« AnteriorContinuar »
earnest. It is said, Christ opened his mouth and taught. Now a modern critic would laugh at that; open his mouth, say they, how could he speak without opening his mouth? Would it not be better to say, he taught them? No, no, there is no idle word in God's book. It is said, the Lord Jesus opened his mouth; what for? why, get in breath that he might speak loud to the people, when the heavens where his sounding board ; then did he open his mouth, and taught them in earnest, powerfully; and therefore the people make this observation when he had done speaking, that he spoke as one having authority, and not as the Scribes. There is no dispensation, from preaching, but sickness or want of abilities, to those that are ordained to preach ; and therefore it was a proverb in the primitive church, that it becomes a bishop to die preaching, Bishop Jewell, that blessed minister of the church of England, gave that answer to a person that met his lordship walking on foot in the dirt, going to preach to a few people. Why does your Lordship, weak as you are, expose yourself thus? says he, it becomes a bishop to die preaching. Lord send all the world that have bishops such jewels as he was! Pray what are they to preach? not themselves. What are they to preach? why they are to preach not morality: not morality! come, don't be frightened, any of you that are afraid, of good works don't be frightened this morning: I say not morality; that is, morality is not to be the granchpoint of their preaching; they are not to preach as a heathen philosopher would. A late bishop of Lincoln, who has not been dead a long while, said to his chaplain, You are not a minister, af Cicero, or any of the heathen phila.
for the poor
sophers; you are not to entertain your people with dry morality, but remember you are a minister of Christ, you are therefore, to preach the gospel; and if you will not preach the gospel in the church, you must not be angry people's going out into the fields where they hear the gospel; that is to be your grand theme, Go into all the world and preach the gospel.
Now the gospel signifies good news, glad tidings : Behold I bring you, said the angel, glad tidings of great joy. Mean and contemptible as the office of a preacher may be thought now, the angels where glad of the commission to preach this gospel : and Dr. Goodwin, that learned pious soul, says in his familiar way, and that is the best way of writing, God had but one Son, and he made a minister of him; and I add, he made an itinerant minister of him too. Well, and some say. you must not preach the law; you cannot preach the gospel without preaching the law; for you shall find by and by, we are to preach something that the people must be saved by: it is impossible to tell them how they are to be saved, unless we tell them what they are to be saved from. The way the Spirit of God takes, is like that we take in preparing the ground : do you think any farmer would have a crop of corn next year unless they plough now; and you may as well expect a crop of corn on unploughed ground, as a crop of grace, until the soul is convinced of its being undone without a Saviour. That is the reason we have so many mushroom converts, so many persons that are always happy! happy! happy! and never were miserable; why? because their stony ground is not ploughed up; they have not got a conviction of the law; they are stony
ground hearers: they hear the word with joy, and in a time of temptation, which will soon come after a seeming or real conversion, they full away. They serve Christ as the young man served the Jews that laid hold of him, who, when he found he was like to be a prisoner for following Christ, left his garments; and so some people leave their profession. That makes me so cautious now, which I was not thirty years ago, of dubbing people converts so soon. I love now to wait a little, and see if people bring forth fruit ; for there are so many blossoms which March winds you know blow away, that I cannot believe they are converts till I see fruit brought forth. It will do converts no harm to keep them a little back : it will never do a sincere soul
harm. We are to preach the gospel: to whom? to ex ery creature : here is the commission, every creature. I suppose the apostles were not to see every creature; they did not go into all nations ; they had particular districts; but wherever they did go, they preached. Did you ever hear Paul, or any of the Apostles, sent away a congregation without a sermon; No, no: when- turned out of the temple they preached in the highways, hedges.. streets and lanes of the city: they went to the water-side ; there Lydia was catched. My brethren we have got a commission here from Christ: and not only a commission, but we have a command to preach to every creature;. all that are willing to hear. He that hath an ear to hear let him hear; and if some shall say, they will not come if we do preach, would to God we tried : them: where the circase is there will the eagles be gathered together. We are to preach glad tidings of salvation ; to tell a poor benighted world, lying in the wicked one the devil, their state and
condition: we are to tell them, God is love; to tell them, that God loves them better than they do themselves. We must preach the law, but not leave the people there. We must tell them how Moses brings them to the borders of Canaan, and then tell them of a glorious Joshua that will carry them over Jordan ; first to shew them their wants; and then point out to them a Jesus that can supply, and more than supply, all their wants.
This we are to tell every creature; and it is for this that people stone gospel preachers. I don't think the prisoners would be angry with us if we were to tell them, the king commissions us to declare to them that they might come out of their prison, that their chains may be knocked off. If you was to go to one of them and
you have your
chains; and he was to say, I have no chains on at all, you would think that man's brains turned ; and so are every man's that does not see himself to be in the chains of sin and deceit. We are to preach liberty to the captives, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord; sound the jubilee trunrpet, and tell them the year of release is come ; that Jesus can make them happy. But, pray,
if we are to preach, what are the creatures to do that see the need of this salvation? I will tell you; they are to believe. He that believeth, and is baptized, &c. The grand topics Christ's ministers are to preach, are repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. The men of the world fancy they have believed already, and some of them lift up their heads and say, Thank God, we have believed ever since we were born ; and in one sense may people believe, but in what sense? just as the devil believes ; they believe, and still continue devils in their çarnal state ; that is, they assent to the gospel, they assent to it as a thing that is credible. This is our school definition of faith ; and I believe there are thousands that call themselves Christians, that don't believe a thousandth part of what the devil does. The devil believes more than an Arian, for he does not believe Christ tu be God; the devil says, I know whom thou art, the Holy One of God. The devil will rise
in judgment against him. He believes more than a Socinian, who believes Jesus Christ to be no more than an,extraordinary man; and he believes more of Jesus Christ than thousands of professors do, who are neither Arians or Socinians. There are a thousand things in this book* that many people, if you come to close quarters with them, will say they do not believe, though they are ashamed to own it. The furthest that they go, is to assent to the creed, to the Lord's prayer, and Ten Commandments; and if a person can say these in their mother tongue and have been baptized by the priest, and confirmed by the bishop, and go to church once a week, and now and then on holidays, they think they are not only believe ers, but strong believers. I am not against going to church, nor against the Creed, the Lord's prayer, and the Commandments ; I love and honor them, and I pray God we may always have them ; and I would not have our liturgy or articles departed from for ten thousand worlds. Many would have them altered, because there are some faults in them ; but if our modern people were to alter them, they would make them ten thousand times worse than they are. But believing some. thing more ; it is a coming to Jesus Christ, re.
* Holding out his Bible.