This letter is found in “The Evangelical Magazine” for January 1799, page 26. It is entitled, “On the Exemplary Behavior of Ministers”.
In regard to mankind in general, you must labor to be not only unblamable and unreprovable in all things, but, also, of good report. Study the most rigid equity in all your dealings. Cultivate the most engaging humility of spirit; preferring others to yourself; condescending to persons of low degree; never esteeming yourself too much, nor reaching beyond your station or ability.
Above all things, put on charity, the most tender and loving affection, and about in it’s delightful and winning exercise; ardently loving good men, in proportion to the appearance of Christ’s image in them; highly esteeming them, delighting in their persons and company; readily assisting and supporting them; truly and heartily loving all men, wishing in promoting their real good; pinching yourself to supply the poor; forgiving injuries though often repeated; pitying and praying for malicious and inveterate enemies and rendering them good for evil; being hospitable to strangers, especially to such as are persecuted for righteousness’s sake, or who appear to be extremely destitute.
Let your moderation be known to all men; and readily bearing with, and overlooking there moroseness, passion, imprudence, or the like; interpreting their words and deeds in the best sense which they can bear; yielding from your right to prevent contention and offense; overlooking and forgiving what reproaches and injuries you meet with.
Show yourself to be apt, ready, and inclined to things spiritual. Let your speech be always seasoned with salt; not merely innocent, but edifying. Seize every opportunity of introducing, or maintaining, spiritual converse. In order to this, furnish your mind with an extensive stock of interesting anecdotes and striking hints. In imitation of your Divine Master, Study to draw something serious and instructive from everything you see or hear.
Prudence is no less necessary and guarding against advances of designing men, who hypocritically pretend to esteem and love you; in avoiding the unbridled rage of enemies; and attending, not only to that which is lawful, but also to that which is expedient; and keeping within the limits of your station, while you were endeavoring to extirpate evil, and promote what is good; and never correcting evils by that which will prove as hurtful or more so; and studying to suppress the fame of your good deeds, if it be likely that it will be perverted to a bass use; and a never meddling with, or even inquiring into those things which do not concern you.
By the earnest study of the above duties towards God, yourself, and your neighbor, you will promote your own delightful fellowship with God; you will cherish and maintain the abundant influences of the Holy Ghost, who dwells in you; you will make God delight to honor and bless your ministrations; you will prevent your falling into much sin, snares, reproach and the like; you will increase your fitness for your office; you will render yourself and family noted examples to your flock; You will procure the affection of good men, the help of their fervid prayers, and the esteem of all, on their readiness to attend without prejudice, to instructions, reproofs, and exhortations; you will adorn your ministry, and promote the usefulness of it and the salvation of your hearers; you will highly glorify god, and acting answerably to his nature, his oracles, law or gospel, ordinances or worshipers, with which your ministry is connected; All of which require holiness and virtue in all manner of conversation.
Whereas by unholiness and vice, ministers render themselves unfit to study, understand, or declare the ministers of God’s Kingdom; and are exceedingly hurtful to the church, exposing her ordinances to neglect and contempt. They’re bad example spreads far and wide among the people. Their wickedness introduces manifold errors in corrections into the church. The corrections expose them to the most fearful judgments of the Most High.