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X.

SER M.us Laws to walk by, we should be miserable

Wretches indeed : And though he gave us Laws, yet were his Method of conveying them to us either by a Voice or a Messenger from Heaven, .we should forego the Bleffing to avoid the Means: But as he has made Man the Minister, we have all the Comforts and Advantages of his Word, without the Dread of his Appearance.

And as we are thus free from all Apprehenfions from the Ministers of the Word; fo are we secure by the same Means, that no more of the Word itself will be imposed upon us than we shall be able to bear. Were it indeed the Office of superior Agents, of Beings unacquainted with the Clogs and Hindrances of Flesh and Blood, to expound the Rules of our Obedience ; we might reasonably fear that through Ignorance of our Weakness, they would interpret it in too strict a Sense for the Capacity of our human Frame. But this Fear we are delivered from by the good Providence of God, who has appointed no others to explain his Laws to us, than such as are themselves obliged to walk by those Laws, and under the same Impediments as those they preach to; and consequently such as will give no other Interpretation of his Word,

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X.

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than what human Nature, under all it's In-S ERM.
firmities, may readily comply with. And
therefore as the Apoftle notes it to be our
particular Advantage, that we have not an
High Priest, which cannot be touched with
the Feeling of our Infirmities, but who was in
all Points tempted like as we are, Heb. iv.
15. fo fhould we account it no less than an
inexpreffible Benefit, that those, who are the
Stewards and Dispensers of his Word, are
Men sensible of the fame Failings with our-
selves, and equally depressed with the In-
cumbrances of a depraved Nature.

Nor must we omit still another Advantage
accruing from this Institution of God's re-
vealing his Mind by the Ministry of Man ;
and that is the Easiness of being informed in
the Will of God, of knowing what it is he
commands and requires of us.

Were all our Instructions to be given immediately from Heaven ; as often as we wavered in any Uncertainties, we should be uneasy for a new Messenger from thence to resolve our Doubts. And though God, through his infinite Mercy, has given us the Scriptures to be a standing Rule, whereby to conform our Lives yet they are not without their Δυσνόημα, , Things hard to be understood, which, without

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And even

ser M. some supernatural Assistance, they that are

unlearned and unstable would wrest to their own Destruction, 2 Pet. iii. 16. in the plainer Texts of Scripture, when applied to a Man's own Case, some Scruples may arise, which his natural Propensity to favour himself, may make him unfit to resolve. But now by this gracious Institution Provisions are made for all these Exigencies. For as by the Ministry of Men he has given a Rule of Life for the Use of Men; so is the Sense and Meaning of that Rule, to be fought for of no other than Men: To the end that the Igrorant may know where to apply for Instruction, the Doubtful for Satisfaction, the Penitent for Pardon, and all Mankind for the Interpretation of the Word. Which, as it is now administered, is (as Mofes faid of the Law) not hidden from us, neither is it far of: It is not in Heaven, that we should say, Who Jhall go up for us to Heaven, and bring it into us, that we may bear it and do it? Neither is it beyond the Sea, that we fould say, Who shall go over the Sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may bear it and do it? But the Word is very nigh unto us, that we may bear it and do it, Deut. xxx.

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X.

Thus have I shewed in some Measure the SERM. Benefits and Advantages accruing to Mankind from God's revealing to us his Will by the Ministry of Man. I shall therefore add no more on this Head, than to observe to you by Way of Inference, the horrid Impiety of some Men, who, because God has been so gracious as to communicate to them his Word after so familiar a Manner, fet at Nought his Institution, and even renounce the Word 'itself for the Sake of it's Ministers. Can any thing be more ungrateful as well as wicked and profane, than for those, for whose Sakes this Institution was appointed, and even at their own Requests, to despise and contemn it ? We find it

upon

Record that it was the unanimous Desire of the Children of Israel to Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear ; but let not GOD Speak with us, left we die, Exod. xx, 19. From whence we may learn that the Ministry of Man was once thought a Blessing; why then should the Continuance of it render it mean and despicable ? Are Men better prepared now to meet God himself ? Or is it because we have no further Occasion to hear from him at all? Neither of these may be granted. For as to the first; the Appearance of an

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SERM. Angel only, has through all Ages put Man

kind to the same Fear and Dread; and there-
fore how would they be able to sustain them-
felves in the Presence of the Almighty ? And
as to the latter, there is ftill the same Occa-
fion for instructing the Ignorant, for reclaim-
ing the Vicious, for strengthening the Weak,
for confirming the Strong, for quickening the
Slothful, for encouraging the Timorous, for
composing the Scrupulous, and for satisfying
the Doubtful. And how shall all this be
done, but by applying to them the Word by
the Ministry of Man ? This is the Means
God has appointed to be ufed on such Oc-
casions, and therefore we are not to look now
for the Miracle of a peculiar and extraordi-
nary Assistance : Much less may they expect
it who affront and trample upon his ordinary
Inftitutions. It is true indeed, Those who
are appointed Preachers of the Word are no
other than Men, than Men of like Passions
and Failings with ourselves : But still they
have the Honour to bear a nearer Relation to
God, whose immediate Servants or Ministers
they are.

A Character, one would think,
that should not render them less worthy of
Regard, since it is a natural Confequence of
it, that to set at Nought their Ministrations,

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