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Let no one take alarm at this appeal to the Law, as if I wished to bring them under the Jewish yoke of ceremonies; for it should be remembered, that all that is most dear to our hearts as Christians, was first announced to the world by Moses and the Prophets, before Christ and his Apostles proclaimed the fulfilment of the promised grace. The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head, said Moses in the Law; unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, sang the sublime prophet Isaiah ; while those psalms which kindle our devotion, and give utterance to the emotions they inspire, were penned by David for the service of the Mosaic tabernacle and the temple which Solomon built. If ever, therefore, we read the Old Testament with reverence and delight; if, at any time, it cheers our hearts with its consolations, or guides our steps by its counsels; we admit that the more ancient half of the inspired code may be our instructer; though it was given under a dispensation that has now yielded to one more glorious and complete. In fact, the very Apostle who most strenuously contended that the law was but a “shadow of good things to come, of which the body is Christ," in that same Epistle, which was designed and blessed to call off the earliest Christians from doting upon that which was abolished, so fully displays the various and interesting modes, in which the legal rites unfolded evangelical truths, that he leaves no doubt of the propriety of learning Christian duty from the general principles of a dispensation, whose peculiar rites are no longer of force.
Justly, therefore, the Apostle says to the Corinthian church,* “who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also ? For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes ? For our sakes, no doubt, it was written : that he that ploweth should plow in hope ; and that he that thrasheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the Gospel of Christ. Do ye not know, that they who minister about holy things live of the things of the temple ? and they who wait at the altar are partakers with the altar ? Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they who preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.”
This leads me to show
2. The same duty, of supporting the ministers of religion, is enjoined by Christ under the Gospel.
*1 Cor. ix. 7–14.
Here, also, as in all other things, that Saviour, who is the Legislator, has made himself the model of virtue. He who wrought, as it is probable, at the trade of a carpenter, to support himself, and the family in which he was born, previously to his coming forth to the public ministry, would not have disdained to continue that course of honest industry, however it might have shocked the pride of the carnal mind: yet he deemed it proper to discontinue it, from the time that he was anointed by the Holy Spirit, to preach the Gospel of the kingdom. As he came not “to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many,” we might have expected, that he would rather give than receive ; and to him who wrought miracles to meet the exigencies of the starving thousands who attended his ministry, it had been easy to create all that was necessary for him and his attendant band. He chose, however, to cast himself on the liberality of his hearers, to live upon the contributions of those whom he was serving; for, in addition to the entertainment he received, wherever he went, preaching the Gospel, “certain women, who followed, ministered to him of their substance."
In harmony with the same design, and as a part of the same plan, when he sent forth the Apostles for a short excursion while he was with them; that these newly fledged eaglets might try their wings, before he should be taken from them and they should fly through the whole world having the everlasting Gospel to preach to every nation under heaven; he gave them this charge, “As ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal
the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils; freely ..
ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver,
scrip, and without purse ; that those, to whom they ministered, should entertain and support them all their journey through ; that they should inquire for the most worthy persons, and there abide, as putting honour upon their host ; for, it is a maxim in Christ's kingdom, that He and His faithful servants richly repay their entertainment, since the labourer is well worthy of his meat.
When, therefore, the Spirit descended on them at Pentecost, the Apostles gave themselves up wholly to their ministry ; so entirely withdrawing from all secular concerns, that even the distri. bution of the alms of the faithful, was not sufficiently spiritual for their hands. They said, therefore, “it is not meet for us to leave the word of God, to serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you, seven men of bonest report, full of the Holy Ghost, and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually io prayer, and the ministry of the word.**
In those letters to the ministers, Timothy and Titus, in which Paul portrays the character, and describes the duties of the Christian Pastor, he says, “give thyself wholly to these things, that thy profiting may appear to all.” “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”+
I know, indeed, that it is objected, that Paul himself is an exception to this rule. But this very objection admits, that the rule is, that ministers should be supported by the people of their charge. How strange, then, is the perversion which makes the exception their rule, and the rule an exception ! And for what reason did Paul make himself an exception to that which he declared the Lord ordained should be the general practice? Because there were some, among the first churches, who being ill-affected to his person, bis ministry, and doctrine, would gladly have seized any opportunity to charge bim with sinister motives. He determined, therefore, to cut off all occasion, “from them who desire occasion, that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.”+ Who, therefore, can require their minister to imitate the Apostle, in thus abstaining to receive support from those to whom he ministered, without making the unenviable admission, that they imitate the ill-disposed persons, who view the ministry and the gospel with an evil eye; whom it is therefore necessary to melt down by heaping coals of fire on their heads; to vanquish, by such a course of voluntary martyrdom for their welfare, as would stop the mouth of an infidel, and compel the bitterest foe to admit, we were their disinterested friend?
For this reason, our missionaries among the heathen are obliged, at first, to support themselves, or must be assisted by the churches at home ; because, we cannot expect idolaters to contri
* Acts vi. 2–4. 2 Tim. ji. 4. 12 Cor. xi. 12.
bute to the support of a religion, whose truth and value they have
But shall we deal thus with the churches of Christ?
But after all, it was only at certain intervals, and in particular places, that Paul laboured, working with his own hands to minis. ter to his wants. For we read most distinctly of the contributions made to his support, by the disciples of Christ. One beautiful acknowledgment of their liberality may well suffice. “In Thessalonica, ye Philippians sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift; but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound; I am full, hav, ing received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God: but my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Even in Corinth, where the Apostle received nothing from the church he served, he was assisted by churches at a distance. “Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the Gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man; for that which was lacking to me the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied.” If the persons, to whom this was written, had any generous sensibility, how must they have been stung by this reflection on themselves, and how must they have envied the churches of Macedonia their superior honour, in supporting the Apostles of Christ !
3. It is the dictate of what may be termed natural religion; as it is but common justice that those who labour for others, should be supported by them. Had not God explicitly interposed his authority, nor regulated this subject in divine revelation, but had he only said, now judge of your ownselves ; does not nature teach you what is right? would it not have been manifest, to every man of common sense and just feeling that if one class of society give themselves to secular duties, and to provide what is useful for this life, and another devote their days to mental and spiritual pursuits, to promote the interests of the soul, those who derive the benefit of the spiritual man's seclusion and studies, should share with him the benefit of their labours and commerce ?
To wish that it were otherwise, betrays such a perversion of mind, and such a destitution of all just moral feeling, as is utterly inconsistent with common honesty, apart from all consideration of the nobler impulses of Christian religion. For the flock to desire the advantages of the minister's exertions, his mental solicitude and physical powers, while he receives no benefit from their worldly gains, is as manifestly unequal and unjust, as for the mi
nister to be supported by their labours, and do nothing for them in return. Few services would be to me either more difficult, or more ungrateful, than to defend sinecures in the church of God. But, against those who plead for what they call a free Gospel, I would pledge myself to prove the propriety of making the ministry a mere emolument
without study, and without pastoral care or public instruction. For if a whole people may derive the benefit of one man's labours, and yield him no recompense ; surely one man may be supported by the whole, though he should never devote to them bis private moments or his public toils.
I am fully aware, that in apparent opposition to all this reasoning is the practice that prevails among a people who show, in all the intercourse of life, a very correct sense of retributive justice. The body called Quakers are supposed to deny the duty of supporting those who labour in word and doctrine. But, on this point, considerable mistake prevails. The Friends, as they term themselves, do not deny the propriety of providing for those who give themselves to the labours of the ministry, but they actually perform this duty with exemplary liberality and love, wherever it is required. They restrict it, indeed, to the time that the ministers are actually engaged in travelling and preaching, so as to be entirely taken off from secular labours; for their peculiar views, of a certain special inspiration in public speaking, leading them to consider it unlawful to use previous study, they, of course, suppose, that no more time is consumed in the ministry, than that which is employed in travelling, and addressing the assemblies convened.
For such Societies, as profess not to hold the Quakers' principles, concerning an inspiration in public speaking, which supersedes previous study, and yet make no provision for the support of the ministry, I can devise no excuse. Unless the mischief be counteracted, by the knowledge which other bodies of Christians may furnish, ignorance will soon prove their ruin; as covetousness or injustice is already their sin and shame.
Let us now consider
II. The mode which should be adopted to attain this instituted end.
In many instances men could wish that God had interposed more specifically, prescribing, by authority, the exact mode in which we should pay our homage at his throne. But, to an attentive observer, it will appear a striking characteristic of the Christian Religion, that it rules by grand general principles, while the Jewish dispensation abounds in minute regulations. Line upon line, precept upon precept, was given to the church in its minority; just as we rule lines for children, and give exact prescriptions to those whom we cannot trust to exercise any discretion. But now that we are no more minors, under governors and tutors, but have Vol. V.