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CHARGE V.

ON REFLECTION ON THE SUCCESS OF OUR

MINISTRY.

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, with the laying

on of the hands of the Presbytery.

CHARGE V.

ON REFLECTION ON THE SUCCESS OF OUR

MINISTRY.

THE reiterated advice which the Apostle addresses to his son Timothy, to “ give attendance " to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine, and not “to neglect the gift which is in him,” is admirably calculated to supercede that careless disposition, and enfeebling negligence, to which we are prone by nature, and induced by habit. Defects, are, indeed, inevitable in the prosecution of our calling; by taking, therefore*, a review of your ecclesiasti. cal conduct, by giving your attendance to reading, and your mind to reflection, you may remedy them in future. Our fervour abates, our spiritual pow. ers decay, the man gets the better of the minister, by reflection, therefore, you will re-animate the languishing principle, and renew within you the original spirit, of your ministry. Lastly, the Clergy of this extensive diocese, have, in general, need of examples: you will supply them with one, at once instructive to their minds, and attractive of their affections, by so examining your past life, as to enable you to fulfil your ministry with advan- . tage to your several flocks.

* It may

be proper to inform the reader, that it was a custom among the French Clergy, to assemble, at their Synods, in some religious house, called the Retreat, where their time was devoted to meditation, prayer, and the exposition of some parts of Scripture, for their mutual information. To this cus: tom, Massillon, in these Charges, frequently alludes.

I. The duties of our calling are so holy, and require such pious dispositions, that the most exemplary and godly Ministers cannot always exercise them with fervour of zeal, and purity of mind, without which, oblations are vain, and incense an abomination.

We may be, frequently, in this state, without, almost, being conscious of it, and may, by such inattention and negligence, lose those gifts which give dignity to the ministry, and efficacy to its labours. How often do harshness and impatience take the place of zeal and of charity! How often do indolence, disgust, secret antipathies, sometimes personal dislikes, induce us to refuse that assistance to our flock, which their necessities, and our engagements, demand of us! How often, through the apprehension of being thought troublesome, and esteemed ridiculous, do we approve, perhaps imitate, the faults and errors we condemn, and forget, in a cer, tain degree, the decorum, and the sanctity of our ministry!

Notwithstanding, the regular discharge of our duty conceals, even from our own minds, this part of our character, so humiliating to ourselves, and so injurious to our vocation, and does not leave us

leisure to examine its rise, and contemplate its deformity. By being so inattentive to our deportment in our holy calling, we collect a treasure of wrath, unknown to ourselves ; and, as ignorance of our state is the just punishment of our want of self-examination, the more regardless we are of our professional conduct, the greater is our consequent indifference; because the lights which were designed to warn us, and to open our eyes, go out, unperceived by us. And this, my Reverend Brethren, is a principal cause of the irregularity, and very culpable negligence, of many who také upon them the sacred profession. We are the light of the world ; the smallest mist obscures this splendour ; ,our faults become like eclipses, which intercept the bright beams of grace in the hearts of Christians, and leave in darkness, that part of the Church, which we were commanded to enlighten.

· By examining ourselves with minute attention, by bringing before our eyes every part of our past conduct, by going through the whole course of our ministry, we shall discover the places, the occasions, the cicumstances, in which we acted improperly; we shall perceive that, notwithstanding the opinion of men, and the many encomiums they may pass on the external regularity of our behaviour, it is well, if we be holy, and faithful, Ministers,' worthy to dispense the mysteries of God. The distance betwixt what we are, and what we ought to be, greatly humbles, and strikingly alarms us. We

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