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reason of most common and obvious appearances; so nonplust in its inquiries, so defeated in its expectations, so mistaken in its judgments of things?
5. It should preserve us from infidelity, and from despair on account of any cross accidents occurring here; for it is unreasonable to disbelieve a notion, otherwise well grounded, because we cannot assoil scruples or cavils drawn from matters inscrutable to us; it is foolish to despair of a good event on appearances, whereof we cannot apprehend the full reason, or final result.
6. It should prevent our taking offence, or being discontented at any events rising up before us; for to be displeased at that, which a superior wisdom, unsearchable to us, doth order, is to be displeased at we know not what, or why, which is childish weakness; to fret and wail at that which, for all we can see, proceedeth from good intention, and tendeth to good issue, is pitiful frowardness.
7. It should guard us from security, or from presuming on impunity for our miscarriages; for seeing God doth not always clearly and fully discover his mind, it is vain from God's reservedness to conclude his unconcernedness; or because he is now patient, that he never will be just in chastising our offences.
8. It should quicken our industry in observing and considering the works of Providence; for since they are not easily dis-, cernible, and the discerning them in some measure is sometimes of great use, it is needful that we be very diligent in contem-, plation of them; the fainter our light is, the more attent we should be in looking; the knottier the subject, the more earnest should be our study on it.
9. It should oblige us to be circumspect and wary in our conversation ; for the darker the way is, the more careful should be our walking therein, lest we err, lest we stumble, lest we strike on somewhat hurtful to us.
10. It should engage us constantly to seek God, and to depend on him for the protection and conduct of his grace, which is the only clue that can lead us safely through this intricate labyrinth of worldly contingencies.
11. In fine, it should cause us humbly to admire and adore
that wisdom, which governeth the world in ways no less great and wonderful than just and holy : for, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, O thou King of Saints.'
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.' Amen.
SUMMARY OF SERMON LVI.
HEBREWS, CHAP. XIII.–Verse 17.
Two principal considerations regarding this text treated of: 1. the persons to whom obedience is to be paid : 2. what that obedience imports; and its practice urged.
I. As to the persons, they are, generally speaking, all spiritual guides, or governors of the church, expressed here by an apposite term, implying the nature of their charge, the qualification of their persons, rank, privileges, &c. There are many terms and phrases in Holy Scripture appropriated to them, but all reducible to this most comprehensive one, iryo'uevoi, leaders, guides, or captains ; which may denote the following particulars.
1. Eminence of dignity; as it is said of Judas and Silas in the Acts, (xv. 22.): for to lead implies precedence and superiority.
2. Power and authority: their superiority is not barely grounded on personal worth; it serves not for mere pomp; but it stands on the nature and use of their office, which is theirs by God's own appointment; &c.
3. Also direction, or instruction ; that is, guidance of people in the way of truth and duty, reclaiming them from error and sin ; whence they are often styled didáckaloi, doctors, or masters in doctrine, &c.
4. The word may denote exemplary practice : for to lead implies so to go before, that he who is conducted may follow; as a captain marches before his troop; as a shepherd walks before his flock; as a guide goes before the traveller : hence they are enjoined to be as patterns of the flock, &c. The church is acies ordinata, a well-marshalled army; wherein, under the captain-general of our faith and salvation, are divers captains, serving in fit degrees of subordination ; bishops, presbyters, &c.
Of this distinction there never was any question made in ancient times; nor did it seem disputable, except to one malcontent, namely, Aerius, who found but few followers: even Arians, Macedonians, Novatians, Donatists, &c. all acknowleged it.
Reason plainly requires such subordination ; for it is scarcely possible to preserve durable concord, &c. in Christian societies without it. If there be not inspectors over the doctrine and manners of the common clergy, there will be many who will say and do any thing, teaching to please their own humor, or to soothe the people, or to serve their own interests, &c. It is also very necessary for preserving the unity and communion of the parts of the Catholic church : moreover, the very credit of religion requires that there should be persons raised above the common level, and endued with eminent authority. The holy Scripture also countenances such a distinction. Example of the Jewish church; and the usages of the primitive Christian church enlarged on. Folly and perverseness of those stated who deny this settled order.
The iiyoújevo. then, the guides or governors, in the text, are first bishops ; secondly, presbyters as guides inferior, with deacons as their assistants. Such the church always hath had, and by God's blessing still has, to claim our obedience.
But it would be vain to say, acknowlege your guides, unless they be known: a primary consideration therefore is, to know who they are, and the first part of our obedience is to avow them. There were persons even in the apostolical times who would not acknowlege their guides, or admit the Apostles themselves : there were even false Apostles, who excluded the
true ones, by intruding themselves into that high office. To correct such errors, which even now are apt to invade the church, a double character, of the true and of the false guides, is subjoined, that they may be distinguished by the comparison.
Those then who do constantly profess and teach that sound doctrine which was delivered by our Lord and his disciples, and regularly transmitted in the church --those who celebrate the true worship of God, and administer the holy mysteries of our religion purely and without corruption—those who derive their authority, by a continued succession, from the Apostlesthose whose practice in guiding and governing God's people is not managed arbitrarily, but is regulated by wise and standing laws—those who by virtue of their good principles, yield meek submission to government, and abstain from schism-those who are also acknowleged by the laws of our country—those with whom these characters agree, we may be assured, are our true guides and governors, whom we are obliged to follow and obey.
On the contrary, those who teach otherwise than according to the good, ancient, wholesome doctrine revealed in Scripture -those who ground their opinions and proceedings on the suggestions of their own fancy, the impulses of passion, and pretences to special inspiration, &c.-those who by counterfeit show of mighty zeal, extraordinary affection and affected forms of speech, attract and abuse weak or heedless people—those who without any apparent commission from God, or allowable call from men, intrude themselves into the sacred office—those who are not in reasonable ways fitly prepared or orderly admitted thereto, according to the prescription and practice of the church -those who in mind, principles, and practice appear void of that charity, meekness, sincerity, and stability which qualify worthy guides—those the fruits of whose doctrine and management amount at best only to the empty form of godliness-in