Page images

1. They ought to eftéem and refpect them for their work's fake, i Theff. v. 12. 13. Their work is honourable, their Master whom they serve in that work is great, and the advantage of their work redounds to the church. People's efteem of them is but a neceffary encouragement to them in the work they have undertaken, without any profpect of worldly advantage. And if people esteemed the Lord's work, they would even efteem the workers too.

2. Obedience and fubmiffion to them in their doing the work of their office, Heb. xiii. 17. If it be their duty to watch over you, excite and admonish you,

c. ye ought not to account them meddling in what belongs not to them, when they inquire into your way. Ye ought to fall in with the duties they excite you to; meekly to receive their rebukes, admonitions, and warnings; honourably to receive their confolations, as thofe that have a commiffion from the Lord; and heartily to receive their good admonition and counfel; and fubjecting yourselves as Chrift's subjects to the difcipline of his house.

3. They ought to pray to God for them, I Theff. v. 15. It is a great work we have in hand, and your intereft is concerned in our right difcharge of it; which therefore fhould make you to give us a fhare in your prayers.

4. Shutting your ears against reproaches caft on them, and being backward to receive ill reports of them, ftaving them off unless there be fufficient evidence, 1 Tim. v. 19. Church-officers are those whom Satan mainly aims to difcredit, and therefore ftirs up rotten-hearted hypocrites, falfe brethren, and a profane generation, to caft dirt upon them, that fo their work may be marred in their hands, religion defpifed, and finners hardened.

Ufe. 1. As to you that are already in this honourable office, and you that are now to be ordained to it, I exhort you to labour rightly to discharge your duty. To prefs this exhortation, I offer the following motives,

Mot. 1. Confider it is a facred office in the house of God, to which God has called you; and therefore let us together take that exhortation, Acts xx. 28. Take heed therefore unto your felves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghoft hath made you overfeers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchafed with his own blood. The office is honourable in itself, however the world esteem of it. David, though a king, would have thought it no difparagement to him, when he said, A day in thy courts is better than a thousand; I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness, Pfal. lxxxiv. 10. But it has work annexed to it, and being facred, it is not to play with. Labour to approve yourselves to your Lord and Mafter.

Mot. 2. Ye have thereby a fair occafion to be ferviceable to God, and to advance Chrift's kingdom, and fupprefs that of the devil, in the congregation. And O what fhould we not do to do good to fouls? Jam. v. 20. Let him know, that he which converteth the finner from the error of his way, fhall fave a foul from death, and fhall hide a multitude of fins. I think that now of a confiderable time I and my brethren of the eldership might have faid, The Strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish, fo that we are not able to build the wall, Neh. iv. 10.; and it has gone near to the finking of fome of our fpirits. But now that God has inclined the hearts of fo inany to come over and help us; if we take courage in our Mafter's work, to ply it faithfully, diligently, zealoufly, and prudently, and the Lord blefs us with unity among ourselves, and real zeal for his honour, to put to our fhoulders jointly to the work, we may hope, by the bleffing of God, to fee a more promifing face on this congregation, fin more difcouraged, and piety more increased.

Mot. ult. You and I must give an account to our great Mafter, how we have carried ourfelves in his work, Heb. xiii. 17. If we be faithful, we fhall net VOL. HI. F

want our reward from the chief Shepherd, who will give us a crown of life. If we be unfaithful, wo will be unto us for betraying our trust.

I give you a few advices.

1. Remember always that it is God whom ye have to do with. This will make you little to regard mens feud or favour, if ye do your work agreeable to God's will.

2. Study to act in dependence on the Lord; for he fends none a-warfare on his own charges. Eye his promifed affiftance when ye fet about your work.

2. Labour to believe, that the way of uprightness and faithfulness is the fure way. When a man's ways pleafe the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him, Prov. xvi. 7. He that rebuketh a man, afterwards fhall find more favour than he that flattereth him, Prov. xxviii. 23. Lets mens corruptions fay what they will, their confciences will fpeak in favour of faithful dealing.

4. Watch over your own perfons, that in your pèrfonal walk ye be blameless and exemplary, 1 Tim. iii. 1. 2. 3. If ye be untender in your walk, ye will do more hurt than ye can do good. Being honoured to be governors in the houfe of a holy God, ye must be holy as the Mafter is holy; tender in your words, circumfpect in your actions, and therefore watchful over your hearts.

5. Watch over your families. Every one that has a family, is obliged to this, and you in a fpecial manner, 1 Tim. iii. 4. 5. The finful practices of those of your family will reflect a peculiar difhonour on you, and by you on your Lord and Mafter. Therefore your families fhould be a church, wherein God is to be duly worshipped morning and evening; and good difcipline kept up, by admonition, reproof, and watchfulness.

6. Ye muft watch over one another, each over his fellow-elders, knowing, that any thing fcandalous in one of the fociety reflects a dishonour on the whole,

and by them on the Lord himself. And if ye be not careful on that fide, there will be little good of your watching over the flock. And thefore ftrict difcipline among yourselves is abfolutely neceffary.


USE II. As to you the people, I would exhort to make confcience of your duty towards your officers. Alas! for the little confcience that is made of that among us. I am fure we may find matter of mourning this day in that matter.

Inftead of honouring of them, many defpife and pour contempt on them, more than otherwife they would do, thus vilely treating their facred office.

Inftead of fubmiflion and obedience, what refractorinefs and fpurning of difcipline for fcandalous offences! Some cannot endure to be told of their faults; but if we admonish or reprove them even privately, they are made worfe instead of better, and rather than take a reproof, they will give up with ordinan


Inftead of being careful of their reputation, fome will bawl out upon them, and abufe them on every occafion. And there is nothing with many more readily received, than the vomit of malicious and fpiteful spirits against minifters and elders, which is greedily licked up, 1 Cor. iv, 13.

Hence it is that mens hands are weakened, and they are difcouraged in their work, while they fee the people of that temper, Hof. iv. 4. And hence it is that it is fo very hard to get men to undertake the office of elders; for they fee that if they engage therein, they must be the very butt of the malice and fpite of bitter fpirits; and that if they will be faithful, they engage themfelves in a fighting life, and that the ftream will go against them. But allow me to put you in mind of three things.

1. Whofe part you act in that matter. It is the part of Satan against thefe men and yourselves too.. Can you fall upon a more expedite way to advance the kingdom of the devil in the congregation, than to,

[ocr errors]

difcourage and weaken the hands of those that are fet over you in the Lord? Is there a fairer way to rout the army than to make their leaders ufelefs?

2. Whose fervants they are. They are clothed with a commiffion from the King of the church; and the contempt poured on them, reaches to their Master: He that defpifeth you, fays he, defpifeth me, Luke x. 16. Will the laws of the land avenge the affronts done to a petty officer, who comes to execute the fentence of a civil court? did David feverely avenge on the Ammonites their maltreating of his fervants whom he fent on a congratulatory meflage to them, as ye find in 2 Sam. x.? and will not the Lord Jefus refent in his wrath the maltreatment of those that are clothed with his commiffion?

3. Lastly, Are ye not the profeffed fubjects of the kingdom of Chrift? why then will ye not fubmit yourselves to the laws of his houfe? why will ye not be obedient in the Lord to thofe whom he fets over you, complying with their exhortations, admonitions, and rebukes? Luke xix. 27. Why do not ye ftrengthen their hands in the Lord's work? If ye have any intereft in Zion's King, it is the work of our common Lord, which you are obliged to in a private way, as well as they by virtue of their office; and therefore ye are bound to co-operate with them in what ferves to promote the intereft of that King, whofe fervants you profefs to be.

I proceed now to confider the relation betwixt political fathers and their children; that is, magiftrates and fubjects,

First, I fhall fhew the duty of fubjects to magiftrates.

1. They owe them fingular refpect and honour, 1 Pet. ii. 17. They are to be honoured by us in our hearts, thinking of and efteeming them reverently, and carrying a reverent fear and awe of them within our breafts, 1 Sam. xxvi. 16. 17. Prov. xxiv. 21,



« PreviousContinue »