Page images

ordinances, Josh. xxiv. 15. restrain them by their authority from scandalous and sinful words or deeds, as from profana ing of the Sabbath, &c. and reprove them for their sins against God, as well as faults against themselves; and if they will not refrain they ought to turn them out of their family, Psal. ci. 7.

Use 1. This may serve to convince and humble both masters and servants.

Use I exhort servants to be dutiful to their masters. For motives, consider,

1. That in your service ye have two masters one on earth, and another in heaven, Col. iii. 23. Your master on earth says, Do this so or so; and your Master in heaven says,

Whatsoever he saith unto you do it,' John ii. 5. And here know, (1.) That your Master in heaven has given you his orders how ye must carry in service to men, as well as in praying, &c. to himself. (2.) He sees how ye obey these orders. His eye is always on you, (3.) He will call you to an account how ye obey these. (4.) He will account the service faithfully done, service to himself; and, on the other hand, undutifulness to men, undutifulness to himself.

2. God himself will be your paymaster, according as .ye carry yourselves in your station. (1.) God will reward dutiful servants. There is a temporal reward that God ordinarily bestows on such, Prov. xvii. 2. • A wise servant shall bave rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.' And that is what. Providence lays to the hands of honest servants, that are not sincere Christians. But true Christian servants shall get the reward of the heavenly inheritance, Col. iii. 24. (2.) God will reward undutiful servants too, ver. 25. Ordinarily God writes his indignation against their undutifulness in their lot in the world; but if they repent not, the quarrel is pursued to another world. That is a sad word, Luke xvi. 11. . If ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?'

Let masters be dutiful to their servants according to the will of God. For motives, consider,

1, Ye are as fathers to them. The fifth command supposeth this; and so the scripture elsewhere teacheth, 2 Kings v, 13, Ye are civil fathers, and instead of natural fathers to them. They are committed to your charge, as under your roof and power. God would have all superiors to put on fatherly bowels towards their inferiors, as he who is supreme Lord calls himself Our father which is in heaven. If masters would thus look on themselves, it would engage them to their duty towards their servants.

When God brings a servant into a house, especially those of the younger sort, either wanting parents, or leaving them to serve you, he says, as John xix. 26, 27. Man, behold thy son ;' and to the servant, Behold thy father.

2. Ye have a master which is over you and your servants too, to whom ye must give account, Čol. iv. 1. And there is no respect of persons with him. He has given a law to the master as well as to the servant; and in judging of them he will not favour the master more than the servant. Pride makes men imperious and oppressive. Here is a sovereign remedy to curb it. Let us remember that we have a Master in heaven, Job xxxi. 13, 14. And so much for family-re. lations.

I come now to consider the relation betwixt ecclesiastical fathers and their children. These fathers are preaching and ruling elders. Here I shall consider, 1. The duties of ministers and people; and, 2. Those of ruling elders and people.

FIRST, I shall shew the duties of ministers and people. First, I shall shew the duty people owe to their ministers,

1. They owe them singular reverence, and that because of that honourable station wherein Christ has placed them, sending them to deal with sinners in his own stead, 1 Cor. iv. 1. 2 Cor. v. 20. This founds that debt of reverence, Rom. x. 15. and should be expressed in word and deed. They are the stars whom Christ holds in his right hand; and though they shine not so clear as ye would wish, people would beware of treading them under foot, seeing Christ holds them in his right-hand, Rev. i. 20, compare chap. ii. 4. 14. 20. &e.

2. Endeared love to them for their work's sake, i Thess, v. 13. Gal. iv. 14, 15. The gospel is the greatest benefit that men can partake of; and it is very natural to love those who are the instruments by whom the Lord conveys great benefits to us. And as ministers must lay their account with the hatred of those that hate the light, so those that get good of ordinances will as naturally love them as the child does the father and mother. But as there are unnatural children in the family, who little regard the father that begat them, or the mother that bare them; so it is not to be wondered, that there are unnatural children in the church, that rejeet those by whose means they have got any acquaintance with religion that they have, and cast reproaches on the breasts of ordinances, in sueking of which they grew up.

3. Diligent attendance on ordinances of all sorts dispensed by them, as word, sacraments, catechising, &c. Heb. X, 25. Luke x, 16. In vain do these stars shine, if there be none to receive their light. The same word that obliges ministers to dispense ordinances, must needs oblige people to attend them; and that even though they may lie at a considerable distance from them, 2 Kings iv. 22, 23. The woman there mentioned had sixteen miles to go to the man of God.

4. Submission to them in things pertaining to their office, Heb. xiii. 17. submitting to discipline exercised by them in the name of Christ; to their instructions, cordially receiving them from the word ; to their reproofs, whether public or private ; to their exhortations and charges, wherein they hold forth to you the will of God, ib. Jam. i. 21. They who do otherwise, sin against their own souls, as well as discourage ministers by their untractableness, and do but lay up witnesses against themselves, to be led against them at the great day. It is not the hearers of the word, but the doors thereof, that are justified. It will be no advantage to you to have heard, but never complied.

5. Praying for them, 1 Thess. v. 25. The work in which they are engaged is a great work. Who is sufficient for it? They have need of prayers for them. Your own interest may engage you to it. They may do their work, but the success of it must be fetched from heaven by prayer, 1 Cor. X. 4. We have the sword, but how shall we get the arm? We may compass Jericho, and give the shout; but it is the power of God that must make the walls to fall. Like Gideon's three hundred men, we may bear the lamps in our empty pitchers, blow with the trumpet, and the earthen pitchers may be broken in the cause, but God only can do the work, Judges vii.

6. People should be very tender of the reputation of ministers; it being a tender thing, so much interwoven with the success of the gospel. The Spirit of God, seeing that the devil would be very ready to mark at their reputation in a VOL. III.


[ocr errors]

special manner, by a wicked world and false brethren, has set a double hedge about it, i Tim. v. 19. “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.' So that ye ought not only not to slander them, but to be loath to receive those slanders vented by others against them, believing nothing therein without proof.

7. Lastly, Maintenance. This by divine right is due from people to their ministers, 1 Cor. ix. 14.

Secondly, I shall shew the duty of ministers to their people,

1. They owe tender love to the souls of their people. They should be full of bowels towards them, 1 Thess. ii. 7, 8. which should appear in their preaching, and all parts

of their work.

2. Diligent and faithful dispensing of all gospel-ordinances to them, word, sacraments, &c. It is a labour, and they must take it so, willing to spend and be spent in the service of their Lord, and of precious souls. And indeed they are as lighted candles, which while they shine waste, 2 Tim. iv. 2. 1 Thess. ii. 3, 4.

3. Behaving so as they may be examples of holiness and tenderness, Tit. ii. 7. for precept, without example, will have little influence.

4. Watching over their flocks, that being ready to be acquainted with their state and case, they may be in capacity to instruct, comfort, and admonish them, &c. as the case requires, Heb. xiii. 7.

5. Lastly, Praying for them, Eph. i. 15, 16.

SECONDLY, I come to shew the duties of ruling elders and the people over whom they are appointed overseers. And as we are this day to ordain some to that office, I shall discourse of this subject a little more fully than I would otherwise have done in a catechetical exercise. I propose to discourse on this occasion, from that text.

1 Tim. v. 17.- Let the elders that rule well be counted wor.

thy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word

and doctrine.

The church is the kingdom of Christ, and the holy scriptures are the book of the manner of the kingdom. There the institution of church officers, their work, and the duties owing them by others, are only to be found. And whatever

officers of the church men pretend to be, if their office be not found there, they have no due call to their work, but are usurpers and intruders.

In the words read, the apostle gives us the work assigned by Jesus Christ to elders of the church, and what is due for it unto them from the church : Let the elders that rule well, be counted worthy of double honour. Here he distinguishes two sorts of elders of the church.

1. Ruling elders. The word elder originally is a name of age; but here, and in many other places of scripture, it is evident, that it is the name of an office, being the name of ruling church-officers, because usually taken out of the elder sort, or that, though of the younger, yet they ought to be men of gravity and authority. Here consider,

(1.) The work of these elders, from whence their designation is taken. It is to rule, and govern the church, as those who are set over it by the Lord. For the Lord has not left his church in a state of anarchy and confusion, but appointed some to rule, and others to be ruled.

(2.) How they ought to manage their work, well ; i. e. rightly, worthily, according to the rules prescribed them by Christ, the chief bishop.

(3.) What is due from the church to those who so manage it; double, i, c. abundant honour. This honour implies two things, viz (1.) Maintenance. This is evident from ver. 18. (2.) Esteem and reputation, Phil. ii

. 29. Episcopaliạns, as they have given us the prelate, an officer whom Christ never appointed, so they rob us of the ruling elder, which the text so plainly discovers to be a church-of. ficer of divine institution. To evite the force of which, they turn this elder into various shapes; but in vain. For by the elders that rule well, cannot be understood superannuated ministers, as some say; for it is evident that the preaching elder is to have more honour than this elder. But it is shocking to the common sense of the people of God, to honour and esteem a young laborious minister more than an old one, who has spent his strength in the work. Nor by them are to be understood magistrates as others say; for at this time they were not so much as members of the church. Nor are deacons meant hereby, as others say; for their work is not to rule the church, but to serve tables, Acts vi. 2. Nor are we to understand by them the fixed pastors of flocks,

« PreviousContinue »