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Acis X. 33

to hear all things whatever are commanded of God by his servants. “ We are all here present, ,” says Cornelius to Peter, “ to hear all things that are commanded thee of God,'

To give attendance to the ordinances, either more public or private, on any other design than this, is to " offer the sacrifice of fools ;" contrary to thal injunction of the wise man, Eccl. v. 1. “ Keep thy foot when thou goeft to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools.” When we come to God's ordinances, we must come to lear what he speaks to us.

3. They should evidence the honesty of their designs, by obeying the word which they hear at his mouth ; they hould comply with all the coinmands of God, and say to their minister, as the people of Israel said to Moses, Deut. v. 27:

" Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God thall say, ard speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee, and we will hear it and do it.” For, as the apostle James well observes, “ It is not the hearer of the word, but the doer who is blessed of God," James i. 25. As we must hear and do, so our at. tendance must not be limited, but our ear must be opened to reproofs, and the most terrible denunciations of wrath from God, as well as to the sweet promises and charming discoveries of the glory of Christ, the beauties of religion, the surprising happiness of the fainis in heaven ; and there must not only be obedience to thefe commands, which may bring in honour, external gain, and pleasure, by our compliance, but there also must be obeyed, which may bring us under the lash of wicked men's tongues, and expose us to reproach, hazard, and ignominy, in the world. All things whatsoever are commanded of God must be punctually obeyed without relerve.

4. There must be a submitting to all the ordinances of God. Both this obedience and submission you will find fpoken of, Heb. xiii. 17. “ Obey then that have the rule over you, and submit yourlelves, for they watch for your souls, as thofe who must give an account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for this is inpro• fitable for you." The word rendered obey, signifies pro. perly a believing upon persuasion, and relpects our belief of the truths proposed by them, and a compliance with

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our duty that way ; and, on the other hand, this submisfion has a respect to the power they have over their people for edification, and not for destruction; that is, that authority they have for admonishing, reproving, rebuking, and censuring offenders ; and by a fubmiflion to them in the dispensation of theie ordinances of Christ, reproof and cenfure, I mean, they are to evidence to all the uprightness and Christian sincerity of their desigtis.

5. They are to evidence their designs to be justifiable, by a careful diligence in applying to their minister upon all occasions ; when they are under difficulties, when they are in the dark as to duty, when they have to do with corruprions which they cannot get mastered, when under the Lord's hand, and fo of all rther exigencies of the like natare. For as the “ prist's lips fieuld preserve or keep knowledge, so the people should ask the law at his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts,” Mal. ii. 7. And there who are sick, are bid « send for the elders or ministers of the church to pray over them," James v. 14. Those who have the advantage of a golpel-minister, are indispensibly obliged to acquaint him with the state of their souls, when there is any thing peculiar in it, and when they are reduced to any strait or extremity. And that, 1. Because God bas laid it open to them as a duty, in that fore-cited Mal. ii. 7. “ The people should ask the law at his mouth." 2. Because otherwise he will be at a loss in his bringing messages to you, if he mistake your case, or be unacquainted with it; how can he direct you, if he understand not your {tate and condition. The Lord gives no immediate reve ion now, we have no war. rant to expect any such thing ; and therefore the way wherein ministers ordinarily come to understand their people's condition is by themselves, who upon this ground are called to have recourse to their ministers. 3. They should acquaint their ministers with their circum. stances, because they are the people's mouth to God? and if they be not acquainted with the circumitances and conditions of the flock, how shall they, according to their du. ty, hold up the cale of their people to God, as they are indifpenfibiy obliged to do, and that both in public, in fecret, and in private. 6. Once more, and we have done : A people may and

Mould

hould prove their intentions honest, by a diligent appli. cation to their own proper work and business, with relpect 10 his furtherance in these great designs. Every member of the congregation Mhould be helpful co him, in contri. buting their utmost a llistance to him in his work. A minister may spend « his strength in vain,” if elders in in their place, masters of families in theirs, and every par. ticular person in his station, do not join, hy prayer and otherwise, in a flising their ministers. Then do meu appear fincere in their designs, for the glory of God, and their own salvation, when every one puts to his hand to the work, and endeavours the removal of what may retarà and obstruct its progress and success; and likewise studies by all means to strengthen the minister's hands, that he may not be discouraged, diverted, or taken off from his work. 1.1 fine, then do a people appear single in their aims, wlien their words, their hearts, their hands go one way, and all they do is levelled at the ends mentioned, the glory of God, in the conversion, edification, and falvation of fouls. I proceed now,

THIRDLY, To inquire into the reasons of the doitrine, why a faithful gospel.minister coming amongst à people, will be careful to understand their design or intent in calling him. And,

1. This will be the desire of a gospel-minister, becanse a mistake in this matter will be of very dangerous consequence to the people. That people may be influenced by wrong and finistrous ends and motives in this matter, is beyor.d all peradventure. They may design the “gratification of their itching ears” by the preacher's gifts, as the prophet Ezekiel's hearers did ; they may seek the gospelordinances for a charm as it were, that they may sit down and rest upon them, as many people do, like ihose with whom the prophet Jeremiah had to do, who said, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these." Or they may design the sirengthening of factions and parties, or to get occasion to mock, as many do now in our days. These and the like linistrous designs may a people go upon ; and there can be nothing more prejudicial to a people than to be under the influence of such intentions ; since, paft all peradventure, God will not fit with such an affront as is done himn by this means, when the ordinance of the minstry, which he designed for the good of souls, and his glory, is prostituted, and made subservient to quite differeni, nay, opposite designs: and surely a faithful gospelininister, who will have a tender regard to the salvation of his pople, cannot clause but be folicitous to understand that they are not in so dangerous a mistake.

2. The knowledge of this will be of great use to clear his call. It is a great evidence that God designs good to a people when they call a gospel.ninister upon such de. fignis ; and cannot but go a great length towards his fatis. faction as to Gca's calling him to work arnong them, in order to the compasting the great designs of his ministry. When Peter got the account before fpoken of from Core nelius, he is further confirmed as to the hand of God in his coming to hini, in compliar.ce with his desire.

3. If upon inquiry they be found to be such as we hare mentioned, it will be a great comfort to him, in grappling with the dificulties he may meet with in the discharge of his duty. It will give a great deal of satisfaction to him, to know that those for whose fakes he runs those hazards, and grapples with these difficulties, liave the same aims, and are joining in the same design with him. In fine, the right management of his whole work depends very much upon this knowledge of his people's intentions ; and therefore it is no wonder he be inquisitive into them, since by his acquaintance with these he may be capacitated to further both his own and their salvations.

We might, for improvement of this point, discourse to you at length of the necesity of a gospel-minister's inquiring into his owo designs in undertaking the charge of a people. The arguments made use of to discover the reasonableness of inquiring after the people's design, conclude no less strongly with respect to the minister's. We might likewise discourse to you of the way how he is to manifest the integrity and sincerity of his aims ; but time will not allow us to enter upon these things, and you heard the minister's dury so fully and largely discoursed of within these few days, viz. at the ordination, that we judge it needless to enter upon that fubje&t ; and therefore all the improvement we design, of what has been said, shall be dispatched in a short address to you of this congregation. You have called me to labour among you in the work of

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the gospel ; upon your call I have come ; I ask therefore to what intent sent ye for me? What did ye design in this matter? Was it to hear what God has to lay 10 you, that God's worship may be ordered according to luis own appointment, that you may be brcught to acquaintance with Christ, or that you may be established in his ways? Were these and the like the designs you liad ju view ? Were there the motives that influenced you? If you narrowly look into your own heart, and make an impartial inquiry, you may readily come io understand what your aims have been ; and for your help, I would only, in God's nant, pose your consciences with a question or two, that inay be of use. 1. Dare you, without learl-condemning, as in the light of God, say, that in calling a minister you hail refpe&t to the command of God? Was it duty that moved you, or did custom and your own eale, influence you ? 2. Dare you hold up your faces and say, that it was a taste of God's goodness in ordinances, that made you defire them, that you might grow thereby? 3. Did this defire lead you much to the throne of grace to pray for a minister, that God might send you one according to his own heart, that might feed you with knowledge and understanding?” 4. When you saw any prospect of the return of your prayers, as to a gospel-ininistry, were you careful to plead that the blessing might come along?

What say ye to these things ? Give God, give con. science justice; let conscience speak freely, and tell whether things be so or not. They must either own, that there was not a regard to the command, that there was not a desire after the sincere milk of the word, occasioned by a taste of the Lord's gooduels, that there was not that serious application to God by prayer, either for a minister, or for the blessing of the ordinance ; or that there was ; and this will cast you all into two classes. If, Those who liave 110t been so employed in this'inatter, and consequently have not been acting for right ends. And, 2dly, Those who have been bufied in duty, in the way just now mentioned. To each of these a word. And,

ist, As for you who have not had a regard to your duty in this matter, who have not been wrestling with God in prayer, that God might send you a ininister, with the fulness of the blelling of the gospel, to you we say, с

1. Your

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