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Our Lord elsewhere cautions his people to take heed what they hear
Nor can any thing be more necessary than to be on our guard against error
But the caution how we hear was also necessary 1. Because many hear in an unbecoming manner The generality are careless hearers
[They-attend God's house merely in conformity with the customs of the country
They suffer their thoughts to rove after earthly and carnal things
They discern very little difference in the doctrines which they hear
They, like Gallio, seem to “ care for none of these. things”-], Many are critical hearers
[They can attend to nothing which is not composed with elegance
Or they affect only what accords with their own views of religion
They judge of all they hear by a standard of their own
Hence they form parties, and set up one minister against another] Many also are captious hearers
[They will not hear any thing which militates against their prejudices
They cannot bear to have their favourite habits condemned"
They are offended if their hosom lusts be faithfully reprovede
They too much resemble the Scribes and Pharisees of old!
While there continue such hearers, the caution will be necessary-] 2. Because God himself speaks to us by the preacher
[Ministers are embassadors for God, and speak in Christ's steade
If they preach what is founded on the Scriptures, their word, as far as it is agreeable to the mind of God, is to be considered as God'sf
This is asserted by our Lord and his apostles
a 1 Cor. iii. 3, 4. b Luke xi. 45. d Luke xi. 54. e 2 Cor. y. 20. & John xiii. 20. 1 Thess. iy. 8.
c Mark vi. 17, 18. f Heb xiii. 7.
We ought therefore to receive the preacher's word as the word of God himself
With what humility then ought we to attend to it
Surely therefore on this account also we need the caution in the textm]
3. Because every discourse increases either our salvation or condemnation
[The word delivered is either a savour of life or of death Our Lord himself intimates this reason for the caution!
Hence our Lord's preaching eventually enhanced the guilt of the Jews"
The same awful effects will be felt by those who slight his ministers
What stronger reasons for such a caution can possibly be imagined?--]
The necessity of such an admonition being evinced, we II. Give some directions for obeying it
An humble mind will naturally receive instruction in a proper manner
We should hear
(We cannot too carefully divest ourselves of prejudice We should not call any man master upon earth”—
We should rather weigh what we hear, in the balance of the Sanctuary
But we ought to have our minds open to conviction
We should " receive the seed in an honest and good beart"—
We should“ receive with meekness the engrafted word"
Nor can we hope to profit if we do not cultivate this disposition-] With a desire to profit
[The word of God is profitable for many blessed purposes
Yet it cannot be serviceable to us, if it be not received in faith
But when applied to the soul, its operation is very powerful
1 Thess. ii. 13.
Luke viii. 18. 91 Thess. v. 21. 1 Heb. iv. 12.
i Heb. ii. 1-3.
+ 2 Cor. ii. 15, 18.
We should therefore at all times apply it to ourselves
We should go to the ordinances, as the sick to Bethesda's pool-.
Nor do we ever hear aright, except when we attend in this spirit
It is the practical hearer only that derives benefit to his soulWith an humble dependence on God's Spirit
[It is God alone who“ teacheth us to profit” – Human labours, without his blessing, will be vain" It is his work to open the understanding, and the hearty
To him therefore should we look for the teaching of his Spirit We should plead the promise which God has given us
In this way we shall experience much benefit from the wordb
No obstacles whatever shall be able to withstand its powerf
s 1 Pet. ii. 2. t Jam. i. 22-25. u 1 Cor. iii. 7.
c 2 Cor. x. 4. d Col. iii. 16. e That it may please thee to give to all thy people increase of grace, to hear meekly thy word, and to receive it with pure affection, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit.
XXXVI. THE EXCELLENCY AND EFFICACY OF THE
2 Cor. iii. 18. But we all with open face beholding, as in a
glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
THE Jews, when compared with the heathen world, were highly privileged
But the dispensation under which they lived was in every respect inferior to that of the
gospelThe apostle, in viúdicating his own character, inci. dentally mentions the blessings which the Corinthians had experienced by means of his ministry—
Hence he takes occasion to set forth the superior excellency of the gospel above the law
In confirmation of this point we will consider
I. The excellency of the Gospel
In the context the law is spoken of as a ministration of condemnation
Whereas the gospel is a ministration of the Spirit and of righteousness It is a revelation of the “ glory of the Lord”
[The law was in some degree a manifestation of the divine glory
It displayed, however, chiefly the majesty and holiness of the Deity
But the gospel displays the love and mercy of God
It exhibits all the perfections of God harmonizing, and glorified in the work of redemption
Thus it is a revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ —] It manifests this glory to the soul
[Moses veiled the divine lustre which shined in his faceThis was an intimation to the Jews that they could not comprehend the full scope of the law which he published, ver. 13.
But this veil is taken away by Christ, ver. 14.-
The gospel reflects Christ's glory as a mirror reflects the sun
We behold that glory“ with open, i. e. unveiled face"-
Nor is it more excellent in its discoveries than in its effects II. The efficacy of it
The apostle ascribes a wonderful efficacy to the gospel
Experience attests the truth of his declarations-
[A view of Jehovah's glory caused the face of Moses to shine
So a view of Christ's glory in the gospel changes our hearts
It renews us after the very image of our Lord and Saviour
It does this, notwithstanding we may have been hitherto most abandoned
Every fresh discovery which it makes to us of Christ's glory increases that effect
[The first exercise of faith in Christ makes a great change
a 2 Cor. iv. 6.
But subsequent views of his glory advance the work of sanctification
In this way is our progress in holiness carried on to perfection-]
This power, however, it derives wholly from “ the Spirit of the Lord”
[The gospel has not that power in itselfWere its power inherent, it would operate uniformly on But its operation is dependent on the will of God The word is called “the sword of the Spirit"
It is the Spirit's instrument whereby he subdues souls to the obedience of faith
Every fresh effect produced by it arises from the concurring operation of the Spirit
Yet, as it is the great instrument whereby the Spirit works, the effects are properly ascribed to it-] INFER
1. How great a blessing it is to have the gospel preached to us!
[Nothing else will produce the effects here ascribed to the gospel
The terrors of the law may alarm, but will not sanctify the heart
But the mild accents of the gospel win the soul-
Let all rejoice therefore in hearing the glad tidings
2. Whence it is that many make so small a proficiency in holiness [Many truly desire to advance in holiness
seek it in dependence on their own strength Hence they make a small proficiency in the divine lifeThey should rather use the means prescribed in the text
They should be often occupied in surveying the glory of Christ
The discoveries of his glory would do more than all their legal exertions
Let every eye therefore be fixed on him, till the effects appear both in our hearts and lives
Our views of him ere long shall be incomparably brighter Then the effects also shall be proportionably increased__)
bi Cor. xii. 11.
€ I Cor. xiii. 12.
di John iii. 2.