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It is our intention, brethren, in selecting this passage, to speak of the duties that devolve on you in reference to your minister and pastor.
I. You should cherish and evince towards your pastor sincere and distinguished esteem.
How strong is the apostle's language! Christian ministers are not only to be esteemed, but esteemed highly, very highly, “ very highly in love." The religion of Christ is essentially a religion of kindness, tenderness, and love, aspiring to implant in the human heart the spirit of its heavenly origin, enkindling in the soul supreme love to God, and claiming the exercise of mutual and ardent affection among those who are united in the same spiritual privileges, and members of the same spiritual family. How comprehensive, how imperative, are the requirements of the Gospel in reference to the indulgence and manifestation of this christian grace. All that love can suggest and perform, in forbearance, in forgiveness, in humility, in sympathy, in benevolence, is required of those who are united in the same religious brotherhood. And this spirit, brethren, is especially to be cherished and evinced towards those who are over us in the Lord, “who labour among you, and admonish you," as your ministers and pastors. Ministers are to be esteemed very highly in love. Surely this must include something more than ordinary respect and friendship; but judging from the conduct of some members towards their pastors, we should conclude this was all they understood the apostle to mean. They content themselves with the common expressions of friendship and respect. They act as if they were in great danger of carrying their attachment to excess. But, brethren, never do you distress yourselves with fears like these - never be afraid of committing the sin against the Holy Ghost by loving your pastor too much. You are to esteem him “very highly in love." If your breasts glow with a warmer affection towards one christian friend than another, this passage requires and justifies that emotion to your pastor. With regard to the way in which your affectionate esteem is to be manifested, it is needless to prescribe. Love has a thousand ways of manifesting itself. Let love breathe in your language, beam in your eye, smile in your countenance, and shine in all your deportment; and let your love not resemble the shining of the meteor, but the light of the sun, warm and constant, leading you at all times to treat your pastor with candour and confidence, to evince a deep interest in all his concerns, and a tender regard for all his habits, sentiments, and feelings. Such a spirit, brethren, is of the highest importance both to him and you. It is essential to the vigorous and animated discharge of his ministerial and pastoral duties. Let a minister receive the impression that he is lightly esteemed by his people, that they have withdrawn their attachment; and, be assured, that his pleasure and energy in his work, if not completely destroyed, are greatly diminished. Next to the love of Christ in the heart, there is nothing like an assured interest in the cordial esteem of the Church, to give stimulus and joy in the fulfilment of the christian ministry. The conviction that he is loved by his people, proves to the pastor an auxiliary of his labours, a cheering companion in the retirement of the study: it revives his depression, sustains his troubles, and often causes him to “thank God, and take courage.” Nor, my brethren, is this love of less importance to yourselves. It is necessary to your personal edification and comfort. If, in the place of esteem, there be disaffection, you will receive but little, if any advantage either from the ministra
tions or visits of your pastor. When you hear him, disaffected prejudice will repel or pervert all he says. If he be animated, he rants; if faithful, he is low; if calm, a milk and water preacher ; if imaginative, he shoots over peoples' heads; if at all critical in his observations, he is pedantic; if affectionate, he cants. The fact is, the minister is not esteemed; and did he preach like an angel you would not profit. But, on the other hand, let him live in the esteem of his flock, then all his labours will be pleasing and profitable unto them. It will open the ear to hear, the eye to see, and the heart to feel, what is said. See to it then, brethren, that you esteem him very highly in love for the sake of his comfort and your own profit. And there is another reason why you should love your pastor, a reason specified in the text-"for his work's sake.” How great the work of a christian minister! a work requiring the powers of an angel; a work, indeed, to which an angel's powers are inadequate. And what is this work ? He has to treat with souls on eternal concerns; he has to plead with his fellow-men the interests of the Redeemer and eternity; he is an ambassador of Christ, bearing a message from the high court of heaven; he has to persuade men to be reconciled to God, to renounce their evil courses, to turn from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God. Engaged in a work like this, so vast, so momentous, so unearthly, so different from any thing secular or civil, the faithful minister prefers the strongest claim to the distinguished esteem of the Church.“ Esteem then your pastor very highly in love, for his works sake.”
II. Another duty you owe your pastor is, a diligent and serious attendance on his ministrations, whether public or social.
It has been justly observed, that if it be a minister's duty to preach the Gospel, it is the people's duty to hear it. It is a pernicious mistake to suppose, that it is left entirely to our option whether we attend the ministry of the word or not. We are commanded by inspired authority “not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together;" and the neglect of his worship is regarded by the king of heaven, as an impious violation of his law, and a contemptuous disavowal of his authority. The apostle said, “Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel ;” and it may be said, woe to you, if you will not hear it, and contribute your prayers, your example, and all your influence, to support the ministers of Christ in “ their work of faith and labour of love." But not only are you bound by the law of God to attend the ministrations of his truth, but by your own covenant engagement. The transactions, and plighted vows of this solemn day, require your attendance. Men and angels, Christ and God, have witnessed your united, unbiassed pledge, to sanction, by your presence, the public services of our esteemed brother; and we believe, brethren, you will not hastily forget, nor lightly violate, that pledge; and permit us to say, that your pastor's comfort and encouragement, and your own individual and collective interests, concur in enforcing the redemption of that pledge. Nothing can be more dispiriting to a minister, when he comes from the secrecy of his study or his closet to deliver the message of his God, than to behold the vacant places of his people. Be assured, brethren, there is but little inspiration in empty pews. We sometimes hear complaints as to the want of energy and pathos in the minister's public addresses. But who can wonder at the want of warmth, when exposed to the chilling frost? Who can wonder (when it is considered that a minister is but a man) that his speech should want fluency,
or his sermons want power, when he has little else to preach to besides deserted seats, and senseless walls ? Give then, brethren, to the ministry of your pastor in the sanctuary, your regular and constant attendance. Remember, there is sacred correspondence between his preaching and your hearing; and 0 how it will exhilerate his mind, how it will animate his studies, and how powerfully will it excite the affections of his heart, in dispensing to you the message of salvation. And then how beneficial will diligent attendance prove to yourselves. It is by this that you will advance in knowledge, in faith, and in all the graces that can adorn the christian character : it is thus you will resemble a well-watered garden, and “a field which the Lord has blessed :” and here it may be a pardonable digression, if we say a few words about the spirit and aim which should characterize your attendance on the ministry of your pastor. When you come to the house of God, try to possess the spirit of the Psalmist when he said, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak.” Determine, as closely as you are able, to watch not the manner in which the sermon is delivered, as the topics on which it treats; not the language employed, but the sentiments that language conveys. When you go to the sanctuary, let it be your leading aim to get real, permanent good; and let the thought of being addressed by a fellow-worm, be lost in the impression, I am listening to the voice of God, I am hearing those truths which will at the day of account be recited in the hearing of an assembled universe. Endeavour to catch the spirit of every text, and the design of every sermon. It is a poor flower in which there is no honey, and it is a poor sermon in which there is no good. I believe, from what I know of my brother, you will never hear a sermon from him from which some spiritual good may not be derived. Now try to make that good your own, and carry
you. such a frame, you will not be engaged, during the sermon, in trying to detect the grammatical rules the minister may violate-how much more accurately such a figure might be employed, such a doctrine explained, or such and such a sentiment expressed. No: when he speaks of the world's Redeemer you will say, This is the Redeemer I need : when he speaks of sal. vation you will say, This is the salvation I want : when he speaks of hell, This is the perdition I have to shun : when he speaks of heaven, This is the home, the joy, the bliss I have to gain. Attend then, brethren, the ministrations of your pastor with regularity, and an ardent desire that the word he preaches may profit your souls.
(To be concluded in our nexl.)
If you listen in
THE SABBATH. “Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy." How precious is the Sabbath-how holy are its joys-how delightful are its associations. To the mind of every sincere christian it is a source of the purest enjoyment, and affords a foretaste of those bright eternal realities respecting which an inspired pen writes, “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them who love him.” Well might the pious psalmist exclaim, “A day in thy courts is better than a thousand.”“I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness;" and such will be the sentiments of every heart on which
the genial, the renovating influence of Gospel truth, has exerted its soultransforming power.
In whatever view we consider the appointment of this sacred day, whether with regard to its effects on the physical, moral, or intellectual world, we need not to be told, that it is a great and a highly important privilege. It was appointed by that Almighty Being, who is not a man, that he should lie, nor the son of man, that he should repent. “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested from all his work ;" and if the all-wise Creator of the universe saw fit thus to set apart a day of rest, at so early a period of the history of our world, of how much greater importance is it, that such an appointment should continue now. Then, man was holy, upright, and pure, created in the image of his maker - he was the reflector of his excellencies. To supply his wants, the earth spontaneously yielded forth its increase : all was subservient to his happiness, all ministered to his gratifications. Now what is his condition ? “ Fallen! and O how low;" the slave of his own depraved passions-degraded, guilty, and undone-a being on whom rests the anathema of retributive justice. “In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground, for out of it wast thou taken ; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Then, this world was a fair and fertile paradise of enjoyment, untouched by sin, untarnished by impurity, unmarred by the ravages of death. Now what is it ? A wide scene of absorbing relentless selfishness, uncancelled guilt, and threatening ruin. Sin, like the mountain torrent, has rolled its pestilential waters across the whole of its surface; no spot has escaped its withering influence, no portion has not been visited by its blighting hand. The demoniacal enemy has reared his destructive standard on every shore, and his progress has been every where marked by desolation, ruin, bloodshed, and death.
But from the contemplation of effects so dire, how bright a relief is af.. forded by the prospect which is now unfolding its beauties in every direction. We rejoice to perceive, that the floodmarks of iniquity are beginning to fall, that the strong and impetuous current of vice and immorality is slowly, but gradually, receding before the omnific power of revealed truth.
The sublime principles of the Gospel are every where working their resistless way, and the almost impervious gloom which has so long brooded amid the horrors of paganism, the delusions of antichristian superstition, and the machinations of priestcraft, are beginning to disperse before the refulgence of those glories which shed their hallowing influence around the revelations of Calvary. At such a time, when a movement so momentous has to be conducted, when an enemy so universal in its influence, and so powerful in its character, has to be overcome, how important an auxiliary is the christian Sabbath. On it the soldiers of the cross are enabled to renew their spiritual strength, to burnish afresh their weapons for the conflict, to drink of that “river the streams whereof make glad the city of their God," and to gaze in blissful expectation upon the beatific vision presented to their notice in the volume of inspired truth, and which is now, though dimly seen, supremely precious to their souls, but which will, when “this earthly house of their tahernacle is dissolved," burst upon their astonished gaze in all its immortal loveliness, and in all its perennial and unimagined beauty.
But the Sabbath is also a privilege, because it affords an opportunity for the enjoyment of repose: it is, emphatically, a day of rest. "Man, while a sojourner and a pilgrim in the wilderness of this world, is exposed to all the vicissitudes and cares with which an existence on the stage of life is so inseparably associated. He feels the absorbing influence of secular engagements; he is subject to the restless, the unceasing anxiety attendant on the discharge of the duties of life; and to him it is indeed a privilege, to enjoy a day on which he may suspend such anxieties, and give to his wearied frame that repose of which it stands so much in need. The dull cold round of mortality, the monotonous range of worldly duties, require some intermittent influence; and such is afforded by the Sabbath. It supplies an opportunity to refresh both bodily and mental powers; and will, if properly appreciated, be welcome as the first faint and struggling beams of morning light to the troubled dreamer, or the bubbling spring to the sight of the traveller parched with thirst, and suffering under the sultry influence of an
Once more, the Sabbath is a privilege, because it affords to every pious mind much and ennobling pleasure. It is a trite observation, that nothing of a sublunary character can satisfy the cravings of the immortal essence of which man is the possessor. Enshrouded it certainly is, amid the ruins of his fall; dimmed by the influence which the powers of darkness exert on his character and conduct; shackled by the trammels of earth and time; and surrounded by the rust and incrustations of impurity and sin. Yet it still remains of the same inestimable value; it still continues to bear the seal of immortality and the impress of deity, and can never be satisfied by the ephemeral pleasures of sensuality and worldly gaiety, or indeed by any thing short of those enjoyments which come from the source of its being. Such enjoyments are afforded to the followers of the Lamb on the christian Sabbath. They are privileged on this hallowed day to associate together, and to unite in the noblest exercises in which it is possible for immortal minds to engage—to sever almost the last link which binds their imprisoned spirits to this cold, this ungenial clime, and to allow their long-fettered affections to rest in more entire confidence, and in brighter anticipation, upon the prospect of that eternity of blessedness which awaits them beyond the tomb. Who would not wish to be a cbristian? who does not desire to be. come the recipient of that peace, and that happy tranquillity, which hopes such as these cannot fail to inspire ? “Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters ;" ye who so long have followed the creations of your own fancy in your search after happiness, who have so long but vainly tried the dangerous paths of indecision, or the more open, but not less fatal, walks of worldly gaiety, to obtain satisfaction of mind, " Come ye, buy and eat; buy wine and milk, without money and without price.” Peace and bappiness are freely offered to you in this world, which, if refused, will result in woe which no tongue can describe, which no mind can comprehend, and wbich will increase in intensity through the circling ages of eternity; but which, if accepted, will terminate amid the celestial joys and the unclouded splendours of that happy home, where you will be led to fountains of living waters, and where God will wipe away all tears from your eyes.”
The consideration of a subject should ever be subservient to personal improvement; and truths of the highest import will, without individual application, be of no available good. O may the few imperfect bints here presented to our notice, lead to serious and solemn reflections. Do all of