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trials of human life, and the humours of other people, over which they have no power. They have their infirmities and their mistakes; they are exposed from without to the contempt of real enemies, and from within to the neglect and treachery of pretended friends ; the world, from abroad, may frown upon the sincerity of their labours : and at home, their foes may be those of their own houshold. In all things of this kind, they are not only on a level with other men, but are in farther danger of being reduced below it from envy to their office, and jealousy against their authority: These things, saith St. Paul, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that ye might learn in us, not to think of men above that which is written—for I think that God hath set forth us the Apostles last, as it were appomted unto death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men*. Even Christ himself, whose time was all spent in doing good, and shewing forth many mighty works, all of a saving and merciful turn, was railed at and despised, as one that had a devil and was mad. But who were they that spoke evil of him? conceited, blind guides, who had made God's word of noeffect; covetous and adulterous Pharisees; worldly minded priests: unbelieving Sadducees; hypocrites, politicians and profligates. In like manner, if there are any in a place who shew less regard than the rest to their clergyman; look at such persons, and examine their lives and manners: see whether they are kind and merciful to their poor neighbours? whether they make a conscience of frequenting the worship of God in the church? whether they are sober and temperate, abstaining from all indecency and excess? It is a common observation, that some tongues can be guilty * 1 Cor. iv. 9.
of little slander; because the reports of men and their reflections will have weight according to the value of their private characters. What does it signify how many ill words a man vomits out against his minister, who, perhaps, is seen in the street soon after, vomiting up his drink? What does it signify whether he honours a priest or not, who blasphemes the holy name of God in his common discourse, and is a disgrace to his profession, and a nuisance to the public? However, as there is no man who means to court another's ill-will, and who would not rather be glad to have his esteem; the disesteem which falls upon clergymen from their office, though it be only from the worst, and is totally owing to the parties themselves, is yet a loss and a trial: for the worst man has a soul, which might be saved; and a minister is bound to promote the salvation of it by forbearance, and tenderness, and kind advice, so long as there is any hope remaining.
Now I have represented to you some of the general difficulties and discouragements which must, in all places, attend a sincere clergyman; I shall venture to go a step farther, and set before you some of the disadvantages peculiar to myself in 'his place: and I trust you will hear me patiently, and without Qifence. My brethren, I am thankful that I came amongst you, and hope I shall never have any reason to r pent of my choice; for hither did I come by choice, an J not by necessity. The world was before me, and any other place might have suited with a busy life, such as mine has always been. But when I settled here, the parish had been long without a resident minister, and at times had been served very irregularly, and was consequently out of order: yet I think, upon the whole, not so much as wouhi have happened m some. other places under the like circumstances: and I have imputed much of the good that was retained amongst you, to the seed sown, and the labour bestowed by a late learned and worthy predecessor the Reverend Mr, John White*, whose light is not yet gone out^ and whose name ought to be had in everlasting remembrance.
The first difficulty I was under, and that a very great one, was owing to an habitual neglect of the communion in too many of the congregation: on which account I laboured in the pulpit, and out of it, to produce some reformation ; and not in vain ; for we have many more communicants than formerly. But alas! how often have I been distressed with visiting people in their last sickness, who had never attended the communion in all their lives! In some few cases, they had been misguided by vain fears, and the influence of ill advice; all arising from an ignorance of the subject; but in many others, this neglect arose from the want of a godly sense of the deceitfulness of sin, and the great danger of a careless life unrepented of: and seeing too many others in the same way, they were encouraged (or rather they encouraged themselves) to go on to their lives' end in the same fatal error. It is sorrow enough to a minister to attend a parishioner to his grave, and to see the dust thrown upon a person with whom he had conversed, and to whom he had preached: this is sufficient of itself; but when the consideration is added, that he had neglected the terms of his salvation; that he had been often called upon in the exhortation of the church (a powerful address upon the subject) but never prevailed upon; that now there is no farther exhortation to be used, no opportunity in the grave: this is a greater sorrow to every considerate mind; and I wish to God I may feel less of it for the time to come.
* Author of Letters to a Gentlemen dissenting from the Church of England, and other pieces, which were well received.
Another evil is the prevailing practice of excessive drinking, with all its fearful consequences; of which, as you all know, there are so many examples: and I fear the rising generation is likely to furnish more. I cannot stay now to set before you the sin, and shame, and danger of this vice: I have done this at other times: I have shewed you how it is attended with loss of time, of health, of substance; to the injury of a poor family; the hardening of the conscience; the quenching of God's grace, till the light of religion is turned into total darkness. From the havoc this sin makes in mens' minds, bodies, and estates, too much can never be said against it: and as it is a fearful thing to be a partaker in other mens' sins, when every man has too many of his own to answer for; therefore if there be any here present, who, from deceitful calculations of worldly interest, are tempted to encourage their neighbour to this folly and excess, and urge him on to abuse and ruin himself; I beseech them to consider what they are doing, and to hear that warning voice of the pro*phet—JVoe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink; that putfest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness—• that thou mayest see them stripped of their reason, when they are turned fools, and their minds are naked; and see them also stripped of their property, after they have sat swallowing liquor, till there is not a penny left in their pockets. He that strips a man upon the highway has all the sin to himself; but he that strips a man in this way, has his neighbour's sin, as well as his own, to answer for; and it is justly to be apprehended, that the providence of God, in many instances, brings
ruin instead of riches, and disappointment instead of success, from all that sort of gain which arises from jhe corruption of other mens' morals. So the prophet tells us, that there is a cup of judgment which comes round at last, to give them their reward in kind, and make them vomit up what they have unjustly gotten. On which consideration I entreat all those, whose occupation exposes them to this danger, to be aware of it, and guard against it as well as they can; with this assurance, that who grows rich by other mens' ruin, takes a fire into his bosom, which may lie there smothered, for a time, like embers under the ashes, but will too surely break out at last into a flame, the effects of which will be felt, when the cause is forgotten.
Another evil, and to the great misfortune of this .country, an increasing evil in many places, is that of fornication, which brings an unhappy and unpromising race of children upon a parish, who grow up half disowned and neglected, with the influence of an evil example from their parents, added to the influence of a corrupt, uncultivated nature; and who, if they live, will perhaps bring another breed of the same sort; and so on to the end of the world; to the great corruption of the youths of both sexes, and the impoverishing of those who live honestly, and are obliged to assist in the maintaining of such, as become chargeable to others from vice and idleness. Something might be done toward the lessening of this evil, if the officers of a parish would bestir themselves, as they are all bound to do in reason and conscience, and some of them by the sacred obligation of an oath. The lower class of people will certainly make light of this evil, if those who are above them do nothing to prevent it. A minister, according to his duty, represents the miserable consequences of this unlawful com