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godliness or piety in relation thereto from those on whom they depend, whether it be themselves as their own property, or others.
1. Reason and the example of all nations then may teach us, that if we owe any attention to our Creator; to learn his will, to implore his favour, to acknowledge his goodness, to deprecate his displeasure, as well collectively as individually; to be his in short, and to have him for our God, there must be those who can minister for such purposes, being duly instructed, dedicated, and ordained to that end or object. Considering the dignity of the employment, it may also be inferred, and judging by the example just mentioned would likewise seem to be universally agreed, that the objects dedicated to such a Ministry should be neither few nor foul; but enough and to spare, and that of the very best.
2. It is not to be supposed that in an ordinary state with a dense population, so large a portion as a tenth of the people can be dedicated to the service of religion and a tenth of its wealth to their maintenance; as it was in that particular state which God selected and ordained for a leaven to others; but there might be in every state in Christendom a dedication corresponding with the munificence of the Jewish institution at the same time that it was regulated by the spirituality of the Christian and the circumstances of the country in which it was made. Nothing can be too good for this service however high in birth and talent, or in talent without birth. If among heaihen nations it has been thought no disparagement for sovereigns to bear the title of Priest, it should not be thought any for a Christian family, however noble or princely*, to devote one or more of its members, not nominally or titularly, but virtually and effectually, to that sacred office. Nor should they be deterred from so pious a devotion in any particular case by the seeming want of
* As authority for such an appropriation, the calling of the moral young man, (Matt. xix. 20, 21,) deserves to be remembered.
a provision for such member or members suitable to their family connexions and former enjoyments: they could not if they considered fairly the example of the universal High Priest, who was so infinitely higher born than the highest family upon earth. “For (as St. Paul tells the Corinthians) ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (Cor. II. viii. 9). The greater their poverty therefore, the greater would be their dignity in respect of outward circumstances, from the greater resemblance of their circumstances to his : but to be governed merely by the prospect of temporal advantages in devoting a son to the priesthood, would be degrading for him, insulting to God, bad policy for the state, and in fact no devotion to God, but to his rival, Mammon; by which many an excellent subject is stolen, no doubt, from his proper destiny, and from a service that he might have adorned. If fathers thought correctly, they would prefer even on their children's account an honourable poverty in the church with the peace that should accompany the same, to any troublesome accumulation of preferment otherwise. It is the only line by which the higher orders can descend to the lower without any disparagement : and it requires no great wisdom to shew, what advantage such a mixture, if followed with good doctrine and example, must produce to all classes in the state: the advantage of spiritual peers or commoners either could have nothing to do with it; as they cannot depend on the temporal interest without lowering their own, nor overpass it without being troublesome neighbours.
§ 2. Of essential incidentals the two proper species, real and personal, which have been already enumerated may serve as a foundation to the two remaining sorts of pious objectives, v.g. on places and things : on the first of which, Places, understanding thereby what is usually understood by Real property, it may be averred, that every man without accounting much of the dedication of more fugitive means, should consider his houses and lands whatever they may be and wherever situated as a substantial provision, by gift or entailment from above to be adminis, tered by his hands for the general service of the bountiful Being from whom he received them, and who graciously deigns to employ him for good.
But besides this general use of the more lasting and substantial sort of incidental property, a special dedication of different conveniences may be required for its enhancement; and, if not from every one separately and individually, yet from numbers collectively, where separate means are insufficient for a common object, whether it be little or great, a single sacrifice, or a lasting edifice; according to the terms of the divine institution in the Passover,“ saying, in the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house. And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls," &c. (Exod. xii. 3, 4).
This rule of the Passover may serve generally for religious appropriations, only substituting, perhaps, a church for a lamb, and a twentieth for a tenth, And an house or place of meeting and communion between God and his peculiar people, or church, with other property thereto belonging, seems as necessary an appendage of the union in this material state collectively, as the form or person of its members individually: which house or meeting place, being so used for a blessed medium of communication between two parties, may be ascribed as an incidental to either or both, and also named indifferently from either; as e. g. 1, the House of God; 2, the House of the church, or elliptically, the Church. In either case too we should understand the metonymy of one for a kind; as it must be an house, indeed, to hold all the church of God; and still more, to hold him whom “the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain" (Kings I. viii. 27). It is true that one house may contain all the Commons of a mighty empire by representation ; so it may, all the commons of the earth, and nobles too: but there is no appearing in the house of God by representation. To the well of life, which is here discovered in the vale of misery, every one must approach individually for himself; as our business "in the courts of the Lord's house”must not be done by attorney, but always and by all in person. Thus," they will go from strength to strength; and unto the God of gods appeareth (personally) every one of them in Sion” (Ps. Ixxxiv. 7).
How different is a congregation coming regularly to appear before God in this manner and steadily progressing towards God, from one either transfixed and nailed as it were to the ground by empty forms, or stupified by sound without meaning, or bewitched with “ great swelling words "drawn daily from“ wells without water”_"murmurers, complainers,” who separate themselves like " the angels which kept not their first estate” (Jude)! how different their drinking of the brook in the way and lifting up their heads (Ps. cx. 7), or rejoicing to edification before God, as they ought! A more glorious appearance than the GREAT CONGREGATION when so engaged is not to be witnessed on earth: it deserves to be celebrated as a sort of intermediate society, and a train extending from earth to heaven. " It is well seen, O God, how thou goest: how thou, my God and King, goest in the sanctuary. The singers go before, the minstrels follow after, in the midst are the damsels playing with the timbrels. Give thanks, O Israel, unto God the Lord in the congregations from the ground of the heart. There is little Benjamin their ruler, and the princes of Judah their counsel, the princes of Zabulon, and the princes of Nepthali. Thy God hath sent forth strength for thee : stablish the thing, O God, that thou hast wrought in us, for thy temple's sake at Jerusalem” (Ps. lxviii. 24, &c.).
§ 3. The glory of the visible church founded on character,' not on show and appearance, is a fair matter of
exultation and a laudable object of ambition to all its members individually ; provided it be the great CATHOLIC, Or common concern that we regard, and not the concerns of our own church merely, or, what may
of a mere party within the same; or, worse again, because it is truly Satanic, of our own dear selves. A man who can intentionally detach his own splendour and credit from that of the community to which he belongs is as good as lost, and deserves to be “cast forth as a branch” (John xv. 6), or an excrescence, and fairly disowned by every member of that community. But in minding the honour of the visible church we should also have a constant and more especial regard to the invisible, governing ourselves chiefly by its interests; and then we could not greatly err on either side of its incidental objectives, as in allotting either too much or too little to it particularly for visible effects and decorations: which belong to the description of Things, and as such are a part of the third and last mentioned foundation. And here,
1. In the same manner as the house of the church is an incidental common to God and his people, the Revenue of the same ought also to be regarded, i.e. as common property between God and his people for ever. So that the general devotion of a state unto God as his people will imply a particular separation and devotion of persons and places for its sake; and such separation a particular allowance also for the sake of that; not being of any certain amount, but regulated by the exigences that may arise compared with the amplitude of the resources of that state, and with the merits of the ministry likewise in some measure, if one might venture to mention them. For as the apostle says, “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things ?” (Cor. 1. ix. 11). It is what fewer would be inclined to refuse, perhaps, than may be generally imagined. It must be a bad case however for the devotion of any state, when the mass is unwilling to contribute their temporal quota, and the mi