« הקודםהמשך »
II. Preachers certainly, therefore, should not trust in their own judgments, merely, in so weighty an affair.
5. Take care that your private sentiments of your brethren be not biassed, or your esteem of them diminished, except by convincing proof. * Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again,” Matt. vii. I, 2.
“ Above all things have fervent charity among yourfelves : for charity shall cover the multitude of sins," I Pet. iv. 8. Charity" covereth all things” (for fo should the original word be rendered) “ believeth all things, hopeth all things," I Cor.
6. Be exceedingly tender of the characters of others : for to rob another of his character, by rash judgment, is to do him an irreparable injury. Let those words of Scripture be ever kept in view, as of infinite importance to all, but especially to a minister of the gospel, 2 Tim. ii. 16. 17. “ Shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doeth a canker.” The influence of a travelling preacher is very extensive : and for him to use that influence for the ruin of characters would be terrible indeed! Jam. i. 19, 20. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, flow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of Aman worketh not the righteousness of God." iv. II, 12. “Speak * not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his .brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law; but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to fave, and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another ?” 'Tit. iii. I. 2. “ Put them in mind ---to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men :" You are not only always thus to bridle your own tongue, but frequently to put others in mind of this important duty.
7. At the same time, it is your bounden duty to reprove fin, wherever you meet with it: So says the word of God: Lev. xix. 17. “Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer fin upon him.” Eph. v. 11. “Hive no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Ver. 13. “ All things that are reproved, are made manifest by the light: · for whatsoever doth make manifest, is light.” To reprove the open, presumptuous finner, or to tell your brother of his faults in private, or even in public, if the sin be gross, and the honour of God and his sacred cause demand it, by no means clashes with the two preceding rules. It must also be remembered, that these three last rules do not relate to the conduct of those who have the oversight of circuits, when they act as judges : their duties, in that respect, shall be considered in due place:
8. Labour after that true greatness of soul, that genuine humility, of which our adorable Redeemer fets us so bright an example. “ Better it is to be of an humble fpirit,” says the wise man, “than to divide the spoil with the proud,” Prov. xvi. 19. "I say, through the grace given unto me,” observes the great apostie,“ to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith,” Rom. xii. 3. And again, “ We preach not curselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourfelves, your servants, for Jesus' fake," 2 Cor. iv. 5.
9. What a pattern have we before us in our Lord, for all christians, but especially for those whose one business is to save fouls? Jolin xiii. 3--17. “ Jesus-----riseth from fupper, and laid alide his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that, he poureth water into a bason and began to wash the difciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.- --So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was fet down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me master and Lord : and ye say well; for fo I am. If I then, you Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that fent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.' Pride is the very fpirit of the devil : he is full of pride. All other graces, without humility, are like a fine powder carried in the wind without a cover, foon blown away and gone. The Itreanis of grace flow down, and sink into the vallies of humility, and there only fructify, whilst the hills of pride are dry and bar
But at the same time, the true minister of Christ, like his Master, can, in the way of duty, when necessary, “ fet his face like a flint,"'* and go through the fire and through the water. “ The wicked flee, when no man pursueth ; but the righteous 'are bold as a lion," Prov. xxviii. 1.
10. Punctuality is of vast importance in every circumstance of life. Without it, 110 confidence can exist : and the want of it is productive of innumerable evils to fociety. But how much ftronger are these observations, when applied to our situation ? The itinerant plan, which we so much and so justly venerate, vrould be the most pernicious in the world, without punctuality. I would be almost sufficient to make mankind hate religion. The man who will disappoint a congregation through any world
1; motivè, is highly criminal, and answerable for all the evil which his negligence has caused-answerable for all the souls which, through disgult, do afterwards despise or neglect the ordinances of God. When an appointment is fixed, and cannot be revoked in time, it should be considered as an engagement made to God. “Lord,” says the Psalmist, “ who shall abide in thy tabernacle, and who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.” See Pfalm xv. and the word of a preacher of the gospel, indeed of every christian, should be the same as his oath, or he is not even an honeft
Alas! the good which the best of us do, is but little, and, therefore, should not suffer any subtraction. But when the itine rant preacher frequently proves bimself defbitute of punctuality, his life and labours become more hurtful than profitable. He not only prevents a faithful man from filling up the office which he himself abuses, but gives continual offence, and imperceptibly drives numbers from the ordinances of God, and thereby out of the way of salvation.
“Give,” therefore, “none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the gentiles, nor to the church of God. Even as I,” adds the apostle, “ please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved, I Cor. x. 32, 33. What a reason, “ibat they may be saved !”. A reason, which should influence the heart of a preacher of the gospel more than the strongest temptations of sense or temporal interest ! Approve yourselves, therefore, “ as the ministers of God, giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not: blamed,” 2 Cor. vi. 3, 4.
11. The falvation of fouls should be your only aim. The zeal of the Lord's house should eat you up. O that we could but feel a little of what Jesus felt for immortal fouls, when he offered up. himself on Calvary! In fpeculation we acknowledge their inesti, mable value : but o for the practice ! O for a little of the zeal of the great apostle, when he was going, bound in the fpirit, to Jerusalem, and could say to the elders of the church of Ephesus, ** None of these things move me; neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the miniftry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God!” Acts xx. 24. "This fpirit will give us true humility, and make us prefer the meanest houses of the poor, when we can benefit immortal fouls, to the most pompous buildings and most elegant entertainments, when we have no access to the souls of men. “ To the weak,” says St. Paul, “ became I as weak, that I might gain the weak : I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means fave fome," I Cor. ix. 22. let us think it an honour to confume our lives in so glorious.a
svork! May we be able to say to our people from the ground
12. The command given by the apostle, Heb. xii. 17. "Obey them that have the rule over you, and fubmit yourselves,” is as binding on ministers as on the people. Among us there is no exception. Our bishops are bound to obey and submit to the general conference; and the preachers are bound to obey and
fıbmit to the general conference, and also to the yearly conftrences, in every thing except the stationing of them for their respective districts and circuits; and in this respect they are bound to obey and submit to the episcopacy. This is the order of our church : and as the New Testament is silent as to the constitutions of states, fo is it, in a great meafure, in respect to the constitutions of churches. It only requires obedience or fubmission to the pow. ers that are, without which no order could poslibly exist. This does not, in any degree, prevent the due reformation of the conNitutions of churches, any more than of those of states. We may add to these considerations the command of St. Peter, ist Ep. v. 5. “ Ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder."
The due examination of candidates for the ministry is of the utmost importance. The questions proposed for this purpose, in the present section, may be drawn out and enlarged upon by the bishops, as they judge necessary; and, if duly considered will be found to côntain in them the whole of christian and ministerial experience and practice. In respect to do&rines, experience, and practice, the preachers will have passed already through various examinations, before they are received into the travelling connedion. Let us take a view of the whole, remembering that our societies form our grand nurferies or univerlities for ministers of the gospel.
1. On application for admission into the society, they must be duly recommended to the preacher who has the oversight of the circuit, by one in whom he can place sufficient confidence, or must lave met three or four times in a class, and must be truly awak:
ened to a sense of their fallen condition. Then the preacher who has the oversight of the circuit, gives them notes of admiffion, and they remain on trial for fix months. 2. When the fix months are expired, they receive tickets, if recommended by their leader, and become full members of the society. And to prevent any future complaint on the ground of ignorance, the rules of the society must be read to them the first time they meet in class. 3. Out of these are chofen, from time to time, the leadwers of clajes, who should not only be deeply experienced in divine things, but have a measure of the gift of preaching, so as to feed the Rock of Christ under their care, in due season.
4. Out of these, when they discover in public prayer-meetings an extraordinary gift of prayer and some gift for exhortation, are chosen the exhorters. 5. Out of the exhorters, who are employed in the places of least consequence, or to fill up the place of a preacher, in cases of necessity, are chosen the local preachers. These are first to receive a licence signed by the presiding elder, and by the quarterly meeting,* which is composed of the local preachers, stewards, and leaders of the circuit. Without the consent of the presiding elder, and of the majority of this meeting, which is the most proper and respetable representation of the circuit that perhaps can possibly be devised, no one can be admitted as a local preacher. And the licence above-mentioned must be annually renewed, till the local preacher be admitted into the deacon's office. 6. Out of the local preachers are chofen the travelling preachers, of whom those in full connection form the members of our conferences. There must be on trial for two years before they can be received into full connection with the conference, their characters being examined at each conference (whether they be present or absent) in respect to morals, grace, gifts, and fruit. Ņor can they be received upon trial as travelling preachers, till they have obtained a recommendation from the quarterly meetings of their respective circuits. The bishops indeed, and the presiding elders, have authority to call them to travel, in the intervals of the conferences, when they have received the above recommendation, otherwise the circuits would be frequently deltitute of preachers. But their call to travel, muft afterwards be confirmed by the yearly conference.
From all that has been observed, it must be clear to every candid reader, that it is not the yearly conference only, or the bi. shops or presiding elders only, in the intervals of the conferences, who choose the local or travelling preachers. On the contrary, they have no authority to choose at all, till the people, through their leaders, ftewards, &c. recommend. And those who will
Se the 2114 fection of this chapter.