THE PASTORAL OFFICE. OPENED In a VISITATION-SERMON Preached at IPSWICH.
ZECH. 11. 7.
IN this Chapter wee have a prophecie of horrible and final Judgements hanging over the Nation of the Jews, for their Rejection of Christ, here foretold. The Judgements are Page 2External, arising from Enemies abroad, verse 1, 2, 3. from shepherds at home, v. 5. from Intestine Commotions, ver. 6. & Spiritual, Rejection by Christs breaking the staves wherewith he had fed them, ver. 9.—14. & Tradition into the hands of Cruel shepheards, ver. 15. 17. Cau∣ses of these Judgements, Oppression, ver. 5. Ingratitude against Christ their good Shepherd. Concerning whom we have 1. His Call to his pastoral office, verse 4. 2. His obedience to that Call, verse 7. 3. The Hatred, and dis-estimation he re∣ceived from the pastors and people, ver. 8. 12. Lastly Gods Abhorring their so unworthy dealing with his Sonne, verse. 13.
The Lord being willing to save his flock sets a shepherd over them who should feed them. And a Good shepherd we are sure it is who could call God My God, verse 4; and although we may take it for the Prophet himself, representing by a Synecdoche all faithfull pastors whom the Lord from time to time sent to acquaint Page 3 them with his Counsel, yet it is evident by the ensuing parts of the Chapter, that Christ is here meant, the chief and great shepheard, of whom the Prophet in these actions was but a Type. He threatneth them, verse 6. punisheth them, verse 10. was sold by them, verse 12. compared with Mat: 27. 9. He principally, and o∣ther faithfull pastors under him, are they who here undertake the Charge of this people to feed and Govern them. Which Care is further set forth by a Metaphore of Two Shepherds staves, noting his double vigilancy and superinspection over them; by the names of which I understand Two-special Ends of Christs pastoral Service:
1. To Restore Beauty, and to erect that collapsed order of doctrine and worship which had been corrupted; for verity of doctrine, purity of worship, and decency of order, are the special Beauties of a Church, which render it amiable: upon these accompts it is that Sion and the House of God therein are so often called the Beauty of the Lord, and the Beauty of 〈1 page duplicate〉Page 2〈1 page duplicate〉Page 3Page 4 Holiness, Psal. 27. 4. 48. 2. 50. 2. 96. 6. 9. Isay 60. 13. 64. 11. Christ in his Ministery did cleanse the doctrine of the Church in his Sermon on the Mount, and the worship of the Church in his pur∣ging of the Temple, and so filled his house with Glory, Hag: 2. 7. and made Beauti∣full the feet of his Ministers, Rom. 10. 15. The Magnificence of the Temple, the Glorious Garments of the Priests, the pure Vessels of the Sanctuary, the Sweet Incense and Perfume, the admirable State, Order, and Government of Solomons house, were all shadows and Types of these spiritual and heavenly Beauties wherewith Christ adorneth his Church
2. To gather together into one his scat∣ter'd and divided people, John 11. 52. that from him the whole Body may be joyned together and compacted, Eph: 4. 16. in peace and love one unto ano∣ther, according unto his prayer, John 17. 21, 22, 23. This, I take it, is meant by the Staff called Bands, making of the stick of Joseph and Judah one, Ezeck. 37 Page 5 19. In those Eastern Countries such as entred into a Covenant of peace were wont to Twist a Band,* and upon dissol∣ving a Covenant to untwist it again; Whence a Society of men joyning toge∣ther in one imployment are called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉Psal: 119. 61. 1 Sam: 10 5. and their possessions were divided unto them per〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 by measuring lines, Psal: 16. 6. 78. 55. to note their dwelling together in unity. But now upon Rejecting Christ, They who had been before in Amoenita∣te Dei, the Lords peculiar people, and were knitt together in the Bands of a Bro∣therly Covenant, were at last loathed by God, ver. 8. no longer consociated in the same policie or possessions, but de∣voured by the Roman Army, and dissi∣pated into diverse and remote Nations.
In the words Two things are observa∣ble. The Office or Administration, fee∣ding the flock. And the great Ends of that Service, Purity and Vnity, set forth by the Symbol of two pastoral Staves, called here by the names of Beauty and Bands.
Page 6 Touching this Administration of Fee∣ding the Flock, we shall briefly open, 1. The Necessity of this Pastoral office, both supreme in the Chief Shepherd, and sub∣ordinate in his servants and inferiour Mi∣nisters. 2. The particular Duties where∣in the discharge of our pastoral Office doth stand, which the supreme Shepherd is pleased to second with his powerfull and most efficacious Cooperation.
Necessity is Twofold. Absolute, as it is absolutely necessary for the first Be∣ing to Be. Relative or Hypothetical, when one thing is necessary in order un∣to, or upon supposition of another. Obedience unto God is a Necessary duty to be done, Blessedness, a necessary End to be pursued; unto the performance of this Duty, there is a necessity to know the Rule wherein it is prescribed: unto the obtaining of this End there is a Neces∣sity to know the Means whereby it may be promoted; for understanding where∣of we shall premise two or three Propo∣sitions.
Page 7 1. Though there remain some ingraf∣ted notions of the Law of Nature touch∣ing God and a service due to him in the heart of Man, yet that Law is much dark∣ned and defaced by that sinfull Corruption which doth as well indispose the minde as any other faculties unto its due operati∣ons. Of this blindness and vanity we have frequent mention, 1 Cor. 2 14. Ephes. 4. 17, 18. and therefore albeit rare things are recorded of the moral Vertues of many Heathen men, and though diverse of their Philosophers, Plato, Aristotle, Hiero∣cles, Plutarch, Cicero, Seneca, Epictetus▪ and others have written excellently on those Arguments, yet unto a full knowledge of Moral Duties to be in a due manner performed unto God and Men, there is necessary a further patefaction of the Divine will, then those remaining Prin∣ciples of the Law of Nature can dictate unto us. And this was done by the Mini∣stery of Moses, by whom to the Church, and unto whom by the Ministery of An∣gels the most holy and perfect Law Page 8 of God was fully discovered.
2. Though the Law delivered by Mo∣ses be pure and perfect, though it be Holy, Just, and Good, and though the Com∣mands thereof be Exceeding Broad, yet thereby Salvation cannot be had, since by the Law is the knowledge of Sinne, Rom: 3. 20. and therefore it can Curse onely and not Blesse or Save us, as the Apo∣stle argues, Gal. 3. 10, 11. All that the Law can do is to shew us duty, to disco∣ver the sinne whereby we come short of duty, the punishment due unto that sin, and our Impotency to prevent, remove, en∣dure, or avoid that Curse. And Conse∣quently there must be a further patefa∣ction of life and grace by another Pro∣phet.
3 The doctrine of the Gospel as it stands formally distinguished from the doctrine of the Law, is wholly Mysterious and supernatural, there are no seminal noti∣ons in the minde of man from whence it may by rational disquisition be deduced. And therefore it is usually in Scripture Page 9 called a Mysterie, the Mysterie of Christ, Eph. 3. 4. Col. 4. 3. the Mystery of the Gospel, Eph. 6. 19. of the Faith, of God∣liness, 1 Tim. 3. 9. 16. Hidden from ages and generations. Rom. 16. 25. which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entred into the heart of man to conceive, 1 Cor. 2. 9. as a Mysterie, Above Natural Rea∣son, as a Mysterie of Godlinesse against Carnal Reason. Except therefore it had been by some Pastor Revealed to the Church, wee could never have had the knowledge of it.
4 Unto the perfecting of Salvation by the Gospel Two things Concurre. A Valid Impetration of Grace by the Merit of Christ. And an Effectual Appli∣cation thereof by his Spirit, which he doth by begetting Faith in us, called the faith of the Operation of God, Col. 2. 12. This knowledge of Christ is Simply ne∣cessary to Salvation, Isay 53. 11. Joh. 8 24 And it is not of our selves, but the Gift of God, Eph. 2. 8. and God works it by Hearing, Rom. 10. 17. So there is Page 10 a Necessity of a Divine Pastor, by whose teaching this knowledge so necessary to Salvation may be effectually wrought in us.
5. The doctrine of Redemption lay∣eth an Obligation on the Redeemed to live unto him that bought them. Christ therefore died and rose, that he might be the Lord of dead and living; the Grace which bringeth Salvation, Teacheth to Deny ungodliness, &c. Tit. 2. 11, 12. Sanctification is necessary to Salvation, as being the Inchoation thereof. Nothing can be perfected till it be begun, Heb. 12. 14. Since therefore Holinesse is Necessary, and it belongs to him to whom this Ser∣vice is due to prescribe the manner of it, and since we have naturally in us Igno∣rance, Impotency, and Enmity, wholly dis∣abling from the doing of it, there is upon these Accompts an Absolute Necessity of such a Pastor who may Reveal the Right way of Holinesse unto us, and may effi∣caciously incline our wills thereunto. Up∣on these Grounds we may see the Ne∣cessity Page 11 of the Great Pastor for Revealing the supernatural Mysteries of Life and Salvation by Free grace, for working Faith whereby Life and Salvation may be applied unto us, for Enabling us un∣to the duties of Holinesse, and remo∣ving those Impediments of Ignorance, Impotency, and Enmity, which indis∣pose us thereunto.
And now because the Office of Inferior Pastors under this great Shepherd hath in these late unhappy and licentious dayes by the subtilty, or rather bung∣ling of Satan been greatly oppos'd, It will not be unseasonable to speak a little of the Necessity of these also to feed the flock.
That which God hath appointed as an Office in his Church, is to be acknow∣ledged Necessary. God hath by his spe∣cial Institution appointed Pastors and Tea∣chers in his Church, whose function the Scripture owneth as an Office, called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 & 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, 1 Tim: 3. 1. Col. 4 17. therefore they are to be acknow∣ledged Page 12 Necessary. The Lord is said to have set or constituted them in his Church▪ 1 Cor. 12. 28. to have given them to her as part of her Dowry, Eph: 4. 11. they are sent forth by the Lord of the harvest, Matth. 9▪ 38. They are called Ministers of Christ, Col. 1. 7. They receive their Ministery from the Lord, Col. 4. 17. He hath made them Overseers Acts 20. 28. Therefore none can with∣out Sacriledge against Christ and his Church reject them.
2. Necessary Ordinances presuppose necessary Officers to administer them. Christ hath appointed necessary Ordi∣nances to be to the End of the world administred; therefore the Officers who are to administer them are Necessary likewise. He did not appoint a work to be done, and leave it to the wide world who should do it, but committed the Ministry of Reconciliation to Stewards and Ambassadors by him selected for that Service, 1 Cor. 4. 1. 2 Cor. 5. 19.
3. That which was Instituted for Page 13 Necessary Ends, so long as those Ends continue must be Necessary likewise; The Office of the Ministry was Institu∣ted for Necessary Ends, which do and will still continue; therefore the Mini∣stery by which they are to be promoted is still to continue. Those Ends are The proclaiming Repentance and Remissi∣on of Sins, the bringing Glad tydings of Good things, the turning men from dark∣ness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, the saving of souls, the perfe∣cting of Saints, the Edifying the body of Christ, the nourishing of men in the words of faith, the speaking a word in season to the weary, to shew forth the Lords death till he come; These and such like great and weighty workes the Apostle calleth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Eph. 4. 12. So long as these works remain to be done, the ministery whereby they are to be done must remain likewise.
But it may be Objected, others may promote these Ends as well as Ministers; all Beleevers are commanded to Com∣fort, Page 14 Support, Edifie one another, 1 Thess. 5. 11. 14. Jud. v. 20. therefore no need of such an Office for the doing of them.
We answer, Although every private Christian in his place and station ought to minister grace to the Hearers, to have his speeches seasoned with Salt, and fit∣ted to the use of edifying, yet these great Works are not done with the same au∣thority, efficacy, certainty, or order, by a private hand as by publick Officers.
1 Not with the same Authority. A Learned Lawyer may resolve a mans Case as truly as a Judge; but when he hath a Sentence declared by the Judge, this doth more assure and quiet him, because it is a Sentence not only of truth but of authority. Ministers speak and exhort and rebuke with Authority, Tit. 2. 15.
2 Not with the same Efficacy; for the Lord hath made them Able Ministers 2 Cor. 3. 6. furnished them with power for Edification, 2 Cor. 13. 10. an∣annexed Page 15 a special promise of Blessing unto their service, Matth. 28. 20. the Gospel ministred by them is not in word only but in power, 1 Thess. 1. 5. not declara∣tive only, but operative, they being there∣in workers together with God, 1 Cor. 3. 9. 2 Cor. 6. 1.
3 Not with the same Certainty; for How can it be expected that the Cases and Conditions of particular Conscien∣ces should be so well looked after by pri∣vate Men who have Callings of their own to divert them, as by those whose whole work it is to oversee the Souls com∣mitted to their Charge, to whom they may in every case of difficulty resort for Counsel? Or how can I expect ordinarily as full Satisfaction from a private Brother, as from one whose duty it is to give him∣self wholly to these things, whose Con∣stant Businesse it is to give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine, to meditate on them, to take heed unto them, to continue in them, that his pro∣fiting may appear to all? 1 Tim. 4. 13. 16.
Page 16 4 Not with the same Order; God is in all his works, much more in his Church a God of Order, 1 Cor. 14. 33. If the Apostles themselves found it difficult to attend the Word of God, and Tables, Acts 6. 2. It cannot but be much more difficult for private Brethren to attend their own domestical callings, and the publick concernments of the Church of God. If a great Apostle said Who is sufficient for these things, 2 Cor: 3. 16. shall we judge private persons fit enough for them? If in the Body God hath set several Mem∣bers for several uses; shall we think so weighty, difficult, and important a ser∣vice as publishing the glad tydings of Salvation, should be intrusted at large in every hand, and no peculiar Officers set apart for the dispensing of it?
4. We may inferre this Necessity from the Titles given by God unto these his Officers; they are called Angels, Rev. 1 20. Ambassadors entrusted with the mi∣nistery of Reconciliation, 2 Cor. 5. 20 Stewards of the mysteries of God, Page 17 1 Cor. 4. 1, 2. Watchmen and Overseers of the flock, Ezek. 3. 17. Acts 20. 28 Shepherds, 1 Pet. 5. 3. Teachers distin∣guished from the people taught, Gal. 6. 6. Preachers sent to publish peace, Rom. 10. 14. Builders, Planters, Hus∣bandmen, Scribes instructed for the king∣dom of God. All which Metaphorical expressions import Services of absolute Necessity in States and families. There are mutual and reciprocal Duties injoyned by God upon them and the people, they to watch over the flock, and these to love, honour, esteem and encourage them. If they be not necessary Officers in the Church, why should there lie upon them so severe a Charge, why should there be due unto them so great a respect?
5 They whom the Apostles took Order to be provided for the service of the Church, are necessary Officers there∣of; for had they been superfluous, they would not have burdened the Church with them. But the Apostles took special Order for the succession of Ministers in 〈1 page duplicate〉Page 16〈1 page duplicate〉Page 17Page 18 the Church, they Ordained Elders them∣selves, Acts 14. 23. they directed Timo∣thy and Titus to do so too, 2 Tim. 2. 2. Tit. 1. 5. they call upon them to attend their service, Col. 4. 17. 1 Pet. 5. 1, 3. they call upon others to obey and encou∣rage them, Heb. 13. 17. Gal. 6. 6. Now certainly they would not have taken all this Care, nor put the Church to so much duty and charge, if the Office were not necessary to the Good and In∣terest of the Church.
Adde hereunto the uninterrupted pre∣scription of all ages; for not to menti∣on the Heathen Nations, where we find persons separated for divine worship, in Egypt, Gen. 47. 22. in Palestine, 1 Sam. 6. 2. in Lycaonia, Acts 14. 13. Such were the Chaldeans in Babylon, the Magi amongst the Persians, the Brachmanni amongst the Indians, the Druidae a∣mongst the Gaules, the Pontifices, Au∣gures, Flamines, and others amongst the Romans; and to keep to the Church of God, we read in the beginning, of E∣nochPage 19 a Prophet, Noah a Preacher, Abra∣ham a Prophet, Melchisedeck a Priest, of the order of Priests and Levites in Israel, before whom the first-born of the chief of the Families did bear that Honor; for we read of Priests before the Levitical Order was instituted, Exod. 19. 22. After that the Evangelical Ministry be∣gan in John, continued in the Twelve Dis∣ciples and Seventy Elders, held on in a con∣stant Succession, Christ and his Apostles appointed it, and never repealed their own order. If Jephte his prescription of 300 years possession was a good plea, Judges 11. 26. much more the Chur∣ches of 1600.
And now, dear Brethren, since our office is of so great necessity to the Church of God, it greatly concerneth us to be duly therewith affected, with all fear and trembling to discharge so impor∣tant duties for the administration where∣of this function hath been divinely insti∣tuted, By the Holiness and Exemplariness of our Lives, by the Evidence, authority,Page 20 and purity of our Doctrine, to keep our selves above the Contempt of men, not to suffer any to despise us, to magnifie our office, and to bear up that double Honour which the Lord hath awarded unto those that Labour in the Word and Doctrine. That in all things shewing our selves pat∣terns of good works, In our Doctrine shewing incorruptnesse, gravity, sincerity, sound speech which cannot be condem∣ned, men that are against us may be a∣shamed having no Evil thing to say of us. And this leadeth to the Second thing proposed, the Consideration of the Du∣ties wherein the discharge of this Pasto∣ral office doth stand.
The word Feed is an usual Metaphore to expresse the tender Care and Gentle Go∣vernment which men are to exercise o∣ver those who are Committed to their Custody. It is used frequently not only in Scripture, Psal. 77. 20. 78, 71. Ezek. 34. 23. Isa 40. 11. John 10. 11. 21. 15 17. 1 Pet: 5. 2: but in profane authors, as Xenophon makes the Comparison in Page 21 the beginning of his Cyropaedia, and Homer calls Agamemnon〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Pastor of the people, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, one that takes care of the flock. There is like∣wise a Synecdoche of the part for the whole, one particular of the Office be∣ing put for all the rest. Here then we might enter into a large field, 1. In o∣pening the Pastoral Office of Christ, as he came to Seek and to save his Lost sheep; to Rule them by his royal authority; to Lead them by his most holy example; to feed them 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, by his Body, Blood, Spirit, and Word; to Heal and bind them; to fold and defend them, to rescue and deliver them out of the mouth of the Wolf and Lion 2 In setting forth the whole du∣ty of the Vnder-shepherds which they owe to the flock of Christ, as they have entrusted unto them the Ministery of Reconciliation, which Ministery stand∣eth in 4 things, 1 In offering up the spi∣ritual Sacrifices of prayers and praises in the name and behalf of the Church Page 22 unto God, and to blesse in his name. 2 In administration of the Seals or Sa∣craments. 3 In Exercising the power of Binding and loosing, of retaining and re∣mitting of sinnes towards particular con∣tumacious sinners in the one Case, or pe∣nitent sinners in the other. 4 In Prea∣ching the glad tydings of Salvation to the Church: But because it is not pos∣sible to handle so many weighty parti∣culars in this little Scantling of time, I shall keep to the most narrow and formal sense of the word Feed, as it relateth to the spiritual food of the soul, the pa∣stures of life, the word of God, for 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as Basil Seleuc. speaketh, The food of the soul is the feast of the word, whereunto possibly the Apostle may allude, when he requi∣reth Timothy〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, 2 Tim. 2. 15. as the Ministery of the Word and Spirit is compared by the Prophet to a royal and magnificent Feast, Isa. 25. 6. Prov. 9. 1, 2. Rev. 3, 20.
This Great work of Preaching is ap∣pointed Page 23 by God as a means and Instru∣ment of begetting Faith in the people, and turning them from the power of Satan un∣to God. By Evidencing divine truth unto the Conscience, 2 Corinth. 4. 2. that a mans sinne may find him out to make him penitent, and he may finde Christ out to make him blessed; By stopping the mouthes of Gainsayers, By Reproving those that sinne out of Infir∣mity with meeknesse, Gal. 6. 1. out of Contumacy with sharpnesse, Tit. 1. 13. all with Authority, Tit. 2. 15. By Ex∣horting with strong Arguments, and with winning perswasions unto the obedi∣ence of the truth, 2 Cor. 5. 20. By comforting and powring Balm into wound∣ed Spirits, removing fears, resolving doubts, speaking peace, shewing a man his righteousnesse, and delivering him from going down into the pit, I say 40. 1. Job 33. 23. By differencing the Sheep from the Goats, the chaff from the wheat, the precious from the vile, him that fea∣reth God from him that feareth him not. 〈1 page duplicate〉Page 22〈1 page duplicate〉Page 23Page 24 The word of Grace thus Managed is the Ordinary Instrument which God useth to sanctifie us, John 17. 17. to form Christ in us, to derive the spirit upon us, and to turn us to the Lord. And the Mini∣ster of Christ who duly preacheth it, is his Herald, and Ambassador,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to proclaim warr against the Rebellious, and to publish Remissi∣on of sinnes unto those that repent and believe.
And s•••uch hath Christ honoured his Stewards in the faithfull discharge of this their Ministery, that though they be but weak men, yet such effects are ascribed unto them as are proper un∣to God alone. They are said to forgive sinnes, John 20. 23. to convert and to save souls, Jam. 5. 20. 1 Tim. 4. 16. to deliver men from going down into the pit. Job 23. 24. to revenge all disobedi∣ence,* 2 Cor. 10. 6. and to Judge wic∣ked men, Ezek. 20. 4. None of which can be effected, but by God alone; The Excellency of the power belongs u••Page 25 to him, 2 Cor. 4. 7. Nulla est Remissio culpae nisi per Gratiani. Sed Gratiam dare est potentiae Infinitae, saith Alex. Hales; and therefore Peter Lumbard, and after him Altissiodorensis, Bonaventure, Occham, Biel, and divers other Schoolmen do af∣firm, per hanc potestatem non posse Remitti culpas, sed solum declarari Remissas; and that the Priest doth it per modum Impe∣trantis, but not per modum Impertientis. And yet because unto us is committed the Ministery of Reconciliation, 2 Cor. 5. 19. and together with that Office an Authority to work together with God as his Instruments, who maketh us Able Ministers of the New Testament, 2 Cor. 3. 6. so that by the cooperation of God our Gospel cometh not in word only but in power, 1 Thess. 1. 5. 2 Cor. 10. 8. Tit. 2. 15. therefore we are said to do those things which are proper for God a∣lone to doe, because God is pleased to do them by that word of Grace, the Ministe∣ry whereof he hath committed unto us. Humana opera, Dei munera, as OptatusPage 26 speaks, the Ministery is mans, the Gift Gods. The Priest, saith St. Chrysostom, lendeth his tongue and his hand, but nei∣ther Angels nor Archangels can do the thing, but God alone. Humanum obse∣quiunt, munifientia supernae potestatis, saith S. Ambrose, De Spiritu Sancto, l. 3. c. 19. the Service is mans, but the Munificence is Gods. We loose by our Pastroal Au∣thority whom God raiseth by his quick∣ning Grace, saith Gregory, Homil. 26. in Evang.
The Matter of this our Preaching is in General The whole Counsel of God, Acts 20. 27. All the words of life, Acts 5. 20. That which we have heard of the Lord of Hosts, Is. 21. 10. All which God commands with∣out diminishing a word, Jer. 26. 2. Thou shalt speak My words unto them saith the Lord, Ezek. 2. 7 We are Angels, we must keep to our Message; we are Am∣bassadors, we must keep to our Commis∣sion: we are Depositaries, we must dis∣charge our trust; Quid est depositum? saith Vincentius Lirinensis, speaking of that Page 27 Command to Timothy, 1 Tim. 6. 20. Id quod tibi Creditum est, non quod à te In∣ventum, quod accepisti; non quod excogita∣sti; rem non ingenii sed doctrinae, non u∣surpationis privatae, sed publicae Traditionis, in qua non Autor debes esse sed Custos; and so Origen, The Apostle, saith he, hath given example to the Doctors of the Church to speak to the people, non pro∣priis praesumpta sententiis, sed divinis mu∣nita Testimoniis. Our own devices are all but chaff, Gods word is the wheat, Jer. 23. 28. Ours but Hay and Stubble, His Gold and silver and precious stones, 1 Cor. 3. 12.
More Particularly, the Matter of our Preaching is Christ crucified, and the glad tydings of Remission and Salvation through him, Acts 8. 5. 1 Cor. 2. 2. The Credenda all Recapitulated in the doctrine of Christ; the Agenda all supplied by the Grace of Christ; the Petenda all granted in the Name of Christ; the Communicanda all seals of the Love of Christ. He is Lux, & Cibus,*& Medicina, as Bernard speaks; Page 28 If I be Ignorant, Christ is my Light; if I be Hungry, Christ is my food; if I be sick, Christ is my Physick. Si scribas, non sapit mihi, nisi legero ibi Jesum: Si dis∣putes out conferas, non sapit mihi, nisi sonue∣rit ibi Jesus. Our Ministery now is al∣together Evangelical; for though we Preach the Law, yet it is ever in a subserviency unto the Gospel, that by the Convictions thereof we may betake our selves unto Christ for shelter from the Curse which the Law threatneth, and for Grace unto the duties which the Law prescribeth. Our Saviour seemeth unto me to dictate the right Method of preaching the Gospel in that three-fold Conviction of Sin, Righ∣teousnesse, and Judgement, John 16. 8, 9, 10.
1. The Spirit accompanying the prea∣ching of the Gospel doth convince men of their sinne, and the wrath due unto them for the same, untill they shall believe in Christ, for the wrath of God abideth on unbelievers, John 3. 36. 8. 24. Till Faith transferr the sinne upon the Sacri∣fice, Page 29 it remains upon the sinner. Here∣by the Soul is awakened, and the Heart shaken and made restlessly Inquisitive af∣ter some way of escape from the wrath to come, Acts 2. •7.
2. The Spirit by the Gospel convin∣ceth of Righteousness in Christ, who al∣beit he was reckoned amongst Malefa∣ctors, John 19. 7. Isay 53. 12. yet there was in him Righteousness abundant∣ly enough to justifie and save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him, in as much as having finished the work of Redemption on earth, he is gone to his Father, and is not sent back again, but is sat down at his right hand, pleading the propitiation which here he wrought. In his death believers suffered, 2 Cor. 5. 14. Rom. 6. 6. In his Resurrection they were justified, Rom. 4. 25. and In his Ascen∣sion they have a virtual possession of Heaven, Eph. 2. 6.
3. The Spirit by the Gospel convin∣ceth of Judgement, whereby I under∣stand Debitum Subjectionis unto Christ, Page 30 as a Judge or Prince to whom all Judg∣ment, Authority and power is com∣mitted, John 5. 22. 27. Matth. 28. 18 that we having been delivered from the wrath to come, and having received so great a Gift as the Righteousnesse of Christ, ought to be subject unto him, who died and rose again that he might be Lord both of the dead and living, Rom: 14. 9. having demolished the kingdom of Satan, and Judicially cast out, or de∣throned the Prince of this world, John 12 31. and destroyed him, Heb. 2. 15. so that being translated from the power of darknesse into the kingdom of Christ, Acts 26. 18. Col. 1. 13. we ought to be reduced unto the obedience of Christ, 2 Cor. 10. 5. and to observe and doe whatsoever he commandeth, Mat. 28. 20 for the doctrine of Grace and Salvation is a doctrine of Holiness, Tit. 2. 11. 14.
In this Method ought the Gospel of Salvation to be preached, that neither the discovery of sinne may drive men un∣to despair, but cause them to flye for San∣ctuary Page 31 unto the Righteousness of Christ and free Grace of God in him; and that the magnifying of Free Grace and the Gift of Christs Righteousnesse, may not induce a neglect of Holiness, Rom. 6. 1, 2, 14 15, but that the Love of Christ may con∣strain them not henceforth to live unto themselves, but unto him that died for them and rose again, 2 Cor. 5. 14.
Now for the Manner how this part of the Ministery of Reconciliation is to be be dispensed; we are to preach the word
1. Demonstratively,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, so as to commend our selves to every mans conscience in the sight of God, and they may confesse that God is in us of a truth.
2▪ Sincerely, not handling the word of God deceitfully, nor complying with the Lusts of men to gratifie them in their wayes, as the Priests of Ahab did, rather displeasing men with that doctrine which profits, then pleasing them with that which betrayes their Souls; as a Physician doth not so much consider 〈1 page duplicate〉Page 30〈1 page duplicate〉Page 31Page 32 what will please his Patients palate as what will cure his disease. The A∣postle professeth in one place, That if he pleased men, he should not be the ser∣vant of Christ, Gal. 1. 10. and yet in another place he saith that he pleased All men in All things, 1 Cor. 10. 33. But this was not mentiendi desideriô, but cômpatientis affectu, not out of Collusion but Condescension, to gain, save, edifie, profit them.
3 Wisely, so as to fit the word to the state of those that hear us, to give e∣very one his 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Mat. 24. 45. the Apostle preached 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Cor. 3. 10 3. 10. we must not preach comforts so as that profane persons may mistake them as theirs, nor threatnings so as to make sad the hearts of those whom the Lord hath not made sad.
4 Boldly, not fearing the faces of men in the work of God, Jer. 1. 8. not concealing any part of Gods Counsel, be∣cause haply it may be unwelcom to those that hear it; but freely and confidently, Page 33〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to deliver the whole Counsel of God, as Micaiah to Ahab, as Amos to Jeroboam. Most wicked men are of Vitellius his mind, they love to hear nothing nisi jucunda & laesura. But if they have the boldnesse to commit sin, should not we have the Courage to reprove it? There is a Majesty in the word which can humble an Ahab, a Felix, a Belshazzer; which can strike an awe and rrverence into the heart of a Joash to∣wards Elisha, and of Herod towards John the Baptist, 2 Reg. 13. 14. Mark 6. 20 God hath threatned to confound us, if we be dismayed in his work, Jer. 1. 17. He hath promised to be with us, Matth. 28. 20. to stand by us, 2 Tim. 4. 16. in the discharge of so great a trust; and will give testimony to the word of his grace, Acts 14. 3. His word rightly admini∣stred, is as nails, goods, arrows, a two edg∣ed sword, dividing asunder soul and spi∣rit, joynts and marrow, a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
5 Meekly, affectionately, with all Page 34 Love and tenderness to the souls of our Hearers, in meeknesse instructing those that oppose themselves, 2 Tim. 2. 25 with the spirit of Meeknesse, Resto∣ring those that are overtaken in a fault, Gal. 6. 1. A Preacher, as a Chirur∣gian, should have an Eagles eye to disco∣ver the state of the Soul, a Lions heart to search spiritual wounds, and a Ladies hand to dresse them with all tendernesse and sympathy. The Servant of the Lord must be Gentle towards all men.
6 Plainly, without unnecessary affec∣tation or ostentation of the Enticing words of mans wisdom, or of meer hu∣mane and exotick wit or learning. The Apostle, though a great Scholar, would not ground the faith of his hearers upon the wisdom of men, but upon the pow∣er of God, 1 Cor. 2. 4, 5. and warneth them to take heed of those who would spoyl them through Philosophy and vain deceit, Col. 2. 8.
And here a needfull Question may be proposed, How farr forth a Minister Page 35 may make use of Humane wit or learn∣ing in the service of the Church? Lear∣ning is a noble Gift of God. It was the Honour of Moses that he was learned in all the learning of the Egyptians, Acts 7. 22. And every good Gift of God may be sanctified for the use of the Church as the Crown of the King of Rabbah was set upon the Head of David, 2 Sam. 12. 30. and the spoiles of the Heathen were dedicated to the Lord, 2 Sam. 8. 11, 12. Clemens Alexand, calls it, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as men lay a ground of some mea∣ner colour when they intend to over∣lay with Gold. Singular use did the An∣tient Fathers, Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Origen, Clem. Alexand. Cyprian, Theophi∣lus, Arnobius, Augustine, Eusebius, Mi∣nutius Felix, Theodoret, and others make of this kind of the learning of the Hea∣then in defence of Christian Religi∣on, as David slew Goliah with his own sword; as the Apostle disputed with the Philosophers of Athens from the In∣scription of their own Altar, Acts 17. Page 36 23. 24. Of which Inscription we read in Philostratus, Pausanias, and others, very many passages; and expressions of Holy Scripture cannot be so clearly un∣derstood without the knowledge of those usages mentioned in Heathen Writers, whereunto they referre; of which we meet with diverse instan∣ces in the Agonistica of Petrus Faber and multitudes of other Learned Writers: To say nothing of the eminent service done in this kinde to the Church of Christ by Beza, Grotius, Heinsius, Scultetus, Gataker, and divers others. Thus a Moabitish woman became an Israe∣lite, if her head were shaven and her nails pared. Thus Theodosius reserved the Golden vessels of the Heathen Temples unto the use of the Christian Church. Christianus Domini sui esse intelligit, ubi∣cunque invenerit veritatem. We find the Apostle himself making sometimes use of the Heathen Poets, and as I may so speak, bringing those Greeks into the Temple.
Page 37 And for Wit, though it be naturally a proud and unruly thing, yet it may be so sanctifyed by Grace, and fixed by humility, as to be of great use to the Church of God. The Holy Scripture is full of cu∣rious Elegancies and Paranomasies of this kind, and some have written just vo∣lumes de Rhetorica sacra, of these Scri∣pture Elegancies. What higher strain of wit could be used then that Acts 5. 41. they went away rejoycing 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that they were Honou∣red with dishonour for the name of Christ? Which of the noblest Orators or Poets amongst the Heathen can parallel that expression of the Apostle touching the Glory to come, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. 2 Cor. 4. 17. It were end lesse to instance in these kind of parti∣culars: And how Wit may be sanctifi∣ed to the use of the Church, we have de∣licate examples in the Apologetick of Tertullian, in the Epistle of Cyprian to Donatus, in Minutius Felix his Octavius, in the Orations of Gregory NazienzenPage 38 and Basil, in the Sermons of Chrysostom, Bernard, Chrysologus, and multitudes of others amongst the Antients. To say nothing of the Worthies in our own Church and of our own time, amongst whom I cannot but mention my most Religi∣ous, and most Excellent Predecessor in this Diocesse, whose writings are like the Land of Canaan, flowing with milke and honey. Now in this particular I should advise those who have vigorous and predominant witts, of whom we may say, as Quintilian said of Seneca, It is pity they should not do as they ought, who can do as they will, that they would not too much indulge nor loosen the reynes unto luxuriancy of fancy in so solemn and serious a work as prea∣ching the Gospel, but proportion their ballast to their sayl; and temper their fancy with Humility, pietie, and pru∣dence, so as they may render severe and solid truths the more amiable, and recon∣cile the minds of their hearers the better unto sound and saving doctrine, as Phy∣sitiansPage 39 convey their physick in some plea∣sant vchiculum to gratifie the palat, & pre∣vent the fastidium of their tender Patients. After this manner must we preach the Gospel, discharging faithfully towards God and men the trust which is reposed in us; for it is required in Stewards that a man be found faithfull, 1 Cor. 4. 2.
Now there being three wayes of Pa∣storal Feeding, as Bernard hath observed, Ore, Mente, Opere, by Preaching, Pray∣ing, and Living, it is necessary to adde these two latter unto that which we have already handled. 1. To be the Lords Remembrancers, and to give our selves continually to prayer, Acts 6. 4. If we Consider the Great Importance of our Ministery in dispensing the unfear∣chable Riches of Christ; the great dif∣ficulty of the work, for which without divine assistance none can be sufficient: the Divine efficacy and Cooperation required unto the successe of it: the Infinite preciousnesse of the soules of men, and great Concernments of the Church of Page 40 God over which we have an inspection, we cannot but grow unto holy Cyprians Resolution, who thus saith of himself in his Book De bono pudicitiae, Non solum profe∣rimus verba quae de scripturarum sacris fon∣tibus veniunt, sed cum ipsis verbis preces ad Dominum & vota sociamus.
2. We must give testimony unto our doctrine by a Godly Example, as Paul re∣quireth Timotby and Titus, 1 Tim. 4. 12. Tit. 2. 7. and Peter all Elders, 1 Pet. 5. 3. as John was both a shining and a Burn∣ing Lamp, John 5. 35. The Star which led the wise men unto Christ, the Pillar of fire which led the Children unto Ca∣naan, did not onely shine, but go before them, Matth. 2. 9. Exod. 13. 21. the voice of Jacob will do little good if the hands be the hands of Esau. In the Law no person who had any blemish was to of∣fer the Oblations of the Lord, Levit. 21 17.—20. the Lord thereby teaching us what Graces ought to be in his Ministers. The Priest was to have in his robes Bells and Pomgranates; the one a figure of sound Page 41 doctrine, and the other of a fruitfull life, Exod. 28. 33, 34. the Lord will be san∣ctifyed in all those that draw near unto him, Isa. 52. 11. for the sins of the Priests make the people abhorr the offering of the Lord, 1 Sam. 2. 17. their wicked lives do shame their doctrine; Passionem Christi annunciant profitendo, male agendo exhono∣rant, as S. Austine speaks, with their do∣ctrine they build, and with their lives they destroy. The Minister who will winne his people, must not only doctorem virtutis se praebere, sed ducem, as Lactantius, ut si praecipientem sequi nolint, sequantur antece∣dentem. The salt which is it self unsavory, will hardly season other things. I con∣clude this point with that wholsom passage of Hierom ad Nepotianum, Let not, saith he, thy works shame thy doctrine, lest they who hear thee in the Church tacit∣ly answer, Why doest thou not thy self what thou teachest others? He is too de∣licate a teacher who perswadeth others to fast with a full belly. A Robber may accuse Covetousness. Sacerdotis Christi os, Page 42 mens, manusque concordent; a Minister of Christ should have his tongue, and his heart, and his hand agree.
I shall conclude all with Two words of Exhortation; one to my Reverend Brethren in the Clergy, and the other to the people.
To my Brethren: That they would with all their might set about this most necessa∣ry work of feeding the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made them Over∣seers, & therby testifie their love unto Christ, who by that Love doth adjure us to feed his sheep and lambs, John 21. 15. 16, 17. If we would not be an Anathema Maranatha for not loving of Christ, we must do that which he by so strong an argument as the Love of him doth injoyn. Is it possible for a man to love the father, and to starve the children? Is it possible to love the Lord, and to neglect his doubled and re∣doubled command? Is it possible to love God, and to hate our brethren? Or do we not hate our brethren when we betray their souls to perdition? O let us lay to Page 43 heart that most solemn and tremendous charge of the Apostle, I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom, preach the word, be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke▪ ex∣hort, with all long-suffering and doctrine, 2 Tim. 4. 1, 2. Let us consider the dread∣full Accompt which at that fiery Tribunal of this Great Judge will be required of us, Heb. 13. 17. the woe which we incurr if we neglect it, 1 Cor. 9. 16. and the horrid guilt of the blood of souls which thereby we contract, Ezeck. 3. 17, 18, 20 their blood will I require at thy hand Let us consider the unvaluable preciousness of the souls committed to our charge, of more worth then all the world be∣side, Mat. 16. 26. insomuch that Heathen men have said, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. It is the property of a Reasona∣ble soul, saith Antoninus the Heathen Emperour, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉▪ to preferre nothing before it self. O what a doleful thing will it be to have the everlasting Page 44 perdition of such precious souls to lie up∣on our betraying of them! Consider the Inestimable price wherwith they were pur∣chased, even the Blood of God, Acts 20 28. and how fearfull a thing it will be for the Blood of Christ to cry out against us for destroying those souls which that blood did purchase. Consider the continual Dangers these precious souls are exposed to, the vigilancy of a cunning, a powerfull a malicious adversary, who goeth about seeking to devour them, 1 Pet. 5. 8 the baits, snares, examples, and entanglements of an evil world, the swarms of Innume∣rable inward lusts which warr against the soul. O how vigilant should we be to fore warn & arm them against the assault of so great dangers? Lastly, consider we the weight and greatnesse of that Crown of Righteousness and glory which the Chief Shepherd reserveth for all those who wil∣lingly and with a ready mind feed the flock of God. They who turn many to Righteousness shall shine as Stars for ever and ever, 1 Pet. 5. 4. Dan. 12. 3. What Page 45 a Glorious Testimony will it be before the throne of Christ at the last day, when so many souls shall stand forth and say, This was the hand which snatched us out of the fire, This tongue was to us a tree of life, his Reproofs and convictions awakened us, his Exhortations perswaded us, his Consolations revived us, his wisdom counsel'd us, his ex∣ample guided us unto this Glory! Some are apt to charge Clergymen with ambitious pursuance of dignities and preferments; Behold here a preferment worthy the climb∣ing after, a dignity worthy to be contended for, an holy, an Apostolical Ambition, as St. Pauls expression importeth, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Rom. 15. 20. which is as much as Ambitioso conatu praedicare Evangeliū; prea∣ching the Gospel where it had not before been heard, was the Apostles greatest honor which ambitiously he did aspi•e unto.
To the People. 1. We exhort them to pray for their Ministers, since they have a Service upon them which without divine Grace none are sufficient for, that God would by his special assistance enable themPage 46 to discharge so great a trust. God commands it, we beseech it, our weakness wants it, your souls require it; the more you pray for your Minister, the more you will profit by him. You help to edifie your selves, you help him to study and pray and preach for you, while you pray for him.
2 To take heed that the labour of your Ministers for your souls be not by your carelesseness all in vain. Do not with our Sermons, which cost us so hard labour, as David did with the water of the well of Bethleem, spill them on the ground, and let them cry from thence, like the blood of Abel against you. So long as he keeps to his Commission, and delivers the Counsel of God, you cannot despise the work of your Minister, but you do therewithall despise the blood of your Saviour. If your souls be dear in their eyes, should they be vile in your own? Will you by your wickedness turn the prayers of your Pastors into curses, their Sermons into a favour of death, and their tears into the blood of your own souls? Shall they begg mercy for you, and will you Page 47 reject it? Shall they tender Grace unto you, and will you resist it? Shall they open for you the door of Life, & will you shut it against your selves? Shall Christ by them beseech you, and will you by your Impenitency refuse him? Is it not a Reasonable Request, though you will not love your Ministers, yet not to Hate nor destroy your selves? Must he Teach, and you not Learn? Must he open his lips, and you shut your ears? are Sermons preached to be praised onely, and not obeyed? Must he Reprove Sin in you, and will you Reprove God in him? Shall he take up the weapons of God to with∣stand sinne, and will you take up the weapons of lust to withstand God! Is it good to kick against the pricks? Will Gods word be impunè despised? Can his Law be put to flight? where it doth not perswade, can it not curse? Do we provoke the Lord to jealousie? are we stronger then he? Shall the Minister in the name of God, forewarn us of the wrath to come, and shall we belye the Lord, and say It is not he? Shall we blesse where God curs∣eth? Page 48 and promise peace, where God pro∣clameth warre? Shall we sell our selves to sin, and make a Covenant with Hell and death, as if we could sin securely, and choose whither we would perish or no? Will not the Lord make us know at the last whose word shall stand, His or Ours? O that the Love of Christ might constrain us, and his Goodness lead us unto Repen∣tance, that when Christ doth beseech us, we would be perswaded not to deny him! Did Satan dye for us? Did the world or the flesh ever redeem us? were they scourged, or mocked, or crucified to save us? O that Christ should be perswaded to dye for us, and we should give him his blood back a∣gain, and choose rather to dye our selves! Consider what I say, and the Lord give you understanding in all things.