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port, your mouth may be opened, and your heart enlarged toward this people: That, after you have laboured a while among thein here, you may come with numbers of them hereafter to the imperial city of the Great King, where, like the flaming ministers surrounding his throne, you shall serve him day and night in his temple, without interruption, without imperfection, without weariness, world without end. To that exceeding and eternal felicity may God, of his great mercy, exalt us all in due time, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Address to the Congregation.
BRETHREN, You have heard the charge given your minister. The duties incumbent on him as your pastor are of the greatest moment and importance. But the relation is mutual, and I hope you are not insensible that some are to be performed on your side too. Have patience a little, till I put you in remembrance of a few of the most necessary.
In order to fix impressions of their importance the deeper in your minds, I shall deliver them first in the very words of scripture: "Thus saith the Lord, Touch not "mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." "Take "heed to thyself, that thou forsake not the Levite as long "as thou livest upon earth." "The Lord will not regard "them that have not respected the persons of the Priests." Thus our Saviour said to the first preachers of the New Testament: "Whoso shall not receive you, nor hear your "words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off "the dust of your feet. Verily, I say unto you, it shall be "more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in "the day of judgment than for that city." Thus also the Holy Ghost, by the Apostle, has given in charge: "Heap "not to yourselves teachers, having itching ears." "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before "two or three witnesses." "We beseech you, brethren, "to know them which labour among you, and are over you "in the Lord, and to esteem them very highly in love for
their works sake." "Obey them that have the rule over "you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, "as they that must give account." "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good "things." "Do you not know that they who ministered "about holy things, lived of the things of the temple? and "they that waited on the altar, were partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which "preach the gospel, should live of the gospel." "Finally, "brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may "have free course and be glorified." Here is a plain representation of the will of God and your duty toward your minister, in language which the Spirit dictated to the churches; and it must be left to your own consciences what regard is due to his authority in this matter.
I beg leave to put you in mind, that having subscribed a call to this man to come and labour among you, you have by that solemnity bound yourselves to attend regularly on his ministry. 'Tis impossible you can profit by him, if you do not hear him. The invitation you gave him runs in these terms: 'Come over and help us, by taking the charge and oversight of our souls, and we promise you all due obedience and submission in the Lord.' Can a man honestly subscribe this, who seldom comes within the walls of any church? Wherefore, brethren, give as constant and regular attendance on the public preaching of the word, as your strength and health and other circumstances will permit. "Forsake not the assembling of "yourselves together, as the manner of some is." "Hear "instruction and be wise." "Blessed is the man," saith the Wisdom of God, "that heareth me, waiting daily at my "gates, watching at the posts of my doors."
Grieve not your minister with any contention among yourselves. "Where envy and strife is, there is confusion "and every evil work." "Be of one accord. Be of one mind. "Be at peace one with another." "Lay apart all filthiness "and superfluity of naughtiness," that is, all unhallowed and angry passions, "and receive with meekness the in"grafted word, which is able to save your souls." I mean not that you should receive implicitly, and without examination, every doctrine. It is your duty to try the spirits, whether they be of God. Imitate the noble Bereans, who examined what they heard by the holy scripture. The
ministers of the Reformation desire not to be lords of your faith, nor have they any pretensions to infallibility. Spare then your reflections that ministers are but men, that ministers are but like other men, and the like. I assure you we deny it not. We acknowledge that we have the same great interest at stake with yourselves, the salvation of our souls. We speak the more earnestly to you of eternal matters, lest while we preach the gospel to others ourselves should be cast away. And describe the deceitful workings of a wandering, slothful, worldly mind, by taking the copy from our own.
Spurn not against the exercise of discipline, dispensed with meekness and temper, according to the laws of the Lord Jesus. Your minister is entitled to all prudent freedom in admonishing and rebuking. And it is your part, when overtaken in a fault, to submit without gainsaying. Know ye the hazard he runs in being either partial or negligent? Behold the dreadful terms of his commission, "When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man thou shalt "surely die; if thou do not speak to warn the wicked from "his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his "blood will I require at thine hand." You see the effects of a timid silence: The wicked carried off in his iniquity, and his blood charged to the watchman's account. Would you wish that poor man who is come among you should hazard his all by a soothing slackness or a servile partiality, in the exercise of discipline? God forbid? When he cannot spare you without violating conscience and breaking the law, I am sure you will not be so unreasonable as to expect it, much less to despise his person or desert his ministrations on that account. I am not insensible of the prejudices against the ancient discipline, and how ill it suits the temper of a soft and effeminate age. But you are to remember, that the laws of our Lord Jesus are the standard of the spiritual discipline. These are all of divine and immutable obligation, and admit of no abatements. And I hope you will not be offended at any displays it may be necessary to make of their purity and perfection.
Finally, Brethren, expect not an unreasonable attendance from your minister. He has work in the closet you know not of. When you are sick, he will upon an invitation visit you, and in health few complimentary visits may
suffice. I mean not to ask indulgence to sloth. Exhortátion from house to house he will reckon it his duty to observe in the seasons of it. But I speak this to dissuade you from putting him to such unreasonable and unnecessary attendance as would be prejudicial to his studies, which are all for your benefit. When you come to inquire after his welfare, waste none of these occasional visits in foolish and impertinent talking. Let your conversation turn on the state of your souls, or some other useful ard edifying subject. "As dead flies cause the ointment "of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour, so doth "a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and hon"or." "Now, brethren, the God of peace that brought "again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great "Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the ever"lasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work, "to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing "in his sight, through Jesus Christs to whom be glory for "ever and ever. Amen."
FAITH VICTORIOUS OVER THE FEAR OF MAN.
DANIEL iii. 16, 17, 18.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, Q king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not servé thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
EXAMPLES of the victory of faith over the terrors of the world are useful to believers in their militant state. When we read of men, "who through faith subdued king"doms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stop"ped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, "escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were "made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight "the armies of the aliens," we observe the working and strength of faith exemplified, and feel ourselves emboldened to combat opposition to its exercise. Though we should never be called to encounter axes, and lions, and flames, for the profession of religion, we will through the blessing of God derive instruction and consolation from the resolution and fortitude of champions, who without hesitation, encountered these, and overcame them "through "the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony."
The victory of faith related in our text will appear brilliant, when we call to mind the number of the combatants, the situation in which they stood, the manner in which they were assailed, and the strength and terror of the opposition with which they contended. The history of it is preserved, and, like a standard taken from an enemy bro