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But the Church is not to be reproached with the irregularities of its Ministers. What the Clergy are to be warned against, is, that state of lukewarmness*, and of negligence, in the discharge of their duty, which destroys the efficacy of it. And, indeed, how can you, my Reverend Brethren, appear among your flocks, animated with the love of God, and actuated by a desire to promote the salvation of meni—you, who feel no solicitude, either for vour own salvation, or the salvation of those over whom the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers? If you perform your ministry with indifference and reluctance, you will leave the same dispositions in the hearts of those who hear you. A faithful Minister is uniformly distinguished by his zeal, his application, his patience, his labor to overcome the obstacles, which the world, the devil, the depravity of manners, oppose to the success of his ministry; and, too often, alas! notwithstanding his ardent zeal, and unremitted pains, he has the mortification of having "laboured in vain, and spent his strength for nought." What harvest, then, can a slothful, negligent, labourer expect, from a field to which he hath put only a feeble, and languishing hand, and which seems to have been entrusted to him, rathev as a refuge from fatigue, than to be the object of unremitted application? What spectacle so afflicting to the Church, as that of one of its Pastors, bound by the most solemn obligations to prosecute his calling with diligence and fidelity, careless and indolent! He, to whom is entrusted the enlargement of the kingdom of God, the reclaiming of sinners from the evil of their ways—the improvement of the wise,—and the edification of the virtuous!
* " Clergymen, who are serious in tb«ir whole behaviour, and the care of their families also, are often too unactive amongst their people: apt to think that if they perform regularly the ordinary offices of the church, exhort from the pulpit such as will come to hear them, and answer the common occasional calls of parochial duty, they have done as much as they need, or well can, and so turn themselves to other matters: perhaps never visit some of their parishioners; and with the rest enter into the same sort of talk that any one else would do. Now St. Paul saith, he taught the Ephesians both publicly and from house to house, testifying repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ; and ceased not to warn every one day and night. He also commands Timothy to preach the word, arid be instant in season and out of season; at stated times and others: not forcing advice upon persons, when it was likelier to do harm than good: but prudently improving less favourable opportunities, if no others offered. Thus, unquestionably should we do. And a chief reason, why we have so little hold upon our people is, that we converse
with them so little, as watchmen over their souls Abp.
But there is another cause of the want of zeal, in some of the Ministers of the Gospel, which is, a persuasion, that they are not well calculated to discharge the public offices of Religion.
We every day meet with Pastors, whom a love of retirement, together with extreme diffidence of their talents, renders almost useless to the Church. They prefer the leisure of study, to the active discharge of their duty: they think it sufficient that they edify the Church, by their example, without supporting it by their labours, directed personally, and individually, to those over whom they are placed; that they be blameless in the eyes of men, without devoting their time to their amendment; in a word, that, by leading an irreproachable life, they are justified in neglecting the salvation qf their brethren. They give themselves up wholly to reading and study; but will such application, however laudable in itself, and serviceable, as it may, occasionally, be in its effects, to the community at large, compensate for their neglect in performing the public services of their peculiar functions; or, for performing. them with carelesness, and inattention? But you think you had better leave the obligations of your calling, to be fulfilled by those, who are more likely to benefit the hearers. We possess all requisite talents, when we have a love for our flock, and feel an ardent desire for their salvation: this is the treasure of which our Lord speaks, and whence "the Scribe, in"structed for the kingdom of Heaven, draws trea"sures new and old." Nothing is more opposite, says a Father of the Church*, to the spirit of the Priesthood, than an indolent and inactive life, which we are too apt to consider as the most desirable. Nihil enim minus aptum est ad Ecclesits prcefecturam quam socordia &? ignavia, quam alii exercitationem quandam admirabilem putant.
Heavenly Father, remove, we beseech thee, from the hearts of thy Ministers, every obstacle which * Chryostom.
may hinder them from bringing mankind to the knowledge of the truth: animate them with that spirit of zeal and wisdom with which thou didst endow the first preachers of the Gospel: may thy Church perpetually abound with labourers, powerful in word and doctrine, whose only end may be thy glory, and the salvation of mankind; and who may esteem as nothing the opinions of men, so long as they are instruments in thy hands of extending thy kingdom, and accomplishing thy will! Amen.