Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

thou dost dwell among scorpions; be not afraid of their
words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a
rebellious house. And thou shalt speak my words unto
them, whether they will hear, or whether they will for-
bear; for they are most rebellious.” This charge, solemn
as it is, and difficult as it is to execute, applies to every
minister of God, in every age of the world. At every
ordination of a minister of the gospel, we hear the sub-
stance of this awfully solemn and weighty charge. And
whose conscience does not readily decide, that alie
ministers of God are bound, by the most sacred obliga-
tion, to fulfil this charge. Every minister must “preach
the word, be instant in season, and out of season; he must
reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doc-
trine.” He must “feed the ... of God, which he
hath purchased with his own blood.”
In this view of the duty of the ministers of the word,
let conscience decide, whether there be not equal obliga-
tion on all the sinful children of men, to hear and em-
brace the system of divine truth. Were they not bound,
on pain of damnation, to listen, as for their lives, to the
reaching of Enoch, and of Noah, of Abraham, and
saac, and Jacob P Did any person, who refused to hear
these most antient ministers of Christ, ever embrace the
promised Saviour, by a living faith P. Did not every one,
who refused to hear them, #. and die in his sins, and
perish in his unbelief ? Yes, most certainly. For nei-
ther in ancient nor modern times, has any other name
been given among men, except the name of the blessed
Redeemer, which is preached in all ages, by which sin-
mers can be saved. The antediluvian world, for refusing
to hear and regard the warning voice of Noah, was over-
whelmed in a universal deluge of water. “By faith
Noah, being warned of God, of things not seen as yet,
moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his
house; by the which he condemned the world, and be-
came heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” It is
generally granted, and common sense decides, that obli:
gation on the ministers of God to preach the word, at all
events, implies equal obligation on all the people to hear.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

“Hear, and your souls shall live.” “Faith cometh by
To ender this duty still plainer, and the argument
more conclusive, we may take a view of the ministry of
Moses and Aaron and their successors, during what is
called the Mosaic dispensation of the gospel. Moses,
being called by the voice of the Lord, from the burning
bush at Horeb, and commissioned to go and deliver Is-
rael, the chosen people of God, out of their bondage in
Egypt; was sent to them in the character of a preacher.
His first business was, to teach and instruct them, con-
cerning the mind and will of God; and to lead them
to embrace the promises made to their fathers. And,
like all the faithful ministers of Christ, he carried his
credentials with him. The people appeared to be con-
vinced of the divine promises; and listened attentively
to the instructions of Moses. “By faith they kept the
passover,” which was a token of God’s sparing mercy to
them, when he destroyed the Egyptians. By faith they
passed through the red sea, as by dry land; which the
Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.”
Now supposing the Israelites had thought it needless
to hearken implicitly to every word of instruction, en-
couragement, warning, and admonition, from the mouth
of Moses, who was their minister; would they, in this
case, have believed in God, and escaped from their
Egyptian bondage P No. All the faith they had, wheth-
er speculative or evangelical, came by hearing. Had
they not heard the messages of Moses, what had they
to believe P and what to hope for P How could they
escape from their bondage, and come to the possession of
the promised land F Thus it appears, that, unless God’s
ministers are heard attentively, patiently, and persever-
ingly ; it is impossible to possess the christian faith or
the christian hope.
If we trace the ministry of Moses further, the result
will be the same. For after the Israelites had proceed-
ed to the foot of Mount Sinai, God descended in awful
majesty on the Mount, and solemnly proclaimed the ten
commandments, and wrote then on tables of stone. He

also gave direction to his servant Moses to build a tabernacle for a place of religious sacrifices and instructions. The whole tribe of Levi was consecrated and set apart to the sacred priesthood; Aaron, the brother of Moses, being made high priest. This method of divine worship and instruction, being in a great measure new; it was attended with a great variety of new rites and cer. emonies; all of which were of divine institution, and made known to the people by God’s servant Moses— And were not the people required to attend strictly to all these institutions P Particularly, were not all the other tribes bound to pay their o: to the tribe of Levi, as being consecrated to the holy priesthood – Were not all the other tribes required, without envy or grudging, to look to that of Levi, for religious instruction ? What awful manifestations of divine wrath were made, in consequence of the rebellion of Korah and his confederates Korah, and two hundred and fifty others, of the tribe of Reuben, princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown, gathered themselves together against Moses, and against Aaron, and said unto them, “’Ye take too much upon you, see: ing all the congregation are hely, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Wherefore then, lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord? And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face.” Anticipating the event, he was filled with astonishment. The event was, that, in the presence of the congregation, “The earth clave asunder, and opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They and all that appertained unto them, went down alive into the pit; and the earth closed upon them, and they perished from among the congregation.” What an awful warming is this, to those who envy, hate and despise the ministers of the word of God! and who neglect the preaching and institutions of the gospel ! Did Korah, or one of his confederates in rebellion, ever come to repentance, or to a saving faith in Christ? Or do anyin ancient or modern times, who rudely invade the sacred priesthood, give evidence of that faith which the gospel requires? Is it not evident, from the view which we have taken of the sacred ministry, under the Mosaic dispensation, that faith cometh by hearing ; and hearing by the ministry of the word of God P Our Saviour in the time of his ministry, required of the Jews, that they should hear Moses and the prophets; and it is said, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Hearing the ministry of the word of God, by Moses and the prophets, who were the divinely constituted preachers, under the Mosaic law, was evidently essential to salvation. Thus far, it has been by raising up, and supporting the ministry of the word, that true religion has been perpetuated. Had it not been for this, all mankind would have been long ago in a state of barbarous ignorance and idolatry. Let us now bring down the enquiry to later times. When the Divine Saviour was about to make his appearance in the world, according to the prophecies, he was preceded by John the Baptist, who was supereminent as a preacher, and a messenger of God. As such he was foretold in the prophecy of Malachi. “Behold I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.” “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet,” that is, one that shall come in the spirit and power of Elijah, “ before the coming of the great, and dreadful day of the Lord : And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to their children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” A great reformation, and revival of religion was to be effected by John the Baptist : and how was it to be effected P. It was to be effected, simply by the ministry of the word of God. It was to be effected by what is called the foolishness of preaching. John did not even do a miracle, to give force and efficacy to his preaching. He solemnly rebuked and reproved the people, and called them to repentance. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” “Repent ye therefore, and believe the gospel.” He taught the people the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; and vast multitudes followed him into the wilderness, eagerly listening to his preaching, and with one accord enquiring, “What shall we do P’’ He was, literally, according to another prophecy, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Pro ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” he success of his ministry exceeded that of any man who had gone before him. It is said figura: tively, that “ There went out to him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.” Some, however, and even not a few, “ rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” But all who came to his baptism, professing true repentance, and faith in the coming Messiah, were solemnly required to bring forth fruits meet for repentance ; and not to begin to say in their hearts, “We have Abraham to our father;” nor to rely on any thing, as an evidence of their justification, short of personal holiness, and union of heart to the promised Saviour. Such were the nature and effects of the ministry, of John the Baptist. Thousands of sinners were converted; and all the saints were edified. A far more glorious revival of pure religion was effected by his single ministry of the gospel, . ever been witnessed before. But is it not evident, from the history of his ministry, that not a single soul was converted, who had opportunity, but neglected to attend to his polio ? The infinite importance of the min: istry of John, must be acknowledged by the candid world. But the improvement of his ministry was as important as the ministry itself. In this instance it was exceedingly manifest, that faith came by hearing, and by no other means. Very soon after the commencement of the short ministry of John the Baptist, Jesus Christ also made his appearance, as a minister of God to this fallen world. 'The substance of his doctrine was like that of his forerunner, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” “Repent ye, therefore, and believe the gospel.” For a full view of the ministry of Christ, the whole of the evangelical history must be quoted. A specimen

« AnteriorContinuar »