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This promise is to be pressed and suited for by earnest prayer.
Were people much in this duty, pastors would find it, and so people themselves receive back their prayers, with much gain, into their own bosom; they would have the returned benefit of it, as the vapours that go up from below fall down upon the earth again in sweet showers, and make it fruitful. Thus, went there many prayers up, tors, their doctrine would drop as rain, and distil as dew', and the sweet influence of it would make fruitful the valleys, humble hearts receiving it. And, at this time, it is very needful that the Lord be much importuned for the continuance and increase of his favour in this his church: as they who have power should be more careful of those due means, which in schools of learning, or otherwise, are needful for qualifying men for this service; so all in general, both people and pastors, and such as are offering themselves to that service, should chiefly beg from the higher academy, that teaching abundance of that Spirit to those employed in that work, that might make them able ministers of the New Testament.
Oh! it is an inestimable blessing to have the saving light of the gospel shining clear in the faithful and powerful ministry of it: they thought so who said of their worthy teacher, “ They had rather for them the sun shall not shine, than he should not teach
2. The person exhorting : 1, a co-presbyter or fellow-elder with you. The duty of mutual exhorting lies on each Christian to another, though it be little known amongst the greatest part; but, truly, pastors should be, as in other duties, so particularly in this, eminent and exemplary in their intercourses and converse, saying often one to another, “ Oh! let us remember to what we are called; to how high and heavy a charge; to what holiness and diligence: how great is the hazard of
f Deut. xxxi. 2. 8 Satius solem non lucere, quam Chrysostomum non docere.
our miscarriage, and how great the reward of our fidelity!" They should be often whetting and sharpening one another by those weighty and holy considerations.
And a witness of the sufferings of Christ. He did indeed give witness to Christ, by suffering for him the hatred and persecutions of the world in the publishing of the gospel, and so was a witness and martyr before the time that he was put to death. And this I exclude not; but that which is more particularly here intended is, his certain knowledge of the sufferings of Christ, in his own person ; as an eyewitness of them, and upon that knowledge a publisher of them". And thus these two suit with the two motives urged, to bear home the exhortation. The one couched in that, the flock of God', which he purchased with those his sufferings, whereof I was an eye witness. And the other of a crown", I may speak the more confidently of that, for I am one of those who have real interest in it, and firm belief of it, a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.
And these indeed are the things which give weight to a man's words, make them powerful and pressing, a witness of the sufferings of Christ
. The apostles had a singular advantage in this, that were cúróntas
, eye-witnesses; and St. Paul, who wanted that, had it supplied by a vision of Christ, in his conversion. But, certainly, a spiritual view of Christ crucified is generally (I will not say absolutely) necessary to make a minister of Christ, but certainly very requisite for the due witnessing of him, and displaying the excellency and virtue of his sufferings ; so to preach the gospel that there needs no other crucifix', after so clear and lively a way as that; it may in some measure suit the apostle's word"; Before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth crucified among you.
h Luke xxiv. 48.
ver. 4. Alluding to the custom of many Popish preachers, to carry a little crucifix into the pulpit with them.
m Gal. iii, 1,
Men commonly read and hear, and may possibly preach, of the sufferings of Christ as a common story, and that way it may a little move a man, and wring tears from his eyes; but faith hath another kind of sight of them, and so works other kind of affections, and without that, the very eye-sight of them availed the apostles nothing: for how many saw him suffer as they did, who reviled, or at least despised him? But by the eye of faith to see the only begotten Son of God, as stricken and smitten of God, bearing our Sorrows, and wounded for our transgression, Jesus Christ the righteous, reckoned amongst the unrighteous and malefactors ; to see him stripped naked, and scourged, and buffetted, and nailed, and dying, and all for us ; this is the thing that will bind upon us most strongly all the duties of Christianity, and of our particular callings, and best enable us, according to our callings, to bind them upon others. But our slender view of these things makes light sense, and that, cold incitements to answerable duty; certainly deep impression would cause lively expression.
Would we willingly stir up our own hearts, and one another, to holy diligence in our station, study Christ as suffering and dying more thoroughly : that is the very life of the gospel and of our souls ; it is all we have to learn, and all we have to teach and press on you, I determined to know nothing among you sade Jesus Christ and him crucified". To make Christ's cross the sum of all my learning.
The other motive is, that he was a partaker of the glory to be revealed. As a witness of those sufferings, so a partaker of the glory purchased by these sufferings ; and therefore, as one insighted and interested in what he speaks, the apostle might fitly speak of that peculiar duty which these sufferings and glory do peculiarly persuade. This is the only way of speaking of those things, not as a discourser or contemplative student, but a' partaker. There is another force of a pastor's exhortation either to his people or his brethren, who brings his message writ
ni Cor. ii, 2.
ten upon his own heart; speaks of the guilt of sin, and sufferings of Christ for it, as particularly feeling his own guilt, and looking on these sufferings as taking it away; speaks of free grace, as one who either hath drunken of the refreshing streams of it, or at least is earnestly thirsting after it; of the love of Christ, from a heart kindled with it; of the glory to come, as one who looks to be a sharer in it, and longs earnestly for it, as one who hath all his joy and content laid up in the hopes of it.
And thus with respect to Christians conversing with each other in their mutual exhortings and comfortings, all is cold and dead that flows not from some inward persuasion and experimental knowledge of divine things; but that gives an edge and a sweetness to Christian conference. To be speaking of Jesus Christ, not only as a King and as a Redeemer, but their King and their Redeemer, in David's style, My King and my God"; and of his sufferings as theirs, applied by faith, and acquitting them, in St. Paul's style, Who loved me, and gave himself for
To speak of the glory to come as their inheritance, of which they are partakers, their home, as strangers meeting together abroad, in some foreign country, delighting to speak of their own land", and their parentage, their friends, and their rich patria mony, there abiding them: And this ought to be the entertainment of Christians, when they meet. Away with trilling vain discourses, cause all to give place to these refreshing remembrances of our home. Were our hearts much on that rich inheritance above, it would be impossible to refrain our tongues, and to pass on so silent concerning it, to find matter of empty pratings, and be pleased with them, and to have no relish of this. Whither go your hearts? They are out of their way, and abase themselves, that turn so much downwards, and are not more above
* Psal. lxviij. 24.
b Gal. ii. 20. s Peregrinis in terris nulla eșt jucundior recordatio quam suz çivitatis, AUG. in Psal. cxlv.
the sun ; eyeing still that blessed land where our purchased inheritance lies.
Oh! seek after more clear knowledge of this glory, and of your interest in it, that your hearts may rejoice in the remembrance of it, that it be not to you as the description of a pleasant land, which men read of in history, and have no portion in. They like it well, and are pleased with it while they read, be it but some imagined country or commonwealth finely fancied. But know this country of yours to be real, and no device; and seek to know yourselves to be partakers of it.
This confidence depends not upon a singular revelation, but on the power of faith, and the light of the Spirit of God, which clears to his children the things that he hath freely given them, though some of them, at sometimes, yea some, it may be, all or most of their time, do want it: God so disposing it, they scarce clearly see their right, till they be in possession ;, see not their heaven and home, till they arrive at it, or are hard upon it. Yet, truly, this we may, and ought to seek after in humility and submission, that we may have the pledge and earnest inheritance"; not so much for the comfort within us, though that is allowed, as that it may wean our hearts from things below ; may rise us to higher and closer communion with God, and enable us more for his service, and excite us more to his praises, even here. What were a Christian without the hope of this glory, as one said, Tolle religionem, et nullus eris, Take away religion, and you take away the man. And, having this hope, what are all things here to him? how poor and despicable the better and worse of this life, and this life itself! how glad is he that it will quickly end! and what were the length of it to him, but a long continuance of his banishment, a long detainment from his home! and how sweet is the mes sage
that is sent for him to come home! Justly it is called, The glory that is to be revealed. It is hid for present, wholly unknown to the children
& Eph. i. 14.