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carry the ark of God but the Levitęs ; for them hath the Lord chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him forever.” And v. 11, 12. “ And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites, for Uriel, Asaiah, and Joel, Shemaiah, and Eliel, and Aminadab, and said unto them, Ye are the chief of the father of the Levites ; sanctify yourselves, both ye, and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel, unto the place that I have prepared for it.” So we have an account that the priests led the way in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, after the Babylonish Captivity, Neh. iii. at the beginning:
If ministers preach never so good doctrịne, and are never so painful and laborious in their work, yet, if at such a day as this, they shew to their people, that they are not well affected to this work, but are very doubtful and suspicious of it, they will be very likely to do their people a great deal more hurt than good : For the very fame of such a great and extraordinary work of God, if their people were suffered to believe it to be his work, and the example of other towns, together with what preaching they might hear occasionally, would be likely to have a much greater influence upon the minds of their people to awaken them and anịmate them in religion, than all their labors with them : And besides their minister's opinion will not only beget in them a suspicion of the work they hear of abroad, whereby the mighty hand of God that appears in it, loses its influence upon their minds, but it will also tend to create a suspicion of every thing of the like nature, that shall appear among themselves, as being something of the same distemper that has become fo epidemical in the land ; and that is, in effect, to create a suspicion of all vital religion, and to put the people upon talking against it, and discouraging it, wherever it appears, and knocking it in the head, as fast as it rises. And we that are ministers, by looking on this work, from year to year, with a displeased countenance, shall effectually keep the sheep from their pasture, instead of doing the part of shepherds to them, by feeding them ; and our people had a great deal better be without any settled min; ister at all, at such a day as this.
We that are in this sacred office have need to take heed what we do, and how we behave ourselves at this time : A less thing in a minister will hinder the work of God, than in others. If we are very silent, or say but little about the work, in our public prayers and preaching, or seem carefully to avoid speaking of it in our conversation, it will and justly may be interpreted by our people, that we who are their guides, to whom they are to have their eye for spiritual instruction, are suspicious of it ; and this will tend to raise the same suspicions in them ; and so the forementioned consequences will follow. And if we really hinder, and stand in the way of the work of God, whose business above all others it is to promote it, how can we expect to partake of the glorious benefits of it? And by keeping others from the benefit of it, we shall keep them out of heaven ; therefore those awsul words of Christ to the Jewish teachers, should be considered by us, Matth. xxiii. 13.“ Wo unto you, for you shut up the kingdom of heaven ; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are 'entering, to go in.” If we keep the sheep from their pasture, how shall we answer it to the great shepherd, that has bought the flock with his precious blood, and has committed the care of them to us? I would humbly desire of every minister that has thus long remained disaffected to this work, and has had contemptible thoughts of it, to consider whether he has not hithcrlo been like Michal, without any child, or at least in a great measure barren and unsuccessful in his work : I pray God it may not be a perpetual barrenness as hers was.
The times of Christ's remarkably appearing, in behalf of his church, and to revive religion, and advance his kingdom in the world, are often spoken in the prophecies of scripture, as times wherein he will remarkably execute judgments on such ministers or shepherds, as do not feed the flock, but hinder their being fed, and so deliver his flock from them, as Jer. xxiii. throughout, and Ezek. xxxiv. throughout, and Zech. x. 3, and Isa. lvi. 7, 8, 9, &c. I observed before that Christ's solemn, magnificent entry into Jerusalem, seems to be designed, as a representation of his glorious coming into
his church, the-spiritual Jerusalem.; and therefore it is worthy to be noted, to our present purpose, that Christ at that time, cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves ; signifying that when he should come to set up his kingdom on earth, he would cast out those out of his house, who, instead of being faithful ministers, officiated there only for worldly gain : Not that I determine that all ministers that are suspicious of this work, do so; but I mention these things to shew that it is to be expected, that a time of a glorious outpouring of the Spirit of God to revive religion, will be a time of remarkable judgments on those ministers that do not serve the end of their mihistry.
The example of the unbelieving lord in Samaria, should especially be for the warning of ministers and rulers : At the time when God turned an extreme famine into a great plenty, by a wonderful work of his, the king appointed this lord io have the charge of the gate of the city ; where he saw the common people, in multitudes, entering with great joy and gladness, loaded with provision, to feed and feast their almost famished bodies ; but he himself, though he saw it with his eyes, never had one taste of it, but being weak with famine, sunk down in the crowd, and was trodden to death, as a punishment of God, for his not giving credit to that great and wonderful work of God, when sufficiently manifested to him to require his belief. Ministers are those, that the King of the church has appointed to have the charge of the gate, at which his people enter into the kingdom of heaven, there to be entertained and satisfied with an eternal feast ; ministers have the charge of the house of God, which is the gate of heaven.
Ministers should especially take heed of a spirit of envy towards other ministers, that God is pleased to make more use of to carry on this work, than they ; and that they do not, from such a spirit, reproach some preachers, that have the true spirit, as though they were influenced by a false spirit, or were bereft of reason, and were mad, and were proud, false pretenders, and deserved to be put in prison or the
stocks, as disturbers of the peace ; lest they expose them, selves to the curse of Shemaiah, the Nehelamite, who envied the prophet Jeremiah, and in this manner reviled him, in his letter to Zephaniah the priest, Jer. xxix. 26, 27. “ The Lord hath made thee priest, in the stead of Jehoiada the priest,
should be officers in the house of the Lord, for every man that is mad, and maketh himself a prophet, that thou shouldest put him in prison, and in the stocks. Now therefore, why hast thou not reproved Jeremiah of Anathoth, which maketh himself a prophet to you ?" His curse is denounced in the 32d verse. “ Therefore, thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite, and his seed ; he shall not have a man to dwell among his people, neither shall he behold the good that I will do for my people, saith the Lord, because he hath taught rebellion against the Lord. All those that are others superiors or elders, should take heed, that at this day they be not like the elder brother, who could not bear it, that the prodigal should be made so much of, and should be so sumptuously entertained, and would not join in the joy of the feast ; was like Michal, Saul's daughter, offended at the music and dancing that he heard ; the transports of joy displeased him ; it seemed to him to be an unseemly and únseasonable noise and ado, that was made ; and therefore stood at a distance, sullen, and much offended, and full of invectives against the young prodigal.
It is our wisest and best way, fully, and without reluctance, to bow to the great God in this work, and to be entirely resigned to him, with respect to the manner in which he carries it on, and the instruments he is pleased to make use of, and not to shew ourselves out of humor, and sullenly to refuse to acknowledge the work, in the full glory of it, because we have not had so great a hand in promoting it, or have not shared so largely in the blessings of it, as some others; and not to refuse to give all that honor, that belongs to others, as instru. mients, because they are young, or are upon other accounts, much inferior to ourselves, and many others, and may appear to us very unworthy, that God should put so much honor upon them. When God comes to accomplish any great work
for his church, and for the advancement of the kingdom of his son, he always fulfills that scripture, Isa. ii. 17. 6. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made fow, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” If God has a design of carrying on this work, every one, whether he be great or small, must either bow to it, or be broken before it : It may be expected that God's hand will be upon every thing that is high, and stiff, and strong in opposition, as in Isa: ü. 12, 13, 14, 15, “ For the day of the Lord of hosts, shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up, and he shall be brought low; and upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, and upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, and upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall.”
Not only magistrates and ministers, but every living soul, is now obliged to acknowledge God in this work, and put to his hand to promote it, as they would not expose themselves to God's curse. All sorts of persons, throughout the whole congregation of Israel, great and small, rich and poor, men and women, helped to build the tabernacle in the wilderness; some in one way, others in another ; each one according to his capacity : Every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his Spirít made willing; all sorts contributed, and all sorts were employed in that affair, in labors of their hands, both men and women : Some brought gold and silver ; others blue, purple and scarlet, and fine linen; others offered an offering of brass ; others, with whom was found Shittim wood, brought it an offering to the Lord : The rulers brought onyx stones, and spice, and oil; and some brought goats hair; and some rams skins, and others badgers skins.... See Exod. xxxv. 20, &c. And we are told verse 29. “ The children of Israel brought a willing offering into the Lord, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing." And thus it ought to be in this day of building the tabernacle of God; with such a willing and cheerful heart, ought every man, woman, and child, to do something to promote this