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they might be endued with ability, fidelity, and abundant success in the work ;• Brethren, pray * for us.'*
This request of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, at once shews the propriety of that part of our Liturgy, to which the reader's attention will be directed in the present essay; the prayer for the Clergy and People. No doubt can remain on the mind, whether it be the duty and interest of the laity to pray for those, who labor in the word and doctrine. But, as in the production of that fervency of spirit, in which prayer consists, it is not only necessary that the understanding be informed; but also that the affections be moved, and the heart interested in the subject; it may not be improper to point out a few considerations, which demonstrate the indispensable nature of the duty.
A right discharge of the ministerial office, and the salutary effects which it is designed to produce, are objects of so prodigious magnitude, that those, who are engaged in it, have an undoubted claim on the charity of others for a remembrance in their fervent prayers. For, compared with this, every earthly interest, that is styled momentous, shrinks into an unsubstantial vapor. A large share of importance must be ascribed to the labors of the statesman, the civilian, and the physician, on which the temporal happiness of man so much depends : but however weighty may be the consequences, which are suspended on the wisdom and fidelity of those men, to whom our civil rights and bodily health are intrusted ; yet, when weighed in the balance of the sanctuary with those, which the functions of an evangelist involve, they are found lighter than the thistle's down. For nothing less than the manifestative glory of the Triune Jehovah is closely connected with the latter. A Christian minister is an Ambassador of God, and a steward of His mysteries. The subject of his embassy is that, in which the honor of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is deeply interested ; since by the salvation of sinners, through the meritorious cross and passion of Jesus Christ, which is the sum and substance of the gospel-message, God has proposed eternally to magnify His own adorable name. This part of the reward, assigned to the sufferings of our incarnate God, proceeds from a faithful promulgation of the truth. Not that we are to suppose
* 1 Thess. v. 25.
the effects of redemption to be left to contingency; for then Christ might have died in vain ; and therefore both the means and the end are secured by the immutable counsels of God. Yet this does not in the least degree cancel the awful responsibility, which is attached to the persons of those, who have taken on them the sacred office. If the situation of a person, who has been raised to the dignity of representing an earthly potentate as his ambassador, be considered as very important ; in how solemn and tremendous a light must we view the ministers of the Gospel, since to them is committed a work in which the honor of every Divine attribute is concerned ; and from the execution of which God expects a greater revenue of glory than from the creation of the universe ? With what propriety may they earnestly call on their people in the Apostle's words, • Brethren, * pray for us.'
If we add to this consideration the inestimable value of the souls of men, whose salvation depends on the Gospel ministry as the appointed means of effecting it ; the wisdom of our church, in the remembrance which she makes of her ministers before the throne of grace, will be still more conspicuous. He only can form a jus! estimate of the worth of the soul, who died to redeem it. Were we permitted to descend into the bottomless pit; and be witnesses to the weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, with which its horrid caverns perpetually resound; were our ears to be wounded for a season with the bitter lamentations of the damned, and their earnest, but fruitless intreaties for a drop of water to cool their flaming tongues ; nay, were we ourselves to taste the cup of trembling, every ingredient of which is ten thousand times more bitter than the quintessence of wormwood and gall : were we, after a transition through this scene of overwhelming horror, permitted to enter for a season within the gates of the new Jerusalem, which is above ; and be spectators, or even participants of the pleasures, which are at God's right hand : we should be nevertheless unable to form adequate conceptions of the value of the human soul, unless we could at the same time comprehend eternal duration. The price, which its redemption cost, affords the best idea of its worth. * Immensely valuable as this treasure iş, its safety in a qualified sense is suspended on the existence and fidelity of the Gospel ministry, as the Divinely appointed means of conversion and salvation. The Apostle's interrogations strongly imply a negative, when he asks, How shall they call upon Him, in whom they have not believed ?
And how shall they believe in Him, of whom 6 they have not heard ? And how shall they hear • without a preacher ?'t And it may be added,
* The Ransom was paid down; the fund of Hear'a,
• Heav'n's inexhaustible, exhausted fund,
Young's Night Thongles.
+ Rom. X. 14.
if the preacher be deficient in knowledge, fidelity, and zeal, the people may perish in their iniquities; for if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, • who shall prepare himself to the battle ?' Surely the possibility of the loss of a single soul, through the minister's misconduct in the awful work with which he is intrusted, is enough to make the same impression on bim, which the miraculous hand-writing made on the impious Babylonish Monarch, when his countenance changed, and • his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of • his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one « against another.'* • Brethren, pray for us !
The salvation of our own souls is inseparably connected with the faithful discharge of oursolemn office. The awful declarations of our Lord and Master, which we find in the Prophecy of Ezekiel, should excite pity on our behalf, and earnest supplication for us.
O son of man, I • have set thee a watchman unto the house of • Israel : therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, 0 wicked man, thou shalt • surely die ; if thou dost not speak to warn the o wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die . in his iniquity : but his blood will I require at thine hand.'t If the righteous' among the
* Dap. v. 6.
+ Ezek. xxxiii. l.