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cannot help thinking, that many most painful cases of discipline might be prevented, by more watchful

on the part of those who are set over the churches in the Lord.

“It is impossible, however, but that offences come.” No degree of pastoral vigilance can wholly supersede the necessity of church censure. Some will deny the faith, and others will fall into gross immorality, in spite of all human watchfulness. When such cases occur, they must receive prompt attention. The leprosy will spread, if it is not cured. The old leaven will work, if it is not "purged out." The offender must be dealt with, reclaimed, and led to confess his fault, or if he prove incorrigible, he must be cut off by a solemn judicial act. As it will be

your duty to preside in all church trials, you cannot consistently be the prosecutor in any. This duty will devolve upon the aggrieved brother, upon the elders, or upon a standing, or a special committee. I shall have a good deal to say to the churches on this head, in another series of letters, should I live to write them. At present I am trying to point out your duties, and not those of your church. Although it does not belong to you to prosecute offenders, you will be expected to see that it is done, where the whole church is scandalized, and the cause of Christ is suffering, through their heresies or immorality. If those of the church, to whom it belongs, move promptly, and come to you for advice, it is well. They do no more than it is their duty to do. But if they do not act, how can you be silent and suffer sin to go unreproved ? I have no hesitation in saying, that you

are bound to exhort the session or the church, as the case may be, to take the steps of the gospel with the offending brother, and “if need so require," earnestly to point out both the guilt and the danger of delay. You ought to give them no rest in their neglect of so plain a duty. Let them see that you are “ troubled in spirit,” whenever they meet you, that you are grieved for the afflictions of Jacob, and that you go mourning all the day over the dishonor that is suffered to rest upon the cause of the blessed Redeemer. Try this course effectually. It can hardly fail of success. If it should, however, after patient waiting and many prayers ; if it should become manifest, that there is not piety and strength enough in the church to maintain gospel discipline, then it may become a question, whether you ought to remain and witness the ruin which must ensue, or “ shake off the dust of your feet," and go to another place. I have no fears, at present, my dear son, that you will ever be driven to this alternative in L ; but a case of this sort may be supposed, in which it would be the duty of a pastor to relinquish his charge.

I am very affectionately, &c.



Although you are the installed and settled pastor of the second Presbyterian church and congregation in L, and they have the first claim upon your services, both in the pulpit and out of the pulpit, it is not an exclusive claim. They would have no right to shut you up within these narrow limits, if they were ever so much disposed, as I am sure they are not. You are the servant of Christ. You hold your commission from him, and it is a general commission. He has, to be sure, given you the particular charge of one branch of his church, and he holds you responsible for the faithful discharge of every ministerial and pastoral duty in your present connection. But he has no where said or intended, that all your energies and all your influence are to be confined to that one spot. Your preaching may be occasionally called for elsewhere. Your advice may be wanted a hundred miles from home. There is a general as well as a particular oversight of the churches, which devolves upon the pastors, or upon the pastors and delegates. It does not fall within

. the scope of these letters to discuss the comparative advantages of the several forms of ecclesiastical polity, which distinguish the leading denominations in this country. As you are in the Presbyterian connection, it will be your duty to attend the regular


meetings of the Presbytery to which you belong, and of the Synod and General Assembly in your turn. It may often be more agreeable and a great deal more convenient to stay at home; but such reasons cannot excuse you. By taking a pastoral charge of a presbyterian church, you have virtually bound yourself to bear your part of the burden and responsibility of a general supervision, the necessity of which is too obvious to need remark. If the harmony, discipline, doctrinal purity and efficient action of the churches could be secured in some easier way, you would be as much entitled as any of your brethren to the relief. But as long as the present organization, continues, and you are a presbyterian minister, you cannot reasonably ask for a dispensation. If you have any wisdom or experience to impart, the churches are entitled to it. If you can have any influence in counsel or by your vote, to carry a good measure, or to defeat a bad one, you are not at liberty to withhold that influence. It may cost you no little fatigue. It may require more time than you know how to spare ; but in this case as well as every other, the greater good ought to prevail. The lesser sacrifice should be cheerfully made.

Besides, young ministers, like yourself, have a greater personal interest than some are aware of, in attending ecclesiastical judicatories, ordinations and other meetings for business or mutual improvement. One of the distinguished fathers of the presbyterian church, now living, has said, that he never knew a minister rise to eminent influence and great usefulness, who was in the habit of neglecting the meetings of his brethren. Remember, my son, that you have a great deal yet to learn from the experience and mature counsels of the fathers; and how can you learn so fast, or with so little trouble, as when they meet for the transaction of important business? You may think you have not time to spare from writing sermons, and from pastoral duties; but you will gain more in the long run, than you will lose, in these very particulars. When a man has been confined for a long time to his study, and his parish, his mind is apt to grow narrow, and lose some of its elasticity. It wants a little rest, or rather it wants a change. It wants to look abroad and take a wider view of things. It wants friction by being brought into contact with living minds, to prevent the rust from accumulating, and to excite the latent sparks of genius,

What young minister ever attends a presbytery, association, or other ecclesiastical meeting of his fathers and brethren, without feeling himself richly paid for his time and trouble? If you form the habit of punctual attendance now, in the beginning of your ministry, you will find it easy ever after.



will grow more and more remiss, as you grow older.

One word more on this point. Always be in season. The time of your brethren is as precious as yours, and to make them wait for your tardiness is, in all ordinary cases inexcusable. It is easier to be too early than too late. Always make your calculation to be a little before the time, and you will seldom fall behind. I am not sure, but that some ministers think it adds to their dignity and consequence, to

if there are any.


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