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or to make light of their Doctrine, is not so SE R M.
much an Injury to them, as it is an Affront
to their Mafter.

The Words they utter, so
long as they explain or enforce the Scriptures,
are such as they are commanded by God to
preach; and therefore the Dishonour redounds
to him, if they are not received with Atten-
tion and Obedience. For our Saviour told
his Disciples, He that beareth

you,

beareth me, and that the Neglect of hearing them, would be a Contempt not so much to them, as to himself and his Father. For be, (faith qur Saviour) that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he, that despiseth me, despiseth him that fent me, Luke x. 16.

But this naturally leads me to the next Head of

my Discourse, under which I am to observe,

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II. SECONDLY, That left the Ministers of the Word, by being Men, like ourselves, should want Authority to enforce the Word they preach, God has thought fit to dignify them with a Divine Commision, and thereby to separate and distinguish them from the reft of Mankind. And here it will be neceffary in the first place to observe, that, as it may be reasonably expected, that Ministers of the Word should be able to prove

that they

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SERM. they act by God's Authority, even to the

Satisfaction of those they preach to; so have those who have been duly commissioned been always able to give Evidence of such Authority. This Evidence indeed has been different as the Occasion has required: For when ever God has made Use of any extraordinary Messengers, either to foretel any signal Mercy, or to denounce any sudden Judgment, or to be the Authors of a new Dispenfation; he has impowered them to prove their Mission by external Signs and Wonders. Thus Moses, and thus Christ, who came, each of them, to establish a new Law, first fhewed their Divine Commission by the Fin

of God.' And the Prophets, when they foretold any signal Mercy or Judgment not before revealed, either left the Event of their Prediction to thew the Truth of their Miffion, or, if there was Occasion for it, made Use of a Miracle. But at other Times, when God has given Men a standing Rule to walk by, and has appointed an ordinary Course of Ministers to interpret it to the People; these Ministers, being not to make any new Revelation, but only to expound a Law already given, have no Occasion to work fresh Miracles to prove their Commission,

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but only to be able to shew by that Law it-SERM.
felf, that they are the Persons appointed to
preach it to the People. Thus when the
Law of Moses was given to the Israelites, it
was made a perpetual Ordinance of that Law,
that Aaron and his Sons, after him jould teach
the Children of Israel all the Statutes which
the Lord had spoken unto them by the Hand of
Mofes, Levit. x. II. So that their Com-
miffion to teach and expound the Law was
attested sufficiently, without further Evidence,
by the Law itself. And so again when our
Saviour introduced a new Religion, and gave
us the Gospel to walk by; he appointed the
Apostles, and those that should regularly de-
rive their Commission from them, by a spi-
ritual Generation, to be the ordinary Mini-
sters of it, even to the End of the World,
Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. And this general Com-
mission being by his Command recorded in
the Gospel itself; they that so derive their
Authority to preach the Word, can give as
convincing Evidence of their Mission (to those
I mean who believe the Gospel) as if they
could prove it by Signs and Wonders. Nor
is it any Objection, that the Apostles worked
Miracles to prove their Mission, notwith-
standing the Authority of the Gospel that they

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$ ER M. received it directly from Christ himself; be

cause those whom the Apostles preached to, were such as had never heard of, or at least acknowledged, our Saviour; and consequently such as the Gospel was not known to: And therefore we may very reasonably fuppose, that before any People or Nation would receive a new Religion, which quite overthrew or destroyed their old one, they would demand fome extraordinary Proof of the Truth of that Religion which was proposed in the Room of it. So that in Reality, the End of the Apostles working Miracles, was not fo much to prove they had received their Comimission from Christ, as to prove that Christ himself, who sent them, was no Impostor ; but that, though the unknown, he was yet the true GOD. Whereas with us the Case is quite different. We believe in Christ as our Saviour, and have received the Gospel as his Word: And therefore since that informs us that they who derive their Commission by Succession from the Apostles, and so from Him, are by Him empowered to preach the Word; we are not to demand any extraordinary Test of their Mission, but to acquiesce under the general Proof which the Gospel gives of their Authority. Since therefore

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their Commission is so evident and undenia- SER M.
ble; and since the Scriptures affirm in express
Terms that GOD bas committed unto them
the Word of Reconciliation, and that they are
Ambassadors for Christ, as though GOD did
beseech you by them, 2 Cor. V. 19, 20, there
needs no further Argument to thew that,
though the Ministers of God are Men of like
Passions and Failings with yourselves, yet
they want no Authority to enforce the Word
they preach.

But the Text implies a great deal more :
and that is, that none are qualified to preach
the Word without Authority. For the Que-
stion here asked, (How shall they preach ex-
cept they be sent?) plainly intimates that
Preaching is an Act of Authority, not to be
undertaken, but by such as are especially com-
miffioned thereunto. But here we must ob-
ferve, that it is one Thing to interpret the
Scripture in a private Way, and to instruct
the Ignorant in the Meaning of it, according
to the best of one's Capacity, when Oppor-
tunities shall offer, and Occasions require ;
and another to take upon one's Self the Funča
tion of preaching and explaining the Gospel
publickly and with Authority. The first of
these is not only lawful and commendable,

but

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