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The Work of a Gospel-Minister, and the Importance of approving himself to GOD in it:

A SERMON Preached at the ORDINATION OF THE Rev. Mr. COTTON-MATHER SMITH, TO The Work of the Gospel Ministry, in SHARON, August 28, 1755.

By EBENEZER GAY, A. M. Pastor of the first Church in Suffield.

[...] TIM. ii. 15.

Study to shew thy self approved unto God, a Workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

TITUS ii. 7.8.

In all Things shewing thy self a Pattern of good Works: In Doctrine shewing Uncorruptness, Gravity, Sincerity, sound Speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary Part may be ashamed, having no evil Thing to say of you.

NEW-HAVEN: Printed and Sold by James Parker, at the Post-Office, 1755.

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AN ORDINATION SERMON.

1 THESSALONIANS, ii. 4.

But as we were allowed of God to be put in Trust with the Gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing Men, but God, which trieth our Hearts.

THE GOSPEL is a rich and sacred Treasure, containing the glad Tidings of Salvation to sinful Men, and wisely adapted to promote their spiritual and eternal Interests. St. Paul tells us, It is the Power of God unto Salvation, to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek, Rom i. 16.

To preach this Gospel, is one of the greatest and most important Trusts that ever was committed unto Men: And, to do it faithfully, so as to please, and be approved of, the Heart-searching GOD, is no easy Task. The Difficulties that attend this Work, and the many Temp­tations to Unfaithfulness in it, render the Performance of it uncommonly hard, and require superior Measures both of Gifts, and Grace. In both these Respects, the Apostles of our Lord were eminently qualified for this [Page 4] Office, being endued with Power from on high: And in nothing did the Apostle Paul come behind the very chiefest of them: * But the Grace of GOD, which was bestowed on him, for this Purpose, was not in vain; but he laboured more abundantly than they all , and was very successful, cheifly among the Gentiles, to whom in special he was sent: For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the Apostleship of the Circumcision, the same, says he, was mighty in me towards the Gentiles. Gal. ii. 8.

As to the extraordinary Efficacy and Success of his Ministry, in particular, among the Thessalonians, he takes a thankful Notice hereof, in this his first Epistle so them, wherein he joins Silvanus or Silas, and Timotheus, his Com­panions and Fellow-Labourers, with himself. For our Gospel, says he, came not unto you in the Word only, but also in Power and in the Holy-Ghost, and in much Assurance; as ye know what manner of Men we were among you for your Sake. And ye became Followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the Word in much Affliction, with Joy of the Holy-Ghost; so that ye were Ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. Chap. i. ver. 5, 6, 7. For the Truth hereof he appeals unto them, Cap. ii. v. 1. For yourselves, Brethren, know our Entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain.

And, as a subordinate Reason of the Gospel's being so successful among them, he goes on to remind them, with what Fortitude and Zeal, Purity and Sincerity, it was preached unto them, ver. 2, 3. But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as you know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the Gospel of God with much Contention. For our Exhorta­tion was not of Deceit, nor of Uncleanness, nor in Guile. Notwithstanding the severe and shameful Treatment, which they had met with just before, at Philippi, for preaching the Gospel, they were not at all disheartned, but rather ani­mated to greater Courage and Fervency, at Thessalonica, in [Page 5] the Face of the like Opposition and Danger; knowing the Truth and Purity of their Doctrine; and being con­cerned to preach, not so, as to sooth the unreasonable Humours, and gratifie the vile Lusts of Men, but to please and gain the Approbation of the Omniscient, and Heart-searching GOD, whose Ministers they were; and unto whom they were accountable: For so he adds in the Words of my Text, But as we were allowed of God to be put in Trust with the Gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing Men, but God, which trieth our Hearts. And herein they acted as faithful Ministers of Christ Jesus, and very suit­able to the great and important Trust committed unto them, and are an Ensample to all who succed them in the sacred Office of the Evangelical Ministry.

Wherefore, in discoursing upon these Words, I shall endeavour to shew.

  • I. That the Gospel is committed in Trust unto the Ministers of it.
  • II. What is implied in being allowed of God to be put in Trust with the Gospel: And
  • III. That it greatly concerns these, who are intrusted with the Gospel, to preach the same, not as pleasing Men, but God, who trieth their Hearts.

Here then I am to shew,

I. That the Gospel is committed in Trust unto the Ministers of it.

Ministers of the Gospel are a particular Order of Men, in the Christian Church, appointed by Christ, to officiate in his Name and Stead, as Pastors and Teachers in it. They are mentioned as the precious Gifts of Christ, which he be­stowed on his Church, for their spiritual Benefit, when he left this World, and ascended to the FATHER, Eph. iv. 8, 12, 13. When he ascended up on high, he led Captivity captive, and gave Gifts unto Men.—And he gave some, Apo­stles; and some, Prophets; and some, Evangelists; and some, Pastors and Teachers; for the perfecting of the Saints, for the Work of the Ministry, for the Edifying of the Body of Christ.

[Page 6]These Ministers, whether exraordinary, as Apostles, Pro­phets and Evangelists, or ordinary, as Pastors and Teachers, were ex Officio, intrusted with the Gospel. But as we were allowed of God to be put in Trust with the Gospel, says St. Paul, in the Text, speaking of himself and his Fellow-Labourers. And, with Regard to himself in particular, he says of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, yet it was committed to his Trust, 1 Tim. i. 11. And all that succeed him in the Work of the Gospel-Ministry, being regularly called, and solemnly separated thereunto according to Gospel-Order, are, in like Manner, put in Trust with the Gospel.

These are specially set for the Defence of the Gospel, * and are required faithfully to keep and hold fast the same—to vindi­cate the Truths of it, to the utmost of their Ability, against the dangerous Errors and Corruptions, the vain Fables, and wicked Attemps of ignorant and designing Men, who by false Glosses, superstitious Innovations, or bad Principles and Practices, seek to adulterate and pervert it,—and to transmit it pure to faithful Successors, agreeable to those several Charges given to Timothy, 1 Tim. i. 20. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy Trust: 2 Tim. i. 13.14. Hold fast the Form of sound Words, which thou hast heard of me, in Faith and Love which is in Christ Jesus: And Chap. ii. ver. 2. The Things which thou hast heard of me among many Witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful Men, who shall be able to teach others also.

They are, in a particular Manner, intrusted with the Ministry of the Word: Hence they are called Stewards of the Mysteries of God ; whose special Business it is wisely and faithfully to dispense the Word of Life unto others, for their spiritual Instruction and Nourishment; warning every Man, and teaching every Man, in all Wisdom, that they may present every Man perfect in Christ Jesus, Col. i. 21.

They are likewise by virtue of their Office, to admi­nister the Sacraments of the New-Testament: And, as [Page 7] good Overseers of the Flock and Rulers in the House of GOD, to manage the Discipline, and apply the Censures of the Church, as Occasion requires.

In all which Respects, the Gospel may be considered as a sacred Charge, specially committed in Trust unto the Ministers of it.

I proceed to shew,

II. What is implied in being allowed of God to be put in Trust with the Gospel?

This Phrase, I apprehend, implies something more than barely a Permission, even an Approbation of Persons for, and Appointment of them, unto the Ministerial-Office.— That St. Paul and his Fellow-Labourers, of whom the Text particularly speaks, were approved of GOD, as Persons duly qualified for and authorized to the Work of the Ministry, which they employed themselves in. And considered in Relation to Ministers, in general, it may denote the same Thing. So then, in order to Ministers being allowed of God to be put in Trust with the Gospel, they must be suitably qualified for, and authorized, or solemly separated unto the Work of the Gospel-Ministry.

1. They must be suitably qualified for this Work. In Order to which, it is requisite,

1. That they be Men of sincere Piety: Sanctified in Christ Jesus—and prepared unto every good Work. This is as neces­sary for Ministers, as for others, in order to their being true Christians, and in a State of Favour and Acceptance with GOD. And if it be not absolutely necessary to the Being of a Gospel Minister, it is of very great Importance in the Ministerial-Office, and requisite to a right and faithful Dis­charge of it. Surely those, whose special Business it is, to minister in holy Things in the House of God, which is the Church of the living God, should be holy themselves. Men of clean Hands, and a pure Heart; whose Conscience is purged from dead Works to serve the living God: Nor can they, other­wise, answer the Scripture Character of Pastors according to [Page 8] God's own Heart *, or be truly denominated Vessels unto Honour, sanctified and meet for their Master's Use, and pre­pared unto every good Work. 2 Tim. ii. 21. And not only true Grace and Holiness, but eminent Degrees thereof, are requisite to their being well-finished for so great and im­portant a Trust. They should not be Babes, or Novices, in Religion, but strong in Faith, and in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus: Of such Age and Attainments in the spiritual Life, as by Reason of Use, to have their spiritual Senses exer­cised to discern both Good and Evil.

Not that I think the Efficacy and Success of the Gospel depends upon the internal Sanctity of the Dispensers of it, but upon the Power of GOD accompanying it. 1 Cor. iii. 7. So then, neither is he that planteth any Thing, nor he that watereth: But God that giveth the Increase. Or, that GOD never so far approves of the Administrations of un­sanctified Ministers, as to make them instrumental of saving Good to others. For, as it cannot be denied, that the saving Truths revealed in the Gospel, may be preached by them; so, neither can it be proved to be inconsistent with the Purity and Goodness or any of the Perfections of GOD, to bless those Truths, for saving Good, to such as sincerely embrace them, tho' dispensed by Mini­sters of unsanctified Hearts. But how often, or how rarely GOD confers this Honour upon such Ministers, no Man knoweth.

2. That they be furnished with competent Gifts and Abi­lities.

Every sincere Christian is not fit to be a Minister: Nor are ignorant and illiterate Men qualified for Instructors and Guides in the Church of Christ. No: They should be Men of good natural Abilities, cultivated and im­proved by Study, and enriched with suitable Degrees of useful Knowledge: Not only faithful Men, but able to teach others also . The Priest's Lips, now, as well as in [Page 9] antient Times, should keep Knowledge, and the People should seek the Law at his Month; for he is the Messenger of the Lord of Hosts. * And such a Messenger, whose special Business it is to interpret the Oracles of GOD, and to teach Jacob his Statutes, and Israel his Law, should be one of a Thousand: A Man of Parts and Learning; especially, learned in the Holy Scriptures, — well instructed in the Way of the Lord, the great Mysteries, and important Truths of the Gospel,—skillful in the Word of Righteousness; so as to be capable, by a clear Explanation, right Distribution, and proper Application thereof, to suit it to the various Cir­cumstances and Exigences of Persons; to instruct the Ignorant; to warn the Unruly; to comfort the Feeble-minded; to support the Weak; to establish the Wavering; to reduce the Wandering; and, by sound Doctrine, to con­vince, and stop the Mouths of Gain-sayers.

3. That they be sound and stedfast in the Faith.

It is certainly a Matter of great Importance, that Ministers be well-grounded in the Principles of Religion, and firmly established in the Belief of those great and weighty Truths of Divine Revelation, which they are to preach to others: How else can they be qualified for this Trust? If they preach not the Truth as it is in Jesus, they are likely to destroy, and not to confirm, the Faith once delivered to the Saints,— to ruin, and not to save the Souls of Men. Surely then, they should be sound, and stedfast in the Faith; holding fast the faithful Word, even, that Form of sound Doctrine, which is delivered in the Holy Scriptures; and not erroneous, or fickle: Neither giving Heed to Fables, and those Doctrines of Men, which turn from the Truth, nor suffering themselves, to be wheedled about with every Wind of Doctrine.

4. That they be blameless, and virtuous in their Behaviour.

[Page]For they are, not only, to feed the Flock with sound doctrine, good and wholsome Instructions, but also, to be Ensamples unto them of all that is virtuous and [...]able; going before them in the steady Practice of that holy Religion, which they teach and inculcate, 1 [...]m. iv. 12, But be thou an Example of the Believers, in Lord, in Conversation, in Charity, in Spirit, in Faith, in Purity. And verily, no Man is qualified for the Ministry, or fit to be employed in it, that is not of a blameless and good Behaviour: For a Preacher of Righteousness to yield himself the Servant of Sin,—an immoral Minister,— one visibly bad, yielding himself to unrighteous Practices and fleshly Defilements,— is a meer Inconsistency and Absurdity! To such a One it may be said, as in Rom ii. 21, 22, 23, 24. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thy self? Thou that preachest a Man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a Man should not commit Adultery, dost thou commit Adultery? Thou that abhorrest Idols, dost thou commit Sacrilege? Thou that makest thy Boast of the Law, thro' breaking the Law dishonourest thou God? For the Name of God is blasphemed,— thro' you.

Nor is it enough, that they be free from visible Scandals; but they should moreover be exemplary in their Life and Conversation, shewing themselves Patterns of good Works, and causing their Lights to shine before Men, that they may see their good Works, and be induced thereby to glorify God their heavenly Father: For a Bishop, says St. Paul, must be blameless, as the Steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not give to Wine, no Striker not given to filthy Lucre; but a Lover of Hospitality, a Lover of good Men, sober, just, holy, temperate. Tit. i. 7, 8.

Not that it is ever to be expected of any of them, that they should be entirely without Fault, or perfect in any Christian Grace and Virtue, in this World: For they are Men of like Passions and Infirmities, with others; and all reasonable Allowances are to be made for them, as for [Page 11] other Men, on the Score of humane Frailties, and the Temptations, both from within and from without, which befal them in the World. But I go on to say,

2. They must be authorized, or regularly called and separated unto this Work.

Meerly a Man's being qualified for, does not give him a Right or Authority, to execute the Ministerial Office. In order to this, there must be a regular Introduction into it. Heb. v. 4. And no Man taketh this Honour to him­self, but he that is called of GOD, as was Aaron. It is very assuming, and dangerous Presumption, for any to thrust himself into this sacred Office!

The Apostles received their Commission and Authority immediately from Christ, the Supreme Head of the Church; As, during his personal Ministry on Earth, he gave them a temporary Commission to the lost Sheep of the House of Israel, with this express Command, And as ye go, preach, saying, the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand, Mat. x. 7; so, after his Resurrection, he renewed and enlarged their Commission, saying, All Power is given unto me, in Heaven and in Earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all Nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all Things whatsoever I have commended you; and lo, I am with you, alway, even unto the End of the World. Amen. Mat. xxviii. 18, 19, 20. And them he specially qualified for this Trust, by conferring on them the extraordinary Gifts of the HOLY GHOST; and to them, and to the World, he gave abundant Testimony of the Truth of their Mission.

St. Paul also, was immediately called and sent by Christ, to preach the Gospel: Wherefore he stiles him­self, Paul an Apostle, (not of Men, neither by Man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the Dead,) Gal. i. 1. Nevertheless, he was, by the special Direction of the Holy Ghost, separated unto the Work of the Ministry, by the Prophets and Teachers at Antioch; [Page 12] to whom, as they ministred to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the Work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their Hands on them, they sent them away. Acts xiii. 2, 3. Hence, perhaps, it is, that he stiles him­self, Rom. i. 1. Paul a Servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of GOD.

But we do not read of any, since the Apostolick. Age, that were immediately called and sent by Christ, to preach the Gospel: Nor has Christ, any where, intimated in his Word, that he would, in this Manner, send forth his Ministers in Time to come. But he left it with his Apostles, under the Inspiration of the HOLY GHOST, to settle the Order of the Churches, which they should gather, and found, in his Name, and to order Elders, or Pastors and Teachers, in them. And it is evident, that those whom the Apostles chose, and set apart to the Work of the Ministry, had Authority likewise to ordain others to it; particularly, that Timothy and Titus had: To the former of which, St. Paul gave this express Charge, 2 Tim. ii. 1, 2. Thou therefore, my Son, be strong in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the Things that thou hast heard of me among many Witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful Men, who shall be able to teach others also: And to the latter he writes, Tit. i. 5. For this Cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldst set in Order the Things that are wanting, and ordain Elders in every City, as I had appointed thee. And this Power of Ordination, is (as it was doubtless designed to be) conveyed down in the Christian Church; and those who, according to Gospel-Order, are called and separated to the Work of the Ministry, may be said to be allowed of God to be put in Trust with the Gospel.

And whatever Disputes there have been and are, about the Right and Power of Ordination, and in whose Hands it is lodged; yet that there is such a Power, somewhere in the Christian Church, is generally allowed: And since we [Page 13] find no Examples in Scripture, of any being ordained to the Work of the Ministry, but only by authorized Mi­nisters, nor any particular Directions given, relating hereunto, but only to such; we may, I think, safely conclude, that the Power of Ordination, if it be not absolutely limited and confined to them, does yet in some special and peculiar Manner belong unto them; and that however particular Churches may have a natural Right to elect their own Pastors, yet it is requisite, that they should be solemnly separated to the Pastoral Office over them, by the Pastors of other Churches invited thereunto, with Fasting and Prayer, and Imposition of Hands.

And as for those who thrust themselves, or are thrust by others, into the Work of the Ministry, in a disorderly Way and Manner, which the Holy Scriptures do not direct to, or countenance, they are, in my Opinion, to be look'd upon and treated not as true Ministers of the Gospel; but as bold Intruders, the Authority of whose Mission, and the Validity of whose Administrations, want Proof.

But I must proceed to show,

III. That it greatly concerns those that are intrusted with the Gospel, to preach the same, not as pleasing Men, but God, who trieth their Hearts.

For the Illustration of this Point, I shall undertake to shew,

First, How the Gospel is to be preached so as to please, not Men, but GOD. And,

Secondly, That it greatly concerns those that are intrusted with the Gospel, so to preach the same, not as pleasing Men, but God, who trieth the Hearts.

First, I am to shew, how the Gospel is to be preached, so as to please not Men, but GOD.

[Page 14]Now this evidently intends, that the Gospel be preached by the Ministers of it, with a special View, not to sooth and gratify the vain Humours and Fancies of Men, or to court their Approbation and Applause, but to honour and please GOD, and to gain his Approbation and Accep­tance: Otherwise the Apostle Paul did, and every Minister should, seek to please Men, for their Spiritual Good, by becoming all Things to all Men, as far as is allowable and consistent with the faithful Discharge of his Office; and endeavouring to please all Men in all Things, not seeking his own Profit, but the Profit of many that may saved, 1 Cor. x. 33.

To preach the Gospel in this Manner, is to preach it according to the Will of GOD, and as his Oracles direct. Particularly,

1. Purely and truly: And that both as to Matter and Manner.

As to the Matter; it must be the true and pure Gospel. Jer. xxiii. 28. He that hath my Word, let him speak my Word faithfully. As it is the Gospel, and Nothing else, that is committed in Trust unto the Ministers of it, so this is what they are to preach in the Simplicity and Purity of it, with­out adding to, or diminishing from it. They must not preach for Doctrines, the Commandments and meer Opinions of Men; but their Discourses should be taken from, and framed to the Gospel-Model. Tit. ii. 1. But speak thou the Things which become sound Doctrine. This will please GOD, who is a Being of infinite Truth and Purity, however it may displease Men, whose Lusts and Corruptions are hereby opposed and irritated,

As to the Manner; it must not be handled craftily and sophistically, to gratify the unreasonable Humours and distemper'd Appetites of Men; but rightly divided and truly dispensed; — the Truths of it set in a just and con­vincing Light, and sincerely and faithfully urged, so as will be most likely to take Effect, and reach its true End. For [Page 15] we are not (says St. Paul) as many, which corrupt the Word of GOD; But as of Sincerity, but as of God, in the Sight of God, speak we in Christ, 2 Cor. ii. 17. But have renounced the hidden Things of Dishonesty, not walking in Craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully, but by Manifestation of the Truth, commending ourselves to every Man's Conscience in the Sight of GOD. 2 Cor. iv. 2.

2. With all suitable Plainness and Clearness.

As it is the Duty of Ministers to explain and set home the Truths of the Gospel, so it should be their Concern, to speak in a clear and distinct Manner, and to adapt their Discourse and Language to the Understanding of Men, and the Capacities of their Hearers. We, says St. Paul, use great Plainness of Speech, 2 Cor. iii. 12. And Ministers should, in like Manner, in their Pulpit Discourses, study Plainness of Speech; not, indeed, in Opposition to that which is correct, decent, graceful, nervous, and pungent, but to that which is obscure, lofty and unin­telligible, loose and incoherent: Instead of darkening Counsel, by Words without Knowledge, and using Words of awful Sound, without any Meaning, and affecting an intricate Style, they should endeavour, by plain and wholesome Language, to set the Truths of the Gospel, which they preach, in a clear, distinct and naked Light, so as they may not lose their native Force and Efficacy upon the Hearts and Consciences of Men; but that all may learn and understand them. And I, Brethren, says St. Paul to the Corinthians, when I came to you, came not with Excellency of Speech, or of Wisdom, declaring unto you the Testimony of GOD,—and my Speech, and my Preaching was not with enticing Words of Man's Wisdom, but in Demonstration of the Spirit, and of Power: That your Faith should not stand in the Wisdom of Men, but in the Power of GOD. 1 Cor. ii. 1, 4, 5.

3. With all becoming Confidence and Boldness.

[Page 16]As Ministers are to speak GOD'S Word, and in GOD'S Name, so they should speak with Confidence and Bold­ness, becoming the Messengers of the Lord of Hosts. They should not be ashamed of the Gospel, or mealy-mouth'd in delivering the Messages of it, but declare them faithfully and couragiously, whether Men will hear, or whether they will forbear; not regarding the Persons, or fearing the Displeasure and Threats, and Ill-treatment of Men; but imitating the Apostle Paul, and his Fellow-Labourers, who tells the Thessalonians, Verse 2, of the Context, But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God, to speak unto you the Gospel of God, with much Contention.

4. With Affection and Zeal; animated by a pure Love to GOD and Christ, and a tender Compassion to the Souls of Men.

As it is the special Work of Ministers, to testify the Gospel of the Grace of God, and to unfold the Mysteries of Divine Love to fallen Men, in their Redemption by Jesus Christ; so their Hearts should be deeply impressed, and duly inflamed with this Love: And with this Spirit should they preach the Gospel; not out of Envy and Strife, but of Good-Will; not by Constraint, but willingly; not for filthy Lucre, but of a ready Mind; not seeking Glory from Men, but out of sincere Love to GOD and JESUS CHRIST, and a holy Jealousy for and Concern to promote the Honour of GOD and the REDEEMER. This is clearly intimated to us in that Question, which our blessed LORD so often put to Peter, when he com­mitted to him the Care of Feeding his Sheep and his Lambs, John xxi. 15. Simon, Son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? And happy the Minister, that can, by the like solemn Appeal, answer and say as he did, Lord, thou knowest all Things; thou knowest that I love thee, ver. 17. And with the same Spirit or Compassion and [Page 17] Tenderness, which the kind and benevolent Redeemer shewed to precious and immortal Souls, whom he dear­ly purchased with his own Blood, should his Ministers dispense the Word of Life unto them; Travelling as it were in Birth for them, till Christ be formed in them; Labouring diligently and fervently among them; and willingly spend­ing their Time and Strength for the Good of their Souls, and promoting their Salvation. In this Manner, and with this Spirit did St. Paul preach the Gospel: (See V. 7, 8, of the Cont.) But we were gentle among you, even as a Nurse cherisheth her Children: So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. And the like extraordinary Affection and Zeal should all Ministers, in the Course of their sacred Ministrations, exercise and discover towards the Souls, committed to their Care and Charge: So, as to be able to say as he did, Phil. i. 8. God is my Record, how greatly I long after you all in the Bowels of Jesus Christ.

5 Fully, in the whole Compass of it.

As the Gospel is a perfect and complete Rule of Re­ligion, so the Whole of it is to be preached. GOD virtually says to every Gospel-Minister, as he said, by his Angel, to the Apostles Acts V. 20. Go, stand, and speak in the Tem­ple unto the People, all the Words of this Life. The Whole of it is of Use, and designed for spiritual Good and Benefit. All Scripture is given by Inspiration of God, and is profitable for Doctrine, for Reproof, for Correction, for Instruction in Righte­ousness; that the Man of God may be perfect, throughly furnish­ed unto all good Works. ii Tim. iii. 16, 17. And the Whole is to be declared, and nothing of Importance to be con­cealed or designedly omitted. The lesser Matters of the Gospel should not be passed over in Silence, but the more weighty and important Truths thereof are chiefly to be insisted upon: Such as concern the LORD JESUS CHRIST, his personal Characters and Glories, his Mediatoreal King­dom, [Page 18] Offices, and Benefits — The Grace and Love, and other Perfections of GOD, shining forth in his Works, especially in the Gospel-Scheme of Salvation — The Na­ture and Office of the HOLY-SPIRIT, and the Necessity of his Agency and Influence, in the Conviction and Conversion of Sinners, and forming them to a divine Temper and Life — Mans Apostacy, Depravity, and Guilt — The Nature and Necessity of Repentance towards God, and of Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and of Evangelical Obedience, in Order, either, to our being justified, and re­ceived to a State of Peace, Favour and Acceptance with God, and enjoying the Comforts and Satisfactions of Re­ligion here, or to our inheriting eternal Life hereafter.

In a Word; all the Doctrines and Instructions, all the Councils and Warnings, all the Precepts and Duties, all the Promises and Threatnings of the Gospel should be carefully set in a true and just Light, and Men's Faith in, and Compliance with them urged and inculcated, and nothing kept back, thro' Deceit, or Fear of offending and displeasing Men, which is necessary for them to know, believe, and do, in Order to their escaping the Wrath to come, and obtaining the Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal Life; so as to be able, in the Review, to appeal to their Flock, and say, in the Words of St. Paul, Acts xx 26, 27. Wherefore I take you to Record this Day, that I am pure from the Blood of all Men: For I have not shunned to he­clare unto you all the Counsel of God.

Thus must Ministers preach the Gospel, if they would do it, not as pleasing Men, but God.

Wherefore I proceed to show,

Secondly, That it greatly concern those, that are intrusted with the Gospel, to preach the same, not as pleasing Men, but God, who trieth their Hearts.

In doing this, I shall confine my self to what is sug­gested to us in the Words of the Text.

[Page 19]The Gospel is committed in Trust to the Ministers of it, which implies a special Obligation upon them to preach it faithfully. Let a Man, says St. Paul, so account of us, as of the Ministers of Christ, and Stewards of the Mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in Stewards, that a Man be found faithful, 1. Cor. iv. 1, 2. As this Trust is com­mitted unto them, not by Man meerly, but by GOD of whom they are allowed to be put in Trust with the Gospel, so it greatly concerns them, to discharge it to his Honour, Approbation, and Acceptance, whose Servants they espe­cially are; and not to betray it, by an unfaithful Exe­cution of it, or seeking chiefly to please Men. For do I now perswade Men, or God? Or do I seek to please Men? For if I yet pleased Men, I should not be the Servant of Christ, is the Language of our Apostle Gal. i. 10.

Moreover, They are accountable to God for the Discharge of this sacred Trust, which is committed unto them: They watch for Souls, as they that must give Account. Heb. xiii. 17. They are intrusted with the Care of their own, and other's Souls for which they are accountable to GOD; that nei­ther the one, nor the other, be lost, thro' their sinful Carelessness, and Neglect: Which further shews the vast Importance of their not pleasing Men, but GOD, so as to be able to give up their Account with Joy, and not with Grief.

And what greatly adds to the Importance hereof, and makes it a Matter of infinite and everlasting Concernment unto them, is, that herein they have to do with that GOD, who trieth their Hearts. The GOD, whom Ministers serve in the Gospel, and with whom they, as well as others, have to do, is no other than the omniscient JEHOVAH, who claims it as his Prerogative to search the Hearts, and try the Reins, even to give every Man according to his Ways, and according to the Fruit of his Doing , and who, in the great Day of Reckoning, will manifest his Approbation, or [Page 20] Disapprobation of them, according as they have been up­right, and faithful to him or not: Their being Ministers of the Gospel, will not prevent their being accursed, and meeting with a heavy Doom, if they are of unsanctified Hearts and Lives, and have done the Work of the Lord deceitfully: How much soever they may have pleased, and gained the Applause of Men, they will be disowned and rejected by GOD, with whom there is no Respect of Persons, in the Day when he shall judge the Secret, as well as open Actions, of Men by Jesus Christ, according to the Gospel *: However instrumental they may have been in saving other's Souls, they will lose their own: Or however they may be able to plead in that Day, as we read many shall, Matt. vii. 22. Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy Name? And in thy Name have cast out Devils? And in thy Name done many wonderful Works? He will publickly disown them, and will profess unto them, as in ver. 23. I never knew you: De­part from me, ye that work Iniquity.

But if they have uprightly and faithfully preached the Gospel, not as pleasing Men, but God, and adorned it by a holy and well ordered Conversation, they shall be ap­proved and accepted of him, and shall receive a Prophets Reward in the Kingdom of Heaven, and be made to shine, with the Wise, as the Brightness of the Firmament, and with them that turn many to Righteousness, as the Star for ever and ever. Dan. xii. 3.

The Words, thus considered, afford several useful Re­flections, suitable to the solemn Occasion of this Day▪ Such as,

The Divine Wisdom and Goodness in the Institution of the Gospel Ministry; not only in Regard to the special Design of it, viz. The spiritual Instruction and eternal Salvation of ignorant and sinful Men; but also, in com­mitting this Work to Men of like Passions with others, and so, Speaking to them, and carrying on his Treaty of [Page 21] Peace and Reconciliation with them, in a Manner best ac­commodated to their Frame and Make, by such Ambas­sadors, whose Terror does not make them afraid, and with whom they may freely and familiarly converse, about their eternal Interest and Concerns, without any Amaze­ment—

The vast Weight and Importance of the Ministerial Of­fice; as it immediately relates to the Souls of Men, and their future eternal Interests, and the great Difficulty of performing it, in a right and acceptable Manner, so as to be unto God a sweet Savour of Christ, both in them that are saved, and in them that perish.—A deep and awful Sense of which made an Apostle, and may well make the most able and best qualified Minister, cry out who is sufficient for these Things? *

The Care and Concern which Candidates for the Mini­stry should use, in furnishing themselves for this sacred and important Trust, and acquiring all necessary and suitable Qualifications for it—

The Caution incumbent upon Ministers, to lay Hands suddenly upon no Man, and not to introduce into the Mini­stry any, who are ignorant, or vicious, or in any other Respect, manifestly unqualified and unfit for it—

The great Hazard and Presumption, of weak, illete­rate, and unqualified Men, disorderly, thrusting them­selves into this, so sacred, and tremendous an Office; and the sinfulness of countenancing and Encouraging them herein—

Finally, The Gratitude and Joy, with which People ought to receive the Ministers of the Gospel, who come to them in Christ's Name, bringing the glad Tidings of Salvation, and preaching Peace by Jesus Christ,—the singular Affection and Esteem, which they should shew to them, and treat them with, for their Work's Sake,—and the Respect and Submission, which it concerns them, to yield to them, in all [Page 22] their sacred Ministrations, so as that they may prove a Savour of Life unto Life, and not a Savour of Death unto Death, unto their Souls—

But waving all Enlargement upon these Things, I shall finish the Discourse, with a particular Address; First, To the Person who is now to be solemnly separated unto the Work of the Gospel Ministry in this Place; and Se­condly to the People, that have invited him to receive this Trust, and herewith the Pastoral Care and Charge of their Souls.

And First, To you Dear Sir, who are now to be put in Trust with the Gospel, by being solemnly separated unto the Work of the Ministry in this Place,

As it is, at your earnest Request, that I stand here your Monitor, on this solemn, but joyful Occasion, so what has been said, in the preceeding Discourse. with a special View to your Instruction, may serve, in some Measure, to give you a Representation of the Nature and Impor­tance of that great and difficult Work, which you are engaging in; and also to quicken you to a just Concern to perform it, not as pleasing Men but God, who trieth your Heart.

I doubt not, Sir, but you have been deeply pondering the Greatness, and the Difficulties of this Work, and the awful Consequences of it, both to your own Soul, and the Souls of others, so as that it is, with much Fear and Trembling, self Diffidence, and an humble Dependance on the Grace and Strength of the All-sufficient Redeemer, you undertake it. It certainly behoves you to consecrate yourself unto GOD, in this Service, under a deep and awful Sense of the Solemnity and Importance of it, and your own Insufficiency for it. And having received this Trust, now to be committed to you, it will lie upon you to discharge it, with the utmost Integrity and Faithfulness, becoming a Minister of JESUS CHRIST.

[Page 23]You will therefore, according to that Apostolick Exhor­tation 1. Tim. iv. 16. Take heed unto thy SELF and unto thy DOCTRINE; Continue in them: For in doing this, thou shalt both save thy SELF, and THEM that hear thee.

You will see to it in the first Place, that your own Soul be formed and attempered to the Religion of the Gospel, That you gain an intimate, experimental, and saving Knowledge of, and Acquaintance with those divine Truths, which you are to preach unto others: Lest, by any Means, when you have preached to them, you your self should be a Cast-away.

You will labour to furnish your self with all Ministerial Gifts and Accomplishments, and to increase in them, by giving your self to Reading, Meditation, and Prayer.

You will diligently consult the sacred Oracles, and make them the Rule of your Preaching, and of all your sacred Ministrations: and study to shew your self approved unto God, a Workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth; and giving unto every one his Meat in due Season.

You will be concerned to preach the Gospel truly and purely, plainly and distinctly, affectionately and zealously, boldly and fully, so as to instruct and establish your Hearers in the firm Belief, and steady Practice, of all the important Truths of Christianity, and to make them fruitful in all the Branches and Duties of the Christian Temper and Life.

You will faithfully warn the Wicked and Impenitent, set before them their Sin and Danger, and endeavour, by all the powerful Persuasives of the Gospel to bring them to Repentance, and to espouse them to Jesus Christ: Lest they should die in their Sins, and their Blood should be required at your Hands.

You will Labour to build up Believers in the most holy Faith, and animate them to Stedfastness and Perseverance in well doing; constantly affirming, that they which have believed in God, should be careful to maintain good Works.

[Page 24]You will let none be beneath, nor any above, your Watch and Care; but, with a godly Jealousy for them all, will exhort, and comfort; and charge every one, as a Father doth his Children, that they would walk worthy of God, who hath called them unto his Kingdom, and Glory.—Warning every Man, and Teaching every Man in all Wisdom, that you may present every Man perfect in Christ Jesus.

In a Word, you will be careful to adorn and recommend the Doctrine of Christ Jesus, by a blameless and well-or­dered Conversation; giving none Offence in any Thing, that the Ministry be not blamed; but in all Things approving your self as a Minister of God in much Pattence. in Afflictions, in Necessities, in Distresses,—in Labours, in Watchings, in Fast­ing, by Pureness, by Knowledge, by Long-suffering, by Kind­ness, by the Holy Ghost, by Love unfeigned, by the Word of Truth, by the Power of God, by the Armour of Righteousness on the Right Hand, and on the Left.

And for your Support, Comfort, and Encouragement, remember, that however weak and insufficient you are, in your self, for this Work; yet he, who hath called you unto it, is able to make all Grace abound towards you, in spiritual as well as temporal Regards; that you always having all Sufficiency in all Things, may abound to every good Work: In a continual Dependance therefore upon his Aid and Assistance, go forth, and stand, and feed both the Sheep, and the Lambs, of this Flock, in the Name and Strength of the Lord.

So doing, you shall be a good Minister of Jesus Christ, and may humbly hope for his Presence with, and Bles­sing upon you, in your Ministry. This at least, you may be assured of; that you shall be unto God a sweet Savour of Christ, both in them that are saved, and in them that perish; that, tho' Israel should not be gathered, yet, you shall be glorious in the Eyes of the Lord; and, when the chief Shepherd shall appear, to reward his faithful Servants, you shall receive a Crown of Glory that fadeth not away.

[Page 25]I would now, secondly, address my self, to the Church and People of God in this Place.

As this Servant of the Lord, is this Day, solemnly con­secrating himself to the special Service of Christ, and of your Souls, in the Work of the Gospel-Ministry, it con­cerns you to receive him as a precious Gift of our ascended Lord and Saviour, with all Joy and Thankfulness: As it is written, How beautiful are the Feet of them that preach the Gospel of Peace, and bring glad Tydings of good Things! May he come to you in the Fulness of the Blessing of the Gospel of Christ, and you receive, and long enjoy, a rich Blessing in him.

Take Heed that you do not despise him; but esteem him very highly in Love for his Work's Sake: And be at Peace among your Selves.

And considering the Greatness and Importance of his Work, and how much your own Souls, as well as his, are concerned in the faithful Performance of it, be ye Helpers together with him, by doing all that is any way incumbent upon you to encourage, and nothing to dis­hearten him.

While therefore he is ministring to you spiritual Things, chearfully minister unto him of your carnal Things, suffi­cient for his outward Support and Comfort; that he, being free from too much worldly Incumbrance, may give himself to the Ministry of the Word: For even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the Gospel, should live of the Gospel, 1. Cor. ix. 14.

Watch not with envious Eyes for his Halting; but diligently mark, and follow his Virtues; and cast the Mantle of Charity over his Infirmities.

Brethren, Pray for him: Pray much and fervently for the Presence of Christ with him, and a Divine Blessing upon his Ministry; that the Word of the Lord, dispensed by him, may have free Course, and be glorified among you.

[Page 26]Diligently attend on his Ministry, and receive the Word of the Lord, at his Mouth; not as the Word of Man, but (as it is in Truth) the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

As nothing will be more dangerous to your own Souls, so nothing will be a greater Grief and Burden to his, than for you to slight, despise, and forsake his Ministry. And as then only you can expect to profit by his Ministry, when you duly attend upon it, and receive and obey the Messages he brings you from GOD; so not [...] will more incourage and rejoice his Heart, while he is [...] longing for and seeking your Salvation, than to behold your Order, and the Stedfastness of your Faith in Christ. This will cause in him thro' Christ many Thanksgivings to God for you: This will greatly delight, and enliven him in his Work. For then will he say, now I live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. In a Word, then will you be his Hope and Joy here, and his Crown of Rejoycing hereafter: For, to use the Apostles Words in the 19th and 20th Verses of the Context, what is his Hope, or Joy, or Crown of Re­joycing? Are not even ye in the Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye being (fruitful under his Ministry) are his Glory and Joy.

And now, Brethren, I commend you to God, and to the Word of his Grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an Inheritance among all them that are sanctified. May the great Head of the Church, the Head of all Divine Influences, bless the Labours of this his Servant among you, and make them abundantly succesful, for your spiritual Edification, and eternal Welfare; that so you may enjoy much mutual Comfort here, in each other's Faith and Love; and finally be received to the Realms of perfect Light and Felicity above, where you shall eternally rejoice together with Joy unspeakable and full of Glory.

[Page 27] Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you Faultless before the Presence of his Glory with ex­ceeding Joy, to the only wise God our Saviour be Glory and Majesty, Dominion and Power, both now and ever, Amen.

FINIS.

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