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their spiritual life, they get it more abundantly, í Pet. ü. 2; It does so by,

(1.) Establishing them in the good they have attained, setting them to hold it fast over the belly of temptations, Eph. iv. 14; By the reading and preaching of the word, the truth according to godliness is rivetted in them, that the longer they live under the means, they are more confirmed in the Lord's way.

(2.) Cleansing them from remaining evils in their heart and life, Psal. xix. 9; Coming to this glass, they get their spots discovered to them, that they may wipe them off. So the word is the pruning-hook of the great Husbandman, John xv. 2, 3, and the engine for demolishing the remaining strong holds of the rebels, 2 Cor. x. 4, 5.

(3.) Pressing and helping them forward to the good thing lacking, 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17; and so the effect is, that they all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord,' 2 Cor. iii. 18; It helps them still to add a cubit to their stature, shewing them more of the truth and the duties of holiness.

2. A means of building them up in comfort, Rom. xv. 4; They are liable to many griefs in the world, but it is appointed to be their great cordial, and sovereign remedy against all their griefs. And this it does, (1.) By setting their case in a true light, Psal. lxxiii. 17; (2.) By affording suitable remedies for their case, from the precious promises and doctrines of it suited to every case, Isa. xl. 1, 2;. Comfort

ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalein, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.'

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III. I shall consider the efficacy of the word. Concerning which observe,

1. The parties to whom it is effectual. Its convincing efficacy it may have on the reprobate, as Felix, Acts xxiv. 25; Its converting efficacy it has on the elect only, Acts xiii. 48; 'As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.' Its edifying efficacy, both in holiness and comfort, it has on the saints. 2. The spring of its efficacy is not from itself, nor the

remorse.

have we seen the reproof laid in seasonably for the sin, that one could not miss it, if but going on straight in the ordinary.

[2.] What the heinous nature of his sin is, Heb. iv. 12; God's word pulls off the paint and varnishing from the man's sin, and discovers it in its loathsome nature, and killing aggravations. It makes him see the evil in it, that he never saw before, Acts xxvi. 18.

(2.) It discovers his misery out of Christ, Acts ïi. 37; The sinner sees in the word, as in a glass, his lost state with out a Saviour; perceives himself bound over to death with cords of guilt, which fills him with fear, terror, anxiety, and

2. Of their conversion, Psal. xix. 7; · The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The word is the means which God hath chosen for bringing sinners to him. self, Acts sxvi. 18; for raising the dead soul to life, for regeneration, and the working of faith and repentance. This effect of the word we take up in these two particulars.

(1.) The word is the mean of driving the sinner out of himself to Jesus Christ by faith, as it did. Peter's hearers, Acts ii. 37, 38; Faith cometh by hearing. The law goes before and condemns the sinner, and discovers him a lost man. The gospel follows with the glad tidings of salvation, and the soul is persuaded to embrace them.

(2.) It is the mean of driving the sinner out of his sins unto God, Acts xx. 21 ; It sets fire to his nest in sin, and brings him to the Lord as a Master, and to a compliance with his will as his duty.

Secondly, For saints they are means appointed for their edification or building up, Acts xx. 32; The church of Christ in this world is but a building, and not yet finished; and every particular saint's state in this world is but an unfi. nished building: and therefore they must have the word continued with them, as the scaffolding is with the house till it get on the topstone, Eph. iv. 11,–13; And the reading and preaching of the word are,

1. Means of building them up in boliness, the foundation of which is laid in them at conversion, Acts xx. 32; As they are born again of the incorruptible seed of the word, so they are nourished by these breasts; by the same means they had

their spiritual life, they get it more abundantly, í Pet. ii. 2; It does so by,

(1.) Establishing them in the good they have attained, setting them to hold it fast over the belly of temptations, Eph. iv. 14; By the reading and preaching of the word, the truth according to godliness is rivetted in them, that the longer they live under the means, they are more confirmed in the Lord's way.

(2.) Cleansing them from remaining evils in their heart and life, Psal. xix. 9; Coming to this glass, they get their spots discovered to them, that they may wipe them off. So the word is the pruning-hook of the great Husbandman, John xv. 2, 3, and the engine for demolishing the remaining strong holds of the rebels, 2 Cor. x. 4, 5.

(3.) Pressing and helping them forward to the good thing lacking, 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17; and so the effect is, that they

all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord,' 2 Cor. iii. 18; It helps them still to add a cubit to their stature, shewing them more of the truth and the duties of holiness.

2. A means of building them up in comfort, Rom. xv. 4; They are liable to many griefs in the world; but it is appointed to be their great cordial, and sovereign remedy against all their griefs. And this it does, (1.) By setting their case in a true light, Psal. Ixxiii. 17; (2.) By affording suitable remedies for their case, from the precious promises and doctrines of it suited to every case, Isa. xl. 1, 2; Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalein, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.'

III. I shall consider the efficacy of the word. Concerning which observe,

1. The parties to whom it is effectual. Its convincing efficacy it may have on the reprobate, as Felix, Acts xxiv. 25 ; Its converting efficacy it has on the elect only, Acts xiii. 48; " As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.' Its edifying efficacy, both in holiness and comfort, it has on the saints. 2. The spring of its efficacy is not from itself, nor the

preacher, but from the Spirit's operation by and with it, i Cor. iii. 5, 6; · Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered: but God gave the increase.

3. The inward mean which the Spirit makes use of to render it efficacious, is the faith or belief of it, resting upon God's faithful word for the efficacy, Heb. iv. 2.

I shall conclude with a few inferences.

Inf. 1. Prize your Bibles, and read them diligently in your families, and by yourselves, and look on that exercise as a mean appointed of God for your souls good, John v. 39; · Search the scriptures. Alas! the dust of many people's Bibles will be a heavy witness against them at the great day: which should excite us all to the careful perusal of them.

2. Prize the preaching of the word, and attend it con, scientiously; and remember that the neglecting and de serting it is not such a light thing as many look on it to be; since it is the spiritual means which the Lord makes use of in converting sinners, and edifying saints; and is necessarily productive of the most terrible consequences to those who contemn it.

3. Let not the one justle out the other. God has joined them; do not ye then put them asunder.

them asunder. Think not that because ye hear the preaching, therefore ye may neglect reading the Bible; nor to sit at home without necessity on the Lord's day, thinking to do as well with your Bibles, as attending the dispensation of the word. For as the preaching sends you to your Bible, your Bible would send you to the preaching, if ye would hearken to it, 1 Cor. i. 21; And the Bible is read in vain, if it do not inspire you with a sincere love to the preaching of the word.

4. The word is necessary for saints as well as sinners. It is false growth by which people grow beyond it, either in preaching or reading, before they get to heaven. Nay, all such growth and progress is an arrant delusion.

5. Lastly, Look to the Lord himself for the efficacy of the word; and labour to believe the word, that it may profit your souls. For without faith the word will be unprofitable to you; and without the influence of the Spirit, ye will reap no benefit by it.

HOW THE WORD IS TO BE READ AND HEARD.

LUKE viii. 18,--Take heed therefore how ye hear.

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"HIS is an admonition inferred by our Lord from the

parable of the sower in the preceding part of the chapter, in which he had shewn the very different events of people's hearing the word. To some it is effectual, to more it is not : Take heed therefore how ye hear, says he. Much depends on the right manner of hearing the word; and the case is the same as to the reading of it, for therein we are to hear God speak by his word. Men may hear what is very good, yet get no good by it, unless they hear in the due manner.

The doctrine of the text is,

Doct. * As the hearers of the word would profit by it, they

should take heed how they hear it.'

Here I shall consider that one point, How we should hear? or · How the word is to be read and heard, that it may be come effectual to salvation ?' Ans. “That the word may be. come effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation, and prayer; receive it with faith and love; lay it up in our hearts; and practise it in our lives.'

There are three things necessary to be heeded and prac. tised, if we would so manage these ordinances, as they may become effectual for our salvation.

1. Some things are to go before hearing. II. Some things are to go along with it. III. Some things are to follow after it.

I. Some things are to go before hearing ; namely, preparation and prayer.

First, Preparation. We should prepare ourselves for the ordinances, as Jacob said, Gen. xxxv. 2, 3. : Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change

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