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A CAVEAT AGAINST UNSOUND DOCTRINES.
BEING THE SUBSTANCE OF A
IN THE PARISH CHURCH OF ST. ANN, BLACKFRIARS;
ON SUNDAY, APRIL 29th, 1770.
Seeing then, that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech. 2 COR. iii. 12.
1 TIMOTHY i. 10.
-And if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.
ST. Paul is commonly, and most probably supposed to have written this epistle about A. D. 65, that is, about two years before his own martyrdom, and about thirty-one after our Lord's ascension. He addressed it to Timothy; who, though a very * young man, had been some time in the ministry, and was then entrusted with the oversight of the church at Ephesus. In the estimation of unprejudiced reason, honourable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that is measured by number of years: but wisdom is the grey hair unto men, and an unspotted life is old age t.
But Timothy, though young, was far from robust. He was only strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. His regenerate, heaven-born soul dwelt in a sickly, infirm body. Whence we read of his wuxvaι adevera, 1 Tim. v. 23. or frequent indispositions; arising perhaps, originally, from a natural delicacy of constitution; and, certainly, increased by a rigid abstemiousness, and constant course of ministerial labours. Thus our heavenly Father, graciously severe, and wisely kind, takes care to infuse some salutary bitter into his children's cup below; since, were they here to taste of happiness, absolute and unmingled; were not the gales of prosperity, whether spiritual or temporal, counterpoised, more or less, by the needful ballast of affliction; his people (always imperfect here) would
be enriched to their loss, and liable to be overset in their way to the kingdom of God. Wherefore, consummate felicity, without any mixture of wormwood, is reserved for our enjoyment, in a state, where perfect sanctification will qualify us to possess it. In heaven, and there only, the inhabitant shall, no more say, in any sense whatever, I am sick *.
St. Paul, in the opening of his apostolic directions to Timothy, adopts the same simple, majestic, and evangelical exordium, with which the rest of his epistles usually begin. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ; ordained and sent forth by the head of the church, the supreme master of the spiritual vineyard: without whose internal, authoritative commission, none have a real right to minister in sacred things, or to thrust the sickle into God's harvest. For, how can men preach to purpose, so as to be instruments of conviction, comfort and sanctification, except they be sent † of God, and owned of him? whence the apostle adds, by the commandment of God our Saviour, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our hope. As an English nobleman, who travels to some foreign court, cannot reasonably expect to be received as the representative of his sovereign here, unless charged with an actual delegation, and able to produce the credentials of his mission; no more is any individual authorised to arrogate to himself the honour of a divine embassage, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron §. A sufficient degree of gospel light and knowledge; an ardent love of souls, and a disinterested concern for truth; a competent measure of ministerial gifts and abilities; and, above all, a portion of divine grace and experience; a saving change of heart, and a life devoted to the glory of God; are essential
*Isa. xxxiii. 24. † Rom. x. 15. † Κατ' επλαγην, according to the positive injunction, or express designation. § Heb. v. 4.