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Assuredly then they have need of our prayers. For, though they are supposed by their office to be persons of superior knowledge, grace, and sanctity; yet their sufficiency must be wholly of God. Other Clergy comprehends all those ecclesiastical persons, who have the care of souls intrusted to them; whether they be rectors, or deacons. The congregations committed to their
charge' include all the people of the land, excepting those who have withdrawn themselves from our communion.
The blessings supplicated in behalf of these ecclesiastical persons and their flocks are indispensable in their nature, and inestimable in their value. The Spirit of God's grace' is the Holy Ghost; who is so denominated, because he is the gift of Divine grace to mankind, and the Author
to avoid it. He even used methods, which are by no means justifiable. At last finding it was in vain to stem the torrent, he stole out of Milan at midnight, but missing his way, and wandering all night, he found himself in the morning at the gate of Milan. After making a second effort to escape, he was at last brought to submission by a menacing edict of the Emperor Valentinian.
A similar account is given of Ephraim the Syrian, who never advanced farther on the ecclesiastical scale than to the office of a deacon; and once he took a very extraordinary method to avoid being preferred to the office of a Bishop. He feigned madness and escaped. In Ephraim's days, the pastoral character appeared to good men awful beyond measure, requiring little less than angelical virtue. In our days is not conveniency and love of gain the principal motive, and decency of character the principal qual ification ?---Milner's history of the church. vol. 2. p. 186 and 272.
of all gracious dispositions in the human soul. • Without Him nothing is good, nothing is holy.' He is also the healthful Spirit of Grace,' because He is the source of all spiritual health; for naturally there is no health in us."* No spiritual life or vigor does our fallen soul possess, till He imparts it. How necessary a boon then is this, which we request for Bishops and other clergy and all congregations committed to their • charge. May our Almighty and everlasting 'God' pour out abundantly the healthful spirit ' of His grace' on our church, both her ministers and the community, for His name's sake!
We proceed to intreat that all these persons in their several stations may truly please God.' Here an important question arises, which demands a more diffuse discussion, than can here be given to it. How may ecclesiastical persons please God? Not by employing their time and talents on political, or other secular subjects; for with respect to these things their Lord's command is, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.' Not by occupying a box at the theatre, appearing on the race ground, or filling a seat at the card table. All these things are beneath the dignity, and shockingly disgraceful to the character of one, who avows his dedication to the service of God they waste his time; unfit his soul both
* See the essay on the general confession.
for the duties of the closet and those of the pulpit; they divert the attention of the mind from its one object, secularize its views, and bury it in sensuality. We may go a step farther, and assert that laborious literary researches into subjects unconnected with the Gospel are unappropriate to the duties of a clergyman, and a waste of that precious time, which ought to be dedicated to higher purposes. But yet more than this; a merely verbal and doctrinal acquaintance with the Gospelsystem is not pleasing to God, if unaccompanied with that, in which the very essence of true religion consists. A man may be a critic on the language and style of scripture, as on that of Plato or Cicero, and not please God. What then is truly acceptable in His sight? Nothing can prove a sinner to be reinstated in the favor of God, but a genuine and living faith in Jesus Christ: for ⚫ without faith it is impossible to please God.' Impossible for any man, and therefore much more so for a clergyman, who is to feed the flock of ‹ God, over which the Holy Ghost hath made him ' an overseer.' If he be not himself a member of the mystical body of Christ, he may be compared to a factitious limb annexed to the body natural, which though it may be made subservient to the welfare of the body, derives itself no advantage from its situation. It can derive no vital influence from the head, nor enjoy any communion with the real members. A dead branch in the
ecclesiastical vine, however honorable may be the situation it occupies, must at last be cut down, and cast into the fire; it is fit only for the burning flames. In his public discourses a minister can only please God, when he preaches Jesus Christ and Him crucified faithfully, affectionately, and laboriously. To the cross, and to that alone, he must direct the attention of his hearers, if he would truly please God. And then his own example must recommend the ways of God to his congregation, adorning the gospel he preaches by his conduct in his own family, in the church, and in the world; evidencing by their effects upon himself the superiority of Christian motives to those, which the schools of Philosophy and Ethics have promulgated to mankind. And with respect to those private members, who compose our congregations, they can only truly please God as they receive with meekness the engrafted word, and bring forth fruit with patience. It is not a mere occupation of their pews at church, or even a diligent attendance on its most sacred ordinance, that will entitle them to any share of Divine complacency. For if any man be an hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass : ⚫ for he beholdeth himself and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not
a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.'*
Our venerable reformers have not left us in a state of uncertainty as to the agency necessary to enable us thus truly to please God.' They inform us that neither Bishops, Ministers nor their congregations can act in an acceptable manner before Him without the continual dew of His blessing.' By this beautiful and scriptural image they inculcate on us the necessity of a divine influence to the production of every good thought, word, and work. The ground, or surface of the earth, affords a striking emblem of the heart of man, and is frequently introduced in this metaphorical sense in the sacred pages.‡ The ground was created to bear fruit for the use of man, as man's heart was formed to yield fruit to the praise and glory of God. But as in consequence of the fall, a curse was denounced on the soil,† so that it now requires labor and culture before it will yield its fruits; in like manner the human heart is become barren and unfruitful, so that it can produce no fruits of righteousness; but on the contrary, like the ground, it yields spontaneously the thorns and briars of sin to the dishonor of
* James i. 23, 24, 25.
Matt. xiii. 3, &c. Is. lv. 10, 11. Hos. x. 4, & al freq,