« ZurückWeiter »
seen in his having no will nor work of his own, but attending to the will and work of him who sent him. The importance. of this faithfulness rests on the perfection of goodness in the scheme of the father's purpose, which we have observed in our first section. As it was not possible to deviate from the plan and wisdom of God, by adding any thing which could make it better, or by omitting any thing unnecessary, faithfulness in adhering strictly to divine directions, was of infinite importance. So in that ministry which is committed to earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us, faithfulness must be considered as iodiga pensible. Unfaithfulness to the will and work which God has revealed in Christ, setting up a will and a work for which no directions are given in God's word, has led the Church into the wilderness, through the ir strumentality of blind guides, who studied their own gratifications more than they did the will of God. Then it became the trade of Priestcraft to make the word of God's will bend to the word of the will of Antichrist, who having set up his rebellion against the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world, endeavors to prove and maintain that the sin of the world neyer will be taken away. If God says he will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth, Antichrist say's, God never did really will that such an event should take place. The fact is, vain men have a WILL which is opposed to the will of God, and they are so deceived that they think it must be more pleasing to God than the WILL expressed in the above scripture. What have been the evil consequences resulting from this unfaithfulness to the will of God? Let the silent unutterable pangs of despair, the anguish of millions racked with unholy fear, the briny tear which bathes the supposed reprobate infant, tell the lamentable tale! Children of our heavenly father, and heirs of eternal life in Christ, in the room of being brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, have been taught to believe that they were the olajects of God's wrath and vengeance the nioment they were born! How different from the testimony of Jesus is such docuine? In faithfulness to his father's eternal purpose, we hear him say, "Suffer the little children to come unto mc; aod forbid them not ; for of such is the kingdom of God."
Had the christian ministry been as faithful to adhere to the law and the testimony, as they have been to invent creeds of their own devices, and had they known or acknow ledged no covenant but that which is ordered by heaven, and in all things sure, they would have kept the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace.
All the unhappy divisions, the murderous persecutions, the disgraceful animosities, and the unchristianlike coldaess and indifference which have cast such a stigma on the same of christianity, are to be sel to the accounç of unfaithfula, ness in those to whom the people looked for instruction, to the plainly revealed will of God. This particular brings the importance of faithfulness in the ministry, very sensibly to our understandings ; for we live in a day in which we see and know that those things have and do exist. What can be more inconsistent than a belief in the mercy of God, whereby we hope our sins are forgiven, and a disposition to condemn and disfellowship every one who may chance to differ from us in opinion? How different from the disposi. tion of our merciful and faithful high-priest, who has compassion on the ignorant, and them who are out of the way.
5thly. It appears just to potice, as another powerful incen tive to faithfulness in administering the treasures of the word of life, the love which is justly due to our divine master, and the wants of the flock of God, over which the Holy Ghost sets the minister, as an overseer. To these particu, lars the risen Jesus very feelingly led the mind of his servant Peter, by first enquiring of him respecting his love to, himself, and having received an answer the third time in the affirmative, all the blessed lover of mankind required of Peter, as a demonstration of the sincerity of his love to him, was to feed his sheep and lambs, The sentiment seems to be this : Simon Peter, you have been with me as an intimate through my ministry, you have seen the works which ! have done ; there was a time when you thought that though all men should forsake me, you should not, but you fell when the hour of temptation came ; you were a witness to my crucifixion, and you now know that I am alive from the ; dead; I am now going to leave you, personally, in this world, for a little time, for glorious purposes corresponding with my labors in the salvation of mankind. Now, Simon Peter, if you have any love for me, show that love by feeding my redeemed sheep and lambs. In you, Simon Peter, let my flock find a constant, faithful shepherd. You must not despisė their infirmities, you must not neglect them because
you do not receive, in all instances, due returns from them, for it is for the love which you have for me, that you are to serve my flock. Be careful to give them no other food than such as I give you, bestow on no other conditions than those on which you have received. You will remember how profanely you denied me, and never forget the constancy of my love for you ; be faithful, therefore, as my minister, to my redeemed, and ever assure them that I am the same yesterday, to-day and forever,
6thly. Possessed, as the minister of the gospel is, with all the natural appetites, passions and imperfections common to other men, it requires a faithfulness which will occupy every hour of his life, to avoid being overcome, through the medi. um of some of those avenues through which sin finds its way to the human heart. It is necessary to keep constantly in. mind, that the eyes of the Great Shepherd are looking on the path which is trodden. That the ministers of the word are a spectacle to angels and to men, to exercise constant desires to God, that he may preserve his chosen vessel in honor, to keep the body under, lest when having preached the gospel to others, the preacher becomes a castaway. How unlike the meek son of Mary, is the haughty, heady, highminded parson, who studies more thé vain fashions and cus. toms of the times, than he does the holy scriptures? Who is more ready to entertain a thoughtless company with unprofitable amusements, than willing to taste the sweets of retired study, by which he would be enabled to give instruction to others. But O! how refreshing, even as the rain and the dew from heaven, are the communications of the Scribe who is well instructed into the kingdom of heaven, bringing out of his treasures things new and old.
7thly. Let us notice the importance of faithfulness in the ministry, as noticed in our text, in relation to time, UNTO DEATH. There is no period of life to which the minister of the word may arrive, which will justify his throwing off the armour of God. The sin which most easily besets those who have for a long time labored in the vineyard, is that of supposing that they have learned all that there is to be known by men in this world. Having this motion fixed in the mind, in room of sitting at Jesus' feet to receive further iostruction, the opinionative man wishes every body to sit at his feet, to learn what he learned when he was young. Bat as the light of the gospel, like that of the natural day, is ior creasing, and rapidly advancing, the man who has made his stand, will think others are all going wrong. Thus he not only loses the sweets of fellowship and the refreshments of the traveller, but becomes uaprofitable in his calling. As a - suitable remedy against such folly, we think proper to consider the words of the Lord Jesus to Saul. Arise, and stand upon thy feet ; for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness, both of those things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee. St. Paul, by the authority of his Lord, could witness to the things which he had seen, but had no direction to reject further communications ; on the other hand, he was made a minister and a witness of those things in the which his Lord should after appear to him. Thus it appears that he ever continued expecting new manifestations, which led him to say, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended : but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press forward to the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ.”
But we may suppose the race at an end, and the victory won. What remains ?. Let the conquerors be crowned ; weave garlands of immortal flowers ; bring hither leaves of never-fading laurel, and the deathless olive; they have been faithful unto death, they shall receive crowns of life.
We come to the consideration of the second division of our text.
1st. The great apostle of the Gentiles, speaking of the christian race, represents it by those who strove for the mastery in the Grecian games, and says, "Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.” And this crown he more particularly explains in the following words, speaking to those to whom he and his fellow-labourers had imparted the word of life. "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing ?. Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming For ye are our glory and joy." How glorious is such a crown. Earthly monarchs, prompted by ambition and pride, have waded through the blood of their fellow-mea to obtain their perishable crowns.
But here are incorruptible diadems whose lustre will outshine the stars of heaven, when earthly honors are forgotten. Among the innumerable joys of the world to come, he who has been a faithful and true witness
of all those things in the which his Lord has appeared to hiin will realize with infinite delight, the souls who have been delivered from darkness, and translated into the king. dom of God's dear Son, through his ministry.
On that day when these crowns are distributed according to the faithfulness of the servants of the Lord, such questions will not be asked as now appear to be of the first importance. No enquiry will be made whether the subject was educated at an honorable seminary; no question about his elocution ; nothing will be named of his great or little natural abilities ; no credentials of doctor of divinity will be demanded ; nothing said respecting denominations. The sole question must be this. Was he faithful unto death? He who was educated at the feet of Gamaliel, and he who was called from his fishing net, must wear crowns according to their faithfulness.
2dly. By holding out such a rich reward as an encouragée ment to faithfulness in the ministry, our text refutes the usscriptural, unreasonable, and chimerical doctrine of uninterested benevolence.' Chimerical indeed, as no such principle of moral action exists in the universe. Why did God give his Son to die for us? “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life.” Love surely gives the deepest interest in the object loved, of which the rational mind can conceive. Why did Moses refuse to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, and chuse rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season? “ He had respect unto the recompence of reward.” Why did our blessed Lord endure the cross and despise the shame? “For the joy set before him.” Why did the Apostles of the Lamb suffer the loss of all things ? “For the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus.”
By the foregoing we see that the Gospel enjoins no duties but such as are accompanied with rich rewards, and requires no faith, but' such as is attended with love, joy and peace.
It may not be improper nor unprofitable to take a summary view of the general subject, as it has been applied and illustrated
As high and important considerations of the reasonableness of faiihfulness in the ministry of the Gospel, a number of particulars have been suggested. At the head of these