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On the Prayer for the Clergy and People.
cumstance that is connected with the redemption of fallen man. The structure of universal nature, and of every minute part of its system, discovers the glory of this Divine perfection. It is written in legible characters on every blade of grass, and on every individual atom of matter. But if this world were erected on purpose to be a theatre, on which the wonders of redeeming love might be displayed; if it were created only as a scaffold to a building of far greater magnificence; if, when the more important fabric is compleated, the scaffold is to be demolished as of no further use, we may reasonably expect to find greater wisdom manifested in the spiritual than in the natural creation.
Among a thousand other wonders which crowd on the spiritualized imagination, the selection of ambassadors for the work of the ministry of reconciliation is not the least. As it was the design of the ETERNAL THREE, in the whole economy of grace, to secure the glory to Him to whom alone it is due; the wisof God, in the appointment of the instruments by which His designs are carried into effect, is very apparent. Had angels been employed as ordinary preachers of the Gospel, their eloquence might have been considered as meriting a share of the honour derived from the success of the ministry. Therefore the rich, the heavenly treasure is deposited “in earthen vessels, that “ the excellency of the power may be of God, or and not of us.” * On the same account our Lord chose twelve illiterate fishermen to be the first messengers of His love to man, that the astonishing revolution to be produced in the human heart, and in the world at large, by the preached Gospel, in turning it from sin and Satan to the service of God, might evidently appear to be accomplished, not by the wisdom of man, but by the power of God-not by moral suasion, but by the energy of the Holy Ghost. It is allowed that one who was afterwards admitted to the fellowship of the Apostolic office, was a man endowed with extensive erudition, having been instructed in the academy of the celebrated Gamaliel, and favoured with every advantage which can arise from a learned education. But it is pleasing to remark with what a holy anxiety this person endeavours, in all his writings which are transmitted to us, to evince that the effects of his preaching were intirely owing to the dew of God's blessing which attended his word. He every where speaks of himself in the most disparaging terms, lays all his learning at the foot of the cross, and avows his total unfitness, independent of help from God, for the discharge of the ministerial office. Writing to the Corinthians, among whom he had laboured with great success, he says, “When I came to you, I came not with excel
“ you the testimony of God; for I determined “ not to know any thing among you, save Jesus “ Christ and Him crucified. And I was with “ you in weakness, and in fear, and in much “ trembling. And my speech and my preach
ing was not with inticing words of man's “ wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit “ and of power: that your faith should not '« stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power " of God.” * In the same spirit of humble dependence on the strength of God, when writing to the Thessalonians, he requests the prayers of the faithful for himself and his fellowlabourers, that they might be endued with ability, fidelity, and abundant success in the work; “ Brethren, pray for us." +
This request of the great Apostle of the Gentiles shews the propriety of that part of our liturgy to which the reader's attention will be directed in the present essay-the prayer for the Clergy and People. No doubt can remain on the mind, whether it be the duty and interest of the laity to pray for those who labour in the word and doctrine. But, as in the production of that fervency of spirit in which prayer consists, it is not only necessary that the understanding be informed, but also that the affections be moved and the heart interested in the subject, it may not be improper to point out a few considerations which demonstrate the indispensable nature of the duty.
A right discharge of the ministerial office, and the salutary effects which it is designed to produce, are objects of so prodigious magnitude, that those who are engaged in it have an undoubted claim on the charity of others for a
i Thess, v. 25.
remembrance in their fervent prayers. For, compared with this, every earthly interest that is styled momentous shrinks into an unsubstan
A large share of importance must be ascribed to the labours of the statesman, the civilian, and the physician, on which the temporal happiness of man so much depends; but however weighty may be the consequences which are suspended on the wisdom and fidelity of those men to whom our civil rights and bodily health are intrusted, yet, when weighed in the balance of the sanctuary with those which the functions of an evangelist involve, they are found lighter than the thistle's down. For nothing less than the manifestative glory of the Triune Jehovah is closely connected with the latter. A Christian minister is an ambassador of God, and a steward of His mysteries. The subject of his embassy is that in which the honour of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is deeply interested; since by the salvation of sinners, through the meritorious cross and passion of Jesus Christ, which is the sum and substance of the gospel message, God has proposed eternally to magnify His own adorable name. This part of the reward assigned to the sufferings of our incarnate God, proceeds from a faithful promulgation of the truth. Not that we are to suppose the effects of redemption to be left to contingency, for then Christ might have died in vain; and therefore both the means and the end are secured by the immutable counsels of God. Yet this does not in the least degree cancel the awful responsibility which is attached to the persons of those who have taken on them the sacred office. If the situation of a person who has been raised to the dignity of representing an earthly potentate as his ambassador, be considered as very important; in how solemn and tremendous a light must we view the ministers of the Gospel, since to them is committed a work in which the honour of every Divine attribute is concerned; and from the execution of which God expects a greater revenue of glory than from the creation of the universe. With what propriety may they earnestly call on their people in the Apostle's words, “ Brethren, pray for us.”
If we add to this consideration the inestimable value of the souls of men, whose salvation depends on the Gospel-ministry as the appointed means of effecting it; the wisdom of our church, in the remembrance which she makes of her ministers before the throne of grace, will be still more conspicuous. He only can form a just estimate of the worth of the soul who died to redeem it. Were we permitted to descend into the bottomless pit, and be witnesses to the weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, with which its horrid caverns perpetually resound; were our ears to be wounded for a season with the bitter lamentations of the damned, and their earnest but fruitless intreaties for a drop of water to cool their flaming tongues ; nay, were we ourselves to taste the cup of trembling, every ingredient of which is ten thousand times more bitter than the quintessence of wormwood and gall; were we, after a transition through this scene of overwhelming horror, permitted to enter for a season within the gates of the new Jerusalem which is above, and to be spectators or even participants of the pleasures which are at God's right hand; we should be nevertheless unable to form adequate conceptions of the value of the human soul, unless we could at the same time comprehend eter