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2. In his private conversation.''
He cannot satisfy himself with general addresses, which are generally disregarded ; but, like a faithful shepherd, looks well to the state of his flock, and acquaints himself with the character and circumstance of every soul committed to his care. His whole aim and design is usefulness ; what he longs for is, to see "Christ formed in them;" and he has no greater joy. It is, as it were, his very life, to see them stand fast in the Lord, and grow in grace, and improve under his instructions : and therefore he teaches, not only publicly, but “ from house to house :" is “ instant in season, and out of season; reproving, rebuking, exhorting, with all long-suffering and doctrine.” (2 Tim. iv. 2.): He talks of God's righteousness all the day long, and makes known the glorious majesty of his kingdom ; and is an “example to the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Tim. iv. 12.) His visits are not merely to pass an hour in trifling and impertinent conversation : he brings salvation to the house he enters, and enforces his public discourses with close and particu. lar application. Like a “scribe well instructed in the kingdom of God,” he“ brings out of his treasure things new and old ;” and always leaves the company pleased and instructed. · In imitation of his divine Master, he is meek and lowly ; invites the weary and heavy laden to come to him, and often goes himself to them; and, by his affable and condescending behaviour, encourages the bashful soul to discover its secret burthens; and then, with a generous tenderness, pours wine and oil into the bleeding wound-comforts those that mourn in
Zion--gives them “beauty for ashes, and the loil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
But I would beg leave to conclude this part of the ministerial duty with a passage from a very wor- * thy divine : trito!! ->."Such a general view of mankind,” says he,“ will naturally lead us to consider the people of our respective congregations in a nearer and more interesting point of light,-even as a certain portion of those fellow-travellers through this journey of human life,si committed to our care by the appointment of Providence, especially entrusted to us for direction, assistance, and consolation. When we view our people in this new and endearing relation as de pending on us for instruction, when ignorant; for help, when in distress.; for comfort, when bowed down with sorrow-we must be very insensible, if we do not feel a new flow of good-will towards them; a strong inclination to enter into their concerns, to take their pains and feelings upon us, and to, watch for opportunities of doing them good. What though kind offices among them should take up much time, require, much pains, put us to much real trouble and inconvenience, rob-45 of many agreeable amusements, and greatly interrupt delightful and useful studies : sense of duty, love to our people, and the pleasure of doing good, will reconcile , us to all these hardships. :. Is the arranging of words, the measuring of periods, the beautifying of language, or even storing our own minds with the divinest sentiments; an employe ment of equal dignity and importance in itself, or
equally pleasant in reflection, with that of composing differences-comforting the melancholy heart-giving cousel to the perplexed mind-suspending pain, by our sympathy and presence though it were but for a moment-suggesting to an unfurnished mind proper materials for meditation in a time of distress--or laying hold of favourable opportunities of conveying valuable instruction, and religious impressions, to a mind little susceptible of them on other occasions ?.-There is no need of saying any thing in confirmation of this: it was the glorious character of Jesus, that he went about doing good.””
3. In his prayers.
Watchfulness and prayer should ever go together: when united, they are too hard for every opposition ; but separately relied on, are easily baffled. He takes God to witness how earnestly he longs for them all in the bowels of the Lord Jesus; but is thoroughly convinced, that, though he sow the seed never so skilfully in his public preaching, and water it never so diligently in his private instructions, yet neither the one nor the other will avail any thing, if God do not give “the early and the latter rain," and vouchsafe the fructifying dew and influence of heaven. He therefore always labours fervently in his prayers for them, that they may “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” (Colos. iv. 12.) He ceases not to make mention of them always in his prayers. Like the high priest under the law, he ever bears their names upon his heart, when he
goes to minister before the Lord : and the walls of his house can testify to the fervency and affection with
which he has spread their particular cases before the Throne of Grace, and recommended them to the divine mercy and favour.
But it may be asked, why all this to do? why must a minister's life be filled up with all this une pecessary labour and painfulness - for unnecessarý sure it must be, or so many, who call themselves ministers of Christ, would not neglect it as they do: They take great pains, indeed, about their compositions; and give us nothing but the most elegant and finished discourses from the pulpit: but whether we will hear, or whether we will forbear, seems no part of their concern. What is the reason, then, where is the necessity, of that extraordinary assiduity and watchfulness, so conspicuous in the character just now exhibited ?'This inquiry will be best answered by proceeding to the second thing observable in the words - viz.
II. The grand motive to fidelity and diligence in the ministerial office--" For they watch for your souls, as those that must give account.”
When he first took upon him that sacred character, it was with that solemn passage in full view, and strongly impressed upon his heart : “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and bis' kingdom ; Preach the word; be instant in season, 'out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine.” (2 Tim. iv. 1, 2.) This he ever keeps in view, and by this he i regulates every part of his conduct. He never looks • upon his people, but he recollects the thrice-repeated charge, “Feed my sheep.” He never considers his opportunities and advantages, but “Occupy 'till I come” immediately occurs y and he is never tempted to carelessness or unfaithfulness, but he rouses himself with, Behold, I come quickly, and my reward 'is with me, to give to every man according to his work;" or that most-solemn of all the declarations of the Almighty, which no minister of the Gospel should pass a day without-thinking of; « Son of man, I have made thee a watchman to the house of Israel : therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. i. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I' require at thine hand.” (Ezeki iji. :17, 18)
It is this makes him so evangelical in his compositions, and so earnest in his delivery; it is this makes him so plain and importunate. He often anticipates the day of judgment; and supposes himself at the bar of God, taking his trial; and imagines some unhappy wretch rising up, and thus accusing him to the Judge: Lord, I charge that man with all the misery I am to suffer: I asked of him bread, and he gave me a stone ; I begged for fish, and he gave me a serpent : I inquired the way to Zion, and he pointed me to destruction; and I perceiyed not my danger till it was too late to avoid it. The very thoughts of it make him tremble: and we can no longer wonder that he affects not the enticing words of man's wisdom;" and determines to know nothing among his people, “but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.", He considers his own soul, as well as theirs, to be at stake; and that, for aught he knows, he may never have another opportunity of