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to shew in what much higher Esteem, Veneration, and Honour, the Christian Priesthood really is, always was, and always ought to be in the World. And that,
I. From the Relation we thereby bear to Al
mighty God, and to our Saviour Christ. II. From the End and Design of our Mi
nistry, and that is the Salvation of the
1. From the Relation we thereby bear to Almighty God, and to
God, and to our Saviour Chrift. Tis true, all Men that are incorporated into the Church by Baptism, have, by Vertue of that, a new Relation to God, and a Right to the Pric vileges, and Benefits of the Christian Covenant upon which Account they are seldom mentioned in the New Testament, without some. Title of Discrimination and Honour; as, The Called and Elect of God; A chosen Generation ; A peculiar People; A holy Nation ; And (in the Latitude of the Word) A Royal Priesthood. But the Ministers of the Gospel, have a more proper and strict Alliance to God: They are called into his more immediate Service, by peculiar Designation and Appointment, and describ'd under such Characters, as import the highest Honour, and Authority in the Church.
They are rengimas and Adilseyol, His Officers, His Attendants; His Domesticks; who approach his Presence, and bespeak his. Person;
who wear his Livery, and tread his Courts ; who tranfact and negotiate the Affairs of his Kingdom. They are O'rxovómas his Stewards who receive his Commands, and dispatch his Orders; who distribute his Bread, that Bread of Life which came down from Heaven; who dispence his Mysteries, the Sacraments and Pledges of our Redemption. They are Guvegyol Ość, workers together with God : They manage his Business, and drive on his Designs; they are his Heralds, that publish his Edias, that denounce his Judgments, that proclaim his Pardons, and apply his Acts of Grace. They are Προεσώτες, Κυβερνήται, Ηγεμενοι, Ποιμιένες, Presidents, Rulers, Guides, Pastors, who inspect and govern his Church; who ordain and send forth Labourers into his Harvest
i who watch over and feed his Flock. And shall not they be reverenced by Men, who are advanced to such a height of Dignity, and Trust by God? If by the Laws of Nations, and the universal practice of the World, all manner of Respect, Entertainment, and Security be given to the Ambassadors of an Earthly Prince : How much more are they due to those who are sent from, and act in the Behalf of the King of Heaven?
Possibly it will be thought, that these are very lofty and magnificent Characters; and indeed so they are. But in this we do not stretch our felves beyond our Line, nor magnifie our Office beyond its just Bounds: we, faith St. Paul, are Ambassadors for Christ, as2 Cor. so
tbough God did beseech you by us ; we pray you in Cbrift's stead, be ye reconciled unto God. If the Apostles were God's Ambassadors, by immediate and extraordinary Mission, we are so in ordinary and regular Succeffion.
2: This will further appear from the End and Design of our Ministry; and that is the Salvation of the Souls of Men. The Nature of our Calling is wholly spiritual; to attend the Cases and Wants of Men's Consciences, and to watch for their Souls, as they that must give an Account ; and the particular Instances of it, are such as these.
To receive Men into the Church by Bap- Son tism, and to Catechise, and Educate them in Religion ; To expound and interpret to them! the Holy Scriptures; To instruct the Ignoranti To convince Gainsayers ; To correct the Peo- nu ples Mistakes; To reprove their Sins ; To stirşa them up to all the Duties of a holy Life; To satisfie the Scrupulous ; to censure the Con- f tumacious; To absolve the Penitent; And to administer Comfort, [the Sacraments and Pledges of Christ's Love] to dejected Spirits, or to dying Men.
Now my Brethren, what innocence of Life; what Prudence of Behaviour ; what constancy of Prayer ; what Variety of Study ; what Application of Mind and Endeavour is required for the faithful Discharge of all this ? And is not the Labourer worthy of his Hire ? To take up the Reasoning and Expoftulation ofour Apostle in this very Argument. Who goeth
a Warfare at any time at bis own Charges ? 1. Cor
. W bo planteth a Vineyard, and eateth not of 7,16. the Fruit thereof? Or wbo feedeth a Flock and eateth not of the Milk of the Flock? If we have sown unto Spiritual Things, is it a great Thing if we shall reap your Carnal Things
These are the Labours of the Christian Priesthood. And upon the Account of these, the Primitive and beft Christians had very awful and venerable Opinions both of them and their Office ; they thought nothing too Good, or too Dear for those who took care of their Souls, and fed them with the Bread of Heaven. St. Paul bears this Record to the Kindness of his Galatims; Tbat if it bad been posible, they would have plucked out their Gal. 4. s. own Eyes, and have given them to him. And again, that they received bim as an Angel of v. God, even as Christ Jesus. To the Everlasting Reproach of these latter Ages, how fincerely, how passionately did they love their Priests ? Out of that slender Stock, which Perfecution had left, out of the Shipwracks of their wasted Fortunes: How chearfully, how liberally did they contribute to their Maintainance? What exceeding Veneration did they pay to their Perfons? With what incredible Submillion did they undergo the most severe Disciplines and Pennances? Who knows not the memorable Case of the Emperor TheodoJius and St. Ambrose?
If there be not now the same Respe&t shewn to them, I thipk the Reason is plain. For since Religion it self hath so much decayed in its Esteem and Authority ; Since the Prophane and Schismatical Humour of the Age have taught the People to despise both Church-men and Charch-Censures; Since God himself is affronted, and his most facred Institutions ridiculd; What Wonder if his Priests partake in the Misfortune? But if it shall ever please God to restore the Primitive Spirit of Piety to the World. If the Vanities of this corrupt Age shall ever be decocted'; If Atheism and Fanaticisin shall
' ever be effe&ually thrown out of the Church : I question not but the Love and Reverence of the Clergy will return. And thus I have done with the first Head of Discourse. The Nature and Honourableness of the Christian Priesthood.
I proceed to the 2d, upon which I crave
Qualifications requird of them, by vir-
Now these I think are chiefly Four.
Million. 2. The Purity, and Orthodox-