Or,

 

An 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.

 

With proper Directions as to Study and Preaching, for such as are inclin’d to the Ministry.

 

 

 

By Hercules Collins.

 

 

Heb. 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.

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

London;

 

Printed for William and Joseph Marshal, and sold by them at the Bible in Newgate-Street.  1702

________________________________________________________________________

 

GADSDEN, AL;

 

Retyped in the interest of God’s kingdom as a ministry of the Gadsden Primitive Baptist Church.  2005


Forward

 

Hercules Collins 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.

Thus Collins 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.

The 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

Gadsden Primitive Baptist Church

432 Broad Street

Gadsden, AL

(256) 547-7592

michaelarogers@bellsouth.net.


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To 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 Christ,

 

Dearly Beloved;

 

The 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 (Dida,skaloi) 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.

Some (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.”

 Pray 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.”

Unto 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 Religion.

And 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.

 The 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.”

 Their 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.

The 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.”

 The 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.”

Their 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,

 

H.C.

 

 

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INTRODUCTION.

 

We 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.

From 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.

That Scripture which I shall lay for the Foundation of my Discourse, is – p. 16 –

 

2 Tim. ii. 15.

 

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a Workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

 

1.  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.

2dly. 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.

3dly.  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.).

4thly.  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.).

2. 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, &c.

3. 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 Temptations.

4. We shall now raise some Observations, which are express’d and implied in the words.

 

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 –

 

Doct. 4. 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.

 

Doct. 5. 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 Contempt.

 

 

Now I shall sum up all into one Doctrine.

 

Doct. 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.

 

In 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.

 

I. 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.).

 

II. The second General Head is to lay down one Proposition, which is this;

That 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.

 

III. We shall labour to shew you who are good Workmen.

1. 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.

2. 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).

3. 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.

4. 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 our Souls?

5. 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 Blessing.

 

IV. The reasons of the Point, in which I shall be very brief.

1. 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 Solomon) 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 (Diodate).

2. 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.

 

V. The Use and Application.

1. 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.).

2. 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.

3. 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 comes?

4. 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.).

 

To 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.

 

Additional Directions and Instructions.

 

1st.  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.).

 

2dly. 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.

 

3dly. 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.

 

4thly. 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.

 

5thly. 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 God.

 

6thly: 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.

 

7thly. 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.

 

8thly. 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 deliver.

 

9thly.  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).

 

10thly.  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.

 

11thly.  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. 1. 12.).

 

12thly.  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.).

 

13thly.  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.).

 

14thly.  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).

 

15thly.  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.

 

16thly.  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.

 

17thly.  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.

 

18thly.  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.

 

19thly.  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 words import.

 

20thly.  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.

 

21thly.  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.

 

22thly.  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.

 

23thly.  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.

 

24thly.  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.

 

25thly.  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.

 

26.  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.

 

27.  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.

 

28.  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 –

 

29.  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.

 

30.  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.).

 

31.  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.

 

32.  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.

 

33.  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. 18.7, 8.).

 

34.  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.

 

35.  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.

 

36.  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 us meet.

 

Doct. 1.  That 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.

 

The second thing I collect, is from the State of Man by Nature.

 

Doct. 2.  Man by Nature is altogether unmeet for Heaven.  if Man had been meet, the spirit would not have said, He hath made us meet.

 

Thirdly, From Man’s Impotency, I observe;

 

Doct. 3.  No Man can make himself meet for the eternal Inheritance; if any could, it would not have been said God did it.

 

Fourthly, From the Efficient, Author, and Worker of this Meetness, I note,

 

Doct. 4.  That it is God alone can make Men meet for an eternal Inheritance..

 

Fifthly, I observe from the Place or Name.

Doct. 5.  That there is an Inheritance prepar’d for the People of God.

 

Sixthly, From the Act, made meet.

 

Doct. 6.  That there is none shall enjoy Heavenly Bliss, but those who are first made meet for it.

 

– p. 49 – Seventhly, From the Adjunct, Saints in light.

 

Doct. 7.  That the Souls of Believers in their separate state from their Bodies, are in an Inheritance in Light.

 

Eightly, From the Duty and Obligation of the Subject to the Object, I note,

 

Doct. 8.  That 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.

 

 

36.  I would recommend some few Books to the Consideration especially of those inclin’d to the Ministry.

Pool’s, 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.

 

 

An 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.

3.  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.

(1.)  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 harmonize?

(2.)  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.

(3.)  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.

(4.)  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.

(5.).  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.

(6.)  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 –

(7.)  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.

(8.)  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 him.

(9.)  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.

(10.)  No Brawler, but one of a quiet peaceable Disposition.

(11.)  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.

(12.)  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.

(13.)  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 greater.

(14.)  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.

(15.)  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.

4.  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 –

5.  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 Consent.

6.  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.).

7.  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.

8.  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 prescrib’d.  Timothy 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.

Moreover, Persons 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.

9.  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 Heaven.

 

F I N I S.

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