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1. They ought to esteem and respect them for their work's fake, i Theff. v. 12. 13. Their work is honourable, their Master whom they serve in that work is great, and the advantage of their work redounds to the church. People's esteem of them is but a neceffary encouragement to them in the work they have undertaken, without any prospect of worldly advantage. And if people esteemed the Lord's work, they would even efteem the workers too.
2. Obedience and submission to them in their doing the work of their office, Heb. xiii. 17. If it be their duty to watch over you, excite and admonish you, Úc. ye ought not to account them meddling in what belongs not to them, when they inquire into your way. Ye ought to fall in with the duties they excite you to; meekly to receive their rebukes, admonitions, and warnings; honourably to receive their consolations, as those that have a commission from the Lord; and heartily to receive their good admonition and counsel; and subjecting yourselves as Christ's fub. jects to the discipline of his house.
3. They ought to pray to God for them, i Theff. v. 15. It is a great work we have in hand, and your intereft is concerned in our right discharge of it; which therefore should make you to give us a share in your prayers.
4. Shutting your ears against reproaches cast on them, and being backward to receive ill reports of them, ftaving them off unless there be sufficient evi. dence, 1 Tim. v. 19. Church-officers are those whom Satan mainly aims to discredit, and therefore ftirs
up rotten-hearted hypocrites, false brethren, and a profane generation, to cast dirt upon them, that so their work may be marred in their hands, religion despised, and finners hardened.
Use. 1. As to you that are already in this honour. able office, and you that are now to be ordained to it, I exhort you to labour rightly to discharge your duty, To press this exhortation, I offer the following motives, Mot. I. Consider it is a sacred office in the house of God, to which God has called you; and therefore let us together take that exhortation, Acts xx. 28. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the
flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. The office is honourable in itself, however the world esteem' of it. David, though a king, would have thought it no disparagement to him, when he said, A day in thy courts is better than a thousand; I had rather be a door.keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness, Pfal. Ixxxiv. 10. But it has work annexed to it, and being facred, it is not to play with. Labour to approve yourselves to your Lord and Master.
Mot. 2. Ye have thereby a fair occasion to be serviceable to God, and to advance Christ's kingdom, and suppress that of the devil, in the congregation. And what should we not do to do good to fouls ? Jam. v. 20. Let him know, that he which converteth the finner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. I think that now of a considerable time I and my brethren of the eldership might have said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish, fo that we are not able to build the wall, Neh. iv. 10.; and it has gone near to the sinking of some of our fpirits. But now that God has inclined the hearts of so ipany to come over and help us ; if we take courage in our Master's work, to ply it faithfully, diligently, zealously, and prudently, and the Lord bleis us with unity among ourselves, and real zeal for his honour, to put to our shoulders jointly to the work, we may hope, by the blessing of God, to see a more promiling face on this congregation, sin more discouraged, and piety more increased.
Mot. ult. You and I must give an account to our great Mafter, how we have carried ourselves in his work, Heb. xii. 17. If we be faithful, we shall bet
want our reward from the chief Shepherd, who will give us a crown of life. If we be unfaithful, wo will be unto us for betraying our trust.
I give you a few advices.
1. Remember always that it is God whom ye have to do with. This will make you little to regard mens feud or favour, if ye do your work agreeable to God's will.
2. Study to act in dependence on the Lord ; for he sends none a-warfare on his own charges. Eye his promised afiittance when ye fet about your work.
2. Labour to believe, that the way of uprightness and faithfulness is the fure way. When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him, Prov. xvi. 7. He that rebuketh a man, afterwards fball find more favour than he that flattereth him, Prov. xxviii. 23. Lets mens corruptions say what they will, their consciences will speak in favour of faithful dealing.
4. Watch over your own persons, that in your personal walk
be blameless and exemplary, I Tim. iii. 1. 2. 3. If ye be untender in your walk, ye will do more hurt than ye can do good. Being honoured to be goverrors in the houle of a holy God, ye must be holy as the Master is holy ; tender in your words, circumspect in your actions, and therefore watchful over your hearts.
5. Watch over your families. Every one that has a family, is obliged to this, and you in a special manner, 1 Tim. iii. 4. 5. The finful practices of those of your family will reflect a peculiar dithonour on you, and by you on your Lord and Master. Therefore your families should be a church, wherein God is to be duly worshipped morning and evening; and good difcipline kept up, by admonition, reproof, and watchfulness.
6. Ye must watch over one another, each over his fellow-elders, knowing, that any thing fcandalous in one of the society reflects a dishonour on the whole,
and by them on the Lord himself. And if ye be not careful on that fide, there will be little good of your watching over the flock. And thefore strict discipline among yourselves is absolutely necessary,
Use II. As to you the people, I would exhort you to make conscience of your duty towards your officers. Alas! for the little conscience that is made of that a, mong us.
I am sure we may find matter of mourn. ing this day in that matter.
Instead of honouring of them, many despise and pour contempt on them, more than otherwise they would do, thus vilely treating their facred oflice.
Instead of submission and obedience, what refractoriness and spurning of discipline for scandalous offences! Some cannot endure to be told of their faults ; but if we admonish or reprove them even privately, they are made worse instead of better, and rather than take a reproof, they will give up with ordinan
Instead of being careful of their reputation, some will bawl out upon them, and abuse them on every occafion. And there is nothing with many more readily received, than the vomit of malicious and spiteful spirits against ministers and elders, which is greedily licked up, 1 Cor. iv, 13.
Hence it is that mens hands are weakened, and they are discouraged in their work, while they see the people of that temper, Hof. iv, 4. And hence it is that it is so very hard to get men to undertake the office of elders; for they see that it they engage therein, they must be the very butt of the malice and spite of bicter spirits ; and that if they will be faithful, they engage themselves in a fighting life, and that the stream will go against them. But allow me to put you in mind of three things.
1. Whose part you act in that matter. It is the part of Satan againit these men and yourselves too. Can you fall upon a more expedite way to advance the kingdom of the devil in the congregation, than to,
discourage and weaken the hands of those that are fet over you in the Lord ?
in the Lord ? Is there a fairer way to rout the army than to make their leaders useless ?
2. Whose servants they are. They are clothed with a commission from the King of the church; and the contempt poured on them, reaches to their Mafter : He that despiseth you, fays he, despiseth me, Luke x. 16. Will the laws of the land avenge the affronts done to a petty officer, who comes to execute the sentence of a civil court? did David severely avenge on the Ammonites their maltreating of his fervants whom he fent on a congratulatory message to them, as ye find in 2 Sam. x.? and will not the Lord Jesus resent in his wrath the maltreatment of those that are clothed with his commiffion?
3. Lastly, Are ye not the profeffed subjects of the kingdom of Christ? why then will ye not submit. yourselves to the laws of his house? why will ye not be 'obedient in the Lord to those whom he sets over you, complying with their exhortations, admonitions, and rebukes ? Luke xix. 27. Why do not ye strengthen their hands in the Lord's work? If ye have any interest in Zion's King, it is the work of our common Lord, which you are obliged to in a private way, as well as they by virtue of their office; and therefore ye are bound to co-operate with them in what serves to promote the interest of that King, whose servants you profess to be,
I proceed now to consider the relation betwixt political fathers and their children ; that is, magiftrates and subjects,
First, I shall shew the duty of subjects to magistrates.
1. They owe them singular respect and honour, 1 Pet. ii. 17. They are to be honoured by us in our hearts, thinking of and esteeming them reverently, and carrying a reverent fear and awe of them within pur breasts, 1 Sam, xxvi. 16. 17. Prov. xxiv. 21,