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MINISTERIAL LABOR AND SUPPORT.
2 CORINTHIANS XI. 23.
In labors more abundant.
THE traveller, as he draws near the end of his course, feels a pleasure in retracing the different stages through which he passed; in revolving in his own mind the dangers he escaped, the inconveniences to which he submitted, and the obstacles which he surmounted in performing his journey: It is a gratification to the laborer at the approach of evening to recollect the various toils of the day; to take a retrospect of the hardships he endured, of the discouragements under which he was supported, and the success with which his labors were crowned: The soldier towards the conclusion of life, finds a pleasure in recollecting the various campaigns in which he served, the dangers he braved, the enemies he vanquished, and the victories he won in fighting the battles of his country. That "good soldier of Jesus Christ," that chief of champions in the cause of christianity, whose words we have been reading, frequently indulges himself in reflections of a similar nature. He appears to feel a satisfaction too great for utterance while he recounts the temptations he had resisted, the persecutions he had suf
fered, the toils he had endured, and the opposition to which he rose superior in advancing the cause of his Saviour and Lord. "In stripes above measure," he mentions, "in deaths often; once was I stoned; thrice I suffered shipwreck; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness; in watchings often; in hunger and thirst; in cold and nakedness," and as he relates in the words selected for our present discussion," in labors more abundant.”
By the labors mentioned in this verse we are not to understand any peculiar trial which happened to Paul as a man or a christian; they are designed to express his ardent, unceasing exertions as an apostle of the Lamb; his unremitting activity in propagating the gospel of his Master, and promoting the salvation of his fellow-men.These great objects occupied his individual attention; they summoned into action all his energies of body and mind: He appear ed to lose sight of his own ease and interest, and outward aggrandizement, and regarded himself as an infinite gainer if others became spiritually rich although at the expence of toil, and reproach and poverty to himself.. Although the apostle sustained an extraordinary office in the church of the living God, yet his example is recorded for the imita
tion of all who succeed him in the service of the altar. Reverend fathers and brethren, this subject is peculiarly interesting to you and to me. On this auspicious, solemn occasion, it cannot therefore be unseasonable, and perhaps may not be unprofitable to inquire what "labors" are incumbent on us as the ministers of reconciliation, and what is our encouragement for becoming " in labors more abundant."
May a coal from the celestial altar touch the lips and heart of the speaker, inspiring him with a frame answerable to the magnitude of the occasion on which we are convened; may it touch the heart of every ambassador of the cross in this assembly, exciting him to exclaim in the language of the apostle, "the love of Christ constraineth me; I count not my life dear unto myself so that I may finish my course with joy, and -testify the gospel of the grace of God."
1. Ministers of the gospel ought to labor privately in the ardent prosecution of their studies; they should exercise an unwearied. industry in improving their ministerial gifts, and thus becoming more qualified for discharging the duties of their important station. It is a very erroneous opinion, too frequently entertained, that the necessity of study in a great measure ceases when we are admitted to the capacity of public teachers. In schools of human learning and in seminaries of theology we can only lay the foundation, upon which the superstructure 2.c.2
must afterwards be reared up by diligent application in private. The largest fund of knowledge which we can collect in the preliminary parts of our education for the ministry must soon be exhausted unless it be replenished by reading, by reflection, and other means of information. God forbid that I should be understood to represent literary attainments as the most important qualification, or even of equal importance with real grace in the ambassador of Jesus Christ; yet I may venture to assert that every species* of learning when sanctified by the Ho
Those who deny the utility of learning to the christian ministry, not only oppose the opinion of the most eminent divines, but the pactice of the church in the days of her greatest purity and glory. It is satisfactorily proved by Bishop STILLINGFLEET that in the times of Samuel, schools were established in Ramah, and other parts of Judea in which youth of apparent piety and prominent talents were taught the learning of the age, and that "God ordinarily called out of these schools those whom he employed in the prophetic office:" he adds "therein their only employment was to cultivate their natural faculties, to improve in knowledge, and true piety: the greatest part of the exercises of those who were educated in the schools of the prophets were instructions in the law and the solemn praises of God.”—Sacræ Origines, vol. 1.-181-2 Ox. ed.
Irenius, who flourished in the second century, mentions that a school of sacred literature was founded at Smyrna under the direction of Polycarp, a Father in the primitive church: Eusebius, as quoted by Lardner, relates that such an institution was early established in Alexandria over which Pantanus presided, who was succeeded by St. Clement, and that after him followed Origin; that the latter particularly instructed the youth" in logic, physics, geometry, astronomy, and ethics: he encouraged them likewise to read all sorts of ancient authors, poets and philosophers; but above all he inculcated a diligent attention to the mind of God revealed in the prophets; he himself likewise explained to them difficult passages."-Lard. cred. vol. 3.—26-7. Lon. ed. Pablic schools, for the same purpose, appeared soon after the reformation, in almost every protestant country: and perhaps there is no more favorable presage for the rising respectability of the ministry, and the future prosperity of the churches in our own country, than the erection of similar semimaries by different denominations of christians.
ly Ghost, will materially aid him in supporting the dignity, and discharging the duties of his office. No man can become too learned for the ministry of reconciliation. Every new acquisition of knowledge will enlarge the sphere of usefulness. There is nothing in the vast range of human science which may not be converted to the service of the sanctuary, either for the illustration. and establishment of the truth, or the exposure and refutation of error. By an extensive acquaintance with learning common. and divine the herald of the gospel becomes "a workman that need not be ashamed ;"he is rendered capable of" giving a reason of the hope that is in him; of evincing the reasonableness of that gospel which is the charter of all his hopes and is thus qualified for confounding if he cannot actually convince. the enemies of the cross. It is obvious therefore that even in the age of inspiration literary acquirements were honored by Jehovah the Spirit for the greater edification of the church.. "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," and he was employed as the first and principal penman of the Old Testament scriptures; and Paul, who had been educated at the feet Gamaliel," preached much more and wrote much more than any of the other evangelists or apostles. But a knowledge of sacred literature; a profound, universal acquaintance with the holy scriptures is of prime importance, and should be sought with preeminent