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leaders of reformation listened to the sug gestions of human judgment, realized the visions of vain imagination, or obeyed the dictates of angry passion. The corruptions of the church of Rome were glaringly manifest, and its tyranny was felt. But does it follow, that orderly Christians, in their abhorrence of this corruption and tyranny, were at liberty to abandon every principle, every institution, all form, all discipline, which prevailed in this church, without enquiring whether it were evangelical or not, or whe ther a church of Christ could exist without it?

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Such a licentious persuasion is surely a root of bitterness, which troubles the flock of Christ, and whereby many have been defiled. It began to vegetate in this country in the days of Elizabeth; and, in a more recent age, when men relinquished all respect to civil as well as ecclesiastical authority, it flourished in full luxuriance, and scattered its baneful and pernicious seeds throughout the land. These seeds have been further extended, and their wild produce pampered and cherished, by an abuse of the act of toleration ;-a law which had for its object

the forbearance of persecution, but not the encouragement of schism and dissension. So that, in the present day, we have societies of nominal Christians without an order of duly appointed ministers, without a common liturgy, without a public profession of the faith, and without sacraments. And many amongst us appear even to have forgotten that separation from the fellowship of the apostolical church is in itself a grievous sin, expressly forbidden in the Gospel of Christ; and that those who hope for salvation with out a predominant purpose of obeying his laws, presume beyond what is written, and hope without promise.

SERMON XIV.

OF THE CHARACTER AND DUTIES OF A.. CHRISTIAN MINISTER.

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VITUD 1 PETER, v. 1, 2, 3. by The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the

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sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: feed "the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by con=" straint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

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THE well-being and prosperity of the church of Christ must, in a great measure, depend upon the fidelity, the diligence, the unremitted watchfulness, of those ministers to whose charge it is committed; and upon their supporting a truly evangelical and exemplary character, in the sight of all men. It therefore behoves us, my brethren, seriously

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to recal to mind those things which are required of us in virtue of our office; that thus, having a distinct apprehension of our various duties, we may apply to them in such a manner, as to keep ourselves pure from the blood of all men, and be prepared to render our account with joy, and not with grief. And for our assistance in this theme of contemplation, which is to us of infinite importance, I would bespeak our mutual attention to the several particulars of that comprehensive exhortation which the apostle has addressed to the elders of the church in general, and to us individually, as included in that sacred order, and fixed in a station of high responsibility. In the first place, then, we have to remark, that St. Peter's precepts are enforced by the authority, and directed to their proper end by the light, of his own example. The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder. He does not call upon the ministers of the church, to frame to themselves some ideal standard of perfection, each submitting to the guid ance of his own judgment, or determined by the preponderance of his peculiar temper and habits; but to apply their labours, and

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regulate their conduct, by a practicable and ostensible pattern that is set before them.

This is not only the most easy and simple rule of direction, but it is a rule which, in this case, carries along with it the demonstration of its own propriety: for it is the obvious duty of every minister of the Go spel, to propose to himself the pattern of those witnesses of the sufferings of Christ, and partakers of the glory that shall be revealed; of those faithful stewards of the mysteries of God, who were formed under the immediate discipline and tuition of our blessed Lord, and completely prepared for their office by the visible guidance of the Holy Spirit.

This is surely the duty of every Christian, and especially of every Christian minister. But, lest the church should, at any time, overlook a principle so essential, it is repeat-, edly inculcated by the great apostle of the Gentiles.

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Thus, he writes to the Corinthians-Be ye followers of me, EVEN AS I ALSO AM OF CHRIST. (1 Cor. xi. 1.) Thus to the Philippians Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so, as ye

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