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is our duty to pray for God's good Spirit to go along with us.
The holy scriptures give us many instances of the power of this spirit, when given to men designed for any office ordained of God. And truly, if we had not more reason to depend upon his guidance and blessing, than upon our own good wishes, or best endeavours, the work would go but very indifferently forward.
But Christ, who has commanded us to feed bis flock, who has promised to be with us unto the end of the world, will, we hope and pray, bless our present undertaking, and all our labours.
To whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
SERMON SERMON LXXXVIII. .
PREACHED AT AN ORDINATION.
THE GREAT BLESSING OF A STANDING
NUMB. VI. 22—27.
AND THE LORD SPAKE UNTO MOSES, SAYING, SPEAK UNTO AARON AND UNTO HIS SONS, SAYING, ON THIS WISE YE SHALL BLESS THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, SAYING UNTO THEM, THE LORD BLESS THEE, AND KEEP THEE: THE LORD MAKE HIS FACE SHINE UPON THEE, AND BE GRACIOUS UNTO THEE: THE LORD LIFT UP HIS COUNTENANC” UPON THEE, AND GIVE THEE PEACE. AND THEY SHALL PUT MY NAME UPON THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, AND I WILL BLESS THEM.
HAT which I purpose to do at this time,
good Christians, is to lay before yoų THE GREAT BLESSING OF A STANDING MINISTRY;
that you may know how to value fo great a blessing, and be thankful to God for it; that you may not be tempted by a wicked world to despise God's ministers, but that you may reap
all the benefit of their prayers, whom * See Exod. xxvii. 29. Deut. x. 8. 2 Chron. xxx. 27. Ecclus. I. 21, 22. Joel ü. 16. Luke iv. 5. 2 Cor. iii. 6. v. 18. Heb. xiij. 17. James v. 14.
God and to
God has appointed to pray
you, bless you; and whose prayers you
he has promised to hear, if you do not make
yourfelves unworthy of his blessing.
I have taken a text out of the law of Moses. It is the folemn blessing with which the priests dismissed the congregation by God's own appointment. The Christian church uses the same blessing in effect. They both recommend the people to God's blessing and protection.
The Lord bless thee and keep thee; that is, perserve and keep thee from all evil; the Lord make his face to shine upon thee, by delivering thee out of all thy troubles; and be gracious unto thee, in pardoning thy sins, and passing by thine iniquities: the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon thee, or make thee glad and joyful; and give thee peace, that is, all manner of prosperity.
And then, that the people might not imagine this to be only an empty ceremony, without any real effect, God assures them, that when his priest thus blesses them in his name, that he will bless them according to the blessing pronounced over them. And in the antient prayers of the Greek church, the people answered,
THE LORD KEEP YOU, SIR, TO BLESS. AND
SANCTIFY US MANY YEARS;" to shew how sensible they were of the benefit of receiving God's blessing by his ministers.
And And this is what I would endeavour to make
sensible of; that is, OF THE GREAT BLESSING OF A STANDING MINISTRY. And this I shall do, by setting before
you, in order, the work of a minister of God, that you may know how much his ministers contribute to your salvation; and that you may esteem them accordingly. But I must first shew you by what authority they act.
Now, the design of the Christian religion being to restore mankind to the mercy and favour of God, from which we are fadly fallen, it pleased God to send his only Son, to instruct us in the true and only way of becoming holy, that we might be capable of being happy. This he did in his own person while he continued upon earth; but being to return to heaven, he gave authority to his apostles and to their successors, to finish the work which he had begun; that is, to preach the gospel to all succeeding generations, that the world might have an opportunity of knowing the good pleasure of God, and what men must do to be saved.
The power and commission which Christ gave them, is well worth your hearing with the greatest attention. You will find it in the xxviiith chapter of St. Matthew, and at the 18th verse; and it is as follows: Jesus, speaking to his apostles, said unto them, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth; that is, in heaven, to send down the Holy Ghut to
guide you into all truth; and in earth, to establish a spiritual kingdom there. therefore, and make disciples to me in all nations, baptisng them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo! that is, let the world take notice of it, lo, I am with you, I, who have all power in heaven and earth, I am with you, am present with
you in the work of your miniItry, both to prosper your labours, and to protect your persons, unto the end of the world; with
you live, and with your successors after your death.
The apostles having received this commiffion for themselves and their successors, they immediately set about the work of the ministry; declaring to all nations, That God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. And that he had committed unto them, to them and to their successors, the word of reconciliation ; that is, he has committed unto them the preaching of the gospel, upon the receiving and obeying of which God will be reconciled to mankind. So that
fee very plainly, that our falvation depends, under God, upon the ministry of those whom Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost have appointed to reconcile men to God.
Jesus Christ knew very well to what a perverse world he sent them: he knew likewise
Cor. v. 19.