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any discouragement, hang on Christ, wait on Christ, and the Lord Christ will at last commend thee as thou wilt. How shall people that go on in a continued way of doubting and unbelief, ever look this poor woman in the face at the great day of judgment, this poor Canaanitish woman? How will you be able, you that go on in a continual way of doubting and unbelief, to look the Lord Jesus Christ in the face? Stir up yourselves, stir up yourselves, I beseech you, to this great work of believing. I confess it is a hard thing to believe, and harder to believe than to keep all the ten commandments. There is something in nature to contribute towards the keeping of the ten commandments, but there is nothing in nature to contribute to thy believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a very hard thing to believe truly; and those that make it an easy matter, they do not know what it is to believe. But read over this story,
hearts will be provoked to believe, to hang upon Jesus Christ. Do it, and the Lord will commend your faith, and own you and
A VINDICATION OF ORDINANCES.
PREACHED AT STEPNEY, July 15, 1649.
Good Reader.—The Jews say, that there is not the least letter of the word, upon which huge mountains do not hang. Luther saith, That one tittle of the word is greater than heaven and earth. But our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ saith, “ That heaven and earth shall pass away,
but my words shall not pass away.”
Shall we then stand still, behold and see the ordinances of Christ wrested from us, and not bear witness against it ? Upon this account, though the entreaties of divers friends have been very pressing, I am not unwilling that this Sermon concerning ordinances be brought into public view.
You may read in the Scripture, that in the times next before Christ and his glorious coming, professors shall not keep their garments which they were used to wear with honour. Therefore saith our Saviour,“ Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame,” Rev. xvi. 15. When sball this be? In the time of the pouring out of the sixth vial, which is immediately before the coming of Christ : for he saith, then, “ Behold I come as a thief, blessed is he that watcheth,” &c. In Matt. xxiv. it is said, “ Immediately after the tribulation of those days, shall appear the sign of the Son of Man,” ver. 29, 30. What days are those ? Even the days when men shall say of Christ, “Behold he is in the desert, behold he is in the secret chamber,” ver. 26. Gone from the public ordinances, only to be enjoyed in private. Who shall those be that shall say thus? Such as would fain be reputed prophets, such as have had a hand in the great works of God in those times, and such as have been great and high professors ; for saith our Saviour, “ There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as, if it be possible, they shall deceive the very elect," ver. 24. But when shall these things be? Immediately before Christ's coming, ver. 29, for saith he, “ Verily this generation," that is, the generation on which he spake of, not which he spake to, “ shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” So that immediately before the glorious coming of Christ, men shall depart from, and cast away the precious ordinances of Jesus Christ : which is as well grief as comfort to us : grief, that there should be such declinings ; comfort, that our Lord is at hand. This declining is an ill sin, but a good sign : as an ill sin, it is grief; as a good sign of Christ's coming, so it is comfort. And if our Lord and Saviour be at hand; even at the door, who would not watch and keep his garments ? Shall we not watch with him one hour? The scope and drift of this Sermon is, to call upon your's and mine own soul to watch. Wherein is proved, both in the general, that ordinances, and in particular, that such and such ordinances ought to be still continued, and that new testament believers are still to live under the same ; not that they should not live beyond them, in the use of them; for in the way of nature we are to use our daily bread, though we
do live beyond it. Living under an ordinance as Christ's appointment, and living beyond it in regard of divine enjoyment, are not repugnant : but that believers should so live beyond the ordinances, as that they are not bound to the use thereof, is the thing which this Sermon lies against.
I have not spoken of the Lord's day herein. There are divers treatises abroad which do prove that an ordinance of Christ to be still continued ; and the clearing and proving thereof, requires more time than an hour or two in preaching would admit. Neither have I spoken much unto that objection, namely, That all the ordinances of Christ do hang upon the ministry, and there can be no ministry now, because those extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost are wanting: for the question before me was not, Whether the ordinances may or can possibly continue ? but, Whether they ought to continue ? Yet as to that objection, I add, if you look into 1 Tim. i. 3, where the apostle Paul doth set down the qualifications of one who is fit to be a minister of the gospel; ye shall not find one word declaring that those extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, are any part of the essential qualification of an elder or bishop. The apostle shews how a man should be qualified that is made a deacon, ver. 8–12; how a widow should be qualified who is to be taken into that number, chap. v. 9, 10; and how a bishop or elder should be qualified, chap. iii. : but though he set down many particulars of the qualifications of a man fit for that office, yet not one word of these extraordinary gifts, plainly speaking this truth, that those gifts are not of the essence of a minister of the gospel; yea, where do we find that those ordinary elders chosen in the apostles' time, Acts xiii. ; Titus i., were endued with such gifts ? Apostles and evangelists, who were estraordinary officers, and not to continue, had those gifts; we read they had them, but where do we read that the ordinary elders, who were to continue, had these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost constantly? We find that baptism was administered to those persons who had none of these gifts, Acts viii. 15, 16, 17; that the Lord's Supper was administered to Christ's disciples, before the Holy Ghost in those gifts fell upon them, Matt. xxvi. ; and that the church's censure requires no such gifts, Matt. xviii. Now therefore if the ordinances may be received without them, and they are not of the essence of the ministry; why should any man think that the ordinances of Jesus Christ do so hang upon these, that if these be wanting, the ordinances cannot be used or administered ?
And as for the Lord's day, which is called the Lord's day, as the Lord's Suppcr is, because of the Lord's appointment and institution ; who doth not see how the power of godliness hath grown and thriven under the droppings thereof? What nation or kingdom is there under all the heavens, where the power of godliness hath flourished more than in England ? Why? Not e cluding other reasons of God's grace and free love to us, but because the Lord's day hath lived more institution-wise in England, than in any other part of the world. And what gracious man is there in all this nation who may not rise up and say to this day, Blessed art thou amongst the days of the week: my soul doth, yea, and all generations shall call thee blessed.
The other Sermon (the eighth in this volume) is about Grace and Gifts ; the excellency of grace and love above gifts ; whereunto we shall do well that we take heed, for if our gifts do wax wanton, they will despise ordinances, and kick against grace itself, which they have the more cause to nourish, because they live plentifully under the roof of grace. Happy is the man whose gifts do cherish his graces, and whose graces do produce gifts : and as diversities of gifts should not make us disagree or envy one another, but rather bind us in love to one another ; so extraordinary enjoyments should not draw us from ordinary means,
but quicken up our hearts thereunto. As if God do marvellously bless us without prayer, and we be driven the more unto prayer by it, then it is of God and his love ; but if it cause us to leave or neglect prayer, then it is perilous. Now these are perilous times, for they are the last times; wherefore, good reader, let us rather desire to have plain grace than fine gifts, for this is the more excellent way.
I have not had so much time to peruse these two Sermons as I would, for the notes stayed a very little while in my hands; but I find they are agreeable to what I delivered in preaching, whereunto I have made some little addition. The title, &c I left to my friends who desired the printing ; the mending of some press-faults I must leave to the pen of the reader. Now the good Lord himself, who hath often refreshed our souls with the sense of his love in Christ Jesus, keep all our feet in his ways, and grant that we may hold fast what we have, lest another take our crown. Your's in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“ Unto Him shall ye hearken.”—Deut. xviii. 15. These words are spoken concerning our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is our great prophet; whose work and office it is, to reveal and make known the mind and will of God the Father unto us. Our duty therefore is, to hearken unto him. And this is that inference which the Lord himself makes here, “ Unto him shall ye hearken.” Only ye may observe, that when the apostle Peter in Acts iïi. doth cite this scripture, he gives you a double exposition: for whereas it is said in verse 19 of this chapter,
- It shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him;" Peter in Acts iii. 23 renders it thus, “ And it shall come to pass, that every soul which will not hear the prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” And whereas it is said here in the text, “ Unto him shall ye hearken;" Peter in Acts iii. 23, renders it thus, “ Him shall ye hear in all things, whatsoever he shall say unto you.” So that this is the great inference and use that the Lord himself Goth make of this prophetical office of Christ, “ Unto him shall
hearken.” It will be therefore worth our time to consider, what it is for to hearken to him, this great Prophet. Know therefore, that when he saith,“ Unto him shall ye hearken;" the meaning is, unto him alone, and to none else; as, - Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God," our Saviour translates, “ And him only shalt thou serve.” So here, “ Unto him shall ye
hearken;" that is, to him only, to him alone, and to none else.
Now a man is said to hearken unto Christ, this great Prophet, either when he doth acknowledge, receive, and submit unto his appointments; or else when he doth obey his voice with the obedience of faith. I say, first, a man is said to hearken unto Christ, this great Prophet, when he doth receive, acknowledge, and submit unto his appointments. And therefore if you compare Matt. x. with Luke x, ye shall find that hearing and receiving is the same thing. In Matt. x. 40, “ He that receiveth you, receiveth me.”
In Luke s. 16, “He that heareth you, heareth me.” What is hearing in one, is receiving in the other : so that I say, first, a man is said to hear Christ, this great Prophet, when he doth receive, acknowledge, and submit unto his appointments : this is our duty. When it is said, “ Unto him shall ye hearken,” this is here commanded.
For the opening therefore, and pressing of this truth, I shall labour,
First, To shew you, what those appointments of Christ, this great Prophet of our's, are, which we are to receive, acknowledge, and submit unto, and thereby to hearken unto him.
Secondly, That these appointments and institutions of his, do still continue and bind us, and that we are still to hearken to him therein: still he lives and speaks in those appointments.
Thirdly, I shall answer to some objections, questions, and cases of conscience concerning ordinances, and the institutions of Christ.
Fourthly, Shew you what a dangerous thing it is for a man to turn his back upon, and ears from, the voice of this great Prophet, speaking in his appointments and institutions.
Fifthly, How and in what manner this hearing work should be rightly performed ?
First, If you ask me what these appointments are which we are to receive, acknowledge and submit unto, and so to hearken unto this great Prophet in?
I answer, That if you look into the whole new testament, you shall find the precepts of Christ are either moral, as the ten commandments, or positive. As for the moral precepts of