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But more particularly, let us here discuss these two points.
churches and ordinances.
First, By what evidences doth it manifefly appear that there is fuch a presence of Christ with bis churches aod ordinances. And this will appear by iwo vodenjable evidences thereof.
1. By their wonderful preservatioos.
2. From their fupernatural effects. 1. From their wonderful preservations: For it is wholl, Unaccountable, and unconceivable, how the churches, minifters aod ordinances, should be supported and preserved without it, amidft such hosts of potent and enraged enemies. If Chrift were pot among them, they had certainly been swallowed op long ago. It is he that holds the stars in his right-band, Rev. ii. 1. His walks among the seven golden candlesticks is their belt security. The burning bush, Exod. iii. 3. is a rare emblem to open this mystery; the both borded with fire, but was not consumed. The bub was a resemblance of the church of God is Egypt, the flames upon it was their terrible persecution; the wonder, that no alhes appeared as the effects of those terrible flames; the reason whereof was, God was in the bush, Jesus Christ was in the midst of his people,
By virtue of this presence we are here this day, in the enjoyment of gospel liberties; do fociety of men in the world baye fuch security as the church hath upon this account. The mightiest monarchies have been overturned, so policies por ho. man power could preserve them; but the church and ordinances are still preserved, and Mall ever be, by virtue of that gracious promise, Jer. xxx, II. “ For I am with thee, faith the Lord, “ to save thee: Though I make a full end of all nations whi. “ther I have scattered thee, yet will I got make a full end of 4 theo
The Babylonians, Persians, Grecian monarchies, have de. stroyed and ruined one another :
Sic Medus ademit Asyrio, Syroque tulit moderamina Perfes, &c. but Nill the church of Christ lifts up its head, and beholds their ruios.
2. This presence of Christ in and with his ordinances is undeniably evinced from their superpatural effects upon the souls of men, 2 Cor. x. 4. “ The weapons of our warfare are not qe carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of
Atrong holds." It is the Spirit of Christ that gives them their
fuecess and efficacy; the sword of the gospel hath its point and edge, but it is impossible the heart of a stupid hardened finger Should ever be pricked or wounded by it, if the Spirit of Christ did not manage it.' When sippers fall down convinced under the authority of the word, they feel, and readily ackpowledge, that God is in it of a truth, i Cor. xiv, 25. Ruffious reports, that at the council of Nice, a godly man, of no great learning, was the instrument of convertiog a learned philofo. pher, whom the bisoops with all their arguments could not persuade: of which the philosopber himself gave this remarkable account, •Whilst you realoned with me, said he, agaiost words, " I opposed words, and what was spoken I overthrew by the ! art of speaking; but when instead of words power came out
of the mouth of the speaker, words could no longer with • stand truth, nor man resist the power of God. . And this, indeed, is the true and just account of all those marvellous and gracious changes made upon the souls of men by the preaching of the gospel : can the vanishing breath of a dying man, think you, inspire spiritual and eternal life into the souls of other men ? Can he search the conscience, break the heart, and bow the will at this rate ? No, no, this is the power and operation of Christ, and of that preseoce we must say, faith a * reverend author, as Martha did to her Saviour concerning the death of her brother Lazarus, John xi. 21. 46 Lord, if thou hadît been here, my brother had oot died.” So say I, if that presence and power of Christ were felt by all, which hath been certainly experienced and felt by many, they had not remained in the state of spiritual death as they do. -. But though there be thousands under ordinances that never felt this power of Christ upon them, yet blessed be God there are also multitudes of witoesses and evidences of this truth, that there is a real, spiritual energetical presence of Christ in his owo appointments ; which was the first thing to be evioced.
Secondly, The second thing requiring explication, is the uses
· 1. To preserve and support his ministers and churches,
So fiord, if thou had death of her bromas Martha did tefence we
* Mr. Burgess on 1 Cor. ii.
England's Duty chey Thall not deliver
430 " and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prerad “ agaioft thee; for I am with thee to save thee, and to deliver “ thee, faith the Lord : and I will deliver thee out of the band “ of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the * terrible.”
It was easier for the Roman army to scale the walls, and bar. ter down the towers of Jerusalem, than for all the enemies in Jerusalem to destroy this prophet of God, thus immored by the divine presence. Athanafius and Luther had the power of the empire ingaged against them, yet the presence of Christ was their security. The witnesses could not be lain till they had finished their testimony, Rev. xi. 7. To this presence alone the faithful witnesses of Christ owe their marvellous preservation at this day; had not Christ said, L., I am with you, you had not faid at this day, behold our ministers are still with us.
2. The presence of Christ is necessary to assist and enable his ministers in their work, for it is a work quite above their owa strength; it is well we are workers together with God, else we should soon faint under our labours. When Moses objected, I am not eloquent, the Lord told him, I will be with thy mouth, Exod. iv. io. When God guides the tongue, bow powerful and persuasive must the language be! when the apostles, illiterate men, were seat out to convert the world, Christ promised to give them a mouth and wisdom, Luke xxi, 15. a mouth to speak, and wisdom to guide that mouth; and then their words were demonstrations, all their adversaries could not resist that Spirit and power by which they spake. Empires, and kingdoms full of enemies, received the gospel; but the reason of this wonderful success is giveo us in Mark xvi. 20. “ They “ went out and preached every where, the Lord working with " them.” 'Tis sweet and prosperous working in fellowship with Christ: the spirit of Christ gives a manifold assistance to his ministers in their work; 'tis he that guides and directs their mind in the choice of those subjects wherein they labour with such success to their hearers. He dictates the matter, influences their affections, guides their lips, follows home their doctrine with success. And this is a special use and end of Christ's prefence with his ministers and ordinances,
3. The spiritual presence of Christ is necessary for the preparation and opening of the peoples heart to receive and embrace the gospel to salvation; not a heart will open to receive Christ till the Spirit of Christ unlock them. Paul and Timothy were extraordinarily called to preach the gospel at Macedonia, there Lydia was converted; but how? Not by their skill or eloquence,
but by the Spirit's influence; “ The Lord opened the heart of er Lydia," Acts xvi. 14. The church could not be propagated
lewens without conversion ; conversion could never be wrought with che thermalt can out Christ's influence and spiritual presence. So that this pre
fence is of absolute necesity; the church cannot fubfift, nor the great ends of ordinances be attained without it. :'
Infer. 1. ' Is Christ really present in all gospel administrati. My woons, how awfully solemn then is every part of gospel worship?
we having to do with Christ himself, and not with men only, in gospel ordinances.' Happy were it, if, under this conside
ration, all our people did receive the word we preach, as the SI Thessalonians did, 1 Thess. ii. 13. not as the word of man, pere but as the word of God; then it would work effectually in us od timas it did in them. But alas ! we have loose and low appre.
,hensions of the word; we come to judge the gifts of the speaker, 1D not to have our minds informed, our consciences "searched, our
lusts mortified, and our lives regulated. But that men would realize the prefence of Christ in ordinances, and seriously confider
that word of his, Rev. ii. 23. “ All the churches fall kaow ::" that I am he which searcheth the reios and hearts, and I will : “ give to every one of you according to your works."
How would it compose vain and wandering hearts uoto holy feriousness ? O if men would but consider that they are before the Lord Jesus Christ, as Cornelius and his family did, Acts X. 33. " We are all here present before God, to hear all things " that are commanded thee of God,” If they would consider the word, as the executioner of God's eternal decrees, which recuras not in vain, but accomplishes that whereunto God fends it, fa. lv. 11. and eventually proves the favour of life or death Ferna) to them that fit under it, 2. Cor. ii. 16. In a word, ere it but confidered as the rule by which its hearers shall be dged in the great day, Joho xii. 48. then how would mea mble at the word? What mighty effects would it have upon ir hearts ? How would it run and be glorified ? But, alas, as speaks, Job ix. 11:“ He goetb by me, and I see him not; e pafleth on also; but I perceive him not." Few realize the tual presence of Christ in ordinances. . zfer. 2. If Christ be really present with his churches and or. aces, "How vaio are all attempts of enemies to fubvert and troy them. That promise, Matth. xxviii. ult. supposes the quance of a gospel church ministry to the end of the , else there would be a promise without a fubject: as de
there ought to be a church, lo de Facto, there shall be ch with ministers, and ordinances, let-Satan and antichrift do their worst. I do not say this promise fecurès this of that particular church or nation, for the presence of Chrift is more able from one place to another, but still the church is fafe. And there are three things that fecure it against all bazards,
1. The invaluable treasures God hath lodged in the church, viz. his Truths, his Worship, and his Eleet; such a precious car. go secures the vessel that carries it, whatever storms or tempefts may befal it.
2. The covenant aod promise of God with the church, is its abundant security, Matth. xvi. 18. “Upon this rock will I build “ my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail againt it? The faithfulness of God is pawned for his peoples security. If the church fail, God's faithfulness must fail with it..
3. But above all, the presence of Christ, in the midft of it, puts it out of all danger of miscarrying. In that promise, Lo, I am with you alway, are found all munitions and fortifications whatsoever : here we have his eye of providence, his hand of power, and whatsoever else is needful to support and secure it. God accounts his presence our fafety, Isaiah xli. 10. The enemies of God and his people account it 10 too, Exod. xiv. 25: and shall it not be so in our account? Provoke not the Lord Jesus to withdraw his presence, and fear not the consultations and oppositions of hell or earth.
Infer. 3. From this spiritual presence of Christ all bis faith. ful ministers foculd draw encouragement, umidst the manifold difficulties and discouragements they daily encounter in this work and service. Christ is with them, they work in fellowship with bim, let them not be dismaged.
The difficulties and discouragements the ministers of Christ meet with are great and many; and the more faithful and successful any of them are in their master's work, the fiercer opposition they must expect: besides, all the discouragements rising out of their own hearts, which are not a few, they must encounter.
First, the opposition of enemies from abroad. Secondly, The obstinacy and stubborpaels of the hearts they work upon. Satan is a jealous prioce, and will raise all manner of outcries and opposition against those heavenly Heralds, that come to proclaim a new prince in his dominions, and withdraw his miserable subjects from their curfed allegiance to him. What is it to preach the gospel (laid Luther) but to drive the fury of the world upon the head of that preacher ? Bur this would be eafily supportable, did our work but prosper, upon the hearts of our hearers. But this, alas! is the killing con Gideration of