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The Hope, Joy and Crown of A Faithful Minister
A Sermon Preached at Broadmead, Bristol
By Caleb Evans, 1781

      The author of the following plain difcourfe, hopes that its having proved acceptable to thofe for whofe benefit it was compofed, and to whom it was addreffed from the pulpit, may be confidered as a prefage of its future acceptance and ufefulnefs. It is committed to the prefs, though drawn up as may be eafily perceived without the moft diftant view of its publication, at the requeft of thofe to whom the author is under many obligations, and who have a right to his fervices. And it is his ardent prayer, that whilft it may be confidered as a public memorial of the mutual affection and happinefs of minifter and people, the great end of it with refpect to both may be abundantly anfwered!
BRISTOL, May 21, 1781
[blank pages follow.]

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1 THESSAL. ii. 19


THE epiftle from whence thefe words are taken, is addreffed by Paul, Sylvanus, and Timotheus, to the church of the Theffalonians. But the fentiments expreffed in it are by no means fuch as ought, or were intended to be confined to the Theffalonians only, but are equally applicable to other churches and other minifters. And O how happy muft it be, for any of the minifters of Chrift to be able to fpeak of those to whom they minifter, as the apoftle and his colleagues here fpeak of the Theffalonians! For our gofpel, fay they, ver. 5, came not unto you in word only, but alfo in power, and in the Holy

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Ghoft, and in much affurance, (ye had no manner of doubt of the truth of it;) as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your fake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghoft, fo that ye were enfamples to all them that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. And what a happinefs it is when the minifters of Chrift are able to appeal to God, and to the confciences alfo of thofe amongft whom they have labored, with refpect to their own fidelity and zeal, as thefe good men here appeal to the Theffalonians! Ye are witneffes, fay they, ver. 10, and God alfo, how holily, and juftly, and unblameably we behaved ourfelves amongft you that believe: As you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged everyone of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you to his kingdom and glory. And we may obferve from what follows, what it was that gave the apoftles the greateft fatiffacton in their miniftry, and which gives the greateft fatiffaction to all the faithful minifters of Chrift: fee ver. 13. For this caufe alfo thank we God without ceafing, becaufe when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, (ye did not take it upon truft or receive it merely upon our authority,) but, as it is in truth,
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the word of God, which effectually worketh alfo in you that believe. How endearing and delightful the connection which is hereby formed betwixt the faithful minifters of Chrift and his believing people! No wonder their hearts are united together in Chriftian affection, as the hearts of Paul and his brethren evidently appear to have been united to the church of the Theffalonians. Being affectionately defirous of you, this is their language, ver. 8, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gofpel of God only, but alfo our own fouls, becaufe ye were dear unto us. And ver. 17. We brethren, fay they, being taken from you for a fhort time, (probably by the violence of perfecution) in prefence, not in heart, endeavored the more abundantly to fee your face with great defire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again, but Satan, (by his emiffaries,) hindered us. Then come in the pathetic words firft read. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoiclng? Are not even ye, in the prefence of our Lord Jefus Chrift, at his coming? It follows, For ye are our glory and joy.

      In attempting an improvement of tbis fubject, we are naturally led to confider

      I. When chriftian profeffors may be ftyled the hope, the joy, and the crown of rejoicing of their faithful minifters? And

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      II. The folemn feafon in which they fhall be eminently fo. In the prefence of our Lord Jefus Chrift at his coming.

      I. "When may chriftian profeffors be ftyled the hope, the joy, and the crown of rejoicing of their faithful minifters? And may we not anfwer,

      1. When they appear to be truly converted to God.

      Not when they appear fplendid and gay, when the world fmiles upon them, and they bid fair to become great. No; outward greatnefs is too often productive of inward leannefs and barrennefs; and the church of God in the prefent ftate always thrives beft in the valley of humiliation and affliction. The funfhine of worldly profperity too often proves fcorching and withering to the graces of the chriftian life. And can it be any pleafure to a chriftian minifter to have a rich, a gay people, if they are not a godly people? It certainly cannot, till he is become himfelf as carnal as they. Brethren, we wifh you outward profperity, if it pleafe God to give it you with a bleffing, to fanctify it to you, and to add no forrow to it: but the firft and principal thing we are concerned about is your inward fpiritual profperity. In your worldly intercourfes one with another, all you have to attend to is the ftate of one another's circumftances; who are and who are not, in the

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fenfe of the world, good men, or refponfible. All the Phyfician has to attend to is the ftate of your bodies, whether they are healthy or fickly. But your minifters have to do with your fouls, with your ftate godward, and that which alone can give them pleafure is to fee that your fouls are in health and profper. They travail in birth for you till they fee Chrift formed in you the hope of glory. They do not meafure their refpect and affection for you according to your outward appearance and circumftances, but according to the apparent ftate of your fouls. Their firft enquiry is, whofe image and fuperfcription? Is this foul dead or alive? converted, or unconverted? Is this profeffor, and the other profeffor, a real faint, a genuine chriftian; or only a painted hypocrite, a founding brafs, a tinkling cymbal, having a name to live, but being really dead?

      Your circumfstances, my honored friends, at this time, naturally lead me to recommend to you a ferious enquiry as to this matter. You are a profeffed church of Chrift. You have lately been deprived of your honored and beloved paftor who for many years had the care of you in the Lord. You have given an affectionate invitation to his furviving colleague to fucceed him in that important character. Now upon fuch an occafion you are naturally led not only to take a review of your numbers and outward circumftances,

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but efpecially to take a view of your fpiritual ftate and circumftances; and the minifter who is called to take the overfight of you in the Lord is in a very particular manner led to do the fame. Every faithful minifter of Chrift is ready to adopt the language of the apoftle: What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye? Ye to whom we minifter, ye amongft whom we labor in word and doctrine, ye for whofe fouls we watch as thofe that muft give an account? As though he had faid, All our comfort, all our happinefs both here and hereafter depends under God, upon you.

      But when are a people indeed the hope and joy and crown of rejoicing of their minifters? Why not as we have feen, meerly when they are rich and great in the world, unlefs they are alfo rich in faith and good works; nor meerly when they are numerous. It is certainly very pleafing to fee the vifible church of Chrift enlarged, to have the numbers of the faithful increafed; it feems to be a kind of prelude to the glory of the latter day, when, all the kingdoms of the world fhall become the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Chrift, or to the ftill greater glory of the church of God in heaven, which fhall be compofed of a number no man fhall be able to number. But however large and numerous a fociety may be, little pleafure will arife hence to a godly minifter, unlefs this

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number be compofed of living converted fouls, of fuch as have the root of the matter in them, and have not only a name to live, but are really alive. The privileges of the gofpel are compared to a feaft, and the fervants of Chrift are directed to invite the guefts to this feaft, faying, Come, for all things are now ready. Yea they are commanded to compel men to come in that his houfe may be filled. But would it give, think ye, any pleafure to the Mafter of the feaft, or to the fervants employed by him, to have his table furrounded by a number of ghaftly dead corpfes? Could fuch guefts as thefe be the glory and joy of anyone; or muft they not rather be a grief and reproach to him? What then are ye? Let each one be ready to fay to himfelf, What am I? I am an external member of the church of Chrift, but am I an internal, fpiritual member, a member of Chrift's myftical body? Am I truly converted to God? Have I paffed from death to life? Am I born from above? Is there a new nature imparted to me; new principles implanted in me? Do I really hate fin and love holinefs? Do I renounce all felf-confidence, and rejoice in Chrift Jefus as my only and compleat Savior? Am I religious at heart? Is my heart right with God? Does he that knows the heart and knows all things, know that I love him, that I count all things lofs for the excellency of the knowledge of
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him, and that I may be found in him? Then it is and then alone, that a profeffing people are the hope and joy of their minifters, when they evidently appear to be a truly converted people, and to have religion at heart. Then it is that a real union is formed, and true fpiritual communion enjoyed. My dear friends, what is the chaff to the wheat; what is the fhadow without the fubftance; the name without the reality? There can be no natural enjoyment without natural life, and how, think ye, can there be any fpiritual enjoyment without fpiritual life? Are you then, or are you not fpiritually alive? Are you in a fpiritual fenfe dead corpfes, or are you living fouls? Are your names enrolled, not merely in the records of this part of the vifible church on earth, but are they written in the book of life in heaven? Examine yourfelves whether ye be in the faith, prove your ownfelves; know ye not your ownfelves how that Jefus Chrift is in you, except ye be reprobates? Again

      2. When a profeffing people grow in grace, and in the knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jefus Chrift, then are they the hope, the joy, and crown of their minifters.

      This appears to have been the cafe with the Theffalonians in an eminent manner: for we not only read in the firft epiftle addreffed to them, that the gofpel came to them not in word only

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but alfo in power; but in the fecond epiftle, chap. 1. ver. 3. we are bound, fays the apoftle, to thank God always for you brethren as it is meet, becaufe that your faith groweth exceedingly. The church of God is fometimes compared to a garden, a garden enclofed: Now what is more defirable in a garden, than to fee the various plants and flowers that may be placed in it grow and advance to maturity? And is it not the duty and privilege of the profeffing people of God, to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jefus Chrift? They that be planted in the houfe of the Lord fhall flourifh it is faid, in the courts of their God, yea they fhall bring forth fruit unto old age, they fhall be fat and flourifhing. What pleafure can we take in a garden if the plants that are planted in it do not grow and thrive, but on the contrary wither, languifh and decay? And what pleafure can a minifter derive from his conneaion with a church of Chrift, if the members of that church do not grow; grow in fpiritual knowledge, the knowledge of the things of God, and the knowledge of their own hearts; grow in fpiritual experience, an experience of the power of the gofpel, its power to relieve their confciences, to purify their hearts, and infpire them with joy and peace in believing; in a word, if they do not grow in faith, in love, and univerfal holinefs? O that you my friends of this congregation,
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may thus grow and thrive in the things of God and religion! So will you be the joy and comfort of thofe who may minifter to you, and the crown of their rejoicing, in the day of the Lord Jefus. Permit me then, though it be in a meafure from felfifh motives, from a regard to my own comfort and happinefs, yet as you are alfo deeply interefted in it, permit me earneftly to entreat you, in the diligent and faithful ufe of the means of grace, to grow in grace, to advance in the divine life, to go on unto perfecton. This we wifh, wifh above all things, even your perfection. We long to fee you become in the divine life ftronger and ftronger. Do not reft in a mere profeffion, or in merely keeping up the external credit of your profeffion; but let it be your concern to experience more and more of the true fpirit, and power, and pleafure of it in your hearts. Let the fame mind be in you which was in the great apoftle of the Gentiles, who fets himfelf before believers as an example for their imitation in the following fpirited manner. See Phil. iii. 12. "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; as though he had faid, I am far from thinking fo," - but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that, for which alfo I am apprehended of Chrift Jefus. Brethren, I count not myfelf to have apprehended, but this one thing I do, forgetting thofe things
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which are behind, and reaching forth to thofe things which are before, I prefs towards the mark for the prize of the high cailing of God in Chrift Jefus. He then adds, Let us therefore as many as be perfect, that is truly converted and defirous of going on unto perfection, be thus minded; that is, not count that we have apprehended, but prefs forwards towards the mark. You fhould fet no bounds to your divine attainments, but in knowledge, in faith, in love, in holinefs, we would ftill fpeak to you as Mofes was commanded to fpeak to the Ifraelites, that you go forward, ftill advancing, ftill reaching forth and prefsing towards the mark, till your Mafter's voice from amidft the angelic throng fhall rejoice your inmoft hearts, faying to you, Come up hither! The language of your minifters is, What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye? But how can you be truly fo, unlefs you are growing, thriving chriftians?

      3. Then may a profeffing people be confidered as the hope and joy and crown of their minifters when they walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called, and abound in the fruits of righteoufnefs which are by Jefus Chrift to the praife and glory of God.

      When the apoftle Paul was a prifoner at Rome and knew not whether he fhould ever fee the members of the church at Ephefus any more till

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he met them at the bar of God, he addreffes the following pathetic exhortation to them. Eph. iv. 1. I therefore the prifoner of the Lord befeech you, that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. And what more fuitable exhortation can be addreffed to you my friends upon the prefent occafion? Would you indeed be the hope, and joy, and crown of rejoicing, of him whom you have now invited to take the charge of you in the Lord: furely then it cannot but be your earneft concern to receive the word of exhortation, and under the influence of divine grace to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.

      Remember, religion fhould he confidered by you as your vocation; your bufinefs, the moft important bufinefs you have to attend to. And if you expect to thrive and profper in this bufinefs, you muft mind it, you muft attend to it, or as the apoftle elfewhere expreffes it, be diligent in bufinefs, fervent in fpirit, ferving the Lord. If many chriftians attended to their worldly bufinefs in that poor cold heartlefs manner in which they attend to religion, would they profper, would they go forward in the world? No; but they would foon come to poverty and ruin. And what is faid of Chriftian profeffors who inftead of going forward in the ways and things of God and religion, infead of holding on their way, and enduring to

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the end, draw back? Is it not faid, that they draw back unto perdition? The righteous it is faid, fhall hold on his way; but if we do not hold on our way, what have we to do with the privileges or promifes of the righteous? The privileges and promifes of God's people are all defign'd to encourage and ftrength then them in duty, not to make them eafy in the neglect of it. Too many evidently confider religion as an occafional thing, rather than as their proper ftated bufinefs, and no wonder therefore they make no greater progrefs in it, and derive no more advantage or pleafure from it. But let us remember, my friends, that religion is our bufinefs, our vocation, and that whatever others do, it is incumbent upon us to ferve the Lord.

      Religion is the vocation wherewith we are called. We are called by the word, the minifters, the grace and fpirit of God; called to be faints, called with this vocation, this high calling, called according to God's purpofe. Called to ferve and honor God here, to fhine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life; and called to ferve God, and enjoy his prefence and favor in heaven for ever. Think then my fellow chriftians when you are tempted to act an unfruitable part, that you are called to be faints, called to be chriftians, and that it is therefore in every view highly unbecoming in you, in any refpect to neglect or be

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indifferent about that grand bufinefs to which you are called. Your language when tempted to fin, fhould be that of Jofeph; - How fhall I do this great evil and fin againft God? I, that have been called by his grace, called out of darknefs into marvellous light, out of bondage into the glorious liberty of the children of God; called from death to life, from the fervice of fin to the fervice of God; called to run the race fet before me, and to prefs towards the mark for the prize of my high calling in Chrift Jefus: I cannot, I dare not do it.

      If profeffing chriftians would indeed be the hope and joy and crown of their minifters, it fhould be their concern and earneft defire in the ftrength of divine grace to walk worthy of that high vocation wherewith they are called.

      As there is a propriety of behavior fuited to perfons of every other rank and character, fo there moft certainly is a peculiar propriety of behaviour fuited to thofe who fuftain the chriftian profeffion and character. A mechanic is not expected to behave in every refpect as a fuperior tradefman, nor a tradefman to emulate the appearance and ftate of a nobleman. There is a certain line of conduct, the obfervation of which, according to our different ftations, tends to exalt our refpective characters. In other words, there is a certain kind of behaviour which may be confidered as worthy the vocation wherewith we are called.

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And this, this my friends, if what the minifters of Chrift earneftly wifh you to attend to with refpect to that vocation, that high and holy vocation wherewith you are called. And it is your privilege, your higheft intereft as well as moft incumbent duty fo to do.

      Permit me then to remind you this evening,

      1. Of that conduct which is worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called, with refpect to the duties of the clofet.

      For a chriftian feldom or ever to retire and converfe with God and his own heart, is as great a contradiaion as for a tradefman feldom or ever to be in his fhop, or the merchant in his accompting houfe. Is religion the bufinefs of the Chriftian, and has he no affairs to tranfact with God in fecret? How abfurd the fuppofition! The chief bufinefs of the chriftian is betwixt God and the foul. And this bufinefs cannot be carried on amidft the din of perpetual diffipation and hurry, but requires folitude and calm retirement. It is when a man through defire feparates himfelf, at convenient feafons, from the noife of the world, that he feeketh and intermeddleth with that heavenly wifdom, the merchandize whereof is better than that of filver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. A merchant or tradefman that was never to trouble himfelf about the ftate of his accompts [accounts ?] and bufinefs, might as reafonably expect to profper in

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his worldly affairs, as the chriftian that neglects the duties of the clofet expect to profper in the affairs of his foul and religion. And would the merchant or tradefman that acted in fuch a manner be confidered as walking worthy of the vocation wherewith he was called? Certainly he would not; nor can the chriftian be confidered as walking worthy of his vocation; who neglects the important and delightful duties of the clofet. Let me then my dear friends earneftly recommend it to you to be much alone, to be inftant in prayer, to pray without ceafing, that is morning and evening, like the morning and evening facrifice under the law, to read the word of God, to meditate upon it, to fearch and try your own deceitful hearts by it, and to beg of God to fearch and try them. Humble yourfelves daily before him, confefs your fins to him, plead the promifes of his love, the blood and righteoufnefs of your dear Redeemer, your elder brother, wreftle with him, pour out your hearts before him; in a word, draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Declenfions in religion generally begin at the clofet door: nor can any thing be more unworthy of the chriftian profeffion and character than a neglect of the duties of retirement. A prayerlefs chriftian is as great a contradiction as a breathing ftatue. Were we more in the mount of communion with God, our faces would fhine, our tempers,
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our lives would fhine more than they do, and it would be evident to all around us that we had been with Jefus and learned of him. It is certainly owing very much to the neglect of the fecret duties of the clofet, that there is no more of the power and pleafure of the divine life experienced by profeffing chriftians. If profeffors were but as conftant and earneft in their clofets, as they are in their purfuits of the world, O what bright illuftrious characters would they be, and how would they glorioully adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour!

      2. Let us confider the behaviour that is fuited to the chriftian character in the family.

      Are we heads of families, furely then we cannot walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, if we do not command our houfeholds after us to keep tbe way of the Lord. Is it fuitable to the character of chriftian families to be like heathen families that call not upon God's name, and upon whom the Lord hath declared he will pour out his fury? And yet are there not many fuch families amongft chriftian profeffors? But furely this is not walking worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, but greatly difhonoring our chriftian character. The language of the chriftian fhould be, not only, as for me, but alfo, and my houfe, my children, my fervants, my domefticks of every rank, we will ferve the Lord: we will

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daily call upon his name together, read his word, and as a family feek his bleffing. And fuch families, for the moft part, how happy are they! They are nurferies for the church of God, they are nurferies for heaven. Or, if profeffing chriftians are only fervants in the families to which they belong, there is a meek, humble, diligent conduct and behaviour incumbent upon them, by which their chriftian characters may be greatly adorned.

      3. Let us confider the conduct that is ornamental to the chriftian character, in the church of God.

      And here we may very naturally confider the conduct of profeffing chriftians with refpect to their minifter, and with refpect to one another.

      It is undoubtedly the duty of Chriftians to love all the faithful minifters of Chrift without exception, but particularly thofe who may be fet over them in the Lord. They are fet over you by your own defire and requeft, and fhould therefore be highly efteemed in love by you, for their work's fake. And this fincere cordial love to them will lay an effectual foundation for the difcharge of all the other duties you owe them. Such as, for inftance, to pray for them; to pray earneftly and affectionately that the Lord would affift, ftrengthen and blefs them, that his grace may be fufficient for them, and that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified as miniftered by them. When a

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people do not thus pray for their minifter, what love can they have for him as a minifter, or how can they expect a bleffing from the word difpenfed by him? Brethren, fays the apoftle, pray for us. As though he had faid, whatever you forget concerning us, do not forget to pray for us. For my own part I can truly fay I efteem it one of the moft valuable expreffions of the love of a fellow member, to pray for me. Your minifters need your prayers, they defire your prayers, and to deny or withold from them this privilege is unkind and, cruel, nor can thofe who do fo be faid to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called. You fhould alfo know thofe that labor amongft you. Their perfons you cannot but, know, but more than this is intended. You fhould know them under their various afflictions and trials, affectionately fympathifing with them, and bearing their burdens for them. And in enumerating the duties of a people to their minifter, I cannot avoid mentioning, your doing what you can, as you have ever been abundantly ready to do, to provide for him honorably and comfortably. A minifter may wave this right to an honorable fupport where the people have not an ability adequate to it, or if providence hath otherwife provided for him, he may devote a part or the whole of his income as a minifter to the purpofes of benevolence and hofpitality; but a people can never be
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excufed from the faithful difcharge of this duty, according to their ability, fince it is GOD himfelf, and not man that hath ORDAINED that they which preach the gofpel fhould live of the gofpel. It is alfo the duty of chriftians to fubmit themfelves to thofe that have the rule over them in the Lord. See Hebrews xiii. 17. Obey them that have the rule over you, and fubmit yourfelves, for they watch for your fouls as thofe that muft give an account. Though the minifters of Chrift are by no means to have dominion over the faith or confciences of their people, yet they certainly ought to have the rule over them in the Lord; and whilft they prefide in the difcipline of the houfe of God in a manner agreeable to his word, it is the duty of the people to fubmit to them. And finally, it is the duty of profeffing chriftians to attend upon the miniftration of the word and ordinances by their minifter. Have they voluntarily called him to preach the word to them, and is it therefore his duty at the appointed feafons to do it? Surely then it muft be their duty, if able to attend, to be prefent to hear the word preached by him. Is it his duty to inftruct them; it muft then be their duty to be inftructed by him. And fo with refpect to all the duties incumbent upon a minifter, they fuppofe and imply reciprocal correfponding duties incumbent upon the people. A chriftian profeffor that walks in this refpect worthy of his
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chriftian vocation, will be regular, conftant and ferious, in his attendance upon the means of grace in the fociety to which he may have particularly given himfelf up according to the will of God, and as he defires to be himfelf ftrengthened, fo will be endeavor to ftrengthen the heart and hands of his minifter in the work to which he is called. Upon the whole, then does a chriftian walk worthy of his vocation with refpect to his minifter, when he efteems him highly in love for his work's fake, and that love expreffes itfelf in fuch ways and methods as prove it to be genuine and fincere. And this love I may obferve will cover a multitude of imperfections. Minifters are men of like paffions with others; and as it is their duty to bear with the weak and the froward amongft their people, fo fhould the people be ready, if need be, to bear with them. Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father.

      With refpect to the behavior of chriftian profeffors in the church one to another, whether they are officers, deacons in the church, or only private members, they have particular directions given them for their conduct in the word of God, to which it is happy both for themfelves and thofe connected with them, when they are enabled to attend. In the general, it is the duty of fellow members to love one another, to bear one another's burdens, to put away all clamor and bitternefs,

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and wrath, and anger, and evil-fpeaking, with all malice, and to be kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Chrift['s] fake hath forgiven them, to prefer one another in love, and to provoke one another unto love and good works. In a word, to be followers of God as dear children, and to walk in love as Chrift alfo hath loved them and given himfelf for them; with all lowlinefs and meeknefs, as the apoftle expreffes it, Ephesians iv. 2, 3, with long-fuffering, forbearing one another in love, and endeavoring to keep the unity of the fpirit in the bond of peace: till they all come, fee ver. 13, in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the meafure of the ftature of the fulnefs of Chrift; from whom, as it follows, ver. 16, the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint fupplieth, according to the effectual working in the meafure of every part, maketh increafe of the body, unto the edifying of itfelf in love. Bleffed are thofe fervants, it may be truly faid, whom their Lord when he cometh fhall find fo doing! Bleffed are thofe fervants, who whether in a private or public ftation in the houfe of God, fhall be found thus walking in the church militant; worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called, for furely an abundant entrance fhall be miniftered
unto them into the church triumphant. But it will be proper to confider,

      4. The behavior that is fuitable to the chriftian character, in the world.

      Too many when they are in the world, entirely forget that they are Chrillians, or at leaft that they profefs to be fo. But can it be walking worthy of our vocation as chriftians, to be unjuft, fraudulent, oppreffive, profane, vain and impious? To run into all the gayeties and amufements of a difipated age? No, Sirs, we are to remember that if we are chriftians indeed we are not of the world, but called out of it, and fhould take care therefore to keep ourfelves from being fpotted and defiled by it, and that we be not conformed to it in any of its finful practices and ways. There are fome worldly men, who with refpect to their behavior in the things of the world might well put to the blufh many profeffed chriftians. O my friends, let me entreat you never to forget your chriftian character and profeffion. We do not expect you to be always alike grave, every thing is beautiful in its feafon; we do not expect you to be always reading, or always praying, or always hearing the word of God; but we do expect you, and we moft tenderly intreat and befeech you always to remember you are chriftians. When you mix with company, faid Plato to his difciples, to preferve yourfelves

from acting below the dignity of your characters as philofophers, let each one often repeat to himfelf, "I am a philofopher." And with how much greater propriety fhould the chriftian be ever ready to fay to himfelf, "I am a Chriftian." What greater, what nobler, what more honorable and important character can there be? "It is the higheft ftyle of man." And yet alas, how often is it debafed and difhonored by its profeffors! Shall it be fo by you my friends of this community? I hope, I truft it will not, but that your light will fo fhine before men, that others feeing your good works will be led to glorify your father who is in heaven.

      The external walk and behavior of profeffing chriftians is of the greateft confequence not only to their own comfort, but to the honor and glory of God, and the happinefs of all around them. For though real religion includes a great deal more in it than meer morality, yet there can be no true religion without morality, and it is by our outward moral conduct and behaviour that our religious cbaracters muft be judged of. The world around us cannot fee our hearts, but they can fee our lives. They can fee whether a man be juft and honeft in his dealings, fober and temperate, humble and benevolent, delighting to do good, and to communicate to the utmoft of his power to thofe that need his affiftance; or whether he be covetous,

proud, intemperate, difhoneft. Whether we are good or bad parents, good or bad children, good or bad hufbands or wives, mafters or fervants; in a word, whether in the feveral connections in which we ftand we do more than others, as may be juftly expected from our profeffion and character, or whether, whilft in words we profefs to be the Lord's, in works we deny him. Our fervants and thofe around us can eafily fee whether we worfhip God in our families, or live as others that make no profeffion of religion, without God in the world. It may be eafily feen, and it is often feen and obferved by more than we are aware of, whether we are conftant and fteady in our attendance on the means of grace, and appear to love the habitation of God's houfe and the place where his honor dwelleth, embracing with pleafure every opportunity that is in our power for that purpofe; or whether we appear to flight the means of grace and to make light of them. Whether we appear to love one another, and to provoke one another unto love and good works, or to be full of fecret envyings, as alas is too often the cafe, and jealoufies one againft another. Whether, like Diotrephes, each one is ftriving for the pre-eminence, or in honor ready to prefer one the other. A fociety of profeffing chriftians really converted to God, and acting in character, filling up the duties of their refpective ftations, walking
worthy of their high vocation, and by their behavior in the clofet, in the family, in the church, and in the world, adorning the doctrine of God their Savior in all things, united firmly together in love to Chrift and love to one another, ftriving together for the faith and practice of the gofpel, bearing one another's burdens, fympathifing with one another under their various afflictions aud fo fulfilling the law of Chrift, praying with and for one another, and being ready to do all in their power to promote one another's comfort and edification: how venerable, how pleafing a fight! Who can help exclaiming with Balaam, when he beheld Ifrael abiding in their tents according to their tribes, How goodly are thy tents O Jacob, and thy tabernacles O Ifrael! I have no greater joy fays the good old apoftle John, than to fee my children walk in the truth. And now we live, fays Paul, if ye ftand faft in the Lord. And, in his epiftle to the Philippians, ch. 4, ver. 1. Therefore my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, fo ftand faft in the Lord, dearly beloved. And in the words of our text, For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the prefence of our Lord Jefus Chrift at his coming? Which leads us to confider as was propofed in the

      II. Place. The folemn feafon in which fuch a profeffing people as has been defcribed, fhall be eminently

the hope and joy and crown of their minifters. In the prefence of the Lord Jefus Chrift at his coming.

      The great event to which true Chrifians have conftant refpect, and in the habitual view of which they defire to live, is the coming of Chrift; his fecond coming, his coming to judge the world in righteoufnefs, to be admired in his faints and glorified in all them that believe. Our converfation, or citizenfhip as it might be rendered, Phil. iii. 20, is in heaven, from whence alfo we look for the Savior Jefus Chrift, who fhall change our vile body and fafhion it like his own glorious body. We muft all ftand before the judgment-feat of Chrift: Minifters and people, high and low, rich and poor without diftinction. And at this important period, when the trumpet fhall found, the Judge defcend, and the dead be raifed; when he who once appeared in a ftate of outward meannefs and infamy, fhall come to judge the world in all the pomp of celeftial majefty and glory: How awful will the meeting be around his bar, of thofe myriads of myriads that fhall be affembled there! There my dear friends, you muft meet with your former minifters who have gone in and out before you, watched over you, and broke the bread of life to you: There you muft meet with him that now addreffes you, and there, he expects to meet with you. But what fort of a meeting will it be?

Will it be a joyful or a forrowful one? Will your minifters meet you there with joy, or grief? Will they meet you there on the right-hand of the judge, or on the left? Will they meet you there, amongft thofe to whom it fhall be faid, Come ye bleffed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world! Or will they behold any of you amongft thofe unhappy wretches to whom it fhall be faid, Depart from me, I know ye not, ye workers of iniquity! Depart from me ye curfed, into everlafting burnings prepared for the devil and his angels?

      What is our hope in the prefence of the Lord Jefus Chrift at this his awful final coming, but that we fhall meet you on the right-hand of the Judge, amongft thofe that fhall be owned and acknowledged by him as his faithful fervants? We hope that you will then not be found wanting, but found in him who is the life and falvation of thofe that truft in him, found vitally united to him, favingly interefted in him. What is our hope? What is the great object of it: are not even ye? Yes, ye are our hope: our hope centers in you, and your everlasting falvation can alone fulfil it.

      And what is our joy? What is our joy now: are not even ye? Yes, as far as you appear to be real chriftians, truly converted to God, growing in grace, walking worthy of your high vocation, adorning your chriftian profeffion, and abounding

in the fruits of righteoufnefs, ye are our glory and joy, And will ye not be our joy in the day of the Lord Jefus? Shall we not then meet you, with tranfports of delight that cannot be defcribed! O who can conceive the joy that fhall arife in the hearts of faithful minifters, when they fhall meet thofe to whom they miniftered the word of life, and for whom they travailed in birth to fee Chrift formed in them; when they fhall meet them at the right-hand of the Judge, partaking of his blifsful fmiles, and welcomed into his everlafting joy!

      What, what is this but the crown of their rejoicing; that which completes their joy, exalts it to its noon-tide point, and gives the rivet of eternity! Next to their own falvation, what can rejoice them more, than to be the happy witneffes of the falvation of thofe, who by their inftrumentality were brought to the knowledge and enjoyment. of fuch an immenfe privilege.

      But fhould there be any of you then found at the left hand, what agonies will rend your guilty fouls, and where, oh where will you fly, to hide your confufion or efcape your inevitable doom? I can only add, Brethren, my heart's defire, and fervent unfeigned prayer to God for every one of you, is that you may be faved; and be my hope, and joy, and crown of rejoicing, as well as of other minifters who have heretofore difpenfed the word of life unto you, in the prefence of the Lord Jefus Chrift at his coming!


[From SBTS Archiives, Adam Winters, Archivist. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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