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MINISTERIAL LABOR AND SUPPORT:
PREACHED AT MIDDLEBURY, VERMONT, FEBRUARY 21, 1810, AT TES
HENRY DAVIS, D. D.
AND HIS INDUCTION AS PRESIDENT OF
Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, over the which the Holg
Ghost hath made you overseers......ACTS. xx. 28. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear ye shall receive a crown
of glory that fadeth not away.....I. PETER, V. 4. VOL, 4,
MINISTERIAL LABOR AND SUP
2 CORINTHIANS XI. 23.
In labors more abundant.
THE traveller, as he draws near the end of his course, feels a pleasure in retracing the different stages through which he passed; in revolving in his own mind the dangers he escaped, the inconveniences to which he submitted, and the obstacles which he surmounted in performing his journey: It is a gratification to the laborer at the approach of evening to recollect the various toils of the day; to take a retrospect of the hardships he endured, of the discouragements under which he was supported, and the success with which his labors were crowned: The soldier towards the conclusion of life, finds a pleasure in recollecting the various campaigns in which he served, the dangers he braved, the enemies he vanquished, and the victories he won in fighting the battles of his country. That “ good soldier of Jesus Christ,” that chief of champions in the cause of christianity, whose words we have been reading, frequently indulges himself in reflections of a similar nature. He appears to feel a satisfaction too great for utterance while he recounts the temptations he had resisted, the persecutions he had suf
fered, the toils he had endured, and the opposition to which he rose superior in advancing the cause of his Saviour and Lord. “In stripes above measure,” he mentions, “ in deaths often; once was I stoned; thrice I suffered shipwreck; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, info perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils among
false brethren; in weariness and painfulness; in watchings often ; in hunger and thirst ; in cold and nakedness," and as he relates in the words selected for our present discussion,“ in labors more abundant."
By the labors mentioned in this verse we are not to understand any peculiar trial which happened to Paul as a man or a christian; they are designed to express bis ardent, unceasing exertions as an apostle of the Lamb; his unremitting activity in propagating the gospel of his Master, and promoting the salvation of his fellow-men.
These great objects occupied his individual attention; they summoned into action all his energies of body and mind: He appear ed to lose sight of his own ease and interest
, and outward aggrandizement, and regarded himself as an infinite gainer if others became spiritually rich although at the
expence toil, and reproach and poverty to himself. Although the apostle sustained an extraordinary office in the church of the living God, yet his example is recorded for the imita
tion of all who succeed him in the service of the altar. Reverend fathers and brethren, this subject is peculiarly interesting to you and to me. On this auspicious, solemn occasion, it cannot therefore be unseasonable, and perhaps may not be unprofitable to inquire what “labors” are incumbent on us as the ministers of reconciliation, and what is our encouragement for becoming “ in labors more abundant.”
May a coal from the celestial altar touch the lips and heart of the speaker, inspiring him with a frame answerable to the magnitude of the occasion on which we are convened ; may it touch the heart of every ambassador of the cross in this assembly, exciting him to exclaim in the language of the apostle, “ the love of Christ constraineth me ; I count not my life dear unto myself so that I may finish my course with joy, and -testify the gospel of the grace of God.”
1. Ministers of the gospel ought to labor privately in the ardent prosecution of their studies; they should exercise an unwearied industry in improving their ministerial gifts, and thus becoming more qualified for discharging the duties of their important station. It is a very erroneous opinion, too frequently entertained, that the necessity of study in a great measure ceases when we are admitted to the capacity of public teachers. In schools of human learning and in seminaries of theology we can only lay the foundation, upon which the superstructure: VOL. 4.