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tion of it reserved until the time of Christ's solemn inauguration into his kingdom, and of the obstinacy of the Jews, upon whose defection the Gentiles were called in.
Which might teach us to adore the unsearchableness of God's judgements unto former ages of the world, whom he suffered to walk in their own ways", and to live in times of utter ignorance, destitute of any knowledge of the gospel, or of any natural parts or abilities to find it out. For if these things be true; First, That, without the knowledge of Christ, there is no salvation; "This is eternal life to know thee, and him whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ;"-" By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many *.” Secondly, That Christ cannot be known by natural, but evangelical and revealed, light: "The natural man cannot know the things of the Spirit of God," because they are spiritually discerned'. The light shined in darkness", and the darkness was so thick and fixed that it did not let in the light, nor apprehend it. Thirdly, That this light was, at the first, sent only unto the Jews", as to the first-born people, excepting only some particular extraordinany dispensations and privileges to some few first-fruits and preludes of the Gentiles, "He showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgements unto Israel.-He hath not dealt so with any nation." He hath not afforded the means of salvation ordinarily unto any other people; the world, by wisdom, knew him not. Fourthly P, That this several dispensation towards one and other, the giving of saving-knowledge to one people, and withholding it from others, was not grounded upon any preceding differences and dispositions thereunto in the people, but only in the love of God: "The Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth; The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you because ye were more in number than any people, (for ye were the fewest of all people) but because the Lord loved you "," &c. "The Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it, for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiff-necked people '.-Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, and
h Acts xiv. 16, 17, 30. i John xvii. 3.
m John i. 5.
"Exod. iv. 22.
q Deut. vii. 6, 7.
k Isai. liii. 11. 11 Cor. ii. 14.
P Vide Cameron. de
they served other gods;" there was no difference between them and the Gentiles from which I gathered them. Fifthly, That the gospel was hidden for others in God; his own will and counsel was the cause of it. He forbad men to go into the cities of the Gentiles"; neither were they to go unto them without a special gift, and commission ". The same 'Beneplacitum' was the reason of revealing it to some, and of hiding it from others"; "Even so, O Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight:"-If all these particulars be true, needs must we both admire the inscrutableness of God's judgements towards the Gentiles of old (for no human presumptions are a fit measure of the ways and severities of of God towards sinners); and also everlastingly adore his compassions towards us, whom he hath reserved for these times of light, and, out of the alone unsearchable riches of his grace, hath, together with principalities and powers in heavenly places, made us to see what is the fellowship of that great mystery, which, from the beginning of the world, was hidden in himself.
Thirdly, In that the Lord doth send forth the gospel of Christ out of Sion into the world, we may farther observe, that the gospel is a message and an invitation from Heaven unto men. For that end was it sent, that thereby men might be invited and persuaded to salvation. The Lord sendeth his Son up and down, carrieth him from place to place; he is set forth before men's eyes, he comes, and stands, and calls, and knocks at their doors, and beseecheth them to be reconciled. He setteth his word before us at our doors, and in our mouths and ears. He hath not erected any standing sanctuary or city of refuge for men to fly for their salvations unto, but hath appointed ambassadors to carry this treasure unto men's houses where he inviteth them, and intreateth them, and requireth them, and commandeth them, and compelleth them to come unto his feast of mercy. And this must needs be πλοῦτος ἀνεξιχνίαστος, an unsearchable riches of grace, for mercy, pardon, preferment, life, salvation to go a-begging, and sue for acceptance; and very un
Josh, xxiv. 2, 3.
u Matth. x. 5.
t Ephes. iii. 9.
b Gal. iii. 1. 2 Cor. v. 20.
searchable likewise must needs be the love of sin, and madness of folly in wicked men, to trample upon such pearls, and to neglect so great salvation when it is tendered unto them. O what a heavy charge will it be for men, at the last day, to have the mercy of God, the humility of Christ, the entreaties of his Spirit, the proclamations of pardon, the approaches of salvation, the days, the years, the ages of peace, the ministers of the Word, the book of God, the great mystery of godliness, to rise up in judgement, and testify against their souls!
Lastly, In that the gospel is sent from God, the dispensers thereof must look upon their mission, and not intrude upon so sacred a business before they are thereunto called by God. Now this call is twofold: extraordinary, by immediate instinct and revelation from God, which is ever accompanied with immediate and infused gifts (of this we do not now speak); and ordinary, by imposition of hands, and ecclesiastical designation. Whereunto there are to concur three things. First, An act of God's providence, casting a man upon such a course of studies, and fashioning his mind unto such affections towards learning, and disposing of him in such schools and colleges of the prophets, as are congruous preparations, and were appointed for nurseries and seminaries of God's church. It is true, many things fall under God's providence, which are not within his allowance; and therefore it is no sufficient argument to conclude God's consent or commission in this office, because his wisdom hath cast me upon a collegiate education. But when therewithal, he in whose hands the hearts of all men are as clay or wax, to be moulded into such shapes as the counsel of his will shall order,―hath bended the desires of my heart to serve him in his church, and hath set the strongest delight of my mind upon those kinds of learning, which are unto that service most proper and conducent; when measuring either the good will of my heart, or the appliableness of my parts, by this, and other professions of learning, I can clearly conclude that that measure and proportion which the Lord hath given me, is more suitable unto this, than other learned callings ;-I suppose, other qualifications herewith concurring, a
d Heb. v. 4. e Gal. i. 12.
man may safely from thence conclude, that God, who will have every man live in some profitable calling, doth not only by his providence permit, but by his secret direction lead him unto that service whereunto the measure of gifts which he hath conferred upon him, are most suitable and proper. And therefore, Secondly, There is to be respected in this ordinary mission, the meet qualification of the person, who shall be ordained unto this ministry. For if no prince will send a mechanic from his loom, or his shears, in an honourable embassage to some other foreign prince; shall we think that the Lord will send forth stupid and unprepared instruments about so great a work as the perfecting of the saints, and edification of the church? It is registered for the perpetual dishonour of that wicked king Jeroboam (who made no other use of any religion, but as a secondary bye thing, to be the supplement of policy) that "he made of the lowest of the people," those who were really such as the apostles were falsely esteemed to be, the scum and off-scouring of men, "to be priests unto the Lord." Now the qualities more directly and essentially belonging unto this office, are these two; fidelity and ability. "The things," saith the apostles, "which thou hast heard of amongst many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."
We are stewards of no meaner a gift than the Grace of God,' and the Wisdom of God;' that Grace which by St. Peter is called woxian Xápis, a manifold grace; and that wisdom which, by St. Paul', is called woλuroíxidos copía, the manifold wisdom of God.' We are the depositaries and dispensers of the most precious treasures which were ever opened unto the sons of men,-the incorruptible and precious blood of Christ, the exceeding great and precious promises of the gospel, the word of the grace of God, and of the unsearchable riches of Christ, Now it is required of stewards, that a man be found faithful; that he defraud not Christ of his purchase, which is the souls of men, nor men of their price and privilege, which is the blood of Christ; that he never favour the sins of men, nor dissemble the truth of God; that he watch, because he is a
g 2 Tim. ii. 2.
h 1 Pet. iv. 10.
i Eph. iii. 10.
f1 Kings xii. 31. k 1 Cor. iv. 2.
seer; that he speak, because he is an oracle; that he feed, because he is a shepherd; that he labour, because he is a husbandman; that he be tender, because he is a mother; that he be careful, because he is a father; that he be faithful, because he is a servant to God and his church: in one word, that he be instant in season and out of season, to exhort, rebuke, instruct, to do the work of an evangelist, to accomplish and make full proof of his ministry, because he hath an account to make, because he hath the presence of Christ to assist him, the promises of Christ to reward him, the example of Christ, his apostles, prophets, evangelists, bishops, and martyrs of the purest time, who have now their palms in their hands, to encourage him. It was Christ's custom to enter into their synagogues on the Sabbath days', and to read and expound the Scriptures to the people. It was St. Paul's manner to reason in the synagogues, and to open the Scriptures on the Sabbath days. Upon Sunday, saith Justin Martyr", all the Christians that are in the cities or countries about, meet together, and, after some commentaries of the apostles and writings of the prophets have been read, the senator or president doth, by a sermon, exhort the people, and admonish them to the imitation and practice of those divine truths, which they had heard read unto them. And St. Austin telleth us of Ambrose, that he heard him rightly handling the word of God unto the people, every Lord's day. Yea it should seem by the homilies of St. Chrysostom, that he did often preach, daily, unto the people; and therefore we frequently meet with his xès ‘yesterday,' this and this I taught you.-And Origen P intimateth this frequency of expounding the Scriptures in his time: "If," saith he, "you come frequently unto the church of God, and there attend unto the sacred Scriptures, and to the explication of those heavenly commandments, thy soul
m Acts xvii. 2. xviii. 4.
I Luke iv. 16, 31. n Τῇ τοῦ ἡλίου λεγομένῃ ἡμέρᾳ, πάντων κατὰ πόλεις ἢ ἀγροὺς μενόντων ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ συνέλευσις γίνεται· εἶτα παυσαμένου τοῦ ἀναγινώσκοντος, ὁ προεστὼς διὰ λόγου τὴν νουθεσίαν καὶ πρόκλησιν τῆς τῶν καλῶν τούτων μιμήσεως ποιεῖται. Just. Martyr. Αpol. 2.-Tertul. Apol. cap. iii. 9. • Eum in populo verbum veritatis recte tractantem, omni die Dominico, audiebam. Aug. Confes. 1. vi. c. 3. P Si ad Ecclesiam frequenter venias, aurem divinis literis admoveas, explanationem mandatorum cœlestium capias, sicut cibis caro, ita spiritus verbis divinis convalescet. Orig. Hom. 9. in Levit.