THE LOVE OF SOULS, A NECESSARY QUALIFICATION FOR THE MINISTERIAL OFFICE.*
1 Thess. ii. 8.—So, being affectionately desirous of you, me were willing to have imparled unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
A Complete ministerial character is a constellation of all those graces and virtues which can adorn human nature: And the want of any one of them, leaves a hideous defect in it, that breaks its symmetry and uniformity, and renders it less amiable and less useful. The love of God, and the love of man, and all the various modifications of this sacred passion—ardent devotion and active zeal, charity, compassion, meekness, patience, and humility; the accomplishments of the man of sense, the scholar, and the christian, are necessary to finish this character, and make us able ministers of the New Testament. Each of these deserves to be illustrated and recommended; but should I attempt to crowd them into one discourse, I should be bewildered and lost in the vast variety of materials. I must therefore single out some one particular, some one bright star in this heavenly constellation, to which I would confine your attention on this solemn occasion, and with the sacred splendour of which I would adorn both myself and you. Let the subject be, Benevolence, or, the love of souls. Love is a delightful theme; and those that feel it, take pleasure in thinking and talking about it. Therefore, while this is the subject, we cannot be weary, nor inattentive.
The history of mankind cannot furnish us with a more striking instance of benevolence, or the love of souls, than we find in St. Paul, who speaks as like a father and an orator, as an apostle, in this chapter—a chapter written in such pathetic strains, that I can remember the time, when the reading of it has drawn tears even from a heart so hard as mine. "So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the
* Preached in Cumberland County, Virginia, July 13, 1758, at the ordination of the Rev. Messrs. Henry Patillo and William Richardson.
gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye mere dear unto us."
The connexion seems to be this—" Js a nurse cherishes her children," that is, as a tender mother,* who undertakes to nurse her own children, with fond endearment gives them the breast, and feeds them with her milk, the quintessence of her own blood; "so," saith St. Paul, "being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you the sincere milk of the word, even the gospel of God, the most precious thing we had to communicate i and not only this, but our own souls or lives also, because ye were dear unto us."
When he says, "We were willing to have imparted to you our own souls or lives;" he may either mean, that such was his affection for the Thessalonians, and such was the influence his affection had upon his address to them, that he, as it were, breathed out his soul in every word. So affectionate, so pathetic and earnest was his discourse, that it seemed animated with his very soul. Every word came from his heart, and seemed a vehicle to convey his spirit into them. He spoke as if he would have died on the spot, through earnestness to affect them with what he said, that their souls, so dear to him, might be saved: or, he may mean, that so ardent was his love for them, that he was willing not only to preach to them, but to lay down his life for them: he would willingly endure a natural death, if by that means he might bring them to obtain eternal life. Some of the patriots of antiquity, we are told, loved their country so well, that they generously sacrificed their lives for it. This public spirit, indeed, is almost lost in these dregs of time; but the evidence of ancient history is sufficient to convince us, that such a thing once was. And shall not the love of souls be as heroic, and work as powerfully? Yes, we find this spirit of sacred patriotism glowing with the utmost ardour in the generous breasts of St. Paul and his brethren. St. Paul breathes out his spirit towards the Philippians: "If," says he, " I be offered up,i as a libation, upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all." St. John also infers this as a matter of obligation, from the
* The nurse here meant is, not the unnatural nurse of modern times, whose mercenary service can never supply a mother's care; but the genuine tender mother; and it should be rendered, "as a nurse cherishes her own [si»vth?] children."
t <rviiioficn. Phil. ii. 17
consideration of Christ's laying down a life of infinitely greater worth for us. "Hereby," says he, "we perceive the love of God, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."*
Such, my brethren, ought to be the spirit of every gospel minister: thus dearly should they love the souls of men; and thus ardently desirous should they be to conduct them to Jesus and salvation.
My present design is to show, what a happy effect the generous princifiles of benevolence, or the love of souls, would have upon us in the exercise of the ministerial office. And this will appear in the following particulars:
First, The prevalence of this disposition will contribute to ingratiate us with mankind, and so promote our usefulness.
It is not to be expected in the stated course of our ministry, that those should receive advantage by our labours, to whom we are unacceptable. If they are disaffected .to us, they will also disregard what we say; and while they disregard it, they can receive no benefit from it. The ministry of a contemptible minister, will always be contemptible; and consequently useless.
But, on the other hand, when a minister in his congregation, appears in a circle of friends, whose affections meet in him, as their common centre, then his labours are likely to be at once pleasing and profitable to them. When the heart is open to the speaker, his words will gain admission through the same door of entrance. Then there will be no suspicions of imposition, or sinister interested design. Then even hard things will be received, not as the effect of moroseness, but as wholesome severities from faithful friendship. For the confirmation of this, I may appeal to your observations of mankind: you know they will bear many things, and even take them well, from a known friend, which they would warmly resent from others. You know the persuasion, the remonstrance or admonition of a friend, will have great weight, when that of others would be neglected or contemned. In short, you may almost carry any point with mankind, if they are satisfied you love them, and regard their interest; and they also love you: but even real kindnesses, from those whom they disaffect, will be received with suspicious caution, and perhaps with indignation.
• John iii. 16.
Now, such is the nature of the ministerial office, that there is much need of this happy prepossession of mankind in our favour, that we may discharge it with comfort and success. We are not only to display the rich grace of the gospel, and the fair prospects of a blessed immortality, but also to denounce the terrors of the Lord, and rouse up again the lightning and thunder, and tempest of Sinai. We must represent human nature in its present fallen state, in a very disagreeable and mortifying light; we must overturn the flattering hopes of mankind, and embitter to them the false measures of sin, in which they place so much of their happiness. We must put the cross of Christ on their shoulder, and reconcile them to self-denial, reproach, and various forms of suffering, ior the sake of righteousness. We must inculcate upon them a religion for sinners; in which selfaccusation, remorse, fear, sorrow, and all the painful heartbreakings of repentance, are necessary ingredients. We must set ourselves in a strenuous opposition to the favourite lusts of the world, and the ways of the multitude ; and this alone will set the world against us as their enemies, and officious disturbers of their peace. We must also exercise the rod of discipline for the correction of offenders; must take upon us the ungrateful office of reprovers, and give the reproof with proper degrees of severity. In short, the faithful discharge of our office will oblige us to use such measures, as have been found by the experience of thousands of years, to be very unpopular and irritating to mankind—measures, which brought upon the prophets, the apostles, and other servants of Christ, the odium of the world, and cost many of them their lives: and if we tread in their steps, we may expect the same treatment in a greater or lesser degree.
And how shall this unacceptable office be discharged faiihfully, and yet as inoffensively and acceptably as may be? I can prescribe no certain expedient for this purpose, while the world continues as bad as it is. This is what neither the prophets nor apostles, though inspired from heaven, were ever able to find out. But that which will have the happiest tendency of any thing within the reach of humanity is, the prevalence of benevolence, or the love of souls. It is comparatively easy to a minister that ardently loves his people, to make them sensible that he does love them, and is their real friend, even when he is constrained to put on the appearance of severity. Love has a language of its own—a language, which mankind can hardly fail to understand; and which flattery and affectation can but seldom mimic with success. Love, like the other passions, has its own look, its own voice, its own air and manner in every thing, strongly expressive of itself. Look at a friend, while the sensations of love are tender and vigorous; and you see the generous passion looking upon you through his eyes, speaking to you by his voice, and expressing itself in every gesture. The most studied and well-managed artifices of flattery and dissimulation, have something in them so stiff, so affected, so forced, so unnatural, that the cheat may often be detected, or, at least, suspected. When dissimulation mourns, and puts on the airs of sorrow and compassion, it is but whining and grimace : and when she smiles, it is but fawning and affectation—So hard is it to put on the face of genuine love without being possessed of it; and so easy is it for a real friend to appear such.
Hence it appears, that the most effectual method to convince our hearers we love them, is, to be under the strong influence of that benevolent passion which we profess. The sacred fire of love will blaze out in full evidence, and afford the strongest conviction they can receive, that their minister is their friend, and aims at their best interest, even when he denounces the terrors of the Lord against them, or assumes the unacceptable character of their reprover; and when they are thus happily prepossessed in his favour, they will take almost any thing well at his hands. Then, if ever, they will receive the truth in love, when they believe it is spa±en in love. That must be a base, ungenerous sinner indeed, that can look up to the pulpit, and there see an affectionate friend in the person of his minister, adorned with smiles of love, or melting into tears of tender pity, and yet resent his faithful freedoms, and hate him as his enemy for telling him the truth. Some ministers are not loved in a suitable degree by their people. But, not to mention, at present, the criminal causes of this neglect on the side of the people, I am afraid one common cause is, that they do not sufficiently love them. Love is naturally productive of love; it scatters its heavenly sparks around; and these kindle the gentle flame, where they fall. Oh! that each of us, who sustain the sacred character, may purchase the love of our people, with the price of our own love! And may we distribute this to them with so liberal a hand, as always to leave them debtors to us in this precious article! That people should love their minister, more than he loves their souls, is a shocking unnatural disproportion.
Farther, the prevalence of this sacred passion naturally tends to give our ministrations, and the whole of our behaviour, such an air, as will ingratiate us with mankind. Let a minister of Christ ascend the sacred desk, with a heart glowing with the love of souls, and what an amiable engaging figure does he make, even in the most gloomy and terrible attitude? Then, if he denounces the vengeance of Heaven against impenitent sinners, he passes sentence with tears in his eyes, and the aspect of tender compassion and friendly reluctance. And if he is obliged to put on the stern air of a reprover, he still retains the winning character oF the friend of human nature, and the lover of souls. Love gives a smooth, though sharp edge to his address, like a razor set in oil. Love animates his persuasions and exhortations, and gives them additional force. Love breathes through his invitations, and renders them irresistible. Love brightens the evidence of conviction, and sweetly forces it upon unwilli&g minds: for who would not lay his heart open to a friend? Love mingles smiles with his frowns, and convinces his hearers, that he denounces the morose terrors of the law with all the affectionate benevolence of the gospel; and represents their danger and misery in a tremendous light, merely because he loves them, and is zealous to save them from it. Love Would direct him to express the friend in conversation, better than all the rules of good-breeding that can be prescribed, and all the affected familiarity and complaisance that the greatest artificer of flattery and dissimulation could use. Love would give a graceful ease, an engaging softness, and a generous open-hearted frankness to his behaviour. Theij, like St. Paul, he would comfort, and exhort, and charge his dear people, as a father doth his children ;* and would carry all the attractive charms of love with him, wherever he went. This would be an inward principle of conduct; and therefore the conduct to which it incites, would be natural, easy, and unsuspicious, and free from stiffness and affectation, which never fails to disgust, whenever it is perceived. "Thou God of Love! implant and cherish this noble principle of love in our breasts; and may it actuate us in all our ministrations , and adorn and recommend them!"
• 1 Thess. ii. IV
Secondly, The love of souls will enable and excite us to exercise the ministry in such a manner as tends to affect our hearers, and make deep, impressions upon their hearts. 'Love will move all the springs of sacred oratory, and give a force and spirit to our address, which even a hard heart cannot but feel. When we speak to those we love, we shall speak m earnest ; and that is the most likely way to speak to the heart. Love will render us sincere, and adorn all our ministrations with the plain artless garb of sincerity; and the sincerity of the speaker will have no small influence upon the hearers. When love warns of danger, the hearers are alarmed, and apprehend there is danger indeed. When love dissuades, it is the gentle restraint of a friendly hand ; and therefore agreeable, or, at least, tolerable. When love persuades and exhorts, what heart can be obstinate, when it is known it does but persuade to happiness? When men see the confessed lover of souls in the pulpit, it is natural for them to say, "Now it is proper I should be attentive, and regard what I hear; for I am convinced the speaker aims at my best interest. His advice I may safely follow, as the voice of benevolence ; and even his admonitions and reproofs I should take in good part, as the effects of faithful friendship, that would rather run the risk of my displeasure by plain and honest dealing, than be accessary to my ruin by flattery and excessive complaisance." Thus it is natural for them to reflect; and by these reflections the way is opened into their hearts. Oh ! that you and I, my reverend brethren, may make thorough trial for the future of the efficacy of this affectionate preaching! May the arrows we shoot at the hearts of our hearers, be pointed with love! Then are they most likely to make a deep medicinal wound. The force of love is at once gentle and powerful: it will tenderly affect, when a stern, austere, imperious address, never fails to disgust and exasperate ; and a languid and indifferent address, the language of a cold unfeeling heart, leaves the hearers as cold and languid as itself.
Thirdly, The ardent love of souls will make a minister of the gospel diligent and laborious in his office.
How laborious and indefatigable are we in pursuing a point we have so much at heart, and in serving those we love? Therefore, if the love of souls be our ruling passion, and their salvation be the object we have in view, with what indefatigable zeal and diligence shall we labour to serve their immortal interests? How
gladly shall we spend and be spent for them, though the more abundantly we love, the leas we should be loved.* How will this endear our office to us, as an office of benevolence, and a labour of love? How shall we love and bless the name of our Divine Master, who has made it our duty to spend our life in the agreeable work of serving our friends? While this benevolent spirit glows in our breasts, we can leave no blanks in the page of life, but all must be filled up, with the offices of friendship. Love, an everoperating love, will always keep us busy; and that amiable and comprehensive summary of our Master's history, will, in some measure, agree to us, " He Went About Doing Good."! Love will excite us to preach the word, to be in season, and out of season.\ Love will give our conversation a right turn ; and with a natural unaffected air, drop a word upon every occasion, that may edify the circle of friends—a circle so wide, that we can never pass over it, while in company with any of the human race. As souls are equal in worth, notwithstanding the various . ranks and distinctions among mankind, so the love of souls is an impartial passion : like the redeeming love of Christ, it extends to all kindreds, and tongues, and nations, and languages; and it will excite us to the most condescending services to the poorest and meanest, as well as the great and honourable. Love will often cast us on the knee, as affectionate intercessors for our dear friends, that is, for all mankind, and particularly for that part of them which is more immediately entrusted to our ministerial care. Love will inspire our prayers with a kind of almighty importunity, and render us unable to bear a refusal in a point that we have so much at heart. Oh! what wonders would love enable us to perform! How many precious hours, now trifled away, would it redeem! What spirit, what life would it diffuse through our secret devotions and public ministrations! It would adorn our life not only with a shining action here and. there, like a single star in the expanse of heaven, but crowd it thick with pious offices of friendship, and generous exploits of benevolence, like the glow of blended splendor from ten thousand stars in the milky way. It would render idleness an intolerable burden, and labour a pleasure; which leads me to observe more particularly, in the
Fourth place, The ardent love of souls will not only make us diligent and laborious in our ministry, but enable us to bear all
• 2 Cor. xii. 15. f Act! *• 38. * 2 Tim. «T. 2.
the hardships and difficulties we may meet .with in the discharge of it, with patience, and even with cheerfulness. Love is strong to suffer, and mighty to conquer, difficulties. The love of fame, the love of riches, the love of honour and pre-eminence, what difficulties has it encountered—what obstructions has it surmounted—what dangers has it dared! How tolerable, yea, how pleasant, has it rendered fatigues and hardships? and how has it rendered dangers and deaths charming and illustrious! And shall not the nobler passion, the love of souls, do vastly more? It has already done more. This was the heroic passion that animated St. Paul, and taught him to look upon dangers and deaths, in their most shocking forms, with a generous contempt. Though he knew that bonds and imprisonments awaited him, yet, " none of these things move me" says he, " neither count I my life dear 'unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received qf the Lord Jesus."* I point out this christian hero as a specimen; but it would be easy to add many other illustrious names to the list. And would not the sacred fervour of love reconcile even such feeble and cowardly sreatures as we, to hardships and dangers, in the service of souls? If we may but save them from everlasting ruin, how insignificant are the greatest difficulties we can suffer in the generous attempt? If we may make those happy whom we love, then welcome labour, fatigue, difficulties and dangers; and fare.wel that ease and indolence, that pleasure or pursuit, that is inconsistent with this main design. Labour is delight, t difficulty inviting, and danger illustrious and alluring, in this benevolent enterprize. Who would not labour with pleasure, and suffer with patience, and even with joy, for the service of souls—souls formed for immortality! souls whom we love even as ourselves! We begrudge a little pains or suffering for those whom we disregard: but love sweetens labour, and lightens every burden.
This I would direct to you, my brethren, who are now to take part with us in this ministry. I doubt not but you are better acquainted with the work you are about to undertake than to need my information, that you are not entering into an office of ease and self-indulgence, but of labour, toil and difficulty—an office that cannot be faithfully discharged without frequent self-denial, incessant application, and exhausting fatigues. But, for your encouragement, remember, all this labour, difficulty and self-denial.
* Acts xx. 24. -f Labor ipse volupHs.
you are to endure in the service of those you love ; and love, you will find, will lighten the burden, and render a life of toil and fatigue more easy and delightful, than indolence and.inactivity. Therefore, cherish this generous benevolence, as that which will render you vigorous in doing, and strong in suffering. O that your Divine Master may fire your hearts with much of this truly ministerial spirit \
Fifthly, I observe the prevalence of a spirit of benevolence would happily restrain us from every thing low, disgraceful, or offensive, in our ministrations, in our conversation, and designs.
Let the love of mankind be warm and vigorous in our hearts, and we cannot address them, even upon terrible subjects, in a stern unrelenting manner—a manner that looks more like a scold, than a christian orator; and that tends rather to exasperate, than reform. But we shall denounce the most terrible things, in as soft language, and with as mild and gentle an aspect as faithfulness will allow, or compassion inspire.
Let love be the spring of our conduct, and it will render it courteous withoutaffectation,insinuating without artifice, engaging without flattery, and honest without a huffish bluntness. This will guard us against all airs of insolence and affected superiority in conversation, and a distant, imperious behaviour, that seems to forbid access, and never fails to excite disgust. When a man appears of vast importance to himself, and assumes state, he will, for that very reason, appear very insignificant and contemptible to others. But, if we tenderly love those with whom we converse, it will render our conversation affable, sociable, condescending and modest. And this will be found the best expedient to engage the esteem of mankind, and procure that respect which pride with all its artifices seeks jn vain: for that maxim, repeated more than once hy our blessed Lord, who knew mankind so well, will hold good in this case, "He that exalteth himself shall be abased: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."*
The ardent love of souls will render us meek and patient under unkind treatment, and keep down those sallies of passion, which are at once so unmanly and unministerial. This will sweeten our temper, and purge out those sour humours, that render men peevish, sullen, and ready to blaze out into anger at every provocation. This lamb-like spirit will conform us to the Lamb
* Luke xiv. 11.—xviii. 14.
of God, " who, when he was reviled, reviled not again, and when he suffered, threatened not"* nor burst out into a flame of passion.
If love be predominant in the heart, it will happily disable us from aiming at sordid ends, and from taking sordid measures to obtain those ends. Then we shall not labour for the applause of mankind, but for their salvation. We shall not seek their silver and gold, but their souls: and we shall be able to say with St. Paul," We seek not yours, but you."\ Though we may not only be willing to receive, but justly insist upon, a competent support, from those in whose service we spend our lives; yet if the love of their souls, and not of their money, be uppermost in our hearts, it will inspire us with such moderation, contentment, and noble negligence, as to earthly things, and with such apparent zeal and earnestness for their salvation, that if they have the least degree of candour, they cannot but be convinced, that it is the latter, and not the former, which we have most at heart, and chiefly labour to promote. This principle will restrain us from all the artifices of avarice, and from ever wearing a cloak of' covstousness.^ It would enable us so to behave, as may afford mankind sufficient matter of conviction, that we need not be hired to do them good offices, and endeavour to save their souls; but that we do it freely, were it possible for us to make the attempt successfully, without devoting all that time and strength to it, which others lay out in providing for themselves and their families.
Thus I have shewn you, in a few instances, by way of specimen, what a happy influence the love of souls would have upon the ministerial character, and consequently upon those among whom we exercise our office. And I hope you will forgive me, my reverend fathers and brethren, if I have, as it were, forgot there are any present but you, and that I have talked over the matter with you among ourselves. Indeed, my thoughts were so engrossed with that peculiar share which we have in the subject, that it seemed unnatural to me to take notice of its reference to mankind in general, and how much the love of souls is the duty of hearers as well as ministers.
But now, my brethren of the laity, I must turn my address to you : and the first improvement I would have you make of what you have heard, is, to learn from it in what light you should look upon your ministers. Look upon us as the friends, the lav
eft of your souls. If you can discover that we are not worthy of •that character, in some suitable degree, then it is your right as men, as christians, and, I may add, as presbyterians, to reject us, and not own us as your ministers. But, while you cannot but acknowledge us in that sacred character, you are bound to esteem us as your friends—the real friends of your best interests. And while you look upon us in this light, will you not practically treat us as such? Will you not regard the instructions, the exhortations and warnings, which you hear from your friends, who feel themselves deeply interested in your happiness? « Now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord :"* but, oh! it kills us to see you destroy yourselves. Will you not bear with our severity, since it is the warmest benevolence to you, that constrains us to use it? When we would engage you to a life of holiness, why do you fly off, as if you were afraid of being overreached, and caught in some snare? We are your friends that persuade you; and why will you apprehend any injury from us? When we would dissuade you from the pursuit of guilty pleasures, why are you so stiff, and tenacious of them? Do you think we love you so little, that we could begrudge you any real happiness, or would be officious to impair it? No, indeed, my dear brethren, such a design is so far from our hearts, that to promote your happiness in time and eternity, is the great end of all our labours. When we would put the cross of Christ on your shoulders, and compel you to carry it ; when we inculcate upon you a life of self-denial, mortification and repentance, believe me, it is because, we love you, and are fully persuaded this course will turn out best for you in the issue. Do we denounce the curses of the law against you? do we severely reprove, and loudly alarm you? why, what possible motive can we have to this, but love, honest disinterested love? We love you, and therefore cannot bear the thought that you should perish for want of faithful warning. Were self-love our principle, we are not so dull, but we could learn the art of flattery, and prophesy smooth things, as well as others. But we are afraid for ourselves, and we are afraid for you, lest it should be said to us, when the wall, which we have daubed with untempered mortar, is fallen, 1 Where now is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it ?"f And will you not regard the warning of a friendly voice? Will
» 1 Thess. iH. 8. t1 Thess. v. 13.
you not fear, when love itself points out your danger, and dire conceal it no longer?
Let me also propose it to you, since your ministers love you, ought you not to love them in return? Does not love deserve love? Ought you not to esteem them highly in love, if not for their own, yet "for their works' take ?"* And ought you not to give them proper expressions of your love, by improving their affectionate endeavours for your own benefit? Do but permit them to be the instruments of making you happy, and you gratify them in the main point. For this purpose, while they speak the truth in love, do you receive it in love; and cheerfully submit to their admonitions and reproofs, which, however often they meet with angry resentments, are the most substantial evidences of a faithful disinterested friendship which they can possibly give yon. Here also I may add, and I hope without offence, since in this place I can have no personal concern in it myself, that you should express your love to your ministers by cheerfully and generously contributing to their support. While they love you so tenderly, while they spend their time, their strength, and all their abilities in your service, can you be so sneaking, so ungenerous, so on. grateful, as to leave them and their families to suffer want, and incur the contempt entailed upon poverty? Sure, you cannot be guilty of such a conduct!
Finally, let me exhort you to love your own souls. Certainly, your ministers should not be singular in this. If theyare so strongly obliged to love the souls of others, surely you must be obliged to love your own. It may seem strange that I should exhort creatures to love themselves, whose guilt and misery are so much owing to the excess of that principle. But alas! the soul is hardly any part of that self, which they so immoderately love: no, that precious immortal part is disregarded, as if it were but a trifling excrescence, like their nails or their hair, incapable of pleasure or pain. But, oh ! love your souls; make sure oithdr happiness, whatever becomes of you in other respects: "for what would it profit you, if you should gain the whole world, and lose your own souls ?"f
Let me now resume the consideration of my subject, as it refers to us of the sacred character. Methinks we may claim a peculiar property in this day ; as we are peculiarly concerned in the business of it. We often preach to others: but let us for once
* Ezek. xiii. 12. f Matt. xvi' 26.
preach to ourselves: and let the love of souls be the generous, and delightful subject. The subject may recommend itself: and what has been said, strongly enforces it. But, alas! I feel there is one heart among us, that stands in need of farther excitements. Therefore, though I doubt not but I might address myself to all my fathers and brethren, without offence, I must indulge myself in soliloquy, and preach to one that needs it most. I mean myself.
My glorious and condescending Lord, who has endowed mankind with a wise variety of capacities, and assigned to each of them his proper work, agreeably to the various exigences of the world they inhabit, has appointed me the most pleasing work, the work of love and benevolence. He only requires me to act the friend of human nature, and shew myself a lover of souls— souls, whom He loves, and whom he redeemed with the blood of his heart—souls whom his Father loves: and for whom he gave up his own Son unt6 death—souls, whom my fellow-servants of a superior order, the blessed angels, love; and to whom they concur with me in ministering—-souls, precious in themselves, and of more value than the whole material universe—souls, that must be happy or miserable, in the highest degree, through an immortal duration—souls united to me by the endearing ties of our common humanity—souls, for whom I must give an account to the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls—souls, whom none hate but the malignant ghosts of hell, and those fallen spirits in flesh, who are under their influence upon earth.—And oh! can I help loving these dear souls? Why does not my heart always glow with affection and zeal for them? Oh! why am 1 such a languid friend, when the love of my Master and his Father is so ardent? when the ministers of heaven are flaming fires of love, though they do not share in the same nature ? and when the object of ray love is so precious and valuable? The owners of those souls often do not love them; and they are likely to be lost forever by the neglect. Oh! shall not I love them? shall not love invigorate my hand, to pluck them out of the burning? Yes, I will, I must love them. But ah; to love them more! Glow, my zeal! kindle, my affections! speak, my tongue I flow, my blood! be exerted, all my powers ! be my life, if necessary, a sacrifice, t« save souls from death! Let labour be a pleasure : let difficulties appear glorious and inviting, in this service. O thou God ©f L 1
Love ! kindle a flame of love in this cold heart of mine ; and then I shall perform my work with alacrity and success.
But I must drop my soliloquy, and return to you, my venerable friends: and I shall take up no more of your time, than just to glance at a collateral inference from my subject ; and that is, if we should love our hearers, and even all mankind, then certainly we should love one another. If when we see one another in judicatures, or at any other place, we see our friends, how pleasing and delightful will it render all our interviews? If mutual confidence and union of hearts subsist among us, with what ease, harmony and pleasure shall we manage all our affairs? If we love one another with apure heart fervently, with what life and ardour will it inspire our intercessions for each other, when we are far apart, in our respective closets? How will it teach us to bear one another's burdens, to sympathize with each other, to compromise differences, to forgive infirmities, and agree to differ, that is, differ peaceably, if in any thing we should differ in sentiment. How sweet is friendship, how reviving the conversation, and even the very sight of a friend! Blessed be God, this pleasure we have enjoyed in our little presbytery ; and I must add, in all the ecclesiastical judicatures to which I have ever belonged. This has rendered absence on such occasions so painful a self-denial to me, that nothing but incapacity could constrain me to submit to it. The conviction of duty, and the impulse of friendship, pushed me on the same way, and were irresistible.
I am so happy as to be able to furnish you with a new argument for brotherly love and harmony among us, in a presbyterial capacity; and that is, the union between the synods of NewYork and Philadelphia, to which we belong—a union, of which I was witness; and which appeared to me not a merely external artificial bond, which would soon break to pieces, but an union of hearts. And I must say, that however warm have been my desires, and however sanguine my hopes of peace, yet I never expected to see so truly pacific a spirit prevail in both bodies, and such a generous forgiveness and oblivion of past mutual offences. May the same spirit of peace circulate far and wide among ministers and people ; and may it reach to this colony, where we so peculiarly need that additional strength, which results from a state of union. This is not only my wish and prayer, but my hope: and as the union of synods leaves the people in the possession of their right to choose their own ministers, as much as while
we were in a divided"state; as all objections from the Protest, which was long looked upon as an insuperable obstacle, are effectually removed, by both synods agreeing in the general principles of protestation, and by the synod of Philadelphia declaring, "That they never judicially adopted the protestation entered Anno Domini seventeen hundred and forty-one, nor do account it a synodical act ;" and as the synod of, New-York have done proper honour to what they account the late work of God. in which I shall always esteem it both my duty and my right peaceably to concur with them; I say, as the union has been formed upon' such fair and honourable terms, I hope it will be acceptable to the people in general, and that instead of endeavouring to re-kindle the flames of contention, they will honestly endeavour to improve the advantages of a state of peace and union; and then the Cod of peace will be with them. Amen.
THE MANNER OF ORDINATION, &c.
I NOW proceed to prepare the way more immediately for the solemnity of this day: and, f& the sake of the hearers in general, it may be proper for me to shew, in a few words, the design and propriety of ordination by the imposition of hands, and who are the persons invested with the power of ordination.
It is agreeable to the common practice of mankind, to signify the conveyance of important offices by some solemn rite : and God wisely condescends to deal with men in their own manner, and to cast his transactions with them into the model of their transactions with one another. Thus, in particular, he has appointed, that the investiture of persons with the sacred office should be performed with the significant ceremony of laying on of hands. This is evident from St. Paul's exhortation to Timothy, "Not to neglect the gift that was given him by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery."* He intimates in his second Epistle, that he had a peculiar share in that solemnity, or presided at the occasion: for, says he, "I put thee in remembrance, that thou stir up the gift of God, that is in thee, by the putting on of my hands."? Thus Paul himself, and his colleague Barnabas, were set apart to their mission to the heathen world ; for St. Luke informs us, that " while the prophets and
* 1 Timothy iv. 14. f 2 Tm. »' 6.
teachers of the church of Antioch were ministering to the Lord, and fasting, "the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted, and prayed, and laid their hands upon them, they sent them away."* To this also St. Paul refers, when he enjoins Timothy, to " lay hands suddenly on no man ;"t that is, to invest no man with the sacred- office, till he had taken sufficient time to be satisfied of his qualifications. This solemn rite was used for the like purpose under the law of Moses; and from thence it was transferred to the christian church. Thus, when Joshua was nominated his successor, the Lord commands Moses, f Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay thine hand upon him, and give him a charge. And Moses did as the Lord cpmmanded him."^ This ceremony was also used upon other solemn occasions both under the Old and New Testament, as in the authoritative benedictions of the inspired patriarchs and prophets ;|| in miraculously healing the sick,§ and in conveying the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, on which account the imposition of hands generally attended baptism, in the apostolic
It must be granted, that i^the ordinary ages of the church, when miraculous powers are ceased, this rite cannot answer all the same purposes, in the same extent, as in the age of miracles and inspiration. There is no such virtue in the hand of a bishop or presbytery, as to infuse ministerial' qualifications, or the gifts of the Spirit: and all pretensions to such a power, arc arrogant, enthusiastical and ridiculous. Yet, there are sufficient reasons for the continued use of this rite in the church in all ages. It may still answer some important ends, for the sake of which it should be used, though it may not now answer all the ends it once did. It may now serve, as well as in the apostolic age, as a solemn significant sign of a man's consecration to the sacred office. It may now serve, as well as then, as a significant cerejnony in solemn ministerial benedictions, or in the presbytery's prayer to God for his blessing upon the person so peculiarly devoted to his service; after the example of Christ, the patriarchs, and prophets. And it may also be used now, as well as ever, as a
significant sign and seal of the ordinary gifts and graces of the Spirit, which are the privilege of the church, and particularly of its ministers, in all ages. Of this it may still be a proper sign, as baptism is still a sign of regeneration and the remission of sins; and, therefore, still administered, though it be not now followed with such miraculous effects as in the apostolic age. When the main ends of an ordinance can be substantially answered, there is always good reason for its continuance, whatever circumstantial variations it may be subject to.
Upon such principles as these the generality of christians, in all ages, have practised ordination by the imposition of hands as a divine institution still in force. And upon these principles we now intend to proceed in investing these our brethren with the sacred office.
But here a question lies in our way, which has been much agitated in the world, to whom does the power of ordination belong? To a presbytery, that is, to a collective body of ministers of the same rank and order? or to a bishop, that is, to a minister of a superior order, above the rest of the clergy? To this my time will allow me to give but a short answer.
First, it may be easily proved, ^y an induction of particulars, that ivunitKcs and icfyr^un^, bishop or presbyter, in the New Testament, signify the same office, and are applied to the common ministers of the gospel promiscuously; and consequently, that there is no such office by divine appointment, as that of a bishop in the modern sense of the word, that is, a diocesan bishop, of an order superior to the rest of the clergy. Now, if there should be no such office, certainly tfie power of ordination cannot belong to it; for it cannot belong to a nonentity, or an usurped authority. I bind myself to make out this, when called to it; but now I must pass it over thus superficially.
Secondly, I remark, that ordination is an act of presbytery, appears from sundry scripture instances. The apostles were all upon an equality, or formed a presbytery; and they concurred in this act. Thus Paul and Barnabas jointly ordained elders in every city.* Timothy, as I observed before, was ordained by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, t in which it seems St. Paul presided.^ And we have seen, that Paul and Barnabas were ordained by the prophets and teachers, or as they may be called, the presbytery of Antioch. I add,
Thirdly, That ordination is, I think, universally acknowledged to be an act of government ; and consequently to belong to those who are invested with the government of the church: but the power of church-government is committed to the ministers of the gospel in general: therefore, so is the power of ordination. That the power of church-government is committed to ministers in common., is evident from more passages of the New Testament, than I can take time to quote. St. Paul speaks of it as belonging to elders or presbyters, "to ride well, as well as to labour in word and doctrine."* "Them that have the rule over you," is his periphrasis for the ministers of the churches to whom he writes.f He mentions it as a necessary qualification of a minister, that " he rule his own house well ; "for," says he, "if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God }."\ This implies, that it belongs to the province of every minister, to rule the church of God, as the master of a house does his family. So also, when submission and obedience are required, on the part of the people, it implies a power to rule, on the part of the elders or presbyters. Of this many instances might be given.§ Now, since it is evident, that ordination is an act of government, and that the power of government belongs to the ministers in general, it follows, that the power of ordination also belongs to ministers in general, and should not be appropriated to a superior order of bishops. Therefore, without encroachment or usurpation, we proceed, in the name of the Lord Jesus, to exercise this power.
And now, my dear brethren, the solemn business of the day. comes very near you. You are just entering into the most solemn «ngagcment, that human nature is capable of: you have already had some trial of your work; and though no doubt the trial has discovered to you so much of your weakness and insufficiency, as may keep you always humble, and dependant upon divine grace; yet, I hope, you have found it a delightful work—the work of love—the office of friendship; and therefore pleasing. I hope you have already found, that you serve a good master; and that you never desire to change for another: no, you are fixed for life, and even for eternity. The churches also have had trial of your ministerial qualifications; and we have reason to hope, they are so well satisfied, that it is their general and earnest desire, you
should be invested with full authority to exercise all the branches of the sacred office. And this presbytery, from the repealed trials they have had of your piety, learning, and other qualifications, judge you fit to take part with them in this ministry. You. are therefore desired, and solemnly charged, in the presence of God, to give an honest answer to the following questions:
Do you heartily believe the divine authority of the christian religion, as taught in the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament? And do you promise, that, in the strength of God, you will resolutely profess It, and adhere to it, though it should cost you all that is dear to you in the world, and even life itself? Do you receive the Westminster Confession of Faith, as the confession of your faith; that is, do you believe it contains an excellent summary of the pure doctrines of Christianity as taught in the scriptures, and as purged from the corruptions of popery, and other errors that have crept into the church? And do you purpose to explain the scriptures agreeably to the substance of il?
Do you receive the directory for worship and government, composed by the Westminster Assembly, as agreeable to the word of God, and promise to conform to the substance of it?
Can you honestly declare, that as far as you can discover, after frequent examination, you have reason to hope, that the religion you now undertake to teach, has had a sanctifying efficacy upon yourselves, and made you habitually holy in heart and life?
Can you honestly declare, that as far as you know yourselves, after strict examination, you do not undertake the holy ministry from any low, interested and mercenary views; but with a sincere, prevailing aim at the glory of God, and the salvation of men?
Do you solemnly promise, depending upon divine grace for assistance, that you will faithfully and zealously endeavour to discharge all the duties of the sacred office with which you are now about to be invested; particularly, that you will be diligent in prayer, reading, study, preaching, ministering the sacraments, exercising ecclesiastical discipline, and edifying conversation?
Do you promise that you will endeavour to form your conduct, and that of your families, as far as your influence can extend, that they may be iraitable examples to all around you of that holy religion which you profess and preach?
Do you profess your willingness, in meekness of spirit, to submit in the Lord to the discipline and government of the church «f Christ, and the admonitions of your brethren?
Finally; Do you resolve and promise, that you will continue in the faithful discharge of your office, so long as you have life, strength, and opportunity, to whatever discouragements and sufferings it may expose you?
As you have thus made a good confession before many
witnesses, and given us ground to hope, that God has really called you to this office, we proceed, in the name, and by the authority of the Lord Jesus, solemnly to set you apart to it, by prayer, and the imposition of hands, which himself has appointed for this purpose.
[Here Mr, Patillo, and Mr. Richardson kneeled down, and the presbytery put their hands upon them ; and he that presided offered up a solemn prayer over them, agreeably to the materials recommended in the Westminster Directory upon his head.]
And now, our dear brethren and fellow-servants in the gospel, as Moses laid his hands on Joshua, and gave him a charge ; so we, in this solemn posture, "charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead, at liis appearing, and his kingdom, preach the word; be instant in season, and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine ;* that you may save yourselves, and those that hear you."t We solemnly charge you, to " take heed to yourselves, and the flock over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."^ Remember the consequences of this day's transaction will follow you through ail eternity. Therefore, make it the business of your lives to perform your obligations. The oath of God is upon you, and ye are witnesses against yourselves, that ye have chosen the Lord for your master, to serve him. "And now, brethren, we commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified."§ But I would not encroach; and therefore leave this charge to be finished by another.|| And as a token of our receiving you into ministerial communion, as members of this presbytery, we give you the right hand of fellowship.
[Here each member of the presbytery gave Messrs. Patillo and Richardson his right hand.]
And with our hand we give you our heart. We welcome you as new labourers into our Lord's vineyard; and we wish, we hope, and pray you may long be employed there with great pleasure and success. We cannot help pouring out a torrent of fatherly wishes and prayer.s for you. May the great God make you able ministers of the New Testament. May you shine as illustrious luminaries in the church—" holding forth the word of life."* And may you be made the happy instruments of "turning many from darkness to light."t "Oh! may your whole lives be one uninterrupted course of pleasing labour to yourselves, and of extensive usefulness to the world. And when you die, may you tall with the dignity of ministers of Jesus. May this be your rejoicing in your last agonies, and in the nearest view of the supreme tribunal, even the testimony of your consciences, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not by fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, you have had your conversation in the world.$ And when Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then may you also appear with him in glory.§ —O thou supreme Lord of the world, and King of the church, thus let these thy servants live, and thus let them die." Amen.