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stand many useful writers, who can very hardly be understood without it?
Should not a minister be acquainted too with, at least, the general grounds of Natural Philosophy? Is not this a great help to the accurate understanding several passages of Scripture ? Assisted by this, he may himself comprehend, and on proper occasions explain to others, how the invisible things of God are seen from the creation of the world?” “How the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work :” till they cry out, “ O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom has thou made them all."
But how far can he go in this, without some knowledge of Geometry? which is likewise useful, not barely on this account, but to give clearness of apprehension, and an habit of thinking closely and connectedly.
It must be allowed indeed, that some of these branches of knowledge are not so indispensably necessary as the rest; and therefore no thinking man will condemn the Fathers of the Church, for having in all ages and nations, appointed some to the ministry, who suppose they had the capacity, yet had not had the opportunity of attaining them. But what excuse is this, for one who has the opportunity, and makes no use of it? What can be urged for a person who has had a university education, if he does not understand them all? Certainly, supposing him to have any capacity, to have common understanding, he is inexcusable before God and man.
6thly, Can any who spend several years in those seats of learning, be' excused, if they do not add to that of the languages and sciences, the knowledge of the Fathers. The most authentic commentators on Scripture, as being both nearest the fountain, and eminently endued with that Spirit by whom “all Scripture was given ?" It will be easily perceived, I speak chiefly of those who wrote before the Council of Nice... But who would not likewise desire to have some acquaintance with those that followed them? With St. Chrysostom, Basil, Jerome, Austin; and above all, that man of a broken heart, Ephraim Syrus ?
7thly, There is yet another branch of knowledge highly necessary for a clergyman, and that is, Knowledge of the World; a knowledge of men, of their maxims, tempers, and manners, such as they occur in real life. Without this he will be liable to receive much hurt, and capable of doing little good; as he will not know, either how to deal with men, according to the vast variety of their characters; or to preserve himself from those, who almost in every place lie in wait to deceive.
How nearly allied to this, is, “ the Discernment of spirits? so far as it may be acquired by diligent observation.” And can a guide of souls be without it? If he is, is he not liable to stumble at every step ?
8thly, Can he be without an eminent share of Prudence. that most uncommon thing which is usually called Common Sense ? But how shall we define it? Shall we say, with the schools, that it is, recta ratio rerum agibilium particularium? Or is it, an habitual consideration of all the circumstances of a thing?
Quis, quid, ubi, quibus auxiliis, cur, quomodo quando ? And a facility of adapting our behaviour to the various combinations of them ? However it be defined, should it not be studied with all care, and pursued with all earnestness of application ? For what terrible inconveniences ensue, whenever it is remarkably wanting!
9thly, Next to prudence or common sense, (if it be not included therein,) a clergyman ought certainly to have some degree of Good-breeding : I mean, address, easiness, and propriety of behaviour, wherever his lot is cast : perhaps one might add, he should have, (though not the stateliness: for “ he is the servant of all,” yet) all the courtesy of a gentleman, joined with the correctness of a scholar. Do we want a pattern of this? We have one in St. Paul, even before Felix, Festus, and King Agrippa. One can scarce help thinking, he was one of the best bred men, one of the
finest gentlemen in the world. O that we likewise had the skill to “ please all men, for their good unto edification!"
In order to this, especially in our public ministrations, would not one wish for a strong, clear, musical voice, and a good delivery, both with regard to pronunciation and ! action? I name these here because they are far more acquirable, than has been commonly imagined. A remarkable weak and untunable voice has by steady application become strong and agreeable. Those who stammered almost at every word, have learned to speak clearly and plainly. And many who were eminently ungraceful in their pronunciation, and awkward in their gesture, have in some time, by art and labour, not only corrected that awkwardness of action, and ungracefulness of utterance, but have become excellent in both, and in these respects likewise the ornaments of their profession.
What may greatly encourage those who give themselves up to the work, with regard to all these endowments, many of which cannot be attained without considerable labour, is this: they are assured of being assisted in all their labour, by him who “ teacheth man knowledge. And “who teacheth like him?” Who, like him, “giveth wisdom to the simple ?" How easy is it for him, (if we desire it, and believe that he is both able and willing to do + this,) by the powerful though secret influences of his Spirit, to open and enlarge our understandings; to strengthen all our faculties; to bring to our remembrance whatsoever things are needful, and to fix and sharpen our attention to them; so that we may profit above all who depend wholly on themselves, in whatever may qualify us for our Master's work.
(2.) But all these things, however great they may be in themselves, are little in comparison of those that follow. For what are all other gifts, whether natural or acquired, when compared to the grace of God? And how ought this to animate and govern the whole intention, affection, and practice of a minister of Christ?
1. As to his Intention, both in undertaking this important VOL. XI.
office, and in executing every part of it, ought it not to be singly this, to glorify God, and to save souls from death ? Is not this absolutely and indispensably necessary, before all and above all things ? 1 “ If his eye be single, his whole body,” his whole soul, his whole work “ will be full of light.” God“ who commanded light to shine out of darkness," will “ shine on his heart;" will direct him in all his ways, will give him to see the travail of his soul and be satisfied. But if his eye, his intention be not single, if there be any mixture of meaner motives, (how much more, if those were or are his leading motives in undertaking or exercising this high office !) his whole body, his whole soul will be full of darkness, even such as issues from the bottomless pit: let not such a man think, that he shall have any blessing from the Lord. No; the curse of God abideth on him. Let him not expect to enjoy any settled peace, any solid comfort in his own breast: neither can he hope, there wilt be any fruit of his labours, any sinners converted unto God.
2. As to his Affections. Ought not a “ steward of the mysteries of God,” a shepherd of the souls for whom Christ died, to be endued with an eminent measure of love to God, and love to all his brethren? A love the same in kind, but in degree far beyond that of ordinary Christians ? Can he otherwise answer the high character he bears, and the relation wherein he stands ? Without this, how can he go through all the toils and difficulties which necessarily
ttend the faithful execution of his office? Would it be possible for a parent to go through the pain and fatigue of bearing and bringing up even one child, were it not for that vehement affection, that inexpressible Erogen, which the Creator has given for that very end? How much less will it be possible for any pastor, any spiritual parent to go through the pain and labour of travailing in birth for, and bringing up many children, to the measure of the full stature of Christ, without a large measure of that inexpressible affection, which “ a stranger intermeddleth not with?”
He therefore must be utterly void of understanding, must be a madman of the highest order, who on any consideration whatever, undertakes this office, while he is a stranger to this affection. Nay, I have often wondered that any man in his senses, does not rather dig or thresh for a livelihood, than continue therein, unless he feels at least, (which is ex remá lined amare) such an earnest concern for the glory of God, and such a thirst after the salvation of souls, that he is ready to do any thing, to lose any thing, or to suffer any thing, rather than one should perish for whom Christ died.
And is not even this degree of love to God and man utterly inconsistent with the love of the world? With the love of money or praise? With the very lowest degree of either ambition or sensuality? How much less can it consist with that poor, low, irrational, childish principle, the love of diversions? (Surely even a man, were he neither a minister, nor a Christian, should“ put away childish things.") Not only this, but the love of pleasure, and what lies still deeper in the soul, the love of ease, flees before it.
* 3. As to his Practice, “Unto the ungodly, saith God, why dost thou preach my laws?” What is a minister of Christ, à shepherd of souls, unless he is all devoted to God? Unless he abstain with the utmost care and diligence, from every evil word and work; from all appearance of evil; yea, from the most innocent things whereby any might be offended or made weak? Is he not called above others, to be an “example to the flock,” in his private as well as public character ? An example of all holy and heavenly tempers, filling the heart so as to shine through the life? Consequently, is not his whole life, if he walks worthy of his calling, one incessant labour of love? One continued tract of praising God, and helping man? One series of thankfulness and beneficence: Is, he not always humble, always serious, though rejoicing evermore; mild, gentle, patient, abstinent? May you not resemble him to a guardian angel, ministering to those