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useless, because self-love is not better rewarded'. for its labours.
Sometimes, with motives, it would seem, more pure and refined, we attribute the unworthy reception of the Gospel to the obduracy of sinners; this insensibility excites dissatisfaction, and provokes impatience, rather than compassion and love: we are cold in their interest, when, from our knowledge of their moral wants, we are bound to watch over them with paternal solicitude, and, to embrace every opportunity of extirpating the love of sin, and implanting, in its stead, a love of God. The hard-heartedness of sinners, it is true, often frustrates our utmost endeavours : but we are still to feel for their miserable situation, and " to cry mightily, to God," in their behalf; a sense of their deplorable state, should awaken our affection and zeal, rather than suppress and extinguish our efforts.
The Ministers of the Church are perpetually complaining of the indocility of those who are endeared to them by the strongest ties; they complain of it, violently, to men, but not sufficiently to God. They wish their labours to be effectual, in promoting the reformation of their several flocks, because it is flattering, and because we attribute this reformation of sinners, always to ourselves : those, who deprive us of this human consolation, rob us of a glory, which we consider as qur due,
and refuse us that docility, which we might, ac. cording to our opinion, justly expect from them : we, therefore, soon hold them in contempt ; we leave them to their own insensibility ; and appear as little affected with their miserable situation, as they are with our ineffectual endeavours.
But the zeal of charity, says the Apostle, “re“ proves, rebukes, exhorts;" its affection encreases with the progress of the complaint, and to new obstacles, opposes the patience, which produces hope ; that is to say, it gives the Christian Pastor more abundant concern, and supplies him with new models of instruction. Actuated by this evangelical zeal, he continually supplicates the Throne of Grace, that he may be an humble instrument in the hands of the Most High, in turning many to righteousness: the longer God, in his wisdom, delays to hear his petitions, and to grant his requests, the more he labours to render him propitious, by redoubling his efforts, and pouring out his sorrows; the impotence of his ministry he attributes to his want of faith, and to human weakness, which, unhappily, mingle with his sacred obligations. Those Pastors, who sow, but receive no encrease, should all be directed by the same spirit which guided the Apostle—“ Master, “ we have toiled,” said Peter, “ all the night, and « have taken nothing : nevertheless, at thy word, “ I will let down the net.” Hitherto, O Lord, all my cares, towards the people thou hast committed to my charge, have produced nothing. I do not
cease to cast the net, and it returns to me empty : -neither have I the consolation of drawing one soul from the depth of the waters, and the abyss of iniquity. Notwithstanding, thou commandest me to labour still, and not to be weary ; thou wouldest, that I should imitate thy patience, and thy fatherly goodness, which often knock at the door of a rebellious heart, and which, though many times repulsed with rudeness, and rejected with disdain, after once gaining admission, eagerly enter in. Following thy blessed steps, I will not abandon the pious work : Thou commandest, and thy commands ensure success; Thou wilt grant it, when it pleaseth thee; and my impatience, far from hastening, retards it; thou wouldest that all men should know, that he who planteth, and that he who watereth, are alike, nothing, and that the fruit of righteousness, in the heart, and in the life, is the work of thy mercy, and the effect of thy power.
From patience proceeds kindness ;-" Charity,” says the Apostle, “ is kind.” ,
• But, when St. Paul includes kindness, among the characters of genuine zeal, he does not mean that softness, that pusillanimity, that courtesy, which disposes us to suppress those arguments which would first fill the sinner with terror, and might, afterwards, lead him to repentance; inso.. much, that instead of prevailing with him to forsake his eyil courses, we confirm him in them,
and furnish him with means to suppress the alarms, or elude the remonstrances, of conscience.
: Zeal, which results from charity, assumes different forms, according to the several wants of our flock. But it is always the kindness of charity which suggests the expressions, whether of comfort, or of terror. The harshness, the severity of censure, honoured with the name of zeal, it totally disavows. Zeal, which would blaze abroad the depravity it cannot correct, is not that which originates in charity, The Pastor, who is possessed of this, makes the irregularities of his brethren the subject of his lamentations, and not of his public animadversions : he does not ex. patiate upon their faults to men, but, by a tender application to themselves, strives to reclaim their hearts, that they may obtain the favour of God,
Sometimes, indeed, under the pretence of zeal, the Ministers of the Gospel discover towards their : people the utmost violence pointing at them, as it were with their finger, in their public discourses: describing them, by characters, so personal, and striking, that no one, in the congregation, can fail of perceiving the unjustifiable, and unworthy design of the Preacher*.
* I am unwilling to believe, that a Clergyman of the Church of England, can prostitute the pulpit to so diabolical a purpose. "
- A Christian Minister cannot be too much on his guard, cannot too frequently, nor too seriously, exercise his judgment, on this important subject. For, if his zeal be not according to knowledge, his ministry is not merely useless, but odious, to his fock: to the dislike which sinners have of virtue, he adds the hatred of him who preaches it.
Zeal, which results from charity, is respected, and beloved, by those, whose irregularities it reproves, and whose profligacy it condemns. If it does not render vice odious, it, at least, takes care not to subject the ministry to contempt; if it does not withdraw men from the paths of folly, it, at least succeeds in gaining their esteem for virtue. Zeal which is according to knowledge, may be compared to the behaviour of an affectionate mother to her children, who, by every effort which ingenuity can suggest, and every toil, which patience can endure, strives to implant in them a principle of rectitude, and a love of virtue: if her maternal intentions are disappointed, her tears, and her sorrows, are the only resentment she betrays, at their ingratitude: the farther they deviate from the paths of wisdom and prudence, the more her love for them seems to encrease; the nearer she sees them on the point of perishing, the more her tenderness is enlarged, and her affection awakened : zeal is never excited by ill temper and chagrin; it is love, alone, which dictates its admonition, and urges its rebukes.