« EelmineJätka »
complishment of his greatest works, by' means which the rational world would think should prove utterly ineff-ctual. When the great fabric of heaven and earth are brought into being, it is done with a simple word, “ By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” When the pride of Pharaoh and the strength of Egypt is to be broken, when Israel is to be brought out of bondage, and the Red sea divided, it is effected by the ftretching out of the rod of God in the hand of Moses. When the strong walls of Jericho are to be brought down, it thall not be done by engines of war, such as battering rams, but by the simple founding of rams horns, and a thout from the camp of Israel. When the host of the Midianitish army is to be dira comfited, God will not have it done by thirty thousand, but he will have these reduced to three hundred; and that three hundred shall not draw a sword, but only blow their trumpets, break their pitchers, and hold their lamps in their hands, crying, “ The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon;" and therćupon the Midianitish army is made to melt away, and every man made to sheath his sword in his neighbour's bowels. What was the plot of Heaven in making such infignificant contemptible means to produce such glorious effects? The plain reafon is, that his own arm and power m!ght be the niore confpicuou ; and that Israel migit know that it was not their own bow or sword that saved them, but God's right hand and his holy arm that gave them the victory. In like manner, when God is to set up the kingdom of the Melliah in the world, and to overthrow Satan's kingdom of darkness, he passes by the plodding politicians, the learned philosophers, and elegant orators of the world, and pitches upon twelve poor filhermen, wno had no other language than their mother tongue, no other education but the making and mending of their nets; and, in endowing them with power from on high, whereby they were made capable of propagating the gospel in all the languages of the known world, and the working all manner of miracles for the confirmation of the truth of their doctrine, whereby Satan's kingdom was made to fall like lightning from heaven; the idolatries of the nations, in which they had been rooted for many ages and generations ; the devil's oracles amongst them are filenced; the Mofaical economy, which had been of divine authority, is unhinged; the Roman empire, the power of which had been employed to extirpate Christianity, is made to yield unto the sceptre of a crucified Jesus. In like manner, when God is to set up his kingdom in the heart, he will do it by earthen vessels, fraughted with the treasure of gospel truth and grace. Now, what VOL. III.
is the design of God; in all this, but that the excellency of 15 power may appear to be of him, and not of man The apostle elegantly descants upon this subject, i Cor. i. 26–31. " For ye fee your calling, brethren, how that not many wile men after the fieth, not many nighty, cot many noble are called. But God hath chosen the foolith things of the world, to confound the wise; and God hash chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are de spised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nouglt things that are. The design of all this is, " That no flesh should glory in his presence, but that he that glorieth, inay glory in the Lord alone." And so much fhall serve for the illustration of the text and doctrine. I proceed now to
The Application. And I shall endeavour io dispatch all the application I intend at this time, in a sew inferencee.
Inf. 1. See hence what an excellent and enriching blessing the gospel is, when received in a way of believing : it is a tru Jure, and the best treasure ever a people were poffefsed of; they are indeed a bletled people that know God in a practical way and manner.
Here it njay be asked, Wherein lies the excellency of the gospel-treasure? This was cleared in the doctrinal part; but to what was said, I shall add,
18+, It is a celeilial and heavenly treasure ; it is one of these good and perfect gifts that come down from above, from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither thadow of turning." The law is a thing known, in a great meafure, by the light of nature ; but the gospel is a thing wholly superna. tural, both as to the objective and subjective revelation of it.
zılly, It is a spiritual and soul-fatisfying treasure. And 0 how valuable mult that treasure be, that enriches the fou', and brings it to life and immortality! Let a man be posiedle of all the riches of the East and Wett Indies, yet while he is destitute or ignorant of the gospel-treasure, Laodicea's character may be affixed to him, "wretched, miserable, poor, and blind, and naked.”
3dly, The gospel-treasure the more that a man hath of it, he is always the inore humble and denied. Quite contrary to this is the effect of men's pofielling worldly treatures; no sooner do some men get a little of the world scraped together, by book or crook, but they are swelled with pride, and look with an air of contempt and disdain upon others, that are not come their length, as io worldly substance. But, I say, the gospel-trea. furè haih a quite different effict; for the more a man hath of it, the less doth he think of himself, in comparison of others; as you see it was with the greit apostle Paul. Who had more
of the gofpel-treasure than he ? and yet, says he, Eph. ii. 8. “ Unto me, who am less than the leait of all fainis, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unSearchable riches of Christ."
4thly, Though it be a humbling, yet it is really a foul ennobling treasure. The man by having the gospel-treasure hid in his heart, ic lifts him from among the common lay of mankind, and sets him among the excellent ones of the earth ; it lets him among princes, and among the heirs of the kingdom of heaven ; it endows the man with a princely spirit, iusomuch that he looks with contempt upon this dunghill.world, and his affections are fet a flight after things that are above, where Christ is at the right-hand of God. “ We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen : for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not feen, are eternal.”
5thly, As was above hinted, the gospel-treasure is durable, abiding, and everlasting; it goes along with a man, through death, which twins him of all his other worldly treasures : Psal. xlix. 16. 17. “ be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased. For when he dieth, he shall carry nothing away : his glory shall not descend after him.” But the gospel treasure is of such a nature, and so well secured, that neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, shall ever be able to spoil him of it, Rom. viii. at the close.
Well then, Sirs, if the gospel be such a valuable treasure, for the Lord's sake, ftudy to secure it, that your souls may be enriched for ever. Quest. How shall we focure it? Ansiv. It is by faith's setting to the seal unto the record of God concerning his Son Jesus Chriit. Quest. What is the record of GodSee this answered, 1 John v. 11. “ This is the record of God, that God hath given to us (linners of mankind) eternal life, and this life is in his Son : and he that hath the Son, hath life.” That moment a man lets to his seal to this record of God, as a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, he is fecured of all the riches of Christ, which are unfiarchable.
Inf. 2. Hath God put this treasure into earthen vessels, as ministers of the gospel are here called ? then see hence how worthy of reception and entertainment a faithful minister of the gofpel is : why, although he be but an earthcn veflel, yet he brings a glorious treasure along with him unto the peopie to whom he is fent. Solomon tells us, that " a man's gift makes room for him ;' much more he that brings a treasure of gifts. That minister who brings Chrilt, and all the treafures of heaven along with him, is worthy of all reception, according to that, Rom. X. 15. “ How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things !" Although ministers be spoke of by this diminutive character of earthen veslels, yet there are several great and honourable titles and defignations given them in scripture, which plainly shew the reception that they are worthy of. Every fent minister of Chrift, is " the messenger of the Lord of hosts," Mal. ii. 7. A messenger sent from the Lord of all the hosts of heaven, earth, and hell, ought to be entertained, and it is dangerous to maltreat him. Ministers are called the ambassadors of Christ, 2 Cor. v. 20. “Now, then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us : we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." Ministers of the gospel are called ambassadors, with allusion to the practice of princes, who fent their ambaffadors into foreign courts; and the ambassador represents the person of the king that sent him; and if any injury be done to the ambaffador, it is reckoned a dishonour done to his great master. The ambassadors of kings, they are sent unto foreign courts, to negociate the affairs of peace, of trade, or of marriage ; and in all these respects ministers are ambassadors from the high court of heaven. For,
ist, They are sent to negociate a peace between God and man. They preach the gospel of peace; they have the word of reconciliation committed to them, “As though God did beseech you by us, we pray you to be reconciled to him.” We come to cast out the white flag of peace from heaven, to a company of rebels, and to assure you, upon the oath of God that sent us, that he hath no pleasure in your death, but rather that you turn to him and live ; and therefore we cry to you, “ Turn ye, turn yé, for why will ye die?” We come with the olive branch in our mouths, to let you know that the deluge of God's wrath, that was breaking out against all mankind, is fublided, and that his anger is turned away, through the death and satisfaction of his eternal Son; and therefore, he who hath created our lips, hath ordained us to cry, “Peace, peace to them that are afar off.” For this very end, the minillry of reconciliation is committed to us, viz. “ That God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not impu. ting their tretpaffes unto them;" although, alas! we that are the amballadors of peace, may apply that word with respect to the generality of our hearers, ll. xxxiii. 7. “ The amballadors of peace weep bitterly.” And why do they weep, but because their Maiter's off rs of peace are rejected, and the ámbassadors of peace are maltreated? On this account we fol. how the example of Christ with respect unto Jerusalem ; when
te beheld the city, he wept over it, saying, “ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killelt the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee; O that thou, even thou, in this thy day, hadst known the things which belong unto thy
2dly, Ministers of the gospel are not only ambassadors of peace, but the ambassadors for trade. In time of war between nations, trade fails and ceases; but when peace is proclaimed, trade comes to be open again. As we have a commission to proclaim peace, so likewise we are ordained to tell you, that there is a free trade opened unto Emmanuel's land; and to tell you, that the commodities of that heavenly country are infinitely better than all the riches, commodities, or accommodations of this present world : and therefore we come to encourage you to carry on a commerce, and to cry from the tops of the high places, that the market of heaven is opened, Il. lv. I. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, let him come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price.” This is the same with Christ's counsel unto Laodicea, Rev. iii. 18. “ I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-falve, that thou mayest see.” Sirs, we tell you
that you may drive an advantageous trade with heaven, that the commodities thereof are cheap goods, and durable, and the King of that heavenly country guarantees your trade against all enemies that may annoy you.
You that are merchants, when you trade with foreign countries in this world, your Tips are in danger of being seized by Turkish galleys, or Algerine robbers and pirates, or the like : but you Thall not be in any such danger, if you drive a trade with the heavenly country; the King whose name is, “the Lord of hosts, and Lord of glory," hath given his parole of honour, that your trade shall be protected by bim, Il. xxxiii. 21. “ The glorious Lord shall be unto us a place of broad rivers and tireams ; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.” And therefore, dear Sirs, we beseech you to set this heavenly trade on foot.
3dly, Ministers are ambafadors from heaven for carrying on a marriage with the King's Son. He had a purpose of marriage from all eternity, between his own beloved Son, and a bride that he had chosen for him in Adam's tribe and family; he was set up and fore-ordained as the Bridegroom of fouis from everlasting ; from the beginning, ere ever the earth was, the heart of the Bridegroom, and of his royal Father, was so