« PredošláPokračovať »
of God, or in any such degree thereof, as he feels a want of at any part of necessary saving knowledge, let him, as he loves
his soul, and would rescue it from eternal death, seek out for El instruction, first, by the means of catechising, and then he i shall profit thro' God's grace by the word preached
III. Preaching is a publishing of God's mercy, favour, Ere blessings, grace, and promises to those who love him
and keep his commandments, and a declaration of Of preach
those threats and punishments recorded in the word Düd of God against the obstinate and evil doer.
It's use is to put us in mind of our duty, and to exhort and affist us to withstand those lusts and temptations, which set us at enmity with God. Consequently, The use of we honour God by attending to his holy word, read and preached to us, with a resolution of mind to perforin
what we shall be convinced is our duty; with such a submisby fion of our understanding, as is due to the oracles of God; and fit with a particular application of general instructions to the state
of our own minds, that we may grow in grace, and in the
knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. DE In order to this, we should give our attention with great reverence, and take heed how we hear, left our
How to be negligence be interpreted asa contempt of that au- heard. thority, which speaks to us. From whence we
may easily account for the few, which are influen- To whom Daced thereby to reform their lives : because, fo ma- uppro od ny yield to the strength of vicious habits, which
blind their understandings, so as not to apprehend the force of such arguments which are urged to expose the folly of fin, and the mischievous consequence of a wicked life. Where mens affections are engaged, their judgments are strangely perverted; this makes them stifle the checks of their consciences, and quench those sparks of piety, which were kindled in their youth.
When, at any time curiosity engages them to hear a fermon, they fix their attention upon the ornaments of the discourse, and find fault with the manner of the composition, when their thoughts never dwell upon the main lubject recommended,
These hearers, while at church, place their public worship, not in their hearts and knees, but in lolling, gazing, and unseemly gestures : and employ their ears; the chanel by ste which faith is conveyed into our souls, not to hear their du- sachet i ty, but to find some unreasonable fault with their teacher. the main For, instead of improving the word of God preached for their businog instruction, when they return home, their whole discourse zbuline turns upon the man and not his sermon. And, fuch hearers tik tires never want subject of complaint against the preacher, that they may in some measure Ikreen their own neglect of duty sal tool to God, their neighbour, and themselves. Thus at one time, inorelio they find fault with his memory because too short; or with his sentences because too long: if he be young, they despise his youth, and say that he does but prate'; if he is aged, they seldom scruple to term his zeal for their souls, and good in
an structions, the dictates of one in his dotage, that knows not what he says. Again, if he preaches in a plain style suitable filloh to weak capacities, they call him a sloven, a bad master of language ; if he is folid, then he preaches flat: but if he be not plain, then he is too witty; and if not solid, he is cer- dimine tainly accused of levity, and ridiculing the word of God: if
kit revere be be unlearned, they justly say he is not worthy of so great a calling; and if he be endued with the qualifications of a good
tmann pastor and teacher, he is immediately proclaimed unfit for fo plain and ignorant a people. In fine, when the sermon must
plus to be confessed to be very excellent; then they say he preaches for gain ; and if it be but ordinary, they cry, they can read as good at home.
What can be thought to be the end of such men The danger who have long resisted the follicitations of God's of luch hear
"ministers ? he may justly give them up to a repro
baće sense, and withdraw that grace which they have abused; and then 'tis no wonder they turn the most ferious things into ridicule, and hear the terrors of the Lord wiihout the least sense of their own guilt. Pray God this may not be the case of many, who stay from church under a pretence that they cannot benefit under such and such a minister!
And let not those, who constantly attend on stated days, to hear God's word preached, and still continue in their ha
bitual fins, think they have honoured God; no. The way to reverence God by honouring his word, is not
The end of to imagine that, when they have been affected with hearing a a sermon, that the great end of hearing is fulfilled. good ferAlas! the main matter, is their putting useful in- mon. structions into practice, for when God enlightens our minds, it is our business to walk as children of light. They must not fuffer the cares and pleasures of this world to destroy the good feed that is sown in their hearts ; nor apply their minds so immediately to other objects, that even the memory of those good impressions is erased : they must never despair of conquering their evil habits ; nor be discouraged in prosecuting the convictions of their own consciences; for a mighty resolution with the assistance of God's grace, will overcome great difficulties ; and it is a good sign God will enable us to perform our duty, when he so earnestly follicits us to undertake it in the use of all those means, which he hath established for the making their calling and election sure by faith in Christ.
Let us therefore never measure our godliness by the number of sermons which we are present at, as if that outward mark of reverence to God was any sure mark of a good christian. But estimate your obedience to God, and reformation of your manners, by the quantity of good fruit, which the dew of God's grace has, through the ministration of the word, enabled us to bring forth ; without which disposition of the heart, all our hearing will only draw the heavier judgments of God upon us, because we hear and know our master's will, and do it not. But,
IV. The great mark of a christian's duty to God, is the honouring him in his facraments of baptism and
God must the Lord's supper; when we esteem them for their be honoured author, and benefit to mankind; and use them for in his sacra. those purposes, for which they were ordained by ments. Christ: because they are outward visible signs of a correr inward and spiritual grace; given unto us, ordain- ment, what. ed by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and as a pledge to assure us thereof.
Where we are taught that to constitute a facrament, there This must be, first, fome visible sign of it, apparent to our senses.
Secondly, this sign must represent some spiritual grace and favour vouchsafed us by God. Thirdly, that outward sign must be of Christ's own institution; and, fourthly, appointed by him as the means of conveying to us this inward grace, and as a seal and token of assurance, that he will bestow the one, upon those, who do worthily receive the other.
Although sacramental signs were ordained by Why intti- God in gracious condescension to our infirmities,
thereby to inform our understandings, to refresh our memories, and to excite our affections ; yet their farther virtue is not owing to any power in the outward signs of water, words, bread, or wine, but to the blessing of Christ upon his own institutions and appointments : and we are not to doubt, but that, in the right use of theoutward signs, he will, by the power of his Spirit, though in a manner unknown, becaufe not necessary to be revealed to us, convey, and confirm, in baptism, and convey, and confirm, in the Lord's supper, to the worthy receivers thereof, the divine grace signified according to his own most true promise and engagement.
And therefore we must consider both these facraments under those particular properties. And, first, concerning baptism.
V. And, forasmuch as cleansing is one known Baptism.
property of water, it is evidently a fit and visible sign to denote our being washed from fin, by virtue of the blood of Christ. For, as in our natural state we are corrupted and defiled with fin ; and being so, are under the anger, and liable to the vengeance of God : fo baptism delivers us
from that unhappy condition, by cleansing us from Why institu- the guilt and power of sin; by taking us into a co
venant of grace and favour with God; and by infusing a principle of new life into our souls, to enable us to live according to God's laws; and to attain that everlasting happiness, which is the free gift of God in Christ. Or, as our
.. church-office explains it, baptism doth represent presents.
unto us our profeffion, which is to follow the ex* ample of our Saviour Christ, and to be made like unto him, that as he died, and rose again for us, so should we who are baptized, die from sin, and rise again unto righte
en ousness ; continually mortifying all our evil and corrupt afEt fections, and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of
living. ex Yet we must not dare to take upon us to exclude any from To all hope of God's mercy in extraordinary cases, as the want of opportunity, or capacity of receiving
18 Is necessary edit it: but as the Jews were obliged under the feverest penalty, nicht to be circumcised, and keep the passover ; so our guilt and
danger will be proportionably great, by not receiving baptifm,
when it is in our power, it being of the highest authority, and for the distinguishing badge, as well as admission into our most un excellent profession. For, the facrament of baptism, is called mens by St Paul, the circumcifion of Christ, whereby the children
of christian parents are made members of Christ, and obliged to observe the laws of the gospel; as the circumcised infant by that rite became a debtor to observe the whole law of Moses.
By this means, I say, the children of believers are entered into covenant with God under the gospel, as they
were under the law by circumcision. And that for chilpet infants are capable of this relation with God,
is plainly declared by Moses; and since they are the off-spring of Adam, and consequently subject to death by his fall, how can they be made partakers of that redemption, which Christ hath purchased for the children of God, if they do not enjoy the advantage of that method, which is alone appointed by Christ for them to become members of God's kingdom? For, Jesus himself hath assured us, Except one be born of water
and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. frit And therefore
It was the constant custom of the primitive church to adpit minister baptism to infants for the remiffion of sins,
by and under such conditions, vows or obligations les vows, to
to which they were to consent, and according to ** Fon which they were to endeavour to regulate their conduct thro? be this world in their way to heaven. And this practice was
esteemed by the best tradition to be derived from the apostles
themselves, and is therefore still retained and enjoined by our k church, which obliges all perfons to be baptized, either by themselves or fureties to promise and vow, that they will re