|« Prev||CONCLUSION AND EXHORTATION TO ALL THE PIOUS.||Next »|
CONCLUSION AND EXHORTATION TO ALL THE PIOUS.
BEHOLD, beloved brethren, with much trouble, pains and anxiety, I have now, in the infirmity of my declining years, added another small gift to the treasury of the Lord, not of the price of a dog, nor of the hire of a harlot, which was forbidden to Israel; but of the abundant benediction of my God, namely, from the settled principles of his truth. Though it is not to be compared in value or worth with the gold, silver, metal, silk, or precious stones of the offering, yet, if it be reckoned with the rams' skins, goats' hair, and shittim wood, I have already attained my wish. For my prayer and desire before God and his church is, that the living building of the heavenly tabernacles may advance with the greatest speed to the attainment of their intended splendor and magnificence. For this cause, I have suffered not a little hardship, affliction, sadness, poverty and reproach, so that I hope I may boast in my weakness with all the pious of God, apostles and prophets, yea, with Christ Jesus himself, that the zeal of the Lord's house hath eaten me up.
I would, therefore, earnestly desire all the pious, who, with a pure, unadulterated conscience, have drank the water of love out of the fountain of God, that they do not despise this gift, but that, with candid and discerning minds, they examine, as in the presence of God in Christ Jesus, its nature, principles, vigor, cogency and virtuous tendency; and having thus passed a sound, impartial judgment upon it, that you leave it unbroken in all its parts. For it is my valedictory which I now offer, as I take my leave of you all in this part, of the ban and retire to rest.
In this I have not sought the acquirement of human favor or honor, the indulgence of flesh, or the promotion of party purposes, but I have illustrated the principles of truth, confirmed the holy ordinance of the apostles, rendered due praise to the justice and mercy of God, assigning to each its part, have added nothing new, nor varied in the least from its principles of my plan, except that in consequence of much conversation with the pious, and meditation upon certain writings, as also on account of great dangers, actual occurrences, and heinous abominations, and in order to put a stop in some measure to all offensive, disgraceful actions, I have more deeply considered the excluding sentence of the flagrant, carnal sinner, and, in this way, placed it upon a more certain basis, as may be seen.
As we are well convinced that the depth of satan is to some but partially known and manifest, and as a consequence that he does great injury, by means of his subtle, pernicious wrangling and disputation, as may be seen; therefore, my first earnest request unto all, who are named after the name of Christ, is, that they would reflect soberly, judiciously and discreetly upon the nature, character, heart, mind, Spirit and disposition of Christ, and consider that all which he has commanded, left and taught his followers, is nothing but pure righteousness, truth, patience, love and peace. Also, that they bow their knees before him, and have received the token of his most holy covepant264; that they should bury their former sinful life in his death; circumcise their hearts with his sharp word and Spirit; follow him, walk in all his ways, and be one with him in both the inward and the outward man, as taught in Scripture; also, that they reflect upon the high promise, and follow his word and will, in power and in truth. For he is such a God, that he does not take pleasure in outward shadows, ceremonies, types, bread, wine, water, and nominal service, but in spirit, deed and truth.
My second request is, that they would on the other hand, consider the nature, character, heart, spirit, mind, and work of satan, that he is from the beginning a shrewd, cunning deceiver, an impudent, wanton liar, and a revengeful murderer, a malicious envier of the honor and truth of God; a falseifier of his Holy Word, and a deadly enemy of pious souls; seditious, factious, unruly, schismatic, envious, perverse, and destitute of love; incapable of conceiving and bringing forth any thing but hatred, backbiting, lies, deception, jealousy, impurity of heart, vice and shame, and all in semblance of the truth. In semblance of the truth, I repeat, for although he is the infernal satan, beelzebub, belial, behemoth, leviathan, the angel of the bottomless pit, the prince of darkness, the old serpent, and the very devil himself, yet it is manifest; notwithstanding, that he has the power of transforming himself into an angel of light, as Paul informs us.
There is nothing of an external nature oppressive or vexatious to him, if he can only gain possession of the citadel of our hearts, and expel therefrom, Christ's nature, disposition, Spirit and power; if he can do this he has already won the prize of his craftiness, yea, if a man was even baptized by Peter or Paul himself, had received the bread of the Holy Supper from the hand of the Lord, would nevermore take part in papistic idolatry, yet if he retained but one of the fruits of the devil, whether hatred, or party spirit, envy, bitterness, avarice, revengefulness, pride, unchastity, or any other vice, we must declare with the Scripture that his spirit is devilish, and his life hypocrisy. For it is very evident that the whole man must be regenerated, sincere, unsophisticated, spiritually minded, godly, holy, devout, united and subject to Christ; as James says, "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all," James 2:10.
Yes, worthy brethren, those who are so far taught of God, that they are able, well and truly to distinguish between Christ and the devil, in relation to their nature, disposition, doctrine, and works, and thereby perceive that the disposition of Christ is productive of life, and the disposition of the devil is productive of death, shall, and will undoubtedly, separate and depart entirely, from all vain and unprofitable disputation, schism, separation, contention, dissension, sedition, and sectarianism, and also from all deadly abominations, sins, and shameful actions; of this I am fully convinced by the grace of God.
My third request is, that they would all, with candor and sincerity of heart, meditate upon the glorious and illustrious names with which they are honored in the Scriptures, namely, Children of God, saints and beloved of God, chosen of God, regenerated seed and children of Abraham, seed of peace, plants and scions of righteousness, fruitful grafts of Christ, members of the body of Christ, flesh and bone, mothers, sisters, brothers, disciples, guests, friends, sons, daughters, maiden, virgin, bride and spouse of Christ, His holy vineyard, camp, city, Jerusalem, temple, ark, house, abode, chosen people, citizens of heaven, living stones, companions of the saints, apostles and prophets, house‑hold of God, kings and priests, doves, sheep, the light of the world and the salt of the earth, &c., to the end that by such meditation, their conduct inwardly and outwardly, privately and publicly, may be such in all their ways, words, and works, before God, in the presence of the church, and before the whole world that they may, by grace, with the pious, walk worthily of all such glorious names, in love, peace and harmony, and by his paternal bounty forever escape the severe curse of excommunication, before mentioned, and not with the goats to the left hand, hear the stern sentence, Depart from me, ye cursed, but with the sheep to the right hand the cheering words, Come ye blessed, and be not numbered265 in eternity with those who are bound by the ban of the word, in the power from God, and styled in Scripture, a cursed, ungodly race, cursed children, children of wrath, and of the devil, servants of sin and perdition, mockers, revilers, wicked, carnal, perverse, unrighteous, ungodly, stiff‑necked sinners, dogs and swine, for whom are reserved the eternal woe, death, fire, lake and torment of hell. O, brethren take heed I
My fourth request is, to all those to whom the charge of the word of the Lord is committed, who are fellow laborers with me in the ministry, that in all their actions, they so conduct themselves before God and his church, that no man can in truth censure or speak evil of them; as sincere ministers of Christ; faithful and true in all things; men full of the Holy (host, born of the incorruptible seed of God; encompassed with heavenly light; transplanted into the good. disposition of Christ; partakers of his grace; taught and anointed of God; having their minds upon eternal things; hating their own fame, vainglory and impure, carnal lusts; lowly and little in their own eyes; of a meek and gentle spirit; compassionate, merciful, paternal, long‑suffering, friendly, humble, chaste, given to hospitality, submissive, mild, courteous and peacful; well versed in the sound doctrine; seeking and acting in accordance with the good nature, disposition, character, heart, mind and example of Christ; confirmed in spirit, blamless shepherds, taking oversight of the flock of God, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre's sake, nor for the sake of their own bellies, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords nor rulers, but being examples to the church of Christ, that in consequence of their faithful ministry they may run in fullness of joy upon the mountain of the Lord without fear or shame, and escape unharmed the mouths of fierce, ravenous wolves.
Yes, my brethren, if we could all proceed according to this rule in unity of spirit, unaccompanied by the destructive foxes, how soon would the bride of the lamb, shine forth in costly and variegated apparel, adorned in white and glittering robes, splendid bracelets, ear‑rings and neck‑laces (understand the beauty and ornament of her virtues), and with the brilliancy of her appearance, excite the admiration of the whole world; whereas now, in consequence of deceitful workers, cunning wranglers and sowers of dissension, she must sit, at times, in rags and tatters, and, oh God! be the scorn and derision of multitudes.
The anguish of my soul is ofttimes so great that I am unable to write; God omnipotent, strengthen me. And this, because I see that the house of the Lord has to endure so many offences, not only from without, but, alas! from within also. O men! men! arm yourselves! for the words of Paul are true, that the ministry of the New Testament is not a ministry of the letter, but of the Spirit. Its duties, therefore, cannot be truly discharged to the glory of God, by the proud, the arrogant, the ambitous, or the self‑willed, who wish to perform every thing after their own mind, humor and inclination, for they pull down more than they build up, and do more injury than they do good. This is a necessary consequence, inasmuch as according to the tenor of the doctrine of Paul, this ministration is neither the depth of wisdom nor eloquence, nor a dead letter, with which they are generally replete, but it is God, Spirit, truth, power and life, of which they are entirely destitute. O take heed.
Arm yourselves, I repeat; for true teachers are called in Scripture, the angels of the Lord and valiant soldiers; be therefore manly; keep the commandment of God; hold fast and waver not. They are called watchmen and trumpeters; blow your trumpet to the right sound; watch over the city of God; watch wisely, I say, and neither slumber nor sleep. Spiritual' pillars they are styled; O be steadfast in the truth; bear your burden willingly, waver not, neither be faint. Messengers of peace they are called; Ah, brethren live up to, and justify your name, walk in peace, maintain and break it not. They are called bishops and overseers.; O take great care of the flock of Christ; take great care of them, I say, and see that you neither destroy nor neglect them. Shepherds they are called; O keep and feed the lambs of Christ, and leave them not to pine away. They are styled teachers; make known the word and truth of Christ; publish it abroad and conceal266 it not. They are styled spiritual nurses and fathers; O nourish and cherish your young children; vex them not, neither cast them away. They should be as the parent bird to her young; gather together the young and tender ones in Christ, and scatter them not, nor hurt them. They are called the stewards of God; O perfect the mystery of the name; abuse it not, nor disgrace it. They are called the light of the world; shine and glitter in full glory, and conceal not the brightness of your virtue. They are called the salt of the earth; O let the salt penetrate through and through, and be not ill savored. Ministers in Christ's stead; Ali, brethren serve, but rule not; let no man glory in any gift, I beseech you. We are receivers, not givers of grace, not of ourselves, observe; we are servants, and not lords. Ah brethren, bow down and submit. My chosen in love and truth, the joy and delight of my soul, so long as you stand fast in the Lord, abide in the way of peace and are faithful to your brethren. Walk worthy of the vocation unto which you are called; fear your God with all your heart; love the brethren; discharge faithfully the duties of your ministry; he is rich from whom you will receive your reward. Watch and pray. Pray, I say, and that with confidence, and so the (liver of every good and perfect gift, will not withdraw from you his grace, Spirit, love and wisdom. Doubt not, neither be afraid. Let the glorious, typified breastplate of Aaron, Christ Jesus, decorated with its beautiful colors, its twelve pearls, its Urim and Thummim, be bound fast to the breast of your conscience, with the two golden chains of the two testaments, and with the two yellow laces of pure faith and unadulterated love; wash the feet of your affections, purify them in the spiritual laver, Christ Jesus, with the living water of his eternal and Holy Spirit, take of the blood of his unspotted offering, and in a true spirit, put it on the tip of your right ear, in order rightly to understand his word, and upon the thumb of your right hand, and upon the great toe of your right foot, in order to act and walk uprightly before him, and in the presence of his congregation. Have your spiritual mitres, girdles and garments made for glory and for beauty, that, like verdant olive trees and luxuriant vines, and as burning torches and brilliant luminaries, in the firmament of the holy word, you may serve in fullness of glory, with all the faithful servants of Christ, day and night in his holy temple, to the glory of God and to the reformation of Israel; bring forth abundance of fruit, and when he shall appear with all his chosen saints, apostles and prophets, you shall receive in everlasting joy the promised reward. Sweet, gracious, and full of consolation is the word which the Lord utters, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord," Matt. 25:21. Ali brethren, from our hearts, let us be admonished, that we be faithful to Christ and his church.
Brethren and sisters, I will now in the peace of Christ, commit you all with one accord into the hand of the King of peace, and I do, with Paul, entreat you from my heart. "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind, let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves," Phil. 2:1‑3. For you well know by whom and whereunto we are called. Reflect upon this. So that no one may lose himself, on account of the shameful. actions, and abominations of another, nor destroy the good works of Christ, disturb the peaceable, grieve the pious, offend the weak, give excuse to the wanton, drive the wavering again to the world, bring reproach upon the word of the Lord and his church, bring revilers into repute, and encourage the blood‑thirsty; but that we be careful in all things to finish with joy, our course in Christ Jesus, and magnify his holy name, refresh one another in the peace of Christ, strengthen our sick, weak members, and young brethren, reprove the disorderly, publish abroad the truth of the Lord, and show unto all men,, a blameless, christian example. To this end may the eternal God of omnipotence, grant us all, collectively 267and individually, the active spirit of his grace, with perfect obedience and love in Christ Jesus, our Lord, Amen. Ah, chosen children! God knows this is my final adieu to you all. Love the brethren, and beware of dissension.
|« Prev||CONCLUSION AND EXHORTATION TO ALL THE PIOUS.||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version