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and redemption.” To these two doth the apostle refer the whole of that counsel of God, le fhunned not to declare to the Ephesians, in that fore.cited scripture, Ads xx. 21. He testified to all persons, Jews and Greeks, repentance towards God, (i. e. that they were guilty of such offences against God, as called for deep huniliation,) and faith to. wards our Lord Jesus Christ; that is, that there was no way of escaping the wrath of God, but that of closing with Christ by faith. This is tte matter of the gospel : and Christ's servants are to make it their business faithfully to unfold the mind of God in reference to these two, man's state by nature, and what he may by grace be advanced to. This is called, 1 Tim. 8.
labouring in the word and doctrine.
Tuis preaching of the gospel takes in three things. 1. A full proposal of the doctrine just now mentioned. Ministers auft, without mincing the matter, plainly discover to men their loft state, and the impoflibility of re. covery any other way, than by the gospel-method, through Jesus Christ, Aas xx. 21. 2. They must discover there things, bot as their private sentiments, built upon some rational conclufions of their own drawing and framing, but as the word of God. It is the word of God they are to propose, and not their own private opinions ; and it is The word of God hearers are to receive from them, i Theff.
" For this cause also thank we God,” saith the apostle, “ without ceasug, because wlien ye received the word of God, which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” 3. This preaching of the word takes in not only a proposal of the word of God, but an authoritative declaration of it by virtue of a commillion derived from God.
66 These things speak and exhort, and rebuke with all authority,' Tit. ii. 15. The word, in the first language, may be ren. dered command, with all command. Ministers are clothed with authority from God; and in his name, by virtue of a commillion received from him, they are to preach the gospel, and to speak the counsel of God, as being his mouih to the people, i Pet, iv. 11. This is the principal part of the minister's work; and therefore to hear the word of God from them in this manner should be the great
design of these who call a gospel-minister, that they may hear from them as the mouth of God, what by nature they are, and what through the grace of God in Christ Jesus they may be. But now,
2. When a people call a gospel-minister, they should defign the regular and orderly performance of the worship of God. This worship of God, as it is contradiftinguished, from the doärine of the gospel, of which under the former head, consists principally in the administration of the sa. craments and prayer; public prayer, I mean, under which PRAISES are comprehended, as belonging to, and always to be joined with it, according to our blessed Lord's appointment in that form, commonly called the Lord's Prayer, which concludes with thankłgiving. In Aas ii. 42. we have an account of the public worflip of the church, which consists in preaching, there expressed by doctrine, and breaking of bread, that is, administering the facrament of the Lord's supper, and prayers and praises. “ And they,” faith the Spirit of God speaking of the church, u continued in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers ;” and, ver. 47. “ praising God." The celebration of the facraments, pubJic prayers and praises, are divine institutions for the fala vation and edification of the church, which cannot be gone about, or orderly performed, without a gospel-ministry, who only have commillion to celebrate the facraments, and to be the mouth of the people to God in their public affen.. blies, being furnished with spiritual gifts for the work, Matth. xxviii. 19. 1 Cor. xi. 23. and xiv. 16. And therefore, when a people call a gospel-minister, they should have this in view, as one great design, that there. by they may have the gospel-worship celebrated among: them in all its parts, according to Christ's-institution, to their spiritual advantage and his glory.
3. They should call a gospel-minister to rule over them.This is one part of the minister's work, to rule over his Aock, 1. Tim.. V. 17. “ Let the elders that rule well, be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." This superiority which gospel-ministers have, is not a lordly. dominion over ei. ther the persons or faith of the flock. No, any thing of this fort that ever crept into the church, had its rise:
from the subiilty of Satan, who envied its peace; and is directly opposite to the gospel, which forbids Jordly dominion, the gospel-minister's authority being given only for " edification, and not for destruction,” as the apostle has it, 2 Cor. x. 8. And it consists, i. In an authoritative enforcement of the laws of Christ's house. 2. In a ministerial enforcement of them, by an offer of the golpel-privileges as the rewards of obedience. And, 3. In a power to inflict, according to Christ's appointment, the gospel-punishments upon the disobedient, the highest whereof is excommunication, whereby the disobedient are “delivered over to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus," as the apostle has it, i Cor. v. 5. And to one of these three ends might all be reduced, according to the corimon distinction of gospel-ordinances, in doctrine, worfhip, and governinept. But that you may the better understand this matter, we shall name some more particular designs : and therefore we say,
4. A people in calling a gospel.minifter, should design the closing of a bargain, and making a match with Christ upon his own terms. It is the work and business they are sent out for, to espouse fingers to Chrift, 2 Cor. ii 2. to woo a bride for the Lamb. They have a commillion, as Abraham's serrant had, to go and seek a wife for their Master's Son ; and those who call theon fhould do it in or. der to the conclusion of this happy match; that from them they may liear the terms whereon they are to be admitted into this near relation, the advantages that Mall accrue to them by it, the inconveniences they will run themselves into by a refusal, and the warrant they have to enter in. to so high and honourable a relation.
5. They should design their own furtherance in acquaintance with Christ. They sljould i as new born babes de. fire the fincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby,” i Pet, ii. 2. that they may be furthered in their joy and faith, “ growing in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
6. They should design their own establishment in the ways of God, that they may not be "to fled to and fro with every wind of doctrine,” but that “ being rooted and grounded in the faith, they may grow up in all things to him who is the head and Saviour of the body.”
This is expressly deciared to be the design of the miniftry, Eph. iv, 11. The apostle, having spoken of Christ's exaltation, and his having received gifts for men, tells us of him, in this verse and the following, “ That he gave fome apostles, some proplets, and some evangelifts, and fome pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the faints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ ; that we henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the fleight of men, and cunning craftiness wliereby they lie in wait to deceive,” &c. And to the same purpose speaks the Spirit of God frequently elsewhere, of the design of the ministry. Paul, in kom. i. 11. expresseth his earnest de. fire to see them, and to " iinpart some fpiritual gift” unto them, to the end “they may be established.” There who are already engaged in God's ways should design their owa establishment in them in their calling a gospel-ininiiler.
7. They fhould design their own direction through all the difficulties of religion. The Lord's people have many dark steps in their way ; sometimes they are under temptation, and know not how to carry; sometimes they are engaged in a close fight with their adversaries, and know not how to wield their fpiritual armour to advantage ; fometimes they are out of the way, and know not how to get into it again : and therefore they need some to guide them into the mean. ing of God's word; for how can they understand, unless they be taught, Aets viii, 31.
“ How can I understand," fays the Ethiopian eunuch, “unless some man should guide me:" and who should guide them but those who are guides by office, as the word may be rendered, Heb. xiii. 8. “ Con fider them who have the rule over you, or who are your guides. This, as the end of a gospel-ministry, is promised in Isa. XXX. 20, 21. " And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet fhall not thy teachers be removed into corners any more, but thine eyes shall see tliy teachers : And thine ears shall bear a voice behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” It is impollible we thould condescend on all the
particular intentions or ends a people thould propose to themselves in calling a gospel-niinister ; and therefore we Mall conclude all this in one, which is sure to comprehend them.
8. They Nould seek to have one who may answer in some measure Timothy's character, with respect io the church of the Philippians, Phil. ii. 20. one who may naturally take care of them, that is, one who may, out of love to their fonis, afectionately, prudently, carefully, and with impartial boldness, open and apply the word, dispense the facra. menis, and administer discipline, for the instruction of the ignorant, ftrengthening the weak, coinforting the discon. folate, affecting the impenitent, reproving the faulty, re. covering wanderers, directing and helping forward those who doubt and halt; that he may both fave himself and them, to the praise and glory of God's grace. We shall not infilt
upon each of these particulars, which would require not one or two, but many serinons, which suits not our prefent design. We shall therefore proceed, in ile
SECOND place, to inquire, How a people should make it áppear that they were atting upon those designs in their cala ling a gospel-minisier. This inquiry inight be understood, either to respect their own fatisfaction, or the satisfaction of the world, or of the minister himself as to this matter ; but tiine not allowing us to be so particular, we shall hold the inquiry in the general ; and in answer to it we say,
1. A people should discover their designs to be such as we have mentioned, by a punctual attendance upon all the ordinances, to be by him dispensed in public or private. Thus we see it was with Cornelius ; he not only waited on himself, but he called together those on whom he had any influence. " And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends." A&s x. 24. Those who will not give attendance to the public dispensation of the word, and the private instructions, either family or personal, but withdraw, we cannot think these persons had the right end. before them in calling a gospelminister: furely, had they been right in their aims, they would have been ready to say with Cornelius, “ We are all tere present," &c. 2. They should not only present their bodies upon
such occasions, but they should fit themselves, as in God's sight,