Page images
PDF
EPUB

1.

supposeth this; and so the scripture elsewhere teacheth, 2 Kings v. 13. Ye are civil fathers, and instead of natural fathers to them. They are committed to your charge, as under your roof and power. God would have all superiors to put on fatherly bowels towards their inferiors, as he who is fupreme Lord calls himself our Father which is in heaven. If mafters would thus look on themselves, it would engage them to their duty towards their servants. When God brings a servant into a house, especially those of the younger fort, either wanting parents, or leaving them to serve you, he lays, as John xix. 26. 27. Man, behold thy fon; and to the servant, Behold thy father.

2. Ye have a Mafter which is over you and your servants too, to whom ye must give account, Col. iv.

And there is no respect of persons with him. He has given a law to the master as well as the servant; and in judging of them he will not favour the mafter more than the servant. Pride makes men impe. rious and oppreflive. Here is a sovereign remedy to curb it. Let us remember that we have a Master in heaven, Job. xxxi. 13. 14. And so much for family, relations.

I come now to consider the relation betwixt ecclefiaftical fathers and their children. These fathers are preaching and ruling elders, Here I fall consider, 1. The duties of ministers and people ; and, 2, Those of ruling elders and people.

First, I shall fhew the duties of ministers and people.

First, I shall shew the duty people owe to their ministers.

į. They owe them singular reverence, and that because of that honourable fiation wherein Christ has placed them, sending them to deal with finners in his own stead, i Cor. iv. I, 2 Cor. v. 20.

This founds that debt of reverence, Rom. X. 15. and should be expressed in word and deed. They are the stars whom Christ holds in his right liand; and though they shine

20, c.

not fo clear as ye would wish, people would beware of treading them under foot, seeing Christ holds them in his right hand, Rev. i. 20. compare chap. ii. 4. 14.

2. Endeared love to them for their work's fake, 1 Theff.v. 13. Gal. iv. 14. 15. The gospel is the greatest benefit that men can partake of; and it is very natural to love those who are the instruments by whom the Lord conveys great benefits to us. And as ministers must lay their account with'the hatred of those that hate the light, so those that get good of ordinances will as naturally love them as the child does the father and mother. But as there are unnatural children in the family who little regard the father that begat them, or the mother that bare them ; so it is not to be wondered, that there are unnatural children in the church that reject those by whose means they have got any acquaintance with religion that they have, and cait reproach on the breasts of ordinances, in fucking of which they grew up.

3. Diligent attendance on ordinances of all sorts difpensed by them, as word, facraments, catechising, &c. Het. . 25. Luke x. 16. In vain do these stars shine, if there be none to receive their light. The fame word that obliges minifters to dispense ordinances, must needs oblige people to attend them; and that even though they may lie at a considerable distance from them, 2 Kings iv, 22. 23. The woman there mentioned had fixteen miles to go to the man of God.

4. Submission to them in things pertaining to their office, Heb. xiii. 17; submitting to difcipline exercised by them in the name of Christ; to their instructions, cordially receiving them from the word; to their reproofs, whether private or public; to their exhortations and charges, wherein they hold forth to you the will of God, ib. Jam. i. 21. They who do otherwise, fin against their own souls, as well as difcourage ministers by their intractableness, and do but lay up witnesses against themselves to be led against them at tlic great day. 'Tis not the hearers of the word, but the doers thereof that are justified. It will be no advantage to you to have heard, but never complied.

5. Praying for them, 1 Thess. v. 25. The work in which they are engaged is a great work. Who is suflicient for it? They have need of prayers for them. Your own intereft ma: engage you to it. They may do their work, but the success of it must be fetched from heaven by prayer, i Cor. 2. 4. We have the sword, but how shall we get the arm? We may compass Jericho, and give the shout; but it is the power of God that mult make the walls to fall. Like Gi. deon's three hundred men, we may bear the lamps in our empty pitchers, blow with the trumpet, and the earthen pitchers may be broken in the cause, but God only can do the work, Judg: yii.

6. People should be very tender of the reputation of ministers; it being a tender thing so much inter. woven with the success of the gorfil. The Spirit of God seeing that the devil would be very ready to mark at their reputation in a special manner, by a wicked world and false brethren, has fet a double ledge about it, i Tim. v. 19. Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witncles. So that ye ought not only not to flander them, but to be loath to receive those flanders vented by others against them, believing nothing therein without proof.

7. Lastly, Maintenance. This by divine right is due from people to their ministers, i Cor. ix. 14.

Secondly, I shall Thew the duty of ministers to their people.

1. They owe tender love to the souls of their people. They should be full of bowels towards them, i Theff. ii. 7.8.; which should appear in their preaching, and all parts of their work.

2. Diligent and faithful dispensing of all gospel-ordinances to them, word, sacraments, doc. It is a-labour, and they must take it so, willing to spend and

be spent in the service of their Lord, and of precious fouls. And indeed they are as lighted candles, which while they shine waste, 2 Tim. iv. 2. i Theff. ii. 3. 4.

3. Behaving so as they may be examples of holiness and tenderness, Tit. ii. 7.; for precept without example will have little influence. · 4. Watching over their flocks, that being ready to be acquainted with their state and case, they may be in capacity to instruct, comfort, and admonish them, &c. as the case requires, Heb. xiii. 7.

5. Lastly, Praying for them, Eph. i. 15. 16.

SECONDLY, I come to shew the duties of ruling elders and the people over whom they are appointed overseers. And as we are this day to ordain some to that office, I shall discourse of this subject a little more fully than I would otherwise have done in a catechetical exercise. I propose to discourse, on this occagion, from that text,

I TIMOTHY V. 17. Let the elders that rule well, be counted worthy of double

honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

THE

scriptures are the book of the manner of the kingdom. There the institution of church-officers, their work, and the duties owing them by others, are only to be found. And whatever officers of the church men pretend to be, if their office be not found there, they have no due call to their work, but are usurpers and intruders.

In the words read, the apostle gives us the work af. signed by Jesus Christ to elders of the church, and what is due for it unto them from the church: Let the elders that rule well, be counted worthy of double honour. Here he distinguishes two sorts of elders of the church. 1. Ruling elders. The word elder originally is a Vol. III.

E

name of age; but here and in maoy other places of scripture it is evident, that it is the name of an office, being the name of ruling church-officers, because usually taken out of the elder fort, or that though of the younger, yet they ought to be men of gravity and authority. Here consider,

(1.) The work of these elders, from whence their defignation is taken. It is to rule, and govern the church, as those who are set over it by the Lord. T'or the Lord has not left his church in a state of a. narchy and confugion, but appointed some to rule, and others to be ruled.

(2.) How they ought to manage their work; well, i. l. rightly, worthily, according to the rules prescribed them by Christ the chief Bishop

(3.) What is due from the church to those who lo manage it; double, i. e. abundant, honour. This honour implies two things, viz. 1.) Maintenance. This is evident from ver. 18. 2.) Esteem and reputation,

Phil. ii. 29.

1

Episcopalians, as they have given us the Prelate, an oficer whom Christ never appointed, so they rob us of the ruling elder, which the text fo plainly discovers to be a church-officer of divine inflitution. To evite the force of which they turn this elder into various shapes : but in vain. For by the elders that rule well cannot be understood superannuated miniflers, as fome fay; for it is evident, that the preaching elder is to have more honour than this elder. But it is shocking to the common sense of the people of God, to honour and esteem a young laborious minister more than an old one, who has spent his strength in the work. Nor by them are to be understood magi. itrates, as others fay; for at this time they were not so much as inembers of the church. Nor are deacons meant hereby, as others fay; for their work is not to rule the church, but to serve tables, Aćts vi. 2. Nor are we to understand by them the fixed paftors vi flocks, in opposition to those that travelled up and

« PreviousContinue »