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of vengeance, and who, fatally deluded, follow, with blind eagerness, their deceitful foes, into every path of danger and pollution ? Let me call on them, to flee to the place of refuge, ere it be too late; and to betake themselves to the “ fountain opened for “ sin and for uncleanness," while access yet remains. In this great day of our gospel solemnity, I address to you the invitation of Jesus, when he“ stood and cried, in the last day, that great
day” of the Jewish festival—“ If any man thirst, “ let him come unto me, and drink. He that be. “ lieveth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of “ his belly shall flow rivers of living water."* “ The spirit and the bride say, Come; and let him " that heareth say, Come; and let him that is a" thirst come ; and whosoever will, let him take of " the water of life freely.”+ It is the Saviour's pathetic complaint, “ Ye will not come unto me, that “ ye might have life !"Perish not, then, wilfully; when protection so secure, and blessings so ample, are thus freely offered. Think, if you continue to disregard them, how it will aggravate your condemnation, and enhance your everlasting remorse, that such invitations were addressed to you, but scorned ; such a salvation provided by heaven, but neglected by you!
And ye, who know the sweetness of the shade, and have drank of the refreshing stream, let me entreat you to abide by your covert; and never to forsake the waters of the sanctuary, for those pernicious springs, which, to intoxicate and deceive you, your enemy will cause to arise by your path, Beyond the shade of the rock of ages, there is no pro
* John vii. 37, 38. + Rev. xxii: 17.
John V. 40.
tection from danger and from death : and if you wander from the fountain of life, if you cease to renew your draughts of its cheering streams, your souls, thirsting for enjoyment, but at a distance from the salutary sources of bliss, will drink, with fatal intemperance, of the unhallowed streams, whose sweetness is poison, and whose effects are deadly to holiness and to peace.
66 Abide in “ Jesus,”* “ Walk in his spirit.”† And the God of peace be with
| Gal. v. 16.
John xv. 4.
THE DUTIES OF CHRISTIAN MINISTERS.
2 Cor. iv. 5.-We preach not ourselves, but Christ
Jesus the Lord ; and ourselves your servants, for
(Preached at Brechin, Dec. 30. 1798; being the first Sabbath after the
THE city of Corinth was remarkable for its commerce, its riches, and learning ; together with what is too frequently an attendant on these distinctions, its corruption of manners. Of the last particular, had we no other account, these epistles afford abundant evidence. Corinth, therefore, presented an extensive and arduous field, for the labours of the apostle ; but he enjoyed peculiar support and encouragement in cultivating it ;* and during a residence of a year and a half, established there a numerous christian church.† Among the inhabitants of this city, however, luxury and debauchery were so universally prevalent, that not long after the apostle's departure, the church, which he had planted, was infected with surrounding corruption.-Few are so depraved as to glory in wickedness, as such, Most of its votaries seek to justify or palliate it, by some plausible pretext: and in the church of Corinth, a city abounding in rhétoricians, philosophers, and rich men, there were not wanting many, who, by * See Acts xviii. 9, 10.
+ Ibid. II
perversion of the truth, attempted to justify practices and opinions, altogether inconsistent with the worship and discipline, morality and doctrine of the gospel. The rich applied their wealth to purposes of sensuality and ostentation. The rhetorician presuming on his “ wisdom of words,” represented the
bodily presence” of Paul as “ weak, and his speech
as contemptible."* The philosophers speculated to reconcile the temple of God with idols. The judaizing teachers argued for the observance of their law. The greatest disorders arose. Flagrant indecencies were committed, in celebrating the ordinances of religion. Error, schism, and gross immoralities prevailed. Of this falling off, Paul was no sooner informed, than he addressed, to the members of the Corinthian church, a letter of rebuke, instruction, and exhortation. He reproves with severity their heinous defections in doctrine, discipline, and morals. By his answers to some questions, which they appear to have sent to him, he instructs them in a variety of particulars, of which they were ignorant: and he exhorts them to purity, to mutual love, and to stedfastness in the faith, which they had received from him. In the first six chapters, in particular, and occasionally through the whole epistle, he directs his remarks against the false teachers, both Jewish and Gentile, who were the authors and abettors of the pernicious principles and practices, which he censures; and vindicates, with becoming warmth, and by powerful arguments, his own apostolic authority. His exertions, on this occasion, were speedily followed by the happiest effects: and before he wrote this second epistle, he
had heard of the general submission to his authority, of the public disapprobation, and private repentance of certain atrocious irregularities, which his first letter had produced. Some of those, however, by whom the truth had been perverted, still maintained their insolent pretensions. In this epistle, therefore, besides commending the recent proceedings of the church, and giving them some additional advices and instructions, he enlarges farther on his apostolic powers, his labours, zeal, success, and sufferings, in the cause of Christ; on the character and duties of evangelical teachers, with the reciprocal obligations of those whom they instruct. Hence these two epistles contain information and directions, which we do not find elsewhere in the word of God; and, in most points, may be studied as a complete directory for New Testament church go. vernment; as a collection of authoritative statutes relating to the privileges, powers, worship, and discipline of the christian church; to the forms of celebrating divine ordinances; to the qualifications and duties of christian ministers; and to the treatment, which those, who are faithful, are entitled to receive from the flocks, over whom God, in his providence, may have made them overseers. It is because of these specialties, that, on this occasion, the subject of discourse has been taken from one of those epistles: and from them, the observations to be made upon it shall be chiefly drawn.
In the New Testament, we find preaching represented as the chief duty of ministers of the gospel. Various other branches of duty, such as visiting the sick, privately warning the unruly, comforting the feebleminded, and supporting the weak, are enjoin.