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the Apostle appear: “ Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth !"
This exhortation of the Apostle implies not only, that ministers should seriously and constantly consider how they may please God; but,
That they should actually do whatever appears
exhortation is given, evidently implies that they are to study with a view to act. It is of no importance to them, to know how to please God, unless they actually use the means necessary for this purpose. Indeed, it is absurd to speak of its being their object to please him, unless they are disposed to perform the duties, which are acceptable in his sight. Knowing then as they do, that they can be accepted of him, only so far as they are holy, they must, in the first place,
l. “Grow in grace.” In view of the Divine character, which in their work they are so often led to contemplate, they should become more constant and more ardent in their love to God. In their studies of the human character, they should become more humble and more penitent for their own sins. Whilst they are led, by the nature of their work, frequently to view the perishing condition of a fallen world, they should become more desirous of their salvation, and more engaged in the use of all appointed means to bring them to Christ. Whilst they are led to contemplate the faithfulness of God to his promises, the glorious purposes, which he has revealed, and the perfection of that government, which he exercises over his creatures, they should the more cheerfully submit to his will, and the more readily confide in the goodness of his character. With a view to increase their own piety, they should diligently use the means, which God has appointed for this purpose. They should daily meditate upon their own state and character. They should frequently study the scriptures, with a particular reference to their own case. They should constantly watch against the temptations, to which they are particularly exposed; and strive against those sins, which most easily beset them. They should frequently visit their closets, not only to “ pour out their hearts before God,” in behalf of their people ; but to seek a supply for their own spiritual wants. That they may be “examples of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity,” they should not rest satisfied with ordinary attainments in religion ; but endeavour to possess and exhibit it to an eminent degree.
2. To please God, ministers must faithfully improve their talents. If he has endued them with talents, calculated to render them useful in the ministry, and by his providence called them to this important work, he must view their improvement of these with a deep and lively interest. A call to the work of the ministry is a peculiarly high and holy calling ; and talents adapted to the nature of a work so sacred and important are precious gifts. To hide these “in the earth,” or to keep them “ laid up in a napkin," is not only an insulting abuse of the benignity of Heaven; but a robbery of the Church: the very worst Species of sacrilege. To qualify themselves the better for their work, and to render their exertions more pleasing to God ;. ministers should, therefore, use all means in their power of improving their talents. They should be frugal of their time. They should, if possible, so arrange their temporal concerns,
as to be in a great measure, free from worldly care. So far as their health will permit, they should cheer. fully endure the labour and fatigue of close applica. tion to their studies. While they keep the scriptures always open before them, as “the man of their coun." sel, and as the rule of their faith and practice," they should, with a view to a more thorough under. standing of them, and to a more lucid and powerful exhibition of the truths which they reveal, endeavour to obtain a critical and familiar knowledge of lan. guage. In the use of means for the understanding of the scriptures, they should pay particular attention to those languages, in which they were originally written. They should read the works of those, who have enjoyed the greatest advantages for knowing the scrip. tures. They should attend to the customs and manners of those, with whom the sacred writers were conversant, and to whom the Scriptures were origi. nally given. They should endeavour to acquire not only that degree of classical learning which is neces. sary to give them influence with men of literature ; but all, which is necessary to qualify them to defend the faith against “the oppositions of science falsely so called.” This improvement of their talents is obviously implied in the following direction of Paul to Timothy. “Give attendance to reading, to exhorta. tion, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift which is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery. Meditate on these things ; give thyself wholly to them ; that thy profiting may appear to all.”
3. To please God, ministers should, so far as they have opportunity, preach the whole truth. They should
lay open the original source of the gospel, show its lat. itude and extent, and explain its final effects upon all intelligent creatures. They should preach the gospel, not in a mutilated form, but as one entire, harmonious, and perfect system, that each part of it, when understood, may carry with it the weight and authority of the whole. The doctrines of the gospel are perfectly consistent with themselves, and with each other. They indeed involve mysteries, but no contradictions. The more they are contemplated in connection with each other, the more is their agreement and harmony seen. There is no danger, therefore, of bringing them all into view. It is not a full exhibition of the truth, that is peculiarly liable to the charge of inconsistency and self-contradiction : it is a partial exhibition of it. There is no way, in which the truths of the gospel can be so easily understood, as by viewing one in connection with another. Besides, every truth which God has revealed is truly valuable. He has some important purpose to answer by it, or he never would have revealed it. Accordingly we read, that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable. Can any one, then, whose business it is to preach the gospel, expect to please God, unless he does, so far as he has opportunity, preach the whole truth? On what principle can he presume to exhibit a part, while he conceals the rest ? Does he suppose, that some truths are more pleasing to God than others? If this were true, and it were proper for him to dwell only on those, which are the most pleasing to God, how does he know, how can he know, that those, which he conceals, are not of this description ? Paul did not think it proper to conceal any thing, which God has revealed. When
about to take his leave of the Elders of Ephesus, a mong whom he had preached the gospel, he appealed to them respecting his fidelity in the following solemn and affecting language. "I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men; for I have not shunned to declare all the counsel of God." .
If we look into the writings of Paul, we shall find, that he, as well as the other sacred writers, taught that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are one God--that all events take place agreeably to his eternal decrees that his agency is universal—that he at first made man upright-that in consequence of Adam's transgression, all his posterity became sinners—that in their fallen state, they are entirely destítute of holiness and wholly inclined to sin that an atonement, consisting in the vicarious suffering of Christ, is the only ground of forgiveness—that sinners are under obligation, penitently and cordially to receive Christ as their Saviour-that the depravity of their hearts is such, however, that they all refuse to do this, until they are renewed by the Holy Spirit that the fruits of regeneration are good works that no real child of God shall ever perish—that the soul of man survives the body and exists forever --that the bodies of all will eventually be raised from the dead that there is to be a day of judgment, at which the righteous will be received to heaven, and the wicked sentenced to hell. In these doctrines, which Paul preached, is seen the origin, the progress, and the final consequences of the gospel. These, with others implied in them, and the various duties resulting from them, constitute “the counsel of God.” That minister, who dares to assert, that these doctrines are not