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8.

SERM. ministers of Christ;" that is, let all Christians, that have the XC.

blessing of a standing ministry, learn to put a just value upon so great a privilege; let them so account, that is, esteem of and treat us " as the ministers of Christ and as stewards of the mysteries of God.” What your duty is towards them that are over you in the Lord, I will shew you in a very few words.

And in the first place take notice, that they are Christ's ministers,—they are God's stewards : as such therefore, they are to be treated : their advice, in things relating to their duty, hearkened to; their reproofs taken in good part; their call

ings honoured, and their persons respected; ever remember1 Thess. 4. ing what St. Paul saith on this occasion : “He that despiseth

(the ministers of Christ) despiseth not man, but God.” “I 1 Thess. 5. beseech you,” saith he, in another place, “to know them 12, 13.

that are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their works' sake."

But then, secondly, it is your duty, not only to esteem, but

to obey them, in things pertaining to their duty. "If any Matt.18.17. man," saith our Lord, “neglect to hear the Church, let him

be unto thee as an heathen," or as one that believes not in

God. And again ; “Whosoever shall not receive you, nor 14, 15.

hear your words, verily, I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah, in the day of judgment, than for that city.” You may judge by the severity of the punishment, what an obligation lies upon all to hear those whom Jesus Christ sends to instruct them.

Your next duty is, to give them (with a cheerful heart) (1 Cor. 9. what their great Master has appointed them ;

« for so" (saith St. Paul) “has the Lord” (that is, the Lord Jesus) “ordained, that they which preach the Gospel, should live of the Gospel.”

And if the law of all Christian nations, pursuant to this ordinance of our Lord, has appointed what proportion every Christian shall contribute towards the maintenance of God's ministers, he will be no gainer at the last, who goes about to defraud them of their dues. It is against reason and justice to defraud men of that which the law has appointed.

Observation and experience might teach you, how well such dealings have prospered with such as have been making

Matt. 10.

14.]

25.

experiments. And the Scripture is plain : "It is a snare,” saith the Wise Man, “to devour that which is holy," or Prov. 20. dedicated to God, as all your tithes were before you were born; and God Himself calls it robbery, to withhold the tithes.

It is not for our own sakes that I have put you in mind of these things; for, as St. Paul saith, a dispensation is committed to us, and we must preach the Gospel, whether we live by it or not. But it is for your sakes we tell you these things, that God may bless your labours, as He has promised to do; and that you may not bring a moth and a canker-worm into your barns, which shall secretly devour your increase. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump;" 1 Cor. 5. 6. a little ill-gotten goods will carry away a greater substance; and "a fire not blown shall consume them;" that is, they Job 20.26. shall be consumed, and nobody shall know how.

In short, my brethren, the world is bad enough as it is, but it would be soon much worse, if the good providence of God had not appointed an order of men, and made it their indispensable duty, to preach the Gospel, to offer up the prayers and oblations of the faithful, to praise God for His mercies, and to intercede with Him when He is angry, to warn the unruly, to comfort the feeble-minded, to support the weak, and to be examples to their whole flock.

And because no man on earth is sufficient for these things without the assistance of the Holy Ghost, therefore are they set apart (after the example of the Apostles, and according Acts 18.2,3. to the order of the Holy Spirit) by solemn prayer, and by laying on of hands, that a greater grace may accompany them in the discharge of the several parts of their duty.

In one word : God hath appointed His own ministers, by whom He will give mankind those blessings which are necessary to fit them for heaven and happiness. And though of ourselves we are nothing, yet by the grace of God, who sends us, we may be instruments of great good to men.

To sum up what has been said in a few words, that you may remember the better : if we are Christ's ministers, then we are accountable to Him, and to Him only, in things pertaining to God. He, and He only, can appoint His own ministers. If we are God's ministers, it behoves us, above

XC.

SER M. all men, to do nothing unworthy the holiness of our charac

ters, that the ministry be not blamed. If we are the more immediate servants of God, then ought we not to seek to please men, nor to confer with flesh and blood, when our Master's service calls for us.

You have seen, Christians, what we bind ourselves to, when we become the ministers of Christ, “to watch for your souls as they that must give an account;" a consideration so dreadful, that it often makes our hearts to ache with fear and sorrow, when you least think of it.

Do not ye therefore add to our burden, (which is great enough, God knows, already,) do not add to our trouble, by despising our authority, which we have from Jesus Christ, for in doing so you will despise Jesus Christ, and God that sent Him. Do not slight our ministry, by which, if ever you are, you must be reconciled to God. Do not despise

our persons, because we are weak men like yourselves, but [2 Cor. 12. remember the Lord's word to St. Paul : “My strength is 9.]

made perfect in weakness."

Lastly; do not defraud us of what God has assigned us, lest yourselves be the greatest losers ; but rather let both you and we strive in our several places to glorify God.

We, by always remembering the vows that are upon us, using the power which God hath given us for your edification and not for your destruction; and you readily obeying our godly admonitions ; that both we and you may at last attain the end of our faith and labours, even the salvation of our souls. Which God grant, for Jesus Christ's sake.

To Whom, &c.

SERMON XCI.

AT THE DEDICATION OF THE NEW CHURCH IN KIRK LONAN.

MARCH 25, 1735.

2 CHRON. vi. 40.

10 25.

We have in the prayer of King Solomon, at the DEDICATION OF

THE TEMPLE, these words :—My God! I beseech Thee, let Thine
eyes

be
open,

and let Thine ears be attent unto the prayer that
is made in this place.
2 Chron. vii. 15. We have the gracious answer and promise of

God to this petition, in these words : Mine eyes shall be open, See Heb. and Mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.

We all know, that God is every where present to hear the prayers of such as call upon Him in sincerity; but then the holy Scripture teaches us, that He is, in an especial manner, present in the assemblies of the faithful.

The Lord give thee blessing out of Zion," saith the (Ps. 128.6.) Psalmist. Why out of Zion? Why because there was the temple, the house of God, where His holy angels attended, ascending from thence to carry the prayers of the devout worshippers to the throne of God, and descending to bring down blessings from God, as they are represented in a vision to Jacob at Bethel.

Now, what the temple of Jerusalem was to that nation, the same is every parish Church to us Christians, and it has a right to all the same gracious promises which God did make to the temple of Solomon.

Taking this for granted, we will proceed to consider some truths, which have relation to this subject, and which are not so well understood as they should be; such are these following:

SERM.
XCI.

First ; the great blessing of having convenient places for the public worship of God.

Secondly; the great sin of neglecting the public worship; as also the evils and judgments which generally follow such neglect.

Thirdly; the great regard and reverence which Christians ought to have for places dedicated to the honour and service of God.

Fourthly; what their behaviour should be in such holy places.

Fifthly; the great blessing of a regular, settled ministry.

Sixthly; the command of God, that His ministers shall have all just encouragement to discharge their duty cheerfully and faithfully.

And lastly; the sin and punishment of those who go about to make void this gracious design of God for the good of His people, as well as for the support of His own ministers.

I. We will first consider, what a very great blessing it is to have convenient places for the public worship of God.

When God would shew His love and concern for His own (Ezek. 37. people, He lets them know, that He will set His tabernacle 27.)

amongst them; intimating, that He will always be near them, to hear their prayers, and to help them.

And when that people fell into sin, and into idolatry, to shew His great displeasure against them, He suffered His temple to be destroyed by heathens, as one of the greatest punishments which could be laid upon them. And so they found it and esteemed it, when once they came to feel the want of it.

Be assured of it, Christians, the public worship of God is an indispensable duty, both with respect to God's honour, and our own greatest interest.

With respect to the honour of God, it is by this duty that we profess, to all the world, that we are the servants of God; that, therefore, we profess ourselves bound to adore, to honour, and obey Him, after the best and most public manner we are able.

With respect to ourselves; as we live and depend upon God's blessing, for our life and health, and for all the good

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