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The Obligations of Rulers, Ministers, and all Sorts, to promote this Work.
AT such a time as this, when God is setting his king on his holy hill of Zion, or establishing his dominion, or shewing forth his regal glory from thence, he expects that his visible people, without exception, should openly appear to acknow, ledge him in such a work, and bow before him, and join with him. But especially does he expect this of civil rulers: God's eye is especially upon them, to see how they behave themselves on such occasion. When a new king comes to the throne, if he comes from abroad, and enters into his kingdom, and makes his solemn entry into the royal city, it is expected that all sorts should acknowledge him; but above all others is it expected that the great men, and public officers of the nation, should then make their appearance, and attend on their sovereign, with suitable congratulations, and manifestations of respect and loyalty. If such as these stand at a distance at such a time, it will be much more noticed; and will awaken the prince's jealousy and displeasure much more than such a behaviour in the common people. And thus it is, when that eternal Son of God, and heir of the world-by whom kings reign, and princes decree justice, and whom his Father has appointed to be king of kings-comes as it were from far, and in the spiritual tokens of his presence enters into the royal city Zion. God has his eye at such a time, especially, upon those princes, nobles, and judges of the earth, spoken of Prov. viii. 16. to see how they behave themselves, whether they bow to him, who is made the head of all principality and power. This is evident by Psal. ii. 6, 7, 10-12, Yet have I set my king_upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.-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. There seems to be in the words an allusion to a new king coming to the throne, and making his solemn entry into the royal city, when it is expected that all, especially men in public office and authority, should manifest their loyalty, by some open and visible token of respect, by the way, as he passes along; and those that refuse or neg lect it, are in danger of being immediately struck down, and perishing from the way, by which the king goes in solemn procession.
The day wherein God, in an eminent manner, sends forth the rod of Christ's strength out of Zion, that he may rule in the midst of his enemies, the day of his power wherein his people shall be made willing, is also eminently a day of his wrath, especially to such rulers as oppose him, or will not bow to him. It will prove a day wherein he shall strike through kings, and fill the places with the dead bodies, and wound the heads over many countries, Psal. cx. And thus it is, that when the Son of God girds his sword upon his thigh, with his glory and his majesty, and in his majesty rides prosperously, because of truth, meekness, and righteousness, his right hand teaches him terrible things. They were the princes of Succoth especially who suffered punishment, when the inhabitants of that city refused to come to the help of the Lord. When Gideon was pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, we read that Gideon took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness, and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth. It is especially noticed, that the rulers and chief men of Israel, were called upon to assist in the affair of bringing up the ark of God; they were chiefly consulted, and were principal in the management of the affair, 1 Chron. xiii. Î. And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. And chap. xv. 25. So David and the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord, out of the house of Obed-Edom, with joy. So, 2 Sam. vi. 1. And so it was when the ark was brought into the temple, (1 Kings viii. 1, 3. and 2 Chron. v. 2, 4.)
And as rulers, by neglecting their duty at such a time, will especially expose themselves to God's great displeasure; so by fully acknowledging God in such a work, and by cheerfully and vigorously exerting themselves to promote it, they will especially be in the way of receiving peculiar honours and rewards at God's hands. It is noted of the princes of Israel, that they especially appeared to honour God with their princely offering, on occasion of setting up the tabernacle of God in the congregation of Israel. I have observed already that this was done at the time of the feast of tabernacles, and was a type of the tabernacle of God being with men, and his dwelling with men in the latter days. And with what abundant particularity is it noted of each prince, how much he offered to God on that occasion, for their everlasting honour, in the 7th chapter of Numbers? And so, with how much favour and honour does the Spirit of God take notice of those princes in Israel, who came to the help of the Lord, in the war against Sisera? Judg. v. 9. My heart is towards the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. And, (ver. 14.) Out of Machir came down governors. (ver. 15.)
And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah. And in the account we have of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, Nehem. iii. it is particularly noted what a hand one and another of the rulers had in this affair; such a part of the wall was repaired by the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, and such a part by the ruler of the other half part of Jerusalem, and such a part by the ruler of part of Beth-haccerem, and such a part by the ruler of part of Mizpah, and such a part by the ruler of the half part of Bethzur; and such a part by the ruler of Mizpah, ver. 9-19. And there it is particularly noted of the rulers of one of the cities, that they put not their necks to the work of the Lord, though the common people did; and they are stigmatized for it in the sacred records, to their everlasting reproach, (ver. 5.) And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of the Lord. So the Spirit of God, with special honour, takes notice of princes and rulers of several tribes, who assisted in bringing up the ark. Psal. Ixviii. 27.
And I humbly desire it may be considered, whether we have not reason to fear, that God is provoked with this land, because no more notice has been taken of the late glorious work by the civil authority; that no more has been done by them as a public acknowledgment of God in this work, and no more improvement of their authority to promote it. This might have been done, either by appointing a day of public thanksgiving to God for so unspeakable a mercy, or a day of fasting and prayer, to humble ourselves before God for our past deadness and unprofitableness under the means of grace, and to seek the continuance and increase of the tokens of his presence. Can it be pleasing to God, that the civil authority have not so much as entered upon any public consultation, what should be done to advance the present revival of religion, and great refor mation that is begun in the land? Is there not danger that such a behaviour, at such a time, will be interpreted by God, as a denial of Christ? If but a new governor comes into a province, how much is there done, especially by those who are in autho rity, to put honour upon him? They arise, appear publicly, and go forth to meet, to address, and congratulate him, and with great expence to attend and aid him. If the authority of the province, on such an occasion, should all sit still, and say and do nothing, and take no notice of the arrival of their new governor, would there not be danger of its being interpreted by him, and his prince that sent him, as a denial of his authority, or a refusing to receive and honour him as their governor? And shall the head of the angels, and lord of the universe, come down from heaven, in so wonderful a manner, into the land; and shall all stand at a distance, and be silent and inactive on such an occasion? I would
humbly recommend it to our rulers to consider whether God does not now say to them, Be wise now, ye rulers; be instructed, ye judges of New England: kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way.
It is prophesied, Zech. xii. S. that in the glorious day of the Christian church, the house of David, or the rulers in God's Israel, shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord, before his people. But how can such rulers expect to have any share in this glorious promise, who do not so much as openly acknow. ledge God in the work of that Spirit, by whom the glory of that day is to be accomplished? The days are coming, when the saints shall reign on earth, and all dominion and authority shall be given into their hands: but, if our rulers would partake of this honour, they ought, at such a day as this, to bring their glory and honour into the spiritual Jerusalem, agreeable to Rev. xxi. 24.
But, above all others, is God's eye upon the ministers of the gospel, as expecting of them, that they should arise, acknowledge, and honour him in such a work as this, and do their utmost to encourage and promote it. For this is the very business to which they are called and devoted; it is the office to which they are appointed, as co-workers with Christ. They are his ambassadors and instruments, to awaken and convert sinners, and establish, build up and comfort saints; it is the business they have been solemnly charged with, before God, angels and men, and to which they have given up themselves by the most sacred vows. These especially are the officers of Christ's kingdom, who, above all other men upon earth, represent his person; into whose hands Christ has committed the sacred oracles, holy ordinances, and all his appointed means of grace, to be administered by them. They are the stewards of his household, into whose hands he has committed its provision; the immortal souls of men are committed to them, as a flock of sheep are committed to the care of a shepherd, or as a master commits a treasure to the care of a servant, of which he must give an account. It is expected of them, above all others, that they should have understanding of the times, and know what Israel ought to do; for it is their business to acquaint themselves with things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and to teach and enlighten others in the same. who are employed in the sacred work of the gospel-ministry, are the watchmen over the city, to whom God has committed the keys of the gates of Zion; and if, when the rightful king of Zion comes to deliver his people from the enemy that oppresses them, we refuse to open the gates to him, how greatly shall we expose ourselves to his wrath? We are appointed to be the captains of the host in this war; and if a general will highly resent it in a private soldier, if he refuses
to follow him when his banner is displayed, and his trumpet blown; how much more will he resent it in the officers of his army? The work of the gospel-ministry, consisting in the administration of God's word and ordinances, is the principal means that God has appointed for carrying on his work on the souls of men; and it is his revealed will, that whenever that glorious revival of religion, and reformation of the world, so often spoken of in his word, is accomplished, it should be principally by the labours of his ministers. Therefore, how heinous will it be in the sight of God, if, when a work of that nature is begun, we appear unbelieving, slow, backward and disaffected? There was no sort of persons among the Jews treated with such manifestations of God's great displeasure, and severe indignation, for not acknowledging Christ, and the work of his Spirit, in the days of Christ and his apostles, as the ministers of religion. See how Christ deals with them for it, Matt. xxiii. With what gentleness did Christ treat publicans and harlots, in comparison of them?
When the tabernacle was erected in the camp of Israel, and God came down from heaven to dwell in it, the priests were above all others concerned, and busily employed in the solemn transactions of that occasion, Levit. viii. and ix. And so it was at the time of the dedication of the temple by Solomon, (1 Kings viii. and 2 Chron. v. vi. and vii.) which was at the time of the feast of tabernacles, the same as when the tabernacle was erected in the wilderness. And the Levites were primarily and most immediately concerned in bringing up the ark into Mount Zion; the business properly belonged to them, and the ark was carried upon their shoulders, 1 Chron. xv. 2. Then David said, none ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites; for them hath the Lord chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever. And (ver. 11, 12.) And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites, for Uriel, Asaiah, and Joel, Shemaiah, and Eliel, and Amminadab, and said unto them, Ye are the chief of the fathers of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, both ye and your brethren, that ye may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel, unto the place that I have prepared for it. So we have an account that the priests led the way in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, after the Babylonish captivity, Neh. iii.
Though ministers preach never so good doctrine, and be never so painful and laborious in their work, yet if they shew to their people that they are not well affected to this work, but are doubtful and suspicious of it, they will be very likely to do their people a great deal more hurt than good. For the very fame of such a great and extraordinary work of God, if their people were suffered to believe it to be his work, and the example of other towns, together with what preaching