« PreviousContinue »
milk of the word, and drinks water out of the wells of falvation, and without which one gets no good of it to his falvation; but it is as water fpilt upon the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. It must be received,
(1.) With a faith of affent, believing it to be true and right, affenting to the truth and righteousness of the precepts, promifes, and threatenings of it, Pfal. cxix. 128. 160. I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right. Thy word is true from the beginning. It has a divine authority; itfelf is God's teftimony, which therefore for itself is to be believed; and where the power of it comes, it captivates the foul into the belief of it, 2 Cor. x. 5. This is to receive the king dom of God as a little child, Luke xviii. 17.
(2.) With a faith of application, applying it to our felves, Job v. ult. Hear it, and know thou it for thy good. The Lord's word is compared to the falling rain or dew, Deut. xxxii. 2. The foul in receiving it fhould be as the dry and gaping ground fwallowing it up as it falls, Pfal. cxliii. 6. My foul thirfteth after thee as a thirsty land. But moft people are like the smooth ftones, which fend it off themselves to those about them. Now, this application is that which makes the plaifter ftick, and nothing clfe will do it. If the word be not applied, it can do no more good, than a plaister unapplied can heal the wound.
Now the word is to be applied by us, for all the ends for which it is appointed, namely, for our conviction, Acts ii. 37. our converfion, John iv. 45. our edification in holiness, 1 Pet. ii. 2. and comfort, Rom. xv. 4.; for the informing our judgements, and rectifying our will and affections; in fhort, for all the purpotes our falvation; otherwife we receive it in vain.
2. Receiving it with love, 2 Theff. ii. 10. Faith receives the word as true, love receives it as good, and good for us, If. xxxix. ult. Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken, faid Hezekiah to the prophet. is good for us in all the parts of it, for we need them
How the Word is to be read and heard.
all; the threatenings as well as the promises; its reproofs as well as its confolations. And there is a threefold love which we owe to the word of God.
(1.) A love of esteem, highly prizing it, Job xxiii. 12. I have efteemed the words of its mouth more than my neceffury food. Pfal. cxix. 72. The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and filver. (2.) A love of defire after it, 1 Pet. ii. 2. As new born babes, defire the fincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby a longing for it. (3.) A love of complacency in it, Pfal. cxix. 162. I rejoice at thy word as one that findeth great Spoil.
We owe this love to the word for the Author's fake, Pfal. cxix. 159. Confider how I love thy precepts; for its intrinfic excellency, Pfal. cxix. 140. Thy word is pure; therefore doth thy fervant love it; and for the neceffity and usefulness of it to us, as light that shineth in a dark place, 2 Pet. i. 19. as our food, Job xxiii. 12. forecited; nay as our very life and breath, Deut. xxxii. 47.
Thirdly, Laying it up in our hearts. Our hearts and memories are to be ftorehouses for the word, and there we are to lay it up, as it comes to our hands, Pfal. cxix. 11. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, says the pfalmift, that I might not fin against thee. How can thofe expect good of the word, who just let it go as it comes ? But we fhould catch hold of it, retain it, and not forget it.
We fhould lay it up as a precious and enriching treasure, Col. iii. 16. Let the word of God dwell in you richly: As a thing that we are in hazard of lofing, and being robbed of, Matth. xiii. 4. and as what we will have ufe for afterwards, If. xlii. 23. Who will hearken, end hear for the time to come? Suppofe it reach not your prefent cafe, it may be useful for what will be your cafe. You are travelling through the wildernefs: lay up the word as the traveller does his directions for the way.
The best way to lay it up is, to let it have deep imQ ૧ 2
preffion on your fpirits while you hear it, and to lift up your eyes to the Lord, that he may fix it in your hearts, Pfal. cxix. 93. I will never forget thy precepts, 2 Tim. i, 12. I know in whom I have believed.
III. Some things are to follow after hearing the word.
1. Meditation on it in your hearts: Pfal. i. 2. The pfalmift thus defcribes the good man: In his law doth he meditate day and night. This is the harrowing of the feed fown, and the mean to fink it down in the foul, to keep it faft, Luke ix. 44. Let these fayings fink down into your ears. This is the way to guard the word, that it may not flip away, Heb. ii. 4.; and a fovereign help to a leaking memory. Enure your. felves to meditation on the word, and ye will find your memories furprisingly ftrengthened: one particular will bring on another, and one truth meditated on will recall another to your remembrance, and afford you vaft delight and pleasure.
2. Conferring of it in your difcourfe. This was enjoined to the Ifraelites by Mofes, Deut. vi. 6. 7. The words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and fhalt talk of them when thou fittest in thine houfe, and when thou walkeft by the way, and when thou lieft down, and when thou rifeft up. Luke xxiv. 14. And they talked together of all those things which had happened. The repeating over again of the Lord's word, has fometimes had a relifh with it, more taking than at its first coming to the man, Hence fays the spouse, Cant. ii, 10. My beloved Spake, and faid unto me, Rife up, my love, my fair one, and come away. Talking of it thus on your way from the church, and in your own houses, will be most beneficial to you.
3. Lastly, The main thing is practising it in your lives, Luke viii. 15. That on the good ground are they which in an honest and good heart, having heard the
word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience : wiping off your fpots, and adorning yourselves in holinefs of life by the glafs of the word, Jam. i. 25. Whofe looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful bearer, but a doer of the word, &c. The word heard but not practised will fink men deeper in damnation; but heard and practifed too, will bring them to eternal falvation. O then be careful to practife what you hear, otherwife it will do you no good.
I fhall conclude with an inference or two.
Inf. 1. No wonder most of the hearers of the gofpel get no good of it. They are at no pains to prepare for hearing it, wrestle not in prayer for the Lord's bleffing upon it, receive it neither with faith nor love, are not folicitous to lay it up in their hearts, and as little to practise it in their lives. How then can they reap benefit by it, when they use not these commanded means?
2. Here is the way to get good of the word, however little good is done by it at this day. Prepare for hearing it; pray earnestly for the bleffing of God to accompany it; receive it with faith and love; lay it up in your hearts; and reduce it to practice in your lives.
The Duty of attending on Ordinances enforced.
ACTS X. 33.
Immediately therefore I fent to thee; and thou haft well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here prefent before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
S attendance upon the public ordinances is one of the fpecial means whereby Chrift communi
cates the benefits of redemption to us, I have chofen this text in order to enforce the duty of a diligent attendance upon them the further upon you.
Our Lord Jefus, the only King and Head of his church, hath appointed minifters his ambaffadors to declare his mind unto his people; and though he could teach his people without them, yet the ministry is his ordinance, and by the foolishness of preaching he faves them that believe. Here we have,
1. A call to Peter related. The perfon calling is Cornelius, a foldier. A Gentile he was, yet a profe lyte; a good man, but one who as yet knew not the doctrine of Chrift crucified. The perfon called was Peter; him God honoured to break the ice for the calling of the Gentiles, and to take down the first stone in the partition wall betwixt Jews and Gentiles. The call itself is in these words, I fent. He had fent three men to invite Peter to his house, ver. 7. The reason of the call is thus expreffed, Therefore, because he had the command of God for that effect. He made quick dispatch in the call; it was done immediately after the mind of God was discovered to him.
2. Peter's compliance with the call commended: Thou hast well done that thou art come. It is acceptable to God and to us. Peter had no great inclination to this work; he had his fcruples about the lawfulness of it: but God condefcends to folve his doubts, and clear his way. It was very offenfive to the Chriftian Jews, which neceffitated him to make an apology for his prac tice, Acts xi.; yet after all it was well done to come, because he came in obedience to the call of God.
3. An address made to Peter when he was come, by Cornelius the caller, in name of himself and those who were with him. In which take notice, (1.) Of a congregation, though fmall, yet well convened. What the congregation was, fee ver. 24. his kinfmen and near friends. Thefe, with his family and thofe that came with Peter, made up the affembly. The good man made it his bufinefs to get not only his own.