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your minds and understandings, to conceive aright, and comprehend the things that are spoken unto you: you attend not unto them according to their importance, and your concern. ment in them: you do not treasure them up in your hearts, consciences and memories, but let them slip out and forget them; for the apostle intends all faults and negligences that concur unto unprofitable hearing. It is not a natural imbecillity of mind that he blames in them, nor such a weakness of understanding as they might be obnoxious unto, for want of improvement by education, nor a want of learning and subtilty to search into things deep and difficult. For these, although they are all defects and hindrances in hearing, yet are they not crimes. But it is a moral degligence and inadvertency, a want of the discharge of their duty according to their ability in attending unto the means of their instruction, that he chargeth them withal. The natural dulness of our minds in receiving spiritual things is, it may be, included ; but it is our depraved affections, casting us on a neglect of our duty, that is condemned. And there are sundry things wherein we are hereby instructed. As,

Obs. I. There are revealed in the Scripture sundry deep and mysterious truths, which require a peculiar diligence in our attendance unto their declaration, that we may rightly understand them, or receive them in a due manner.-To evince this proposition, I shall lay down and confirm the ensuing observations.

1. There are some things or truths revealed in the Scripture, which have a peculiar remark put upon them, as those which are deep and mysterious. See I Tim. iii. 16. Eph. v. 32. 1 Cor. ii. 6–8. 1 Cor. xv. 51. Eph. iii. 4, 5.

2. The doctrines concerning these things are not dark and

obscure, but clear, evident and perspicuous. We may safely tegrant, that what is not clearly delivered in the Scripture, is of

no indispensable necessity to be known and believed. And there are reasons innumerable, why God would not leave any important truth under an obscure revelation. And none pretend they are so, but those who first reject the things revealed; then alt things spoken of them seem dark and obscure to them. There are two practices about these things that are equally pernicious. 1. A pretence of things mysterious, that are not clearly revealed. This the apostle calls a curions prying or intruding into things which we have not seen ; they who so do, are “ vainly puffed up by their fleshly mind,” Col. ii. 18. and which he cautioneth us against, Rom. xii. 3. The mysteries that are clear ly revealed in the Scripture, as to the doctrine of them, are sufficient to exercise thc utmost of our sober inquiries, and humble speculations. To create heavenly mysteries, like the pretended Areopagite, in our own imaginations, to squeeze them

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out of single letters, words or expressions, like the cabalistical dews, to vent our own fancies for mysteries, or to cover plain and sober * vullis with raw and uncouth terms, that they may puit on the vizard of being mysterious, is to forsake the word, and to give up ourselves to the conduct of our own imaginations. 2. A neglect and contempt of clear open revelation, Ivecause the things revealed are mysterious. And as this is the toundation of the most outrageous errors that at this day intest Christian religion, as in the Socinians and others, so it is that poison which secretly influenceth many amongst ourselves, to an open contempt of the most important truths of the gospel. They will not indeed declare them to be false, but they judge it meet that they should be let alone where they are, as things not by us to be understood.

3. The depths and mystery of the things intended, lie in themselves and their own nature. They are effects of divine wisdom, yea, the greatest which ever God will either work or declare. Hence the doctrine of them is called “ his wisdom," 1 Cor. ii. 7. “ his manifold wisdom," Eph. iii. 10. as having pot the most eminent characters of infinite wisdom upon them. We can see other things by the light of the sun, better than we can see the sun itself; not because the sun is less visible and discernible in itself, but because our visive faculty is too weak to bear its resplendent light. So is it with these mysterious things

: they are great, glorious, true, evident in themselves; but our understandings are weak, and unable fully to comprehend them.

4. The principal of these mysteries coneern the person, of. fices, and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. So as to his it is declared by our apostle, 1 Tim. iii. 16.; as to his work and office, Phil. ii. 7-10.; and as to his grace, Eph. iii. 8—]). And therefore,

5. Of all things which we are to learn in the dispensation of the word, these are we with most diligence to attend unto, Phil. iii. 8—10, as those wherein the glory of God, and our oxa obedience, are most concerned. Some suppose that we should wholly content ourselves with the plain lessons of moralis

, without any farther diligent inquiry into these mysteries; which is at once to reject, if not the whole, yet the principal part the gospel, and that, without which, what remains will not be available. Sad indeed would be the condition of the church of God, it preachers and hearers should agree in the neglect and contempt of the mysteries of the gospel

. These, I say, are the things which our utmost diligence in reading, hearing, sud meditating on the word, in prayer and holy supplications for light and wisdom, that we may know them, and grow in the huowledge of them, is indispensably required of us



· Obs. II. It is necessary for the ministers of the gospel sometimes to insist on the most abstruse and difficult truths, that are revealed for our edification. The apostle doth not only insist upon the sacerdotal office of Christ, the nature and exercise of it in bis own person, but he judgeth it necessary to explain the mystical prefiguration of it in the priesthood of Melchisedec. Why might not that have been omitted, seeing he expressly acknowledgeth that the things concerning it were hard and difficult in the sense before explained, and the doctrine which he proposed in general, might be declared and taught without it? Is not this a needless curiosity, and such as tended rather to the amusing and perplexing of his disciples, than to their edification ? No, saith 'he, there may be curiosity in the manner, but there can be none in the matter, when we declare and expound only what is revealed in the Scripture. It was not in vain that the Holy Ghost recorded these things concerning the person and office of Melchisedec. The faith and obedience of the church, are concerned in the due understanding of them, and therefore this explanation is not to be neglected. Wherefore, to clear and direct our duty in this matter, we may consider, 1. That it ought to be the design of every faithful minister in the course of his ministry, to withhold nothing from those committed unto his charge, that belongs unto their edification, as do all things that are written in the Scripture, but to declare unto them the whole counsel of God, so far as he himself hath attained, Acts xx. 20. 27. To give times and seasons unto especial truths, doctrines, expositions, is committed unto his own prudence by him, by whom he is made an overseer to feed the church of God. But his design in general is, to keep back pothing that is profitable, as is the sense of all the Scripture, even in its most abstruse and difficult passages, 2 Tim. iii. 16. 2. That his duty is as much as in him lieth, to carry on his hearers unto perfection, ch. vi. 1.. For the ministry itself being given to the church for the perfecting of the saints, Eph. iv. 12, 13. or for the bringing of them all unto a perfect man in Christ Jesus, every one who is faithful in that office, ought to make it his design and work. And hereunto doth their growth in light and knowledge, and that of the most mysterious truths, in an especial manuer, belong. And whereas some, through the blessing of God on their holy diligence and endeavours, do thrive and grow in light and knowledge above others, they are not to be clogged in their progress, by being bound up always unto the lines and measures of them, who, it may be, are retarded through their own sloth and negligence. This we shall afterwards have occasion to speak unto. But, 3. Whereas the greatest part of our congregations, it may be, frequently are such as stand in need of milk, and are not skilful, as yet, in the woril of righe

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teousness; it is our duty also to insist on those plainer truth which are suited unto their edification. 4. Those who are cal. led by the state of their flocks, to engage sometimes in the exposition of abstruse and mysterious passages of Scripture, may do well to observe the ensuing rules, all which may be evidently gathered from the way and manner of our apostle's treating concerning Melchisedec and his office. 1. That their interpre. tations be openly and evidently conformable to the analogy of faith. To search after new opinions in, or to found new or peculiar doctrines on, abstruse and mystical passages of Scripture

, is a pestilent curiosity. 2. That the exposition of them be necessary from present circumstances, which are principally two. First, That the things contained in them, do belong unto some important truth, which is plainly declared for the substance of it in other places, although from them it may receive light and illustration. Thus, our apostle doth not designedly, and on set purpose for its own sake, choose out that abstruse and mystetious passage about Melchisedec. But, whereas he was engag. ed in the declaration of the priesthood of Christ, he taketh in the consideration thereof, as that which did belong thereunto, and which would add light and argument to the truth he had in liand. And herein consists the greatest wisdom in the treating of such places; namely, when we-can reduce them to that proper head and seat of doctrine in other places, whereunte they do belong, which is our sure guide in their interpretation. To choose out such places for our subjects, to speak on separately, and to make them the sole basis of our discourse, may have somewhat of an unwarrantable curiosity. Secondly, When they offer themselves in the course of our work or ministry, where God gives light into the sense of the Holy Ghost in them, they are not to be waved, as we would be esteemed faithful in our work. 3. Always to remember, that what is so abstrusely expressed, is so on purpose, for the exercise as of our faith, humility and subjection of mind unto the authority of the Holy Ghost speaking in the Scripture; so of our diligence and dependance on him for instruction, which calls for an especial frame of spirit in the work we undertake. 4. That the difficulty and necessity of treating concerning such things, be intimated unto them who are to be instructed, that so they may be prepared to attend with diligence, and judge with sobriety of what is delivered. So deals our apostle with the Hebrews, on this occasion in this place. Under a due observance of these rules, it will be necessary sometimes for ministers ot' the gospel, to insist on the most abstruse and difficult truths, that are revealed in the Scripture, and that, because their doing so is necessary unto the edification of the church.

Obs. III. There is a glorious light and evidence in all divinę

truths, but by reason of our darkness and weakness, we are not always able to comprehend them. Our want of that acquaintance with them, which it is our duty to have, and which is needful unto our edification, is from ourselves alone, and for the most part, from our sinful neglect of what is required thereunto.

Obs. IV. Many who receive the word at first with some readiness, do yet afterwards make but slow progress either in knowledge or grace. This, the apostle here chargeth on the Hebrews, which we must further afterwards consider.

Obs. V. It is men's slothfulness in hearing, that is the sole cause of their not improving the means of grace, or not thriving under the dispensation of the word. Or, all our miscarriages, with respect unto the gospel, are to be resolved into our own sloth, negligence and depraved affections. For it is not any one particular vice, fault or miscarriage in hearing, that the apostle intendeth and reproveth; but the want in general of such an attendance to the word, as to be edified thereby, proceeding from corrupt affection and neglect of duty. And whereas, this is a sin of so perilous a nature, as to deprive us of all benefit by the gospel, it will be necessary to give a summary account of the duty of hearing the word in a due manner, so to discover those defects and faults which constitute this sloth that we are thus warned of. Unto hearing, therefore, as intended and enjoined in the gospel, belong all things required on our part, to make the word useful, and to give it its proper effects upon our souls. . “ Faith cometh by hearing,” Rom. x. 17. Whatever is required of us, that we may believe and obey the word, it belongs in general to this duty of hearing; and from a neglect of any thing material thereunto, we are denominated yw.sgos tais anodis, and do contract the guilt of the vice here reproved. Three things in this sense do concur to the duty intended. 1. What is preparatory thereunto. 2. Actual hearing or 'attendance on the word preached. 3. What is afterwards required to render our hearing useful and effectual. Which I shall speak unto, in one or two instances under each head.

First, We may consider what is necessary hereunto in way of preparation, that we be not slothful hearers. There is a preparation due unto the right sanctification of the name of God in any obedience in general, which I do not now intend, and I have spoken unto it elsewhere. Prayer, meditation and a due reverence and regard to the authority and especial presence of God, with faith exercised on his promises, are necessary hereunto. These things, therefore, I here suppose, and shall only give one or two instances, of what peculiarly respects the duty of hearing, peculiarly in way of preparation. Scaree

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