortify covetousness, which is idolatry;” [Col. iii. 5.] and it may be the very same spirit at work in themselves, that leads them to attribute it to others. They need, therefore, to be guarded against the love of the world, which is declared to be inconsistent with “the love of the Father.” [1 John ii. 15.] It is proper they should know what their pastor has a right to expect from them; as well as that he should be aware of what they expect from him. A young pastor must feel reluctant to speak to his flock on pecuniary subjects: and should their worldliness, at last, overcome his reluctance, his broaching such subjects then, will probably be more unacceptable, than if he had spoken plainly on them at first. But a consideration higher than all these is, that temporal support to the teaching elder is expressly enjoined by the church’s Head; is a part, therefore, of the whole “counsel of God,” and a part which there is the more necessity to specify, and freedom to insist on, as there is little danger of our churches engendering pride and love of filthy lucre in their pastors, by their over-liberality to them. Indeed the circumstances of our church, at present, preclude the possibility of this.
Temporal support seems, from what immediately follows, to be included in the “honour” mentioned in my text. You have an account in the Old Testament, of the temporal provision made for the ancient priests; [Num. xviii. Deut. xviii.] and that is, in the New Testament, employed to shew the principle on which “the Lord hath ordained” that the members of the christian church should act. [1 Cor. ix. 13, 14.] “Let him that is taught in the word communicate to him that teacheth in all good things.” [Gal. vi. 6.] The Head of the church himself said, “The labourer is worthy of his hire.” [Luke x. 7.]—Let none, therefore, suppose that their contributions to their pastors, or the support they afford to the gospel in the place where they live, is to be looked on in the light of a charity. The people who give, and the ministers who receive their support, in this view, act equally inconsistently with christian principles. The sermons heard, and the pastoral inspection enjoyed, are not worth being received, if they are not worth being paid for. Where they are blessed the price will not be grudged. It is a sad evidence that spiritual blessings flow not, or flow slowly and scantily, from the pastor to the flock, when temporal blessings flow grudgingly or sparingly from the flock to the pastor. “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” [1 Cor. ix. 11.] To this as well as other things may we apply the language—“He who soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he who soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” [2 Cor. ix. 6.] Contributions to support him who labours in holy things, are just as moral a debt, as the price of the goods purchased at the merchant’s shop, or the hire of the labourer who performs your work.
In this matter, indeed, much must be left to general principles. But it is obvious, I think, that christians individually, and congregations collectively, should give as the Lord hath prospered them. The more christians gain by their worldly occupations, the more should they devote to the service of religion: and the more a congregation prospers under a pastor’s superintendence, the more should they increase the support they give him.—Nor should congregations rest contented with the payment of the mere sum that can be legally demanded, if that be not fully adequate to their pastor’s wants, especially if by promise, or by language more or less explicit, they have held out moral grounds for the expectation of something more.—They should look to their own obligation, and not merely to their pastor’s circumstances. If he be, from other sources, comparatively opulent or independent, a minister may indeed rejoice, and count it “his reward,” to be able “to make the gospel of Christ without charge,” to a people few in number and poor in circumstances; especially when the gospel and cause of Christ, are only being introduced among them. But, whatever his circumstances may be, a people have no right to withhold from their pastor what he deserves, and what they would have been able to give, had he stood absolutely in need of it. A master never thinks of proportioning the wages of his servants to the sum he supposes they have deposited in the saving bank, but to the importance of their work, and the zeal and fidelity with which they perform it.—Nor should Christians, for their own convenience, be inattentive to punctuality in paying him who is “their servant for Jesus’ sake,” any more than those who serve them in temporal things.—Nor do I think a people are warranted to withhold temporal support from a pastor who has spent his strength among them, when age or disease unfit him for labouring.
Ministers should be above sordid pecuniary motives in their work, acting in the spirit of him who said—“I seek not yours but you.” [2 Cor. xii. 14.] I advocate not clerical worldliness and grandeur. Sorry should I be, to see the ministers of our church living in such princely state, that even the poorest of their flock would have any fear to approach them, and lording it over the heritage of the Lord. Rather would I see them poor. But, for various reasons, I would wish to see their incomes augmented; for though the majority of them may have all that, in the present circumstances of the church, their several congregations might be reasonably expected to give, it is to be feared all have not; and not one of them has nearly what I would consider adequate to his necessities, in the present state of society and literature. I would not be inattentive even to a minister’s outward comforts; knowing that the more comfortable his situation is, the less will his mind be distracted with cares, and the more cordially is he likely to perform his work. He has not merely a title to the necessaries and comforts of life, as well as any in his flock: but the respectability of character and appearance, which he must maintain if he would be useful, and his “journeyings” in the service of the church, involve him in expenses to which many of his flock are utter strangers. He must keep pace with the literature of the age, that he may watch the movements of the enemies, and be prepared to defend the cause of Christ when attacked: and that he cannot do, especially in situations remote from large towns, without very considerable expense. A “bishop,” moreover, “must be given to hospitality,” [1 Tim, iii. 2.] and an example of Christian liberality to the flock: and the limited incomes of all our ministers must prevent, very much, their power of setting an example of doing good. And, surely, it is any thing but consistent with the religion of Jesus, to see the members of the church spending, and that at once, and without a grudge, on the needless and the gaudy fineries of dress, or the gayeties of life, or the expenses of social cheer with their friends, more than they give to the support and extension of that gospel, by which they profess to expect their immortal souls and those of others to be saved—impairing their pastor’s comfort, and cramping his energies and usefulness, to gratify their own luxury. Those congregations, then, that have it in their power, should not merely meet the legal claims their pastor has on them; in the present circumstances of the church, until the emoluments of ministers are fully equal to their circumstances, they should do more. The liberal example set by some, should be imitated by others. They should take, as it were, the temporal cares of their pastor on themselves; and by promoting his comfort, as far as in their power, shew their gratitude to God for his goodness in sending a messenger of peace among them, and their attachment to him who cares for their souls; and thus draw more closely the bands of love which should always bind pastor and flock together.
9. Christians should pray for “the elders who rule well and labour in the word and doctrine.” In this epistle we are exhorted to make “supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks for all men.” [Chap. ii. 1.] The command (for every exhortation in the word of God has the authority of a command) applies with force to the various relations of life, and especially to that between pastor and flock. It is instructive, to notice the frequency with which injunctions to pray for the office-bearers of the church, occur in the sacred volume. Eph., vi. 18, 19, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.” Col. iv. 2, 3, “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; withal praying also for us, that God would open to us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ.” 1 Thess. v. 25, “Brethren, pray for us.” 2 Thess. iii. 1, “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified.” Heb. xiii. 18, “Pray for us.” If an inspired apostle needed the prayers of private christians, much more do those who have no such extraordinary qualifications as he possessed.—You remark how these prayers are connected with the success of his work, and the importance which seems to be attached to such prayers. “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” [Rom. xv. 30.] “Ye also helping together by prayer for us.” [2 Cor. i. 11.] “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” [Phil, i. 19.] Those who believe that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” will not regard as unimportant “the prayers of the saints,” when viewed in connexion with the success of ministerial work.
Christians should pray for “the elders that rule well,” and “especially” for “those who labour in the word and doctrine,” in their closets, thus also cherishing their love to them; in their families, thus employing the strength of social prayer, and cherishing respect and attachment to their pastors in the domestic circle; and in their fellowship societies —where still greater success may be expected, and by which the interest of the members of the church, in general, in their pastor, may be still more strengthened.
The members of the church should pray for the temporal prosperity of their pastors, for their bodily health, the prolongation of their lives and usefulness, in submission to the will of God, and for their deliverance from the power of their enemies. [Heb. xiii. 18, 19. Phil. ii. 27. and Rom. xv. 30, 31.]—More especially should they be importunate that personal religion may prosper in their souls, the better to fit them to speak a word in season to others,—that they may be preserved from temptation,—that they may be enabled to be faithful,— that the Spirit may guide them in their studies, in the selection and discussion of suitable subjects, assist them in their public ministrations, and crown them with abundant success, so that they may have many for a “crown of rejoicing, in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at his coming,”—and that they may have the spirit of judgment; to be faithful and prudent in ruling, as well as in “laboring in the word and doctrine.”
Now, mark how this duty is connected with the others that I have specified. To perform them and neglect prayer, would be virtually to deny the necessity of Divine influences to secure the blessing: to pray without performing the rest, would be to tempt and disown the providence of God. To pray that your pastor may be held in estimation by others, while you “esteem him” not “highly in love for his work’s sake” yourselves—to pray that he may have a warm place in the hearts of others, while your own are hard, cold and unfeeling towards him, as the flinty rock—to pray that his authority may be blessed “for edification,” while yourselves submit not to it, unless it happen to quadrate with your own inclinations—to pray that he may be enabled to set a holy example to the flock, while you are not “followers of him as he is of Christ”—to pray that he may be guided in private, as well as in public duties, while you “seek” not “the law at his mouth”—to pray that he may be successful in his work, while yourselves study not to profit by his ministry, and, instead of co-operating with him in his labours, and endeavouring to render his toils as easy as possible, act as a deadweight to the wheels of his zeal, as a clog to him when aspiring to usefulness—to pray that he may be “blessed in his basket and in his store,” while you withhold what is necessary and due to replenish them;—to act thus, is an insult to the God of heaven, and will be resented as such. Without all the other duties, you cannot expect your prayers to be heard; and without prayers for the blessing on his labours, you have no right to expect it.
Before leaving this part of the subject, it may be necessary to remark, that these duties are owed chiefly to your own pastor, but also, though in an inferior degree, to all the pastors in the church. You may occasionally enjoy of their ministrations; they have authority from the Lord over you in the higher courts of judicature of which they are members; and, as the church is one body, all the members are interested in, and affected by, each others prosperity.
II. The principles on which these duties should be performed are now to be shortly set before you.
1. Elders should be thus honoured in obedience to Christ’s authority. There is not, I flatter myself, one of the particulars which I have mentioned as included in the “honour” due to the teaching elder, that has not been shewn to be enjoined in scripture, either by express specification, or by obvious implication. We have no right to demand these duties independently of divine prescription. Christians are enjoined, even in eating and drinking, to act for the glory of God: [1 Cor. x. 31.] and duties should be performed to the pastor, out of respect to the authority of Christ who has required them. In discharging them, christians should act, not from the mere impulse of natural kindness, not from respect to the opinion of their pastor himself, or of their fellow christians, of other rulers in the church, or of men around; but from a principle of implicit submission to the authority of that King whom they have vowed to obey, and whose servants their pastors are. Thus they will “do service to the Lord and not to men.” Thus they will, in this matter, obey the injunction—“whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” [Col. iii. 17.]
2. In honouring their pastor, christians should contemplate his relation to Christ. There is a union between Christ and all believers, which may be contemplated in various aspects, and from which it follows, that actions done immediately to them, are regarded as terminating ultimately upon him. The language in which he assures them of his protection, is, “He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” [Zech. ii. 8.] When he appeared to Saul, on his way to Damascus, to persecute the disciples of the Lord, he addressed him thus, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” [Acts ix. 4.] And at the last day he will say to some, “In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me;” and to others—“In as much as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” [Mat. xxv. 40, 45.] In the relation thus brought to view, the “presbyters who labour in the word and doctrine” stand, in common with other believers: but they occupy, besides, a peculiar relation to Christ, arising out of their office. The language already quoted in reference to the twelve and the seventy, [See page 15, Mat. x 40. Luke x 16.] applies to all their successors in ministerial work —“he that receiveth you receiveth me—he that heareth you heareth me—he that despiseth you despiseth me.” They are “ambassadors for Christ,” and the relation in which they thus stand to him, should never for a moment be lost sight of by those who render to them “double honour.” It is not as men, it is as the ambassadors of the Saviour to guilty men, that they are entitled to it, Whatsoever is done to them should be done “heartily as to the Lord and not to men.”
3. Christians should render double honour to their pastors under the influence of gratitude. The work in which they are engaged, is noble and disinterested. Having “tasted that the Lord is gracious,” they are desirous that others should enjoy the same blessedness, and they say, “O taste and see that God is good.” Having “fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ,” they “declare that which they have seen and heard” to others, that they “also may have fellowship with them.” Whatever “necessity” may be “laid upon them,” by the call of the Highest, to preach the gospel, men have no claim on them to engage in this work. When they freely and voluntarily engage in a work, the most arduous and important in which man can engage; surely gratitude, at least, is due to them by those for whose benefit they engage in it. But this gratitude should rise higher. However tenderly compassionate for their fellow men, christian ministers durst not have adopted such means for their recovery as “labouring in the word and doctrine,” had not the church’s Head authorized them,” by instituting the office they hold—had it not “pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Christians should, therefore, honour teaching elders, as a fruit and evidence of their gratitude to God for instituting the office of the “ministry of reconciliation,” for sending ambassadors to reclaim sinful men, and for commissioning as his ambassadors, not angels whose glory would make them afraid, and unfit for listening to their message, but “men of like passions with ” themselves. If christians duly valued their privileges, if they would feelingly contrast their situation with that of the heathen, who have never been “besought in Christ’s stead to be reconciled to God,” and are ignorant of “the great things of his law,” they would not think the “commandment” in my text, in all its breadth, “grievous.”
4. Duties to their pastors should be discharged, by the members of the church, under the influence of reasonable christian sympathy. There are some of the children of men engaged in occupations so trifling, or the duties of which are so easily performed, that there is no room for sympathy with them. But assuredly “taking care of the church of God,” “labouring in the word and doctrine,” are not employments of this trifling, or even easy kind. The work is the most solemn, its difficulties the greatest, the opposition to be encountered the most violent, and the responsibility the most awful. And then, those engaged in this work are but weak, frail, sinful creatures; liable to the same temptations with their fellow men, and to others to which private christians are strangers; and as unable as any to resist these temptations, or to labour in their work. They are “earthen vessels,” though “the treasure” be in them. There is scarcely a more important christian virtue than sympathy. If you must sympathize with your fellow members in the church in their afflictions, surely much more with those that “are over you.” They need it more: it were unreasonable to withhold it, even though you were not the objects of their benevolent exertions; but much more unreasonable when you are. The withholding of any part of the duty you owe to them, must increase their trials and augment their difficulties; the conscientious discharge of your duties, will lighten a load, that, otherwise, would press them down to the dust.
5. Christians should perform the duties I have been speaking of, from a regard to justice. The “honour,” mentioned in my text, is not a matter of charity: it cannot be withheld without sin. It is demanded by the church’s Head. He who has required us to “render to all their dues, honour to whom honour is due,” [Rom. xiii. 7.] has determined the “honour.” I have endeavoured to illustrate, to be due to “elders ruling well and labouring in the word and doctrine.” I trust, each of the particulars mentioned above, appeared to you a just demand. The illustration of them might be much expanded; but I waive it. If this “honour” be their “due,” then, to withhold any part of it is dishonest, is injustice as real and as great, though not so palpable to many, as to withhold from a servant the wages he has earned by his work, or retain from the merchant the price of the commodity which has been purchased from him. Christians, when they have rendered this honour, have performed no meritorious service—no work of supererogation;–they “have done that which was their duty to do.”
My Friends, you must be “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your ownselves.” “If ye know these things happy are ye if ye do them.”—Permit me now to bring the matter home, and to conclude and apply the subject, by
III. Urging on you the performance of the duties illustrated, on the principles above stated.
1. Your pastor has been the object of your own choice. You have protested against the law of patronage, as a burden too grievous to be borne, and an unwarranted encroachment on the liberties of Christ’s church. And never would—never durst, I urge on you the rendering of “double honour” to those introduced into ecclesiastical office by that unscriptural and nefarious law, however circumspect as christians, however talented as ministers, however well they might rule, and however diligently they might labour. But you have been subjected to no such cruel usurpation. You have exercised “the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free,” and now your eyes see the pastor of your own harmonious choice. Those of the minority among you, as ought always to be done, where no valid objections can be brought against the object of the majority’s choice,—have recognised the principles of Christ’s church, by readily subscribing the call to him; and thus, though they might have preferred another, have expressed their satisfaction with him as their spiritual overseer. No excuse, then, if he continues, as I trust he will, to “rule well and labour in the word and doctrine,” —no excuse will you be able to present for yourselves, should you not render to him the “double honour” to which he is entitled. Were you now to withhold it, you would expose yourselves to the charge of fickleness, or, what is worse, of deception,—of imposing on inexperienced youth, and refusing to fulfill the contract into which you entered, when, “upon the acceptance of your call, and discharging ministerial duties among you, you promised him all dutiful respect, support, and obedience in the Lord.” “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.”
2. Your own interest is involved. Self-interest has often a more powerful hold of men, even of christians, than motives of a nobler kind. Believers should, indeed, be men of a higher than a mere selfish principle; yet even its aid is not to be despised in stimulating them to their duty, though it never should be allowed to operate alone. You know that the ministry is appointed by God for the very purpose of saving the soul. You know that the salvation of the soul is of incalculable importance. Acting on this knowledge, you have sought access to the gospel ministry, and used means for having the ordinances of grace regularly dispensed among you. But you must remember, that the blessing is to be received in a particular way,—that the enjoyment of the good contemplated, depends on divine influences. By despising Christ’s ambassadors, and neglecting to give them that “honour” he has required, you may provoke him to withhold the dews of his Spirit, and your pastor may “plant and water” in vain. True, in that case he must “watch and give account with grief,” but “that,” you must remember, would be “unprofitable for you.” O professed christians, you should never forget that your eternal interests, and your pastor’s success, are inseparably connected together; and that you cannot impede him in his work, by neglecting the duties I have been setting before you, but at the incalculable expense, of your growth in grace at least, and, it may be, of your eternal welfare.
3. Do not flag in your duty to your pastor. Novelty has a powerful influence on the human mind, even in matters of religion, and even when there may be no consciousness of its operation: and when it is gone, as go it must, the sentiments and conduct will undergo a material change, if they have proceeded from no higher source. Has there never been an instance of the fondness, and affection, and admiration, with which a christian minister has been regarded for a time, being succeeded by coldness and indifference, or even enmity and contempt, while he had been guilty of nothing to Warrant such a change? You know how Paul came to be regarded by the christians at Galatia: yet when expostulating with them, on that alienation of affection towards him which was then so apparent, he “bears them record” that, when he “preached the gospel to them at the first,” they “despised not nor rejected his temptation which was in his flesh, but received him as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus,” yea, that—so warm were their hearts—“had it been possible, they would have plucked out their own eyes, and have given them to him.” [Gal. iv. 13-15.] Though there were other causes in operation, in that case; yet the mere cessation of novelty, too often, produces effects not dissimilar. A minister’s “manner of entering in unto ” his people is important; it should be marked; it may be made the foundation of subsequent appeal. [1 Thess, i. 9.] But it is not enough you “receive ‘‘ him at first as the word of God enjoins; you must continue to “count him worthy of double honour.” It would be lamentable, indeed, were you to cause him, by your alienated hearts, and cooled affections, and unfulfilled promises, and unrealized professions, when the “kindness of youth, and love of espousals,” (if I may so say,) have passed away, to ask, like Paul, “Where is the blessedmessye spake of?”
4. Be punctual in the discharge of your duties to him and to one another. Punctuality is of the greatest importance as a habit; as men and as christians you should cultivate it, and carry it into every department of life and of duty. Without it, there can be little or no success in any pursuit—little or no profit by any privilege. Not unfrequently may as much depend on the time, as on the manner, of discharging a duty. Be punctual in waiting on his ministrations, and shew that you value them, and are desirous to profit by them. Be punctual in giving him temporal support, and shew that you feel no reluctance in paying your just debts. Be punctual in waiting on social duties, and encourage him by letting him see some good fruit of his labours. Be punctual in your family duties,—in family prayer and in family instruction, without which his labours will be comparatively ineffectual. And be punctual in secret duties,—in reading, self-examination, meditation, and prayer,—exercises essential to the life of the soul, and indispensably nenessary to profit by the ministry of the word.
5. Be constrained by the love of Christ, This, my Friends, is the grand moving principle in all christian duty. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” When duty is not performed from this principle, it cannot be acceptable with God, and it cannot be felt by the performer to be ought else than a drudgery—a burdensome service. But love to Christ makes “his yoke easy, and his burden light.” That you may feel its animating influence in all duty, contemplate frequently His love to you, as displayed by giving himself to “redeem you from this present evil world.” That you may be actuated by it, especially, in the discharge of the various duties, which, as a christian flock, you owe to your pastor, think often on the love of Christ, in sending to you ambassadors of peace, when he might have sent messengers of wrath “to execute upon you the judgment written,”—in sending messages of mercy and grace, when he might have made you hear only denunciations of terror,-in furnishing his servants with all the tender, moving persuasions which the gospel warrants them to employ,–in continuing with you the offers of salvation, when for your misimprovement of them, he might have caused “the joyful sound” to cease,—in granting you again the blessing of a gospel minister, after a long and painful interruption, and that with the prospect of enjoying his labours more fully and regularly, than you did the labours of any of those that preceded him in the oversight of your souls,—and in granting you at once the desire of your hearts, and not subjecting you to repeated disappointments and delays. And let these considerations make you delight to do the will of God as revealed in my text.
6. Bear in mind the final account. “Every one of us shall give account of himself unto God.” The Lord Jesus, whose gift pastors and teachers are, “will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts.” Your pastor must then give account of the manner in which he shall have performed the vows with which his soul has this day been bound, by “ruling,” and “labouring in the word and doctrine,” by loving you, and praying for you, and giving you your portions of meat in due season. Yes; he is to “watch for your souls as one that must give account.” Bear in mind that there is an awful possibility that that may be “unprofitable for you.” But, bear in mind, too, that you also must give account of your conduct towards him, and of the improvement you make while he watches for your souls. You must give account of every sermon you hear from him, every sacrament you receive from him, every warning and admonition he gives you from the pulpit or in a more private way, in stated pastoral visitation or the occasional intercourse of social life, and the profit you have derived from them. You must give account how you perform the duties you owe him, arising out of the relation this day formed by your own voluntary consent, how you love him, and respect him, and assist him, and support him, and pray for him; in one word, how you feel and speak and act in reference to him, in your intercourse with him, with one another, and with the world. Let such a prospect at once stimulate and solemnize you. “Be not weary in well doing.” And that he may meet with you in the judgment as his “glory and his joy,” I “command and teach” you to continue in prayer that he may be enabled to “rule well, and labour” conscientiously “in the word and doctrine,” and to continue conscientiously to shew that you “count him worthy of double honour.”
PRINTED BY ANDREW YOUNG.
 Compare the text in the Greek, and 1 Thess. v. 12. with Chap. iii. 4, 5.
 Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 24, with 1 Pet. ii. 14. Mat. x. 18, in the Greek text.
 Μάλιστα, rendered “especially,” “marks a distinction between two classes of persons or things.” (Brown.) It does so in verse 8, of this Chapter, in Chap. iv. 10. 2 Tim. iv. 13. Gal. vi. 10, Phil. iv. 22. Tit. i. 10. And why should we conclude that Paul uses it in another sense in this solitary instance? It is only when the word is thus understood, too, that the verse seems at all intelligible.
 In the ‘Directory for the public worship of God, agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster,’ there is the following direction (Section concerning visitation of the sick.) “He [the minister] is to admonish them, [the people committed to his charge] in time of health, to prepare for death; and, for that purpose, they are often to confer with their minister about the estate of their souls; and in times of sickness, to desire his advice and help, timely and seasonably, before their strength and understanding fail them. In many instances the latter part of the direction to the people is neglected, so as to frustrate entirely the object for which the minister is requested to visit the sick. And I would wish the members of the church and hearers of the word to reflect, whether they give to the former part that attention which its intrinsic worth demands, and to which it is specially entitled from those who have professed to approve of the Directory, and engaged to follow it. Too seldom, I fear, are ministers called upon by persons seeking ‘conference about the estate of their souls.’
 Perhaps I may be excused for adding a sentence or two on a part of Christian duty, which, I more than suspect, does not often meet with the attention to which it is entitled. To devote a part—a definite portion of our worldly property to the Lord, seems a duty of natural religion: it is recognized in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments, as a duty of revealed religion. What is, then, that definite portion? The Bible no where speaks of less than a tenth. This is the least portion there mentioned as to be devoted to the service of God. I am not advocating the tithe system, which has occasioned so much sin of various kinds in parts of the world not very remote. But the Christian should exercise an enlightened scriptural judgment, in distributing with propriety, among the various objects, which God in his word and providence presents, that part of his substance with which he is called to “honour the Lord.”—The tenth part of what, is it asked? I answer,—not of clear gain after domestic expenditure has been defrayed, but of income-of what is to defray personal and family expenditure and to be laid past as gain, unless where the person is in a state of dependance on the charity of others. Respecting what some may call favourable turns of fortune, when property is received without any equivalent, as in legacies, presents, &c. there can I think be no doubt. Nor should Christians forget to “honour the Lord with their substance” when “setting their houses in order,” and about to leave the world. A discussion of the subject, any thing like full, would far exceed the limits of a note. But Christians should remember that that penurious spirit, which, in some parts of the country, is commonly called hardness, is highly sinful, and at variance with true religion, “The love of money is the root of all evil.”
 The members of the church should inquire, whether or not it be evidence that “there is utterly a fault” somewhere, that, in many instances, the amount of the salaries given to their pastors, bears no proportion to the comparative wealth and numbers of the several congregations.
 There are many Theological works, which it would be of incalculable advantage for every minister to have it in his power to consult so expensive that few ministers are able to purchase them at all. Still fewer are able to purchase them at that period when they stand in greatest need of them, and could profit most by them—when they are just entering on ministerial work, and habits of vigorous application, formed during their preparatory studies, have been scarcely interrupted. In large towns, access to public Libraries may, in part, compensate the want of individual possession of such books: In other situations, such compensation is not to be had. It has occurred to me that this defect might easily be remedied, at least to a certain extent. Would congregations set apart a few pounds annually, (say 10, 8, 5, or even 3 or 2 according to their ability,) to be expended in the purchase of standard works on Theology, Biblical criticism, &c. which should continue the property of the congregation, but be designed entirely for the use of their pastor, whoever he might be-just as is the case with manses—there might be accumulated, in course of time, a valuable stock of books, the possession of which would be of incalculable advantage to both minister and people. By forming a Pastor’s Library in this way, the congregation would purchase a mine; and if they only procured a well qualified “workman” to dig it, all the riches would be theirs. If requisite, for their satisfaction, the pastor’s choice of books—for the choice of them must necessarily be left to him —might be sanctioned by the Presbytery; and the managers of the congregation should, of course, have the right of inspecting the Library, Catalogue, &c. occasionally, that they might be satisfied their money was faithfully applied, and their property not abused—Even vacant congregations, who may have no immediate prospect of obtaining a pastor, would, I conceive, reap benefit from forming similar deposits of books, in the houses in which the probationers supplying them lodge; the preachers, I know, would find them advantageous.
 I am convinced that, in very many instances, the want of ministerial success among the youth of the church, is owing to the culpable negligence of parents. Young persons need a stimulant to attend to the truth while it is spoken to them, and to recollect and reflect on it afterwards: and I know not a better than familiar parental catechising and conversation. The worship of God morning and evening is not (as many seem to think) the whole of family religion. I would take the liberty of recommending to the serious perusal and attention of all who may read these pages, ‘The Directory for Family worship approved by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, usually bound up with the Westminster Confession of Faith, especially Sections II. and VIII. Heads of families would, on trial, find the exercises there recommended, easier than many of them might anticipate, pleasant and profitable to themselves, as well as those under them, tending to secure something more than the form of family worship; and ministers would soon find the happy effects of attention to them, in their intercourse with the young of their flock. But assuredly, merely hearing the members of the family repeat a few Questions from the Shorter Catechism on a sabbath evening, does not amount to a full discharge of the duties incumbent on the head of the family.