« PreviousContinue »
when there was no more room for their commumunications to flow without waste, the excellent oil has stayed.
Teachers are set before miracles; because the amazing powers of healing, speaking with tongues, and interpreting of tongues, which attended the rise of the gospel, were signs following the word; and were principally intended to confirm the ministry of the word; that, simply, being kept in view as their chief end; hence, the Apostle so often reproved certain characters in the churches, whose attention was drawn, inconsiderately, to the astonishing displays of those gilfts, rather than to the doctrine which they were intended to evidence and promulgate. The gift of prophecy is considered, in the Scriptures, as being of the same nature as that of the ministry of the word, generally ; for the testimony of Jesus is the
spirit of prophecy. Jesus Christ is king; he has the keys of death and of heil; he is coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; he, with his saints, shall reign on the earth, and blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, shall be unto him for ever and ever. This is the testimony of Jesus, and this is the spirit of prophecy.
The ministry of the word, in its full course, will effect the whole universe, and the outward, or physical part of the creation, together with the states and kingdoms of the world, will, in the end, become subject to its authority; but whilst, as at the present time, it is running the mental course, like the natural sun, which, whilst in one hemisphere, sheds but a faint influence on the other; a few glimmerirg effects will only be observed from the sum of righteousness, excepting those upon the hearts and consciences of men..... Hence, ceriain ascension gifts are not now in use, at least, not in a clear and distinct manner. The present eifects of the word, however, are the
greatest of all its effects. The regeneration of the soul; the pulling down of strong holds in the mind, and subjecting the hearts and consciences of men to the word, are displays of divine power, the greatest, in their nature, that ever did, or ever will exist; so that the present exercise of gospel authority will be viewed by the eye of faith as the sun in its meridian glory.
The doctrine of the Lord, imported by the name Jesus Christ, is the invariable gospel law; and they who speak this word, and inaintain a conversation to this end, will be observed, followed and obeyed by all the faithful. The word of the Lord being the law of the kingdom; which law is not a dead letter, but is spirit and life; it follows of course that the high authority of the church invests in the bands of the preachers of the word: Thus the Apostle, “Remember them “ which have the rule over you, WHO HAVE SPO
KEN TO YOU THE WORD OF GOD; whose faith fol“ low, considering the end of their conversation,
JESUS CHRIST THE SAME YESTERDAY, AND TO-DAY, AND FOR EVER.
Some, however, who are not ministers of the word, are still so associated with them, that they are to be known and honored in places of trust and authority in the house of God........Ministers must have assistants in their work. In the church, as in all proper societies, various departments open, and require many hands, one assisting another, in order to fill them. Hence, after teachers, there are helps, governments, &c. i. c. helps to the ministry, such as deacons, and others, who may be called to assist in acts of spiritual rule; such as settling difficulties, and finding facts, and every way preparing causes of judginent for an issue, These assistants are called elders, which is a common name for men of authority in the church; hence the Apostle, “ Let the elders that rule well
« be counted worthy of double honor, especially
they who labor in word and doctrine.” 1 Tim. v. 17. And as these men are associated in the government of the church, it is requisite that they all possess ascension gifts. In a distinguished degrec they must be men of faith, and of the Holy Ghost; they must have clear views of the doctrine of faith, together with that confirmalion of the truth, that witness in themselves, which is ever able to support the maintainer, though no man should stand by him, and he be left to contend with the whole world alone.
The true history of the church, for many ages past, has been very indistinctly recorded. What is called church history, since the acts of the apostles, is but little else than a history of the ordinary course of the world. Enough, however, is known of the true kingdom of God, of the existence of a government, supported immediately by the sovereign power of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, to prove the faithfulness of God's promises to the church, that he will give them "pastors after his own heart," and “set “watchmen upon the walls of Jerusalem, which « shall never hold their peace day nor night.
These gifts are set in the church, i. e. they are ordained and placed in authority there........ The word set, in the passage, 1 Cor. xii. 28, imports. the same as in Psal. ii. 6. " Yet have I set my “ king upon my holy hill of Zion.” They have the keys of the kingdom. The disputes about the keys have been very blind; for it is uncontrovertible upon Scripture ground, that the high authority imported by this word is comprised in the simple idea of the endowments of the Holy Ghost, and is inseparable from them. When the Lord Jesus said to his disciples, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth, the view was carefully connected with his death and resurrec
tion. The assertion to John at Patmos, “I am * alive forevermore, and have the keys of hell
and of death,” follows immediately the declaration, “I am he that liveth and was dead.”....... The evident reason for this connection, so carefully marked in the Scriptures is, that the power of Christ in his gospel kingdom consists in the Holy Ghost, promised to him by the Father as the reward of his grfferings. And if by the reception of the promised Spirit, the Lord Jesus received the power of his Father's kingdom, even the keys thereof, to bind and loose, to open and shut, beyond the reach of men or angels; thrones and dominions on earth, or principalities and powers above; it follows that they who receive from him portions of the same Spirit, are invested with power to bind and loose in that kingdom, which has already commenced its uncontrollable operations, both in heaven and in earth; and which, shortly, will put all things in subjection to itself.
These chosen vessels of the Lord, being thus, with him, ordained, sel apart, and anointed of the Holy Ghost, they appear as workers iogether with him in the ministry of the Spirit; and as ambassa-dors for hiin, and being in Christ's stead, they bear the peculiar names by which lie is known and honored in the church. Is he the faithful and true witness? They are his witnesses: Is he the seed of the woman? They are the remnant of her seed: Is he prophet, king and priest? They are prophets, kings and priests : Is he shepherd and bishop? They are shepherds and bishops: Is he sent of the Father? They are in like manner sent of him. John xvii. 18. Is he the angel of the covenant people? They are the angcis of the churches: And the safety of confiding in them, and of being led by them, is the same as that of confiding in Christ, and of being led by Christ. For he
who walkch in the midst of the golden candlesticks, holdeth them in his right hand. Rev. i. 16; and he has engaged to be with them alway even unto The end of the world. Matth. xxviii. 20. It was not Peter individually, nor any individuals in a line of succession, whoin Christ addressed as being a rock of foundations. Matth. xvi. 18. It was this party.....SO connected.....so made one with Christ, whose spokesman upon this occasion Peter was; and whose watch-word he had just before distinctly given; a countersign that no man can know, except it be given to him by the Father which is in heaven. Upon this rock, truly, Christ doth build his church.....and the gates of hell shall never pretail against il.
Nen of this description have a special and impelling call to their work. It is not with them as with others, a matter left to their discretion, in what lawful way they may employ their time and talents; but necessity is laid upon them; "yea, “wo is unto” them if they “preach not the gos
pel.” “If” they“ do this thing willingly,” they "lave a reward; but if againsi” their will, the Lord is stronger than they, and they cannot but speak the word that God puts into their mouth. Moses made strong objections against his being sent into Egypt, but by the terrors of the Lord they were all overruled. Jeremiah resolved that he would “not make mention of him, nor speak
any more in his name: But his word was in his “heart as a burning fire shut up in his bones, and “ he was weary with forbearing, and he could “ not stay.” And Jonah fled from the commandment of the Lord, and resisted desperately, but he was made to accomplish it. It is characteristic, however, of them who are called to serve at the New Testament altar, that they offer themselves willingly, according to the free spirit of the gospel; and, like Isaiah, who has been styled