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only to no good purpose, but to ill purpose ; for the using of them is will-worship, which is sinning against the Lord, Col. ii. 20—23. Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not, taste not, handle not: which all are to perish with the using), after the commandments and doctrines of men ? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will-worship and humility, and neglecting of the body, not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.' It provokes God, and brings on wrath on the users of them, Hos. v. 11, 12. Ephraim is oppressed, and broken in judgment; because he willingly walked after the commandment. Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth: and to the house of Judah as rottenness.'
That which makes any ordinance a means of grace or salvation, what one may justly look for good of to his soul, is divine institution only, Matth. xxviii. 20. forecited: therefore the first question in all ordinances ought to be, • Whose is this image and superscription ? That appointment is to be found in the Lord's word, Isa. viii. 20. To the law and to the testimony : if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.'. That is sufficient to make the man of God perfect,' 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17; and therefore contains the whole ordinances he is to meddle with for the salvation of himself or others. The institution of some ordinances is more clear in the word than others; but whatever ordinance has divine warrant, express or by good consequence, is a divine ordinance and means of grace. And to these his own ordinances the Lord has confined us, Deut. iv. 2. 'Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may, keep the commandments of the Lord your
God which I command you.'
IV. I proceed to consider, to whom the Lord's ordinances made effectual.
1. Not to all who partake of them, Is. liii. 1. Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?' Many come to these wells who never taste of the water. I think it an unwarrantable expression, that all God's ordinances do attain their end, in the salvation or damnation of all that come under them; for damnation is not
- For we
the end of any of God's ordinances, but salvation. And
2. But to all the elect they are effectual, unto whom they come Acts xiii. 48. "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.' John X. 26. “Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.' To the elect only they are effectual for their salvation, which is their end.
V. I am to shew, whence the efficacy of ordinances proceeds. It does not proceed from any virtue in themselves, or in him that administers them, but from the Spirit of the Lord working in them and by them, 1 Cor iii. 7. But this 1 shall speak to more largely in a posterior discourse.
I conclude with a few inferences.
Inf. 1. Sad is the case of those who are in such a wilderness, as there are no wells in, nor any of God's ordinances. 'Where no vision is, the people perish.' This is the dismal case of the Pagan world. Which should move us to pray that the Lord may send the light of the gospel to these dark places of the earth.
2. The filling up of the wells in a land, by removing ordi: nances from a people, is a sad stroke. Where the word and sacraments are not, there is no church there ; and consequently God has no people to save there. O let us cry to the Lord, that this may never be our unhappy case.
3. The defiling of the wells is a sad matter for those who drink of them, whether it be by error in doctrine, superstition in worship, or uninstituted government of the church: but worst of all
, where they are poisoned with damnable he. resies and idolatry, as in the apostate church of Rome. Let us pray for, and strive to maintain, purity of doctrine. worship, and government.
4. Heinous is the sin of the neglect or contempt of the wells of salvation, which God has opened unto them. Let despi, sers and neglecters of ordinances consider this, and what they will answer when God rises up to call them to an account. Alas! this is one of the great grounds of the Lord's controversy with the present generation, which loudly calls to deep humiliation before him.
5. Great is the sin and loss of those who come to the wells, but never draw of the water nor taste it: who are ne ver bettered by ordinances, but remain as dead and uncon. cerned about their souls as if the means of salvation were not vouchsafed to them.
6. Lastly, Prize the ordinances. Prepare for them, and duly improve them; remember they are the ordinary means of salvation : therefore seek to enjoy God, and to have communion with him, in them, otherwise they will be in yain as
HOW THE WORD IS MADE EFFECTUAL TO SALVATION.
EPH. vi. 17.-The sword of the Spirit, rehich is the word
N these words we have, (1.) A particular piece of the
Christian armour recommended, the word of God, the revelation of his mind communicated to us in the scriptures, with which every one who minds for heaven should be familiarly acquainted. (2.) A particular piece of its commendation; it is the sword of the Spirit; i. e. it is that which the Spirit of the Lord uses in fighting the battles of the Lord, and conquering an elect world to Christ, and bringing them, through all opposition from the devil, the world, and the flesh, into the heavenly Canaan. And therefore it cannot but be of singular use to a Christian in the spiritual warfare. It is but the sword, but the Spirit cuts with it.
The doctrine of the text is,
Doct. • The word of God is the sword the Spirit makes
use of for raising up a kingdom to Christ. This more fully in the words of the Catechism, runs thus : ' The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation.'
In handling this subject, I shall shew, 1. In what respects the word is an ordinance of God, and mean of salvation.
II. What are the ends for which the Lord has appointed these means and ordinances of reading and preaching the word.
III. Consider the efficacy of the word.
I. I am to shew, in what respects the word is an ordinance of God and mean of salvation.
First, The reading of the word is an ordinance of God, and mean of salvation, of God's own appointment. The Bible is this word, and God has given it to us, and appointedit to be read.
1. The public reading of it in the congregation is God's ordinance, and a mean of salvation. And we find it in scripture performed by the teachers of the people, Neh. viii. 8; So they read in the book, in the law of God distinctly, and
gave the sense, and caused them to understand the read. ing.' Ver. 2, 3. “And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation, both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the 7th month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water-gate, from the morning until mid-day, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the peopie were attentive unto the book of the law. And so the reading of the word claims a
have we seen the reproof laid in seasonably for the sin, that one could not miss it, if but going on straight in the ordi.
[2.] What the heinous nature of his sin is, Heb. iv. 12; God's word pulls off the paint and varnishing from the man's sin, and discovers it in its loathsome nature, and killing aggravations. It makes him see the evil in it, that he never saw before, Acts xxvi. 18.
(2.) It discovers his misery out of Christ, Acts ii. 37; The sinner sees in the word, as in a glass, his lost state with: out a Saviour; perceives himself bound over to death with cords of guilt, which fills him with fear, terror, anxiety, and remorse.
2. Of their conversion, Psal. xix. 7; “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.' The word is the means which God hath chosen for bringing sinners to himself, Acts xxvi. 18; for raising the dead soul to life, for regeneration, and the working of faith and repentance. This effect of the word we take up in these two particulars.
(1.) The word is the mean of driving the sinner out of himself to Jesus Christ by faith, as it did. Peter's hearers, Acts ii. 37, 38; · Faith cometh by hearing. The law goes before and condemns the sinner, and discovers him a lost man. The gospel follows with the glad tidings of salvation, and the soul is persuaded to embrace them.
(2.) It is the mean of driving the sinner out of his sins unto God, Acts xx. 21 ; It sets fire to his nest in sin, and brings him to the Lord as a Master, and to a compliance with his will as his duty.
Secondly, For saints they are means appointed for their edification or building up, Acts xx. 32; The church of Christ in this world is but a building, and not yet finished; and every particular saint's state in this world is but an unfinished building: and therefore they must have the word continued with them, as the scaffolding is with the house till it get on the topstone, Eph. iv. 11,-13; And the reading and preaching of the word are,
1. Means of building them up in holiness, the foundation of which is laid in them at conversion, Acts xx. 32 ; As they are born again of the incorruptible seed of the word, so they are nourished by these breasts; by the same means they had