« PreviousContinue »
been made heads of the church, is daring blasphemy against Christ, a bold usurpation of his crown and dignity, and high rebellion against him, who will not suffer the jewels to be stolen from his crown, to deck the head of any earthly power whatever, without the severest testimony of his resentment.
3. There is a government of the church distinct from and independent upon the civil government, lodged in the hands of church-officers, whereby they have a power, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to meet in judicatories, transact matters there according to the word and laws of this King, to dissolve their meetings in his name, to appoint fasts and thanksgivings, as the state of the church may require, to inflict censures on offenders, bind and lose, and to do every thing necessary for advancing this kingdom in a spiritual way, but no otherwise. And whoever presumes to hinder them in these acts of administration, or arrogate any of them to themselves, are in so far enemies to Christ and his royal prerogatives.
4. This government of the church is not alterable by any power on earth, whether civil or ecclesiastic; nor have they that are entrusted with it any power to give up the rights and privileges conferred on them by Christ to any person or persons whatsoever. If they do so, they are unfaithful to their trust, and their conduct will be highly resented another day.
5. None have power to appoint any pieces of worship in the Church that Christ has not appointed. For he is the sole Lawgiver of the church, and has in his word appointed the platform of the worship which he requires his subjects to pay unto him. And therefore for any to appoint ceremonies and rights of worship which bear not the stamp of his institution, act in opposition to his laws; and all their rites are useless and unprofitable. Equally culpable are those who presume to make any terms of communion, or of admission to the ordinances of the church, but such as Christ has left behind him. This is high rebellion against the King of Zion.
6. The truth of the kingdom of Christ is a solid ground of suffering, on which people may comfortably lose whatever is dear to them in the world, knowing they are in the way of their duty. And this was the ground of the sufferings of the Lord's people in the persecuting reigns before the Revolution, whose memory ought to be always regarded, for their zealous and firm adherence to the prerogatives of Christ's kingdom.
7. The church shall ride out all the storms that can blow upon her, whether from earth or hell
. All plots and contrivances against her shall be defeated in the end; for her King liveth, and will never suffer the gates of hell to prevail against her. The crown shall Aourish on his head, when the church's enemies shall be ruined, and their kingdoms laid by for ever.
8. However weak any poor believer be amongst many enemies, yet the broken ship shall surely come to land. The spark of grace shall be preserved amidst an ocean of difficulties and corruptions, within or without. The seed of grace sown in the heart shall be maintained, and spring up in the fruits of holiness. All Christ's honest subjects shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
9. Whoever they be that refuse subjection to the ordinan ces and discipline of Christ's house, do in so far reject Christ from ruling over them. Consider this, ye that neglect a regular attendance upon the ordinances of divine institution, and will not submit to discipline and censure for your scandalous, and offensive behaviour. Ye are the enemies of Zion's King, and your conduct plainly declares, that ye will not have this man to reign over you. Repent of this your rebellion, otherwise ye shall be slain as his enemies.
10. See, believers, ye that are striving against sin and Sa. tan, and waging war with your lusts and all Christ's enemies, to whom you are to have recourse for help in all your diffi. culties; even to your Almighty Ķing, who is infinitely able to help you in all straits. Make use of him daily as your King, applying and trusting to him, for life, strength, defence, and victory over all your enemies,
11. Lastly, Ye that are strangers to Christ, captives to Satan, and under a miserable thraldom to your own lusts, will
ye be persuaded to come under the sceptre and government of King Jesus; take on his yoke, and subject yourselves to him and his blessed government. For motives, consider,
(1.) The great glory and dignity of his person. He is God equal with the Father, the wonder of men and angels. The most glorious monarch that ever swayed sceptre among men, is but like a worm of the earth, or a despicable insect
in the air, compared to him. All created excellencies fall under a vail, when his glory begins to shine.
(2.) He has the best right to govern your souls. The devil and your vile lusts are all usurpers. But Christ is your rightful Lord. He has an original right to you as God, and a derivative right as Mediator. He hath an unquestionable title by the grant of the Father, Acts ii. 36. Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.' And he hath a right by his own merit and purchase, Rom. xiv. 9. “For this end Christ both died, and rose again, and revi. ved, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. Ye are his, whether ye will or not. Ye are entirely at his disposal. He has more power over you than the potter has over the clay. Your own consent and willingness adds nothing to his title; but it will fearfully aggravate your sin. if ye réfuse it.
(3.) Consider the misery of your condition till once ye submit to him. Ye are under a miserable bondage to the devil; ye are slaves to the prince of darkness; that spirit rules in you that worketh in all the children of disobedience. Your condition will grow still worse and worse, till it be incapable of any further addition of misery. Ye are now without God, without the promises of the covenant, without peace, without the pardon of sin, having no communion with God, or title to heaven. Ye are slaves to your sordid lusts, under the curse of the law, and condemned already. Whenever ye die out of Christ, ye shall die in your sins; and he that was your ruler and leader in this world, will be both your companion and tormentor in the world to come. O fearful condition! Can ye sleep quietly in your chains ? When ye hear that Christ was anointed by the Father to preach good tidings to the meek, to proclaim liberty to captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; should not this make you sigh, nay cry, through the grates of the prison, to this glorious Deliverer who stands at the door? When ye see Christ's standard pitched in the gospel, and his glorious banner displayed there, will ye not repair to it, and list yourselves among his faithful subjects ?
(4.) It is your greatest dignity to be subjects to Christ. Theodosius the Emperor thought it a greater honour to be a servant to Christ, than the head of an empire. Christ's
subjects are called vessels of honour, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, &c. They are consecrated, and set apart for God, to be the objects of his special grace, and the instruments of his glory and service in the world. This advanceth them to great dignity and honour. Subject yourselves then to Christ, and ye shall arrive at the highest pinnacle of honour.
(5.) His government is most sweet and pleasant. His yoke is easy, and his burden light. His cross is better than the world's crown. Submit then to his easy sceptre.
(6.) Consider the great happiness that will attend your subjecting yourselves to Christ's government. It is introductive to every privilege, mercy, and blessing, that men can desire. By this ye will be delivered from the vassalage of Satan, the servitude of sin, the malediction of the law, and danger of the wrath to come. Let this prevail on you to submit to this King.
(7.) By this ye will put the crown upon his head, and give him the reward of his bloody death and sufferings, when ye renounce sin and Satan, and all the lusts and idols that exercised dominion over you before, and betake yourselves to him by faith, and give your hearty consent that he shall reign in your souls.
(8.) This is the design of all God's ordinances and dispensations; all the arrows in the gospel-quiver are levelled at this mark; it is the point and centre into which all these blessed lines are drawn. Submit to him, then, and disappoint not the design of all his love and gracę to poor sinners.
(9.) Ye can have no saving benefit by Christ, unless ye submit-to him as your King. It is through his kingly office that all his other offices are made effectual. All the blessings and benefits of his purchase are conveyed to believers this way. It is by his regal power that he changes their natures, powerfully inclines them to believe on him, and to love and obey him. If ye accept not of him as your King, ye can have no benefit by him at all. Ye must receive him as your Lord, as well as your Prophet and Priest.
(10.) Lastly, If ye will not stoop and bow to him, he will break you in pieces. God has settled an irreversible decree, that to him every knee shall bow;' and if they do it not cheerfully and willingly, they shall be made to do it with - force and constraint. He has a rod of iron, and therewith he will break in pieces the mightiest potentates of the earth that will not subject themselves to him. Hence we have that counsel given them by the Spirit of God, Psal. ii. 10, 11, 12. Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings : be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little: blessed are all they that put their trust in him.'
OF CHRIST's 'HUMILIATION.
PHILLIPPIANS ii. 8.-He humbled himself, and became obedient
unto death, even the death of the cross,
AVING discoursed of our Redeemer and his incarna
tion, and the several offices he executes under that character, I come now to treat of his amazing humiliation and abasement, to which he willingly submitted, in order to accomplish the redemption of elect sinners. The text holds forth his state of humiliation.
1. The voluntariness of it: it was no matter of force or compulsion; He voluntarily humbled himself.
2. The nature of it: it was obedience, viz. to the Father's will, which comprehends the whole of what Christ did and suffered for our redemption.
3. The depth of it: it was unto death; and he could go no lower. As for the kind of death, he humbled himself to the basest and most humiliating kind of it, the death of the cross. Under this is comprehended his burial, and continuing for a time under the power of death. Death had our Redeemer as low as it could carry him,
4. The continuance of this humiliation. He had a race thereof set before him, in which he continued till he came to death, as the end of it.
Christ's humiliation was a voluntary thing; he voluntarily did and suffered whatever he did and suffered for Psal. xl. 7. Lo, I come,' said he, Even in the deepest points of his humiliation, he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth,' to oppose the humbling treatment he was ex
Man fell off from God by his ambition, and there