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MINISTERS IN HIS VARIOUS PLANS FOR THE GOOD OF THE PARISH, and promoting the religious institutions which may have been formed in it. A load of secular business in many places falls on a minister, from which he might be relieved by judicious, educated; and pious laymen. Such men, in schools, in the forwarding of religious societies and the care of their accounts, and in larger parishes in visiting the poor and the sick, might very materially, and do in many cases, very effectively aid their Minister. Much more might be done through our country than is done, by the humble, prudent, and zealous co-operation of laymen. What a mass of ignorance, and darkness, and prejudice, and misery is to be removed from the minds and dwellings of millions, even in favoured England! Two or three individual ministers placed in some cases over ten, twenty, or thirty thousand, or more inhabitants, are utterly inadequate to discharge all that important work which, apart from all temporal, the spiritual interest of so many immortal beings justly requires. It is delightful to see the progress of building fresh churches in all large places, and much will be done by this means. But still much will remain to be done by judicious and pious laymen; and wise and faithful ministers, deeply sensible of the magnitude of the ministerial work, will rejoice to call in such help. Till this be more generally done, the Church of England will not maintain its ground against the indefatigable zeal and ceaseless efforts of members of other communions: nor shall we, as members of that church, duly discharge our duty to God, and the sacred trust which he has committed to us, of maintaining it and handing it down unimpaired to our posterity.
In conclusion, let me address fastidious hearers, and negligent ministers. FASTIDIOUS HEARERS are little sensible of their spiritual privileges in this day, in any
part of such a country as this. Think of the state of your forefathers, once wretched idolaters; think of the days of popery, when for professing protestant principles you would have lost your life; think of hundreds of millions still living in pagan darkness; think of the countless numbers whose hearts would overflow with gratitude had they half of your present advantages; and O fear lest in despising them you forfeit them, and be left destitute for ever. You deserve not the advantages which you have, nor are you likely to have more till you be brought to a humble, meek, and lowly state of mind, simply looking to the divine mercy in Christ Jesus for the pardon of your past unprofitableness, and for all requisite supplies for your spiritual necessities.
Nor can we close this chapter without appealing to the consciences of those CLERGYMEN WHO NEGLECT THEIR SACRED DUTIES, live in the world, give way to unholy tempers, or preach mere moral essays, or mere controversial theories. We would say, in a spirit of affectionate concern, See how you trouble the minds of your hearers and people, and drive them to that which they cannot, and do not approve! O remember: our Lord's solemn warning, peculiarly applicable to you -Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe. in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences; for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Matt. xviii, 6, 7.
An old writer in the days of Queen Elizabeth uses stronger language, and emphatically says, "Little shall be their comfort in their reckoning who, in their watch towers, sing sweet songs to sinners, and flatter them in known evils; that suffer them in their swearing, in their gaming, abetting them in their usury, in their sabbath
breaking, in their profane contempt of the doctrines and teachers of grace, warning them of nothing so much as of their being too precise, too forward, and too religious, as the greatest danger and extremity that they can run into. Such watchmen are traitors to the church of God, and souls of men, and no sort of men are more serviceable to the Devil than they are."
The address of Bishop Beveridge to such characters is very striking-" Thou that callest upon others to love God as the best of goods, and to hate sin as the worst of evils, wilt thou hate God as if he was the worst of evils, and love sin as if it was the best of goods? Thou that preachest to others to leave the world and follow Christ, wilt thou leave Christ to follow the world? Thou that preachest a man should desire God above all things, wilt thou desire all things above God? Thou that criest to others, Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die? what! wilt thou rather die than turn? Thou that sayest, Covetousness is idolatry, and drunkenness bestiality, wilt thou fall down to the one, and make a beast of thy self with the other? Thou that shewest others the way that leads from hell to heaven, wilt thou thyself go the way that leads from heaven to hell? Thou that warnest others to beware of misery and to labour after glory, wilt thou neglect that glory and cast thyself headlong into misery? And thou that holdest the door open to others, wilt thou shut it upon thyself? Certainly it is the greatest aggravation in the world that any sin can be invested withal, even to have it committed by one whose office and work it is to destroy it he cannot fall but he draws many after him.”*
See Beveridge's Exposition of the thirty-nine Articles. Article 26.
Directions for Hearing the Word.
THE subjects of the Christian Ministry are truths of immense moment. Our total ruin by nature, our awful danger, our utter inability to help ourselves, the astonishing love of the Almighty in giving his Son to die for sinners, the free and full salvation provided for the guilty, deliverance from the divine wrath, with its tremendous issue in eternal ruin, and restoration to peace with God, to holiness, to eternal life and glory; such subjects demand a consideration suitable to their unutterable magnitude. But there is this additional reason for regarding and receiving them-our future, our final happiness depends on a cordial reception; our future, our final, our eternal loss, must be the result of a wilful and persevering rejection of them. Our Lord gives a solemn admonition on this very point-Take heed, therefore, how ye hear; for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.
What motives to hear aright, have you here, both in the promise and in the threatening! The promise assures you, to him that hath, shall be given. He that disposes you to hear aright, and retain what you hear, shall multiply his blessings on you. Your delight in, and obedience to, his word, shall be a sure evidence that you belong to Christ, and are going to his glory. While you are thus hearing, he will replenish you with his grace, and in the very use of the means your soul
shall be quickened, nourished, and strengthened. Sometimes, indeed, God magnifies the riches of his grace, in the unexpected and sudden conversion of a notorious sinner; but ordinarily "he only visits with the power of his word, those who humbly wait to know what he would have them to do, and sends unqualified hearers not only empty but hardened away." And as his riches are inexhaustible, so he is never weary of enriching his sons. One truth duly received, shall prepare the way for another; that for a third, till they come to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. They shall grow in gruce, and in the knowledge of Christ, till they appear in Zion, and are filled with all the fulness of God.
But how solemn is the threatening to those who neglect to hear aright-Whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he seemeth to have. Negligence in hearing is the sure way to lose all the advantages which you possess. All the means of grace thus unimproved will be taken away. Thus God sent upon Israel a famine of hearing the word of the Lord. Such a famine is, as we have shewn, the worst of all famines; for it is the inlet to every other evil. All our fancied knowledge, gifts, and attainments, shall be found of no avail, where there is not inward religion, a heart sanctified, and devoted to God. They who bury their talent in a napkin, shall have it taken from them. They who hide their light under a bushel, are in danger of being left in outer darkness, destitute of every thing, save the distressing and agonizing remembrance of wilfully and irrecoverably lost opportunities of attaining the highest blessing, and escaping never-ending sorrow; save the torturing reflection that all their present misery, with the sad prospect of its eternal duration, was