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24 ELDERS NOT DEACONS.
exercised by the same incumbent; sometimes the deacon, by usurpation, is an elder. Sometimes, and oftener, the elder, in the same way, is a deacon. So it ought not to be Your office is not to serve tables, not even the Lord's table nor to take care of the poor; nor to assist the bishop in the administration of either sacrament; nor to give executive attendance and oversight in seating strangers, and managing the incidents of public worship. All this is honorable, but subordinate. It belongs of right to the diaconate. But you are the counselors, the paternal governors of the Church, in conjunction with your moderator and pastor, according to the excellent constitution of our Church, soundly interpreted. Your proper official attributes are mainly resolvable into one —wisdom. This is the principal thing. It should be enlightened, comprehensive, experimental, and mature; and withal of that kind that cometh from above. James, 3: 13–18. It should deserve and conciliate the confidence both of the ministry and the Church. Its sphere should be wider and more visitorial. Its care of the flock should expatiate peculiarly and tenderly toward the lambs. The elders ought to be great helpers both to parents and pastor, in the faithful, and the guarded, and the evangelical education of the young. A little system, a little condescension, a little prayerful and patriarchal oversight, and a little devotion to the work, oh! what good might this effectuate, to magnify your office, and endear your influence to all the congregation, the heads and the members of all its families. Then they would better love and understand the order–Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: For THEY watch for your souls, as they that must give account; that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that were unprofitable for you. The account here demonstrably refers to that which their elders and pastors shall give of them, as objects of all their official missions; though often and commonly mistaken to mean the officials themselves, as
ABUSE OF CIVIL FREEDOM. 25
solemnly accountable in all. I only add, a ruling elder ought to be a good biblical scholar, and well conversant with the whole polity of the Church. There is danger in our republican tendencies, of perversion, in one of the highest relations of our being. A man may be great as a patriot and a statesman, and as a scholar, and yet not be a Christian' while our national or political gratitude may proceed to adoration, to apotheosis, to canonization ; only on the ground of his distinguished civic virtues, his public usefulness, or his military success. If we perpetrate this enormity, God will be no party to our error. He has but one way of saving sinners; and neither Harrison nor Adams, neither Clay nor Washington, neither Moses nor David, neither Daniel nor Paul, could possibly or ever reach heaven in any other way. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of ALL ACCEPTATION ; that is, worthy to be accepted by every one, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. There is oNE MEDIATOR between God and men, the man Christ Jesus ; who gave himself a ransom for all, a testimony in due time. NEITHER Is THERE SALVATION IN ANY OTHER ; FoR THERE Is NoNE other NAME UNDER HEAVEN, given among men, whereby we must be saved. For GoD so LovED THE world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him, or trusteth to Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. With these sentiments, simply and sincerely believed, did I converse with President Adams, on the occasion herein recited and described. One reason that I selected and now insert that, refers to other great men of the nation, who may possibly peruse it; men who are too great to be good, too knowing to learn of Christ, too much themselves like gods, Psalm 82 : 6, to remember that they shall die like men, each of them shall perish like one of the princes—some of them in danger of PERISHING in a sense supreme and eternal B
26 GREAT ONES NOT ALWAYS GOOD.
I am well aware of the delicacies and the difficulties connected with my theme and my publication; and I have honestly tried, as far as I knew how, both to be faithful in the premises, and, if possible, to give no reasonable offense to any reader. How I may have succeeded, time will show. By no means sanguine, I desire to feel my dependence mainly on God alone for that blessing which determines all prosperity. Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. For promotion cometh neither from the East, nor from the West, nor from the South ; but God Is THE JUDGE ; He putteth down one, and setteth up another.
A man who is distinguished in life for his eminent knowledge of many great things, may not, therefore, as a matter of course, know equally all other, and some of the greatest things. And yet, from his celebrity, he is often tempted to assume or affect to know every thing. The same sentiment is popular, because its theme is such. Yet of any one thing if he is ignorant, his ignorance in that one particular is none the better, and mone the less, but rather seemingly the more, for being associated in the same subject with immense knowledge in a thousand other particulars. A learned doctor in divinity once asked me, in reference to the Giant's Causeway, in Ireland, if it was accurately known by whom, and in what age of the world, it was built there ! A respectable lady, to whom I was speaking on the subject of personal religion, and to whom my language more than implying that she was a sinner, took fright, rather than umbrage, as if I knew something of her personal history, conscia facinoris, which she intended to keep a profound secret. Another, a wealthy lady, who kept telling me of her abounding virtues and good works, usque ad nauseam, and to whom I said, Madam, do you not think that you have some self-righteousness in all this 3 replied, with a very earnest countenance, Ah! sir, I hope I have. That's what I try for, and am after it, day and might, continually. Alas! in some sense
HOPE IN GOD FOR OUR COUNTRY. 27
she told the truth; more truth than she knew. It was self. righteousness, and not salvation, that she was after " . She was, however, a member of no Church; and though not so distinguished as the fashionable lady at Calais, and possibly more wealthy, it is probable that, like her, her worldly possessions, and, above all, her wondrous quantity of self-righteousness, constituted about all her preparation for heaven or fitness for the solemnity of the mortal hour. One of our distinguished governors, in one of the sovereign states of our confederacy, some years since, in his proclamation for annual THANKSGIVING — by the way, a most proper, and in some places A Most IMPiously ABUSED observance —after other things that were better said, exhorted all his constituents, assembled on the appointed day, in their respective houses of public worship, to ENDEAvor. To MERIT from the hand of God a continuance of his MERCIEs His excellency might just as well, just as practicably, have exhorted and urged them to build a new solar system, and stock it with theological governors, who know how to “merit mercy!” But I have only to conclude this introductory inscription, asking pardon for its length, by congratulating you on the many good things that God's mercy, contrary to our deserts, hath left among us in our land. Each of us may say, with the genuine gratitude of a Christian and the appropriate piety of an American, The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup ; thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. We have religious liberty, in its fullness and its perfection. We have Bibles, Christians, ministers of Christ, churches, the means of grace, much that is correct and Christian in our public sentiment, and the prospects, under God, as the GREAT CoNSERVATOR of our country, the JEHovah STATor of these UNITED STATEs, and the MIGHTY GUARDIAN of his own cause every where, the prospects, I say, of permanency, progress, improvement, usefulness, and salvation. Amen—Alleluia!