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his opinion is treated with disrespect, and his just influence over the feelings of his flock be undermined; if he be rudely and impertinently addressed; if he be unnecessarily opposed in his schemes for public or private usefulness; if his sermons be despised or neglected, and his ecclesiastical administration treated with suspicion or contempt; if his temporal support be scantily or grudgingly afforded; if his comfort be not carefully consulted and assiduously built up ;-there is a flagrant unbecomingness on the part of church members, who are enjoined "to obey them that have the rule over them," "to esteem them very highly in love for their works' sake," " and to hold such in reputation."
Lust of power, and an ambitious desire of preponderating influence, is manifestly unbecoming in one who acknowledges himself the member of a society where all are equals, and all are the servants of a master who has thus addressed his disciples"Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them; but it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." A love of power seems almost inherent in the human bosom, and is an operation of that selfishness which enters so deeply into the essence of original sin. Nothing can be more opposed to love than this. Ambition, in its progress through its bustling and violent career, is the most unsocial and uncharitable
passion that can exist. The furies are its allies, and it tramples down in its course all the charities and courtesies of life. When this disposition has taken full possession of the heart, there is no cruelty which it will hesitate to inflict, no desolation of which it will scruple to be the cause. The lesser exhibitions of this vice, and its more moderated energies, will still be attended with some proofs of its unsocial nature. Let a man once desire to be pre-eminent and predominant, as it respects influence or power, and he will not be very regardless of the feelings of those whom he desires to subjugate. It is much to be deplored, that the Christian church should ever be the field where rival candidates for power, struggle for superiority: yet how often has this been seen to be the case, not merely in the Conclave where aspiring cardinals have put in motion all their artifice, and finesse, and duplicity, to gain the tiara; not merely amongst mitred prelates for a higher seat on the episcopal bench;no; but amongst the lay brethren of an independent church. How anxious and restless have they sometimes appeared, to be leading men, influential members, the oracle of the minister, and the ruling elders of the church. They must not only be consulted in everything, but consulted first. Every plan must emanate from them, or else be approved by them before it is submitted to the rest. The Apostle has drawn their picture to the life, where he saith-"I wrote unto the church; but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against
us with malicious words and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church."* Such an individual must be a source of discomfort to his brethren in communion. There may be no competitor with him for the sceptre who regards him with envy, but the whole community are grieved and offended with his unlovely and encroaching disposition.
There are cases, it is admitted, in which age, experience, wisdom, benevolence, and activity, are so beautifully combined in an individual, as to place him, more by general consent than by his own efforts, above all his brethren in influence. When he openeth his mouth in wisdom, all are silent; and the pastor hearkens with the rest in respectful deference to his opinion. No one would think of proposing any scheme till he had been consulted, and his disapproval, mildly expressed, would be thought a sufficient reason for laying it aside. He has power, but it has come to him without his seeking it, and it is employed not to exalt himself, but to benefit the church. His sway is the influence of love; and all that influence is employed by him, not to raise himself into a rival with his pastor for the upper seat in the church, but to support the authority and dignity of the pastoral office. Such men we have sometimes seen in our communities,
3 John 9, 10.-It is pretty evident to me that Diotrephes was a minister; but the features of his picture apply with equal force to an ambitious and aspiring layman, whose lust of power is still more censurable, as it has not even the basis of office to rest upon.
and they have been a blessing to the people, and a comfort to the minister. If any individuals could have been found in the circle where they moved, so flippant and so forward as to treat them with the least degree of disrespect, every one besides would have been loud in the expression of their disapprobation of such an act of censurable indecorum.
Unseemliness in the conduct of a church member towards his brethren, applies to all that is rude, unmannerly, or uncivil. "No ill-bred man," says Dr. Adam Clarke, in his comments on this word, "or what is commonly termed rude or unmannerly, is a Christian"-certainly not a consistent one. "A man may have a natural bluntness, or be a clown, and yet there may be nothing boorish, or hoggish in his manner. I must apologize for using such words, but they best express the evil against which I wish both powerfully and successfully to declaim. I never wish to meet with those who affect to be called blunt honest men ;' who feel themselves above all the forms of civility and respect, and care not how many they put to pain-how many they displease. But let me not be misunderstood: I do not contend for ridiculous ceremonies, and hollow compliments: there is surely a medium; and a sensible Christian man will not be long at a loss to find it out. Even that people who profess to be above all worldly forms, and are generally stiff enough, yet are rarely found to be rude, uncivil, or ill bred." There is much good sense in these remarks, that deserves the attention of all professing Christians who have the credit of religion and the comfort of their brethren at heart. It is inconceivable what a
great degree of unnecessary distress is occasioned by a disregard of this rule; and how many hearts are continually bleeding, from the wounds inflicted by incivility and rudeness. We should be careful to avoid this; for religion gives no man a release from the courtesies of life. In our private intercourse with our brethren, we should be anxious to give no offence. If we feel it our duty at any time, as we may, and ought, to expostulate with a brother on the impropriety of his conduct, we should be most studiously cautious to abstain from all appearance of what is impertinently officious, or offensively blunt. Reproof, or even expostulation, is rarely palatable, even when administered with the honied sweetness of Christian kindness; but it is wormwood and gall when mingled up with uncourteousness, and will generally be rejected with disdain and disgust. We must never think of acting the part of a reprover, till we have put on humility as a garment, and taken up the law of kindness in our lips.
Nothing is more likely to lead to incivility, than repeated and vexatious interruptions when engaged in some interesting or important business, or required to comply with unreasonable requests. I have known cases in which, when application has been made for what the applicant thought to be a very reasonable matter, his request has been treated with such scorn, and denied with such abruptness and coarseness of manner, as to send him home with an arrow in his heart; when a few moments spent in explanation, or a denial given in kind and respectful language, would have completely satisfied him. It is admitted that it is somewhat trying,