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but to make ourselves an ensample unto you. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies," 2 Thess. iii
, 7-11. Happy were those times of Christian simplicity, when the apostles of Christ thought it no disgrace to follow some useful occupation for the relief of their temporal necessities: when, instead of eating the bread of idleness, they cast their net alternately for fishes and for men : when they quitted the tabernacles, in which they were wont to labour, for the sacred recreation of setting before sinners “a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Of how much greater value were the nets of St. Peter than dogs of the chase ; and the work. ing implements of St. Paul than those tables of play, at which many of his unworthy successors are now seeking amusement !
But notwithstanding all the circumspection and prudence of the faithful pastor, even though he should think it necessary to preach industry by example as well as by precept, yet if his exhortations are more frequent than those of his lukewarm brethren, he will be reproached by the irreligious part of the world, as an indirect advocate for indolence. "The enemies of piety and truth are still ready to renew the old objections of Pharaoh against the service of God: “Wherefore do ye let the people from their works? The people of the land are many, and you make them rest from their burdens. They be idle: therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God. Let there more work be laid upon the men, and let them not regard vain words,” Exodus v, 4, 9. Such is the erroneous judgment which is generally formed respecting the most zealous servants of God: but while they feel the bitterness of these unmerited reproaches, they draw more abundant consolation from the encouraging language of their gracious Master : “Blessed are ye when 'men shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven : for so persecuted they the prophets, which were before you,” Matt. v, 11, 12.
The declared adversaries of religion are not, however, the only per. sons who accuse a laborious minister of diverting the people from their business, by the too frequent returns of public exhortation and prayer. There are others, not wholly destitute of piety, who frequently add weight to these unjust accusations. Such are the half converted, who, not yet understanding the inestimable worth of that bread which nourisheth the soul to everlasting life, are chiefly engaged in labouring for the bread which perisheth. Men of this character, engaging themselves in a vast variety of earthly concerns, incessantly “disquiet themselves in vain," and consider those hours as running to waste, in which a zealous pastor detains them from worldly cares and frivolous enjoyments. While he is engaged'in teaching, that one thing [only] is [absolutely] needful,” they are grasping at every apparent good that solicits their affections: and while he is insisting upon the necessity of choosing “ that good part that shall not be taken away,” these formal professors are ready to reason with him, as Martha with Jesus, Dost thou not know how greatly we are cumbered with a multiplicity of vexatious concerns; and “carest thou not" that our assistants and dependents are detained from their necessary avocations by an indolent attendance upon thy ministry?
These false sentiments, with respect both to the ministers and the word of God, which too generally prevail among nominal Christians, have their source in that direct opposition, which must always subsist between the grand maxim of the children of God, and the distinguishing principle of worldly men: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,” saith the blessed Jesus, “and all these things,” which are farther necessary to your welfare, “shall be added unto you," Matt. vi, 33. No, replies the prince of this world ; seek ye first the enjoyments of time and sense, and all other things, that are needful to your well being, shall be added over and above. From these two opposite principles results that entire contrariety, which has been observed in all ages, between those who are laying up treasures upon earth, and those who have set their affections upon things that are above. Happy are the faithful, and doubly happy the pastors, who, constantly imitating the great apostle, according to their several vocations, pray and labour at the same time, both for their daily bread, and the bread of eternal life! In thus observ. ing the twofold command of Moses and of Christ, some reasonable hope may be entertained, that their good works will at length overcome the aversion of their enemies, as those of the first Christians overcame the deep-rooted prejudices of the heathen world.
TRAIT XXIX. The respect he manifested for the holy estate of matrimony, while Christian
prudence engaged him to live in a state of celibacy. Some ministers have carried their disinterestedness to so high a pitch, that they have refused to enter into the marriage state, merely with this view; that being free from all superfluous care and expense, they might consecrate their persons more entirely to the Lord, and their possessions less reservedly to the support of the poor, whom they considered as their children, and adopted as their heirs. But all pastors are not called to follow these rare examples of abstinence and disinterested piety.
When we examine into the life of a celebrated man, we generally inquire whether he passed his days in a state of marriage or celibacy, and what it was that determined his choice to the one or the other of these states. Such an inquiry is peculiarly necessary with respect to St. Paul, as many of the faithful, in the carliest ages of the Church, de. luded by the amiable appearance of celibacy, embraced the monastic life,-a state to which the clergy and the religious of the Romish Church still dedicate themselves: whence thosc disgraceful accusations which divers philosophers have preferred against the Christian religion, as destructive of society in its very origin, which is the conjugal bond. But leaving the reveries of legend, if we seek for Christianity in the pure Gospel of Christ, we shall find this accusation to be totally groundless : since one view of the Christian Legislator, in publishing that Gospel, was to strengthen the nuptial tie, by declaring that an immodest glance is a species of adultery, by revoking the permission formerly given to the husband to put away his wife for any temporary cause of dissatis. faction, and by absolutely forbidding divorce, except in case of adultery,
Matt. v, 28, 32. Nay, so far did this Divine Lawgiver carry his condescension in honour of the marriage state, that he was present at one of those solemn feasts, which were usually held upon such occasions, attended by the holy virgin and his twelve disciples. And not content with giving this public testimony of his respect for so honourable an institution, he accompanied it with the first miraculous proof of his almighty power.
St. Paul, it is true, passed the whole of his life in a state of celibacy; but he never enjoined that state to any person : and if he occasionally recommended it to some, to whom it was indifferent whether they married or not, it was chiefly on account of the distress and persecution of those times, 1 Cor. vii, 26. To engage the most pious persons ordinarily to live in a state of celibacy, is not less contrary to nature and reason, than to the spirit of the Gospel. This is to oppose the propagation of the best Christians, and the most faithful subjects. It is to suppose that those persons who join example to precept in the cause of virtue, and who, for that very reason, are peculiarly qualified for the education of children, are the only persons in the world who ought to have none. The absurdity of this opinion constrained the Apostle Paul publicly to combat it, by declaring to the Hebrews, that “marriage, and the bed undefiled, are honourable among all men,” Heb. xiii, 4. He farther affirmed, that “a bishop must be the husband of one wife, one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity,” 1 Tim. iii, 2, 4. And if he wished the Corinthians to continue in the state which he himself had chosen, on account of the peculiar advantages accruing from it, at that season, to the persecuted members of the Christian Church : “nevertheless, to avoid fornication,” he counselled, that “ every man should have his own wife,” and “ every woman her own husband," 1 Cor. vii, 2. “I will,” saith he to Timothy,“ that the younger women marry, bear children, and guide the house,” i Tim. v, 14. And lastly, he cautioned the same Christian bishop against the error of those who, in the last times, should “ depart from the faith, giving heed to the doctrines of devils," and " forbidding to marry;" earnestly exhorting his young successor to guard the brethren against a doctrine so fatal to the Church in particular, and so destructive of society in general, 1 Tim. iv, 1, 6.
But it may be urged--If St. Paul really entertained such high ideas of marriage, and represented it as the most perfect emblem of that strict union which subsists between Christ and his Church, why did he not recommend it by his example? I answer-Although St. Paul was never married, yet he expressly asserted his right to that privilege, as well as St. Peter, and some others of the apostles, 1 Cor. ix, 5, intimating, at the same time, that prudence and charity inclined him to forego his right in that respect. When a man is perpetually called to travel from place to place, prudence requires that he should not encumber himself with those domestic cares, which must occasion many unavoidable delays in the prosecution of his business. Or, if he derives his maintenance from the generosity of the poor, charity should constrain him to burden them as little as possible. This zealous apostle could not prevail upon himself to expose a woman and children to those innumerable dangers which he was constantly obliged to encounter. The first peril, from which he
made his escape, was that which compelled him to descend from the wall of Damascus in a basket. Now, if a family had shared with him the same danger, what an addition would they have made to his afflic. tion and care? Is it not evident that, in such circumstances, every man who is not obliged to marry, from reasons either physical or moral, is called to imitate the example of this disinterested apostle, from the same motives of prudence and charity? This indefatigable preacher, always on a mission, judged it advisable to continue in a single state to the end of his days. But, had he been fixed in a particular church ; had he there felt how much it concerns a minister neither to tempt others nor be tempted himself; and had he known how much assistance a modest, provident, and pious woman is capable of affording a pastor, by inspecting the women of his flock-he would then probably have advised every resident pastor to enter into the marriage state, provided they should fix upon regenerate persons, capable of edifying the Church, in imitation of Phebe, a deaconess of Cenchrea and Persis, who was so dear to St. Paul on account of her labours in the Lord, Rom. xvi, 1, 12; or copying the example of those four virgins, the daughters of Philip, who edified, exhorted, and consoled the faithful by their pious discourses, Acts xxi, 9.*
The Christian doctrine on this point may be reduced to the following heads. 1. In times of great trouble, and grievous persecutions, the fol. lowers of Christ should abstain from marriage, unless obliged thereto by particular and powerful reasons, Matt. xxiv, 19. 2. The faithful, who mean to embrace the nuptial state, should be careful, on no account to connect themselves with any persons except such as are remarkable for their seriousness and piety, 2 Cor. vi, 14. 3. If a man is married before he is converted; or if, being converted, he is deceived in choosing a woman, whom he supposes to be pious, but discovers to be worldly; instead of separating himself from his wife, in either of these cases, he is rather called to give all diligence in bringing her acquainted with the truth as it is in Jesus, 1 Cor. vii, 16. 4. Missionaries ought not to marry, unless there be an absolute necessity. 5. A bishop, or resident
The attention of ministers, in choosing such companions as may not hinder their success in the ministry, is of so great importance, that in some countries the conduct of a pastor's wife, as well as that of the pastor himself, is supposed either to edify or mislead the flock. Nay, the minister himself is frequently con. demned for the faults of his wife. Thus, in the Protestant Churches of Hungary they degrade a pastor whose wife indulges herself in cards, dancing, or any other public amusement, which bespeaks the gayety of a lover of the world, rather than the gravity of a Christian matron. This soverity springs from the supposition that the woman, having promised obedience to her husband, can do nothing but what he either directs or approves. Hence they conclude, that example having a greater influence than precept, the wife of a minister, if she is inclined to the world, will preach worldly compliance with more success by her conduct, than her husband can preach the renunciation of the world by the most solemn discourses. And the incredulity of the stumbled flock will always be the consequence of that unhappy inconsistency, which is observable between the serious instructions of a well.disposed minister, and the trifling conduct of a woman with whom he is so intimately connected. Nor are there wanting apostolic ordinances sufficient to support the exercise of this severe disciplino :--Even so must their wives be
grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the bishop or deacon be one that ruleth well his own house, having his children, and every part of his family, in subjection with all gravity. For if a man known not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God? 1 Tim. iii, 4, 5, 11.
pastor, is usually called to the marriage state, 1 Tim. iii, 12; Tit. i, 6. Lastly, a minister of the Gospel, who is able to live in a state of celibacy “ for the kingdom of heaven's sake,” that he may have no other care
, except that of preaching the Gospel, and attending upon the members of Christ's mystical body; such a one is undoubtedly called to continue in a single state. For having obtained the gift of continence, he is dis. pensed from carnally giving children to the Church, because he begets her spiritual sons and daughters. And such a one, instead of being | honoured as the head of a particular household, should be counted worthy of double honour, as a spiritual father in his Lord's family, Matt. xix, 12.
The ardour of his love. The passions are the springs by which we are usually actuated. Reason alone is too weak to put us in motion so often as duty requires ; but when love, that sacred passion of the faithful, comes in to its assistance, we are then sweetly constrained to act in conformity to the various relations we sustain in civil and religious life. Thus the God of nature has rooted in the hearts of mothers a fond affection, which keeps them anxiously attentive to the wants of their children. And thus the Spirit of God implants in the bosom of a good pastor that ardent charity which excites him to watch over his flock with the most affectionate and unwearied attention. The love of a father to his son, the attachment of a nurse to her foster child, the tender affection of a mother to her infant, are so many emblems employed in the Holy Scriptures to set forth the sweetness and ardour of that Christian love which animates the true minister to the performance of his several duties. “ You know," says St. Paul, “ how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children: we were gentle among you, even as à nurse cherisheth her children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us," 1 Thess. ii, 7, 8, 11. “God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ,” Phil. i, 8. eceive us; for ye are in our hearts to die and live with you,” 2 Cor. vii, 2, 3. Worldly pastors can form no idea of that ardent charity which dictates such benevolent language, and accompanies it with actions which demonstrate its sincerity. This is one of those mysterious things which are perfectly incompre. hensible to the natural man, and which frequently appear to him as the extremest folly. This fervent love improves us into new creatures, by the sweet influence it maintains over all our tempers. This holy passion deeply interests the faithful pastor in the concerns of his fellow Christians, and teaches him to rejoice in the benefits they receive, as though his own prosperity were inseparably connected with theirs. “I thank my God," writes the great apostle to the benefactor of his brethren, “making mention of thee always in my prayers, hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; that the communication of thy faith may become effectual, by the acknowledging