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from time to time to teach and exhort the rest, this has the appearance of authoritative teaching.
When private christians, that are no more than mere brethren, exhort and admonish one another, it ought to be in an humble manner, rather by way of entreaty than with authority; and the more according as the station of persons is lower. Thus it becomes women, and those that are young, ordinarily to be at a greater distance from any appearance of authority in speaking than oth
Thus inuch at least is evident by that in 1 Tim. ii: 9, 11, 12
That lay persons ought not to exhort one another as clothed with authority, is a general rule; but it cannot justly be supposed to extend to heads of families in their own families. Every christian family is a little church, and the heads of it are its authoritative teachers and governors. Nor can it extend to schoolmasters among their scholars; and some other cases might perhaps be mentioned, that ordinary discretion will distinguish, where a man's circumstances do properly clothe him with authority, and render it fit and suitable for him to counsel and admonish others in an authoritative manner.
2. No man but only a minister that is duly appointed to that sacred salling, ought to follow teaching and exhorting as a calling, or so as to neglect that which is his proper calling. An having the office of a teacher in the church of God implies two things.
1. A being invested with the authority of a teacher; and,
2. A being called to the business of a teacher, to make it the business of his life.
Therefore, that man that is not a minister, that takes either of these upon him, invades the office of a minister. Concerning assuming the authority of a minister I have spoken already. But if a layman does not assume authority in his teaching, yet if he forsakes his proper calling, or doth so at least in a great measure, and spends his time in going about from house to house, to counsel and exhort, he goes beyond his live, and violates christian rules. Those that have the office of teach
ers or exhorters, have it for their calling, and should make it their business, as a business proper to their office; and none should make it their business but such. Rom. xii. 3, 4, 5, 7, 8. “For 1 say, through the grace given'unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the proportion of faith. For as we have many members, in one body, and all members have not the same office; so we being many, are one body in Christ. He that teacheth, let him wait on teaching, or he that exhorteth, on exhortation." 1 Cor. xii: 29.
66 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?” 1 Cor. vii: 20. “Let every man abide in the same calțing wherein he was called.” 1 Thes, iv: 11. " And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you."
It will be a very dangerous thing for laymen, in either. of these respects, to invade the office of a minister; if this be common among us we shall be in danger of having a stop put to the work of God, and the ark's turning aside from us, before it comes to mount Zion, and of God's making a breach upon us; as of old there was an unhappy stop put to the joy of the congregation of Israel, in bringing up the ark of God, because others carried it besides the Levites. And therefore, David, when the error was found out, says, 1 Chron. xv: 2.
« None ought to carry the ark of God, but the Levites only; for them hath the Lord chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him forever.”. And because one presumed to touch the ark that was not of the sons of Aaron, therefore, the Lord made a breach upon them, and covered their day of rejoicing with a cloud in his anger.
Before I dismiss this head of lay exhorting, I would take notice of three things relating to it, upon which there ought to be a restraint.
1. Speaking in the time of the solemn worship of God, as public prayer, singing, or preaching, or administration of the sacrament of the holy supper; or any duty of social worship. This should not be allowed, I know
What I am
it will be said, that in some cases, when persons are esceedingly affected, they cannot help it; and I believe so
But then I also believe, and know by experience, that there are several things that contribute to that inability, besides merely and absolutely the sense of divine things they have upon their hearts. Custom and example, or the thing's being allowed, have such an influence, that they actually help to make it impossible for persons under strong affections to avoid speaking. If it was disallowed, and persons at the time that they were thus disposed to break out, had this apprehension, that it would be a very unbecoming, shocking thing for them so to do, it would be a help to them, as to their ability to avoid it. Their inability arises from their strong and vehement disposition; and so far as that disposition is from a good principle, it would be weakened by the coming in of this thought to their minds, viz. going to do, will be for the dishonor of Christ and religion. And so that inward vehemence, that pushed them forward to speak, would fall, and they would be enabled to avoid it. This experience confirms.
2. There ought to be a moderate restraint on the loudness of persons talking under high affections; for if there be not, it will grow natural and unavoidable for persons to be louder and louder, without any increase of their inward sense; until it becomes natural to them, at Jast, to scream and hallow to almost every one they see in the streets, when they are much affected. But this is certainly a thing very improper, and what has no ten•dency to promote religion. "The man Christ Jesus when he was upon earth, had doubtless as great a sense of the infinite greatness and importance of eternal things, and the worth of souls, as any have now a days; but there is not the least appearance in bis history, of his taking any such course, or manner of exhorting others.
3. There should also be some restraint on the abundance of persons' talk, under strong affections; for i persons give themselves an unbounded liberty, to tak just as much as they feel an inclination to, they will itcrease and abound more and more in talk, beyond tb:
proportion of their sense or affection; until at length it will become ineffectual on those that hear them, and by the commonness of their abundant talk, they will defeat their own end.
One thing more, I would take notice of before I conclude this part, is the mismanagement that has been in some places of the duty of singing praises to God. I believe it to have been one fruit of the extraordinary degrees of the sweet and joyful influences of the Spirit of God that have been lately given, that there has appeared such a disposition to abound in that duty, and frequently to fall into this divine exercise; not only in appointed solema meetings, but when christians occasionally meet together at each other's houses. But the mismanagement I have respect to, is the getting into a way of performing it, without almost any appearance of that rev. erence and solemnity with which all visible, open aets of divine worship ought to be attended; it may be two or three in a room singing hymns of praise to God, others that are present talking at the same time, others about their work, with little more appearance of regard to what is doing, than if some were only singing a common song, for their amusement and diversion. There is danger, if such things are continued, of its conring to that by degrees, that a mere nothing be made of this duty, to the great violation of the third commandment. Let christians abound as much as they will in this holy, heavenly exercise, in God's house and in their own houses; but when it is performed, let it be performed as an holy act, wherein they have immediately and visibly to do with God. When any social open act of devotion, or solemn worship of God is performed, God should be reverencell as visibly present, by those that are present. As we would not have the ark of God depart from us, nor provoke God to make a breach upon us, we should take heed that we handle the ark with reverence.
With respect to companies singing in the streets, going to, or coming from, the place of public worship, I would humbly offer my thoughts in the following particulars.
1. The rule of Christ concerning putling new wine into old bottles, does undoubtedly take place in things of this nature, supposing it to be a thing that in itself is good, but not essential, and not particularly enjoined or forbidden. For things, so very new and uncommon,
and of so open and public a nature, to be suddenly introduced and set up and practised, in many parts of the country, without the matter's being so much as first proposed to any public consideration, or giving any opportunity for the people of God to weigh the matter, or to consider any reasons that might be offered to support it, is patting new wine into old bottles with a witness; as if it were with no other design than to burst them directly. Nothing else can be expected to be the consequence of this, than uproar and confusion, and great offence, and unhappy mischievous disputes, even among the children of God themselves. Not that that which is good in itself, and is new, ought to be forborn, until there is nobody that will dislike it; but it ought to be forborn until the visible church of God is so prepared for it, at least, that there is a probability that it will not do more hurt than good, or hinder the work of God more than promote it; as is most evident from Christ's rule, and the apostle's practice. If it be brought in, when the country is so unprepared, that the shock and surprise on persons' minds, and the contention and prejudice against religion, that it is like to be an occasion of, will do more to hinder religion, than the practice of it is like to do to promote it, then the fruit is picked before it is ripe. And indeed, such an hasty endeavor to introduce such an innovation, supposing it to be good in itself, is the likeliest way to retard the effectual introduction of it; it will hinder its being extensively introduced, much more than it will promote it, and so will defeat its own end. But,
: :2. As to the thing itself, if a considerable part of a congregation have occasion to go in company together to a place of public worship, and they should join together in singing praises to (iod, as they go, I confess, that after long consideration, and endeavoring to view the thing every way, with the utmost diligence and im