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feet, but is clean every whit.”. Hence we learn, that by ihe minister's teet being washed, and made clean, or beautiful, we are to understand that he is renewed in the spirit of his mind by the power of the Holy Ghost ; so that he is a living witness of the
upon his own soul ; hav. ing effe&tually turned him from darkness unio lighi, and from the power of Satan unto God.
Hence he can say, upon good ground, with the apostle : "I am not alhamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is 'the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth.”
Every minister of Christ ought to come to us in the spirit and power of Elias, and should be a burning and a shining light to the people among whom he labourş. The sacred fire of divine love, having been kindled in his heart, thould be kept continually burning, and never suffered to go out; like the sacred fire which fell from heaven at the dedication of the Temple. As this holy fire will purily his own soul, and burn ng all the dross and the tin of his unholy tempers, desires, or affections; and of confequence, make him all holy, spiritual, heavenly, and divine: so he will burn with the moit intense desire for the glory of God, in the salvation of precious fouls. He will account nothing 100 difficult for him to undertake, no trial too great for him to endure, and no pains or labours too much for him in order to bring loft sinners to the knowledge of the truth; to feed the flock of Chrift, or to edify the Church of God. And O how happy for those ministers who can say, with the apostle: "Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so I may finish niy course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, in teftifying the gospel of the grace of God.”
And as a minifter should burn with the love of God, fo he should also shine in the light of God; and if so, then the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness must shine upon his own soul. He can only shine as a star, in the right hand of Chrift: therefore it shou'd be his first and grand concern to be thus highly privileged ; that being visited by the DaySpring from on high, he may shine with bright, but with borrowed rays. And as the light of God shines upon his own foul, it will be reflected back upon the people. They fhall see it, and rake knowledge that he hath been with Jesus ; that he has come to them from his sacred College ; from the heavenly University ; and has brought the sacred light of di
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divine truth, and the holy fire of heavenly fove along witte him.
No one can doubt, but that every minister ought to be a fcribe well instructed in the kingdom of God; and that he fhould shine among the people in the light of divine truth : being fully acquainted with the grand myftery of man's redemption ; with the nature and extent of gospel salvation ; with every branch of Christian experience ; with the nature and power of temptation ; and in a word, with the whole revealed will of God. cious promise is made good to every true believer, “And they fhall be all taught of God;" how much more fo, to every miniser of Christ. ' "He who hath heard, and learned
my Father (saith our blessed Redeemer) cometh unto me." And if these words hold good respeting all who are brought into a state of favour and acceptance with God ; then cera tainly they are fulfilled, in a far higher sense, in those who are sent of God, to shew unio others the way of salvation. Having then fo divine a Teacher, they shall be made wise to win souls to Christ their master; and to build them up, and establish them in the truth.
And as the faithful ininisters of Christ should shine in the light of God, so being purified by grace, their souls being brought into a state of conformity to the will of God, they Thall shine in all the fruit of the Spirit ; in meekness, gentleness, humility, patience, and resignation to the will of God: in heavenly mindedness, in holy watchfulness, in serious godliness, and in all holy conversation : and their spirit and temper, their life and conversation, shall be a continual fermon, to the people among whom they live. Happy people, who are favoured with such minifters ; surely the good pleafure of the Lord shall prosper in their hands.
II. This brings us to ihe second particular, to fhew that the feet of the ministers ought to appear beautitul to the people unto whom they are sent.
The prophet' teaches us in the text, highly to esteem, and thankfully to receive the faithful ministers of the Lord Jesus Chrift, whenever they come among us.
This we should do because they are sent by the Lord of Life and Glory himself; and accordingly, he hath said, “He that receiveth you, receiveth me; and he that receiveih me, receiveth him that fent me.” When we consider these words, how cheerfully nay we receive those men of God, who come to us in his
name, to reveal his wise and gracious counsels to us ! "We are ambassadors for Christ (faith the apostle :) we have received our authority from the King of Heaven; and we come unto you in his name. Now it is well known, ihat all the honour and respect which are considered due to the king himself, whom he represents are due to the ambassador ; and it he be fighted, or treated with contempt, or even neglect, this is considered as done to the King. How highly then should we honour, and fincerely love those who we havs reason to believe are sent of God; and accordingly, have his glory in view, and our salvation much at heart; so that their grand concern is, to bring about a well eftablished peace be. iween us and the God of Love, whom they represent ; and that this sacred treaty may be fo ratified and confirmed, chat we may live in a state of love and friend hip with him for ever,
As the ministers of Chrift should be thus heartily received by us, because he hath sent them ; so likewise because he hath qualisied them tor their work. If we have sufficient season to believe that they have received wildom from above, and power from on high, and are not only renewed in righte, ousness, and true holiness, by the power of the Holy Ghoft; but are also enriched with such spiritual gifts as are necessary 10 qualify them for the work of the ministry : God having so highiy honoured them, we ought to honour them also, confidered as being thus qualified by him. An apostle teaches us thus to esteem the ministers of Christ: "And we beseech you brethren, to know them who labour among you, and 19 esteem them very highly, in love, for their works fake.” And again he says: “Remember them who have the rule over you, who have spoken to you the word of God ; whose laith follow; considering the end of their conversation, Je. fus Chrift, the same yesterday, 10 day, and for ever." Here, indeed, we may observe, that the apoftle only teaches us thus to know such as labour, and such as speak to us the word of God. Those then, who neither do ihe one nor the other, we have no concern with. But those who faithfully labour in the Lord's vineyard, and diligently preach the word of God, are worthy of our highest esteem.
To the above we may add, that, as the exercise of all their gifts, and the end of all their labour, is the present and eternal salvation of our souls, we may well receive them with the sincerelt affe&tion ; feeing we ourselves shall be eternal gainers by their ministry, it we improve it as we ought,
And, as He who sent them hath graciously promised to be ever present with them, even to the end of the world, we may expeět that he will confirm the word of his servants, and we shall receive edification and comfort by attending upon their miniftry; especially if we attend with earnest prayer for a blessing from God upon their labours. "As the 'rain and the snow cometh down from heaven, and returneth not thither (saith the Lord) but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth fruit and bud, that it may give feed to the sower and bread to the eater, fo fhall my word be that goetb forth out of my mouth ; it shall not return unto me void, but it fhall accomplish that which I please, and it fhall prosper in the thing whereunto I send it." As then it must be the de. fign of God, that his word should be made spirit and life unto us, that it should minister grace to the hearers, we ought to account the feet of those beautiful who are sent to us with such a gracious defign.
III. We now come to consider, Thirdly, The important, as well as joy ful tidings they are sent to proclaim.
They are sent to publish peace, and salvation ; to bring good tidings of good, and to declare unto Zion, Thy God reigneth. 1. They are fent to publish peace. This implies two things: first, that Chrift hath made peace for us, by the blood of his cross; and secondly, that he offers peace to us, in his blessed gospel. Respecting the first of these, the apostle assures us, that "God was in Chrift, reconciling the world unto himself; no longer imputing their trespasses unto them :" and adds, that, in consequence of this, "he hath committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation.” Here then, man is considered as deeply guilty in the sight of God, and atterly unable to deliver himself from that condemnation which he has brought upon himself : the Lord Jesus having bore the punishment due to his fins, having been wounded for his transgressions, and bruised for his iniquities ; pardon and peace are freely offered to him, in his name. He is called by the gospel inco a state of favour and reconciliation with God, to experience the sure evidence of this in his own mind, even the God which passeth all understanding : and laying hold of the offers of mercy and grace which are made unto him in the gospel, the promise of pardon and peace, through faith in the blood of Christ, will be sealed upon his mind by the Spirit of God; hence he is assured of his interest in the death of Christ, and that God is reconciled unto him ; and in
éonsequence of this, a divine tranquillity, an heavenly serenity, will spring up in his mind, which is properly called, the peace of God. As peace is made between God and man, by the meritorious sufferings and death of our divine Saviour lo peace is.proclaimed in the finner's conscience, when he is enabled to believe with his heart unto righteousness, or unto justification, as the apostle declares. 2. The ministers of Christ are sent to publish salvation in
The salvation which the gospel offers to us may properly be considered as consisting of iwo grand branches. First, our free and full justification, through faith in the blood of the Lamb; implying a complete deliverance from all contracted guilt and condemnation, which we have considered already : and, secondly, the fanctification of all the powers and faculties of our soul ; or the renewal of the whole man, in righteousness, in the image of God, in which we were originally created. This great and blessed change we are now come to consider.
That it was the design of our Redeemer to restore us 10 the image, as well as to the favour of God, evidently appears from every part of the New Testament; and as he instituted the gospel ministry, in order that the end of his sufferings and death might be fully answered, it follows of course, that his faithtul ministers will, according to the text, publish salvation in his name, ihat we may obtain a lot among the sanctified.
As the apostle assures us, that "Christ loved the church, and gave himselt for it, that he might fanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might prefent it to himlelt
, a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but ihat it should be holy and without blemish :" so lie clearly points out the several stages of this great work, and shews us how the God of love ac complishes his own design. In the seventh chapter of his Epistle o the Romans, he shews us the state of a fallen sin. ner, made acquainted with the state of his own mind, and earnestly longing for deliverance. He represents him was being carnal and fold under sin," being in a ftate of miserable bon. dage, and utterly unable to conquer the evil propensities of his degenerate mind; and, therefore, earnefly crying to the Lord for deliverance. "O wretched man that I ain! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” The glorious Deliverer immediately appears in view :“I thank God ihrough. Jesus Christ our Lord.' Here we have the state, as well as