« ElőzőTovább »
will be strengthened, as thy body with food.”—And our church, in her ecclesiastical constitutions, hath provided for the continuance of so faithful and pious a custom, enjoining every allowed preacher to have a sermon every Sunday in the year, and in the afternoon besides to spend half an hour in catechising the younger and ruder sort in the principles of Christian religion. The neglect of which most necessary duty no man can more bewail, nor more urge the necessity thereof, than those who, looking abroad into the world, have experience of more thick and palpable darkness in the minds of men, concerning those absolute necessary doctrines of the passion, merits, and redemption of Christ, and of faith in them, than men who have not, with their own eyes, observed it, can almost believe; and that too in such plac where sermons have been very frequently preached. I will close this point with the assertion and profession of holy Austin: “Nothing"," saith he, “is in this life more pleasant and easy, than the life of a bishop or minister, if it be perfunctorily and flatteringly executed; but then in God's sight'nihil turpius, miserius, damnabilius;'” and it was his profession, Sthat he was never absent from his episcopal service and attendance, upon any licentious and assumed liberty, but only upon some other necessary service of the church.
Touching the ability required in the discharge of this great office, there are (as I conceive) two special branches thereunto belonging. First, Learning, for the right information of the consciences of men, that men may not pervert the Scripture: Secondly, Wisdom, or spiritual prudence, for seasonable application of the truth to particular circumstances; which is that wbich maketh a wise builder.' For this latter, it being so various, 'according to those infinite varieties of particular cases and conditions, which are hardly reducible unto general rules, I cannot here speak, but refer the reader to the grave and pious counsels of those holy men", who have given some directions herein. For the other two great works which belong to this high calling, there are,-instruction of the scholar, and conviction of the adversary. Unto the perfection of which two services, when we duly consider how many different parts of learning are requisite, as knowledge of the tongues *, for the better understanding of the holy Scriptures by their original idiom and emphasis; of the arts, to observe the connexion, and augmentation, and method of them; of ancient customs, histories, and antiquities of the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, without insight whereinto the full meaning of many passages of holy Scripture cannot be clearly apprehended; of school learning, for discovering and repelling the subtilty of the adversaries, a thing required in a rhetorician by Aristotle and Quintilian, insomuch, y that Julian the apostate complained of the Christians, that they used the weapons of the Gentiles against them, and therefore interdicted them the use of schools of learning; lastly”, of histories and antiquities of the church, that we may observe the succession of the professors and doctrines hereof, the originals and sproutings of heresy therein, the better to answer the reproaches of our insolent adversaries, who lay innovation to our charge ;-1 say, when we duly consider these particulars, we cannot sufficiently admire nor detest the sauci. ness of those bold intruders, who, when they have themselves need to be taught what are the first principles of the oracles of God, become teachers of the ignorant, before themselves have been disciples of the learned; and before either maturity of years or any severe progress of studies have prepared them, boldly leap, some from their manual trades, many from their grammar and logic rudiments, into this sacred and dreadful office, unto which heretofore the most learned and pious men have trembled to approach. To these men I can give no better advice than that which
9 Canon. 45. 59. Nihil in hac vita lætius aut hominibus acceptabilius Episcopi aut Presbyteri Diaconi officio, si perfunctorie atque adulatorie res agatur, &c. Aug. Epist. 148. s Illud noverit dilectio vestra, nunquam me absentem fuisse licentiosà libertate, sed necessaria servitute. Aug. Epist. 138.
ετών καθ' έκαστά έστιν ή φρόνησις, και γίνεται γνώριμα εξ utreipias. Arist. Ethic. lib. 6. cap. 8. Bell i. 274.
u Aug. in lib. de Doct. Christ. et de Catechiz. Rud.-Gregor. Mag. de Officio Pastoral. par. 3. cap. 1. &c. * Hieron. Apol. adver. Ruffin.-Aug. de Doctr. Christ. lib. 2. cap. 16, 17, 39. y Theodoret, Hist. 3. cap. 7. 2 Aug. de Doct. Christ. 1. 2. c. 28. Vid. Greg. Nazianz. Orat. 1.-Docent Scripturas quas non intelligunt; prius imperitorum magistri, quam doctorum discipuli, &c. Hieron. Ep. 8. ad Demetr. ad Apol. et To. 3. Epistol. Ep. ad Paulinum.
Tully once gave unto Aristoxenus, a musician, who would needs venture upon philosophical difficulties, and, out of the principles of his art, determine the nature of a human soul, “Hæc magistro relinquat Aristoteli, canere ipse doceat: let them spend their time in the work which best befits them, and leave great matters unto abler men.
Thirdly and lastly, Unto this call is requisite the imposition of hands, and the authoritative act of the church, ordaining and setting apart, and deriving actual power upon such men, of whose fidelity and ability they have sufficient evidence (for “hands are not to be laid suddenly on any man”) to preach the Word, and to administer the sacraments, and to do all those ministerial acts, upon which the edification of the people of Christ doth depend. I have now done with the first of Christ's regalities in the text, which was the sceptre of his kingdom.
Now to speak a word of the second, which is 'solium,' the throne of his kingdom, “ The Lord shall send the Rod of thy strength out of Sion.” Which notes unto us: First, That the church of the Jews was the chief original, metropolitan church of all others. Therefore our Saviour chargeth his disciples to “tarry in the city of Jerusalem, till they should be endued with power from on high b.” The apostle saith, that they had the advantage or precedence and excellency above other people, because “unto them were committed the oracles of God: --To them did pertain the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises. Of them was Christ after the flesh.” All the fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and writers of the holy Scriptures were of them. There is no church can show such privileges, nor produce such authentic records for her precedency as the church of the Jews.
Therefore they are called by an excellency God's first-born, and the firstfruits of the creatures f;' they are called the children of the kingdom ,' whereas others were at first 'dogs b' and strangers i.' Their titles, Sion, Jerusalem, Israel,' are used as proper names to express the whole church of God by, though amongst the Gentiles. Christ Jesus, though he came as 'a Saviour unto all,' yet he was sent to be 'a prophet and a preacher only unto them: therefore the apostle calleth him the ministry of the circumcision ",' that is, of the Jews; and He saith, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel m. And when he gave his apostles their first commission“, he sent them only into the cities of the Jews.' The Gentiles were incorporated into them, were brought in upon their rejection and refusal of the gospel, took the Christians of Judea for their pattern in their profession P; and from that church were rules and constitutions sent abroad into other churches, as bind. ing and necessary things. To that church' the churches of the Gentiles were debtors, as having been made partakers of their spiritual things; and though they be now a rejected people, yet when the fulness of the Gentiles is come in, Israel shall be gathered again, and made a glorious church. And, in the mean time, their dispersion tendeth unto the conversion of the Gentiles. For though they were enemies to the faith of Christians, yet they did bear witness unto those Scriptures", out of which the Christians did prove their faith. And there is no greater evidence in a cause, than the affirmative testimony of that man who is an enemy to the cause. If the church of Rome had such evidences as these out of the book of God, to prove their usurped primacy by, how proud and intolerable would they be in boasting thereof, and obtruding it unto others—who are now so confident upon far slenderer grounds!
• Hi sunt qui se ultro apud temerari convenas sine divinâ dispositione præficiunt; qui se præpositos sine ulla ordinationis lege constituunt; qui, nemine Episcopatum dante, Episcopi sibi nomen assumunt. Cyprian. de unitat. Ecclesiæ. b Luke xxiv. 49. c Rom. iii. 1, 2. d Rom. ix. 4. • Jer xxxi, 9. I Jam. i. 18. & Matt. viji. 12.
b Eph. ii. 12.
And from hence we may learn to take heed of the sins of that people, which were principally the rejecting of the corner-stone, and the putting off the gospel of Christ away from then, as every obstinate and unbelieving sinner doth
i Matt. xv. 26. k Gal. iv. 26. vi. 16. Rom. ii. 29. Heb. xii. 22.
1 Rom. xv. 8.
m Matt. xv. 24. n Matt. x. 5, 6. o Rom. xi. 11, 12, 15, 30. Pl Thes. ii. 14. 9 Act. xv. 2, 22. Rom. xv. 27. xi. 25, 26. Magnum est quod Deus præstitit Ecclesi suæ ubique diffusæ, ut gens Judæa, merito debellata et dispersa per terras, ne à nobis hæc composita putarentur, codices Prophetarum nostrorum ubique portaret, et, inimica fidei nostræ, testis fieret veritatis nostræ. Aug. To. 4. de Cons. Evang. lib. 1. cap. 26. et Epist. 3. ad Volusianum
from himself. This is that, which hath made them, of all nations, the most hated and the most forsaken, and hath brought wrath to the uttermost upon them, because when Christ came unto his own, they received him not. cause of unbelief they were broken off,” saith the apostle ; " and thou standest by faith ; be not high-minded, but fcar: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.” And we should likewise learn to pray for the fulness of the Gentiles, and for the restoring of this people unto their honour and original privileges again ; for we are their debtors: we entered upon the promises which were made to them; and therefore good reason we have to do for them now, as they did for us before: “We have a little sister,” or rather an elder sister, " and she hath no breasts;" the oracles and ordinances of God are taken from her; “What shall we do for our sister, in the day when she shall be spoken for.”
Secondly, This notes unto us the calling of the Gentiles into the fellowship of the same mystery, which was first preached unto the Jews, that they might be the daughters of this mother-church, that they “ may take hold of the skirt of the Jew, and say, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” The church of Jerusalem was set up as a beacon, or an ensign, or a public sanctuary", to which the nations shall flee, as doves to their windows. Of this merciful purpose, some evidences and declarations the Lord gave before in Rahab, Job, Nineveh, the Wise men, and others, who were the preludes and first-fruits of the Gentiles unto God: and did after fully manifest the same in his unlimited commission to his apostles, “ Go preach the gospel unto every creature."
And now alas, what were we that God should bring us hitherto ? St. Paul saith, that we were filled with all unrighteousness; that we did neither understand God, nor seek after him.' All our faculties were full of sin, and the fulness of all sin was in us. We were ruled by no laws but the course of the world, the Prince of the air, and the lusts of the flesh, without God in this world, and without any hope for the world to come. Here,
•Cant. viii. 8.
+ Ezek. xvi. 61.
u Zech. viii. 23.
* Isai. ii. 2, 3.