from all your filthiness; and from all your idols will I cleanse you. I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes."-He walketh contrary to the quality of that fear of God, which yet he professeth to feel as well as others: For the fear of the Lord is a clean thing P. He walketh contrary to the virtue of that blood, with which, notwithstanding, he professeth to be sprinkled for the blood of Christ cleanseth not only the lives, but the very consciences of men from dead works: that is, makes them so inwardly labour for purity of heart, as that they may not be conscious to themselves of any, though the most secret allowed sin.He walketh contrary to the fruitfulness of that grace, which alone he professeth to boast in: for the Spirit of grace which is poured from on high', maketh the very wilderness a fruitful field. He walketh contrary to the properties of that faith, by which alone he hopeth to be saved: for true faith purifieth the hearts; and therefore a pure heart and a good conscience are the inseparable companions of an unfeigned faith'. And therefore whatever verbal and ceremonious homage he may tender unto Christ, yet, in good earnest, he is ashamed of him, and dares not prefer the yoke of Christ before the lust of the world, or the reproaches of Christ before the treasures of the world.

Why should it be treason to kill a judge in his ministry on the bench; or esteemed an injury to the state, to do any indignity to the ambassador of a great prince; but because, in such relations, they are persons public and representative, "ut eorum bona malaque ad rempublicam pertineant?" why should the supreme officer of the kingdom write 'Teste meipso,' in the name and power of his prince, but because he hath a more immediate representation of his sacred person, and commission thereunto? Surely, the case is the same between Christ and his ministers in their holy function. And therefore we find the expressions promiscuous: sometimes εὐαγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ‘The gospel of Christu;’ and sometimes eúαгyéλióv μov, My gospel;' sometimes Tò κήρυγμα Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, “ The preaching of Jesus Christy;' and sometimes rò xýрvyμá μov, 'My preaching." In the virtue


P Psal. xix. 9. u Rom. xv. 19.

q Heb. ix. 14.
x Rom. ii. 16,

r Isai. xxxii, 15.
y Rom. xvi. 25.

s Acts xv. 9.
a 1 Cor. ii. 4.

t1 Tim. i. 5.



of which synergy and copartnership with Christ and with God, as he saveth, so we save ; as he forgiveth sins, so we forgive them; as he judgeth wicked men, so we judge them ; as he beseecheth, so we also beseech," saith the apostle," that ye be reconciled, and receive not the grace of God in vain;" we by his grace and he by our ministry.— He therefore that despiseth any conviction out of the book of God (and he that obeyeth not, doth despise, for the Lord calleth disobedience rebellion, stubbornness, and a rejecting of his Word "); he that persisteth in any known sin, or in the constant omission of any evident duty,-fighteth against Christ himself, throweth away his own mercy, stoppeth his ears at the entreaties of the Lord, and committeth a sin directly against Heaven. And if he so persist, God will make him know, that there is flaming fire prepared for those that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Therefore, whensoever we come unto the Word read or preached, we should come with an expectation to hear Christ himself speaking from Heaven unto us, and bring such affections of submission and obedience as becometh his presence. "Let him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. I will hear what God the Lord will speak; for he will speak peace unto his people."—" Christ's sheep' discern his voice in the dispensation of the gospel, and will not know the voice of strangers. And this was the honour of the Thessalonians ", and the men of Berea", that, in the preaching of the Word, they set themselves as in God's presence, expecting it in his authority, and receiving it in his name. Dareth any man to rush with a naked weapon into the presence of his prince, and, with scorn, to throw back his own personal command into his face again? and shall we dare to come armed with high thoughts, and proud reasonings, and stubborn resolutions against the majesty of the Lord himself, who speaketh from Heaven unto us? "Receive with meekness," saith the apostle," the engraffed word, which is able to save your souls P."

a 1 Cor. iii. 9. 2 Cor. vi 1. b James v. 20. c John xx. 23. d Ezek. xx. 4. e 2 Cor. v. 20. f δι ̓ ἡμῶν τῶν τὸ ἐκείνου ἀναδεξαμένων ἔργον. Chrys. xv. 22, 23. i Revel. ii. 7. k Psal. lxxxv. 8. x. 4, 5. n Acts xvii. 11. P James i. 21.

h 2 Thes. i. 8.

g 1 Sam. 1 John o Jer. xiii. 15, 17.

m 1 Thes. ii. 13.


-The Word doth not mingle nor incorporate, and, by consequence, doth not change nor save the soul, but when it is received with meekness; that is, when a man cometh with a resolution to lay down his weapons, to fall down on his face, and give glory to God; he that is "swift to wrath," that is, to set up stout and fretful affections against the purity and power of the Word, to snuff against it, and to fall backward like pettish children which will not be led, will be very slow to hear, to obey it; for "the wrath of man doth not work the righteousness of God." A proud hearer will be an unprofitable liver. Ever therefore come unto the Word with this conclusion,-It may be, this day will God strike me in my master-vein: I am an unusual profaner of his glorious name; a name which I should fear for the greatness, and love for the goodness, and adore for the holiness of it; he will peradventure lay close to my conscience that guilt, which himself hath declared to be in this great sin, that whatsoever is more than yea and nay, is sin unto me,— and whatsoever is sin, is Hell to my soul. I am a vain person, a companion of loose and riotous men: it may be, the Lord will urge upon my conscience the charge of his own Word, not to company with fornicators, to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, not to follow a multitude to do evil, and that though hand join in hand, yet sin shall not go unpunished. I am unprofitable, loose, and rotten in my discourse; and he will ply me with his own authority, that for every idle word I must render an account. I am full of oppression and unjust gain; and the Lord will now urge the instructions of Nehemiah ", and the restitution of Zaccheus upon me. In these or any other the like cases, if a man can come with St. Paul's temper of heart, 'not to consult with flesh and blood,' but 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?' or with the answer of Samuel, 'Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth; or with the resolution of Cornelius, 'I am here present before God, to hear all things that shall be commanded of God";' I am come with a purof heart to cleave unto thy holy will in all things; here pose


9 Mal. iii. 13.

* Jam. i. 19, 20. z Acts ix. 6.


r Mal i. 13. s Πνεύμα]ι τῷ ἁγίῳ ἀντιπίπτετε. Acts vii. 51.

y Gal. i. 16.

x Luke xix. 8. b Acts x. 33.

u Nehe. v. 11, 12. a 1 Sam. iii. 10.

I am in my sins, strike where thou wilt, cut off which of mine earthly members thou wilt,-I will not arm it, I will not extenuate it, I will not dispute with thee, I will not rebel against thee, I will second thee in it; 1 will praise thee for it :-this is to give God the glory of his own gospel.-It is not to part from a little money towards the maintenance of the Word, cr to vouchsafe a little countenance to the dispensers of it (and yet, alas, how few are there, who repay unto the ministers of the gospel that double honour, which God, and not they, hath given unto them!); but to part from our lusts, and to suffer our old man to be crucified, which giveth honour to the Word. If a man had a thousand of rams, and ten thousand rivers of oil, and would be content to part from them all for God's worship; if a man had children enough, and, in a famine of the Word, would buy every sermon which he heareth, with the sacrifice of a son;-yet all this would not give glory enough to the ordinance of God. Men naturally love their lusts, the issue of their evil hearts, better than their lands, or the children of their body. If Herod's son stand in the way of his ambitious security, it were better to be his hog than his child. The loss of cattle, and fruits, and water, and light, and the first-born of all the land, was not enough to make Pharaoh let go his sin; he will once more rush into the midst of a wonderful deliverance of Israel, and venture his own and his people's lives, for but the bondage of his enemies, and the satisfaction of his lust. To do justly then, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before God, to acknowledge his name in the voice of the minister, and to put away the treasures of wickedness out of our hands,-this only is to give God the glory which is due unto his Word.c

Secondly, The gospel is glorious in the promulgation and publishing of it unto the world. And this may appear whether we consider the initial promulgation in Christ's own personal preaching; or the plenary revelation thereof, in the sending of the Holy Ghost to those selected vessels, who were to carry abroad this treasure unto all the world. For the former we may note, that there was a resemblance of state and glory observed in the preaching of Christ. A fore

Micah vi. 6, 10.

runner sent to prepare his way, and to bear his sword before him, as a herald to proclaim his approach, and then at last is revealed the glory of the Lord. And thus we may observe, how he sent his harbingers "before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come ":" that so men might prepare themselves, and lift up their everlasting gates, against this prince of glory should enter in. When one poor ordinary man intendeth to visit another, there is no state nor distance, no ceremonies, nor solemnities observed; but when a prince will communicate himself unto any place, there is a publication, and officers sent abroad to give notice thereof, that meet entertainments may be provided. So doth Christ deal with men; he knoweth how unprepared we are to give him a welcome, how foul our hearts, how barren our consciences and, therefore, he sendeth his officers before his face with his own provision, his graces of humiliation, repentance, desire, love, hope, joy, hungering and thirsting, after his appearance; and then, when he is esteemed worthy of all acceptation, he cometh himself.

Look upon the more consummate publication of the gospel (for Christ in his own personal preaching is said but to have begun to teach f) and we shall see, that as princes, in the time of their solemn inauguration, do some special acts of magnificence and honour, open prisons, proclaim pardons, create nobles, stamp coin, fill conduits with wine, distribute donatives, and congiaries to the people; so Christ, to testify the glory of his gospel, did reserve the full publication thereof unto the day of his instalment, and solemn re-admission into his Father's glory again. "When he ascended up on high, he then led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men "," namely, the Holy Ghost, who is called 'the gift of God", and, in the plural number, 'gifts;' as elsewhere he is called 'seven spirits',' to note the plenty and variety of graces, which are by him shed abroad upon the church,wisdom, and faith, and knowledge, and healings, and prophecy, and discerning, and miracles, and tongues : "All these works one and the self-same spirit, dividing to every

d Isa. xl. 3, 4, 5. Mal. iii. 1, 4, 5. 1 Cor. xii. 8, 11.

ii. 3.

i Rev. i. 4.


• Luke x. 1.

f Acts i. 1. Heb. h Acts ii. 38. Acts viii. 20. Joh. iv. 10.


« VorigeDoorgaan »