« AnteriorContinuar »
so sweetly, yet they will none of his yoke, this man (say they) shall not reign over us. But no marvel, saith the Lord, they will not hear me, much less will they give ear unto thee. Yet for all this, the Lord many times gives great comfort unto his servants in their ministry, seeing a number converted and confirmed to the end. So our apostle here had experience of God's mercies this way, where rejoicing exceedingly he demandeth no other thing,for" whatd (saith he) is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even you it, at the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, at his coming." As also the apostle telleth unto the Corinthians, "youe are my epistle, written in our hearts, in that ye are manifest to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, and written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not in tables of stone, but in the fleshy tables of the heart." And" we'give thanks always for you all,making mention of you in our prayers, without ceasing, remembering your effectual faith, and diligent love, and the patience of your hope, in the sight of our Lord Jesus Christ, even our Father." And he addeth, " for our Gospel was not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance." So the question is asked, "Who will show us any good?" but David he rejoiceth more in the light of God's countenance, than in all. "Lordg (saith he) lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me," for I have more joy of heart in the fruit of thy love, conveyed from thy law, than in all the world besides. We are all now received into the Lord's vineyard in this life, where some do sow, and others reap, and some do both sow and reap, yet all must be content. For our Saviour Christ heh biddeth his disciples to lift up their eyes to the regions all round about, which were already white unto harvest, encouraging them unto their labours in the spiritual vineyard, with the encouragement of eternal life, their sure reward, where both sowers and reapers shall both rejoice
d 1 Thess. chap. 2. ver. 19. e 2 Cor. chap. 3. ver. 2, 3.
'1 Thess. chap. 1. ver. 2, 3. I Psalm 4. ver. 6.
b John, chap. 4. ver. 35.
together, reaping the sweet fruits of the Gospel, compared to a ripe harvest, in respect of the green rudiments of the law and the prophets. The harvest now of the Gospel is greater a great deal than that other of the law, wherefore the labourers must reap hard and labour much to bring his spiritual corn unto the Lord's barns, and to see the comfort of their labours (if it be possible), that they may rejoice so much the more, yet are they sure of their crown, howsoever another reap their labours they shall be crowned. A pitiful thing it is to see a poor minister toil and labour, to have few comforted by his labours, and he to receive comfort of a few, many resisting him of purpose to oppugn him. But poor souls, when they thus grieve and vex him who must give account for their souls, little know they, as the apostle1 speaketh, that this their resisting shall be unprofitable unto them, they shall be more and more hardened in their wickedness for destruction, although the grief come unto their ministers. Let us then make use of these things unto ourselves, and if we would have joy of the ministry, let us be diligent to give ear to their admonition, that we may profit by them, and they receive comfort of their labours. Many think that they have done enough, when they present themselves, or come to church to hear, they think this enough, and that then you have done all that is to do. But I tell thee, if thou wouldest come to the good of thy soul, thou must come as a subject to obey, and to subject thy heart and affections to be ruled by the word, to be commanded by the power thereof. The minister he hath power to bind thee like a king, if thou wilt be disobedient to the word. What, I pray you, is the cause, why so few profit, in hearing of the word, but because they come without due preparation, like unto a judge, to judge and censure, not like unto an hungry hearer, with sober hearts to learn wisdom.
Thou, therefore, whatsoever thou art, must suffer Christ in his ministry to reign over thee, and over all thy affections; thou must subject thyself wholly unto his will, or else the day will come when he will bid, Bring forth these
1 Hebrews, chap. 13. ver. 17.
mine enemies (who would not that I should reign over them) to the slaughter, that I may tear and devour them in pieces, that most cruelly I may devour them. These wicked men! they blaspheme, and speak evil against God's ministers, although not against himself, yet they would have (as it is Psalm 2.) the yokes put off, the bands broken and taken away which he enjoineth. But Christ (let all such remember), when he cometh, will bring with him a sceptre of iron to crush such in pieces, if they repent not betimes and submit themselves to his yoke. Thou hadst best, therefore, let the ministry reign over thee betimes, that it may bring thee in subjection to the will of God, before this black day come upon thee. But whatsoever thou doest, they shall be gainers, they shall have their reward, and be crowned with eternal life; therefore, we must labour and watch, whatsoever come of it.
But now a second point to be observed is, that ministers must have a care to labour that they be not in the default of their own wants, in depriving themselves of this comfort and joy. They must strive to entertain love amongst the people, and towards them, not envying others who do better than themselves. If therefore thou hast not so much comfort in thy ministry, being followed as others, strive not by envy to stay the work of God, to discomfort, cast down, and hinder others by thy strife. But labour thou to do as well as others do; and then, out of question, thou wilt be followed as well as he, at least thou shalt have a joyful reward. The prophet, in the person (as it were) of Christ, speaketh of the exceeding power of this ministry, which yet for the time had not those wished effects. "Hek hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; under the shadow of his hand hath he hidden me, and made me a chosen shaft, and hid me in his quiver, and said unto me, Thou art my servant Israel, for I will be glorious in thee." And yet for all this it followeth. "And I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength in vain, and for nothing. But my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my
k Isaiah, chap. 49. ver. 2, 3. VOL. XIII. O O
God." It grieveth him to seem to labour in vain, and that there is no more good done by him. But his comfort is, He who set me on work will pay me my wages. My judgment is with the Lord. So, I say, all must labour in the ministry: I will promise him who laboureth not, that he shall have a discomfortable ministry, and many sorrows for his negligence. Then, I say, the second point of doctrine is, that you see God is here praised for a blessing of the effects of the word, in that they entertain it willingly as the word of God, which is able to breed faith in their souls; so we see, the first footstep of mercy to a people is, when the Lord sendeth faithful preachers among them, who are able to divide the word of truth aright. This is that true and only means to create faith in the heart and bring salvation, " As,i whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." But if there be no true preacher, he addeth, how can there then be any faith? "But how shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent?" Aye but, say some, if there be no more a-do but to believe only, that is soon done; what need I then take so much care as some do? I shall do as well as they, though I live not so sorry life. But, I tell thee, deceive not thyself: it is not every faith that will save. But those who believe and apprehend Christ by a true and a lively faith, to these appertaineth salvation. Neither shall we have this salvation of every faith we hear from the pulpit, but that which we receive from the word of God, truly preached by him who is truly sent. Faith to us is the ground of this comfort, and hearing the ground whereupon faith buildeth, as upon a sure foundation, and what, I pray you, can be expected from a dumb minister? Where prophecy faileth, there must needs come the height of all sorrows. Where the Word is restrained, and not powerfully preached, from thence floweth a general apos tacy to the whole land, to run as a plague over it, until it have made a consumption. And the reason is, because the Word is the ground of this our faith, and it failing, what can ensue unto our souls but sorrow?
1 Rom. chap. 10. ver. 13.
Now that a preacher may be faithful, two things are required. 1. He must be able to scatter good seed. This is a great reproach unto our state, that some are sent forth by them to labour in the Lord's vineyard, who are ignorant of their Catechism. This is most lamentable. Oh! what sincere milk of the Word can we draw out of such drynurses, who had need of instruction themselves, and to be set to school again. Again, a second duty is knowledge, which many pastors have, but yet they conceal it to themselves, live idle and feed themselves, suffering the rest to starve. Of these the land is overburdened, and complaineth that they are crueller than the most cruel dragons in the wilderness. Now the people again, when they have a good pastor, they must entertain respect, and have him in singular regard for his ministry, that he may be encouraged to go on. The work of government in the Church I confess to be great, but the work of the labouring minister a great deal more, and more to be respected. The apostleTM writeth to Timothy, that those elders who rule well are worthy of double honour, chiefly such who labour in the word and doctrine. Governing elders are worthy of much, but labouring elders of a great deal more.
Therefore let us above all things see, whether or not we make much of the glad tidings of peace, whether, above all things, their feet be beautiful which bring peace. A number think that they have done enough, when they abstain and go not to Mass. But if they have not love unto the truth, and come not to hear the word, what is this? Therefore look unto this, where there is no love unto the truth, there the Lord sendeth strange delusions, to believe lies. It is not the hearing, but the love of the truth, which preserveth any; otherwise they are ready to fall into all heresy from the truth. The prophet complaineth that he is full of the wrath of the Lord, and the
m 1 Tim. chap. 5. ver. 17.