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SERMON X. The Usefulness, Authority, and Effect

of Preaching

Preached at an Ordination at St. Paul's, &c.

ROM. x, 14, 15, 16.

How mall they bear without a Preacher ?

And how fall they preach, except they be sent ?

As it is written, How beautiful are the
Feet of them that preach the Gospel of Peace,

and bring glad Tidings of good Things ! But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For

Isaias faith, Lord, who hath believed our
Report?

TH

SE RM.

HE Heads which I propose to draw X.

from these Words requiring as much Time as I dare presume will be allowed me (from the ensuing Solemnity) and as I have only Occasion to treat of them at present as they

stand

X.

stand separately by themselves, without exa- SER M.
mining the Relation they bear to the Con-
text; I shall not detain

any

Introduction concerning the Occasion of them, but proceed immediately to observe four Things which they obviously point out to us, viz.

you with

I. First, That it is the unspeakable Favour of God, that in communicating to us his Mind, and in revealing his Will, he makes use of the Ministry of Men like unto ourselves. How shall they hear without a Preacher ?

II. Secondly, That left these Men, by being like ourselves, thould want Authority to enforce the Word they preach, he has thought fit to dignify them with a Divine Commission, thereby to separate and distinguish them from the rest of Mankind. How shall they preach, except they be sent ?

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III. THIRDLY, That notwithstanding both these things, viz. though those who preach the Gospel are Men like ourselves, and so have nothing of Terror in them to frighten Men from hearing them ; and yet are dignified with a Divine Commission, and so want no Authority to persuade Men; yet their Preach

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SER M. ing has not that due Effeet it ought to have.

They have not all obeyed the Gospel; for Isaias
says, Lord, who hath believed our Report?

X.

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IV. Fourthly, That though Preaching be generally so unsuccessful ; yet there still is, and ever will be, sufficient Encouragement, for Ministers to be instant in preaching the Word. For how beautiful are the Feet of them that preach the Gospel of Peace, and bring glad Tidings of good Things !

I. FIRST, I am to observe that it is the unspeakable Favour of God, that in communicating to us his Mind, and in revealing his Will, he makes use of the Ministry of Men, like unto ourselves. And this I observe from those Words in the Text, How shall they bear without a Preacher? A Question that plainly implies, that unless the Word be preached unto us by the Ministry of Man, we must continue in Ignorance; having no other Means of coming to the Knowledge of it. Not that it is impossible for God to communicate it to us himself, either by a Voice from Heaven, or by the Ministry of an Angel, or after some other extraordinary Manner: But because the preaching of it by Man is the only Method he has

X.

/

ever made use of in revealing it to Mankind. S ER M. We cannot but observe, that as this was an Inftitution of his own Appointment, so it is a Means he has always confined himself to, as well upon extraordinary as ordinary Occafions. I do not mean by this that God never revealed his Will immediately to Man: For that must necessarily be supposed; since they who were the first Declarers of it to the World, could be instructed in it themselves no otherwise than from Heaven. And therefore though God has made known his Mind to some as it were by Word of Mouth, to others by Vifons and Dreams, and to others again by the secret Whisperings of his Holy Spirit ; yet this is no Objection to the Position laid down ; since they, who were thus thought worthy of such extraordinary Revelations, were no others than those whom God raised up to be Ministers of his Word, and to whom he revealed it in this Manner, on Purpose that they should be Messengers of it to the People. So that such immediate Revelations made to particular Men, is itself an Argument that whenever God thinks fit to comrnunicate his Will to a People or Nation, or to the whole Body of Mankind in general; he judges no Instrumixent so

proper to convey it by as the Mouths of their Fellow Creatures,

Nor

X.

SERM. Nor has this Method been made Use of

by him, only as adapted to this or that particular Dispensation ; but is an Institution that commenced from the Fall of Man, and such as will continue till his Consummation in Glory. In the Ante-diluvian World, when the Spirit of GOD had for a long Time strove with the Sons of Men, he raised up Noah, a Preacher of Righteousness, as the last and likeliest Means to reclaim them, Gen. vi, compared with 2 Pet. ii. 5. After the Flood, when the Earth was again overSpread by the Sons of Noah, God chose to himself a particular Family, the Holy Patriarchs, those lively Examples of Faith and Righteousness, whom he appointed and stiled his Prophets and his Anointed, Gen. xx. 7. Psalm cv. 15. making them as it were itinerant Preachers of his Word, whithersoever they went. After this again, when the Lord selected the Children of Israel to be a peculiar Treasure to him above all People, and constituted them a Kingdom of Priests, and an Holy Nation, Exod. xix, 5, 6. yet even these were not permitted to receive the Word from God himself; but Mofes only was called up to the Mount, and to him alone God gave the Law, making him the Instrument

of

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