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Rave ever entered into any of those conspiracies which appear to have existed of late years, to overturn the government and constitution of the country. There may, indeed, have been individuals who have done this; for bad men are known to mingle in all societies: but even of such vre have scarcely heard an instance.
There are certain violent men who appear to be galled by the wholesome restraints of the state upon their persecuting spirit, and who are no less averse to the best, most laborious, and most useful clergymen in the nation, than they are to us, that make it their business to rake together every idle story, and to persuade their readers that Dissenters as a body are enemies to the state. From such quarters, village preaching has been ascribed to politicalmotives; and even Sunday Schools, as they are called, denounced as the seminaries of seditiou. To all these charges we answer by asking for proof'. In so large a body of men we cannot underfake to say there are no bad men; neither can our accusers say so of the established church. Nay, more, we cannot undertake to vindicate all the conduct of those whom we may account good men. Only let it be proved of any village preacher, or schoolmaster, or catechist, that he diffuses a spirit of disaffection to government among those whom he instructs, and if he be not discarded, or at least reproved, by his connexions, as soon as they know it, let them bear the blame for eyer.
"It may be objected, (says Justin Martyr, in his Apology,) that some Christians have been convicted as evil-doers. Well, I will grant the objection, and more; not only that some, but many, have been thus duly convicted upon a fair trial: but then, I must tell you again, that you condemned not the persons aforesaid as criminals, but as Christians. Moreover, we confess, that as all the sects in general among the Greeks went under the common name of Philosophers, though extremely different in opinion; so truly :i,mong us the professors of this new wisdom, whether in reality or appearance only, go all by the same title, and are denominated GftyriitiatM. Whartfore we pray that all these who arc iodisted by the name of Christian may be examined as to their actions; and that every person convicted may suffer as an evil-doer, and not as a Christian.” Such is our prayer as Dissenters. If any man, or society of men, be guilty, let them bear their burden ; but let them suffer as evil-doers, and not as Dissenters.
MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS, &c.
THE BAPTIST MAGAZINE.
ADDRESS TO THE STUDENTS OF THE STEPNEY
At Carter Lane Meeting, June 24, 1813.
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand,—2 Tim. ir. 5, 6.
Being requested to address a word of exhortation to my younger brethren, I doubt not but I shall be heard with candtmr and attention; and that, not only by tlicce immediately addressed, but by all my younger brethren in the ministry. You will not suppose either, that I mean to compara mysalf to an apostle, or you to an evangelist; but the work is in substuuce tfcs same, whether it be in the hands of extrordinary or ordinary men. And as Paul argued the importance of Timothy's work from his own approaching dissolution, I may be allowed to enforce it on you from kindred considerations; namely, that many of your elder brethren are gone, and others are going the way of all the earth.
You will not expect me, my dear young men, to discourse to you on the advantages of literary acquirements. I might do so, indeed, and that from experience. I know the value of such acquirements, both by what I have been enabled to attain, and by the want of that which I have not attained: but it is more congenial with my feelings to speak of things of still greater importance. Three things in particular are suggested by the passage which I have read, and these I shall recommend to your seriou9 attention; namely, The work itself to which you are devoted— the duties inculcated as necessary to the discharge of it—and the considerations by which it is enforced.
The worh itself to which you are devoted, is called a ministry. The word signifies, as you are aware, service. The leading character of a minioter is that of a servant. This is an idea that you must ever bear in mind. It is a service, however, of a special kind. Every Christian is a servant of Christ, but every Christian is not a minister of the gospel. A deacon is a servant, as the word also signifies ; but his service respects temporal things; yours is that on account of which the office of deacon was appointed, that you should give yourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. It is that which Jethro assigned to Moses, Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou may est bring the causes unto God. Your living under the gospel dispensation renders this a pleasant work: it must, if you enter into th'e'spirit of it, be pleasant to study and impart the gladdening doctrine of salvation.
I have observed two extremes relative to this work; one on the part of ministers themselves, and the other on the part of the people. That on the part of the ministers has been an abuse of their office of ruling, a fondness for power, aspiring to the exercise of dominion over their brethren. It has always grated in my ears to hear such language as this :—My church, my deacons, &c. as if churches were made for them, rather than they for churches. Do not emulate this empty swell. True greatness will revolt at it. He that will be great, let him be the servant of all. Think of the woe denounced against the idol shepherd, The sword shall be upon his arm, and his right eye shall be darkened. Think especially of him who said, / have been among you as one that serveth.