Page images
PDF
EPUB

Who, of mankind, more self-conceited than these men ? If contradicted, as arrogant and angry, as if it were their calling to be fo. Counsel one of them, he scorns yo!1; reprove him, and he is almost ready to excommunicate you: . I am a minister and an elder:' flying thither to secure himfelf from the reach of just censure, which indeed exposes him but the more to it: and therefore his fault cannot be the less, by how much it is worse in a minister to do ill, and spurn at reproof, than an ordi. nary.man.

$. VIII. O, but he pleads an exemption by his office: what! Shall be breed up chickens to pick out his own eyes! Be rebuked or in. structed by a layman or parishioner! A man of less age, learning, or ability! No such matter: he would have us believe that his mini. sterial prerogative has placed him out of the reach of popular impeachment. He is not subject to vulgar judgments. Even questions about religion are schism: believe as he says: it is not for you to pry so curiously into the mysteries of religion: never good day since laymen meddled fo much with the minister's office. Not considering, poor man, that the contrary is most true: not many good days fince ministers meddled so much in laymen's business. Though perhaps there is little reason for this distinction, besides spiritual gifts, and the improvement of them by a diligent use of them for the good of others.

Such good sayings as these, Be ready to teach: answer with meckness : let every man great

fpeak as of the gift of God that is in him : if any thing be revealed to him that fits by, let the first hold his peace: be not lords over God's heritage, but meek and lowly; washing the feet of the people, as Jesus did those of his poor disciples; are unreasonable and antiquated instructions with some clergy, and it is Jittle less than heresy to remember them of these things : to be fure, a mark of difaffection to the church in their opinion. For by this time their pride has made them the church, and the people but the porch at best; a cypher that fignifies nothing, unless they clap their figure before it: forgetting, that if they were as good as they should be, they could be but ministers, stewards, and underthepherds ; that is, servants to the church, family, flock, and heritage of God; and not that they are that church, family, flock, and heritage, which they are only fervants unto. Remember the words of Christ, Let him that would be greatest be your servant.

J. IX. There is but one place to be found in the Holy Scripture, where the word Clerus, Kinem, can properly be applied to the church, and they have got it to themselves; from whence they call themselves the clergy, that is, the inheritance or heritage of God. Whereas Peter exhorts the ministers of the gospel, Not to be lords over God's hericage, nor to feed them for filthy lucre." Peter, belike, foresaw pride and avarice to be the ministers"

I Cor. xiv. 30. . Mat xx, 26.

temptations; and indeed they have often proved their fall: and to say true, they could hardly fall by worse. Nor is there any excuse to be made for them in these two respects, which is not worse than their fin. For if they have not been lords over God's heritage, it is be. cause they have made themselves that heritage, and disinherited the people : so that now they may be the people's lords, with a salvo to good old Peter's exhortation.

And for the other fin of avarice, they can only avoid it, and speak truth thus; that never feeding the flock, they cannot be said to feed it for lucre: that is, they get the people's money for nothing. An example of which is given us, by the complaint of God himself, from the practice of the proud, covetous, false prophets of old, That the people gave their money for that which was not bread, and their labour for that which did not profit them: And why? Because then the priest had no vision; and too many now despise it.

$. X. But, alas! when all is done, what folly, as well as irreligion, is there in pride? It cannot add one cubit to any man's stature: what crosses can it hinder? What disappointments help, or harm frustrate? It delivers not from the common stroke ; sickness disfigures, pain mis-shapes, and death ends, the proud man's fabric. Six feet of cold earth bounds his big thoughts; and his person, that was too good for any place, must at last lodge within the strait limits of so little and fo dark a cave: and

• Ifaiah lv. 2.

he who thought nothing well enough for him, is quickly the entertainment of the lowest of all animals, even worms themselves. Thus pride and pomp come to the common end; but with this difference, less pity from the living, and more pain to the dying. The proud man's antiquity cannot secure him from death, nor his heraldry from judgment. Titles of honour vanith at this extremity; and no power or wealth, no distance or respect, can rescue or insure them. As the tree falls, it lies; and as death leaves men, judgment finds them.

. XI. O! what can prevent this ill conclufion? And what can remedy this woeful declension from ancient meekness, humility, and piety, and that godly life and power which were so conspicuous in the authority of the preachings and examples of the living of the first and purest ages of Christianity? Truly, nothing but an inward and sincere examination, by the testimony of the holy light and spirit of JESUS, of the condition of their souls and minds towards Christ, and a better inquiry into the matter and examples of holy record. It was his complaint of old, that light was come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. If thou wouldst be a child of God, and a believer in Christ, thou must be a child of Light. O man, thou must bring thy deeds to it, and examine them by that holy lamp in thy soul, which is the candle of the Lord, that shews thee thy pride and arrogancy, and reproves thy delight in the vain fafbions of this world. Religion is a denial of self; yea, of self-religion

It is a firm tie or bond upon the soul to holiness, whose end is happiness; for by it men come to see the Lord. The pure in heart, says JESUS, fee God: he that once comes to bear Christ's yoke, is not carried away by the devil's allurements; he finds excelling joys in his watchfulness and obedience. If men loved the cross of Christ, his precepts and doctrine, they would cross their own wills, which lead them to break Christ's holy will, and lose their own soul's, in doing the devil's. Had Adam minded that holy light in paradise more than the serpent's bait; and stayed his mind upon his Creator, the rewarder of fidelity; he had seen the fnare of the enemy, and resisted him. O do not delight in that which is forbidden! Look not upon it, if thou wouldst not be captivated by it. Bring not the guilt of sins of knowledge upon thy own foul. Did Christ submit his will to his Father's, and for the joy that was set before him, endure the cross and despise the shame" of a new and untrodden way to glory? Thou also must submit thy will to Christ's holy law and light in thy heart, and for the reward he sets before thee, to wit, eternal life, endure his crofs, and despise the shame of it. All defire to rejoice with him, but few will suffer with him, or for him. Many are the companions of his table; not many of bis abstinence. The loaves they follow, but the cup of his agony they leave: it is

too.

• Mat. v. 8.

h Heb. xii. 2.

« PreviousContinue »