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Mr. Holyoke'S SERMON At the Ordination of the Reverend Mr. James Diman, May 11. 1737,

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OBEDIENCE and SUBMISSION to the PASTORAL WATCH and RULE over the Church of CHRIST, Considered in a SERMON Preach'd at the ORDINATION Of the Reverend Mr. James Diman To the Pastoral Office over a Church of CHRIST in SALEM; On the Eleventh Day of May. 1737.

By Edward Holyoke, M. A. Pastor of a Church of CHRIST in Marblehead.

1 Thes. 5.12.

—We beseech you Brethren to know Them who labour among you and are over you in the Lord, and to esteem Them very highly in Love for their works sake.

Together with the CHARGE, by the Reverend Mr. BARNARD; and the RIGHT HAND OF FELLOWSHIP by the Reverend Mr. CLARKE.

BOSTON: Printed by Thomas Fleet, at the Heart and Crown in Cornhill. 1737.

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AN Ordination-SERMON.

Heb. XIII. 17.

Obey them that have the Rule over you, and sub­mit yourselves: for they watch for your Souls, as they that must give an Account: that they may do it with Joy, and not with Grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

IN all Societies and Commu­nities of Men whether Civil or Ecclesiastical, it is abso­lutely necessary (to prevent Confusion and Disorder, and that the End of their Combi­nation into such political Bo­dies should be answered) that there should be Rule and Go­vernment established among them: And where there is so, there must be such as submit and obey, as well as such as rule and Govern: And therefore our Lord Jesus Christ, the great head [Page 2]of the Church has directed to this in his Word, that so all things may be done with Decency and Order: But then how widely different is This his Government from That, which now obtains, and hath long done so, in the greatest part of the Christian Church, which hath long since gone off from that mixt Form which our Lord first instituted, and is degenerated into a Mo­narchy: I say degenerated into it, for that however that kind of Government (when well tempered and re­gulated as is the happy British Monarchy) may suit a State; it is evidently unsuitable to the Church of Christ; for hence have proceeded, That Popish Ty­ranny, That Error and Superstition, That Pomp and Vanity which have so painted and adulterated the Face of the Christian Church, whereby she hath lost That Native Comliness put upon her by God (with which she so charm'd the World in the Days of the Apostles) and chang'd it for the Factitious Beauty and Gaiety of an Harlot, and therefore is so represented, by the Holy Ghost in the Revelation * as the Mother of Harlots, and Abominations of the Earth; Tho' that Form of Government then, which hath been so pernicious to the Church of God, is to be rejected and refus'd, as what hath not proceeded from Christ, is no where found in the Scripture, and naturally tends to Idolatry and Su­perstition; Yet we are by no means to lay aside Rule and Government, without which the Church of Christ, no more than any other Polity, can subsist.

I shall not here spend Time in considering the seve­ral Forms of Government which are at present existing in the several parts of the Christian Church, and to recommend this or the other, for that, we already have a very good Form of Government and Discipline, laid down in the Platform of our Churches, which tho' I can by no means think obligatory upon us as the Scrip­tures, [Page 3]because it wants Perfection, yet well deserves to be highly honour'd and reverenc'd as a strong Guard against ecclesiastical Tyranny and Oppression, which hath so much defac'd the Church of Christ, and made it a Nest of every unclean Bird. I have therefore cho­sen to insist upon these Words to Day, that I might show if I can, what this Rule is, which is to be exercis'd in the Church of God, and what Obedience and Sub­mission is to be yielded thereto, That you Brethren of this Church of Christ may chearfully pay such a De­ference and Regard to that Rule which our Lord hath set up in his Church, as that the Servant of God now to be set over you in the Lord, may be able to render his Account of you to his Master, with Joy and not with Grief.

Obey Them that have the Rule over you and submit yourselves, for They watch for your Souls as They that must give an Account: that They may do it with Joy and not with Grief: for this is unprofitable for you.

The Jealousies and Suspicions of the Church of Christ, concerning the Rule and Government assumed over them, by their Guides, have risen to such a height, and I confess with regard to the Christian Church in general they have had Reason eno' for it, tho' as to ourselves I think there is little need, because our Esta­blishment is in that respect low enough: But I say in consideration of the Rule and Power assum'd in the Christian Church in general by their Governours, there has been such a Jealousy, that having read these Words it will be necessary to look into the Original, to consider the just Import of the Terms used in our Text, that we may more exactly know our Duty in this Regard, for that there are many Words in all Lan­guages that cannot (especially if they be of various im­port) be truly rendered into any Other, by one par­ticular [Page 4]Word, that shall give us all the Ideas compre­hended in the Original.

* OBEY Them. This Word in the Original signifies also to perswade, or to assent to, or comply with another, and when it is used for Persuasion, sig­nifies, a full Trust and Confidence, and so the Words should run thus, Rest with a full confidence upon them that rule over you. Which certainly carries as strong an Idea of Submission, as doth the Expression in our Translation Obey Them. I proceed,

That RULE over you. This is a Word very often us'd in the New Testament, and the Greek Scholiasts observe, that it was used primarily in a Military and Political Sense, to signify any Public Per­son that Presided either in the Camp or City; hence such are called in our Translation Governours: 10. Mat. 18. and ye shall be brought before Governours, and thus the same Word is us'd, 2. Luk. 2. and from hence this Word was afterward apply'd by the Apostles to signify such as Rule in Ecclesiastical Offices; the Word signifies also to Lead and to Guide in the Way they should take. I go on,

And SUBMIT yourselves. This Word in the Original also signifies to Obey, or more exactly to give way to Them; so that it is hence evident, that we do not speak of the Rule and Authority of the Pastors of Churches, (for of such as I shall say in the Sequel, are the Words universally allow'd to be under­stood) I say we speak not of the Obedience of the Churches of Christ to such, without our warrant from the very Terms of the Scripture: And indeed no Man that designs not to trample upon the natural Liberties of Mankind and Rule over their Consciences too, will desire to have this Affair put into stronger Terms than it is in our Text. Having thus consider'd the Ori­ginal [Page 5]as to those Terms relating to this tender Point, I shall without further criticizing upon the Words, pro­ceed to those Doctrinal Instructions that are fairly con­tain'd in them, as they have an Aspect on the Affairs of this Day, viz. To show the Duty of such as rule in the Church of God: And of Those who are taught, guided and ruled by them. In doing this I shall pro­ceed in this Method. To observe in the Words,

  • 1. A Duty injoyn'd.
  • 2. The Reason of it, or the Argument us'd to inforce it.

I. I observe in the Words a Duty injoyn'd. Obey them that have the Rule over you, and submit your selves. And here I shall say,

  • 1. Who are the Rulers here meant.
  • 2. What is the Rule and Authority to which this Obedience and Submission is required.

1. I shall consider who are the Rulers here meant. As I have but now hinted, they are universally allow'd to be the Pastors of the Churches of Christ. It is true, as the Episcoparians imagine the Bishop to be the only proper Pastor of his Church (which they call his whole Diocess) they think the Rulers here meant, are the Bishops of the Churches, in their Sense of that Office; tho' there are not wanting of * them that allow that Ministers or ordinary Pastors of Churches are also here meant: But we who allow no such Bishop in the Church as they contend for, but declaring for an Equa­lity of all Presbyters, to which Order we suppose none, in the Church, superior, So we must suppose that these Words are spoken of them, namely of such as are the Pastors of the several Churches; That this is the Order which the Apostle here hath regard to, when he says, Obey them that have the Rule over you: For, these [Page 6]are those Officers in our Churches, to whom is properly committed the Care of the Souls of their Flocks; It is these that the Apostle tells us, watch for our Souls, as they that must give Account; These are they then, to whom this Obedience and Submission is required. I proceed to say,

2. What is the Rule and Authority to be exercis'd by them, which the Flock is to Obey and Submit to. This Head then must be well consider'd by us, for We mean not to plead for any of that Rule and Authority, which thro' the Apostacy of the Church of Christ from the Rules and Directions of the Gospel, has so long ago secretly and by Degrees crept into the Administrations of it, till at last it rose to such an enormous height, as to cast down the Thrones, Principalities and Powers of this World: And tho' by the Grace and Favour of God to the World it is much weakned, yet it still retains a strong usurpation, not only over the Con­sciences, but also over the temporal Concerns and In­terests of Men. I shall therefore speak to this Head Negatively and Positively.

1. Negatively. I shall shew what is not the Rule and Authority that belongs to the Pastors of the Churches of Christ, in these two Things.

  • 1. Such have no Au­thority in any of the temporal Concerns of their People.
  • 2. They have no Right to use any Force and Compul­sion in Spirituals.

1. Such have no Authority in any of the temporal Con­cerns of their People. Their Office is here expressly declar'd, to have regard only to Spiritual Things, for they watch for your Souls; and therefore our Lord has given us his own Example for our Conduct in this Affair: when one asked him, Luk. 12.13. Master, speak to my Brother that he divide the Inheritance with [Page 7]me; He answers him, Man, who made me a Judge and Divider over you? So little shou'd those who take upon them this Ecclesiastical Office, have any Thing to do with the Affairs of Civil Government, that they are to be cautious how they concern themselves in a Judg­ment and Decision of temporal Concerns between their private Neighbours; agreable to this is that of the Apostle, 2 Tim. 2.4. No Man that warreth, intangleth himself with the Affairs of this Life. Meaning hereby to instruct Timothy, that a Minister of the Gospel ought not willingly and of choice to engage himself in secular Affairs, and the Government of the Temporals of his People, for he will hereby so necessarily expose himself to the resentment of some of them, as will much im­pede his great Work, and hinder his usefulness in spi­ritual Respects; Therefore the Apostle here advises him to give himself wholly to these things, to the Mini­stration of the Word, and the Ordinances of the Gospel, which he committed to him.

2. Such have no Right to use Force and Compulsion with their People in Spirituals. In whatsoever Churches of Christ there is made use of External Force and Com­pulsion in these Regards, so far they are gone off from the Simplicity that is in Christ. If indeed by external Force and Compulsion we cou'd perswade Men to think other­wise than they do, doubtless these would be very proper Engines to promote Religion in the Hearts of Men. The external Affairs of Men in Civil Societies and Commu­nities are carried on by overt Acts, and therefore the Laws enacted in these Regards have respect to those Methods whereby they may be controul'd in their ex­ternal Actions: And in these Respects therefore cor­poral Punishments and Sanctions, which have their Influence upon their Bodies, are found by Experience to be very proper, because often effectual, but inasmuch as Religion, which it is the profess'd Design of Ministers [Page 8]of the Gospel to promote and encourage among Men, hath its Foundation in, and depends upon, the Operati­ons of the Soul and Mind, so external Force hath nothing to do with it; hereby indeed Men may be forc'd to speak and act, according to the Influence of such exter­nal Punishments, but if they still think otherwise it only makes Hypocrites of them, and then instead of promoting Religion we have only forc'd them to act against their Consciences, which is the greatest Contra­diction to the Advancement of the Kingdom of Christ, and therefore the Ministers or Pastors of his Churches should have no Hand in making any Laws with Re­gard to the Spiritual Affairs of their People, by which to bind their Consciences in Matters of Religion: Our Lord Jesus Christ hath already given us these his Laws in his Gospel, which are all of them of a Spiritual Nature, and therefore no Man whatsoever, nor any Number or Body of Men, have or can have any Right to make Laws for the Regulation of the Spiri­tual Concerns of Men in the World. * And this is evident because Christ's Kingdom in this World is a [Page 9]Spiritual Kingdom, and such Laws pretend to regulate the Hearts and Affections of Men, and Our Lord hath in this Affair constituted no [humane] Authority, to make any Addition to his Laws, which are full and compleat, as He hath deliver'd them unto us. He that knew the Heart, knew all that was in Man, and therefore was able to give him a compleat Law. As to Men indeed, thro' the imperfection of their Wisdom, and their Ignorance of the humane Nature, and how the Lusts and Passions of Men will vary the Necessi­ties of Things, they are often forced to make an Act in Addition to an Act, but it is not so with our great Lawgiver, but as his Laws are all the Result of in­finite Wisdom, so there is no need to add to them or diminish from them.

Indeed as to these Laws and Rules, proper to regu­late Churches, consider'd as Civil Societies, whereby the Prudentials of their temporal Concerns, are to be conducted and concluded, here the Ministers of the Gospel, together with the Assistance and Consent of their People and Flock, may doubtless make such Rules and Orders as best suit them in these Conside­rations: But as to all those Laws that have any Re­ference to the Soul and Conscience, to Men in Spirituals, they are to be look'd for in the Gospel. And there­fore also we are to look there for the Sanctions of His Laws, and those Rewards and Punishments, whereby He designs to promote His Kingdom in the Hearts of Men, and these are, the Promises of Joy unspeakable and full of Glory, in the Presence of God, upon our Obedience, and the Threatnings of Eternal Misery and Sorrow upon our Disobedience, in a Word, the Loss of the Favour of God, and suffering his Wrath and Indignation; these are the only Sanctions which our Lord has given to his Laws, and these may not be alter'd by Men, may not be added to, neither by People nor by Ministers [Page 10]and those that have the highest Authority in his Church. And therefore, as I said before, temporal Rewards and Punishments have nothing to do in Religion, because they are such as the great Head of the Church hath not propos'd we should be influenc'd by, for that they have no tendency to perswade the Mind: It is the Heart which God looks at in all Religious Actions, that if we worship him it should be in Sincerity and Truth, but there is nothing of this tendency either in the Rewards of this World, or in external Force. Pri­sons, Racks and Tortures, have no tendency to convince the Conscience. Worldly Glories and Rewards are far from tending to raise the Heart and Affections to heavenly Things, which is the Peculiar in true Religi­on. But if we consider the terrors of the Wrath of God threatned to Sinners, and the exceeding Weight of Glory promis'd to the Servants of Christ, here we have the strongest Topics of Persuasion, and such as are in­finitely more weighty, than all the Arguments we can form from any worldly Considerations; and which is beyond all, such as we have hope, the Spirit of God will co-operate with, upon the Minds and Consciences of Men.

But as this external Force and Compulsion which has been so much us'd in the Christian Church, has origi­nated from a Spirit of Bigotry and a Servile Regard to the false glosses and misinterpretation of the Laws of the Gospel, by such as have assum'd a Tyrannical Ecclesiastical Authority, Therefore I say further, that the Ministers of the Gospel have no Right to impose their Interpretations of the Laws of Christ upon their Flocks: Every Man is oblig'd to receive the Laws of Christ, and to yield Obedience to them in that Sense in which he understands them, and when we oblige them to yield Obedience to those Laws, in the differ­ent Sense in which we understand them, it is in Fact making another Law for them; every Man therefore [Page 11]is to judge for himself in these Things, and to have no Imposition made upon his Conscience in Spirituals, for this is to usurp that Dominion which our Lord hath reserv'd to himself. It is true, it is much of the Busi­ness of the Ministers of the Gospel, as they are Teachers, to instruct their Flocks in the Mind of Christ, as they themselves understand it, (which part of their Office I shall presently speak of) but this is quite another Thing from imposing their Sense of Matters upon them, and pretending they break the Law of Christ if they do not think in these Regards as they do: For as every Man is to answer for himself, as to the Regard he hath had to the Laws of Christ, so he cannot be guiltless, tho' he act agreable to the Sentiments of the greatest Men upon Earth, if thereby he contradicts his own Light, Reason and Conscience in that Affair. This shall suffice for the Negative Consideration of that Rule and Authority which is to be exercis'd by the Pastors of the Churches of Christ.

I proceed to the positive Consideration of it.

2. To shew what that Rule and Authority is, which the Ministers of the Gospel have committed to them, to which this Obedience and Submission of their Flocks is re­quired. And here,

  • 1. The Pastors of the Churches are to be consider'd as their Teachers and Instructors.
  • 2. As they have Authority to reprove and rebuke.
  • 3. As those with whom it lies to call their Churches together, to order their Procedure, and dismiss them.
  • 4. As they are the first Officers of the Church, by whom the judicial Sentence is to be pronounc'd in all the Censures of the Church; in all which Respects is the Obedience and Submission here specify'd, to be demanded from their Flocks or Churches.

[Page 12] 1. The Pastor is to be consider'd as the Teacher and Instructor of his Flock, and all that Submission and Obe­dience render'd to him, that is proper in that Quality. I shall not spend Time here to prove that this is his Duty, because it will be readily acknowledged, to be a principal Part of his Work, that is to take up a great Part of his Time and Talents among them: To teach them the Principles of Religion, to warn them of the various Errors in Doctrine which they are to be aware of, and to feed them with Spiritual Knowledge, of which also I shall say more hereafter: It is evident then that he that teaches and instructs, must in that Regard (tho' in others inferior) have a priority to him that is taught and instructed. I am aware that Teach­ing is us'd in Contradistinction to Rule and Govern­ment, but yet it is nevertheless certain, that the Right to teach and instruct implies an Obligation upon the Disciple to receive and obey the Instruction, and I rather say this because the Word in our Text translated, RULE over you, may be (as I have said) otherwise render'd, them that Guide you, that is that Guide you in the way of the Christian Life, that is (no doubt) by Teaching and Instruction: Such then as Teach, Lead and Guide, must have some Rule over those that are taught, led and guided by them. The Sub­mission which is paid to any as a Teacher, certainly cannot be less than to receive his Doctrine, in such manner as to think our selves obliged to behave our selves agreable to the Information, we so receive from him; that is, as we consider him, giving his Instructi­ons, agreable to that Rule of Faith and Manners, which we enjoy from God: For by no means are we to regard him, however great his Name is and what­soever Veneration we have for him, yet are we by no means to regard any of his Instructions, farther than they are agreable to the Word of God: If any of the [Page 13]corrupt Parts of the Christian Church, think they have any other Rule of Faith besides the Scriptures, yet to us who are of the Protestant Communion, the Scripture is confessedly our only Rule in these Things, and there­fore you are to regard nothing, respecting either Faith or Manners, which your Pastors teach you, if it at all digress from that unerring Rule.

2. The Pastors of the Churches of Christ are to be con­sider'd as having Authority to rebuke and reprove, and so is Obedience and Submission to be yielded to them. If then they have Authority to teach and instruct, in what way they are to walk, certainly when they err from that way, they are to restrain them, to be check upon them, and rebuke them for their Wandrings; and the Apostle directs Titus, 1 Ch. 13. to rebuke them and that sharply if need be, that they might be sound in the Faith. This Work of the Pastor then implies Rule and Authority, for as we bring you no Lessons or In­structions, or at least ought not to bring you any other, than what we receive from the Word of God, so have we the same Word as the Foundation of our Re­proofs and Remonstrances against any of your Actions, as they are opposite or contradictory to that great Rule: Therefore when we rebuke and reprove, we ask not your Regard, your Obedience and Submission, unless we prove by that Word, that you have done as ye ought not to have done; but when we do this, we demand your Attention, you are to reverence such Reproofs as what the Word of God hath commanded, and authoriz'd us to lay before you: If you say, that this is an Obedience and Submission to the Word of God, but not to your Pastors, Be it so, We ask no more than that Regard which will necessarily accom­pany the Doctrines and Instructions, Reproofs and Remonstrances of the Gospel, conscientiously receiv'd by you. Just as the Case is in the Civil Government, [Page 14]we are to obey such as have magistratical Rule and Power over us, but how do we render Obedience to them, and what is it? Not as they are private Persons, but our Obedience is to the Law of which they are the Ministers: But then when we receive the Deter­minations of the Law from them, being in the Exe­cution of their Office, as they are Ministers of God to us for Good, we according to the importance of their Posts give them Reverence and Esteem, and submit to the Authoritative Sentence as it is by them pro­nounc'd upon us.

3. The Pastors of the Church of Christ are to be con­sider'd as having Authority to call the Church together, to order their Proceedings, and to dismiss them; and in this Regard is Obedience and Submission to be render'd to them. Hence we have that, Act. 6. 2. Then the Twelve called the Multitude of the Disciples unto them. And hence it is that our Platform tells us *, That as Christ has committed Power to the Elders, to Feed and Rule the Church of God, so they are accordingly to call the Church together, upon any weighty Occasions, and when they bave done so, the Members so called, may not without just Cause refuse to come, nor when they are come, may they depart, before they are dis­miss'd, nor speak in the Church before they have Leave from the Elders, nor may they continue doing so when they require Silence, nor may they oppose nor contradict the Judgment and Sentence of the Elders, without sufficient and weighty Cause, because such Practices are manifestly contrary unto Order and Government, and Inlets of Disturbances, and tend to Confusion.

4. The Pastor of the Church is to be considered as the first Officer in the Church, by whom the judicial Sentence [Page 15]is to be pronounced in all the Censures of the Church, either in public Admonitions, or Excommunication, and as such he is to have Obedience and Submission paid unto him. Tho' it is, and always ought to be, according to the Mind and Consent of the Church, with the Concurrence of their Elders or Pastors, yet the Pro­nunciation of the Sentence is his Right; which evi­dently speaks the Dignity and Superiority of his Station in the Church: Hence also in Civil Judicatories, the Sentence is always pronounc'd by the Chief Judge or most honourable among them.

Upon these Things laid together, we may see, what kind of Rule and Government, the Pastor is to exercise over his Flock, and what Submission is to be render'd unto him. He hath no Right to use any external Force, if it were in his Power, nor is he by any Influ­ence he may have, ever to endeavour to move the Civil Magistrate to do it: He is by no means to influence or govern his Church, in their Spirituals, by any other Laws than Christ has laid down in his Gospel, whose Force wholly depends upon Spiritual Sanctions, or Pu­nishments and Rewards that are properly Spiritual: He hath no Right to impose his Interpretations of the Gospel, upon his Flock, but when he hath inlightned them by his Teaching and Instruction as much as is in his Power, they must still be left to judge for them­selves, and to act according to their own Consciences, so that all coercive Power is to be disclaim'd by the Pastors of the Churches of Christ: All the Force they are to use lies in rational Arguments, convincing the Minds of their Flock strongly, and inlightning them with Knowledge, whereby they may plainly see the Way, that they wander not from the Path of Life through any Darkness of Error and Superstition. But if they do wander, that they restrain, by rebuking and reproving them, and that sharply if need be. Thus [Page 16]Brethren, you see what kind of Power and Rule we claim as your Pastors; Not such as is us'd in the Corruptions of the Papacy, whose Strength lies in ex­ternal Force, not the Power of the secular Arm, which indeed is absolutely necessary to the Support of their Hierarchical Pride and Tyranny: We desire not to have Dominton over your Faith, nor to Lord it over the Heritage of God, acknowledging the Necessity of your consent and compliance with all our Acts of Church-Censure and Discipline; Only we expect, that as the Holy Ghost hath set us in the Church, to teach and instruct, to rebuke and reprove, to regulate the Order and Proceedings of your Consultations as a Church, and pronounce in a solemn Manner those Ecclesiastical Censures, which you, in conjunction with us, have agreed to the Execution of, that you render that Obedience and Submission which our Text here demands of you: For certainly in this, as the Apostle says, 2 Cor. 10. 14. We stretch not our selves beyond our Measure; and therefore, we also say with him in the 8. v. of that Chap. Tho' we boast somewhat of our Authority which the Lord hath given us, for Edifica­tion and not for your Destruction, we are not ashamed.

And thus I finish the Consideration of the first ge­neral Head I observ'd in the Words, viz. A Duty injoyn'd, Obey them that have the Rule over you, and submit yourselves. I proceed to the

II. To consider the Reasons of it, or the Argument us'd to inforce it, in these Words, For they watch for your Souls, as they that must give Account, that they may do it with Joy, and not with Grief: for this is unprofitable for you. Which Argument will lie plainer before us, if we thus transpose the Words, Obey them that have the Rule over you, and submit yourselves, that they may give up their Account of those Souls for which [Page 17]they watch, with Joy and not with Grief, for this will be unprofitable for you. So that the Argument here used is founded more especially upon the Topic of your own Interest and Advantage; he argues not your Obedience to the Instructions and Reproofs of your Pastors, so much from their Advantage as your own, in that otherwise the Account which they must render of you to the great Shepherd, cannot be given up with Joy and Chearfulness, but with the greatest Grief and Sorrow, which will be to your Destruction and Per­dition. But I shall speak to this Head in this Manner, and say,

  • 1. The Pastors of the Church of Christ must render an Account to him of the Souls committed to their Watch and Care.
  • 2. That it will be to the in­finite Loss and Misery of those of whom they must give up this Account with Grief and Sorrow.
  • 3. If they obey not, nor submit themselves to those In­structions and Warnings of God, which He sends by them, their Pastors must give up their Account of them with Grief and Sorrow.

1. The Pastors of the Churches of Christ must render an Account to Him, of the Souls committed to their Watch and Care. To this Head in its Parts.

  • 1. The Souls of their Flocks are committed to the Watch and Care of their Pastors.
  • 2. They must give an Account of them unto Christ.

(1.) The Souls of their Flocks are committed to the Watch and Care of their Pastors. The Apostle says here, They watch for your Souls. They are Watchmen that are set over the Flock by the great Shepherd; agreable to that in the Prophet, Ezek. 33.7. Son of Man, I bave set thee a Watchman over the House of Israel. So here the Apostle says, they watch for your Souls, not for your Bodies; it is the Spiritual Con­cern of the Flock, that lies before the Pastor as his [Page 18]Charge, as I have before said. I shall here consider what is imply'd in this Watch in these Things,

  • 1. They are to guard their Flocks.
  • 2. They are to pray for them.
  • 3. They are to teach and instruct them.

1. They are to guard their Flocks. This is what must be first intended, by that Expression, They watch for your Souls. It intimates, that the Soul is in conti­nual Danger by some Enemy that designs its Ruin and Destruction; and alas, how unhappy our State and Condition in the World in this Regard! while the Souls of Men are in perpetual Hazzard in this State of War, and how unequal is the Strife, from the Number, the Subtilty and the Strength of the Adversary! Our Lord therefore hath given his Pastors to his Flocks, that they should watch and guard them from all their spiritual Enemies; and as the Manner in which the Enemy endeavours to intrap his Prey is various, so are they to improve their whole Skill and all their Powers: Some times they are in danger by the rise of Heresy, and the growth of Infidelity; these then are to be carefully heeded in their first Rise, and the vain super­ficial pretender to Knowledge that vents his Errors, to be timely, carefully and prudently opposed, while the Truth and Excellency and divine Origin of the Scrip­tures is rationally evidenc'd to his Flock: But above all, is he to oppose the greatest of all Heresies, Immo­rality of Life and Manners, from whence most other Heresies proceed; for Men would never be tempted to seek after other Schemes of Religion, and Princi­ples of Christianity, than are plainly delivered to them in the Scriptures, were they not aware, that according to the present System and Doctrines they were not safe: But when they have first immers'd themselves in Vice and led an abandon'd Life, and thence see them­selves liable to Misery and Ruin, they are tempted to form a Set of Principles agreable to their own Morals, [Page 19]that they may get rid of the Fear and Distress, that must incumber their Souls, while they believe the Sanc­tions of the Word of God.

The Pastor of the Church of Christ therefore is to oppose Vice and Immorality with all his Force and Powers, and while he is exhorting them to Soundness of Doctrine, and to perform those Offices of Religion that relate to the Divine Worship, to attend the exter­nal Ordinances, that he omit not the weightier Mat­ters of the Law, that they behave themselves with all purity of Manners, in all Temperance and Chastity with respect to themselves, with all that Justice and Righteousness to others, that Uprightness and Sincerity in all their Dealings with Men, the want of which is the Disgrace and will be the Condemnation of many a zealous external Professor of Religion: The Pastors therefore are thus to guard their Flocks, to watch and be diligent in these Respects, that they may prevent the spreading of Error, and the increase of every kind of Vice and Immorality.

2. The Pastors of the Churches of Christ, as a part of their Watch, are to pray for their Flocks. After all that we can do, we have no Power to effect any Thing as of ourselves; we may argue and remonstrate, and use our best Endeavours with our Flocks, but we can bring nothing to Effect, without the Assistance of the great Shepherd; when then we have done all we are able in these Regards, we are to carry our Flocks to Christ in Prayer, and there implore his Blessing upon our Endeavours with them, that He would guard and defend them, that He would pardon and forgive them, that He would give them His Divine Grace to help in Time of Need. Our Powers of Reasoning and con­vincing the Minds of Men may be very great and considerable; and we may be able to stop the Mouths [Page 20]of Gainsayers, but yet it is not in our Power to turn them from Darkness unto Light; but for the convert­ing Grace of God, we are to pour out our Soul to him in Prayer, not only with our Flocks in Public, but our Souls should weep in secret Places for their Sins, and be importunate for the Divine Grace, on them and on their Children. These are the best Guards we can set about them, these are the Chariots of Israel and the Horsemen thereof, and more their Defence than all the other Weapons of our Warfare.

3. Another Part of our Watch for the Souls of our Flocks, is teaching and instructing them. I have before spoken something of this part of the Pastoral Work, as intimating his Authority: I now further speak of the Way and Manner in which these his Instructions are to be convey'd to his Flock, and say, they are to give their Flocks these Instructions,

  • 1. By their Word and Doctrine.
  • 2. By their Life and Manners.

1. They are teach and instruct their People by Word and Doctrine. As they take their Texts and Topics of Discourse from the holy Scriptures, so (as we have already said) they are to be careful to teach and in­struct their People according to them, and to deliver nothing to them as obligatory upon them, but what is found in those Scriptures, either in express Terms, or rationally deducible therefrom: To choose such Heads of Discourse also, as are best suited to the Ne­cessities of their People, that they may feed them with Food convenient for them, giving them the Bread which came down from Heaven, that they may be nourished to everlasting Life; that they most of all therefore, insist upon those Doctrines, that tend to pro­more a Life of Faith, that tend to convince them of their own Weakness and Impotence, and their abso­lute Need of a Saviour, that they may be fill'd with [Page 21]Love to God, as the Light of the Glories of the Divine Nature is manifested in the Face of Jesus Christ, and exhibited in the Doctrines of the Gospel. With these Doctrines is the Preacher to warm the Hearts of his Hearers; they should therefore be deliver'd with Ear­nestness and Affection, that while he feels the Energy of them in his own Heart, and such his divine Mu­sings have kindled a Flame in his own Soul, He may be happily instrumental of communicating the same divine Fervours to others, that their Hearts may also glow and burn within them, while beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, he expounds to them in all the Scriptures, the Things concerning Christ.

2. The Pastors of the Churches of Christ are to instruct their Flocks by their Lives and Manners. It is an old Observation, that Examples teach more strong­ly than Precepts; and therefore the Life of the Pastor should exemplify all the Practical Doctrines which he delivers to his People. All the Directions and Warn­ings of the Shepherd will never be able to keep his Flock in the Way, if He himself leave the Path. If they are apt to wander from the Path, tho' He himself keep right on his Way, how much more will they do so, when He sets them the Example? It is therefore absolutely necessary, that we should be Examples to our Flocks, of all the Moral Duties which we preach unto them; in Temperance, in Humility, in Devotion, in Patience, in Love and Charity: that as far as is possible they may see the Excellency of the Christian Doctrines exemplified in our Behaviour, that seeing our good Conversation, they may glorify our heavenly Father. And thus are the Pastors to watch for the Souls of their Flocks.

(2.) These Souls they must give an Account of unto Christ. Hence it is that God tells the Prophet, when [Page 22]He had constituted him a Watchman, Ezek. 33.8. If thou dost not speak, to warn the Wicked from his Way, that wicked Man shall die in his Iniquity, but his Blood will I require at thy Hand. When all Nations shall be arraign'd before the great and dreadful Tribunal of God, as every Man must then give an Account of his personal Actions, so also of his Duty in the several Re­lations he has stood in, to his Fellow-Creatures: When the Books shall be open'd, and the great Judge of all the Earth shall make Inquisition for the Blood of Souls, how happy shall we be, if then we are able to give up our Account with Joy, and to say, each one for him­self, Lord, here am I, and the Children which thou hast graciously given thy Servant! But on the other Hand, how sad will be our Condition, if the Guilt of their Blood be found upon us, because they have perished, either by our Neglect, or by our evil Doctrines, or by the Influences of our bad Examples!— And thus I finish the first Head under the Argument us'd in the Text, viz. That the Pastors of the Churches of Christ, must render their Accounts to him of the Souls com­mitted to their Watch and Care. I proceed to say,

2. It will be to the infinite Loss and Misery of those Souls, of whom they must give up their Account with Grief and Sorrow.— That they may give up their Account with Joy and not with Grief, for this is unprofitable for you. There is certainly a Meiosis in the Expression; for the meaning can be nothing less than that those Souls, of whom their Pastors give up this sorrowful Account, shall be the Subjects of the Wrath of God, as threatned in that Gospel, which they have in vain preached unto them. How many Souls, alas, will perish, notwith­standing all the Labour and Care of their faithful Pas­tors! But of all these they will be forc'd to give up their Accounts with Grief and Sorrow, these being such as are spoken of in the Prophet, Ezek. 33.9. If thou [Page 23]warn the Wicked of his Way, and he do not turn from it, he shall die in his Sins, but thou hast delivered thy Soul. But tho' your faithful Pastors shall thus deliver their Souls, yet how great is their Burthen and Sorrow, to see so many of them lost in Eternal Perdition! Which leads me to the

3. If you submit not your selves to these Instructions and Warnings of God, which He sends to you by us, we must give up our Accounts with Grief and Sorrow. Tho' the faithful Pastor of his Flock will have great Consolation, when he is able to say, according to that in the Prophet, Isa. 49.4. Tho' I have labour'd in vain, and spent my Strength for nought and in vain, yet surely my Judgment is with the Lord, and my Work with my God: Yet when their People regard not their Warnings and Instructions and Reproofs, with what Sighs, Tears, Sorrow and heaviness of Heart must they be distress'd, to see the Souls of their People lost! When yet they must witness against you before God, that they have called, but ye refused, when they have entreated and exhorted, when they have urged you with Tears, that ye would be reconciled unto God, yet you stopped your Ears and refused to hearken and return.

This is the sad and melancholy Account, which your Pastors will be forc'd to give up to God, if you obey not nor submit to them, thus watching for your Souls: And hence certainly the Argument concludes very strongly, that you ought to have a reverent Regard to all those Instructions and Remonstrances, that your Pastors bring you in the Name of Christ. Obey then Them that have the Rule over you, and submit your selves: for they watch for your Souls as they that must give Account; that they may do it with Joy and not with Grief: for this is unprofitable for you. I shall [Page 24]now proceed to the Application of what we have heard, in two or three Things.

I. Hence we learn the Dignity of the Ministerial Of­fice. The Dignity of any Office certainly results from the End and Design of that Office. It is certain then, that there is no Office and Imployment, can have a greater and better Design than this, namely, to pro­mote the Honour and Glory of God, and the Good of his reasonable Creatures here in this World, and their eternal Happiness in the World to come: This is the sole Business and proper End of the Institution of this Office in the World: And hence it is evident, that the End and Design of it, is superior to that of any Station and Office whatsoever, that relates to this World only. The highest Office of the Civil State, that of the supream Magistrate, hath Relation only to the present World, to promote the Convenience and Happiness of Men, while they live here in Communi­ties and Societies together; but the Design and Intent of this Office, is both to promote the Peace and Hap­piness of Men while in this World (both influencing to all personal Vertues, and assisting and strengthening the Magistratical Rule and Power in promoting all that Justice and Righteousness, and other social Vertues, which it is his particular Province and Interest to sup­port among his Subjects) and also to perswade Men to secure their everlasting Happiness, that when all So­cieties here shall be dissolved, they may be happy Subjects of the Kingdom of Glory, for ever and ever, I say, the End and Design of our Office is thus great and superior; but what then, do we therefore claim the Honours of the World, superior to those of the Civil Magistrate? No, by no means; we leave these to Antichrist, who hath exalted himself, not only above all the civil Powers of the World, but above all that is called God; No, our Lord Jesus Christ hath decla­red, [Page 25] his Kingdom is not of this World, and therefore his Ministers being Ministers of a Spiritual Kingdom, ought to leave the Honours of worldly Kingdoms to the Rulers of this World: And it is evident, that in those parts of the Christian Church where the Mini­sters of the Gospel have been rais'd to high Degrees of worldly Dignity, it has only tended to ruin the Interests of Religion, by as much raising their Ambi­tion in worldly Regards, so that the Pride of Eccle­siastics has been very justly complain'd of in the Chri­stian World: But we declaring ourselves Ambassadors of the meek and the lowly Jesus, it is ours to be content with so much of the Honours and Interest of this World, as shall keep us above Contempt and without anxious Care (for so much our Lord demands for us) and (aspiring after no civil Posts of Honour) to wait for the Honours and Glories of the next World, which our Master hath promised, when we shall have fought the good Fight, and finished our Course. All that we insist upon is that our Office should not be look'd upon as despicable and low, lest our Power and Influ­ence in perswading even to spiritual and divine Things should be weakned and impeded among you.

And I am led the rather to say these Things, in that there have been many Endeavours in this Infidel Age of the World, to make our Character low and despis'd, while we are represented as such as should be treated as * Alms-Men of the People, and of consequence re­duced to a beggarly Condition. It is true, the Pride of some of the Order in the World, aspiring after Rule and Dominion, hath very much provok'd this Treat­ment, but the Order and Office itself is not to be aspers'd for this; and therefore there is an Indecency and Inconsistency in the Behaviour of such as pretend [Page 26]to stand upon the Side of Religion, and yet receive with so much Gust and Relish, those Writings which are publish'd with an evident Design to vilify that Cha­racter, which our Lord hath taken Care to guard against the Contempt of Men: Shall such pretend with any Face to honour Christ, and yet despise those his Ministers, of whom he hath said, * He that despiseth you, despiseth Me? If then the Clergy of other Con­stitutions have stretch'd their Power, and too much exalted their State and the Dignity of their Office; yet so have not we, Tho' now, agreable to the Example of the Apostle, We magnify our Office; for if as the Apostle says in another Place, 2 Cor. 12.11. I am become a Fool in glorying, ye have compelled me, for I ought to have been commended of you, for in nothing was I behind the very chiefest Apostles, tho' I be nothing. So may I say of the Pastors of these Churches of Christ in general: Ye have compelled us, for we ought to have been commended of you, for in nothing are we behind the Pastors, (I had almost said) of any Christian Chur­ches in the World, tho' we be nothing: If any par­ticular Pastors of any of our Churches, aspire after a larger Share of Rule than is compatible to the meek­ness of their Character, let them be oppos'd in all their Pretensions; but the Pastors of these Churches in ge­neral, have not arrogated to themselves any Power or Dignity, other than what is allow'd to them by the Gospel of Christ. If then the Power and Dignity of our Office is at any Time oppos'd, by the Adversaries of Ecclesiastical Rule and Authority, let it be with Reason and Scripture, and in all Gravity, not with Ridicule and Banter: For as the Writers against the Christian Religion, have shown their Spleen and Indig­nation at it, in several Ways, so this hath always been one, to make a strong Opposition, not only to the Dig­nity [Page 27]of the Clergy, but also to their very Being and Office; and of these, there are none scarce that have done it more successfully, than such as have attack'd them in the ludicrous Manner, and therefore we object against it justly, as it is an unfair way of Treatment; for it is no false Saying, but a certain Truth, which must be acknowledg'd by any one that understands hu­mane Nature, and considers the Manner of the World, that it is no difficult Matter to gain a Victory by Ban­ter and Ridicule, if the Wit be keen and free, that would never have been carried by Reason and Argu­ment: And therefore a wise Man, tho' he be not afraid to have his Pretences fairly examin'd, in a grave and serious Consideration, yet will be afraid of Banter and Ridicule; in the same Manner as one that is tax'd as an Offender, conscious of his Innocence, is ready to submit his Actions to public Jnstice, when at the same Time he fears to stand the Trial of a precipitant and inconsiderate Mob of Men, whose Humours, Fancy and Passions, are their Rule of Judgment. And such is the Charm and and Fascination of Wit, the Sophistical Turn of Fancy, is apt to elude the Examination of the Understanding, and looks like Reason and Argument, especially to the less thoughtful, and injudicious (and such are the Bulk of Mankind) and thus they get the Laugh and Sneer of the Multitude on their Side, and carry all before 'em; and such a Procedure will certainly be always pernicious to the best Cause in the World: Such a Sport is it to Fools to do Mischief, they cast Fire­brands, Arrows and Death, and say, Are we not in Jest?

II. From what we have heard, learn the Difficulty of the Ministerial Office. The Enemies they have to op­pose are many and strong, their Wiles and Tempta­tions numerous and subtil, and therefore our Work must be laborious, diligent and perpetual, and what [Page 28]can more manifest the Difficulty of any Employ? The Work is laborious and hard, to devise and select those several Heads of Argument, and Means of Perswasion that shall best convince the Mind, and suit our People, in their several Circumstances; and some times this or the other particular Person, that is wander'd from the Path of Life; and to apply them in that peculiar hortatory Manner as shall best win upon their Affections and Passions. The Labour is hard also, while we oppose by our Rebukes and Reproofs, such as are great and pow­erful, to whose Umbrage and Resentment if we expose ourselves, perhaps we run the Hazzard of hurting our Usefulness and Success. This our Labour must also be executed with Diligence, there is no Time to stand still, lest the Enemy gain Ground upon us. Besides it is a Work that is perpetual, it is never over, but as long as we live, we must do what our Hands find to do with all our Might, to the pulling down the strong holds of Satan. And is this the Office we have said, is an Office of such Honour and Dignity? Painful Prehe­minence this, and we may well exclaim with the Apos­tle * Who is sufficient for these Things! Yea the Work is so various and difficult, that an Angel wou'd find it hard, how much more then shall we, who have all the same Corruptions of Nature, and Temptations to Sin, that are to be oppos'd in ourselves, as well as in those of our Flocks: And tho' we shou'd sink under the Burden as unequal to our Strength, were it not for the promis'd Presence and Assistance of the great Shep­herd and Bishop of Souls, yet when we consider that He that hath promised is true, that he is the great Head of the Church, and rules with a despotic Power as over all the Powers of Darkness, so over the Un­derstandings, the Passions and Affections of Men; we have Reason eno' to support our Hope, if we are [Page 29]diligent, laborious and perpetual in our Watch for the Souls of our Flocks.

III. From what we have heard we learn, That if Ministers would have the Obedience, Submission and Reve­rence of their People, they must do the Duties of their Office.

However honourable the Office may be, yet the Officer can never be so, without doing the Duty of his Office: If we would have the Esteem of our People, we must study to deserve it, by a conscientious Execu­tion of the great Charge which we receive, when we are invested with this Ministry.

That we therefore shew our Courage by a free Re­momstrance against all Vice and Immorality, in the great as well as the small, fearing the Face of no Man. while doing our Master's Work; that we give them such Instructions as may inlighten their Understandings, and tend to convince their Consciences; that we there­fore put them not off with extemporaneous Discourses, that cost us nothing, for we are neither to wonder nor be affronted at the Disrespect and Disesteem of our Flocks, when we ourselves answer not to the Dignity of our Character, in the Solemnity, Gravity and Strength of our Discourses unto them.

Much less is the Preacher to think it strange if he is dispis'd, when his Example contradicts his Doctrine. It will indeed be very ridiculous for us to demand the Veneration of our People, if we thus bring Infamy and Disgrace upon ourselves. We must therefore al­ways guard our moral Character, with utmost Care and Diligence, for we are set up to View in the fair­est Light, whereby every Spot will be easily discerned, and it is well if the Adversary be not sometimes so [Page 30]sharp sighted, as to discover a Blemish where there is none? In vain, I say, we shall demand Reverence and Esteem, when our Lives answer not exactly to our Doctrine. What a Jest is it for us to preach the Doctrines of Meekness and Humility, when we are thirsting after Power and Grandeur, either in the Church or State? Or when we preach against Covetousness and Love of the World, can they ever believe us in earnest, while they see us insatiable in our Desires of worldly Riches, endeavouring to lay those Burthens of Self-denial upon other Mens Shoulders, which we are loth to touch with one of our Fingers? Or how shall we ever per­swade them that we believe it the Christian's Duty to relieve the helpless and miserable, when we ourselves shall like the Priest in the Parable, turn aside from such as are in Want and Distress? In a Word, it will be impossible, and ought to be so, for any Minister of the Church of Christ, if he be licentious and a Libertine in his Conversation and Behaviour among his People, ever to attract any of their Esteem and Reverence; but as such are a Disgrace to their Order, so let them suffer all that Disgrace and Infamy which they have brought upon themselves, only let not the innocent, the watchful and laborious, the meek and humble, the grave and religious Pastor, suffer with these, by any general Aspersion cast upon the Order itself.

Here th [...] there are several other useful Lessons, might be taught from the Words as we have now con­sider'd them, yet I shall add no more than only a brief Address to those for whom, by the Affairs of this Day, the Doctrines of our Discourse must be suppos'd to be particularly design'd. And

First, I apply myself (SIR) to You, who are this Day to be set over this People, in the Lord.

[Page 31] We have insisted upon the Dignity of the Office you are now to be invested with, and have in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, claim'd from his Churches, Obedience, Submission and Reverence to their Pastors; that they should treat them as the Messengers of God, as such as bring them the good Tidings of eternal Sal­vation, and are sollicitous that they may be saved: And these reverent Regards for their Pastor, do we now demand from this Church of Christ: But do we there­fore mean that you should exact and demand Reverence of them? By no means: It is true, it is theirs to give this Reverence, and to act this Obedience and Sub­mission to their Pastor; but in Prudence, not yours to demand it, in any other Way, than by your Actions answering all the Duties of the Pastoral Care and Watch.

Indeed in Discourses of this more public kind, when we consider the Duties of Minister and People, with respect to one another, because our Lord has directed them how they shall behave toward their Pastor, it is doubtless a Duty to show what this Obligation is: But in the particular Intercourses between a Pastor and his own Church, it will certainly be his Wisdom, to force their Reverence and Esteem, rather by that Meekness and Lowliness, that Love, and Concern for their Wel­fare in Christ, which the Gospel hath made his Duty. Our Blessed Lord that knew what was in Man, and understands the humane Nature, better than all Men, hath therefore directed to this; and particularly guards his Disciples against their aspiring after Rule and Do­minion, and therefore when he found them doing so, immediately remonstrates against it, telling them, * It shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your Minister, and whosoever will [Page 32]be chief, shall be the Servant of all. And the Argu­ment he useth with them, is his own Behaviour, for the Son of Man came not to be ministred unto, but to minister. And certainly we cannot follow a better Pattern, and He was thus meek and lowly of Heart. Hence our Lord not long before his Sufferings, incul­cated this Manner of Behaviour upon his Disciples, by himself condescending to that Servile Act of washing his Disciples Feet. And as he applies it and says upon it, * The Servant is not greater than his Lord, nor be that is sent greater than He that sent him. Follow then the Example of your Lord, by being ready to shew your Love and Regard to them, by doing any Labour of Love, howsoever you therein condescend unto them: For we are often to give up our Right to the external Tokens of Respect, and Evidences of Submission, that may yet be expressly claim'd by those that bear secular Offices; and certainly we may well do so, when we rule in the Hearts and Affections of our People, which He shall be always most likely to do, Caeteris paribus that shews the smallest Regards to the external Marks of Rule and Dominion.

Thus you shall obtain a real Rule and Authority, while cautious of vindicating your Right to the Shew and Appearance of it: In which I imagine lies the Secret of gaining that Esteem and Regard, for the ob­taining of which, the industrious Claims and Demands of Men, will for ever be in vain.

And when by this Meekness of Behaviour, you have a Room in the Hearts and Affections of your People, it will very much facilitate the great Difficulties that lie before you. You have heard how great your Dif­ficulties are, how hard your Labour, how constant and [Page 33]perpetual, be not then hereby discouraged in your Work, for your Master is with you, and his Grace is sufficient for you, while you sincerely endeavour to do the Duties of the Ministry, you shall now receive of the Lord.

Let then the Doctrines with which you instruct this People, be those of the Gospel, teach them the pecu­liar duties of Christianity, that shall distinguish them, as the Disciples of Christ, in that Love and Charity which our Lord hath made the proper Christi­an Characteristic: But forget not to lay those moral Duties which our Lord hath equally demanded of us, in the Foundation of this spiritual Building, which, tho' a part of the Work, commonly least ornamental, yet absolutely necessary to the Support of the whole.

And in this part of your Work, take care, in the administration of your Reproofs that it be always with Courage, but with much Wisdom and Caution, ever remonstrating against Vice whosoever is guilty, but take care that you give no Occasion for any jealousy, that such your Remonstrances are the Effect of any particular Pieque and Resentment; for your personal Reproofs are to be given in private, and will always require a wife Consideration of the Tempers and Dis­positions of Men; watching also for that peculiar Situation of Mind, in which the Reproof will be most likely to take with them, for the mollia tempora fandi must never be neglected by a wife Reprover.

But of how little Advantage will all this wife Care and Caution in the several Duties of your Office be, without Prayer? It is then absolutely necessary, that you be a Man of Prayer: That you pray for the Di­vine Assistance in all your Studies, in the composition of all your Sermons, and in the administration of all [Page 34]your Reproofs to every Offender. That you always bear this your Flock upon your Heart, before God in Prayer, that he would make you instrumental of turning them from Darkness unto Light.

And to perswade you to be thus watchful for the Souls of your People, I cannot use a stronger Argu­ment, than that in our Text, viz. That you must give up an Account of them to God. Remember then every Soul is dear to God, They are so dear to Christ, that He hath shed his Blood for them, and is it possible that He should not demand how you have cared for them? This indeed is a Consideration that is eno' to make us all tremble, lest any of those Souls which our Lord hath committed to our Care, should perish thro' our Neglect. Let this Tho't therefore, make you, insta [...] in Season and out of Season to rebuke and exbort, with all long-suffering and Doctrine. And above all let your Life and Manners be a Pattern to this People, that the Lustre of your shining Example, may make them in Love with the Beauties of Christianity, that following you, as you follow Christ, you may present them faultless before the Presence of his Glory with exceeding Joy.

Next, I apply myself to the Congregation and Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, which are particularly con­cern'd in the great Affair before us.

Whatsoever then we have said, BRETHREN, as to the Submission and Obedience which is to be yielded to the Pastors of the Churches of Christ, we claim no other for your Pastor now to be set over you, than what will be productive of these necessary Things. 1. That you honour and reverence him, 2. That you love him. And, 3. That you pray for him.

[Page 35] 1. We demand of you that you honour and reverence your Pastor: Honour him as such, for the sake of the Person he represents.

The Ambassador of a Prince is always receiv'd, ac­cording to that Deference which is paid to his Master, The Person of an Ambassador is little consider'd, but with regard to his Office, He is treated with all that State and Ceremony, that is suitable to the Grandeur of his Sovereign. You must allow us the Comparison, because the Apostle hath legitimated it, tho' for it he hath scarce been able to Scape the Fleer and Scoff, of the prophane Wits of the Age. 2 Cor. 5.20. where he says We are Ambassadors for Christ, as tho' Christ did beseech you by us, to be reconciled to God. And what is here specified as the Office of an Ambassador, is equally the Business of the Ordinary Pastors of the Church of Christ, as it was of the Apostles themselves. When therefore such an one comes to you in the Name of Christ, as his Ambassador, as this Servant of God doth this Day, if you honour his Master, you will reverence him, and otherwise, as our Lord hath told us, He will resent the evil Treatment, as tho' it were offer'd to himself, forecited Luk. 10.16. He that despiseth you, despiseth Me, and be that despiseth Me, despiseth him that sent Me.

2. Love your Pastor. As Love is the fulfilling of the Law, that is, he that hath that true Love which the Gospel requireth, will do all the other Duties that are incumbent upon him: So it is in this Case; Love to your Pastor, will comprehend all the Regards we expect from you. The Pastors of the Churches therefore can desire nothing more than the Love of their Flocks. For if you shall love your Pastor, you will be delighted with him; This will make you to support him with [Page 36]Chearfulness, so that he shall have no Reason to com­plain in those Respects, which Complaints, however just they have been, yet have been the unhappy Source of most of the Differences in our Churches. Again, if you love him, you will attend his Teaching and Instruction; you will also be more ready to receive his Instructions into your Hearts; you will more kindly receive his Reproofs, for a Reproof is never receiv'd so well, as from one whom we love; so that I was going to say, that he that is not beloved by the Of­fender, should never offer to reprove him, or at least he does it with very little prospect of Success. We demand then your Love to this your Pastor for his Work sake, according to that of the Apostle to the Thess. 1: 5.12, 13. And we beseech you, Bre­thren, to know them, who labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and to esteem them very highly in Love for their Work's skee. It will be also greatly your Ad­vantage, to love him personally, with Regard to any lovely Qualities you find in him, for that as I said your Affection to Him will facilitate the Operation and Influence of all his Exhortations and Remonstrances to you. But I proceed,

3. Pray for your Pastor. It is true this Duty is included in Love, for as we always desire the happiness of them we Love, so we give a good Evidence of such Desires, when in the Sincerity of our Hearts we recommend them to the Divine Care and Blessing: But in as much as Prayer for him will tend to the increase of your Love to him, and the confirmation of those amiable Qualities, that shall continually attract your Desire and Esteem, therefore I insist upon it as a distinct Head, That you ever remember him in your Applications to the Throne of Grace, wisely consider­ing, that when you pray for him, you pray for your selves and for your Children. We have already said, [Page 37]it is his Duty to pray for you, let him then have your Prayers for him. Let him have your Prayers continually in your Families; pray for him in your secret Devotions, that God would make him an able Minister of the New-Testament, that the Influence of the holy Spirit may always accompany his Instructions and Warnings to you, that so the Pleasure of the Lord may prosper in his Hand; that he may have many of you and of your Children for his Crown; that he may be comforted and supported under all the Difficulties of his Charge; that always coming to you in the Fulness of the Blessing of the Gospel of Christ, he may at last render his Account with Joy, and have Many both of you and yours, that as his Spiritual Children shall then arise up and call him blessed.

FINIS.
[Page]

The CHARGE.

THUS, Syr, we the Ministers of the Lord Jesus, and in His Name, do, by the sacred Rites of Fasting and Prayer, and laying on of the Hands of the Presbytery, solemnly ordain you unto the Work of the evangelical Ministry, in the Church of the living GOD; and seperate you unto the Office of a Pastor of this particular Church of the Lord, with whom we are now assembled: and thus publickly, and regularly intro­duce you into the sacred Ministry, and hand down unto you that Commission, which our Blessed Master gave unto His Apostles, and, in them, unto all his Ministers, to the End of the World; with full Power to act the Part of a Gospel-Bishop, in this holy Church of the Lord Jesus: and we do accordingly thus open­ly, and heartily, embrace you, our Reverend, and Be­loved, Brother, in our tender Affection, and Esteem of you, as one, and equal, with us, in the Fellowship of the Ministry of the Gospel of Christ.

And now, tho', we claim no manner of Authority over you yet, as Elder in Years, and more Experi­enced in the Duties, and Burdens, of your Office, Suffer us, our dear Brother, to lay the Admonitions, and Charges, of God, before you; which we cannot better do than in the Words of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, who, when he had sent for the Elders of the Church of Ephesus, said unto them, Act. xx. 28. Take heed unto your selves, and unto all the Flock, over the [Page 39]which the Holy Ghost hath made you Overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own Blood.

So we advise, and Charge you, to take heed unto yourself. Let this be your first and great Care, that you have yourself felt the Power, and tasted the Sweet­ness of the divine Truths, that you may the more for­cibly recommend them unto others. Live under the constant realizing Belief of those Truths, and View of the unseen World, which you invite others to believe, and hope for; and endeavour, in your Life, to exem­plify the Life of Christ, shewing forth the Excellency of Piety and Devotion, Temperance and Purity, Meek­nesss and Humility, Righteousness and Charity, in your daily Practice. Be assured that a Conversation, contrary unto the Doctrine of Godliness, will pull down with both Hands, what you seem to attempt to build with one; and therefore, in all things, shew yourself a Pattern of good Works; be an Example unto the Be­liever, in Word, in Conversation, in Charity, in Spirit, in Faith, in Purity; and suffer no Man to despise your Youth.

We advise, and Charge you, to take heed unto all the Flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you a Bishop. Take thou the Oversight hereof, not by Con­straint, nor for filthy Lucre, but of a ready Mind. Remember that it is a Flock dearly bought, and paid for, with no less a Price than the Blood of Him who is God as well as Man. And surely, what cost the chief Shepherd so dear, you, His under Shepherd ought by no Means to make light of: no; it should be dearer unto you than any thing in this World. The Holy Ghost hath made you an Overseer of it for this very End, that you should be careful of it, and diligently tend, and faithfully feed it; even all the Flock, the [Page 40]Sheep, and the Lambs, the young, and the old, the high, and the low, the rich, and the poor. For all Souls are alike precious in the Sight of God, and the poorest cost the incarnate Son of God as much to re­deem it, as the richest. And think not the Flock to be confined to the narrow Limits of those that approach unto the Table of the Lord, but look upon every bap­tised Person as belonging unto the Flock of Christ, until he reounces his Baptism; and let them all have, according to their different Circumstances, their proper Portion of Food, of Instruction, Counsel, Admonition, and Warning, administred unto them, in due Season: and do all you can to strengthen the weak and feeble, and to recover them that wander, and to establish the strong. Thus endeavour to build up and encrease this holy Church of the Lord Jesus, and confirm it in the Faith, and Order, of the Gospel, as it is professed, and practised, in these Churches, so far as you shall receive Light from the sacred Scriptures; and watch for their Souls, as one that must give an Account.

Furthermore; we exhort and charge you, in the Style of the same Apostle to Archippus, Col. iv. 17. Take heed unto the Ministry, which thou hast received of the Lord, that thou fulsil it. Remember, that you have received this Ministry of the Lord JESUS, your Lord, and ours; and be very careful diligently, faithfully, and constantly, to attend all the Parts thereof. Fulfil thy Ministry by preaching the Word, be instant in Season, and out of Season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all Longsuffering, and Doctrine; not handling the Word of God deceitfully, but, by the manifestation of the Truth, commending yourself to every Man's Con­science, in the Sight of God. Let your Preaching be scriptural, plain, serious, cogent. Administer the Seals of the New Testament, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord, unto all the proper Subjects thereof, as a wise [Page 41]and faithful Steward, putting a Difference between the holy, and the profane. Dispense the holy Discipline of the Church without Passion, or Prejudice, with Cou­rage, and Resolution, and yet with Wisdom, and Pru­dence, and good Advice. And Bless the Congregation in the Name of the Lord. Neglect not the Gist that is in thee, but give thy self wholly unto these things, that your profiting may appear unto many; and study to shew yourself approved of God, a Workman that needeth not to be ashamed. Thus, we charge you before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect Angels; that thou observe these things, without preferring one before another, doing nothing by Partiality.

Once more; we exhort, and Charge you, in the Strain of the forementioned Apostle, to his Son Timothy; 1 Tim. iv. 16. Take heed unto thy Doctrine, continue in them. Remember, that it is the glorious Gospel of the Blessed Jesus, that is committed, as a sacred Depositum. unto you to keep pure and entire. Determine with yourself to know, and study, and preach, nothing so much as JESUS CHRIST, and Him crucified; CHRIST, the End of the Law, the Author, and Sub­stance of the Gospel, the Wisdom and Power of God unto Salvation. Suffer not the Doctrines of the Gof­pel to be corrupted thro' your Neglect; but hold fast the Form of sound Words, which thou hast heard, in Faith, and Love, which is in Christ Jesus, avoiding profane and vain Babling, and opposition of Science, falsly so called. Diligently improve all the Helps, and Advantages you may have, to establish you in the Truth, and that you may be able, by sound Doc­trine, both to exhort, and to convince the Gainsayer. And therefore give thyself to Reading, Meditation, and Prayer; for in so doing thou shalt both save thy self, and them that hear thee. And that Good Thing which has been committed unto thee, keep, by the Holy [Page 42]Ghost, and the same commit thou unto faithful Men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thus, we give thee Charge in the Sight of God, who quickeneth all things; and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good Confession, that thou keep this Command­ment without Spot, unreprovable, unto the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Finally; Forasmuch as the ministerial Work has its Difficulties and Burdens, as well as its Honours, we would fairly warn you thereof, and exhort, and charge you, that you be strong, and quit yourself like a Man. The most easy Part of your Work, and Station, we can assure you, is eno' to demand your Vigilance, and Fortitude; and you will, we fear, have often Occasion to lament the Unsuccessfulness of your Ministry. But besides, you may reasonably expect that Satan, and his Instruments, will often, and fiercely assault you, since your great Business is to beat down the Kingdom of the wicked one. And we may tell you, Syr, that if those you take to be your greatest Friends, on whom you mostly depend, and are ready to say, these same shall comfort me, and those you have done the most to serve, should anon disappoint your Expectation, and treat you unhandsomely, and, it may be, be the most forward to slight, and abuse you; you will only experience what others have done before you. Therefore arm yourself with the same Mind that was in Christ Jesus; and keep a strict Watch over your own Spirit: that a worldly Temper may not betray you into Meanesses, and expose you unto Contempt; nor a passionate and controverting Spirit throw you into Mischief, and Con­susion. As much as possible avoid all Strife in your own Cause; choose rather patiently to bear what you meet withal: and while you are couragious, and reso­lute in your Master's Cause, yet remember to shew, out of a good Conversation, your Works with meek­ness [Page 43]of Wisdom. We therefore address you, in the Words of the Apostle, II. Tim. ii. 1, 3. Thou there­fore, my Son, be strong in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus;—endure Hardness, as a good Souldier of Jesus Christ. Remember whom you serve, and look to, and depend upon him, for Help; and fear not the Faces of Men, neither shun to declare unto them the whole Counsel of God; and thus keep yourself pure from the Blood of all Men.

Thus, Reverend, and Dear Syr, we call upon, ex­hort, and charge you, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall Judge the quick and the dead at His appearing, and Kingdom, that you take heed unto yourself, and to all the Flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you an Overseer, to your Ministry, and to your Doctrine, and arm yourself against Temp­tations, and endure Tryals.

And verily, Syr, if you keep this Charge, and ap­prove yourself a wise, and faithful, Steward of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of God, and fulfil the Mi­nistry which you have received of the Lord Jesus, know it of a Truth, that your Reward shall be un­speakably great: the Lord of Hosts will number you among His Angels, who doubtless observe the present Solemnities, and the Vow of God which you have now taken upon you, and you shall shine as the Brightness of the Firmament, and as the Starrs for ever and ever; and, when the chief Shepherd shall appear, you shall re­ceive a Crown of Glory, which fadeth not away.

[Page 44]

THE Right Hand of Fellowship.

THE Ceremony of giving the Right Hand of Fel­lowship, tho' it be not an essential Requisite to the Ordination of Ministers (the Validity and Suffici­ency whereof being in the Nature of the Thing sup­pos'd as previous to it) yet being, in general, founded on Scripture-Warrant, and not an Usage that owes its Rise to humane Invention, it seems but a just and proper Acknowledgement to be paid to those that are regularly and solemnly set apart to the Work of the Evangelical Ministry, and on the Occasion of such their Seperation and solemn Introduction to that sacred Of­fice.

The Significancy of which Rite is best understood from the primitive Pattern (which we find on sacred Record) of the Apostles James, Cephas, and John (who were distinguish'd as the Apostles of the Circumcision) who, when they had receiv'd sarisfactory Evidence of the Divine Mission, and Authority of the Apostle Paul to preach the Gospel to those of the Uncircumcision, and perceiv'd the Grace of God that was given to him, gave unto him and Barnabas, their Right Hands of Fellowship, taking them for their Fellow-Labourers in the Work of the Gospel, with respect to the main In­tintions [Page 45]of it, which they agreed a pursue among those two large Divisions of Christians (which obtain'd in the early Times of the Gospel) which went under the Denomination of the Circumcision, and the Uncir­cumcision. *

Whence we may gather the true Import of this religious Rite, as it is now used by the Ministers of the Gospel, conformably to the Aim, and Intent of this Apostolical Example, which I apprehend to be,

First, An Acknowledgment of the Gifts and Graces of the Spirit, conferr'd on a Minister, qualifying him for the Duties of his Sacred Function. Secondly, A Signification of their Approbation of, and Satisfaction in the Regularity and Validity of his Call to the Of­fice of the Gospel-Ministry. Thirdly, A Testimony or Acknowledgment of the Parity of ministerial Power and Authority. Fourthly, A Symbol of sacred Friend­ship, Harmony and Consent in all the substantial Doctrines of the Gospel, and of their Union and Agreement in the Prosecution of the main Drift and Design of the holy Religion of our Saviour, in pro­moting the Salvation and Welfare of precious Souls, and endeavouring the Advancement of the Kingdom of God among Men; whatever different Apprehensions may be among them concerning Matters of less Mo­ment. And Lastly, An Engagement to mutual As­sistance in their Work, as Occasion shall require.

And it is with such Views and Intentions as these, Sir, that I do now, at the Request of the reverend Elders and Messengers here conven'd in Council, and in the Name of the former, Give unto you, Dear Bro­ther, the Right Hand of our Fellowship; signifying, and [Page 46]declaring hereby our grateful Esteem of the ministerial Gifts, Graces and Qualifications, wherewith it has pleased the Father of Lights to enrich you, and that we look upon you as a true and lawful Minister of Christ, regu­larly called, set apart, and introduc'd to the Pastoral Office in and over this Church, intitled equally with us to all that Office-Power in the Church which Christ has committed to his Ministers, promising and engaging to you, and at the same Time expecting from you, such Help and Assistance by Prayers and Counsels, ac­cording to our several Abilities, as the Service of the common Cause of Christianity in our respective Chur­ches shall require.

And now, Brother, tho' the Work you have engaged in, be attended with peculiar Difficulties and Tempta­tions (and, I doubt not, you have reckon'd upon the Labours and Self-denials, the Prayers and Watchings, the Studies and Cares, that the faithful Discharge of it will cost you) yet that which should ballance all, and enable you, and us, to surmount all discouraging Diffi­culties, is the gracious Promise which our ascended Lord has left his Ministers, which has been a tryed Word, and still remains in full Force, to all that humbly, obe­diently, and prayerfully depend upon it; Lo, I am with you always, even unto the End of the World.

May our Blessed Lord, whose you are, and whom you have devoted yourself to serve, afford you much of this his promised Presence, assisting, directing, and succeeding all your ministerial Labours! May the Gifts and Graces of the Spirit be increased in you, and abound in the exercise of them to the Conversion and Edifica­tion of many Souls, that the Pleasure of our Lord Redeemer may prosper in your Hands, and that by the faithful Execution of the solemn Charge you have [Page 47]now receiv'd, you may both [...] and them that hear you!

With such Wishes and Prayers, We now [...] and you, Dear Brother, with the Flock you [...] taken the oversight of, unto God, and the Word [...] Grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an Inberitance among all them that are sanctified.

FINIS.

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