« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
it, being content to find fome word, that they reckon may be to the minister's prejudice, or 'reproach ? and though they thould forget all the rest of the word, yet this they will mind, to report it to their confederates, either out of malice, because they receive not the truth in the love thereof, or out of pride, because they would have others, that hear their cenforious remarks, to esteem them to be judicious persons, and competent judges, while, in the mean time, they are but bewraying their own ignorance, malice, and pride. Hence fime come to watch, if anything can be wrested, that is uttered, that they may act the devil, in accusing the brethren; some gape for remarkable phrases, that, when they come to their ordinary company, they may have some. thing to grace and adorn their tales; fome never come to hear what shall be said to themselves, and therefore never prick up their ears, till they suppose they hear the minister exposing the crimes of others ; fume come to gaze, and look about them, to see who are there, and what is their dress and behaviour ; fome come to muse, and dream, and rove, and if they notice any word that is said, it will perhaps occasion a hundred impertinent thoughts to keep out the rest of the fermon, and the mind will run a thousand ways before it can get another word noticed, and perhaps the fermon is done, before they can gather their thoughts together again. Many such accidental hearers there are, that gather to ordinances, but not to Shiloh. They come to meet with their friends, that, it may be, conveen at such a fermon, but not to meet with Christ. They are like children that gather to a market, and fit in the marketplace, but neither to buy nor fell. But, as many foxes have been taken, when they came to take ; so, fome that have come only to spy novelties, yea, to fcoff and fcorn, have changed their minds before they went home. And; Oh that grace would come and catch fome that are here, and yet are seeking nothing here, but like babes, to catch butterflies! Oh that Christ, the greatest treasure in the world, should be most def. pised, and that the gospel-star, which should lead you to VOL. IV. + K
the the place where he is, that you may be gathered to him, that this star should not be marked ! · 5. Hence fee what is the great Mark, at which ministers of the gospel should shoot, in dispensing thereof; why, it is juit the gathering of fouls to Christ : To bim jhall the gathering of tbe people be. Wo! wo to the minister, whose great design is only to gather a multitude of people to himself, and enhanse their applause! It hath been indeed the lot of some of the most faithful ministers of Christ, to be thus reproached and calumniated, as if all their design were to recommend them. felves to the populace, and gather a multitude to their faction; they have been branded as felf-seekers, instead of being foul-fishers; and why? Because providence hath commonly ordered that those who have been most denied and mortified to self, have been moft followed; but the more they were followed, the more they were envied by those that truly fought themselves: hence, as none was more followed than Christ, fo none was more envied by the felf-feeking Pharisees; “ Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? Behold the world is gone after him,” John xii. 19. And, as we read not that Christ reproved any for following him, though he reproved them for their false ends in doing so, John vi. 26. : fo, tho' no gospel minister will be displeased, that he hath many fishes before the net, in hopes that fome may be gathered; yet it is, and will be the character of all faithful ministers, which the apostle relates, 2 Cor. iv. 5. " We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jefus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' fake.” And I Cor. ii. 2. “ I determined to know [or MAKS KNOWN] nothing among you, fave Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” The great gospel-design then is, to gather fouls to Christ, seeing they can never be happy or holy, but in him. And while you find that to be your minifters great scope, you ought to regard and hear them, as you would do a voice from heaven ; yea, and more, while they speak the mind of God, from the word of God, which is the more sure word of prophecy; for it is the same as if you heard Christ him. feif: therefore he fays, “ He that hears you, hears me;
Ser. LVI, &c. The Happy Congregation. 147 and he that despises you, despises me.” If you truly regarded that word of Christ, you would hear the voice of the preacher, as you would hear the voice of God. If Sanuel had thought it was God that spoke to him, he would not have slept ; but because he thought it was nct God, but Eli, therefore he slept on; fo, while people do not think it is God that speaks to them, but only a mar, they will never regard it; and never will there be a gathering to Shiloh, till the word be received, “ Not as the word of man, but as it is in truth the word of God, which effectually works in you that believe,”. 1 Thefi. ii. 13.' Where also that question is obviate, How shall we know when the minilier fpeaks his own words, or God's word? Why, let the word of God be received, and it will speak for itself; for it will effectually work in you that believe. And when the words of one preacher seem to clash with the words of another, this effectual working of the word will teach you how to judge things that differ really, and how to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. The great mark then, I say, that the gospel-minister aims at, is the gathering of the people to Shiloh ; and the pointing out of Christ to them, for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Surely, my friends, we know no other way to save you, nor ourselves; if we did, how wretched were we to keep it from you, since we have no other calling, but to fhew you the way of salvation.
6. Hence we may also see what is the centre of all gospel-truth ; Christ is the centre, wherein all the lines of evangelical doctrine are gathered together, and do meet. It would not be the duty of people, to believe in him, or gather to him by faith, if he were not the truth, as well as the way; yea, the centre and substance of all truth : and that is not the truth, that does not lead to him. Here is the most sure test of orthodoxy; whatever pretends to be the truth, and yet tends only to lead a man in to himself, and not out of himself to Christ; whatever doctrine tends to make you think, you must produce some holiness or good qualifications from within yourself, without gathering K2
or wisdon, hiloh; and
himself to Chriltimit produce lome without gathering
first to Shiloh, to get it, you may know it'is not orthodox doctrine: whatever doctrine tends to the disparagement of Christ, or to the robbing him of any part of the glory of salvation-work, is to be rejected, as erroneous; for, to him alone must the gathering of the people be : and to him only shall the glory of our whole falvation, from first to last, belong. Christ is much robbed of his Glory in Britain at this day; damnable Arian doctrine is spreading, whereby Christ is robbed of the glory of liis fupreme Deity, denying his being the eternal Son of God, co-equal, and co-effential with the Father *, The devil himself was more orthodox than our Arian doctors, when he owned, Matth. viii. 29. that Christ was the Son of God; “ What have we to do with thee, Telus thou Son of God ?" The devil fpake more honourably of him, than they do, when he said, Mark
i. 24. " I know thee who thou art, the holy One of . . God.” My text leads me to what I am saying; for,
if Christ were not the supreme God, equal with the Father, the gathering of the people to him, to believe in him, to worfhip and adore him, would be unlawful ; it would be idolatry. For, as the Lord our God is one Lord; so we must worship the Lord our God, and him only must we serve : and it is idolatry to worship any other. Yea, to the Son, he says, “ Let all the angels of God worship him :" and for this end, must all the people be gathered to him. My present work allows me not to trace the other doctrines, that rob him of his glory, and tend to lead people elsewhere than to Shiloh: only, whatever mask of truth, or holiness, any doctrine
* About this time the Arinn heresy was not only revived, but had gained c-oderable fonting in our neighbouring kingdom of England, under the patronage of Mr. Whiston and others; but also diflutud its baleful and pernicious influence lipon Scotland, befriended by many, adopted and publicly taught in one of our princ ral Seminaries of learning; for whic' a process was commenced by the presbytery of Glas. gow, against profeflyr Simson, Anno 1726, and carried on, before the respective judicatories, till concluded by the Afrembly Anno 1729. the charge being found clcarly proven; and he, in consequence thereof, got but a very inadequate sentence, being only suspended from teaching and preaching, instead of deposition and excommunication. See · Vol. II. page 466, 467.
shall put on, if it tend to gather people to Moses, and not to Shiloh; or to lead them to the law, and not to Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth, it savours not of the truth as it is in Jesus, Eph. iv. 21.-But the main inference I de. figned at prelent, was for exhortation, and therefore, passing all other inferences that might be drawn, I come to apply it.
Secondly, For exhortation. And I design, as the Lord may pity and ailiit, to direct it to three sorts of persons,
with relation to this gathering of the people to Shiloh. · I. Some may be doubtful whether they were ever ga
thered to Shiloh, or not; therefore I would exhort them to try. 2. Some may be sure they were never yet gathered to Shiloh ; therefore I would exhort them to gather under his wings, 3. Some are believers, that have, thro' grace, been gathered by him, and made to gather to him; and I would exhort them to their duty, with respect to their further gathering to him.
ist, Some may be doubtful, wliether they were ever gathered to Shiloh, or not; and therefore my exhor.
whether it be fo or not. Examination is a neceflary - duty at all times, as well after, as before a communion). · He that says, with reference to the facrament, « Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat;” says also, with reference to any season, “ Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith, prove your ownselves; know ye not your ownselves, how that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" 2 Cor. xiii. 5. Oh! poor dying mortal! will you try if you have been gathered to Shiloh, or not? Whether you have gone in to him by a faith of his own operation. For according as this takes place, fo will it fare with you thro' all eternity. If you die out of Christ, or in unbelief, you die in your sins, John viii. 24. And better die in a ditch, and die like a dog, than die in your fins. If you die in your sins, you will rise in your fins, and stand before the tribunal of God in your sins, and so be condemned. If you be gathered in Christ, you will be found in him, and so found happy,