« PreviousContinue »
tom, and solemn the devotion; or though it be done with good intent, honest and conscientious views, and with a thousand other fair pretentions, that are all set aside by one word, "Who hath required this?” Jesus Christ is Lord! and to this name every knee must bow. When God is worshipped with empty formality, Rev. iii. 1; with lukewarmness, Rev. iii. 16; with indiscreet zeal, Gal. iv. 17; with self-love, 2 Tim. iii. 2; selfseeking, Philip. ii. 21; pride, Jer. xiii. 15; hypocrisy, 1 Peter ii. 1; with ungenerous offerings, Mal. i. 14; or with hands unclean, 1 Tim. ii. 8. What man is he who shall escape all these things! “ Watch and pray that ye enter not into tempta- : tion.”
4. That the word of faith must be held paramount to every other interest; and for which, country, kindred and every other connection must be readily relinquished.
This was the chief ground of the trials of Abraham, upon which he gained his immortal name. For the promise of a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, he left his country of Chaldea; for the promise of there being made of him a distinct and great nation, he left his kindred and father's house of Mesopotamia; and for the promise of a seed as deathless as the promise of God itself, he gave up to death his only begotten.
.. This ground of trial distinguished and parted Ruth from Orpah. Satan tried his fairest advantage upon Job, when he tempted him by his wife, and by his three friends.
All this power of temptation was sustained by the blessed Redeemer; his friends had bound him stronger than was Sampson with new cords; but a parent's tender affections, a brother's provident cares, citizens endearing favors, and a country's invoking honors; bands of friendship, manifold, were thrown from his arms, and the tender soul.
of Mary was pierced through, as with the sword of Levi, when her Jesus turned from her, saying, “ Who is my mother?” Natural friendships, however, are not sources of such strong trials as are those formed in church relation; the enemy took still higher ground when he tempted the Lord through his chosen disciples, as when Peter so peremptorily declared that he should never go to the cross. From this temptation no man can escape, if he even confer with flesh and blood.
If the enemy fail in his wily attacks in relation to the foregoing grounds, his next and last resort is to violence. Always watchful for the hour of darkness, and ready to take the advantage of the weakness of the body, and the hurry of the mind, under long fatigue and pressing immergencies, he will either impel the faithful man, as Peter in the garden, by some rash act to expose himself; or, by setting on his cruel agents, he will employ against them the most fearful threatenings, pains, and penalties; and all the terrors of death, to force them, if possible, to deny the truth; or at least, to withhold their bold testimony in its favour. In this attempt, however, he will seldom or never succeed, i. e. as to the end of the temptation; for the unfailing promise is engaged for them who hold the word of God pure, against all seducing and corrupting motives, that they shall not be subdued by violence; or, through the weakness of the body to endure pains and distresses, be overcome in the last extremity. “Because thou “hast kept the word of my patience, I also will
keep thee from the bour of temptation, which “ shall come upon all the world, to try them that “ dwell upon the earth."
The best advice that can be taken respecting all these dangers, is to keep close under the watch and care of the government which God has instituted in his church.
THE government set up in the gospel church is the strong hold of Zion, in which God has placed salvation. The people of Christ stand in a relation to his ministering servants, the same as that of Eve to Adam. The pastors of the church are her husband : “ For as a young man mar“rieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee." Isaiah lxii. 5........ The Apostle, speaking of the order and rule of the church, refers to the original constitution of the authority of the man over the woman; and observes, that Adam was not deceived. Had not Eve have gone from under the eye of Adam, she would not have fallen by the subtilty of the deceiver. That intuition, that spirit of discernment, by which Adam looked into the secrets of nature, and gave names to all her creatures, rendered him incapable of being deceived by any guilefulness that the serpent could practise. This Satan well knew. But a far deeper spirit of discernment is possessed by those to whom is given the word of wisdom, and the word of knowledge; they are capable of looking into the spiritual world, and can interpret the imagery drawn over its deep recesses, and can decipher the specious marks used to conceal spiritual wickedness in high places.
When Christ ascended on high, he received gifts for men; some of one name, and some of another; but each one endowed with a free
portion of the power of the Holy Ghost; that almighty agent promised of the Father, to go forth in the name of Christ, to work by his word, and carry the gospel word into complete effect....... These ascension gifts constitute the true govern
ment of the gospel church; and of which, according to the promise, the church will never be left wholly destitute; they have been, and they still are, the chariots of Israel, and the horsemen thereof! Like Elijah's manile, they descend from one to another, from: father to son, in a bright and long extended succession.
They are called gifts, because of their worth; because they consist of portions of God's free spirit; because they are tokens of God's love to his church; because they are peculiar expressions of sovercigndy; and because, in the ehurch, they are ever to be exercised, and all their blessings to be enjoyed gratis. And they are called ascension gifts, because they are the fruits of the ascension of Christ; because of their heavenly nature; because of their pre-eminent strength; and because they constitute an quihority, beforewhich, one day, all the nations and kingdoms of the world must bow.
Among these gifts there exists certain distinctions; such as, first, apostles; secondarily, pro
phets; thirdly, teachers; after that miracles; " then gifts of healings, helps, governments, di“ versities of tongues.”..... Apostles are set before prophets, because the gospel church to which they minister is greater and more perfect than the church under the law, to which the prophets: ministered. The church of the apostles is the free adult; the church of the prophets was the minor infant. The whole ministration, as by the apos- . tles, is clearer, more unveiled and glorious, than. that by the prophets. Though the work of the ministry forms the leading and principal department in the kingdom of God; and the kingdom itself may be wholly comprised in it, as in the commission of the gospel minister, Go thou and preach the kingdom of God; yet the apostles and prophets are both set before teachers, i. e. the mi
nisters of the word merely; because, together with the word of faith, they possessed the gifts of the Spirit in every diverse operation. An apostle, or prophet, could turn his hand to every work, and perform every particular exercise, re quisite for the perfecting of the saints, and for the edifying of the body of Christ. Besides, the apos. tles and prophets had a double portion of the Spirit; i. e. an unrestricted flow from the river, the streams whereof make glad the city of our God....... This was the request of Elisha, and it was given to hina; and this was shewn on the day of Pentecost, by the sign of cloven tongues that sat upon the apostles. The reason for which exceeding abundant bestowinent of grace upon the apostles and prophets is manifest; for they ministered to the whole church; the countless vessels of the great sanctuary all depended upon them for their supplies; and they poured out, as God poured in, and were never exhausted. The subject to which they ministered was of sufficient capacity to receive all the fulness of God; they were, therefore, constantly refreshed and filled, going out and coming in, with the fulness of the blessing of the gospel ; for this stream can never cease to flow at the fountain head, so long as there remains the least cavity, or room for its reception, through such a free channel. But the case is dif ferent with all other ministers of the word; for they minister to limited, and comparatively very small portions of the church. Hence their limited, and oftentimes stayed communications; their . strength, however has never failed to be as their day is ; nor have their means failed to answer their calls...... Whilst yet an empty vessel stood waiting to be filled at their hands, none have ever failed of having the blessing to impart; it has only fared with them as with the prophet's nid
in making provision to save her house, that