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Before our Saviour left the world, he said to his Apostles, “ all power is given unto me, in Heaven and in Earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” In these words he conveyed to his Apostles, and through them to the ministers of his church in every succeeding age, a part of that power which was given unto Him, or rather, made them the instruments by which it is administered. He entrusted to their hands the sacred mystery of Baptism,—that holy rite in which the Spirit of God descends upon the soul of man with the silence and gentleness of a dove, and broods over it in secret, and awakens it into a new birth ;=- not a birth into a world of death and sin, but into the purity of Gospel light, and the glorious system of immor.
tality wi And not only on its first entrance into the Gospel Covenant does He convey, through his ministers, peculiar measures of his grace to the Christian soul. He knew well how much it would require to be refreshed and invigorated in the course of its mortal and sinful pilgrimage; and with this view he instituted that other most affecting Sacrament of his body and blood, which might ever bring assurances, to the faithful partaker, of pardon for past offences, and encouragement to proceed in the course of duty, and might confer the strength of the Spirit of God even upon the feebleness of hu. man nature. This “ holy and most comfortable sacrament” can, as you know, be administered by those alone who have been“ separated unto the Gospel of God;” and as to them has been committed the performance of those rites of Divine institution, a character of sacredness is thus attached to their office itself,
-a sanctity which they could never confer upon themselves, and of which the world can never deprive them.
It is from such considerations that, in the language of St Paul, we are entitled to “
magnify our office, and whatever a minister of Christ may be in himself, however unequal to the office which he has dared to undertake, the truths which he preaches, and the Divine rites which he administers, ought still to be listened to with reverence, and received with thankful
Yet such is the constitution of human nature, that much will ever depend upon the personal character of a clergyman, in order that his admonitions may have their due weight, or the rites which he performs may be met in the proper spirit of devotion. One thing is certain, that in whatever way his conduct may be of importance to others, it is of infinite importance to himself ; and that there is an account which he must one day render of his stewardship, which ought ever to be before his eyes as the great regulating principle of his life.
II. If such is the dignity of the office of the Christian Priesthood, the DUTIES which attach to it, seem, in the second place, naturally to flow from the description of the office itself. If it is the office of those who are " separated unto the Gospel of God” to hold up to the eyes of men a pure and perfect morality,--to instruct them in principles which are higher than those upon which common conduct is guided,
to show them that the Christian ought to act upon holier views than the man of the world, --that it is not present pleasure or worldly interest which must influence him, but that his delight must be to do the will of God, and that
his views must be full of the hopes of immor
co tality; if these are the great moral motives which it belongs to our office to teach and to enforce, shall we not endeavour, at least, to exemplify their influence upon our own hearts ?. to show, amidst all our defects and all weakness, that our instructions are not quite lost upon ourselves ?-and, while we call upon “ all who labour and are heavy laden” to come to our Master for rest and for relief, shall not we ourselves come unto him, and submit our : selves to his “
easy yoke," and show that we indeed feel his “ burden” to be " light?”
Are we convinced that this meek and lowly Master was yet the Son of the Most High God, and that the words which he taught were not the words of mere human wisdom, but the revelations of Divine truth; and shall we not be the more eager to prove, from their effect upon ourselves, that his words are indeed spirit and life?” Do we teach, that, in compassion for the wanderers of the world, he descended from the throne of his glory, and bowed his head under the weight of their sins, and reconciled them to his Father, and purchased them with the inestimable price of his blood ?--Do
we, therefore, call upon men to forsake sin, to root out from their hearts every thing that is debasing and impure, to feel what they owe to him who descended so low, that they might be exalted so high ; and shall We not strenuously endeavour to remove every “ beam” from our own eyes, that we may see clearly to remove the “ motes” from the eyes of our brethren?
Is there, finally, a divine sanctity in the offices which we have to perform ?-are our weak administrations the vehicles to men of holy influences ? does the pure water of baptism flow from our hands,—and do they “ handle of the word of life,” and distribute the symbols of that body and blood which is the life of the world ? Do we “know that we are the temples of God, and that the Spirit of " God dwelleth in us?” and shall we not dread the sentence which says, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy ?”—These are the great considerations which ought ever to be in our view, and which, if they did truly influence our hearts, would, amidst our manifold imperfections and infirmities, still enable us to discharge our important duties with faithfulness and zeal.
Can there, indeed, be any other considera