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it, being content to find fome word, that they reckon may be to the minifter's prejudice, or reproach? and though they should forget all the reft of the word, yet this they will mind, to report it to their confederates, either out of malice, because they receive not the truth in the love thereof, or out of pride, becaufe they would have others, that hear their cenforious remarks, to efteem them to be judicious perfons, and competent judges, while, in the mean time, they are but bewraying their own ignorance, malice, and pride. Hence fome come to watch, if any 'thing can be wrefied, that is uttered, that they may act the devil, in accufing the brethren; fome gape for remarkable phrafes, that, when they come to their ordinary company, they may have fomething to grace and adorn their tales; fome never come to hear what fhall be faid to themfelves, and therefore never prick up their ears, till they fuppofe they hear the minifter expofing the crimes of others; fome come to gaze, and look about them, to fee who are there, and what is their drefs and behaviour; fome come to mufe, and dream, and rove, and if they notice any word that is faid, it will perhaps occafion a hundred impertinent thoughts to keep out the reft of the fermon, and the mind will run a thousand ways before it can get another word noticed, and perhaps the fermon is done, before they can gather their thoughts together again. Many fuch accidental hearers there are, that gather to ordinances, but not to Shiloh. They come to meet with their friends, that, it may be, conveen at fuch a fermon, but not to meet with Chrift. They are like children that gather to a market, and fit in the marketplace, but neither to buy nor fell. But, as many foxes have been taken, when they came to take; fo, fome that have come only to fpy novelties, yea, to fcoff and fcorn, have changed their minds before they went home. And, Oh that grace would come and catch fome that are here, and yet are feeking nothing here, but like babes, to catch butterflies! Oh that Chrift, the greatest treafure in the world, fhould be most def pifed, and that the gofpel-ftar, which fhould lead you to the
the place where he is, that you may be gathered to him, that this ftar fhould not be marked!
5. Hence fee what is the great Mark, at which minifters of the gospel fhould fhoot, in difpenfing thereof; why, it is juit the gathering of fouls to Chrift: To bim fball the gathering of the people be. Wo! wo to the minifter, whofe great defign is only to gather a multitude of people to himself, and enhanfe their applaufe! It hath been indeed the lot of fome of the moft faithful minifters of Chrift, to be thus reproached and calumniated, as if all their defign were to recommend themfelves to the populace, and gather a multitude to their faction; they have been branded as felf-feekers, inftead of being foul-fifhers; and why? Because providence hath commonly ordered that thofe who have been moft denied and mortified to felf, have been moft followed; but the more they were followed, the more they were envied by thofe that truly fought themselves: hence, as none was more followed than Chrift, so none was more envied by the felf-feeking Pharifees; "Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? Behold the world is gone after him," John xii. 19. And, as we read not that Chrift reproved any for following him, though he reproved them for their falfe ends in doing fo, John vi. 26. fo, tho' no gofpel minifter will be difpleafed, that he hath many fifhes before the net, in hopes that fome may be gathered; yet it is, and will be the character of all faithful minifters, which the apoftle relates, 2 Cor. iv. 5. "We preach not ourselves, but Chrift Jefus the Lord, and ourselves your fervants for Jesus' fake." And I Cor. ii. 2. “I determined to know [or MAKE KNOWN] nothing among you, fave Jefus Chrift, and him crucified." The great gofpel-defign then is, to gather fouls to Chrift, feeing they can never be happy or holy, but in him. And while you find that to be your minifters great fcope, you ought to regard and hear them, as you would do a voice from heaven; yea, and more, while they fpeak the mind of God, from the word of God, which is the more fure word of prophecy; for it is the fame as if you heard Christ himfelf: therefore he fays, "He that hears you, hears me;
and he that despifes you, defpifes me." If you truly regarded that word of Chrift, you would hear the voice of the preacher, as you would hear the voice of God. If Samuel had thought it was God that fpoke to him, he would not have flept; but because he thought it was not God, but Eli, therefore he flept on; fo, while people do not think it is God that fpeaks to them, but only a man, they will never regard it; and never will there be a gathering to Shiloh, till the word be received, "Not as the word of man, but as it is in truth the word of God, which effectually works in you that believe," 1 Theff. ii. 13. Where alfo that queftion is obviate, How fhall we know when the minifier fpeaks his own words, or God's word? Why, let the word of God be received, and it will speak for itfelf; for it will effectually work in you that believe. And when the words of one preacher feem to clash with the words of another, this effectual working of the word will teach you how to judge things that differ really, and how to prove all things, and hold faft that which is good. The great mark then, I fay, that the gofpel-minifter aims at, is the gathering of the people to Shiloh ; and the pointing out of Chrift to them, for wisdom, righteousness, fanctification, and redemption. Surely, my friends, we know no other way to fave you, nor ourselves; if we did, how wretched were we to keep it from you, fince we have no other calling, but to fhew you the way of falvation.
6. Hence we may alfo fee what is the centre of all gofpel-truth; Chrift is the centre, wherein all the lines of evangelical doctrine are gathered together, and do meet. It would not be the duty of people, to believe in him, or gather to him by faith, if he were not the truth, as well as the way; yea, the centre and subftance of all truth: and that is not the truth, that does not lead to him. Here is the moft fure teft of orthodoxy; whatever pretends to be the truth, and yet tends only to lead a man in to himself, and not out of himfelf to Chrift; whatever doctrine tends to make you think, you must produce fome holiness or good qualifications from within yourfelf, without gathering
first to Shiloh, to get it, you may know it is not orthodox doctrine: whatever doctrine tends to the difparagement of Chrift, or to the robbing him of any part of the glory of falvation-work, is to be rejected, as erroneous; for, to him alone muft the gathering of the people be : and to him only fhall the glory of our whole falvation, from firft to laft, belong. Chrift is much robbed of his glory in Britain at this day; damnable Arian doctrine is fpreading, whereby Chrift is robbed of the glory of his fupreme Deity, denying his being the eternal Son of God, co-equal, and co-effential with the Father *. The devil himself was more orthodox than our Arian doctors, when he owned, Matth. viii. 29. that Chrift was the Son of God; "What have we to do with thee, Jefus thou Son of God?" The devil fpake more honourably of him, than they do, when he faid, Mark j. 24. "I know thee who thou art, the holy One of God." My text leads me to what I am faying; for, if Christ were not the fupreme God, equal with the Father, the gathering of the people to him, to believe in him, to worfhip and adore him, would be unlawful; it would be idolatry. For, as the Lord our God is one Lord; fo we muft worship the Lord our God, and him only muft we ferve and it is idolatry to worship any other. Yea, to the Son, he fays, "Let all the angels. of God worship him :" and for this end, muft all the people be gathered to him. My prefent work allows me not to trace the other doctrines, that rob him of his glory, and tend to lead people elsewhere than to Shiloh: only, whatever mask of truth, or holiness, any doctrine
* About this time the Arian herefy was not only revived, but had gained confiderable footing in our neighbouring kingdom of England, under the patronage of Mr. Whifton and others; but alfo diffufed its baleful and pernicious influence upon Scotland, befriended by many, adopted and publicly taught in one of our principal Seminaries of learning; for which a procèfs was commenced by the prefbytery of Glafgow, against profeffor Simfon, Anno 1726, and carried on, before the refpective judicatorics, till concluded by the Affembly Anno 1729. the charge being found clearly proven; and he, in confequence thereof, got but a very inadequate fentence, being only fufpended from teaching and preaching, inftead of depofition and excommunication. See Vol. II. page 466, 467.
fhall put on, if it tend to gather people to Mofes, and not to Shiloh; or to lead them to the law, and not to Chrift, who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth, it favours not of the truth as it is in Jefus, Eph. iv. 21.-But the main inference I defigned at prefent, was for exhortation; and therefore, paffing all other inferences that might be drawn, I come to apply it.
Secondly, For exhortation. And I defign, as the Lord may pity and aflift, to direct it to three forts of perfons, with relation to this gathering of the people to Shiloh. 1. Some may be doubtful whether they were ever gathered to Shiloh, or not; therefore I would exhort them to try. 2. Some may be fure they were never yet gathered to Shiloh; therefore I would exhort them to gather under his wings. 3. Some are believers, that have, thro' grace, been gathered by him, and made to gather to him; and I would exhort them to their duty, with refpect to their further gathering to him.
ift, Some may be doubtful, whether they were ever gathered to Shiloh, or not; and therefore my exhortation to fuch, is, that they would try and examine, whether it be fo or not. Examination is a neceffary duty at all times, as well after, as before a communion. He that fays, with reference to the facrament, "Let a man examine himfelf, and fo let him eat;" fays alfo, with reference to any feafon, "Examine yourfelves, whether you be in the faith, prove your ownfelves; know ye not your ownfelves, how that Chrift is in you, except ye be reprobates?" 2 Cor. xiii. 5. Oh! poor dying mortal!
will you try if you have been gathered to Shiloh, or not?
Whether you have gone in to him by a faith of his own operation? For according as this takes place, fo will it fare with you thro' all eternity. If you die out of Christ, or in unbelief, you die in your fins, John viii. 24. And better die in a ditch, and die like a dog, than die in your fins. If you die in your fins, you will rife in your fins, and ftand before the tribunal of God in your fins, and fo be condemned. .If you be gathered in Chrift, you will be found in him, and fo found happy, K 3