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have us believe, and cast our souls upon Jesus Christ, and love him; but, saith the soul, I cannot believe in Christ, I cannot love him; yet this I will do, Lord, I am in parley with Satan upon such and such terms, I will knock off with him : this being done is a hearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, this great Prophet, and it is an effectual hearing too. Thus we are to hear this great Prophet, and thus you have heard that ye are to hear him, and how ye are to hearken to him. What now remains, but that you up and be doing. Whosoever you are that hear the word of the Lord this day, either you are godly or you are ungodly. If you be ungodly, “hear, and your souls shall live.” Hear this great Prophet, and your souls shall live. If you be godly hear this Prophet, for saith he, “My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me.” It was the speech of that holy, eminent person Mr. Brightman, If Christ be not your Prophet, he shall never be your Priest : if Christ may not be your Prophet to teach you, guide you, and direct you, he shall never be your Priest to satisfy God's wrath for you.
Now, therefore, as you desire that the Lord Jesus should be your Priest, to satisfy the wrath of God for you; oh, let him be your Prophet; hearken to this Prophet, to his institutions, appointments, and keep close to them.
And, to end all, take but one scriptural encouragement, it is at Isa. xlviii. 17: “ Thus saith the Lord thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel (this is Christ), I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go." Christ is our teacher. Aye, but we have many teachers; oh, that I could meet with that teacher once that could teach me to profit by all that I have heard. So Christ teacheth : “ Thus saith the Lord thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go." Well, but what is my duty then? Your duty is to hear him; at verse 18,“ Oh that thou hadst hearkened unto my commandments." But what good shall I get thereby? " Then had thy peace been as a river;” not as a drop of water in a glass that is soon dried up: in a river there is much water, and in a river, you know, there is fresh water: now saith the Lord, Do but hearken unto this teacher, this great Prophet, and the peace of thy conscience shall be like a river, full of peace shall thy conscience be; and as the
water of the river is always fresh, so shall thy peace of conscience be; whereas now thou art troubled in conscience, and hast no peace within, do but hearken unto this great Prophet as distinct from Moses, and thou shalt have peace within as a river, full and fresh. But what matter for peace unless I have grace withal ?
If I do hearken unto him shall I have grace too? See what follows: “Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments, then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea." Thy righteousness and thy holiness shall be as a sea, thy peace as a river, but thy grace shall be more, as the sea that knows no bottom so shall thy righteousness be. Who doth not desire these two, peace and grace? If there be ever a poor soul in all the congregation that is troubled in conscience, and labours under conscience burdens, hearken, then, and hear the Lord Jesus; go, I say, to him, and stand waiting on him as the great Prophet, as distinct from Moses. I do not say hearken to Moses, that speaks conditionally, but hearken to Christ, that speaks grace absolutely; “I will write my law in thy heart;" that is upon no condition. Soul, go and hearken to this great Prophet and thou shalt certainly have peace; yea, the peace shall be as a river, and thou shalt have fulness of peace, and freshness of peace: that whereas now thy soul is mudded, and thy conscience troubled, and thou goest under many temptations, thou shalt then have thy conscience clear, and thy soul cleansed: and whereas now thou labourest under much corruption, then shall the righteousness be as the waves of the sea, thou shalt have grace and abundance of grace ;
wherefore what I say to one I say to all, Hear, hear, hear and your souls shall live.
GRACE AND LOVE BEYOND GIFTS.
PREACHED BEFORE THE LORD MAYOR OF THE CITY OF LONDON,
JULY 22, 1649.
To the Right Honourable Thomas ANDREWS, Lord Mayor OF TAE CITY
OF LONDON, WITH THE ALDERMEN HIS BRETHREN. ACCORDING to your command, I have presented these notes to your view, which were once delivered unto your ear and heart. I have joined another Sermon therewith, pleading for our submission to Christ in the way of his ordinances : the argument of the one is a friend to the other stantque caduntque simul. The sweet enjoyment of ordinances together, is a great help to our love. We can hardly cool in our love to one, but we shall abate in our love to the other : swelling gifis despise ordinances and neglect love. This sermon, therefore, of grace, love and gifts, is to call upon our gifts, that they take not the wall of our graces; the other sermon of ordinances, is to call upon our graces to submit unto Christ's appointments : for gifts thrive best when they live under grace, and grace thrives best when it lives under ordinances. Now the girdle of all the ordinances is the Lord's day, which doth surround and combine all the rest. May it please the magistrate to be a friend to this good day, Christ will surely be a friend to him in an evil day. You cannot make people sanctify this day, for the hearts of men are not in your hands; but you may restrain them much from public profaning this day, for the tongues, hands, and feet of men are much in your hands. Job is said to sanctify his sons, Job i., because he commanded them to sanctify themselves, used all means for their sanctification, and prayed for them. So, though the magistrate cannot sanctify the people as to the infusion of grace, yet by his prayers and gracious endeavours of love, mixed with some power, as just occasion requires, he also may be said to sanctify them. The magistrate is the people's father, and the people are the magistrate's children. Now, therefore, as it was said of Job and his children, so let it be said of you and your children in the generations to come; And it was so, that when the days of their feasting, or rather sporting, were come, (for so the Lord's days have been too truly called of late,) the magistrate sent and sanctified them. Thus shall our decayed love to God, his truth, his ordinances and his children, revive and be advanced again ; and thus shall the blessing of the house of Obededom (who received the ark) rest upon you and your families, which shall be the prayer of your servant in the work of the gospel,
WILLIAM BRIDGE. Yarmouth, Cept. 10, 1649.
“ But covet earnestly the best gifts : and yet I shew unto you a more excellent way.”-i Cor. xii. 31.
Of all the churches of Christ which we read of in the New
Testament, the church of Corinth seems to have abounded most with spiritual gifts; and as they did abound most in them, so they did most abuse them. All had not those spiritual gifts, some had: those that had them, despised those that had them not; and those that had them not, envied those that had them. The apostle Paul, therefore, that he might heal this distemper, doth acquaint them with the excellency of those gifts, and the end for which they were appointed. Concerning the excellency of gifts, he tells them in the beginning of this chapter, that they are all from the Spirit. “ There are diversities of gifts (ver. 4) but the same
. Spirit: there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.” Ver. 8, “ To one is given by the Spirit, the word of wisdom ; to another the word of knowledge, by the same Spirit; to another faith, by the same Spirit.” And concerning the end for which they were appointed, he tells them, at verse 7, that they are given to profit withal : “ But the ministration of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” Now both the excellency of gifts, and the end for which they were appointed, he doth illustrate by a similitude drawn from the natural body: that as in the natural body there are many members, and those, having several gifts, are helpful to one another; and the eye cannot say unto the foot, I have no need of thee: so in the body of Christ, all members, with their several gifts, are to be helpful to one another, and one member of Christ cannot say to the other, “ I have no need of thee.” For, at ver. 26, “ Whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” Now, at ver. 27, saith he, “ Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” But how do these members come, or attain unto these gifts ? Ver. 28, “ God hath set some in the church, first, apostles ; secondly, prophets ; thirdly, teachers ; after that, miracles; then gifts of healing." But have all men these gifts ? No. Are all apostles ? At ver. 29, “ Are all prophets, are all teachers, are all workers of miracles, have all the gifts of healing ?” &c. But may we not all desire gifts then? Yes. “ But covet earnestly the best gifts : and yet I shew unto you a more excellent way.” What way is that? If you look into this chap. xii., it is the way of humility, grace and holiness. If you look down into chap.
xiii., it is the way of love; for, saith he, in ver. 1, “ Though I speak with the tongue of men and angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” So then take the words as they look upwards and downwards, relating unto all the former parts of chap. xii., and unto chap. xiii., and you have this observation or doctrine :
Though the way of gifts, spiritual gifts, be an excellent way, and much to be desired; yet the way of grace and love is a more excellent way, and most to be desired.
For the opening of which truth, three things :
way grace, and a way of grace distinct from the way of gifts.
Secondly, That there is much excellency in these spiritual gifts; that the way of gifts is a very excellent way, and much to be desired.
Thirdly, That the way of grace and of love is yet a more excellent
and more to be desired. First, I say, there is a way of gifts distinct from the way of grace and holiness, xapıs and xagoua are distinct: all the saints and people of God have grace, but all have not these gifts. Grace is that excellency whereby we are made like to God in Christ; gifts are that excellency whereby we are made able to do service for God in the church of God. By grace, say the schools, we do bene agere, we do work well; and by gifts we do expedite agere, we do act more facily, easily, expeditely. A man may have a gift in prayer, and yet no grace in prayer; a man may have a gift in preaching and exercising, yet no grace under it; a man may have the gift of faith, (though “ I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I have nothing;" he speaks of the gift of faith); a man may have, I say, the gift of faith, and yet not the saving grace of faith. So that plainly there is a way of gifts distinct from the way
grace, of grace and holiness distinct from the way of gifts.
Secondly, But what excellency is there then in gifts, and in the way of gifts ?
Much, very much; they are called avevmatika, in chap. xiv. 1, “ Desire spiritual gifts.” In chap. xii. they are said to be of the Spirit, by the Spirit, from the Spirit. And if look into Acts x., you shall find that they are called, “ The
and a way