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to the church as ministers, to others only as spiritually gifted. But no man can make this distinction in his own conscience. Suppose there be five hundred in this place, and a hundred of this church; can you make the distinction, that I am preaching in a double capacity, to some as a minister, and to others not as a minister? Neither rule, nor reason, nor natural light expresses any thing to that purpose. We preach as ministers to those to whom we preach, for the conversion of their souls. 2. Ministers may preach for the conversion of souls, when they preach elsewhere occasionally. They preach as ministers wherever they preach. I know the indelible character is a figment; but the pastor's office is not such a thing as men may leave at home when they go abroad. It is not in a minister's own power, unless lawfully dismissed or deposed, to hinder him from preaching as a minister. And it is the duty of particular churches (one end of their institution being the calling and gathering the catholic church), to part with their officers for a season, when called to preach in other places for the converting souls to Christ. We had a glorious ministry in the last age; wonderful instruments for the conversion of souls. Did they convert them as gifted men, and not as ministers? God forbid. I say, it may be done by them who have received gifts, and not called to office. But I know no ground any man hath to give up himself to the constant exercise of ministerial gifts; and not say to the Lord in prayer, Lord, here am I, send me.'
Had I time and strength, I should tell you of the duty of pastors and teachers in administering of the seals; and what is required thereunto.
And their duty in directing and comforting the consciences of all sorts of believers. What prudence, purity, condescension and patience are required in it, as a great part of our ministerial duty.
I should shew you also their duty in the rule of the church. Not that ever Christ intended to commit the rule of the church to them alone, to take them off from that great and important duty of preaching the gospel; but as time and occasions will allow them, to attend to the rule of the church.
And lastly, in exemplary conversation; and in assembling with other churches of their order, for the managing church communion.
'Who is sufficient for these things? Pray, pray for us; and God strengthen us, and our brother, who hath been called this day to the work; it may not be unuseful to him and me, to be mindful of these things, and to beg the assistance of our brethren.
To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil: A Song of loves.
My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer, &c.—PSAL. xlv. 1-3.
THE whole book of Psalms hath a peculiar respect unto Jesus Christ, either directly, or in the person of David, who was his greatest personal type, next to Aaron and Melchisedec. But there are some psalms that are altogether directly prophetical of him, and of his offices, viz. the second psalm is prophetical of his kingdom; the sixteenth psalm, of the work of his mediation, and obedience to God therein; the twenty-second, of his priestly office, his sufferings, death, his resurrection and intercession; the fortieth, of his oblation and suffering; the seventy-second, of his kingly and prophetical power and glorious regard unto his people; the sixty-eighth, of his glorious exaltation; and this fortyfifth psalm is a prophecy and description of his person, and his kingly office, and of the espousals of him and his church.
The title of the psalm is, 'To the chief musician upon Shoshannim for the sons of Korah, Maschil: A Song of loves.'
To the chief musician;' so пn is generally rendered, to him that excels: as n signifies eternal,' I have sometimes thought it might be as well rendered, 'In perpetuam rei memoriam,' For an everlasting remembrance.' But we may take it in the common acceptation, that it was recommended unto him that did preside over the rest of the Levites in the worship of God in the temple, by singing on instruments of music.
Upon Shoshannim.' The word signifies lilies;' whether it was a musical instrument, or a certain tune, we know not, neither do the Jews.
This sermon was preached June 7, 1674, at Stadham.
For the sons of Korah;' who these were, we may see, 1 Chron. ix. 19. The Korahites were over the work of the service, keepers of the gates of the tabernacle,' &c. What were they else? ver. 33. These are the singers, chief of the fathers of the Levites, who, remaining in the chambers, were free;' for they were employed in the work of singing the praises of God with instruments of music, day and night.
David was the first who brought musical instruments into the solemn worship of God: not but that they did occasionally make use of timbrels and cymbals, in the praises of God before; but he was the first that brought in a great number of musical instruments into the worship of God. And he speaks expressly in 1 Chron. xxiii. 5. of praising God with instruments of music, 'which,' says he, 'I made.' He did it by the direction of the Spirit of God; otherwise he ought not to have done it: for so it is said, 1 Chron. xxviii. 12. When he had established all the ordinances of the temple, the pattern which he had of all by the Spirit.' And ver. 19. All this, said David, the Lord made me understand in writing, even all the works of this pattern.' It was all revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, without which he could have introduced nothing at all into the worship of God. The Lord prepared him for this service while he was a shepherd; at which time he had attained great skill in singing on musical instruments.
And I cannot but observe, by the way, that it is a great mercy when God will engage the natural faculties and abilities of men, especially wherein they are excellent, in any way of his service. David had got an excellency in this faculty, and God engages it in his service. As those that had skill therein, and were not so engaged, are condemned in the prophet Amos, vi. 5. What were they condemned for? Why, that they would invent instruments of music like David. David did it to serve the Lord, and they did it to serve their lusts. Where men have any peculiar faculty or ability, it is an unspeakable mercy to have it engaged for God; for otherwise it will certainly be engaged for the devil: and, to render the mercy more singular, I think it is evident, the devil hath got the use and advantage of natural faculties and abilities, above what is given up to God.
Again, this was David's special inclination; whence he is called the sweet psalmist of Israel;' the edge of his spirit lay to it. And we may observe, that it is an excellent mercy, when the edge of our spirits, in special inclination, is engaged for the service of God. Prov. xxvii. 17. As iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.' Every man hath an edge; and there are several ways whereby it is sharpened. There is no man but cuts one way or other; and company and society is the great means whereby the edge is sharpened. One cuts to the world, another to pleasures, to lusts; and such company makes him more sharp. It is well when the edge of a man's spirit is set for the things of God, and he has some to sharpen that edge; for that way that a man's edge is set, that way is he. He may do something in the worship of God; but if his edge be to the world, that way is he; and if his edge be to lust and pleasure, that way is he. Now here was David; the special inclination and edge of his spirit was set towards God, and so was employed of God.
There is a general title given to this psalm, 'Maschil;' that is, a song to make wise, or to give instruction. They are the things of Christ, that, in an especial manner, are suited to give instruction to the church of God.
The special matter of the psalm is, 'A Song of loves.'
It may be upon three accounts. 1. Because the psalm mentions a mutual and interchangeable love. It is not only of the love of Christ to his church, nor only of the love of the church unto Christ; but is mutual, of the love of Christ to the church, and of the church to Christ, so that it is a song of loves. 2. It may be put in the plural number, by way of eminency, which is frequent in the Hebrew; of loves, that is, of the most excellent love, such, as none other is to be compared unto it. 3. It may be called so, because of the manifold fruits of that one single love, that is between Christ and his church. Though it be but a single love on each hand, yet various are the fruits of it; which will be described in the next verse.
I principally look upon it to be called so in the second sense, because it is more eminent than any other love in the