Practical Truths Pla …
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Practical Truths Plainly Delivered Wherein is Shewed,

  • I. That true Believers on Jesus Christ, shall as certainly enjoy Everlasting Life in Heaven, as if they were [...]
  • II. That there is a blessed Mar­riage between Jesus Christ the Son of God, & the true Believer.
  • III. That Men are Infinitely concerned, not only to hear the Voice of Christ, but that they do it, To Day.
  • IV. The Work of the Ministry, described, in an Ordination SERMON.

By Increase Mather, D. D.

Phil. iii. 1.

To write the same things to you to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

Heb. xi. 4.

— Being dead yet speaketh.

II. Pet. i. 14, 15.

Knowing that shortly I must put off my Tabernacle, I will endeavour that you may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

BOSTON, N. E. Printed by B. Green, for Daniel Henchman, & Sold at his Shop. 1718

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The PREFACE.

THE Sermons Emitted herewith, are very mean, plain, ordinary Discourses, like others of the same Au­thor. They that have Sermons Pub­lished by me Fifty Years ago, if they compare them with these Composures, will find them to be of the same strain. I must confess that I have from my Youth effected a Plain, Scriptural way of Preaching. So have I lived, and so let me dye.

I have been very much urged, & by many, to Publish a considerable Number of Discourses on those Eight Characters of a blessed Man (commonly called the Beatitudes) in Christs admirable Ser­mon on the Mount. But I must Pray my Friends not to be troubled at my not complying with their importunity in that matter; Unless some One that has the Pen of a ready Writer shall transcribe Notes taken in short hand (whom I can­not perswade to spend time in so un­profitable an undertaking) I am not able to do it. Forty Years ago, I could [Page] Preach every Week, and a Monthly Lecture, & Print many Sermons, & some other Books which cost me more Reading & hard Study than the Preaching of many Sermons would have done. I can­not do now as once I could. I find a difference between Forty Years of Age and almost Fourscore. I have cause to admire the Mercy of GOD, that at such an Age I am able (by the help of Christ) to attend Publick Labours (al­tho' not so frequently as in my Youth) in so large a Congregation as that where the Divine Providence has cast my lot, & carryed me through more than six & fifty Years Temptations & Difficulties. I have great reason with thankfulness unto Christ, to acknowledge the continu­ed Love of the Lords People. May I be Serviceable among them whilst in the World, & leave those things with them, which shall be for their Edification, when I shall be gone to that World, where of Later Years I have longed to be.

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SERMON, I. True Believers on Jesus Christ shall have Ever­lasting Life in Heaven.

JOHN, VI. 47.

Verily, Verily I say unto you, He that believeth on me, hath everlasting Life.

IN the beginning of this Chapter, we have the History of a Miracle wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ, in feeding five thousand Men with only five loaves and two small fishes. The Jews were much affected with the Miracle, so as that they designed to take him by force and make him a King. Where­upon he withdrew from them, and privately crossed the Sea (or Lake) of Tiberias, and went over to Caparnaum. The next day a great Multitude followed him thither, which [Page 2] they did not that they were convinced by the Miracles (altho' that was enough to con­vince them) that he was the Messiah, nor out of any love to his Person or to his Doctrine, but out of love to the Loaves. Christ reproved them, and exhorted them to mind Earthly things less, and Spiritual things more; the Meat which endures to E­verlasting Life, which he would give them, and not that which perisheth. Wherefore Christ Preached an admirable Sermon, con­cerning the Bread of Life, that Bread which if a Man eateth of it, he shall not die but live for ever. There are especially two par­ticulars contained in his Sermon, viz. A Declaration what is meant by the Bread of Life, and who they are that eat that Bread. He gives them to understand that He him­self is that Bread, and that Believers are they that eat that Bread. It is by Faith that the Souls of Men feed upon Christ, and are made partakers of Eternal Life. This is as­serted by Christ in the Words before us, with the greatest solemnity. He pronoun­ceth it with a double Verily, or as it is in the Original, Amen, importing the great­est certainty. Amen, Amen. I say unto you, I who am the Amen, the faithful and true witness, who never did nor can speak an untruth, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath Everlasting Life. If Christ is the Bread of Life, and Faith is a feeding on him, it necessarily follows, that the Belie­ver [Page 3] shall have Everlasting Life. By Life happiness is ment. The happy Life is not to be enjoyed in this, but in another World, not Earth, but Heaven is the World where Everlasting Life is to be had.

The Doctrine then before us, is, DOCT. That the True Believer on Jesus Christ shall most certainly enjoy Everlast­ing Life and Happiness in Heaven.’

The Doctrine may be Opened and Con­firmed in several Propositions.

PROP. I. In Faith there is implyed an Assent of the Understanding to the Truth of the Gospel, and a Consent of the Will to ac­cept of Christ as offered in the Gospel. This I take to be a true and a clear description of Faith. It is the Soul that Believeth and closeth with Christ. Lam. 3.24. The Lord is my portion saith my soul. The Soul is of­ten called the Heart in the Scripture, Rom. 10.10. With the heart man believeth unto righ­teousness. Then both the Understanding and the Will of the Believer are given to Christ, these being the two essential faculties of a Reasonable Soul.

I. Faith implies a work of God on the Understanding inlightning it, and causing an Assent to the great Truths of the Gospel. It implies a giving Credit to divine Testi­mony. [Page 4] It is expressed in the Scripture by a full assurance of Understanding, Col. 2.2. The Believer does not only think that the mystery of the Gospel is Truth, but He is sure of it. Hence Peter speaking in the Name of all true Believers, sayes, We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ the Son of the living God, Joh. 6.69. There must be Knowledge in the Head or there will not be Faith in the Heart. No Man will believe in an Unknown Christ. Joh. 10.38. That you may know and believe. Yea, Knowledge is so Essential to Faith, as that Faith is sometimes called Knowledge, Isai. 53.11. By his Knowledge. i. e. by the knowledge of him, my righteous Servant: it is Christ the Righteous, who is there called Gods righteous Servant, shall justify many. It is by Faith that many are justified. In special the Believer giveth a full Assent to that great Truth of the Gospel, that the promised Messiah is come, and that our Jesus is He. Christ said to Martha, who­soever liveth, and believeth in me shall never die: Believest thou this? She said unto him, yea, Lord, I believe, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God that should come into the World, Joh. 11.27. He believeth what the Gospel reveals concerning the Person of Christ: That he is God and not Man only, but God and Man in One Person. And he believes the Truth relating to the Office of Christ, that there is One Mediator between God and Man, the Man Christ Jesus: And the Truth [Page 5] which concern Christs State of Humiliation and Exaltation. That he dyed, and was made a Sacrifice for the Sins of his People, and rose again the third day, and is ascended to Heaven, and is at the right hand of God, Angels being made subject to him, and will come again at the last day to Judge the World. That Man that does disbelieve or deny any one fundamental Article of the Christian Religion, cannot be a true Belie­ver on Christ. But altho' the Faith of As­sent is necessary, it is not alone a Saving Faith. For many Hypocrites and Repro­bates have it. There were chief Rulers a­mong the Jews of whom it is said that they believed, but they did not confess their Faith, For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God, Joh. 12.42, 43. That decla­red them to be no true Believers. For there is not a true Believer in the World that loves the praise of Men (though they may love it too much) more than the praise of God. Moreover, their declining to make a Con­fession of Christ, discovered their want of a Saving Faith. For with the heart Man be­lieveth, and with the Mouth Confession is made to Salvation. If a Man will not Confess Christ before all the World, that's a sure sign that his heart doth not truly believe on him. Believers in the Primitive times would o­penly Confess the Name of Christ, when they knew they should die for it immediately. It is related concerning one of the Martyrs, [Page 6] That the Persecutors could obtain no Answer to their Interrogatives, but I am a Christian. Where doest thou live? I am a Christian. Who are thy Relations? I am -a Christian. It is not necessary to Salvation, that a Man should say, I am Lutheran, or I am a Cal­vanist, or I am an Episcopalian, or I a Pres­beterian; or of this or that Party: but it is necessary that he should say, and confess it freely, I am a Christian. Since then, some that have been convinced of Christs being the Son of God, yet have not confessed him, that shews that a meer doctrinal Faith is not a Saving Faith. Nay, such a Faith is no more than what the Devils and Damned have. To those that have only a Faith of Assent, the Apostle says, Jam. 2.19. Thou believest there is one God, thou dost well, The Devils also believe and tremble. All Religion depends upon this Article of it, There is a GOD, and but One GOD. Deny that and you destroy all Religion at once. Where­fore when it is said, The Devils believe there is One God, it imports that they be­lieve all the Articles of Religion. In par­ticular they believe that Great Article of our Christian Faith, That Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God whom he had promised to send into the World. We read in the Gospel of a Possessed Man, that when the Devils in him saw Christ, they made a sad out cry, Saying, Let us alone, what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth, are [Page 7] thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the holy One of God. So that this Be­lief is not enough to denominate any One a true Believer in Jesus Christ.

2. In Faith there is implied the Consent of the Will. Believers are Christs People. And his People are a Willing People, Psal. 110.3. In this does Believing especially consist. Hence Faith is said to be not a believing Of Christ, but a Believing On him. So in the Text before us. And Believing In him, Joh. 11.25. He that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live. And there are many other Expressions whereby Faith is denoted in the Scripture which imply a Consent of the Will. e. g. It is dis­cribed by a willingness to come to Christ for Life and Salvation. Christ said to the unbelieving Jews, You will not come to me that you might have life, Joh. 5.40. Un­belief is a departing from Christ. So 'tis by Faith that we go to him for Salvation. When some false hearted Disciples were so offended at some passages in Christs Sermon, as to go back and walk no more with him, Christ said to his true Disciples, Will you also go away? Peter answered, Lord to whom shall we go, Thou hast the words of Eternal Life, Joh. 6.68. Thy words which teach us to believe on thee will bring us to Eternal Life, therefore we will go to thee and to no one else for it. Faith is [Page 8] expressed by that of Trusting in the Lord, in which is implied a Consent of the Will, and a Resting on him, and a Leaning on him. Cant. 8.5. Who is this that comes up from the Wilderness Leaning on her beloved. It is the Believer that comes out of the Wilder­ness of this World, and Leans upon Christ all the Way in his Journey towards Heaven. Again, Faith is called Obedience. He is the Author of Salvation to all that obey him, Heb. 5.9. It is not a forced but a willing Obedience. Isai. 1.19. If ye be willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the Land. They that are willingly obedient to Christ shall eat the good of the heavenly Land, they shall eat the bread of Life there. Moreover, Believing is said to be a Receiving of Christ. Joh. 1.12. As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his Name. A Man that has a gift offered to him, if he is convinced of the worth of it, he receives it with both hands willingly. Christ is the greatest gift that possibly can be. God himself has not a greater gift to bestow than that of his Son Jesus Christ. In the Gospel he offers him to Sinners to be their Saviour. They that Receive him as God offers him, are the Believers that shall have Ever­lasting Life. The true Believer Receives him with his heart, and in his heart. Christ sayes, Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice, and open the [Page 9] door, I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with me, Rev. 3.20. What door is that which Christ stands knocking at? It is at the door of the Sinners heart. Christ says, Open that door, that I may come in. The Believer says, I will do it with all my heart. Come in blessed Lord, Take possession of this heart of mine, Dwell there and rule there for ever; And cast out of my heart what ever stands in opposition to thee. I give to thee, and to none but thee my heart. The Believer that thus heartily receives Christ, shall sup with him, shall feast with him upon the bread of Life in Heaven.

To speak more particularly:

1. The Believer receives Christ in his Per­son as a most desirable One. 1 Pet. 2.7. To you which believe he is precious. Not on­ly in his benefits precious, but He himself is so. God offers his Son to Men to be their Head and Saviour, that their Souls should be Married to him, Matth. 22.2. A King made a Marriage for his Son. The God of Heaven is the King there spoken of. Our Lord Jesus Christ is his Son. It is the be­lieving Soul that is Married to him; yea, the Soul takes him not meerly for his Por­tion, but for the excellency and desirable­ness of his Person. Not for his Loaves, but because his Miracles have convinced him [Page 10] that he is the Son of God, and so the most excellent Person that ever was in the World. The dark Unbeliever never had his eyes opened so as to have real visions of the glory of Christ. The language of Unbe­lief is that, in Isai. 53.2. He has no form nor comliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty in him that we should de­sire him. But as for the true Believer the Spirit of God has opened his eyes, and shi­ned into his heart, and has given him to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. He therefore sayes of Christ, He is my beloved, and my beloved is the chief of ten thousand. There is no Man on Earth nor in Heaven neither that is so desirable in his eyes as Jesus Christ. Psal. 73.25. Whom have I in Heaven but thee, and there is none upon Earth that I desire besides thee. He does then most willingly receive him.

2. He receives Christ, as in his Person, so in all his Offices. He does not only believe that Christ is a Priest, a Prophet and King, but is willing that Christ should be his Priest, his Prophet, and his King. It is true that the Priestly Office of Christ is in a special manner the object of Faith. [...]. 3.25 Whom God hath set forth to be a Pro­pitiation through faith in his blood. Jesus Christ the glorious High Priest of our Christian Profession, has offered a Sacrifice to God to make Atonement for the Sins of [Page 11] his People, and [...] to obtain for them the forgiveness of all their Sins, and the Salvation of their Souls. Now that Sacri­fice which Christ has offered, is Himself. He is both Priest and Sacrifice. His hu­mane Nature which was Sacrificed being Per­sonally united to the divine Nature, that Sacrifice was infinitely greater than if all the Creatures in the whole World had been a Sacrifice to appease the wrath and satis­fie the Justice of God, for the wrong done to him by the Sins of Men. It was suf­ficient to make Atonement for the Sins of the whole World. Were it not for the Merit of the blood of that Sacrifice, the Be­liever would have no Faith nor Hope of ever seeing Heaven. Heb. 10.19. Having boldness to enter into the holiest of all by the blood of Jesus. He dare venture to say, If there is not Merit enough in the blood of Jesus to obtain my Salvation, I am content to perish. But since there is such a great High Priest as Jesus the Son of God to be his Saviour, the true Believer on him shall never perish. Thus does he receive Christ in his Priestly Office. He also receives and submits unto him in his Prophetical Office. Moses said to the Children of Israel, A Pro­phet will the Lord your God raise up unto you like unto me, him shall you hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you, and it shall come to pass that every soul that will not hear that Prophet shall be destroyed. Christ [Page 12] is that Prophet, as the Apostle Peter declares in one of his Sermons which he Preach­ed in the Temple, Acts 3.22. The Believer is called a Comer to Christ: Joh. 6.35. He that comes to me shall never hunger, he that believeth on me shall never thirst. He comes to Christ to be taught by him, as a Scholar comes to his Instructor. Hence Believers are called Disciples. Again, the Believer receives Christ as King. There are many that would have Christ to be their Saviour who are not willing that he should be their Ruler, But Believers say of Christ, He is our Lawgiver, he is our King, he will save us. As such He is received by the true Be­liever. Col. 2.6. As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him. It was from damning Unbelief in the Jews that they said of Christ, We will not have this man to raign over us, Luke 19.14.

3. The true Believer is willing to receive Christ upon Christs own Terms. He will not capitulate with Chirst, and say, I will be his Servant, provided so and so: but he sayes, Let Christ propose what terms he pleaseth, by the help of his Grace I'le comply and be his Servant.

But what are the Terms which we must Consent unto, and comply with, if we would have Christ to be our Saviour? What does the Lord re­quire?

[Page 13] Answ. 1. If we would have Christ to be our Saviour, we must have no other Saviour. As there is no other, nor any in Heaven or Earth that is fit to be the Saviour of the pe­rishing World, but only Jesus Christ. Act. 4.12. There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. So we may not expect Salvation in whole or in part from any other. Christ sayes to the Man that would approve himself a Believer, Thou shalt be for me and not for another, Hos. 3 3. David was a true Believer on Christ. He sayes, My soul wait thou only upon God, my Expectation is from him, he only is my rock and my salvation, Psal. 62.5, 6. The Believer has no other Priest by the Merit of whose Sacrifice he Expects reconciliation with God, and E­ternal Life. He does not think to be Saved partly by the Merit of Christs Obedience, and partly by his own. When there were some among the Galatians that would be Saved partly by Moses and partly by Christ, the A­postle declares to them, that if they did con­tinue of that Opinion, Christ would profit them nothing, Gal. 5.2. Nor has the true Belie­ver any other Prophet to whom he yields absolute and universal Obedience, but only Jesus Christ. The Jewish Rabbies expected that their disciples should believe whatever they dictated, as if they had been infallible, which is an Obedience due to Christ alone. In opposition to them, it is said, Neither be ye called Masters, for one is your Master even [Page 14] Christ, Matth. 23.10. Moreover, The Be­liever receives Christ as his King, and the only King of his Soul. Before he had Faith, he submitted his Soul to another King. Sin reigned in him, and Satan ruled over him, but now he sayes, Other Lords have had domi­nion over me, for the future I will make mention of thy Name only, Isai. 26.13. True Believers all agree in appointing themselves one head, Hos. 1.11. That one head is none but Christ. Nathaniel said to him, Thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel, Joh. 1.49. He is not only a King of Israel, but the King of Israel. There is no other King of Israel, (that is of the Church of God,) but only the Son of God. The Be­liever receives him accordingly.

2. It is required of Men that they should deny themselves, and receive Christ with his Cross, if they would indeed approve themselves Believers on Christ. Men are apt to say as those Jews did; Matth. 27.42. Let him come down from the cross, and we will be­lieve him. But a Man cannot be a Christian, if he will not be a Cross-bearer. How express and plain are the words of Christ, Matth. 16.24. If any man will come after me, if he will be my disciple, Let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. If a Man will be my disciple (sayes Christ) he must follow my Example in bearing the Cross as I shall do: He must go cross to his own [Page 15] Will, and natural inclination. So must he deny himself. Christ and Self are very con­trary. And what self must he deny? Righ­teous self must be denyed: which to do is a great difficulty. For nothing is more natu­ral to Adams Children, than to desire to be Saved by some works or righteousness of their own, and not be beholden to another, to Christ for all their Salvation. They would find the life of their hands. The Jews when Christ was at Capernaum, enquired of him, What shall we do that we might work the works of God? Meaning the work which God will reward with Eternal Life. Christ gives them to understand that Everlasting Life follows not upon Doing, but upon Believing: Joh. 6.29. This is the work of God that you believe on him whom he hath sent. For a Man to make many Prayers, and to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, to be righteous in all his dealings with Men, and to abound in works of Charity, and when he has done to look upon all as nothing worth, and de­pend wholly on the Righteousness of Christ for all his acceptance with God, is self-de­nial. Thus Humbled must a Man be, that so he may be a true Believer on Christ. He must renounce all his own righteousness and esteem it as filthy rags. So did Paul: He counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ: and that he might be found in him not having his own righteousness, but that which is through the Faith of Christ, [Page 16] Phil. 3.8, 9. Also, corrupt sinful self must be denyed. A Man must be willing to part with his Sins, and the Lusts of his heart so far as they are sinful, or he cannot be a Be­liever on Christ. Joh. 5.44. How can you be­lieve which receive honour one of another? If a Man is under the dominion of a Lust of Ambition, how can he believe? So if he is under the power of a Lust of Wantonness, or a Lust of Drunkenness, or of any other Lust, that he will rather venture the loss of his Soul, and Eternal Life, than part with that Sin, how can he believe. The true Believer is heartily willing to part with all his Sins. It is said of the wise Merchant, that he sold all that he had for the Pearl of great price, Matth. 13.46. Christ is the Pearl of great price, the true Believer is the wise Merchant, he will sell all, will part with all the World, much more with all his Sins, ra­ther than not have Christ and Eternal Life. That Sin which has been his own Iniquity, as hard to part with as his right hand, he will cut it off, if it will keep him from having an Interest in Christ. That Sin which has been the chief Idol of his heart, he is willing to part with it. Hos. 14.8. Ephraim shall say, what have I to do any more with Idols. Converted Ephraim shall say so. Ephraim, when became a believer on Christ, shall say so, and will say so. Moreover▪ Natural Self so far as standing in opposition to, or competition with Jesus Christ, it [Page 17] must be denyed. A Man must break with his dearest Friends, or nearest Relations, rather than break with Christ, or he will not, nay, he cannot be a Believer. Luke 14.26. If any man come to me and hate not his Father and Mother, and Wife and Children, yea, and his own Life, he cannot be my disci­ple. A less degree of love is called hatred in the Scripture. The case may be so circum­stanced with a Man, that if he become a Christian, his own Father, or his own Bro­ther will become his Enemy, and seek his Life. It has often been so. Nothing is so dear to Men naturally as Life. All that a Man has will he give for his Life: but if he does not hate his own Life in compari­son of Christ, he cannot be a true Believer on his Name. The Apostle said, I am ready not only to be bound, but to die for the Name of the Lord Jesus, Act. 21.13. In the Pri­mitive Times, Christians were frequently put upon the Trial, Whether they would part with their Lives for the Name of Christ, then many false-hearted Christians proved Apostates, but the sound Believer did not so. Rev. 12.11. They loved not their lives to the death. They might have lived and enjoyed the Comforts of Life many a fair day, if they would have denied Christ, but they chose death rather. And in these Lat­ter Ages, cruel and bloody Papists would burn the Servants of Christ to death, if they did not own Antichrist, and so dis­own [Page 18] Christ. Notable was the Expression of One of those Martyrs. If I had as many lives as there are hairs on my head, I would gladly part with them all for Christ. But thus we see that if Men will be Christians indeed, they must take Christ with his Cross. This has been the parting point between Christ, and many a one that has bid fair for Christ and Heaven. We have diverse Instances of it in the Gospel. There was a Person of some Note, one that was a Scribe. Among the Jews the Scribes were Ecclesiasti­cal Officers, not unlike those who among Christians are called the Canonists. A cer­tain Scribe came to our Saviour and said, I will follow thee, whithersoover thou goest, Matth. 8.19. No doubt but notwithstand­ing this fair profession, he hoped for some Secular advantage by following Christ; for when the Lord intimated to him, That if he would be his Disciple, it may be he might be a poor Man all the days of his Life; so poor as not to have an house to lay his head in, we then hear no more of his following Christ. There was also a Ruler among the Jews, who was a Man of a great Estate. He was very desirous of Eter­nal Life in Heaven. He came kneeling to Christ, and asked him, What shall I do that I may inherit Eternal Life. To try what he would do, the Lord said to him, Sell whatsoever thou hast and give to the poor, take up the cross and follow me, and thou shalt have trea­sure [Page 19] in heaven: He was sad at that saying, and went away grieved, for he had great Possessions, Mark 10. [...]1, 22. There are many who if they could have Christ and the World too, they would be Christians, but when they hear of such hard termes as taking up the Cross, and parting with all the World for Christ, they go away sorrowful. Men deal with Christ as Orpah did by her impoverished Mother Naomi, when she was told that she must expect nothing of the Worlds good, by going with her, She wept and took her leave of her. Thus do many weep over Christ, and weep over Religion, and take their leave of it. But the true Believer, does like Ruth, who said, Thy People shall be my People, and thy God shall be my God; nought but death shall part thee and me. So says the Believer, nought but death shall part Christ and me, neither shall that do it. Thus I have spent a whole Sermon, in declaring to you what it is to be a Believer.

SERMON, II.

PROPOSITION, II. The true Believer shall inherit Everlasting Life in another World.

THERE is no truth in all the Bible more inculcated than this. It is very [Page 20] often affirmed in Express termes, and often in other words, which import it: It is said of Believers, that they shall never perish, Joh. 10.28. And that they shall never see Death. The second Death, that Death which stands in direct opposition to Eternal Life, they shall never see it, Joh. 8.51. And that they shall be Saved. Mark 16.16. They shall be Saved from Hell. It is not a Temporal, but an E­ternal Salvation which Christ has Promised to the true Believer on his Name. He is the Author of Eternal Salvation to all that obey him, Heb. 5.9. It is said of the Believer that he shall Eat of the Tree of Life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God, Rev. 2.7. If Adam had Eat of the Tree of Life, he should have lived for ever. So shall the Believer who does by Faith feed upon Christ, who is the Tree of Life.

Several things may be mentioned which Evince & Confirm the Truth now before us.

1. True Faith in Christ is an infallible sign of Electing Grace. The Electing Love of God is Unchangable. The purpose of God ac­cording to Election stands firm for ever, Rom. 9.11. Among the Jews there were a great many who did not obtain Eternal Life: but the Election hath obtained it, Rom. 11.7. Not One Elect Soul shall ever perish. For they are all given to Christ, to be Redeemed and Saved by him. And he has said to God his [Page 21] Father, Those whom thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, Joh. 17.12. It is impossible that any one of Gods Elect should perish. Satan and his Instruments may do their utmost to draw them from Christ, and so to hinder their Salvation, but in vain. Tis said, They shall deceive the very Elect if it were possible, Matth. 24.24. which words imply that it is impossible. But Believers on the Name of Christ are Elected. It is true that there are many belonging to Electi­on who do not as yet believe, but they shall believe. Wherefore Christ has said, I have other Sheep who are not of this fold, them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, Joh. 10.16. Those whom God has from Eterni­ty chosen to Salvation, shall believe, 2 Thes. 2.13. And they that do believe may there­by know that they are chosen to Salvation. For which cause the Apostle exhorts Christi­ans, that they should give diligence to make their Calling and Election sure, 2 Pet. 1.10. Not that they should endeavour to make their Election in it self sure, for so it was be­fore the World began; but sure in respect of their own Knowledge of it. Effectual Calling, or Obedience to the call of the Gospel is the same thing with Faith. He that has Assurance of that, has Assurance of his Election, and so of his being an Heir of Everlasting Life.

[Page 22]2. The Son of God came into the World that so whoever shall truly believe on him might have Everlasting Life. He came to deliver from death. 1 Joh. 3 8. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might de­stroy the works of the Devil. Sin and Death were the works of the Devil. All that the Devil had been contriving & doing against the Elect, the Son of God came into the World, and destroyed all the Devils de­sign in one day. The Devil drew Adam the first Man into sin, and that sin killed all his Children: but Christ the Second Adam has delivered his Children from Eternal Death. 1 Cor. 15.22. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. This was Gods blessed design in sending Christ into the World: 1 Joh. 4.9. He sent his only begotten Son into the World, that we might live through him. And this was Christs end in coming, that so he might obtain a better Life for Believers than ever Adam had, before sin entred into the World. Joh. 10.10. I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly. Christ did therefore himself dye. The sorrows of Hell took hold on him. He endured the pains both of the first death in his holy Bo­dy, and of the second death, when his Soul was made an offering for sin, that so he might redeem us from death. If then Be­lievers should not have everlasting Life, Christ has dyed in vain, the end of his [Page 23] coming into the World should be frustrated, which is a thing not to be supposed.

3. The faithful God has promised that Belie­vers shall have Everlasting Life. 1 Joh. 2.25. This is the promise that he hath promised us Eter­nal Life. Believers are for the generality among the poor of the World, but in respect of the heavenly World, they are rich. There the riches of a Kingdom is their's, and a far more glorious Kingdom than any on the Earth. This riches they have in reversion by vertue of a faithful promise made to them. Jam. 2.5. Hath not God chosen the poor of the world, rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom, which he hath promised to them that love him. That Kingdom is the same thing with Everlasting Life. It is called the Pro­mise, Heb. 10.36. That after you have done the will of God you may receive the pro­mise. What is that promise but Life and Glory in Heaven? The promise is by a me­tanymy put for the reward promised. Un­der the Covenant of works Life was promi­sed on condition of Personal Obedience to the Law, the termes of it, was do and live; but there is a New Covenant, which is a Co­venant of Grace, the Condition of which is not Doing, but Believing. If perfect Obedi­ence were the Condition of it, the best of us all would have no hope of Eternal Life: The Gospel says to every Man where ever it is Preached, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, [Page 24] and thou shalt b [...] [...]ved, and live Eternally, Act. 16.30. Th [...] promise did God make to his Eternal [...] in the Covenant of Re­demption on the behalf of Believers, before the World began. Tit. 1.2. Eternal Life which God that cannot lie promised before the world began. And this promise is made to Believers themselves in the Gospel. Gal. 3.22. The Scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by the Faith of Jesus Christ, might be given to all them that believe. To confirm the Faith of Believers, God has an­nexed Seals to the Covenant. Baptism as­sures the Believer of the Eternal Salvation of his Soul. 1 Pet. 3.21. Baptism saves us. How does it save, but as a Sign or Sacrament, Sealing to the worthy receiver his Eternal Salvation? The like is to be said with respect to the other Sacrament of the New-Testament, the Lords Supper. In that Or­dinance Christ says to the Believer, My blood has been shed for thee: And as sure as my blood has been shed for thee, Thy Sins are pardoned, and thou shalt have Everlasting Life in Heaven. If God had only promised this, that's assurance enough, but to strengthen the Faith of Believers, who are the heirs of Promise, the God of Truth has not only promised, but he has Sworn by Himself that it shall be so, that by two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, Believers might have a strong Consolation, Heb. 6.18. The promise of God, and the Oath of God are those two immutable things.

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PROPOSITION, III. The true Believer on Jesus Christ is as sure to have Everlasting Life given to him, as if he was now in the actual and full En­joyment of it.

Hence it is Expressed in the present Tense, he hath, and not he shall have (though that's intended) Everlasting Life. In the Scripture things future are sometimes spoken of as if they were present, intimating the undoubted certainty of their accomplish­ment. Thus, Isai. 9.1. For unto us a Child is born. The Prophet wrote those words above seven hundred Years, before that Child was born, but it was as sure to be as if it had been already. So is the Believers Enjoyment of Eternal Life in Heaven. He now hath Everlasting Life,

1. In that he now hath an Interest in Christ. 1 Joh. 5.12. He that hath the Son hath Life. The Believer Now hath the Son. He is u­nited to Christ: As the branch is united to the vine, and one with it. Christ is the vine, Believers are branches in that vine: As the branches are part of the body of the vine, so is every Believer a part of Christs Mysti­cal body. The Mystical Union between Christ and the Believer is like the Natural Union which is between the head and the [Page 26] body. Believers on Earth in respect of their blessed head are in heaven already. God hath made them to sit in heavenly Places in Christ Jesus, Eph. 2.6. They are as sure to be with Christ in Heaven, as if they were there Now.

2. The Believer is Now in a State of Justi­fication, and without fault before the Throne of God. Rom. 8.1. There is now no condem­nation to them that are in Christ Jesus. There was Condemnation to them, but now there is none at all. It is not only true that a Sentance of Absolution shall be past up­on him before all the World at the Day of Judgment, his Sins shall be blotted out, when the time of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord, but its also done already, then he shall live and not die. It was said to David, The Lord hath put away thy sin thou shalt not dye. So may it be said to the true Believer on Jesus Christ, the Lord has pardoned thy Sin, thou shalt not die, but live for ever. The Scripture says, That whom he Justified them he glo­rified, Rom. 8.30. Two things are impli­ed in Justification, in respect whereof the Believer on Jesus Christ has Eternal Life. One is the full forgiveness of Sin. Where there is no Sin, there is no Death. The Justified Person is fully and for ever ac­quitted from his Sins. All his Sins are done away in the blood of Christ: That [Page 27] blood having been sprinkled on his Soul, he is perfectly cleansed from the guilt of his Sins. Psal. 51.7. Purge me with Hysop, (when blood was sprinkled with Hysop on the Leper he was cleansed from his Le­prosy,) and I shall be clean: Wash me and I shall be whiter than the snow. It is for the sake of Christs blood in which he has been washed, that the Pardoned Believer is looked upon as Sinless and Guiltless. Jer. 50.20. The iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none, and the sins of Ju­dah, and they shall not be found, for I will pardon them whom I reserve Moreover, the Believers Justification implies his being ac­cepted as righteous: He may plead a per­fect righteousness for his obtaining Eternal Life. Christs righteousness is perfect: He has satisfyed the Law and fulfilled the Law by his Active and Passive Obedience, which is imputed to every true Believer. The Righteousness of God, cannot but be perfect Righteousness, this is upon all them that do believe, Rom. 3.22. Then Everlasting Life is their's.

3. The Believer has Everlasting Life, in respect of a Just Title to it. It does Now of right belong to him. Rev. 22.14. Bles­sed are they that do his Commandments, that they may have right to the tree of Life. A Man may have a just Title to that Inheri­tance, which he has not a present possession [Page 28] of. The Believer has a right to the Inhe­ritance of Eternal Life on the account of a glorious purchase. It has been bought and paid for. Not by himself. Eternal Life is too great a thing for all the Creatures in the World ever to purchase or lay down a valuable price for it. But Jesus Christ the Son of God has given an Infinite price to purchase it for the Believer on his Name. He has Merited it for them. Therefore he is said to be the Cause, [...], i. e. the Me­ritorious cause of their Salvation, Heb. 5.9.

4. The Believer has now Eternal Life, in respect of the beginning of it. The full fru­ition is to be in a better World. There is an initial fruition in this World. It is begun in Regeneration and Sanctification Eph. 2 1. You hath he quickned who were dead in trespasses and sins. Out of the Belie­vers heart shall flow rivers of living Water That spring of Grace which is in the Soul of the Believer, shall never dye, but will be in him a well of Water springing up into Everlasting Life. Grace and Glory differ wonderfully in the degree, but they are of the same nature. Believers have the first fruits of the Spirit, Rom. 8.23. The first fruits and the full harvest are of the same kind. A drop of Water, and a river of Water are of the same nature.

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USE, I.

Woful is their Error, who think that there is no World, nor any Life but what is Present and Temporal. Such Men are worse than Balaam, who as wicked as he was, yet had so much Religion as to wish that he might dye the death of the Righteous, Numb. 23.10. If there is no other World but this, why would he desire to dye the Death of the Righteous rather than of the wicked? For as to what is visible as the one dies, so dies the other; but he was convinced that when a Righteous Man dies his Soul goes to a better World, but when a wicked Man dies, his Soul goes to a woful World, his knowledge of that made him say, O let me dye the death of the Righteous. There is a visible World, which with the things belonging to it are Temporal, there is also an invisible World, and the things there are Eternal. So sayes the Scripture, 2 Cor. 4.18. The things which are seen are Temporal, but the things which are not seen are Eternal. There is this present World, that's Temporal. This World shan't continue always in its present State. 1 Cor. 7.31. The fashion of this World passeth away. The Earth and the works therein shall be burnt up; All these things shall be dissolved. Life in this World is Temporal. There is no Creature on the Earth whose Life is Everlasting. Especially the [Page 30] Life of Man, is but as a vapor that appear­eth for a little time, and vanisheth away: but there is also a World to come. That's an Eternal World, The Life there is an E­verlasting Life. The Resurrection World, is a World to come. They that obtain that World are Immortal ones, Neither can they dye any more, Luke 20.30. The Heavenly World, is a World to come as to our Enjoy­ment of it. That's an Eternal World. 2 Cor. 5.1. We have an house not made with hands eternal in the heavens. The delights there do not (as all Earthly delights do) fade a­way. They are Satisfactory and Eternal. Psal. 16.11. Thou wilt shew me the path of life, in thy presence is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand are pleasures for ever more. And as there is an Eternal Heaven, where the Righteous shall be rewarded with Ever­lasting Life, So there is an Everlasting Hell, where the wicked shall be punished with Eternal death and misery. Mark 9.43. In Hell the worm dyeth not, and the fire never shall be quenched. Jesus Christ has taught us the doctrine of the Immortality of the Souls of Men. He has said, Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the Soul, Matth. 10.28. Its an easy matter to kill the body, a little thing will do it, but all the Men in the World are not able to kill the Soul, which is of such a nature that it cannot be killed. Now if the Souls of Men are Immortal, it necessarily follows, that [Page 31] they will be either happy or miserable to Eternity. Moreover, that which the Apostle speaks, is a clear demonstration that there is another World, and another Life besides this. 1 Cor. 15.19. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. Christians deny themselves of the Comforts of this Life, and expose themselves to many crosses and sorrows, and all for Christs sake; if then there were not ano­ther World, and another Life after this, the best Men in the World, would be the unhappiest, which is against the light of reason to imagine. There was a Christian Emperor, that when some informed him of the Death of a Noble Man, withal declaring that he was a very wicked Man, and yet lived to a great old Age, and never met with any affliction in his Life, then (said the Emperor) we may conclude that the Mini­sters of God speak the Truth unto us, when they tell us, that there is another World besides this, and a Judgment to come. And wise Men among the Gentiles have argued thus, we see (say they) That many Times in this World Virtue is not rewarded, and Vice is not punished, Therefore there must needs be a future World and State, in which Men shall receive according to what their deeds have been.

All this notwithstanding there have been some who pass under the Name of Christians, [Page 32] One fitly calls them Baptized Infidels, who deny all revealed Religion, and will not be­lieve any thing, but what they see with their eyes. One of them when dying said, He was going to take a Leap in the dark, He Questioned whether there was either a Hea­ven or an Hell. And it has been credibly reported that a dying Pope, said, That now he should be resolved of three great Questi­ons, 1. Whether there is a God or no. 2. Whether there is a Heaven or an Hell. 3. Whether the Souls of Men are Immortal. But altho' there are few Comparatively which are arrived to such a prodigious height of Atheism and Infidelity, there are Practical Infidels innumerable. What shall be said of Worldlings, Men of the World whose portion is in this Life, nor are they at all sollicitous about any other Life or Portion, besides what is Enjoyed on the Earth. Do not Men live as if all their thoughts were that there is no God, nor E­ternal Life to come? If they did really be­lieve that there is no other World but this, would they not live just as now they do? Do they not practically say, Let us eat and drink for to morrow we shall dye. If there is no Eternal World, no Everlasting Life, they may well say so. Did not the holy Apostle weep when he knew that there was among Professed Christians many whose God is their belly, their glory is their shame, who mind Earthly things, Phil. 3.19.

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USE, II.

Since Everlasting Life depends upon Believing on Jesus Christ, Christ is certainly a most glo­rious One. He is the most Excellent Per­son that we can possibly set our hearts upon. How ought we to Love Him and Admire Him as well as to Believe on Him. He is a None such One: His Name is called WONDERFUL, Isai. 9.6. He is the wonder of Heaven. He is the wonder of An­gels, and will be admired by Saints and Angels to Eternity. In respect of his Per­son: He is God and Man, and therefore a wonderful Person. There is no God-Man be­sides Jesus Christ. For in him dwells the ful­ness of the Godhead bodily, Colos. 2.9. Which may not be said of any other Man that ever was in the World. In respect of his Person, He is Gods Own Son, His only begotton Son, Joh. 3.16. Believers are the Adopted Sons of God. Angels are called the Sons of God in respect of Similitude. None but Christ is Gods Own Son: He has therefore a Divine as well as an Humane Nature, In respect whereof he is Equal with God the Father. The Jews charged him with blasphemy, be­cause he said God was his Father, making himself Equal with God. The Lord of Hosts, saith of Christ, that Man is my Fellow, Zech. 13.7. which may not be affirmed of any other Man, or of any meer Creature. And [Page 34] altho' Christ Considered as Man is infinitely inferiour to God; nevertheless Considered as Man, he Excels all other Men. Psal. 45.2. Thou are fairer than the Children of men. The most Excellent Men that have been in the World, have not thought themselves worthy to be his Servants. It is said, That of them that are born of Women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist. But John speaking of Christ says, He that comes after me is mightier than I am, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. That is to say, I am not worthy to be his Servant, for among the Jews Servants were wont to carry their Masters Shoes after them. Moses was the great­est Man in the Church of Israel, but of Christ it is said, This Man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, Heb. 3.3. Solomon was the greatest King in Israel. But in respect of Christ it was said, Behold a greater than Solomon is here. The Jewish Writers have a saying (and there is truth in it) That when Messiah comes, he shall be greater than Moses, greater than our Father Abra­ham, greater than the Angels. The Scrip­ture sayes no less: Heb. 1.4, 5. Being made so much better than the Angels, he has by inheritance obtained a more excellent Name than they, for unto which of the Angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son. God has set the Man Christ Jesus at his own right hand in Heaven, which is a dignity above the highest Angel in Heaven. The [Page 35] highest Arch Angel is his Servant, and will appear to be so before all the World, when he shall at the Command of Christ, blow the Trump of God, and Summon all Man­kind to appear before his Judgment Seat, 1 Thes. 4.16.

But there are two things in the Text and Doctrine before us which declare the sur­passing Excellency and Glory of our Lord Je­sus Christ.

1. He is the object of Faith: One to be be­lieved on. Joh. 14.1. Ye believe on God, be­lieve also in me. That's a greater thing than may be said of any other Man, nor might it be said of Christ if he were not more than a Man. We may not trust in any other for the Salvation of our Souls. It would be a cursed thing to do so. Jer. 17.5. Cursed be the man that trusteth in man. But to trust in Christ is a blessed thing. Psal. 2.12. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. This proves that Christ is more than a Man, as being the object of Religious Wor­ship. For Faith is a special thing in that inward Worship of Soul, which is an honour too great for any Creature to receive. As all Religious Service, so in special believing, which is internal Worship, must be placed on no other object but God. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. We may not Worship an Angel. [Page 36] They all with one voice say unto us, See you do it not, Rev. 19.10. But we may and ought to Worship Jesus Christ the Son of God. All the Saints on Earth do so. In every place they call upon the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. All the Angels in Heaven do so. Worship him all ye Angels. God Com­mands Men to Worship his Son. Psal. 2.12. Kiss the Son. i. e. not only in token of Love, but of Adoration.

2. Jesus Christ is the Author of Life, yea, of Everlasting Life. So does the Texts and Doctrine before us intimate, when 'tis said. He that believes on him has Everlasting Life. He is styled, The Prince of Life, Act. 3.15. Who is it that can make the dead to live? The Son of God can do it, has done it, will do it, which is a more Excellent Glory than any Creature may pretend unto. An Angel cannot make a dead body to live again, much less a dead Soul. Christ does both. The hour cometh and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live, Joh. 5.25. There is not a true Believer in all the World, but he liveth, and that not only as to a Natural, but a Spiritual Life, which will end in E­ternal Life: but all the Believers on Earth are beholden to Jesus Christ for whatever Life they have. Joh. 1.4. In him was the Life; in him as the fountain of it. There is Life enough in Christ for the quickning [Page 37] of Millions of dead perishing Souls. There is an abundance of Life in him. Joh. 10.10. I am came that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. Hence Christ is called Eternal Life, because he is the Author of it. 1 Joh. 5.20. We are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

USE, III.

Believers on CHRIST are the happiest Men in the World. The World looks on them as the unhappiest. And the truth is, that if there were no other World [...] this, many of them would be the miserablest Men, as before was intimated, because they are despised, hated, reproached more than any Men: but in a World yet to come, they will receive that which shall compensate, and infinitely transcend all their sufferings here. The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed. Two particulars may be mentioned, which Confirm the Truth of the Inference now before us.

1. The Life which Believers have through Jesus Christ a right and title unto, is the hap­piest life that can be desired. Life is of all things the most desirable. Happiness is called Life. Psal. 34.12. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that [Page 38] he may see good. Doth not every Man de­sire that life in which happiness doth con­sist? True happiness does not consist in an Earthly sensual Life, for then the vilest of Men would be happier than the best of Men, nay bruit beasts some of which live hundreds of years, would be happier than Men. But in a Spiritual Celestial Life there is happi­ness. Such a Life as the Angels of Heaven live, who are always beholding the face of God, is blessedness. That's the Life which Believers shall live in another and a better World. Do Riches make life desirable? What are earthly Riches compared with Heavenly? Follow me, (saith Christ) and thou shalt have Treasure in Heaven. O the Riches of the Glory of that Inheritance! Does Pleasures make Life desirable? Spi­ritual and Celestial Pleasures are the most desirable. Believers when once in Heaven shall be made to drink of the River of those pleasures, Psal. 36.8. It is a joyful Life, they live there: Their hearts will be as full of joy as ever they can hold. Psal. 16.11. Fulness of Joy. Nay, more joy than their hearts are able to hold. Matth. 25.21. Well done faithful Servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. When in this World joy enters into the Soul of the Believer, but when in Heaven, He enters into joy. The joy exceeds there.

[Page 39]2. They shall never be deprived of this bles­sed Life. It is an Everlasting Life. Matth. 25.46. The Righteous shall go into Life Eternal. If a Man enjoys a thing that is delightful to him, the thought of loosing it, is gre­vious The glorified Believer has no fear of being deprived of his happy Life. The Life which Adam had in Paradise he lost it, and all his unhappy Children with him. But the life which Believers have by Jesus Christ can never be lost. Christ is alive, and behold he lives for ever more. Believers being united to him, and One with him, they also shall live for ever more. Joh. 14.19. Because I live, ye live also. Belie­vers then are the happiest of Men. Doubt­less, there are some that will say, We know that true Believers on Christ are happy, and we should account our selves happy, if we knew that we our selves were such: But how shall be know that?

Answ 1. Consider the description which has been given of Believers, and ask your selves, and let Conscience answer, whether you have received Christ as offered in the Gospel, in his Person as vested with a three­fold Office, Priest, Prophet and King. Have you been made willing to accept of Christ on his own terms? To receive him with his Cross, To part with whatever stands in opposition to him, or in competition with him. Then art thou a true Believer.

[Page 40]2. We may know our Faith by the bles­sed Sanctifying Effect of it. A true Faith is a Sanctifying Faith. It purifieth the heart, and turns a Sinner into a Saint. Act. 26.18. Sanctified by Faith. The Apostle directs Christians to judge of their Faith by this. All pretences to believing without this will never prove a Saving Faith. Jam. 2.14. What doth it profit though a man say he hath Faith, and hath not works, Can Faith save him? No, such a Faith can never save him. A workless Faith is a worthless Faith. The Apostle adds, Verse 18. A man may say, Thou hast Faith and I have Works, Shew me thy Faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my Faith by my Works. The works of true Sanctification are inseparable and infallible signs of a true Believer on Jesus Christ. But who is a real Saint? The Man that has respect to all the Command­ments of God is so: No Man but the Be­liever in Christ has so. Christ has therefore said, You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you, Joh. 15.14.

USE, IV.

What will become of Unbelievers? This Doctrine altho' the most Comfortable word that can be spoken, contains in it a thun­derbolt able to split the heart and shake the Soul of every Unbeliever under Heaven For it is as sure as the Gospel, that [...] [Page 41] continuing in their Unbelief shall not have Everlasting Life. Christ said to his Mini­sters, Go ye into all the World, and preach the Gospel to every Creature. And what must they say: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: But is that all that they must say? No, They must also say, He that believeth not shall be damned, Mark 16.15, 16. There are two sorts of Unbelief.

1. There is a Negative Unbelief; which they that never had the Gospel Preached to them, are subject unto. Rom. 10.14. How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a Preacher? Thus it is with the greatest part of Mankind, poor perishing Creatures, they sit in darkness, and in the Region of the shadow of death. What a dreadful Scrip­ture is that, in Psal. 9.17. The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the Nations th [...] forget God. But this sort of Unbelief, none that hear me this day are concerned in. The Gospel has been Preached, and the Great Sal­vation offered to every Soul among us.

2. There is Positive Unbelief, which is a disobedience to the Calls of the Gospel. This Unbelief is the most damning Sin that ever any Man has been guilty of. Joh. 3.19. And this is the Condemnation that light is come into the World, and men love darkness ra­ther than light. Christ is the most glorious [Page 42] light that ever came into the World, but Men prefer Sin before Him. This brings them under the heaviest Condemnation that possibly can be. The Unbeliever is not as yet Executed, but he is Condemned. Joh. 3.18. He that believeth not is condemned already. And what Punishment is he Condemned unto? To nothing less than death. And what death? A death not of the body only, but of the Soul; He is Condemned to suffer the pains not of the first death only, but of the Second Death. What is the Second Death? Rev. 21.8. The Unbelieving shall have their part in the Lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. And that which makes it to be a death indeed, is the Ever­lastingness of it. The thought of it is ama­zing. Despairing Spira said, If I were to be in Hell but for a thousand Years, methinks it might be endured, but when I think of Eternity, I am amazed Ah! Woful Unbeliever, if thou were told that thou shouldst be in Ex­quisite Torments for a few Years, how would it astonish thee? But will it not affect thee, that GOD Himself declares to thee, that if thou persist in thy Unbelief, thou shalt be in Endless and Easeless Miseries, in Tor­ment the Smoke whereof shall ascend for ever and ever. For the Lords sake Consider of it before it is too late. Know it of a cer­tainty, That Unbelievers who have diso­beyed the Gospel, will fall under the saddest Sentence, at the last day, of any Sinners [Page 43] that ever have been in the World. The Sinners in Sodom shall not have so hot a place in Hell as Unbelievers and Gospel des­pisers shall. It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judg­ment than for that City, Matth. 10.15. Pagans, meer Heathen will not be punished as they shall. Wherefore it was said to Un­believing Chorazin, and to Unbelieving Beth­saida, who lived under the Ministry of the best Preacher that ever was in the World, Wo to thee Chorazin, wo to thee Bethsaida, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of Judgment than for you. Thy other Sins are small compared with this. If I had not spoken to them, they had no sin, did Christ say, none Comparatively. It may be some of you have been guilty of Secret Scarlet Sins, of Crimson abominations; but thy Unbelief is thy greatest Sin. If ever God intends Mercy to thy Soul, He will make thee sensi­ble of it: For the holy Spirit does Convince the World of sin, that they have been guilty of the most hainous Sin, because they believe not, Joh. 16 9. There is no Sin that pro­vokes God like this. To whom did he swear in wrath that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not, Heb. 3.18. God sending his Son into the World to be the Saviour of it, is the greatest Mercy that ever was, therefore in Unbelief there is the greatest ingratitude: And there is Blasphemy in it. For Unbelievers give GOD the lye, [Page 44] which is a thing horrible to think of. 1 Joh. 5.10. He that believeth not God, hath made him a Liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. God from Heaven declared more than once, that our Lord Jesus Christ is his Son. The Unbe­liever sayes practically, that's a Lye! That's the Language of his Unbelief. Horrendous Blasphemy!

I see the time is spent, and so am I, yet I know not how to let you go without a word of Exhortation. O how glad should I be, to dye before I stir out of this Pulpit, might I perswade many in this Numerous Assembly to go to Jesus Christ, and Savingly to Believe on Him!

USE, V. EXHORTATION.

Let every Soul that desires Everlasting Life, make sure of his being a true Believer on Jesus Christ. It is impossible for me to Exhort you to a thing of greater Moment and Importance, for Life depends on it, Nay, Everlasting Life. There is One thing Needful. For a Man to make sure that when Death shall take him out of this World, he shall pass from Death to Life Eternal; to make sure of that is the One thing Needful. The way and the only way to make sure of it is. To [Page 45] Believe on Jesus Christ. As for Life on Earth, there is no Securing it: It is passing away every day. Thou hast a day less to Live now, than thou hadst Yesterday. Thy Life is by a Week nearer to an End now, than it was the last Sabbath Day. But an Everlasting Life in Heaven may be Secured by Believing on Jesus Christ. Say not, I have been a great Sinner, and may I be­lieve? You have the more need of the great Saviour. Say not, may I dare to believe and cast my self upon Christ for Life and Salvation! Is it not strange that any Man should say, May I dare to obey the Commandment of God? Make no Objections. There is a Scripture which answers all Objections. It is, 1 Joh. 3.23. This is his Commandment that we should believe on the Name of his Son Jesus Christ.

Methinks I hear some of you saying, We are not able to believe, What shall we do that we may become true Believers on Jesus Christ?

Answ. 1. Let us beware of thinking we are Believers when we are not so. This ungrounded perswasion has undone the greatest part of those that call themselves Christians, and is the cause of their dying in a state of Unbelief to their Eternal ruine. It is a Truth which Men do not love to hear, but it must be spoken, That there are but very few true Believers in the World. Isai. [Page 46] 53.1. Who hath believed our report? The number of those that have a Saving Belief of what the Gospel revealeth are a very small number. It is Calvins note on those words of the Prophet, That among those that have the Gospel Preach'd to them, scarce one in an hundred is a true Believer. As among the Jews there were many who professed to know God, but in works they denied him. So many pretend to be Believers on Christ, but their works declare them to be no real Christians. But besides such, There are many Moral Men of blameless Conversation, (as Paul was before his Conversion) who have no Saving Faith: And besides these, many Hypocrites in the purest Churches, who have a seeming Faith, deceiving the World, deceiving Churches, and deceiving their own Souls. For the Lords sake, Let not any of us be of that Number.

2. Be willing to part with what ever will keep thy Soul from closing with Christ. Any one Sin loved and lived in will make a Separation between Christ and thee. Joshua said to the Children of Israel, You cannot Serve the Lord, i. e. if you Serve Idols. And Christ says, You cannot Serve God and Mam­mon. No Man can serve two contrary Masters. Thus you must be willing to part with those Lusts which have been the Idols of your hearts, or you cannot be Believers on Christ. 2 Cor. 6.15. What concord has [Page 47] Christ with Belial? It is impossible that Christ and Sin should reign in the same heart at the same time. Christ said to Pe­ter, If I wash thee not thou hast no part in me. He sayes to every Man, If thou art not wil­ling that I should save thee from Sin as well as from Hell, thou canst not be my Dis­ciple. Also thy Sinful Companions must be abandoned. Save your selves from this untoward Generation. If once thou art be­come a serious Christian they will abandon thee. Wherefore now forsake the foolish and live. And if thou wouldst have Christ to be thine, beware of an heart glue'd to the World. That keeps many from closing with Christ. Christ is offered to them, but they make light of it, and Go away one to his Farm and another to his Merchan­dize, Matth. 22 5. Suppose a Man has a Jewel offered to him, if his hand is full of Earth he cannot take hold of it; So when Christ the Pearl of great price is in the Gospel offered to Sinners, they cannot re­ceive him, if their hearts will hold fast the Earth still.

3. Pray and Cry to GOD to make thee a Believer. For Faith is the gift of GOD. It is of his operation where ever it is found. Therefore he must be sought unto for it. The case stands thus; either thou must believe on Jesus Christ or perish [Page 48] Eternally. But thou art not able to believe by any power of thy own. Thou art no more able to believe by thine own power, than thou art able to create a World, or to raise the Dead. No Man can come to Christ except the Father draw him. O then Cry to GOD that He would please by His Almighty power to draw thee: Then shalt thou not only Go but Run to Him, as earnestly as the Man slayer to the City of Refuge. And if GOD shall make a true Believer of thee, thou shalt receive the End of thy Faith, the Salvation of thy Soul in Everlasting Life.

[Page 49]

That there is a blessed Marriage between Je­sus Christ the Son of GOD, and the true Believer.

MATTHEW, XXII. 2.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a certain King, which made a Mar­riage for his Son.

IN the former part of this Chapter, we have a Parable, the design whereof is to intimate that the Jews would reject Christ the Promised Messiah, and that therefore they themselves should be re­jected from being the Church and People of God, and that the Gentiles should become his People, and that among them, many should be the Subjects of an External Call, [Page 50] and that some (tho' but a few) would be the Subjects of an internal and effectual Call.

The words before us to insist on are a Similitude or Parable in which there is.

1. The thing compared, Namely the King­dom of Heaven. By the Kingdom of Hea­ven here we are to understand the Church of God; Especially under the heavenly dispen­sation of the Gospel. The Church is a King­dom and an heavenly Kingdom. It is under the Government of a heavenly King, and ruled by heavenly Laws.

2. There is that unto which this King­dom of Heaven is compared, Namely, to a King that made a Marriage for his Son; by the King understand the God and King of Heaven, and by his Son our Lord Jesus Christ. The Marriage feast spo­ken of in the Parable, has respect to the benefits of Christ which are preferred to Sin­ners in the Gospel on condition of their consent to the Marriage. In a Marriage there is the Bridegroom and the Bride, the Bridegroom is Christ, and the Bride, the few that are chosen, or the Church of true Believers.

DOCTRINE.

That True Believers are Married to JESUS CHRIST the Son of GOD.

Or, That there is a blessed Marriage between CHRIST and His Church.

[Page 51]Three Propositions will clear the Doctrine.

PROP. I. That Believers while in this World are Married to Christ the Son of God.

There is the Initiation and the Consum­mation of this Marriage. The Initiation of it is in this World. As soon as a Man does believe his Soul is Married to Christ. The Apostle therefore sayes to the Corinthians 2 Cor. 11.2. I have espoused you to one Hus­band, that I may present you as a chast Virgin unto Christ. The great work of the Ministers of the Gospel is to bring Souls to Christ; to woo and win Souls to Christ, therefore called the Friends of the Bridegroom, Joh. 3.29. The Truth before us is Evident.

For,

1. The Scripture does declare that there is a Spiritual Conjugal Relation between the Lord and his People. Jer. 3.14. I am Mar­ried to you, saith the Lord. Isai. 54.5. Thy Maker is thy Husband, the God of the whole Earth shall he be called. That Implies that his Church shall be among the Gentiles; that he would be not only the God of the Jews, but of the Gentiles also. The Lord directs his Church to call him Ishi, the Eng­lish of which word is, My Husband, Hos. 2.16. And Christ calls his Church, His Spouse, Cant. 4.10. And the Church is cal­led, The Lambs Wife, Rev. 21.9.

[Page 52]2. This holy Truth was Mysteriously sig­nifyed by several Types which did Figura­tively represent it to us. As now, The Mar­riage God made between Adam and Eve was a Type of this. Eph. 5.32. They two shall be one flesh; this is a great Mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. That Mar­riage had a Mystery in it as respecting the Relation that is between Christ and the Church. Adam was cast into a deep sleep, and Eve taken out of him and given to him▪ Christ has been cast into the deep sleep of death, and by means of this the Church is produced. And Solomons Marriage was a Type hereof. The Song of Songs is an Epitha­lamium, in Praise of Christ and his Church. It was the manner among the Jews, that when Persons of Quality were Married they had Songs in Praise of the Bride­groom and the Bride. The Song of Solomon, is such an One; it shews forth the Praises of Christ and his Church: And the XLV. Psalm is like it. Solomon Married Pharaohs Daughter who was a Gentile, and thereby was signified that Christ should be Married to the Gentiles, that is, have his Church among them. Psal. 45.10. O Daugh­ter forget thy own People and thy Fathers house.

3. If we consider the things that are requisite in order to conjugal Relation, we shall see that there is a blessed Marriage between Christ and his Church. e. g.

(1.) The Fathers Consent is requisite there [Page 53] unto. God Consents that his Son should be Married to his Church. He has made this blessed Match; wherefore, the Text sayes. A King made a Marriage for his Son. We Read of the Marriage Feast, as provided by him, which implies his Consent. Verse 4. I have prepared my dinner, says the King. God has given his Son to his Church to be the head thereof. Isai. 9.6. Unto us a Son is given, his Name is called Wonderful, the Prince of Peace. So he has given his Church to Christ, as Christ to them. Christ there­fore said, Joh. 17.9, 10. I pray for those that thou hast given me: All mine are thine, and thine are mine. It is God that perswades and draws the Souls of his Elect to Christ. Joh. 6.44. No man can come to me except the Father draw him.

(2.) Another thing requisite in Marriage is the Consent of the Persons concerned therein. Tho' their Parents be never so willing to the Match, if the Parties concer­ned do not Consent to take each other, there can be no conjugal Relation. Christ has consented that his Church should be so re­lated to him: He has given himself for his Church, and given himself to them, and owns them to be his in the most peculiar Relation. Cant. 8.12. My Vineyard is mine, sayes Christ. As for Believers, they are mine sayes Christ. And as Christ has given him­self to his Church, so Believers have given themselves to him. 2 Cor. 8.5. They gave [Page 54] themselves to the Lord. A true saving Faith does consist in this very thing especially, when a Man gives himself to Christ, as his Lord and Saviour, to be his as his only, and his for ever; that is a saving Faith. Christ sayes, Give me thy heart; the Believer sayes, My heart thou shalt have with all my heart. This Mutual Consent between Christ and the Believer, we see in Psal. 45.12. It is said of the Kings Daughter, The King shall greatly desire thy beauty. He is thy Lord, and worship thou him.

PROP. II. That the blessed Marriage be­tween the Son of God and the Believer, will be Compleated at the last day.

It was customary among the Jews, that Married People were first Espoused, and then they were esteemed Husband and Wife; and in due time the Marriage was compleated. In this Life Believers are Espoused to Christ. At his Second coming will be the Consum­mation of the Marriage. Christ will then come as a Bridegroom. Matth. 25.5. The Bridegroom is come, go ye out to meet him. Then the Church of Christ is every way sui­table for him, bedeck'd with Grace & Glory, and all Sin and Imperfection taken away. Rev. 10.7. The Marriage of the Lamb is come, and his Wife has made her self ready. It will be so at the last day, then the Church will have on all her Ornaments. Isai. 61.10. [Page 55] Covered with a Robe, with the garments of Sal­vation, as a bride adorneth her self with her Jewels. Then the Church will appear a glo­rious Church indeed. Eph. 5.27. Christ will present her a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Then comes the blessed Marriage Supper. Rev. 19.9. Blessed are they that are called to the Marriage supper of the Lamb. This blessedness is intimated to Believers when they come to the Lords Table. Luk. 22.29, 30. I appoint to you a Kingdom (says Christ) You shall eat and drink with me at my Table in my Kingdom; You shall fit upon thrones. This is signified and repre­sented to Believers in this holy Ordinance, of the Lords Supper. At the last day Christ and his Church will be together and live to­gether, and never more be separated for so much as one day: they shall ever be with the Lord. Rev. 21.2, 3. New Jerusalem comes down from God our of Heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her Husband: And the Tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them. Christ who is God shall dwell with them: They shall be with Christ during the dispensation of the last Judgment, which will not be as many imagine a day of Twenty-four hours only, but doubtless will continue a long time. Eminent Divines suppose it will last for a thousand Years. And all that time Be­lievers shall be with Christ; and after that they shall go to Heaven together. The Hus­band and Wife dwell together in the same [Page 56] House: So it shall be with Christ and his Church, they shall dwell together in the same House, and it will be in his Fathers House, which is such a glorious Palace as Mortal eye never did behold the like. Joh. 14.2, 3. Many Mansions are in my Fathers house. I go to prepare a place for you, and will come again and receive you to my self, that where I am you may be also. So shall they dwell to­gether in his Fathers House throughout the never ending days of Eternity.

PROP. III. That the Relation between Christ and his Church will abide for ever and ever.

This indeed is the only Marriage that can­not be dissolved. As for all Earthly Rela­tions, Death dissolves them. Rom. 7.2. If the Husband is dead the Wife is loosed from the Law of her Husband. But the Relation between Christ and his Church has no end. Christ sayes to his Church, Hos. 2.19. I will be­troth thee to me for ever. This Relation con­tinues to Eternity, as long as the Eternal Son of God and the Immortal Souls of Be­lievers shall live, so long shall this Relation continue. As in Marriages the Relation continues so long as both Parties shall live: so it is here. Christ the Son of God he lives for ever, He is Yesterday, and to day and for ever the same. The Jews said, Joh. 12.34. We have heard out of the Law that Christ [Page 57] abides for ever: He does so. Tho' he was once as to his Body subject to death. Rev. 1.18. He said from Heaven, I was dead and I am alive, and behold I live for ever more. Christ lives for ever more. And as for Be­lievers they shall never die, Christ said to Martha, Joh. 11.26. He that believes in me shall never die; and he said, If a man keeps my sayings, he shall never see death, Joh. 8.51. Altho' a Natural Death, the Death of the Body is that which they are as subject to as other Men; yet their Souls live and their Bodies too shall awake out of the sleep of death; and after the Resurrection they shall be equal to the Angels, and then they can­not die any more: therefore the Relation between Christ and them will continue to all Eternity: It abides in Heaven, for in Heaven is the Marriage Feast: a Feast is there the like where-unto was never known on Earth, as to the greatness of the Enter­tainment, the rejoycing and the continu­ance of it. The King of Persia made a Feast for all his Princes, Esther 1.3. which lasted a hundred and eighty days together; but this Feast lasts infinitely longer than a hundred and eighty Millions of Years. The Scripture sets forth heavenly things by Earthly Similitudes, otherwse we could not conceive of them, no heart can conceive what is to be injoyed in Heaven. Christ said to the Jews, Joh. 3 9. If I should tell you heavenly things how could you believe? If [Page 58] heavenly things should be set before us in their own proper Dialect, we could not comprehend them. Therefore earthly Simi­litudes are made use of to set forth those things, and especially this of a Marriage Feast, to denote the happiness and joy of Heaven. Many times at Feasts there is great Joy; but the greatest Joy of Believers will be in Heaven: There Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads, Isai. 35 10. There is ful­ness of Joy, and there are pleasure for ever­more. That holy Man Mr. Jordan being at a Feast, said, At a Feast there is good Com­pany, and so there is in Heaven, and here is good Chear, so there is in Heaven, and far better, but anon we hear that word Take a­way; that word will never be heard in Heaven.

USE, I.

There is an high dignity that does belong to Believers on Christ. They ought to be re­spected and honoured, because of the Rela­tion they stand in to the Son of God. Al­tho' they are generally despised and con­temned in the World: Yea, the best of them are so. 1 Cor. 4.13. We are made the filth of the world, & the off scouring of all things. Nevertheless they are no contemptible Per­sons: They are honourable. They are so in the Eyes of good Men. It is given as the Character of the Upright Man, Psal. 15.4. He honours them that fear the Lord. As God [Page 59] himself does respect them: He sayes of his Church, Thou was Precious in my sight and honourable, Isai. 43.4. So there is a dignity belonging to them because of their Relation to Christ. If a King Marry a mean Person, there is a dignity belonging to such an one. As Esther when Married to the King. Is there not a dignity belonging to the Kings Daughter? The Church is called so, Psal. 45 13. The Kings Daughter is all glorious with­in. Yea, She is a Queen, v. 9. The Queen stands at thy right hand in Gold of Ophir. That Scripture will be fulfilled at the last day, when all Believers shall stand at the right hand of Christ.

USE, II.

From this Doctrine we may Infer the Be­lievers Felicity as well as Dignity. A good Match is a singular happiness. Christ is the most desireable one that ever was or that possibly can be. To be Married to the Son of God, To the only Son of the King of Hea­ven, What greater Dignity? What greater Felicity? Christ is the Wisest and Richest that can be thought of: Angels proclaim it. Rev. 5.12. The Angels said, Worthy is the Lamb that is slain to receive honour, & glory, and power, and wisdom, and riches. That is to say, Wor­thy to be acknowledged the Richest and Wisest, and most Powerful and Honourable that can be mentioned. Was not Pharaohs [Page 60] Daughter happy in being Married to Solo­mon! Behold a greater than Solomon is here. The Soul that is Married to him is made happy for ever.

Several things may be mentioned, which declare the happiness of Believers by reason hereof.

1. There can be no Law-suits against them. Urori lis non intenditur. The Hus­band is responsible for his Wives debts. The Wise can't be Sued as long as her Husband liveth. So is the case here. The debts which we owe, Christ has undertaken the payment of. He has suffered to make satisfaction to God for all our Sins, which are our debts. God has imputed them to him, because he became our Surety, and promised to make Satisfaction for all we did owe to the Justice of God. Accordingly God has charged Christ with all the debts of his People. Isai 53.6. Upon him was laid the Iniquity of us all. Therefore Justice will not come up­on them, will not demand satisfaction of the Surety, and of the Principal too. Rom. 8.33, 34. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of Gods Elect? What? have they not been guilty of many Sins? Yea, but God Justifies for all that, Who shall condemn? It is Christ that dyed, yea rather that is risen again: which implies that God has received full satisfacti­on in the death of his Son. Christ is come out of the Prison of the Grave, and God has thereby declared Himself fully Satisfied.

[Page 61]2. Believers thus related to Christ shall be protected and defended against all their Enemies. Christ their Husband will be their Protector, and happy are they in ha­ving such a Protector. It was said to Sarah, That Abraham her Husband should be a Cove­ring to her Eyes. h.c. A vail to defend her from injuries, Gen. 20.16. So Christ defends his Church. If any offer wrong to them they shall pay dear for it. Christ sayes of them, He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his Eye: that we may be sure Christ will never indure, Zech. 2.8.

3. Because of their Relation to Christ, Believers are sure to be well provided for. He is able to provide well for them: They shall never want for any thing since Christ is their Head and Husband. They shant want Clothing, they shall have the best Robe given to them. In Rev. 12.1. We read of a Woman clothed with the Sun. Who is that Woman but the Church of Christ? What is that Sun with which she is cloathed, but the Righteousness of Christ? Christ is the Sun of Righteousness. They shant want for Food. Isai. 25.6. The Lord of Hosts has pre­pared a feast of fat things, and of wines well refined on the lees. And what will Christ feed his People with? He will feed them with Manna, with the bread of Heaven. What is that bread Christ gives? It is the bread of Life. Bread which if a Man eat thereof, [Page 62] he shall not dye, but live for ever. Christ feeds Believers with the bread of Life, and with the water of Life. Rev. 7.17. The Lamb shall feed them and lead them unto living fountains of waters.

4. Since Believers are Married to Christ, Christ and all that belongs to him is theirs. They have an Interest in his Person: They are his and He theirs. My beloved is mine and I am his, Cant. 2.16. And they have an Interest in his Estate; all the Estate that belongs to Christ, belongs to them. Rom. 8.17. They are heirs of God and joynt heirs with Christ. A Kingdom is the greatest Riches: Believers on Christ are heirs of a blessed Kingdom And more than so, by reason that the Inheritance of Christ is theirs, all things are theirs; for what is that Inheri­tance? it is no less than all things: He is said to be the heir of all things. Is it not said of Believers, That they shall Inherit all things? Rev. 21.7.

USE, III.

We may here see the wonderful Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, in that He becomes so related to such as we are: we may know that Christ is infinitely gracious from this very thing. 2 Cor. 8.9. You know the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, altho' he was rich, yet became poor for your sakes, that thro' his povert you might be made rich. This appears, if we [Page 63] Consider, who Christ is, and what we are,

(1.) Who Christ is. He is a King, the most glorious King that can be mentioned. Psal. 24.10. Who is the King of Glory? the Lord of Host he is the King of glory, that is the most glorious King; Christ he is that King: He is the Lord of Host: All the Crea­tures in Heaven and Earth are all under the Command of Jesus Christ. He is the Lord of Lords, and King of Kings. And he is the Son of God, as in the Text: A King made a Marriage for his Son. He is the Son of God, of the same Nature with the Fa­ther; he said God was his Father, so made himself Equal with God, and thought it no Robbery to do so. It is Infinite Con­descention in him to look on the highest Angel in Heaven. He humbles himself to behold things in Heaven, how much more then for him to look upon Men, such poor Creatures as we are. How wonderful is it, that he should be Married to our Nature? The Son of God is so in respect of his Incar­nation, He has taken the Nature of Man into his own Person to be One with him. O Wonderful! And as for particular Be­lievers, they are taken into the nearest U­nion with Christ. O let it affect all our hearts!

(2.) Consider what we are. Who or what are we, that Christ the Son of God should give himself to us, and not to An­gels. [Page 64] Heb. 2.16. He took not the nature of Angels, but the Nature of Man. What is Man that the King of Heaven and Earth should be thus mindful of him? If a Prince should Marry a Peasant, would it not be admired at! To do so is not the man­ner of Men. There is usually some external Motive that inclines them in their choice. What was it that did Incline Christ to us, but his own Grace and Goodness? Jacob chose Rachel rather than Leah, because of her beauty. But there is nothing to incline Christ to choose his Elect, in them was no beauty, before Christ set his heart upon them. Their beauty is perfect through the Comli­ness which he has put upon them. All the Comliness that the Souls of Believers are set off, and adorned with, is from Christ. But in themselves separate from Christ, they are woful Creatures. Ezek. 16.5, 6. I saw them when cast out to the loathing of thy Person, when thou wast in thy blood, I said unto thee, live; yea, when thou wast in thy blood, I said unto thee, live. Sometimes Men in their choice look at Birth, and Parentage. Christ did not so, in chusing us. Does he not say Thy Father was an Ammorite thy Mother a Hit­tite. Men look at Portions and Riches we have none. Christ did not chuse us for any Riches: He hath chosen the Poor of this World, such as were Morally as well as Li­terally Poor: Poor as Beggars. Miserable Wretched, Poor, Blind and Naked. So it is [Page] with Men by Nature; they han't so much as Rags to Cover their Nakedness. Now, that Christ should look after such, and choose such, is an Evidence of astonishing Grace.

Let the last USE be a double Exhor­tation.

EXHOR. I. O that every Soul would make sure of being Married to Jesus Christ the Son of GOD. Might this be the Effect of what I have been speaking, it would be the hap­piest Sermon that ever I Preached.

Consider. CHRIST is Offered unto you. There is not one Soul, Man nor Woman here, but Christ is offered to you to be in the nearest Relation to you. God himself offers him to you, and sends his Servants for that end. It's said in the Context before us, The King sent his Servants to Invite them to come, Saying, all things are ready, Come to the Mar­riage. The special work of the Embassadors of Heaven is to woo Souls for Christ. As Abraham sent his Servant to perswade Re­becca, to become a Wife to his Son Isaac: So God sends some to Preach the Gospel, and to Call upon Sinners to Come to Christ; Submit to him, and Accept of him to be the it Lord and Saviour, Head & Husband. And as God offers his Son to every Soul where the Gospel comes: So Christ offers himself, [Page 66] Prov. 9.4. Wisdom, that is Christ says, I have furnished my Table, Come and eat of my bread and drink of the wine that I have mingled. Thus does Wisdom send forth her Maidens, that is Christ his Ministers to proclaim this. And unto whom does the Lord Jesus Christ offer himself? To whosoever will, let them come to him, He will accept of them; if they come with a heart really willing to submit to him. He sayes, Let him that heareth, Come: And whosoever will let him take the water of Life freely, Rev. 22.17.

Consider. You will never be better offered. What wouldst thou have? What canst thou desire in such a Relation, but thou mayst have it in Christ? Would you have a Wise Man? Christ is wiser than Solomon. In him are hid all the treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge: Subjectively as well as Objective­ly, Col. 2.3. Christ is called, The Wisdom of God. Do you desire one that is Rich: In Christ there is Unsearchable Riches. Wouldst thou have Beauty? Christ is fairer than the Children of Men. He is altogether Lovely. Doest thou desire High-birth, or One Great and Honourable: Christ is so; all the An­gels in Heaven do honour him. Worship him all ye Angels. He is the Son of God. The greatest Emperors on Earth are his vassals: Some of them have styled themselves, A vessel of Jesus Christ.

[Page 67]Consider also, That you will not be thus offered always. The Lord says, My Spirit shall not always strive. Gods Spirit is stri­ving with Men in the Gospel. Hearken now for he will not always make the offer. Christ said to Jerusalem, How often would I have gathered you under my wings, and ye would not? How often has Christ the Son of God spoken to thee and offered himself to thee? yet thou hast not regarded: take heed lest thou have no more offer; mayst not thou fear it. It may be this is the last offer that some that hear me this day shall ever have: then slight not the offer, as you love your Souls.

Do any of you say, What shall we do that Christ may be ours and we his? That we may come into this blessed Mar­riage.

Answ. If we would have Christ we must resolve to be for him and not for another. Resolve to Renounce all other Lords and Lovers that stand in Opposition to, or Com­petition with the Lord Jesus Christ. Say as the Lords People do, Altho' other Lords have had dominion over us, now we will make mention of thy Name only. So must you say, Tho' Sin, tho' Self, tho' the World has had dominion over me, yet I renounce all, and part with all for Christ. Consent sincerely to the motion of the Gospel, and the thing [Page 68] is done: It is but that one thing and the Match is made; and thou art made for Eternity, if thou doest but that One thing. Then Consent to the offer of the Gospel with all thy heart.

The Second EXHORTATION is to Be­lievers who are Married to Christ: Approve your Selves as your Relation to Him does call for. And how is that?

1. To Love Christ. To love him above all things; to love him more than any Crea­ture. We are apt to love Creatures more than we should; there is not any of us but have been guilty of that Idolatry more or less; but resolve now to love Christ more than any Creature. It is impossible for us to love Christ too much. Its usual with many People to say, I love such a thing with all my heart; that's no good saying, We must love none but Christ with all our hearts, because he is most worthy of our love; He is so in respect of what he is in himself, the most lovely One that can be desired, the Chief of ten thousands. The worst that can be said of Christ is better than all the Pleasures that this World can afford. Namely, his Cross, his Sufferings. Heb. 11.26. Moses did Esteem the reproach of Christ greater Riches than the treasures of Egypt. And Christ is most worthy of our love in respect of what he has done for us. What has he done? [Page 69] He has paid all our debts, that we could not; we must have remained in a woful Prison for ever, if Christ had not paid our debts for us: And shall we not love him? And he has destroyed our Enemies, our greatest Enemies, Sin and Satan; He has saved us from the Enemies of our Souls, and Salvation; and shall we not love him? All the Creatures in the whole World could not deliver us from the Wrath of God, but Je­sus has delivered us from the wrath to come; and shall we not love him?

And 2. Let us Study to please Christ. Let us dy rather than do any thing that grieves him. I charge you, O ye Daughters of Jerusa­lem that you awake not my love until he please. Any death is better than to offend Christ. Would you please Christ? Then you may not seek to please the World. Gal. 1.10. If I please men I am no longer a Servant of Christ. If Men demand this or that of us, we should think, Will this please Christ? if so, then we may do it, but otherwise, not. Let us then do the things that are pleasing to him. And what will please him? If we bring forth much Fruit, that will please him. He loves to come into his Garden and Eat his pleasant fruits, Cant. 4.16. Does Grace thrive in our Souls? That is very pleasing to him. Do these Spices flow out? The Exercise of Grace, that is very pleasing to [Page 70] Christ. If we Pray much, that will please him: He loves to see us often upon our Knees, especially in Secret: That is pleasing to him. If we accustom our selves to the deepest Humiliations before him, that is pleasing to him. If we keep his Commandments, we shall please him, so that he will deny us nothing that shall be good for us to receive. 1 Joh. 3.22. Whatever we ask we receive, be­cause we Keep his Commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

[Page 71]

That Men are Infinitely Concerned, not only to hear the Voice of Christ, but that they do it, To day.

PSALM, XCV. 7.

— To Day if you will hear his Voice.

CHRIST is spoken of in this Psalm. So does the Apostle de­clare in his Epistle to the Hebrews. And the Jews themselves ac­knowledge that the Words now read have respect to the promised Messiah. The design of the Psalmist, is, to Excite the Children of Israel to give unto Christ the greatest honour that possibly can be, viz. That of a Religious Adoration. That divine Worship which is due to God, and to him only, does consist especially in two things, Namely Prayer, and a Religious [Page 72] Attendance to the Word of God. In the 5th and 6th verses Men are Exhorted to Pray to Christ, To Worship and Kneel before him. In this verse, they are Exhorted to Attend his Word, which is urged with weighty Reasons: Particularly in that he is God, and in a particular manner his Peoples God; and in that he is their Shepherd, which implies his being their Feeder and their Protector, Therefore they ought to Pray to him and Hear his Voice.

In the words before us we have, (1.) The Duty to be done, scil. To hear the Voice of Christ; which intends Obedience. Often in the Scripture to Hear is to Obey. Hear (i. e. Obey) and your Souls shall live. (2.) The time when this ought to be done, To day. It may not be deferred until to Morrow, but must be done To day. The Doctrine before us, is, DOCT. That Men ought not only to hear the Voice of CHRIST so as to Obey Him, but it is of Infinite Concernment for them to do it, To Day.’

The Doctrine may be Opened and Confir­med in several Propositions.

PROP. I. There are many in the World, whom the Lord is pleased to favour with a Day of Grace.

[Page 73]When it is said, To day hear his Voice, that is intended, hear the Voice of Christ whilest you have a day of Grace vouchsa­fed to you for that End. The day of Grace is in Scripture Expressed by that of a day for Men to know the things of their Peace, and by their time of Visitation. And 'tis called, The day of Salvation; a day in which Salva­tion is offered and may be obtained. And a space to Repent. Such a day Sinners who are gone out of this World are not favoured with. Altho' the Apostle speaking con­cerning the damned Souls of the Sinners who lived in the Old World before the flood, sayes, That the Spirit of Christ Preached to the Spirits in Prison, which were sometimes disobedient in the days of Noah, 1 Pet. 3.19. the meaning is not, that he Preached to them after they were in Prison, i. e. in Hell, but before that whilest they were living; the Spirit of Christ in the Ministry of Noah, Preached Repentance to them. But not­withstanding it is a Truth that no Sinners in the other World have a Day of Salvation vouchsafed to them, nevertheless, there are some in this World that have such a day.

For,

1. There are many that Enjoy the light of the Gospel; which is the ordinary Medium by which God works Grace in the Souls of Men, and so brings them unto Eternal Sal­vation by bringing the Gospel to them, [Page 74] which is called, The Gospel of our Salvation, Eph. 1.13. As for such as have not the light of the Gospel, they have no Day, 'tis always Night with them; they see no light but sit in darkness and in the region of the shadow of death. But as for such as have the Gospel, 'tis Day with them. The Sun is risen upon them, even the Sun of Righteousness which has healing under his wings, Mal. 4.2. There was a time when for many Ages only one Nation had the light of Gods Word shining upon them; and they had but Moon light Comparative­ly. He shewed his Word to Jacob, he hath not dealt so with any Nation. That blessed light shined but on a little spot of ground, not two hundred Miles; as to the rest of the World, darkness covered the Earth, and gross darkness the People. But since Christ has come into the World, many parts of the Earth have been enlightned with the Gospel. 1 Joh. 2.8. The darkness is past, and the true light now shines. The knowledge of Christ, which the Gospel brings to the World is truly light, and the most glori­ous light that ever shone on the Earth. Now they that Enjoy the Gospel have a Day of Grace and Salvation offered to them. For the Gospel offers Grace wherever it comes. It is the Grace of God that brings Salvati­on, and has appeared to all Men. The Gos­pel proclaims the Mercy of Heaven to Sin­ners on the Earth. Christ then declares to [Page 75] them, that there Sins shall be forgiven and their Souls saved, if they will hear his Voice. It makes a free offer of Life to Con­denmed Sinners; yes to all that come with­in the hearing of it, if they will accept of it on gracious Gospel termes. Rev. 22.17. Whosoever will let him take the water of Life freely.

2. The blessed God does not only offer Sal­vation to Sinners, but he waits with wonder­ful Patience to see whether they will accept of the Grace offered. He endureth with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath, Rom. 9.22. He extends his Patience to Long-suffering, nay, to much Long-suffering. It is from In­finite Grace in God that be makes an offer of Salvation to Sinners; suppose he should do it but once, and then destroy them upon the first refusal: but the Lord renews his offers of Grace and Mercy, and continues to do so, from day to day, nay, he waits Petiently for Years one after another, and still finds himself disappointed. Luk. 13.7. These three years I came seeking fruit and find none. Life Time in this World is a Day of Grace. It is Compared to the Day, as death is resembled to the Night: Night comes when no man can work. Men may do things in the Day Time, while they have light for what they do, which they cannot when the dark Night has overtaken them. So whilest they Enjoy the Light of the Living they may be working about their Salvation [Page 76] which when in the dark Grave they cannot. There is no work in the Grave whither thou art going. There are some Sinners which Live threescore, yea, it may be four score Years, or more, and all that time the Lord has waited to be gracious to them. He has spread out his hands, with a Scepter of Grace in them, to Rebellious ones, and that has he done all the Day, as long as they had a Day to live on this Earth. Thus it was with the Sinners of the Old World, they lived an hundred and twenty Years under the awakening Ministry of Noah, who was a Preacher of Righteousness; there was the Voice of Christ speaking to them in that Ministry, but they regarded it not; never­theless, for so long a time did the Lord lengthen out the days of his Patience. Of this the Apostle takes notice, 1 Pet. 3.20. Who sometimes were disobedient when once the long suffering of God waited in the dayes of Noah, while the Ark was a preparing. When the Children of Israel were in the Wilder­ness, they continued in their Rebellious Practices for the space of Forty Years; God was Patient and Long-suffering to them all that time, notwithstanding their not hear­ing his Voice; wherefore it is said in the next words following my Text, Harden not your hearts as in the provocation, and as in the day of Temptation in the Wilderness, when your Fathers tempted me, proved me and saw my works, forty years long was I grieved with [Page 77] this Generation. The like Patience did the Lord Exercise towards the Jews after the Gospel had been Preached to them by the Son of God himself, and by his Apostles. Christ indeed threatned them with a de­solation of their City and Temple, and that the means of Grace should be taken from them, yet did he continue the Gospel to them forty Years after they had rejected it.

PROP. II. When Men (a particular Per­son or People) are favoured with special ad­vantages to be attending the work of their Eternal Salvation, that is their day.

The Day of Grace does not consist meerly in the allowance of Time, or a Space to Repent, and seek the face and favour of God, but in having special Advantages for it. To speak more particularly,

1. A Day of Prosperity is a day of Grace. Often in the Scripture a time of Adversity is denoted by darkness and night; it is Wis­dom for Men to mind the concerns of their Souls before that Night overtake them. Jer. 13.16. Give Glory to the Lord your God before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark Mountains. Says the Prophet, ere long you will be carried over the dark Moun­tains into Captivity; give Glory to God by Repentance before that darkness comes upon you. David said to the Princes of Israel, [Page 78] has not God given you rest on every side? Now set you heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God. Because of the present Peace and Pros­perity you have a singular advantage to endeavour after the things wherein your Souls are concerned. Let not the Opportu­nity slip. 1 Chron. 22.18, 19. Christ said to Jerusalem, O that thou hadst known in this thy day the things which belong to thy Peace, Luke 19.42. The Jews were in great Prosperity when Christ spoke these words, they had Peace and Plenty, and Riches, and Health; but they did not im­prove their Day, they did not Hear the Voice of Christ in it. They knew not the time of their Visitation; for which cause War, and Famine, and Sickness, and all sorts of Mi­sery overtook them, and overwhelmed them. Men are more capable of minding their Spiritual as well as Temporal Welfare, in a time of Prosperity, than when they are in distressing Misery. Especially they are so in a time of Health, more than when painful diseases are upon them.

2. The Christian Sabbath is a Day in which Men have special advantages to be promoving their Souls Good and Salvation: Wherefore they should hear the Voice of Christ therein. It is called the Lords Day, Rev. 1.10. Since it is Christs Day, He will make it a blessed day to such as shall then hear his Voice. Psal. 518 24. This is the day which the Lord [Page 79] hath made. He has made it, that so we might worship him on that Day as our Redeemer. For the space of four thousand Years from the Creation the Seventh day of the Week was the Day of solemn Worship, in Commemoration of God, His resting on that Day from the Work of Creation; but the First Day of the Week is the Christian Sabbath in Commemoration of our Saviour Christ his rising from the dead on that day, and so resting from the Work of Redemption then finished. The Lords Day has been a Day of Salvation to many a Soul; indeed to the generality of Gods Elect. Among the Lords Ancient People, when there was to be a solemn Feast, a Silver Trumpet was to be sounded which called the People together. The Psalmist alludes to that, Psal. 89.15. Blessed is the People that know the joyful sound. The sounding of the Silver Trumpet, did figuratively signify the Preaching of the Gospel. It is on the Lords Day that the Sil­ver Trumpet of the Gospel sounds, and then and thereby Christ himself is from Heaven speaking to us. The Lords Day is a Market Day for the Soul. Is it a Spiritual Fair, in which Commodities are offered to Men as will en­rich their Souls. To refuse them is the greatest disobedience to the Voice of Christ that possibly can be.

3. There are Times when the Holy Spirit strives with Sinners, that is their Day of Grace. [Page 80] It was the Spirit of Christ that did strive with the Sinners of the Old World before the flood, and then they had a blessed day of Grace, 1 Pet. 3.18, 19. but they did not hear his Voice in that their day. When Sin­ners turn out of the way in which they should go, they oft hear a Voice behind them saying, This is the way walk in it, Isai. 30.21. The Voice of Christs Word and Spirit directs them into the right way. Blessed are they that hear it, and obey it. There are Saving Operations of the Holy Spirit on the Souls of the Elect. There are also Common Operations thereof in the Hearts of Reprobates, by which Christ is speaking to them, and striving with them, and Grace is offered to them. Sometimes the Holy Spirit strives by great Illuminations in the Mind. Some have proved total and final Apostates, and Com­mitted the Unpardonable Sin; Who were once Enlightned, and have tasted of the hea­venly gift, and were made partakers of the holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the World to come, Heb. 6.3, 4. Sometimes the Holy Spirit strives with Sinners by Convincing them of their Sin and Misery, and awakening their Consciences with dismal fears of a Wrath to come. The Scripture speaks of a Spirit of Bondage unto fear, Rom. 8.15 Many a Sinner has Experience of it. He hears that he has transgressed the Law of God, and is bound over to the Great Assizes. He is [Page 81] afraid of Death and Hell. O what will be­come of me in another World to all Eter­nity! Would he hearken to the Voice of Christ in these Convictions, it may be they Would issue in Conversion and Salvation. There was something of this Spirit of bondage unto fear in Felix, when he heard Paul Preach an awakening Sermon concerning Righte­ousness, and Temperance, and Judgment to come, Felix Trembled, Act. 24.25. Happy had he been, if he had obeyed the Voice of the Spirit of Christ in these Convictions and Terrors of his Conscience. Sometimes the Holy Spirit strives with the hearts of Sin­ners in causing good Affections to be stir­ring in them: but they have quenched the holy fire which the holy Spirit has kindled in them. It may be at times they have wept at Sermons, and it may be at times have received the Word with Joy. Nay, they have been so affected as almost to re­solve to forsake their Sins, and to become Christians indeed. Was it not so with Agrippa? He was almost perswaded to be a Christian, Act. 26.28. Yea, many times the Holy Spirit strives with Sinners, so as to cause a great Reformation in them, and yet no thorough saving work upon them. They have been swept and garnished, and the Un­clean Spirit has gone out of them for a time, but afterwards Seven Devils have entred for One before, Matth. 12.45. They have escaped the Pollutions of the World through the [Page 82] Knowledge of Christ; yet but a common work of the Holy Spirit on them, 2 Pet. 2.20. Was it not thus with Herod? He lived under John Baptists powerful Ministry, heard him gladly, and did many things, Mark 6.20. Now when the Spirit of God is at work in the hearts of Sinners, altho' but with a Com­mon and not a saving Work, they are great­ly concerned to hear the Voice of Christ, that so the work may prove saving.

4. The Present Time is the Day of Grace. 2 Cor. 6.2. Behold Now is the accepted time, behold Now is the day of Salvation. Not here­after, but Now If you would be saved hear the Voice of Christ Now; if you would have God accept of you, return to him Now: For Now is the time, Behold it, behold it. This was the Voice of God by all his holy Prophets; they all with one Voice cried, Turn ye NOW from your evil way. The Lord does not say, To Morrow, if you will hear his Voice, you shall be saved, but To Day, if you will hear his Voice. Now or the present Time, is the only time that any Man is sure of. As for the Time past it is gone irrecoverably. Yesterday will never be here again. The Time past was thine, but it shall never be thine any more. Time to come is very uncertain. Sinners when they are Exhorted to Repent, and Believe on Christ, are apt to say, it is good Counsil, but they had rather do it To Morrow than [Page 83] To Day; when as it is uncertain whether they will ever see a To Morrow. Prov. 27.1. Boast not thy self of to morrow, for thou know­est not what a day may bring forth. For ought thou knowest, or any Man living, thou mayest be in another World to Morrow. So then the present time is thy day. And as for the present Time, it does not stand still, but is flying away. The wings of time are swifter than the wings of an Eagle. Job 9.27, 28. My dayes are swifter than a Post: they flee away, as the Eagle that hasteth to the prey. What is swifter than that? So then the present time without any the least delay, is thy day of Grace, in which it is thy duty to hear the Voice of Christ.

PROP. III. Sinners are Infinitely Con­cerned to hear the Voice of Christ, in this their day.

The Text sayes To Day. If you will hear his Voice; If so. What then? Then you are for ever happy. If not, Infinitely mise­rable. The Assertion before us is truth.

For,

1. An Eternity of Weal or of Wo depends on this. Are not Men Infinitely concerned in that which their Eternity depends upon. If any Man was told that he should be in happiness or in misery for some Scores of Years, would he not be greatly concerned about it? How much more when the [Page 84] Word of God informs him of that on which an Eternity of Weal or Wo depends? For so it does on his hearing or not hearing the Voice of Christ whilest it is day.

For,

2. If Sinners hear his Voice Now before their day is past, they shall certainly find Mercy; God will then be found of them. Isai. 55.6. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found. While the day of Grace last is a finding time. No Sinner did ever repent and return to God within that time, but the Lord had Mercy on him, and has abundantly par­doned his many and great Sins. Come before it is too late. Come before Sun set. Come before the Master of the house has shut to the door, and you are sure of finding acceptance with him; He will in no wise cast you out, if you come to him, To Day.

3. If Sinners harden their hearts, and will not hear the Voice of Christ until their day is past and gone, there is no hope of Mercy for them. Whrefore the Prophet sayes, Ga­ther your selves together, O Nation, in order to the solemnest Humiliations, before the de­cree bring forth, Zeph. 2.1, 2. When the day of Grace is past, the decree brings forth. Repentance is too late then. It is with such undone Sinners as with those miserable Jews who said, Hold thy tongue, for we may not make mention of the Name of the Lord; say they, it is too late to Pray now, for God is Executing [Page 85] the Sentence which we were advised to pre­vent, but did it not in due season, Rom. 6.10. When the day of Grace is past, God saith of such Perishing Creatures, Call their Name Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no more have Mercy on them, Hos. 1.6. He writes over such a woful Soul, Lo-Ruhamah. The Name which God has given to that Sinner, is, I will not have Mercy on him. He has not only said, but he has Sworn in his wrath, that Sinners who Out-stand their day of Grace shall not enter into his Rest. When they have Out-stood and Out-sinned their day, No Prayers, nor Cryes, nor Tears will prevail for the obtaining Mercy. God said to the Children of Israel, Go up and possess the Land which I have given you, if you will go now it shall be yours: but they rebelled against the Commandment of the Lord, and believed him not. And what was the Con­sequence? God Swore that not a Man of them all that was in that Rebellion should ever enjoy the good Land. Notwithstanding they returned and wept before the Lord, but the Lord would not hearken to their voice, nor give ear unto them, Deut. 1.45. Thus God in the Gospel offers Heaven to Sinners on their believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, they slip the Offer; they neglect the great Salvation; until the day of Salvation is past, then they cry but God regards them not. Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried and I would not [Page 86] hear, saith the Lord of Hosts, Zech. 7.12. Shall Sinners that refuse to hear the Voice of Christ in the Gospel offering Salvation to them, obtain that Salvation! No: He has said, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my Supper, Luke 14.24.

USE, I.

This Doctrine affords matter of just and sad Reproof to such as do not hear the Voice of Christ in this their day of Grace. Christ said of Jezebel, I gave her space to Repent and she Repented not, Rev. 2.21. Alas! It is so with many. The Lord has given them Time and many Advantages to be making sure of the Salvation of their Souls; but they have not done it. Do Men improve their day of Grace? Are there not many who neglect their day, as to all the particulars but now mentioned.

1. They do not improve their day of Pros­perity to Soul saving Ends and Purposes. They have Health, and it may be Wealth too. That should cause them to Seek and Serve the Lord Willingly and Joyfully because of the abundance of all things. They should therefore hear his Voice, and be very Obe­dient to him. But the Lord may say to them as he did to Jerusalem: Jer. 22.21. I spake unto thee in thy Prosperity, but thou saidst I will not bear; this has been thy manner [Page 87] from thy Youth that thou obeyest not my Voice. They have been like Jesurun, who when he waxed fat was so bruitish as to kick his feeder. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and has forgotten the God that formed thee, Deut. 32.15, 18. Wretched Sinners, the more mindful God has been of them, the more forgetful have they been of him. And for how long a time? how many days have they forgotten him? Jer. 2.32. They have forgotten me days without number. Prayerless ones, Hear the Word of the Lord. How many days hast thou lived, in which thou hast not Prayed to God? Have they not been days without number! Then thou hast forgotten God dayes with­out number. O foolish Creatures and un­wise! do you thus requite the Lord for all his blessings? Dost thou call thy self a Christian, and yet not Pray to God? Thou has less Religion than Mahometans; For they Pray more than once every day. A late Writer speaks of two Turks that being at variance, One of them, that he might disgrace his Adversary with the great­est Reproach, uttered such words as these, You may see what a Wretch that man is, he has not Prayed to God so much as once this day. Are there not those professed Christians here present, that have not Prayed to God this day, and it may be not once the last Week. Woful forgetters of God they are!

[Page 88]2. Many do not improve and profit by Ser­mons and by the Holy Ordinances of Christ, as they might and should do. The Seed of the Word is sowen in our Congregations: but in what ground? Have we not cause to think sadly on the Parable of the Sower, which speaks of four sorts of ground, the most of them not fruitful. Fruitful hearers of the word are rare in some Congregations. They hear and do not hear. It is much to be feared, and the thought is awful, That many who live under the Preaching of the Gospel, are under that Judicial dispensation which Isaiah has Prophesied of, That their Ears are dull of hearing, and their Eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their Eyes, and hear with their Ears, and should un­derstand with their hearts, and be converted, Matth. 13.15. Is not the Lords day, which is a Market-day for the Soul, by some spent very Unprofitably? O how much good might Men gain to their Souls in one Lords day, would they carefully improve it? If they would spend it Publickly and Pri­vately with that Religion which ought to be; in Praying, and in Reading Books of Piety, and in Holy Discourse; surely their Souls would thrive in Grace. But do not many spend the Evening after the Sabbath so Irreligiously, as that the Sermons which they heard in the day are in a manner lost before the next day?

[Page 89]3. Do Men hear what the Spirit sayes? Do they not quench his Motions? He sometimes kindles a fire of good Affections in their hearts, but they put it out. They stifle Con­victions, and by disobeying his word resist his Spirit. Act. 7 51. Te do always resist the holy Ghost. May not such Sinners fear that the holy Spirit will depart from them: Then wo to thy desolate Soul. Jer. 6.8. Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee, lest I make thee desolate. If thou still provokest the Holy Spirit, it may be he will not only depart from thee, but leave thee to the power of the Evil Spirit. Was it not so with Saul? 1 Sam. 16.14. The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him. And was it not so with the rebellious Jews? Isai. 63.10. They rebelled and vexed his holy Spirit, therefore he was turned to be their enemy. For the Infinite­ly kind Spirit to become an Enemy, is most dreadful.

4. Are there not a World of Sinners who neg­lect the present Time? They Sin away the day of Grace by delays. They think ano­ther Time hereafter will be as Convenient for them to Repent in, as N [...]. Like Felix who when his Conscience was awakened under Pauls Preaching, said, Go thy way for this time, when I have a convenient season I will send for thee, Act. 24.25. But did that con­venient [Page 90] season ever come? A Sinner can­not Repent too soon, but he may Repent too late. There is inexpressible folly in delaying this matter. Men have more reason to de­lay seeking for help if their Bodies are in danger. If their Bodies are dangerously sick or wounded; they will make hast for a Phy­sitian. But thou hast a Soul that is despe­rately sick, a Soul that has received a dead­ly wound, and wilt thou not make hast to Jesus Christ the only Physitian that can cure thee, and heal thy wounded Soul, before it is too late? It was wise Counsil which a Jewish Teacher gave to his Scholar, That he should be sure to Repent one day before death. Then he must Repent this very day, for he is not sure but that he shall be Dead to Morrow, Delays in this Matter are Infinite­ly dangerous. It was once said to David when in extreme danger, 1 Sam. 19.11. If thou save not thy Life to night, to morrow thou shalt be slain. If thou wilt not hear the Voice of Christ to day, it may be to Mor­row thou wilt be slain: One days delay may cost thee the Life of thy Soul. If Lot had lingred a day longer in Sodom, he had cer­tainly perished; the Angel said to him, Stay not escape for thy Life, escape to the Mountains, lost thou be consumed. Is there not the like Voice of Christ to those that Live under the Gospel. Oh▪ Make hast to Zoar: Make hast to the City of Refuge. Christ is that City. De­lays have been the ruine of many a Soul. [Page 91] How many are dropt down to Hell! Mul­titudes, Multitudes are in that Valley of de­cision. Could you speak with them, and ask them how came you into this Place of Tor­ment? When you were alive on the Earth, did not the Ministers of God warn you of it, and did not they assure you that if you would Repent of Sin and Believe on Jesus Christ, and live an holy Life, you should never be sent into this outer darkness? They would reply, they did so Preach unto us, and we intended to Repent, but delayed it from day to day, and ere we were aware of it, Death surprized us, and now it is too late. Delayes have been our Eternal ruine.

USE, II. Of Exhortation.

Oh! that every One that hears me this day, would say and do as David did, Psal. 119.60. I made haste and delayed not to keep thy Commandments. Shall we be more unrea­sonable, than some Creatures which have not reason, which nevertheless in Summer provide for Winter. And shall not Men with Rational and Immortal Souls, whilst they have Time provide for Eternity! Doleful is their State who may say, and must say, as Jer. 8.20. The Harvest is past, the Sum­mer is ended, and we are not saved.

Consider, 1. As yet you have a day? The day of Grace is not done. That Sun is not [Page 92] set. Altho' as to some of you, 'tis far spent, since Age has over-taken you; nevertheless, you are yet in the Land of the Living, and therefore it is not too late for you to hear the Voice of Christ. It is possible for an Old Sinner to be Converted and Saved. Was not Manasseh such an One? I could tell you of a very Pious Old Man, who would often say with admiration at the Grace of God towards him, If I had dyed before I was Seventy Years Old I had gone to Hell. Think of this, you that have continued in your Sins, until gray Hairs are upon you Hast thou one foot in the Grave! O hear the Voice of Chirst before the other foot is there also. Others of you are in the Morning of your Age, The Voice of Christ to you is that in Eccles. 12.1. Remem­ber Now thy Creator in the days of thy Youth. Now harden not your hearts. Think not to say within your selves, we will Repent and Turn to God in Jesus Christ, when Old Age has over-taken us. It may be thou shalt not live to Age. And you Children hearken. Christ speaks to you. Is it not Christ that sayes, Come you Children hearken to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord, Psal. 34.11. The Voice of Christ sayes, They that seek me early shall find me. O hear that Voice, and you will be blessed Children.

Consider, 2. The Day of Grace will not last alwayes. It is but a day which Sinners have to be looking after their Salvation, and a [Page 93] short day too. It is limited to a day. Heb. 4.7. He limiteth a certain day, saying in Da­vid, To day if you will hear his Voice, harden not your hearts. The Means of Grace will not last always. As Christ said concerning him­self, Me you have not always. So may it be said concerning the Word and Voice of Christ. Now you have Ministers, and Ser­mons, and Sabbaths, but you shall not have them always. The blessed Motions and Stri­vings of the holy Spirit will not continue always. Gen. 6.3. My Spirit shall not always strive. Nor will the day of Patience last al­ways. The Justice of God will not suffer his Patience to be always abused. Jer. 44.22. So that the Lord could no longer bear. The day of Life in this World, will not last alwayes. The longest Day has its Evening. So has the longest Life. Life is always spending a­way, like the Oyl in the Lamp; or the Sand in the hour Glass, until it comes to the last Sand. So there will be a last Minute of Life. Are not some of you come to the Eleventh hour of your day! Oh delay not to hear the Call of Christ in the Gospel an hour longer.

Consider, 3. Thy Day may be gone suddenly. It may be thy Sun will set at Noon, and the Lord will make the day dark over thee. A sudden death may put an End to thy day of Grace. If thou hast hardned thy heart a­gainst many Calls of Christ, thou hast cause to fear it. Remember that awful Scripture, [Page 94] Prov. 29.1. He that being often reproved, hard­neth his neck shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. It may be before another Lords day, thou shalt be in another World. It may be before this Week is out, thou shalt be in thy Grave, and where will thy Soul be then!

Do any of you say, What would you have us to do, That we may become Obedient Hear­ers to the Word of Christ, and that without any delay?

Answ. I wish you would seriously Think and Consider. Thus sayes the Lord of hosts, Consider your wayes. You say you cannot Convert your selves: but you have power to Think sadly and Consider of Things, if you will. Does not David say, I thought on my wayes, and turned my feet unto thy Testimo­nies, Psal. 119.59. Think sadly with thy self, What have my ways been? And think what is the way which I am now in? What is my present State? Am I in a State of Grace? Am I sure of that? If I should die this Night? Have I a perswasion grounded on the Scripture, That my Soul shall be with holy Angels, and with the Spirits of Just Men made perfect? And there is another thing, I wish you would think of. Think what anguish Damned Souls are in, because their day of Grace is past. I have heard of a poor Creature that when at the point of Death, uttered such words as these, If I had [Page 95] Ten thousand Worlds, I would give them all that I might live one day longer. Certainly it is so with those in Hell. They would give Worlds if they had them to give, that they might have One Sabbath, or One Sermon, or have One Offer of Grace more; One Day to Repent in, with any hopes of finding Mer­cy with God. Oh Consider of it. And Oh that you would go home, and get alone and Think sadly on ETERNITY. It may be one quarter of an hours serious Consideration on it, might be a Means of thy Conversion and Eternal Salvation. That precious Man of God Mr. Flavel, in one of his profitable Books, speaks of a Person of Quality, who having been abroad with vain Companions until late in the Night, she found a Ser­vant who was of a more serious Spirit, reading in a good Book; at first she deri­ded her, saying, Poor Melancholy Soul, What dost thou poring on a Book: but af­ter a while burst out into a flood of Tears, Saying to her Servant, As I looked on the Book you was reading, I saw that word ETERNITY: The thought on that word ETERNITY, has broke my very heart within me. I Pray God the serious thought of ETERNITY may savingly Break the hearts of many that hear me this day. Oh Consider and Think sadly of it, before thou art gone into ETERNITY, whither thou art hastning; If I die in my [Page 96] Sins and Disobedience to the Voice of Christ, until my day of Grace is past, then after I have suffered the pains of Hell as many Millions of Years as there is Sands on the Sea shore, I shall be no nearer to an end of my Misery, than I was the first day that it came upon me: But if I hear the Voice of Christ, To day, All my Sins will be forgiven, and I shall be happy throughout the never-ending days of Eternity; for Christ has said, The Righteous shall go into Life Eternal.

The Work of the MINI …
[Page]

The Work of the MINISTRY Described In an Ordination SERMON. Preached at Cambridge, October 9. 1717. WHEN Mr. Nathaniel Appleton Was Ordained Pastor of the Church there.

By INCREASE MATHER, D.D.

Acts vi. 4.

We will give our selves continually to Prayer, and to the Ministry of the Word.

Bene orasse est bene studuisse.

Bern.

BOSTON: Printed by B. Green, for Daniel Henchman, at his Shop. 1718.

[Page]

The Preface.

THE Reason of my committing this Ser­mon (such as it is) to the Press, is, not only that I might gratify the desire of the worthy Person whose Ordination occasioned the Preaching of it (& of many others) but that besides what I have Written many Years ago in the Preface before blessed Mr. Mitchels Life, I might leave my dying Advice to the Students in Cambridge, which I hope may be of some use also to those who are or shall belong to the Academical School which is now Erecting in a Neighbour Colony.

It is mentioned in the Sermon Emitted herewith, that our very Learned President, the Aged & Ho­nourable Mr. Chauncey in a Discourse on Amos 2.11. delivered many Years since, at the Lecture in Cambridge the day after the Commencement, insisted on the necessity of that which is called Hu­mane Learning, to make an able Minister of the New-Testament. Likewise that Eminent Divine Mr. Sydrack Sympson at the Commencement, Anno 1653. Preached a Sermon to the same Effect on 2 King. 6.1, 2. to the University Congrega­tion in Old Cambridge. Also Mr. Edward Reyner, a Reverend & Learned Minister of the Congregational Perswasion, in Lincoln, has an Elaborate & Judicious Discourse, shewing that Knowledge in the Liberal Arts and Original Tongues is very necessary to make an accomplished Divine. And if so, then Universities & Col­leges are not unnecessary.

It is true, that our first Reformers complain of the Universities which were in Europe in [Page] those days, as the Chairs of Pestilence. Wick­liff calls them the Synagogues of Satan; and Satapras Antichristi, Antichrists Lieutenants. Luther (according to his wonted vehemency) says, They are no other than the Pits of Hell out of which came that Smoak of the bottomless Pit which has darkned the Sun & the Air: And that Hell is Paved with the bald Sculs of Friars, who lived in Colleges. The Martyr Tindal (who has been called the Apostle of England) complains of them for setting up Aristotle (a Pa­gan, who maintains many damnable Opinions) to be of equal Authority with Christ. Melancthon relates that there was a Preacher in the University of Tubingen who took his Text out of Aristotles Ethicks, instead of the Bible.

Such as these are the Universities which our Reformers have Condemned, in which there was no true Religion, nor solid Learning taught, but Heathenism & Idolatry, with the Rixations of those called Schoolmen who were much worse than their Master Peter Lombard. Calvin calls their Scholastical Divinity, Diabolicam ar­tem rixandi. Another Reformer says, He that sees a Scholastical Theologue, sees the Seven deadly Sins. It is not to be wondred at if such Men as Weigelius, (whom the Excellently Lear­ned Dr. Arrowsmith, Regius Professor in the University of Cambridge has taken to task) should declare against Colleges, but it is very strange, that any Master of a College should write against all Universities whatsoever, and then produce the Reformers mention'd to Patronize him. Yet this has been done by Mr. Dell the [Page] Quondam Master of Convil & Cajus College in Cambridge, not considering that the Reforma­tion has like Moses's Rod turned those Serpents into a Pastoral Staff, and that Luther, and other Reformers have been strenuous asserters of the usefulness & necessity of such Societies, if duly regulated. It has been by the blessing of God on Protestant Universities that the true Religion has been Continued, and Propagated among the Nations: out of them have risen those who have been the glory of the Places & of the Age in which they lived. In our own Nation how great a bles­sing have the two Universities of Oxford and Cambridge been in the former Ages? It has been said of them as of Leah & Rachel, which two did build the house of Israel. And out of the three Universities in Scotland, many Men of Renown have issued forth, too many to be enu­merated. Nor is the most famous Usher the only famous Man that has had his Education in the College at Dublin. There are five Univer­sities in the Reformed Belgium. How many great Instruments of Good to the Church of God have they produced? So among the Reformed in France, and in Germany, and in Denmark? And some out of the University of Upsal in Sweedland.

When our Fathers on the account of Pure Re­ligion and Undefiled, came into this Ameri­can Desert, their care was that Religion might not die with them, or continue but for One Gene­ration. To prevent that, they built a College, that a Learned Youth might be Educated under the Inspection of a President and Tutors; which [Page] owes its Foundation to a Godly Non-conformist Minister, viz. Mr. John Harvard, who by his Will bequeathed the one half of his Estate, for the Encouragement of that Publick & Pious de­sign; for which his Memory is and ever will be blessed: and it is perpetuated by the Name of Harvard College in Cambridge. GOD has made it a fruitful Mother, since not only the Churches in New-England have been supplied from thence with Excellent Preachers, diverse of them Eminent Men of God, but moreover, some who had their Education there, have Preached the Gospel in England, Scotland, Ireland, and in Holland. It would be sad, if ever that Society should degenerate from its Primitive Institution. Corruptio optimi pessima. The Lord forbid that they should ever so diviate from the Princi­ples of their Pious Founder, as that the overthrow of the Churches shall proceed from thence, as has been related concerning the Churches in Bohemia, that the Corruption of their Schools proved fatal to them.

I rejoyce to see a peculiar Talent put into the hands of One so Qualified & Hopeful as Mr. Appleton is, to be Servicable to the Churches of our Lord Jesus Christ. Dr. Preston chose rather to be a Preacher in Cambridge than else where, because there he had an Opportunity (by the bles­sing of Christ) to be the Instrument of Converting those, who might probably be the Converters of many others. The good Lord grant that in our Cambridge it may be so.

[Page 103]

The Work of the Mini­stry described, in an Ordination Sermon.

EPHESIANS, IV. 12.

— For the Work of the Ministry.

IN the Preceding Verse, the Apostle declares, that the Lord Jesus Christ has given to his Church a variety of Mini­sters and Officers. Some that were Ex­traordinary and Temporary, and are long since ceased, viz. Apostles, Prophets, E­vangelists. An Apostle was one that had seen Christ and received a Commission immedi­ately from him. The Prophets here spoken of are not the Prophets of the Old, but of the New Testament; such as Agabus, and some others mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. An Evangelist was one that did accompany the Apostles, and Assist them in Preaching the Gospel. Such were Mark, Luke, Timothy, Titus, Silas, Apollos, &c. But besides these, Christ has given to his Church [Page 104] a Ministry which is to be perpetual. A sta­ted standing Office, Namely that of Pastors and Teachers. It is Observable, that it is not said some Pastors, and some Teachers, as it was said some Apostles, and some Prophets, which seems to intimate that the Pastoral and the Teaching Office are the same. Every Pastor is to be a Teacher, and every Teacher that is so in respect of Office is to feed his Flock, and is in that respect a Pastor. In this Verse the Work of the Ministry is described from that which is the principal end of it. Some suppose a Trajection in the words, and that the Verse runs thus. For the Work of the Ministry, for the perfecting the Saints, for the edifying of the body of Christ. That's the End for which Christ has institu­ted the Ordinance of the Ministry. In the next Verse, The Ministry is described from the duration of it. It shall continue until we all come into the unity of the Faith. The Elect of God are dispersed throughout the World in Places very distant from one a­nother; but the day will come when they shall all come together, and then they shall be of One Faith, not only as to the Funda­mental Articles of Religion, but in lesser points also. In a future World it will be so, where there will be no need of a Ministry, and until then, it shall continue. From the Words in Consideration with the Context, the Doctrinal Truth before us, is, [Page 105] DOCT. That there are some, whom the Lord Jesus Christ gives to his Church, for the Work of the Ministry; and there shall be such to the End of this World.’

The Doctrine contains Three Propositions.

PROP. I. The Ministry is a Work.

The Scripture gives it that Name. When Paul and Barnabas were to be Ordained Prea­chers of the Gospel to the Gentiles, the holy Ghost said, Separate them for the Work where­unto I have called them. And a divine Work it is. Paul said of Timothy, He work­eth the work of the Lord, as I also do, 1 Cor. 16.10. On which account it is that a sin­gular respect is due to those that are so em­ployed. 1 Thes. 5.13. Esteem them very highly in Love for their works sake. A work which cannot be done without Labour. 1 Tim. 5.17. Let Elders that rule well, be coun­ted worthy of double honour, especially they who Labour in the Word and Doctrine. That double honour intends, an honourable Main­tenance; therefore in the next Verse it is said, The Labourer is worthy of his reward. Indeed the Labour of the Body is not so much in this as in some other Callings; but the Labour of the Mind is that which is the most Consuming; the Labour of the head and heart is most tiresome. Therefore Solo­mon [Page 106] sayes, Much study is a weariness of the flesh, Eccl. 12.12.

The Enquiry now will be, What it the Work of the Ministry? What is the Work which the Ministers of the Gospel are to be employ­ed about?

Answ. 1. Their special Work is to Watch over Souls. Heb. 13.17. Obey them that have the rule over you, for they watch for your Souls. Wherefore their work is difficult and awful, for they must give an account of all the Souls which are committed to their care and charge. Cura Animarum, a charge of Souls is dreadful. For if any one of those Souls mis­carry through the Ministers negligence or unfaithfulness, he must answer for it. Their blood will be required at his hand. Ezek. 33.6. His blood will I require at the Watchmans hands. Who is that Watchman? Verse 7. Son of Man, I have set thee a Watchman to the house of Israel; thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his ways, he shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I re­quire at thine hand. Who can think of ha­ving the blood of Souls layed to his charge, without trembling at the thought of it?

2. A principal Work belonging to a Minister of God, is, to Endeavour the Conversion of Sin­ners. They are called the Bridegrooms friends, [Page 107] Joh. 3.29. Christ is the Bridegroom, his Ministers are said to be his Friends; for it is their work to woo, and if possible to win Souls for Christ. King David was not an ordinary Minister, nevertheless a Minister of God he was; he was a Prophet, and he sayes, I will teach Transgressors thy ways, and Sinners shall be converted to thee, Psal. 51.13. Levi did as became his relation, when the law of Truth was in his Mouth, and he did turn many from iniquity, Mal. 2.6. As for the Pri­mitive Preachers of the Gospel, this was their main design, and God made their La­bours wonderfully Successful. Acts 11.21. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord, Peter had the Jews for his more peculiar Pro­vince, the Apostleship of the Circumcision was committed to him, and the Lord taught Effectually by him. We read of near upon three thousand Jews Converted by one Ser­mon which he Preached at Jerusalem, Act. 2 41. Paul endeavoured the Conversion of the Gentiles; Christ from Heaven having gi­ven him a Commission to that work, saying, I send thee to the Gentiles to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, Act. 26.18. And he was an happy Instrument of Converting we know not how many thousands. The Miraculous Success of the Apostles and their Successors in Converting the Gentile World was Prophesied of by Ezekiel, who sayes, [Page 108] That Fishers shall stand from Engedi even unto Eneglaim, and spread forth nets, and the fish taken in the net, would be exceeding many, Ezek. 47.10. Engedi was at the South-west end of the dead Sea, Eneglaim was at the Nor­east end of it; there were to be fishers from one end of the dead Sea to the other. The dead Sea (the Lake of Sodom) was an em­blem of the Gentile World, who were all dead in Trespasses and Sins. Ministers are Fishers. Christ said to his Disciples, I will make you Fishers of Men. They must fish for Souls, and spread the Net of the Gospel that they may take Souls for Christ. In all Ages of the World there will be some to be Converted, which is one reason why there must be Ministers of the Gospel to the End of the World, because in every Age there will be some to be Converted; and the Mi­nistry of the Word is the ordinary Means of Conversion. Rom. 10.7. Faith comes by hear­ing, and hearing by the Word of God: And it is said, How shall they believe on him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a Preacher? and how shall there be a Preacher except there is one sent? When there are Believers, the Mini­sters of Christ are usually the Instruments by whom they are made such. 1 Cor. 3.5. Who is Paul, & who is Apollos, but Ministers by whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to every one. There are few Congregations but there are some Unconverted ones therein. It is the [Page 109] Ministers duty to apply himself accordingly. It is a vain Opinion which some have, that the Pastor of a Church is only to Endeavour the Edification of Saints, but not the Con­version of Sinners; he ought to do both, as the next words to my Text intimate, For the Edifying the Body of Christ. When a Sinner is Converted, the Body of Christ is Edifyed, there is a New Member added to his Church which is his Body; another living Stone is layed in that Sacred building. And truly what greater Service can any Minister, or any Man in the World do for Christ, than to make those that have been slaves to Sin and Satan, to become faithful Subjects in Christs holy Kingdom, to the Eternal Salvation of their Souls. He that Converts a Sinner shall save a Soul from death. Jam. 5.20. And what can any Man do that will be more for his own Joy & Comfort? I have often thought of a Passage which a renowned Historian re­lates concerning Dr. Williams the Arch-Bishop of York, who had been before that the Bishop of Lincoln, and Lord Keeper, and sustained other Places of Honour and Dignity; when a Minister came to him for Ordination, he said to him, I have passed thorough many Places of honour in Church and State, more than any of my Order in England; could I be assured that by my Preaching I had Convered one Soul, I should have more comfort in that than in all the Honours and Offices that have been bestowed on me. Without doubt there are some who [Page 110] will have a greater degree of Glory conferred on them at the last day, than others shall. Among these faithful Ministers of Christ will be found, who have been the happy Instru­ments of Converting many Souls to God. Witness that blessed Scripture: Dan. 12.3. They that be Teachers (so the Hebrew word. Hammaschilim there used) shall shine as the brightness of the Firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the Stars for ever and ever. A Prophets reward is mentioned as that which has a Specialty on it, Matth. 10.41.

3. It belongs to a Minister of the Gospel to Endeavour the Spiritual Edification of those that are Converted, that they may be built up in their most holy Faith. It is not enough to Sow the Seed of the Word, but it must be watered, then it may be hoped that God will make it fruitful. 1 Cor. 3.6. I have planted, Apollos watered, God gave the increase. Paul was the Planter of a Church in Corinth. They were his Converts. He was Instrumental in Plan­ting the Seed of Grace in their Souls. He left Apollos with them, who continued Prea­ching to them and by those waterings built them up in further degrees of Faith and Ho­liness. A Pastor of a Church must endea­vour the Edification of his People, by build­ing them up in Knowledge. It is a singular blessing when they have a Pastor furnished with such gifts as enable him to do it. Jer. 3.15. I will give them Pastors according to my own [Page 111] heart, which shall feed them with Knowledge and Understanding. The Ministry of the Word is appointed, not only that so Grace may be be­gun where it is not, but that they who have Grace, may grow in Grace. 1 Pet. 2.2. De­sire the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby. Ministers must Endeavour the Confirmation and Establishment of their Hearers in the truth and holy ways of the Lord. This also did the Primitive Preachers of the Gospel. Act. 14.22. They Preached the Gospel, and taught many, Confirming the Souls of the Disciples, Exhorting them to conti­nue in the Faith. No Man was more Labori­ous herein than the Apostle Paul: He went through Syria and Cilicia, in which Places he had Converted many, and gathered Churches, Confirming the Churches, Act. 15.41. Some­times the Flocks are in danger by Wolves. False Teachers who bring in damnable Here­sies, are such. It is incumbent on their Pastors to defend them against the cunning Craftiness of these Men who lie in wait to deceive; and to confirm them, that they may not be carried about with every wind of doctrine. Sometimes Believers meet with sore temptation, by which they are apt to be discouraged: Then a word of comfort may be much to their Edification. Comfort ye, Comfort ye my People, speak comfortably to Jerusalem. It may be a seasonable word from the Mouth of a Pastor to the tempted in his Flock who sit in darkness and see no light, [Page 112] will have a wonderful reviving Efficacy in it, to strengthen their Faith, and establish their hope in God, who has Created the fruit of the Lips, Peace.

4. In order here-unto Ministers ought to be Diligent and Labourious in Preaching the word of God. They should come to their People with well studied Sermons. 2 Tim. 2.15. Study to shew thy self approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth. As the Priests were to divide the Sacrifice that every one might have their share, so the Minister must apply Comfort to whom that does belong, and Terror to whom that does belong. He that will show himself a Workman that needs not be ashamed, must study for it. There is more than a little contained in that Apostolical Injunction: 2 Tim. 4.2. Preach the Word, be instant in season, and out of season. Preach. The Greek Word [...], signifies to Proclaim like an Herald, publickly and with a loud Voice. Ministers of the Gospel are Christs Heralds, they must Publickly and Earnestly declare what is the Command of their Lord and Master, and be instant, be in good Earnest. The Lord said to his Prophet, Cry aloud, do as becomes an Herald, Spare not, lift up thy Voice like a Trumpet; it condemns a cold, dull, lifeless way of Preaching. In season. If a Minister is on a subject which People are willing to hear of, that's in season; [Page 113] if on a subject which they have no Mind to hear, that's out of the Season to them: but whether they will hear or forbear, the Prea­cher must faithfully declare the Messages which the Lord has sent him with. What is Preaching? It is an Opening, and Applying of the Scriptures. To search the Scriptures is every Mans duty, but the Ministers duty more than any Mans in the World. Search them. [...], as Miners do. There are rich Mines, in the Scripture, there is Gold and Pearls in those Mines, but we must dig and dive that so we may come at them. No Man can be better Employed. Ministers should be Ela­borate in their Sermons. Solomon sayes, The Preacher sought to find out acceptable words, Eccl. 12.10. Men that come into the Pul­pits, and utter whatever comes next, with­out any Premeditation or Dijudication, do not seek to find out acceptable words. There was a Man of some Name and Fame, who had an unhappy design of introducing Ex tempore Preaching as well as Ex tempore Pray­ing; And being a Learned Man he would make the attempt in the University Church in Cambridge, but the Lord rebuked him. One that was there present informed me that he was at a Nonplus, and in perfect confu­sion, Confessing his rashness, and warning the Students not to do the like, but to Study their Sermons before they Preached them. Moreover, Ministers of the Gospel ought not to Preach only Verbally, but by their Lives [Page 114] and Conversations. They should Live Ser­mons. A Minister should be able to say to his People, as Gideon said to his Souldiers, He said to them, Look on me and do likewise, it shall be as I do, so shall you do, Judg. 7.17. Thus should a Minister be able to speak to his People, do not only as I say, but as I do, observe my Life and Practice, and do you Live and Practice as I do, my humane frail­ties Excepted. The Apostle said to his Corinthians, Be ye followers of me, 1 Cor. 4.15. Followers of my Doctrine, and followers of my Example.

5. To be much in Prayer is the Work and Duty of the Ministers of God in a special man­ner. They are to be as Gods Mouth to his People, so his Peoples Mouth to him. The Priest was to bless in the Name of the Lord, and to be offering Incense daily. The A­postles said, We will give our selves continually to Prayer and to the Ministry of the Word, Act. 6.4. They that are called to the Ministry of the Word, are to give themselves to Prayer, which implies frequency as well as constancy therein. Before they Compose their Ser­mons, they should Pray over them. Let them Pray Sermons down from Heaven. It is reported of Martyr Bradford that he Study­ed Kneeling. And when they have Compo­sed their Sermons they should Pray over them again, that a blessing from God may make them Successful and Effectual for the good [Page 115] of Souls. And they have cause to be much in Prayer for their own Souls, that they may obtain Mercy to be faithful in the discharge of their Ministry. It is a dreadful charge which is imposed on them. One of the An­cients saith of the Ministry, That it is Onus humeris Angelicis formidandum, a charge and burden which the Shoulders of Angels might tremble to come under it. Another Ancient sayes, It is a wonder that a Minister should get to Heaven. Such Mortification to the World, such Self-denial, such Impartiality, such Faithfulness, such Exemplary Holiness is re­quired and expected of them, as that it is a wonder that any of that Order should be Sa­ved. A small error in such an one, is great by reason of the Sacredness of his Office. Under the Law there was as great a Sacrifice to be offered for the Priest as for the whole Congregation. Are they not then concerned to be alwayes Praying? It was Austins de­sire, that when the Messenger of Death should be sent for him, it might find him either Preaching or Praying. Ministers are to Pray as for themselves, so for and with particular Persons in their Flock, if they need Prayer and desire it. Jam. 5.15. Is any sick among you? Let him call for the Elders of the Church, and let them pray over him. Austin (whom I mentioned but now) would not refuse to go to the meanest Sick Person in his Congrega­tion, if they desired it, but otherwise he would seldom go to any, because he would not [Page 116] prevent them from doing that which is their duty, to Call for their Elders, to Pray over them. And a Pastor of a Church ought to Pray continually for his whole Flock. 'Tis his duty to bring them to God every Day, and every Night. How is it possible that that Minister should have Grace in his Soul that can, that dare live one Day or one Night without bringing his Flock to GOD for his blessing when Praying for his own Soul? The Prophet Samuel said, God forbid that I should sin in ceasing to pray for you, but I will teach you the good and the right way, 1 Sam. 12.23. And truly faithful Ministers of God may be Encouraged to Pray, for that there is a great Efficacy in their Prayers, their Prayers have a greater power with God than the Prayers of other Men, since they Pray not only by vertue of the rule of Charity, but Ex Officio by vertue of an Office. We find in the Scripture that God has manifested a Special regard to the Prayers of such of his Servants. Psal. 99.6. Moses and Aaron among his Priests, and Samuel among them that call up­on his Name; they called upon the Lord, and he answered them. Moses is mentioned among the Priests, because he did the work of a Priest before the Priesthood was settled and confined to Aarons Family, and after that was a powerful Intercessor for the People. Samuel was a Prophet. We see that the Lord has a great regard to the Prayers of those that are his Priests and his Prophets. Wherefore [Page 117] it was said to Abimeleck when he was Sick and in danger of death, the Prayer of a Pro­phet might save his Life. Gen. 2.7. He is a Prophet, he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live.

Thus we see that Ministers of the Gospel have a Work to attend, and what that Work is. I might have added, that there is Suffe­ring (as well as doing) Work which they must expect a peculiar share in. When Per­secution ariseth they must look to be set in fore-front of the hottest battel. It is the say­ing of one of the Ancients, Non est Minister Christi, qui non est ad mille mortes Paratus.

We proceed to a Second Proposition, which is, ‘That there are some who are by the Lord Je­sus Christ called to this Work.’

When it is said, That Christ has given such to his Church, it implies that they have a Call from him to accept of that Office, and to un­dertake the work of it. It is true, that there are some who undertake the Work without a Call. Such were the false Prophets in the Church of Israel, of whom the Lord sayes, I have not sent these Prophets, yet they ran, I have not spoken to them, yet they Prophesied, Jer. 23.21. But this ought not to be. The A­postle sayes, No man takes this honour to him­self; that is to say, No Man that does as he ought to do, but he that is called of God as [Page 118] was Aaron, Heb. 5.4. It is not good to Usurp the Ministerial Office. All that are Called there-unto have their Call from God and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Gal. 1 1. Paul an Apostle not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father. The Apostles, (excepting Matthias and Barnabas) had their Call immediately from Christ without any Man being concerned in their Call; Paul peculiarly had his Call to the Apostleship from Christ since his Ascention to the Right hand of God in Heaven. Pastors and Teachers are not thus Called. But not­withstanding they are Called by Men, their Office and Ministerial Authority is not of Men. No Man, nor all the Men in the World, have power to make any Officer in the Church besides what Christ himself has Instituted. Men commonly say, Such an One is our Minister, but it would be more proper to say, He is Gods Minister, and Christs Minister. 1 Thes. 3.2. Timotheus our Bro­ther and Minister of God. 1 Tim. 4.6. A good Minister of Jesus Christ. Your Pastor has his Call by you, but not of you as the Institutor of it. Archippus was a Teacher in the Church of Colossians. To him it was said, Take heed to the Ministry which thou hast received in the Lord that thou fulfil it. Fulfilling the Ministry implies doing whatever belongs to that Mi­nistry, Praying, Preaching, Governing, Exer­cising the discipline of Christ, administring the Sacraments of the New Testament. [Page 119] The Minister that neglects any part of his Ministerial Work does not fulfil it. Archip­pas received this Ministry in the Lord, i. e. by and from the Lord Jesus Christ. It was in the Lords Name and by vertue of his Au­thority, that he was called unto and intrusted with a Sacred Ministry, which he was under the Solemnest Obligation Conscientiously to fulfil it.

Here the Enquiry will be.

Who are Called of the Lord to the Work of the Ministry?

Ans. In Order to a Lawful and Regular Call to this Work several things are requisite.

1. Ministerial Gifts and Qualifications are necessary. He must be [...], One that shall have an Ability and Promptitude to Teach. One called to that work should have more Wisdom and Knowledge than what the generality of Believers have attained unto. Eccl. 12.9. Because the Preacher was wise he taught the people Knowledge. Christ speaking of those whom he would send to Preach the Gospel, says, I will send you wise men, Matth. 23.34. And Ezra sent some to Iddo at Casiphia where there was a College, or Company of Le­vites over whom it seems Iddo Presided, that they should bring Ministers for the House of God, and 'tis said that by the good hand of God upon them, they brought a Man of Under­standing, [Page 120] Ezra. 8.17, 18. A Minister should be such an One. He should have in his head and heart a Treasure of Scripture Knowledge. Matth. 13.52 Every Scribe which is instructed to the Kingdom of Heaven, is like unto a Man that is an householder, which brings forth out of his treasure things new and old. That Man who Preacheth Salvation by the alone Righ­teousness of a Crucified Christ, and withal Teacheth Obedience to the Moral Law, brings forth things new and old. 'Tis said, The Priests lips shall preserve knowledge, and they should seek the Law at his Mouth, Mal. 2.7. And in another Scripture it is said, Ask the Priest concerning the Law, Hag. 2.11. It is necessary then that he should have a greater Understanding in the Law of God than others have. Every Man is not qualified to be a Publick Interpreter of the Divine Law. An Interpreter is one of a thousand, Job 33.23.

2. Where there is a Call to the Ministry there is an Inclination to Serve God in that Work. There have been those who have been ador­ned with admirable Knowledge and other Ministerial qualifications, but no inclinati­on to improve their Talents in that Work, they chuse rather to Serve God and Christ in some other Calling. A sign that the Lord does not Call them to the Work of the Mi­nistry. Not but that a Man who has a Call thereunto, may from a sense of the awfulness of the Work, and his own insufficiency be [Page 121] for some time very unwilling to ingage in it, as we see in the Prophet Jeremiah, God said to him, I have Ordained thee to be a Pro­phet to the Nations; What me! (sayes he) I am a Child I cannot speak. I am a Young Man, and not fit to undertake so great an Office; but God by his power over-came the unwillingness of the Prophet, Wherefore he sayes, Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed, Jer. 20.7. Thus if God calls a Man to the Ministry, he will over power him, and make him buckle to the work, yea, to desire it. 1 Tim. 3.1. If a man desire the Office of a Bishop, has desireth a good work; That is to say, an excellent and an honoura­ble work. But this desire ought to proceed not from Carnal but Spiritual Motives. Not because he would have the honour of such an Office; not for a Benefice, as too many take up the Ministry only to make a Liveli­hood of it. Which does not agree with the Apostles Exhortation, 1 Pet. 5.2. Feed the flock of God, taking the over-sight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. He does not do his work of a ready mind, who is driven to it by neces­sity, or drawn to it by Covetousness. When an earnest desire to glorify God, and to pro­mote the Interest of Christs Kingdom, and the Salvation of Souls shall incline a Man to desire the work of the Ministry, it is a sign that Christ has called him to it.

[Page 122]3. Mutual Election is that which does Essentiate the relation of a Pastor to this or that particular Church. No Church ought to have a [...] imposed on them without their [...] free choice. No Patron or Prelate may do it. The Apostles notwithstanding their having an Amplitude, and Plenitude of Church power, would not do it. They left it to the Multi­tude of the Disciples to choose their Deacons. The Electing of a Pastor is of far greater Mo­ment, and therefore no Church should be deprived of that Privilege in which the wel­fare of their Souls is so much concerned. When an Apostle was to be chosen to joyn with those whom Christ himself had chosen, Peter and the other Apostles, Call-upon the Brethren in the Church at Jerusalem to choose One suitably qualified. Accordingly they Nominated two, and then cast Lots which should be the Person. And the Lot feel upon Matthias, Act. 1.26. Now the Ar­gument is very strong, that if the Brethren in this Leading Example might choose an ex­traordinary Officer, they have power to Elect an ordinary Pastor. It is said in Act. 14.23. When they had ordained the Elders in every Church, and Prayed with Fasting, they commen­ded them to the Lord, on whom they believed. That the Original Word [...] trans­lated Ordained does not intend imposition of hands (which is the common Ecclesiastical sense of Ordination) but an Election of the [Page 123] Church by lifting up of their hands. A learned Knight [Sir Norton Knatchbull] in his Critical Animadversions on the New Testament, has clearly demonstrated. No­thing can be more evident than that in the Primitive times, the Privilege of choosing their own Pastor did belong to the Church to which he was to Minister. Ignatius in his Epistle to the Church then in Philadelphia, sayes, it belonged to them to choose their Pastor. The Nicene Council in a Synodal Letter to the Churches in Africa, advised them to choose Orthodox Pastors instead of Arians; Cyprian sayes, Plebs maxime habet potestatem dignos sacerdotes Eligendi, &c. It was a long time before this Privilege was wrested out of the hands of particular Churches by Po­pish Antichristian Usurpation. Our United Brethren in London, concur in this Article, That ordinarily none shall be Ordained to the Work of the Ministry, but such as are Called and Chosen thereunto by a particular Church. But it is necessary that this Election should be Mu­tual. Altho' a Church choose a Man to be their Pastor, Except he does also choose them to be his Flock, or accept of their Election, he does not become their Pastor. Notwith­standing every Church has power to chuse their own Pastor, our United Brethred declare, That in so weighty a Matter as chusing a Pastor, we judge it ordinarily necessary, that every such Church consul: and advise with the Pastors of Neighbouring Congregations.

[Page 124]4. There ought to be a solemn Separation of those who are Called to the Work of the Ministry. This useth to be called Ordination. Thus in the Scripture afore-mentioned: Act. 13.2. Separate me Barnabas and Paul for the work whereunto I have called them This Separation should be attended with Fasting and Prayer, also with the Imposition of hands. We find in the Old Testament that rite of imposing hands was used in setting apart to a solemn Office. So was Joshua Ordained Moses's Suc­cessor. Numb. 27.18, 19. The Lord said to Moses, Take Joshua and lay thine hand upon him set him before Eleazar and before all the Con­gregation, and give him a charge in their fight. And thus have Ministers of the New Testa­ment been set apart for the work of the Gos­pel. The first Laying on of hands that ever was practised out of the Land of Israel, was that in the Church at Antioch, but now men­tioned, which may therefore be looked upon as Presidential to the Gentile Churches. Some have esteemed that Ceremony so Essen­tial to the Call of a Minister as to judge those that have it not to be no true Ministers of the Gospel. I dare not say so. For I know full well that not only those of the Congregational Perswasion, but the Presby­terian Brethren do many of them say other­wise. When that Question was proposed by K. James I. to the General Assembly of the Church in Scotland, Is he a lawful Pastor who [Page 125] wants imposition of hands? Their answer was, Imposition of hands is not Essential, but Ceremonial and indifferent, in the Admission of a Pastor. Several Synods of the Reformed Churches in France say the very same. So the Dutch Churches, and those in Switzerland, and ma­ny in Germany. Yet there are who main­tain not only that the imposing of hands as Essential to the being of a Minister, but that it must be by Episcopal hands, otherwise that the Ordination is Null and the Mini­ster that has received it, no true Minister. A most uncharitable Opinion which destroys by far the greatest part of the Protestant Churches in the World, and makes their Baptism and all their Administrations in­effectual. According to the Scripture a Pres­byter may lay on hands. 1 Tim. 4.14. The laying on of the hands of the Presbytery. How many should joyn in Imposing hands, is not determined in the Scripture, but is a Pruden­tial left to Ministers and Churches to do as they shall see cause. There were belonging to the Church in Alexandria twelve Presby­ters: When One dyed the other eleven con­curred in imposing hands on a Successor. In the Reformed Churches in France, only two Ministers impose hands on the Person that is Ordained. Judicious Interpreters suppose that when Paul and Barnabas were Separated to the Work of Preaching the Gos­pel, that the other Three Ministers in the Church at Antioch, viz. Niger, Lucius, and [Page 126] Mana [...]n, joyned in laying on hands, which is not improbable, since among the Jews im­position of hands was usually preformed by a Triumvirate, as has been observed by Learned Men. Altho' I should be loth to say as Pa­pists and some others do, That all who have not had hands imposed on them are no true Ministers of Christ, nevertheless, since that Rite adds to the Solemnity of the Ordination, and there is Scripture Example for it, I know not how the omitting of it can be justified. It has always been practised (as at this day) in the Churches of New-England.

PROP. III. There shall be Ministers in the Church of God to the End of this World.

CHRIST will raise up such in every Age and give them to his Church. The Mi­nistry is a standing Ordinance which shall abide as long as there shall be any need of Officers and Ordinances. The Apostle in the Context before us, declares that there shall be a Ministry, Until we all come to be a perfect Man. He compares the Mystical body of Christ, or all Believers unitedly considered, to a Man who has his several degrees of growth and strength until he comes to the height of both, and then he is a perfect Man in opposition to a Child. It is here­after in another World that Believers arrive to their full pitch, and are past growing. There they attain unto, The measure of the [Page 127] Stature of the fulness of Christ; Not that Be­lievers shall ever be equal to Christ, but at the last day they shall very much resemble him, being perfectly conformed to the fulness of Christ. At the last day all the Elect of God shall be Called, and made perfect in Grace, until that day come there shall be Mini­sters in the Church. Christ has promised to be with his Ministers to the end of the World, which implies that there shall be Mi­nisters until then. GOD will have a Church on the Earth throughout all Ages. Unto him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, Gal. 3.21. Hence the Church is compared to a Mountain, not only in respect of Visibility but Perpetuity. Psal. 125.1. They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Sion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. The Church whilst in this sinful World will need Teachers and Gover­nours. Maugre all the Malice of Earth and Hell, there will be a Church in which the power of the keys shall be Exercised, and that implies Ministers and Sacraments, Matth. 16.18. One difference between the Ordinances of the Old Testament and the New, is, that those were to be Abrogated, when as those are to continue to the End of this World, 2 Cor. 3.11. Gospel Ordinances are things which cannot be shaken (as the Jewish Ordinances have been but shall remain as long as the pre­sent World shall remain, Heb. 12.27. There are Sacraments of the New Testament, the [Page 128] Administration whereof shall continue to the End of the World. So Baptism, Matth. 28.20. And the Lords Supper is to be observed until Christ shall come, 1 Cor. 11.26. Therefore there must be Officers to Administer them. If non-Officers take upon them to Administer the Seals of the Covenant, they do like Corab, and like Uzziah who invaded the Priests Office.

USE.

Many profitable Instructions, both for Mi­nisters and People do naturally follow from this Doctrine, but I shall not insist on them, having exceeded the hour already.

I shall only conclude with a Word of Exhor­tation and Advice to such as are designed for the Work of the Ministry. I suppose there are some Scores of such here before the Lord, whose Parents have sent them to the College, in order to their being prepared and qualified for the Service of Christ in his Churches. It be­comes me in respect of my Age, (as well as on the account of my having many Years formerly, sustained the Presidentship over this Academy) to give you Advice.

1. My first Word of Advice to you, is, Do not Enter on the Work, especially ingage not in a Pastoral Charge before you have attained such a Measure of Knowledge as may render you able Ministers of the New Testament. First fill and then empty. It is reported concerning Basil, and Gregory, that they spent thirteen Years in preparing for the Work of the Mi­nistry, [Page 129] before they would undertake it. I advise not to so long a delay, for a Young Man may be called to be a Prophet, Zech. 2.4. But it is certain that a large Stock of Learning is needful to make a Minister that shall be able to defend the Truth against the Sophistry of Learned and Subtile Adversaries. The enemies of the Truth know this. Julian the Apostate destroyed all Publick Schools of Learning among Christians, because (said he) Their Learned Men Wound us with our own Weapons. The Mahometans are enemies to that which is called humane Learning: They are afraid that the light thereof might be a Means to discover the falsity of their dark Religion. Some of the Papist have been great enemies to Academies. The Jesuits in their private Instructions have this for one, We most teach that Learning is needless in a Parish Priests, so do they Jewishly term a Minister of the New Testament. They know that if they could bring it to that pass that there should be no Learned Men to oppose them, the World would be theirs. That ad­mirably Learned & Holy Man Mr. Chauncey, who did for many Years Preside over this College, Published a Sermon on those words, in Amos 2.12. I raised up of your Sons for Pro­phets, and of your Young Men for Nazarites: in which he shows how useful and necessary it is that Preachers should be Learned Men. Especially you should labour after a large measure of Scripture Knowledge. And since [Page 130] the Scriptures of the Old Testament were written Originally in the Hebrew Tongue, and the New Testament in Greek, a Compe­tent Knowledge in both these Languages is needful, otherwise we see with other Mens eyes, and take all upon trust and report from others, if we are not able our selves to con­sult the Originals. Some of the Ancients (called Fathers) would not have mistaken in the Interpretation of diverse Scriptures so as they have done, had they consulted the Original. Moreover, Knowledge in the Li­beral Arts is a good handmaid to Theology. A Preacher should have a body of Divinity in his head. There have been many Systems thereof Published, but above all that I have seen, I recommend unto you Dr. Ames his Medulla Theologiae. That Supereminent Di­vine Dr. Thomas Goodwin would sometimes say, That he esteemed that Book as the best Book in the World next to the Holy Bible. I remember an Hungarian Protestant assured me that in those Protestant Churches, they never Ordained any Minister without requi­ring Legistine Amesium. I Exhort you not only to read it, but to digest it, and adhere to the Principles of Truth contained therein. It was once most highly esteemed of by the Students in this College; yea, by all those of them that have proved Eminent Men of God in their Generation. Let it ever be so. But besides Theology, a Minister should have ac­quaintance with other sorts of Learning. [Page 131] Especially with Ecclesiastical History. I re­commend to you the Ecclesiastical History of the Magdeburgensian Divines, in which you will see what the Christian Church was in the Primitive Times, and how Supersti­tions and Degeneracy did gradually corrupt both the Doctrine and Discipline thereof, until at last it became quite another Church, than what it was in the Apostles dayes, and what Heresies have Pestered the Church in several Ages. It will also be of great use to you, to Read the Lives of Eminent Divines, both Ancient and Modern.

2. Rest not in Gifts without Sanctifying Saving Grace. A Man that has good Natural Parts, and a Strong Memory, may by Reading and Study obtain a Rare Gift of Preaching, so as to be admired and applauded and make a great Noise in the World, but what is it all, if he has not Grace in his Soul? Does not the Apostle say, That if he could Speak with the Tongue of Men and Angels, and had the gift of Prophesy, and understood all Mysteries, if he had not the Grace of Love to God and Man, he should be notwithstanding those eminent accomplishments, but as sounding brass and a tinkling symbal, which has a taking sound with it, 1 Cor. 13.1, 2. Quid prodest esse peritum et periturum. If a Man should gain the Applause of the whole World, what is he advantaged, if he loose himself, or be cast away. Gifts may make a Man useful to [Page 132] others, but if they are not Sanctified they will aggravate the Condemnation of the Man that has been adorned with them. Many who helped to build the Ark were drowned in the flood. So many who by Means of their Ministerial gifts have helped to build the Church will perish Eternally. All the World will see that this is true at the last day, when not a few but many shall say to Christ, Lord, have not we Prophesied in thy Name, and in thy Name done wonderful works; and Christ will say to them for all that you were workers of iniquity, and therefore depart from me, I know you not, Matth. 7.23. Oh! remem­ber the awful words of the Apostle, 1 Cor. 9.27. Lest that by any Means, when I have Preached to others, I my self should be a cast away.

3. When you Enter upon Publick Preaching, Endeavour that your Sermons may be such as shall be profitable to those that hear them. If you would Preach profitably, you may not Preach your selves, but CHRIST. Young Preachers are apt to make an ostentation of their Parts, and Wit, and Learning, which ought not to be. Paul was the most Learned of all the Apostles, but how careful was he not to make any shew of it! Sermons painted with fine Phrases and Flourishes are like painted Windows which obscure the light. One says well, That such Preachers put the Sword of the Spirit into a velvet Scabbard, which [Page 133] keeps it from wounding the heart. If you would Preach profitably, Preach plain Scrip­tural Sermons. Scriptures are the Sinews of a Sermon. Confirm all that you say with them. It is the Preachers duty to do so: He may not come to the Congregation with Notions of his own, but with the Word of God. 1 Pet. 4.11. If any speak, let him speak as the Oracles of God. And if you would Preach profitably, single out profita­ble Subjects to Discourse on; dwell rather on Practical than Polemical Subjects: e. g. Concerning the Evil of Sin, and Mans Natural Sinfulness, and the absolute necessity of Regene­ration in order to Salvation, and the danger of Hypocrisy, and how far Men may go in the Profession and Practice of Religion, and yet fall short of Heaven at last. This is a Subject much to be insisted on, since there have been and there are Notorious Hereticks who have excelled in a seeming Piety. But besure you Preach JESUS CHRIST and His Righteousness. The Learned Scultetus, ob­serves that the Jesuits Preach up Morality, and Good Works, but not a Word of Justi­fication by the Righteousness of Christ; and that Seneca, and Plutarch, and other Moral Philosophers teach as Good Morality as they do. The iniquity of some Clergy Men at this day, who say, they are Pro­testants, is very great, since they have little either of CHRIST, or of Scripture in [Page 134] their Sermons. Nay, they count it a dis­grace to their Sermons, if the Name of Christ is often mentioned therein. How unlike are such to that good Old Predi­cant, who said, Si scribas, si conferas, non mihi placet, nisi sonuerit ibi Jesus. And how unlike unto the blessed Apostle Paul, who in his Epistles, mentions the Name of Christ four hundred and fifty times; and in one Chapter (viz. 1 Cor. 1.) in 10. verses, he mentions the Name of Christ ten times. And he faith to them, That he determined to know nothing, that is, to Preach nothing among them but Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. 2.2. The Corinthians were a Polite People, and some of them no doubt great Scholars; and it might have been thought that among such a People, he would have come with excellency of Speech and of Wisdom, but he Preached Christ with all possible plainess; His Prea­ching was not with enticing Words of Mens Wisdom. Therefore let us Preach Christ as becomes the Simplicity of the Gospel. CHRIST is such a Subject as can never be drawn dry. A Minister may Preach of him all his days, and there is more to be said still. The Truths relating to Christ Angels desire to look into. The Mystery of his Person, Office, Humiliation and Exaltation will be the Admiration of Saints and Angels throughout the days of Eternity. [Page 135] And can we Preach or Hear too much of them now? Our famous English Martyr­ologist, gave that Advice to his Friend, Brother, Preach Jesus Christ, Preach Jesus Christ It was his Complaint that Christ was not Preached in England then, so much as should be. I wish he was more Preached there now. It was Luthers Comfort when at the point of death, That he could say to Christ, Lord Jesus I have Loved thee, and I have Preached thee, into thy hands I com­mend my Spirit.

4. If GOD shall be so gracious as to Call you to the Work of the Ministry, make that your Work. You may not make it to be a [...], but your [...], a by-work, but your only work. This is not my Advice, it is Apostolical. 1 Tim. 4.13, 15. Give attendance to Reading, meditate on these things, give thy self wholly to them. It was Mr. Perkins Motto, Minister Verbi es, hoc age. Since you are a Minister of the word, what­ever you do besure you mind that work. Your Work and Warfare is Spiritual. You should not entangle your selves with the affairs of the World, if you would please Christ who has made you his Souldiers. The Work of the Ministry is Work enough for One Man. Let his accomplishment be never so Eminent. That People is guilty of a crying Sin, which does not Maintain [Page 136] their Teacher (if he has an heart to lay himself out for the good of their Souls) so Comfortably and Honourably, as that he may have nothing to do, but to attend the Work of the Lord, which his Sacred Office does oblige him unto. There was a time when the House of God was for­saken by the Ministers of it, who fled every one to his Field, because their Maintenance was Sacrilegiously with-held from them. Nehemiah at that time the Religious Go­vernour of the Province of Judea, was much offended, not at the Ministers who were necessitated to leave their Sacred Em­ployment, but at those who did not sup­port them therein, Neh. 13.10, 11. For a Minister of the Gospel whose Work is a Spiritual Husbandry, 1 Cor. 3.9. to neglect that, and betake himself to his Farm, if it is done of choice, is evil. It is no bet­ter when he involves himself in Merchan­dizing, and in driving of Bargains. Mer­cator intemplo, has ever been disallowed. And it is worse when they entangle them­selves in Law-Suits. For a Man to be Sacerdos in foro, is very unbecoming his Profession. Let every Man chuse to abide in his Calling. Let Ministers of the Gos­pel spend as little time as may be in fruit­less and Complemental Visits: but let them keep close to their Studies. Blessed Mr. Mitchel once the famous Pastor of the Church [Page 137] of Cambridge: Cambridge was lifted up to Heaven when that light was shining here, (the Lord grant that he who is to be Ordained this day, may be like that Pre­decessor in whose Light all New-England rejoyced) He gave me a Word of Advice, which I hope I have been the better for it, for more than threescore Years. I was then a Young Man, Eighteen Years Old, ingaged in a Voyage for England, when I took my leave of him, his Advice to me was, Keep out of all Company whatsoever as far as the rules of Christianity and Civility will allow, for you will surely find that for the most part, the time spent in your Study will be time most profitably spent. I have found his Advice good and true, and have very much Endeavoured to order my Conver­sation accordingly from my Youth unto this day, I hope not altogether without benefit to some others as well as to my self.

I shall not inlarge on Motives, in which either they that design the Ministry, or such as are already ingaged in it may be concerned. I need not to say to you, That an Unfaithful Minister is the Unhap­piest Man in the World. A fearful thing it is to Trifle in that Work. Qui ludit in Cathedra, lugebit in gehenna, is a true saying and a terrible one. For one that has [Page 138] shewed others the way to Heaven to fall short of it himself, how dismal is the thought of it? Ministers are called An­gels. If one of them fall short of Hea­ven, an Angel falls from Heaven. How amazing is it?

Nor shall I inlarge on the Consideration of the Joy and Glory that will follow, if we approve our selves faithful to Christ and the Souls of Men. When a faithful Minister shall say to Christ at the last day, Lord, here am I and the Children whom thou hast given me, Here am I, and the Souls who have been Converted and Edi­fied by my Ministry; and one shall stand forth and say, This is the Man by whose Ministry I was Converted, if it had not been for Thy Presence with him, I had never been brought home to Christ; and another shall say, This is the Man by whose Ministry I was built up in Faith and Ho­liness, blessed be Thy Name that ever I saw his Face, blessed be Thy Name that ever I heard his Voice, Will there not be glorious Joy! But O what Joy, when CHRIST Himself shall say, Well done, thou faithful Servant, Enter thou into the Joy of thy Lord, Amen! O LORD.

FINIS.

ERRATA.

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