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of us, not only of St. Paul, but of all the ministers of Christ
, to whom he has promised his spirit unto the end of the world; for we are fewards of the mysteries of God; and if we are God's fiewards, you know what follows, our Lord himself will tell you: He that despisetb you, despiseth me, and God that fent me.
But then we are not to think, because we are the ministers of Christ, and God's stewards, that therefore we may do what we please. No; for it is required in servants and stewards, that a man be found faithful;-faithful to his character ;-faithful to the vows he takes upon him when he enters into his Lord's service;-faithful, with regard to the mysteries with which he is intrusted, to the Lord whose servant he is, and to the people of the Lord committed to his care. These are things, Christians, worthy of our most serious consideration.
For if either we, or you, are wanting to our duty in this respect, the consequence will be sad and dreadful. If we, as Christ's ministers, are not faithful to our trust, and if you, as our charge, are not careful to hear and obey us, for our Master's sake, we must both of us expect the wrath of God at the great day of recompence.
1. You shall therefore first hear what it is to be a faithful steward of the mysteries of God; and then you will see whether as such wę
ought to be accounted of; that is, thought worthy of esteem.
Now our first business, as ministers of Christ, is, to endeavour to turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; that is, to convince all such as are disposed to hear the truth, that by nature they are the children of wrath, enemies to God and goodness; that they bring into the world with them the seeds of all manner of fin and wickedness, which, if not restrained by the grace of God, will fill them full of all iniquity, and bring them to destruction both of foul and body.
They are further to be convinced, that except a man be born of water, and the Spirit, be cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. That this is what Jesus Christ himself has declared, to the end that men, being awakened into a sense of the danger they are in while they are unconverted, may strive to recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at bis will,
Now the ordinary means which God makes use of to convert sinners is, by the ministry
the Word, preached and applied to the consciences of men. How shall they hear, faith St. Paul, without a preacher ? And who they are that are commissioned to preach the word, you will hear from our Lord himself:GO ye, faith he, and teach all nations; and lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. I am with you, that is, Jesus Christ is with us, by his fpirit and by his blessing: With whom? why, with his apostles and their lawful successors, as long as the world shall last.
¢ Matth. xxviii. 19.
2 Tim, ii. 26.
Rom. X. 14.
This is the first part of our commission, as ministers of Christ.
II. The next is, to baptize your children; that is, to admit them into the covenant of grace,
into the church of Christ, which is his house and family, by which they are made members of Christ, children of God, and beirs of the kingdom of heaven; that is, they have hereby a right to call God their father, they have a right to the forgiveness of their fins upon their true repentance; they have a right to the assistance of God's holy spirit, to the ministry and charge of his holy angels, and to the joys of paradise when they die.
They have, I say, a right to all these blessings, by being baptized by the lawful stewards of the mysteries of God; for this is one of the mysteries committed by Christ to his ministers, and to them only. And a mystery indeed it is, that so many blessings should be the effect of so ordinary a mony, performed by a mortal man' like ourselves. But so God has appointed; and we have great reason to be thankful that our gracious God has given us a right to eternal happiness upon such easy terms. I say a
right; for we may forfeit our title to heaven, if we are not careful to live as becomes the children of God.
III. And this brings us to another duty and burthen upon a minister of Christ; and that is, to fit your children for confirmation. For indeed parents, too many of them, are To little concerned for their children's eternal welfare, that the greater part, even of Christians, would not know why they came into the world, if the ministers of Christ were not obliged, before they bring persons to be confirmed, to take care they be instructed in the necessary knowledge and duties of christianity; to convince them of the advantage of beginning betimes to be serious, before sin and hell get dominion over them; to instruct them in the duties belonging to them as Christians in every state of life unto which it shall please God to call them; to shew them the dangers they are like to meet with, and how to escape them; the enemies they have to strive with, and how to overcome them.
Whoever is not instructed in these things, does not know what it is to be a Christian; what his duty is in this world, nor what will become of him when he dies. And those
parents have a fad account to make, who do not even compel their children to come to be instructed; that being convinced of the necessity either of leading an holy life, or of being for grace and
ever undone, they may dedicate themselves tơ God betimes, that being under the guidance and protection of his holy spirit, they may be secure from the fear of evil, while they conținue to make use of the means of grace which God has ordained.
IV. For our merciful Lord, knowing the weakness of our nature, has appointed certain outward ordinances, which by observing as he has directed, we may certainly depend upon the pardon of our sins, and greater degrees of light to know our duty, and of strength to perform it.
The chief of these ordinances is that of the Lord's Supper, appointed to keep up the remembrance of Christ's death, by which alone we obtain the forgiveness of our sins.
And this is another of the mysteries, which Christ has committed to his ministers, to be communicated to all the orderly members of his family. And a very great charge, God knows, they have upon them, with regard to this mystery, left for want of care to instruct the ignorant, for want of concern to admonish the negligent, and for want of courage to repel the profane, they suffer any to eat and drink their own damnation, not considering the Lord's body.
V. And this brings us to consider another duty incumbent upon the ministers of Christ, and that is, to exercise a godly discipline, without which the church of Christ, which ought