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ESSAY XXVII.
The JMinistry of the Word of God.

Of all the divine institutions, no one has been more

perpetual, in all ages of the world, and no one has been more manifestly essential to the conversion and salvation of sinners, than the ministry of the word of God. By the word of God, is meant all that system of instruction in revealed truth, which is contained in the bible, and is necessary to the knowledge of God, and of ourselves, and of the way of salvation by a Mediator.

By the ministry of the word of God, is meant the preaching of the system of divine truth, by men who are set apart to this important work according to divine institution; even by men who “ are called of God, as was JAaron.”

From the holy scriptures, and from universal observation, it is evident, that the ministry of the word of God, and a faithful and persevering attention to it, are essential to faith and salvation. This subject is illustrated particularly in the tenth chapter to the Romans; in which the previous doctrine is that of salvation by faith. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness,” or justification ; “and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.

or the scripture saith, “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” Faith in Christ is stated as the only essential condition of salvation; and as being equally essential to the salvation of Jews and Gentiles. “ For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” It is here taken for granted, that whosoever is a devout worshipper of the living and true God, is a true believer, and an heir of salvation. “ How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed P’’ Nothing can be done acceptably, without the Christian faith. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” But further. “How shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard P” We now come to the very point is: establishes the main question; “How shall they hear without a preacher?” The hearing here mentioned, is limited in its meaning to the hearing of the ministers of the word of God. Without hearing the embassadors of the Prince of Peace, how can there be a cordial reconciliation to God P “How shall they hear without a preacher ?, and how shall they preach, except they be sent P” As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obe # the gospel; for Esaias saith, Lord, Lord, who . ...; our report P. So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” that is by the min. istry of the word of God. This, according to all that goes before it in the connection, is the legitimate construction of the words. “So then, faith cometh by hear. ing.” The hearing; by which faith cometh, is the hearing of the faithful ministers and preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus the proposition appears to be, in a great measure established, that the ministry of the word of God, and 4 faithful and persevering attention to it, are essential to faith and salvation. This is God’s appointed way of salvation. The Apostle Paul, in his salutatory address to Titus, his own son, according to the common faith, speaks of the manifestation of the word of God, and the success of the gospel, as being only through preaching ; intimating, that without this, all other means of grace and salvation would be ineffectual. Accordingly É. adds, “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the o: that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city.” Elders were the ministers of the gospel, whose business it was, to preach the gospel; and without a faithful discharge of their duty, as the servants of Christ, there was no hope of the success of the gospel. The particular business of Paul, in his preaching, was to plant;

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and of Apollos, to water; and when these duties were faithfully discharged, “God gave the increase.” Faithful preaching of the word never fails of success. Looking forward to gospel times, the Lord says, by the prophet Isaiah, that “ As the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, so shall my word be, that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Nothing is wanting, but a §. of the gospel, to ensure a glorious success to the cause and kingdom of Christ. “It came to pass in Iconium, that they” [Paul and Barnabas] “went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude, both of the Jews and also of the Greeks be

'lieved.” This was the unfailing effect of a true and

faithful ministry of the word of God. And this glorious
effect is produced by no other means. Despise the
preachers of the gospel therefore (and truly they are but
earthen vessels, having no sufficiency of themselves,) yet
in despising them F. despise the most essential and
necessary means of salvation. Call the preaching of the
gospel foolishness (and to them that perish, it is foolish-
ness indeed,) yet it is seriously to be considered, that it
pleases God, by the foolishness of preaching (as men
impiously call it,) to save them that believe.
rom the testimonies of scripture, which have been
considered, it is evident, that although God produces the
true Christian faith in the hearts of his elect, by the
direct energy of his Holy Spirit; yet he sees fit to make
use of certain means to produce it; and especially the
ministry of the gospel of 8. This is indispensably
important. As far as opportunity is presented, ministers
must preach, and the o: must hear the system of
divine truth, or both must die in their sins, and perish in
their unbelief.
Further to establish this doctrinal proposition, it may
be observed, (and it is sufficient to observe,) that God has.

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in all ages of the world, even from the days of Enos, down to this day, raised up and supported a succession of faithful preachers of righteousness; by whose instrumentality, more than by any and all other means, religion has been promoted. From the days of Enos down to the flood, we read of eight successive preachers of right. eousness. Some of these, Enoch and Noah in particular, were greatly distinguished as prophets; and all were preachers of righteousness; all were the messengers of the Lord of hosts. Let it now be seriously considered, what would have been the state and character of fallen man before the flood, had there been no preachers of the word of God? In the posterity of Cain, we have a specimen of what \mankind would do, without the preaching of the word. The earth was filled with violence and slaughter. Preachers before the flood were very few in number; perhaps no more than a succession of individuals. But, so great was their influence, under the blessing of divine providence, that the church of God was supported and perpetuated, for sixteen hundred years. Had there been ino preachers, it is probable, that in less than half of that time, the human race would have been nearly exterminated, by their own violence, and ungodly lusts. Thus, in the earliest age of the world, it is found, that the salvation of sinners, and the support of the church, depended on the reaching of the word of God. After the flood, God continued a succession of preach. ers, consisting of Patriarchs and prophets, down to the days of Moses. . He appointed ordinances and institutions in his church, to prefigure and commemorate the great and glorious plan of redemption and grace, o the Mediator. The Patriarchs were constituted as officers to administer in holy things. The sabbath was, from the beginning, consecrated and set apart as a day of holy resting, and religious offerings, and sacrifices to God. On this day the preachers of righteousness were more particularly employed to administer divine instruc; tion. On this sacred day, especially under the law of Moses, double offerings and instructions were required.

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“Abraham, who was the Patriarch and minister of God to

his numerous household, received the sign of circumci-
sion, which signified the cutting off of the sins of the
flesh; and as a faithful minister of God, he not only in-
structed, but “commanded his children and his house-
hold after him, that they should keep the way of the
Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord might
; upon Abraham that thing which he hath spoken of
him.” .
Now considering what mankind were, in the patri-
archal age, and what they are in every age; is there the
least reason to suppose, that, without the stated ministry
of the patriarchs, according to divine appointment, relig-
ion could ever have been promoted P Certainly not the
least reason. All ho have sunk down in the
most sottish and fatal delusions, or would have mutually
devoured each other with the sword. How could they
have heard without a preacher ? But, being furnished
with preachers, qualified and commissioned of God to
dispense divine truth; was it not the indispensable duty
of all mankind, faithfully and perseveringly to attend to
their ministry P. Are they not bound to do this, at all
tines, on pain of final condemnation ?
That God’s ministers were always in duty bound
most faithfully to preach the system of divine truth, is a

given point. All the patriarchs, prophets and preachers

of old received a solemn charge to speak God’s words at all events; and to declare all the counsel of God. As a specimen, we may notice the charge given to the prophet Ezekiel. “Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation, that hath rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. . For they are impudent children, and stiff-hearted. I do send thee unto them ; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house) yet shall know, that there hath been a prophet among them. And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briars and thorns be with thee; and

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