Charles Chauncy.

Ministers cautioned against the occasions of contempt : A sermon preached before the ministers of the province of the Massachusetts-Bay, in New England, at their annual convention, in Boston; May 31. 1744. online

. (page 1 of 4)
Online LibraryCharles ChauncyMinisters cautioned against the occasions of contempt : A sermon preached before the ministers of the province of the Massachusetts-Bay, in New England, at their annual convention, in Boston; May 31. 1744. → online text (page 1 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

p Miniflen cautioned againft the
Occafions of Contempt.


S E R M O ]%

Preached before the

Minifters of the Province




* Animal Convention,

In BOSTON*, May 31. 1744.


Paftor of the firft Church there.

^ _ _.

^. B. The Things pafled over for Want of Time,
when the Sermon was preached, are inferted in
their proper Places.

, Printed by ROGERS and FOWLE, for SAMUEL
ELIOT in Cornhill. i 7 4 4

'-' -

,,..,: .- :


M jf** 1 *

At the Annherfary Convention of
Minifters erf" the Province of
TON, May 31. 1744.

y That Thanks be returned
to the Reverend Dr. CHAUNCY
for his Sermon preached before
the Convention this Day 5 and
that he be defired to content to
the Publication of it.

* PRINCE, Scriba.

:&&^v'j&K?: : -%?'. -J". ,m

&&& T^C , "^Mf"

:: \:^ff.r* - ^M;:-": -. '

Convention SERMON.

Let no Man defpife thee.

Epiftle, out of which I have taken the
Text, was ferit by Paul to Titus. It would
take up too much of the Time allow *d me,
to enter upon the Character of this eminent
of SOD ; especially in his Capacity as an Of-
the Church of CHRIST, under which Confide-
and not as a private Chriftian, he is here wrote


ficer in

I fhall only fay, he was one of Paul's Converts, a
Fellow-Labourer with him in the Kingdom and Pati-
ence of JESUS CHRIST, and his Companion in Travels.
It was with Paul that he -tfent to Crete ; and by him
he was left there to ferve the Ends of the Gofpel.
Some fay, he was now conftituted Bi/hof of Crete ;
but 'tis remarkable, he is not fpoken of as the Bijbopof
this Place, by any of the Fathers within the three firft
Centuries : Nor does the Scripture at all favour fuch

6 A Convention SERMON.

a Notion. It rather reprefents him as tarrying here on
fome temporary Occafion, than as a fat Officer,

The Story is thus,

Paul and Titus, upon their coming to Crete, found
Things in a very unfettled State. For though confi-
derable Numbers had embraced Chriftianity, they had
too much neglected Order. They had few or no or-
dained Elders among them ; and, perhaps, were not as
yet formed into diftinct Churches : Or, if this was the
Cafe, they had not got into a regular State, without
which 'tis impofiible Societies fhould fubfift long with-
out falling into Confufion. Now, for this Caufe it was,
tiiat Titus was left in Crete, tbat he might fet in Order
the Things that were wanting, and ordain Elders in eve-
ry City : Which, when he had done, the more fpecial
End of his Continuance in this Place was anfwered,and
he might travel elfewhere, as in all Probability he did.

But however this be, his being at Crete, in the Ser-
vice of CHRIST, and under peculiar Circumftances of
Difficulty, was the Occafion of Paul's writing this E-
piftle to him ; in which, many are the Advices he
gives him for the Direction of his Conduct, as one in-
trufted with theManagement of the Affairs of CHRIST'S

He is very particular in mifiding him of the necef~
fary Qualifications for the facred Office, that he might
put none into it, who were not fit for fo important a
Truft. And he the rather chofe to enlarge upon this
Head, as many unruly and Fain-talkers and Deceivers
were (battered up and down, fulverting whole Houfes,
and teaching Things they ought not for filthy Lucr/s Sake.
It may feem ftrange, that, in the Days of the Apoftles,
there fhould be fuch Numbers of falfe Teachers : But
fo it was in Fact j yea, and they were grown to fuch



Convention SERMON. 7

an Height in Impudence, even in thofe primitive Times,
that they could exalt themfelves above the very Apof-
ties. And in Order to this, they were fo far Matters
in the Art of Deceit, as to transform themj r elves into
\Angels of Light : Nor did they ftick at any Thing, fo
they could but leflen the Apoftolic Reputation, and
wind themfelves into the Affedttons of the Populace.
The Afoftk feems very follicitous, that the Church
might be rid of thefe falfe and dangerous Teachers ;
and, as the beft Expedient to this End, dire&s, that
none might have committed to them the Difpenfation
of the Gofpel, but well qualified Perfbns ; one efTen-
tial Requifite in whofe Chara&er he has declared muft
be that, able, by found Do ftrine, both to exhort and con-
vince the Gainfayers.

Upon which it is natural to remark, if none are al-
low'd to be intrufted with the Miniftry but thofe who
have Ability to convince Gain-fayers, it mufl certainly
be the Duty of fuch, when they are in the Miniftry, to
makeUfe of this Ability againft thofe, who teach Things
which they ought not. How elfe will they anfwer one
of the exprefs Ends of their being put into the facred
Office ? And to what Purpofe is it, that this Ability
muft be found in them, if 'tis not their Duty to make
Ufe of it, as the Occafion of the Church mall render
it needful ?

But among all the Directions given to fittts, for his
Conduct as a Minifter, there is no one of more Weight
than that in the Text, Let no Man defpife thee. And
*tis of common Obligation on all, whom it has pleafed
God to put into the Miniftry. They fhould all behave
fb as not to be defpifed, fo as to give no juft Occafion
to be fo. That's the Meaning of the Words. O-
therwife, Minifters would have a hard Tafk indeed.
Their Duty would be an utter Impoffibility. For 'tis
not in their Power, though they fhould be as wife as


8 A Convention SERMON:

Serpents, and harmlefs as Doves, to pafs through the
World, and not be defpifed, They may, through the
Supply of the SPIRIT of JESUS CHRIST, bghave fo
circumipe&ly and inoffenfively, as that none may have
Reafon to treat them with Contempt ; but they can't
command the Wills of other Men, they have not the
Government of their Pafllons, or Prejudices, or Lofts.
The GREAT SAVIOUR himfelf, though a Prophet of
unfpotted Innocence, was yet defpifed of Men. And
Jhall the Dffciple be above his LORD ? Shall the World
vilify the MASTER, and the Servant be better treated ?
The Spirit of too many is fiich, that we may expedb,
be we as cautious as we will, to be derided. And this
indeed feems to be implied in the Text it felf. The
Exhortation, Let no Man defpife thee^ plainly fuppofes
a too great Pronenefs in People to treat Minifters with
Contempt -, and their Duty lies, not in People's not
clelpifing them, but in not deferving their Contempt,
in doing nothing that may lay a juft Foundation For

In further fpeaking to the Text, I fliall,

I. Say fomething of that Difpofition there is in Peo-
ple to defpife the Minifters of CHRIST.

II. Show wherein they fliould take Care to avoid the
Qccafions of Contempt.

III. Reprefent the Obligations which lie upon them
to fuch a Care.

The whole will then be followed with fome futable

I. I am, in the firft Place, to fpeak of that Diffqfi-
tion there is in People to defpife the Minifters of CHRIST,
Not that I would infinuate, as if they were generally
faulty in this Refpedt Many there are,GODhe ifcank-
ed, who acknowledge the fpecial Relation they bear
to JESUS CHRIST, and treat them as Stewards f fa
Myjleries of GOD j Deeming them bigty fr Love, both


A Convention SERMON. 9

for their Office, and Wortfs Sake. And fome, it may
be, think more highly of them than is meet. Thole,
-to be fure, do fo, who have thtirPerfons in Admiration \
btindly receiving all they fay, as though it were infalli-
ble Truth. This is doing them too much Honour ;
yea, 'tis placing them in the Room of CHRIST, and
calling them Mafter in Oppofition to the one Mafter in
Heaven. Brethren, we renounce all claim to fuch un-
due Reverence. We don't pretend to have Dominion
ever your Faith, but only to be Helpers of your Joy.
And inftead of an implicit Faith in our Dictates, we
commend to you the Example of the noble Bereans,
who fearched the Scriptures daily, to fee whether the
Things taught them were the Truths of GOD, yea, or
nay : Nor dare we advife you to hold faft what we de-
liver to you, in the Courfe of our Preaching, only as
. you perceive it to be good, upon full Proof from the
Word of CHRIST. To the Law, and to theTeftimony :
If what we fay does not agree herewith, there is no
Light nor Truth in it.

You may, perhaps, have conceiv'd fo high an Opi-
nion of the uncommon Sanctity of fome particular Mi-
nifters, in Diflinclion from others, and the divine Tea-
chings they are under, as to fuppofe them to have got
beyond all Danger of Miftakes. -, you may be ready to
think it impoflible you mould err, while you follow
the Inftru6tions of Men filled with fuch extraordinary
Meafures of the HOLY GHOST : But you ought to
remember, 'tis not always thofe who make the greatefl
Pretences to the SPIRIT, who are mod favoured with
his real Influences ; nor are any fmce the Days of In-
fpiration, fo led by the SPIRIT as to be infallible. A-
las ! the beft qualified Minifters are but Men -, Men
of like Paffions with your felves : And of this they too
often give Proof by the Errors they run into, in Prin-
ciple as well as Practice. They may not therefore be
depended on, as though you could not be mifguided by

B them.

io A Convention SERMON,

them. Be their Gifts, or Graces, or Z0al, what they
will j or let their Pretences to the immediate Conduct
of the Divine SPIRIT be as peremptory as they will,
you .mud not believe this,or the other Thing,to be the
Truth, as it is in JESUS, upon their Authority : No,
but you muft bring what they fay, with an unprejudic-
ed Mind, to the HOLY BIBLE , clofing in with it, or
rejecting it, as you find it, upon Trial,to agree or difa-
gree with that one only I'eft of all religiousTruth : Nor
will you otherwife be able to excufe your felves ano-
ther Day. It won't then fuffice to plead, that you
were told this,or that, by thofe you efteemed Men ex*
traor dinar ily afTifled by the SPIRIT j for you had the
Scriptures to repair to, and might have examined what
they faid by that facred and unerring Rule : Which, if
you neglected to do, believing Man rather than GOD,
how will you hold up your Heads ? 'Twon't leflen,
but aggravate your Fault, to pretend you fubmitted
your Confciences to meer humane Dictates ; for it will
then appear, that your embracing any Thing for a
Truth of GOD, upon any Authority Ihort of his, was
fetting up that Authority in his Throne, and paying
that Honour to the Creature, which is due only to the

But if there are fome, who rife too high in their Re-
fpecls to Minifters, are there not others, on the con-
trary Extreme, who fall as much too low ? And is
not this the Spirit evidently prevailing at this Day ?
Are there not many who vilify the Office it felf, treat-
ing it with Sneer and Ridicule ? And what Wonder,
if the Perfons of Minifters don't efcape the Scorn and
Contempt of fiich ? They have indeed a pitiful Tho't-
of all of this Profeflion , and fpare none, though of
the moil fhining Accomplifhments. If they know no-
thing more of a Man than that he is a Minifiber, 'tis
enough with them to finifh his Character ; This alone
will give them a low mean Opinion of him -, though
without cither Candour Or Juftice, Not

A Convention SERMON. 1 1

Not but that there have been, among the Clergy^
both weak and 'vicious Men. It would be a flrange
Thing indeed if their hadn't. But why rnuft the \vhoie
Order fuffer Reproach on this Account ? Is this fair? It
is thought to be fo in other Profeflions ? If there arc any
who make themfelves vile,let them bear all thelndignity
they defrrve : But where is the Equity of blaming the
Innocent with the Guilty ? Are there not Men of
Worth in the facred Fundtion, as well as in other Em-
ployments ? Men of Capacity and Integrity, yea, and
of extenfive Uiefulnefs, through their abundant La-
bours in the Caufe of GOD ? And mall they all, not-
withftanding, be condemned, and by the Lump too, as
a Parcel of fimple, or elfe crafty and defigning Men ?

This, I know, has fometimes been fuggefted, if not
plainly fpoken out, to the Prejudice of their Reputati-
on ; and with all the Embellishments of Wit and
Railery. But if Men, profefTedly of no Principles,
are Enemies to thofe, whofe Bufinefs it is to plead the
Caufe of Virtue and true Religion, what is it more than
might be expedted ? Nor would they act up to their
Character, if, rather than not afperfe them, they did
not make a handle of any Thing -, and inftead of
folid Argument exer: themfelves in prophane Banter,

I may not impertinently add here, *Tis not only a-
mong atheiftical vicious-Men that Minift.ers are treated
with Contempt. They have appear'd flrangely prone
to defpife one another, and to take all Occafions to do
fov, .and this has been too much their Way, in all
Places, and Ages of the World. If fome Minifies
han't had Light to think, or fpeak, juft as fome others
would haye them, how commonly have they been the
Objects of their Contempt ? What Names of Igno-
miny and Reproach have been can: upon them ? And
how has die Spirit of Contempt been propagated from
Mmifters to People, to the great Hindrance of the
B *

12, A Convention SERMON.

Gofpel ? Perhaps, forne of the Minifters of CHRIST,
and it may be as faithful Minifters as any in theGofpel-
Church, have fuffered more from their own Brethren,
and fuch among the People as have been fet on Fire
by them, than they ever have, even from foul-mouth'd
Infidels. Says the excellent Mr. Baxter, fpeaking of
the Sectaries of his Day, " They have quite out-ftrip-
" ped the profane Scorners of the Miniftry. By ma-
" ny Years Experience in converfmg with thefe Men,
" I can fpeak it knowingly, that the chiefeft of their
" Zeal is let out againft the faithful Minifters of
" CHRIST. He is the ableft of their Preachers, that
<c can rail at them in the vileft Language. It is their
<c moft common Difcourfe, in all Companies, both god-
" ly and profane, to vilify the Miniftry, and make
" them odious to all ; partly, by Slanders, and partly
" by Scorns. Is this the Way to win Souls ? Where-
" as formerly they thought, that if a Man were
" won to a Love of the Miniftry, and Ordinan-
" ces, he was in a hopeful Way of being won to
" God ; now thefe Men are diligent to bring all
" Men to fcorn them, as if this were all that was ne-
ir cefTary to the favingof their Souls, and he only fhall
c be happy, that can deride at Minifters and Difci-
" pline." He adds, " If any Man doubt of the
" Truth of what I fay, he is a Stranger in England*^

I will not go about to draw a Parallel between the
late Times in this Land, and thofe referred to by this
pious and learned Writer ; but thus much I may be
allow'd to fay, that the Body of*the Minifters were ne-
ver treated with more Infult and Contempt than by
Multitudes, and of thofe too, who once efteemed them
the Glory of New-England : Nor were they ever more
hardly cenfured than by fome of their own Order, from
whom they might have expected better Things. It
will not be denied, that*hey have had all Manner of
Evil fpoken againft them, and this, in the Face of


A Convention SERMON. 1 3

crowded Auditories. And are there not Numbers, in
many Places, who have learned, from their admired
Teachers,, to give them no better Names than Pharifees,
blind Leaders of the Blind, Oppofers of CHRIST, and
what not ? And han't this Contempt been thrown
upon as valuable Minifters as any the LORD JESUS
CHRIST has in the Country, of as known Sonndnefs in
the Faith, and as exemplary a Walk in Conformity to the
Precepts of the Gofpel ?

Let us not be difcouraged, my Brethren ; what tho*
we are defpifed, not only by Men of no Religion, but
thofe who pretend to a great Deal ? This was the Lot
of infpired Apoftles ; yea, of JESUS CHRIST himfelf :
And it has often been the Lot of his moil faithful Mi-
nifters ever fmce. Meerly our being defpifed, is not
our Fault, tho' it may be our Unhappinefs. The Fault
is, to deferve Contempt *, and we cannot, it muft be
own'd, be too much upon our Guard, that there may be
no juft Reafon to charge it upon us : Which leads me
to the next Thing, namely,

II. To mew wherein Minifters mould take Care to
give no Occafion of Contempt. And their Care Ihould
be expreft in the following Particulars.

T. If they would not be defpis'd, they fhould fee to
it that they ben't ignorant. It was required under the
Jewijh (Economy, that the Priejfs Lips fhould preferve
Knowledge,becmfe the People were to ajk the Law at his
Mouth. And the fameThing is equally necefTary, under
the Difpenfation by JESUS CHRIST. Gofpel-Minifters
fhould be as Scribes inftrufled unto the Kingdom of Hea-
ven -, they fhould be like the good Houfholder, who can
bring out of his Treafure "Things new and old. 'Tis
mentioned by the infpired Paul, as an e/ential Qualifi-
tation of a Guide to Souls, that he be apt to teach, and
by found Doftrine* both to exhort and convince the


14 d Convention SERMON.

Gainfayers. And can the Minifter be thus fitted for
his Office, without confiderable Degrees of Knowledge?
He ought, certainly, to be a Man above the common
Level for natural Capacities : Nor is this enough ; but
his Powers ought to be well cultivated by a, good Edu-
cation. He ought to have Skill in the learned Arts
and Languages, fo as to be ready to make ufe of them
in the Service of the Sanftuary, as Occafion may call
for it : Nor otherwife will he rife above juft Contempt.

It may reafonably be expected of Minifters, that they
fhould have made confiderable Attainments, particu-
larly in the Knowledge of Divinity. How elfe fhould
they be Teachers of others in this noble Art ? Shall
Men be ignorant in their own Profeffion ? How in-
congruous is this ? What can more ftrongly tend to
render them defpicable ? What will actually bring up-
on them greater Contempt ?

Not but that illiterate Men are fometimes mightily
cried up ; raw ignorant Novices highly applauded and
admired : But 'tis only among fuch as have need to
abound yet more and more in 'Knowledge and Judgment :
As for others, who, by Reafon of Ufe, have their Senfes
exercifed to difcern both Good and Evil, they readily per-
ceive the Infufficiency of Teachers, under/landing nei-
ther what they fay, nor whereof they affirm. Nor would
it be flrange, if, in their Behaviour, they fhould ex-
prefs the low Opinion they entertain of them. And
the Contempt due to fuch blind Guides will, with Juf-
tice, be reflected on others of the fame Order, if they
appear forward to invite, them into their Pulpits ; efpe-
daily, if they do it to the Neglect of thofe who are of
known eftablilhed Merit, and hereby baulk their own
Judgment to fall in with the popular Humour^, #-,.

...... , gygP^

It may be worth Confideration, We live in an Age,
wherein there is feme Learning as well as a great deal


A Convention SERMON. 1 5

of Ignorance : And thare are, among our Hearers, a
eonfiderable Number/ eminent for their good Senfe
and acquired Accomplifriments : And it muft needs be
diftafteful to fuch, to behold thofe fet up for publick
Teachers i who need themfetoes to be taught which be the
frft Principles of the Oracles of GOD. They can't
help conceiving a mean Thought of fuch Medlers
with what they are neither qualified for, nor called to j
and their being careffed, not only by the Populace^
( which is no Wonder ) but by thofe cloathed with the
f acred Charaffer, is a Damage to Minifters in general.
It makes their Credit run low ; and in vain will they
complain, if they are treated as a Set of Men knowing
very little, though they pretend to know a great Deal,

It will* doubtlefs, be here faid, the Apoftles them-
felves, the firft Preachers of the Gofpel, were a Set of
ordinary Men, deftitute of the Advantage of Learning,
And 'tis readily own'd, the moil of them were Ib. But
then 'tis obfervable, they were not allow'd to go forth
from Jerufalem, to teach the Nations, '//// they been had
indued with Power from on High. \. e. 'till the HOLY
GHOST had, in a miraculous Manner, fitted them for
their Work. So that 'tis aMiftake to think the Apoftles
commenc'd Preachers, while unfnrnifli'd for the facred
Employment. 5 Tis true, they did not pafs thro' a
Courfe of Study preparatory to their Miffion as Mini-
fters 5 but 'tis as true, that the Want of this was abun-
dantly made up, by the Effufion of the HOLY GHOST
upon them in miraculous Gifts -, enabling them not on-
ly to fpeak with Tongues, but without previous Me-
ditation, and fo as to be infallible Guides to Men, in
the Way to Salvation.

Some, perhaps, while they are meer Novices, may
take upon them the Office of the Miniftry, expecting
the Beftowment of the SPIRIT, in extraordinary Gifts ;
as in the Days of the Apgftles, But they herein err,


1 6 A Convention SERMON.

not confidering the Difference between the State of
Things now, and when the Gofpel was frft made pib-
lick. It was neceflfary the Chnftian Revelation* fhould
be approved of GOD, by Signs, and Wonders, and Mi-
racles, done in the midft of tbe People ; and that it Ihould
alfo be infallibly delivered to the World, as the ftand-
ing Rule of Men's Faith and Practice, which, it coitld
not have been, if holy Men had not fpoken, and wrote
it, as mov'd and infpired by the HOLY GHOST ;
Whereas, there is no Need of the like extraordinary In-
fluence of the Divine SPIRIT, now that Chriftianity has
received its Confirmation and been eftablifht, in the
World, as a Religion coming from GOD. Accord-
ingly, theWay of becoming qualified to beMinifters of
this Religion is, not by any miraculous Interpofition of
Heaven, but by Attendance to Reading, Meditation and
Prayer. In this Way, we may hope, thro* the Blefling
of GOD, to be furnifht with all futable minifterial
Gifts : But if, inftead of Labour and Pains, in the Ule
of ordinary Means, we expect the Defcent of the HOLY
GHOST in Tongues ef Fire, or depend on extraordinary
Revelations, or immediate Imprejfions, we mall only ren-
der our felves meet Objects of Contempt. Who have
all along been the ableft Defenders of Chriftianity ?
Who have fet its Doctrines in the cleared and moft
confident Light ? Who have explained and urg'd its
Precepts, m the moft inftructive and convincing Man-
ner ? Who have been the grand Supporters of its
Worfhip and Order ? Can this Honour be claimed by
your Pretenders to immediate Revelations, and extraor-
dinary Influences from above ? Muft it not rather be
given to thofe, who,by hard Study, and a confiderable
Stay at the School of the Prophets, have, through: a
Divine Rlefling on their Endeavours, got their Minds
furnifht with defirable Meafures of Knowledge and
good Underftanding ? There is no Room for Debate
on the Matter. No Man, fmce the Days of the Apo-
ftles, was ever futably qualified for the Miniftry, but 'in


A Convention SERMON. 1 7

the Way of Labour and Pains, in an Attendance on
the ordinary Means of Inftruftion : And thofe who
have left this Way of GOD's Appointing, in Expecta-
tion of extraordinary Supplies from the SPIRIT, have
too commonly, fooner or later, run wild, to the expo-
fing, not only themfelves, but the whole Miniftry, yea,
Religion it felf, to Contempt.

But pofilbly, it will be further urged, does not GOD
fometimes take Occafion, from the Labours of Men of
finall Parts, and little Learning, to ferve the Ends of
his own Kingdom ? And if GOD approves of Per-
ibns of fuch a Charater, why mould not we ? The
Anfwer whereto is eafy. A Diftindion ought always
to be made between GOD's Approbation of a Thing,
and his taking Occafion from it to do Good : Nor can
the former be at all collected from the latter. 'Tis
readily allow'd, the alwife merciful GOD may over-rule
the Miniftrations of weak ignorant Men for fpirituai
Advantage to Souls , but it cannot be argued from
hence, that he looks upon fuch Perfons as fit to be in-
truded with the facred Miniftry. In Order to know
his Mind in this Matter, the great Queftion ought to
be^ what are the Qualifications the BIBLE, that public,
ftanding^ authentic Revelation of the Divine Will,
makes neceffary to be found in thofe who would be
Gofpel-Minifters ? And if it appears, that it requires*
Knowledge^ and confiderabls Degrees of it, thofe only are
fit Co be put into the Miniftry, who are thus qualified.
There is., no Doubt, a Latitude in this Cafe. A Man
may be qualified for the Miniftry, tho' he mould nor
be furnifht with Knowledge in the higheft Degrees :

1 3 4

Online LibraryCharles ChauncyMinisters cautioned against the occasions of contempt : A sermon preached before the ministers of the province of the Massachusetts-Bay, in New England, at their annual convention, in Boston; May 31. 1744. → online text (page 1 of 4)