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But, one book which I read at this time, because mentioned with approbation by Mr. Locke, was of singular use to me: this was Bishop Burnet's · Pastoral Care.' I found little in it that offended my prejudices, and many things which came home to my conscience respecting my ministerial obligations. I shall lay before the reader a few short extracts, which were most affecting to my own mind. Having mentioned the question proposed to those who are about to be ordained Deacons, . Do you trust that
inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon 'you this office and ministry, to serve God for the ' promoting of his glory, and the edifying of his peo' ple?” he adds, (page 111) •Certainly the answer that ' is made to this ought to be well considered : for if any one says, “ I trust so,” that yet knows nothing
any such motion, and can give no account of it, 'he lies to the Holy Ghost, and makes his first ap‘proach to the alter with a lie in his mouth, and that
not to men, but to God. And again, (page 112) 'Shall not he (God) reckon with those who dare to ' run without his mission, pretending that they trust they have it, when perhaps they understand not the
importance of it; nay, and perhaps some laugh at ' it, as an enthusiastical question, who yet will go
through with the office! They come to Christ for ' the loaves; they hope to live by the altar and the 'gospel, how little soever they serve at the one, or preach the other; therefore they will say any thing that is necessary for qualifying them to this, whether true or false.'
Again, (page 122) having interwoven a great part of the excellent office of the ordination of Priests, into his argument concerning the importance and weight of the work of the ministry; he adds, Upon the ' whole matter, either this is all a piece of gross and ' impudent pageantry, dressed up in grave and lofty expressions, to strike upon the weaker part of man. kind, and to furnish the rest with matter to their profane and impious scorn; or it must be confessed that Priests come under the most formal and express * engagements to constant and diligent labour, that
can be possibly contrived or set forth in words.'He concludes this subject, (of the ordination offices,) by exhorting all candidates for orders to read them frequently and attentively, during the time of their preparation; that they may be aware before-hand of the obligations they are about so solemnly to enter into; and to peruse them at least four times in a year, ever after their ordination, to keep in their minds a continual remembrance of their important engagements. How necessary this counsel is, every minister, or candidate for the ministry, must determine for himself: for my part, I had never once read through the office when I was ordained, and was in great measure a stranger to the obligations I was about to enter into, till the very period; nor did I ever afterwards attend to it, till this advice put me upon it. The shameful negligence and extreme absurdity of my conduct in this respect are too glaring, not to be perceived with self-application, by every one who has been guilty of a similar omission. I would therefore only just men
tion, that hearty earnest prayer to God, for his guidance, help, and blessing, may be suitably recommend. ed, as a proper attendant on such a perusal of our obligations.
Again, (page 147,) he thus speaks of a wicked clergyman: “ His whole life has been a course of 'hypocrisy in the strictest sense of the word, which * is the acting of a part, and the counterfeiting another person. His sins have in them all possible aggra‘yations: they are against knowledge, and against 'vows, and contrary to his character; they carry in ' them a deliberate contempt of all the truths and obligations of religion; and if he perishes, he doth not perish alone, but carries a shoal down with him, 'either of those who have perished in ignorance through ' his neglect, or of those who have been hardened in * their sins through his ill example !--Again, (page 183) having copiously discoursed on the studies befitting ministers, especially the study of the Scriptures, he adds, ‘But to give all these their full effect, a Priest that is much in his study, ought to employ a great part of his time in secret and fervent prayer, for the direction and blessing of God in his labours, for the * constant assistance of his Holy Spirit, and for a lively sense of divine matters; that so he may feel the im. pressions of them grow deep and strong upon his thoughts: this, and this only, will make him go on ' with his work without wearying, and be always re"joicing in it.
But the chief benefit which accrued to me from the perusal was this :-) was excited by it to an attentive consideration of those passages of Scripture, that state Vol. I.
the obligations and duties of a minister, which hither. to I had not observed, or to which I had very loosely attended. In particular, (it is yet fresh in my me. mory,) I was greatly affected with considering the charge of precious souls committed to me, and the awful account one day to be rendered of them, in meditating on Ezekiel xxxiii. 7-9, “ So thou, O
son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the “ house of Israel: therefore thou shalt hear the word “ at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I
say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt
surely die : if thou dost not speak to warn the “ wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in " his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine “ hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his
way, to turn from it: if he do not turn from his
way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast “ delivered thy soul.” For I was fully convinced, with Bishop Burnet, that every minister is as much concerned in this solemn warning as the prophet himself. ---Acts xx. 17—-35, was another portion of Scripture which by means of this book was brought home to my conscience; especially ver. 26, 27, 28, which serve as an illustration of the preceding Scripture: “Wherefore I take you to record this day that “ I am pure from the blood of all men; for I have “ not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of “ God. Take heed therefore, unto yourselves, and “ to all the fock over which the Holy Ghost hath “ made you overseers, to feed the church of God “ which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
In short, I was put upon the attentive and repeated
perusal of the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, as containing the sum of a minister's duty in all
I searched out and carefully considered every text I could find in the whole Scripture which referred to this argument. I was greatly impressed by: 1 Cor. ix. 16. “ For necessity is laid upon me, yea, woe is " me if I preach not the Gospel.” Nor was I less struck with Coloss. iv. 17. “ Say to Archippus, take "heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the “Lord, that thou fulfil it.” This was brought to my conscience with power, as if the apostle had in person spoken the words to me. But especially I was both instructed and encouraged by meditating upon 1 Peter v. 2–4. “ Feed the flock of God which is among
you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, “ but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready “ mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, " but being ensamples to the flock: and when the chief
Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”
I hope the reader will excuse my prolixity in speaking on this subject, because in itself it is very important: and though I obtained no new views of gospeltruth from The Pastoral Care, yet I received such a deep conviction of the difficulty and importance of that work in which I had thoughtlessly engaged, and of the imminent danger to which my soul would be exposed, should I neglect to devote myself wholly to it; as laid the foundation of all my subsequent conduct and change of sentiments. I was indeed, guilty of very criminal procrastination, after I had been thus convinced; and being engaged more than I ought in