Page images
PDF
EPUB

por can we put any thing into them, that God hath not furnished them withal. And we are apt to err in both extremes. The Jews to this day believe, that the ministration of their priests contained the heavenly things themselves. They do so, contrary to the nature and end of them, which the Scripture so often speaks unto. This is one occasion of their obstinacy and unbelief. They will imagine that there was nothing above or beyond their legal institutions, no other heavenly mysteries of grace and truth, but what is comprised in them. They put more in them than ever God furnished them withal, and perish in their vain confidence.

It hath so fallen out also under the New Testament. God hath instituted his boly sacraments, and hath put this virtue into them, that they should represent and exhibit unto the faith of believers, the grace which he intendeth and designeth by them. But men have not been contented herewith, and therefore they will put more into them, than God hath furnished them withal. They will have them to contain the grace in them, which they exhibit in the way of a promise, and to communicate it unto all sorts of persons, that are partakers of them. Thus, some would have baptism to be regeneration itself, and that there is no other evangelical regeneration but that alone, with the profession which is made thereon. Every one who is baptized, is thereby regenerated. The sign and figure of grace, they would have to be the grace itself. Nothing can be invented more pernicious unto the souls of men. For all sorts of persons may be brought to a ruinous security about their spiritual condition by it, and diverted from endeavours after that real internal work, in the change of tbeir hearts and natures, without which, none shall see God. This is to put that into it, which God never placed there. Some suppose it to be such a distinguishing, or rather separating ordinance, that the administration of it in such a way or such a season, is the fundamental rule of all church fellowship and communion; whereas God never designed it uoto any such end.

In the supper of the Lord, the church of Rome in particular, is not contented that we have a representation and instituted memorial of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the signs of his body as broken, and his blood as shed for us, with an exhibition of grace in the word of promise or the gospel; but they will have the natural body and blood of Christ, his flesh and bones, to be contained therein, and to be eaten or devoured by all that partake of the outward signs. This is to put that into an ordinance, which God never put into it, and so to overthrow it. And there are two grounds or ends of what they do. The first is, to turn the wisdom of faith into a carnal imagination. It requires the light and wisdom of faith, to apprehend the spiritual exhibition of Christ in the sacrament unto us. It

is a great spiritual mystery, not at all to be apprehended, but by the supernatural light of faith. This, the vain darkened minds of men like not, they cannot away with it, it is toolishness unto them. Wherefore, under the name oi' a mystery, they bave invented the most horrible and monstrous figments, that ever befel the minds of men. This is easily received and admitted by a mere act of carnal imagination, and the more blind and dark mon are, the more are they pleased with it. 2. They do it to exclude the exercise of faith in the participation of it. As they deal with the wisdom of faith as to its na. ture, so they do with the exercise of faith as to its use. God hath given this measure unto this ordinance, that it shall exhibit and communicate nothing unto us, that we shall receive no benefit by it, but in the actual exercise of faith. This the carnal minds and hearts of men like not. It requires a peculiar exercise of this grace, and that in a peculiar manner, unto a participation of any benefit by it. But this, under the notion of bringing more into the ordinance than ever God put into it, they exclude and ease all men of. Let them but bring their mouths and their teeth, and they fail not of eating the body, and drinking the very blood of Christ. So, under a pretence of putting that in the ordinance, which God never put into it, they have cast out of the hearts of men, the necessity of those duties, which alone render it useful and beneficial.

Some, on the other side, do derogate from them, and will not allow them that station or use, which God hath appointed unto them in the church. 1. Some derogate from their dignity. This they do, by joining their own appointments unto then, as of equal worth and dignity with them. 2. Some derogate from their necessity, practically setting light by them, or disregarding the participation of them. 3. Some derogate from their use, openly denying their continuance in the church of God.

The reasons why inen are so prone to deviate from the will of God in his institutions, and to despise the measures he hath given then, are, 1. Want of faith in its principal power and act, which is submission and resignation of soul unto the sovereignty of God. Faith alone renders that an all-sufficient reason of obedience. 2. Want of spiritual wisdom and understanding to discern the mystery of the wisdom and grace of God in them.

Obs. II. It is an honour to be employed in any sacred service, that belongs unto the worship of God, though it be of an inferior nature unto other parts of it. It is so, 1 say, if we are called of God thereunto. . This was the greatest honour that any were made partakers of under the Old Testament, that they served' unto the example and shadow of heavenly things only. And if now God call any of us unio his service, wher's in yet by the meanness of our gifts, or want of opportunities, we cannot serve him in so eminent a manner as some others do, yet if we abide in our station and duty, there is great honour in the meanest divine service.

Obs. III. So great was the glory of heavenly ministration, in the mediation of Jesus Christ, that God would not at once bring it forth in the church, until he had prepared the minds of men by types, shadows, examples and representations of it.This was the end of all legal institutions of divine worship and service. And in these institutions, the wisdom of God provided what was necessary to suit the cases of his people at the time. First, he filled these institutions with glory and beauty, that they might affect the minds of men, with an admiration and expectation of that greater glory, which they represented and pointed unto. And this they did among all them who truly believed, so that they continually looked and longed after the coming of him, the glory of whose ministry was represented in them. In these two things did their faith principally act itself. 1. In a diligent inquiry into the mediation and ministry of Christ, with the glory which it was to be accompanied withal, 1 Pet. i. 10, 11. 2. In earnest desires after the enjoyment of what they saw afar off, which was obscurely represented unto them, Cant. ii. 17. iv. 6. From both these arose that fervent love unto, zeal for, and delight in those ordinances of worship, which did so lead them unto these things that were so glorious, which in the Scripture are every where expressed, and which were so well-pleasing unto God.

Secondly, On the other hand, because these institutions were to be so glorious, that they might be shadows of heavenly things, and the people unto whom they were given, were carnal, and given to rest themselves in present outward appearances, God was pleased to intermix with them, many services that were hard to be born, and many laws with penalties severe and dreadful. This provision was laid in by divine wisdom, that they might not rest in what he designed only to prepare their minds, for the introduction of that which was far more glorious. And well is it for us, if we have a due apprehension of the glory of the heavenly ministration of Christ, now it is introduced. It is too evident that with many, yea, with most that are called Christians, it is far otherwise. For they are still seeking after the outward glory of a carnal worship, as though they had no view of the spiritual glory of the heavenly ministration of the gospel, in the hand of Jesus Christ our high priest. Nor will it be otherwise with any of us, unless we are enabled by faith to look within the veil, and see the beauty of the appearance of Christ at the right hand of God. The apostle tells us, that the ministration of the law was glorious; yet had it no glory in comparison of that which doth excel. But if we are not able to discern this more excellent glory, and satisfy ourselves therein, it is a great sign that we ourselves are carnal, and therefore are delighted with those things that are so. But we must proceed with our exposition.

5. The proof of the foregoing assertion is added by the apostle, in the words which God spake unto Moses with respect to his building the tabernacle, which was the seat of all the di. vine service they were to administer. And there are two things to be considered in this testimony. 1. The manner of its introduction. 2. The words of the testimony itself.

1. The words of the introduction are, xatws xsmenuaTIC TI Musts, • admonished of God.' Xgqualoouos, we render, 'the answer of God, Rom. xi. 4. • But what saith unto him, ó xena peloomes, the divine oracle ;' a responsum, a word or answer from God, giving caution or direction. And it is used principally for such an oracle of God, as hath a warning or caution in it, for the avoiding somewhat on the one hand, as well as doing what is given in charge on the other. So Joseph was yemalina 955, divinely warned to avoid the danger' that was designed unto the child Jesus, Matt. ii. 22. as ihe wise men were to avoid going unto Herod, ver. 12.; so Heb. xi. 7. Noah being, 29442liofas, divinely warned,' was moved with fear. Yet some times it is used for any immediate private revelation, Luke ii. 26. Acts x. 22. Wherefore, two things are intended in this expression. 1. That Moses had an immediate word, command or oracle from God to the purpose intended. And 2. That he was to use great caution and heed about what was enjoined him, that there might be no miscarriage or mistake. • Admonished of God.' And the manner of the expression in the original, carrieth admonition in it; 1700 147), “and look to it and da,' Exod. xxv. 40.; take diligent care aboui it. The same is the sense of ógx when thus used, “take hiced,' * look well to it.' When John upon surprisal would have tallen down before the angel to worship him, he replied, oque pen, • see thou do it not,' avoid it with care, Rev. xxii. 9. The matter was of the greatest importance, and the utmost diligence was to be used about it, whence the divine oracle was given out in a way of charge and admonition, as we have well rendered the word. And we may observe,

Obs. 1V. That our utmost care and diligence in the consideration of the mind of God, is required in all that we do about his worship. There is nothing wherein men for the most part are more careless. Some suppose it belongs unto their own wisdom to order things in the worship of God, as it seems most meet unto them; an apprehension that I shall leave this world in admiration of, that ever it should befal the minds of so many good and honest men as it hath done. But the power of prejudice is inexpressible. Some think they are

[CHAP. VIII. no farther concerned in these things, than only to follow the traditions of their fathers. This, to the community of Christians, is the only rule of divine worship. To suppose that it is their duty to inquire into the way and manner of the worship of God, the grounds and reasons of what they practise therein, is most remote from them. It was Moses that had the command to take care about the making of the tabernacle, and not the people. There was nothing left unto them, but to do and observe what he had appointed. And it is true, when God first reveals the way of his worship immediately from himself, as he did first by Moses, and last of all by his Son Jesus Christ, the people have nothing to do therewith, but only to observe and do what is appointed, as our Saviour expressly declares, Matt. xxviii. 20." But when his worship is so revealed and declared, there is not the meanest person who professeth obedience unto him, who is exempted from this command of taking most diligent care about the due discharge of their duty herein.. And this care and diligence is necessary,

First, From the aptness and proneness of the minds of men to run into pernicious extremes in this matter. For,

1. The generality of men have been stupidly negligent herein, as if it were a matter wherein they were not at all concerned. What is provided for them, what is proposed to them, what comes in the ordinary way to which they have been accustomed, whatever it be, that they follow. And as they take it on light grounds, so they observe it with slight spirits. And this hath been the true cause of that inundation of profaneness which is come on the Christian world. For when once men come to such a want of concern in the worship of God, as to engage in it they know not well why, and to perform it they know not how, all manner of impiety will ensue in their lives, as is manifest in experience beyond the evidence of a thousand arguments.

2. Many in all ages have been prone to indulge their own imaginations and inventions in the disposal of divine worship. And this bitter root bath sprung up into all the superstition and idolatry, that the earth is filled withal at this day. From these two poisoned springs, hath proceeded that woful apostasy from Christ andevangelical worship, which the world groans under. Wherefore our utmost care and diligence is required herein.

Secondly, The concernment of the glory of God calls for the same care in like manner. It were no hard thing to demonstrate, that the principal way and means whereby God expects that we should give glory to him in this world, is by a due observance of the divine worship that he hath appointed. For herein do we in an especial manner ascribe to him the gloTy of his sovereignty, of his wisdom, of his grace and holiness,

« EelmineJätka »