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think and care about divine things) than that subsisting any where between a Christian flock and Christian minister ; if only it be grounded on a right foundation P, and be confirmed by any reasonable portion of that real value and affection, which should be felt by each toward the other. Who is a Christian minister, and what his calling? He is—" a steward of the mysteries of God 9;" the bearer and interpreter, among his flock, of God's message; "an ambassador for Christ, as

though the Saviour did beseech his people by “ him, who prays them (i. e. intreats of them, “ with all earnestness) in Christ's stead, to be “ reconciled to God.” Nor is this all. He is besides (again' I speak but of our own communion) the individual set to be the personal friend of all his people, "and their servant for Jesus' ' " saket.” His part is, in a special manner, to “ rejoice with them that do rejoice, and to

weep with them that weep: not to mind

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high things, but to condescend to men of “ low estate u.” As the apostle asks; (himself exhibiting the highest pattern for all Christian pastors) " Who is weak, and he is not weak ?

p Cf. Serm. I. s Cf. Serm. XVI.

41 Cor. iv. 1 t 2 Cor. iv. 5.

r 2 Cor. v. 20. u Rom. xii, 15, 16.

“ who is offended, and he burns not *?” That is, the interests of all his flock are his interests, and he is bound to feel and take concern for all, alike for love and duty's sake. He is (in short) their shepherd : and it must be within the reach of every understanding; to know that he who is a good shepherd careth for the sheep'.

It is not necessary to enlarge further ; enough has surely been advanced to show, that few connecting bonds are to be found of more importance than this, when it is worthily regarded ; and it is well deserving of our notice, that there is none so universal. Few friends can be discovered upon earth more fit to be depended on; (if any might be here depended on) and that, by all people. There are connexions much more close, naturally ; as of a parent with his child : and there are others more immediate, civilly; (i. e. according to the usages of social life) as of a master and a servant. I need scarce say, however, of this latter class, how frail they are ; and even with respect to the other it is to be observed, that parents have concern only for their own children ; and there are many children, wanting sorely some sure friend, who are without a x 2 Cor. xi. 29.

y Cf John x. 1-18.

parent. How often, too, do these-our fathers and our mothers in the flesh”-confine their chief anxiety to the mere worldly fortunes of their children?! regarding much the things which appertain unto their bodies, but thinking little of their souls ; at any rate, but little in proportion to the comparative value of the stake. The minister of Jesus Christ must have concern for all his flock; and for the soul in a more special manner. In brief, his friendship should be general, in every way.

Yet, could a perfect specimen of such a friend be found, (I speak but of perfection as among men) vain would it be to place too fond a trust in him. It is both pleasant and becoming, that all good will should be maintained on either side in such connexions, while it may: but if this proper feeling be allowed to do its best work, it will direct the thoughts of such as comprehend the value of a friend, to bear in mind how many chances may befal to interrupt the pleasantest or most beloved of such relations; and therefore always to be looking forward, to see if there may not be found-above all these, and yet in union with them--some friend and guardian of a higher

? See the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh of Arnold's Sermons.

sort, who never may depart from them. Behold all these depart : who shall be with them then ? Let us suppose a pastor of a Christian flock to be replaced by one, whom all may soon find, reason to esteem and love more than they did the friend gone from them—the question still returns, concerning all and every one : for all must needs depart; none continueth in one stay.”

The race of them is not now suffered to continue by reason of death. And verily if that alone could separate such friends, the argument would still be strong enough : but how much more, if we consider all the many other accidents which may produce the same effect !-advancement--the necessities of life—the calls of Providence to special duties—and many things besides.

Surely, the continual restlessness and change of all things in which man is thus the chief stay, should bid us learn, in time, to look for better things ! We may indeed, and should employ, man's help while we may have it, and be thankful; we should all work together while the means may last, as if they were to last ever so long : but still the wise will be providing all the while, and through these means, some help and refuge that is more sure ; they will be seeking one more lasting friend—if one there be who may be with them always.

a Cf. Heb. vii. 23-25.

I have endeavoured now to show you that there is one such, who will most certainly abide with them that diligently seek him. God will be with you,

if

you are inclined to be with Him; to believe his word, and walk in his ways. What that word mainly teaches us, you have continually heard ; what those ways are which are acceptable with him, you ought to know. What is the conclusion of the whole matter ? Only fear the “ LORD, and serve him in truth with all your “ heart: for consider how great things he hath ! done for you.” “ Seek ye the LORD while he

may be found, call ye upon him while he is near ; let the wicked forsake his way, and the

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unrighteous man his thoughts“:” so shall God be with him, and HE, even our own God and the Father of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, shall give us his blessing!

u | Sam. xii. 24.

• Isaiah lv. 6, 7.

THE END.

BAXTER, PRINTER, OXFORD,

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