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Christ. Better would it be never to have chosen him, than to break his heart: yet such things are!
If, in his public preaching, he have a zealous, generous, modest, attentive, wise, and affectionate people; constant and early, in attending; candid and tender-hearted, in hearing; and desirous of obtaining some spiritual advantage from all they hear; you cannot conceive what joy it will afford him. He will pray for you, and preach to you, with abundantly the more interest. And, this being the case, it may contribute not a little to the success of his labours; for God works not only by the word preached, but by the effects of it in the spirit of believers. The Apostle supposes, that some, on whom the word itself had no influence, might yet be won by the chaste conversation of the godly females. But if he have a slothful, selfish, cold-hearted, cavilling, conceited, and contentious audience, what a source of grief must it be to him! The meekest of men was overcome by such a people, and tempted to wish that God would kill him out of hand, rather than continue to cause him thus to see his wretchedness.
If, in adjusting the concerns of the church, every individual consider that others have understanding, as well as himself, and have the same right to be heard and regarded; if all strive to act in concert, and never oppose a measure from humour, but merely from conscience, or a persuasion that it is wrong; such things, to a pastor, must needs be a source of joy. But, if pride and selfwill prevail, they will produce confusion and every evil work; and this, if he have any regard to religion, or to you, will be the grief of his soul.
If the deacons, whom you have chosen to be helpers in the truth, be wise, faithful, active, and tender-hearted; ready to stand by their pastor in every right cause; willing to impart the counsel of maturer years; and careful to preserve the purity and peace of the church; his work will be discharged with joy. But, if they mind earthly things, and leave all to him; or though they should be active, yet if it be with the spirit of a Diotrephes; instead of diminishing his load, they will increase it, and render his work a daily grief.
If, in the exercise of discipline, there be a unity of heart, a willingness to follow God's word, whoever may be affected by it; if, like the tribe of Levi, you in such matters know not your father, nor your mother, nor acknowledge your brethren, nor know your own children; but observe God's word, and keep his covenant; this, to an upright man, will be a source of joy and solid satisfaction. But, if, whenever a censure requires to be inflicted, no unanimity can be obtained; if regard be had to friends and family connexions, to the setting aside of Christ's revealed will; nothing will be done with effect. The zeal of a few will be attributed to prejudice; and the person concerned, instead of being convinced and humbled, will be hardened in his sin. Thus the work of the ministry will be a burden of grief.
Finally: If you be a spiritual, affectionate, and peaceable people, `your pastor will perform his work with joy; but if you be carnal and contentious; if there be whisperings, swellings, tumults, party attachments, jealousies, antipathies, scandals; alas! he may sow, but it will be among thorns; he may preach, but it will be with a heavy heart.
3. You cannot cause the work of your pastor to be grievous, but at your own expense: it will be unprofitable for you. It is to no purpose that you have a pastor ordained over you in the Lord, unless his ministry be profitable to you. Every thing, therefore, which promotes this end, should be carefully cherished; and every thing that hinders it, as carefully avoided. But profit under a ministry greatly depends, under God, upon mutual attachment. I do not mean to commend that fondness and partiality that would "render you the devotees of a man, or incapacitate you for hearing any other preaching than his. They that cannot edify save under one minister, give sufficient proof that they do not truly edify under him. But there is an attachment between a pastor and a people "that is highly necessary; as, without it, attendance on public worship would, in a great measure, cease to be an enjoyment. This attachment, my brethren, should begin with you, and be cherished by a course of kind and faithful treatment; delicately meeting his wants, gradually inspiring his confidence, tenderly participating in his afflictions, and I may add; if occasion require it, affectionately
suggesting to him his faults and defects. By these means, he will insensibly be attached to you, in return; and will prefer preaching at home, to all his occasional labours in other places. By an acquaintance with your cases, his preaching will be seasonable and savoury, proceeding from the fulness of his heart. Of such words it may well be said, How good they are! But I need not enlarge upon these things to you. Never, perhaps, were they more fully exemplified, than in the person of your late affectionate and beloved pastor. You loved him for the truth's sake that dwelt in him; and he, on the other hand, was not only willing to impart unto you the gospel of God, but his own soul also, because ye were dear unto him. May the same spirit be cherished between you and your present pastor!
Love is the grand secret to make you all happy. Love, however, is a tender plant; a slight blast of unkindness will greatly injure it. If you grieve him through inadvertency, come to an early explanation. If unkindness be repeated, his attachment to you will be weakened, and then yours to him will be the same. This will be followed by various misunderstandings, slights, distances, and offences, the issue of which may be a rooted antipathy; and when this enters, all profit under a ministry is at an end. If he could preach like an angel, all were in vain, so far as relates to your advantage.
From these remarks, you see and feel, my brethren, that if your pastor performs his work with grief, it will be at your expense; or, that every kind of treatment that wounds his spirit, undermines your own welfare. Study, therefore, by all means, to render it his joy; which will turn to your account: study, by a constant discharge of kind offices, to endear yourselves and your families to him; by an inviting intimacy in spiritual things, to know and be known by him; and by a holy, humble, and uniform conduct, in the world and in the church, to enable him to look the enemies of religion in the face, while he proclaims its holy efficacy.
The reward of a true pastor is in the people of his charge, in their sanctification and salvation. What else is his hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Do not withhold from the labourer his VOL. VII.
hire! You may be his hope, without being his joy; and his hope and joy for a season, without being his crown of rejoicing in the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, at his coming: but need I say that this will be unprofitable for you! If he have a full reward of his labour, you must be his hope, and joy, and crown. Brethren, consider what I have said, and the Lord give you understanding in all things.
CHRISTIAN PATRIOTISM: OR THE DUTY OF RELI
GIOUS PEOPLE TOWARDS THEIR COUNTRY.
[Delivered at Kettering, Aug. 14, 1803, at a time of threatened invasion.]
JER. XXIX. 7.
And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
In the course of human events, cases may be expected to occur, in which a serious mind may be at a loss, with respect to the path of duty. Presuming, my brethren, that such may be the situation of some of you, at this momentous crisis; a crisis in which your country, menaced by an unprincipled, powerful, and malignant foe, calls upon you to arm in its defence; I take the liberty of freely imparting to you my sentiments on the subject.
When a part of the Jewish people were carried captives to Babylon, ten years, or thereabouts, before the entire ruin of the city and temple, they must have felt much at a loss, in determining upon what was duty. Though Jeconiah, their king, was carried captive with them, yet the government was still continued under Zedekiah; and there were not wanting prophets, such as they