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SERM. many such occasions of common life we advisedly

do renounce or wave our own opinions, absolutely yielding to the direction of others, taking their authority for a better argument or ground of action than any which our conceit or a bare consideration of the matter can suggest to us; admitting this maxim for good, that it is a more advisable and safe course in matters of consequence to follow the judgment of wiser men than to adhere to our own apprehensions a: seeing it is not wisdom (as every man thinks) in a doubtful case to act upon disadvantage, or to venture upon odds against himself, and it is plainly doing thus to act upon our own opinion against the judgment of those who are more improved in the way, or better studied in the point than ourselves; seeing in other cases these are the common approved apprehensions and practices; and seeing in this case there is plainly the same reason, for that there are difficulties and intricacies in this no less than in other faculties, which need good skill to resolve them; for that in these matters we may easily slip, and by error may incur huge danger and damage: why then should we not here take the same course, following (when no other clearer light, or prevalent reason occurreth) the conduct and advice of our more skilful guides ? especially considering, that, beside ordinary, natural, and acquired advantages, they have other supernatural both obligations to the well discharging this duty, and assistances toward it: For,

a “Ον αν ηγήσωνται περί τα συμφέροντα εαυτοϊς φρονιμώτερον εαυτών είναι, τούτω άνθρωποι υπερηδέως πείθονται. Χen. Ped. Ι.

'Εν μέν τω πλεϊν πείθεσθαι δεί το κυβερνήτη, εν δε το ζήν τη λογίζεσθαι Euvauéve Beatly. Aristonymus apud Stob. tom. ii. tit. 3.


1 Cor. xii. i Tim. i.

2. We may consider, that they are by God ap- SERM.

LIX. pointed and empowered to instruct and guide us : it is their special office, not assumed by themselves, or constituted by human prudence, but ordained and settled by divine wisdom for our edification in knowledge, and direction in practice b: they are God's messengers, purposely sent by him, selected and separated by his instinct for this work: they are Rom. X. 15. by him given for the perfecting of the saints, and Eph., edifying the body of Christ: it is by God's war-1 rant, and in his name, that they speak; which giveth 28. especial weight to their words, and no mean ground 11, 12. ii. 7. of assurance to us in relying upon them: for who 1 Thess. ii.. is more likely to know God's mind and will, who 4. may be presumed more faithful in declaring them, than God's own officers and agents ? those whose great duty, whose main concernment it is to speak, not their own sense, but the word of God? They are God's mouth, by whom alone ordinarily he expresseth his mind and pleasure; by whom he en- 2 Cor. v. treateth us to be reconciled in heart and practice to him: what they say therefore is to be received as God's word, except plain reason upon due examination do forbid.

If they by office are teachers, or masters in doctrine, then we answerably must in obligation be disciples, which implies admitting their doctrine and proficiency in knowledge thereby: if they are appointed shepherds, then must we be their sheep, to be led and fed by them; if they are God's messengers, we must yield some credence, and embrace

• Jer. iii. 15. I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. Cypr. Ep. 55.





SERM. the message uttered by them; so the prophet telleth

us: The priesťs lips should keep knowledge, and Mal. ii. 7. they should seek the law at his mouth, for he is

the messenger of the Lord of hosts: so the Law of Deut. xvii. old enjoined;—According to the sentence of the

law which they shall teach thee, and according to
the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt
do; thou shalt not decline from the sentence which
they shall shew thee, to the right hand nor to the

left: so our Lord also, in regard to the Scribes and Matt. xxiii. Pharisees, saith, The Scribes and Pharisees sit in

Moses's chair: all therefore whatsoever they bid

you observe, that observe and do; upon account (Ezek. of their office, whatever they direct to (not repugxxxiv. 16.)

nant to the divine law) was to be observed by the
people; and surely in doubtful cases, when upon
competent inquiry no clear light offereth itself, it
cannot be very dangerous to follow their guidance
whom God hath appointed and authorized to lead
us; if we err doing so, we err wisely in the way.
of our duty, and so no great blame will attend our

2, 3


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3. We may consider that our guides as such have special assistance from God; to every vocation God's aid is congruously afforded; but to this (the principal of all others, the most important, most nearly related to God, and most peculiarly tending to his service) it is in a special manner most assuredly and plentifully imparted.

They are stewards of God's various grace; and

they who dispense grace to others cannot want it 1 Cor. iii. 9. themselves : they are cooperators with God, and

God consequently doth cooperate with them; it is
God who doth ikavoīv, render them sufficient to be

i Pet. iv.



ministers of the New Testament; and they minister SERM. of the ability which God supplieth; every spiritual labourer is obliged to say with St. Paul, By the 2.Cor: iii. 5. grace of God I am what I amI have laboured, 1 Pet. iv.ii. yet not I, but the grace of God, which was with 10.

1 Cor. xv.




God's having given them, as St. Paul saith, to the Eph. iv. 11, church, doth imply that God hath endowed them with special ability, and furthereth them (in their conscionable discharge of their ministry) with aid requisite to the designs of perfecting the saints, 1 Cor. xii. and edifying the body in knowledge, in virtue, in piety.

As the Holy Ghost doth constitute them in their charge, (according to that of St. Paul in the Acts, Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, Acts xx. 28. over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers,) so questionless he doth enable and assist them in administering their function. There is a 1 Tim. iv. gift (of spiritual ability and divine succour) impart 2 Tim. i. 6. ed by their consecration to this office, with the laying on the hands of the presbytery, joined with humble supplications for them, and solemn benedictions in God's name upon them. The divine Spirit, which distributeth, as he seeth good, unto every member of the church needful supplies of grace, doth bestow on them in competent measure the Cor. xii. word of wisdom and the word of knowledge re-Éph. iv. 16. quisite for their employment.

God of old did in extraordinary ways visibly communicate his Spirit unto his prophets and agents ; the same he did liberally pour out upon the apostles, and first planters of the gospel; the same questionless he hath not withdrawn from those, who under

Rom. xii.

5, 6.

Matt. xxviii. 20. Luke xi. 52.

SERM. the evangelical dispensation (which is peculiarly the

LIX. ministration of the Spirit, unto which the aid of 2 Cor. iii. 8. God's Spirit is most proper and most needful) do

still by a settled ministry supply the room of those extraordinary ministers; but imparteth it to them in a way although more ordinary and occult, yet no less real and effectual, according to proportions answerable to the exigencies of need and occasion ; and by the influence hereof upon the pastors of his church it is, that our Lord accomplisheth his promise to be with it until the end of the world.

Clavis scientiæ, the key of knowledge spiritual, is one of those keys which he hath given to them, whereby they are enabled to open the kingdom of heaven.

Great reason therefore we have to place an especial confidence in their direction; for whom can we more safely follow than those whom (upon such grounds of divine declarations and promises) we may hope that God doth guide; so that consequently in following them we do in effect follow God himself? He that heareth you heareth me, might be said, not only because of their relation unto Christ; but because their word proceedeth from his inspiration, being no other than his mind conveyed through their mouth.

4. We may also for our encouragement to confide in our guides consider, that they are themselves deeply concerned in our being rightly guided; their present comfort, their salvation hereafter, depending upon the faithful and careful discharge of their duty herein : they must render an account for it; so that if by their wilful or negligent miscarriage we do fall into dangerous error or sin, they do thence not only

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