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able to it.3. Fully and completely; which is done when every truth is preached, and none concealed, and no duty omitted; when nothing that is profitable is kept back, and the whole counsel of God is declared; and when it is preached fully, as it was by the apostle Paul; and full proof of the ministry is made, which he directs to; and the ministry received of the Lord Jesus is fulfilled, in the several parts and branches of it, 2 Tim. iv. 5. Col. iv. 17. — 4. Faithfully, ministers are stewards of the mysteries of God, and of his grace, and it is required of stewards, that a man be found faithful, as well as wise, 1 Cor. iv. 1, 2. a more honourable character cannot well be had, than what is given of Tychicus, that he was a beloved brother, and faithful minister in the Lord; and nothing can be more desirable, or confer a greater degree of honour, than a last to hear from Christ, Well done, good and faithful servant! Eph. vi. 21. Matt, XXV. 21, 23.5. Sincerely, delivering out the sincere milk of the word; not corrupting it; not using any artful methods to colour things and put a false gloss upon them; but exposing truth to public view in its native simplicity, without any sinister ends and selfish views; without any strife and contention, but of good will, to the glory of Christ, and the welfare of immortal souls, 2 Cor, ii. 17. and iv. 2. Phil. i. 15, 16. 6. Fervently; it is said of Apollos, that being fervent in the Spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, Acts xviii. 25. and the apostle Paul served God with his Spirit in the gospel of his Son; that is, his whole heart and soul were engaged in the ministration of it, Rom. i. 9. 7. The gospel, and the truths of it, should be ministered with certainty, and not with doubtfulness; there is such a thing as the full assurance of understanding in private christians, Col. ii. 2. and much more should be in ministers of the word; who should not be affraid of being reckoned dogmati cal; they should be so; that is, they ought to be at a point about, and be assured of the truths they deliver to others; We believe and are sure that thos art that Christ the Son of the living God, said the apostles of Christ; and so with respect to every other truth; We believe, and therefore speak, with cer tainty and confidence, 2 Tim. iii. 14. — 8. And so they may, as they should, speak boldly, as they ought to speak, without the fear of men, which brings a snare; and not seeking to please them; for then they would not be the servants of Christ: thus the apostle, not intimidated with the threats and menaces of men, the persecutions of wicked men, and the opposition of false teachers; were bold in their God to speak the gospel of God with much contention. 9. The gospel should be preached consistently; it should be uniform, and all of a piece; no contradiction, no yea and nay in it; the trumpet should not give an uncertain sound; otherwise it will occasion great confusion in the minds of those that hear it, and throw them into the utmost perplexity, not knowing what to believe. 10. The word should be dispensed wisely; the ministers of it should be wise, as well as faithful, to give to every one their portion, and that in due season; they should study to be skilful workmen, rightly dividing the word of truth; it requires that they should have the tongue of the learned

to speak a word in season to him that it is weary; he that winneth souls is wise; and being crafty, the apostle says, he caught the Corinthians with guile, ot with a sinful, but a laudable and commendable one.

VI. The utility of the public ministry of the word may be next considered. 1. In general, its use is for the enlargement of the interest of Christ in the world; and it is by means of the gospel being preached to all nations in all the world, that the kingdom of Christ has been spread every where; not only in Judea, where the gospel was first preached, but throughout the Gentile world, multitudes were converted, and churches were set up every where chris tianity triumphed, and heathenism every where abolished. Julian observing this, in imitation of the christians, and thinking thereby to increase and esta blish heathenism, appointed lectures and expositions of heathenish dogmas, respecting morality and things more abstruse, and public prayers, and singing at stated hours, in pagan temples. 2. The ministry of the word is for the conversion of sinners; without which churches would not be increased nor supported, and must in course fail, and come to nothing; but the hand of the Lord being with his ministers, many in every age believe and turn to the Lord, and are added to the churches; by which means they are kept up and preserved: and hence it is necessary in the ministers of the word, to set forth the lost and miserable estate and condition of men by nature, the danger they are in, the necessity of regeneration and repentance, and of a better righteousness than their own, and of faith in Christ; which things are blessed for the turning of men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. 3. Another use of it is, For the perfecting of the saints; for the completing of the number of the elect, in effectual vocation, even of those who are sanctified, or set apart by God the Father, by that eternal act of his, choosing them in Christ; or for the jointing in of the saints, as it may be rendered; who were disjointed and scattered abroad by the fall of Adam; these are gathered in by the ministry of the word; so that none shall perish, but all come to repentance; and be inserted into the body of the church, and presented perfect in Christ Jesus: hence, after this, and previous to what follows, the phrase, for the work of the ministry, is placed; pointing out this two-fold use of it; as for the perfecting of the saints, 30, 4. For the edifying of the body of Christ, Eph. iv. 12. that is, his church; for it is by means of the word, it maketh increase unto the edyfi ing of itself in love, verse 16. and thus the churches in Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, having rest, and peace, and blessed, with the minisiration of the gospel, were edified, and built up in their most holy faith, as individuals are. - 5. The principal end and use of it, to which all the others tend, is the glory of God, and which ought to be chiefly in view in the performance of it, 1 Pet. iv. 11.

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THE Public Hearing of the Word is another ordinance of divine service under the gospel-dispensation. Public reading of the scriptures was a part of synagogue worship, Acts xiii. 15. and xv. 21. and reading the scriptures publicly obtained in the primitive times of christianity; as appears from Justin Martyr▸ and Tertullian; and in after-times there was a particular officer appointed to this service, called the Lector, or reader. Public hearing is connected with the public ministry of the word; they go together, and suppose each other, and the one cannot be without the other: under the former dispensation there was a public hearing of the law, or word of the Lord, at certain stated times and seasons at the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles the law was to be read before all Israel in their hearings men, women, and children, were to be gathered together, that they might hear and learn to fear the Lord their God, Deut. xxxi. 10-13. at certain times, as at new moons and Sabbaths, the people used to come and sit before the prophets, and hear the word of the Lord from their mouths; and even in the Babylonish captivity, it is said to Ezekiel, of the people of the Jews, they come unto thee as the people cometh; whence it appears it was a custom and usual so to do, When that people were returned from their captivity, in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah, the book of the law was brought forth publicly and read, in the open street, from morning till noon, before men and women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to it, Neh. viii. 2, 3. In some periods of time, under the former dispensation, there was a great scar city of hearing the word; in the times of Eli, and when Samuel was young, the word of the Lord was precious; that is, scarce and rare, as such usually bethat are so; for there was no open vision; no public prophet, to whom the Lord spoke in vision, and to whom the people could have recourse, to hear and learn, and know the word and will of God. In the times of Asa the people of Israel had been for a long season without a teaching priest; and so without hearing the law, or word of the Lord from his mouth; they had as it was sometimes threatened, a famine, not a famine of bread, nor of thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord, 1 Sam. iii. 1. 2 Chron. xv. 3. Amos viii. 11, Under the gospel-dispensation, opportunities of hearing the word have been more frequent, and of hearing it more clearly, plainly, and fully; of hearing what kings and prophets desired to hear, but heard not; and that by all sorts of people, and oftentimes, in great numbers; the law and the prophets were until John, read, explained, and heard publicly; Since that time the kingdom of God is preached, the gospel of the kingdom, in a clearer manner, and every man presseth into it, to hear it, Luke xvi. 16. there were great flockings to hear John ▸ Apolog. 2. p. 98.

1 De Anima, c. 9.

when he came preaching in the wilderness of Judea; and multitudes attended the ministry of Christ and his apostles; in process of time the Jews indeed put away the word of God from them, and shewed themselves unworthy of it, and éven of everlasting life; when the apostles, as they were ordered, turned to the Gentiles, and they gladly received it, Acts xxviii. 28. and it is both the duty and privilege of all, who have the opportunity of hearing it, to hear it; for faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, Rom. x. 17. and this is what is to be treated of; concerning which may be observed the following things.

I. The object of hearing, or what is to be heard; this is a matter of moment, and about which men should be cautious; our Lord's advice is, take heed what you here, Mark iv. 24. not the cunningly devised fables, and illusory dreams of men are to be attended to, and heard; but the word of God; between which there is as much difference as between chaff and wheat, Jer. xxiii. 28. that word, which comes from God, relates his mind and will, especially concerning salvation by Christ, is to be hearkened unto; and whatsoever is delivered by the ministers of the gospel, agreeable to the word of God, which is fetched out of it, and confirmed by it, is to be heard and received, not as the word of man, but as it is in truth, the word of God: not lies, spoken in hypocrisy, as all false doctrines are; for no lie is of the truth; not these, but the word of truth, is to be heard and embraced, Eph. i. 13. which comes from the God of truth; the substance of which is Christ the truth, and which the Spirit of truth leads into the knowledge of, and contains in it nothing but truths: not the law, as in the hands of Moses; that voice of words, which they that heard, intreated they might hear no more, they were so terrible; but the gospel of salvation, which brings the good news and glad tidings of salvation by Christ. When Moses and Elias were with Christ on the mount, the voice there from the excellent glory directed to hear, not Moses and Elias, but the beloved Son of God, saying, Hear ye him: the sheep of Christ will not hear the voice of a stranger, which they know not, but the voice of Christ, the great and good Shepherd, in the gospel and in his ministers; which is a voice of love, grace, and mercy; a voice of peace, pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation by Christ; a soul-quickening voice; a very powerful one, a soul charming, a soul alluring voice; a comforting and rejoicing one, and therefore very desirable to be heard, and very useful and profitable to attend unto; blessed are the people that hear and know this joyful sound.

II. The act of hearing, which is two-fold, internal and external; there may be one, the latter, without the other, the former; sometimes they go together; and then hearing is not only a duty, but grace, benefit, and blessing.

1. There is an internal hearing of the word; when it is so heard as to be understood, and when men know it to be the word of the Lord, as the flock of Christ do, even the poor of the flock, and can distinguish the voice of Christ


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from the voice of a stranger; when it is heard so as to approve of it, like it, love it, and receive the love of the truth, and that from love to it; when men feel the power of it, enlightening their minds in the knowledge of divine things, attracting their affections to Christ, bowing their wills to him; it coming not in word only, but in power, works effectually in them; when they taste the sweetness of it, and eat it, and it is the joy and rejoicing of their hearts; and they esteem the words of Christ's mouth more than their necessary food; when they hear it so as to believe it, not with a bare temporary faith, but with a spiritual saving faith in God and Christ revealed in it, John v. 24. and when they hear so as to receive the word into their hearts, and it becomes the ingrafted word, and springs up, and brings forth fruit in heart and life.

Should it be asked, how any come by such hearing of the word, since men are naturally and wilfully deaf unto it, are like the deaf adder, which stops her ear to the voice of the charmer, charming ever so wisely; they refuse to hearken, pull away the shoulder, stop their ears, that they should not hear? the answer is, that it is not of themselves, but of the Lord; as the seeing eye, so the hearing ear, both in a natural and in a spiritual sense, is from the Lord, Prov. xx. 12. it is he that gives them ears to hear, which he does not give to all, only to some; when he gives them new hearts and new spirits, then he gives them new ears to hear, what they never heard before, at least in such a manner; be opens their ears and hearts, as he did Lydia's, to attend to the things spoken in the ministry of the word; he circumcises their uncircumcised hearts and ears, as to love him, so to hear his word with delight and pleasure; all which is done in regeneration; He that is of God, who is born of God, heareth God's words, internally and spiritually; ye therefore, says Christ to the Jews, hear them not, because ye are not of God, are unregenerate persons, John viii. 47.

II. There is an external hearing of the word, which is both a duty and a privilege, since it is the word of God that is heard, and oftentimes much profit arises from it; and it is therefore to be heard, 1. Constantly, and with great assiduity, Prov. viii. 34. the public places of worship, meant by wisdom's gates and doors, where the word is to be heard, are daily or frequently to be attended; if the word is to be preached in season and out of season, it is to be beard as often; or otherwise preaching is to no purpose: much may be lost by a non-attendance on, and a neglect of public worship, as the case of Thomas shews; and much advantage may be got by a perseverant waiting on the means of grace, as the case of the man having an infirmity eight and thirty years, after long waiting at the pool, may encourage to hope for and expect, 2. The word of God should be heard early and eagerly. It is said of Christ's hearers, that all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him, Luke xxi. 38. these were such who were swift to hear, and their earliness to hear, shewed eagerness to it: an instance of eagerness to hear we have in Cornelius and his family, who having sent to Joppa for Simo


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