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an Apostle, even St. Paul, the Prince of Apostles, as my leader and guide. For his second Epistle to Timothy, from which my text is taken, is nothing else but a Solemn Charge, and one of the first recorded in the Annals of Christianity-applying, at all times, and under all circumstances, to every Preacher of the Gospel, of every rank and denominationMinisters, Pastors, Elders, Bishops, by whatsoever name they may wish to be called!
Thus guided and supported, I rise with some degree of Confidence; animated, rather than deterred, by the Venerable, but Indulgent, Presence of my Clerical Brethren, and Fathers; likewise by the joyful attendance, the exulting expectations, of the LayMembers of our own Church, on an occasion so long desired, so devoutly prayed for by them, as the present; together with the appearance of such a crouded Audience, of various other denominations of professing Christians; drawn together, many no doubt for Instruction; others, perhaps, from Curiosity, to witness a new scene in America; namely, the First Consecration of a Bishop for a Protestant Church by
a an authority within itself acknowledged to be valid, and sufficient to relieve it from any future Necessity of sending its Young Candidates for the ministry, across a Vast Ocean for receiving Holy Orders.-
Therefore, thus guided and supported in my part of the duty, I rise (as I said before) not only with some degree of Confidence, but even with full Hopes, from the long experienced Candour and Indulgence of my Brethren in the Ministry, that where I may fall short of their Expectations, it will be ascribed to the true Cause—Want of Ability, rather than Want of Zeal, or earnest endeavours to do better, were it in my power.
To proceed, then, my first Address should be to you, my Venerable Brother, elected for the Office of a Bishop. A long Acquaintance and a happy Intercourse with you, in the Exchange of good Offices
, for the support of our Church, and for strengthening the hands of our Brethren in the ministry, during my residence of eight or nine years, in the state of Maryland*; as well as other good considerations, render it unnecessary for me to say much on this part of my subject.
Of what concerns the duties of a Bishop, or a Chief Pastor, St. Paul's Epistles to Timothy and Titus, have been always considered, as the true primitive uncorrupted Depositary; nay, indeed, the luminous source of Instruction, to all Preachers of the Gospel, at all times and under all circumstances, as already suggested.
My Paraphrase, however, will be chiefly confined as I said before, to his second Epistle to Timothy, from which our text is taken, and which was written under peculiar circumstances, near the close of his life; when he was a Prisoner, and in Bonds at Romecalled in question for the Faith of Christ, before the cruel Nero; at a Time, too, when he saw Persecutions springing up from without, and Divisions, Heresies and Corruptions, from within the Church; and lastly, at a Time when he saw and believed that
See before, Sermon XX.
his own departure, or dissolution from the Body, was near at hand; and, therefore, he directs this last and parting Charge, as a Legacy of Spiritual Instruction, to Timothy, in the fulness of Love and Zeal for his future Prosperity and Success in the Propagation of the sound Doctrine of the Cross of Christ!
Considering Timothy, as one in whose Character and Conduct he was deeply interested; calling him his Beloved Son in the Gospel, of tried and unfeigned Faith; of whom, without Ceasing, he had Remembrance in his Prayers, night and day; he charges him "to stir up the Gift of God, which was in him, by the putting on of [his] an Apostle's hands." The charge runs as follows
"Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, according to the Promise of Life, which is in Christ Jesus:
"To Timothy, my dearly beloved son; wishing him Grace, Mercy and Peace, from God the Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord," &c.
After this interesting Exordium, St. Paul proceeds through the three first Chapters of this Epistle, exhorting and pressing Timothy, by all the Ties and Duties of a Son to a Father, "to be strong in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus, and to commit the things which he had heard from Him, among many Witnesses, to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also; and to be ready to endure Hardships, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ; because no man that warreth, should entangle himself with the affairs of this life, if he would please Him, who hath chosen him to be a Soldier-Consider what I say, and the
Lord give thee Understanding in all things—Keep the goou things which was committed to thee by the Holy Ghost, and which dwelleth in the true Ministers of Christ. Be not wavering, or blown about by every wind of Doctrine, for God hath not given us the Spirit of Fear, but of Power, of Love, and of a sound mind; and, therefore, thou needest not be ashamed of the Testimony of our Lord, and of his Death and Resurrection; neither be thou ashamed of Me Paul, although a Prisoner for this Testimony; but, if thou art called to suffer for it, be ready with Me to become a Partaker of the AMictions of the Gospel, according to the Power of God, striving to shew thyself a Workman that is not ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth; fleeing Youthful Lusts; following Righteousness, Faith, Charity, Peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure Heart-But foolish and unlearned Questions avoid, knowing that they do engender Strifes—And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in Meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God, peradventure, will give them Repentance to the acknowledgment of Truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the Devil, who are taken Captive by him, at his will; for this know also, that in the last days, perilous times shall come! Men will be Lovers of their own selves; Covetous, Boasters, Proud, Blas. phemous, Disobedient to Parents, Unthankful, Unholy, without natural affection, Truce-breakers, False Accusers, Incontinent, Fierce, Despisers of those that are Good, Traitors, Heady, High-minded,
Lovers of Pleasures more than Lovers of God; hay. ing a Form of Godliness, but denying the Power thereof. From all such turn away; for of this Sort are they which creep into Houses, and lead captive silly Women, laden with Sins, led away with divers Lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowlege of Truth.” —
What a copious catalogue of evils does the Apostle here prognosticate, which would spring up in the world, among men neglecting the Gospel, and not led by the Power thereof? They have indeed sprung up, in these latter days especially! Our own eyes have seen them; and we could enumerate the nations and people among whom they have chiefly prevailed, and do now prevail, and which the Preachers of the Gospel are called, by St. Paul, to contend against. And he has taught us how, and with what weapons to contend, in his Epistle to Titus, which immediately follows those to Timothy. It is indeed a beautiful and luminous, although a short, Epistle; teaching the Doctrines to be Preached concerning civil and ecclesiastical affairs, Order and Submission in Society; which, if they could prevail, would do away all the
, disorders and iniquities, which He had enumerated above.
“ Paul* a Servant of God, and an Apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the Truth of God's Elect, and the acknowledging of the Truth, which is after Godliness; in Hope of eternal Life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; but hath
Titus, Ch. I. v. i.