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Rule i. The word and all ordinances dispensed in the administration to him committed, by virtue of ministerial authority, are to be diligently attended and submitted unto, with ready obedience in the Lord.

1 Cor. iv. 1, “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.”

2 Cor. v. 18, 20, “God hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us.” Chap. iv. 7, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” See chap. vi. 1.

Gal. iv. 14, “Ye received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

2 Thess. iii. 14, “If any man obey not our word, note that man, and have no company with him.”

Heb. xiii. 7, 17, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

Explication i. There is a twofold power for the dispensing of the word:— 1. Δύναμις, or ability; 2. Ἐξουσία, or authority. The first, with the attending qualifications, mentioned and recounted 1 Tim. iii. 2–7, Tit. i. 6–9, and many other places, is required to be previously in those, as bestowed on them, who are to be called to office of ministration: and may be, in several degrees and measures, in such as are never set apart thereunto, who thereby are warranted to declare the gospel, when called by the providence of God thereunto, 56Rom. x. 14, 15; for the work of preaching unto the conversion of souls being a moral duty, comprised under that general precept of doing good unto all, the appointment of some to the performance of that work, by the way of office, doth not enclose it.

The second, or authority, proper to them who orderly are set apart thereunto, ariseth from, —

1. Christ’s institution of the office, Eph. iv. 11.

2. God’s providential designation of the persons, Matt. ix. 38.

3. The church’s call, election, appointment, acceptation, submission, Gal. iv. 14; Acts xiv. 23; 1 Thess. v. 12, 13; Acts vi. 3; 2 Cor. viii. 5: which do not give them dominion over the faith of believers, 2 Cor. i. 24, nor make them lords over God’s heritage, 1 Pet. v. 3; but intrust them with a stewardly power in the house of God, 1 Cor. iv. 1, 2, — that is, the peculiar flock over which, in particular, they are made overseers, Acts xx. 28. Of whom the word is to be received, —

(1.) As the truth of God; as also from all others speaking according to gospel order in his name.

(2.) As the truth held out with ministerial authority to them in particular, according to the institution of Christ.

Want of a due consideration of these, things lies at the bottom of all that negligence, carelessness, sloth, and wantonness in hearing, which have possessed many professors in these days. There is nothing but a respect to the truth and authority of God in the administration of the word that will establish the minds of men in a sober and profitable attending unto it. Neither are men weary of hearing until they are weary of practising.

Motives to the observance of this rule are:—

1. The name wherein they speak and administer, 2 Cor. v. 20.

2. The work which they do, 1 Cor. iii. 9; 2 Cor. vi. 1; 1 Tim. iv. 16.

3. The return that they make, Heb. xiii. 17.

4. The regard that the Lord hath of them in his employment, Matt. x. 40, 41; Luke x. 16.

5. The account that hearers must make of the word dispensed by them, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 15, 16; Prov. i. 22–29, xiii. 13; Luke x. 16; Mark iv. 24; Heb. ii. 1–3, iv. 2.

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