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family, but his friends, to wait on the ordinances. (2.) An acknowledgement of God's presence in a special manner in religious assemblies, We are all kere present before God. (3.) The great end of their meeting was their souls edification, to hear, that is, to hear and obey. And here is what the minilter is to preach and the people to receive; it is what is commanded of God. The minister has a commission from God, and he must preach, not what men would have him to preach, but what God commands; and the people are to receive nothing that is beyond his commission. The extent of both is all things; the minister is to preach and the people to receive all things commanded of God.
Obf. i. When God discovers his mind in any parti. cular to a person or people, it is their duty presently comply with it without delay. There should be no disputing after the discovery of the Lord's mind, Gal. i. 15.-17. The contrary was the fault of Balaam, and of the Jews in Egypt, Jer. xliv.
2. It is a bleffed thing for a people to call that minilter to whom God himself directs and inclines them. It is like Cornelius did not so much as know Peter by name, Acts x. 5. but he goes to God, and God directs
3. It is a commendable thing in a minister of Christ to comply with the call of God and his people, though it should be offensive to some, and not very agreeable to his own inclinations. Ministers are to go, not where they will and others would wish them, but where God wills. It was Levi's commendation, Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him, neither did be acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children : for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant, Deut. xxxiii. 9.
The doctrine arising from the text is,
Doct. It is the duty of a people to attend on the ordinances, to be all present there before God, where pure ordi
nances are set up among them, to hear all things commands ed of God to the minisier whom the Lord has sent them.
In discoursing from this doctrine, I shall,
1. Give reasons why people should attend on and be present at ordinances, where God has set them up a
II. Shew in what respects people are before the Lord at public ordinances.
Ill. Consider the disposition of soul wherewith peo. ple should come to them.
IV. Make some practical improvement.
I. I am to give reasons why people should attend on and be present at ordinances, where God has set them up among them.
1. Because God has commanded it, Heb. X. 25. The Lord calls his people to be present there where ever it is. Thus there was the tabernacle of the congregation in the wilderness, whither the people refurred to the public worship, and afterwards the teinple. And for ordinary the fynagogues under the Old Testament, were the places of public worship, the ruins of which the church complains of, Pfal. Ixxiv. 8. It was the practice of Christ himself to attend these places, as we find Luke iv. 16. He sends ministers to preach,
and therefore commands people to hear,
2. Because the public affernblies are for the honour of Christ in the world. They are that place where his ho our dwells, where his people meet together to pros fess their subjection to his laws, to receive his orders, to seek his help, to pay him the tribute of praise, the calves of their lips. And forasmuch as all are obliged to these things, all are obliged to be present and attend, and to cast in their mite into this treasury. And therefore the people of God look on Christ's standard in the world as fallen, when these assemblies are gone, as Elijah did, 1 Kings xix. 10.
3. Because these assemblies are the ordinary place
where Christ makes his conquest of fouls, Rom. x. 14. The gospel is Christ's net wherein fouls are catched. And it is always good to be in Christ's way.
Who knows when that good word may come that may take hold of the man's heart, and make him. Christ's prisoner, bound with the cords of love? A great number were catched at the first sermon preached after Christ's ascension, and cried out, What Mall we do? Acts ii. 37. So Lydia hearing the apostle Paul, her heart was opened, Acts xvi. 14. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Happy are they that get the deepest wounds in this field. For the weapons of this warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself a. guinst the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, 2 Cor. x. 4. 5.
4. They are Christ's trysting-place with his people, the galleries wherein our Lord walks, Exod. xx. 24. ; the mountains of niyrrh where he will be till the day break. Those that mind for communion with God, should seek him there, and wait on him where he has promised to be found. What a disadvantage had Thomas by his absence from one meeting where Christ met with the rest of the disciples ?
5. The delights of Christ and his people meet there; for ordinances are the heaven on earth. Christ delights to be there with his people, Pfal. lxxxvii. 2. The Lord loveth the gates of Zion, more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Luke xxii. 15. With desire, faid our Lord, I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer. And they delight to be there with him, and for him. How pailionately does David delire the ordinances ! Pfal. Ixxxiv. 1. 2. How amiable are thy tabernacles, o Lord of bosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my fleso crieth out for the living God. He prefers a day in God's courts to a thousand: I had rather, says he, be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedVOL. III.
nefs. And again, One-thing, says he, have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple, Pfal
. xxvi. 4. What good news was it to him to hear of an opportunity of waiting on God there! Plal. cxxii. 1. I was glad, says he, when they faid unto me, Let us go up into the house of the Lord.
Lastly, The necessities of all that mind for heaven require it. Had the ordinances not been necessary, God would never have appointed them. And fure they are not more necessary fur, any than those that least fee their need of them. There are the blind fouls that have need to come to the market of free grace, for that eye-salve that opens the eyes of those that-see not. Have not Christ's foldiers need of then to clear their rusty armour? do not dead souls need them to quicken them ? fleepy fouls to awaken them? They are the pools in the way to Zion, which the travellers to Zion have much need of to quench their thirit in their weary jou ney.
Surely the due confideration of these things may engage us all to make conscience of being all there present, as God gives opportunity.
II. I come to thew in what refpects people are be's. fore the Lord at public ordinances. The Lord is every where present; we can be no where but he is there, Pfal cxxxix. 7. But we are before him in a special manner in the public assemblies. He holds the stars in his right hand, and walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks. Our Lord has a special concern there; the main part of his business on earth lies there; and must he not be about his Father's businefs ? This consideration should engage us to be there. Satan will not miss to be there : where Christ has a church, the devil will endeavour to have a chapel. The fowls will be wbere there is seed sowing. So fome understand that, I Cor. xi. 10. For this
cause ought the woman to have power on her bead, because of the angels. Now Chrift is in the assemblies of his people,
1. Representatively. He has his agents there, his ministers, who are the Lord's proxies to court a wife for their Master's Son, 2 Cor. xi. 2. his ambassadors to negotiate a peace betwixt God and finners, 2 Cor. v. 20. Matth. x. 40. Christ's ministers are but as John was, the voice of one crying in the wilderness. The Speaker is in heaven, Hence the Lord is said to speak in or by the prophets. It is the Lord's goodnels that the treasure is lodged in earthen, not in heavenly vessels, lest their splendor should darken his Iglory in mens eyes, and so dazzle their eyes. And for the now glorified, God holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it, Job xxvi. 9.
22 Eficaciously. His power is there, he worl:s there,"etnibil agit in diftans, Pfal. Ixxv. i. For that thy name is near, fays the psalmilt, thy wondrous works declare. The word of the Lord is a powerful word. The ministers of Christ drive 'not an empty chariot, Pfal
. xlv. 4. In thy majesty ride prosperously. Christ is there giving life to fome, strength to others, and death's wounds to others, Mic. ii, 7. Pfal. xlv. 5, Hof, vi. go. The Lord's word returns not empty; it docs always somethiag. Every preaching will either harden or foften you; it will drive you a step nearer heaven or hell. Now are we before him in his ordi. nances,
1. As our witness. They had need to carry warily that have many eyes on them. While we are at ordinances, mens eyes and the devil's eyes are upon us ; but what should affect us most is, that God's eye is on us in a special manner, noticing how we behave, with what tenderness we handle holy things: and though our outward carriage be never fo promising, God is witness to the heart-wanderings, Ezek. xxxiii. 31.