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to you, for you shut up the kingdom of heaven; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering, to go in.” If we keep the sheep from their pasture, how shall we answer it to the great shepherd, that has bought the fock with his precious blood, and has committed the care of them to us? I would humbly desire of every minister that has thus long remained disaffected to this work, and has had contemptible thoughts of it, to consider whether he has not hitherto been like Michal, without any child, or at least in a great measure barren and unsuccessful in his work. I pray God it may not be a perpetual barrenness as hers
The times of Christ's remarkably. appearing, in behalf of his church, and to revive religion, and advance his kingdom in the world, are often spoken in the prophccies of scripture, as times wherein he will remarkably execute judgnients on such ministers or shepherds, as do not feed the flock, but hinder their being fed, and so deliver his flock from them, as Jer. xxiii: throughout, and Ezek. xxxiv: throughout, and Zech. x: 3, and Isa. lvi. 7, 8, 9, &c. I observed before that Christ's solemn, magnificent entry into Jerusalem, seems to be designed, as a representation of his glorious coming into his church, the spiritual Jerusalem; and therefore it is worthy to be noted, to our present purpose, that Christ at that time, cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves; signifying that when he should come to set up his kingdom on earth, he would cast out those out of his house, who, instead of being faithful ministers, officiated there only for worldly gain. Not that I determine that all ministers that are suspicious of this work, do so; but I mention these things to shew that it is to be expected, that a time of a glorious outpouring of the Spirit of God to revive religion, will be a time of remarkable judgments on those ministers that do not serve the end of their ministry.
The example of the unbelieving lord in Samaria,
should especially be for the warning of ministers and rulers. At the time when God turned an extreme famine into a great plenty, by a wonderful work of his, the king appointed this lord to have the charge of the gate of the city; where he saw the common people, in multitudes, entering with great joy and gladness, loaded with provision, to feed and feast their almost famished bodies; .but he himself, though he saw it with his eyes, never had one taste of it, but being weak with famine, sunk down in the crowd, and was trodden to death, as a punishment of God, for his not giving credit to that great and wonderful work of God, when sufficiently manifested to him to require his belief. Ministers are those, that the King of the church has appointed to have the charge of the gate, at which his people enter into the kingdom of heaven, there to be entertained and satisfied with an eternal feast; ministers have the charge of the house of God, which is the gate of heaven.
Ministers should especially take heed of a spirit of envy towards other ministers, that God is pleased to make more use of to carry on this work, than they; and that they do not, from such a spirit, reproach some preachers, that have the true spirit, as though they were influenced by a false spirit, or were bereft of reason, and were mad, and were proud, false pretenders, and deserved to be put in prison or the stocks, as disturbers of the peace; lest they expose themselves to the curse of Shemaiah, the Nehelamite, who envied the prophet Jeremiah, and in this manner reviled him, in his letter to Zephaniah the priest, Jer. xxix: 26, 27.' “ The Lord hath made thee priest, in the stead of Jehoiada the priest, that ye should be officers in the house of the Lord, for every man that is mad, and maketh himself a prophet, that thou shouldest put him in prison, and in the stocks. Now therefore, why hast thou not reproved Jeremiah of Anathoth, which maketh himself a prophet to you?” His curse is denounced in the 32d verse. “ Therefore, thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite, and his seed; he shall not have a man to dwell among his people, neither shall be behold the good that I will do for my people, saith the Lord, because he hath taught rebellion against the Lord. All those that are others superiors or elders, should take heed, that at this day they be not like the elder brother, who could not bear it, that the prodigal should be made so much of, and should be so sumptuously entertained, and would not join in the joy of the feast; was like Michal, Saul's daughter, offended at the musie and dancing that he heard; the transports of joy displeased him; it seemed to him to be an unseemly and unseasonble noise and ado, that was made; and therefore stood at a distance, sullen, and much offended, and full of invectives against the young prodigal.
It is our wisest and best way, fully, and without reluctance, to bow to the great God in this work, and to be entirely resigned to him, with respect to the manner in which he carries it on, and the instruments. he is pleased to make use of, and not to shew ourselves out of humor, and sullenly to refuse to acknowledge the work, in the full glory of it, because we have not had so great a hand in promoting it, or have not shared so Jargely in the blessings of it, as some others; and not to refuse to give all that bonor, that belongs to others, as instruments, because they are young, or are upon
other accounts much inferior to ourselves, and many others, and may appear to us very unworthy, that God should put so much honor upon them. When God comes to accomplish any great work for his church, and for the advancement of the kingdom of his son, he always fulfils that scripture, Isa. ii: 17. " And the lostiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” If God has a design of carrying on this work, every one, whether he be great or small, must either bow to it, or be broken before it. It may be expected that God's hand will be upon every thing that is high, and stiff, and strong in opposition, as in Isa. ii: 13, 13, 14, 15.
“For the day of the Lord of hosts, shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up, and he shall be brought low;
and upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted
and upon all the oaks of Bashan, and upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, and upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall."
Not only magistrates and ministers, but every living soul, is now obliged to acknowledge God in this work, and put to his hand to promote it, as they would not expose themselves to God's curse. All sorts of
persons, throughout the whole congregation of Israel, great and small, rich and poor, men and women, helped to build the tabernacle in the wilderness; some in one way, others in another; each one according to his capacity. Every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his Spirit made willing; all sorts contributed, and all sorts were employed in that affair, in labors of their hands, both men and women. Some brought gold and silver; others blue, purple and scarlet, and fine linen; others offered an offering of brass; others, with whom was found Shittim wood, brought it an offering to the Lord. The rulers brought onyx stones, and spice, and oil; and some brought goats hair; and some rams skins, and others badgers skins. See Exod. xxxv: 20, &c. And we are told verse 29. 6. The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the Lord, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing.” And thus it ought to be in this day of building the tabernacle of God; with such a willing and cheerful heart, ought every man, woman, and child, to do something to promote this work. Those that have not onyx stones, or are not able to bring gold or silver, yet may bring goats hair.
As all sorts of persons were employed in building the tabernacle in the wilderness, so the whole congregation of Israel were called together to set up the tabernacle in Shiloh, after they came into Canaan, Josh. xviii: 1. And so again, the whole congregation of Israel were gathered together, to bring up the ark of God, from Kirjathjearim; and again, they were all assembled to bring it up, out of the house of Obed Edom into mount Zion; so again, all Israel met together to assist in the
great affair of the dedication of the temple, and bringing the ark into it. So we have an account, how that all sorts assisted in the rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, not only the proper inhabitants of Jerusalem, but those that dwelt in other parts of the land; not only the priests and rulers, but the Nethinims and merchants, husbandmen, and mechanics, and women. Neh. iii: 5, 12, 26, 31, 32. And we have an account of one and another, that he repaired over against his house, ver. 10, and 23, 28, and of one that repaired over against his chamber, ver. 30. So now, at this time of the
rebuilling the walls of Jerusalem, every one ought to promote the work of God within his own sphere, and by doing what belongs to him, in the place in which God has set him.
Men in a private capacity, may repair over against their hous
And even those that have not the government of families, and have but part of an house belonging to them, should repair, each one over against his chamber. And every one should be engaged to do the utmost that lies in his power, laboring with the utmost watchfulness, care and diligence, with united hearts, and united strength, and the greatest readiness, to assist one another in this work. As God's people rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem; who were so diligent in the work, that they wrought from break of day, till the stars appeared, and did not so much as put off their clothes in the night; and wrought with that care and watchfulness, that with one hand they wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon; besides the guard they set to defend them; and were so well united in it, that they took care, that one should stand ready, with a trumpet in his hand, that if any were assaulted in one part, those in the other parts at the sound of the trumpet, might resort to them, and help them, Neh. iv: at the latter end.
Great care should be taken that the press should be improved to no purpose contrary to the interest of this work. We read that when God fought against Sisera, for the deliverance of his oppressed church, they that handle the pen of the writer came to the help of the Lord in that affair, Judg. v: 14. Whatever sort of men in Is