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In the third place, this zeal, arising from charity, not only extinguishes in our hearts every de. gree of impatience, but moreover, affords us satisfaction and pleasure, as often as we perceive the ministerial labours of our brethren accompanied with more, and greater, blessings, than our own –“ Charity envieth nọt.”
This mean jealousy is so repugnant to the spirit of that zeal which proceeds from charity--they are so' opposite in their principles—that they cannot subsist together. The former is a meanness of soul, which grieves, even at the repentance of sin. ners, at the progress of the gospel, at the glory of God, and the power of his grace, when, by the ministry of another person, the Almighty calls the thoughtless, and the profligate from the evil of their ways: when under the influence of this de testable passion, we do not propose, to ourselves, the salvation of our brethren-No! only the idle vanity of becoming, in our own persons, the instruments, and the ministers of it. We are no fur. ther interested in promoting the glory of God, than as we can attach our own to it: we could even bear to see our brethren perish, rather than that they should be saved by other cares, and other talents, than our own. Provided that the Gospel was preached, the Apostle rejoiced, although it should be by the ministry of those, who misinter. preted his views, and misrepresented his character, to the Christian Church; whereas, we would stand alone, and suffer no one to participate with
us, in proclaiming the truth, and impressing the influence, of the Gospel, on the hearts of men: whatever good is done by others, is insupportable to us, and we consider the gifts which God is pleased to confer upon our brethren, as subjects of our confusion and disgrace. Alas! that the duties of the ministry, which should surely re-unite all ordained to the same office, should divide them: we look upon the labourers employed in the same vineyard with ourselves, with an eye of jealousy; we depreciate, we mutually disparage, the talents of each other; we are eager to attract, and to confine, to ourselves, general applause : and we think, that we have promoted God's glory, by withholding it from those, to whom, without our artful interposition, it would have been given; as if public applause, rather than the secret effusions of grace, would constitute us diligent workmen, and faithful stewards, in the eyes of God. But we do not stop here ; we arraign the principle by which other men are actuated : and a ministry of peace becomes a cause of war, and of dissention; we disseminate the same spirit of division among our hearers: the jealousy of the Ministers possesses the minds of their people; some are of Cephas, and others of Paul; it is well, if one among them be of Jesus Christ. What a subjeet of affliction to the Church, and of triumph to its enemies!
Believe me, my Brethren, true zeal perceives, with holy transports, the work of the Gospel, pro
gressively going on, conquering, and to conquer, in the hand of all its Ministers, employed by the Church; if the Gospel be preached, its desires are satisfied. Possessed of this zeal, we are even persuaded, that the talents of those, who are ordained to the same holy calling, are better calculated to be serviceable to the Church, than our own, because we would willingly believe, that they are not sullied by the same weaknesses. Our hearts are only filled with sorrow, to see the harvest abundant, and so few labourers, either not capable of the employ, or not hearty in the cause : we demonstrate, by our whole conduct, that nothing is greater, and more worthy of Religion, than zeal, sustained by charity; and, on the other hand, that nothing is so mean, so contemptible, so disgraceful, to the sacred ministry, as that zeal, which betrays itself, in vexatious jealousies, and foolish envyings.
But it would signify little, to preserve our zeal, from the poison of jealousy, if we were not, at the same time, upon our guard, to avoid temerity, and imprudence. For 66 Charity doth not behave it46 self unseemly.” *
Fourthly. Zeal is a holy desire of becoming useful to mankind; but a desire, directed by judgment, and tempered by prudence, which suggests to us, the choice of means. Whatever presents itself as good, is not always, on that account, proper ; that which may be lawful, is not always ex.
pedient. If you see that your zeal will rather irritate, than persuade, take care, lest you expose yourself to contempt, and the Gospel to derision; Test you rather gratify your own impatience, than relieve your brother's infirmities.
The Apostle, it is true, enjoins, that we be“ in“stant, in season, and out of season ;” by which he means, that the negligence with which our solicitude is received, is not to silence our exertions, and deaden our sensibility : in other words, when profligacy is gaining ground, we are to exert our utmost efforts to suppress it : call this, if you please, excess; but it is an excess which charity prescribes, and religion sanctions, which the command of Heaven exacts of us, and the consoling, and unhoped-for success, with which it is, sometimes accompanied, always justifies. This is what the Apostle means, by being “ instant, in season, and out of season :” but he would not, thereby, signify to us, that the pretended sanctity of our motives would excuse the irregularity, and the rashness, of our proceedings.
We, frequently, see Ministers, whom an ungov. ernable zeal, sometimes, involves in the greatest perplexities. They undertake every thing; whatever promises them any good, animates, and puts them in motion ; nothing seems to them impossible ; and nothing appears to be in its right place; they would change, they would remove, every thing: they begin, by throwing into confusion whatever they touch, under the pretence of re-establishing order. Bold, restless spirits, who, if they can exercise their turbulent zeal, are satisfied with themselves, and think “ they have fulfilled all righteousness.” These, notwithstanding are laborers, good in their intention, indefatigable in their calling, irreprehensible in their morals, and who are led into these extravagances, by the very excess of their piety. It is lamentable, that among the small number of Ministers the Church esteems capable of serving her, by their appropriate talents, and exemplary life, any should be found, whom indiscretion and temerity render, not only useless in their station, but injurious to their cause. ·
But jealousy and rashness are the ordinary consequences of pride, and of zeal without knowledge : in order, therefore, to banish more effectually these two vices, from their attendance upon this pastoral virtue, the Apostle adds, that it is necessary to suppress pride“ Charity,” he says, “ is not puffed up.”
Fifthly. Zeal, indeed, is not puffed up, either with its talents, or the success of them, nor with the want of talents, and of success in others ; neither with the vain praises, nor severe censures, of men, neither with the favor, nor with the contempt of the great : in a word, the poisonous breath of pride, finds all the avenues of the heart closed by charity, and is there refused any abode, to taint the gifts of God. Zeal, that zeal, at least, which I am describa