ESSAY to revive the long-neglected Ordinances, of exercising the Spiritual
Gift of Prophecy for the Edification of the Churches; and of ordaining
Ministers duly qualified.
proper Directions as to Study and Preaching, for such as are inclin’d to the
3.13. But exhort one another daily. Heb.
5.12. Ye ought to be Teachers of
others. 1 Pet. 4.10. As every Man
hath received the Gift, even so minister the same one to another. 1 Cor. 14.3. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto Men to
Edification, and Exhortation, and Comfort.
1 Cor. 12.31. But covet earnestly the best Gifts.
1 Cor. 14.1. Desire Spiritual Gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
Numb. 11.29. Would God that all the Lord’s People were Prophets, and
that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them.
for William and Joseph
Marshal, and sold by them at the Bible in Newgate-Street.
Retyped in the interest of God’s kingdom
as a ministry of the Gadsden
Primitive Baptist Church. 2005
signed the “Confession of Faith Put forth by the ELDERS and BRETHREN Of many
CONGREGATIONS OF Christians (baptized upon Profession of their Faith) in London
and the Country” in 1677. This
confession became known as the Second London Confession or, more commonly as
the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, based on the year of its
publication. This document became
the theological standard for the Particular Baptists, the spiritual
forefathers of Primitive Baptists. It
was the confession of the first Baptist association in America, the
Philadelphia Baptist Association, in the early eighteenth century.
The churches confirmed their allegiance to it many times during the
Fullerite controversy in the early nineteenth century during the formative
years of the Primitive Baptist movement.
The Primitive Baptist churches reaffirmed their commitment to this
confession at Fulton, KY in 1900.
participated in the effort to express orthodox Baptist doctrinal positions.
Primitive Baptists owe a great debt to him and the other men who
created this seminal confession. He
deserves to be heard and heeded by our own generation.
In the estimation of many we have retained a form of doctrine inherited
from our forefathers, but have lost much of its transforming power.
Collins’ book provides a glimpse into the practices of the Baptists
of the past that God blessed to his glory and the edification of his people.
It is with the
conviction that a reformation in the Ministry will restore vitality and
strength to today’s Primitive Baptist churches that the members of the Gadsden
Primitive Baptist Church take delight in issuing this work.
May God be pleased to use it widely.
The document before you was typed from the 1702 edition. Due to time constraints, we chose to retain the original spelling and punctuation as far as modern word processors allow. The reader will also note the original page numbers inserted. We hope to reformat and update the spellings at a later date. If you recognize typographical errors, please notify us.
Gadsden church assisted greatly in the effort to reissue this book.
Several of the saints volunteered to type manuscripts such as this. Andrew Crocker, especially deserves thanks.
He labored many hours on this our first effort.
We look forward to involving others later, don’t we Andrew?
March 15, 2005
Michael A. Rogers, Pastor
Primitive Baptist Church
432 Broad Street
the Churches of Christ, with all their Pastors and Teachers, and others who
have a promising Gift for the edifying [of] the Church; Grace and Gifts be
multiplied upon you, through the Knowledge of God, and our Saviour Jesus
Substance of the Matter contain’d in this Book was deliver’d at a Meeting
designed for the promoting [of] Spiritual Gifts in the Churches of Christ, but
since that I have seen cause to make some considerable Additions to what was
then preached. There are three
principal things which induc’d me to publish these my poor Labours in this
sad and careless day, wherein there is so little Provision made in the
Churches of Christ for a future Ministry; and the first thing is this, That
the Churches which are the Schools of Christ may be stir’d up to see what
Spiritual Gifts God hath given them, and put them into their proper Exercise.
2. That all Pastors and Teachers would look upon it as their Duty to
instruct those Members who are most capable into the knowledg of Gospel
Mysteries; And (as Paul said to Timothy)
commit the fame to faithful Men, who may be able to teach others also (2Tim.
2.2). My third end in making this publick is, That the Members of
Churches, especially those to whom God hath given a good degree of Spiritual
Knowledg, would not always content themselves to be only Hearers, but to stir
up those Gifts in an humble manner, and put them in use for the Churches
Edification; and in order to a regular proceeding and managing that Work, I
have given some few plain Directions in this Book. And let such seriously – p. 4 – consider the Apostle Paul’s
Reproof to the Church of the Hebrews,
who tells them, they had need be taught again the first Principles of the
Oracles of God, even those very persons who for the time ought to have
been Teachers of others. Pray
hear what the late Reverend Dr. Owen
saith to this place in his Exercitations on the Epistle to the Hebrews.
“The Apostle doth not only say that they had enjoyed such a time and season
of Instruction, as they might have been able to instruct others, but this be
declares as their Duty, Ye ought to have been Teachers of others, that is,
publick Teachers in the Church: For this word is not any where used (saith the
Doctor) but for a publick Teacher, Preacher, or Instructor of Disciples in the
Knowledg of God. And this word Teachers
is the word whereby the Writers of the
New Testament express Rabbi, which was the usual Name of the publick Teachers
of the Law among the Jews; and for the better understanding of this Scripture,
we must consider the State and Condition of the Church in those days. Every
Church was then a Seminary, wherein not only Provision was made for the
preaching of the Gospel in it self, but for the calling, gathering, and
teaching of other Churches also: When therefore a Church was first planted by
the Ministry of the Apostles, it was for a while continued under their
immediate Care and Inspection, and then usually committed by them to the
Ministry of some Evangelist, who instructed the Churches more in the Mysteries
of Religion; and in this State did they continue until some were found among
themselves to be made Overseers and
Instructors of the rest; and upon their Decease others were to be call’d and
chosen from among themselves to the same Work by the Church: and this course
continued inviolable till the publick School at Alexandria, which became a
precedent to other places for a mixt Learning of Philosophy and Religion,
which after a while corrupted both, and at length the whole Church it
– p. 5 – self. And (saith he) out of the Churches went those who were made use of
ordinarily in the Propagation of the Gospel; hence it was that when the Church
of the Hebrews was persecuted not
long after its first planting, the members of it went up and down preaching
the Word with great success to the Jews
first, and also to the Gentiles.
From whence the Doctor observes these two things: 1. That Churches are the
Schools of Christ, every one according to the Measure appointed for them, and
their usefulness in the Church. 2.
He observes, that it is the Duty of the Ministers of the Gospel to endeavour
their Hearers and Members increasing in Knowledg, until they also are able to
instruct others according to their Calls and Opportunities.
(saith he) it may be are apt to fear their Hearers should know too much; many
corrupt Lusts and Afflictions may prompt them hereunto, which are all resolv’d
into Self, with respect to Profit and Reputation: and this hath proceeded so
far in the Degeneracy of the Church of Rome,
as to produce the Commendation of blind Obedience, and Ignorance as the Mother
of Devotion, and it is well if no other are tainted with the same Disease; nay
even good Men had need to watch against Discomposures of Mind, when they find
some like David, wiser than their
Teachers in the things of God. Joshua
himself was earnest with Moses to
forbid Eldad’s and Medad’s
prophesying in the Camp, out of no good frame, as appears by the reply of Moses,
Enviest thou for my sake? And this
occasion’d the Prayer of the holy Man, Would God all the Lord’s People
were Prophets, and that the Lord would put his holy Spirit upon them. And
the Doctor closes up all with this saying, To a faithful Minister there is no
greater Crown, or cause of Rejoycing, than when he can be instrumental to
carry any of his Hearers unto Perfection, as that their Gifts and Abilities
may outstrip his own, especially if they – p. 6 – are
accompanied with Humility and Holiness.”
see further what he saith upon the third Chapter of the Hebrews
and the thirteenth Verse, and the tenth Chapter and the 24th and 25th
Verses. “It is the Duty of Members to exhort, intreat, beseech, and comfort
one another: The Persons concerned in the Exhortation are any of you, any
among you, any of your Society that is engag’d in the same Profession with
you, and are Partakers of the same Privileges, any of you believing Hebrews;
and here the Apostle extends his Directions to mutual Watchfulness, and
Exhortation unto all, even unto the meanest of the Church. This Duty of
Exhortation is incumbent on some by virtue of especial Office, and the other
by virtue of especial Love; and this is that which is mutual among Believers,
founded in their common Interest. There are several Duties belonging to this
Head of Exhortation, informing those who are ignorant of the Truth; so dealt Aqiuila
and Priscilla with Apollos,
&c.” And on the tenth Chapter, speaking of the Saints exhorting one
another, “These Duties (saith he) are generally lost among us, and with them
is the Glory of the Christian Religion departed.” And the Doctor, to shew
how he was affected with the decay of these Duties, mentions this over and
over. “This was the Practice of the Christians of old, but is now generally
lost, with most of the Principles of Practical Obedience.” And again he adds
to the same purpose, “This Duty is never the more inconsiderable, because
the Practice of it is almost gone out of the World.”
this I shall add what another worthy Person saith upon the same Subject. “A
Church of Christ (saith he) is not altogether destitute of the Means of
Edification, even before they have chosen and ordain’d Officers among
themselves. But by virtue of the Church-Relation the Brethren stand in one
towards another, ’tis their Privilege to exercise and dispense the Word of
God for mutual Edification. As every one (i.e. any one) hath –
p. 7 – received the Gift, 1 Pet. 4:10, 11. and to minister the fame one to
another; and, if called by the Church, to
speak as the Oracles of God. And to
justify this Practice we have many Passages in Scripture; Mal. 3:16. They
that feared the Lord spake often one to another. Heb. 10:25. Forsake not the assembling your selves together, but
exhort one another. Heb. 5:12. Ye
ought to have been Teachers. 1 Cor.
14:31. You may all prophesy, that you all may learn. And v. 39. Covet to
prophesy. 1Thess 5:11. Edify one another. Heb.
3:13. Exhort one another. Col. 3:16 Teaching
and admonishing one another. Jude 20. Build
up your selves in your most holy Faith. Acts
18:24,26. Apollos was no Officer,
nor Aquila and Priscilla in
Orders, as the Language now is. Phil. 1:14. Many Brethren spake the Word
without fear. From these and many other Texts of Scripture, ’tis manifest that this
Primitive Practice was not to refrain the means of Edification, nor make
Teaching and Instruction peculiar to Office; but the Privilege of all that God
hath enabled, and Providence called to exercise. Nor can the usual Objection
import any thing against so many plain Scriptures, viz. That those Instances were all extraordinary; for it was the Doctrine
and Practice in the setled and establish’d Churches of Christ, and nothing
contrary to any Divine Institution; but the Reason and Usefulness of it
continues fixed and permanent. But tho all gifted Brethren (duly qualified
with Ministerial Gifts of Learning and Utterance, called by the Providence of
God, and appointed by any Church and People of God to preach and teach) may
lawfully and warrantably do it; yet this liberty doth no more make void the
use and necessity of setled and standing Officers in particular Churches, than
any good Man’s care of the Poor makes void the Office of Deacons; for it is
not said that any private Member must preach ex dono, or obtrude themselves without a Call, or preach – p. 8 – ordinarily,
and in a fixed stated way, if he be not chosen and
ordained by the Church, for the Spirit of the Prophets is subject
to the Prophets, i.e. to the Church, 1
Cor. 10.15. Rev. 1.16 1 Cor. 5.12. And
therefore in this matter we ought to magnify the bountiful Care of Almighty
God, for the Provisions he hath made for his Churches, in that he would not
leave them to the uncertainty of a general Obligation, left there might be
some neglect in those Administrations, but hath instituted and appointed that
in his Churches there should be settled standing Officers, whose stated Work,
Duty and Business is to teach and exhort, take care and feed those particular
Churches to whom they are made Overseers, and to them, and amongst them (ex
officio) to administer all the
Ordinances of Christ.” And we join with this good Man in blessing God for a
stated Ministry, and that it is not with us as before the Law, as Dr. Owen
saith in his Book intituled, Pastor and People; to
me truly it seems evident there was no determinate Minister of Divine Worship
before the Law, but the chief Men among the Servants of God did every one in
their own Families with their Neighbors adjoyning, perform those things which
they knew to be required by the Light of Nature, Tradition, or Special
Revelation, instructing their Children and servants, as Abraham
did, concerning the Goodness of God, and concerning Sin by the Fall of Adam,
the use of Sacrificing, and the promised Seed, which was the Sum of their
because there hath been a great Controversy in the Church, whether none but
ordain’d Officers may preach, or whether some Men who are not ordain’d
Officers, who have preaching Gifts and Graces, and are apt to teach, may
ordinarily exercise those Gifts in publick Assemblies, tho they be not ordain’d
Officers: The latter of these we assert with those three worthy Ministers, Mr.
Martin, Mr. Petto, Mr. Woodal in
their Answer to two Books, the first called, Jus Divinum Ministerii
Evangelici, by the – p. 9 – Provincial
Assembly of London; the second Vindiciae
Ministerii Evangelici, by Dr. John
Collins of Norwich. And
tho I earnestly desire my Reader to read and consider that Book call’d, The
Preacher sent, where the whole Controversy is handled largely and plainly; yet I think
it not amiss just to name those several Scripture Arguments they bring to
prove that those who are taught of God, and through a Gift are apt to teach,
ought publickly to exercise it when call’d by the Church.
first Argument they bring, is from the Antecedaneousness of Election to
Ordination. “Election ought by Gospel-order to precede Ordination of
Officers: A knowledge of sutable Qualifications is prerequir’d unto a Church’s
choosing of Deacons, Acts 6.3. much
more is it necessary to a Church’s choosing one to a higher Office, to take
care of and feed their Souls. A church cannot in Faith elect or choose a Man,
and commit their Souls to his Charge, if they have not grounds to perswade
them that he is gifted and qualified as Christ requireth Officers should be, 1
Tim. 3.1,2, &c. and a little time
will not discover these Gifts, therefore an ordinary preaching is prerequisite
to Election. And so if Election must go before Ordination, then it necessarily
follows, that some Men not ordained may preach. The Church chose Stephen,
and the rest of the Deacons first, and afterwards the Apostles laid their
Hands on them with Prayer; so that it
appears that the Church chooseth Persons before they are ordain’d to Office,
and they ought not to choose them before they have sufficient Proof of their
Abilities, which a short time will not discover.”
second Argument is from Gospel Commands, and this they found on “Heb.
10.25. Exhorting one another. Heb. 3.13.
But exhort one another daily. 1 Pet.
4.10,11. As every Man hath received the Gift, even so minister the same
one to another, as good Stewards of the manifold Grace of God. If any Man
speak, let him speak as the Oracles of God: – p. 10 – If any Man minister,
let him do it as of the Ability which God giveth; that God in all things may
be glorified through Jesus Christ.” This
they call a Divine Command, and this cannot be meant of giving Alms, because
it is added, If any Man speak, let him speak as the Oracles of God, and
this is to be done by every one who hath received the Gift.
third Argument is from Gospel-Promise. “Mat. 25.29. For unto every one
that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance. Here
is a Promise, He that hath; that is,
if he uses, exerciseth, and improveth what Gifts he hath: To him shall be
given, that is, he shall increase his
Gifts, his Labour shall be followed with a Divine Blessing, when the Talent is
taken away from him that hid it. We restrain not these Gifts to preaching
Gifts, it is enough that these are included; neither do we say that every
Christian ought publickly to preach. Many
have not the Talent of preaching Gifts, but whosoever hath, it is his Duty to
improve in an orderly way.”
fourth Argument is from Gospel-Precedents or Examples: The first they urge is
from Apollos, “Acts
18.24-28. And a certain Jew named Apollos,
born at Alexandria, an eloquent Man,
and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus.
This Man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in Spirit,
he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the
Baptism of John. And he began to
speak boldly in the Synagogue: And he mightily convinced the Jews, and that
publickly, shewing by the Scriptures, that Jesus was the Christ. It is not probable that Apollos was
an ordain’d Officer, because it is said he knew only the Baptism of John,
and the Baptism of John spake
nothing of the Ordination of Officers; neither is it likely that he had an
extraordinary Call: Let him prove it that assert it: The Text speaketh not of
any thing – p. 11 – extraordinary.
A Man may be Eloquent, and mighty
in the Scriptures without extraordinary
Gifts; and his being instructed by Aquila
and Priscilla in the way of the Lord more perfectly, strongly
argues that he was not extraordinarily gifted. Their second Scripture Example
for gifted-Mens preaching, tho not ordain’d, is from the Preaching of
the scatter’d Saints, Acts 8.1. At
that time there was a great Persecution against the Church which was at Jerusalem, and they were all scattered abroad, throughout the
Regions of Judea and
Samaria, except the Apostles. Ver.4.
Therefore they that were scatter’d abroad went every where preaching the
Word. Act 11.19, 20, 21. And the hand of the Lord was with them; and a
great believed, and turned unto the Lord. From
whence they observe that the scattered Saints preach’d publickly. Acts 8.4. They
went every where preaching the Word.
2dly. That they had Divine Allowance in this their preaching; it is said, The
hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed. 3dly.
That these scatter’d Saints who preached were many of them indeed unordained,
this may appear from Acts 8. 1,4. The
Persons who preached are said to be the scatter’d Saints;
and who are scatter’d is declar’d v.1.
There was a great Persecution
against the Church: for if we ask the Question, Who were all scatter’d abroad? The
Answer must be, The Church at Jerusalem,
and these went every where preaching. The
Apostles who were the chief Officers were not scattered; for it is said, They
were all scatter’d abroad except the Apostles.”
fifth Argument is taken from Gospel-Rules about Prophesying. “All that are
Prophets may publickly preach, is proved from 1 Cor. 14. 29. Let the
Prophets speak. V. 31. For ye may all prophesy one by one. Here
is an universal Liberty given to all the Prophets to exercise their Gifts
publickly in a settled Church. Ver. 23. If – p. 12 – therefore the
whole Church be come together in one place.
V.24. But if all prophesy. This
prophesying therefore was publickly in a Church-Meeting: And not only some,
but all the Prophets have a liberty of prophesying: For ye may all
prophesy one by one. We do not say that (All)
hath reference to every Member of the
Church of Corinth, as if all the
People of the Church might prophesy whether they had the Gift or no; but tis
granted only to them who had that Gift: The word Prophesying is not limited to that which is extraordinary. Some are called in
Scripture-sense Prophets by way of resemblance, who do not foretell things to
come; if they have a Gift of Scripture-Interpretation or Exposition, they may
be call’d Prophets by way of resemblance, as the Scripture in general, and
the Gospel in special is call’d a Word of Prophesy, 2 Pet. 1.19,20,21. yet
a great part of the Scripture doth not contain Predictions of future Events.
Prophesy is said by the Apostle to consist in Exhortation, 1 Cor.14.3. He
that Prophesieth, speaketh unto Men to Edification, and Exhortation, and
Comfort. Now the word Exhortation signifies
a stirring up to Duty, and for beseeching, intreating and comforting. So when
the Apostle Paul exhorts the Church
at Corinth to desire and covet to prophesy, we are not to understand it as an Office to the Church, as if they might
all desire Offices; but to covet to prophesy, is to desire a Gift from God to expound and interpret the Scripture to
the Churches Edification.” Now our Brethren of the Congregational-way being
so sound in their Judgment about this Point, it is greatly desired that their
Principle and Practice did better harmonize: For I do not think that three
Instances of those Churches throughout London can be given, who have for these last thirty years past made choice of
any for Pastors, but such as have had Human Learning; and there hath been too
great a slight put upon such as had it not, tho no way inferiour in spiritual
Gifts and Graces for the Churches Edification: And I am inclin’d to believe
that – p. 13 – at this very
time, Churches may be too negligent to call forth those from among themselves,
who may be as useful as any they can find abroad. Those words of our Saviour
are found true by daily Experience. No Prophet is accepted in his own
Country (Luke 4.24.). O that Churches and Ministers would consider the loud Call of Necessity
to stir them up to this Primitive Practice! Suppose that God should take away
but a few Ministers out of some Churches in the City of London, where
there is but one Gift in a Church ordinarily in Exercise, what a loss might
such be at in an Eye of Reason? Therefore it is greatly desired, and would be
a very glorious Work, if all the Elders of the Church in every City in England would not only be concern’d in their own particular Congregation for
a future Ministry, but that the several Elders would set apart some time every
Week for the instructing young Men, Members of Churches, inclin’d to Divine
Studies; and so in the Country where two or three Churches are not far
asunder, that all their Elders would agree to meet once a Month, or oftner, to
hear the Gifts that God hath given their Churches. And that their Gifts might
be discover’d, they ought first of all to be put upon Prayer, and then to
see what Gifts they have for opening the Word of God; and this to be done to
the end that some may be able to teach others also, when we put off this
Earthly Tabernacle. But some will be ready to say, God will take care of
his Churches, and give them Pastors after his own Heart (Jer.3.15.). But
this is no thanks to the Churches who are negligent of their Duty in this
respect. We argue with a great deal more Judgment about the Concerns of our
Bodies, we say it is our Duty to trust in God to provide for our selves and
Families: That is true, but we do not ordinarily neglect the lawful means
conducing to that end. The Husbandman hopes for a good Crop in Summer, but
still it is in the use of Means, he – p. 14 – ought
to plough and sow his Seed, and not look for a Miracle, but do his Endeavour,
and leave the Blessing with God: Thus should we do in the Concerns of our
Souls, and the Churches of Christ. This Work is not design’d for those who
have no need of this Counsel, but for such as have; but yet it may serve as a
spur to stir up some more able to give further and better Directions in so
great a Work: and if any thing here mentioned may tend to the Profit of any,
that God alone may have all the Glory, is the hearty Desire of your sincere
Brother in the Bonds of the Gospel,
read in the Books of the Kings in several places of the Schools of the Prophets, and the Sons
of the Prophets, who were instructed by those called Fathers, or Seers, such
as Samuel, Elijah and Elisha
(2 Kings 2. 3,5. Chap. 6.1. 1 Kings. 20.35. 1 Sam. 10.12.):
’tis not probable that they taught them any Languages, for there was
no need of that, because God’s Revelations to them were in their own Native
Tongue; neither could they give them the holy Spirit, that being God’s
Prerogative alone; but ’tis very
likely the aged Prophets did declare their Prophecies which they had from Jehovah,
and open’d and explain’d the Law to them, and put them upon exercising
themselves in holy Studies, with a frequent reading the Oracles of God, and
meditating therein day and night, with Prayer to the Almighty:
and this was done, to make them the more fit for Prophetick Revelation.
These Sons of the Prophets were very many, and probably increased by
the Ministry and Miracles of Elijah and Elisha.
the Consideration of these things aforesaid, and the little Care that Churches
take for a future Ministry, I have been stir’d up to cast in my Mite into
the Treasury of Divine Counsel, hoping it may be of some use to those young
Persons whose Hearts God hath inclin’d to the Ministry of the Word:
And if my Heart do not deceive me, my Ends are purely the Enlargement
and Perfection of the Kingdom of Christ.
Scripture which I shall lay for the Foundation of my Discourse, is – p. 16
Tim. ii. 15.
to shew thyself approved unto God, a Workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
The Penman of this Epistle you see was the Apostle Paul,
he was the Writer, but the Spirit the Inditer. Paul that was once a great Persecutor, is now become a great Preacher, Gal.
1. 23. He that once sought the
Churches Destruction, is become a Labourer in order to the Churches Salvation.
As to the time when this Epistle was written, it was but a little before Paul’s
Death, who was beheaded under Nero
Emperor of Rome;
and this I collect from this Epistle, where he saith, I
am now ready to be offered, and the
time of my departure is at hand (2 Tim. 4. 6.):
and so it is thought to be one of his last Epistles.
The occasion of this Epistle is this.
The Apostle having left Timothy at
Ephesus to take care of the Church
there, Timothy with the rest of the
Elders wept very sore upon Paul’s
departure; and Paul supposing that Timothy
had heard of his Sufferings at Rome, which
might prove an additional Sorrow to him, thought therefore by this Epistle to
establish and comfort him both against the Apostle’s Sufferings and
Martyrdom approaching, as also against all the Pressures and Persecutions of
the Church (1 Tim. 1.3. Acts 20.36, 37, 38. 2 Tim. 1.4.).
The scope of this Epistle is more immediate in reference to Timothy, whom Paul exhorts
(2 Tim. 1. 6, 13.) to Courage and Constancy in his Ministerial Office; but it
concerns all Ministers in their Ministerial Calling to be faithful and
diligent – p. 17 – in their Work in the worst of times, And with Archippus, to take heed to their Ministry which they have received
in the Lord, that they fulfill it, and to caution the Church against evil Men
and Seducers (Col. 4. 17.).
As for the Coherence of the Text, it seems to have reference immediately to
the Verse before, where the Apostle signifies that there were some in that
day, That strove about words to no
profit, but to the subversion of the Hearers (2 Tim. 2.14.).
Now as if Paul should say to Timothy,
That thou mayest be of advantage to thy Hearers, and delivered from that Error
of subverting any, but establishing them in the Truth, Do thou study to shew thy self a good Workman, approv’d of God,
By way of Division: We consider those words are an Exhortation. (1.) The duty
exhorted unto is Study. (2.) The End
and Design of it is, that he may approve himself to God, and to all good Men,
as a good Workman, rightly dividing the
Word of Truth. And then we have, (3.) The Advantage that follows it; all
such will be delivered from Shame, and gain Honour and a holy Boldness in the
Faith: For there is a Figure in the Text, where there is more intended than
expressed. The Scripture speaks after the same manner in several places, as
where it is said, He will not break the
bruised Reed; that is, he will strengthen the Soul under all its
We shall now raise some Observations, which are express’d and implied in the
Doct. 1. That
Study is an Ordinance of God.
Doct. 2. That
the Scriptures of Truth are the Foundations of a Minister’s study.
Doct. 3. Mens
great Design and End in Study should not be to get Mens Hums and Applause by
quaint and eloquent Speech, but above all to please God, and win Souls.
– p. 18 –
Those that study so as to approve themselves to God their Master, and rightly
divide the Word of Truth, will be delivered from all Shame, and rather gain
themselves Honour and holy Boldness.
All Persons who will undertake to preach without Study, are not like to
approve themselves to God their Master, nor rightly divide the Word of Truth,
but rather expose themselves and the Cause of God in their hands to Shame and
I shall sum up all into one Doctrine.
That it is the Duty of every Gospel-Minister so to study as they may approve
themselves to God; and so divide the Word of Truth, that they may not be
ashamed, but rather have the Honour that belongs to that calling.
speaking to this Proposition I shall use this Method.
1st. I shall explain the point. 2dly.
Lay down one Proposition. 3dly. Shew
who are good Workmen. 4thly. Give
the Reasons why they should so study. 5thly.
Improve the Doctrine.
By way of Explanation. When the Apostle saith rightly
dividing the Word of Truth, you must know it is a Metaphorical Expression,
a borrowed Saying, whether it be from the Priest’s cutting the Sacrifices,
so as all had their proper shares (Pool.); or from the Parents dividing the
Dish amongst several Children; or from the Carpenter, who divides his Timber
by a right Line: The word imports thus much, that Ministers should so divide
the Word of Truth, as to give every one their due Portion. It is prophesied of
Christ, The Lord hath given me the Tongue of the Learned, that I should know how
to speak a word in season to him that is weary (Isa. 50.4.).
Every one must have his Portion. – p. 19 – You must seek the Sinner’s
Conversion, the ignorant Man’s Instruction. The
good Shepherd will seek that which is lost, raise them that are fallen, and
bind up the broken in Heart with God’s sweet Promises, and labour to bring
them to the Fold that have been driven away, heal and strengthen those that
are sick (Ezek. 34.4,16.). Thus every one is to have his Portion rightly divided to him. In a word,
some must be fed with Milk, some with
strong Meat: Food for strong Men, and Milk for Babes (Heb. 5.12.).
The second General Head is to lay down one Proposition, which is this;
it’s God alone by the Inspiration of his holy Spirit can make Men able
Ministers of the New Testament: This is proved by Christ’s words to Paul,
who said unto him, I have appear’d
unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a Minister and a Witness both of
those things thou hast seen, and in those things in which I will appear unto
Thee (Acts 26. 16.). And this
St. Paul acknowledgeth, when he saith, Christ hath made us able Ministers of the New Testament (2 Cor. 3.
6.). And tho it be granted that
human Literature is very useful for a Minister, yet it is not essentially
necessary; but to have the Spirit of Christ to open the Word of Christ is
essentially necessary: For altho it is possible to make an exact Translation
of the Scriptures out of many learned Languages, and give an exact Grammatical
Construction of the same, yet if this Man be void of the Spirit of Christ, he
cannot know or understand the Mysteries contain’d in God’s Word. Every
rational Man will acknowledg the truth of that Sentence of the Apostle Paul,
As no Man knoweth the things of a Man, save the Spirit of a Man without him;
even so the things of God knoweth no Man but the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2.
11.). This puts me in mind of a
Saying of a – p. 20 – worthy Minister at a Person’s Ordination above
four and twenty years ago; tho I understood Latin and Greek, Philosophy,
Logick and Rhetorick, &c. yet before conversion I was as ignorant of
Christ as a Ass’s Colt.
We shall labour to shew you who are good Workmen.
A good Workmen will lay a good Foundation for his Superstructure. St. Paul
saith, As a wise Master-builder I
have laid the Foundation, which was Christ alone, and no other Foundation can
any one lay for the Salvation of immortal Souls (1 Cor. 3.10.). All others that build upon any thing but him, are foolish
Builders, and build upon the Sand; and when the Storms arise, the House falls;
and great will be the Fall (Mat. 7. 25, 27.) of any that fall into Hell
for want of building upon Christ their Foundation; for they only are truly
wise that build their happiness upon Christ crucified (1 Cor. 2.2.). This is
that Rock upon which whosoever
builds, the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against him (Mat. 16. 18.);
That is the Rage, Malice, and Power of the Devil’s Kingdom.
Such are good Workmen in the Mysteries of
the Gospel who build a good Structure upon this good Foundation; That
is, Gold, Silver, precious Stones, not
Wood, Hay, and Stubble (1 Cor. 3. 12.):
We must take care that we do not build upon this Foundation bad Works, and
an evil Life, and say Christ is our Foundation; neither must we build upon it
unfound Doctrine, nor stuff our preaching with Human Art, Rhetorical
Ornaments, Philosophical Questions or Reasons, for that is all Wood, Hay, and
Stubble, and must be burnt up; but we must continue to preach the pure,
divine, sound, and precious Doctrine of the – p. 21 – Gospel, in a way
conformable to the Substance of it, and build upon it a good Life, which is
like Gold, Silver and precious Stones that will abide the Trial (Diodate).
A good Workman in the Gospel lays his Work well together, or else it wants
that Profit and Beauty that otherwise it would have; our Discourses should
hang as it were in a Link or Chain. Thus it is in all our Saviour’s Sermons,
and Paul’s Epistles; there is a
wonderful Coherence and Dependence of one thing upon another. When we name a
Text we should not take our farewell of it, as too many do, and not return to
it again in our whole Discourse; but we should closely follow the Scope and
Design of the Spirit of God in that Text, with that Order and Connexion of the
Parts, That it may look beautiful and prove profitable.
He is a good Workman in the things of God, that uses proper ways and means to
prove a Theme or Proposition by. A Carpenter hath his proper Tools to do his
Work withal; he doth not take a Mallet when he wants a Chizel, nor a Saw when
he wants a Hammer, but uses such proper Tools as will effectually do his Work:
As for Example, suppose your Proposition was this, That it is the Duty of
every Man to love and praise God. Now to prove this, we argue as King David
did, from our Creation: The Lord is
our Maker, let us therefore worship and bow down before him: Because he hath
made us, we should enter into his Gates with Thanksgiving, and into his Courts
with Praise (Ps. 95.7. Ps. 100. 3,4.).
(2.) We ought to love and honour God superlatively, because this
was the great End of our Creation: God
hath made all things (saith Solomon)
for himself. The four and
twenty Elders acknowledg that God is worthy to receive all Glory, Honour, and
Power, because he created all things (Prov. 16.4. Rev. 4.ult.).
(3.) We not only argue from the Author of our – p. 22 – Being,
and the End of our Being, but from the lesser to the greater: As if it be the
Duty of Children to honour their Parents, and the Duty of Subjects to honour
their Prince; how much more is it the Duty of a Creature to honour its
Creator? Again, if Men will bestow any Pains and Cost to prevent Sickness and
Death on their Bodies, how much more should we labour after the Salvation of
We count them good Workmen that do their Work well, and a great deal too.
Indeed there are some very good Workmen that do their Work well, but do a very
little. Others again may speak a great many Words in a Sermon, who have but
little Matter: He is most accepted that brings the best Bread and a full Meal.
Some can deliver more Matter in half an hour to the profit of their Hearers,
than others can in a whole hour. As some Persons do their Work so bad as makes
some almost sick to see it, so some may preach as to make Hearers sick to hear
it: And yet some are so conceited of their own Abilities, that there is no
room for Instruction. To be sure this is true, he doth the best Work and the
most Work, that labours most in his Study, with a dependance upon God for a
The reasons of the Point, in which I shall be very brief.
We should study to be good Workmen, because our Work is of the highest nature.
Men that work among Jewels and precious Stone, ought to be very knowing of
their business. A Minister’s Work is a great Work, a holy Work, a heavenly
Work. Hence the Apostle saith, Who is sufficient for these things (2 Cor. 2.16.)?
O how great a Work is this! What Man, what Angel is sufficient to preach
the Gospel as they ought to preach it! You work – p. 23 – for the highest
End, the Glory of God, and the good of immortal Souls; you are for the beating
down of the Kingdom of the Devil, and enlarging and exalting Christ’s
Kingdom: And he that winneth Souls (saith
is wise (Prov. 11. 30.); that
is, he that draweth them to God, and to the Love of him, sweetly gaineth and
maketh a holy Conquest of them to Jehovah
We should study to be good Workmen, because you will be the better able to
give a good account to your Master, an
Account with Joy and not with Grief (Heb. 13.17.),
having been faithful Watchmen over your Flocks. Paul
boldly declares it, that he was
clear from the Blood of all Men, and had not shunn’d to declare the whole
Counsel of God (Act 20. 27,28.); and
it is his Counsel to the Elders at Ephesus,
To take heed to themselves, and to all the Flock over which the Holy Ghost had
made them Overseers. And in so doing there may be expected an approving of
God, and a Well done good and faithful
Servant, enter into the Joy of thy Lord (Mat. 25.23.),
that is, into everlasting Happiness.
The Use and Application.
By way of Information. If it be the Duty of Gospel Ministers to study to
divide the Word of God aright, then we fairly and naturally infer, that it is
their Sin that preach and neglect Study. You may easily perceive from the
Pulpit whether the Man hath wrought hard at his Study the week before, or not.
We may say of Sermons as some do of pieces of Work amongst Men: We say of some
Work, there is no Labour, there is no Pains in it, it is a very slight thing.
But it may be said of others on the contrary, this is a good piece of Work
this is well wrought, here is Labour in this, – p. 24 – this is
Substantial Work. As there are too few painful Labourers, so I fear there are
too many Loiterers concern’d in this glorious Imployment; the Holy Ghost
speaks of some Watchmen sleeping, loving
to slumber (Isa. 56. 10.).
This Doctrine refutes the Opinion of those that think it unlawful to study to
declare God’s Mind, and will contemptuously speak against it, as if we were
to preach by Inspiration, as the Prophets and Apostles of old did. What can be
a better Confutation of those Men than our Text? Which commands Ministers
to study to shew themselves good
Workmen; and to meditate in God’s Law day and night (2 Tim. 2.15. Psal.
1.23.). To meditate in the Law, the
revealed Word of God, the Rule of Life, so as to draw the Ground of our Faith,
and the Comfort of Conscience out of the Promises of Grace.
This affords us a Use of Caution. If it be Ministers Duty to study, then be
cautioned against Idleness in the great things of God, and the Concerns of
Immortal Souls; the Lord hath often reproved idle Shepherds. There is so much
precious time spent in the World and Pleasures thereof, that there is a very
small remnant of the Week left, I fear by too many, so that they have not
sufficient time to improve the Talent God hath given them; and what can be
expected then but a lean Discourse, if not a confused one, when the Sabbath
This affords a Use of Consolation. If Shame will attend them that are lazy and
idle in the things of God, then Honour and Praise will follow those that are
true Labourers in the Lord’s Vineyard. Those
that rule well, and labour in the Word and Doctrine, are counted worthy of
double Honour, and to be esteemed very highly for their Works sake (1 Tim.
5.17. 1 Thess. 5.13.). Let all
faithful Labourers rejoice, – p. 25 – you shall have Peace in your own
Consciences, you will have Praise of the Churches, and all Saints; and, which
is best of all, God’s Approbation at last, Well
done my good and faithful Servants (Mat. 25. 23.).
what I have said I shall add some further helps by way of Direction and
Instruction to those that are inclin’d to the Ministration of the Gospel.
Consider my whole Method in speaking, 1. To the Penman of the Epistle. 2. To
the Time when written. 3. The Occasion. 4. The Scope. Not that there will be
always need upon every Subject to take notice of these things, yet upon some
Subjects there may be need to take notice of some or all of them. 2dly.
Consider how your Text coheres and depends upon what goes before it, but stand
no longer upon it than what may make your way plain to the Text: Some have
spent so much time upon a Context, that by that time they came to their Text
the hour was almost gone, tho they did not know whether they should preach in
the same place again. 3dly. Make an
exact Division of your Text, if your Text calls you to it, for that will be
profitable in the helping of you to Matter. 4thly.
Explain any difficult Terms, but spend not time needlessly in Explanation. If
things are easily understood without it. 5thly.
Raise as many Doctrines as the Text will allow, and make what good use you can
of every one of them, but insist most on the chief Scope of the place. 6thly.
Your Doctrine being laid down, prove it from the Word of God by two or three
Scriptures at most; because in the mouth
of two or three Witnesses every Truth is established. After you have prov’d
it, then lay down the Reasons and Arguments of the Point why and wherefore it
is so. You see that my third General Head is to show what a good Workman is,
but that [What] will not come in the handling of every – p. 26 – Doctrine.
Some Persons lay down some Propositions just after their Doctrine; but
whatever is done in that, may be done in an Use of Instruction; but that is at
your liberty, whether you will do it in Propositions, or an Use of
Instruction. And then, what Use you make, let it be always natural from the
Doctrine, and draw as many Inferences from it as it will bear; for they are
generally very divine things. Mark one thing, that all Doctrines will not
afford the same Uses. There is,
(1.) The Use of Information. (2.) Caution. (3.) Trial and Examination. (4.)
Refutation. (5.) Instruction. (6.) Reprehension. (7.) Exhortation, with its
Motives and Directions. (8.) Admiration. (9.) Consolation. Now you must
consider which of all these, or any other Uses, will be most naturally handled
from your Doctrine.
Directions and Instructions.
Know ye that the Scriptures are the best Expositors of themselves; no
Man, nor no Church can explain God’s Word better than it doth it self: As
for instance, the Psalmist saith, There
is a God that judgeth in the Earth (Psal. 58.1.).
Now if you would know what God is, another Scripture tells you that God is a Spirit (John 4.24.). One
Text saith, Stand in awe, and sin not (Psal.
4.4.). If you would know what Sin
is, another Scripture saith, Sin is the
Transgression of the Law (1 John 3.4.).
Give your selves to reading, above all, the holy Scriptures. This Counsel Paul
gave to his Son Timothy, Give thy self to reading (1 Tim. 4.13.); it is Christ’s Counsel to the Jews, Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal – p.
27 – Life, and they are they which
testify of Christ (John 5.39.), who
hath brought Salvation; of which
Salvation the prophets of old enquir’d and searched diligently (1 Pet.
1.10.). It was by books that Daniel
understood the end of the seventy years Captivity in Babylon
(Dan. 9.2.). And always make Conscience to pray with Solomon, for a wise and
understanding Heart (1 Kings 3.9.), to
understand the Mind and Will of God in his Word: and also beg for great
Humility; Pride and Conceit hath overthrown many a young Preacher. Two things
will make us truly humble, a true knowledg of our selves, our own Foolishness,
Ignorance and Impotency, with our Vileness by Nature and Act; and a true
knowledge of God in his glorious Perfections, his Wisdom, Power, Holiness and
Truth. I remember Luther saith in
some place, three things make a Preacher, Meditation, Temptation and Prayer. A
good Man told me that he had been ten times upon his Knees for one Sermon.
Sometimes we have Sermons easier, and sometimes with more difficulty; but this
is our Comfort, that we have always a God upon the Throne of Grace, who will
help us in a time of need that humbly lie before him.
Let all you deliver be according to the Analogy of Faith; never interpret one
Text so as to thwart another; abandon all private Opinions, tho they are never
so taking. Peter saith, No
Scripture is of any private Interpretation
(2 Pet. 1.20.); that is, no
particular Scripture differs from the whole, or any part of it. No Man, no
Company of Men, no Church or publick Officers are to Interpret the Scriptures
of their own heads, according to their own Minds, so as to make their private
sense the sense of the Scripture, but to seek the understanding of it from
God, Who shews the – p. 28 – meaning of the Word by the Word it self, as
we said before; the more obscure places being expounded by the more clear. To
help you in this, get a Book call’d, The
Reconciler of the Bible.
Let your Speech be plain, as Paul’s
was, not with enticing Words of Man’s
Wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of Power (1 Cor. 2.4.).
Use sound Words that cannot be condemned (1 Tim 1.8.). Rhetorical
Flourishes are like painted Glass in a Window that makes a great show but
darkens the Light; as some School-masters will flourish Letters so much as few
know what they are but themselves. To have more Rhetorick in a Discourse than
Logick is condemnable; What doth it signify to have a Dish daintily set off
about the Brims, if no Meat be in it? Be sure you always speak plain to the
Capacity of the People: Let us never speak Words we do not understand our
selves, nor they which hear us. The Prophets and Apostles generally spoke in
the vulgar and common Languages which the ordinary People understood: They did
not only speak to the Understanding of a King upon the Throne, but to the
Understanding of the meanest Subject.
Watch against vain Tautologies, and repeating the same thing over and over in
other words unless it be when you are more than ordinarily affected with what
you are upon from the movings of God’s Spirit, and that is hardly ever
burdensome to the Hearers; for if the Minister be affected, generally the
People are affected; and if the Minister be dull, generally the People are
dull. Tautologies are generally for want of Matter to fill up an hour,
therefore be sure you come well furnish’d into the Pulpit: you had better
leave than lack: If you have not a – p. 29 – Gift of Enlargement upon a
Head or Particular, you must have the more Particulars in your Discourse. Some
Persons if they have less than thirty Particulars in their Sermons, it is too
little for an hour; and then they run into vain Repetitions; but others who
have a Gift of Enlargement may preach a good Sermon from les than half.
Therefore every one must preach according to their proper Gift given them of
Let us not draw our words at too great a length because it is not only
offensive to the Ear, but spends much time, and two words may be spoken in the
time of one: not but that I will give an allowance to every Man’s natural
Faculty; but ’tis to be feared this is often an affected way of speaking. We
must also take heed of speaking too quick, for then most Hearers cannot follow
us; and here we must also allow for a natural Infirmity. Perhaps Moses
had an Infirmity in his Speech, yet he was God’s Minister to one of the
greatest Monarchs in the World: therefore let the Hearers rather pity than
censure those who have an Impediment in their Speech. Who made Man’s Mouth? Was it not the Lord? And it hath been observ’d
of some who have wanted utterance that it has been abundantly made up to them
in a solid Judgment.
Let your Carriage and Habit in a Pulpit be grave an sober, let us have no
indecent Behaviour, nor uncomely Garb. It hath been lamented by many to see
Ministers, who are set by God for Ensamples to the Flock, with their Hair and
Shoulders covered with Pouder, especially when they enter the Pulpit: Surely
were the old Puritans alive, it would greatly trouble them; and it hath been
no small disturbance to the Minds of some to hear such as are call’d Beau,
vulgarly – p. 30 – Bow Preachers. To see an ancient Minister gravely enter
the Pulpit with his gray, hoary and white Head, ’tis his Honour and Crown of
Glory, because natural; but to see young or middle-aged Men about so solemn a
Work with their pouder’d Hair, as if they were gray, hoary and white with
Age, is not this unseemly, because not natural but artificial? But a worse
sight than this is, to see aged Ministers enter the Pulpit with their Hair
pouder’d white, doth not this signify that they are not so well satisfied
with their hoary Head by Nature, which God hath given them, seeing they seem
to delight to do something may exceed Nature? Our Carriage, Habit and
Deportment should be such, that we may convince the Consciences of Men, that
we seek God’s Glory and their Good. And that this may be the better
effected, we must speak so loud as our Auditory may hear us, or else both the
End of Preaching and Hearing is lost: And to be uneven in our Voice, to be
sometimes very high and loud, and then presently very low, the former part of
the Sentence may possibly be heard by most or all, but the latter part may not
be heard by a sixth part of the People; so that they had almost as good heard
nothing, if they cannot hear the whole Sentence. How is the End either of
preaching or hearing answered in this? Isa. 58. 1. Lift
up thy Voice like a Trumpet. Christ lifted up his Voice, and cried in the
great day of the Feast; Joh. 7. 37. and Peter
lifted up his Voice, standing with the eleven, Acts 2. 14. And the heed of
an affected Tone in preaching; let your Voice be natural, or else sound
Doctrine may be liable to Contempt.
We should get the Substance of our Sermons if possible for the Lord’s day
before Saturday or else we may be at a loss, and have very poor and lean –
p. 31 – Discourses: It hath been known by Experience, that sometimes a whole
day hath been spent in Study and little done; tho at other times (blessed be
God) when we have been under the Gales of the Spirit, we have done more in two
hours. It is said of Mr. Charnock,
that he laboured almost all the Week in his Study and amongst his Books,
whence he was so well furnished on the first day.
Let the last day of the Week be for the better digesting your
Discourses, and treasuring them up in your Memory, and turning to your best
Annotators to see what they say upon the Proofs of every Head, as well as upon
the Text; and on the Lord’s-day before you preach, either Forenoon or
Afternoon, spend one half hour in running over your Sermon, either as written
in your Study, or as it is laid up in your Memory, or as in both: in so doing
it will be profitable both to Minister and People; you will be ready in your
Delivery, and be deliver’d from rude and impertinent Expressions; this is
the Happiness which generally doth attend a good Consideration of what we
Beg of God with St. Paul for utterance, that you
may open your Mouth boldly to make known the Mystery of the Gospel (Ephes.
6.19). Do not enter the Pulpit
with an ignorant, but with an holy boldness; and as for the want of a holy
Boldness a Man’s Abilities are often hid and darkened, and too much
straitned, so from an ignorant Boldness others are too large, and deliver many
things very offensive to a judicious Auditory: And if you would have holy
Boldness, be sure you carry into the Pulpit with you a good Conscience, for a
guilty Conscience will make a Man hold won his Head, and weaken holy boldness,
and so take off the Life of his Preaching.
There was the same Sacrifice for the Priest as for – p. 32 – the
whole Congregation, a young Bullock, which implies that God expected more
Circumspection and Care from them than from others (Lev. 4.11, 13).
Let not your Periods be too long; tho some have a good Gift of
Enlargement, yet it is better for the Hearers to have short Periods than long.
It seems in former Ages that they had but one Period in a whole
Oration; they had need of a good Understanding and a solid Head, that can
carry along the sense of a Speech of half an hour before they come to the
Period. Short Periods are better
for the Minister’s Memory, and the Peoples memory and Understanding.
Human Testimonies are not to be brought to prove divine things, unless
they may the better convince the Conscience of the Hearer (Perkins).
Upon this account Paul urges the Testimony of Aratus
to prove a Divine Being, viz. For in him
we live, and move, and have our being; as certain of your own Poets have said,
For we are his Offspring (Acts 17.28.).
Also the Saying of Menander, Evil
Communications corrupt good Manners (1 Cor. 15.33.).
And Epimenides, even a Prophet of
their own, said, The Cretians are always Liers, evil Beasts, slow Bellies (Tit.
Never stand too long on the Repetition of a former Sermon, seven or
eight Minutes is as much as can be allowed; repeat so much as may refresh and
help the Memories of your Hearers, and in an orderly way bring them down to
where you left them and there begin afresh.
To take up a great part of our time in Repetition, doth too often argue
the want of Matter, and is not pleasing ordinarily – p. 33 – to the
Hearer, especially to them that have a good Memory.
Here I would be understood of our ordinary and common way of preaching,
for I do grant that it may so fall out sometimes that a Man may have a Call to
repeat more than ordinary, as if the Matter be extraordinary weighty, and some
may desire the whole Sermon to be preached over again, as the Gentiles
did Paul, to preach the same thing the next Sabbath-day (Acts 13.42.).
Entertain your Hearers with variety of Subjects, seeing God’s Word
affords variety; tho in some sense I cannot preach Christ too much, yet if I
preach so as to neglect the preaching up of Duty, I leave undone a great part
of the Work committed to my
charge (Mat. 3.8.): Tho it is our duty to preach Christ crucified the Object
of a justifying Faith, yet this must not be done in the neglect of preaching
up other Duties, especially the great Doctrine of Repentance, which was on of
the first Doctrines John the Baptist
preach’d, and one of the first which Christ preached, and is the first
mention’d of the six Principles of the Doctrine Of Christ in the sixth
Chapter to the Hebrews (Mat. 4.17.
Heb. 6.1.). Moreover, we find
Christ and his Apostles preach’d the Doctrine of Mortification, and
Obedience to the Commands of God, and all Divine Virtues, as:
Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Meekness, Temperance,
Patience, Knowledg, Godliness, Brotherly-Kindness, Charity: This was Paul's
Comfort in his last days, that he was
clear from the Blood of all Men, for he had not shunned to declare the whole
Counsel of God (Acts 20.26, 27. Gal. 5.22, 23. 2 Peter. 1.5, 6, 7.).
If Thou hast much of God’s Presence in preaching, be not over
confident that that Sermon – p. 34 – shall do most good; and if Thou art
in a dull frame in preaching, so long as you preach God’s Word, do not
despair of a good Effect; for some have experienced some Sermons blest which
they thought were lost, and have heard nothing to their Comfort of that Sermon
they expected most from, and this is done that
no Flesh might glory in God’s Presence (1 Cor. 1. 29).
Let us preach and prophesy according to the proportion of Faith (Rom.
12. 6.) and Knowledg, speak experimentally and feelingly; that which comes
from the Heart is generally carried to the Heart, then it is (to?) preach to
Edification (1 Cor. 14.12.), and to that end let not your Sermons in common be
very long; it is better to leave the People longing than loathing.
Get your Hearts sincerely affected with those things you persuade
others to, that your Hearers may feel that you are in good earnest, and that
you deliver nothing to the People but what you are willing to practise your
selves, and venture your Salvation upon.
Take not hastily other Mens
Opinions with out due trial, nor vent your own Conceits, but compare them
first with the Analogy of Faith and Rules of Holiness, the holy Scriptures,
which are the proper Tests of all Opinions and Doctrines. Meddle with Controversies and doubtful Matters as little as
may be in publick Auditories, lest you puzzle your Hearers and hinder their
Edification; insist on those points that tend to sound Belief, sincere Love to
God, and a holy Conversation; and it is good for Ministers to have a Body of
Divinity in their Heads and Hearts, that they may be able to preach in season
and out of season. A worthy
Minister being call’d of a sudden to preach without any previous
Preparation, preach’d – p. 35 – an excellent Sermon on the Priestly
Office of Christ, and being thank’d by some after he had done for his good
Discourse, having so little warning, made this Answer, It is good for a
Minister to have a Body of Divinity in his Head.
If you use any Metaphor or Similitude, let it be always as short as may
be convenient, and so delivered, that the Matter may be the better explain’d
by it. Thus the Holy Ghost calls
Christ a Rock, because he defends his Church against the Gates of Hell: So he
is call’d a Lamb, that we may the better understand his Meekness and
Usefulness: He is call’d a Vine, and his Members Branches, to shew that a
Believer’s Life, Beauty, Strength, Growth, and Fruitfulness is in Christ the
Vine, and that without him they can do nothing.
Whenever God is in a Text, whether it be by a Pronoun, he, or him, &c.
or by a Circumlocution or Periphrasis,
which is the using many words for one, as where it is said, The
Strength of Israel will not lie
(1 Sam. 15.29.), or whether it be expressed plainly by the word, Lord,
God, Jah, Jehovah, before you give the People some account of the Nature,
Properties and Attributes of this glorious Being, that he is eternal, without
beginning and ending, independent, depends on none, but all depend upon him,
immense and infinite, and cannot be limited; Omniscient, and knows all;
Omnipotent, and can do all; Immutable in his Counsel and Purposes, a Sovereign
and Supreme Being who is accountable to none, but all to him.
This Counsel is the rather given, because it hath been the Observation
of some, that few Ministers explain the word God,
Lord or Jehovah, &c. tho the
word be in their Text, it is supposed that it ariseth from hence, that – p.
36 – they take it for granted, that every body almost knows what the meaning
of God is, because he is very often in our Mouths, when indeed nothing is
known less than God is known, and yet nothing move necessary to be known than
God’s Nature, Perfections and Attributes, because that works Faith and great
Reverence in the Object.
We are often led in Preaching to shew the Import of a word.
The Apostle John saith to the Saints in the Revelations,
He hath loved us, and washed us from our Sins in his Blood (Revel. 1. 5.).
The washing there imports two things principally; 1. It imports
Guiltiness and Filthiness, Condemnation and Pollution, or else what need of
washing? 2. Washing imports
Justification and Sanctification, and imputed and imparted Inherent
Righteousness; hence saith the Apostle Paul
to the Corintians, But you are
washed, and he tells them after what that means, ye
are sanctified, ye are justified. So
we are exhorted to seek the Lord while
he may be found. These words
import, 1. That Man hath lost his God. 2.
It imports, that tho he hath lost his God, yet God may be found.
3. It imports that no one can help Man to his Favour but God himself.
4. It imports that God is ordinarily found by those that seek him in
his own way. And thus we are led
often to the Improvements of the Word of God, in shewing what such and such
You that have time, write your Sermons in your Study, and think it not
enough to write your bare Heads, but make some Enlargement upon every Head,
with the Scripture added that proves it, and yet have your dependence on God
for further Enlargement in publick. We
may say in this case, as we use to speak about Salvation, that we ought to –
p. 37 – live so holily as if we were to be sav’d by our living, and yet
when we have done all, to rely upon Christ and his Righteousness; so we should
labour in Study, as if we should have no immediate Assistance in the Pulpit,
and yet when we have done all, to go about our Work depending upon God for
further Assistance. And it is
greatly desir’d that our Ministers would do as the Scotch,
the Dutch, and French Divines, who hardly ever carry a Note into the Pulpit with
them. The Abilities of our
Ministers being no way inferior to those before mentione’d, and would
quickly appear so if they were put into Practice and frequently used, as the
others do. Mr. Perkins
saith it was the Custom in his day for Ministers to use their Memories.
Indeed upon some extraordinary occasion Notes may be better allowed of
than in a Man’s ordinary Ministry.
When the Holy Ghost descends to help Mens Capacities in attributing
bodily Parts and human Affections to God, which are only proper to Men, you
must open and display the Mind of God in it, to take Persons off from any mean
and low thoughts of God, who is an Infinite Spirit. When God is said to have a Face, it signifies the
Manifestation of himself to Angels and Men in a way of Favour or Anger: Eyes
being ascrib’d to him holds forth his perfect knowledg of Persons and
Things; his Hand and Arm signifies Omnipotency; Bowels signify his Mercy and
most ardent Affection: When Feet are attributed to God, it signifies his
Omnipresence, together with his Strength to crush his Enemies: And where the
Church is call’d the place of his Feet, it is because there he exhibits his
Grace and Glory as if he walked in it: (Joh.
4.24. Psal. 27.8. Psal. 11.4. 2 Chro. 16.9. Exod. 15.6. Isa. 53.1.
Isa. 63.12. Isa. 63.15. Isa. 66.1. Isa. 60.13.) – p.
38 – so when Sadness, Grief of Mind, and Repentance are ascrib’d to
God (Isa. 63.10.), it signifies his Displeasure: ’Tis Man only can properly
be said to repent, who cannot know the Event of things; but it cannot
appertain to him who declares the end
from the beginning (Isa.
46.10.): God is said to repent when he doth such things as Men do when they
repent. When Men repent, 1. They
cease to do what they began to do: And, 2. They are ready to deface and
destroy what they have done; God is said to repent, not because his Mind is
changed. When he is said to repent of making Saul King
(1Sam. 15.35.), it is because he meant to remove him from the Throne.
It is said he repented that he made the World (Gen. 6.6); because his Purpose was
to destroy and deface the present Beauty and Excellency of it.
The order of words in holy Scripture is always to be govern’d
according to the Analogy of Faith, the Scope of the Place, and Sense of the
Words. We are not to stick to the
order of Words always, for tho the Apostle Paul
put the word Sanctification
before the word Justification, yet
in order of Nature Justification is before Sanctification; and for not
allowing this, it hath made some run into error, that we are justified because
with are sanctified, as if our Sanctification procur’d our Justification;
yet we are ever to retain that order of Words, and must never part with it,
where they are according to the Analogy of Faith, and the Scope of the Place,
and the Sense of the Words themselves.
In holy Scripture you will sometimes find that which properly belongs
to one Nature in Christ is attributed to another by virtue of the personal –
p. 39 – Union; hence it is that the Church is said to be purchased with the Blood of God; not that God simply consider’d
hath Blood, for he is a Spirit (Acts
20.28. Joh. 4.24.); but it is attributed to God, because of the Union of the
Human and Divine Nature. Moreover,
it is said that the Son of Man was in
Heaven (Joh. 3.13.), when he was discoursing upon Earth: Here that which
was proper to the Godhead and the Divine Nature, is attributed to the Human
Nature, because of the Union of the Natures.
And things of this nature must be explain’d with all the clearness
imaginable, because the knowledg of it is so necessary to Man’s Salvation.
When things in the Sacred Record are said to be actually done, which
were not actually accomplished until a long time after, as when it is said, Babylon
the Great is fallen, is fallen (Rev. 18.2.); The holy Spirit’s putting
this in the present time, signifies the certainty of its coming to pass, as if
it were already done: The same we
are to understand of that place where it is said, Unto
us a Child is born, and unto us a Son is given (Isa. 9.6.), which was not
actually fulfilled till some hundred years after: So we understand the Apostle
John, when he saith, He saw
the dead both small and great stand before, and they were judged according to
their Works (Rev. 20.12.). The
Holy Ghost thus speaketh to shew the certainty of the thing as we said before.
Things are often proposed in Scripture as if speaking of Persons, when
they are not Persons spoken of, and the Properties of Men are ascribed to
things without Life. Hence the
Heavens, and Earth, and Sea, &c. are brought in as hearing and – p. 40
– speaking: Here must be great care taken to open and shew the Mind of God
in such places. Hear,
O heavens (saith the Prophet Isaiah),
and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken (Isa. 1.2. Hos. 2.21.).
Mr. Caryl upon this place
saith, the Holy Ghost so speaketh, to shew that Men were wicked above all
reason, and therefore God appeals to the Creature void of Sense against them;
not that there is any reason in Wickedness, but thus we say concerning all
Excess. Yea, God tells them, that
the very unreasonable Creature, the Ox and Ass outdid them: Those Creatures
take notice of, regard, and submit themselves to their Masters and
Benefactors; but that was more than Israel
did, whom God had nourish’d and brought up.
So it is said, The Waters saw
thee, O God, the Waters saw thee; they were afraid: the Depths also were
troubled (Psal. 77.16): Where he
speaks of the Red Sea’s being divided, as if he had said, They have
experience’d Thee, and felt thy Power.
Hence it is said, Let the Floods
clap their hands, let the Hills sing (Psal. 98.8,9.).
These things are ascib’d to inanimate Creatures, to stir up Men to a
desire after the coming of the Lord. So
it is said, The Moon shall be
confounded, or blush, and the Sun
ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion (Isa. 24.23.). This intimates the Light of Divine Grace in the Church; as if
he had said, The Glory of the Sun and Moon will be nothing if compar’d with
the Glory of Zion, and him that
rules in Zion.
So again, The mountains and the
Hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the Trees of the
Field shall clap their Hands (Isa. 55.12); which signifies the Spiritual
Joy in the Kingdom of Christ.
We must always account the Sayings of the Prophets and Apostles to be
equally authentick with whatever Christ spake himself, and to have the same
Authority over Mens Consciences, as those things had over the Church when God
spake to Moses Mouth to Mouth,
except where the Apostle Paul saith, Now
I speak by Permission, not by Commandment (1Cor. 7.6.).
And these Sayings of the holy Prophets and Apostles ought to be so
esteemed, because they spake as they
were moved by the Holy Ghost (2Pet. 1.21.):
And hence it is that Christ saith, He
that heareth his Apostles and Ministers heareth
him, and he that despiseth them despiseth him (Luke 10.16.).
And why is this? but because they spake by the Spirit of Christ.
It is said, that the old World that was drowned was disobedient
to the Spirit of Christ which preach’d unto them (1 Peter. 3.18, 19,
20.): but that is no other way to be
understood, than by their rejection of the Doctrine of Noah, which he preached by the assistance of the Spirit of Christ;
so that we must always account that the Sayings of the Prophets and Apostles
have the same Authority, as if Christ spake to us immediately.
Sometimes things are spoken in the Scripture more darkly at first,
which are afterwards in the same Sentence manifestly explain’d, as where it
is said, Look unto the Rock whence ye
were hewen, and the hole of the Pit whence ye were digged (Isa. 51.1, 2.):
The words following explain the former, viz.
Look unto Abraham your Father, and unto Sarah that bare you.
So Paul saith, I
know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing (Rom. 7.18.): By No good thing dwelling in
me is – p. 42 – explain’d by those words, not in my Flesh. So
when it is said, God hath given Men the
Spirit of slumber (Rom. 11.8.), it is afterwards open’d by not having Eyes to see, nor Ears to hear.
Let all your Discourses be like Elihu’s,
who saith that his Lips should utter
Knowledg clearly (Job 33.3.).
Paul tells us, He had rather
speak five words in the Church with his Understanding, that his Voice might
teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown Tongue: Except ye
utter with the Tongue things easy to be understood, how shall it be known what
is spoken? for he shall speak in the Air.
Who can say Amen to what I speak? if they understand it not, I shall be
unto him to whom I speak a Barbarian (1Cor. 14.19, 9, 16.).
Tho this be spoken by Paul in reference to the Interpretation of unknown Tongues, yet it
will hold here, because he that speaks unintelligibly in his own Tongue, it is
as if he spake Hebrew and Greek to one that could never read.
We must not deliver any Sentence cloudily and darkly, as too many do,
which partly arises from the weakness of Mens Parts, and sometimes from an
affecting to speak in a lofty Stile that they may be the more admired, and
therefore darken Counsel with words
without Knowledg (Job 38.2.). As it is no sign of mean Parts and Abilities when a Person
can bring down the Knowledg of the deepest things in Divinity to the
understanding of the meanest Capacity: So it is no Argument of extraordinary
Parts, when a Sentence that is plain and easy in its own nature shall be
delivered cloudily and darkly; and seeing that the uttering of thins plainly
is a Gift from God, we ought to lie at the Throne of Grace for it.
– p. 43 –
Sometimes in the sacred Scriptures on thing is said, when another thing
is to be understood otherwise than the literal Interpretation shews; this the
Apostle Paul calls an Allegory: He
who was of the Bondwoman Hagar was
born after the Flesh; but he who was of the Freewoman was by Promise: Which
things (saith he) are an Allegory
(Gal. 4.22, 23, 24, 25.). Then he
tells us what the spiritual meaning is, for
these are the two Covenants: these two Ishmael
and Isaac signify the two
Covenants, viz. the Covenant of
Works, and the Covenant of Grace; Isaac
and Ishmael representing all
converted and unconverted Persons. The
Book of Solomon’s Song is
generally allegorical, and must be understood otherwise than as literally
express’d; for the sweet Conference between Christ and his Church is set
down in those Expressions proper betwixt Husband and Wife.
Those words in holy Writ that are emphatical are to be emphatically
express’d, with that earnest and intent manner of speaking as the nature of
the thing calls for, or else the Glory, Profit, and Affection in that word
will be lost; as when it is said, God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son, &c.
(Joh. 3.16.) the Emphasis lies in the word So,
and if you repeat this word So twice
with an Emphasis and sutable Affection, it may raise the Affections of your
Hearers to great advantage. I
think Mr. Charnock somewhere speaks
to this purpose, O this little word So,
yet this ineffable So, this
admirable So, this unparallel’d So.
And when it is said, And God,
even our own God shall bless us (Psal. 67.6.):
And for mine own sake, even for mine own sake will I do it (Isa. 48.11):
Here the words, our own God, and even for mine own sake, must be express’d
emphaticall, and with a – p. 44 – rais’d Affection. Again, where the Holy Ghost lays down any Word with an
Accent, we must so express it in our Teaching, or else the design of that
Passage is not answer’d, as where it is said, Who
hath first given to him, and it shall be
recompens’d to him again? (Rom 11.35.).
Good old Mr. Row near thirty
years ago, saith upon this place thus, The Accent (saith he) lies in this word
[first] Who hat first given to him? Here
you must lift up your Voice and plainly accent the word, that the People may
the better know the sense: Who hath
first given to God? No Man
can give first to God to oblige him to Man, but God giveth to Man first, to
oblige the Creature to his Creator; hence it follows, For
of him, and through him, and to him are all things; to whom be Glory for ever.
Amen. (Rom. 11.36.).
Sometimes the Scripture mentions but the Part of a Person or Thing,
when it intends the Whole, as where the Apostle exhorts the Romans
to present their Bodies a living Sacrifice, &c. (Rom. 12.1.). Tho he mentions but the Body, yet he intends the whole Man,
consisting of Soul and Body. So
where the wise Man speaks of the wicked, that their
feet run to evil (Prov. 1.16.); by this the whole Life and Conversation is
intended. So on the contrary, the
Whole of a Man or Thing is often mention’d when it intends but a Part; as
where Christ said to the Thief on the Cross, This
day shalt Thou be with me in Paradise (Luke 23.43.).
He mentions the whole Man, Soul and Body, but he intended no more than
the Soul. So when it is said that
Adam was taken out of the Dust, Out
of it wast Thou taken (saith God, Gen. 3.19.); that was only the Body, for
God breathed his Soul into him.
so when it is said, Dust Thou art, and to Dust Thou shalt return, it is not meant of the
Soul, for it – p. 45 – cannot die, but only the Body which was taken from
the Dust. So All is put for Many,
as, All held John for a Prophet (Mat. 21.25.), that is, many.
So None is put for a very Few, as, No
Man repented him of his Wickedness (Jer. 8.6.).
And Everlasting is put for a Long time, as where the Aaronical
Priesthood is call’d an everlasting Priesthood, which was to continue no
longer than the coming of the Messiah.
The Holy Ghost sometimes puts the Cause of a thing for the Effect; as, Be
sure your Sins will find you out; that is, the Punishment due to them: The
Cause here, Sin, is put for the effect, Punishment.
2. Contrary to this, sometimes the Effect is put for the Cause, as when
it was said to Rebecca, Two
Nations are in thy Womb (Gen. 25.23.); that is, the Father of two Nations,
Esau the Father of the Idumeans,
and Jacob the Father of the Israelites. Again, the Subject is sometimes put for the Adjunct, or that
which belongs thereto, as where it is said, This
cup is the New Testament in my Blood (1 Cor. 11.25.): here the Cup, the Subject, is put for the Wine in it, which
signified the Blood of Christ, call’d the Blood of the Covenant.
On the contrary, sometimes the Adjunct, or that which belongs to any
thing, is put for the subject, as, Jacob
is said to sware by the fear of his Father Isaac (Gen. 31.53.), that is, by God
whom Issac feared.
Where God’s Threatnings are sometimes absolutely denounced, yet they
are to be conditionally interpreted with a reservation of Repentance, as in
the case of Jonah to Nineveh, he
proclaims his Threatnings absolutely, saying, In forty days and Nineveh
shall be destroyed (Jonah 3.3, 4.); not men- – p. 46 – tioning any
Condition at all, but yet this must be understood conditionally, because the
Event signified as much; for upon their Repentance the Threatning was made
void. This is further strengthen’d
by the saying of the Prophet Jeremiah,
who saith, At what instant I shall speak
concerning a Nation, and concerning a Kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down,
and to destroy it: If that Nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from
their Evil, I will repent of the Evil that I thought to do unto them (Jer.
The Holy Ghost to exalt and set forth the Grace of God in the most
ample manner, makes use of that Figure which some call an Hyperbole:
no Man had more of these than Paul.
To encourage the suffering Church of Corinth,
he tells them, that their light
Afflictions, which were but for a moment, did work for them a far more
exceeding and eternal weight of Glory (2 Cor. 4.17, 18).
Here (saith Mr. Leigh in his
Annotations on the New Testament) is Hyperbole
upon Hyperbole; one would have
thought it enough if he had said an eternal weight of Glory, but he adds, a
far more: What can be more than eternal Glory?
but he stops not here, but goes on with a
far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glory.
This shews the great Transport of the Apostle’s Mind, when he was
thinking and speaking of the Objects of the invisible World.
So when he writes to Timothy,
admiring the free Grace of God in making a Persecutor a Preacher, he tells him
that the Grace of God was exceeding
abundant with Faith and Love, which is in Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 1.14.).
It was exceeding abundant, as if he should say it was overfull,
redundant, more than enough, superabundant; and this was discover’d in Faith
and Love, that such a one as I who hated him, and persecuted him in his
Church, should believe in him, and love him, this – p. 47 – may well be
call’d unaccountable Love; for he came into the World to save me one of the
chiefest of Sinners. Now when
such things as these are mention’d in publick, they ought to be done with
such sutable Affection as the nature of the thing requires.
When the Apostle Paul speaks of Prophesy seven or eight times in one Chapter, and
exhorts the Church of Corinth to desire
and covet to prophesy, and tells them they
may all prophesy one by one (1 Cor. 14.39. Ver. 1. Ver. 39, 31.); we are
not to understand it of extraordinary Prophesy in a strict and proper sense;
as the foretelling of things to come, as did Isaiah
and Jeremiah, &c. neither are we to understand it as an Office to
the Church, but as a Gift from God to interpret and expound the holy
Scriptures; for it is not probable that the Apostle would exhort the whole
Church to be Officers. Moreover,
the word Prophesy is not limited to a foretelling of things, Prophesy is said
by the Apostle to consist in Exhortation (1 Cor. 14.3.), which signifies a
stirring up to Duty; and sometimes in the New Testament for beseeching,
entreating, comforting. Some are
called in Scripture-sense Prophets by way of resemblance, as the Scripture in
general, and the Gospel in particular is call’d a Word of Prophesy, yet a
great part of it doth not intend future Events; so those who have a Gift of
Scripture-Interpretation may be so call’d by way of resemblance, tho they
cannot foretel things to come.
We may raise as many Doctrines from a Scripture as it will truly bear;
and all Doctrines and Inferences that are natural from any Text are the purest
Divinity. This was the way of the
Scotch Divines, as you may see in
their printed Books. Let me give you an Example from the first Chapter to the –
p. 48 – Colossians, ver. 12. the
words are these, Giving thanks unto the
Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the Inheritance of the Saints
in light. From these words I
collect seven or eight Observations. The
first Doctrine is taken from the Subject, made
it is matter of wonder that such are made meet for Glory!
Who are made meet for Glory? I,
once a Persecutor, and you Colossians, who
once serv’d other Gods, that God should make us meet for Heaven is a wonder.
second thing I collect, is from the State of Man by Nature.
by Nature is altogether unmeet for Heaven.
if Man had been meet, the spirit would not have said, He hath made us
From Man’s Impotency, I observe;
Man can make himself meet for the eternal Inheritance; if any could, it would
not have been said God did it.
From the Efficient, Author, and Worker of this Meetness, I note,
it is God alone can make Men meet for an eternal Inheritance..
I observe from the Place or Name.
there is an Inheritance prepar’d for the People of God.
From the Act, made meet.
there is none shall enjoy Heavenly Bliss, but those who are first made meet
p. 49 – Seventhly, From the Adjunct, Saints
the Souls of Believers in their separate state from their Bodies, are in an
Inheritance in Light.
From the Duty and Obligation of the Subject to the Object, I note,
it is the Duty of all who are made meet for Heaven, to give Thanks to the
Father. Mark one thing, tho it be
said, that we should give Thanks to the Father, yet that doth not exclude the
Son, nor the Holy Ghost, but it is to the Father as the Fountain of Grace, to
the Son as the Procurer of Grace, to the Holy Spirit as the Applier of Grace.
Every Doctrine is
to be handled according as it will bear; some afford more Matter, others not
so much, and proper Uses are to be made upon each Doctrine.
I would recommend some few Books to the Consideration especially of
those inclin’d to the Ministry.
the Dutch and Diodate’s Annotations, Caryl
on Job, Mr. Charnock’s two
Volumes, Mr. Perkin’s Works, Roberts’s
Key, Leigh’s Body of Divinity, Wilson’s
Dictionary, Mr. Burroughs’s Works,
Dr. Sibbs’s Works, Dr. Raynolds’s
Works, Dr. Preston’s Works, Book
of Martyrs, Ames Marrow of Divinity,
Grosse’s Fiery Pillar of Heavenly
Truth, Dr. Owen on the Trinity, Bates’s
Harmony, Cole on Sovereignty; Books of the Scotch Divines, Durham on
the Canticles, Ten Commandments, Revelations,
Isa. 53. and of Scandal; Dickson
on the Psalms, Matthew, and I think on the Epistles; Hutcheson on the minor
Prophets, and John’s Gospel,
&c. Calvin’s Institutions, Ursinas
Catechism, Burgess’s Works, Ainsworth
on the Pentateuch, Psalms, – p. 50
– and Canticle, Erasmus on the New Testament, Tomb's Works, Dr. Willet's
Works, Bp Usher's Body of Divinity, Newman's Concordance, Roberts's Mystery
and Marrow of the Bible, the Ark of the Covenant opened, Dr. Du-veil his
literal Explanation of the Acts, Clark's Examples, Plutarch's Morals, Seneca's
Morals, Pliny's Natural History, Eusebius, Josephus, Hoylin's Cosmography,
Boyle's Stile of Scripture, Blundervil's Logick, Smith's and Delaune's
Rhetorick. And those who are not
skill'd in the Latin Tongue, for the understanding of Words make us of Mr.
Cole's Latin and English Dictionaries. What
Books you buy, get the best Tables to them you can, which may be used in some
respects as a Common-place Book: And a good Common-place Book of a Man's own
making will be necessary in a Study.
Additional Word to the Churches
1. Let the
necessity of a Gospel-Ministry lie with weight upon your Hearts; that there is
such a necessity appears from a special Institution of God, who is said to
have set or constituted Teachers in his Church (1 Cor. 12.28. Ephes. 4.11.
Mat. 9.38. Jer. 3.14. Col. 4.17. Acts 20.28.), and has given them to her as a
part of her Dowry: These are sent forth by the Lord of the Harvest; who alone
giveth Pastors to the Church; the Ministry is received of the Lord, and it is
the Holy Ghost that maketh them Overseers. Now that which God hath instituted
and appointed in his Church ought to be accounted necessary, and therefore a
Gospel Ministry ought to be so esteemed.
2. The Titles
given to Ministers import Services of absolute necessity, which the Scripture
calls by many Names, but not intending any Preheminence in Office: They are
call'd Elders to signify their Gra- – p. 51 – vity, decent and reverend
Behaviour; at other times Bishops, Overseers, Watchme, because their Work is
to take the Oversight of the Church, and watch for their Souls (Acts 20.28.
Heb. 13.17.). They are also
call'd Pastor, because they are to feed the Flock with the Words of eternal
Life: Also Stewards of the Mysteries of God: Sometimes Angels, Ambassadors,
Persons sent from God to publish Peace: Moreover, they are call'd Planters and
Builders; all which Metaphorical Expressions import Services of absolute
necessity (Jer. 3.14. 1 Cor. 4.1.
Rev. 1.20. 2 Cor. 5.20. 1 Cor. 3.7,9.); therefore let every Church look to it,
that such Officers be continued in the Church.
3. There are necessary Ordinances to be administred in the Church of
Christ till the end of the World, therefore Ministers are necessary: They are
to proclaim Remission of Sins in Christ's Name, to press the Doctrine of
Repenance from dead Works, and Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; they are to
bring good tidings to the meek, turning Men from Darkness to Light, speaking a
word in season to the weary, edifying the Body of Christ, and perfecting the
Saints, nourishing Men in the words of Faith: The word of Reconciliation is
committed to them (Acts 13.38. Heb. 6.1,2. Rom. 10.15. Acts 25.18. Isa. 50.4.
Eph. 4.11,12. 2 Cor. 5.20.), the Administration of Baptism, and the Lord's
Supper, all these are necessary in the Church, and therefore all Churches
ought to imitate the Apostles, who took a special care for a standing Ministry
in the Church; hence they took
care to ordain Elders in every Church: So Paul exhorted Timothy to commit the
things he had heard of him to faithful Men, who should be able to teach others
also: And Paul tells Titus, left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldst ordain
Elders in every City, even as I appointed thee.
– p. 52 –
Shall (as one
saith) the Babylonians have their Calldeans, the Persians their Magi, the
Indians their Brachmanni, the Gauls their Druidae, the Romans their Ponticices,
Augurs and Flamines, Persons separated to uphold a false Worship; and shall
not the Church of God have their Ministers to uphold a true Worship (Raynolds)?
2. Let the
Churches be cautioned for the Honour of God, the Glory of the Cause in their
hands, and the good of their own Souls, against calling to Office an ignorant,
unlearned, unexperienc'd Person: The Priest's Lips should preserve Knowledg,
and they shall seek the Law at his Mouth (Mal. 2.7).
Pastors are to feed the People with Knowledg and Understanding: Paul
tells the Ephesians when they come to read his Writings, they should
understand his Knowledg in the Mysteries of Christ (Ephes. 3.4. Mat. 15.14).
It was Jeroboam's Sin to make some of the lowest of the People Priests
(1 King. 12.31.). But when I say,
beware of calling unlearned Men, I mean such unlearned as Peter speaks of, who
wrest the Scriptures to their own Destruction (2 Pet. 3.16.)
Peter did not mean by unlearned Men, Men who wanted human Learning;
for then, as one saith, he must of necessity condemn himself; for he was a Man
in the sense of the great Council that wanted this Learning (Acts 4.13.), so
that he must lie under that blame which he lays upon others: But to be learned
in Peter’s sense, was to be taught
of God as the Truth is in Jesus, and by the Spirit
to understand the deep
things of God (Eph. 4.20, 21. 1 Cor. 2.10.); and through a saving
knowledge of Christ to be well establish’d, in opposition to those unstable
Ones he speaks of: They must be Men zealous for the Glory of God, sensible of
the Interest of Souls, exemplary to the Flock, able to speak experimentally
– p. 53 – of the Ways of God, of the Devices of Satan, and the Deceit of
Lust, and the Issues and Events of Temptations, and to understand the
Consolations of the holy Spirit: A Person of such able Parts, as that he may
be apt to teach and speak a word in
season, to shew a Man his Uprightness,
to convince Gainsayers, and to use
sound Speech which cannot be condemned (1 Tim. 3.2. Isa. 54. Job 33.23.
Titus 1.11. –– 2 .8.). Thus
his Teaching is to be Divine Teaching. The
Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles in the day of Pentecost
to fit them for this glorious Work. That
Unction and Divine Anointing which may make a Person a true Believer, may not
be sufficient to make him a Minister. The
Holy Ghost is call’d the Promise of
the Father (Acts 1.4,8), not
only as to make Persons Believers, but to make them Ministers, by a Divine
Power from on high, that they may be Witnesses for Christ, and serve his
Church. ’Tis not enough to have
the Thummim of Integrity, but we
must also have the Urim of Knowledg.
This leads me to a word of Exhortation, that all the Churches may take
great care to choose Pastors after God’s own Heart: And here I shall open
the Qualifications belonging to that Office, mentioned by Paul
to Timothy and Titus.
He must be blameless (1 Tim. 3.1, &c. Tit. 1.7, &c.); not absolutely
without Sin, for that is proper alone to the Triumphant Church; but he must be
such a one as hath not notable Blemish or scandalous Offence in his Life, lest
his Ministerial Work should want success; for it is necessary that he who
requires Innocence in others should have it in himself.
Who will give Credit to that Man whose Doctrine and Life do not
The Husband of one Wife,
because Chastity is very commendable in an Elder; it is not absolutely – p.
54 – necessary that he should be a married Man, but supposing him so, he
must be the Husband of one Wife: The meaning of the Apostle is, he must not be
a lover of Poligamy, i.e. to have more Wives than one at a time, as many of the Jews
and Ethnicks of the Eastern Nations; for this is contrary to the
Institution of Marriage: This also includes such who had put away their Wives
for very slight things, and taken others, which the Jews often did from the hardness of their Hearts, tho utterly
forbidden by Christ, except in the case of Adultery.
Vigilant and Watchful.
One that diligently attends his Flock, being prudent and circumspect,
that will not be long absent from them, nor sluggish when with them, lest the
Foxes take the Sheep before the Shepherd be aware.
Of a good Behaviour.
That is, of a comely and decent Behaviour in Countenance, Gate, Speech,
not proud Person that despiseth others, nor one that is morose, who cannot
accommodate himself to others, moderate in all his Actions, as opposed to
Distemper and Giddiness.
Given to Hospitality, a Lover
of it: It is not enough that he be kind at home, but express his Love to
Strangers, especially Ministers who may be in Distress, and all others where
need is: He ought to be an Example in all Offices of Kindness and Charity: and
that this Qualification may not be useless, it is the Duty of all Churches (if
able) so to furnish their Ministers, as it may be answered.
Apt to teach.
To this end he must be first well furnished with the knowledge of the
Mysteries of God himself, and then ready to communicate to others the Knowledg
he receiv’d from God. His
Teaching must not be Jewish Fables, and high swelling Philosophy of this
World, but those things that make truly godly.
– p. 55 –
Not given to Wine, i.e. a
temperate Person, not one that loves to sit by the Wine Morning and Evening,
day by day, tho he may not drink to the loss of his Reason; he must be one
that sets himself and Example of Mortification to sensual Delights.
No Striker; i.e. one that
uses no Violence, one that abhors Strife and Contention; no Quarreller, one
that cannot by reason of Passion keep his Hands off from those that provoke
Not greedy of filthy Lucre,
but detesting all unjust and sordid ways of heaping up Riches; not one that
professes Godliness for Gain-sake, or that loves Mony with an inordinate Love;
that is not liable to a just suspicion of undertaking his Charge from a
Principle of Covetousness, but desires the Office for the sake of Christ, and
the good of the Souls of Men.
No Brawler, but one of a
quiet peaceable Disposition.
Patient; one that is very
ready sometimes to depart from his own right of Profit and honour in the
Church and World for Peace-sake; not apt to be angry, but peaceable.
Not covetous: Not a Lover of
Silver. The Archbishop of Mentz
is a terrible Example of Covetousness, who in derision call’d the poor
People Mice; and suffering them in a time of Scarcity to perish like Mice with
Hunger, by the just Judgment of God was invaded by Mice, and flying to his
Tower on the River Rhine for
shelter, was pursued by them and devour’d.
One that rules well his own
House, having his Children in all Subjection, who are willing to be under
the Yoke; let him be one who hath given Experiment by the Rule of his own
Family, the lesser, that he is capable to govern the Church, which is the
Not a Novice, i.e. Not a
young Plant, or – p. 56 – Scholar in Christ’s School, wanting Experience
of God himself, and the Wiles of Satan; this is not meant of one young in
Years, but Faith. Timothy
was young in years when he was ordained Elder of the Church at Ephesus,
but not young in Grace: A person young in point of years, may have more
Knowledg and Experience than some Gray-headed Christians.
No Person that is raw, and green, and not well establish’d in
Religion, should be admitted to this Honour, lest this great Dignity tempt him
to Pride, and so bring the same upon him as fell upon Satan.
He must have a good Report of
those who are without, lest he fall into Reproach, and the Snare of the Devil:
He must be of good Report among them who are without the Pale of the Church,
because the Glory of God is much concern’d in the Reputation of such
Persons, that they may not be reproach’d for their former infamous Life, and
so cause him to fall into some Temptation, either of Revenge and Hatred, undue
Anger, or Passion, or else to make him cowardly and bashful in the discharge
of his Duty, and so remove that holy Boldness necessary to his Function.
Paul to Titus speaks of one Qualification more, He must not be selfwill’d (Tit. 1.7.), stubborn, confident, one
that pleases himself in his own Mind, and will have his own way right or
wrong, come what will.
Let the Churches be exhorted to go to the Lord of the Harvest to
beseech him that he would send more Labourers into his Harvest (Mat. 8.37, 38):
What abundance of able Ministers hath God removed out of this City those
thirty years last past? and it is
well if the Churches can say that their places are all fill’d up: Pray hard
that God would send Joshua’s and Elisha’s in the room of those Moses’s
and Elijah’s which he hath
removed. – p. 57 –
Give that Honour and Respect to your Ministers and Pastors that God
allows; God accounts it an honourable place (Hebrew. 5.4.).
If Honour is to be given to a King, who is a Protector of the Body,
shall they be denied it that watch for Mens Souls?
It is the Apostle’s Counsel to the Church at Thessalonica,
to know them which labour among you, and
are over you in the Lord, and admonish you: And to esteem them very highly for
their Works sake. Let the Elders (saith
Paul) that rule well, be counted worthy of double Honour, especially they who
labour in the Word and Doctrine (1 Thess. 5.12, 13. 1 Tim. 5.1.).
So (saith he) obey them who
have the Rule over you, and submit your selves: not that they are Lords
over God’s Heritage, to be rul’d in a Lordly way, and by Force and
Rigor, seeing they are a voluntary People, and to be govern’d with their own
Bless God for those faithful Ministers he hath given you; take heed you
do not sin them away and the Gospel together; provoke not God to send a
Famine of the Word (Amos 8.11.12.), and remove the Gospel from England and London, as he
did from Jerusalem (Mat. 21.43.),
and the Churches in Asia and Africa;
even there where the Gospel did once gloriously shine, those very places are
overspread with Heathenism and Mahometanism.
Pray that the Word may have free
course, and may run and be glorified (2Thess. 3.1, 2.) in the Sinners
Conversion, and Saints Perfection. God
hath promised to take away the Heart of
Stone, and give a Heart of Flesh; but (saith he) for
these things I will be sought unto by the House of Israel (Ezek. 35.26,
27.), the Church of God. And if
we find the Womb of Conversion much shut up. For the Church to set apart a day
of Humiliation upon that account, and – p. 58 – to pray that a Door of Faith may be open (Acts 14.27.). Some can speak by Experience that God hath own’d this
Practice. Beg for greater degrees
of his holy Spirit to be pour’d upon your Ministers, that God would give
them a double Portion, that they may every way answer their honourable Titles,
who are call’d the Salt of the Earty,
and the Light of the World
(Mat. 5.13, 14, 16.).
Be exhorted ever more to maintain, and not lose that blessed Ordinance
of Ordination, and calling those to Office who are fit for it: Some have been
Probationers all their days; and it is matter of Lamentation, that some
Churches have imploy’d Persons in Preaching and administring Ordinances ten
or twenty years, tho fitly qualified, and yet never call’d them to Office.
And tho in my Epistle I have prov’d the lawfulness, yea and the
necessity of preaching in ordinary before Ordination, yet I did never intend
by that to destroy a Gospel-Ordinance, viz.,
a solemn Ordination to Office: Tho it is most true that the Holy Ghost
makes Men Overseers of the Church, and that Gifts and Graces are from Christ
(which is his internal Call) yet he ought to have an external Call by the
Church, to ordain him to Office: The inward Call doth enable him to act in
that Station, the outward Call doth enable him to act regularly: Tho a
Gospel-Minister hath Authority and Right, being qualified by Christ, to act,
yet he hath not a full formal Authority to act in a Church, but as by them
call’d and ordain’d unto it. We
ought to have a Zeal for all the commands of God, why should not we be as
careful in this matter as the Apostles, who
ordain’d Elders in every Church (Acts 14.23.)?
And Paul exhorts Titus to ordain Elders in
every City (Tit. 1.5). We see
by this it was the Apostles Judgment and great Care that every Church have an
Elder: This is as much the – p. 59 – word of God, and to be practis’d as
there is occasion, as Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper; and therefore this
looks severely upon all those Churches who live year after year without a
Pastor, which is the great reason of the scattering of the Flock.
Ever retain and never part with that Rite and Ceremony in Ordination of
Imposition of Hands, with Prayer, on the Person ordained (1 Timothy. 4.14.).
Some thing that the Ceremony of laying on of Hands may be omitted.
Sometimes with must be tied to Example in the least Gesture; tho not
prescrib’d, and yet Men presume to dispense in a Circumstance expressly
was ordain’d by laying on of Hands, and enjoin’d by Paul
to lay Hands on others in their Ordination (1Tim. 5.22. Tit. 1.5.).
Thus were the seven Deacons in the Church at Jerusalem
ordain’d. So of Paul
and Barnabas it is said, When
the Church had fasted and pray’d, and laid their Hands on them, they sent
them away to preach, being call’d of God to that Work.
’Tis a Saying of Dr. Sedman,
“When I consider (saith he) how uniform and accurate the Apostles were in
observing imposition of Hands in the matter of Ordination, and have no
instance or Example of doing it any otherwise; I judg it sinful for any who
desire the Office of a Minister to refuse it, and scandalous in any Church
willfully to turn it aside.” And
tho Imposition of hands be not mention’d in the 14th Chapter of
the Acts, where it is said they
ordain’d them Elders in every City,
yet we ought to conclude they were ordain’d by laying on of Hands, because
we find in other places of Scripture it was the common Practice of the
Apostles and Churches in Ordination of Ministers and Deacons.
Pray mark, those Scriptures which – p. 60 – speak more generally
and indefinitely of any matter, are always to be govern’d by those that
speak of the same thing more definitely, particularly, plainly and fully: as
when Christ in Luke 6.20. saith, Blessed
be ye Poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God: This indefinite word Poor
is not to be understood of all Poor, because there are some Poor very wicked;
therefore to be understood by a Text more ample, full and plain, as Mat.
5.3. Blessed are the poor in Spirit. So in Luke
6.21. Blessed are ye that hunger now, for ye shall be filled: this is to
be governed and understood according to Mat.
5.6. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after Righteousness. So in like manner where Imposition of Hands is not mention’d
in Ordination, as Acts 14.23. it is
to be govern’d by those Scriptures which speak of the same thing in a more
ample, full and plain manner, Acts 6.6.
Chap. 13.3. 1 Tim. 4.14. Chap. 5.22. in all which places Imposition of
Hands is mention’d in Ordination of Elders and Deacons.
were set apart to Ecclesiastical Service, and had Office-Power confer’d upon
them under the Old Testament by the Ceremony of Laying on of Hands: For ’tis
expressly said by God to Moses, that
he should lay his Hands on Joshua, Numb.
27.18. and that the Children of Israel
should lay their Hands upon the Levites
as they stood before the Tabernacle of the Congregation, Numb.
8.9. And to suppose that the Apostles did practice this Ceremony without
God’s Approbation, were to make them guilty of Will-worship.
But whereas ’tis objected, that because extraordinary things do not
follow that Practice, as in the Apostles time, therefore that Practice is
ceased. I answer; by this way of
arguing we shall lose most of the great Ordinances of the Gospel. What, because we cannot shake the Place in Prayer as Peter
did, doth Prayer – p. 61 – cease?
Because the Holy Ghost doeth not come down while we are preaching upon
our Hearers in a miraculous manner, as it did upon Cornelius
and his Houshold while Peter
preached, is it therefore made void? Moreover,
Baptism must cease too, because it is not miraculously confirmed as it was at
Christ’s Baptism, when the Holy Ghost came down upon them in the shape of a
Dove, and a Voice from Heaven, saying, This
is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
If it be said, those must remain because commanded, tho such
extraordinary things do not follow; then from the same Argument, Laying on of
Hands must continue, unless you suppose the Apostles guilty of Will-worship,
as we said before.
This Rite and
Ceremony of Imposition of Hands imports, 1. A Dedication, and devoting the
Person to the Office of a Pastor and sacred Imployment.
2. To let them know that the Hand of God is with them in all that they
do in his Name, and by his Authority, to guide, strengthen and protect them.
3. And imploring the Gifts, Blessing, Protection, and Custody of the
Holy Spirit upon them in a most plentiful manner, as being to take charge of
the Souls of others.
Finally, be exhorted that as your Ministers take care of your Souls,
you would take care of their Bodies and Families: The same Shepherd that
watches over the Flock, is clothed and fed by the Flock.
They are bound to take care of your Souls, which is the greater; you
ought to take care of their Bodies, which is the lesser.
1. God hath made it your Duty by a Divine Command: Even
so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the Gospel should live by
the Gospel (1 Cor. 9.11.). God’s
Commands are not to be disputed, but obey’d: You would have your Pastors
obey God’s Command in feeding your Souls, and will you not have respect to
– p. 62 – God’s Command in
feeding their Bodies? Must he be oblig’d to obey Christ for the Flock’s
sake, and shall not the Flock make Conscience to obey Christ for the Shepherd’s
sake? Levi was to have a tenth part under the Law of what the People had,
not that I say that Law remains now in force, tho the Equitableness of it may.
2. Consider it is the Honour of Churches to provide for their Ministers, yea
it is an Honour to your Lord and Master, and the Cause which you own. We are
exhorted to honour God with our Substance,
and God hath added this Promise, so
shall thy Barns be filled with Plenty (Prov. 3. 9,10.); not that it is
expected where it is not to be had; no, there the Minister must be free
himself to help the needy, if he be able. But where God hath bless’d any
with the things of this World, it is their Duty to give him part of their
Temporals, who giveth them of his Spirituals: This is the way to thrive in
Soul and Body. Where the People kept back their Tithes, God telleth them that
they robbed him; and to encourage
them in their Duty, he promises to open
the Windows of Heaven, and to pour out a Blessing, that there should not be
room enough to receive it (Mal. 3. 8,9,10,11.): And tho this Law be ceas’d
as we said before, yet the Morality and Equity of it will never cease. And so
the Blessing may be expected as Persons are found in their Duty; and it is
observ’d that those are the most thriving and flourishing Churches in City
and Country, that make Conscience to provide honourably for their Ministers.
See how the Apostle argueth this Point, No
Man goeth to War on his own Charge, but the Nation’s; and he that plants
a Vineyard would think it very hard if he did not eat the Fruit of it (1 Cor.
9.7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14.): And that Shepherd that feedeth and looketh after his
Flock, expects from them Wool to clothe him, – p. 63 – and Meat to feed
him, Hath God taken care of the unreasonable Creature, that
the Ox should not be muzzled when he treadeth out the Corn (Deut. 25. 4.); how much more should they be provided for who tread out the Corn,
and break the Bread of Eternal Life? Shall
the Plowman plough in hope, and the
Thresher be partaker of his
hope, and shall not he that ministers about the holy things live of the
things of the Temple; and they that attend on the Altar,
partake of the Altar? If therefore we minister to
you Spiritual Things, is it a great thing if we reap your Carnal? Moreover,
you know not what Temptations a Man and his Family, his Wife and Children may
be under, in the neglect of your Duty; It may cause the Children to have hard
thoughts of the Ways and People of God, and set them against the Truth if
great care be not taken. Lay them not under Temptation by suffering them to
run into Debt, that will be no Honour to you, nor Comfort to him. It is the
most dishonourable thing in the World to let ministers run into Debt, because
of this the Gospel may want that success that otherwise it might have; it
takes Men of tender Consciences off from that holy Boldness which they ought
to have in pressing Moral Duties: Perhaps he may have Abilities to get the
things of the World as well as others, and so might lay up for his Children;
but his hands being bound, and his Time taken up in better things, it is a
pity the Children of Ministers should be slighted, when their Father lays out
his Time and Strength for the good of the Congregation. Thus I have thought
meet to stir you up by putting you in remembrance of those Duties you are
oblig’d unto as you are the Churches of Christ. Let this Counsel be accepted
from him who, if his heart deceive him not, desires, if call’d thereunto,
that he may be willing to be offer’d
upon the Sacrifice and Service of the Churches Faith (Phil. 2.17.): For; if Christ laid down his
Life for us who were Enemies (1 Joh. 3.16.), surely we ought to lay down our Lives for the Brethren, especially
when it hath a tendency to strengthen their Faith, and help them forward to
I N I S.
Page 40. line 23. read ascribed.