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came all the tyrannies, quenched the fire, and stopped the mouths of their proudest persecutors.
Again; The gospel putteth a kind of lustre and terror on the faces of those in whom it reigneth,-and maketh them, as the law did Moses, to shine as lights in the world, and to be more excellent than their neighbours; worketh in others towards them a dread and awfulness. Though Jeremiah " were a prisoner, cast into the dungeon, and in such extremity as he was there likely to perish; yet such a majesty and honour did God even then put upon him, and that in the thoughts of the king himself, that he could not be in quiet, till he consulted with him about the will of the Lord, and, by his many conferences with him, made it plainly appear, that he stood in awe of his person and prophecies. So it is said, that "Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and a holy man, and observed him ";" to note, that holiness maketh men's persons and presence dreadful to the wicked, by reason of that grace and majesty which God hath put into them The whole counsel of scribes and pharisees, they who afterward gnashed on Stephen with their teeth, were forced to acknowledge the majesty of holiness shining upon him; "They steadfastly looked on him, and saw his face as it had been the face of an angel P." The mighty power of the gospel of Christ maketh unbelievers fall on their faces, and confess of a truth that God is in those who preach it. This we find verified in the poor astonished keeper of the prison, into which Paul and Silas had been cast; he sprang in, and came in trembling, and fell down before them, and brought them forth, and said, Kúpion, "Sirs," (which is an honourable appellation, fit rather for princes than for prisoners,) "what must I do to be saved?" It is true, that naturally men hate Christ and his servants; but this is not as a man hateth a toad (which he can easily crush) with a simple hatred: but as a man hateth a lion, or as a malefactor hateth his judge, or as a thief hateth the light, with a compounded hatred, mixed with a fear and dread of that majesty within them. Which majesty hath sometimes shined so brightly even under torments and per
46. A. 195. n. 4.
sumus, Christiani; et Deos tuos, imperator, non colemus.
Baron. A. 301. num.
• Mark vi. 20.
secutions, that it hath forced from heathen emperors a desire of the Christians' prayers; sometimes not astonished only, but converted the adversaries '.
Lastly, The gospel bringeth liberty and joy into the hearts of men with it. The liberty a glorious liberty, and the joy a glorious joy? Therefore the gospel is called 'a gospel of great joy". Liberty is so sacred a thing, that indeed it belongs, in the whole compass of it, only to the prince: for though other men be free from servitude, yet they are not free from subjection. Now the gospel giveth a plenary freedom to the consciences of men; they may be commanded by their own consciences, but their consciences cannot be commanded by any but by Christ. The Son hath made them free from all others, that he might only be the Lord over them. These are those noble effects of the majesty of the gospel in the hearts of men, and all so many several evidences of that glory which belongs unto it.
Now then to draw some inferences from the most useful and excellent doctrine of the glory of the gospel, we learn from thence, first, what liberty, and what sincerity the ministers of Christ ought to use in the administration of this his kingdom in the Word. First, What liberty. The officers of a prince who go before him to prepare his way, make bold to strike, and to scatter those unruly throngs of men, who press too near upon his sacred person. We are the messengers of Christ, sent beforehand with his royal proclamation of peace, to make room in the hearts of men for him, and to open their everlasting doors, that this King of glory may enter in. We may therefore boldly smite with the rod of his mouth; we may cry aloud, and not spare"; pull down mountainous lusts; subdue strong holds; take unto us iron pillars, and brazen walls, and faces of flint to root up, to pull down, to batter and destroy; not to teach only, but to command" with all authority, and to commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. This use the apostle b maketh of the glory of the gospel, "Seeing we have such hope;" that is, seeing in this glorious gospel we have the
r Adjectos ideo vocabant, quia cum in eo essent ut torquerent martyres, ipsi martyres fuerunt, verbo Dei et constantiâ martyrum permoti. Cameron. De Ecclesia, pag. 83. s Rom. viii. 21. t1 Pet. i. 8. u Luke ii. 10. * Jer. i. 17, 18. y Ezek. iii. 8, 9. 1 Tim. iv. 11. #2 Cor. iv. 1, 2. b 2 Cor. iii. 12.
dispensation of a blessed hope unto men; or the revelation of Christ, who is unto us the hope of glory; or the assured confidence of doing excellent works by the virtue of this so glorious a word; πολλῇ παῤῥησίᾳ χρώμεθα, “ we use great boldness or liberty of speech." For why should he who bringeth unto men glad tidings of glorious things, which offered unto them the blessed hope of eternal life, be afraid or ashamed of his office? Though Rome were the seat, and that emperor the first dedicator of the persecutions of the church, yet even unto that place the apostle was not ashamed to preach the gospel of Christ, because it was "the power of God unto Salvation."d There is no shame in being a saviour and therefore it is both the honour and duty of the dispensers of the gospel, "to speak boldly as they ought to speak ;" and of the people to pray that that excellent Spirit might ever accompany so glorious a message. This was the prayer of the primitive saints for the apostles of Christ, "Grant unto thy servants, that, with all boldness they may speak thy word." And this duty lies upon us with a heavy necessity.
For first, We are dispensers of all God's counsels : there must not be a word which God hath commanded, that we should refuse to make known unto the people; for the things revealed are for them and their children. Thus we find when the angel of the Lord brought forth the apostles out of prison, he gave them this command—“Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people, all the words of this life ":" and certainly some of these words will require boldness. When we lay the axe to the root of the tree,-when we hew off men's very members, when we snatch them, like brands out of the fire, when we make them to see their own faces in the law of liberty, the face of a guilty, and therefore cursed conscience, there will be need of much boldness. A surgeon who is to search an inveterate wound, and to cut off a putrified member, had not need to be faint-hearted, or bring a trembling hand to so great a work.
Secondly, The severest message we are sent withal, and which men are most unwilling to hear, is for them expe
dient. No news could be so unwelcome to the apostles, as to hear of Christ's departure; "Because I have said these things, sorrow hath filled your heart: nevertheless, I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away." The first news which we bring unto men, is of Christ's absence,of their false conceits and presumptions of their being in him,-of the distance and unacquaintance which is between them,--of our fears of them, and of their condition; and, in all this, we are not their enemies, because we tell them the truth". As it is our office to speak, so it is the people's duty and profit to hear all things which shall be told them of God; for all Scripture",' as well that which reproveth and correcteth, as that which teacheth and instructeth in righteousness, is profitable,' and tends to the perfection of the saints. All his precepts concerning all things are right." The contempt of one is, virtually and interpretatively, in the constitution and preparation of heart, the violation of all; P because they are all grounded upon the same divine authority, and directed unto the same saving ends: and, therefore, we ought not to pick and choose, either in the preaching or practising thereof.
Thirdly, We are to answer for the blood of people, if we prevaricate. If we let their sins alone, they will have a double edge, to kill them and us both, like the mutual embracements of two in a river, which is the means to drown them both. "Speak unto them all that I command thee; be not dismayed at their faces," saith the Lord to his prophet", "lest I confound thee before them.-If thou warn not the wicked from his wicked way, that he may live, he shall die in his wickedness," (thy bashfulness shall do him no good,)" but his blood will I require at thy hands "." Is it at all congruous, that men should have boldness enough to declare their sins, to speak them, to proclaim them, to wear them, to glory in them; and that those officers who are sent for no other business, but in the name and authority of Almighty God to fight against the corruptions of the world, should, in the mean time, hang down the head and be tongue-tied? That men should have more boldness to destroy
1 John xvi. 6, 7. Psal. cxix. 128.
m Gal. iv. 16.
themselves, and to do Satan's works, than we to save them, or to serve God?
Fourthly, We are to speak in the person of Christ, and in the virtue of his Spirit. We must speak as the 'oracles of God',' and with his words ", as if he himself did by us speak unto the people.'" We must give manifestation of Christ's speaking by us, that men may be convinced that God is in us of a truth, and that we are full of power by his Spirit; that his Spirit setteth to his seal to authorize our commission, and, so to countenance our ministry. And therefore we must use 'judgement, and might,' that is, spiritual discretion, and inflexible constancy against the sins of men, (for these two are contrary to the two grand props of Satan's kingdom, which are wavoupyia, and wavorλía, his craftiness, and his weapons of power:) for "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty a." "his Spirit will not be straitened, neither will the Lord keep silence." He that speaketh by the Spirit of Christ, must speak, though not in equality (which is impossible) yet in some similitude and proportion as he spake, that is, as those that have" authority and power," committed to them for the edification of the church.
Lastly, A partial, unsearching, and unreproving minister is one of God's curses and scourges against a place, the forerunner of a final and fearful visitation. "The days of visitation and recompense come," saith the Lord. The prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred." If a man be walking in the spirit and falsehood," that is, professing the work of a spiritual man, and yet betraying his office, or in a false and lying spirit, prophesying of wine and strong drink,' that is, cherishing and encouraging sensual livers in their pernicious courses, he shall even be the prophet of this people.'-And, therefore, when the Lord will punish with an extreme revenge the rebellion of a people against his gospel who judge themselves unworthy of so great salvation, he either removeth their candlestick', and taketh it away from
s 1 Pet. iv. 11. y Cor. xiv. 25. e Mat. vii. 29.
t Ezek. iii. 4.
u 2 Cor. v. 20.
x 2 Cor. xiii. 3. b Micah ii. 7.
f Rev. ii. 5.