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Full text of "Fidelity in Christian ministers. A sermon, delivered, November 22, 1809, at the ordination of ... Samuel Ripley to the care of the church and congregation in Waltham .."

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FORM NO. 609; 6,12.33: S7SM. 



FideUttj in Christian Ministers. 
















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REV. ii. 10. 

Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a 

croxvn of life. 

It is sometimes requisite to illustrate the 
simplest commands, and to urge the plainest duties. 
All men of virtue acknowledge that fidelity is ne- 
cessary in civil and religious transactions : what we 
want is to feel its importance. The practice of duty 
will follow just and impressive views of it. 

A faithful spirit is an essential qualification for 
office : and what better commendation can we give 
a man, than to say, he is faithful in the dischai'ge of 
it ? Fidelity extends its obligations to all classes of 
men ; and whoever is destitute of this assemblage 
of virtues, on him Tekel must be written. It di- 
rects great talents to the best ends, and renders small 
ones useful. It adds lustre to every other accom- 
plishment, and by engaging the heart, and embracing 
the power of truth, reason, and religion, gives the 
finishing stroke to every duty, and perfects the char- 


The inspired writers evidently considered fidelity 
as the glory of the best men : hence their repeated 
testimonies to the fliidifulness of the most eminent 
characters in the Je^vish and Cliristian church. St. 
Paul affirms concerning Jesus Christ and God him- 
self, that they are faithful.* This superior excel- 
lence of character is enjoined in our text on christian 
ministers and churches, and they are encouraged to 
strive for the attainment of it by the promise of an 
infinite reward. 

Obligations attach to stations and offices propor- 
tionate to the importance of them. The ministers 
of Christ hold an office highly interesting and re- 
sponsible ; they are therefore under the greatest ob- 
ligations to fidelity in the performance of their duty. 

Our text was addressed to the angel, that is, the 
minister of the church in Smyrna, by Jesus Christ, the 
head of the church, who is styled " the first and the 
last, which was dead and is alive." Be thou faith- 
ful unto death, and I tvill give thee a crown of life. 

The vjord faithful, when applied to men, has two 
general senses in the scriptures. One is believing 
divine testimony in opposition to unbelief : the other 
is uprightness, zeal, and courage in the discharge of 
incumbent duty in opposition to dishonesty, negli- 
gence, and cowardice. This latter appears to be 
the proper sense of the word in our text, with the 
addition of perseverance. The meaning may ex- 

* 1 Cor. i. 9. Hcb. ii. 17. iii. 2. 

tend to the sacrificing of life in the cause of Christ, 
should exigencies require it. 

By the crown of life is meant the reward of the 
faithful in heaven. This reward is evidently prom- 
ised to animate pastors and churches in keeping the 
preceding charge. 

I shall attempt to delineate the character of a faith- 
ful minister of Christ, consider the encouragement 
to fidelit}', and apply the subject. 

It is unnecessaiy to mention belief in the being 
and perfections of God, in divine revelation, and in 
the record which God has given of his Son. Faith 
in these doctrines is presupposed : for \Aw \vould 
ever engage in preaching the cliiistian religion, if 
he were an infidel ? Nor is it needful to d^vell on 
ability to teach : this is taken for granted. Re- 
spectable talents, both natural and acquired, are ne- 
cessary to the defence of the gosp^ -1, and the success- 
ful recommendation of our holy religion. The more 
knowledge and literature a clergyman possesses, be- 
ing wise and faithful, the greater are his powers and 
his prospect of usefulness. The want of general in- 
formation, especially in theological and classical 
learning, paralises the exertions of ministers, and 
confines their usefulness to narrow limits. 

But the christian minister, to be faithful, must 
possess a firm and operative belief in God, in Jesus 
Christ, and in the Bible ; a faith that realizes 

spiritual things and produces cordial obedience to 
the gospel ; that purifies the heart, overcomes the 
world, and works by love to God and man. This 
faith represents God ever present, paints in lively 
colours before the mind the passion of Christ, con- 
tinually impresses his precepts, prompts to an imita- 
tion of his example, and points to the words truth, 
grace, holiness, throughout the sacred volume. By 
such a faith, wavering and formality are excluded, 
the mind is impressed, the heart is warmed, and all 
the moral faculties are quickened. " We also be- 
lieve, and therefore speak," said an apostle. Similar 
belief will awaken in him similar affections and 

He must be attentive to maintain religion in his 
own heart and life. His personal interest in religion 
is not less, than that of his hearers. If he neglect 
his own vineyard, it is more than probable he is in- 
attentive to that of his Lord. If he keep not his 
own heart with all diligence, it may be presumed he 
is careless of the souls of his flock. Perhaps, this is 
a criterion by which he may prove himself. The 
disposition and example of Christ should be so con- 
tinually exhibited by him, that his life may be a 
series of virtuous instruction, and an impressive tes- 
timony to the truth and importance of the religion 
which he preaches. In imitation of St. Paul, he 
should be able, without the blush of guilt, to pro- 
pose himself an example to his hearers.* 

* Phil. ill. 17. 

He must be sincere hi his hitentions and desires 
respecting his office and its duties. Sincerity is 
pleasing to God, who looks on the heart ; but hy- 
pocrisy is abomination in his sight. Being unfeign- 
ed in his disposition, his united powers will be en- 
gaged to accomplish the benevolent purposes of his 
ministry, to the exclusion of sinister views and inor- 
dinate attachment to worldly gain. The goodness 
of his employment will occupy his attention more, 
than its emolument. In this frame of mind, pro- 
fessional duties will be preferred to seculai' business, 
and even to innocent pleasures, should they come in 

He must give himself to reading, meditation^ 
prayer, and the writijig of sermons. On these 
subjects he should order his affairs with discretion. 
Method and profit are closely connected. In the 
writings of the learned and pious ai'e treasures of 
knowledge ; but the sacred volume especially should 
be consulted. Ignorance of the Bible, of its general 
design, principal doctrines, connexion, and the evi- 
dences of its divine origin and character, in him is 

He should meditate both for the purposes of de- 
votion and the investigation of truth, and acquire a 
habit of mental communion with God. The cler- 
gyman, who communes not with his God unseen by 
the world, who thinks not for himself, and who ne- 
glects to examine and prove doctrines and opinions, 
is not a little in fault. 


He should be eminently a man of prayer. His 
should be " the effectual fervent prayer of the right- 
eous which availeth much." The happy effect of 
devotion on himself will be productive of benefit to 
all around him. 

These exercises very properly precede and ac- 
company prepai-ation for the pulpit. Whatever tal- 
ents he may possess, and how powerful soever his 
eloquence, let no confidence in himself embolden 
him to neglect the writing of sermons. 

He must preach the word of God without corrupt- 
ing it. The word may be corrupted by adding to 
it the opinions of men, by lessening its obligations, 
and by misrepresenting its genuine spirit. On all 
hands it is agreed, that the scriptures are a perfect 
rule of faith and practice, and " are able to make 
wise unto salvation through faith in Christ." But 
it is difficult, if not impossible, for christians to unite 
in the precise meaning of some passages of the holy 

I might express the articles of my faith ; but my 
belief, in reason and conscience, can be no farther 
binding on a brother, than he is convinced of its 
agreement with the \vord of God ; that being a per- 
fect standard for both, each one is at liberty, and 
ought to seai'ch and understand for himself, in the 
diligent use of the best helps in his power. 

A vai'iety of religious opinions have obtained in 
the world. Great and good men differ in sentiments 


on some points in theology. But who is qualified or 
authorized to decide between them ? We ai'e di- 
rected, by undisputed authority, neither to give nor 
accept tlie appellation of rabbi, or master ; and this 
injunction is inconsistent with regulating our feith 
by the opinions of others. Far be it from me to 
impose religious creeds on my brethi'en ; or to be 
indifferent about the one I admit for myself. Let 
every man be persuaded in his own mind ; and let me 
never deny to others the precious privilege, liberty 
of conscience, which I would not myself surrender. 
But let me embrace in the arms of my charity ail 
persons, W'ho so believe the Bible as to fear God and 
keep his commandments, and who so believe in 
Jesus Christ as to obey his precepts, and exhibit his 
moral likeness. A great deal has been said con- 
cerning essential doctrines in religion. That there are 
such doctrines is readily granted ; nor would I insin- 
uate any thing to the contrary. But some of the 
points, which are esteemed essential by one, may 
not be so estimated by another. I would therefore 
maintain, that one christian has no right to impose 
his list of essentials on another, and to ^vithhold 
charity from him, if he refuse in part that list ; and 
especially if the pari rejected be disputed among 
enlightened christians. By essential must be meant 
something without ^\hich we cannot be morally 
renovated and finally admitted to hea\'en. It is, 
doubtless, essential to us, Avho ai'C blest with the 

gospel, that we believe in Jesus Christ, in his medi- 



atorial chaiacter, aiid that we believe unto practical 
righteousness and redemption from iniquity. But 
can it be essential that we entertain precisely the 
same ideas of Christ, and of the manner in which 
his benefits are derived to us ? We must be bom 
again. There can be no doubt whether the change 
here intended be essential to admission into the 
kingdom of God. But will any man pretend, that it 
is also essential for us to imbibe exactly the same 
notions of the mode of the Spirit's operation in 
effecting regeneration ? It is essential, as all chris- 
tians, I presume, will agree, that a man regulate his 
thoughts and practice according to his belief of the 
truth ; otherwise he would not be honest before God, 
and therefore not a good man. But it is, perhaps, 
in the nature of things, as impossible for men to 
think alike, as to wear the same countenance. All 
men must have generally the same leading features ; 
those features being essential to a proper human 
face : but there is an infinite variety of physiog- 
nomy. It may be the will of God, that there should 
be the same necessity for moral as natural variety, 
and that vast benefit should thence result to man- 
kind. Unity with vai'iety strongly marks the works 
of God. Is it not, then, uncharitable in us, to cen- 
sure those as unchristian, who cannot admit into 
their creed all that we deem essential, when they are 
not inferior to us in advantages and inducements for 
knowing the scriptures, and following their light ? 


But however christians may differ in defining es- 
sentials, we must all agree in this, that charity is 
essential ; for without charity we are nothing. 

It is not a little wonderful that, at the present day, 
a disposition appears, to overlook the opinions of 
the fathers, who succeeded the apostles, and the dis- 
coveries of modem times, and to fix on the senti- 
ments of the first reformers from the midnight dark- 
ness which had long enveloped the church. Those 
reformers were illustrious characters : but is it rea- 
sonable to suppose, that Luther, Melancthon, and 
Calvin were able at once clearly to distinguish truth 
from error in all points ? They accomplished great 
things : but is it not obvious they could only begin 
the reformation and the development of truth, 
which had been long concealed or perverted ? To 
suppose that they completed the whole work of 
reformation from error and abuse in Christianity, and 
left nothing for successors, might be thought almost 
as absurd, as to suppose, there could be no improve- 
ment made in the art of printing, the mariner's com- 
pass, or the mechanism of a clock, after the first 

Nothing short of inspiration can entitle Luther, 
Calvin, or any other man, to implicit confidence in 
liis opinions ; and if men, at this day, are equally 
learned and pious as they were, and ai'e favoured 
with equal advantages for acquiring knowledge, 
their opinions are entitled to the same degree of re- 


spect and confidence. Shall we disregard tlie re- 
searches and eUicidations of nearly three centuries, 
and prefer opinions just emerging* from an ocean of 
error ? There is one consideration that must for- 
ever be a powerful argument in favour of the acqui- 
sitions of modern divines, viz. they have sought for 
truth, imfettered by bigotry, and unawed by civil 
and ecclesiastical tyranny. 

In the preceding observations are implied reasons 
of weight in my mind for not specifying doctrines 
which to me ai'e essential. I shall therefore only 
say in general, that a christian minister must preach 
" Christ and him crucified." This is the only foun- 
dation on which rests both his office and the hope of 
salvation. " Other foundation can no man lay ;" 
and it would be highly inconsistent and criminal in 
him, to teach piet}', morality, and religion, as a civil 
officer, separate from the peculiar doctrines and du- 
ties of the gospel. He must search the scriptures 
for the truth as it is in Jesus, and invariably preach 
it in exclusion of human systems and servile depen- 
dence on the sentiments of fallible men. 

He must be diligent. His work is great and va- 
rious. Demands for exertion ai^e constant and 
pressing ; — the time is short ; — life is precai'ious ; — 
opportunities swiftly pass away ; — and the final judg- 
ment is rapidly approaching ! Surely he ought to 
redeem the time, and to study, as one observes, 
" unto painfulness and labour unto fatigue." Dili- 


gence will enable him to increase in kno\vledge and 
excel in his profession ; but indolence will be a 
blot on his character and a blast on his labours. 

He should be acquainted with the state of his 
Jiock. In this case, he will be able to administer to 
every one his portion, as his character and capacity 
may require, and to apply seasonable remedies to 
existing evils. But ignorant of the wants of his 
flock, they may be ill fed, scattered, and lost. 

He must be impartial. Jesus Christ is not a re- 
specter of persons ; and he is the pattern for his 
ministers. The spiritual interests of the poor are as 
precious, as those of the rich. Christianity is as 
necessary in the parlours of wealth, as in the cot- 
tages of poverty. He will therefore be attentive to 
people of every condition, and act under the influ- 
ence of that wisdom, " which is without partiality." 

He must be affectionate. It is the command of 
Christ, that we love one another as he hath loved 
us. Affection like this will rejoice the hearts of his 
people, and alleviate his own burdens. What ten- 
der solicitude Ave feel for those whom VvC cordially 
love ! and what hardships we cheerfully endure for 
their benefit ! Not otherwise the aflfectionate minis- 
ter labours and suffers for the comfort and salvation 
of his charge. 

He must be zealous for the truth and its success. 
No fit opportunity to vindicate the truth and con- 


vince unbelievers should be neglected. But his zeal 
should always be tempered by knowledge and regu- 
lated by wisdom and prudence. 

He must be patient. " The servant of the Lord 
must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to 
teach, patient, in meekness instructing them that 
oppose themselves." Opposition may be expected ; . 
but let him possess his soul in patience. 

He must be courageous. The pastor and church 
at Smyrna were advertised of approaching tribula- 
tion, and exhorted to " fear none of those things, 
which they should suffer." In the christian warfare 
courage and fortitude are requisite ; and in these 
virtues the pastor should be a pattern for his flock. 
There is a heroism in religion, which he should 
carefully cultivate, would he encounter difficulties 
with success, and meet dangers without dismay. 
He may never be exposed to the stake or the scaf- 
fold, but he should be at least a mailyr in resolution. 

He must be prudent. Very much is implied in 
this word. A treatise might be pertinently written 
on it ; but a paragi^aph must suffice. Prudence ap- 
pertains both to the head and the heart. It means 
ordering one's affairs wisely, and acting at all 
times with discretion. " The prudent man looketh 
well vo his going." If this maxim of the wise man 
were constantly reduced to practice, the benefit 
would be above estimation ; but imprudence attaches 
to it evils beyond caicuiaiion. 


I am now to consider the encouragement to fidel- 
ity. " I will give tliee a cro^vn of life." Distin- 
guished honours are meant by a crown, ^vhen seri- 
ously given. A crown of life gives the ideas of 
superior honour and enjoyment without end. In 
the phrase there is, most probably, an allusion to the 
crown of sovereign princes, expressive of their au- 
thority ; or to the crown of gai'lands frequently 
given to conquerors in battles and games. Those 
crowns were fading and perishable ; but that prom- 
ised in the text is a cro^\ii of life which cannot fade. 
By the expression we are to understand the glories 
and joys of heaven. This ineffable blessedness is 
promised to all the faithful ministers and followers 
of Christ. 

I will not take your time, my hearers, by attempt- 
ing a particular description of the felicity of heaven. 
By giving scope to your imagination, you may form 
correct, though faint, ideas of it. You may feel the 
force and anticipate the happiness of that final plau- 
dit, " Well done, good and faithful servants, enter 
ye into the joys of your Lord." I will close this 
head in the words of Archbishop Tillotson, vol. x. 
serm. 184, p. 40. " That which is imperfect must 
be done away ; onv souls must be raised to a greater 
perfection, and our understanding filled with a 
stronger and steadier light, before we can be fit to 
handle such a subject, according to the worth and 
dignity of it. We must first haA e been in heaven, 
and possessed of the felicity and glory which is there 


to be enjoyed, before we can think or talk of it, in 
any measure as it deserves." 

;My brethren in the ministry v.i\\ give me leave to 
say, zve are deeply interested in the subject of dis- 
course. The dispensation of the gospel is com- 
mitted to us, and nothing can excuse unfaithfulness. 
How responsible and momentous our office ! Can 
we be idle and slothful servants ? The command 
to be faithful is peremptor}% and the encQuragement 
infinite ! A just view of our office is enough to 
awaken our ^^^hole attention, and arouse all our ener- 
gies. On this subject let me adduce a few lines 
from the celebrated Massillon. " He, who observes, 
without concern, the irregularities of his flock ; who 
is content with not giving his approbation to the 
vices he perceives ; who does not lament the loss of 
the souls entrusted to him : — ^a pastor of this char- 
acter is dead to the high sense of his calling. Zeal 
for the salvation of men, is, then, the first duty of a 
christian minister : this is the principle which 
should inspire him with resolution, and supply him 
with comfort, in the discharge of the most laborious 
duties ; which should be, as it were, the soul, and 
the chief consolation, of his ministr}^" 

The manner, as well, as the matter of our duty, 
should be regarded. Prudence should guaid us 
against " giving offence in any thing, that the min- 
istry be not blamed." To comply with the sense 
of tliis passage, we ought to be united in the great 


design of our office, and to cherish those disposi- 
tions, which correspond with our sacred relation to 
each other. Charity and candour should be con- 
spicuous traits in our character. We may not be 
united in all the articles of our faith ; but we may 
be, nevertheless, in clii-istian charity. 

Is it desirable, brethren, that christians should be 
entirely uniform in religious sentiments ? Would ii: 
be propitious to the cause of truth and religion ? 
We find that the greatest uniformity in religious 
opinions, that has been known since the establish- 
ment of Christianity, existed under the papal hierar- 
chy ; when free investigation was deemed heretical, 
and independent inquirers after truth were excom- 
municated, exiled, or put to death. And it is wor- 
thy of remark, that, during that period of ecclesi- 
astical domination, arose the proudest corruptions and 
vilest absurdities that ever deformed Christianity 
and polluted the church. And should similar uni- 
formity become prevalent even in this enlightened 
country, would not similar consequences follow ? 
Like causes will produce like effects so long as the 
nature of men and things shall continue unchanged. 
Difference in opinion is proper occasion for christian 
charity. Besides, collision of sentiments, under the 
influence of candour, strengthens the mental powers 
and elicits truth, as the smitten flint emits fire. Were 
christians perfectly agi-eed, would not a mental tor- 
por ensue and give birth to errors, as stagnant wa- 
ters become putrid ? 



It merits our attention, that in all the accounts, 
which our Lord has given of the final judgment, not 
a word is to be found on particular articles of faith 
or sects in religion ; but the whole stress is laid on 
the fruits of faith and love. Here is implied an 
irresistible argument in favour of a catholic and 
charitable spirit, and against bigotry and censorious- 
ness. Brethren, let us be kind and candid one to- 
wards another, and faithful to our trust. " Blessed 
is that servant, whom his Lord, when he cometh, 
shall find so doing." 

My dear son, you perceive the application of my 
discourse to yourself. You aie soon to make the 
vows and receive the charge of a christicUi minister. 
The charge and promise in the text are to you. To 
. obey the injunction is your indispensable duty ; and, 
then, to realize the promise will be your certain re- 
compense. If the obligation and encouragement 
can receive additional weight in your mind from 
pai-ental affection, that addition is now made. It 
would occasion needless trouble to this assembly, 
were I to express the fervency of my desires, that 
you may be faithful and successful in the ministry. 
I am not anxious about the reward ; it is graciously 
attached to fidelity. 

A parent will notice with pious sensibility many 
occurences relative to his children, which to others 
are of no importance. From your earliest infancy 
you were dedicated to the altar. Divine influence, I 


trust, has inclined your heart ; divine providence has 
favoured our prayers ; and God is this day accept- 
ing our vows and devotions. O, remember your 
vows, and pay them ; consider your profession and 
adorn it ; appreciate your office and render it a bles- 

Trials you may expect to meet. The cross must 
not only be \vorn, as a badge, but borne, as the daily 
task of a christian. But " God will be with you, 
while you ai'e with him." " He cannot want hon- 
our and patronage, who seeks the honour of his Ma- 
ker," says bishop Hall. 

Search the scriptures ^vith diligence and prayer. 
From this fountain fiu'nish yourself and feed your 
flock. " Be circumspect, my son, in all things that 
thou doest, and be wise in all thy conversation."* 
*' Whatsoever thou takest in hand, remember the 
end, and thou shalt never do amiss, "f In prudence, 
as in other virtues, you have an excellent example in 
the life of your late worthy predecessor. Dr. Gushing. 
The good order and harmony, which ha^^e long sub- 
sisted in this place, evince his superiority in some 
distinguishing traits of the sacerdotal character. 
You will be attentive to his bereaved widow and fam- 
ily. By the world in general, when kindness is most 
needed, it is often cruelly withheld. A family de- 
prived at once of their head and ordinary means of 
support, should never be neglected. The benevo- 

* Tobit iv. 11. t F.ccl. vi. G. 


Icnce of some societies and individuals to the widows 
and orphans of ministers is highly commendable, and 
worthy to be had in everlastirig remembrance. May 
such examples be every where imitated. 

Other than parochial duties will devolve on you. 
Occasions like the present may call you to aid in the 
induction of others to the gospel ministry. Let in- 
teg'j'ity and candour mai^k your conduct. But fideli- 
ty does not require, that in the exercise of your right 
to examine and ordain others, you should refuse ap- 
probation and imposition of hands to all those, whose 
religious creed differs from your own. Whilst you 
adhere inflexibly to the Bible, as you ought, you are 
not to suppose yourself infallible ; nor that your broth- 
er, who believes differently from you, is less engaged 
to understand and practise the truth, than yourself. 
Strenuous endeavours to bring christians precisely 
to one measure tend directly to produce hypocrisy 
and prevarication, or alienation and schism ; and if 
persisted in by the clergy, ^vill eventually press the 
churches to the alternative of ordaining their own 
pastors themselves, or of receiving teachers not of 
their own election. The want of candour and liber- 
ty of conscience will forever be attended with perni- 
cious effects, not only to individuals and churches, 
but to the cause of Christianity. 

" Tlicre is a racan in tilings, its boands are sure ; 
Nor trutii nor justice can extremes endure." 

And now, my son, " I commend you to God, and 
to the word of his grace, which is able to build vou 


up, and to give you an inheritance among all them 
which are sanctified." 

The message, on which we have been meditating, 
apphes to this church and rehgious society. It was 
directed to the minister, and tlirough him to the 
church. As cliristians, you are commanded to be 
faithful : and on the ground of compliance only can 
you apply to yourselves the promise of reward. 

Brethren, let the interesting solemnities of this day 
impress every mind, touch eveiy heart, and give per- 
manence to the most virtuous resolutions. Let me 
congratulate you on this occasion, and rejoice with 
you in your prospects. May " the good will of him 
who dwelt in the bush" render this day auspicious to 
you and your children. 

Circumstances add weight to instruction. The 
present solemnities may therefore make deeper im- 
pressions ; for this day is the anniversary of the or- 
dination of your late revered pastor. Fifty-seven 
years have elapsed since your fathers received an as- 
cention gift of our Lord, and united with him in the 
vows and tears of consecration. In that period, what 
changes have been witnessed ! But instead of the fa- 
thers are the children. You are now actors in a 
scene of the same kind and importance. And is it 
not matter of gratitude, that within a year, and with 
so much unanimity, you are repairing 3'our loss ? 
But neither yourselves, nor your young pastor, ought 
to calculate on such a long continuance of the union 


liow to be consummated. '^ Our fathers, where are 
they ? and the prophets, do they live for ever ?" 
Take heed, brethi-en, how you remember, and how 
you hear. The obhgations of minister and people 
are reciprocal. He must watch for your souls, and 
you must hear the word at his mouth, with a fixed 
eye to final account and infinite consequences. 

You will not only attend on his ministrations, but 
pray for him. This devotional exercise will cement 
your mutual affection, cheer his heart, and prepare 
yourselves to receive the truth. Your reasonable en- 
deavours to preserve peace and order God beholds 
with approbation, and Avill amply reward. But the 
Lord abhors the contentious and deceitful man, and 
*' him that soweth discord among brethren." 

Suffer no practice among you, which tends to bring 
scandal on the church or on the christian name. It 
will be admitted, I believe, in every part of Christen- 
dom, that the vices of the professed friends of Chris- 
tianity have more eftectually injured its cause and 
impeded it progress, than all the opposition of avow- 
ed infidels. Far be it from you to give occasion for 
reproach to the religion of Christ. May you be 
faithful christians and wear forever the croAvii of life ! 

This asssembly is requested to apply the truths 
exhibited. By serious meditation impress them on 
your minds, and ask that divine blessing, which will 
render them subservient to your best interests for ev- 
er. Fidelity is required of every person ; and the 


promise is only to the faithful. Is this your charac- 
ter ? Are you prepared to render an account of your- 
selves ? 

The christian ministry was instituted with a pecu- 
liai' design of promoting the spiritual comfort and sal- 
vation of men. And will any of you, my respected 
hearers, frustrate this gracious design by your unbe- 
lief and impenitence ? The true light is come into 
the world and illumines the path to heaven. Will 
any one prefer darkness to light ? The ministers of 
Christ affectionately seek your highest felicity. And 
■will you refuse to hear, when " we pray you in 
Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God ?" O heai", 
and your souls shall live. — Then, unto you will be 
pronounced, before the assembled world, these trans- 
porting words, " Come, ye blessed of my Father, in- 
herit the kingdom prepared for you from the founda- 
tion of the world." 






Dear Sir, 
HAVING at the request of this church and con- 
gregation and with the approbation of the venerable 
council now convened, consented to take upon your- 
self the obligations and duties of the gospel minis- 
try in this place, you have now, by prayer and the 
laying on of the hands of the presbytery, been sep- 
arated and ordained to that sacred office : To you 
are solemnly committed the pastoral care and over- 
sight in the Lord of this church and people ; and 
we declare you authorized, equally with ourselves, 
to preach the gospel, administer its ordinances, pre- 
side in the house of God, exercise the discipline of 
his church, bless the congregation in his name, and 
assist in the ordination of others. 

Being thus introduced a fellow-labourer with our- 
selves in the vineyaid of our Lord, you will permit 
us to remind you of and apply to you the solemn 
charge which our common Master has addressed to 
all who are thus employed in his service. 



Before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, the elect 
angels and this christian assembly, you are charged 
to take heed to yourself and to all the flock over 
which the Holy Ghost hath made you an overseer, 
that you feed them with knoAvledge and understand- 
ing, declaring to them all the revealed counsel of 
God, keeping back nothing that may be profitable, 
being instant and watchful in embracing every suit- 
able season to reprove, rebuke and exhort, as there 
may be occasion. 

In order to your being suitably furnished for these 
duties, it is required of you that, by persevering 
diligence in reading, meditation and prayer you 
become a scribe well instructed in the things per- 
taining to the kingdom of God, mighty in the scrip- 
tures, and skilful in rightly dividing the word of 

You are strictly cautioned against entangling 
yourself in the affairs of this life, or suffering your 
mind to be cumbered with worldly concerns. You 
must give yourself wholly if possible, to the service 
of Christ and his church, availing yourself of all the 
advantages within your reach, and exerting your 
utmost abilities to shew yourself approved unto 
God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, 
doing thoroughly the work of an evangelist and 
making full proof of your ministry. 

Having imbibed the spirit of the gospel and feel- 
ing upon your owti heart its truth and importance. 


your great concern and study must be to preach it 
with such clearness and perspicuity, and with such 
persuasive force and energy as, if possible, to im- 
press a similar sense of it on the minds of your 

You must also feel it to be incumbent upon you 
to take pains, that your prayers in the public assem- 
bly, in the chambers of sickness, in the houses of 
mourning and on all other occasions, be solemn, 
scriptural, pertinent, sincere, fervent and edifying 
to those whose mouth you may be in presenting 
their addresses to the throne of grace. 

Neither in your visits among your people, nor in 
any part of your social intercourse, may you ever 
forget your Master's business ; but, from house to 
house be constantly watching for opportunities to 
promote it by taking heed that your lips preserve 
knowledge, and that your speech may drop as the 
dew in exhortation, reproof and encouragement, 
according to the character and circumstances of 
those who may be present. 

Nor is it enough that you plainly and faithfully 
teach the doctrines and duties of the gospel ; you 
must recommend them by your daily practice, and 
set your hearers an example of that faith and obe- 
dience which you inculcate upon them. To the 
character of every sincere christian it is essential 
that his conversation be blameless ; but still greater 
circumspection, purity and devotion are justly ex- 


pected in the character of a christian minister. He 
must be an example to the beUevers in word, in 
conversation, in chai-it}', in spirit, in faith, in purity, 
in whatsoever is virtuous and praise worthy. 

In the observance of these things, my young bro- 
ther, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ : 
In vour sincere endeavours to observe them, accom- 
panied with humble, fervent supplication for aid 
from above, divine grace will prove sufficient for thee. 

Whatever your success may be (God grant it 
may be great and eminent, that many, many, through 
your means, may take hold on eternal life ! ) yet, 
should Israel not be gathered, your labour will not 
be in vain : Cleai- of the blood of all men, you will 
save your own soul, and be ultimately received with 
a well done, good and faithful servant. 





THE ceremony of giving the Right Hand of 
Fellowship is, I believe, peculiar to the religious 
customs of our own country. It lays claim, how- 
ever, to apostolick origin, and, on occasions like the 
present, has a pertinent significancy. 

Receive this hand, then, my dear brother, as a 
testimony of approbation to the solemnities of this 
day. Consider the ministers and churches, here 
convened, as saying to you by me. We acknowledge 
you a minister of Jesus Christ. We are so far sat- 
isfied with your natural abilities, the means of edu- 
cation you have enjoyed, the literary and theological 
attainments you have made, and with the aspect of 
your religious temper and moral habits, as that we 
are willing to give our concurrent voice to the elec- 
tion of this church. 

It is also a token of congratulation. We rejoice 
that you are willing to assume the studies and la- 
bours of a difficult, but important profession ; and 
are happy that Providence has cast your lot in your 


native state, in the bosom of a society which prom- 
ises you a Hfe of competence and peace, in the 
neighbourhood of your friends, of an ancient aiid 
respectable university, and of a flourisliing metro- 

It is a mark of affection. It purports a union of 
hearts as well as of designs. Henceforth, look upon 
the ministers of Christ in this house as your friends, 
pledged to be careful of your reputation, to counsel 
you in difficulties, assist you in your labours, and 
to pray for your personal and professional improve- 
ment; I thank them for making me the organ of 
their benevolent sentiments. I feel that the sympa- 
thies of friendship, as well as of natural affection, in 
some measure qualify me for the office. 

It is, lastly, a sign of valediction. Farewel, my 
brother ; be serious in your designs, and God make 
them prosperous ! Be strong in faith and eminent 
in chai'ity. We leave you with our best wishes, 
and our most sincere and fervent prayers. We shall 
think often and tenderly of you, when the agitations 
of this day shall have subsided. In the vaiious 
scenes and duties opening before you, show yourself 
a man and a christian ; and by a pure and elevated 
piety, a zeal united with moderation, a tolerant and 
pacifick conduct, and by a reciprocation of the 
kind offices, which we have tendered to you, testify 
to us, and to all whom ^^ou teach and with whom 


you mix, that you are actuated by the sphit, that 
}"0U breathe the benevolence, that you imitate the 
example of Jesus your Master. 

For do not mistake the meaning of this sign. We 
can supply none of your defects, nor may we sanc- 
tion any of your errours. We have no apostolick 
gifts at our disposal. You are the same frail, falli- 
ble being now, as you were before the imposition 
of our hands, You have the same appetites to reg- 
ulate, and the same temptations to resist. As by 
the solemnities of ordination we convey to you no 
extraordinary powers, so by the exchange of hands 
we can perpetuate no friendship, which is not sup- 
ported by virtue. If, therefore, you would give per- 
manence to the union this day formed between you 
and your flock, and between you and your fathers and 
bretliren in the ministry, make it lasting by a right- 
eous, honourable, and vigourous course of action. 
The way to prove the validity of your consecration 
is to render your ministry useful. Use well your 
opportunities, and God Almighty v/ill bless you. 
Cultivate your talents, and they will be serviceable 
to the church. Be faithful unto death, and you will 
receive at last a crown of life. 

Brethren of this church and congregation. Ac- 
cept our salutations on this solemn and interesting 
occasion. We remember with pleasure your late 
instructer and guide, ^'enerable for his years, pru- 
dence, and fidelity. Like his may the ministry of 


your present pastor be long, tranquil, and salutary. 
And having become wise, through the blessing of 
God on his labours, may you hereafter shine as the 
firmament, and he, having turned many to righteous- 
ness, as the stars forever and ever ' 



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