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ed them to baptize; and we find them frequently engaged in breaking bread, and celebrating the Lord's supper, with the primitive christians.
Another part of their work in which it is their duty to labour, is, as far as may be consistent with other duties, to visit their people, and carry instruction and exhortation from house to house. This is a laborious, but it is an important part of ministerial duty, and has been often crowned with a divine blessing. Thus Peter and John daily not only in the temple, but in every house ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ; Acts v. 42. And Paul taught the Ephesians, not only publicly, but from house to house; Acts xx. 20. Especially ought ministers to visit the sick ; as we read, James v. 14: “ Is among you ? let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over them.”
Another part of his work in which it is his duty to labour is the catechetical instruction of the children and youth of his congregation. The direction of Christ to Peter was, "feed my lambs ;" John xxi. 15. The rising generation are the hope of the church. And it is of the utmost importance that they be well instructed, and no mode of instruction is better calculated to promote their spiritual good, or has been more crowned with the divine blessing among children and youth, than this.
Thus it is the duty of ministers to labour among their people, in preaching the word, in administering the ordinances, in visiting their people and especially the sick, and in catechising the children and youth. And to these and the other duties of their office, which relate to the church at large, and the general interests of religion, they ought to be devoted. They ought to follow the direction of Paul to Timothy: “Give thyself wholly to these things; 1 Tim. iv. 15; and to take up the resolution of Paul with respect to the Corinthians;" I will very gladly spend and be spent for you ;" 2 Cor. xii. 15.
3. It is the duty of a minister, in connexion with those who are appointed to be helps and governments in the church, to exercise a watchful care and discipline over the people of his charge. This duty is taught in the following clause of our text; “ and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.” There is a spiritual authority given to
ministers which it is their duty to exercise for the good of their people. It is their duty carefully to guard the sealing ordinances of the church ; and in the admission of persons to them, to put a difference between the holy and profane, the clean and the unclean. And it is their duty to watch over those, who are within the pale of the church, and when they see them going astray to admonish, and endeavour to reclaim them; and also to exclude the scandalous from those privileges which they have forfeited by their crimes. The exercise of discipline is one of the most painful duties which ministers have to perform. But painful as it is, a minister, if he would be faithful to Christ and his people, must perform it. The good of those who so conduct as to deserve this discipline, requires it; as also does the good of the church and the cause of religion. For the continuance of scandalous members in the communion of the church, grieves the truly pious, encourages professors who have not the grace of God, to give a loose reign to their corrupt propensities, staggers and discourages the enquiring, emboldens the careless to reproach religion, and confirms them in their carelessness and wickedness. And I would hazard the assertion, that no particular church can continue long in a flourishing condition in the neglect of discipline. The truth of this assertion is confirmed by the nature of things, and by facts ; and it is futher confirmed by the consideration that the duty of exercising discipline is most clearly taught and enjoined in the Scriptures; as in the following text among others. Our Saviour giving directions to his disciples, in the case of an offending member, concerning whom complaint was made to the church, said, “ If he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” · Mat. xviii. 17. 18. And the apostle Paul in the verse following our text, exhorts,“ warn them that are unruly." And he charged Timothy,“ reprove, rebuke.” 2 Tim. iv. 2. And again, “ them that sin, rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” 1 Tim. v. 20. And in the same Epistle oreaking of Hymeneus and Alexander, he says, “Whom I duly delivered unto Satan that they may learn not to
And he directed the Corinthians with re
spect to the incestuous member, “ Put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” Hence it is evident that it is the duty of ministers to exercise discipline among the people of their charge.
4. Another duty which a minister owes to his people, is to set an example of piety before them. He ought to preach to them by his example as well as by precept.-The influence of example is very great, and where a minister, even though his preaching be good, does not set a good example, his precepts will be likely to have little or no effect. He undoeth with one hand what he attempts to do with the other. This duty of a minister is plainly taught in the following charge of Paul to Timothy—“ Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.". Tim. iv. 12. Ministers ought so to conduct before their people, that they can sincerely say to them, with Paul, “ Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” i Cor. xi 1.
5. Another duty which ministers owe to their people is
pray for them ; and this they ought to do, not only in the public assembly, but in their closets. This was the constant practice, of that bright example for a gospel minister, the apostle Paul. Thus to the Romans he writes—“ God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always, in my prayers.” Rom. i. 9. So also to the Ephesians, “ I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.” Epb. i. 16. And to the Thessalonians,“ We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.” i Thes. i. 2. Ministers are dependent on God to give success to their labours. Paul may plant and Apollos water, but God must give the increase. Ministers ought to feel their dependence on God; and carnestly and perseveringly to seek his blessing to attend their labours. They ought daily to bear their people on their hearts at the throne of grace, and ask the blessing of God for them.
Having thus pointed out the duties of a minister towards his people, we proceed,
II. To point out the correspondent duties of the people towards their minister. The people have duties on their part as well as the minister. The duties of a people towards their minister may be summed up in love, tenderness of his character ; attendance upon his ministrations, support of discipline and submission to it, maintenance,
1. It is the duty of a people to love their minister. This duty is taught in our text-Esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake.” And also Gal. iv. 14, 15. where the Apostle, with commendation, bears testimony to the affection of the Galatians for him. 66 Ye received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. I bear you record, that if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.” The ground of this love which a people ought to bear to their minister is the work in which he is engaged. He is an ambassador of Jesus Christ, and comes in his name. He ought therefore to be respected for his office ; and he that thinks lightly of, and despises a minister of the gospel as such, lightly esteems and despises his Master in whose name he comes. Thus when Christ sent forth his disciples to preach the gospel, he said to them, “ He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.” Luk. X. 16. The work in which ministers are engaged is the most important business in our world; for their work has for its end, the advancement of the kingdom of Christ, and the salvation of immortal souls. If people therefore ought to love the kingdom of Christ and their own souls, they ought to love their minister who is engaged in endeavouring to promote these important interests.
2. It is the duty of a people to feel and to exercise a tender regard for the character of their minister. Thus we read, "ágainst an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.” 1 Tim. v. 19. Charity which is so often enjoined, and commended in the Scriptures ; is here peculiarly a duty; and evil speaking which is so often condemned is here especially to be condemned ; because the success of the cause of Christ is most intimately connected with the good name of the ministers of religion. These remarks are not intended to intimate that if a minister be guilty of scandalous crimes, they ought not to be noticed, but that people should not look for perfection in their minister, that they should cast the veil of charity over the imperfections inseparable from human nature,
that they should defend his character against false aspersions, that they should be slow to believe an ill report against him, and never do it but when well attested, and that then they should not spread it abroad unless the good of the church imperiously requires it.
3. It is the duty of a people to attend upon the ministrations of their minister. That this is duty is evident from the correspondent duties of the minister. If it is his duty to preach to his people, it is undoubtedly their duty to attend upon his preaching; and as the Apostle exhorts, not to forsake the assembling of themselves together.Heb. x. 25. It is their duty to attend and hear the word when it is preached ; and also to take heed how they hear, and to profit by what they hear. Hence they neglect the duty which they owe to their minister, as well as to their God, and their own souls, who seldom or never attend upon his preaching. And if it be the duty of a minister, as we have seen, to preach the word out of season as well as in season, or occasionally on other days of the week as well as statedly on the Sabbath, it must be the duty of a people when they are not necessarily prevented by the interference of other duties, to wait upon such occasional preaching; and people who are blessed with such opportunities, ought to esteem them a privilege and to prize and improve them. Again if it be the duty of a minister to administer gospel ordinances among his people, it is the duty of his people to prepare to receive these ordinances, and to wait on God in them. If it be his duty to carry instruction as far as practicable from house to house, it is their duty cordially to receive such visits, to require their families to attend upon them, and to listen to the instructions which are thus communicated. If it be his duty to visit the sick, it is their duty to send for him, and be ready to listen to instruction. And if it be his duty to catechise the children, it is the duty of parents to see that they are taught the catechism, and that they attend upon the catechetical instruction of the pastor.
4. Another duty which a people owe to their minister, is to support him in maintaining the discipline of the church, and meekly to submit to its due exercise. If it be his duty as we have shown it is, to reprove and rebuke those who are wandering, and in connexion with the other officers of