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Full text of "The reformed pastor"



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Baxter, Richard, 1615-1691. 
The reformed pastor 



SELECT 
CHRISTIAN AUTHORS, 

WITH 

INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS. 



N°- 42. 



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rUbLlSEFJ) BY MTILLIAK t^OLLINS CrLASGOW. 



Ku'^i <xix%teeLhj W.l^izdss E 



THE 

REFORMED PASTOR, 



/ 
BY / 



RICHARD BAXTER. 

REVISED AND ABRIDGED, 

BY THE 

REV. WILLIAM BROWN, M. D. 



WITH 

AN INTRODUCTORY ESSAY, 

BY 

DANIEL WILSON, D. D. 

LORD BISHOP OF CALCUTTA. 
FOURTH EDITION. 



GLASGOW: 
PRINTED FOR WILLIAM COLLINS ; 

OLIVER & BOYD, WJI. WHYTE & CO. AND WM. OLIPHANT, EDINBURGH 

W. F. WAKEMAN, AND WM. CURRY, JUN. & CO. DUBLIN ; 

WHITTAKER, TREACHER, & ARNOT ; HAMILTON, ADAMS, & CO- 

AND SIMPKIN & MARSHALL, LONDON. 



M.DCCC.XXXV. 



Printed by W. Colli'is ft Co. 
Gla'gow. 




PRIHGETOn 



THEOLOGICAL^ 
INTRODUCTORY ESSAY. 



The name of Baxter is too well known, to require 
any thing to be said, by way of introduction, to such 
a work as the following. It is one of the best of his 
invaluable practical treatises. In the whole compass 
of divinity there is scarcely any thing superior to it, 
in close, pathetic appeals to the conscience of the 
minister of Christ, upon the primary duties of his 
office. The main object is, to press the necessity of 
his bringing home the truths of the Gospel to every 
individual of his flock, by affectionate, catechetical 
instruction. Some account of the work will be found 
in the Preface to the present edition, from the pen 
of the excellent writer, who has, with extraordinary 
success, prepared it for the public eye. The Treatise 
is now adapted for the clergy of every confession. 
The passing controversies, the digressions, the long 
Latin quotations, the local matters, are omitted ; but 
all that is native and vigorous, all that is spiritual and 
holy, all that is of general use, and belongs to every 
age, is retained, and placed in a better light. A few 
phrases and sentiments, indeed, will still be found, 
which partake of Baxter's particular character, or arise 



VI 

from his habits of thinking on controverted matters. 
These are inseparable from human infirmity : and he 
is unworthy the name of a Christian, who can allow 
such trifling considerations to lessen the full effect of 
the general truths of the Work, on his own heart 
and conscience. The writer of these lines rejoices, 
for his own part, to bear his testimony to the high 
value of this powerful book. It is peculiarly grati- 
fying to him, as an Episcopal clergyman, to introduce 
the manly and eloquent pages of this great Non- 
conformist divine. The ministers of every church 
should desire to have their errors boldly exposed, and 
the standard of the apostolic and primitive ages placed 
full before their eyes. Till we can bear this, we are 
not likely to see any considerable revival of religion 
amongst us. To be firm in our own conviction of 
duty, and act consistently with our vows to our seve- 
ral divisions of Christ's church, is, indeed, a para- 
mount obligation. But to rise above the mere details 
of a particular discipline, and enter into the high and 
spiritual designs of the ministry generally, as founded 
on the authority, and governed by the Spirit, and 
dedicated to the glory of Christ, is the only method 
of really promoting our several interests. We best 
advance the prosperity of our various bodies, when 
we seek the honour of our great Master, and the 
salvation of souls ; and make our ecclesiastical plat- 
forms entirely subservient to these high ends. 

To the ministers then, of all churches, and espe- 
cially the Protestant churches of Europe and Ame- 
rica, the writer now ventures to appeal. Wherever, 
indeed, the name of Christ is preached, in every part 
of the world, by the clergy of every confession, thero 



Vll 

would he direct his voice. Being called on to re- 
commend " The Reformed Pastor " by some in- 
troductory observations, he would endeavour to make 
it the occasion of exciting the most pungent grief, 
and the most entire reformation; and would thus 
urge his brother ministers to follow up, in the pre- 
sent day, what Baxter began amongst his contempo- 
raries nearly two centuries since. What is done in 
one period, must be repeated in another; — every age 
needs to be stirred up afresh. Baxter was preceded, 
and has been followed, by writers on the same argu- 
ment. Gildas and Salvian,* the names on his origi- 
nal title-page, were two distinguished writers, who, in 
the fifth and sixth centuries, alarmed a careless church 
by the thunders of their denunciations. Immediately 
before our Author's own time, the divine Herbert, 
as he is called, delineated his " Country Parson," 
with a tenderness and skill peculiar to himself.f 
Sixty years afterwards, the mild and persuasive ex- 
hortations of the " Pastoral Care," were addressed, 
by Bishop Burnet, to the whole body of the English 
clergy. J But for much more than a century since 
that time, no first-rate book on this subject has ap- 
peared. The publisher of the present edition has 
therefore done well, in bringing forward this incom- 
parable Treatise of Baxter, in his series of " Select 
Christian Authors," — this is to make the energy and 
pathos of the seventeenth century bear on the feeble 
Christianity of the nineteenth. 



* The first title of Baxter's " Reformed Pastor," was " Gildas 
et Salvianus." 

t " Herbert's Country Parson" was first published in 1632. 
t " Burnet's Pastoral Care," — a work in every one's hand. 



VIU 

Such is the opportunity on which the writer of 
these introductory pages seizes, for addressing his 
appeal to his honoured brethren of every name, and 
more especially to the clergy of his own church, with 
the view of carrying on Baxter's great design, and 
reviving the power of true religion amongst them. 
May he open his heart in all simplicity? May he 
at least, after thirty or forty years' observation, sug- 
gest to his younger brethren something which may 
tend, under the blessing of God, to promote a re- 
turn to primitive zeal and love amongst the clergy? 
May he be permitted to admonish and rouse his own 
conscience, whilst he attempts to excite others ? 
And O, blessed Spirit of Christ ! descend Thou upon 
the writer and the readers of these pages ! Vouch- 
safe success ! Fulfil thy gracious office, as the 
Comforter of the Church, by touching our hearts, 
and reviving thy work effectually amongst us ! Let 
thy ministers be open to thy reproofs, and " hear 
ichat the Spirit saith unto the churches /" 

In the first place, then, your attention, honoured 
and beloved brethren in Christ, shall be directed to 
some topics of humiliation; in the next, to some 
grounds of hope; and, lastly, to several points of 
duty, as subservient to a revival of pure Christianity 
amongst us. 

I. In the first place, permit me to ask. Have we 
not great cause for humiliation before our God, 
when we look back on our ministry ? This is the 
first topic. — If Baxter had occasion to lament the 
worldly-mindedness, the party spirit, the time-serving, 



1^ 

the cowardice, the neglect of individual catechising, 
the pride, formality, and lukewarmness of the minis- 
ters of his own day, and in his own order ; have we 
not cause to lament these, and the like evils, amongst 
ourselves? Look, brethren, into the apostolical 
epistles, and read the remonstrances and reproofs 
which were required in the first age ; and say if they 
are not even more necessary now. Call to mind the 
state of the seven churches of Asia, at the close of 
the Inspired Canon ; weigh every sentence of our 
Lord's rebukes ; and say whether we are not now in 
the condition of those churches — whether the Lao- 
dicean lukewarmness, especially, has not crept over 
us. Reflect only on the corruption of our nature ; 
the artifices of Satan, as illustrated by the whole 
stream of ecclesiastical history ; and the uniform ope- 
ration of long external peace upon the purity of the 
faith ; and say whether, from the necessary course of 
things, we are not in danger of a declining state in 
a day like the present. 

But let us come to facts. Let us look back to 
our first entrance, each of us, upon the sacred minis- 
try, and examine what were our motives. Were we 
duly sensible of the importance of the office ? Had 
we any competent understanding of the doctrine of 
Christ ? Did we feel as we ought the value of souls ? 
Alas ! how many of us rushed into the vineyard, 
without any of the views and feelings most essentially 
required ! And those of us who hope we were moved, 
in some measure, by the Holy Spirit, how faint was 
our love to Christ ! how narrow the limits of our 
knowledge, and faith, and zeal ! how imperfect our 

A3 



(levotedness of heart to the one object, the salvation 
of souls ! 

And smce we have been in the sacred office, what 
have we been about ? How have our hearts been 
towards our Saviour? How have we studied our 
Bibles? How have we persevered in the spirit of 
prayer ? How have we watched against the world ? 
How have we sought to overcome the wicked one? 
How have we honoured the Holy Ghost? How 
have we glorified Christ our Lord? What have we 
done with our time, our talents, our opportunities, 
our influence, our various means of doing good to 
ourselves and others ? I do not speak of infirmities 
and smaller errors merely, from which none are 
exempt, nor of the effects of momentary temptations ; 
but I speak of the strain and course of our ministry, 
of our character and spirit. O what cause have we 
for the deepest humiliation before our God ! 

But let us enter yet further into details, that thus 
our hearts may be filled with godly compunction. 

1. What has been the state of our hearts 
during the course of our ministry ? Have there been 
no declines there ? Have we been advancing in love 
to Christ, in humiliation, in prayer, in communion 
with God, in devotional study of the Bible, in self- 
examination ? Have we been " growing in grace, 
and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus 
Christ?" Have we been " in the love of God?" 
Have we felt as the ministers of Christ? Alas! 
brethren, if one may speak for another, we have too 
much departed in heart from the Lord ! There has 
often been a mortal coldness, a decay in the springs 
of life. The source of all our failures has been in a 



XI 

spiritual torpor and indifference as to Christ, and sal- 
vation, and the divine life, within ourselves. We 
have sunk too much into the creature, into selfish- 
ness, into human wisdom, into the world. God has 
not had our hearts. We have not loved our Lord 
Jesus Christ in fervour and sincerity. Hence our 
other evils. 

2. What have been the style and charac- 
ter OF OUR PUBLIC PREACHING? Has it been, in 
the full sense of the terms, evangelical, close, affec- 
tionate, appropriate, searching? Have we preached 
" Jesus Christ, and him crucified?" Have we pleaded 
with souls ? Have we aimed simply, intensely, at their 
salvation ? Have we followed the model of the holy 
Apostles ? Have we been " instant in season, out of 
season?" Have we been earnest, affectionate, im- 
portunate, with our hearers ? On all these points, 
God knows what sins we have been committing ! 
God knows how we have " preached ourselves, in- 
stead of Christ Jesus the Lord." God knows what 
tame subordinate topics, what human inventions, 
what commandments and opinions of rnen, have some- 
times weakened and deformed our public ministry ! 

3. Our PRIVATE diligence amongst the fami- 
lies and individual members of our flocks, what has 
it been ? This is the question which Baxter thought 
he had the greatest occasion to press in the year 1655; 
and is it not much more applicable in 1829? Have 
we been as shepherds amongst their flocks? Have 
we looked after each individual sheep with an eager 
solicitude ? Have we denied ourselves, our own ease, 
and pleasure, and indulgence, in order to " go after 
Christ's sheep, scattered in this naughty world, that 



Xll 

they might be saved in Christ for ever?" What 
do the streets and lanes of our cities testify concern- 
ing us ? What do the highways and hedges of our 
country parishes say as to our fidehty and love to 
souls ? What do the houses, and cottages, and sick 
chambers of our congregations and neighbourhoods 
speak ? Where have we been ? What have we 
been doing ? Has Christ, our Master, seen us fol- 
lowing his footsteps, and " going about doing good ?'* 
Brethren, we are verily faulty concerning this. W^e 
have been content with public discourses, and have 
not urged each soul to the concerns of salvation. 
We have not brought Christ and his offers, and 
placed them full before the view of each perishing 
sinner. We have not pressed these offers upon 
their acceptance, with the frequency, the affection, 
the importunity, which the case demanded. 

4. But let us enter our studies, and remember all 
our sins in our private duties ; in our preparation 
for our public work, in our prayers, in the devotional 
and close application of truth to our own consciences. 
O, what do our libraries, and closets, and places of 
study and preparation say ! What has become of 
all those hours, which we professed to spend in 
prayer before God, with the Bible in our hands, and 
our ministry in our hearts ! How much time have 
we frittered away in vain reading; in the gratifica- 
tion of curiosity; in pursuing " oppositions of sci- 
ence falsely so called ;" in reading the last new book 
on divinity ; in examining the last new criticism ; in 
amusing our minds with the last review, the last piece 
of history, the last philosophical dissertation ! I speak 
not against any department of sound and manly know- 



Xlll 

ledge ; in its place, and to certain ministers, at certain 
times, each is indispensable. But have we kept these 
things in their places ? Have they not superseded 
other more immediate duties ? Has not our reading 
been too much governed by inclination, rather than 
conscience, and a sense of duty ? And in the pre- 
paring of our sermons, alas ! how cold, how formal, 
have we often been ! Prayer has been the last thing 
we have thought of, instead of being the first. We 
have made dissertations, not sermons; we have con- 
sulted commentators, not our Bibles ; we have been 
led by science, not by the heart : and therefore have 
our discourses in public, and our instructions in pri- 
vate, been so tame, so lifeless, so uninteresting to 
the mass of our hearers, so little savouring of Christ, 
so little like the inspired example of St. Paul. 

5. Suffer yet further the word of exhortation, 
brethren ; and let us review our walk before men, 
our general carriage, our conduct in our families, our 
behaviour in the sight of others, our arrangement of 
our days and hours, our diligence and perseverance 
in the several branches of our calling. Can we an- 
swer before God the questions arising from topics 
like these ? Have we been " wholesome examples 
of Christ" to our people? Have we been separate 
from the spirit, fashions, maxims of the world? 
Have we shown to our people " the more excellent 
way?" Have we lived, as well as preached, the 
Gospel of Christ ? Have we given an assurance to 
every one, of sincerity in our doctrine, by our habi- 
tual walk ? Has our " conversation been in hea- 
ven ?" Have we led the way to others in heavenly- 
mindedness, humility, self-denial, spiritual affections, 



XIV 

superiority to the frowns and allurements of the 
world? Have we been willing to bear reproach for 
Christ ? Have we followed our crucified Saviour to 
his glory, with our cross upon our shoulders ? Bles- 
sed Jesus ! Thou knowest the guilt of thy ministers 
in this respect, above all others ! We have been 
divines, we have been scholars, we have been dispu- 
tants, we have been students, — we have been every 
thing but the holy, self-denying, laborious, consistent 
ministers of thy despised Gospel ! We have been 
courting the world; we have been trying to serve 
God and mammon ; we have loved the praise of men 
more than the praise of God. The state of our 
hearts has been cold ; our public preaching has been 
defective ; our duties amongst our flock, our studies, 
have been full of evil; but our walk before men, 
when compared with the spirituality of thy holy ex- 
ample, and the standard of our profession, has been 
worst of all. It is into this sewer and receptacle 
that all our secret corruptions have been flowing ; it 
is here they have been poured out. And now, in 
the review of these instances of our departure from 
thee, O our God ! we would humble ourselves, in an 
unaffected abasement of soul ! But we would not 
stop here : we would go on to confers before Thee 
the sad effects of these evils in the general condition 
of thy church. 

6. For our humiliation, beloved brethren, will be 
far from complete, unless we look our whole state full 
in the face. Let us consider what have been the 
consequences of the above more private and personal 
evils. Let us look back, each of us, on our past 
history. Let us remember those times of peculiar 



XV 

GUILT AND BACKSLIDING, which have dishonoured 
our God; when Satan has come in like a flood ; when 
we have shamefully yielded to temptation, — disgraced 
our sacred profession, — grieved, and almost caused 
the Holy Spirit to forsake us, — laid waste our con- 
sciences, and weakened the whole simplicity and en- 
ergy of our subsequent ministry. Why is it, that 
things are at the low ebb with many of us, which we 
have pointed out in the preceding pages ? Is it not 
because of some great sins, which, though known to 
few of our fellow-creatures, have been well known to 
our God and Saviour? The dreffs of an outraged 
piety can never suffice for the right discharge of the 
sacred office. If the writer may freely speak, he 
would put it to every minister's conscience, to say, 
whether, in some cases, temptation and secret ini- 
quity; peculiar departures in heart from the Lord; 
and scenes in former years, which memory too faith- 
fully records ; have not left the traces and associa- 
tions of evil so strongly imprinted on the habits, — 
have not corrupted so deeply the first principles of 
faith and love in the heart, as to mar and injure the 
simplicity of the soul, and produce that weak, vacillat- 
ing, inefficient ministry, of which our flocks have so 
long had reason to complain ? O that these wounds 
may be effectually healed, by the application of the 
blood and Spirit of Christ ! O that a deep humilia- 
tion may bring us back to our God ! O that the 
rest of our ministry may be honoured by the full 
measure of the divine grace and communications ! 
Backsliding and apostacy of heart, too often leading 
to open sin, are the offence of the present day. 
7, Again, how much should we be abased before 



XVI 

our God, for the fearful errors and heresies 
which have risen up in the spiritual church ! This 
is another consequence of general lukewarmness. 
We speak not of occasional mistakes, of a greater or 
less degree of accuracy and clearness : but of open 
error, and departure from the faith of Christ. On the 
one hand, how much has been written and preached, 
to weaken the doctrine of the fall; of the grace of 
Christ; of the merciful will of our heavenly Father, 
as the first source of our salvation ; of the " right- 
eousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, 
upon all and unto all them that believe;" of the 
operations of the Holy Spirit; of the promises of 
persevering grace ; of the spirituality and extent of 
Christian obedience ; of the joy and delight of com- 
munion with God, and the anticipations of heaven ! 
God knows how we have erred, many of us, in these 
respects ! For example, on the one doctrine of re- 
generation and the new creation by the Holy Spirit, 
how much error has infected the Protestant churches ! 
Can we wonder that the Holy Spirit has withdrawn 
from us, when his gracious work has been explained 
away, denied, opposed by unscriptural statements on 
the nature and efficacy of the sacraments? And 
have not many fatal misapprehensions and misstate- 
ments appeared, verging, on the other hand, towards 
Antinomian licentiousness, and the abuse of the 
grace of Christ ? Have not frightful over- statements 
respecting the decrees of God been made ? Have 
not omissions, almost as fatal, of practical exhorta- 
tions, and direct appeals to the consciences of sinners, 
enervated the whole force of the Gospel? Have 
not writings been published on prophecy, and the 



XVll 

doctrine of assurance, which directly lead to spiritual 
presumption? Have not errors appeared on the 
doctrine of pardon, and on the immediate blessedness 
of the believer after death ? O brethren ! humilia- 
tion before God indeed becomes us in such a time 
as this. 

8. From these and similar evils, and from the state 
of mind from which they spring, have not bitter 
CONTROVERSIES, uncharitable disputes, heat, accu- 
sation, alienation of heart, a spirit of party, arisen 
in the church ? Does not even the world mark the 
animosity of our controversies ? Do we not cause 
the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme ? Do we not 
harden the consciences of the ungodly? Do we not 
prevent and defeat much of the success of the Gospel ? 
O what a scene have our great religious societies pre- 
sented of late years ! O how much of the spirit of 
party still lurks in our minds — that spirit within us 
" which Justeth to envy," as the Scripture speaks ! 

Let each one, brethren, examine his own heart, 
his own circle, his own congregation and church ; 
and see the various evils and corruptions which reign 
there, in these and similar respects. Let him yield 
to the deep conviction of conscience; let him humble 
his soul in the dust before God, for his own share 
in these provocations, and for the share which others 
have borne in them. We never can expect a return 
of divine grace till our deep penitence give glory to 
God, in confession and supplication. Whilst we 
keep silence and justify ourselves, all stands still. 
When the floodgates of grief are thrown open, then, 
and not before, may we hope for the Lord to pour 
in the full tide of his Holy Spirit. 



XVIU 

9. And remember, brethren, that our want of 
SUCCESS m our ministrations is to be traced back to 
the same causes, and is a further call to contrition 
and humiliation in the sight of our God. We all 
complain of the little fruit which attends our labours. 
A dew of the divine grace falls, indeed, here and 
there ; but there is scarcely any where an abundant 
shower of blessing. A few are converted in our 
several parishes and neighbourhoods, and we collect 
a little circle around us ; and we should bless God 
for any the least measure of success : but we seldom 
see any great signals of divine power, — a general 
awakening of souls, — a holy and overwhelming influ- 
ence on ministers and people, which bears them above 
the world, and leads them to live and walk closely 
with God. The evangelical fisherman does not cast 
out a wide net, and enclose a great multitude of fishes ; 
and our converts do not, in general, go on consis- 
tently and steadily; they often turn aside, — often 
decline, — often " fall into temptation and a snare, 
and many foolish and hurtful lusts," — often divide 
into sects and parties. 

And why is all this ? Because we have forsaken 
our God, grieved the Holy Spirit, and corrupted the 
Gospel of Christ ; because our own hearts, and lives, 
and prayers, so little prepare for great success; be- 
cause we expect so little, exercise so little faith in 
the divine power, and seldom, if ever, feel an eager 
and insatiable desire for the conversion of souls. 

Now, the first step to a better state of things, 
is real and unaffected shame and confusion of face 
before God for our past neghgence : " He that 



XIX 

confesseth and forsaketh his sins, shall find mercy." 
The remarkable confessions of Moses, Ezra, and 
Daniel ; the striking humihations of the prophets 
Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel ; the penitential psalms 
of the holy David; the whole strain of the Bible, 
both in the Old and the New Testament ; direct 
us to this great duty. One day spent in fasting and 
prayer to God, is worth a thousand days of complaint 
and lamentation before men. Believe me, brethren, 
it is not in a spirit of censoriousness, or self-exalta- 
tion, that the most unworthy of the Lord's servants 
thus addresses you. He must, alas ! take his full 
share of guilt and sorrow in the general humiliation. 
But he speaks from love to souls ; from zeal for the 
glory of Christ ; from a deep conviction of duty, on 
being called to write on this subject. He cannot — 
dare not — will not keep silence. He will call himself 
and others to that unreserved and penetrating sense 
of sin and demerit, which, by the grace and power 
of the Holy Spirit, may lead to penitence, to confes- 
sion, to real and abiding amendment and reformation. 
Let not our lay brethren misinterpret the strong 
language of humiliation here used. It is not of 
what are called open sins, notorious inconsistencies, 
gross vices, for the most part, that we speak ; but of 
those secret and hidden evils, which, under a virtuous 
and pious carriage, may yet be eating, as doth a can- 
cer, into the life of spiritual religion and ministerial 
energy. Nor is it of all ministers that we speak, nor 
of any ministers at all times, and in all respects ; but 
it is of some at sometimes, and of all only as to some 
or more particulars. Do not, therefore, misapprehend 
these pages. Do not pervert the design of them to 



XX 

corrupt purposes. Do not despise your ministers. 
Do not apply to individuals what belongs only to 
some of a general class. Remember that it is partly 
in chastisement for your own sins, as private Chris- 
tians, that these evils have been permitted to spread. 
The corruption is general: you must join in the 
general humiliation. You have not prayed for your 
ministers as you ought. You have not assisted them 
in their labours. You have not been docile and 
fruitful under their instructions. You have frowned 
on them, and put them in fear, when they were dis- 
posed to be most faithful. You have enticed and 
allured them into sin, by your worldliness, your 
vanity, your lax example and spirit. The priests, 
indeed, are called to the deepest humiliation ; they 
are the first in the procession of penitence, but the 
people must follow after them. They need to con- 
fess and lament their own sins, and those of their 
families. They must join with their pastors in 
seeking the Lord, and imploring his grace upon the 
whol'e church. 

But to return. It is not to topics of humiliation 
that this address must be confined : we pass on to a 
more cheering part of our subject. 

II. There are many grounds of hope in the 

PRESENT DAY, WHICH MAY ENCOURAGE US IN OUR 
REFORMATION AND REPENTANCE. 

1. For God is at work. There is a movement 
in men's minds towards salvation. There are nume- 
rous events in providence concurring to aid the spiri- 
tual church. Satan, indeed, is raging; infidelity 
belches forth her blasphemies; opposition to truth 



XXI 

increases in many quarters ; men's hearts are failing 
th'Cm for fear; the pubhc press is an instrument of in- 
calculable mischief in various ways, especially that part 
of it which is known by a name — itself a reproach 
to a Christian people — The Sunday Press. Still 
God is at work. Mighty things seem to be prepar- 
ing. Bishops, and pastors, and ministers, and mis- 
sionaries, and catechists, and schoolmasters, and au- 
thors, and translators, are rising up in the churches. 
The power committed to our own Protestant country 
stretches over the greater divisions of the globe. The 
spirit of commerce, and enterprise, and discovery, car- 
ries our vessels to every shore. Our foreign bishops 
and governors, for the most part, favour spiritual re- 
ligion. The Heathen and Mahommedan nations 
are moving, inquiring, rousing themselves from the 
slumber of ages. Popery is shaken to its base, by 
the spirit of inquiry, and the diffusion of the Scrip- 
tures, and of education. Such a time encourages 
the church to examine herself, and lie low before 
her God in dust and ashes; to separate from what 
provokes the Lord, and prepare for his further 
blessings. 

2. Then the machinery of religious dis- 
semination is erected, and in operation ; and is 
ready to receive from the Lord, and extend to the 
utmost corners of the earth, the richest blessings, 
whenever He may be pleased to " cause his face to 
shine upon us, that we may be saved." Consider, 
beloved brethren, what preparation there has been 
made, during the last thirty years, for the ultimate 
diffusion of the Gospel. Whether it may seem fit 
to Almighty God to use the present societies chiefly 



XXll 

in this work, we know not. The purifying process, 
however, through which many of them have passed, 
is far from being unfavourable to the hope of their 
final most enlarged success. When the members 
and leading conductors of all our institutions are duly 
humbled, and led more feelingly and unreservedly to 
ascribe every measure of success to God alone; when 
the din of applause and flattery is silenced, and there 
is room for God to be glorified, then may we hope that 
the present machinery will be filled and animated with 
the Holy Spirit, and carried on to the most blessed 
results. At all events, we may rejoice at the various 
plans which they are adopting for the diffusion of the 
Gospel. What is the spread of education and know- 
ledge amongst the lower orders of every part of the 
world, but the materials of divine knowledge and love, 
when God shall descend, as it were, and impregnate 
it with his grace ? What is the public press, with 
its immense rapidity of production, but a servant, 
waiting for the divine Master's orders ? What are 
the churches, and other places for the worship of 
Almighty God, lately erected in our own country and 
in other lands, but temples ready to be filled with the 
Divine glory ? In our own national English estab- 
lishment, recollect only the two hundred new churches, 
and the equal number of enlarged old ones, with their 
five or six hundred thousand new sittings — half of 
them for the poor — all subserving the glorious Gos- 
pel of the blessed God. Remember, also, the equal 
amount of accommodation in other classes of the 
Christian communities. Conceive of eleven or twelve 
hundred thousand additional hearers, as all prepared 
for the faith and love of Christ ; and then tell me 



XXlll 

how immense and rapid may be the result of the 
blessing. We know, indeed, that at present much 
positive evil exists, in the way in which education is 
conducted, the press employed, and new as well as 
old churches administered. But Hope looks up- 
ward to the God of all grace ; and Penitence abhors 
herself, and lies abased in the dust ; and humble and 
fervent Prayer addresses itself to the throne of 
mercy, for the needful gift of the Holy Spirit. 

With regard to our missions, what a machinery 
has been put together ; what preparations made ; what 
a conflict begun against the prince of darkness in his 
own dominions ; what a footing obtained in the centre 
of the Heathen and Mahommedan lands, for planting 
the camp, and preparing the way, and bringing in the 
hosts of Messiah's armies ! And does not the mea- 
sure of success already obtained, — the schools estab- 
lished in Heathen countries, — the churches founded, 
— the converts made, — the holy communion of saints 
established, — the happy and triumphant deaths wit- 
nessed, — the moralizing and humanizing effects of 
Christianity on uncivilized man, acknowledged by 
governors and statesmen, — and the native teachers 
and missionaries, raised up and sent forth amongst 
the heathen; — do not these dawnings of grace fore- 
tell the bursting forth of the meridian day ? Is not 
this twilight the herald and harbinger of the full ris- 
ing of the Sun of Righteousness ? 

What, especially, does the movement amongst the 
ancient people of God, the success of the societies 
for the conversion of the Jews, — the spirit of inquiry 
awakened amongst that remarkable people, — the se- 
rious discussions going on, — the converts made, — 



XXIV 

the diflPusion of the New Testament in Hebrew, and 
various other languages, amongst them, — the educa- 
tion of their children ; — what is all this but machin- 
ery standing ready for a divine hand to give it the 
full impulse ? And is not the conversion of the Jews 
connected inseparably with that of the Gentiles ? 
What will the fulness of the Jews be, but as life to 
a dead and unregenerate Gentile world ? 

3. But to pass from the hopes beaming upon the 
frame-work and instrumentality of religious exertions, 
what encouragement to a penitent return to God does 

THE WIDE DISSEMINATION OF THE HoLY SCRIP- 
TURES WITHOUT HUMAN ADDITIONS furnish ! This 
is more than machmery, — this is truth itself, and in 
the purest form, actually diffused. The honour thus 
put upon the revelation of Almighty God, — the so- 
lemn and impressive reverence excited for the autho- 
ritative standard of truth, — the separation of all the 
infirm and mingled productions of men from the pure 
and unmixed Inspirations of the Holy Ghost, — the 
direct means and source of divine instruction made 
accessible to the whole human race, — the best refu- 
tation given of all material errors, and corruptions of 
the faith of Christ, — the spring of consolation and 
joy opened widely to a sorrowful world, — the peace- 
ful Interpreter of salvation speaking in its gentle 
tones to the miserable child of man in all nations, — 
the foundation of civilization, and morals, and hu- 
manity, laid in every country, — the court of equity 
and appeal, as to religion, erected, and thrown open 
to mankind; — these are the things which God has 
done, by the four or five thousand Bible institutions 
scattered over the world. What a preparation is 



XXV 

thus made insensibly for a return to the simple and 
commanding doctrines of a crucified Saviour, in every 
part of the visible church ! As all corruption, and 
controversy, and separation, sprung from a departure 
from the Bible, may we not hope that purity, peace> 
and unity of heart, will, in due time, arise from a re- 
turn to it ? And what an inestimable and most 
abundant storehouse do these Bible institutions open 
for all other societies and agents for rehgious im- 
provement,— for schools, for missionaries, for infant 
churches, for converts, for travellers in every part of 
the world? Join to this noble and magnificent so- 
ciety, the deep personal humiliation which our sins 
and provocations demand, — unite with it supplications 
and prayers for the suf)ply of the Holy Ghost, — and 
what is there, brethren, which we may not hope to 
receive from our gracious God and Saviour ? Let 
us, as the ministers of the sanctuary, begin with our- 
selves, in a hearty and spiritual subjection of soul 
before the Lord, and there is nothing which we may 
not hope for in such a period as the present. 

4. Nor is it a slight ground of further encourage- 
ment, that we live in a day when so many of the 

TEMPTATIONS OF THE GREAT ADVERSARY HAVE 
BEEN ALREADY DETECTED AND LAID BARE, by the 

growing experience of the church. Nothing can be 
more important than a knowledge of his stratagems, 
as likely to be directed against a revival of religion. 
'* We are not ignorant of his devices," said the 
blessed Apostle in the first age. For eighteen cen- 
turies since, has the spiritual church been learning to 
discover the arts of the subtle foe. Each age has 
varied as to the features of the combat. But the 
B 42 



XXVI 

church has laid up the lessons which her Saviour has 
taught her, and pondered them in her heart. We 
are still, indeed, but babes in this warfare. We 
have still need to watch daily, to pray without ceas- 
ing. The seed of the woman has not yet crushed 
the poisonous head of the serpent. The deepest 
humility, and self-distrust, are essential to our safety. 
But each class of Satan's temptations, which has spent 
itself and discovered its true character in former times, 
is so much of valuable experience laid up for those 
who now lead the Christian armies, under the great 
Captain of salvation. They are so many stratagems 
detected; they are so many exhausted mines. These 
self-same artifices are not likely to be successful 
again, if we do but profit by past experience. 

Persecution does not extinguish, but feed and en- 
large the church. — This lesson we have been learn- 

o 

ing for eighteen hundred years; and the Christian 
martyr and confessor is bold for the cause of God. 
Satan will work in vain on this ground, if we are 
firm in faith. 

Departures from the Scripture, superstitions, the 
following the commandments of men, sap the faith 
of Christ. — The lesson has been taught by twelve 
centuries of incredible apostacy : the church is on its 
guard. 

Love, union, and enlightened benevolence, streng- 
then the foundations of each particular church ; bigo- 
try, dissension, exclusion, and a proud, ambitious, do- 
mineering temper, divide and weaken it — every page 
of ecclesiastical history attests the truth. Satan 
cannot again triumph in this way as he has done. 

Uniformity in opinion, and external discipline, even 



xxvii 

in a single nation, is hopeless, considering the in* 
firmity of man : but unity of heart on all essential 
points, with liberality and charity- as to non-essential, 
produces all the good consequences of such unifor- 
mity, besides many others peculiar to itself. The 
voice of universal experience has made this the per- 
suasion of every considerate mind. Satan will 
surely be baffled here, in the present day, after having 
gained his point by it for a thousand years. 

In like manner, as to great and fatal heresies. 
Can our spiritual adversary ever rouse again the 
combat of Arianism, and throw the whole church 
into confusion concerning it, while we bear in mind 
the controversies of the fourth, and two following 
ages, and the scourge of Mahommedanism in the 
seventh ? Could Apollinarius, or Valentin us, or 
Nestorius, or Donatus, or Abelard, make any way 
now, in the teeth of the records which have exhibited, 
for our warning, the tares which the enemy sowed 
by their means ? Can the Pelagian heresy be rein- 
stated by any artifices, after the writings of St. Au- 
gustine ? 

And may we not add, dearest brethren, that errors 
of less moment than these — what we may rather call 
over- statements — either on the side of the divine 
decrees, or the free agency of man, will not again be 
permitted to distract and alienate the hearts of 
Christians, if we only call to mind the endless feuds 
and excesses which they occasioned for more than 
two centuries after the Reformation? Has the 
synod of Dort been described and delineated in vain ? 
Can Satan agahi drive us off from the plain, solid, 
b2 



XXVlll 

scriptural ground of the grace and power of Christ, 
into the thorny labyrinth of metaphysical subtilties? 

And as to the too general spirit of the present 
age, scepticism, infidelity, and Socinianism which 
follows so close upon their heals, can the great ad- 
versary make any way by these daring impieties, 
after the experience of the French philosophy, and 
the German Neologism, for now nearly half a cen- 
tury? 

Is it not, then, a source of hope for the future, 
that Satan has been so frequently defeated in his 
various schemes ? Has not the Lord treasured up 
for us the remembrance of our former causes of 
failure, in order to put us upon our guard against 
the appearances of similar snares? Shall we not, 
do we not, profit by past observation ? And is not 
this an encouragement to us to return to God, with 
earnest supplication, that he would " bruise Satan 
under our feet shortly?" Yes, beloved, upon us 
'' the ends of the world are come." The gradual 
experience and admonitions of each preceding age will 
guide us, if we seek divine grace, amidst the snares of 
the great adversary, whether he present himself as 
a roaring lion, or instil his poison as a serpent, or 
attempt to dazzle us with the robes of an angel of 
light. 

5. Once more, may we not consider it as a most 
favourable circumstance in the present day, that 

PRAYER FOR THE GRACE OF THE HoLY SpIRIT 
HAS BEEN MOST EARNESTLY AND SOLEMNLY IM- 
PLORED, in almost every part of the universal church? 
During the last seven years, thousands and tens of 
thousands of prayers have been oflPered to the Father 



XXIX 

of mercies, for the outpouring of grace. Courses of 
sermons have been delivered, friendly conferences 
have taken place, books and tracts have been pub- 
lished, the attention of individual Christians has 
^been fixed on this one great blessincr. Believers 
every where have met to plead, in the exercise of 
simple and steadfast faith, the explicit promise, that 
" God will give his Holy Spirit to those that ask 
him." This has been done from the conviction 
which long experience has forced upon the minds of 
leading ministers. The wisdom gained by a know- 
ledge of Satan's devices, has turned men's solicitude 
from controversies and dispute, to prayer for the 
descent of the heavenly Dove, to brood upon the 
spiritual chaos, as he moved upon the face of the 
waters in the first creation. This duty of prayer 
has not, indeed, been carried to any thing like the 
fervour and perseverance which the immense urgency 
of the case demands : but still, so far as it has gone, 
it is the most hopeful of all indications, — it bespeaks 
the revisiting of the churches by the blessed Saviour 
— it augurs times of greater grace — it prepares the 
heart to use all the means which may be proposed, 
of diffusing Christianity with more simplicity and 
vigour — it teaches us to honour and magnify God, 
in every instance of success — it enables us to direct 
aright the young affections of our converts. It is 
impossible to reflect upon the growing attention to 
the doctrine of the Holy Ghost, in every part of our 
own country, in the various churches of the Conti- 
nent, and in the rising and important nations of 
the new world, without blessing God from the bot- 
tom of our hearts for his goodness, and without an- 



XXX 

tlcipatlng a large and abundant shower of grace. 
This is, then, the very moment to approach our God 
with prostrate hearts. This is the very moment not 
to be confident, not to trust in present appearances, 
not to rely on man, or machinery, or the letter of 
the Bible, or past experience ; but to humble our- 
selves deeply before our God, and seek him with 
fasting, and weeping, and mourning. 

6. And to this duty we are yet further encour- 
aged, by considering the revivals of religion 
WHICH are actually COMMENCING. For, is there 
not sufficient indications of a powerful operation, al- 
ready begun by the Spirit of God in the church, to 
inspire the warmest hopes as to the future ? Are 
not the authentic accounts from our American breth- 
ren, enough to warm the most fearful heart? Is 
not our God awakening multitudes there to a con- 
cern for their salvation, by the instrumentahty of 
truth ? Is not a cry raised for pardon and grace, 
by numbers pricked to the heart for sin ? Do not 
their holy consistent walk, their sincere love to Christ, 
their activity in every good word and work, testify 
the reality, as well as the Author, of the change? 
And have not these revivals been granted in the path 
of duty, and by the use of means; especially by, 
what is the subject of these pages, the arousing of 
ministers to humiliation, diligence, and zeal ? Has 
not this awakened state of the minds of ministers 
led to a new strain of preaching, a new fervour in 
proposing Christ in all his glory to a sinful world, a 
new boldness in applying truth with penetrating 
discrimination to the consciences of each class of 
bearers ? And is it not in this way, that God bas 
vouchsafed his peculiar grace ? 



XXXI 

And, in our own country, what means this new 
anxiety about the holy ministry, this new attention 
to the state of our flocks, this new spirit of confession 
and humiliation, this new inquiry as to the best 
means of reviving primitive Christianity, and pro- 
moting a union of hearts amongst us, which has 
been gaining ground now for some time ? What 
means, above all, the particular season for fasting and 
prayer, fixed by large numbers for the ensuing day 
of the commemoration of our Saviour's passion ? 
Can any signs be more full of hope than these ? 

Yes, dear friends, it is to no uninteresting duty, 
that I would invite you and myself — it is to a duty, 
called for by the mercies of God, as much as by our 
own sins. Humiliation for the past, consideration 
of the best means of increasing our ministerial use- 
fulness for the future, are demanded of us as by a 
voice from heaven. What had Richard Baxter, 
at the time when he lived, to encourage him in his 
address to the clergy, compared with what invites 
and impels us? What was there in the close of the 
seventeenth century, to animate in the attempt to 
convert the world, compared with what we see in the 
nineteenth ? 

7. And this is the last topic of hope to which we 
may advert ; for the position of every thing in the 
church and the world, compared with the word of 
prophecy, indicates expectation, the promise 

OF NEW blessings, THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF ALL 

THE GLORIOUS PREDICTIONS of the divine mercy 
and grace. The times are assuredly drawing on. 
The fated apostacies have hung over the eastern and 
western nations for twelve centuries, with all that 



xxxu 

energy of spiritual delusion which the Scriptures de- 
scribe. Divine prophecy, shining as a lamp in a dark 
place, concurs with the indications which we have 
already noticed in the church and in the world, to 
excite expectation, to animate to eflPort, to humble in 
confession of sin, and to lead to determined reforma- 
tion of life and conduct in the ministers of religion. 
The times in which we are cast speak for themselves. 
All is movement. All is big with expectation. All 
portends the divine judgments upon the wicked, and 
unwonted blessings upon the church. We live in 
no ordinary period. Unusual circumstances of en- 
couragement demand unusual duties. If God is at 
work, if the machinery of religious dissemination is 
prepared, if the Holy Scriptures are diffused, if the 
artifices of the great enemy are known, if the grace 
of the Holy Spirit has already begun to be implored, 
and revivals of religion to be granted ; and if the 
whole aspect of the world is that of " fields white al- 
ready to the harvest ;" then, surely, this is a time 
when " the priests, the ministers of God, should 
weep between the porch and the altar;" and should 
afterwards address themselves to the peculiar duties 
of the new and important period at which they are 
arrived. For things are in suspense. Hope is not 
possession. The present appearances may die away 
and expire, after a transient excitement. God may 
roll all back, if we do not heartily repent as a people. 

in. Let us then consider, as the last general to- 
pic, SOME POINTS OF DUTY, TENDING IMMEDIATELY 
TO PROMOTE A REVIVAL OF RELIGION AMONGST 
THE MINISTJ^RS OF THE SANCTUA^lY^ 



XXXIU 

For we must begin with ourselves. A revival of 
Christianity must take its rise with the ministers of 
Christianity. The work must be first entered upon 
at home, in our own bosoms, before it can animate 
our sermons, and shine forth in our example, and 
make us a pattern to our flocks. 

1. And, therefore, the first duty we would urge 
upon yau, dear brethren, is A deeper and more 

FERVENT PERSONAL PIETY BEFORE GoD. Our 

ministry is as our heart is. No man rises much 
above the level of his own habitual godliness. Let 
us, then, each determine, by the grace of God, on a 
new course. Let us not be contented with our pre- 
sent low standard. Let us inabibe_^more of the grace 
of Christ, as the source of life and salvation. O let 
the few main elements of truth be forcible, energetic, 
vivid, operative within us ! The infinite evil and de- 
filement of sin, the holiness of God, the value of the 
soul, the near approach of death, judgment, and eter- 
nity ; the free mercy and love of God in redemption ; 
the inestimable riches of Christ, in his Deity, offices, 
grace ; the personality and work of the Holy Ghost ; 
the emptiness of the world, the fulness and blessed- 
ness of heaven — these are primary, essential truths. 
All the parts of Revelation are important, all its pre- 
cepts are important; but the vivifying, nourishing, 
elevating points are these first simple ones — Heaven 
and hell, Christ and salvation, the soul and eternity, 
absorb every thing. Let these points really fill our 
minds, possess our affections, sway our judgment, 
awaken our conscience, govern our conduct. Let 
these things be sought in the first place, be renewed 
upon the heart by much meditation and prayer daily. 



XXXIV 

and be ever before our eyes and attention, as the 
great and most interesting of all concerns. Let the 
other parts of Christianity be made to bear upon 
these. Let us constantly return, as it were, from all 
other religious studies and discoveries, to these first 
elements. Every thing is speculation,, unless it be 
made to nourish the mighty matters between God and 
the soul. Let, then, prayer for the Holy Spirit, and 
the devout reading of the Bible, and the diligent 
examination of the heart, be all directed to the ele- 
vating our personal piety, our personal contrition for 
sin, our personal faith and affiance upon Christ, our 
personal love to God our merciful Father, our per- 
sonal watchfulness, humility, meekness, diligence,, 
joy. Let spirituality and entire devotedness to God,. 
b.e at the fou^ndation of our religious character. To 
be ^^ spiritually minded," to be " constrained by the 
love of Christ," this is religion. A life of dependence 
on the Holy Ghost — a walk with God — a crucifixion 
with Christ— 'a death to- all creature-good, all crea- 
ture-reliance, all creature-love — a life hidden and se- 
creted with Christ in God, this is religion. O breth- 
xeuy the writer of these lines speaks here with shame 
and sorrow. The source of all evil with himself is 
a low state of personal religion. We may allege 
other things — and no doubt other things are not. 
without their influence — but the main cause of our 
ministerial defects and unfaithfulness, is our own 
hearts. A revival must begin with ourselves, with 
our own souls. Our people will never rise up gene- 
rally, even to our standard ; if, therefore, our own. 
piety is weak, our own love cold, our own faith un- 
certain, our own devotedness to Christ partial, ouu 



XXXV 

own self-denial slight, our own impression of eternity 
languid, our own care for our souls faint, what can 
we expect our people's to be ? How can we preach 
and pray for a revival of religion generally through- 
out the church, unless it first appear in ourselves ? 

2. S0LE3IN SEASONS FOR FASTING AND PRAYER, 

should be fixed in our several neighbourhoods, pa- 
rishes, and congregations — that God may be hon- 
oured by ingenuous confession; that the Divine 
Spirit may be publicly implored ; that the arm of man 
and the help of creatures may be renounced, and the 
power and grace of God invoked; that pride, and 
self, and vanity, and display, and human gifts and 
agency, may be laid in the dust, and God alone ex- 
alted. The anniversary of his ordination, is a time 
which each one should seize for these holy purposes. 
The return of Good Friday in every year, is another 
period when special humiliation may well be mingled 
with our penitent meditations on the sorrows of our 
Lord. If this latter solemn season could indeed be 
employed by the church universal, in the present and 
following years, for this important purpose, unspeak- 
able blessings might follow. The whole body of the 
faithful would then be prostrate in the du5t at the 
same time, before the God of mercy- — pouring out 
their prayers for the grace of the Holy Spirit, and 
confessing their sins, and the sins of their fathers. 
Never have any great revivals taken place, without 
special fasting and prayer. Humiliation is the very 
soul of religion. What a blessing would it be if the 
bishops and pastors of the churclies were led to take 
the foremost place in directing and encouraging such 
holy exercises ! Our suis have been public; ou? 



XXXVl 

penitence should be so likewise. Our provocations 
have been national ; so should be our sorrow. Our 
evils have flowed from a negligent and worldly state 
of mind in the ministers of Christ; our repentance 
should begin in the same quarter. 

3. Higher views of the true dignity and 
importance of the christian ministry, is a 
further duty, which would naturally flow from in- 
creasing personal piety and genuine humiliation of 
heart. Notions of false dignity are, indeed, as com- 
mon as they are pernicious. Ambition, secular do- 
minion, the " lording it over God's heritage," spiritual 
pride, are the gangrene of the church. But a right 
conception of the unparalleled importance of the office 
of the Christian minister, as appointed by Christ 
himself, as the instrument of grace, as the ambassa- 
dor of reconciliation, as representing, and standing in 
the place of the Saviour, as the depositary and pillar 
of the Truth, as the messenger of the Lord of Hosts^ 
the steward of the mysteries of God, the watchman, 
and herald, and leader of the army, and the shepherd 
of the flock of Christ — such a conception of the min- 
isterial office is essential to any great revival of reli- 
gion. There is no surer mark of spiritual decay, 
than a low esteem of the sacred function. Contempt 
for God and salvation, first appears in contempt for 
his appointed servants and ministers. In the primi- 
tive church, the dignity of a pastor of the flock of 
God, was considered to be so high, so responsible, so 
sacred, as to deter men from coveting its more diffi- 
cult and responsible appointments. Ambrose, and 
Chrysostom, and Augustine, were almost compelled 
to assume the episcopal office. At the Reformation^ 



XXXVH 

again, the importance of the office of the priesthood 
rose in the estimation of the awakened church. Its 
dignity of truth and grace, put to flight the spurious 
glory of external pomp and appearances. Men ac- 
knowledged, in the unassuming and meek and devout 
leaders of the Reformation, the revival of the primi- 
tive, the true character and elevation of the pastoral 
employment. Yes, brethren, we must abase our- 
selves, indeed, but we must magnify our office. 
We must rise to the high and elevated character, 
which it impresses upon the spiritual pastor. We 
must no longer think it an ordinary matter, a thing 
of course, an affiiir which may be done at any time, 
a concern secondary to our ease, our indulgence, our 
scientific and literary pursuits — no ; it must take the 
lead of every thing. It must occupy all our care, all 
our time, all our diligence, all the best and most per- 
severing eflPorts of our minds and affections — all our 
exertion, and self-denial, and study. The Gospel is 
an unspeakable gift. It touches on eternity. It 
concerns both worlds. It involves the glory of God, 
the honour of Christ, the welfare of souls. It is 
founded in the unutterable agonies of the cross, and 
ceases not till it has brought the penitent sinner, and 
landed him safely in heaven. The^blessings we have 
to offer are the greatest; the woe we have to denounce 
is the most fearful. Every thing connected with our 
office partakes of the incomprehensible importance of 
the gifts of the Saviour and the Holy Spirit. Till 
our whole souls are filled with our sacred calling, 
animated, elevated, absorbed — till we see nothing to 
be important, compared with our work — till nothing 
satisfies, or can satisfy us, but success in it — till we 



XXXVlll 

look on the affairs of human pursuit, and human 
wisdom, and human power, and human glory, as the 
toys of children in the comparison — till we draw all 
our studies, all our affections, every faculty of our 
minds, and every member of our bodies, to this one 
point — till the salvation of souls is the one thing we 
aim at, the one object of desire, the ruling passion of 
our souls, we can never expect a general revival of 
that religion, which can only spring, under the bless- 
ing of God, fi'om such principles and impressions. 

4. Allied to this part of our duty, is a deeper con- 
sideration of the particular design of the Christian 
ministry, — which is, to furnish a succession of men 

TO EXPOUND AND APPLY TRUTH. This folloWS upon 

a high and exalted view of the importance of the office 
generally. The especial design must be far better un- 
derstood and acted upon than it is at present, if grace 
is to revisit, first the pastors, and then the flock. Dear 
brethren, is not the great end of the ministry, to exhibit 
and enforce truth upon the hearts and consciences of 
men, with all those means of living, feeling, powerful 
appeal, heartfelt seriousness, sympathy, alarm, invi- 
tation, promise, threatening, which are calculated to 
move a creature like man, and which God has ap- 
pointed as the ordinary channel for conveying the 
blessings of his grace ? The success is from God 
alone. Whoever plants, whoever waters, it is He 
that gives the increase. But as our all- wise and 
gracious God has condescended to use the instru- 
mentality of man in dealing with man, in awakening 
man, in converting man ; it is of the last importance 
for us to rise up to the special design of this dispen- 
sation. If God uses man, he uses the understand- 



XXXIX 

ing, the affections, the conscience of man, to work 
upon the understanding, the affections, the conscience 
of his fellow-men. The minister is a living organ, 
and instrument, and herald of truth. The minister 
is to give life, as it were, ta the Book, to the written 
Revelation, to the forgotten or perverted record. 
The ministry, in its addresses and appeals to men, is 
the prophetical voice continued, the apostolical doc- 
trine continued, the life of Christ continued, the 
discourses of our Lord continued, the miracles con- 
tinued, the warnings, the invitations, the promises^ 
the whole doctrine continued, inspired with new life, 
and exhibited in their first vigour. 

The Gospel, indeed, is left us in the Scriptures; 
but its success is dependent on the Holy Spirit and 
the holy ministry — the divine Spirit within; the 
sacred Word without. The Holy Spirit effectually 
to secure the heart, to- apply and render operative 
the truth of Christ, to glorify him before men, justify 
his office, fulfil his promises, accomplish his designs 
— the ministry of the Word, instrumentally, to ad- 
dress the understanding and heart, to divide truth to 
each class of persons, to vindicate it from perversions, 
to raise it from neglect and indifference, to present 
it as the m,eans by which the Spirit is pleased to 
work. Subordinate, therefore, is all this living and 
oral teaching — in itself utterly feeble and inefficient; 
but, in its place, of incalculable moment. It is the 
link between the written Word and man's salvation. 
To preach aright, is not to discuss coldly a topic, is 
not to indulge in metaphysical statements, is not to 
court human applause, is not to move the passions 
by earthly eloquence — it is a much higher thing, — it 



xl 

is to give a tongue to Prophets and Apostles, it is to 
speak as the blessed Saviour and St. Paul spake, it 
is to make truth intelHgible, forcible, triumphant; it 
is to clear away from the Bible false glosses, and 
present it in its native purity, and clothe it with all 
the attributes of a living instructor ; it is to give to 
the written doctrine the tenderness and pathos, the 
authority and force, with which it w^as first clothed 
by the Inspired Authors. Silence the ministry, and 
the Bible is misunderstood, perverted, closed — le- 
gends of saints, commandments of men, superstition, 
usurp its place ; or else, vapid reasonings of philoso- 
phers, and abortions of human wisdom, falsely so 
called. Silence the ministry, — but what am I say- 
ing? I appeal, brethren, to your own experience 
and observation — what has brought on the lukewarm- 
ness, from which we are none of us sufficiently 
aroused ? what has made the garden of the Lord a 
desert ? what has, in many places, well nigh extin- 
guished Christianity? Is it not the unscriptural, 
the heartless preaching, which has mocked the mis- 
eries of man, and betrayed the cause of God ? And 
where, then, is a revival to show itself, if not in a 
new strain of pulpit instruction ? Who are first to 
reform, if not the ministers of the sanctuary ? And 
in what are they to amend their ways, if not in the 
preaching of the Word? O, belbved brethren, if 
our God revisit us, we shall have other sermons than 
have been too often heard in these latter ages ! We 
shall have our Chrysostoms, our Austins, our Lu- 
thers, our Latimers, our Baxters, revived amongst us. 
A fashionable essay will pass for nothing ; a reputa- 
ble discourse will no longer be the standard; the Bible 



xli 

will no longer be deserted for the ethics of heathen- 
ism, or the refinements and fastidiousness of an ener- 
vated Gospel — but the ministry will represent and 
urge truth in its pristine simplicity, upon the hearts 
of men — the Saviour will again be known in all his 
glory — the Bible will be studied in the light of the 
Spirit, its true meaning seized, its great designs un- 
derstood; the state of man acknowledged and felt; 
the errors of human corruption refuted, the subter- 
fuges of the human heart exposed ; and truth brought 
home irresistibly to the conscience. Things will no 
longer be left in the mere letter of Scripture, but 
taken out from the record, clothed with living feel- 
ings, cleared from essential error, and applied boldly 
and aflPectionately to the cases of men. The state of 
our national Protestant churches has been a portent 
'—our sermons are an evasion — our doctrine a form 
— our views of the whole essential design of a living 
instrumentality in the church, low and inefficient. 
May God awaken our consciences, brethren, to a due 
consideration of these things, and to an immediate 
return to this part of our duty. 

5. But this topic naturally leads on to what Bax- 
ter, in the following work, most insists on, the 

NECESSITY OF INDIVIDUAL, CATECHETICAL IN- 
STRUCTION, bringing home truth to the cases of each 
member of our congregation and flock in private — 
the discharge, in a word, of the pastoral duties. For 
what have we been doing as ministers ? Lamentably 
as we have failed in a general estimate of the vast 
importance of our office, and in a view of its especial 
design, we have failed as lamentably in all those parts 
of it, which regard personal inspection, and vigilance 



xlii 

over our flocks. We have confined ourselves to 
preaching, to ecclesiastical duties, to occasional visits 
to the sick, to the administration of the sacraments, 
to the external and secular relation in which we 
stand to our parishes; but what have v/e done in 
personal care and direction, in afiPectionate cateche- 
tical conferences, in going from house to house, in 
visiting every family and individual in our districts, 
in becoming acquainted with the character, the wants, 
the state of heart, the habits, the attendance on public 
worship, the observation of the Sabbath, the instruc- 
tion of children and servants, the family devotions of 
each house. And yet, all this ought to have been 
done, and must be done, if a general revival of reli- 
gion is to be expected. Nothing short of this can 
come up to the ends of our calling, or fulfil the com- 
mands of God, or accomplish the will of the Holy 
Ghost, or satisfy that system of means which the 
Saviour has established in his church. For the public 
ministry is not sufiicient, not adequate to the urgency 
of the case. In a crowded congregation, numbers 
do not understand, do not give attention, do not 
apply. It is when we come to them in private and 
individually — and with all the influence which affec- 
tion, and character, and official station give, that we 
touch the conscience. And consider, brethren, how 
many there are, in every neighbourhood, who never 
come to the public church — consider the masses of 
people in our larger towns, who must be sought out 
by the minister of grace — consider the numbers who 
are detained at home by illness and infirmity, or by 
the bad arrangement of family concerns — consider 
that almost every victim of gross vice or scepticism is 



xliii 

withdrawn from your sermons — consider, in short, 
that in your churches you collect only the better sort 
of people, those in whom some good habits, some 
parental care, some force of conscience operates ; but 
that those who most need your instruction, lie hid in 
the retirement and insensibility which can only be 
reached by direct and personal inquiry. National 
schools, Sunday schools, local schools, infant schools, 
do much ; but these only prepare the young for the 
very catechetical instruction and care which we are 
now enforcing. Every family who will receive you 
— and almost all will — should be visited, and that 
every year, if possible. On the details of these 
duties, the following work will be an admirable guide. 
Baxter was himself a pattern in these respects. 

The immediate good effects of such labour will 
he incalculable. You will be able to apply and set 
home your public sermons to the conscience of each 
person. You will induce them to attend church 
with more constancy and more interest, as expecting 
to be catechised afterwards, A congregation as- 
sembled to hear the minister who sees them all in 
private, is a family under the eye of a father — there 
is a quickness, a mutual sympathy, an interest which 
nothing else can awaken. Then the minister thus 
acquires knowledge of the human heart rapidly — 
collects materials, the best materials, for his sermons 
— learns simplicity in his style — is enabled to di- 
vide and apportion out the Word of Truth with 
more discrimination — and nourishes his own heart 
and his personal religion — his private studies and 
meditations are made more fruitful, more devotional. 
WhUst he is engaged in composing and preaching> 



xliv 

he is giving out to others; but whilst he is occupied 
with familiar conferences, he is taking in for himself 
— the first is the pump, exhausting the reservoir — 
the second is the native spring, drinking in supplies 
from its parent earth. One half-hour's practical 
study of the human heart in personal visits, gives an 
impulse to ten hours' speculative meditation from 
books and authors. 

It is in this way, also, that agents and teachers 
from amongst our people will be found out, and ani- 
mated and directed in labour. If we are at work 
ourselves, others will rise up to work with us. Lay- 
agency is of incalculable moment. A minister can- 
not undertake every thing himself, he must not fritter 
away his time, he must not widen too much his field 
of personal effort — he must concentrate, he must in- 
fluence, he must be the centre to a hundred hands 
and minds moving around him. This is more espe- 
cially the case in populous places, where the actual 
efforts of any one or two ministers would be lost in 
detail, and his public instructions would be hasty 
and undigested effusions, if he attempted individual 
instruction. Wisdom, therefore, must be exercised. 
Others must be set to work, and a machinery be 
erected, of which he takes only the general guidance. 
Cases also occur, in which the department of a minis- 
ter's duty may be writing books, directing public 
societies, travelling in order to animate others — 
each must judge for himself before God — there 
must be secretaries, and speakers, and visitors of our 
great religious societies, as well as pastors of particu- 
lar flocks. But these considerations only increase 
the importance of the great body of ministers giving 



xlv 

their whole souls to the particular inspection of their 
people, partly by themselves, and partly by the 
agency of others. Nothing will so immediately tend 
to a revival of grace, and the real power of Chris- 
tianity. Nothing will promote personal religion so 
much in our own hearts. Nothing will promote more 
the spirit of prayer. Nothing will more quicken and 
aid in the practical understanding of the Holy Scrip- 
tures. Nothing will more rouse us to the redemp- 
tion of time. Nothing will more separate and sever 
the heart from the vanities of the world, the calls of 
human folly, the impertinence of visiting, the corrup- 
tions of pleasure. Nothing will more tend to sound 
and solid success in our ministry. Our estimate of 
what constitutes a real blessing will rise. Our ex- 
cessive reliance on mere preaching will be moderated. 
Our hasty conclusions of good being done, because 
people will crowd to a popular sermon, will listen to 
an intellectual and manly discussion, will be moved 
by fervid appeals, will yield to the affection of a 
preacher's manner, will assume an orthodox profes- 
sion, entertain ministers at their table, admire and 
defend them in private, follow many parts of their 
advice, subscribe to societies at their suggestion, and 
range themselves on their side — hasty conclusions, 
from such equivocal marks, will be corrected. We 
shall estimate success by solid conversion, by a change 
of heart and character, by the love of Christ, by a 
regard to eternal things, by the crucifixion of the old 
man, and a consistent obedience to the will of God. 
These effects have the stamp of heaven. And when 
the Holy Spirit begins extensively to grant these to 
us, a revival of religion is begun, and all the highest 



xlvi 

ends of the ministry are accomplished. And this can 
only be expected, as our views of the importance of 
our office, our apprehension of its especial design, 
and our following of it out into catechetical and af- 
fectionate application, lead us to the full use of that 
system of means to which our Divine Lord has pro- 
mised a blessing. 

6. But, in the next place, a conscientious ad- 
herence to the doctrine of the Holy Ghost, 
as contained in the whole body of the Scrip- 
tures, must accompany the above directions, or all 
will fail. Nothing sanctifies and saves but Truth. 
The Holy Bible is the only storehouse of religious 
doctrine. An implicit and silent submission of the 
whole soul of a minister to the Revealed Will of the 
eternal and incomprehensible God, is indispensable 
to any enlarged success. Inspired men, speaking as 
they were moved by the Holy Ghost — handing down 
to a lost world all the Revelation which Infinite 
Wisdom saw needful and best, and in the manner and 
form which was most suitable to the designs of God 
and the state of man — delivering to the church un- 
mixed, and absolutely pure truth, without any de- 
fect, any omission, any superfluity, any exaggeration, 
any mistake — leaving us the standard of all doctrine, 
the rule of all practice, the example of all holiness — 
such is the Bible — the interpretation of which, and 
the application to the cases of men, is left as a solemn 
trust, with the stewards of Christ's mysteries. Breth- 
ren, a revival of religion must spring from a revival 
of the authority of the Bible, a revival of the unli- 
mited sovereignty of the Inspired Book, in over- 
ruling all the errors of men, in swaying every heart, 



xlvii 

in governing and curbing every imagination, in de» 
ciding every controversy, in being itself the element 
and matter of all our instructions in public and pri- 
vate. The Divine medicine must not be adulterated 
and weakened by the admixtures of man; or our 
maladies will never be cured. The cup of salvation 
must not be corrupted with " the wine of Sodom, and 
the grapes of Gomorrah;" or the wounds of men 
will remain unhealed. We must return to our Bibles. 
When the language and terms of this blessed Book 
are perverted by heresies, we must draw up, indeed, ^ 
forms of belief; when truth is calumniated, we must 
publish our confessions of faith ; and when schism and 
division abound, we must have public models of doc- 
trine and discipline, for the guidance of pastors and 
people; but these are not the Bible — by these we 
express our solemn opinion in brief, upon particular 
points of truth, and protect the flock from the incur- 
sion of hirelings and false teachers — but the filling 
up of these outlines is to be taken from the Bible — 
we are to preach and expound, not the fallible sum- 
maries of man, but the infallible Word of God. 

And in doing this, three things are of the last 
importance. We must, first, seize the main 

COMMANDING TRUTHS OF ScRIPTURE, as the 

Apostles, in the concluding and finishing part of 
Revelation, have summed them up. In every work, 
consisting of so many parts, this would be necessary ; 
but in the Bible, the inspired penmen have not left 
it in doubt, but have told us that Christ, the 
POWER OF God and the wisdom of God, is the 
centre and corner-stone of Revelation. The glory 
of Christ, then, and the work of that Holy Spirit, 



xlviii 

whom he has left with us as his representative, and 
the great Teacher of the church — these are the go- 
verning points, around which all other truths are 
arranged, and to which they are subordinate. If the 
minister does not seize this commanding discovery, 
in vain will he languish about other matters. If he 
once be brought, by personal contrition and faith, to 
receive Christ Jesus the Lord, and to rejoice in him, 
he will soon find that he is possessed of the key to 
all the Bible, that he has discovered the pearl of un- 
known price, that he is enriched with unsearchable 
treasures of wisdom and knowledge. This doctrine 
of Christ, however, is not the mere repetition of the 
term, Christ ; it embraces, of course, all those truths, 
which prepare the hearts of men for receiving him, 
and which teach them how to walk in him, and adorn 
his Gospel. This doctrine joins on upon the fall 
and corruption of man, and the infinite evil of sin ; 
it immediately holds by the person and operations of 
the Holy Ghost; it leads the experienced Christian 
to refer every blessing to the choice, and merciful 
will of God his heavenly Father. But still the pro- 
minent figure in our representations of Christianity, 
must be Christ himself, in all his attributes and 
grace. A revived Christianity is a revived exhibi- 
tion of the glorious person of Christ. 

But, in connection with this main discovery, it is 
most important, secondly, to give their due place 

TO ALL the other TRUTHS, EVEN TO THE MOST 
SLIGHT AND APPARENTLY INCONSIDERABLE ONES, 

which the same inspired records contain. Not a 
verse in the Bible but has its weight. All the his- 
tory, all the devotional parts, all the prophecies, all 



xlix 

the biographies, all the examples, all the inoral 
maxims, all the precepts, demand, and will amply 
repay, our attention. Things are stated, not abstract- 
edly, but in life and action, and as they are to be 
applied to practice. The Bible is not a theoretical, 
speculative system; it is a system embodied, per- 
sonified, exhibited, softened down, moulded to actual 
life and experience. We shall make the greatest 
mistakes, if we take out the main doctrines of Re- 
velation, and then presume to fashion, expound, apply 
them after our own notions. No; we must gather 
our manner of teaching Christ, the subordinate doc- 
trines dependent upon him, the way of avoiding 
errors, the spirit and purpose for which he is to be 
preached, the different dispensations and various de- 
grees of light which have attended his doctrine as 
the appointed Messiah and Saviour, the method of 
addressing the consciences of men, which Patriarchs, 
and Prophets, and Apostles, adopted — in short, we 
must gather all our knowledge from the Bible. Our 
ministry must, in all its parts, be the Bible expounded, 
amplified, applied. The greatest success of the pastor 
is uniformly found where there is most of God and 
least of man. Even the simplest principles of na- 
tural religion, the plainest moral maxims, the mere 
institutes of judicial legislation, the slightest cere- 
mony, the very enumeration of genealogies, have 
some beneficial effect. 

Add a third observation, brethren. Let us beware 

of HUMAN PASSION MINGLING WITH OUR EXPOSI- 
TIONS OF THE MAIN DOCTRINES OF ScRIPTURE, 
AND WITH THE SUBORDINATE TOPICS WHICH ARISE 

FROM THEM. Human passion will mingle ; but let 
C 42 



1 

us beware. Let us overstate nothing; let us not 
exaggerate, magnify, strain matters ; let the ivord of 
Christ dwell in us richly in all vjisdom. It is heat 
and controversy which inflame and divide the church. 
Wide differences of judgment must exist on a multi- 
tude of points gathered by the feeble reason of man 
from the Holy Scriptures. But these are of little 
moment, if the commanding doctrines, and the true 
spirit of Christianity are chiefly enforced, and if non- 
essential matters are not dogmatically and fiercely 
urged. 

Dear brethren, let the Bible be our religion, our 
rule, our standard — the Bible in all its parts — the 
Bible in its unutterable mysteries — the Bible in every 
subordinate statement — the Bible, softly and gra- 
ciously yielded to, and imprinted on, a spirit of wis- 
dom and meekness. When this is done, surely our 
God will descend upon us ; the Spirit of grace will 
glorify his own truth ; and the elements of the con- 
version of the world, accumulated in the diffusion of 
Bibles, and Missionaries, and Teachers, will be ready 
to burst into life and efiicacy at the Divine command. 
Let the Holy Saviour, the Holy Spirit, the Holy 
Scriptures, be our motto and rallying-word in all we 
undertake or hope for. 

7. A DECIDED SUPERIORITY TO THE WORLD AND 

ALL SECULAR CONSIDERATIONS, is another point of 
duty essential to any hopes of a revival of religion. 
We Hve in a day of external peace. We live in a 
time of much evangelical profession. The Gospel is 
in a certain way fashionable. Our danger, therefore, 
lies peculiarly on the side of the world, of ease, in- 
dulgence, pride, conformity to the opinion of others ; 



display in dress, in furniture, in houses; a life of 
external propriety, without much self-denial or spiri- 
tuality. We must, then, maintain a decided supe- 
riority to all secular considerations, if we would fulfil 
the duties already suggested, and glorify Christ. We 
must despise the frowns, and shun the smiles, and 
avoid the maxims, and dread the benumbing influ- 
ence, of the world. We must be well aware of the 
surprising tendency there is in every human heart to 
lukewarmness, to the love of praise, to secular im- 
portance, and the gratification of the flesh. We 
are walking as upon enchanted ground. There is 
a stream and course of this present world, flowing 
forwards in every age, and swollen with human con- 
cupiscence and the arts of Satan, which is ever ready 
to carry us away. No man can keep his standing 
without constant prayer and watchfulness. And all 
these dangers are augmented in a time of toleration 
and peace, and when many faithful and enlightened 
bishops and pastors give a currency to truth. In 
such a day, Satan's whole force is directed to seduce 
and to flatter. In such a day, ambition, love of 
power, sordid covetousness, the lording it over God's 
heritage, the complacency of a public situation, the 
secret delight in considering our works, our congre- \ 
gations, our parishes, our influence, steal upon the ] 
heart unperceived. The world, in all its forms, is 
in direct hostility with the spiritual church. " Filthy 
lucre" is again and again condemned by St. Paul, 
as the especial snare of the clergy. Pride, and do- 
minion over the faith of the people, is again and 
again held forth by him for our warning. 

In two ways is all the mischief of the world in- 
c2 



lii 

creased tenfold. It seduces under the guise of 
LAWFUL THINGS. It assumes the garb of prudence 
and foresight. It hides itself under the mask of 
benevolence. It appears, as the management of our 
concerns, the living on terms of friendly intercourse, 
the relaxation and cheerful society which our severer 
studies demand, the attention to our friends and pa- 
trons, the care of our health, the seizing of opportu- 
nities for doing good and removing prejudice. Thus, 
under the semblance of what is lawful, ministers step 
over the boundary, verge towards doubtful indul- 
gences, and compromise their character, their influ- 
ence, their usefulness. Thus they abridge their time, 
and weaken their inclination for solid study, the visits 
to the poor, and the duties of devotion ; and thus, 
still further declines from God are brought on. 

For another peculiar danger of the world arises 
from its debauching the understanding, and 

BIASSING THE DECISIONS OF THE JUDGMENT. The 

maxims which appeared to us the most clear, become 
doubtful. The practices which we loudly condemned, 
are tolerated, excused, defended. The marks of a 
lukewarm spirit, which we had laid up in our hearts, 
are no longer conclusive. The interpretation which 
we put on the scriptural definition of the world, and 
the scriptural danger arising from it, slips out of our 
memory. The resolutions we made in early life, 
appear harsh and impracticable. We are now of 
opinion that this and that thing is lawful ; we now 
judge such and such practices expedient; we now 
conclude and resolve, that there is no harm in this 
and the other indulgence. Thus Satan gains a foot- 
ing in the heart ; earthly things obtain possession, 



liii 

Christ and his doctrine are enfeebled, the pity we 
once felt for souls has lost its tone, our self-denial is 
gone, and we are like salt which has lost its savour. 
Brethren, let us awake to our danger ere it be too 
late. Let us shake ourselves from the slumbers of a 
worldly state. Let us dread the magical enchant- 
ment of earthly objects. Let us take heed, and 
beware of covetousness, and surfeiting, and the plea- 
sures of this life. If a revival of religion is our 
object and our desire, we must begin at home; we 
must cultivate a spiritual, a retired, a heavenly reli- 
gion. Never can we call our people to leave that 
world to which we are looking back ourselves. 

But we must not further extend these suggestions. 
If, dear brethren, these things are as we have been 
describing them ; if the causes of humiliation are 
such as we have stated ; if the grounds of hope and 
encouragement are so cheering; if the duties which 
should be earnestly attended to are so numerous and 
important ; — then, may the writer be permitted to 
address, in conclusion, several classes of his brethren 
in the sacred ministry? 

1. Are any readers of these pages astonished 

AT THE GENERAL TOPICS WHICH HAVE BEEN EN- 
FORCED ? Does the whole thing appear to you 
new, extravagant, unnecessary? Do you look on 
the whole complexion and colour of the statement as 
unnatural ? Then examine, we entreat you, whether 
this doth not arise from your own wrong state of 
heart. Perhaps you have never felt your sins, as an 
individual penitent, personally accountable to God. 
Perhaps you have never once wept over them in 



liv 

deep contrition. Perhaps you have never seen the 
spiritual glory of Christ, as the incarnate Saviour, 
sacrificing himself on the cross for your redemption. 
Perhaps you have never known what prayer, and 
meditation, and communion with God, and love to 
Christ, and hatred of sin, and the denial of self, and 
the joy of pardon, mean. The consequence is, you 
have had no care of the souls committed to your 
charge — you have never taught them their need of 
salvation — you have never shown them a Redeemer 
— you have never held out to them the Holy Spirit, 
as the Author of life and grace : and how can topics, 
such as these we have been discussing, be intelligible 
to you ? Strange would it be, if you did not start 
at them. You are not merely in need of being 
aroused to greater diligence ; you want to be quick- 
ened from a death in trespasses and sins. Awake, 
then, dear friend, to your awful state. An uncon- 
verted minister, is dragging all the souls of his people 
with him to perdition. He is a blind leader of the 
blind. He is building up the sinner in his rebellion, 
his self-righteousness, his negligence. O repent, 
then, and turn to God, and do works meet for re- 
pentance ! We speak not to you of a revival of 
religion amongst others ; we deal with you for your 
own salvation. We plead with you for the sheep, 
scattered and wandering, and having no shepherd. 
We adjure you by the vows of your ordination, by 
the blood of Christ, by the grace of the good Spirit 
of God, by the value of souls, by the unutterable 
importance of eternity, to awake and return to God. 
2. You say you are moral, diligent, anxious 
for the good of your parish. But is this all ? So 



Iv 

may a magistrate be — so a statesman — so a landlord. 
But you are called to be the minister of Christ. You 
are called to spiritual duties. You are called to bring 
men to salvation, to expound the doctrine of grace, 
to prepare a lost world for heaven. And doth a little 
common morality, such as Seneca or Epictetus might 
have taught; or some general benevolence, gathered 
from the unavoidable improvements introduced into 
society by the Christian spirit, serve to discharge 
these high and peculiar obligations ? It is not of 
morality, but of Christianity, that you are the minis- 
ter. It is not of benevolence, but of salvation, that 
you are the herald. Mere decency, mere kindness 
of heart, mere common uprightness, in a minister of 
the Gospel, is treachery to the peculiar trust reposed 
in him. Nothing can be indifferent which he does. 
He is the instrument and cause of the condemnation 
of his people, unless he is positively employing all 
his powers for their salvation. A pilot that allows 
his vessel to dash upon the rocks, is guilty of the 
consequences of the shipwreck. 

3. But you are not merely an ordinary decent 
minister, living a quiet and benevolent life ; you tell 
me you are active, studious, fond of litera- 
ture, diligent in reading works of science, the patron 
of the arts, the author of criticisms, and poems, and 
dissertations ; — but is all this the appropriate work of 
a minister of religion ? Consider, dear reader, can 
any thing be more opposed to the simple character 
of a herald of Christ, than a mere taste for elegant 
literature, the mere labour of a scientific student, 
the mere ardour of the philosopher or the historian ? 
Was it for this you undertook the care of souls ? Is 



VI 



it for this you desert your closet, your sick chambers, 
your private devotional duties ? Believe it, the pride 
of human knowledge indisposes more to the humbling 
truths and precepts of the Christian ministry, than 
almost any other passion. The soul is barren, the 
heart is filled with vanity, the habits are worldly. A 
literary spirit in a minister of Christ, is direct re- 
bellion against the first claims of his high office. 
The spirit of the servant of God is not literature, 
but piety; not vanity and conceit, but lowliness of 
heart ; not idle curiosity, but sound and solid know- 
ledge ; not philosophy, but the Bible ; not the pur- 
suit of natural discoveries, but the care of souls, the 
glory of Christ, the progress of the Gospel; not 
science, but salvation. 

4. But objections may be advanced to the state- 
ments of this Essay byTHE theological inquirer, 
WHO HAS made divinity HIS STUDY, who has ex- 
amined Fathers and Commentators, who has weighed 
opposite arguments and systems of religion, and has 
imbibed the strongest prejudices against the principal 
statements which have been advanced. He under- 
stands not what revival of piety can be necessary in 
such circumstances as ours in this country. He ob- 
jects to this ardour, this over-statement, as he terms 
it, on the subject of spiritual religion. He condemns 
it as feverish ; he imputes it to a spirit of party ; he 
charges it with enthusiasm ; he complains of it as 
impracticable and intolerant; he dismisses it with a 
name of reproach. 

To such general insinuations, the plain answer is, 
that the Holy Scriptures speak most decidedly, and 
in every part, the language we have been holding. 



Ivii 

Every page of the Bible demands the whole heart of 
man. Every epistle of St. Paul is far more exalted 
in doctrine and spirituality^ than any statement we 
can make. The very last accusation brought by the 
Saviour against a falling church, was that of luke- 
WARMNESS — the being " neither cold nor hot." Let 
the objector read over again his Bible ; let him pray 
for the guidance and illumination of the Holy Spirit ; 
let him enter upon religion as a practical matter be- 
tween God and his own soul, and he will soon form 
a totally different judgment from that which he now 
entertains. Lay aside only, beloved reader, all 
prejudices of every kind ; lay aside the opinions 
of divines and disputants ; lay aside the censure and 
applause of a mistaken world, and enter upon the 
question of religion, as before the divine Saviour, 
and you will soon find that the very doctrines you 
reject are the centre-point of Revelation — the ele- 
ment of salvation — the means of pardon and grace 
to man. O the power which our wicked hearts 
give to the idlest excuses and prejudices on the sub- 
ject of the Gospel ! The very language and objec- 
tions you bring forward, are a proof of the need of 
that revival of Christianity for which we plead. The 
cold external orthodoxy of the present day, evaporates 
all the life of the divine doctrine, leaves man to his 
natural powers, fills him with pride and self-conceit, 
is content with a dead faith and a worldly life, neglects 
the care of souls, and builds up a proud self-right- 
eousness on the foundation of human merit. This 
lukewarm temper is an enemy to spiritual religion, 
and to the revival of it ; because such topics condemn 
c3 



Vlll 



the lukewarmness of the age, as the greatest provo- 
cation that can be offered to God. O, if it should 
please the Almighty Saviour to revive his work 
amongst the clergy, the very first effect would be 
the detection of the evils of this disputatious, self- 
confident, worldly spirit ! We appeal to this Savi- 
our to defend the cause of his own truth. We ap- 
peal to this Saviour, to testify to his real Gospel, by 
making it the means of conversion in men. We 
appeal to this Saviour, to support us in our earnest 
endeavours to maintain his cause in a gainsaying age, 
to grant us his Spirit, and to make every opponent a 
happy partaker of the grace which he has previously 
condemned ! 

5. But are there not many young and well- 
disposed MINISTERS, who may take up these pages, 
and may sincerely desire to act upon the advice given, 
and who yet may need some further encouragement ? 
They are pressed with difficulties. They are dis- 
countenanced. They are impeded. They are in 
their own minds far from being strongly built up in 
the faith of Christ. To such interesting persons, 
we would say. Go on, young friends, in simplicity 
and prayer. Keep your hearts with all diligence. 
If you are sincere, and persevere in the use of means, 
God will assuredly guide you into all truth. " If 
any man will do his will, he shall know of the doc- 
trine." The weakest Christian shall overcome, 
through the might of his glorious Captain. Study 
your Bible. Act on what you know. Be much in 
prayer. Ask advice in great difficulties from pious 
and judicious friends. Read the lives of eminently 



lix 

holy ministers and missionaries. * Despair of nothing 
in a good cause. Go much amongst the sick and 
dying. Compare what you see and feel with the 
Holy Scriptures. Fear not the face of man. Your 
difficulties and discouragements will lessen. " The 
path of the just is as the shining light, which shin- 
eth more and more unto the perfect day." 

6. Remember, finally, dear brethren, for with 
this admonition I would conclude, that Satan, our 

GREAT ADVERSARY, WILL PECULIARLY RESIST ALL 
ATTEMPTS AT A REVIVAL OF CHRISTIANITY. It 

is death to his kingdom. A cold orthodoxy he can 
bear with. A literary spirit he can turn to his own 
purposes. A merely decent, benevolent person, with 
the name of a clergyman, he retains safely in his 
power. But, to arouse a careless age, to sound the 
trumpet amongst the teachers of religion, to call on 
them to awake from spiritual torpor, and then arouse 
their people, this kindles all the wrath of the wicked 
one. 

Yes, beloved brethren, we must calculate on the 
bitterest hostility, and the most subtle artifices of 
Satan, as we proceed in our holy course. But be not 
deterred, " Greater is he that is for us, than he 
that is in the world." Let us repose in the might of 
the Captain of our salvation. Let us draw close the 
bonds of mutual love. Let us be prepared to ascribe 
all the glory to Him who hath done all things for us ; 



* As those of Gilpin, Hooker, Leighton, the two Henrys, Haly- 
burton, Doddridge, Braiiierd, Schwartz, Martyn, Fletcher, Scott, 
Richmond. To these lives we would add, as books of gi;eat im- 
portance, Cecil's Remains, and Quesnel on the New Testament, 
which should never be out of the hands of a young minister. In 
Mr. Giily's Horae-catecheticse are some valuable thoughts. 



and we need not fear discomfiture. The power of 
Christ will rest upon us — the tie of united affections 
will brine us near to each other for aid and succour 
— the high aim of the glory of God will engage all 
the divine attributes in our behalf. We do not trust 
in ourselves — we do not seek any selfish object — we 
do not desire our own praise. We are, indeed, but 
unprofitable servants, even after we have done all. 
To Him, therefore, who hath loved us be all the 
honour and majesty ascribed — in his name let us go 
forth, making mention of his righteousness, even of 
his only — and in him let us be united in the bond 
of charity and love ! In this spirit, and with these 
ends, a revival of Christianity, first among the clergy 
of all our churches, and then amongst the laity, 
may be humbly hoped for. All the topics of humi- 
liation, if duly felt, will inspire confidence of this 
great result — all the sources of hope, from the cir- 
cumstances of the times, will fall into the same 
general feeling — whilst every duty which we have 
pointed out, directly tends to the same result. The 
STRENGTH OF Christ for the combat with Satan — 
the TEMPER OF LOVE for the efforts of the church — 
the GLORY OF God for the ultimate end of all, form 
a combination which will conduct to the greatest re- 
sults — for they agree, and are identified, with the 
very song which angels chaunted at the birth of the 
Saviour, " Glory to God in the highest, on eartli 
peace, good-will towards men." 

D. W. 
Islington, March, 1829. 



PREFACE, 

BY THE EDITOR OF THIS EDITION. 



Of the excellence of this work, it is scarcely possible 
to speak in too high terms. It is not a Directory 
relative to the various parts of the Ministerial office, 
and in this respect it may, by some, be considered as 
defective ; but for powerful, pathetic, pungent, heart- 
piercing address, we know of no work on the Pastoral 
office to be compared with it. Could we suppose it 
to be read by an angel, or by some other being pos- 
sessed of an unfallen nature, the argumentation and 
expostulations of our Author would be felt to be 
altogether irresistible ; and hard must be the heart 
of that Minister who can read it without being moved, 
melted, and overwhelmed ; hard must be his heart, 
if he be not roused to greater faithfulness, diligence, 
and activity in winning souls to Christ. It is a 
work worthy of being printed in letters of gold ; it 
deserves, at least, to be engraven on the heart of 
every Minister. 

But, with all its excellencies, the " Reformed 
Pastor," as originally published by our Author, 
labours under considerable defects, especially as re- 
gards its usefulness in the present day. With re- 
spect to his works in general, he makes the follow- 



Ixii 

ing candid, yet just acknowledgment : — " Concern- 
ing almost all my writings, I must confess that my 
own judgment is, that fewer, well studied and po- 
lished, had been better; but the reader, who can 
safely censure the books, is not fit to censure the 
author, unless he had been upon the place, and ac- 
quainted with all the occasions and circumstances. 
Indeed, for the ' Saints' Rest,' I had four months' 
vacancy to write it ; (but in the midst of continual 
languishing and medicine;) but for the rest, I wrote 
them in the crowd of all my other employments, 
which would allow me no great leisure for polishing 
and exactness, or any ornament ; so that I scarce ever 
wrote one sheet twice over, nor stayed to make any 
blots or interlinings, but was fain to let it go as it 
was first conceived. And when my own desire was, 
rather to stay upon one thing long, than run over 
many, some sudden occasions or other extorted al- 
most all my writings from me ; and the apprehension 
of present usefulness or necessity prevailed against 
all other motives."* 

The " Reformed Pastor" appears to have been writ- 
ten under the unfavourable circumstanceshere alluded 
to — amidst disease and languishment — and to have 
been hurried to the press, without that revision and 
correction which were of so much importance to its 
permanent usefulness. The arrangement is far from 
logical : the same topics, and even the same heads of 
discourse, are repeated in different parts of the work. 
It is interlarded, according to the fashion of the age, 
with numerous Latin quotations from the Fathers, 

* Baxter's Narrative of his Life and Times, p. 124. 



Ixiii 

and other writers ; and the controversies and history 
of the day are the subject of frequent reference, and 
sometimes of lengthened discussion. To this it may 
be added, that the language, though powerful and im- 
pressive, is often remarkably careless and inaccurate. 

With the view of remedying these defects of the 
original work, the Rev. Samuel Palmer, of Hackney, 
pubHshed, in 1766, an Abridgment of it; but though 
it was scarcely possible to present the work in any 
form, without furnishing most powerful and most 
impressive appeals to the consciences of ministers, 
we apprehend he essentially failed in presenting it 
in that form which was desirable. We would, in 
fact, greatly prefer the work in its original form, with 
all its faults, to the abridgment of it by Palmer ; if 
the latter was freed from many of its defects, it also 
lost much of its excellence. We may often, with 
advantage, throw out extraneous matter from the 
writings of Baxter ; but abridgment destroys their 
spirit; — their energy and pathos are enervated and 
evaporated by it. Besides, Mr. Palmer has moulded 
the work into an entirely new form; and though 
his general arrangement may, in some respects, be 
more logical than our Author's, yet, in other respects, 
it is no improvement. The arrangement of the ori- 
ginal is much more natural and easy; and there is 
in it a fulness and richness of illustration, which we 
in vain look for in the abridgment. 

The work which is now presented to the public, 
is not, strictly speaking, an abridgment. Though 
considerably less than the original, it has been re- 
duced in size, chiefly by the omission of extraneous 
and controversial matter, which, however useful it 



Ixiv 

might be when the work was originally published, 
is totally inapplicable to the circumstances of the pre- 
sent age. In some instances I have also changed the 
order of the particulars ; but the chief transposition 
which I have made is of the " Motives to the Over- 
sight of the Flock," which our Author placed in his 
Application, but which I have introduced in that 
part of the discourse to which they refer, just as we 
have " Motives to the Oversight of Ourselves," in 
the preceding part of the treatise. Some of the 
particulars which he has under the head of Motives, 
I have introduced in other parts of the body of the 
discourse, to which they appeared more naturally to 
belong. But though I have used some freedom in 
the way of transposition, I have been anxious not to 
sacrifice the force and fulness of our Author's illus- 
trations to mere logical arrangement. Many of the 
same topics, for instance, are still retained in the 
Application, which had occurred in the body of the 
discourse, and are there touched with a master's 
hand, but which would have lost much of their pathos 
and energy, had I separated them from that particu- 
lar connection in which they stand, and introduced 
them in a different part of the work. I have also 
corrected the language of our Author; but I have 
been solicitous not to modernize it. Though to 
adopt the phraseology and forms of speech employed 
by the writers of that age, would be a piece of silly 
affectation in an author of the present day, yet there 
is something simple, venerable, and impressive in it, 
as used by the writers themselves. 

While, however, I have made these changes on 
the original, 1 trust that I have not injured, but im- 



Ixv 

proved the work ; that the spirit of its great Author 
is so much preserved, that those who are most fami- 
liar with his writings would scarcely have been sen- 
sible of the alterations I have made, had I not stated 
them in this place. 

Having long been anxious to present to the public 
an edition of the " Reformed Pastor," I began to 
prepare it a considerable time ago ; and having of- 
fered it to the present publisher, he informed me 
that the Rev. Daniel Wilson of London, had 
previously agreed to write an Introductory Essay to 
that work. In this arrangement I feel peculiar 
pleasure, as I have no doubt his recommendation 
will introduce it to the notice of many, by whom 
otherwise it might have remained unknown. 

Before I conclude, I cannot help suggesting to 
the friends of religion, that they could not perhaps 
do more good at less expense, than by presenting 
copies of this work to the Ministers of Christ 
throughout the country. There is no class of the 
community on whom the prosperity of the Church 
of Christ so much depends as on its Ministers. If 
their zeal and activity languish, the interests of reli- 
gion are likely to languish in proportion ; while, on 
the other hand, whatever is calculated to stimulate 
their zeal and activity, is likely to promote, in a pro- 
portional degree, the interests of religion. They 
are the chief instruments through whom good is to 
be effected in any country. How important, then, 
must it be to stir them up to holy zeal and activity 
in the cause of the Redeemer ! A tract given to a 
poor man may be the means of his conversion ;* but 
a work such as this, presented to a Minister, may, 



Ixvi 

through his increased faithfulness and energy, prove 
the conversion of multitudes. Ministers themselves 
are not perhaps sufficiently disposed to purchase works 
of this kind : they are more ready to purchase books 
which will assist them, than such as will stimulate 
them in their work. If, therefore, any plan could 
be devised for presenting a copy of it to every Minis- 
ter of the various denominations throughout the 
United Kingdom, what incalculable good might be 
effected ! There are many individuals to whom it 
would be no great burden to purchase twenty or 
even fifty copies of such a work as this, and to send 
it to Ministers in different parts of the country ; or 
several individuals might unite together for this pur- 
pose. I can scarcely conceive any way in which 
they could be more useful. 

To the different Missionary Societies, I trust I 
may be allowed to make a similar suggestion. To 
furnish every Missionary, or at least every Mission- 
ary Station, with a copy of the Reformed Pastor, 
would, I doubt not, be a powerful mean of promot- 
ing the grand object of Christian Missions. Sure 
I am of this, there is no work so much calculated to 
stimulate a Missionary to holy zeal and activity in 
his important labours. 

WILLIAM BROWN. 
Edinburgh, March 12^A, 1829. 



CONTENTS. 



Page 

Dedication 73 

Introduction 89 



PART I. 

THE OVERSIGHT OF OURSELVES. 

CHAP. I. — The Nature of this Oversight, , . 91 

I. See that the work of grace be thoroughly wrough t in 
your own souls, 91 

II. See that you be not only in a state of grace, but that 
your graces are in vigorous and lively exercise, . 102 

III. See that your example contradict not your doctrine, 104 

IV. See that you live not in those sins against which you 
preach in others, 110 

V. See that you be not destitute of the qualifications ne- 
cessary for the work, . . , , . Ill 

CHAP. II. — The Motives TO this Oversight, . .116 

I. You have a heaven to win or lose as well as other men, 116 

II. You have a depraved nature as well as others, . 118 
HI. You are exposed to greater temptations than others, 119 

IV. You have many eyes upon you, and there will be many 

to observe your falls, 121 

V. Your sins will have more heinous aggravations than 
other men's, 122 



Ixviii CONTENTS. 

Page 

VI. Such important works as yours require greater grace 
than other men's, 12^ 

VII. The honour of Christ lieth more on you than on 
other men, 125 

VIII. The success of your labours materially depends on 
your taking heed to yourselves, .... 127 



PART II. 

THE OVERSIGHT OF THE FLOCK. 

CHAP. I. — The Nature of this Oversight. — This Over- 
sight extends to all the flock, . . . .137 

I. We must labour for the conversion of the unconverted, 146 

II. We must give advice to inquirers who are under con- 
victions of sin, 150 

III. We must study to build up those who are already 
partakers of divine grace, . . . . . 154< 

IV. We must exercise a careful oversight of families, 158 

V. We must be diligent in visiting the sick, . . 160 

VI. We must be faithful in the reproof and admonition of 
offenders 163 

VII. We must not neglect the exercise of Church disci- 
pline 164 

CHAP. II The Manner of this Oversight — The Min- 
isterial work must be carried on, . . . .172 

I. Purely for God, and the salvation of souls, . . 172 

II. Diligently and laboriously, 173 

III. Prudently and orderly, . . . . . 174> 

IV. Insisting chiefly on the greatest and most necessary 
things, 175 

V. With plaiimess and simplicity, . . . . 177 

VI. With humility, 179 

VII. With a mixture of severity and mildness, . 180 

VIII. With affection, and seriousness, and zeal, . . 180 



CONTENTS. Ixix 

Page 

IX. With tender love to our people, . . . 180 

X. With patience, 182 

XI. With reverence, 18.3 

XII. With spirituality, 184 

XIII. With earnest desires and expectations of success, 185 

XIV. Under a deep sense of our own insufficiency, and 

of our dependence on Christ, . . . . 187 

XV. In unity with other ministers, . . . .188 



CHAP. III.— The Motives to this Oversight, . 190 

I. From the relation in which we stand to the flock: — 
We are Overseers, . . . . . .190 

II. From the efficient cause of this relation : — The Holy 
Ghost, 196 

III. From the dignity of the object which is intrusted to 
our care: — The Church of God, .... 198 

IV. From the price paid for the Church : — " Which he 
hath purchased with his blood," .... 199 



PART III. 

APPLICATION. 

CHAP. I The Use OF HuMiUATioN, . . . .201 

I. On account of our pride, 206 

II. Our not seriously, unreservedly, and laboriously, lay- 
ing out ourselves in our work, .... 218 

1. By negligent studies, 219 

2. By dull, drowsy preaching, .... 220 

3. By not helping destitute congregations, . 224< 

III. Our prevailing regard to our worldly interests, in 
opposition to the interests of Christ, . . . 224- 

1. By temporizing, ...... 224 

2. By worldly business, 225 

3. By barrenness in works of charity, . . 226 

IV. Our undervaluing the unity and peace of the church, 232 

V. Our neglect of church discipline, .... 242 



IXX CONTENTS. 

Page 

CHAP. II The Duty of Personal Catechising and 

Instructing the flock particularly recommended, 253 

Section I. — Motives to this duty, .... 254) 

Article I Motives from the Benefits of the Work, . 254" 

I. It will be a most hopeful mean of the conversion of 
sinners, 256 

II. It will essentially promote the edification of saints, 258 

III. It will make our public preaching better understood 

by our people, 259 

IV. It will make us more familiar with them, and assist 

us in winning their affections, .... 260 

V. It will make us better acquainted with their spiritual 
state, and enable us better to watch over them, . 26^ 

VI. It will assist us in the admission of persons to the 
sacraments, ....... 261 

VII. It will show men the true nature of the ministerial 
office, . • 261 

VIII. It will show our people the nature of their duty to 
their ministers, 263 

IX. It will give the governors of the nation more correct 
views of the Christian ministry, and so may procure 
from them further help, 266 

X. It will exceedingly facilitate the ministerial work in 
succeeding generations, 271 

XI. It will conduce to the better ordering of families, and 

the better spending of the Lord's day, . . . 272 

XII. It will preserve many ministers from idleness and 
mispending their time, 272 

XIII. It will contribute to subdue our own corruptions, * 
and to exercise our own graces, .... 273 

XIV. It will withdraw both ourselves and our people 
from vain controversies, and the lesser matters of reli- 
gion, 273 

XV. It will probably extend over the whole country, . 274! 

XVI. It is likely to be a work which will not stop with 
those who are engaged in it, . c . . 275 

XVII. The weight and excellency of the duty recom- 
mended, 276 



CONTENTS. Ixxi 

Page 
Article II — Motives from the Difficulties of the Work, 279 

I. Difficulties in ourselves, 280 

II. Difficulties in our people, .... 281 

Article III — Motives from the Necessity of the Work, 283 

I. It is necessary for the glory of God, . . . 283 

II. It is necessary to the welfare of our people, . 286 

III. It is necessary to our ovv^n welfare, , . . 288 

Article IV. — Application of these Motives, . , 290 

Section II. — Objections to this Duty, .... 305 

Section III. — Directions for this Duty, . . . 329 

Article I — Directions for bringing our People to submit 
to the Exercise, 330 

I. Conduct yourselves in the general course of your life 
and ministry, as to convince them of your ability and 
sincerity, and love to them, 330 

II. Convince them of the benefit and necessity of this 
exercise, 332 

III. Put catechisms into the hands of every family in 
your congregation, whether rich or poor, . , 335 

IV. Deal gently with them, and remove every kind of 
discouragement, 336 

V. Expostulate with such as are obstinate and disobe- 
dient, 337 

Article II. — Directions for Prosecuting the Exercise 
with Success, 337 

I. Address a few words to them in general, to mollify 
their minds, and to remove all offence, . . . 339 

II. Take them one by one, and deal with each of them 
apart, 3iO 

III. Take an account of what each of them has learned 

of the catechism, 34-1 

IV. Try by further questions how far they understand 
what they have learned, 341 



Ixxii CONTENTS. 

Page 

V. When you have tried their knowledge, proceed next 

to instruct them yourselves, ..... 344 

VI. If they are grossly ignorant, or appear to be uncon- 
verted, make some prudent inquiry into their state, 347 

VII. Endeavour to impress their heart with a sense of 
their deplorable condition, . . . . . 351 

VIII. Conclude with an exhortation to them to believe 
in Christ, and to the diligent use of the external means 

of grace, ........ 352 

IX. At dismissing them, mollify their minds by a few 
words deprecating any thing like offence, and endeavour 
to engage the masters of families to carry on the work 
you have begun, ....... 356 

X. Keep a list of your people in a book, with notes of 
their character and necessities, .... 357 

XI. Through the whole course of the exercise, see that 

the manner as well as the matter be suited to the end, 357 

XII. If God enable you, extend your charity to those of 

the poorer sort, before they part from you, . . 360 



:^ 



DEDICATION. 



To my Reverend and Dearly-beloved Brethren, 
the faithful Ministers of Christ, in Britain and 
Ireland, Grace and Peace in Jesus Christ be 
increased. 

Reverend Brethren, 
The subject of this Treatise so nearly concerneth 
yourselves, and the churches committed to your care, 
that it emboldeneth me to this address, notwithstand- 
ing the imperfections in the manner of handling it, 
and the consciousness of my great unworthiness to 
be your monitor. 

Before I come to my principal errand, I shall give 
you an account of the reasons of the following work, 
and of the freedom of speech I have used, which to 
some may be displeasing. 

. When the Lord had awakened his ministers in 
this county,* and some neighbouring parts, to a 
sense of their duty in the work of catechizing, and 

* Worcestershire. 

D 42 



74 

private instruction of all in their parishes who would 
not obstinately refuse their help, and when they had 
subscribed an agreement, containing their resolutions 
for the future performance of it, they judged it 
unmeet to enter upon the work, without a solemn 
humbhng of their souls before the Lord, for their 
long neglect of so great and necessary a duty ; and 
therefore, they agreed to meet together at Worces- 
ter, December 4, 1655, and there to join in humi- 
liation and in earnest pray6r to God, for the pardon 
of our neglects, and for his special assistance in the 
work which we had undertaken, and for the success 
of it with the people whom we had engaged to instruct; 
at which time, amppg others, I was desired by them 
to preach. In compliance with their wishes, I pre- 
pared the followiiig Discourse ; which, though it 
proved longer than could be delivered in one or two 
sermons, yet I intended to have entered upon it at 
that time, and to have delivered that which was most 
pertinent to the occasion, and to have reserved the 
rest to another season. But, before the meeting, 
by the increase of my ordinary pain and weakness, I 
was disabled from going thither ; t9 recompense 
which unwilling omission, I easily yielded to the 
request of divers of the brethren, forthwith to pub- 
lish the things which I had prepared, that they miglit 
read that which they could not hear. 

If it should be objected, that I should not have 
spoken so plainly and sharply against the sins of the 
ministry, or that I should not have pubhshed it to 
the view of the world; or, at least, that I should 
have done it in another tongue, and not in the ears 
of the vulgar — especially, at such a time, when 



75 

Quakers and Papists are endeavouring to brincr the 
ministry into contempt, and the people are too prone 
to hearken to their suggestions, — I confess I thouglit 
the objection very considerable; but that it prevailed 
not to alter my Vesolution, is to be ascribed, among 
others, to the following reasons : — 1. It was a pur- 
posed solemn humiliation that we had agreed on, 
and that this was intended for. And how should 
we be humbled without a plain confession of our 
sin ? 2. It was principally our own sins that the 
confession did concern; and wljo can be offended 
with us for confessing our own sins, and taking the 
blame and shame to ourselves, which our consciences 
told us we ought to do? 3. When the sin is open 
in the sight of the world, it is in vain to attempt to 
hide it; and when the sin is pubHc, the confession 
should also be pubhc. If the ministers of England 
had sinned only in Latin, I would have made shift 
to have admonished them in Latin, or else have said 
nothing to them. But if they will sin in Enghsh, 
they must hear of it in English. Unpardoned sin 
will never let us rest or prosper, though we be at 
ever so much care and cost to cover it : our sin will 
surely find us out, though we find not it out. The 
work of confession is purposely to make known our 
sin, and freely to take the shame to ourselves ; and 
if " he that confesseth and. forsaketh his sins shall 
have mercy," no wonder if " he that covereth them 
shall not prosper." If we be so tender of ourselves, 
and so loath to confess, God will be the less tender 
of us, and he will indite our confessions for us. He 
will either force our consciences to confession, or his 
judgments shall proclaim our iniquities to the world. 
D 2 



76 

4. Many who have undertaken the work of the min- 
istry, do so obstinately proceed in self-seeking, negli- 
gence, pride, and other sins, that it is become our 
necessary duty to admonish them. If we saw that 
such would reform without reproof, we would gladly 
forbear the publishing of their faults. But when 
reproofs themselves prove so ineffectual, that they 
are more offended at the reproof than at the sin, and 
had rather that we should cease reproving, than that 
themselves should cease sinning, I think it is time to 
sharpen the remedy. For what else should we do? 
To give up our brethren as incurable were cruelty, 
as long as there are further means to be used. " We 
must not hate them, but plainly rebuke them, and 
not suffer sin upon them." To bear with the vices 
of the ministers, is to promote the ruin of the church ; 
for what speedier way is there for the depraving and 
undoing of the people, than the pravity of their guides? 
And how can we more effectually promote a reforma- 
tion, than by endeavouring to reform the leaders of 
the church ? For my part, I have done as I would 
be done by; and it is for the safety of the church, 
and in tender love to the brethren, whom I ven- 
ture to reprehend, not to make them contemptible 
and odious, but to heal the evils that would make 
them so. But, especially, because our faithful endea- 
vours are of so great necessity to the welfare of the# 
church, and the saving of men's souls, that it will not 
consist with a love to either, to be negligent our- 
selves, or silently to connive at negligence in others. 
If thousands of you were in a leaking ship, and 
those that should pump out the water, and stop the 
leaks, should be sporting or asleep, or even but fa- 



77 

vouring themselves in their labours, to the hazard- 
ing of you all, would you not awaken them to their 
work, and call on them to labour as for your lives ? 
And if you used some sharpness and importunity 
with the slothful, would you think that man was in 
his wits who would take it ill of you, and accuse you 
of pride, self-conceitedness, or unmannerliness, to 
presume to talk so saucily to your fellow-workmen, 
or that should tell you that you wrong them by 
diminishing their reputation — would you not say, 
" The work must be done, or we are all dead men ? 
Is the ship ready to sink, and do you talk of repu- 
tation ? or had you rather hazard yourself and us, 
than hear of your slothfulness ?" This is our case, 
brethren. The work of God must needs be done ! 
Souls must not perish, while you mind your worldly 
business, or worldly pleasure, and take your ease, or 
quarrel with your brethren ! Nor must we be silent 
while men are hastened by you to perdition, and the 
church brought into imminent danger, for fear of 
seeming too uncivil and unmannerly with you, or 
displeasing your impatient souls ! Would you be 
but as impatient with your sins as with our reproofs, 
you should hear no more from us, but we should be 
all agreed ! But neither God nor good men will 
let you alone in such sins. Yet if you had betaken 
yourselves to another calling, and would sin to your- 
selves only, and would perish alone, we should not 
have so much necessity of molesting you as now we 
have; but if you will enter into the office of the 
ministry, which is for the necessary preservation of 
us all, so that, by letting you alone in your sin, we 
must give up the church to loss and hazard, — blame 



78 

ns not, if we talk to you more freely than you would 
have us do. If your own body were sick, and you 
will despise the remedy, or if your own house were 
on fire, and you will be singing or quarrelling in the 
streets, I could possibly bear it, and let you alone ; 
(which yet, in charity, I should not easily do;) but 
if you will undertake to be the physician of an hos- 
pital, or to a whole town that is infected with the 
plague, or will undertake to quench all the fires that 
shall be kindled in the town, there is no bearing 
with your remissness, how much soever it may dis- 
please you : take it as you will, you must be told of 
it; and if that will not serve, you must be told of 
it still more plainly; and, if that will not serve, if 
you be rejected as well as reprehended, you may- 
thank yourselves. I speak all this to none but the 
guilty. And thus I have given you those reasons 
which forced me to publish, in plain English, so 
much of the sins of the ministry, as in the following 
treatise I have done. And I suppose the more 
penitent and humble any are, and the more desirous 
of the true reformation of the church, the more easily 
and fully will they approve such free confessions and 
reprehensions. But I find it will be impossible to 
avoid offending those who are at once guilty and im- 
penitent : for there is no way of avoiding this, but 
by our silence, or their patience; and silent we can- 
not be, because of God's commands ; and patient 
they cannot be, because of their guilt and impeni- 
tence. But plain dealers will always be approved 
in the end; and the time is at hand when you will 
confess that they were your best friends. 

But my principal business is yet behind. I must 



79 

now take the boldness, brethren, to become your 
monitor, concernmg some of the necessary duties, 
of which I have spoken in the ensuing discourse. 
If any of you should charge me with arrogance or 
immodesty for this attempt, as if hereby I accused 
you of negligence, or judged myself sufficient to ad- 
monish you, I entreat your candid interpretation of 
my boldness, assuring you that I obey not the coun- 
sel of my flesh herein, but displease myself as m-.:ch 
as some of you; and would rather have the ease and 
peace of silence, if it were consistent with my duty 
and the church's good. But it is the mere neces- 
sity of the souls of men, and my desire of their sal- 
vation, and the prosperity of the church, which 
force me to this arrogance and immodesty, if so it 
must be called. For who that hath a tongue can be 
silent, when it is for the honour of God, the welfare 
of his church, and the everlasting happiness of so 
many souls ! 

The firsts and chief point, which I have to pro- 
pose to you, is this, Whether it be not the unques- 
tionable duty of the generality of ministers in these 
three nations, to set themselves presently to the work 
of catechizing and instructing, individually, all that 
are committed to their care, who will be persuaded 
to submit thereto ? I need not here stand to prove 
it, having sufficiently done this in the following dis- 
course. Can you think that holy wisdom will gain- 
say it ? Will zeal for God, will delight in his ser- 
vice, or love to the souls of men, gainsay it? — 1. 
That people must be taught the principles of religion, 
and matters of greatest necessity to salvation, is past 
doubt among us. 2. That they must be taught it 



80 

in the most edifying, advantageous way, I hope we 
are agreed. 3. That personal conference, and ex- 
amination, and instruction, hath many excellent ad- 
vantages for their good, is no less beyond dispute. 
4. That personal instruction is recommended to us 
by Scripture, and by the practice of the servants of 
Christ, and approved by the godly of all ages, is, so 
far as I can find, without contradiction. 5. It is 
past doubt, that we should perform this great duty 
to all the people, or as many as we can : for our love 
and care of their souls must extend to all. If there 
are five hundred or a thousand ignorant people in 
your parish or congregation, it is a poor discharge of 
your duty, now and then to speak to a few of them, 
and to let the rest alone in their ignorance, if you 
are able to afford them help. 6. It is no less cer- 
tain, that so great a work as this is should take up 
a considerable part of our time. Lastly, It is equally 
certain that all duties should be done in order, as far 
as possible, and therefore should have their appointed 
times. And if we are agreed to practise, according 
to these commonly acknowledged truths, we need 
not differ upon any doubtful circumstances. 

I do now, in the behalf of Christ, and for the 
sake of his church, and the immortal souls of men, 
beseech all the faithful ministers of Christ, that they 
will presently and effectually engage in this work. 
Combine for the -unanimous performance of it, that 
it may more easily procure the submission of your 
people. I must confess, I find, by some experience, 
that this is the work that, through the grace of God, 
must reform indeed ; that must expel our common 
prevailing ignorance; that must bow the stubborn 



81 

hearts of sinners ; that must answer their vain ob- 
jections, and take off their prejudices ; that must 
reconcile their hearts to faithful ministers, and help 
forward the success of our pubUc preaching; and 
make true godliness a commoner thinff than it has 
hitherto been. I find that we never took the best 
course for demohshinff the kingdom of darkness till 
now. I wonder at myself, how I was kept off from 
so clear and excellent a duty so long. But the case 
was with me, as I suppose it is with others. I was 
long convinced of it, but my apprehensions of the 
difEculties were too great, and my apprehensions of 
the duty too small, and so I was long hindered from 
the performance of it. I imagined the people would 
scorn it, and none but a few, who had least need, 
wauld submit to it, and I thought my strength would 
never go through with it, having so great burdens 
on me before; and thus I long delayed it, which I 
beseech the Lord of mercy to forgive. Whereas, 
upon trial, I find the difficulties almost nothing (save 
only through my extraordinary bodily weakness) to 
that which I imagined; and I find the benefits and 
comforts of the work to be such, that I would not 
wish that I had forborne it for all the riches in the 
world. We spend Monday and Tuesday, from 
morning almost to night, in the work, taking about 
fifteen or sixteen families in a week, that we may go 
through the parish, in which there are upwards of 
eight hundred families, in a year; and I cannot say 
yet that one family hath refused to come to me, and 
only a few persons excused themselves and shifted it 
off. And I find more outward signs of success with 
most that do come, than from all my public preach- 
d3 



82 

iiig to them. If you say, it is not so in most places ; 
I answer, I wish that the blame of this may not lie 
with ourselves. If, however, some refuse your help, 
that will not excuse you for not affording it to them 
that would accept of it. If you ask me, what course 
I take for order and expedition, I may here mention, 
that, at the delivery of the catechisms, I take a cata- 
logue of all the persons of understanding in the pa- 
rish, and the clerk goeth a week before, to every 
family, to tell them what day to come, and at what 
hour, (one family at eight o'clock, the next at nine, 
and the next at ten, &c.) And I am forced by the 
number to deal with a whole family at once ; but 
ordinarily I admit not any of another- family to be 
present. 

Brethren, do I now invite you to this work, with- 
out the authority of God, without the consent of all 
antiquity, without the consent of the reformed Di- 
vines, or without the conviction of your own con- 
sciences? See what the Westminster Assembly 
speak occasionally, in the Directory, about the visi- 
tation of the sick : " It is the duty of the minister 
not only to teach the people committed to his charge 
in public, but privately and particularly to admonish, 
exhort, reprove, and comfort them upon all season- 
able occasions, so far as his time, strength, and per- 
sonal safety will permit. He is to admonish them 
in time of health to prepare for death. And for that 
purpose, they are often to confer with their minister 
about the estate of their souls," &c. Read this over 
again and consider it. Hearken to God, if you would 
have peace with God. Hearken to conscience, if 
you would have peace of conscience. I am resolved 



to deal plainly with you, though I should displease 
you. It is an unlikely thing that there should he a 
heart sincerely devoted to God in the breast of that 
man, who, after advertisements and exhortations, will 
not resolve on so clear and important a duty. I 
cannot conceive that he who hath one spark of saving 
grace, and so hath that love to God and delight in 
his service, which is in all the sanctified, could pos- 
sibly be drawn to oppose or refuse such a work as 
this ; except under the power of such a temptation 
as Peter was, when he denied Christ, or when he 
dissuaded him from suffering, and heard a half ex- 
communication, " Get thee behind me, Satan ; thou 
art an offence unto me : for thou savourest not the 
things that be of God, but those that be of men." 
You have put your hand to the plough : you are 
doubly devoted to him as Christians, and as Pastors ; 
and dare you, after this, draw back and refuse his work? 
You see the work of reformation at a stand ; and you 
are engaged by many obligations to promote it ; and 
dare you now neglect the means by which it must 
be done ? Will you show your faces in a Christian 
congregation, as ministers of the gospel, and pray 
for a reformation, and for the conversion and salva- 
tion of your hearers, and for the prosperity of the 
church ; and when you have done, refuse to use the 
means by which all this must be accomplished ? I 
know carnal wit will never want words and show of 
reason, to gainsay that truth and duty which it abhors. 
It is easier now to cavil against duty than to perform 
it: but wait the end, before you pass your final 
judgment. Can you make yourselves believe that 
you shall have a comfortable review of these neglectsj 



84 

or make a comfortable account of them to God? I 
dare prognosticate, from the knowledge of the nature 
of grace, that all the godly ministers in England will 
make conscience of this duty, and address themselves 
to it, except those who, by some extraordinary acci- 
dent, are disabled, or who are under such tempta- 
tions as aforesaid. I do not hopelessly persuade you 
to it, but take it for granted that it will be done. 
And if any lazy, or jealous, or malicious hypocrites, 
do cavil against it, or hold off, the rest will not do 
so : but they will take the opportunity, and not re- 
sist the warnings of the Lord. And God will un- 
case the hypocrites ere long, and make them know, 
to their sorrow, what it was to trifle with him. Woe 
to them, when they must account for the blood of 
souls ! The reasons which satisfied them here against 
duty, will not then satisfy them against duty; but 
will be manifested to have been the effects of their 
folly, and to have proceeded radically from their cor- 
rupted wills, and carnal interest. Nor wdll their con- 
sciences own those reasons at a dying hour, which 
now they seem to own. Then they shall feel to their 
sorrow, that there is not that comfort to be had for 
a departing soul, in the review of such neglected 
duty, as there is to them that have wholly devoted 
themselves to the service of the Lord. I am sure 

MY ARGUMENTS FOR THIS DUTY WILL APPEAR 
STRONGEST AT THE LAST, WHEN THEY SHALL BE 
VIEWED AT THE HOUR OF DEATH, AT THE DAY OF 
JUDGMENT, AND ESPECIALLY IN THE LIGHT OF 
ETERNITY. 

And now, brethren, I earnestly beseech you, in 
the name of God, and for the sake of your people's 



85 

souls, that you will not slightly slubber over this 
work, but do it vigorously, and with all your might ; 
and make it your great and serious business. Much 
judgment is required for the managing of it. Study, 
therefore, beforehand, how to do it, as you study 
your sermons. I remember how earnest I was with 
some of the last parliament, that they would settle 
catechists in our assemblies; but truly I am not 
sorry that it took not effect, unless for a few of the 
larger congregations. For I perceive, that all the 
life of the work, under God, doth lie in the prudent, 
effectual management of it, in searching men's hearts, 
and setting home the truth to their consciences; and 
the ablest minister is weak enough for this, and few 
of inferior parts would be found competent. For I 
fear nothing more, than that many ministers, who 
preach well, will be found but imperfectly qualified 
for this work, especially to manage it with old, igno- 
rant, dead-hearted sinners. And, indeed, if the 
ministers be not reverenced by the people, they will 
rather slight them, and contest with them, than 
humbly learn and submit to them : how much more 
would they do so by inferior men ? Seeing, then, 
the work is cast upon us, and it is we that must do 
it, or else it must be undone, let us be up and doing 
with all our might. When you are speaking to 
your people, do it with the greatest prudence and 
seriousness, and be as earnest with them as for life 
or death ; and follow it as closely as you do your 
public exhortations. I profess it is to me the most 
comfortable work, except public preaching, (for there 
I speak to more, though yet with less advantage to 
each individual,) that ever I yet did set my hand to. 



86 

And I doubt not others will find it so too, if they 
only perform it faithfully. 

My second request to the ministers in these king- 
doms is, that they would at last, without any more 
delay, unanimously set themselves to the practice of 
those parts of Christian discipline which are unques- 
tionably necessary, and part of their work. It is a 
sad case, that good men should settle themselves so 
long in the constant neglect of so important a duty. 
The common cry is, " Our people are not ready for 
it ; they will not bear it." But is not the fact rather, 
that you will not bear the trouble and hatred which 
it will occasion ? If indeed you proclaim our churches 
incapable of the order and government of Christ, what 
do you but give up the cause to them that withdraw 
from us, and encourage men to look out for better 
societies, where that discipline may be had? For 
though preaching and sacraments may be omitted in 
some cases till a fitter season, and accordingly so may 
discipline — yet it is a hard case to settle in a constant 
neglect, for so many years together, as we have done, 
unless there were an absolute impossibility of the 
work. And if it w^ere so- because of our incapable 
materials, it would plainly call us to alter our consti- 
tution, that the matter may be capable. I have 
spoken plainly afterwards of this, which I hope you 
will conscientiously consider. I now only beseech 
you, if you would give a comfortable account to the 
chief Shepherd, and would not be found unfaithful 
in the house of God, that you do not wilfully or negli- 
gently delay it as if it were a needless thing; nor 
shrink from it, because of the trouble to the flesh 
that doth attend it ; for as that is a sad sign of hy- 



87 

pocrisy, so the costliest duties are usually the most 
comfortable ; and you may be sure that Christ will 
bear the cost. 

My last request is, that all the faithful ministers 
of Christ, would, without any more delay, unite and 
associate for the furtherance of each other in the 
work of the Lord, and the maintaining of unity and 
concord in his churches. And that they would not 
neglect their brotherly meetings to those ends, nor 
yet spend them unprofitably, but improve them to 
their edification, and the effectual carrying on the 
work. Read that excellent letter of Edmond Grin- 
dal. Archbishop of Canterbury, to Queen Elizabeth, 
for ministerial meetings and exercises. You will find 
it in Fuller's History of the Church of England. 

Brethren, I entreat your pardon for the infirmi- 
ties of this address ; and, earnestly longing for the 
success of your labours, I shall daily beg of God, that 
he would persuade you to those duties which I have 
liere recommended to you, and would preserve and 
prosper you therein, against all the serpentine subtlety 
and rage that are now engaged to oppose and hinder 
you. 

Your unworthy Fellow-servant, 

RICHARD BAXTER, 
Aj^ril 15, 1656. 



PEIHCfiTON \ 



THEOLOGIO& 






THE 



REFORMED PASTOR. 



Acts xx. 28. 

Take heed therefore unto yourselves^ and to all the flock, 
over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you over- 
seers, to feed the church of God, which he hath pur- 
chased with his own blood. 

Reverend and dearly-beloved Brethren, 
Though some think that Paul's exhortation to these 
elders, doth prove him their ruler, we who are this 
day to speak to you from the Lord, hope that we 
may freely do so, without any jealousies of such a 
conclusion. Though we teach our people, as officers 
set over them in the Lord, yet may we teach one 
another, as brethren in office, as well as in faith. If 
the people of our charge must " teach, and admonish, 
and exhort, each other daily," no doubt teachers may 
do it to one another, without any supereminence in 
power or degree. We have the same sins to mor- 
tify, and the same graces to be quickened and streng- 
thened, as our people have : we have greater works 



90 

than they have to do, and greater difficuhies to over- 
come, and therefore we have need to be warned and 
awakened, if not to be instructed, as well as they. 
So that I confess I think we should meet together 
more frequently, if we had nothing else to do but 
this. And we should deal as plainly and closely 
with one another, as the most serious among us do 
with our flocks, lest if they only have sharp admoni- 
tions and reproofs, they only should be sound and 
lively in the faith. That this was Paul's judgment, 
I need no other proof than this rousing, heart-melt- 
ing exhortation to the Ephesian elders. A short ser- 
mon, but not soon learned ! Had the bishops and 
teachers of the church but thoroughly learned this 
short exhortation, though to the neglect of many a 
volume which hath taken up their time, and helped 
them to greater applause in the world, how happy 
had it been for the church, and for themselves ! 

In further discoursing on this text, I propose to 
pursue the following method : — 

First, To consider what it is to take heed to 
ourselves. 

Secondly, To show why we must take heed to 
ourselves. 

Thirdly, To inquire what it is to take heed to 
all the flock. 

Fourthly, To illustrate the manner in which 
we must take heed to all the flock. 

Fifthly, To state some motives why we should 
take heed to all the flock. 

Lastly, To make some application of the whole. 



91 



PART I. 

THE OVERSIGHT OF OURSELVES. 



I 



CHAPTER I. 

THE NATURE OF THIS OVERSIGHT. 

First, Let us consider, What it is to take heed 
to ourselves. 

I. See that the work of saving grace be thoroughly 
wrought in your own souls. Take heed to your- 
selves, brethren, lest you should be destitute of that 
saving grace of God which you offer to others, and 
be strangers to the effectual working of that gospel 
which you preach ; and lest, while you proclaim to 
the world the necessity of a Saviour, your own 
hearts should neglect him, and you should miss of 
an interest in him and his saving benefits. Take 
heed to yourselves, lest you perish, while you call 
upon others to take heed of perishing; and lest you 
famish yourselves while you prepare food for them. 
Though there is a promise of shining as the stars, to 
those who turn many to righteousness, Dan. xii. 3. 
that is on supposition that they are first turned to it 
themselves. Their own sincerity in the faith is the 
condition of their glory, simply considered, though 
their great ministerial labours may be a condition of 



92 

the promise of their greater glory. Many a man 
hath warned others that they come not to that place 
of torment, while yet they hastened to it themselves: 
many a preacher is now in hell, who hath a hun- 
dred times called upon his hearers to use the utmost 
care and diligence to escape it. Can any reason- 
able man imagine, that God should save men for 
offering salvation to others, while they refused it 
themselves ; and for telling others those truths which 
they themselves neglected and abused? Many a 
tailor goes in rags, that maketh costly clothes for 
others ; and many a cook scarcely licks his fingers, 
when he hath dressed for others the most costly 
dishes. Believe it, brethren, God never saved any 
man for being a preacher, nor because he was an 
able preacher; but because he was a justified, sanc- 
tified man, and consequently faithful in his Master's 
work. Take heed, therefore, to yourselves first, 
that you be that which you persuade your hearers 
to be, and believe that which you persuade them to 
believe; and heartily entertain that Saviour whom 
you offer to them. He that bade you love your 
neighbours as yourselves, did imply that you should 
love yourselves, and not hate and destroy yourselves 
and them. 

It is a fearful thing to be an unsanctified profes- 
sor, but much more to be an unsanctified preacher. 
Doth it not make you tremble when you open the 
Bible, lest you should there read th^e sentence of 
your own condemnation? . When you pen your 
sermons, little do you think that you are drawing up 
indictments against your own souls ! When you 
are arguing against sin, that you are aggravating 



93 

your own ! When you proclaim to your hearers 
the unsearchable riches of Christ and his grace, that 
you are publishing your own iniquity in rejecting 
them ; and your unhappiness, in being destitute of 
them ! What can you do in persuading men to 
Christ, in drawing them from the world, in urging 
them to a life of faith and holiness ; but conscience, 
if it were awake, would tell you that you speak all 
this to your own confusion ? If you speak of hell, 
you speak of your own inheritance ; if you describe 
the joys of heaven, you describe your own misery, 
seeing you have no right to " the inheritance of the 
saints in light." What can you say, for the most 
part, but it will be against your own souls? O 
miserable life ! that a man should study and preach 
against himself, and spend his days in a course of self- 
condemning ! A graceless, inexperienced preacher, 
is one of the most unhappy creatures upon earth : 
and yet he is ordinarily very insensible of his unhappi- 
ness ; for he hath so many counterfeits that seem 
like the gold of saving grace, and so many splendid 
stones that resemble Christian's Jewels, that he is 
seldom troubled with the thoughts of his poverty, 
but thinks he is " rich, and increased in goods, and 
stands in need of nothing; when he is poor, and 
miserable, and blind, and naked." He is acquainted 
with the Holy Scriptures, he is exercised in holy 
duties, he liveth not in open disgraceful sin, he 
serveth at God's altar, he reproveth other men's 
faults, and preacheth up holiness both of heart and 
life ; and how can this man but be holy ! O what 
aggravated misery is this, to perish in the midst of 
plenty ! — to famish with the bread of life in our 



94 

liands, while we offer it to others, and urge it on 
tliem ! That those ordinances of God should be 
the occasion of our delusion, which are instituted to 
be the means of our conviction and salvation ! and 
that while we hold the looking-glass of the gospel 
to others, to show tliem the face and aspect of their 
souls, we should either look on the back part of it 
ourselves, where we can see nothing, or turn it aside, 
that it may misrepresent us to ourselves! If such 
a wretched man would take my counsel, he would 
make a stand, and call his heart and life to an ac- 
count, and fall a preaching a while to himself before 
he preach any more to others. He would consider 
whether food in the mouth, that goeth not into the 
stomach, will nourish ; whether he that nameth the 
name of Christ should not depart from iniquity; 
whether God will hear his prayers, if he regard 
iniquity in his heart; whether it will serve the turn 
at the day of reckoning to say, " Lord, Lord, we 
have prophesied in thy name," when he shall hear 
these awful words, " Depart from me, I know you 
not;" and what comfort it will be to Judas when he 
has gone to his own place to remember, that he 
preached with the other apostles, or that he sat with 
Christ, and was called by him. Friend. When 
iuch thoughts as these have entered into their souls, 
and kindly worked a while upon their consciences, 
I would advise them to go to their congregation, 
and preach over Origen's Sermon on Psalm I. 16, i1. 
" But unto the wicked God saith. What hast thou 
to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest 
take my covenant in thy mouth? seeing thou hatest 
instruction, and easiest my words behind thee." 



95 

And when they have read this text, to sit down, 
and expound and apply it by their tears : and then 
to make a full confession of their sin, and lament 
their case before the whole assembly, and desire their 
earnest prayers to God for pardoning and renewing 
grace; that hereafter they may preach a Saviour 
wh'om they know, and may feel what they speak, 
and may commend the riches of the gospel from their 
own experience. 

Alas ! it is the common danger and calamity of 
the church, to have unregenerate and inexperienced 
pastors, and to have so many men become preachers, 
before they are Christians; who are sanctified by 
dedication to the altar as the priests of God, before 
they are sanctified by hearty dedication as the dis- 
ciples of Christ; and so to worship an unknown 
God, and to preach an unknown Christ, to pray 
through an unknown Spirit, to recommend a state of 
holiness and communion with God, and a glory, and 
a happiness, that are all unknown, and like to be 
unknown to them for ever. He is like to be but a 
heartless preacher, that hath not the Christ and 
grace that he preacheth in his heart. O that all 
our students in our universities would well consider 
this ! What a poor business is it to themselves, to 
spend their time in acquiring some little knowledge 
of the works of God, and of some of those names 
which the divided tongues of the nations have im- 
posed on them, and not to knov/ God himself, nor 
to be acquainted v/ith that one renewing work that 
should make them happy ! They do but walk in a 
vain show, and spend their lives like dreaming men, 
while they busy their wits and tongues about abun- 



96 

dance of names and notions, and are strangers to 
God and the life of saints. If ever God awaken 
them by his saving grace, they will have cogitations 
and employments so much more serious than their 
-unsanctified studies, that they will confess they did 
but dream before. A world of business they make 
themselves about nothing, while they are wilful 
strangers to the primitive, independent, necessary 
Being, who is all in all. Nothing can be rightly 
known, if God be not known ; nor is any study well 
managed, nor to any great purpose, if God is not 
studied. We know little of the creature, till we 
know it as it stands related to the Creator: single 
letters, and syllables uncomposed, are no better than 
nonsense. He who overlooketh him, who is the 
Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, 
and seeth not him in all, doth see nothing at all. 
All creatures, as such, are broken syllables ; they 
signify nothing as separated from God. Were they 
separated actually, they would cease to be, and the 
separation would be an annihilation ; and when we 
separate them in our fancies, we make nothing of 
them to ourselves. It is one thing to know the 
creatures as Aristotle, and another thing to know 
them as a Christian. None but a Christian can 
read one line of his physics, so as to understand it 
rightly. It is a high and excellent study, and of 
greater use than many apprehend ; but it is the small- 
est part of it that Aristotle can teach us. When 
man was made perfect, and placed in a perfect world, 
where all things were in perfect order, the whole 
creation was then man's book, in which he was to 
read the nature and will of his great Creator. Every 



97 

creature had the name of God so legibly engraven 
on it, that man might run and read it. He could 
not open his eyes, but he might see some image of 
God ; but nowhere so fully and lively as in himself. 
It was, therefore, his work to study the whole volume 
of nature, but chiefly to study himself. And if man 
had held on in this course, he would have continued 
to increase in the knowledge of God and himself; 
but when he would needs know and love the creature 
and himself in a way of separation from God, he 
lost the knowledge both of the creature and of the 
Creator, so far as it was worth the name of know- 
ledge ; and instead of it, he hath got the unhappy 
knowledge which he affected, even the empty no- 
tions and fantastic knowledge of the creature and 
himself, as thus separated. And thus, he that lived 
to the Creator and upon him, doth now live to and 
upon the other creatures, and himself; and thus, 
" every man at his best estate," the learned as well 
as the illiterate, " is altogether vanity. Surely every 
man walketh in a vain show; surely they are dis- 
quieted in vain." And it must be observed, that, 
as God laid not aside the relation of a Creator by 
becoming our Redeemer, but the work of redemption 
standeth, in some respect, in subordination to that 
of creation, and the law of the Redeemer to the law 
of the Creator — so also the duty which we owed to 
God as Creator hath not ceased, but the duties that 
we owe to the Redeemer, as such, are subordinate 
thereto. It is the work of Christ to bring us back 
to God, and to restore us to the perfection of holi- 
ness and obedience; and as he is the way to the 
Father, so faith in him is the way to our former 
E 42 



98 

employment and enjoyment of God. I hope you 
perceive what I ahn at in all this, namely, that to see 
God in his creatures, and to love him, and converse 
with him, was the employment of man in his upright 
state ; that this is so far from ceasing to be our duty, 
that it is the work of Christ to bring us, by faith, 
back to it ; and therefore the most holy men are the 
most excellent students of God's works, and none 
but the holy can rightly study them or know them. 
*' His works are great, sought out of all them that 
have pleasure therein;" but not for themselves, but 
for Him that made them. Your study of physics 
and other sciences is not worth a rush, if it be not 
God that you seek after in them. To see and ad- 
mire, to reverence and adore, to love and delight in 
God as exhibited in his works, — this is the true and 
only philosophy; the contrary is mere foolery, and 
is so called again and again by God himself. This 
is the sanctification of your studies, when they are 
devoted to God, and when he is the end, the object, 
and the life of them all. 

And, therefore, I shall presume to tell you, by 
the way, that it is a grand error, and of dangerous 
consequence in Christian academies, (pardon the 
censure from one so unfit to pass it, seeing the ne- 
cessity of the case commandeth it,) that they study 
the creature before the Redeemer, and set themselves 
to physics, and metaphysics, and mathematics, before 
they set themselves to theology; whereas, no man 
that hath not the vitals of theology, is capable of 
going beyond a fool in philosophy. Theology must 
lay the foundation, and lead the way of all our 
studies. If God must be searched after in our 



99 

search of the creature, then tutors must read God 
to their pupils in all; and divinity must be the be- 
ginning, the middle, the end, the all, of their studies. 
Our physics and mataphysics must be reduced to 
theology; and nature must be read as one of God's 
books, which is purposely written for the revelation 
of himself. The Holy Scripture is the easier book ; 
when you have first learned from it God, and hh 
will, as to the most necessary things, address your- 
selves to the study of his works, and read every 
creature as a Christian and a divine. If you sec 
not yourselves, and ail things, as living, and moving, 
and. having being in God, you see nothing, whatever 
you think you see. If you perceive not, in your 
study of the creatures, that God is all, and in ail, 
and that " of Him, and through Him, and to Him, 
are all things," you may think, perhaps, that you 
" know something, but you know nothing as you 
ought to know." Think not so basely of your phy- 
sics, and of the works of God, as that they are only 
preparatory studies for boys. It is a most high and 
noble part of holiness, to search after, behold, ad- 
mire, and love, the great Creator in all his works ; 
how much have the saints of God been employed in 
this exalted exercise ! The book of Job, and the 
Psalms, may show us that our physics are not so 
little related to theology as some suppose. I do, 
therefore, in zeal for the good of the church, propose 
it for the consideration of all pious tutors, whether 
they should not as timely, and as diligently, read to 
their pupils, or cause them to read, the principal 
parts of practical divinity, (and there is no other,) as 
any of the sciences; and whether they should not 
E 2 



100 

go together from the very first ? It is well that they 
hear sermons; but that is not enough. If tutors 
would make it their principal business, to acquaint 
their pupils with the doctrine of salvation, and labour 
to set it home upon their hearts, that all might be 
received according to its weight, and read to their 
hearts as well as to their heads, and so carry on the 
rest of their instructions, that it may appear they 
make them but subservient unto this, and that their 
pupils may feel what they aim at in them all, and 
so that they would teach all their philosophy in ha- 
hitu theologicoy this might be a happy means to make 
a happy church and a happy country. But, when 
languages and philosophy have almost all their time 
and diligence, and, instead of reading philosophy like 
divines, they read divinity like philosophers, as if it 
were a thing of no more moment than a lesson of 
music or arithmetic, and not the doctrine of everlast- 
ing life ; — this it is that blasteth so many in the bud, 
and pestereth the church with unsanctified teachers ! 
Hence it is, that we have so many worldlings to 
preach of the invisible felicity, and so many carnal 
men to declare the mysteries of the Spirit; and I 
would I might not say, so many infidels to preach 
Christ, or so many atheists to preach the living God: 
and when they are taught philosophy before or with- 
out religion, what wonder if their philosophy be all 
or most of their religion. Again, therefore, I ad- 
dress myself to all who have the charge of the edu- 
cation of youth, especially in order to preparation for 
the ministry. You that are schoolmasters and tutors, 
begin and end with the things of God. Speak daily 
to the hearts of your scholars those things that must 



101 

be wrought in their hearts, or else they are undone. 
Let some piercing words drop frequently from your 
mouths, of God, and the state of their souls, and 
the life to come. Do not say, they are too young 
to understand and receive them. You little know 
what impressions they may make. Not only the 
soul of that boy, but many souls may have cause to 
bless God, for your zeal and diligence, yea, for one 
such seasonable word. You have a great advantage 
above others to do them good; you have them before 
they are grown to maturity, and they will hear you 
when they will not hear another. If they are des- 
tined to the ministry, you are preparing them for 
the special service of God, and must they not first 
have the knowledge of him whom they have to serve? 
O think with yourselves, what a sad thing it will be 
to their own souls, and what a wrong to the church 
of Christ, if they come out from you with common 
and carnal hearts, to so great, and holy, and spiritual 
a work ! Of a hundred students in one of our col- 
leges, how many may there be that are serious, ex- 
perienced, godly young men ! If you should send 
one half of them on a work that they are unfit for, 
what bloody work will they make in the church or 
country ! Whereas, if you be the means of their 
conversion and sanctification, how many souls may 
bless you, and what greater good can you do the 
church ! When once their hearts are savingly 
affected with the doctrine which they study and 
preach, they will study it more heartily, and preach 
it more heartily ; their own experience will direct 
them to the fittest subjects, and will furnish them 
with matter, and quicken them to set it home to the 



102 

conscience of their hearers. See, therefore, that 
you make not work for the groans and lamentation 
of the church, nor for the great tormentor of the 
murderers of souls. 

S II. Content not yourselves with being in a state 

1^o£ grace, but be careful that your graces are kept in 

^ vigorous and lively exercise, and that you preach to 

yourselves the sermons which you study, before you 

preach them to others. If you did this for your own 

-sakes, it would not be lost labour ; but I am speaking 
to you upon the pubHc account, that you would do 
it for the sake of the church. When your minds 
are in a holy, heavenly frame, your people are likely 
to partake of the fruits of it. Your prayers, and 
praises, and doctrine, will be sweet and heavenly to 
them. They will likely feel when you have been 
much with God : that which is most on your hearts, 
is likely to be most in their ears. I confess I must 
speak it by lamentable experience, that I publish to 
my flock the distempers of my own souL When I 
let my heart grow cold, my preaching is cold ; and 
when it is confused, my preaching is confused ; and 
so I can often observe also in the best of my hearers, 
that when I have grown cold in preaching, they have 
grown cold too ; and the next prayers which I have 
heard from them have been too like my preaching. 
We are the nurses of Christ's little ones. If we 
forbear taking food ourselves, we shall famish them ; 
it will soon be visible in their leanness, and dull dis- 
charge of their several duties; if we let our love 
decline, we are not likely to raise theirs ; if we abate 
our holy care and fear, it will appear in our preaching ; 
if the matter show it not, the manner will. If we 



103 

feed on unwholesome food, either errors or fruitless 
controversies, our hearers are likely to fare the worse 
for it. Whereas, if we abound in faith, and love, 
and zeal, how would it overflow, to the refreshing of 
our congregations, and how would it appear in the 
increase of the same graces in them ! O brethren, 
watch therefore over your own hearts : keep out lusts, 
and passions, and worldly inclinations ; keep up the 
life of faith, and love, and zeal ; be much at home, 
and be much with God. If it be not your daily 
business to study your own hearts, and to subdue 
corruption, and to walk with God — if you make not 
this a work to which you constantly attend, all will 
go wrong, and you will starve your hearers ; or, if 
you have an affected fervencv, you cannot expect a 
blessing to attend it from on high. Above all, be 
much in secret prayer and meditation. Thence you 
must fetch the heavenly fire that must kindle your 
sacrifices : remember, you cannot decline and neglect 
your duty, to your own hurt alone ; many will be 
losers by it as well as you. For your people's sakes, 
therefore, look to your hearts. If a pang of spiri- 
tual pride should overtake you, and you should fall 
into any dangerous error, and vent your own inven- 
tions to draw away disciples after you, what a wound 
may this prove to the church of which you have the 
oversight ! and you may become a plague to them 
instead, of a blessing, and they may wish they had 
never seen your faces. O, therefore, take heed to 
your own judgments and affections ! Vanity and 
error will slily insinuate, and seldom come without 
fair pretences : great distempers and apostacies have 
usually small beginnings. The prince of darkness 



104 

doth frequently personate an angel of light, to draw 
the children of light again into darkness. How easily 
also will distempers creep in upon our affections, and 
our first love, and fear, and care abate ! Watch, 
therefore, for the sake of yourselves and others. 

But, besides this general course of watchfulness, 
methinks a minister should take some special pains 
with his heart, before he is to go to the congrega- 
tion : if it be then cold, how is he likely to warm 
the hearts of his hearers ? Therefore, go then to 
God for life : read some rousing, awakening book, or 
meditate on the weight of the subject of which you 
are to speak, and on the great necessity of your 
people's souls, that you may go in the zeal of the 
Lord into his house. Maintain, in this manner, the 
life of grace in yourselves, that it may appear in all 
your sermons from the pulpit — that every one who 
comes cold to the assembly, may have some warmth 
imparted to him before he depart. 

III. Take heed to yourselves, lest your example 
- IM^'^ contradict your doctrine, and lest you lay such stum- 
^ bling-blocks before the blind, as may be the occasion 
of their ruin ; lest you unsay with your lives, what 
you say with your tongues ; and be the greatest 
hinderers of the success of your own labours. It 
much hindereth our work, when other men are all 
the week long contradicting to poor people in private, 
what we have been speaking to them from the word 
of God in public, because we cannot be at hand to 
expose their folly; but it will much more hinder 
your work, if you contradict yourselves, and if your 
actions give your tongue the lie, and if you build 
up an hour or two with your mouths, and all the 



105 

week after pull down with your hands ! This is 
the way to make men think that the word of God is 
but an idle tale; and to make preaching seem no 
better than prating. He that means as he speaks, 
will surely do as he speaks. One proud, lordly word, 
one needless contention, one covetous action, may 
cut the throat of many a sermon, and blast the fruit 
of all that you have been doing. Tell me, breth- 
ren, in the fear of God, do you regard the success 
of your labours, or do you not ? Do you long to 
see it upon the souls of your hearers ? If you do 
not, what do you preach for ? what do you study for ? 
and what do you call yourselves the ministers of Christ 
for ? But if you do, then surely you cannot find in 
your heart to mar your work for a thing of nought. 
What ! do you regard the success of your labours, 
and yet will not part with a little to the poor, nor put 
up with an injury, or a foul word, nor stoop to the 
meanest, nor forbear your passionate or lordly car- 
riage — no, not for the winning of souls, and attain- 
ing the end of all your labours ! You little value 
success, indeed, that will sell it at so cheap a rate, 
or will not do so small a matter to attain it. 

It is a palpable error of some ministers, who make 
such a disproportion between their preaching and 
their living — who study hard to preach exactly, and 
study little or not at all to live exactly. All the 
week long is little enough to study how to speak 
two hours; and yet one hour seems too much to 
study how to live all the week. They are loath to 
misplace a word in their sermons, or to be guilty of 
any notable infirmity, (and I blame them not, for th^ 
matter is holy and weighty,) but they make nothing 
£3 



106 

of misplacing affections, words, and actions, in the 
course of their lives. O how curiously have I heard 
some men preach ; and how carelessly have I seen 
them live ! They have been so accurate as to the 
composition of their sermons, that seldom preaching 
seemed to them a virtue, that their language might 
be the more polite, and all the rhetorical writers they 
could meet with, were pressed to serve them for the 
adorning of their style — and gauds were oft their 
chiefest ornaments. They were so nice in hearing 
others, that no man pleased them that drowned not 
affections, or dulled not, or distempered not the heart 
by the predominant strains of a fantastic wit. And 
yet, when it came to matter of practice, and they 
were once out of church, how incurious were the 
men, and how little did they regard what they said 
or did, provided it were not so palpably gross as to 
dishonour them ! They that preached precisely, 
would not live precisely ! What a difference was 
there between their pulpit speeches, and their fami- 
liar discourse ! They that were most impatient of 
barbarisms, solecisms, and paralogisms, in a sermon, 
could easily tolerate them in their life and conver- 
sation. 

Certainly, brethren, we have very great cause to 
take heed what we do, as well as what we say : if 
we will be the servants of Christ indeed, we must 
not be tongue servants only, but must serve him with 
our deeds, " and be doers of the work, that we may 
be blessed in our deed." As our people must be 
" doers of the word, and not hearers only," so we 
must be doers, and not speakers only, lest we '' de- 
ceive our own selves." A practical doctrine must 



107 

be practically preached. We must study as hard 
how to live well, as how to preach well. We must 
think, and think again, how to compose our lives, as 
may most tend to men's salvation, as well as our 
sermons. When you are studying what to say to 
your people, if you have any concern for their souls, 
you will be often thinking with yourself, " Ho'^ 
shall I get within them? and what shall I say, that 
is most likely to convince them, and convert them, 
and promote their salvation ?" And should you not 
as diligently think with yourself, " How shall I live, 
and what shall I do, and how shall I dispose of all 
that I have, as may most tend to the saving of men's 
souls ?" Brethren, if the salvation of souls be your 
end, you will certainly intend it out of the pulpit as 
well as in it ! If it be your end, you will live for 
it, and contribute all your endeavours to attain it. 
You will ask, concerning the money in your purse, 
as well as concerning other means, " In what way 
shall I lay it out for the greatest good, especially to 
men's souls ?" O that this were your daily study, 
how to use your wealth, your friends, and all you 
have, for God, as well as your tongues ! Then 
should we see that fruit of your labours, which is 
never otherwise likely to be seen. If you intend 
the end of the ministry in the pulpit only, it would 
seem you take yourselves for ministers .no longer 
than you are there. And if so, I think you are un- 
worthy to be esteemed ministers at all. 

Let me entreat you, brethren, to do well, as well 
as say well : be zealous of good works. Maintain 
your innocency, and walk without offence. Let 
your lives condemn sin, and persuade men to duty. 



108 

Would you have your people more careful of their 
souls than you are of yours ? If you would have 
them redeem their time, do not you mispend yours. 
If you would not have them vain in their conference, 
see that you speak yourselves the things which may 
edify, and tend to minister grace to the hearers. 
Order your own families well, if you would have 
them do so hy theirs. Be not proud and lordly, if 
you would have them to be lowly. There are no 
virtues wherein your example will do more, at least to 
abate men's prejudice, than humility, and meekness, 
and self-denial. Forgive injuries, and *' be not over- 
come of evil, but overcome evil with good." Do as 
our Lord, " who, when he was reviled, reviled not 
again." If sinners be stubborn and contemptuous, 
flesh and blood will persuade you to take up their 
weapons, and to master them by carnal means : but 
that is not the way, further than self-preservation or 
public good may require; but overcome them with 
kindness, and patience, and gentleness. The for- 
mer may show that you have more worldly power 
than they; (wherein yet they are ordinarily too hard 
for the faithful;) but it is the latter only that will 
tell them that you excel them in spiritual excellency. 
y If you believe that Christ was more worthy of imi- 
\ tation than Cesar or Alexander, and that it is more 
/ glory to be a Christian than to be a conqueror, or 
j even to be a man than a beast, which often exceed 
\ us in strength, contend with charity, and not with 
I violence; set meekness, and love, and patience, 
j against force, and not force against force. Remem- 
1 ber you are obliged to be the servants of all. " Con- 
vdescend to men of low estate." Be not strange to 



109 

the poor of your flock ; they are apt to take your 
strangeness for contempt. Familiarity, improved to 
holy ends, may do abundance of good. Speak not 
roughly or disrespectfully to any one ; but be cour- 
teous to the meanest, as to your equal in Christ. 
A kind and winning carriage, is a cheap way of doing 
men good. 

Let me entreat you to abound in works of charity 
and benevolence. Go to the poor, and see what 
they want, and show your compassion at once to their 
soul and body. Buy them a catechism, and other 
small books, that are most likely to do them good, 
and make them promise to read them with care and 
attention. Stretch your purse to the utmost, and 
do all the good you can. Think not of being rich 
— seek not great things for yourselves or posterity. 
What if you do impoverish yourselves to do a greater 
good ; will this be loss or gain ? If you believe 
that God is the safest purse-bearer, and that to ex'- 
pend in his service is the greatest usury, show them 
that you do believe it. I know that flesh and blood 
will cavil before it will lose its prey, and will never 
want something to say against this duty : but mark 
what I say, and the Lord set it home upon your 
hearts — that man who hath any thing in the world 
so dear to him, that he cannot spare it for Christ, if 
he call for it, is no true Christian. And because a 
carnal heart will not believe that Christ calls for it 
when he cannot spare it, and therefore makes that 
his self-deceivincr shift, I say further, that the man 
who will not be persuaded that duty is duty, because 
he cannot spare that for Christ which is therein to 
be expended, is no true Christian : for a false heart 



no 

corrupteth the understanding, and that again in- 
creaseth the delusions of the heart. Do not take 
it, therefore, as an undoing, to make friends of the 
mammon of unrighteousness, and to lay up treasure 
in heaven, though you leave yourselves but little on 
earth. You lose no great advantage for heaven, by 
becoming poor: *' Qui viam terit, eo felicior quo 
levior incedit." 

I know, where the heart is carnal and covetous, 
words will not wring men's money out of their hands ; 
they can say all this, and more to others; but saying 
is one thing, and doing is another. But with those 
that are true believers, methinks such considerations 
should prevail. O what abundance of good might 
ministers do, if they would but live in contempt of 
the world, and the riches and glory thereof, and ex- 
pend all they have in their Master's service, and 
pinch their flesh, that they may have wherewith to 
do good ! This would unlock more hearts to the 
reception of their doctrine, than all their oratory : 
and, without this, singularity in religion will seem 
but hypocrisy ; and it is likely that it is so. " Qui 
innocentiam colit, Domino supplicat qui hominem 
periculo surripit, opimam victimam csedit; haec nostra 
sacrificia ; heec Dei sacra sunt ; sic apud nos reli- 
giosior est ille qui justior/' says Manutius Felix. 
Though we need not do as the Papists, who betake 
themselves to monasteries, and cast away property, 
yet we must have nothing but what we have for God. 

IV. Take heed to yourselves, lest you live in 
those sins which you preach against in others, and 
lest you be guilty of that which daily you condemn. 
Will you make it your work to magnify God, and. 



Ill 

■when you have done, dishonour him as much as 
others ? Will you proclaim Christ's governing 
power, and yet contemn it, and rebel yourselves ? 
Will you preach his laws, and wilfully break them ? 
If sin be evil, why do you live in it ? if it be not, 
why do you dissuade men from it ? If it be dan- 
gerous, how dare you venture on it ? if it be not, 
why do you not tell men so ? If God's threatenings 
be true, why do you not fear them ? if they be false, 
why do you needlessly trouble men with them, and 
put them into such frights without a cause? Do 
you " know the judgment of God, that they who 
commit such things are worthy of death ;" and yet 
will you do them ? " Thou that teachest another, 
t3achest thou not thyself? Thou that sayest a man 
should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adul- 
tery? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, 
through breaking the law dishonourest thou God ?" 
What ! shall the same tongue speak evil that speaketh 
against evil ? Shall those lips censure, and slander, 
and backbite your neighbour, that cry down these 
and similar things in others ? Take heed to vour- 
selves, lest you cry down sin, and yet do not over- 
come it ; lest, while you seek to bring it down in 
others, you bow to it, and become its slaves your- 
selves : " For of whom a man is overcome, of the 
same is he brought into bondage." " To whom ye 
yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are 
v/hom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obe- 
dience unto righteousness." O brethren ! it is easier 
to chide at sin, than to overcome it. 

Lastly, Take heed to yourselves, that you be not 
destitute of the qualifications necessary for your 



112 

work. He must not be himself a babe in know- 
ledge, that will teach men all those mysterious things 
which are to be known in order to salvation. O 
what qualifications are necessary for a man who hath 
such a charge upon him as we have ! How many 
difficulties in divinity to be solved; and these, too, 
about the very fundamental principles of religion ! 
How many obscure texts of Scripture to be ex- 
pounded ! How many duties to be performed, 
wherein ourselves and others may miscarry, if in the 
matter, and manner, and end, we be not well-in- 
formed ! How many sins to be avoided, which, 
without understanding and foresight, cannot be done ! 
What a number of sly and subtle temptations must 
we open to our people's eyes, that they may escape 
them ! How many weighty, and yet intricate cases 
of conscience, have we almost daily to resolve ! And 
can so much work, and such work as this, be done 
by raw, unqualified men ? O what strongholds 
have we to batter, and how many of them ! What 
subtle and obstinate resistance must we expect from 
every heart we deal with ! Prejudice hath so blocked 
up our way that we can scarcely procure a patient 
hearing. We cannot make a breach in their ground- 
less hopes and carnal peace, but they have twenty 
shifts and seeming reasons to make it up again; and 
twenty enemies, that are seeming friends, are ready 
to help them. We dispute not with them upon 
equal terms. We have children to reason with, that 
cannot understand us. We have maniacs to argue 
with, that will bawl us down with raging nonsense. 
We have wilful, unreasonable people to deal with, 
who, when they are silenced, are never the more 



113 

convinced; and who when they can give ycu no 
reason, will give you their resolution : like the man 
that Salvian had to deal with, who, heing resolved to 
devour a poor man's substance, and being entreated 
to forbear, replied, " He could not grant his request, 
for he had made a vow to take it;" so that the 
preacher, audita religiosissimi sceleris ratione, was 
fain to depart. We dispute the case against men's 
wills and passions as much as against their under- 
standings ; and these have neither reason nor ears. 
Their best arguments are, " I will not believe you, 
nor all the preachers in the world, in such things. 
I will not change my nfind, or life ; I will not leave 
my sins; I will never be so precise, come of it what 
will." We have not one, but multitudes of raging 
passions and contradicting enemies, to dispute against 
at once, whenever we go about the conversion of a 
sinner; as if a man were to dispute in a fair or a 
tumult, or in the midst of a crowd of violent scolds. 
W^hat equal dealing, and what success, could here 
be expected? Yet such is our work, and it is a 
work that must be done. 

O brethren ! what men should we be in skill, re- 
solution, and unwearied diligence, who have all this 
to do ? Did Paul cry out, " Who is sufficient for 
these things ?" and shall we be proud, or careless, 
or lazy, as if we were sufficient ? As Peter saith to 
every Christian, in consideration of our great ap- 
proaching change, " What manner of persons ought 
we to be in all holy conversation and godliness !" so 
may I say to every minister, " Seeing all these things 
lie upon our hands, what manner of persons ought 
we to be in all holy endeavours and resolutions for 



114 

our work !" Tins is not a burden for the shoulders 
of a child. What skill doth every part of our work 
require ! and of how much moment is every part ! 
To preach a sermon, I think, is not the hardest part ; 
and yet what skill is necessary to make the truth 
plain — to convince the hearers — to let irresistible 
light in to their consciences, and to keep it there, 
and drive all home — to screw the truth into their 
minds, and work Christ into their affections — to meet 
every objection, and clearly to resolve it — to drive 
sinners to a stand, and make them see that there is 
no hope; but thtit they must unavoidably either be 
converted or condemned, — and to do all this, in re- 
spect of language and manner, as beseems our work, 
and yet as is most suitable to the capacities of our 
hearers. This, and a great deal more that should 
be done in every sermon, must surely be done with 
a great deal of holy skill. So great a God, whose 
message we deliver, should be honoured by our de- 
livery of it. It is a lamentable case, that in a mes- 
sage from the God of heaven, of everlasting moment 
to the souls of men, we should behave ourselves so 
weakly, so unhandsomely, so imprudently, or so 
slightly, that the whole business should miscarry in 
our hands, and God should be dishonoured, and his 
work disgraced, and sinners rather hardened than 
converted; and all this through our weakness or 
neglect ! How often have carnal hearers gone jeer- 
ing home at the palpable and dishonourable failings 
of the preacher! How many sleep under us, be- 
cause our hearts and tongues are sleepy, and we 
bring not with us so much skill and zeal as to awake 
them ! 



U5 

Moreover, what skill is necessary to defend the 
truth against gainsayers, and to deal with disputing 
cavillers, according to their several modes and case ! 
And if we fail through weakness, how will they in- 
sult over us ! Yet that is the smallest matter; but 
who knows how many v/eak ones may thereby be 
perverted, to their own undoing, and to the trouble 
of the church? What skill is necessary to deal in 
private with one poor ignorant soul for his conversion ! 

O brethren ! do you not shrink and tremble under 
the sense of all this work ? Will a common measure 
of holy skill and ability, of prudence and other qua- 
lifications, serve for such a task as this ? I know 
necessity may cause the church to tolerate the weak ; 
but woe to us, if we tolerate and indulge our own 
weakness ! Do not reason and conscience tell you, 
that if you dare venture on so high a work as this, 
you should spare no pains to be qualified for the 
performance of it ? It is not now and then an idle 
snatch or taste of studies that will serve to make an 
able sound divine. I know that laziness hath learned 
to allege the vanity of all our studies, and how en- 
tirely the Spirit must qualify us for, and assist us in, 
our work — as if God commanded us the use of 
means, and then warranted us to neglect them — as 
if it were his way to cause us to thrive in a course 
of idleness, and to bring us to knowledge by dreams 
when we are asleep, or to take us up into heaven, 
and show us his counsels, while we think of no such 
matter, but are idling away our time on earth ! 
Strange ! that men should dare, by their laziness, to 
" quench the Spirit," and then pretend the Spirit 
for the doing of it ! " O inestimabile facinus et pro- 



116 

digiosum !" God hath required us, that we be " not 
slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving 
the Lord." Such we must provoke our hearers to 
be, and such we must be ourselves. O therefore, 
brethren, lose no time ! Study, and pray, and con- 
fer, and practise ; for in these four ways your abilities 
must be increased. Take heed to yourselves, lest 
you are weak through your own negligence, and lest 
you mar the work of God by your weakness. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE MOTIVES TO THIS OVERSIGHT. 

Having showed you what it is to take heed to 
ourselves, I shall next lay before you some motives 
to av/aken you to this duty. 

I, Take heed to yourselves, for you have a hea- 
ven to win or lose, and souls that must be happy or 
miserable for ever ; and therefore it concerneth you 
to begin at home, and to take heed to yourselves as 
well as to others. Preaching well may succeed to 
the salvation of others, without the holiness of your 
own hearts and lives ; it is, at least, possible, though 
less usual ; but it is impossible it should save your- 
selves. Many shall say at that day, " Lord, Lord, 
have we not prophesied in thy name ?" to whom he 
will answer, " I never knew you ; depart from me, 
ye that work iniquity." O brethren, how many 
men have preached Christ, and yet have perished 
for want of a saving interest in him ! How many, 



117 

who are now in hell, have told their people of the 
torments of hell, and warned them to escape from 
them ! How many have preached of the wrath of 
God against sinners, who are now enduring it ! O 
what sadder case can there be in the world, than for 
a man, who made it his very trade and calling to 
proclaim salvation, and to help others to heaven, yet 
after all to be himself shut out ! Alas ! that we 
sliould have so many books in our libraries which 
tell us the way to heaven ; that we should spend so 
many years in reading these books, and studying 
the doctrine of eternal life, and after all this to miss 
it ! — that we should study so many sermons of sal- 
vation, and yet fall short of it ! — that we should 
preach so many sermons of damnation, and yet fall 
into it ! And all because we preached so many 
sermons of Christ, while yet we neglected him — of 
the Spirit, while we resisted it — of faith, while we 
did not ourselves believe — of repentance and con- 
version, while we continued in an impenitent and 
unconverted state — and of a heavenly life, while we 
remained carnal and earthly ourselves. If we will 
be divines only in tongue and title, and have not the 
divine image upon our souls, nor give up ourselves 
to the divine honour and will, no wonder if we be 
separated from the divine presence, and denied the 
fruition of God for ever. Believe it, brethren, 
God is no respecter of persons : he saveth not men 
for their coats or callings; a holy calling will not 
save an unholy man. If you stand at the door of 
the kingdom of grace to light others in, and will not 
go in yourselves, you shall knock in vain at the gates 
of glory, that would not enter at the door of grace. 



lis 

You shall then find that your lamps should have had 
tlie oil of grace, as well as of mmisterial gifts — of 
holiness as well as of doctrine — if you would have 
had a part in the glory which you preached. Do I 
need to tell you, that preachers of the gospel must 
be judged by the gospel; and stand at the same bar, 
and be sentenced on the same terms, and dealt with 
as severely, as any other men ? Can you think to 
be saved, then, by your clergy ; and to come off by a 
legit ut clericiis, when there is wanting the credidit 
et vixit ut Christianus? Alas, it will not be ! You 
know it will not be. Take heed, therefore, to your- 
selves, for your own sakes; seeing you have souls to 
save or lose as v/ell as others. 

II. Take heed to yourselves, for you have a 
depraved nature, and sinful inclinations, as well as 
others. If innocent Adam had need of heed, and 
lost himself and us for want of it, how much more 
need have such as we ! Sin dwelleth in us, when 
we have preached ever so much against it; and one 
degree prepareth the heart for another, and one sin 
incHneth the mind to more. If one thief be in the 
house, he will let in the rest; because they have the 
same disposition and design. A spark is the begin- 
I'ning of a flame; and a small disease may cause a 
greater. A man who knows himself to be purblind, 
should take heed to his feet. Alas ! in our hearts, 
as well as in our hearers, there are an averseness to 
God, — a strangeness to him, — unreasonable, and 
almost unruly passions ! In us there is, at the best, 
the remnants of pride, unbelief, selfishness, hypocrisy, 
and all the most hateful, deadly sins. And doth it 
not then concern us to take heed to ourselves? Is 



119 

SO much of the fire of hell yet unextmguishcdj that 
at first was kindled m us? Are there so many- 
traitors in our very hearts, and is it necessary for us 
to take heed ? You will scarcely allow your little 
children to go themselves while they are weak, with- 
out calling upon them to take heed of falling. And, 
alas ! how weak are those of us that seem strongest ! 
How apt to stumble at a very straw I How small a 
matter will cast us down, by enticing us to folly, or 
kindling our passions and inordinate desires, by per- 
verting our judgments, weakening our resolutions, 
cooling our zeal, and abating our diligence ! Min- 
isters are not only sons of Adam, but sinners against 
the grace of Christ, as well as others; and so have 
increased their radical sin. These treacherous hearts 
of yours will, one time or other, deceive ycu, if you 
take not heed. Those sins that seem now to lie 
dead will revive : your pride, and worldliness, and many 
a noisome vice, will spring up, that you thought had 
been weeded out by the roots. It is most necessary, 
therefore, that men of so much infirmity should take 
heed to themselves, and be careful in the oversight 
of their own souls. 

in. Take heed to yourselves, because you are 
exposed to greater temptations than other men. If 
you will be the leaders against the prince of dark- 
ness, he will spare you no further than God re- 
straineth him. He beareth the greatest malice to 
-those that are engaged to do him the greatest mis- 
chief. As he hateth Christ more than any of us, 
because he is the General of the field — the Captain 
of our salvation — and doth more than all the world 
besides against his kingdom, — so doth he hate the 



120 

leaders under him, more than the common soldiers : 
he knows what a rout he may make among them, if 
the leaders fall before their eyes. He hath long 
tried that way of fighting, neither against great nor 
small comparatively, but of smiting the shepherds, 
that he may scatter the flock : and so great hath 
been his success this way, that he will follow it as far 
as he is able. Take heed, therefore, brethren, for 
the enemy hath a special eye upon you. You shall 
have his most subtle insinuations, and incessant so- 
licitations, and violent assaults. As wise and learned 
as you are, take heed to yourselves, lest he outwit 
you. The devil is a greater scholar than you, and 
a nimbler disputant ; he can transform himself into 
an angel of light to deceive : he will get within you, 
and trip up your heels before you are aware : he 
will play the juggler with you undiscerned, and cheat 
you of your faith or innocence, and you shall not 
know that you have lost it ; nay, he will make you 
believe it is multiplied or increased, when it is lost. 
You shall see neither hook nor line, much less the 
subtle angler himself, while he is oflPering you his 
bait. And his bait shall be so fitted to your temper 
and disposition, that he will be sure to find advan- 
tages within you, and make your own principles and 
inclinations betray you : and whenever he ruineth 
you, he will make you the instruments of ruin to 
others. O what a conquest will he think he hath 
got, if he can make a minister lazy and unfaithful, 
— if he can tempt a minister into covetousness or 
scandal ! He will glory against the church, and say, 
' These are your holy preachers ! you see what their 
preciseness is, and whither it brings them.' He will 



glory against Jesus Christ himself, and say, ' These 
are thy champions ! I can make thy chief servants 
abuse thee ! I can make the stewards of thy house 
unfaithful.' If he did so insult God upon .a false 
surmise, and tell him he could make Job curse him 
to his face, what will he do if he should prevail against 
us ? And at last he will insult as much over you, 
that he could draw you to be false to your great trust, 
and to blemish your holy profession, and to do so 
much service to him who was your enemy. O do 
not so far gratify Satan — do not afford him so much 
sport : suffer him not to use you as the Philistines 
did Samson — first to deprive you of your strength, 
and then to put out your eyes, and so to make you 
the matter of his triumph and derision ! 

IV. Take heed to yourselves, because there are 
many eyes upon you, and consequently there will be 
many to observe your falls. You cannot miscarry 
but the world will ring of it. The eclipses of the 
sun by day are seldom without witnesses. As you 
take yourselves for the lights of the churches, you 
may expect that men's eyes will be upon you. If 
other men may sin without observation, so cannot 
you. And you should thankfully consider, how great 
a mercy this is, that you have so many eyes to watch 
over you, and so many ready to tell you of your 
faults ; and thus have greater helps than others, at 
least for the restraining of you from sin. Though 
they may do it with a maUcious mind, yet you have 
the advantage of it. God forbid that we should 
prove so impudent, as to do evil in the public view of 
all, and to sin wilfully while the world is gazing on us I 
** They that sleep, sleep in the night; and thev that 
F 42 



122 

are drunken, are drunken in the night." Why, con- 
sider that you are always in the open light : even 
the light of your own doctrine will expose your evil 
doings. While you are as lights set upon a hill, 
think not to lie hid. Take heed therefore to your- 
selves, and do your work as those that remember that 
the world looks on them, and that with the quick- 
sighted eye of malice, ready to make the worst of all, 
to find the smallest fault where it is, to aggravate it 
where they find it, to divulge it and to take advan- 
tage of it, and to make faults where they cannot find 
them. How cautiously, then, should we walk before 
so many ill-minded observers ! 

V. Take heed to yourselves, for your sins have 
more heinous aggravations than other men's. It 
was a saying of king Alphonsus, that " a great man 
cannot commit a small sin :" much more may we say, 
that a learned man, or a teacher of others, cannot 
commit a small sin; or, at least, that the sin is great, 
as committed by him, which is smaller as committed 
by another. 

1. You are more likely than others to sin against 
knowledge, because you have more than they; at 
least, you sin against more light, or means of know- 
ledge. What ! do you not know that covetousness 
and pride are sins ? do you not know what it is to 
be unfaithful to your trust, and, by negligence or 
selfishness, to betray men's souls ? You know your 
'' Master's will, and if you do it not, you shall be 
beaten with many stripes." There must needs be 
the more wilfulness, in proportion as there is the 
more knowledge. 

2. Your sins have more hypocrisy in them than 



123 

other men's, by how much the more you have spoken 
a<xainst them. O what a heinous thiuff is it in us, 
to Study how to disgrace sin to the utmost, and make 
it as odious in the eyes of our people as we can, and 
when we have done, to Hve in it, and secretly cherish 
that which we publicly disgrace ! What vile hypo- 
crisy is it, to make it our daily work to cry it down, 
and yet to keep to it, — to call it publicly all naught, 
and privately to make it our bed-fellow and compan- 
ion, — to bind heavy burdens on others, and not to 
touch them ourselves with a finger ! What can you 
say to this in judgment ? Did you think as ill of sin 
as you spoke, or did you not? If you did not, why 
would you Jissemblingly speak against it ? If you 
did, why would you cherish it, and commit it? O 
bear not that badge of a hypocritical Pharisee, " They 
say, but do not !" Many a minister of the gospel 
will be confounded, and not be able to look up, by 
reason of this heavy charge of hypocrisy. 

3. Your sins have more perfidiousness in them 
than other men's, by how much the more you have 
engaged yourselves against them. Besides all your 
common engagements as Christians, you have many 
more as ministers. How often have you proclaimed 
the evil and danger of sin, and called sinners from it ! 
How often have you denounced against it the terrors 
of the Lord ! All this surely implied, that you re- 
nounced it yourselves. Every sermon that you 
preached against it, every exhortation, every confes- 
sion of it in the congregation, did lay an engagement 
upon you to forsake it. Every child that you bap- 
tized, and every administration of the Supper of the 
Lord, did import your own renouncing of the world 
f2 



and tlie flesB, and your engagement to Christ. How 
often, and how openly, have you borne witness to the 
odiousness and damnable nature of sin ! and yet will 
you entertain it, notwithstanding all these professions 
and testimonies of your own ? O what treachery is 
it to make sueh a stir against it in the pulpit, and, 
after all, to entertain it in thy heart, and give it the 
room that is due to God \ 

VI. Take heed to yourselves, because such im- 
portant works as ours require greater grace than 
other men's. Weaker gifts and graces may carry 
a man through in a more even course of life, that is 
not liable to so great trials. Smaller strength may 
serve for lighter works and burdens. But if you 
will venture on the great undertakings of the minis- 
try — if you will lead on the troops of Christ against 
Satan and his followers — if you will engage your- 
selves against principalities and powers, and spiritual 
wickednesses in high places — if you will undertake 
to rescue captive sinners out of the devil's paws, — do 
not think that a heedless, careless course, will accom- 
plish so great a work as this. You must look to 
come off with greater shame, and deeper wounds of 
conscience, than if you had lived a common life, if 
you think to go through such momentous things as- 
these with a careless soul. It is not only the work 
that calls for heed, but the workman also, that he 
may be fit for business of such weight. We have 
seen many men who lived as private Christians, in 
good reputation for parts and piety, when they took 
upon them either the magistracy or military employ- 
ment, where the work was above their gifts, and 
temptations did overmatch their strength, who have 



^jroved scandalotis disgraced men* And we have 
seen some private Christians of good esteem, who, 
having thought too highly of their parts, and thrust 
themselves into the ministerid office, have proved 
weak and empty men, and have become greater bur- 
dens to the church, than some whom we endeavoured 
to cast out* They might have done God more ser- 
vice in the liigher rank of private men, than they do 
.among the lowest of the ministry. If, then, you 
will venture into the midst of enemies, and bear the 
hurden and heat of the day. Take heed to yourselves. 
VIL Take heed to yourselves, for the honour 
of your Lord and Master, and of his holy truth and 
ways, doth lie more on you than on other men. 
As you may render him more service, so you may 
•do him more disservice than others. The nearer 
men stand to God, tke greater dishonour is done to 
Jiim by their miscarriages; and the more will they 
•be imputed, by foolish men, to God himself., The 
lieavy judgments executed on Eli and on his house? 
were because they kicked at his sacrifice and oflPering: 
^ For therefore was the sin of the young men great 
'before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of 
the LorcL" It was that great aggravation, of " caus- 
ing the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme," which 
provoked God to deal more sharply with David 
than he would otherwise have done. If you be in- 
deed Christians, the glory of God will be dearer to 
you than your lives. Take heed therefore what 
you do against it, as you would take heed what you 
do against your lives. Would it not wound you to 
:the heart, to hear the name and truth of God re- 
proached for j^our sakes, — :to sfije menj)oint.to you. 



126 

and say, 'There goes a covetous priest, or a drunken; 
these are they that preach for strictness, when they 
themselves can Uve as loose as others; they con- 
demn us by their sermons, and condemn themselves 
by their lives; notwithstanding all their talk, they 
are as bad as we !' O brethren, could your hearts 
endure to hear men cast the dung of your iniquities 
in the face of the holy God, and in the face of the 
gospel, and of all that desire to fear the Lord? 
Would it not break your hearts to think, that all 
the godly Christians about you should suffer re- 
proach for your misconduct? Why, if one of you 
that is a leader of the flock, should be insnared but 
once into some scandalous crime, there is scarcely a 
man or woman that seeketh diligently after their sal- 
vation, within the hearing of it, but, besides the grief 
of their hearts for your sin, are likely to have it cast 
in their teeth by the ungodly about them, however 
much they may detest it and lament it. The un- 
godly husband will tell the wife, and the ungodly 
parents will tell their children, and ungodly neigh- 
bours and fellow-servants will be telling one another 
of it, saying, ' These are your godly preachers ! see 
what comes of all your stir ; are you any better 
than others ? You are even all alike.' Such words 
as these must all the godly in the country hear for 
your sakes. " It must needs be that offences come, 
but woe to that man by whom they come." O take 
heed, brethren, of every word you speak, and of 
every step you tread, for you bear the ark of the 
Lord, — you are entrusted with his honour ! If 
you that " know his will, and approve the things 
that are more excellent, being instructed out of the 



127 

law, and are confident that you yourselves are guides 
of the blmd, and lights to them that are in darkness, 
instructors of the foolish, teachers of babes ;"- — if 
you, I say, should live contrary to your doctrine, 
and " by breaking the law, should dishonour God, 
the name of God will be blasphemed among the 
ignorant and ungodly through you." And you arc 
not unacquainted with that standing decree of Hea- 
ven, " Them that honour me, I will honour ; and 
they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed." 
Never did man dishonour God, but it proved the 
greatest dishonour to himself. God will find out 
ways enough to wipe off any stain cast upon him; 
but you will not so easily remove the shame and sor- 
row from yourselves. 

Lastly, Take heed to yourselves, for the success 
of all your labours doth very much depend upon it. 
God useth to qualify men for great works, before 
he employs them as instruments in accomplishing 
them. Now, if the work of the Lord be not soundly 
done upon your own hearts, how can you expect that 
he will bless your labours for effecting it in others ? 
He may do it if he please, but you have much cause 
to doubt v^hether he will. I shall here mention 
some reasons which may satisfy you, that he who 
would be a means of saving others, must take heed 
to himself, and that God doth seldom prosper the 
labours of unsanctified men. 

1. Can it be expected that God will bless that 
man's labours, (I mean comparatively, as to other 
ministers,) who worketh not for God, but for him- 
self? Now, this is the case with every unsanctified 
man. None but the converted do make God their 



1^8 

chief end, and do all or any thing heartily for his 
honour; others make the ministry but a trade to live 
by. They choose it rather than another calling, 
because their parents did destine them to it ; or be- 
cause it is a life wherein they have more opportunity 
to furnish their intellects with all kind of science; 
and because it is not so toilsome to the body, to 
those that have a mind to favour their flesh ; and 
because it is accompanied with some reverence and 
respect from men, and because they think it is a fine 
thing to be leaders and teachers, and have others 
" receive the law at their mouth." For such ends 
as these are they ministers, and for these do they - 
preach ; and, were it not for these, or similar objects, 
they would soon give over. And can it be ex- 
pected that God should much bless the labours of 
such men? It is not for him they preach, but 
themselves, and their own reputation or gain. It 
is not him, but themselves, that they seek and serve; 
and, therefore, no wonder if he leave them to them- 
selves for the success, and if their labours have no 
greater a blessing than themselves can give, and if 
the word reach no further than their own strength 
can make it reach. 

2. Can you think that he is likely to be as suc- 
cessful as others, who dealeth not heartily and faith- 
fully in his work, who believeth not what he saith, 
and is not truly serious when he seemeth to be most 
diligent ? And can you think that any unsanctified 
man can be hearty and serious in the ministerial 
work ? A kind of seriousness indeed he may have, 
such as proceedeth from a common faith or opinion 
that the word is true ; or he may be actuated by a 



1S9 

'natural fervour, or by selfish ends: but the serious- 
ness and fidelity of a sound believer, who ultimately 
iintendeth God's glory and men's salvation, this he 
hath not. O my brethren, all your preaching and 
persuading of others, will be but dreaming and vile 
hypocrisy, till the work be thoroughly done upon 
your own hearts. How can you set yourselves, day 
and night, to a work to which your carnal hearts are 
averse? How can you call, with serious fervour, 
upon poor sinners, to repent and return to God, that 
never repented or returned yourselves? How can 
you follow poor sinners, with importunate solicita- 
tions to take heed of sin, and to lead a holy life, 
that never felt yourselves the evil of sin, or the 
worth of holiness? These things are never well 
known till they are felt, nor well felt till they are 
possessed: and he that feeleth them not himself, is 
not likely to speak feelingly of them to others, nor 
to help others to the feeling of them. How can' 
you follow sinners, with compassion in your hearts, 
and tears in your eyes, and beseech them, in the 
name of the Lord, to stop their course, and return 
and live, that never had so much compassion on 
your own soul, as to do this much for yourselves ? 
What ! can you love other men better than your- 
selves ? Can you have pity on them, who have no 
pity upon yourselves ? Brethren, do you think they 
will be heartily diligent to save men from hell, who 
are not heartily persuaded that there is a hell? Or 
to bring men to heaven, that do not truly believe that 
there is a heaven? As Calvin saith on mytext: 
"Neque enim aliorum salutem sedulo unquam cura- 
bit qui suam neghgit," He who hath not so strong 

-F,3 



130 

a belief of the word of God, and of the life to come, 
as will withdraw his own heart from the vanities of 
this world, and excite him to holy diligence for sal- 
vation, cannot be expected to be faithful in seeking 
the salvation of other men. Surely he that dare 
damn himself, dare let others alone in the way to 
damnation ; he that, like Judas, will sell his Master 
for silver, will not stick to make merchandise of the 
flock; he that will renounce his hopes of heaven, 
rather than leave his worldly pleasures, will, hardly 
leave them for the saving of others. We may 
naturally conceive, that he will have no pity on 
others, who is wilfully cruel to himself; that he is 
not to be trusted with other men's souls, who is un- 
faithful to his own, and will sell it to the devil for 
the short pleasures of sin. I confess, that man 

SHALL NEVER HAVE MY CONSENT TO HAVE THE 
CHARGE OF OTHER MEN's SOULS, AND TO OVER- 
SEE THEM IN ORDER TO THEIR SALVATION, THAT 
TAKES NOT HEED TO HIMSELF, BUT IS CARELESS 

OF HIS OWN, except it were in case of absolute ne- 
cessity, that no better could be had. 

3. Do you think it is a likely thing, that he will 
fight against Satan with all his might, who is him- 
self a servant to Satan ? Will he do any great 
harm to the kingdom of the devil, who is himself a 
member and a subject of that kingdom ? Will he 
be faithful to Christ who is in covenant with his 
enemy? Now, this is the case of all unsanctified 
men, of whatever rank or profession they be. They 
are the servants of Satan, and the subjects of his 
kingdom ; and are they like to be true to Christ, 
that are ruled by the devil ? What prince will 



131 

choose the friends and servants of his enemy to load 
his armies in war ajrainst him? This is it that 
hath made so many preachers of the gospel to bo 
enemies of the gospel which they preach. No won- 
der if such deride the holy obedience of the faithful ; 
and while they take on them to preach a holy life, 
if they cast reproaches on them that practise it ! 
O how many such traitors have been in the church 
of Christ in all ages, who have done more against 
him, under his colours, than they could have done 
in the open field! They speak well of Christ and 
godliness in the general, and yet slily do what they 
can to brincp them into diso-race, and make men be- 
lieve, that those who set themselves to seek God 
with all their hearts are a company of enthusiasts 
or hypocrites, Alas ! how many such wolves have 
been set over the sheep ! If there was a traitor 
among the twelve, in Christ's family, no. wonder v 
there be many now. It cannot be expected, that 
slave of Satan, " whose god is his belly, and who 
mindeth earthly things," should be any better than 
" an enemy to the cross of Christ." What though 
he live civilly, and preach plausibly, and maintain 
outwardly a profession of religion ? He may be as 
fast in the devil's snares, by worldliness, pride, a 
secret distaste of diligent godliness, or by an un- 
sound heart, that is not rooted in the faith, nor un- 
reservedly devoted to Christ, as others are by drunk- 
enness, un cleanness, and similar disgraceful sins. 
Publicans and harlots do sooner enter heaven than 
Pharisees, because they are sooner convinced of their 
sinfulness and misery. 

And though many of these men may seem ex- 



132 

cellent preachers, and may cry down sin as loudly as 
others, yet it is all but an afFected fervency, and too 
commonly but a mere useless bawling; for he who 
cherisheth sin in his own heart, doth never fall upon 
it in good earnest in others. I know, indeed, that 
a wicked man may be more willing of the reforma- 
tion of others than of his own, and hence may show 
a kind of earnestness, in dissuading them from their 
evil ways; because he can preach against sin at an 
easier rate than he can forsake it, and another man's 
reformation may stand with his own enjoyment of 
his lusts. And, therefore, many a wicked minister 
or parent may be earnest with their people or chil- 
dren to amend, because they lose not their own 
sinful profits or pleasures by another's reformation, 
nor doth it call them to that self-denial which their 
own doth. But notwithstanding this, there is none 
of that zeal, resolution, and diligence, which are 
found in all that are faithful to Christ. They set 
not against sin as the enemy of Christ, and as that 
which endangereth their people's souls. A traitor- 
ous commander, that shooteth nothing against the 
enemy but powder, may cause his guns to make as 
great a sound or report as those that are loaded 
with bullets, but he doth no hurt to the enemy. 
So one of these men may speak as loudly, and mouth 
it with an affected fervency ; but he seldom doth any 
great execution against sin and Satan. No man 
can fight well, but where he hateth, or is very angry ; 
much less against them whom he loveth, and loveth 
above all. Every unrenewed man is so far from 
hating sin to purpose, that it is his dearest treasure. 
Hence you may see that an unsanctified man, who 



133 

Joveth tlie enemy, is very unfit to be a leader ira 
Christ's army ; and to draw others to renounce the 
world and the flesh, since he cleaveth to them him- 
self as his chief good. 

4. It is not likely that the people will regard the 
doctrine of such men, when they see that they do 
not live as they preach. They will think that he 
doth not mean as he speaks, if he do not live as he 
speaks. They will hardly believe a man that seem- 
eth not to believe himself. If one bid you run for 
your lives, because a bear, or an enemy, is at your 
backs, and yet do not mend his pace himself, you 
will be tempted to think that he is but in jest, and 
that there is really no such danger as he alleges. 
When preachers tell people of the necessity of holi- 
ness, and that without it no man shall see the Lord, 
and yet remain unholy themselves, the people will 
think that they do but talk to pass away the hour, 
and because they must say somewhat for their money, 
and that all these are but words of course. Long 
enough may you lift up your voice against sin, be- 
fore men will believe that there is any such evil or 
danger in it as you talk of, while they see the same 
man that reproach eth it, cherishing it in his bosom, 
and making it his delight. You rather tempt them 
to think that there is some special good in it, and 
that you dispraise it, as gluttons do a dish which 
they love, that they may have it all to themselves. 
As long as men have eyes as well as ears, they will 
think they see your meaning as well as hear it; 
and they are apter to believe their sight than their 
hearing, as being the more perfect sense. All that 
^ minister doth is a kind of preachings and if joe 



13i 

live a covetous or a careless life, you preach these 
sins to your people by your practice. If you drink, 
or game, or trifle away your time in vain discourse, 
they take it as if you said to them, ' Neighbours, 
this is the life you should all live; on this course 
you may venture without any danger.' If you are 
ungodly, and teach not your families the fear of 
God, nor contradict the sins of the company you 
are in, nor turn the stream of their vain conversation, 
nor deal with them plainly about their salvation, 
they will take it as if you preached to them that 
such things are needless, and that they may boldly 
do so as well as you. Nay, you do worse than all 
this, for you teach them to think evil of others, that 
are better than yourselves. How many a faithful 
minister, and private Christian, is hated and re- 
proached for the sake of such as you ! What say 
the people to them ? ' You are so precise, and tell 
us so much of sin, and duty, and make such a stir 
about these matters, while such or such a minister, 
that is as great a scholar as you, and as good a 
preacher, will be merry and jest with us, and let ns 
alone, and never trouble himself or us with such dis- 
course. You can never be quiet, but make more 
ado than needs; and love to frighten men with talk 
of damnation, when sober, learned, peaceable divines, 
are quiet, and live with us like other men.' Such 
are the thoughts and talk of people, which your 
negligence doth occasion. They will give you leave 
to preach against their sins, and to talk as much as 
you will for godliness in the pulpit, if you will but 
let t]:em alone afterwards, and be friendly and merry 
with tliem when you have done, and talk as they do, 



135 

and live as they, and be indifferent with them in 
your conversation. For they take the pulpit to be 
but a stage; a place where preachers must show 
themselves and play their parts ; where you have 
liberty for an hour to say what you please ; and 
what you say they regard not, unless you show them, 
by saying it personally to their faces, that you were 
in good earnest, and did indeed mean them. Is 
that man then lil^ely to do much good, or fit to be a 
minister of Christ-, that will speak for him an hour 
on the Sabbath, and, by his life, will preach against 
him all the week, yea, and give his public words 
the lie ? 

And if any of the people be wiser than to follow 
the examples of such men, yet the loathsomeness 
of their lives will make their doctrine the less effec- 
tual. Though you know the meat to be good and 
wholesome, yet it may make a weak stomach rise 
against it, if the cook, or the servant that carrieth it, 
have leprous, or even dirty hands. Take heed, 
therefore, to yourselves, if ever you mean to do good 
to others. 

Finally, Consider whether the success of your 
labours depends not on the assistance and blessing 
of the Lord. And where hath he made any pro- 
mise of his assistance and blessing to ungodly men ? 
If he do promise his church a blessing even by such, 
yet doth he not promise them any blessing. To 
his faithful servants he hath promised that he will 
be wuth them, that he will put his Spirit upon them, 
and that Satan shall fall before them as lightning 
from heaven. But where is there any such promise 
to ungodly ministers ? Nay, do you not, by your 



136 

Ihypocrisy and your abuse of God, provoke him to 
forsake you, aud to blast all your endeavours, at 
least as to yourselves, though he may bless them to 
his chosen ? For I do not deny but that God may 
do good to his church by wicked men, yet doth he 
it not so ordinarily, nor so eminently, as by his own 
servants. 

And what I have said of the wicked themselves, 
doth hold of the godly, while they are scandalous 
and backsliding, in proportion to the measure of 
Ltheir sin. 



137 
PART II. 

THE OVERSIGHT OF THE FLOCK, 



CHAPTER L 

THE NATURE OF THIS OVERSIGHT, 

Having showed you what it is to take heed to 
ourselves, I am now to show you, Thirdly, What 
it is to take heed to all the flock. 

It was first necessary to take into consideration, 
-what we must be, and what we must do for our own 
souls, before we come to that which must be done 
for others: " No quis aliorum vulnera medendo ad 
salutem, ipse per negligentiam suae salutis intumescat, 
ne proximos juvando, se deserat; ne alios erigens, 
cadat."* Yea, lest all his labours come to nought, 
because his heart and life are nought that doth per- 
form them. " Nonnulli enim sunt qui solerti cura 
spirituaha prascepta perscrutantur, sed quae intel- 
ligendo penetrant, vivendo conculcant : repente de- 
cent quae non opere sed meditatione dedicerunt : et 
quod verbis prasdicant, moribus impugnant; unde 
iit ut cum pastor per abrupta graditur, ad praeci- 
pitium grex sequatur."-|- When we have led them 

• Grcigor, de Cura Pastor, lib. iv, f IbUL 



138 

to the living waters, if we muddy it by our filthy 
lives, we may lose our labour, and they be never the 
better. 

Before we speak of the work itself, we shall 
notice somewhat that is supposed in the words be- 
fore us. 

1. It is here implied, that every flock should 
have its own pastor, and every pastor his own flock. 
As every troop, or company, in a regiment of soldiers, 
must have its o\vn captain and other officers, and 
every soldier knows his own commander and colours : 
so it is the will of God, that every church should 
have its own pastor, and that all Christ's disciples 
" should know their teachers that are over them in 
the Lord." Though a minister is an oflicer in the 
universal church, yet is he in a special manner the 
overseer of that particular church which is committed 
to his charge. When we are ordained ministers 
without a special charge, we are licensed and com- 
manded to do our best for all, as we shall have 
opportunity for the exercise of our gifts; but when 
we have undertaken a particular charge, we have 
restrained the exercise of our gifts so specially to 
that congregation, that we must allow others no more 
than it can spare of our time and help, except where 
the public good rcquireth it, which must, no doubt, 
be first regarded. From this relation of pastor and 
flock, arise all the duties which we mutually owe to 
each other. 

2. When we are commanded to take heed to all 
the flock, it is plainly implied, that flocks must or- 
dinarily be no greater than we are capable of over- 
seeing, or " taking heed to." God will not lay 



139 

upon us natural impossibilities : he will not bind men 
to leap up to the moon, to touch the stars, or to 
number the sands of the sea. If the pastoral office 
consists in overseeing all the flock, then surely the 
number of souls under the care of each pastor, must 
not be greater than he is able fo take such heed to 
as is here required. Will God require one bishop 
to take the charge of a whole county, or of so many 
parishes or thousands of souls, as he is not able to 
know or to oversee? yea, and to take the sole gov- 
ernment of them, while the particular teachers of 
them are free from that undertaking? Will God 
require the blood of so many parishes at one man's 
hands, if he do not that which ten, or twenty, or a 
hundred, or three hundred men, can no more do than 
I can move a mountain? Then woe to poor pre- 
lates ! Is it not, then, a most lamentable case, that 
learned sober men, should plead for this as a desir- 
able privilege, that they should voluntarily draw on 
themselves such a burden; and that they do not 
rather tremble at the thoughts of so great an under- 
taking ? ( ) happy had it been for the church, and 
happy for the bishops themselves, if this measure, 
that is intimated by the apostle here, had still been 
observed : that the diocess had been no greater than 
the elders or bishops could oversee and rule, so that 
they might have taken heed to all the flock : or that 
pastors had been multiplied as churches increased, 
and the number of overseers been proportioned to 
the number of souls, that they might not have let 
the work be undone, while they assumed the empty 
titles, and undertook impossibilities ! And that they 
had rather prayed the Lord of the harvest, to send 



140 

forth more labourers, even so many as were propor- 
tioned to the work; and not to have undertaken all 
themselves. I should scarcely commend the prudence 
or humility of that labourer, let his parts be ever so 
^great, that would not only undertake to gather in all 
the harvest in this county himself, and that upon 
pain of death, yea, of damnation, but would als© 
earnestly contend for this prerogative. 

But it may be said, there are others to teach, 
though one only have the rule. 

To this I answer. Blessed be God it is so: and no 
thanks to some of them. But is not government of 
great concernment to the good of souls, as well as 
preaching? If it is not, then what use is there for 
church governors? If it is, then they that nullify it 
by undertaking impossibilities, do go about to ruin 
the churches -and themselves. If only preaching be 
necessary, let us have none but mere preachers: 
what needs there then such a stir about government? 
But if discipline in its place be necessary too, what 
is it but enmity to men's salvation to exclude it ? 
and it is unavoidably excluded, when it is made t© 
be his work that is naturally incapable of performing 
it. The general that will command an army alone, 
may as well say. Let it be destroyed for want of com- 
mand : and the schoolmaster that will govern all the 
schools in the county alone, may as well say, Let 
them all be ungoverned: and the physician that will 
undertake the charge of all the sick people in a whole 
nation, or county, when he is not able to visit the 
hundredth mau of them, may as well say. Let them 
perish. 

'Yet still it must be acknowledged, that, in case of 



141 

necessity, "where there are not more to be had, one 
man may undertake the charge of more souls than 
he is well able to oversee particularly. But then 
he must undertake only to do what he can for them, 
and not to do all that a pastor ordinarily ought to do. 
This is the case of some of us, who have greater 
parishes than we are able to take that special heed 
to which their state requireth. I profess, for my 
own part, I am so far from their boldness, that dare 
venture on the sole government of a county, that I 
would not, for all England, have undertaken to be 
one of the two, that should do all the pastoral work 
that God requireth in the parish where I live, had 
I not this to satisfy my conscience, that, through 
the churches' necessities, more cannot be had; and, 
therefore, I must rather do what I can, than leave 
all undone, because I cannot do ail. But cases of 
unavoidable necessity are not to be the ordinary 
condition of the church; or, at least, it is not de- 
sirable that it should so be. O happy church of 
Christ, were the labourers but able and faithful, and 
proportioned in number to the number of souls ; so 
that the pastors were so many, or the particular 
churches so small, that we might be able to " take 
heed to all the flock !" 

Having mentioned these things, which are sup- 
posed, we shall now proceed to consider the duty 
which is recommended in the text, " Take heed to 
all the flock:' 

It is, you see, all the flock, or every individual 
member of our charge. To this end, it is necessary 
that we should know every person that belongeth 
to our charge ; for how can we take heed to them, 



if we do not know them ? We must labour to be 
acquainted, not only with the persons, but with the 
state, of all our people; with their inclinations and 
conversation; what are the sins to which they are 
most addicted ; and what duties they are most apt to 
neglect, and what temptations they are most liable 
to : for if we know not the temperament or disease, 
we are not likely to prove successful physicians. 

'Being thus acquainted with all the flock, we must 
afterward take heed to them. One would imagine 
that every reasonable man w^ould be satisfied of this, 
and that it would need no further proof. Doth not 
a careful shepherd look after every individual sheep? 
and a good teacher after every individual scholar? 
and a good physician after every particular patient? 
and a good commander after every individual soldier ? 
Why then should not the shepherds, the teachers, 
the physicians, the guides, of the churches of Christ, 
take heed to every individual member of their charge? 
Christ himself, the great and good Shepherd, that 
hath the whole to look after, doth yet take care of 
every individual; like him whom he describes in the 
parable, who left " the ninety and nine sheep in the 
wilderness, to seek after one that was lost." The 
prophets were often sent to single men. Ezekiel 
was made a watchman over individuals ; and was com- 
manded to say to the wicked, " Thou shalt surely 
die." Paul taught his hearers not only " publicly, 
but from house to house :" and in another place he 
tells us, that he " warned every man, and taught 
every man, in all wisdom, that he might present every 
man perfect in Christ Jesus." Many other passages 
of Scripture make it evident, that it is our duty to 



143 

take heed to every individual of our flock; and many 
passages in the ancient councils do plainly show, that 
this was the practice of the primitive ages ; but I 
shall quote only one from Ignatius : " Let assem- 
blies," says he, " be often gathered : inquire after 
all by name; despise not servant-men or maids." 
You see it was then considered as a duty to look after 
every member of the flock by name, not excepting 
the meanest servant-man or maid. 

But some one may object, ' The congregatioii 
that I am set over is so great that it is impossible for 
me to know them all, much more to take heed to all 
individually.' 

To this I answer. Is it necessity, or is it not, that 
hath cast you upon such a charge ? If it be not, 
you excuse one sin by another. How durst you un- 
dertake what you knew yourself unable to perform, 
when you were not forced to it ? It would seem you 
had some other end in undertaking it, and never in- 
tended to be faithful to your trust. But if you think 
that you were necessitated to undertake it, I would 
ask you. Might you not have procured assistance for 
so great a charge ? Have you done all you could 
with your friends and neighbours, to get maintenance 
for another to help you? Have you not as much 
maintenance yourself, as might serve yourself and 
another ? What though it will not serve to main- 
tain you in fulness ? Is it not more reasonable, that 
you should pinch your flesh and family, than under- 
take a work that you cannot perform, and neglect the 
souls of so many of your flock ? I know, that what 
I say will seem hard to some, but to me it is an un- 
questionable thing, that, if you have but a hundred 



144 

pounds a-year, it is your duty to live upon part of it, 
and allow the rest to a competent assistant, rather 
than that the flock you are over should be neglected. 
If you say, that it is a hard measure — your wife and 
children cannot so live, — I answer, 1. Do not many 
families in your parish live on less ? 2. Have not 
many able ministers in the prelates' days been glad 
of less, with liberty to preach the gospel ? There 
are some yet livmg, as 1 have heard, who have offered 
the bishops to enter into bond to preach for nothing, 
if they might but have liberty to preach the gospel. 
3. If you shall still say, that you cannot live so meanly 
as poor people do, I further ask. Can your parish- 
ioners better endure damnation, than you can endure 
want and poverty ? What ! do you call yourselves 
ministers of the gospel, and yet are the souls of men 
so base in your eyes, that you had rather they should 
eternally perish, than that you and your family should 
live in a low and poor condition ! Nay, should you 
not rather beg your bread, than put so important a 
matter as men's salvation upon a hazard, or disadvan- 
tage? — yea, as hazard the damnation of but one 
soul ? O brethren, it is a miserable thing when men 
study and talk of heaven and hell, and the fewness 
of the saved, and the difficulty of salvation, and be 
not all the while in good earnest. If you were, you 
could never surely stick at such matters as these, and 
let your people go down to hell, that you might live 
in higher style in this world. Remember this, the 
next time you are preaching to them, that they can- 
not be saved without knowledge ; and hearken whe- 
ther conscience do not tell you, * It is likely they 
might be brought to knowledge, if they had but dili- 



145 

gent instruction and exhortation privately, man by 
man : and if there were another minister to assist me, 
this might be done : and, if I would live sparingly, 
and deny my flesh, I might have an assistant. Dare 
I, then, let my people live in that ignorance which I 
myself have told them is damning, rather than put 
myself and family to a little want?' 

Must I turn to my Bible to show a preacher where 
it is written, that a man's soul is worth more than a 
world — much more, therefore, than a hundred pounds 
a-year? Or that both we and all that we have are 
God's, and should be employed to the utmost for his 
service ? Or that it is inhuman cruelty to let souls 
go to hell, for fear my wife and children should fare 
somewhat the harder, or live at lower rates : when, 
according to God's ordinary way of working by means, 
I might do much to prevent their misery, if I would 
but a little displease my flesh, which all, who are 
Christ's, have crucified with its liiF:ts ? Every man 
must render to God the thhigs that are God's, and 
that, let it be remembered, is all he possesses. How 
are all things sanctified to us, but in the separation 
and dedication of them to God ? Are not they all 
his talents, and must be employed to his glory ? 
Must not every Christ'^n first ask, In what way may 
I most honour God with my substance ? Do we 
not preach these things to our people? Are they 
true to them, and not to us? Yea more, is not the 
church-maintenance devoted, in a special manner, to 
the service of God for the church? And should 
we not then use it for the utmost furtherance of that 
end ? If any minister, who hath two hundred pounds 
a-year, can prove that a hundred pounds of it may 
G 42 



146 

do God more service, if it be laid out on himself, or 
wife and children, than if it maintain one or two 
suitable assistants to help forward the salvation of 
the flock, I shall not presume to reprove his expenses ; 
but where this cannot be proved, let not the practice 
be justified. 

And I must further say, that this poverty is not 
so intolerable and dangerous a thing as it is pre- 
tended to be. If you have but food and raiment, 
must you not therewith be content ? and what would 
you have more than that which may fit you for the 
work of God ? It is not " purple and fine linen, and 
faring sumptuously every day," that is necessary for 
this purpose. " A man's life consisteth not in the 
abundance of the things that he possesseth." If 
your clothing be warm, and your food be wholesome, 
you may be as well supported by it to do God ser- 
vice, as if you had the fullest satisfaction to your 
flesh. A patched coat may be warm, and bread and 
water are wholesome food. He that wanteth not 
these, hath but a poor excuse to make for hazarding 
men's souls, that he may live on dainties. 

But, while it is our duty to take heed to all the 
flock, we must pay special attention to some classes 
in particular. By many, this is very imperfectly un- 
derstood, and therefore I shall dwell a little upon it. 

I. We must labour, in a special manner, for the 
conversion of the unconverted. 

The work of conversion is the great thing we 
must drive at ; after this we must labour with all our 
might. Alas ! the misery of the unconverted is so 
great, that it calleth loudest to us for compassion. 



147 

If a truly converted sinner do fall, it will be but into 
sin which will be pardoned, and he is not in that 
hazard of damnation by it as others are. Not but 
that God hateth their sins as well as others, or that 
he will bring them to heaven, let them live ever so 
wickedly; but the spirit that is within them will not 
suffer them to live wickedly, nor to sin as the un- 
godly do. But with the unconverted it is far other- 
wise. They " are in the gall of bitterness, and in 
the bond of iniquity," and have yet no part nor 
fellowship in the pardon of their sins, or the hope 
of glory. We have, therefore, a work of greater 
necessity to do for them, even " to open their eyes, 
and to turn them from darkness to light, and from 
the power of Satan unto God; that they may receive 
forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them 
who are sanctified." He that seeth one man sick 
of a mortal disease, and another only pained with the 
toothach, will be moved more to compassionate the 
former than the latter; and will surely make more 
haste to help him, though he were a stranger, and 
the other a brother or a son. It is so sad a case to 
see men in a state of damnation, wherein, if they 
should die, they are lost for ever, that methinks we 
should not be able to let them alone, either in public 
or private, whatever other work we have to do, I 
confess I am frequently forced to neglect that which 
should tend to the further increase of knowledge in 
the godly, because of the lamentable necessity of the 
unconverted. Who is able to talk of controversies, 
or of nice unnecessary points, or even of truths of a 
lower degree of necessity, how excellent soever, while 
he seeth a company of ignorant, carnal, miserable 
G 2 



148 

sinners before his eyes, who must be changed or 
damned ? Methinks I even see them entering upon 
their final woe ! Methinks I hear them crying out 
for help — for speediest help ! Their misery speaks 
the louder, because they have not hearts to ask for 
help themselves. Many a time have I known that 
I had some hearers of higher fancies, that looked for 
rarities, and were addicted to despise the ministry, 
if I told them not something more than ordinary; 
^nd yet I could not find in my heart to turn from the 
necessities of the impenitent, for the humouring of 
them ; nor even to leave speaking to miserable sin- 
ners for their salvation, in order to speak so much 
as should otherwise be done, to weak saints for their 
confirmation and increase in grace. Methinks, as 
Paul's " spirit was stirred within him, when he saw 
the Athenians wholly given to idolatry," so it should 
cast us into one of his paroxysms, to see so many 
men in the greatest danger of being everlastingly 
undone. Methinks, if by faith we did indeed look 
upon them as within a step of hell, it would more 
effectually untie our tongues, than Croesus' danger 
did his son's. He that will let a sinner go down to 
hell for want of speaking to him, doth set less by 
souls than did the Redeemer of souls; and less by 
his neighbour, than common charity will allow him 
to do by his greatest enemy. O therefore, brethren, 
whomsoever you neglect, neglect not the most mis- 
erable ! Whatever you pass over, forget not poor 
souls that are under the condemnation and curse of 
the law, and who may look every hour for the infer- 
nal execution, if a speedy change do not prevent it ! 



149 

O call after the impenitent, and ply this great work 
of converting souls, whatever else you leave undone !* 



• These powerful and impressive observations, we cannot too 
earnestly recommend to the attention of ministers. We have no 
hesitation in saying, that tlie most of preachers whom we have 
known, were essentially defective in the grand and primary ob- 
ject of the Christian ministry — labouring for the conversion 
OF SOULS. From the general strain of some men's preaching, 
one would almost be ready to conclude, that there were no sin- 
ners in their congregations to be converted. In determining the 
proportion of attention which a minister should pay to particular 
classes of his congregation, the number of each class, and the ne- 
cessities of their case, are unquestionably the jirincipal considera- 
tions which should weigh with him. Now, in all our congrega- 
tions, we have reason to fear, the unconverted constitute by far 
the majority; their situation is peculiarly pitiable; their oppor- 
tunities of salvation will soon be for ever over; their danger is 
not only very great, but very imminent; they are not secure 
from everlasting misery, even for a sirjgle moment. Surely, then, 
the unconverted demand by far the laigest share of the Christian 
minister's attention ; and yet from many they receive but a very 
small share of attention ; their case, when noticed at all, is no- 
ticed only, as it were, by the bye. This, no doubt, is a principal 
cause, that among us there are so few conversions by the preach- 
ing of the Word, and especially in the congregations of particular 
ministers. We feel this subject to be of such transcendent im- 
portance, that we trust we shall be excused for here introducing 
a quotation connected with it, from another work of our Author, 
which has been introduced into this Series of " Select Christian 
Authors." 

" It is not," says he, in his Mischiefs of Self- Ignorance, "a 
general, dull discourse, or critical observations upon words, or 
the subtile decision of some nice and curious questions of the 
schools, nor is it a neat and well-composed speech, about some 
other distant matters, that is likely to acquaint a sinner with 
himself. How many sermons may we hear, that are levelled at 
some mark or other, which is very far from the hearers' hearts, 
and therefore are never likely to convince them, or open and con- 
vert tiiera? And if our congregations \vere in such a case, as 
that they needed no closer quickening work, such preaching might 
be borne with and commended. But when so m.any usually sit 
before us, that must shortly die, and yet are unprepared for death 
— and thtit are condemned by the law of God, and must be par- 
doned or finally condemned — that must be saved from their sins, 
that they may be saved from everlasting misery, — I think it is 
time for us to talk to them of such things as most concern them, 



150 

II. We must be ready to give advice to inquirers, 
who come to us with cases of conscience ; especially 



and that in such a manner as may most effectually convince, 
awaken, and change them. 

" A man tliat is ready to be drowned, is not at leisure for a 
song or a dance ; and a man that is ready to be hanged, methinks 
should not find himself at leisure to hear a man show Ids wit and 
reading only, if not liis folly and malice, against a life of holiness. 
Nor should you think that suitable to such men's case, that doth 
not evidently tend to save them. But, alas ! how often have we 
heard such sermons as tend more to diversion than direction, to 
fill their minds with other matters, and find them something else 
to think of, lest they should study themselves, and know their 
misery! A preacher that seems to speak i-eligious'i/, by a dry, 
sapless discourse, that is called a sermon, may more plausibly 
and easily ruin him. And his conscience will more quietly suffer 
him to be taken off the necessary care of his salvation, by some- 
thing that is like it, and pretends to do the work as well, than 
by the grosser avocations or the scorn of fools. And he will be 
more tamely turned from religion, by something that is called 
religion, and which he hopes may serve the turn, than by open 
wickedness, or impious defiance of God and reason. But how 
often do we hear sermons applauded, which force us, in compas- 
sion to men's souls, to think, ' O what is all this to the opening 
of a sinner's heart unto himself, and showing him his unregenerate 
state! What is this to the conviction of a self-deluding soul, 
that is passing into hell, with the confident expectations of hea- 
ven ! What is this to show men their undone condition, and the 
absolute necessity of Christ, and of renewing grace ! What is in 
this to lead men up from earth to heaven, and to acquaint them 
with the unseen world, and to help them to the life of faith and 
love, and to the mortifying and pardon of their sins ! How little 
bkill have many miserable preachers in the searching of the heart, 
and helping men to know themselves, whether Christ be in them, 
or whether they be reprobates! And how little care and dili- 
gence is used by them, to call men to the trial, and help them in 
the examining and judging of themselves, as if it were a work of 
no necessity ! " They have healed the hurt of the daughter of 
my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace, 
saith the Lord." ' 

" It is a plain and terrible passage, ' He that saith to the 
wicked. Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations 
shall abhor him.' -Such injustice in a judge or witness, is odious, 
that determines but in order to temporal rewards or punishments. 
But in a messenger that professeth to speak to men in the name 
of God, and in the stead of Jesus Christ — when the determination 
Jiuth respect to the consciences of men, and to their endless joy 



151 

the great case which the Jews put to Peter, and the 
gaoler to Paul and Silas, " What must we do to be 

or torment — how odious and horrid a crime must it be esteemed, 
to persuade the wicked that he is righteous, or to speak that 
which tendeth to persuade him of it, though not in open plain 
expressions ! What perfidious dealing is this against the holy 
God ! What an abuse of our Redeemer, that his pretended 
messengers should make him seem to judge quite contrary to his 
holiness, and to his law, and to the judgment which indeed he 
passeth, and will pass, on all that live and die unsanctified ! 
What vile deceit and cruelty against the souls of men are such 
preachers guilty of, that would make them believe that all is well 
with them, or that their state is safe or tolerable, till they must 
find it otherwise, to their everlasting woe! What shame, what 
punishment can be too great for such a wretch, when the neglect, 
and making light of Christ and his salvation, is the common road 
to hell ! and most men perish because they value not, and use 
not, the necessary means of their recovery. For a man, in the 
name of a minister of the gospel, to cheat them into such under- 
valuings and neglects, as are like to prove their condemnation, 
what is this but to play the minister of Satan, and to do his work 
in the name and garb of a minister of Christ ? It is damnable 
treachery against Christ, and against the people's souls, to hide 
their misery, when it is your office to reveal it; and to let people 
deceive themselves in the matters of salvation, and not to labour 
diligently to undeceive them. But some go farther, and more 
openly act the part of Satan, by reproaching the most faithful 
servants of the Lord, and labouring to bring the people into a 
conceit, that seriousness and carefulness in the matters of God 
and salvation are but hypocrisy and unnecessary strictness. And 
in their company and converse, they give so much countenance to 
the ungodly, and cast so much secret or open scorn upon those 
that would live according to the Scriptures, as hardeneth multi- 
tudes in their impenitency. O dreadful reckoning to these un- 
faithful shepherds, when they must answer for the ruin of (heir 
miserable flocks ! How great will their damnation be, which 
must be aggravated by the damnation of so many others ! When 
the question is, ' How came so many souls to perish ?' the answer 
must be, Because they set light by Christ and holiness, whicli 
should have saved them. ' But what made them set light by 
Christ and holiness?' It was their deceitful confidence, that 
they had so much part in Christ and holiness as would suffice to 
save them, though, indeed, they were unsanctified strangers unto 
both. They were not practically acquainted with their necessi- 
ties. ' But how came they to continue thus ignorant of them- 
selves, till it was too late ?' Because they had teachers that kept 
them strangers to the nature of true holiness, and did not labour, 



152 

saved?" A minister is not to be merely a public 
preacher, but to be known as a counsellor for their 



publicly and privately, to convince thetn of tlieir undone condition, 
and to drive them to Cinist, tliat by liim they mij^bt have life. 
Woe to such teachers that ever they were burn, that must then 
be found under the guilt of such perfidiousness and cruelty ! Had 
they ever felt themselves what it is to be pursued by the law and 
conscience, and, with broken hearts, to cast themselves on Christ, 
as their only hope and refuge ; and what it is to be sanctified, 
and to be sensible of all his love, they would take another course 
with sinners, and talk of sin, and Christ, and holiness, at other 
rates, and not deceive their people with themselves." 

To this powerful and impressive statement of our Author, I 
trust the reader will excuse me for adding the following quota- 
tion from a sermon by my venerated father, " On the Evil of 
Neglecting to Raise up Spiritual Children to Christ." 

" Compassion," says he, " to the infinite need of our children, 
servants, hearers, and neighbours, demands our utmost care and 
labour, to raise up a spiritual seed to Jesus Christ. You parents 
and masters can scarcely look about you in your houses, but you 
must see a child or servant, if not several, — nor can you ministers 
look from your pulpits, but you behold scores or hundreds of 
hearers, whose souls are grievously polluted by lusts — tormented 
by devils — cursed and plagued by an angry God — standing upon 
the very brink of eternity — under a sentence of divine condem- 
nation — without any certainty of a moment's reprieve from hell 
— suspended over the lake of fire and brimstone, by the small 
thread of human life, and almost outwearied patience of God. 
Hark ! how their need accosts us with an exceeding bitter 
CRY, ' Have pity on me, O my friends, for the hand of God 
toucheth me. I perish — I perish, — I for ever — for ever — perish ! 
Have pity on me — for my sins sink me — devils dmg me — and an 
angry God thrusts me down to the lowest hell ! Ah ! who shall 
dwell with devouring fire? — Who shall dwell with everlasting 
burnings ? — Will no man — no parent — no master — no minister 
care for my soul ? Ah ! have you no bowels — no compassion 
for an immortal soul ? Pretend you to be Christians, while so 
unlike Christ? Will you not speak one word to me — or utter 
one groan t.o God for my eternal salvation?' — With awful dread 
let us look abroad into the world. Of about a thousand millions 
of inhabitants of ovr globe, perliaps scarcely ten — nay, perhaps 
scarcely five millions, have the gospel of salvation truly preached 
to them. In our own country, the bulk, particularly of the ris- 
ing generation, through ignorance, unconcern, pride, infidelity, 
and profaneness, appear pushing themselves and one another 
headlong into the bottomh.ss pit. — What can we be but beasts 
— but devils, if we stand unconcerned at the sight 1 Hark how 



153 

souls, as the physician is for their bodies, and the 
lawyer for their estates : so that each man who is in 
doubts and straits, may bring his case to him for 
resolution ; as Nicodemus came to Christ, and as it 
was usual with the people of old to go to the priest, 
" whose lips must keep knowledge, and at whose 
mouth they must ask the law, because he is the 
messenger of the Lord of hosts." But as the people 
have become unacquainted with this office of the min- 
istry, and with their own duty and necessity in this 
respect, it belongeth to us to acquaint them with it ; 
and to press them publicly to come to us for advice 
about the great concerns of their souls. We must 
not only be willing to take the trouble, but should 
draw it upon ourselves, by inviting them to come. 
What abundance of good might we do, could we but 
bring them to this ! And, doubtless, much might 
be done in it, if we did our duty. Hov/ few have I 
ever heard of, who have heartily pressed their people 
to their duty in this respect ! Oh ! it is a sad case 
that men's souls should be so injured and hazarded 
by the total neglect of so great a duty, and that 
ministers should scarcely ever tell them of it, and 
awaken them to it. Were your hearers but duly 
sensible of the need and importance of this, you 
would have them more frequently knocking at your 
doors, and making known to you their sad complaints, 
and begging your advice. I beseech you, then, 

Jehovah bespeaks us : 'If thou forbear to dehver them who are 
drawn unto death — eternal death ; — and those that are ready to 
be slain — ready to be damned ; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew 
it not, doth not he that pondcreth the heart consider it? And 
he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? And shall not 
he render to every man according to his works ?' " — EDiToa. 

g3 



154 

press them more to this duty for the future; and 
see that you perform it carefully when they do seek 
your help. To this end it is .very necessary that 
you be well acquainted with practical cases, and espe- 
cially that you be acquainted with the nature of saving 
grace, and able to assist them in trying their state, 
and in resolving the main question that concerns 
their everlastincf life or death. One word of season- 
able, prudent advice, given by a minister to persons 
in necessity, may be of more use than many sermons. 
" A word fitly spoken," says Solomon, " how good 
is it !" 

III. We must study to build up those w^ho are 
already truly converted. In this respect our work is 
various, according to the various states of Christians. 

1. There are many of our flock that are young 
and weak, who, though they are of long standing, 
are yet of small proficiency or strength. This, in- 
deed, is the most common condition of the godly. 
Most of them content themselves with low degrees 
of grace ; and it is no easy matter to get them higher. 
To bring them to higher and stricter opinions is 
comparatively easy; that is, to bring them from the 
truth into error, on the right hand as well as on the 
left: but to increase their knowledge and gifts is not 
easy, and to increase their graces is the hardest of 
all. It is a very sad thing for Christians to be weak: 
it exposeth us to danger, it abateth our consolations, 
and taketh ofi" the sweetness of wisdom's ways; it 
maketh us less serviceable to God and man — to bring 
less honour to our Master, and to do less good to all 
about us. 

Now, seeing the case of weakness in the converted. 



155 

is so sad, how diligent should we be to cherish and 
increase their grace ! The strength of Christians 
is the honour of the church. When they are in- 
flamed with the love of God, and live by a lively 
working faith, and set light by the profits and hon- 
ours of the world, and love one another with a pure 
heart fervently, and can bear and heartily forgive a 
wrong, and suflPer joyfully for the cause of Christ, 
and study to do good, and walk inoffensively and 
harmlessly in the world, are ready to be servants to 
all men for their good, becoming all things to all 
men, in order to win them to Christ, and yet abstain- 
ing from the appearance of evil, and seasoning all 
their actions with a sweet mixture of prudence, hu- 
mility, zeal, and heavenly-mindedness, O what an 
honour are such to their professions ! What an 
ornament to the church ! and how serviceable to God 
and man ! Men would sooner believe that the gospel 
is from heaven, if they saw more such effects of it 
upon the hearts and lives of them who profess it. 
The world is better able to read the nature of reli- 
gion in a man's hfe than in the Bible. " They that 
obey not the word, may be won by the conversation " 
of such as are thus eminent for godliness. It is, 
therefore, a most important part of our work, to labour 
more in the polishing and perfecting of the saints, 
that they may be strong in the Lord, and fitted for 
their Master's service. 

2. Another class of converts that need our special 
help, are those who labour under some particular 
corruption, which keeps under their graces, and 
makes them a trouble to others, and a burden to 
themselves. Alas! there are too many such persons. 



156 

Some arc particularly addicted to pride, and others 
to worldly-mindedness ; some to sensual desires, and 
others to frowardness, or other evil passions. Now 
it is our duty to give assistance to all these; and 
partly by dissuasions, and clear discoveries of the 
odiousncss of the sin, and partly by suitable direc- 
tions about the remedy, to help them to a more com- 
plete conquest of their corruptions. We are leaders 
of Christ's army against the powers of hell, and must 
resist all the works of darkness wherever we find 
them, even though it should be in the children of 
light. We must be no more tender of the sins of 
the godly than of the ungodly, nor any more befriend 
them or favour them. By how much more we love 
their persons, by so much the more must we manifest 
it, by making opposition to their sins. And yet we 
must expect to meet with some tender persons here, 
especially when iniquity hath got any head, and made 
a party, and many have fallen in love with it ; they 
will be as pettish and as impatient of reproof as some 
worse men, and perhaps will interest even piety itself 
in their faults. But the ministers of Christ must 
do their duty, notwithstanding their peevishness; 
and must not so far hate their brother, as to forbear 
rebuking him, or suffer sin to lie upon his soul. It 
must, no doubt, be done with much prudence, yet 
done it must be. 

3. Another class who demand special help, are 
declining Christians, that are either fallen into some 
scandalous sin, or else abate their zeal and diligence, 
and show that they have lost their former love ! As 
the case of backsliders is very sad, so our diligence 
must be very great for their recovery. It is sad to 



157 

them to lose so much of their life, and peace, and 
serviceableness to God, and to become so serviceable 
to Satan and his cause ! It is sad to us to see that 
all our labour is come to this; and that, when we 
have taken so much pains with them, and have had 
so much hopes of them, all should be so far frustrated ! 
It is saddest of all, that God should be so dishonoured 
by those whom he hath so loved, and for whom he 
hath done so much, and that Christ should be so 
wounded in the house of his friends. Besides, par- 
tial backsliding hath a natural tendency to total apos- 
tacy, and would effect it, if specifil grace did not 
prevent it. 

Now, the more melancholy the case of such 
Christians is, the more must we exert ourselves for 
their recovery. We must " restore those that are 
overtaken in a fault, in the spirit of meekness," and 
yet see that the sore be thoroughly searched and 
healed, and the joint be well set again, whatever 
pain it may cost. We must look especially to the 
honour of the gospel, and see that they give such 
evidence of repentance, and make such full confession 
of their sin, that some reparation be thereby made 
to the church, and their holy profession, for the 
wound they have given to religion. Much skill is 
necessary for restoring such a soul. 

4, The last class whom I shall here notice, as 
requiring our attention, are the strong; for they, 
also, have need of our assistance : partly to preserve 
the grace they have ; partly to help them in making 
further progress, and partly to direct them in im- 
proving their strength for the service of Christ, and 
the assistance of their brethren ; and also to encour- 



158 

age them to persevere, that they may receive the 
cTown. All these are the objects of the ministerial 
work, and in respect to each of them we must " take 
heed to all the flock." 

IV. We must have a special eye upon families, 
to see that they are well ordered^ and the duties of 
each relation performed. The life of religion, and 
the welfare and glory both of the church and state, 
depend much on family government and duty. If 
we suffer the neglect of this, we shall undo all. 
What are we like to do ourselves to the reforming 
of a congregation, if all the work be cast on us 
alone ; and masters of families neglect that necessary 
duty of their own, by which they are bound to help 
us ? If any good be begun by the ministry in any 
soul, a careless, prayerless, worldly family, is likely 
to stifle it, or very much hinder it; whereas, if you 
could but get the rulers of families to do their duty, 
to take up the work where you left it, and help it 
on, what abundance of ffood mioht be done ! I be- 
seech you, therefore, if you desire the reformation 
and welfare of your people, do all you can to pro- 
mote family religion. To this end, let me entreat 
you to attend to the following thhigs : — 

1. Get information how each family is ordered, 
that you may know how to. proceed in your ende,a- 
Tours for their further good. 

2. Go occasionally among them, when they are 
likely to be most at leisure, and ask the master of 
the family. Whether he prays with them, and reads 
the Scripture, or what he doth ? Labour to con- 
vince such as neglect this of their sin ; and if you 
have opportunity, pray with them before you go. 



159 

and set them an example of what you would have 
them do. Perhaps, too, it might he well to get a 
promise from them that they will make more con- 
science of their duty for the future. 

3. If you find any, through ignorance and want 
of practice, unable to pray, persuade them to study 
their own wants, and to get their hearts affected 
with tliem; and, in the meanwhile, advise them to 
use a form of prayer, rather than not pray at all. 
Tell them, however, that it is their sin and shame 
that they have lived so negligently, as to be so igno- 
rant of their own necessities, as not to know how to 
address God in prayer, when every beggar can find 
words to ask an alms ; and, therefore, that a form of 
prayer is but for necessity, as a crutch to a cripple, 
while they cannot do without it; but that they must 
resolve not to be content with it, but to learn to do 
better as speedily as possible, seeing prayer should 
come from the bottom of the heart, and be varied 
according to our necessities and circumstances. 

4. See that in every family there are some useful 
books beside the Bible. If they have none, per- 
suade them to buy some : if they be not able to buy 
them, give them some, if you can. If you are not 
able yourself, get some gentleman, or other rich 
persons, that are ready to good works, to do it. 
And engage them to read them at night, when they 
have leisure, and especially on the Lord's day. 

5. Direct them how to spend the Lord's day ; 
how to despatch their worldly business, so as to pre- 
vent encumbrances and distractions; and when they 
have been at church, how to spend the time in their 
families. The life of rehgion dependeth much on 



160 

this, because poor people have no other free con- 
siderable time; and, therefore, if they lose this, they 
lose all, and will remain ignorant and brutish. Per- 
suade the master of every family to cause his children 
and servants, to repeat the catechism to him every 
Sabbath evening, and to give him some account of 
what they have heard at church during the day. 

Neglect not, I beseech you, this important part 
of your work. Get masters of families to do their 
duty, and they will not. only spare you a great deal 
of labour, but they will essentially promote the suc- 
cess of your labours. If a captain can get the offi- 
cers under him to do their duty, he may rule the 
soldiers with far less trouble, than if all lay upon 
his shoulders. You are not likely to see any gen- 
eral reformation, till you procure family reformation. 
Some little religion there may be, here and there, 
but while it is confined to single persons, and is not 
promoted in the family circle, it will not prosper, nor 
promise much future increase. 

V. We must be diligent in visiting the sick, and 
assisting them to prepare either for a fruitful life, or 
a happy death. Though this should be the business 
of all our life, yet doth it, at such a season, require 
extraordinary care both of them and us. When 
time is almost gone, and they must now or never be 
reconciled to God, O how doth it concern them to 
redeem those hours, and to lay hold on eternal life ! 
And when we see that we are like to have but a few 
days or hours more to speak to them, in order to 
their everlasting welfare, who, that is not a block, 
or an infidel, would not be much with them, and do 
all he can for their salvation in that short space ! 



161 

Will it not awaken us to compassion, to look on 
a languishing man, and to think that within a few 
days his soul will be in heaven or in hell ? Surely 
it will try the faith, and seriousness of ministers, to 
be much about dying men ! They will thus have 
opportunity to discern whether they themselves are 
in good earnest about the matters of the life to 
come. So great is the change that is made by 
death, that it should awaken us to the greatest 
sensibility to see a man so near it, and should excite 
in us the deepest pangs of compassion, to do the 
office of inferior angels for the soul, before it departs 
from the body, that it may be ready for the convoy 
of superior angels to the " inheritance of the saints 
in light." When a man is almost at his journey's 
end, and the next step brings him to heaven or hell, 
it is time for us, while there is hope, to help him, if 
we can. 

And as their present necessity should move us to 
embrace that opportunity for their good, so should 
the advantage that sickness and the prospect of 
death affordeth. Even the stoutest sinners will hear 
us on their death-bed, though they scorned us before. 
They will then let fall their fury, and be as gentle 
as lambs, who were before as untractable as lions. 
I find not one in ten, of the most obstinate, scornful 
wretches in my parish, but when they come to die, 
will humble themselves, confess their faults, and 
seem penitent, and promise, if they should recover, 
to reform their lives. Cyprian saith to those in 
health, " Qui se quotidie recordatur moriturum esse, 
conteranit preesentia, et ad futura festinat :" much 
more, " qui sentit se statira moriturum." Oh ! how 



162 

resolvedly will the worst of sinners seem to cast away 
their sins, and cry out of their folly, and of the 
vanity of this world, when they see that death is in 
good earnest with them ! Perhaps you will say, 
that these forced changes are not cordial, and that, 
therefore, we have no great hope of doing them 
any saving good. I confess it is very common for 
sinners to be frightened into ineffectual purposes, 
but not so common to be at such a season converted 
to the Saviour. It is a rqmark of Augustine, " Non 
potest male mori, qui bene vixerit ; et vix bene 
moritur, qui male vixit." Yet vix and nunquam 
are not all one. It should make both them and us 
the more diligent in the time of health, because it is 
vix; but yet we should bestir us at the last, in the 
use of the best remedies, because it is not nunquam. 
But as I do not intend to furnish a directory for 
the whole ministerial work, I will not stop to tell you 
particularly what must be done for men in their last 
extremity; but shall notice only three or four things, 
as particularly worthy of your attention. 

1. Stay not till their strength and understanding 
are gone, and the time so short that you scarcely 
know what to do ; but go to them as soon as you 
hear they are sick, whether they send for you or not. 

2. When the time is so short, that there is no 
opportunity to instruct them in the principles of re- 
ligion in order, be sure to ply the main points, and 
to dwell on those truths which are most calculated 
to promote their conversion ; showing them the glory 
of the life to come, and the way by which it was 
purchased for us, and the great sin and folly of 
their having neglected it in time of health ; but yet 



163 

the possibility that remaineth of their still obtaining 
it, if they will believe in Christ, the only Saviour. 

3. If they recover, be sure to remind them of 
their promises and resolutions in time of sickness. 
Go to them purposely to set them home to their 
consciences ; and whenever afterwards you see them 
remiss, go to them, and put them in mind of what 
they said when they were stretched on a sick-bed. 
And because it is of such use to them who recover, 
and hath been the means of the conversion of many 
souls, it is very necessary that you go to them whose 
sickness is not mortal, as well as to those who are 
dying, that so you may have some advantage to 
move them to repentance, and may afterward have 
this to plead against their sins ; as a bishop of Colen 
is said to have answered the Emperor Sigismund, 
when he asked him what was the way to be saved, 
that " he must be what he purposed, or promised to 
be, when he was last troubled with the stone and the 
gout/' 

VI. We must reprove and admonish those who 
live offensively or impenitently. Before we bring 
such matters before the church, or its rulers, it is 
ordinarily most fit for the minister to try himself 
what he can do in private to bow the sinner to 
repentance, especially if it be not a public crime. 
Here there is much skill required, and a difference 
must be made, according to the various tempers of 
the offenders ; but with the most it will be necessary 
to speak with the greatest plainness, to shake their 
careless hearts, and make them see what it is to 
dally with sin ; to let them know the evil of it, and 
its sad effects, in respect both of God and themselves. 



164. 

VII. The last part of our oversight which I shall 
notice, consisteth in the exercise of church-discipline. 
This consisteth, after the aforesaid private reproofs, 
in more public reproof, combined with exhortation to 
repentance — in prayer for the offended — in restoring 
the penitent — and in excluding and avoiding the 
impenitent. 

1. In the case of public offences, and even of 
those of a more private nature, when the offender 
remains impenitent, he must be reproved before all, 
and again invited to repentance. This is not the 
less our duty, because we have made so little con- 
science of the practice of it. It is not only Christ's 
command to tell the church, but Paul's to " rebuke 
before all ;" and the church hath constantly practised 
it, till selfishness and formality caused them to be 
remiss in this and other duties. There is no room 
to doubt whether this be our duty, and as little is 
there any ground to doubt whether we have been 
unfaithful as to the performance of it. Many of us, 
who would be ashamed to omit preaching or praying, 
have little considered what we are doing, while living 
in the wilful neglect of this duty, and other parts 
of discipline, so long as we have done. We little 
think, how we have drawn the guilt of swearing, 
and drunkenness, and fornication, and other crimes, 
upon our own heads, by neglecting to use the means 
which God has appointed for the cure of them. 

If any shall say there is little likelihood that 
public reproof will do them good, as they will rather 
be enraged by the shame of it — I answer, 

(1.) It ill becomes a creature to implead the ordi- 
nances of God as useless, or to reproach his service 



165 

instead of doing it, and set their wits in opposition 
to their Maker. God can render useful his own 
ordinances; otherwise, he would never have appointed 
them. 

(2.) The usefulness of discipline is apparent, in 
the shaming of sin, and humhling the sinner, and in 
manifesting the holiness of Christ, and his doctrine, 
and church, before all the world. 

(3.) What will you do with such sinners ? Will 
you give them up as hopeless ? That would be more 
cruel than administering to them reproof. Will you 
use other means? Why, it is supposed that all 
other means have been used without success; for 
this is the last remedy. 

(4.) The principal use of this public discipline, is 
not for the offender himself, but for the church. 
It tendeth exceedingly to deter others from similar 
crimes, and so to keep the congregation and their 
worship pure. Seneca could say, " Vitia transmittit 
ad posteros, qui praesentibus culpis ignoscit." And 
elsewhere, " Bonis nocet, qui malis parcit." 

2. With reproof we must combine exhortation of 
the offender to repentance, and to the public pro- 
fession of it for. the satisfaction of the church. As 
the church is bound to avoid communion with im- 
penitent sinners, so, when they have had evidence of 
their sin, they must also have some evidence of their 
repentance ; for we cannot know them to be penitent 
without evidence; and what evidence can the church 
have but their profession of repentance, and after- 
wards their actual reformation ? 

Much prudence, I confess, is to be exercised in 
such proceedings, lest we do more hurt than good; 



16G 

but it must be such Christian prudence as ordereth 
duties, and suiteth them to their ends, not such 
carnal prudence as shall enervate or exclude them. 
In performing this duty, we should deal humbly, 
even when we deal most sharply, and make it appear 
that it is not from any lordly disposition, nor from 
revenge for any injury, but a necessary duty which 
we cannot conscientiously neglect ; and, therefore, it 
may be meet to show the people the commands of 
God, obliging us to do what we do, in some such 
words as the following : — 

" Brethren, sin is so hateful an evil in the eyes 
of the most holy God, how light soever impenitent 
sinners make of it, that he hath provided the ever- 
lasting torments of hell for the punishment of it ; 
and no less means can prevent that punishment than 
the sacrifice of the Son of God, applied to those who 
truly repent of it and forsake it; and therefore God, 
who calleth all men to repentance, hath commanded 
us to " exhort one another daily, while it is called 
To-day, lest any be hardened through the deceitful- 
ness of sin:" (Heb. iii. 13.:) and that we do not hate 
our brother in our heart, but in any wise rebuke our 
neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him: (Lev. xix. 
17.:) and that if our brother offend us, we should 
tell him his fault between him and us ; and if he hear 
us not, we should take two or three more with us ; 
and if he hear not them, we should tell the church ; 
and if he hear not the church, he must be to us as a 
heathen man and apubhcan: (Matth. xviii. 15 — 17. :) 
and those that sin we must rebuke before all, that 
others may fear, (1 Tim. v. 20.) and rebuke with all 
authority: (Tit. ii. 15.:) yea, were it an apostle of 



167 

Christ that should sin openly, he must be reproved 
openly, as Paul did Peter: (Gal. ii. 11, 14.:) and if 
they repent not, we must avoid them, and with such 
not so much as eat. (2 Thess. iii. 6, 12, 14. 1 Cor. 
V. 11, 13.) 

" Having heard of the scandalous conduct of N. N. 
of this church, or parish, and having received suffi- 
cient proof that he hath committed the odious sin of 

, we have seriously dealt with him to bring 

him to repentance : but, to the grief of our hearts, 
we perceive no satisfactory result of our endeavours; 
but he seemeth still to remain impenitent. (Or he 
still liveth in the same sin, though he verbally profess 
repentance.) We therefore judge it our duty, to 
proceed to the use of that further remedy which 
Christ hath commanded us to try; and hence we 
beseech him, in the name of the Lord, without fur- 
ther delay, to lay to heart the greatness of his sin, 
the wrong he hath done to Christ and to himself, 
and the scandal and grief that he hath caused to 
others. And we do earnestly beseech him, for the 
sake of his own soul, that he will consider what it is 
that he can gain by his sin and impenitency, and 
whether it will pay for the loss of everlasting life ; 
and how he thinks to stand before God in judgment, 
or to appear before the Lord Jesus, when death shall 
snatch his soul from his body, if he be found in this 
impenitent state. And I do beseech him, for the 
sake of his own soul, and require him, as a messenger 
of Jesus Christ, as he will answer the contrary at the 
bar of God, that he lay aside the stoutness and im- 
penitency of his heart, and unfeignedly confess and 
lament his sin before God and this congregation ! 



IGS 

And this desire I here publish, not out of any ill-will 
to his person, as the Lord knowcth, but in love to 
his soul, and in obedience to Christ, who hath made 
it my duty ; desiring that, if it be possible, he may 
be saved from his sin, and from the power of Satan, 
and from the everlasting wrath of God, and may be 
reconciled to God, and to his church ; and, therefore, 
that he may be humbled by true contrition, before 
he be humbled by remediless condemnation." 

To this purpose 1 conceive our public admonitions 
should proceed; and, in some cases, where the sinner 
considereth his sin to be small, it may be necessary 
to point out the aggravations of it, particularly by 
citing some passages of Scripture which describe its 
evil and its danger. 

With these reproofs and exhortations, we must 
combine the prayers of the congregation in behalf of 
the offender. This should be done in every case of 
discipline, but particularly if the offender will not be 
present to receive admonition, or gives no evidence 
of repentance, and shows no desire for the prayers of 
the congregation. In such cases, especially, it will 
be necessary that we beg the prayers of the congre- 
gation for him ourselves, entreating them to consider 
what a fearful condition the impenitent are in, and 
to have pity on a poor soul that is so blinded and 
hardened by sin and Satan, that he cannot pity him- 
self; and to think what it is for a man to appear be- 
fore the living God in such a case ; and, therefore, 
that they would join in earnest prayer to God, that 
he would open his eyes, and soften and humble his 
stubborn heart, before he be in hell beyond remedy. 
And, accordingly, let us be very earnest in prayer 



169 

for him, that the congregation may be excited affec- 
tionately to join with us ; and who knows but God 
may hear our prayers, and the sinner's heart may 
relent under them, more than under all our exhorta- 
tions ? 

It is, in my judgment, a very laudable course of 
some churches, that use, for the next three days to- 
gether, to desire the congregation to join in earnest 
prayer to God for the opening of the sinner's eyes, 
and the softening of his heart, and the saving of him 
from impenitence and eternal death. 

If ministers would be conscientious in performing 
this duty entirely and self-denyingly, they might 
make something of it, and expect a blessing upon it: 
but when we shrink from all that is dangerous or 
ungrateful in our work, and shift off all that is costly 
or troublesome, we cannot expect that any great good 
should be effected by such a carnal, partial use of 
means; and though some may here and there be 
wrought upon, yet we cannot look that the gospel 
should run and be glorified, when we perform our 
duty so lamely and so imperfectly. 

3. We must restore the penitent to the fellowship 
of the church. As we must not teach an offender 
to make light of discipline by too much facility, so 
neither must we discourage hira by too much severity. 
If he appear to be truly sensible of the criminality 
of his conduct, and penitent on account of it, we 
must see that he confess his guilt, and that he pro- 
mise to fly from such sins for the time to come, to 
watch more narrowly, and to walk more warily, to 
avoid temptation, to distrust his own strength, and 
to rely on the grace which is in Christ Jesus. 
H 42 



170 

We must assure him of the riches of God's love, 
and the sufficiency of Christ's blood to pardon his 
sins, if he believe and repent. We must see that 
he beg the communion of the church, and their 
prayers to God for his pardon and salvation. 

W^e must charge the church that they imitate 
Christ, in forgiving and in retaining the penitent 
person ; or, if he were cast out, in receiving him hito 
their communion ; and that they must never reproach 
him with his sins, nor cast them in his teeth, but 
forgive them, even as Christ hath forgiven them. 

Finally, we must give God thanks for his recovery, 
and pray for his confirmation and future preservation. 

4. The last part of discipline, is the excluding 
from the communion of the church those who, after 
sufficient trial, remain impenitent. 

Exclusion from church communion, commonly 
called Excommunication, is of different kinds or de- 
grees, which are not to be confounded; but that 
which is most commonly to be practised among us, 
is, only to remove an impenitent sinner from our 
communion till it shall please the Lord to give him 
repentance. 

In this exclusion or removal, the minister or go- 
vernors of the church are authoritatively to charge 
the people, in the name of the Lord, to have no 
communion with him, and to pronounce him one 
whose communion the church is bound to avoid; and 
it is the people's duty carefully to avoid him, provided 
the pastor's charge contradict not the word of God. 

We must, however, pray for the repentance and 
restoration even of the excommunicated; and if God 



171 

shall give them repentance, we must be happy to re- 
ceive them again into the communion of the church. 

Would we were but so far faithful in the practice 
of this discipline, as we are satisfied both of the 
matter and manner of it; and did not dispraise and 
reproach it by our neglect, while we write and plead 
for it with the highest commendations ! It is worthy 
of our consideration, who is like to have the heavier 
charge about this matter at the bar of God, — whe- 
ther those who have reproached and hindered dis- 
cipline by their tongues, because they knew not its 
nature and necessity ; or we who have so vilified it 
by our constant omission, while with our tongues we 
have magnified it ? If hypocrisy be no sin, or if the 
knowledge of our Master's will be no aggravation of 
disobedience, then we may be in a better case than 
they; but if these be great evils, we must be much 
worse than the very persons whom we so loudly con- 
demn. I will not advise the zealous maintainers 
and obstinate neglecters of discipline, to unsay all 
that they have said, till they are ready to do as they 
say; nor to recant their defences of discipline till 
they mean to practise it ; nor to burn all the books 
which they have written for it, and all the records of 
their cost and hazards for it, lest they rise up in 
judgment against them to their confusion. But I 
would persuade them, without any more delay, to 
conform their practices to these testimonies which 
they have given, lest the more they are proved to 
have commended discipline, the more they are proved 
to have condemned themselves for neglecting it. 

It hath amazed me to hear some that I took for 
h2 



172 

reverend, godly divines, reproach, as a sect, the Sa- 
cramentarians and Disciplinarians. And, when I 
desired to know whom they meant, they told me 
they meant them that will not give the sacrament to 
all the parish, and them that will make distinctions 
by their discipline. I had thought the tempter had 
obtained a great victory, if he had got but one godly 
pastor of a church to neglect discipline, as well as if 
he had got him to neglect preaching; much more if 
he had got him to' approve of that neglect : but it 
seems he hath got some to scorn at the performers 
of the duty which they neglect. Sure I am, if it 
were well understood how much of the pastoral work 
consisteth in church guidance, it would be also dis- 
cerned, that to be against discipline, is, tantum non, 
to be against the ministry; and to be against the 
ministry, is, tantum non, to be absolutely against the 
church ; and to be against the church, is near to be- 
ing absolutely against Christ. Blame not the harsh- 
ness of the inference, till you can avoid it, and free 
yourselves from the charge of it before the Lord. 



CHAPTER 11. 

THE MANNER OF THIS OVERSIGHT. 

Having thus considered the nature of this over- 
sight, we shall next speak of the manner ; not of 
each part distinctly, lest we be tedious, but of the 
whole in general. 

I. The ministerial work must be carried on purely 



173 

for God and the salvation of souls, not for any pri- 
vate ends of our own. A wrong end makes all the 
work bad, how good soever it may be in its own 
nature. It is not serving God, but ourselves, if we 
do it not for God, but for ourselves. They who 
engage in this as a common work, to make a trade 
of it for their worldly livelihood, will find that they 
have chosen a bad trade, though a good employment. 
Self-denial is of absolute necessity in every Christian, 
but it is doubly necessary in a minister, as without it 
he cannot do God an hour's faithful service. Hard 
study, much knowledge, and excellent preaching, if 
the ends be not right, is but more glorious hypocri- 
tical sinning. The saying of Bernard is commonly 
known : " Sunt qui scire volunt eo fine tantum ut 
sciant, et turpis curiositas est; et sunt qui scire vo- 
lunt, ut scientiam suara vendant, et turpis quajstus est; 
sunt qui scire volunt ut sciantur ipsi, et turpis vanitas 
est: sed sunt quoque qui scire volunt ut sedificent, 
et charitas est ; et sunt qui scire volunt ut adificen- 
tur, et prudentia est." 

II. The ministerial work must be carried on dili- 
gently and laboriously, as being of such unspeakable 
consequence to ourselves and others. We are seek- 
ing to uphold the world, — to save it from the curse 
of God, — to perfect the creation, — to attain the 
ends of Christ's death, — to save ourselves and others 
from damnation, — to overcome the devil, and demo- 
lish his kingdom, — and to set up the kingdom of 
Christ, and to attain and help others to the kingdom 
of glory. And are these works to be done with a 
careless mind, or a lazy hand? O see, then, that 
this work be done with all your might ! Study hard, 



174> 

for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow; and, 
as Cassiodorus says, " Decorum hie est terminura 
lion habere ; hie honesta probatur ambitio ; omne 
si' quidem scientificum quanto profundius quaeritur, 
tanto gloriosius invenitur." But especially be labo- 
rious in the practice and exercise of your knowledge. 
Let Paul's words ring continually in your ears, 
" Necessity is laid upon me, yea, woe is unto me if 
I preach not the gospel." Ever think with your- 
selves what lieth upon your hands : * If I do not 
bestir myself, Satan may prevail, and the people 
everlastingly perish, and their blood be required at 
my hand. By avoiding labour and suffering, I shall 
draw on myself a thousand times more than I avoid ; 
whereas, by present diligence, I shall prepare for 
future blessedness.' 

III. The ministerial work must be carried on pru- 
dently and orderly. Milk must go before strong 
meat; the foundation must be laid before we attempt 
to raise the superstructure. Children must not be 
dealt with as men of full stature. Men must be 
brought into a state of grace, before we can expect 
from them the works of grace. The work of con- 
version, and repentance from dead works, and faith in 
Christ, must be first, and frequently, and thoroughly- 
taught. We must not ordinarily go beyond the 
capacities of our people, nor teach them the perfection, 
that have not learned the first principles of religion : 
for as Gregory Nyssen saith, " We teach not in- 
fants the deep precepts of science, but first letters, 
and then syllables, &c. So the guides of the church 
do first propound to their hearers certain documents, 
which are as the elements; and so by degrees do 



175 

open to them the more perfect and mysterious mat- 
ters." 

IV. Throughout the whole course of our minis- 
try, we must insist chiefly upon the greatest, most 
certain, and most necessary truths, and be more sel- 
dom and sparing upon the rest. If we can but teach 
Christ to our people, we shall teach them all. Get 
them well to heaven, and they will have knowledge 
enough. The great and commonly acknowledged 
truths of religion, are those that men must live upon, 
and which are the great instruments of destroying 
men's sins, and raising the heart to God. We must, 
therefore, ever have our people's necessities before 
our eyes. To remember the " one thing needful," 
will take us off needless ornaments, and unprofitable 
controversies. Many other things are desirable to 
be known : but this must be known, or else our 
people are undone for ever. I confess I think ne- 
cessity should be the great disposer of a minister's 
course of study and labour. If we were sufficient 
for every thing, we might attempt every thing, and 
take in order the whole Encyclopedia: but life is 
short — and we are dull — and eternal things are 
necessary — and the souls that depend on our teach- 
ing are precious. I confess, necessity hath been the 
conductor of my studies and life. It chooseth what 
book I shall read, and tells me when, and how long. 
It chooseth my text, and makes my sermon, both for 
matter and manner, so far as I can keep out my own 
corruption. Though I know the constant expecta- 
tion of death hath been a great cause of this, yet I 
know no reason why the most healthy man should 
not make sure of the most necessary things first, 



176 

considering the uncertainty and shortness of all men's 
lives. Xenophon thought " there was no better 
teacher than necessity, which teacheth all things most 
I diligently." Who can, in studying, preaching, or 
labouring, be doing other matters, if he do but know 
that this MUST be done? Who can trifle or delay, 
that feeleth the spurs of necessity ? As the soldier 
saith, " Non diu disputandum, sed celeriter et for- 
titer dimicandura ubi urget necessitas," so much more 
must we, as our business is more important. Doubt- 
less this is the best way to redeem time — to see that 
we lose not an hour — when we spend it only on 
necessary things. This is the way to be most pro- 
fitable to others, though not always to be most pleas- 
ing and applauded; because, through men's frailty, 
it is true what Seneca says, that " Nova potius 
miramur quam magna." 

Hence it is, that a preacher must be often upon 
the same things, because the matters of necessity are 
few. We must not either feign necessaries, or fall 
much upon unnecessaries, to satisfy them that look 
for novelties, though we must clothe the same truths 
with a grateful variety in the manner of our delivery. 
The great volumes and tedious controversies, that so 
much trouble us and waste our time, are usually made 
up more of opinions than of necessary verities ; for, 
as Ficinus saith, " Necessitas brevibus clauditur ter- 
minis ; opinio null is :" and, as Gregory Nazianzen 
and Seneca often say, " Necessaries are common and 
obvious ; it is superfluities that we waste our time 
and labour upon, and complain that we attain them 
not." Ministers therefore must be observant of the 
case of their flocks, that they may know what is most 



177 

necessary for them, both for matter and for manner; 
and usually the matter is first to be regarded, as 
being of more importance than the manner. If you 
are to choose what authors to read yourselves, will 
you not rather take those that tell you what you 
know not, and that speak the most necessary truths 
in the clearest manner, though it be in barbarous or 
unhandsome language, than those that will most 
learnedly and elegantly tell you that which is false 
or vain, and " magno conatu nihil dicere ?" I pur- 
pose to follow Austin's counsel : " Prseponendo ver- 
bis sententiam, ut animus praeponitur corpori : ex 
quo fit ut ita mallem veriores quam discretiores in- 
venire sermones, si ut mallem prudentiores quam 
formosiores habere amicos." And surely, as I do in 
my studies for my own edification, I should do in 
my teaching for other men's. It is commonly empty 
ignorant men, who want the matter and substance of 
true learning, that are curious and solicitous about 
words and ornaments, when the oldest, most experi- 
enced, and learned men, abound in substantial verities, 
/delivered in the plainest di*ess. As Aristotle makes 
//it the reason why women are more addicted to pride 
in apparel than men, that, being conscious of little in- 
ward worth, they seek to make it up with borrowed 
ornaments, so is it with empty, worthless preachers, 
who afiect to be esteemed that which they are not, 
and have no other way to procure that esteem. 

V. All our teaching must be as plain and simple 
as possible. This doth best suit a teacher's ends. 
He that would be understood, must speak to the 
capacity of his hearers. Truth loves the light, and 
is most beautiful when most naked. It is the sign 
H 3 



178 

of an envious enemy to hide the truth ; and it is the 
work of a hypocrite to do this under pretence of re- 
veaHng it : and therefore, painted obscure sermons 
(Hke painted glass in windows, which keeps out the 
light) are too often the marks of painted hypocrites. 
If you would not teach men, what do you in the 
pulpit ? If you would, why do you not speak so as 
to be understood ? I know the height of the matter 
may make a man not understood, when he hath 
studied to make it as plain as he can ; but that a man 
should purposely cloud the matter in strange words, 
and hide his mind from the people, whom he pre- 
tendeth to instruct, is the way to make fools admire 
his profound learning, and wise men his folly, pride, 
and hypocrisy. Some men conceal their sentiments, 
under the pretence of necessity, because of men's 
prejudices, and the unpreparedness of common un- 
derstandings to receive the truth. But truth over- 
comes prejudice by the mere light of evidence ; and 
there is no better way to make a good cause prevail, 
than to make it as plain, and as generally and tho- 
roughly known, as we can : it is this light that will 
dispose an unprepared mind. It is, at best, a sign 
that a man hath not well digested the matter him- 
self, if he is not able to deliver it plainly to others ; 
1 mean as plainly as the nature of the matter will 
bear, in regard of capacities prepared for it by pre- 
requisite truths. For I know that some men can- 
not at present understand some truths, if you speak 
them as plainly as words can express them : as the 
easiest rules in grammar, most plainly taught, will 
not be understood by a child that is but learning his 
alphabet. 



179 

VI. The ministerial work must be carried on with 
great humility. We must carry ourselves meekly 
and condescendingly to all; and so teach others, as 
to be as ready to learn of any that can teach us, and 
so both teach and learn at once ; not proudly venting 
our own conceits, and disdaining all that any way 
contradict them, as if we had attained to the height 
of knowledge, and were destined for the chair, and 
other men to sit at our feet. Pride is a vice that 
ill beseems them that must lead men in such an 
humble way to heaven : let us, therefore, take heed, 
lest, when we have brought others thither, the gate 
should prove too strait for ourselves. For, as 
Grotius saith, " Superbia in coelo nata est, sed velut 
immemor qua via inde cecidit, istuc postea redire non 
potuit." God, that thrust out a proud angel, will 
not entertain there a proud preacher. Methinks, 
we should remember at least the title of a minister, 
which, though the Popish priests disdain, yet so do 
not we. It is indeed pride that feedeth all the rest 
of our sins. Hence the envy, the contention, and 
unpeaceableness of ministers; hence the stops to all 
reformation ; all would lead, and few will follow or 
concur. Hence, also, is the non-proficiency of too 
many ministers, because they are too proud to learn. 
Humility would teach them another lesson. I may 
say of ministers as Augustine to Jerome, even of 
the aged among them, " Et si senes magis decet 
docere quam discere: magis tamen decet discere quam 
ignorare." These are things that all of us can say, 
but when we come to practise them with sinners that 
reproach and slander us for our love, and who are 
more ready to spit in our faces, than to thank us for 



180 

our advice, what heart-risings will there be, and how 
will the remnants of old Adam, pride and passion, 
struggle against the meekness and patience of the 
!new man ? And how sadly do many ministers come 
off under such trials ! 

VII. There must be a prudent mixture of severity 
and mildness both in our preaching and discipline ; 
each must be predominant, according to the character 
of the person, or matter, that we have in hand. If 
there be no severity, our reproofs will be despised. 
li all severity, we shall be taken as usurpers of do- 
minion, rather than persuaders of the minds of men 
to the truth. 

VIII. We must be serious, affectionate, and zea- 
lous, in every part of our work. Our work requireth 
greater skill, and especially greater life and zeal, 
than any of us bring to it. It is no small matter to 
stand up in the face of a congregation, and to deliver 
a message of salvation or damnation, as from the 
living God, in the name of the Redeemer. It is no 
easy matter to speak so plainly, that the most ignorant 
may understand us ; and so seriously, that the deadest 
hearts may feel us; and so convincingly, that the 
contradicting cavillers may be silenced. The weight 
of our matter condemneth coldness and sleepy dul- 
ness. We should see that we be well awakened 
ourselves, and our spirits in such a plight as may 
make us fit to awaken others. If our words be not 
sharpened, and pierce not as nails, they will hardly 
be felt by stony hearts. To speak slightly and 
coldly of heavenly things, is nearly as bad as to say 
nothino- of them at all. 

o 

IX. The wbole of our mmistry must be carried 



181 

on in tender love to our people. We must let 
them see that nothing pleaseth us but what profiteth 
them; and that what doth them good doth us good; 
and that nothing troubleth us more than their hurt. 
We must feel toward our people as a father toward 
his children ; yea, the tenderest love of a mother 
must not surpass ours. We must even travail in 
birth, till Christ be formed in them. They should 
see that we care for no outward thing, neither wealth, 
nor liberty, nor honour, nor life, in comparison of 
their salvation ; but could even be content, with 
Moses, to have our names blotted out of the Book 
of Life, that is, to be removed e numero viventium^ 
rather than they should not be found in the Lamb's 
Book of Life. Thus should we, as John saith, be 
ready to " lay down our lives for the brethren," and 
with Paul, not count our lives dear to us, so we may 
but " finish our course with joy, and the ministry 
which we have received of the Lord.Jesus." When 
the people see that you unfeignedly love them, they 
will hear any thing, and bear any thing from you ; 
as Augustine saith, " Dilige et die quicquid voles." 
We ourselves will take all things well, from one that 
we know doth entirely love us. We will put up 
with a blow that is given us in love, sooner than with 
a foul word that is spoken to us in malice or in anger. 
Most men judge of the counsel, as they judge of the 
affection of him that gives it ; at least so far as to 
give it a fair hearing. Oh, therefore, see that you 
feel a tender love to your people in your breasts^ 
and let them perceive it in your speeches, and see 
it in your conduct ! Let them see that you spend, 
and are spent, for their sakes ; and that all you do is 



182 

for them, and not for any private ends of your own. 
To this end, the works of charity are necessary, as 
far as your estate will reach ; for bare words will 
hardly convince men that you have any great love to 
them. But, if you are not able to give, show that 
you are wiUing to give if you had it, and do that 
sort of good you can. But see that your love be 
■ not carnal, flowing from pride, as one that is a suite r 
for himself rather than for Christ, and, therefore, 
doth love, because he is loved, or that he may be 
loved. Take heed, therefore, that you do not con- 
nive at the sins of your people, under pretence of 
love; for that were to cross the nature and end of 
love. Friendship must be cemented by piety. A 
wicked man cannot be a true friend ; and if you be- 
friend their wickedness, you show that you are wicked 
yourselves. Pretend not to love them, if you favour 
their sins, and seek not their salvation. By favouring 
their sins, you will show your enmity to God; and 
then how can you love your brother? If you be 
tlieir best friends, help them against their worst 
enemies. And think not all sharpness inconsistent 
with love: parents correct their children, and God 
himself " chastens every son whom he receiveth.*' 
" Melius est cum severitate diligere," saith Augus- 
tine, " quam cum lenitate decipere." 

X. We must carry on our work with patience. 
We must bear with many abuses and injuries, from 
those to whom we seek to do good. When we have 
studied for them, and prayed for them, and exhorted 
them with all earnestness and condescension, and 
given them what we are able, and tended them as if 
they had been our children, we must expect that 



183 

many of them will requite us witli scorn, and hatred, 
and contempt, and account us their enemies, because 
we " tell them the truth." Now we must endure 
all this patiently, and we must unweariedly hold on 
doing good, " in meekness instructing those that 
oppose themselves, if God, peradventure, will give 
them repentance, to the acknowledging of the truth." 
We have to deal with distracted men, who will fly in 
the face of their physician ; but we must not, there- 
fore, neglect their cure. He is unworthy to be a 
physician, who will be driven away from a phrenetic 
patient by foul words. 

XI. All our work must be managed reverently, 
as beseemeth them that believe the presence of God, 
and use not holy things as if they were common. 
Reverence is that affection of the soul, which pro- 
ceedeth from deep apprehensions of God, and indi- 
cateth a mind that is much conversant with him. 
To manifest irreverence in the things of God, is to 
manifest hypocrisy, and that the heart agreeth not 
with the tongue. I know not how it is with others, 
but the most reverend preacher, that speaks as if he 
saw the face of God, doth more affect my heart, 
though with common words, than an irreverent man 
with the most exquisite preparations. Yea, though 
he bawl it out with ever so much apparent earnest- 
ness, if reverence be not answerable to fervency, it 
worketh but little. Of all preaching in the world, 
(that speaks not stark lies,) I hate that preaching 
which tends to make the hearers laugh, or to move 
their minds with tickling levity, and affect them as 
stage-plays used to do, instead of affecting them with 
a holy reverence of the name of God. Jerome says, 



18^ 

" Docentc in ecclesia te, non clamor populi, sed 
gemitus suscitetur; lacrym2e auditorum laudes tuae 
sunt." The more of God appeareth in our duties, 
the more authority will they have with men. We 
should, as it were, suppose we saw the throne of 
God, and the millions of glorious angels attending 
him, that we may be awed with his majesty, when 
we draw near him in holy things, lest we profane 
them, and take his name in vain. 

XII. All our work must be done spiritually, as 
by men possessed of the Holy Ghost. There^is 
in some men's preaching a spiritual strain, which 
spiritual hearers can discern and relish ; whereas, in 
other men's, this sacred tincture is so wanting, that, 
even when they speak of spiritual things, the manner 
is such as if they were common matters. Our evi- 
dence and illustrations of divine truth must be spi- 
ritual, being drawn from the Holy Scriptures, rather 
than from the writings of men. The wisdom of the 
world must not be magnified against the wisdom of 
God : philosophy must be taught to stoop and serve, 
while faith doth bear the chief sway. Great scholars, 
in Aristotle's school, must take heed of glorying 
too much in their master, and despising those that 
are there below them, lest they themselves prove 
lower in the school of Christ, and " least in the 
kingdom of God," while they would be great in the 
eyes of men. As wise a man as any of them would 
glory in nothing but the cross of Christ, and deter- 
mined to know nothing but him crucified. They 
that are so confident that Aristotle is in hell, should 
not too much take him for their guide in the way to 
heaven. It is an excellent memorandum that Gre- 



1B5 

gory hath left : " Deus primo collegit indoctos ; post 
modum philosophos; et non per oratores docuit pis- 
catores, sed per piscatores subegit oratores." The 
most learned men should think of this. 

Let all writers have their due esteem, but com- 
pare none of them with the word of God. We will 
not refuse their service, but we must abhor them as 
rivals or competitors. It is the sign of a distempered 
heart that loseth the relish of Scrip^ire excellency. 
For there is, in a spiritual heart, a co-naturality to 
the word of God, because this is the seed which did 
regenerate him. The word is that seal which made 
all the holy impressions, that are in the hearts of 
ture believers, and stamped the image of God upon 
them ; and, therefore, they must needs be like that 
word, and highly esteem it as long as they live. 

XIII. If you would prosper in the ministerial 
work, be sure to keep up earnest desires and expec- 
tations of success. If your hearts be not set on the 
end of your labours, and you long not to see the 
conversion and edification of your hearers, and do 
not study and preach in hope, you are not likely to 
see much success. As it is a sign of a false, self- 
seeking heart, that can be content to be still doing, 
and yet see no fruit of his labour — sol have observed, 
that God seldom blesseth any man's work so much 
as his whose heart is set upon the success of it. Let 
it be the property of a Judas, to have more regard 
to the bag than to his work, and not to care much 
for what they pretend to care ; and to think, if they 
have their salaries, and the love and commendations 
of their people, they have enough to satisfy them : 
but let all who preach for Christ and men's salvation, 



186 

be unsatisfied, till they have the thing they preach 
for. He never had the right ends of a preacher, who 
is indifferent whether he obtain them, and is not 
grieved when he misseth them, and rejoiceth when 
he can see the desired issue. When a man doth 
only study what to say, and how, with commendation, 
to spend the hour, and look no more after it, unless 
it be to know what people think of his abilities, and 
thus holds on from year to year, I must needs think 
that this man doth preach for himself, and not for 
Christ, even when he preacheth Christ, how excel- 
lently soever he may seem to do it. No wise or 
charitable physician is content to be always giving 
physic, and to see no amendment among his patients, 
but to have them all die upon his hands : nor will 
any wise and honest schoolmaster be content to be 
«till teaching, though his scholars profit not by his 
instructions : but both of them would rather be weary 
of the employment. I know that a faithful minister 
may have comfort when he wants success; and 
*' though Israel be not gathered, our reward is with 
the Lord;" and our acceptance is not according to 
the fruit, but according to our labour ; but then, he 
that longeth not for the success of his labours, can 
have none of this comfort, because he was not a faith- 
ful labourer. What I say is only for them that are 
set upon the end, and grieved if they miss it. Nor 
is this the full comfort that we must desire, but only 
such a part as may quiet us, though we miss the 
rest. What if God will accept a physician, though 
the patient die ! He must, notwithstanding that, 
work in compassion, and long for a better issue, and 
be sorry if he miss it. For it is not merely our own 



187 

reward that we labour for, but other men's salvation. 
I confess, for my part, I wonder at some ancient 
reverend men, that have Hved twenty, thirty, or forty 
years with an unprofitable people, among whom they 
have scarcely been able to discern any fruits of their 
labours, how they can, with so much patience, con- 
tinue among them. Were it ray case, though I 
durst not leave the vineyard, nor quit my calling, yet 
I should suspect that it was God's will I should go 
somewhere else, and another come in my place that 
miffht be fitter for them ; and 1 should not be easily 
satisfied to spend my days in such a manner. 

XIV. The ministerial work must be carried on 
under a deep sense of our own insufficiency, and of 
our entire dependence upon Christ. We must go 
for hght, and hfe, and strength, to Him who sends 
us on the work. And when we feel our own faith 
weak, and our hearts dull, and unsuitable to so great 
a work as we have to do, we must have recourse to 
Him, and say, ' Lord, wilt thou send me with such 
an unbelieving heart to persuade others to believe ? 
Must I daily plead with sinners about everlasting 
life and everlasting death, and have no more feehng 
of these weighty things myself? O send me not 
naked and unprovided to the work ! but, as thou 
command est me to do it, furnish me with a spirit 
suitable thereto.' Prayer must carry on our work 
as well as preaching : he preacheth not heartily to 
his people, that prayeth not earnestly for them. If 
we prevail not with God to give them faith and 
repentance, we shall never prevail with them to be- 
lieve and repent. When our own hearts are so far 
out of order, and theirs so far out of order, if we 



188 

prevail not with God to mend and help them, we are 
like to make but unsuccessful work. 

XV. Having given you these concomitants of our 
ministerial work, as singly to be performed by every 
minister, let me conclude with one other that is 
necessary to us, as we are fellow-labourers in the 
same work; and that is this, we must be very 
studious of union and communion among ourselves, 
and of the unity and peace of the churches that we 
oversee. We must be sensible how needful this is 
to the prosperity of the whole, the strengthening of 
our common cause, the good of the particular mem- 
bers of our flock, and the further enlargement of the 
kingdom of Christ. Arid therefore, ministers must 
smart when the church is wounded, and be so far 
from being the leaders in divisions, that they should 
take it as a principal part of their work to prevent 
and heal them. Day and night should they bend 
their studies to find out means to close such breaches. 
They must not only hearken to motions for unity, 
but propound them and prosecute them — -not only 
entertain an offered peace, but even follow it when 
it fleeth from them. They must, therefore, keep 
close to the ancient simphcity of the Christian faith, 
and the foundation and centre of catholic unity. 
They must abhor the arrogancy of them that frame 
new engines to rack and tear the church of Christ, 
under pretence of obviating errors, and maintain- 
ing the truth. The Scripture-sufficiency must be 
maintained, and nothing beyond it imposed on others; 
and if Papists, or others, call to us for the standard 
and rule of our rehgion, it is the Bible that we must 
show them, rather than any confessions of churches, 



189 

or writings of men. We must learn to distinguish 
between certainties and uncertainties, necessaries 
and unnecessaries, catholic verities and private opin- 
ions ; and to lay the stress of the church's peace 
upon the former, not upon the latter. We must 
avoid the common confusion of speaking of those 
that make no difference between verbal and real 
errors, and hate that rahies quorundum theologorum, 
who tear their brethren as heretics, before they un- 
derstand them. And we must learn to see the true 
state of controversies, and reduce them to the very 
point where the diifference lieth, and not make them 
seem greater than they are. Instead of quarrelling 
with our brethren, we must combine against the 
common adversaries ; and all ministers must associate 
and hold communion, and correspondence, and con- 
stant meetings, to those ends, and smaller diflPerences 
of judgment are not to interrupt them. They 
must do as much of the work of God, in unity and 
concord, as they can, which is the use of synods; 
not to rule over one another, and make laws, but to 
avoid misunderstandings, and consult for mutual edi- 
fication, and maintain love and communion, and go 
on unanimously in the work that God hath already 
commanded us. Had the ministers of the gospel 
been men of peace, and of catholic, rather than fac- 
tious spirits, the church of Christ had not been in 
the case it now is. The notions of Lutherans and 
Calvinists abroad, and the different parties at home, 
would not have been plotting the subversion of one 
another, nor remain at that distance, and in that un- 
charitable bitterness, nor strengthen the common 
enemy, and hinder the building and prosperity of the 
church, as they have done. 



190 
CHAPTER III. 

THE MOTIVES TO THIS OVERSIGHT. 

Having considered the manner in which we are 
to take heed to the flock, I shall now proceed to lay 
before you some motives to this oversight : and here 
I shall confine myself to those contained in my text. 

I. The first consideration which the text affordeth 
us, is taken from our relation to the flock — We are 
overseers of it. 

1. The nature of our office requireth us to " take 
heed to the flock." What else are we overseers 
for ? " Episcopus est nomen quod plus oneris quam 
honoris significat," says Polydore Virgil, To be a 
bishop, or pastor, is not to be set up as an idol for 
the people to bow to; but it is to be the guide of 
sinners to heaven. It is a sad case that men should 
be of a calling of which they know not the nature, 
and undertake they know not what. Do these men 
consider what they have undertaken, that live in ease 
and pleasure, and have time to take their superfluous 
recreations, and to spend an hour and more at once, 
in loitering, or in vain discourse, when so much work 
doth lie upon their hands ? Brethren, do you con- 
sider what you have taken upon you? Why, you 
have undertaken the conduct, under Christ, of a band 
of his soldiers " against principalities and powers, 
and spiritual wickednesses in high places." You must 
lead them on to the sharpest conflicts ; you must ac- 
quaint them with the enemy's stratagems and assaults; 



191 

you must watch yourselves, and keep them watching. 
If you miscarry, they and you may perish. You 
have a subtle enemy, and therefore you must be wise. 
You have a vigilant enemy, and therefore you must 
be vigilant. You have a malicious, and violent, and 
unwearied enemy, and therefore you must be resolute, 
courageous, and indefatigable. You are in a crowd 
of enemies, encompassed by them on every side, and 
if you heed one and not all, you will quickly fall. 
And O what a world of work have you to do ! Had 
you but one ignorant old man or woman to teach, 
what an arduous task would it be, even though they 
should be willing to learn ! But if they are as un- 
willing as they are ignorant, how much more difficult 
will it prove ! But to have such a multitude of ig- 
norant persons, as most of us have, what work will 
it find us ! What a pitiful life is it, to have to 
reason with men that have almost lost the use of 
reason, and to argue with them that neither under- 
stand themselves nor you ! O brethren, what a 
world of wickedness have we to contend with in one 
soul ; and what a number of these worlds ! And 
when you think you have done something, you leave 
the seed among the fowls of the air; wicked men 
are at their elbows to rise up and contradict all you 
have said. You speak but once to a sinner, for ten 
or twenty times that the emissaries of Satan speak 
to them. Moreover, how easily do the business and 
cares of the world choke the seed which you have 
sown ! And if the truth had no enemy but what is 
in themselves, how easily will a frozen carnal heart 
extinguish those sparks which you have been long 
in kindling : yea, for want of fuel, and further help, 



192 

they will go out of themselves ! And when you 
tliink your work doth happily succeed, and have seen 
men confessing their sins, and promising reforma- 
tion, and living as new creatures and zealous con- 
verts, alas ! they may, after all this, prove unsound 
and false at the heart, and such as took up new 
opinions, and new company, without a new heart. 
O how many, after some considerable change, are 
deceived by the profits and honours of the world, 
and are again entangled by their former lusts ! How 
many do but change a disgraceful way of flesh-pleas- 
ing, for a way that is less dishonourable, and maketh 
not so great a noise in their consciences ! How 
many grow proud before they acquire a thorough 
knowledge of religion ; and, confident in the strength 
of their unfurnished intellects, greedily snatch at 
every error that is presented to them under the name 
of truth ; and, like chickens that straggle from the 
hen, are carried away by that infernal kite, while 
they proudly despise the guidance and advice of 
those that Christ hath set over them for their safety ! 
O brethren, what a field of work is there before us ! 
not a person that you see but may find you work ! 
In the saints themselves, how soon do the Christian 
graces languish, if you neglect them ! and how easily 
are they drawLanto sinful practices, to the dishonour 
of the gospel, and to their own loss and sorrow ! If 
this be the work of a minister, you may see what a 
life he hath to lead. Let us, then, be up and doing, 
with all our might ; difficulties must quicken, not dis- 
courage us, in so necessary a work. If we cannot do 
all, let us do what we can ; for, if we neglect it, woe 
to us, and to the souls committed to our care ! Should 



193 

we pass over all these other duties, and, by preaching 
only, think to prove ourselves faithful ministers, and 
to put off God and man with such a shell and vizor, 
our reward will prove as superficial as our work. 

2. Consider that it is by your own voluntary un- 
dertaking and engagement that all this work is laid 
upon you. No man forced you to be overseers of 
the church. And doth not common honesty bind 
you to be true to your trust ? 

3. Consider that you have the honour to encour- 
age you to the labour. And a great honour it is to 
be the ambassadors of God, and the instruments of 
men's conversion, to " save their souls from death, 
and to cover a multitude of sins." The honour, 
indeed, is but the attendant of the work. To do, 
therefore, as the prelates of the church in all ages 
have done — to strive for precedency, and fill the 
world with contentions about the dignity and supe- 
riority of their seats — doth show that we much forget 
the nature of that office which we have undertaken. 
I seldom see ministers strive so furiously who shall 
go first to a poor man's cottage, to teach hira and his 
family the way to heaven; or who shall first endea- 
vour the conversion of a sinner, or first become the 
servant of all ! Strange, that notwithstanding all 
the plain expressions of Christ, mer. will not under- 
stand the nature of their ofiice ! If they did, would 
they strive who would be the pastor of a whole county 
and more, when there are so many thousand poor 
sinners in it that cry for help; and they are neither 
able nor willing to engage for their relief? Nay, 
when they can patiently live in the house with pro- 
fane persons, and not follow them seriously and in- 

I 42 



194 

cessantly for their conversion ! And that they would 
have the name and honour of the work of a county, 
who are unable to do all the work of a parish, when 
the honour is but the appendage of the work ! Is 
it names and honour, or the work and end, that they 
desire ? O ! if they would faithfully, humbly, and 
self-denyingly, lay out themselves for Christ and his 
church, and never think of titles and reputation, they 
should then have honour whether they would or not ; 
but by gaping after it, they lose it : for, this is the 
t:ase of virtue's shadow, " Quod sequitur fugio, quod 
fugit ipse sequor." 

4. Consider that you have the many other excel- 
lent privileges of the ministerial dffice to encourage 
you to the work. If you will not, therefore, do the 
work, you have nothing to do with the privileges. It 
is something that you are maintained by other men's 
labours. This is for your work, that you may not 
be taken off from it, but, as Paul requireth, may 
" give yourselves wholly to these things," and not 
be forced to neglect men's souls, whilst you are pro- 
viding for your own bodies. Either do the work 
then, or take not the maintenance. 

But you have far greater privileges than this. 
Is it nothing to be brought up to learning, when 
others are brought up to the cart and plough? and 
to be furnished with so much dehghtful knowledge, 
when the world lieth in ignorance ? Is it nothing to 
converse with learned men, and to talk of high and 
glorious things, when others must converse with 
almost none but the most vulgar and illiterate? 
But especially, what an excellent privilege ' is it, to 
live in studying and preaching Christ ! — to be con- 



195 

tinually searching into his mysteries, or feeding on 
them ! — to be daily employed in the consideration 
of the blessed nature, works, and ways of God ! 
Others are glad of the leisure of the Lord's day, and 
now and then of an hour besides, when they can lay 
hold upon it. But we may keep a continual Sabbath. 
We may do almost nothing else, but study and talk 
of God and glory, and engage in acts of prayer and 
praise, and drink in his sacred, saving truths. Our 
employment is all high and spiritual. Whether we 
be alone or in company, our business is for another 
world. O that our hearts were but more tuned to 
this work ! what a blessed, joyful life should we then 
live ! How sweet would our study be to us ! How 
pleasant the pulpit ! And what delight would our 
conference about spiritual and eternal things afford 
us ! To live among such excellent helps as our 
libraries afford — to have so many silent wise com- 
panions whenever we please, — all these, and many 
other similar privileges of the ministry, bespeak our 
unwearied diligence in the work. 

5. By your work you are related to Christ, as 
well as to the flock. You are the stewards of his 
mysteries, and rulers of his household; and he that 
intrusted you will maintain you in his work. But 
then, " it is required of a steward that a man be 
found faithful." Be true to him, and never doubt 
but he will be true to you. Do you feed his flock, 
and he will sooner feed you, as he did Elijah, than 
leave you to want. If you be in prison, he will 
open the doors; but then you must relieve impri- 
soned souls. He will give you " a tongue and wis- 
dom that no enemy shall be able to resist;" but then 
i2 



196 

you must use it faithfully for him. If you will put 
forth your hand to relieve the distressed, he will 
wither the hand that is stretched out against you. 
The ministers of England, I am sure, may know this 
by large experience. Many a time hath God rescued 
them from the jaws of the devourer. O the admir- 
able preservations and deliverances that they have 
had, from cruel Papists, from tyrannical persecutors, 
and from misguided, passionate men ! Consider, 
brethren, why it is that God hath done all this. Is 
it for your persons, or for his church ? What are 
you to him more than other men, but for his work 
and people's sakes ? Are you angels ? Is your flesh 
formed of better clay than your neighbours? Are 
you not of the same generation of sinners, that need 
his grace as much as they ? Up, then, and work as 
the redeemed of the Lord, — as those that are pur- 
posely rescued from ruin for his service. If you be- 
lieve that God hath rescued you for himself, live to 
him, as being unreservedly his who hath delivered 
you. 

II. The second motive in the text, is drawn from 
the efficient cause. It is the Holy Ghost that hath 
made us overseers of his church, and, therefore, it 
becomes us to take heed to it. The Holy Ghost 
makes men bishops or overseers of the church in 
three several respects : — By qualifying them for the 
office: by directing the ordainers to discern their 
qualifications, and know the fittest men : and by 
directing them, the people, and themselves, for the 
affixing them to a particular charge. All these 
things were then done in an extraordinary way, by 
inspiration, or at least very often. The same are 



197 

done now by the ordinary way of the Spirit's assist- 
ance. But it is the same Spirit still : and men are 
made overseers of the church (when they are rightly 
called) by the Holy Ghost, now as well as then. It 
is a strange conceit, therefore, of the Papists, that 
ordination by the hands of man is of more absolute 
necessity in the ministerial office than the calling 
of the Holy Ghost. God hath determined in his 
word that there shall be such an office, and what the 
work and power of that office shall be, and what sort 
of men, as to their qualifications, shall receive it. 
None of these can be undone by man, or made un- 
necessary. God also giveth men the qualifications 
which he requireth : so that all that the church 
hath to do, whether pastors or people, ordainers or 
electors, is but to discern and determine which are 
the men that God hath thus qualified, and to accept 
of them that are so provided, and, upon consent, to 
install them solemnly in this office. 

What an obligation, then, is laid upon us, by 
our call to the work ! If our commission be sent 
from heaven, it is not to be disobeyed. When the 
apostles were called by Christ from their secular 
employments, they presently left friends, and house, 
and trade, and all, and followed him. When Paul 
was called by the voice of Christ, he " was not dis- 
obedient to the heavenly vision." Though our call 
is not so immediate or extraordinary, yet it is from the 
same Spirit. It is uo safe course to imitate Jonah, 
in turning our back upon the commands of God. If 
we neglect our work, he hath a spur to quicken us ; 
if we run aWay from it, he hath messengers enough 



198 

to overtake us, and bring us back, aud make us do 
it ; and it is better to do it at first than at last. 

III. The third motive in the text is drawn from 
the dignity of the object. It is the Church of God 
which we must oversee, — that church for which the 
world is chiefly upheld — which is sanctified by the 
Holy Ghost — which is the mystical body of Christ, 
— that church with which angels are present, and 
on which they attend as ministering spirits — whose 
little ones have their anjjels beholding the face of 
God in heaven ! O what a charge is it that we have 
undertaken ! And shall we be unfaithful to it ? 
Have we the stewardship of God's own family, and 
shall we neglect it? Have we the conduct of those 
saints that shall live for ever with God in glory, and 
shall we overlook them ? .God forbid ! I beseech 
you, brethren, let this thought awaken the negligent. 
You that draw back from painful, displeasing, suffer- 
ing duties, and put off men's souls with ineffectual 
formalities, do you think this is honourable treat- 
ment of Christ's spouse? Are the souls of men 
thought meet by God to see his face, and live for 
ever in heaven, and are they not worthy of your 
utmost cost and labour on earth ? Do you think so 
basely of the church of God, as if it deserved not 
the best of your care and help? Were you the 
keepers of sheep or swine, you would scarcely let 
them go, and say. They are not worth my looking 
after; especially if they were your own. And dare 
you say so of the souls of men — of the church of 
God? Christ walketh among them; remember his 
presence, and see that you are diligent in your work. 
They are " a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, 



199 

a holy nation, a peculiar people, to show forth the 
praises of Him that hath called them.'' And will 
you neglect them ? "What a high honour is it to be 
one of them, yea, but a door-keeper in the house of 
God ! But to be the priest of these priests, and the 
ruler of these kings, — this is such an honour as 
multiplieth your obligations to diligence and fidelity 
in so noble an employment. 

The last motive that is mentioned in ray text, is 
drawn from the price that was paid for the church 
which we oversee : " Which God," says the apostle, 
'* hath purchased with his own blood." O what an 
argument is this to quicken the negligent, and to 
condemn those who will not be quickened to their 
duty by it ! " O," saith one of the ancient doctors, 
" if Christ had but committed to my keeping ono 
spoonful of his blood in a fragile glass, how curiously 
would I preserve it, and how tender would I be of 
that glass ! If then he have committed to me the 
purchase of his blood, should I not as carefully look 
to my charge ?" What ! brethren, shall we despise 
the blood of Christ? Shall we think it was shed 
for them who are not worthy of oiir utmost care ? 
You may see here, it is not a little crime that negli- 
gent pastors are guilty of. As much as in them 
lieth, the blood of Christ would be shed in vain. 
They would lose him those souls which he hath so 
dearly purchased. 

O then, let us hear those arguments of Christ, 
whenever we feel ourselves grow dull and careless — 
* Did I die for these souls, and wilt not thou look 
after them ? Were they worth my blood, and are 
they not worth thy labour ? Did I come down from 



200 

heaven to earth, " to seek and to save that which 
was lost;" and wilt thou not go to the next door, or 
street, or village, to seek them ? How small is thy 
labour and condescension compared to mine? I 
debased myself to this, but it is thy honour to be so 
employed. Have I done and suffered so much for 
their salvation, and was I willing to make thee a 
fellow-worker with me, and wilt thou refuse to do 
that little that lieth upon thy hands?' Every time 
we look on our congregations, let us believingly re- 
member that they are the purchase of Christ's blood, 
and therefore should be regarded by us with the 
most tender affection. O think what a confusion it 
will be to a negligent minister, at the last day, to 
have this blood of the Son of God pleaded against 
him ! and for Christ to say, ' It was the purchase of 
my blood of which thou didst make so light, and dost 
thou think to be saved by it thyself?' O brethren, 
seeing Christ will bring his blood to plead with us, 
let it plead us to our duty, lest it plead us to damna- 
tion. 



PART IIL 

APPLICATION. 



CHAPTER I. 

THE USE OF HUMILIATION. 

Reverend and dear brethren, our business here 
this day is to humble our souls before the Lord for 
our past negligence, and to implore God's assistance 
in our work for the time to come. Indeed, we can 
scarcely expect the latter without the former. If 
God will help us in our future duty, he will first 
humble us for our past sin. He that hath not so 
much sense of his faults as unfeignedly to lament 
them, will hardly have so much as to move him to 
reform them. The sorrow of repentance may exist 
without a change of heart and life ; because a passion 
may be more easily wrought than a true conversion. 
But the change cannot take place without some good 
measure of the sorrow. Indeed, we may here justly 
begin our confessions ; it is too common with us to 
expect that from our people, which we do little or 
nothing in ourselves. What pains do we take to 
humble them, while we ourselves are unhumbled [ 
How hard do we expostulate with them, to wring 
out of them a few penitential tears, (and all too little,) 
i3 



while yet our own eyes are dry ! Alas ! how we set 
them an example of hard-heartedness, while we are 
endeavouring by our words to melt and molHfy them ! 
Oh, if we did but study half as much to affect and 
amend our own hearts, as we do those of our hearers, 
it would not be with many of us as it is ! It is a 
m-eat deal too little that we do for their humiliation : 
but I fear it is much less that some of us do for our 
own. Too many do somewhat for other men's souls, 
while they seem to forget that they have souls of 
their own to regard. They so carry the matter, as 
if their part of the work lay in calling for repentance, 
and the hearers' in repenting; theirs in bespeaking 
tears and sorrow, and other men's in weeping and 
sorrowing; theirs in crying down sin, and the people's 
in forsaking it; theirs in preaching duty, and the 
hearers' in practising it ! 

But we find that the guides of the church in 
Scripture did confess their own sins, as well as the 
sins of the people. Ezra confesseth the sins of' the 
priest, as well as of the people, weeping and casting 
himself down before the house of God. Daniel 
confessed his own sin, as well as the people's. I 
think, if we consider well the duties already stated, 
and how imperfectly we have performed them, we 
need not demur upon the question. Whether we 
]]ave cause of humiliation. I must needs say, 
though I condemn myself in saying it, that he who 
leadeth but this one exhortation of Paul to the 
elders of the church at Ephesus, and compareth his 
hfe with it, must be stupid and hard-hearted, if he 
do not melt under a sense of his neglects, and be 
not forced to bewail his great omissions, and to ily for 



203 

refuge to the blood of Christ, and to his pardoniut; 
grace. I am confident, brethren, that none of you 
do in judgment approve of the libertine doctrine, 
that crieth down the necessity of confession, contri- 
tion, and humiliation, as connected with the pardon 
of sin ! Is it not pity, then, that our hearts are not 
as orthodox as our heads ? But I see we have but 
half-learned our lesson, when we know it, and caiv 
say it. When the understanding hath learned it. 
there is more ado to teach our wills and affections,* 
our eyes, our tongues, and hands. It is a sad thing 
that so many of us preach our hearers asleep : but it 
is sadder still, if we have studied and preached our- 
selves asleep, and have talked so long against hard- 
ness of heart, till our own has grown hardened, under 
the noise of our own reproofs ! 

And that you may see that it is not a causeless 
sorrow that God requireth of us, I shall call to your 
remembrance our manifold sins, and set them in 
order before you, that we may make a full and free 
confession of them, and that He who is " faithful 
and just may forgive them, and cleanse us from all 
iniquity." In this I suppose I have your hearty 
consent, and that you will be so far from being 
offended with me, though I should disgrace your 
persons, and others in this office, that you will readily 
subscribe the charrje, and be humble self-accusers ; 
and so far am 1 from justifying myself by the accu- 
sation of others, that I do unfeignedly put my 
name with the first in the bill of indictment. For 
how can a wretched sinner, one chargeable with so 
many and so great transgressions, presume to justify 
himself before God ? Or how can he plead guiltlesis, 



2W 

whose conscience hath so much to say against him ? 
If I cast shame upon the ministry, it is not on the 
office, but on our persons, by opening that sin which 
is our shame. The glory of our high employment 
doth not communicate any glory to our sin ; " for 
sin is a reproach to any people." And be they pastors 
or people, it is only they that " confess and forsake 
their sins, that shall have mercy," while " he that 
hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief." 

The great sins that we are guilty of, I shall not 
undertake to enumerate, and therefore my passing 
over any particular one, is not to be taken as a denial 
or justification of it. But I shall consider it as my 
duty, to instance some few which cry aloud for hu- 
miliation and speedy reformation. 

Only I must needs first make this profession, 
That, notwithstanding all the faults which are now 
amongst us, I do not believe that ever England had 
so able and faithful a ministry since it was a nation, 
as it hath at this day ; and I fear that few nations 
on earth, if any, have the like. Sure I am, the 
change is so great within these twelve years, that it 
is one of the greatest joys that ever I had in the 
world to behold it. O how many congregations are 
now plainly and frequently taught, that lived then 
in great obscurity ! How many able, faithful men 
are there now in a county, in comparison of what 
were then ! How graciously hath God prospered 
the studies of many young men, who were little 
children in the beginning of the late troubles, so that 
now they cloud the most of their seniors ! How 
many miles would I have gone twenty years ago, 
and less, to have heard one of those ancient reverend 



205 

divines, whose congregations are now grown thin, 
and their parts esteemed mean, by reason of the 
notable improvement of their juniors 1 And, in par- 
ticular, how mercifully hath the Lord dealt with this 
poor county of Worcester, in raising up so many who 
do credit to the sacred office, and self-denyingly and 
freely, zealously and unweariedly, lay out themselves 
for the good of souls ! I bless the Lord that hath 
placed me in such a neighbourhood, where I may 
have the brotherly fellowship of so many able, faith- 
ful, humble, unanimous, and peaceable men. O 
that the Lord would long continue this admirable 
mercy to this unworthy county ! And I hope I shall 
rejoice in God while I have a being, for the common 
change in other parts that I have lived to see : that 
so many hundred faithful men are so hard at work 
for the saving of souls, " frementibus licet et fren- 
dentibus inimicis ;" and that more are springing up 
apace. I know there are some men, whose parts I 
reverence, who being, in point of government, of 
another mind from them, will be offended at my very 
mention of this happy alteration : but I must profess, 
if I were absolutely prelatical, if I knew my heart, 
I could not choose for all that but rejoice. What ! 
not rejoice at the prosperity of the church, because 
the men do diflPer in one opinion about its order ! 
Should I shut my eyes against the mercies of the 
Lord ? The souls of men are not so contemptible 
to me, that I should envy them the bread of life, 
because it is broken to them by a hand that had not 
the prelatical approbation } O that every congrega- 
tion were thus supplied ! But every thing cannot be 
clone at once. They had a long time to settle a 



206 

eorrupted ministry ; and when the ignorant and scan- 
dalous are cast out, we cannot create abilities in others 
for the supply, we must stay the time of their pre- 
paration and growth ; and then, if England drive not 
away the gospel by their abuse, even by their wilful 
unreformedness, and hatred of the light, they are 
like to be the happiest nation under heaven. For, 
as for all the sects and heresies that are creeping in 
and daily troubling us, I doubt not but the gospel, 
managed by an able self-denying ministry, will effec- 
tually disperse and shame them all. 

But you may say. This is not confessing sin, but 
applauding those whose sins you pretend to confess. 
To this I answer. It is the due acknowledgment of 
God's kindness, and thanksgiving for his admirable 
mercies, that I may not seem unthankful in confes- 
sion, much less to cloud or vilify God's graces, while 
I open the frailties that in many do accompany them, 
for many things are sadly out of order in the best, as 
will appear from the following particulars. 

I. One of our most heinous and palpable sins is 
Pride. This is a sin that hath too much interest 
in the best of us ; but which is more hateful and inex- 
cusable in us than in other men. Yet is it so pre- 
valent in some of us, that it enditeth our discourses, 
it chooseth our company, it formeth our counte- 
nances, it putteth the accent and emphasis upon our 
words. It fills some men's minds with aspiring 
desires and designs : it possesseth them with envious 
and bitter thoughts against those who stand in their 
light, or who, by any means, eclipse their glory, or 
hinder the progress of their reputation. O what a 
constant companion, what a tyrannical commander, 



■U'hat a sly and subtle insinuating enemy, is this sin 
of pride ! It goes with men to the draper, the 
mercer, the tailor; it chooseth them their cloth, their 
trimming, and their fashion. Fewer ministers would 
ruffle it out in the fashion in hair and habit, if it 
were not for the command of this tyrant. And I 
would that this were all, or the worst. But, alas ! 
how frequently doth it go with us to our study, and 
there sit with us and do our work ! How oft doth 
it choose our subject ; and, more frequently still, our 
words and ornaments ! God commandeth us to be 
as plain as we can, that we may inform the ignorant ; 
and as convincing and serious as we are able, tlmt 
we may melt and change their hardened hearts. 
But pride stands by and contradicteth all, and pro- 
duceth its toys and trifles. It polluteth rather than 
polisheth ; and, under pretence of laudable ornaments, 
dishonoureth our sermons with childish gaudes : as if 
a prince were to be decked in the habit of a stage- 
player or a painted fool. It persuadeth us to paint 
the window, that it may dim the light ; and to speak 
to our people that which they cannot understand, to 
show them that we are able to speak unprofitably* 
If we have a plain and cutting passage, it taketh off 
the edge, and dulls the life of our preaching, under 
pretence of filing off the roughness, unevenness, and 
superfluity. When God chargeth us to deal with 
men as for their lives, and to beseech them with ail 
the earnestness that we are able, this cursed sin con- 
trolleth all, and condemneth the most holy commands 
of God, and saith to us, ' What ! will you make 
people think you are mad? will you make them say 
you rage or rave? Cannot you speak soberly and 



S08 

moderately?* And thus doth pride make many a 
man's sermons — and what pride makes, the devil 
makes — and what sermons the devil will make, and 
to what end, we may easily conjecture. Though the 
matter be of God, yet if the dress, and manner, and 
end be from Satan, we have no great reason to expect 
success. 

And when pride hath made the sermon, it goes 
with us into the pulpit — it formeth our tone — it 
animateth us in the delivery — it takes us off from 
that which may be displeasing, how necessary soever, 
and setteth us in pursuit of vain applause. In short, 
the sum of all is this, it maketh men, both in study- 
ing, and preaching, to seek themselves, and deny 
God, when they should seek God's glory, and deny 
themselves. When they should inquire, What shall 
I say, and how shall I say it, to please God best, 
and do most good? — it makes them ask. What shall 
I say, and how shall I deliver it, to be thought a 
learned, able preacher, and to be applauded by all that 
hear me ? When the sermon is done, pride goeth 
home with them, and maketh them more eager to 
know whether they were applauded, than whether 
they did prevail for the saving of souls. Were it 
not for shame, they could find in their hearts to ask 
people how they liked them, and to draw out their 
commendations. If they perceive that they are 
highly thought of, they rejoice as having attained 
their end ; but if they see that they are considered 
but weak or common men, they are displeased, as 
having missed the prize they had in view. 

But even this is not all, nor the worst, if worse 
may be» O that ever it should be said of godly 



^09 

ministers, that they are so set upon popular air, and 
of sitting highest in men's estimation, that they envy 
the talents and names of their brethren who are 
preferred before them, as if all were taken from their 
praise that is given to another ; and as if God had 
given them his gifts, to be the mere ornaments and 
trappings of their persons, that they may walk as 
men of reputation in the world, and as if all his gifts 
to others were to be trodden down and vilified, if 
they seem to stand in the way of their honour ! 
What ! a saint — a preacher of Christ, and yet envy 
that which hath the image of Christ, and malign 
his gifts for which he should have the glory, and all 
because they seem to hinder our glory ! Is not 
every true Christian a member of the body of Christ, 
and, therefore, partaketh of the blessings of the whole, 
and of each particular member thereof? and doth not 
every man owe thanks to God for his brethren's gifts, 
not only as having himself a part in them, as the 
foot hath the benefit of the guidance of the eye ; but 
also because his own ends may be attained, by his 
brethren's gifts, as well as by his own ? — for if the 
glory of God, and the church's felicity, be not his 
end, he is not a Christian. Will any workman 
malign another, because he helpeth him to do his 
master's work ? Yet, alas ! how common is this 
heinous crime among the members of Christ ! They 
can secretly blot the reputation of those that stand 
in the way of their own : and what they cannot for 
shame do in plain and open terras, lest they be proved 
liars and slanderers, they will do in generals, and by 
malicious intimations, raising suspicions where they 
cannot fasten accusations. And some go so far, 



^10 

that they are unwilling that any one who is abler 
than themselves should come into their pulpits, lest 
they should be more applauded than themselves. 
A fearful thing it is, that any man, who hath the 
least of the fear of God, should so envy God's gifts, 
and had rather that his carnal hearers should remain 
unconverted, and the drowsy unawakened, than that 
it should be done by another who may be preferred 
before them. Yea, so far doth this cursed vice pre- 
vail, that in great congregations, which have need of 
the help of many preachers, we can scarcely, in many 
places, get two of equality, to live together in love 
and quietness, and unanimously to carry on the work 
of God ! But unless one of them be quite below 
the other in parts, and content to be so esteemed, or 
unless he be an assistant to the other, and ruled by 
him, they are contending for precedency, and envy- 
ing each other's interest, and walking with strange- 
ness and jealousy towards one another, to the shame 
of their profession, and the great injury of their 
people. I am ashamed to think of it, that when I 
have been endeavouring to convince persons of public 
interest and capacity, of the gre'at necessity of more 
ministers than one in large congregations, they tell 
me, they will never agree together ! I hope the 
objection is unfounded as to the most : but it is a sad 
case that it should be true of any. Nay, so great 
is the pride of some men, that when they might 
have an equal assistant to further the work of God, 
they had rather take all the burden upon themselves, 
though more than they can bear, than that any one 
should share with them in the honour ; or that their 
interest in the affections of the people should be 
diminished. 



Hence also it is that men do so magnify their 
own opinions, and are as censorious of any that differ 
from them in inferior matters, as if it were all one to 
differ from them and from God. They expect that all 
should conform to their judgment, as if they were the 
rulers of the church's faith : and while we cry down 
papal infallibility, too many of us w^ould be popes 
ourselves, and have all stand to our determination, as 
if we were infallible. It is true, we have more mo- 
desty than expressly to say so ; we pretend that it is 
only the evidence of truth, that appeareth in our rea- 
sons, that we expect men should yield to, and our 
zeal is for the truth, and not for ourselves : but as 
that must needs be taken for truth which is ours, so 
our reasons must needs be taken for valid; and if 
they be but freely examined, and be found fallacious, 
as we are exceedingly backward to see it ourselves, 
because they are ours, so we are angry that it should 
be disclosed to others. We so espouse the cause of 
our errors, as if all that were spoken against them, 
were spoken against our persons, and we were hein- 
ously injured to have our arguments thoroughly con- 
futed, by which we injured the truth and the souls of 
men. The matter is come to this pass, through our 
pride, that if an error or fallacious argument do fall 
under the patronage of a reverend name, which is 
nothing rare, we must either allow it the victory, and 
give away the truth, or else become injurious to that 
name that doth patronize it; for though you meddle 
not with their persons, yet do they put themselves 
under all the strokes which you give their arguments; 
and feel them as sensibly as if you had spoken ot 
themselves, because they think it will follow in the 



212 

eyes of others, that weak arguing is a sign of a weak 
man. If, therefore, you consider it your duty to 
shame their errors and false reasonings, by discovering 
their nakedness, they take it as if you shamed their 
persons ; and so their names must be a garrison or 
fortress to their mistakes, and their reverence must 
defend all their sayings from attack. 

So high indeed are our spirits, that when it be- 
comes the duty of others to reprove or contradict us, 
we are commonly impatient both of the matter and 
the manner. We love the man who will say as we 
say, and be of our opinion, and promote our reputa- 
tion, though, in other respects, he be less worthy of 
our esteem. But he is ungrateful to us who contra- 
dicteth us, and difFereth from us, and dealeth plainly 
with us as to our miscarriages, and telleth us of our 
faults ! Especially in the management of our public 
arguings, where the eye of the world is upon us, we 
can scarcely endure any contradiction or plain dealing. 
I know that railing language is to be abhorred, and 
that we should be as tender of each other's reputa- 
tion, as our fidelity to the truth will permit. But 
our pride makes too many of us think all men con- 
temn us that do not admire us, yea, and admire all 
we say, and submit their judgments to our most pal- 
pable mistakes ! We are so tender, that a man can 
scarcely touch us but we are hurt ; and so high- 
minded, that a man who is not versed in compliment- 
ing, and skilled in flattery above the vulgar rate, can 
scarcely tell how to handle us, and fit our expecta- 
tions at every turn, without there being some word, 
or some neglect, which our high spirits will fasten on, 
and take as injurious to our honour. 



213 

I confess I have often wondered, that this most 
heinous sin should be made so hght of, and thought 
so consistent with a holy frame of heart and life, 
when far less sins are, by ourselves, proclaimed to be 
so damnable in our people ! And I have wondered 
more, to see the difference between godly preachers 
and ungodly sinners, in this respect. When we 
speak to drunkards, worldlings, or ignorant uncon- 
verted persons, we disgrace them to the utmost, and 
lay it on as plainly as we can speak, and tell them of 
their sin, and shame, and misery ; and we expect 
that they should not only bear all patiently, but take 
all thankfully. And most that 1 deal with do take 
it patiently, and many gross sinners will commend 
the closest preachers most, and will say that they care 
not for hearing a man that will not tell them plainly 
of their sins. But if we speak to a godly minister 
against his errors or his sins, if we do not honour 
them and reverence them, and speak as smoothly as 
we are able to speak, yea, if we mix not commendations 
with our reproofs, if the applause be not predomi- 
nant, so as to drown all the force of the reproof or con- 
futation, they take it as almost an insufferable injury. 

Brethren, I know this is a sad confession ! but 
that all this should exist among us, should be more 
grievous to us than to be told of it. Could the evil 
be hid, I should not have disclosed it, at least so 
openly in the view of all. But, alas ! it is long ago 
open to the eyes of the world. We have dis- 
honoured ourselves by idolizing our honour ; we 
print our shame, and preach our shame, thus pro- 
claiming it to the whole world. Some will think 
that I speak over- charitably when I call such persons 



214 

godly men, in whom so great a sin doth so much 
prevail. I know, indeed, that where it is predomi* 
nant, not hated, and bewailed, and mortified in the 
main, there can be no true godliness; and I beseech 
every man to exercise a strict jealousy and search of 
his own heart. But if all be graceless that are 
guilty of any or of most of the forementioned dis- 
coveries of pride, the Lord be merciful to the minis- 
ters of this land, and give us quickly another spirit; 
for grace is then a rarer thing than most of us have 
supposed it to be. 

Yet I must needs say, that I do not mean to in- 
volve all the ministers of Christ in this charge. To 
the praise of divine grace be it spoken, we have 
some among us, who are eminent for humility and 
meekness, and who, in these respects, are exemplary 
to their flocks and to their brethren. It is their 
glory, and shall be their glory; and maketh them 
truly honourable and lovely in the eyes of God and 
of all good men, and even in the eyes of the ungodly 
themselves. O that the rest of us were but such ! 
But, alas ! this is not the case with all of us. 

O that the Lord would lay us at his feet, in the 
tears of unfeigned sorrow for this sin ! Brethren, 
may I expostulate this case a little with my own 
heart and yours, that we may see the evil of our 
sin, and be reformed? Is not pride the sin ot 
devils — the first-born of hell? Is it not that wherein 
Satan's image doth much consist? and is it to be 
tolerated in men who are so engaged against him 
and his kingdom as we are ? The very design of 
the gospel is to abase us ; and the work of grace is 
begun and carried on in humiliation. Humility is 



215 

not merely an ornament of a Christian; it is an es^ 
sential part of the new creature. It is a contradiction 
in terms, to be a Christian and not humble. All 
who will be Christians must be Christ's disciples, 
and " come to him to learn ;" and the lesson which 
he teacheth them is, to " be meek and lowly." O 
how many precepts and admirable examples hath our 
Lord and Master given us to this end ! Can we 
behold him washing and wiping his servants' feet, 
and yet be haughty and lordly still ? Shall he con- 
verse with the meanest of the people, and shall we 
avoid them as below our notice, and think none but 
persons of wealth and honour fit for our society? 
How many of us are often er found in the houses of 
gentlemen, than in the cottages of the poor, who 
most need our help ! There are many of us who 
would think it below us to be daily with the most 
needy and beggarly people, instructing them in the 
way of life and salvation ; as if we had taken charge 
of the souls of the rich only ! Alas ! what is it 
that we have to be proud of? Is it of our body? 
Why, is it not made of the same materials as the 
brutes ; and must it not shortly be as loathsome and 
abominable as a carcass? Is it of our graces? 
Why, the more we are proud of them, the less we 
have to be proud of. When so much of the nature 
of grace consists in humility, it is a great absurdity 
to be proud of it. Is it of our knowledge and learn- 
ing ? Why, if we have any knowledge at all, we 
must know how much reason we have to be humble : 
and if we know more than others, we must know 
more reason than others to be humble. How little 
is it that the most learned know, in comparison of 



216 

that of which they are ignorant ! To know that 
things are past your reach, and to know how igno- 
rant you are, one would think should be no great 
cause of pride. However, do not the devils know 
more than you ? And will you be proud of that in 
which the devils excel you ? Our very business is 
to teach the great lesson of humility to our people ; 
and how unfit is it that we should be proud ourselves ! 
We must study humility, and preach humility ; and 
must we not possess and practise humility? A 
proud preacher of humility is at least a self-condemn- 
ing man. 

What a sad case is it that so vile a sin is not more 
easily discerned by us ; but many who are most proud 
can blame it in others, and yet take no notice of it 
in themselves ! The world takes notice of some 
among us, that they have aspiring minds, and seek 
for the highest room, and must be the rulers, and 
bear the sway wherever they come, or else there is 
no living or acting with them. In any consultations, 
they come not to search after truth, but to dictate 
to others, who, perhaps, are fit to teach them. In a 
word, they have such arrogant domineering spirits 
that the world rings of it, and yet they will not see 
it in themselves ! 

Brethren, I desire to deal closely with my own 
heart and yours. I beseech you consider. Whether 
it will save us to speak well of the grace of humility, 
while we possess it not, or to speak against the sin 
of pride, while we indulge in it. Have not many 
of us cause seriously to inquire, Whether sincerity 
will consist with such a measure of pride as we feel. 
When we are telling the drunkard that he cannot 



S17 

be saved unless he become temperate — and the for- 
nicator, that he cannot be saved unless he become 
chaste — have we not as great reason, if we are proud, 
to say to ourselves that we cannot be saved unless 
we become humble? Pride, in fact, is a greater 
sin than drunkenness or fornication; and humility 
is as necessary as sobriety and chastity. Truly, 
brethren, a man may as certainly, and more slily, 
make haste to hell, in the way of earnest preaching 
of the gospel, and seeming zeal for a holy life, as in 
a way of drunkenness and filthiness. For what is 
holiness, but a living to God? and what is a dam- 
nable state, but a living to ourselves ? And doth 
any one live more to himself, or less to God, than 
the proud man ? And may not pride make a preacher 
study and pray and preach, and live to himself, even 
when he seemeth to surpass others in the work? It 
is not the work without the principle that will prove 
us upright. The work may be God's, and yet we 
may do it, not for God, but for ourselves. I confess 
I feel such continual danger on this point, that if I 
do not watch, lest I should study for myself, and 
preach for myself, and write for myself, rather than 
for Christ, I should soon miscarry. Consider, I be- 
seech you, brethren, what baits there are in the work 
of the ministry, to entice a man to selfishness, even 
in the highest works of piety ! The fame of a godly 
man is as great a snare as the fame of a learned man. 
But woe to him that takes up with the fame of god- 
liness, instead of godliness ! " Verily I say unto 
you. They have their reward." When the times 
were all for learning and empty formalities, the 
temptation of the proud did lie that way. But now, 
K 42 



218 

when, through the unspeakable mercy of God, the 
most Uvely practical preaching is in credit, and godli- 
ness itself is in credit, the temptation of the proud 
is to pretend to be zealous preachers and godly men. 
O what a fine thing is it to have the people crowding 
to hear us, and affected with what we say, and yield- 
ing up to us their judgment and affections ! What 
a noble thing is it to be cried up as the ablest and 
godhest man in the country, — to be famed through 
the land for the highest spiritual excellencies ! Alas \ 
brethren, a little grace, combined with such induce- 
ments, will serve to make you join yourselves with 
the forwardest, in promoting the cause of Christ in 
the world. Nay, pride may do it without any special 
grace. O, therefore, be jealous of yourselves ; and, 
amidst all your studies, be sure to study humility [ 
" He that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he 
that humbleth himself shall be exalted." I com- 
monly observe that almost all men, whether good or 
bad, do loathe the proud, and love the humble. So 
far, indeed, doth pride contradict itself, that, con- 
scious of its own deformity, it often borrows the 
homely dress of humility. We have the more cause 
to be jealous of it, because it is a sin most deeply 
rooted in our nature, and as hardly as any extirpated 
from the soul. 

II. We do not so seriously, unreservedly, and 
laboriously lay out ourselves in the work of the 
Lord, as beseemeth men of our profession and en- 
gagements. I bless the Lord that there are so 
many who do this work with all their might. But, 
alas ! how imperfectly and how negligently do the 
most, even of those that we take for godly ministers, 



219 

go through their work ! How few of us do so be- 
have ourselves in our office, as men that are wholly- 
devoted thereto, and who have consecrated all they 
have to the same end ! And because you shall see 
my grounds for this confession, I shall mention in- 
stances of our sinful negligence. 

1 . If we were duly devoted to our work, we would 
not be so negligent in our studies. Few men are at 
the pains that is necessary for the right informing of 
their understandings, and fitting them for their fur- 
ther work. Some men have no delight in their 
studies, but take only now and then an hour, as an 
unwelcome task which they are forced to fulfil, and 
are glad when they are from under the yoke. Will 
neither the natural desire of knowledge, nor the 
consciousness of our great ignorance and weakness, 
nor the sense of the weight of our ministerial work, — 
will none of all these things keep us closer to our 
studies, and make us more dilicrent in seeking after 
truth ? O what abundance of things are there that 
a minister should understand ! and what a great 
defect is it to be ignorant of them ! and how much 
shall we miss such knowledge in our work ! Many 
ministers study only to compose their sermons, and 
very little more, when there are so many books to be 
read, and so many matters that we should not be 
unacquainted with. Nay, in the study of our ser- 
mons we are too negligent, gathering only a few 
naked truths, and not considering of the most forcible 
expressions by which we may set tliem home to men's 
consciences and hearts. We must study how to 
convince and get within men, and how to bring each 
truth to the quick, and not leave all this to our ex- 
k2 



220 

temporary promptitude, unless in cases of necessity. 
Certainly, brethren, experience will teach you, that 
men are not made learned or wise without hard study, 
and unwearied labour and experience. 

2. If we were duly devoted to our work, it would 
be done more vigorously, and more seriously, than 
it is by the most of us. How few ministers do 
preach with all their might, or speak about everlasting 
joys and everlasting torments, in such a manner as 
may make men believe that they are in good earnest ! 
It would make a man's heart ache to see a company 
of dead, drowsy sinners, sitting under a minister, and 
not hear a word that is likely to quicken or awaken 
them. Alas ! we speak so drowsily and so softly, that 
sleepy sinners cannot hear ! The blow falls so 
light that hard-hearted sinners cannot feel ! The 
most of ministers will not so much as exert their 
voice, and stir up themselves to an earnest utterance. 
But if they do speak loud and earnestly, how few do 
answer it with weight and earnestness of matter ! 
And yet, without this, the voice doth little good ; 
the people will esteem it but mere bawling, when the 
matter doth not correspond. It would grieve one 
to the heart to hear what excellent doctrine some 
ministers have in hand, while yet they let it die in 
their hands for want of close and lively application. 
What fit matter they have for convincing sinners, 
and how little they make of it ! what good they 
might do if they would set it home, and yet they 
cannot or will not do it ! Oh, brethren, how plainly, 
how closely, how earnestly, should we deliver a mes- 
sage of such importance as ours, when the everlast- 
ing life or everlasting death of our fellow-men is 



221 

involved in it! Methinks we are in nothing so de- 
fective as in this seriousness ; yet is there nothing 
more unsuitable to such a business than to be slight 
and dull. What ! speak coldly for God, and for 
men's salvation ! Can we believe that our people 
must be converted or condemned, and yet speak in a 
drowsy tone ! In the name of God, brethren, 
labour to awaken your own hearts, before you go to 
the pulpit, that you may be fit to awaken the hearts 
of sinners. Remember they must be awakened or 
damned, and that a sleepy preacher will hardly awaken 
drowsy sinners. Though you should extol religion 
in words, yet if you do it coldly, you will seem by 
your manner to unsay what you said in the matter. 
It is a kind of contempt of great things, especially 
of so great things, to speak of them without much 
affection and fervency. The manner, as well as the 
words, must set them forth. If we are commanded, 
" Whatsoever our hand findeth to do, to do it with 
all our might," then certainly such a work as preach- 
ing for men's salvation should be done with all our 
might. But, alas ! how few in number are such 
men ! It is only here and there, even among good 
ministers, that we find one who has an earnest, per- 
suasive, powerful way of speaking, that the people 
can feel him preach when they hear him. 

Though I move you not to a constant loudness in 
your delivery, for that will make your fervency con- 
temptible, yet see that you have a constant serious- 
ness; and when the matter requireth it, as it should 
do in the application at least, then lift up your voice, 
and spare not your spirits. Speak to your people as 
to men that must be awakened, either on earth or in 



222 

hell. Look around upon them with the eye of faith, 
and with compassion, and think in what a state of 
joy or torment they must all be for ever ! and then, 
methinks, it will make you earnest, and melt your 
heart to a sense of their condition. O speak not 
one cold or careless word about so great a business 
as heaven or hell ! whatever you do, let the people 
see that you are in good earnest. Truly, brethren, 
they are great works which have to be done, and you 
must not thiiik that trifling will despatch them. You 
cannot break men's hearts by jesting with them, or 
telUng them a smooth tale, or pronouncing a gaudy 
oration. Men will not cast away their dearest plea- 
sures at the drowsy request of one that seemeth not 
to mean as he speaks, or to care much whether his 
request be granted or not. If you say that the 
work is God's, and he may do it by the weakest 
means, I answer. It is true, he may do so; but yet 
his ordinary way is to work by means, and to make 
not only the matter that is preached, but also the 
manner of preaching, instrumental to the work. 

With the most of our hearers, the very pronun- 
ciation and tone of speech is a great point. The 
best matter will scarcely move them, unless it be 
movingly delivered. See, especially, that there be 
no affectation, but that you speak as familiarly to 
them as you would do if you were talking to any of 
them personally. The want of a familiar tone and 
expression is a great fault in most of our deliveries, 
and that which we should be very careful to amend. 
When a man hath a reading or declaiming tone, like 
a school-boy saying his lesson, or repeating an ora- 
tion, few are moved with any thing that he says. 



223 

Let us, therefore, rouse up ourselves to the work of 
the Lord, and speak to our people as for their lives, 
and save them as by violence, " pulling them out of 
the fire." Satan will not be charmed out of his 
possession: we must lay siege to the souls of sin- 
ners, which are his garrison, and find out where his 
chief strength lieth, and lay the battery of God's ord- 
nance against it, and ply it close, till a breach is made ; 
and then suffer them not by their shifts to repair it 
again. As we have reasonable creatures to deal 
with, and as they abuse their reason against the 
truth, we must see that our sermons be all convinc- 
ing, and that we make the light of Scripture and 
Reason shine so bright in the faces of the ungodly, 
that it may even force them to see, unless they wil- 
fully shut their eyes. A sermon full of mere words, 
how neatly soever it be composed, while it wants the 
light of evidence, and the life of zeal, is but an image, 
or a well-dressed carcase. ' In preaching, there is a 
communion of souls, and a communication of some- 
what from ours to theirs. As we and they have 
understandings, and wills, and affections, so must 
the bent of our endeavours be to communicate the 
fullest light of evidence from our understandings to 
theirs, and to warm their hearts, by kindling in them 
holy affections, as by a communication from our 
own. The great things which we have to commend 
to our hearers, have reason enough on their side, 
and lie plain before them in the word of God. 
We should, therefore, be so furnished with all 
kind of evidence, so that we may come as with a tor- 
rent upon their understandings, and with our rea- 
sonings and expostulations to pour shame upon all 



224f 

their vain objections, and bear down all before us, 
that they may be forced to yield to the power of 
truth. 

3. If we are heartily devoted to the work of God, 
why do we not compassionate the poor unprovided 
congregations around us, and take care to help them 
to able ministers? and, in the meantime, go out 
now and then to their assistance, when the business 
of our own particular charge will give us any leave. 
A sermon in the more ignorant places, purposely for 
the work of conversion, dehvered by the most lively, 
powerful preachers, might be a great help where 
constant means are wanting. 

Ill, We are chargeable with a prevailing regard 
to our worldly interests,. in opposition to the interest 
of Christ. This I shall manifest in three instances : 

1. The temporizing of ministers. I would not 
have any to be contentious with those that govern 
them, nor to be disobedient to any of their lawful 
commands. But it is not the least reproach of 
ministers, that the most of them, for worldly advan- 
tage, suit themselves to the party which is most 
likely to promote their ends. If they look for secular 
advantages, they suit themselves to the secular 
power ; if for popular applause, they suit themselves 
to the church party that is most in credit. This, 
alas ! is an epidemical malady. In Constantine's 
days, how prevalent were the orthodox ! In Con- 
stantius' days they almost all turned Arians, so that 
there were very few bishops that did not apostatize, 
or betray the truth ! even of the very men that had 
been in the council of Nice. Indeed, when not 
only Liberius, but great Osius himself fell, who had 



S25 

been the president in so many orthodox councils, 
what better could be expected of weaker men? Were 
it not for secular advantage, how could it happen that 
ministers, in all countries in the world, are either all, 
or almost all, of that religion that is most in credit, 
and most consistent with their worldly interest? 
Among the Greeks, they are all of the Greek pro- 
fession : among the Papists, they are almost all Pa- 
pists : in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, they are 
almost all Lutherans: and so in other countries. 
It is strange that they should be all in the right in 
one country, and all in the wrong in another, if carnal 
advantages did not sway much with men, when they 
engage in the search of truth. The variety of in- 
tellect, and numberless other circumstances, would 
unavoidably occasion a great variety of opinions on 
various points. But let the monarch, and the stream 
of men in power, go one way, and you shall have the 
generality of ministers agree with them to a hair, 
and that without any extraordinary search. How 
generally did the common sort of ministers change 
their religion with the prince, at several times, in 
this land ! Not all, indeed, as our Martyrology can 
witness ; but yet the most. And the same tractable 
distemper doth still follow us so, that it occasioneth 
our enemies to say, that reputation and preferment 
are our religion and our reward. 

2. We too much mind worldly things, and shrink 
from duties that would injure our temporal inter- 
ests. If any business for the church be on foot, 
how many neglect it for their own private business ! 
When we should meet and counsel together, for 
the unanimous and successful prosecution of our 
k3 



S26 

work, one hath this business of his own, and another 
that business, which must be preferred before God's 
business ! How common is it for ministers to drown 
themselves in worldly business ! Too many are 
such as the sectaries would have us to be, who tell 
us that we should go to the plough, and labour for 
our living, and preach without so much study. This 
is a lesson which is easily learned. Men show no 
anxiety to throw off care, that their own souls and 
the church may have all their care. 

And especially, how commonly are those duties 
neglected, that are likely, if performed, to diminish 
our estates ! Are there not many, for example, that 
dare not, that will not, set up the exercise of disci- 
pline in their churches, because it may hinder the 
people from paying them their dues ! They will 
not offend sinners with discipline, lest they offend 
them in their estates. I find money is too strong an 
argument for some men to answer, that can proclaim 
the love of it to be " the root of all evil," and can 
make Ions orations of the danger of covetousness. 
I will at present say no more to them but this: If 
it was so deadly a sin in Simon Magus to offer to 
buy the gift of God with money, what is it to sell 
his gifts, his cause, and the souls of men, for money ? 
And what reason have we to fear, lest our money 
perish with us ! 

3. Our barrenness in works of charity, and in 
improving all we have for our Master's service. If 
worldly interest did not much prevail against the 
interest of Christ and the church, surely most minis- 
ters would be more fruitful in good works, and would 
more lay out what they have for his glory. Ex- 



1227 

perience hath fully proved that works of charity do 
most powerfully remove prejudice, and open the 
Jieart to words of piety. If men see that you are 
addicted to do good, they will the more easily believe 
that you are good, and that it is good which you 
persuade them to. When they see that you love 
them, and seek their good, they will the more easily 
trust you. And v/hen they see that you seek not 
the things of the world, they will the less suspect 
your intentions, and the more easily be drawn by 
you to seek that which you seek. O how much good 
might ministers do, if they did set themselves wholly 
to do good, and would dedicate all their faculties 
and substance to that end ! Say not that it is a 
small matter to do good to men's bodies, and that 
this will but win them to us, and not to God; for it 
is prejudice that is a great hinderance of men's con- 
version, and this will help' to remove it. We might 
do men more good, if fhey were but willing to learn 
of us; and this will make them willing, and then 
our further diligence may profit them, I beseech 
you, brethren, do not think that it is ordinary charity 
that is expected from you, any more than ordinary 
piety. You must, in proportion to your talents, go 
much beyond others. It is not enough to give a 
little to a poor man ; others do that as well as you. 
But what extraordinary thing do you do with your 
estates for your Master's service ? I know you can- 
not give away that which you have not ; but methinks 
all that you have should be devoted to God. I know 
the great objection is, ' We have a wife and children 
to provide for : a little will not serve them at present, 
and we are not bound to leave them beggars.' To 
this I answer, 



5^8 

1. There are few texts of Scripture more abused 
than that of the apostle, " He that provideth not 
for his own, and specially for those of his own house, 
hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." 
This is made a pretence for gathering up portions, 
and providing a full estate for posterity, when the 
apostle speaketh only against them that did cast 
their poor kindred and family on the church, to be 
maintained out of the common stock, when they 
were able to do it themselves, — as if one that hath 
a widow in his house that is his mother or daughter, 
and would have her to be kept by the parish, when 
he hath enough himself. The following words show 
that it is present provision, and not future portions, 
that the apostle speaketh of, when he bids " them 
that have widows relieve them, and let not the church 
be charged, that it may relieve them that are widows 
indeed." 

2. You may so educate your children as other 
persons do, that they may be able to gain their own 
livelihood by some honest trade or employment, 
without other great provisions. I know that your 
charity and care must begin at home, but it must not 
end there. You are bound to do the best you can 
to educate your children, so as they may be capable 
of being most serviceable to God, but not to leave 
them rich, nor to forbear other necessary works of 
charity, merely to make a larger provision for them. 
There must be some proportion between the provi- 
sion we make for our families, and for the church of 
Christ, A truly charitable, self-denying heart, that 
hath devoted itself, and all that it hath, to God, 
would be the best judge of the due proportions, and 



2^9 

would see which way of expense is likely to do God 
the greatest service, and that way it would take. 

3. I confess I would not have men lie too long 
under temptations to incontinency, lest they wound 
themselves and their profession by their falls. But 
yet methinks it is hard that men can do no more to 
mortify the concupiscence of the flesh, that they may 
live in a single condition, and have none of those 
temptations from wife and children, to hinder them 
from furthering their ministerial ends by charitable 
works. If he that marrieth not, doth better than 
he that doth, surely ministers should labour to do 
that which is best. And if he that can " receive 
this saying," must receive it, we should endeavour 
after it. This is one of the highest points of the 
Romish policy, which alleges that it is the duty of 
bishops, priests, and other religious orders, not to 
marry, by which means they have no posterity to 
drain the churches revenues, nor to take up their 
care ; but they make the public cause to be their in- 
terest, and they lay out themselves for it while they 
live, and leave all they have to it when they die. It 
is a pity that, for a better cause, we can no more 
imitate them in self-denial, where it might be done. 

4. But they that must marry, should take such 
as can maintain themselves and their children, or 
maintain them at the rate which their temporal means 
will afford, and devote as much of the church means 
to the church's service as they can. 

I would put no man upon extremes. But in this 
case, flesh and blood doth make even good men so 
partial, that they take their duties, and duties of 
very great importance, to be extremes. If worldly 



^30 

vanities did not blind us, we might see when a public, 
or other greater good, did call us to deny ourselves 
and our families. Why should we not live more 
nearly and poorer in the world, rather than leave 
those works undone which may be of greater use 
than our plentiful provision? But we consult in 
points of duty with flesh and blood; and what counsel 
it will give us, we may easily know. It will tell us 
we must have a competency ; and many pious men's 
competency is but little below the rich man's rates 
in the parable. If they be not clothed in the best, 
and " fare sumptuously every day," they have not a 
competency. A man that preacheth an immortal 
crown, should not seek after transitory vanities. And 
he that preacheth the contempt of riches, should 
himself contemn them. And he that preacheth self- 
denial and mortification, should practise these virtues 
in the eyes of them to whom he preacheth, if he 
would have his doctrine believed. All Christians 
are sanctified, and therefore themselves, and all that 
they have, are consecrated " to the Master's use." 
But ministers are doubly sanctified : they are de- 
voted to God, both as Christians and as ministers ; 
and, therefore, they are doubly obligated to honour 
him with all they have. 

O, brethren, what abundance of good works are 
before us, and to how few of them do we put our 
hands ! I know the world expecteth more from us 
than we have : but if we cannot answer the expecta- 
tions of the unreasonable, let us do what we can to 
answer the expectations of God, and of conscience, 
and of all just men. " This is the will of God, that 
with well-doing we should put to silence the ignorance 
of foolish men." 



^31 

Those ministers, especially, that have larger in- 
comes, must be larger in doing good. I will give 
but one instance at this time. There are some 
ministers who have a hundred and fifty, two hun- 
dred, or three hundred pounds a-year of salary, and 
have so large parishes, that they are not able to do 
a quarter of the ministerial work, nor once in a year 
to deal personally with half their people for their 
instruction, and yet they will content themselves 
with public preaching, as if that were all that was 
necessary, and leave almost all the rest undone, to 
the everlasting danger or damnation of multitudes, 
rather than maintain one or two diligent men to as- 
sist them. Or if they have an assistant, it is but 
some young man who is but poorly qualified for the 
work, and not one that will faithfully and diligently 
watch over the flock, and afford them that personal 
instruction which is so necessary. If this be not 
serving ourselves of God, and selling men's souls 
for our fuller maintenance in the world, what is ? 
Methinks such men should fear, lest, while they are 
accounted excellent preachers and godly ministers by 
men, they should be accounted cruel soul-murderers 
by Christ ! and lest the cries of those souls which 
they have betrayed to damnation, should ring iu 
their ears for ever and ever ! Will preaching a 
good sermon serve the turn, while you never look 
more after them, but deny them that closer help 
that is necessary, and alienate that maintenance to 
your own flesh, which should provide relief for so 
many souls? How can you open your mouths 
against oppressors, when you yourselves are so great 
oppressors, not only of men's bodies, but of their 



^32 

souls ? How can you preach against unmercifulness, 
while you are so unmerciful? And how can you 
talk against unfaithful ministers, while you are so 
unfaithful yourselves ? The sin is not small, because 
it is unobserved and is not odious in the eyes of 
men, nor because the charity which you withhold is 
such as the people blame you not for withholding. 
Satan himself, their greatest enemy, hath their con- 
sent all along in the work of their perdition. It is 
no extenuation, therefore, of your sin, that you have 
their consent : for that you may sooner have for their 
everlasting hurt, than for their everlasting good. 

And now, brethren, I beseech you to take what 
has been said into consideration; and see whether 
this be not the great and lamentable sin of the minis- 
ters of the gospel, that they give not up themselves, 
and all that they have, to the carrying on of the 
blessed work which they have undertaken ; and whe- 
ther flesh-pleasing, and self-seeking, and an interest 
distinct from that of Christ, do not make us neglect 
much of our duty, and serve God in the cheapest 
and most applauded part of his work, and withdraw 
from that which would subject us to cost and suffer- 
ings. And whether this do not show, that too 
many of us are earthly that seem to be heavenly, 
and mind the things below while they preach the 
things above, and idolize the world while they call 
men to contemn it. And as Salvian saith, " Nullus 
salutem plus negligit quam qui Deo aliquid antepo- 
nit :'^ — " Despisers of God will prove despisers of 
their own salvation." 

IV. We are sadly guilty of undervaluing the unity 



^33 

and peace of the whole church. Though I scarcely 
ever met with any who will not speak for unity and 
peace, or, at least, that will expressly speak against 
it, yet is it not common to meet with those who are 
studious to promote it ; but too commonly do we find 
men averse to it, and jealous of it, if not themselves 
the instruments of division. The Papists have so 
long abused the name of the catholic church, that, 
in opposition to them, many either put it out of their 
creeds, or only retain the name, while they under- 
stand not, or consider not, the nature of the thing ; 
or think it enough to believe that there is such' a 
body, though they behave not themselves as mem- 
bers of it. If the Papists will idolize the church, 
shall we therefore deny it, disregard it, or divide it ? 
It is a great and a common sin throughout the Chris- 
tian world, to take up religion in a way of faction ; 
and, instead of a love and tender care of the universal 
church, to confine that love and respect to a party. 
Not but that we must prefer, in our estimation and 
communion, the purer parts before the impure, and 
refuse to participate with any in their sins ; yet the 
most infirm and diseased part should be compassion- 
ated and assisted to the utmost of our power ; and 
communion must be held as far as is lawful, and no- 
where avoided, but upon the urgency of necessity. 
As we must love those of our neighbourhood that 
have the plague or leprosy, and afibrd them all the 
relief we can, and acknowledge all our just relations 
to them, and communicate to them, though we may 
not have local communion with them : and in other 
diseases which are not so infectious, we may be the 
more with them for their help, by how much the 



234^ 

more they need it. Of the multitude that say they 
are of the cathoUc church, it is rare to meet with 
men of a cathohc spirit. Men have not a universal 
consideration of and respect to the whole church, 
but look upon their own party as if it were th^e 
whole. If there be some called Lutherans, some 
Calvinists, some subordinate divisions among these, 
and so of other parties among us, most of them will 
pray hard for the prosperity of their party, and re- 
joice and give thanks when it goes well with them : 
but if any other party suffer, they little regard it, as 
if it were no loss at all to the church. If it be the 
smallest parcel that possesseth not many nations, no^ 
nor cities on earth, they are ready to carry it, as if 
they were the whole church, and as if it went well 
with the church when it goes well with them. We 
cry down the Pope as Antichrist, for including the 
church m the Romish pale, and no doubt but it is 
abominable schism : but, alas ! how many do imitate 
them too far, while they reprove them ! And as the 
Papists foist the word Roman into their creed, and 
turn the catholic church into the Roman Catholic 
church, as if there were no other catholics, and the 
church were of no larger extent — so is it with many 
others as to their several parties. Some will have it 
to be the Lutheran Catholic church, and some the 
Reformed Catholic church; some the Anabaptist 
Cathohc church; and so of some others. And if 
they differ not among themselves, they are little 
troubled at differing from others, though it be from 
almost all the Christian world. The peace of their 
party they take for the peace of the church. No 
wonder, therefore, if they carry it no further. 



285 

How rare is it to meet with a man that smarteth 
or bleedeth with the church's wounds, or sensibly 
taketh them to heart as his own, or that ever had 
soUcitous thoughts of a cure ! No ; but almost every 
party thinks that the happiness of the rest consisteth 
in turning to them ; and because they be not of their 
mind, they cry, Down with them ! and are glad to 
hear of their fall, as thinking that is the way to the 
church's rising; that is, their own. How few are 
there who understand the true state of controversies 
between the several parties ! or that ever well dis- 
cerned, how many of them are but verbal, and how 
many are real ! And if those that understand it 
disclose it to others, it is taken as an extenuation of 
their error, and as a carnal compliance with them in 
their sin. Few men grow zealous for peace, till they 
grow old, or have much experience of men's spirits 
and principles, and see better the true state of the 
church, and the several diflPerences, than they did be- 
fore. And then they begin to write their Irenicons ; 
and many such are extant at this day. Parens, Ju- 
nius, and many more, have done their parts; as our 
Davenant, Morton, Hall, whose excellerit treatise 
called the Peace-maker, and his Pax Terris, deserve 
to be inscribed upon all our hearts. But recipiuntur 
ad modiim recipientis. As a young man in the heat 
of his passion was judged to be no fit auditor of moral 
philosophy, so we find that those same young men 
who may be zealous for peace and unity, when they 
grow more experienced, are zealous for their factions 
against these in their youthful heat. And therefore, 
such peace-makers as these before-mentioned, do sel- 
dom do much greater good than to quiet their own 



^36 

consciences in the discharge of so great a duty, and 
to moderate some few, and save them from further 
guilt, and to leave behind them, when they are dead, 
a witness against a wilful, self-conceited, unpeaceable 
world. 

Nay, commonly it bringeth a man under suspicion 
either of favouring some heresy, or abating his zeal, 
if he do but attempt a pacificatory work. As if there 
were no zeal necessary for the great fundamental 
verities of the church, unity and peace, but only for 
parties, and some particular truths. 

And a great advantage the devil hath got this 
way, by employing his own agents, the unhappy So- 
cinians, in writing so many treatises for catholic and 
arch-catholic unity and peace, which they did for their 
own ends ; by which means the enemy of peace hath 
brought it to pass, that, whoever maketh motion for 
peace, is presently under suspicion of being one that 
hath need of it for an indulgence to his own errors. 
A fearful case ! that heresy should be credited, as if 
none were such friends to unity and peace as they ! 
And that so great and necessary a duty, upon which 
the church's welfare doth so depend, should be 
brought into such suspicion or disgrace ! 

Brethren, 1 speak not all this without apparent 
reason. We have as sad divisions among us in Eng- 
land, considering the piety of the persons, and the 
smallness of the matter of our discord, as most nations 
under heaven have known. The most that keeps us 
at odds is but the right form and order of church- 
government. Is the distance so great, that Presby- 
terian, Episcopalian, and Independent, might not be 
well agreed ? Were they but heartily willing and 



237 

forward for peace, they might — I know they might ! 
I have spoken with some moderate men of all the 
parties, and I perceive, by their concessions, it were 
an easy work. Were men's hearts but sensible of 
the church's case, and unfeignedly touched with love 
to one another, and did they but heartily set them- 
selves to seek it, the settling of a safe and happy 
peace were an easy work. If we could not in every 
point agree, we might easily narrow our differences, 
and hold communion upon our agreement in the 
main ; determining on the safest way for managing 
our few and small disagreements, without the danger 
or trouble of the church. But is this much done? 
It is not done. To the shame of all our faces be it 
spoken, it is not done. Let each party flatter them- 
selves as they please, it will be recorded to the shame 
of the ministry of England, while the gospel shall 
abide in the world. 

And O what heinous aggravations do accompany 
this sin ! Never men, since the apostles' days, I 
think, did make greater profession of godliness. The 
most of them are bound, by solemn oaths and cove- 
nants, for unity and reformation : they all confess the 
worth of peace, and most of them will preach for it, 
and talk for it, while yet they sit still and neglect it, 
as if it were not worth the looking after ! They will 
read and preach on those texts that command us to 
" follow peace with all men," and "as much as in us 
lieth, to live peaceably with them :" and yet they are 
so far from following it, and doing all they possibly 
can for it, that many snarl at it, and malign and 
censure any that endeavour to promote it ; as if all 
zeal for peace did proceed from an abatement of our 



238 

teal for holiness ; and as if holiness and peace were 
so fallen out, that there were no reconciling them : 
when yet it has been found, by long experience, that 
concord is a sure friend to piety, and piety always 
moves to concord ; while, on the other hand, errors 
and heresies are bred by discord, as discord is bred 
and fed by them. We have seen, to our sorrow, 
that where the servants of God should have lived to- 
gether as one, of one heart, and one soul, and one 
lip, and should have promoted each other's faith and 
holiness, and admonished and assisted each other 
against sin, and rejoiced together in the hope of fu- 
ture glory — we have, on the contrary, lived in mutual 
jealousies, and drowned holy love in bitter conten- 
tions, and studied to disgrace and undermine one 
another, and to increase our own parties by right or 
wrong. We, that were wont to glory of our love to 
the brethren as a mark of our sincerity in the faith, 
have now turned it into the love of a party only; and 
those that are against that party have more of our 
spleen, and envy, and malice, than our love. I 
know this is not so with all, nor prevalently with any 
true believer ; but ^et it is so common, that it may 
cause us to question the sincerity of many that are 
thought by themselves and others to be most sincere. 
And it is not ourselves only that are scorched in this 
flame, but we have drawn our people into it, ar.d 
cherished them in it ; so that most of the godly in 
the nation are fallen into parties, and have turned 
much of their ancient piety into vnln opinions, and 
disputes, and envyings, and animosities. Yea, whereas 
it was wont to be made the certain mark of a grace- 
less wretch to deride the godly, how few are there 



^39 

now that stick at secretly deriding and slandering 
those that are not of their opinion ! A pious Pre- 
latical man can reverently scorn and slander a Pres- 
byterian ; and a Presbyterian an Independent ; and 
an Independent both. And, what is the worst of 
all, the common ignorant people take notice of all 
this, and do not only deride us, but are hardened by 
us against religion ; and when we go about to per- 
suade them to be religious, they see so many parties 
that they know not which to join ; and think that it 
is as good to be of none at all, as of any, since they 
are uncertain which is the right ; and thus thousands 
are grown into a contempt of all religion, by our 
divisions ; and many poor carnal wretches begin to 
think themselves in the better case of the two, be- 
cause they hold to their old formalities, when we hold 
to nothing. I know that some of these men are 
learned and reverend, and intend not such mischie- 
vous ends as these. The hardening of men in igno- 
rance is not their design. But this is the thing 
effected. To intend well in doing ill, is no rarity. 
Who can, in reverence to any men on earth, sit still 
and hold his tongue, while he seeth people thus run 
to their own destruction, and the souls of men un- 
done by the contentions of divines for their several 
parties and interests ? The Lord that knows my 
heart, knows, (if I know it myself,) that as I am not 
of any one of these parties, so I speak not a word of 
this in a factious partiality for one party, or against 
another, as such ; much less in spleen against any 
person ; but if I durst in conscience, I would have 
silenced all this, for fear of giving them offence whom 
I much honour. But what am I but a servant of 



240 

Christ ? and what is my life worth, but to do him 
service ? and whose favour can recompense for the 
ruin of the church ? and who can be silent while 
souls are undone ? Not I, for my part, while God 
is my Master, and his word my rule ; his work my 
business; and the success of it, for the saving of souls, 
my end. Who can be reconciled to that which so 
lamentably crosseth his Master's interest, and his 
chief end in life ? Nor yet would I have spoken 
any of this, had it been only in respect to my own 
charge, where, I bless God, the sore is but small, in 
comparison of what it is in many other places. But 
the knowledge of some neighbouring congregations, 
and of others more remote, hath drawn out these 
observations from me. 

We may talk of peace, indeed, as long as we live, 
but we shall never obtain it but by returning to the 
apostolical simplicity. The Papists' faith is too large 
for all men to agree upon, if they enforced it not 
with arguments drawn from the fire, the halter, and 
the strappado. And many Anti-papists do too much 
imitate them in the tedious length of their subscribed 
confessions, and the novelty of their impositions, when 
they go farthest from them in the quality of the things 
imposed. When we once return to the ancient 
simplicity of faith, then, and not till then, shall we 
return to the ancient love and peace. I would there- 
fore recommend to all my brethren, as the most 
necessary thing to the church's peace, that you unite 
in necessary truths, and bear with one another in 
things that may be borne with ; and do not make a 
larger creed, and more necessaries, than God hath 
done. To this end, let me entreat you to attend to 



tlie following things : — 1. Lay not too great a stress 
wpon controverted opinions, which have godly men, 
and, especially, whole churches, on both sides. 2. 
Lay not too great a stress on those controversies that 
are ultimately resolvable into philosophical uncertain- 
ties, as are some unprofitable controversies about free- 
will. 3. Lay not too great a stress on those contro- 
versies that are merely verbal. Of which sort are 
far more that make a great noise in the world, and 
tear the church, than almost any of the eager con- 
tenders that ever I spoke with do seem to discern, or 
are like to believe. 4. Lay not too much stress on 
any point of faith, which was disowned or unknown 
by the whole church of Christ, in any age, since the 
Scriptures were delivered to us. 5. Much less 
should you lay great stress on those of which any of 
the more pure or judicious ages were wholly ignorant. 
6. And, least of all, should you lay much stress on 
any point which no one age since the apostles did 
ever receive, but all commonly hold the contrary. 

I know it is said that a man may subscribe the 
Scripture and the ancient creeds, and yet maintain 
Socinianisra, or other heresies. To which I answer, 
So he may another test which your own brains shall 
contrive : and while you make a snare to catch here- 
tics, instead of a test for the church's communion, 
you will miss your end ; and the heretic, by the slip- 
periness of his conscience, will break through, and 
the tender Christian may possibly be insnared. And 
by your new creed the church is like to have new 
divisions, if you keep not close to the words of Scrip- 
ture. 

He that shall live to that happy time when God 
L 42 



242 

will heal his broken churches, will see all this that I 
am pleading for reduced to practice, and this mode- 
ration take place of the new-dividing zeal, and the 
doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture established; 
and all men's confessions and comments valued only 
as subservient helps, and not made the test of church 
communion, any further than they are the same with 
Scripture. Till the healing age however come, we 
cannot expect that healing truths will be entertained, 
because there are not healing spirits in the leaders 
of the church. But when the work is to be done, 
the workmen will be fitted for it ; and blessed will be 
the agents of so glorious a work ! 

Lastly, We are guilty of neglecting the practice 
of church-discipline. If there be any work of re- 
formation to be set a-foot, how many are there that 
will go no farther than they are drawn ! It were 
well if all would do even that much. And when a 
work is like to prove difficult and costly, how back- 
ward are we to it, and how many excuses do we make 
for the omission of it ! What hath been more 
talked of, and prayed for, and contended about, in 
England, for many years past, than discipline? There 
are, in fact, but few men who do not seem zealous in 
disputing for one side or other : some for the Prela- 
tical way, some for the Presbyterian, and some for 
the Congregational. And yet, when we come to the 
practice of it, for aught I see, we are perfectly 
agreed : most of us are for no way. It hath made 
me wonder, sometimes, to look on the face of Eng- 
land, and see how few congregations in the land have 
any considerable execution of discipline, and to think 
withal what volumes have been written for it ; and 



how almost all the ministry of the nation are engaged 
for it ! How zealously they have contended for it, 
and made many a just exclamation against the opposers 
of it, and yet, notwithstanding all this, they will do 
little or nothing in the exercise of it ! I have mai*- 
veiled what should make them so zealous in siding 
for that to which their practice shows their hearts are 
opposed. But I see a disputing zeal is more natural 
than a holy, obedient, practising zeal. How many 
ministers are there in England that know not their 
own charge, and cannot tell who are the members of 
it ! That never cast out one obstinate sinner, nor 
brought one to public confession and promise of 
reformation, nor even admonished one publicly to call 
him to such repentance. But they think they do their 
duty, if they give them not the sacrament of the Lord's 
supper, (when it is perhaps avoided voluntarily by 
the persons themselves,) and in the meantime we 
leave them stated members of our churches, (for 
church-membership does not consist merely in par- 
taking of the Lord's supper, else what are children 
who have been baptized in their infancy ?) and grant 
them all other communion with the church, and call 
them not to personal repentance for their sin. Is it 
not God's ordinance that they should be personally 
rebuked and admonished, and publicly called to repent- 
ance, and be cast out if they remain impenitent ? If 
these be no duties, why have we made such a noise 
in the world about them ? If they be duties, why 
do we not practise them ? Many of them avoid the 
very hearing of the word. The ancient discipline of 
the church was stricter, when the sixth general coun« 
cil at Trull ordained, that " whosoever was three 
l2 



S4-4 

days together from church, without urgent necessity, 
was to be excommunicated." 

Brethren, I desire not to offend any of you, but I 
must needs say that these sins are not to be cloaked 
over with excuses, extenuations, or denials. We 
have long cried up discipline, and every party its 
particular way. Would you have people value your 
form of government, or would you not ? No doubt 
but you would. Now, if you would have them value 
it, it must be for some excellency : show them then 
that excellency. What is it? Wherein doth it 
consist ? And if you would have them believe you, 
6how it to them, not merely on paper, but in practice ; 
not simply in words, but in deeds. How can the 
people know the worth of discipline without the thing? 
Is it a name and a shadow that you have made all this 
noise about? How can they think that to be good 
which doth no good? Truly, I fear we take not the 
right way to maintain our cause, — that we even betray 
it, while we are hot disputers for it. Speak truly : is 
it not these two things that keep up the reputation of 
the long-contended-for discipline among men, namely, 
with the godly, the mere reputation of their ministers 
that stand for it ; and with many of the ungodly, the 
non-execution of it, because they find it to be tooth- 
less, and not so troublesome to them as they ex- 
pected ? If once our Government come to be upheld 
bv the votes of those who should be corrected or 
ejected by it, and the worst men be friends to it, 
because it is a friend to them in their ungodliness, 
we shall then engage the Lord against it, and he will 
appear as engaged against us. Set all the execution 
of discipline together that hath been practised in a 



245 

whole county, ever since it was so contended for, 
and I doubt it will not appear so observable as to 
draw godly people into a liking of it for its effects. 
How can you wonder, if many that desire deeds and 
not words, reformation, and not merely the name of 
reformation, do turn over to the separated congre- 
gations, when you show them nothing but the bare 
name of discipline in yours? All Christians value 
God's ordinances, and think them not vain things ; 
and, therefore, are unwilling to live without them. 
Discipline is not a needless thing to the church : if 
you will not make a difference between the precious 
and the vile, by discipline, people will do it by separa- 
tion. If you will keep many scores or hundreds in 
your churches, that are notoriously ignorant, and 
utterly destitute of religion, and never reprove them, 
nor call them to repentance, nor cast them out, you 
need not wonder if some timorous souls should run 
out of your churches, as from a ruinous edifice, which 
they fear is ready to fall upon their heads. Con- 
sider, I pray you, if you should act in the same man- 
ner with them as to the sacrament, as you do as to 
discipline, and should only show them the bread and 
wine, and never let them taste of these memorials of 
their Redeemer's love, could you expect that the name 
of a sacrament would satisfy them, or that they would 
relish your communion ? Why should you then think 
that they will be satisfied with the empty sound of the 
word church-government? Besides, consider what a 
disadvantage you cast upon your cause, in all your 
disputations with men of different views. If your 
principles be better than theirs, and their practice be 
better than yours, the people will suppose that the 



246 

question is, Whether the name or the thing, the 
shadow or the substance, be more desirable? and 
they will take your way to be a mere delusive for- 
mality, because they see you but formal in the use 
of it, yea, that you use it not at all. In what I now 
say, I speak not against your form of government, 
but for it ; and tell you, that it is you who are against 
it that seem so earnest for it ; while you more dis- 
grace it for want of exercise, than you credit it by all 
your arguments. And you will find, before you have 
done, that the faithful execution of it would be your 
strongest argument. Till then, the people will un- 
derstand you as if you openly proclaimed. We would 
have no public admonitions, confessions, or excom- 
munications ; our way is to do no good, but to set 
up the naked name of a government. 

I desire not to spur on any one to an unseasonable 
performance of this great duty. But will it never be 
a fit season ? Would you forbear sermons and sacra- 
ments so many years on pretence of unseasonableness? 
Will you have a better season for it when you are 
dead ? How many are dead already, before they 
ever did any thing in this important work, though 
they were long preparing for it ! I know some have 
more discouragements and hinderances than others ; 
but what discouragements and hinderances can excuse 
us from such a duty ? Besides the reasons which we 
have already stated, let these few be seriously con* 
sidered : — • 

1. How sad a sign do we make it to be in our 
people, to live in the wilful omission of any known 
duty ! And sliall we do so year after year, nay, 
all our days? If excuses will take off the danger 



247 

of this sign, what man will not find them as well as 
you? 

2. We plainly manifest laziness and sloth, if not 
unfaithfulness, in the work of Christ. I speak from 
experience. It was laziness that kept me so long 
from this duty. It is indeed a troublesome and 
painful work, and such as calls for some self-denial, 
because it will bring upon us the displeasure of the 
wicked. But dare we prefer our own ease and 
quietness, or the love and peace of wicked men, be- 
fore our service to Christ our Master? Can sloth- 
ful servants expect a good reward ? Remember, 
brethren, that we of this county have thus promised 
before God, in the second article of our agreement : 
" We agree and resolve, by God's help, that so far 
as God doth make known our duty to us, we will 
faithfully endeavour to discharge it, and will not de- 
sist through any fears or losses in our estates, or the 
frowns and displeasure of men, or any the like carnal 
inducements whatsoever." I pray you study this 
promise, and compare your performance with it. 
And do not think that you were insnared by thus 
engaging; for God's law hath laid an obligation on 
you to the very same duty, before your engagement 
did it. Here is nothing but what others are bound 
to as well as you. 

3. The neglect of discipline hath a strong tendency 
to delude immortal souls, by making those think they 
are Christians that are not; while they are permitted 
to live with the character of such, and are not sepa- 
rated by God's ordinance : and it may make the 
scandalous think their sin a tolerable thing, which 
is so tolerated by the pastors of the church. 



248 

4. We corrupt Christianity itself in the eyes o£ 
the world ; and do our part to make them believe 
that Christ is no more for holiness than Satan, or 
til at the Christian religion exacteth holiness no more 
than the false religions of the world. For if the 
holy and unholy are all permitted to be sheep of the 
same fold, without any means being used to separate 
them, we defame the Redeemer, as if he were guilty 
of it, and as if this were the nature of his precepts. 

5. We keep up separation, by permitting the 
worst to be uncensured in our churches, so that many 
honest Christians think they are obliged to withdraw 
from us, I have spoken with some members of the 
separated churches, who were moderate men, and 
have argued with them against separation ; and they 
have assured me, that they were af the Presbyterian 
judgment, or had nothing to say against it, but they 
joined themselves to other churches from pure neces- 
sity, thinking that discipline, being an ordinance of 
Christ, must be used by all that can, and therefore 
they durst no longer live without it when they might 
have it ; and they could find no Presbyterian churches 
that executed discipline as they wrote for it : and 
they told me, that they separated only pro tempore, 
till the Presbyterians will use discipline, and then 
they will willingly return to them again. I confess 
I was sorry that such persons had any such occasion 
to withdraw from us. It is not keeping offenders 
from the sacrament, that will excuse us from the 
further exercise of discipline, while they are members 
of our churches. 

6. We bring the wrath of God upon ourselves 
and our congregations, and so blast the fruit of ou? 



^49 

labours. If tlie angel of the church at Thyatira was 
reproved for sufFermg seducers in the church, we may 
be reproved, on the same ground, for suffering open, 
scandalous, impenitent sinners. 

And what are the hinderances now that keep the 
ministers from the execution of that discipline, for 
which they have so much contended ? The great 
reason, as far as I can learn, is, ' The difficulty of the 
work, and the trouble or suffering that we are like 
to incur by it. We cannot publicly reprehend one 
sinner, but he will storm at it, and bear us a deadly 
malice. We can prevail with very few to make a 
public profession of true repentance. If we proceed 
to excommunicate them, they will be raging mad 
against us. If we should deal as God requireth us, 
with all the obstinate sinners in our parish or con- 
gregation, there would be no living among them ; 
we should be so hated of all, that, as our lives would 
be uncomfortable, so our labours would become un- 
profitable J* for men would not hear us when they are 
possessed with a hatred of us ; therefore duty ceaseth 
to be duty to us, because the hurt that would follow 
would be greater than the good.' 

These are the great reasons for the non-execution 
of discipline, together with the great labour that 
private admonition of each offender would cost us. 
Now, to all this I answer, 

1. Are not these reasons as valid against Chris- 
tianity itself, especially in some times and places, as 
they are against disciphne ? Christ came not to 
send peace on earth; we shall have his peace, but 
not the world's; for he hath told us that it will hate 
us. Might not Bradford, or Hooper, or any that 
l3 



250 

were burned in Queen Mary's days, have alleged 
more than all this against the duty of an open pro- 
fession of the Reformation ? Might they not have 
said, It will make us hated, and it will expose our 
very lives to the flames ? He is concluded by Christ 
to be no Christian, who hateth not all that he hath, 
and his own life, for him ; and yet we can take the 
hazard of worldly loss as a reason against his work \ 
What is it but hypocrisy to shrink from sufferings, 
and to take up none but safe and easy works, and 
Diake ourselves believe that the rest are no duties ? 
Indeed this is the common way of escaping suffering, 
to neglect the duty that would expose us to it. If 
we did our duty faithfully, ministers would find the 
same lot among professed Christians, as their prede- 
cessors have done among Pagans, and other infidels* 
But if you cannot suffer for Christ, why did you put 
your hand to his plough ? Why did you not first 
sit dowa and count the cost? This makes the min- 
isterial work so unfaithfully executed, because it is 
so carnally undertaken ; men enter upon it as a life 
of ease, and honour, and respectability, and they re- 
solve to attain their ends, and have what they expected 
by right or wrong. They looked not for hatred and 
suffering, and they will avoid it, though by the avoid- 
ing of their work, 

2* As for the making yourselves incapable of 
doing them good, I answer, That reason is as vahd 
against plain preaching, reproof, or any other duty, 
which wicked men will hate us for. God will bless 
bis own ordinances to do good, or else he would not 
have appointed them. If you publicly admonish 
and rebuke the scandalous, and call them to repent- 



^1 

ance, and cast out the obstinate, you may do good 
to many whom you reprove, and possibly to the ex- 
communicated themselves. I am at least sure it is 
God's means, and it is his last means. It is there- 
fore perverse to neglect the last means, lest we frus- 
trate the foregoing means, when the last are not to 
be used, but upon supposition that the former were 
all frustrated before. However, those within and 
those without may receive good by it, if the offender 
should receive none ; and God will have the honour, 
when his church is manifestly distinguished from the 
world, and the heirs of heaven and hell are not totally 
confounded, nor the world made to think that Christ 
and Satan do but contend for superiority, and that 
they have the like inclination to holiness or to sin. 

3. But yet let me tell you, that there are not such 
difficulties in the way, nor is discipline such a useless 
thing as you imagine. I bless God for the small 
trial which I have made of it myself. I can speak 
by experience that it is not in vain, nor are the ha- 
zards of it such as may excuse our neglect. 

I confess, if I had my will, that man should be 
ejected as a negligent pastor that will not rule his 
people by discipline, as well as he is ejected as a 
negligent preacher that will not preach ; for ruluig 
is as essential a part of the ministerial office as 
preaching. 

I shall proceed no further in these confessions, — 
and now, brethren, what remaineth, but that we all 
cry guilty of these various sins, and humble our souls 
for our miscarriages before the Lord ! Is this 
" taking heed to ourselves, and to all the flock ?" 



Is this like the pattern that is given us in the text ? 
If we should now prove stout-hearted and unhumbledj 
how sad a symptom would it be to ourselves and to 
the church ? The ministry hath often been maligned 
by various adversaries ; and though this may show 
their impious malice, it may also intimate to us God's 
just indignation. Believe it, brethren, the ministry 
of England are not the least nor the last in the sins 
of the land. It is time, therefore, for us to take our 
part in that humihation to which we have been so 
long calling our people. If we have our wits about 
us, we may perceive that God hath been offended 
with us, and that the voice that called this nation to 
repentance did speak to us as well as others. He 
that hath ears to hear, let him hear the precepts of 
repentance proclaimed in so many admirable deliver- 
ances and preservations; he that hath eyes to see, 
let him see them written in so many lines of blood. 
By fire and sword hath God been calling us to hu- 
miliation : and as judgment hath begun at the house 
of God, so, if humiliation begin not there too, it 
will be a sad prognostication to us and to the land. 
What ! shall we deny or extenuate our sins, while 
we call our people to free and full confession ? Is it 
not better to give glory to God by humble confes- 
sion, than, in tenderness to ourselves, to seek for fig- 
leaves to cover our nakedness ; and to put God to it, 
to build his glory, which we denied him, upon the 
ruins of our own, which we preferred before him ? 
and to distrain for that by yet sorer judgments which 
we refused voluntarily to surrender to him ? Alas ! 
if you put God to get his honour as he can, he may 
get it to your everlasting sorrow and dishonour ! — 



253 

Sins openly committed, are more dishonourable to us 
when we hide them than when we confess them. It 
is the sin, and not the confession, that is our dishon- 
our. We have committed them before the sun, so 
that they cannot be hid ; and attempts to cloak them 
do but increase the guilt and shame. There is no 
way to repair the breaches in our honour which our 
sin hath made, but by free confession and humiliation. 
I durst not but make confession of my own sins ; and 
if any be offended that I have confessed theirs, let 
them know that I do but what I have done by my- 
self. And if they dare disown the confession of 
their sin, let them do it at their peril. But as for 
all the truly humble ministers of Christ, I doubt not 
but they will rather be provoked to lament more 
solemnly, in the face of their several congregations, 
their sins, and to promise reformation. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE DUTY OF PERSONAL CATECHISING AND IN- 
STRUCTING THE FLOCK PARTICULARLY RECOM- 
MENDED. 

Having disclosed and lamented our miscarriages 
and neglects, our duty for the future lies plain before 
us. God forbid that we should now go on in the 
sins which we have confessed, as carelessly as we did 
before. Leaving these things, therefore, I shall now 
proceed to exhort you to the faithful discharge of the 
great duty which you have undertaken, and which is 



254 

the occasion of our meeting here to-day; namely, 
personal catechising and instructing every one in your 
parishes or congregations that will suhmit thereto. 
And because this is the chief business of the day, I 
must take leave to insist somewhat the longer on it. 

First, I shall state to you some motives to per- 
suade you to this duty. 

Secondly, I shall answer some objections which 
may be made to this duty. 

Lastly, I shall give you some directions for per- 
forming this duty. 

Section I. 

Motives to this Duty, 

Agreeably to this plan, I shall proceed to state 
to you some motives to persuade you to this duty. 
The first reasons by which I shall persuade you to 
this duty, are taken from the benefits of it. The 
second, from the difficulty. And the third, from 
the necessity, and the many obligations that are upon 
}is for the performance of it. 

Article I. — Motives from the henejits of the 
work. — When I look before me, and consider what, 
through the blessing of God, this work, if well 
managed, is likely to efiect, it makes my heart leap 
for joy. Truly, brethren, you have begun a most 
blessed work, and such as your own consciences may 
rejoice in, and your parishes rejoice in, and the nation 
rejoice in, and the child that is yet unborn rejoice in! 
Yea, thousands and millions, for aught we know, 



255 

may have cause to bless God for it, when we shall 
have finished our course ! And though it is our 
business this day to humble ourselves for the neglect 
of it so long, as we have very great cause to do, yet 
the hopes of a blessed success are so great in me, 
that they are ready to turn it into a day of rejoicing. 
I bless the Lord that I have lived to see such a day 
as this, and to be present at so solemn an engage- 
ment of so many servants of Christ to such a work. 
I bless the Lord, that hath honoured you of this 
county ta be the beginners and awakeners of the 
nation to this duty. It is not a controverted point, 
as to which the exasperated minds of men might pick 
quarrels with us. Nor is it a new invention, as to 
which envy might charge you as innovators, or pride 
might scorn to follow you, because you had led the 
way. No; it is a well-known duty. It is but the 
more diligent and effectual management of the minis- 
terial work. It is not a new invention, but simply 
the restoration of the ancient ministerial work. And 
because it is so pregnant with advantages to the 
church, I will enumerate some of the particular bene- 
fits which we may hope to result from it, that when 
you see the excellency of it, you may be the more 
set upon it, and the more loath, by any negligence 
or failing of yours, to frustrate or destroy it. For 
certainly he who hath the true intentions of a minis- 
ter of Christ, will rejoice in the appearance of any 
further hope of attaining the ends of his ministry, 
and nothing will be more welcome to him, than that 
which will further the grand business of his life. 
That this work is calculated to accompHsh this, I shall 
aaw show you mare particularly.. 



2o6 

I. It will be a most hopeful mean of the conver* 
sion of souls ; for it unites those great things which 
most further such a work. 

1. As to the matter of it : it is about the most 
necessary things, the principles or essentials of the 
Christian faith. 

2. As to the manner of it : it will be by private 
conference, when we may have an opportunity to set 
all home to the conscience and the heart. 

The work of conversion consisteth of two parts : 
1. The informing of the judgment in the grand prin- 
ciples of religion. 2. The change of the will, by 
the efficacy of the truth. — Now, in this work, we 
have the most excellent advantages for both. For 
the informing of their understandings, it must needs 
be an excellent help to have the sum of Christianity 
fixed in their memory. And though bare words, not 
understood, will make no change, yet when the words 
are plain Enghsh, he that hath the words is far more 
likely to understand the meaning and matter than 
another. For what have we by which to make known 
things which are themselves invisible, but words, or 
other signs? Those, therefore, who deride all cate- 
chisms as unprofitable forms, may better deride them- 
selves for talking and using the form of their own 
words to make known their minds to others. Why 
may not written words, which are ever before their 
eyes, and in their memories, instruct them, as well as 
the transient words of a preacher ? These forms of 
sound words are, therefore, so far from being unpro- 
fitable, as some persons imagine, that they are of 
admirable use to all. 

Besides, we shall have the opportunity, by per- 



257 

sonal conference, to try how far they understand the 
catechism ; and to explain it to them as we go along ; 
and to insist on those particulars which the persons 
we speak to have most need to hear. These two con- 
joined — a form of sound words, with a plain explica- 
tion — may do more than either of them could do alone. 

Moreover, we shall have the best opportunity to 
impress the truth upon their hearts, when we can 
speak to each individual's particular necessity, and 
say to the sinner, " Thou art the man ;" and plainly 
mention his particular case ; and set home the truth 
with familiar importunity. If any thing in the world 
is likely to do them good, it is this. They will 
understand a familiar speech who understand not a 
sermon ; and they will have far greater help for the 
application of it to themselves. Besides, you will 
hear their objections, and know where it is that Satan 
hath most advantage of them, and so may be able to 
show them their errors, and confute their objections, 
and more eifectually convince them. We can better 
bring them to the point, and urge them to discover 
their resolutions for the future, and to promise the 
use of means and reformation, than otherwise we could 
do. What more proof need we of this than our 
own experience ? I seldom deal with men purposely 
on this great business, in private, serious conference, 
but they go away with some seeming convictions, and 
promises of new obedience, if not some deeper re- 
morse, and sense of their condition. 

O brethren ! what a blow may we give to the 
kingdom of darkness, by the faithful and skilful 
managing of this work ! If, then, the saving of 
souls — of your neighbours' souls — of many souls. 



258 

from everlasting misery — be worth your labour, up 
and be doing. If you would be the fathers of many 
that are born again, and would see the travail of your 
souls, and would be able to say at last, ' Here am I, 
and the children whom thou hast given me,' up and 
ply this blessed work. If it would do your heart good 
to see your converts among the saints in glory, and 
praising the Lamb before the throne — if you would 
rejoice to present them blameless and spotless to 
Christ — prosecute with diligence and ardour this sin- 
gular opportunity that is offered you. If you are 
ministers of Christ indeed, you will long for the per- 
fecting of his body, and the gathering in of his elect ; 
and you will travail as in birth till Christ be formed 
in the souls of your people. You will embrace such 
opportunities as your harvest-time affords, and espe- 
cially as the sunshine days in a rainy harvest, in 
which it is unreasonable and inexcusable to be idle. 
If you have a spark of Christian compassion in you, 
it will surely seem worth your utmost labour to save 
so many souls from death, and to cover so great a 
multitude of sins. If, then, you are indeed fellow- 
workers with Christ, set to his work, and neglect not 
the souls for whom he died. O remember, when you 
are talking with the unconverted, that now you have 
an opportunity to save a soul, and to rejoice the 
angels of heaven, and toTejoice Christ himself, to cast 
Satan out of a sinner, and to increase the family of 
God ! And what is your hope, or joy, or crown of 
rejoicing ? Is it not your saved people in the pre- 
sence of Christ Jesus at his coming ? Yes, doubt- 
less, they are your glory and your joy." 

II. It will essentially promote the orderly building 



259 

up of those who are converted, and the establishment 
of them in the faith. It hazardeth our whole work, 
or at least much hindereth it, if we do it not in the 
proper order. How can you build, if you first lay 
not a good foundation? or how can you set on the 
top-stone, while the middle parts are neglected ? 
Gratia nonfacit salttim, any more than nature. The 
second order of Christian truths have such a depend- 
ence upon the first, that they can never be well learned 
till the first are learned. This makes many labour 
so much in vain ; they are ever learning, but never 
come to the knowledge of the truth, because they 
would read before they learn to spell, or to know their 
letters. This makes so many fall away : they are 
shaken with every wind of temptation, because they 
were not well settled in the fundamental principles of 
religion. It is these fundamentals that must lead 
men to further truths ; it is these they must build all 
upon ; it is these that must actuate all their graces, 
and animate all their duties ; it is these that must for- 
tify them against temptations. He that knows not 
these, knows nothing; he that knows them well, doth 
know so much as will make him happy ; and he that 
knows them best, is the best and most understanding 
Christian. The most godly people, therefore, in 
your congregations, will find it worth their labour ta 
learn the very words of a catechism. If, therefore, 
you would safely edify them, and firmly establish them, 
be diligent in this work. 

IH. It will make our public preaching better under- 
stood and regarded. When you have instructed them 
in the principles, they will the better understand all 
you say. They will perceive what you drive at, 



260 

when they are once acquamted with the mam pomts. 
This prepareth their minds, and openeth a way to 
their hearts ; whereas, without this, you may lose the 
most of your labour ; and the more pains you take in 
accurate preparation, the less good you may do. As 
you would not, therefore, lose your public labour, see 
that you be faithful in this private work. 

IV. By means of it you will come to be familiar 
with your people, and may thereby win their affec- 
tions. The want of this, with those who have very 
numerous congregations, is a great impediment to 
the success of our labours. By distance and unac- 
quaintedness, abundance of mistakes between minis- 
ters and people are fomented ; while, on the other 
hand, familiarity will tend to beget those affections 
which may open their ears to further instruction. 
Besides, when we are famihar with them, they will 
be encouraged to open their doubts to us. But when 
a minister knows not his people, or is as strange to 
them as if he did not know them, it must be a great 
hinderance to his doing any good among them. 

V. By means of it we shall come to be better 
acquainted with each person's spiritual state, and so 
the better know how to watch over them. We shall 
the better know how to preach to them, when we know 
their temper, and their chief objections, and so what 
they have most need to hear. We shall the better 
know wherein to be "jealous over them with a godly 
jealousy," and what temptations to guard them most 
against. We shall the better know how to lament 
for them, and to rejoice with them, and to pray for 
them. For as he that will pray rightly for himself, 
must know his own wants, and the diseases of his 



261 

own heart, so he that will pray rightly for others, 
should know theirs as far as possible. 

VI. By means of this trial and acquaintance with 
our people's state, we shall be much assisted in the 
admission of them to the sacraments. Though, I 
doubt not, a minister may require his people to come 
to him at any convenient season, to give an account 
of their faith and proficiency, and to receive instruc- 
tion, and therefore he may do it as a preparation for 
the Lord's supper — yet because ministers have laid 
the stress of that examination upon the mere neces- 
sity of fitness for that ordinance, and not upon their 
common duty to see into the state of each member of 
their flock at all fit seasons, and upon the people's 
duty to submit to the guidance and instruction of 
their pastors at all times, they have occasioned people 
ignorantly to quarrel with their examinations. Now, 
by this course we shall discover their fitness or un- 
fitness, in a way that is unexceptionable; and in a 
way far more effectual than by some partial examina- 
tion of them before they are admitted to the Lord's 
table. 

VII. It will show men the true nature of the 
ministerial office, and awaken them to the better con- 
sideration of it than is now usual. It is too common 
for men to think that the work of the ministry is 
nothing but to preach, and to baptize, and to admi- 
nister the Lord's supper, and to visit the sick. By 
this means the people will submit to no more, and too 
many ministers are such strangers to their own call- 
ing, that they will do no more. It hath often grieved 
my heart to observe some eminent preachers, how 
little they do for the saving of souls, except in the 



26^ 

pulpit ; and to how little purpose much of their labour 
is by this neglect. They have hundreds of people 
that they never spoke a word to personally for their 
salvation ; and, if we may judge by their practice, 
they consider it not as their duty : and the principal 
thing that hardeneth men in this oversight, is the 
common neglect of the private part of the work by 
others. There are so few that do much in it, and the 
omission hath grown so common among pious, able 
men, that the disgrace of it is abated by their very 
piety and ability ; and a man may now be guilty of it 
without observation or dishonour. Never doth sin 
so reign in a church or state, as when it hath gained 
reputation, or, at least, is no disgrace to the sinner, 
nor a matter of offence to beholders. But I make no 
doubt, through the mercy of God, that the restoring 
of the practice of personal oversight will convince 
many ministers, that this is as truly their work as 
that which they now do ; and may awaken them to 
see that the ministry is another kind of business than 
too many excellent preachers take it to be. Brethren, 
do but set yourselves closely to this work, and follow 
it diligently; and though you do it silently, without 
any words to them that are negligent, 1 am in hope 
that most of you who are present may live to see the 
day, when the neglect of private personal oversight of 
all the flock shall be taken for a scandalous and odious 
omission, and shall be as disgraceful to them that are 
guilty of it as preaching but once a day was hereto- 
fore. A schoolmaster must take a personal account 
of his scholars, or else he is likely to do little good. 
If physicians should only read a public lecture on 
physic, their patients would not be much the better 



Q6S 

of them ; nor would a lawyer secure your estate by 
reading a lecture on law. Now, the charge of a pas- 
tor requireth personal dealing, as well as any of these. 
Let us show the world this by our practice ; for most 
men are grown regardless of bare words. 

The truth is, we have been led to wrong the church 
in this respect, by the contrary extreme of the Papists, 
who bring all their people to auricular confession ; for, 
in overthrowing this error of theirs, we have run into 
the opposite extreme. It troubled me much to read, 
in an orthodox historian, that licentiousness, and a 
desire to be from under the strict inquiries of the 
priests in confession, did much further the reformed 
religion in Germany. And yet it is like enough to 
be true, that they who were against reformation in 
other respects, might on this account join with bet- 
ter men in crying down the Romish clergy. I have 
no doubt that the Popish auricular confession is a 
sinful novelty, with which the ancient church was un- 
acquainted. But, perhaps, some will think it strange 
that I should say, that our common neglect of per- 
sonal instruction is much worse, if we consider their 
confessions in themselves, and not as they respect 
their doctrines of satisfaction and purgatory. If any 
among us should be guilty of so gross a mistake as 
to think that, when he hath preached, he hath done all 
his work, let us show him, by our practice, that there 
is much more to be done ; and that taking heed to all 
the flock, is another business than careless, lazy min- 
isters imagine. If a man have an apprehension that 
duty, and the chief duty, is no duty, he is like to 
neglect it, and to be impenitent in the neglect. 

VIII. It will help our people better to understand 



^64^ 

the nature of their duty towards their overseers, and, 
consequently, to discharge it better. This, indeed, 
were a matter of no consequence, if it were only for 
our sakes ; but their own salvation is much concerned 
in it. I am convinced, by sad experience, that it is 
none of the least impediments to their salvation, and 
to the reformation of the church, that the people 
understand not what the work of a minister is, and 
what is their own duty towards him. They commonly 
think, that a minister hath no more to do with them 
but to preach to them, and visit them in sickness, and 
administer the sacraments ; and that, if they hear him, 
and receive the sacraments from him, they owe him 
no further obedience, nor can he require any more at 
their hands. Little do they know, that the minister 
is in the church as the schoolmaster in his school, 
to teach and take an account of every one in par- 
ticular; and that all Christians, ordinarily, must be 
disciples or scholars, in some such school. They 
think not that a minister is in the church as a phy- 
sician in a town, for all people to resort to, for per- 
sonal advice for the cure of all their diseases; and 
that " the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and the 
people should ask the law at his mouth, because he is 
the messenger of the Lord of hosts." They consider 
not, that every soul in the congregation is bound, for 
their own safety, to have personal recourse to him, 
for the resolving of their doubts, and for help against 
their sins, and for direction in duty, and for increase 
of knowledge and all saving grace ; and that ministers 
are purposely settled in congregations to this end, to 
be still ready to advise and help the flock. If our 
people did but know their. duty, they would readily 



Q65 

come to us, when tbey are desired, to be instructed, 
and to give an account of their knowledge, faith, and 
life ; and they would come of their own accord, with- 
out being sent for; and knock oftener at our doors ; 
and call for advice, and help for their souls; and ask, 
" What shall we do to be saved?" But the matter 
now is come to that sad pass, that they think a ministei 
hath nothing to do with them : and if he admonish 
them, or if he call them to be catechised and in- 
structed, or if he would take an account of their faith 
and profiting, they would ask him. By w^hat authority 
he jdoth these things ? and think that he is a busy, 
pragmatical fellow, v.ho loves to be meddling where 
he hath nothing to do ; or a proud fellow, who would 
bear rule over their consciences : w^hereas they may 
as well ask. By what authority he preacheth, or pray- 
eth, or giveth them the sacrament? They consider 
not that all our authority is but for our work, — even 
a power to do our duty ; and that our work is for them : 
so that it is but an authority to do them good. They 
talk not more wisely, than if they should quarrel with 
a man who would help to quench a fire in their houses, 
and ask him. By what authority he doth it? Or 
that would give money to relieve the poor, and they 
should ask him. By what authority do you require us 
to take this money ? Or as if I offered my hand to 
one that is fallen, to help him up, or to one that is in 
the water, to save him from drowning, and he should 
ask me. By what authority I do it ? 

And what is it that hath brought our people to 

this ignorance of their duty, but custom ? It is we, 

brethren, to speak truly and plainly, who are to blame, 

that have not accustomed them and ourselves to any 

M 42 



266 

more than common public work. We see how much 
custom doth with the people. Where it is the cus- 
tom, as among the Papists, they hesitate not to con- 
fess all their sins to the priest ; but, among us, they 
disdain to be catechised or instructed, because it is 
not the custom. They wonder at it, as a strange 
thing; and say, Such things were never done before ! 
And if we can but prevail to make this duty as com- 
mon as other duties, they will much more easily sub- 
mit to it than now. What a happy thing would it 
be, if you might live to see the day, that it should 
be as ordinary for people of all ages to come in course 
to their ministers for personal advice, and help for 
their salvation, as it is now usual for them to come 
to the church to hear a sermon, or receive the sacra- 
ment ! Our diligence in this work is the way to 
accomplish this. 

IX. It will give the governors* of the nation 
more correct views about the nature and burden of 
the ministry, and so may procure from them further 
assistance. It is a lamentable impediment to the re- 
formation of the church, and the saving of souls, that, 
in most populous towns, there are but one or two 
men to oversee many thousand souls, and so there are 
not labourers in any degree equal to the work ; but it 
becomes an impossible thing to them to do any con- 
siderable measure of that personal duty which should 
be done by faithful pastors to all the flock. I have 
often said it, and still must say it, that this is a great 
part of England's misery, that a great degree of spi- 



* We would not say the governors, but the Christian commu- 
nity. — Editor. 



^67 

ritual famine reigns in most cities and large towns 
throughout the land, even where they are insensible 
of it, and think themselves well provided. Alas ! we 
-see multitudes of ignorant, carnal, sensual sinners 
around us, — here a family, and there a family, and 
there almost a whole street or village of them, — and 
our hearts pity them, and we see that their necessi- 
ties cry aloud for our speedy and diligent relief, so 
that he that hath ears to hear must needs hear. Yet 
if we were ever so fain, we cannot help them : and 
that not merely through their obstinacy, but also 
through our want of opportunity. We have found 
by experience, that if we could but have leisure to 
speak to them, and to open plainly to them their sin 
and danger, there were great hopes of doing good to 
many of them that receive little by our public teach- 
ing. But we cannot come at them ; more necessary 
work prohibits us : we cannot do both at once : and 
our public work must be preferred, because there we 
deal with many at once. And it is as much as we 
are able to do, to perform the public work, or some 
little more; and if we do take the time when we 
should eat or sleep, (besides the ruining of weakened 
bodies by it,) we shall not be able, after all, to speak 
to one of very many of them. So that we must stand 
by and see poor people perish, and can but be sorry 
for them, and cannot so much as speak to them to 
endeavour their recovery. Is not this a sad case in 
a nation that glorieth of the fulness of the gospel? 
An infidel will say. No : but, methinks, no man that 
believes an everlasting joy or torment should give 
such an answer. I will give you the instance of my 
own case. We are together two ministers, and a 
M 2 



itii: 



^68 



third at a chapel, wilHng to spend every hour of our 
time in Christ's work. Before we undertook this 
work, our hands were full, and now we are engaged 
to set apart two days every week, from morning to 
night, for private catechising and instruction ; so that 
any man may see that we must leave undone all that 
other work that we were wont to do at that time : 
and we are necessitated to run upon the public work 
of preaching with small preparation, and so must de- 
liver the message of God so rawly and confusedly, 
and unanswerably to its dignity, and the need of 
men's souls, that it is a great trouble to our minds to 
consider it, and a greater trouble to us when we are 
doing it. And yet it must be so : there is no remedy, 
unless we will omit this personal instruction, we 
must needs run thus unpreparedly into the pulpit ! 
And to omit this we dare not, — it is so great and 
necessary a work. And when we, have incurred all 
the forementioned inconveniences, and have set apart 
two whole days a-week for this work, it will be as 
much as we shall be able to do, to go over the parish 
once in a year, (being about 800 families,) and which 
is worse than that, we shall be forced to cut it short, 
and do it less effectually to those that we do it, hav- 
ing about fifteen families a week to deal with. And, 
alas ! how small a matter is it to speak to a man only 
once in a year, and that so cursorily as we must be 
forced to do, in comparison of what their necessities 
require ! Yet are we in hope of some fruit of this 
much ; but how much more might it be, if we could 
but speak to them once a quarter, and do the work 
more fully and deliberately, as you that are in smaller 
parishes may do. And many ministers in England 



269 

have ten times the number of parishioners which I 
have : so that if they should undertake the work 
which we have undertaken, they can go over the 
parish but once in ten years. So that while we are 
hoping for opportunities to speak to them, we hear 
of one dying after another, and, to the grief of our 
souls, are forced to go with them to their graves, 
before we could ever speak a word to them personally 
to prepare them for their change. And what is the 
cause of all this misery ? Why, our rulers have not 
seen the necessity for any more than one or two 
ministers in such parishes; and so they have not 
allowed any maintenance to that end. Some have 
alienated much from the church, (the Lord humble 
all them that consented to it, lest it prove the con- 
sumption of the nation at last,) while they have left 
this famine in the chief parts of the land. It is 
easy to separate from the multitude, and to gather 
distinct churches, and to let the rest sink or swim', 
and if they will not be saved by public preaching, to 
let them be damned : but whether this be the m"ost 
charitable and Christian course, one would think 
should be no hard question. But what is the matter 
that wise and godly rulers should be thus guilty of 
our misery, and that none of our cries will awaken 
them to compassion ! What ! are they so ignorant 
as not to know these things ? Or are they grovvn 
cruel to the souls of men ? Or are they false-hearted 
to the interest of Christ, and have a design to un- 
dermine his kingdom? No; I hope it is none of 
these : but, for aught I can find, it is we who are to 
blame, even we, the ministers of the gospel, whom 
they should thus maintain. For those ministers 



270 

that have small parishes, and might do all this pri- 
vate part of the work, yet do it not, or at least few 
of them. And those in great towns and cities, 
that might do somewhat, though they cannot do all, 
will do just nothing but what accidentally falls in 
their way, or next to nothing, so that the magistrate 
is not awakened to the observance or consideration 
of the weight of our work. Or if they do appre- 
hend the usefulness of it, yet if they see that minis- 
ters are so careless and lazy, that they will not do it, 
they think it in vain to provide them a maintenance 
for it, — it would be but to cherish idle drones ; and 
so they think, that if they maintain ministers enough 
to preach in the pulpit, they have done their duty. 
And thus they are involved in heinous sin, and we 
are the occasions of it. Whereas, if we do but all 
heartily set ourselves to this work, and show the 
magistrate to his face, that it is a most weighty and 
necessary part of our business; and that we would 
do it thoroughly if we could ; and that, if there 
were hands enough, the work might go on; and, 
withal, when we shall see the happy success of our 
labours ; then, no doubt, if the fear of God be in 
them, and they have any love to his truth and men's 
souls, they will set to their helping hand, and not 
let men perish, because there is no man to speak to 
them to prevent it. They will one way or other 
raise maintenance, in such populous places, for la- 
bourers, proportioned to the number of souls, and 
greatness of the work. Let them but see us fall to 
the work, and behold it prosper in our hands — as, 
if it be well managed, there is no doubt it will, 
through God's blessing, do — and their hearts will be 



271 

drawn out to the promoting of it ; and instead of 
laying parishes together, to diminish the number of 
teachers, they will either divide them, or allow more 
teachers to a parish. But when they see that many 
carnal ministers do make a greater stir to have 
more maintenance to themselves than to have more 
help in the work of God, they are tempted by such 
worldlings to wrong the church, that particular 
ministers may have ease and fulness. 

X. It will exceedingly facilitate the ministerial 
work in succeeding generations. Custom, as I said 
before, is the thing that sways much with the multi- 
tude ; and they who first break a destructive custom 
must bear the brunt of their indignation. Now, 
somebody must do this. If we do it not, it will lie 
upon our successors; and how can we expect that 
they shall be more hardy, and resolute, and faithful, 
than we? It is we that have seen the heavy judg- 
ments of the Lord, and heard him pleading by fire 
and sword with the land. It is we that have been 
ourselves in the furnace, and should be the most 
refined. It is we that are most deeply obliged by 
oaths and covenants, by wonderful deliverances, ex- 
periences, and mercies, of every description. And if 
we yet flinch and turn our backs, and prove false- 
hearted, why should we expect better from them, 
who have not been driven by such scourges, nor 
drawn by such cords. But if they do prove better 
than we, the same odium and opposition must befal 
them which we avoid, and that with some increase, 
because of our neglect ; for the people will tell 
them, that we, their predecessors, did no such things. 
But if we would now break the ice for them that 



27^ 

follow us, their souls will bless us, and our names 
shall be dear to them, and they will feel the happy 
fruits of our labour every day of then- ministry; 
when the people shall willingly submit to their pri- 
vate instructions and examinations, yea, and to dis- 
cipline too, because we have acquainted them with 
it, and removed the prejudice, and broke the evil 
custom that our predecessors had been the cause of. 
Thus we may do much to the saving of many thou- 
sand souls, in all ages to come, as well as in the pre- 
sent ao-e in which we live. 

XI. It will conduce to the better ordering of 
families, and the better spending of the Sabbath. 
When we have once got the masters of families to 
undertake that they will, every Lord's day, examine 
their children and servants, and make them repeat 
some catechism and passages of Scripture, this will 
find them most profitable employment; whereas, many 
of them would otherwise be idle or ill employed. 
Many masters who know little themselves, may yet 
be brought to do this for others, and in this way 
they may even teach themselves. 

XII. It will do good to many ministers, who are 
apt to be idle, and mispend their time in unnecessary 
discourse, business, journeys, or recreations. It will 
let them see that they have no time to spare for such 
things ; and thus, when they are engaged in so much 
pressing employment of so high a nature, it will be 
the best cure for all that idleness and loss of time. 
Besides, it will cut off that scandal which usually 
foUoweth thereupon; for people are apt to say, Such 
a minister can spend his time at bowls, or other 
sports, or vain discourse ; and why may not we do so 



273 

as well as he? Let us all set diligently to this 
part of our work, and then see what time we can 
find to spare to live idly, or in a way of voluptuous- 
ness, or worldliness, if we can. 

XIII. It will be productive of many personal 
benefits to ourselves. It will do much to subdue 
our own corruptions, and to exercise and increase our 
own graces. It will afford much peace to our con- 
sciences, and comfort us when our past lives come to 
be reviewed. 

To be much in provoking others to repentance 
and heavenly-mindedness, may do much to excite 
them in ourselves. To cry down the sin of others, 
and engage them against it, and direct them to over- 
come it, will do much to shame us out of our own ; 
and conscience will scarcely suffer us to live in that 
which we make so much ado to draw others from. 
Even our constant employment for God, and busying 
our minds and tongues against sin, and for Christ 
and holiness, will do much to overcome our fleshly 
inclinations, both by direct mortification and by di- 
version, leaving our fancies no room nor time for 
their old employment. All the austerities of monks 
and hermits, who addict themselves to unprofitable 
solitude, and who think to save themselves by ne- 
glecting to show compassion to others, will not do 
near so much in the work of mortification, as this 
fruitful diligence for Christ. 

XIV. It will be some benefit, that by this means 
we shall take off" ourselves and our people from vain 
controversies, and from expending our care and zeal 
on the lesser matters of reUgion, which least tend to 
their spiritual edification. While we are taken up 
m3 



in teaching, and they in learning the fundamental 
truths of the gospel, we shall divert our minds and 
tongues, and have less room for lower things ; and 
so it will cure much wranglings and contentions be- 
tween ministers and people. For we do that which 
we need not, and should not, because we will not fall 
diligently to do that which we need and should. 

XV. And then for the extent of the foresaid 
benefits. The design of the work is, the reforming 
and saving of all the people in our several parishes. 
For we shall not leave out any man that will submit 
to be instructed ; and though we can scarcely hope 
that every individual will be reformed and saved by 
it, yet have we reason to hope, that, as the attempt 
is universal, so the success will be more general and 
extensive than we have hitherto seen of our other 
labours. Sure I am, it is most like to the spirit, and 
precept, and offers of the gospel, which requireth us 
to preach Christ to every creature, and promiseth life 
to every man, if he will accept it by believing ! If 
God would have all men to be saved, and to come to 
the knowledge of the truth, (that is, as Rector and 
Benefactor of the world, he hath manifested himself 
willing to save all men, if they be willing themselves, 
though his elect he will also make willing,) then 
surely it becometh us to offer salvation unto all men, 
and to endeavour to bring them to the knowledge 
of the truth. Besides, if Christ " tasted death for 
every man," it is meet we should preach his death 
to every man. This work hath a more excellent 
design than our accidental conferences with now and 
then a particular person. And I have observed, 
that, in such occasional discourses, men satisfy them- 



27.5 

selves with having spoken some good words, but 
seldom set plainly and closely home the matter, to 
convince men of sin, and misery, and mercy; as in 
this purposely appointed work we are more likely 
to do. 

XVI. It is likely to be a work that will reach 
over the whole land, and not stop with us that have 
now engaged in it. For though it be at present 
neglected, I suppose the cause is the same with our 
brethren as it hath been with us ; namely, that in- 
considerateness and laziness, which we are here be- 
wailing this day, but especially, despair of the sub- 
mission of the people to it. But when they shall 
be reminded of so clear and great a duty, and shall 
see the practicability of it, to a considerable extent, 
when it is done by common consent, they will, no 
doubt, universally take it up, and gladly concur with 
us in so blessed a work; for they are the servants 
of the same God, as sensible of the interests of 
Christ, and as compassionate to men's souls, — as 
conscientious and as self-denying, and ready to do 
or suffer for such excellent ends, as we are. Seeing, 
therefore, they have the same spirit, rule, and Lord, 
I will not be so uncharitable as to doubt whether all 
that are godly (or at least the generality of them) 
will gladly join with us throughout the land. And 
O what a happy thing it will be to see such a gen- 
eral combination for Christ ; and to see all England 
so seriously called upon and importuned for Christ, 
and set in so fair a way to heaven ! Methinks, 
the consideration of it should make our hearts re- 
joice within us, — to see so many faithful servants of 
Christ all over the land, addressing every particular 



276 

sinner with such importunity as men that will scarcely 
take a denial. Methinks, I even see all the godly 
ministers of England commencing the work already, 
and resolving to embrace the present opportunity, 
that unanimity may facilitate it. Is it not, then, a 
most important and most happy undertaking that 
you are setting your hands to this day ? 

XVII. Of so great weight and excellency is the 
duty which we are now recommending, that the chief 
part of church reformation that is behind (as to 
means) consisteth in it; and it must be the chief 
means to answer the judgments, the mercies, the 
prayers, the promises, the cost, the endeavours, and 
the blood, of the nation ; and without this it will not 
be done ; the ends of all these will never be well 
attained ; a reformation to purpose will never be 
wrought; the church will be still low, the interest 
of Christ will be much neglected; and God will still 
have a controversy with the land, and, above all, with 
the ministry, that have been deepest in the guilt. 

How long have we talked of reformation, how 
much have we said and done for it in general, and 
how deeply and devoutly have we vowed it for our 
own parts ! And after all this, how shamefully have 
we neglected it, and neglect it to this day ! We 
carry ourselves as if we had not known or considered 
what that reformation was which we vowed. As 
carnal men will take on them to be Christians, and 
profess with confidence that they believe in Christ, 
and accept of his salvation, and may contend for 
Christ, and fight for him, and yet, for all this, will 
have none of him, but perish for refusing him, who 
little dreamed that ever they had been refusers of 



277 

him ; and all because they understood not what his 
salvation is, and how it is carried on, but dream of a 
salvation without flesh-displeasing, and without self- 
denial, and renouncing tlie world, and parting with 
their sins, and without any holiness, or any great 
pains and labour of their own in subserviency to 
Christ and the Spirit : even so did too many minis- 
ters and private men talk, and write, and pray, and 
fight, and long for reformation, and would httle have 
believed that man who should have presumed to tell 
them, that, notwithstanding all this, their hearts 
were against reformation, and that they who were 
praying for it, and fasting for it, and wading through 
blood for it, would never accept it, but would them- 
selves be the rejecters and destroyers of it ! And 
yet so it is, and so it hath too plainly proved : and 
whence is all this strange deceit of heart — that good 
men should no better know themselves? Why, 
the case is plain ; they thought of a reformation to 
be given by God, but not of a reformation to be 
wrought on and by themselves. They considered 
the blessing, but never thought of the means of ac- 
complishing it. But as if they had expected that 
all things besides themselves should be mended with- 
out them; or that the Holy Ghost should again 
descend miraculously, or every sermon should con- 
vert its thousands, or that some angel from heaven, 
or some Elijah, should be sent to restore all things, 
or that the law of the parliament, and the sword of 
the magistrate, would have converted or constrained 
all, and have done the deed; and little did they 
think of a reformation that must be wrought by 
their own diligence and unwearied labours, by ear- 



278 

nest preaching and catechising, and personal instruc- 
tions, and taking heed to all the flock, whatever 
pains or reproaches it should cost them. They 
thought not that a thorough reformation would mul- 
tiply their own work, but we had all of us too carnal 
thoughts, that when we had ungodly men at our 
mercy, all would be done, and conquering them was 
converting them, or such a means as would have 
frightened them to heaven. But the business is far 
otherwise, and had we then known how a reformation 
must be attained, perhaps some would have been 
colder in the prosecution of it. And yet I know 
that even foreseen labours seem small matters at a 
distance, while we do but hear and talk of them : but 
when we come nearer them, and must lay our hands 
to the work, and put on our armour, and charge 
through the thickest of opposing difficulties, then is 
the sincerity and the strength of men's hearts brought 
to trial, and it will appear how they purposed and 
promised before. Reformation is to many of us as 
the Messiah was to the Jews. Before he came, 
they looked, and longed for him, and boasted of him, 
and rejoiced in hope of him ; but when he came 
they could not abide him, but hated him, and would 
not believe that he was indeed the person, and, 
therefore, persecuted and put him to death, to the 
curse and confusion of the main body of their nation. 
" The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to 
his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, 
whom ye delight in : — but who may abide the day of 
his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? 
for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap : 
and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver : 



279 

and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them 
as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord 
an offering in righteousness." And the reason was, 
because it was another manner of Christ that the 
Jews expected ; it was one who would bring them 
riches and liberty, and to this day they profess that 
they will never believe in any but such. So it is 
with too many about reformation. They hoped for 
a reformation, that would bring them more wealth 
and honour with the people, and power to force men 
to do what they would have them : and now they 
see a reformation, that must put them to more con- 
descension and pains than they were ever at before. 
They thought of having the opposers of godliness 
under their feet, but now they see they must go to 
them with humble entreaties, and put their hands 
under their feet, if they would do them good, and 
meekly beseech even those that sometime sought 
their lives, and make it now their daily business to 
overcome them by kindness, and win them with love. 
O how many carnal expectations are here crossed ! 

Article IL — Motives from the difficulties of 
the work. — Having stated to you the first class of 
reasons, drawn from the benefits of the work, I come 
to the second sort, which are taken from the difficul- 
ties. If these, indeed, were taken alone, 1 confess 
they might be rather discouragements than motives ; 
but taking them with those that go before and follow, 
the case is far otherwise : for difficulties must excite 
to greater diligence in a necessary work. 

And difficulties we shall find many, both in our- 
selves and in our people ; but because they are 



280 

things so obvious, that your experience will leave no 
room to doubt of them, I shall pass them over in a 
few words. 

I. Let me notice the difficulties in ourselves. 

1. In ourselves there is much dulness and lazi- 
ness, so that it will not be easy to get us to be faithful 
in so hard a work. Like a sluggard in bed, that 
knows he should rise, and yet delay eth, and would 
lie as long as he can, so do we by duties to which 
our corrupt natures are averse. This will put us to 
the use of all our powers. Mere sloth will tie the 
hands of many. 

2. We have a base man-pleasing disposition, 
which will make us let men perish lest we lose their 
respect, and let them go quietly to hell, lest we 
should make them angry with us for seeking their 
salvation : and we are ready to venture on the dis- 
pleasure of God, and risk the everlasting misery of 
our people, rather than draw on ourselves their ill- 
will. This distemper must be diligently resisted. 

3. Many of us have also a foolish bashfulness, 
which makes us backward to begin with them, and 
to speak plainly to them. We are so modest, for- 
sooth, that we blush to speak for Christ, or to con- 
tradict the devil, or to save a soul, while, at the same 
time, we are less ashamed of shameful works. 

4. We are so carnal, that we are drawn by our 
fleshly interests to be unfaithful in the work of 
Christ, lest we should lessen our income, or bring 
trouble on ourselves, or set people against us, or 
such like. All these things require diligence in order 
to resist them. 

5. We are so weak in the faith, is the greatest 



281 

impediment of all. Hence it is, that when we 
should set upon a man for his conversion with all 
our might, if there be not the stirrings of unbelief 
within us, whether there be a heaven and a hell, yet 
at least the belief of them is so feeble that it will 
scarcely excite in us a kindly, resolute, constant zeal, 
so that our whole motion will be but weak, because 
the spring of faith is so weak. O what need there- 
fore have ministers, for themselves and their work, 
to look well to their faith, especially that their assent 
to the truth of Scripture, about the joys and torments 
of the life to come, be sound and lively ! 

Lastly, We have commonly a great deal of un- 
skilfulness and unfitness for this work. Alas ! how 
few know how to deal with an ignorant worldly man, 
for his conversion ! To get within him, and win 
upon him; to suit our speech to his condition and 
temper; to choose the meetest subjects, and follow 
them with the holy mixture of seriousness, and ter- 
ror, and love, and meekness, and evangelical allure- 
ments — O ! who is fit for such a thing ! I profess 
seriously, it seems to me, by experience, as hard a 
matter to confer aright with such a carnal person, in 
order to his change, as to preach such sermons as 
ordinarily we do, if not much more. All these diffi- 
culties in ourselves should awaken us to holy reso- 
lution, preparation, and diligence, that we may not 
be overcome by them, and hindered from or in the 
work. 

II. Having noticed these difficulties in ourselves, 
I shall now mention some which we will meet with 
in our people. 

1. Many of them will be obstinately unwilling to 



282 

be taught; and scorn to come to us, as being too 
good to be catechised, or too old to learn, unless we 
deal wisely with them in public and private, and 
study, by the force of reason, and the power of love, 
to conquer their perverseness. 

2. Many that are willing are so dull, that they 
can scarcely learn a leaf of a catechism in a long time, 
and therefore they will keep away, as ashamed of 
their ignorance, unless we are wise and diligent to 
encourage them. 

3. When they do come, so great is the ignorance 
and unapprehensiveness of many, that you will find 
it a very hard matter to get them to understand you ; 
80 that if you have not the happy art of making things 
plain, you will leave them as ignorant as before. 

4. And yet harder will you find it to work things 
upon their hearts, and to set them so home to their 
consciences, as to produce that saving change, which 
is our grand aim, and without which our labour is lost. 
O what a block — what a rock, is a hardened carnal 
heart ! How strongly will it resist the most powerful 
persuasions, and hear of everlasting life or death as 
a thing of nought ! If, therefore, you have not 
great seriousness and fervency, and powerful matter, 
and fitness of expression, what good can you expect ? 
And when you have done all, the Spirit of grace must 
do the work. But as God and men usually choose 
instruments suitable to the nature of the work or end, 
so the Spirit of grace doth not usually work by foolish, 
dead, carnal instruments, but by such persuasions of 
light, and life, and purity, as are likest to itself, and 
to the work that is to be accomplished. 

Lastly, When you have made some desirable 



^83 

impressions on their hearts, if you look not after 
them, and have a special care of them, their hearts 
will soon return to their former hardness, and their 
old companions and temptations will destroy all again. 
In short, all the difficulties of the work of conversion, 
which you use to acquaint your people with, are be- 
fore us in our present work. 

Article III. — Motives from the necessity of the 
work, — The third sort of motives are drawn from 
the necessity of the work. For if it were not ne- 
cessary, the slothful might be discouraged rather than 
excited, by the difficulties now mentioned. But be- 
cause I have already been longer than I intended, 
I shall give you only a brief hint of some of the 
general grounds of this necessity. 

I. This duty is necessary for the glory of God. 
As every Christian liveth to the glory of God, as 
his end, so will he gladly take that course which will 
most effectually promote it. For what man would 
not attain his ends ? O brethren, if we could set 
this work on foot in all the parishes of England, and 
get our people to submit to it, and then prosecute it 
skilfully and zealously ourselves, what a glory would 
it put upon the face of the nation, and what glory 
would, by means of it, redound to God ! If our 
common ignorance were thus banished, and our vanity 
and idleness turned into the study of the way of hfe, 
and every shop and every house were busied in learn- 
ing the Scriptures and catechisms, and speaking of 
the word and works of God, what pleasure would 
God take in our cities and country ! He would 
even dwell in our habitations, and make them his 



284 

delight. It is the glory of Christ that shineth in 
his saints, and all their glory is his glory ; that, there- 
fore, which honoureth them, in number or excellency, 
honoureth him. Will not the glory of Christ be 
wonderfully displayed in the New Jerusalem, when 
it shall descend from heaven in all that splendour 
and magnificence with which it is described in the 
book of Revelation ? If, therefore, we can increase 
tlie number or strength of the saints, we shall thereby 
increase the glory of the King of saints; for he will 
has^e service and praise, where before he had disobe- 
dience and dishonour. Christ will also be honoured 
in the fruits of his blood shed, and the Spirit of grace 
in the fruit of his operations. And do not such im- 
portant ends as these require that we use the means 
with dilii^ence? 

o 

Every Christian is obliged to do all he can for 
the salvation of others; but every minister is doubly 
obliged, because he is separated to the gospel of 
Christ, and is to give up himself wholly to that work. 
It is needless to make any further question of our 
obligation, when we know that this work is needful 
to our people's conversion and salvation, and that we 
are in general commanded to do all that is needful 
to those ends, as far as we are able. Whether the 
unconverted have need of conversion, I hope is not 
doubted among us. And whether this be a means, 
and a most important means, experience may put be- 
yond a doubt, if we had no more. Let them that 
have taken most pains in public, examine their people, 
and try whether many of them are not nearly as 
ignorant and careless, as if they had never heard the 
gospel. For my part, I study to speak as plainly 



285 

and movingly as I can, (and next to my study, to 
speak truly, these are my chief studies,) and yet I 
frequently meet with persons that have been my 
hearers eight or ten years, who know not whether 
Christ be God or man, and wonder when I tell them 
the history of his birth, and life, and death, as if 
they had never heard it before. And of those who 
know the history of the gospel, how few are there 
who know the nature of that faith, repentance, and 
holiness, which it requireth, or, at least, who know 
their own hearts ! But most of them have an un- 
grounded trust in Christ, hoping that he will pardon, 
justify, and save them, while the world hath their 
hearts, and they live to the flesh ! And this trust 
they take for justifying faith. I have found by ex- 
perience, that some ignorant persons, who have been 
so long unprofitable hearers, have got more know- 
ledge and remorse of conscience in half an hour's close 
discourse, than they did from ten years' public preach- 
ing. I know that preaching the gospel pubhcly is 
the most excellent means, because we speak to many 
at once. But it is usually far more effectual to 
preach it privately to a particular sinner, as to him- 
self; for the plainest man that is can scarcely speak 
plain enough in public for them to understand ; but 
in private we may do it much more. In public we 
may not use such homely expressions, or repetitions, 
as their dulness requires, but in private we may. In 
public our speeches are long, and we quite overrun 
their understandings and memories, and they are 
confounded and at a loss, and not able to follow us, 
and one thing drives out another, and so they know 
not what we said. But in private we can take our 



286 

work gradatim^ and take our hearers along with us ; 
and, by our questions, and their answers, we can see 
how far they understand us. Besides, we can better 
answer their objections, and engage them by promises 
before we leave them, which in pubHc we cannot do. 
I conclude, therefore, that public preaching will not 
be sufficient ; for though it may be an effectual means 
to convert many, yet not so many, as experience, and 
God's appointment of further means, may assure us. 
Long may you study and preach to little purpose, if 
you neglect this duty. 

II. This duty is necessary to the welfare of our 
people. 

Brethren, can you look believingly on your mis- 
erable people, and not perceive them calling to you 
for help ? There is not a sinner whose case you 
should not so far compassionate, as to be wilhng to 
relieve them at a much dearer rate than this. Can 
you see them, as the wounded man by the way, and 
unmercifully pass by? Can you hear them cry to 
you, as the man of Macedonia to Paul, in vision, 
" Come and help us ;" and yet refuse your help ? 
Are you intrusted with the charge of an hospital, 
where one languisheth in one corner, and another 
groaneth in another, and crieth out, " O help me, 
pity me for the Lord's sake !" and where a third is 
raging mad, and would destroy himself and you, and 
yet will you sit idle, and refuse your help ? If it 
may be said of him that relieveth not men's bodies, 
how much more of him that relieveth not men's souls, 
that " if he see his brother have need, and shut up 
his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the 
love of God in him ?" You are not such monsters, 



287 

such hard-hearted men, but you will pity a leper — 
you will pity the naked, the imprisoned, or the deso- 
late — you will pity him that is tormented with grie- 
vous pain or sickness, — and will you not pity an 
ignorant, hard-hearted sinner? — will you not pity 
one that must be shut out from the presence of the 
Lord, and lie under his remediless wrath, if thorough 
repentance speedily prevent it not ? O what a heart 
is it that will not pity such a one ! What shall I 
call the heart of such a man ? A heart of stone, a 
very rock or adamant — the heart of a tiger — or rather 
the heart of an infidel ! for surely if he believed the 
misery of the impenitent, it is not possible but he 
should take pity on him. Can you tell men in the 
pulpit, that they shall certainly be damned, except 
they repent, and yet have no pity on them, when 
you have proclaimed to them their danger? And if 
you pity them, will you not do this much for their 
salvation ? How many around you are bUndly has- 
tening to perdition, while your voice is appointed to 
be the means of arousing and reclaiming them ! The 
physician hath no excuse; he is doubly bound to relieve 
the sick, when even every neighbour is bound to help 
them. Brethren, what if you heard sinners cry after 
you in the streets, ' O sir, have pity on me, and afiPord 
me your advice ! I am afraid of the everlasting wrath 
of God ! I know I must shortly leave this world, 
and I am afraid lest I shall be miserable in the next !' 
— could you deny your help to such poor sinners? 
What if they came to your study-door, and cried for 
help, and would not go away, till you had told them 
how to escape the wrath of God? Could you find 
in your hearts to drive them away without advice ? 



288 

I am confident you could not. Why, alas ! such 
persons are less miserable than they who will not cry 
for help. It is the hardened sinner, who cares not 
for your help, that most needeth it : and he that hath 
not so much life as to feel that he is dead, nor so 
much light as to see his danger, nor so much sense 
left as to pity himself, — this is the man that is most 
to be pitied. Look upon your neighbours around 
you, and think how many of them need your help in 
no less a case than the apparent danger of damnation. 
Suppose that you heard every impenitent person, 
whom you see and know about you, crying to you 
for help — ' As ever you pitied poor wretches, pity 
us, lest we should be tormented in the flames of hell; 
if you have the hearts of men, pity us.' Now, do 
that for them that you would do if they followed you 
with such expostulations. O how can you walk, and 
talk, and be merry with such people, when you know 
their case ! Methinks, when you look them in the 
face, and think how they must endure everlasting 
misery, you should break forth into tears, (as the 
prophet did when he looked upon Hazael,) and then 
fall on with the most importunate exhortations ! 
When you visit them in their sickness, will it not 
wound your hearts to see them ready to depart into 
misery, before you have ever dealt seriously with 
them for their conversion? O, then, for the Lord's 
sake, and for the sake of poor souls, have pity on 
them, and bestir yourselves, and spare no pains that 
may conduce to their salvation ! 

IIL This duty is necessary to your own welfare, 
as well as to your people's. This is your work, ac- 
cording to which, among others, you shall be judged. 



«89 

You can no more be saved without ministerial dili- 
gence and fidelity, than they or you can be saved 
without Christian diligence and fidelity. If, there- 
fore, you care not for others, care at least for your- 
selves. O what a dreadful thing is it to answer for 
the neglect of such a charge ! and what sin more 
heinous than the betraying of souls ! Doth not that 
threatening make us tremble — " If thou dost not speak 
to warn the wicked from his wicked way — that wicked 
man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I 
REQUIRE AT THY HAND." I am afraid, nay, I have 
no doubt, that the day is near when unfaithful minis- 
ters will wish that they had never known their charge; 
but that they had rather been colliers, or sweeps, or 
tinkers, than pastors of Christ's flock ! — when, be- 
sides all the rest of their sins, they shall have the 
blood of so many souls to answer for. O brethren, 
our death, as well as our people's, is at hand, and it is 
as terrible to an unfaithful pastor as to any ! When 
we see that die we must, and that there is no remedy ; 
that no wit, nor learning, nor popular applause, can 
avert the stroke, or delay the time ; but, willing or 
unwilling, our souls must be gone, and that into a 
world which we never saw, where our persons and 
our worldly interest will not be respected, O then 
for a clear conscience, that can say, ' I lived not to 
myself, but to Christ; I spared not my pains; I hid 
not my talent ; I concealed not men's misery, nor 
the way of their recovery !' O sirs, let us therefore 
take time while we have it, and work while it is day, 
" for the night cometh, when no man can work !" 
This is our day too : and by doing good to others, 
we must do good to ourselves. If you would pre- 
N 42 



290 

pare for a comfortable death, and a great and glorious 
reward, the harvest is before you. Gird up the 
loins of your minds, and quit yourselves like men, 
that you may end your days with these triumphant 
words : " I have fought a good fight, I have finished 
ray course, I have kept the faith : henceforth there 
is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the 
Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that 
day." If you would be blessed with those that die 
in the Lord, labour now, that you may rest from 
your labours then, and do such works as you would 
wish should follow you, and not such as will prove 
your terror in the review. 

Article IV. — Application of these motives.-^ 
Having found so many and so powerful reasons to 
move us to this work, I shall now apply them further 
for our humiliation and excitation. 

I. What cause have we to bleed before the Lord 
this day, that we have neglected so great and good 
a work so long ; that we have been ministers of the 
gospel so many years, and done so little by personal 
instruction and conference for the saving of men's 
souls ! If we had but set about this business sooner, 
who knows how many souls might have been brought 
to Christ, and how much happier our congregations 
might now have been ! And why might we not 
have done it sooner as well as now ? I confess there 
were many impediments in our way, and so there are 
still, and will be while there is a devil to tempt, and 
a corrupt heart in man to resist the light ; but if the 
greatest impediment had not been in ourselves, even 
in our own darkness, and dulness, and indisposedness 



291 

to duty, and our dividedness and unaptness to close 
for the work of God, I see not but much might have 
been done before this. We had the same God to 
command us, and the same miserable objects of com- 
passion, and the same liberty from governors as now 
we have. We have sinned, and have no just excuse 
for our sin; and the sin is so great, because the duty- 
is so great, that we should be afraid of pleading any 
excuse. The God of mercy forgive us, and all the 
ministry of England, and lay not this or any of our 
ministerial negligences to our charge ! O that he 
would cover all our unfaithfulness, and, by the blood 
of the everlasting covenant, w^ash away our guilt of 
the blood of souls, that when the chief Shepherd 
shall appear, we may stand before hira in peace, and 
may not be condemned for the scattering of his flock ! 
And O that he would put up his controversy which 
he hath against the pastors of his church, and not 
deal the worse with them for our sakes, nor suffer 
underminers or persecutors to scatter them, as they 
have suffered his sheep to be scattered ! and that he 
will not care as little for us, as we have done for the 
souls of men ; nor think his salvation too good for 
us, as we have thought our labour and sufferings too 
much for men's salvation ! As we have had many 
days of humiliation in England, for the sins of the 
land, and the judgments that have befallen us, I hope 
we shall hear that God will more thoroughly humble 
the ministry, and cause them to bewail their own ne- 
glects, and to set apart some days through the land 
to that end, that they may not think it enough to 
lament the sins of others, while they overlook their 
own ; and that God may not abhor our solemn na- 
n2 



292 

tional humiliations, because they are managed by un- 
humbled guides ; and that we may first prevail with 
him for a pardon for ourselves, that we may be the 
litter to beg for the pardon of others. 

And O that we may cast out the dung of our 
pride, contention, self-seeking, and idleness, lest God 
should cast our sacrifices as dung in our faces, and 
should cast us out as the dung of the earth, as of 
late he hath done many others for a warning to us ; 
aud that we may presently resolve in concord to mend 
our pace, before we feel a sharper spur than hitherto 
we have felt ! 

II. And now, brethren, what have we to do for 
the time to come, but to deny our lazy flesh, and 
rouse up ourselves to the work before us. The har- 
vest is great — the labourers are few — the loiterers 
and hinderers are many — the souls of men are pre- 
cious — the misery of sinners is great — and the ever- 
lasting misery to which they are near is greater — 
the joys of heaven are inconceivable — the comfort of 
a faithful minister is not small — the joy of extensive 
success will be a full reward. To be fellow-workers 
with God and his Spirit is no little honour, — to sub- 
serve the blood-shedding of Christ for men's salva- 
tion is not a li^ht thin^. To lead on the armies of 
Christ through the thickest of the enemy — to guide 
them safely through a dangerous wilderness — to steer 
the vessel through such storms, and rocks, and sands, 
and shelves, and bring it safe to the harbour of rest, 
— requireth no small skill and diligence. The fields 
now seem even white unto harvest — the preparations 
that have been made for us are very great — the 
season of working is more calm than most ages before 



293 

us have ever seen. We have carelessly loitered too 
long already, — the present time is posting away, — 
while we are trifling, men are dying; — O how fast 
are they passing into another world ! And is there 
nothing in all this to awaken us to our duty — nothing 
to resolve us to speedy and unwearied diligence ? 
Can we think that a man can be too careful and 
painful under all these motives and engagements? 
Or can that man be a fit instrument for other men's 
illumination, who is himself so blind ? or for the 
quickening of others, who is himself so senseless? 
What ! brethren, are ye, who are men of wisdom, 
as dull as the common people ? and do we need to 
heap up a multitude of words to persuade you to a 
known and weighty duty? One would think it 
should be enough to set you on work, to show a line 
in the book of God to prove it to be his will; or to 
prove to you that the work hath a tendency to pro- 
mote men's salvation. One would think that the 
very sight of your miserable neighbours would be 
motive sufiicient to draw out your most compassionate 
endeavours for their relief. If a cripple do but un- 
lap his sores, and show you his disabled limbs, it 
will move you without words ; and will not the case 
of souls, that are near to damnation, move you ? O 
happy church, if the physicians were but healed them- 
selves ; and if we had not too much of that infidelity 
and stupidity against which we daily preach in others ; 
and were more soundly persuaded of that of which 
we persuade others ; and were more deeply affected 
with the wonderful things with which we would affect 
them ! Were there but such clear and deep impres- 
sions upon our own souls, of those glorious things 



^ 



m^ 



that we daily preach, O what a change would it make 
in our sermons, and in our private course of life ! O 
what a miserable thing it is to the church and to 
themselves, that men must preach of heaven and 
hell, before they soundly believe that there are such 
things, or have felt the weight of the doctrines which 
they preach \ It would amaze a sensible man to 
think what matters we preach and talk of! — what it 
is for the soul to pass out of this flesh, and appear 
before a righteous God, and enter upon unchange- 
able joy or unchangeable torment ! O with what 
amazing thoughts do dying men apprehend these 
things ! How should such matters be preached and 
discoursed of! O the gravity, the seriousness, the 
incessant diligence, which these things require ! I 
know not what others think of them, but, for my part, 
I am ashamed of my stupidity, and wonder at myself 
that I deal not with my own and others' souls, as 
one that looks for the great day of the Lord, — and 
that I can have room for almost any other thoughts 
or words, — and that such astonishing matters do not 
wholly absorb my mind. I marvel how I can preach 
of them slightly and coldly — and how I can let men 
alone in their sins — and that I do not go to them, 
and beseech them, for the Lord's sake, to repent, 
however they take it, and whatever pains or trouble 
it should cost me ! I seldom come out of the pulpit, 
but my conscience smiteth me that I have been no 
more serious and fervent in such a case. It accuseth 
me not so much for want of ornaments or elegancy, 
nor for letthig fall an unhandsome word ; but it ask- 
eth me, ' How couldst thou speak of life and death 
with such a heart? How couldst thou preach of 



'295 

heaven and hell m such a careless, sleepy manner ? 
Dost thou believe what thou sayest? Art thou in 
earnest or in jest ? How canst thou tell people that 
sin is such a thing, and that so much misery is upon 
them and before them, and be no more afiPected with 
it ? Shouldst thou not weep over such a people, and 
should not thy tears interrupt thy words ? Shouldst 
thou not cry aloud, and show them their transgres- 
sions, and entreat and beseech them as for life and 
death?' — Truly, this is the peal that conscience doth 
ring in my ears, and yet my drowsy soul will not be 
awakened ! O what a thing is a senseless hardened 
heart ! O Lord, save us from the plague of infidelity 
and hard-heartedness ourselves, or else how shall we 
be fit instruments of saving others from it ? O do 
that on our own souls which thou wouldst use us to 
do on the souls of others ! I am even confounded 
to think what a difference there is between my sick- 
bed apprehensions, and my pulpit apprehensions, of 
the life to come ! — that ever that can seem so light 
a matter to me now, which seemed so great and 
astonishing a matter then, and I know will do so 
again when death looks me in the face, when yet I 
daily know and think of that approaching hour; and 
yet those forethoughts will not recover such working 
apprehensions ! O brethren, surely, if you had all 
conversed with neighbour-death as oft as 1 have done, 
and as often received the sentence in yourselves, you 
would have an unquiet conscience, if not a reformed 
life, as to your ministerial diligence and fidelity; and 
you would have something within you that would 
frequently ask you such questions as these : * Is this 
all thy compassion for lost sinners ? Wilt thou do 



596 

110 more to seek and to save them? Is there not 
such and such, and such a one — O how many round 
about thee — that are yet the visible sons of death ? 
What hast thou said to them, or done for their con- 
version? shall they die and be in hell before thou 
wilt speak to them one serious word to prevent it ? 
shall they there curse thee for ever that didst no 
more in time to save them ?' Such cries of conscience 
are daily ringing in mine ears, though, the Lord 
knows, I have too little obeyed them. The God of 
mercy pardon me, and awaken me, with the rest of 
his servants that have been thus sinfully negligent. 
I confess, to my shame, that I seldom hear the bell 
toll for one that is dead, but conscience asketh me, 
' What hast thou done for the saving of that soul 
before it left the body ? There is one more gone to 
judgment; what didst thou to prepare him for judg- 
ment T and yet I have been slothful and backward 
to help them that survive. How can you choose, 
when you are laying a corpse in the grave, but think 
with yourselves, ' Here lieth the body, but where is 
the soul? and what have I done for it, before it de* 
parted ? It was part of my charge, what account 
can I give of it T O brethren, is it a small matter 
to you to answer such questions as these ? It may 
seem so now, but the hour is coming when it will 
not seem so. If our hearts condemn us, God is 
greater than our hearts, and will condemn us much 
more; even with another kind of condemnation than 
conscience doth. The voice of conscience is a still 
voice, and the sentence of conscience is a gentle sen- 
tence, in comparison of the voice and the sentence 
of God. Alas ! conscience seeth but a very little of 



297 

our sin and misery, in comparison of what God seeth. 
What mountains would these things appear to your 
souls, which now seem molehills ! What beams 
would these be in your eyes, that now seem motes, 
if you did but see them with a clearer light ! (I dare 
not say, As God seeth them.) We can easily make 
shift to plead the cause with conscience, and either 
bribe it, or bear its sentence : but God is not so 
easily dealt with, nor his sentence so easily borne. 
*' Wherefore, we receiving," and preaching, "a king- 
dom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, where- 
by we may serve God acceptably with reverence and 
godly fear : for our God is a consuming fire." But 
because you shall not say that I affright you with 
bugbears, and tell you of dangers and terrors when 
there are none, I will here show you the certainty 
and sureness of that condemnation that is like to be- 
fal neghgent pastors, particularly how many will be 
ready to rise up against us and condemn us, if we 
shall hereafter be wilful neglecters of this great work : 

1. Our parents, that destined us to the ministry, 
will condemn us, and say, ' Lord, we devoted them 
to thy service, and they made light of it, and served 
themselves.' 

2. Our masters that taught us, our tutors that 
instructed us, the schools and universities where we 
lived, and all the years that we spent in study, will 
rise up in judgment against us, and condemn us; 
for why was all this, but for the work of God ? 

3. Our learning, and knowledge, and ministerial 
gifts, will condemn us ; for to what end were we made 
partakers of these, but for the work of God ? 

4. Our voluntary undertaking the charge of souls 

N 3 



^98 

will condemn us ; for all men should be faithful to 
the trust which they have undertaken. 

5. All the care of God for his church, and all 
that Christ hath done and suffered for it, will rise up 
in judgment against us, if we be negligent and un- 
faithful, and condemn us, because by our neglect we 
destroyed them for whom Christ died. 

6. All the precepts and charges of Holy Scripture, 
all the promises of assistance and reward, all the 
threatenings of punishment, will rise up against us 
and condemn us ; for God did not speak all this in 
vain. 

7. All the examples of the prophets and apostles, 
and other preachers recorded in Scripture, and all the 
examples of the faithful and diligent servants of Christ 
in these latter times, and in the places around us, will 
rise up in judgment and condemn us ; for all these 
were for our imitation, and to provoke us to a holy 
emulation in fidelity and ministerial diligence. 

8. The Holy Bible that Hes open before us, and 
all the books in our studies, that tell us of our duty, 
directly or indirectly, will condemn the lazy and un- 
profitable servant; for we have not all these helps 
and furniture in vain. 

9. All the sermons that we preach, to persuade 
our people to work out their salvation with fear and 
trembling — to lay violent hands upon the crown of 
life, and take the kingdom by force — to strive to 
enter in at the strait gate, and so to run as to obtain, 
will rise up against the unfaithful and condemn them ; 
for if it so nearly concern them to labour for their 
salvation, doth it not concern us who have the charge 
of them to be also violent, laborious, and unwearied in 



299 

Striving to help on their salvation ? Is it worth their 
labour and patience, and is it not also worth ours? 

10. All the sermons that we preach to them, to 
set forth the evil of sin, the danger of a natural state, 
the need of a Saviour, the joys of heaven, and the 
torments of hell, yea, and the truth of the Christian 
religion, will rise up in judgment against the unfaithful 
and condemn them. And a sad review it will be to 
themselves, when they shall be forced to think, 'Did 
I tell them of such great dangers and hopes in public^ 
and would I do no more in private to help them ? 
What ! tell them daily of damnation, and yet let 
them run into it so easily ! Tell them of such a 
glory, and scarcely speak a word to them personally 
to help them to it ! Were these such great matters 
with me at church, and so small matters when I 
came home ? Ah ! this will be dreadful self-con- 
demnation ! 

11. All the sermons that we have preached to per- 
suade other men to such duties — as neighbours to 
exhort one another daily, and parents and masters to 
teach their children and servants the way to heaven 
— will rise up in judgment against the unfaithful and 
condemn them ; for will you persuade others to that 
which you will not do as far as you can yourselves i 
When you threaten them for neglecting their duty, 
how much more do you threaten your own souls? 

12. All the maintenance which we take for our 
service, if we be unfaithful, will condemn us ; for who 
is it that will pay a servant to take his pleasure, or sit 
idle, or work for himself? If we have the fleece, 
surely it is that we may look after the flock; and, by 
taking the wages, we oblige ourselves to the work. 



soo 

13. All the witness that we have borne against 
the scandalous, negligent ministers of this age, and all 
the endeavours that we have used for their removal, 
will condemn the unfaithful; for God is no respecter 
of persons. If we succeed them in their sins, we 
have spoken all that against ourselves; and, as we 
condemned them, God and others will condemn us 
if we imitate them. And, though we should not be 
so bad as they, it will prove sad if we are even like 
them. 

14. All the judgments that God hath, in this age, 
executed on negligent ministers, before our eyes, will 
condemn us if we be unfaithful. Hath he made the 
idle shepherds and sensual drones to stink in the 
nostrils of the people ? and will he honour us, if we 
be idle and sensual ? Hath he sequestrated them, 
and cast them out of their habitations, and out of 
their pulpits, and laid them by as dead, while they 
are yet alive, and made them a hissing and a by-word 
in the land? and yet dare we imitate them? Are 
not their sufFerino's our warnin<ys ? and did not all 
this befal them as an example to us ? If any thing 
in the world would awaken ministers to self-denial 
and diligence, methinks we had seen enough to do 
it. Would you have imitated the old world, if you 
had seen the flood that drowned it ? Would you 
have indulged in the sins of Sodom — idleness, pride, 
fulness of bread — if you had stood by, and seen the 
flames which consumed it ascending up to heaven ? 
Who would have been a Judas, that had seen him 
hanged and burst asunder? And who would have 
been a lying? sacrilegious hypocrite, that had seen 
Ananias and Sapphira die? And who would not 



301 

have been afraid to contradict the gospel, that had 
seen Elymas smitten with bUndness? And shall 
we prove idle, self-seeking ministers, when we have 
seen God scourging such out of his temple, and sweep- 
ing them away as dirt into the channels ? God for- 
bid ! For then how great and how manifold will 
our condemnation be !* 

Lastly, All the days of fasting and prayer, which 
have, of late years, been kept in England for a re- 
formation, will rise up in judgment against the un- 
reformed, who will not be persuaded to the painful 
part of the work. This, 1 confess, is so heavy an 
aggravation of our sin, that it makes me ready to 
tremble to think of it. Was there ever a nation on 
the face of the earth, which so long and so solemnly 
followed God with fasting and prayer as we have 
done? Before the parliament began, how frequent 
and fervent were we in secret ! After that, for many 
years together, we had a monthly fast commanded 
by the parliament, besides frequent private and public 
fasts on other occasions. And what was all this 
for? Whatever was, for some time, the means we 
looked at, yet still the end of all our prayers was 
church-reformation, and, therein, especially these 
two things, — a faithful ministry, and the exercise of 
discipline in the church. And did it once enter then 

♦ Though we are persuaded that England was never blessed 
with so able, so faithful, so diligent, and so pious a ministry, as 
about the period when Baxter wrote this work, yet it is worthy 
of notice, that the apprehensions which he here expressed, were, 
in a short time, realized in a very melancholy manner. By the 
Act of Uniformity, passed soon after the restoration of Charles II. 
about two thousand of these excellent men were cast out of their 
churches, and, among others, our excellent Author. If it ".as 
thus in the green tree, what shall it be in the dry? — Editou. 



302 

into the hearts of the people, or even into our own 
hearts, to imagine, that when we had all we would 
have, and the matter was put into our own hands, to be 
as painful as we could, and to exercise what discipline 
we would, that then we would do nothing but pub- 
licly preach ? — that we would not be at the pains of 
catechising and instructing our people personally, 
nor exercise any considerable part of discipline at 
all? It astonisheth me to think of it! What a 
depth of deceit is the heart of man ! What ! are 
good men's hearts so deceitful? Are all men's 
hearts so deceitful? I confess, I then told many 
soldiers, and other sensual men, that though they 
had fought for a reformation, I was confident they 
would abhor it, and be enemies to it, when they saw 
and felt it; — thinking that the yoke of discipline 
would have pinched their necks, and that when they 
were catechised and personally dealt with, and re- 
proved for their sin, in private and public, and brought 
to public confession and repentance, or avoided as 
impenitent, they would scorn and spurn at all this, 
and take the yoke of Christ for tyranny : but little 
did I think that the ministers would let all fall, and 
put almost none of this upon them; but let them 
alone, for fear of displeasing them, and let all run 
on as it did before. 

O the earnest prayers which I have heard for a 
painful ministry, and for discipline ! It was as if 
they had even wrestled for salvation itself. Yea, 
they commonly called discipline, * the kingdom of 
Christ, or the exercise of his kingly office in his 
church ;' and so preached and prayed for it, as if the 
setting up of discipline had been the setting up of 



303 

the kingdom of Christ. And did I then think that 
they would refuse to set it up when they might? 
What ! is the kingdom of Christ now reckoned 
among things indifferent ? >^ 

If the God of heaven, who knew our hearts, had, 
in the midst of our prayers and cries, on one of our 
pubHc monthly fasts, returned us this answer, with 
his dreadful voice, in the audience of the assembly: 
' You deceitful- hearted sinners ! What hypocrisy 
is this, to weary me with your cries for that which 
you will not have, if I would give it you ; and thus 
to lift up your voices for that which your souls abhor! 
What is reformation, but the instructing and im- 
portunate persuading of sinners to entertain my 
Christ and grace, as offered to them, and the govern- 
ing of my church according to my word ? Yet these, 
which are your work, you will not be persuaded to, 
when you come to find it troublesome and ungrateful. 
When I have delivered you, it is not me, but your- 
selves, that you will serve ; and I must be as earnest 
to persuade you to reform the church, in doing your 
own duty, as you are earnest with me to grant you 
liberty for reformation. And when all is done, you 
will leave it undone, and will be long before you will 
be persuaded to my work.' — If the Lord, or any 
messenger of his, had given us such an answer, 
would it not have amazed us ? Would it not have 
seemed incredible to us, that our hearts should be 
such as now they prove ? And would we not have 
said, as Hazael, " Is thy servant a dog, that he 
should do this great thing ?" or, as Peter, ' Though 
all men forsake thee, yet will not I ?' Well, breth- 
ren, sad experience hath showed us our frailty. We 



304 

have refused the troublesome and costly part of the 
reformation that we prayed for; but Christ yet 
turneth back, and looketh with a merciful eye upon 
us. O that we had yet the hearts, immediately to 
go out and weep bitterly, and to do no more as we' 
have done, lest a worse thing come upon us ; and 
now to follow Christ, whom we have so far forsaken, 
through labour and suffering, even though it were to 
death ! 

I thus have showed you what will come of it, if 
you will not set yourselves faithfully to this work, to 
which you have so many obligations and engage- 
ments ; and what an inexcusable thing our neglect 
will be, and how great and manifold a condemnation 
it will expose us to. Truly, brethren, if I did not 
apprehend the work to be of exceeding great moment 
to yourselves, to the people, and to the honour of 
God, I would not have troubled you with so many 
words about it, nor have presumed to speak so 
sharply as I have done. But when the question is 
about life and death, men are apt to forget their 
Teverence, and courtesy, and compliments, and good 
manners. For my own part, I apprehend this is one 
of the best and greatest works I ever in my life put 
my hand to ; and I verily think, that if your thoughts 
of it are as mine, you will not think my words too 
many or too keen. I can well remember the time 
when I was earnest for the reformation of matters of 
ceremony ; and if I should be cold in such an im- 
portant matter as this, how disorderly and dispropor- 
tionate would my zeal appear I Alas ! can we think 
tliat the reformation is wrought, when we cast out 
a few ceremonies, and changed some vestures, and 



m5 

gestures, and forms ! O no, sirs ! it is the convert- 
ins; and savincr of souls that is our business. That 
is the chief part of reformation, that doth most good, 
and tendeth most to the salvation of the people. 

And now, brethren, the work is before you. In 
these personal instructions of all the flock, as well as 
in public preaching, doth it consist. Others have 
done their duty, and borne their burden, and now 
comes in yours. You may easily see how great a 
matter lies upon your hands, and how many will be 
wronged by your failing of your duty, and how much 
will be lost by the sparing of your labour. If your 
labour be more worth than all your treasures, and 
than the souls of men, and than the blood of Christ, 
then sit still, and look not after the ignorant or the 
ungodly ; follow your own pleasure or worldly busi- 
ness, or take your ease : displease not sinners, nor 
your own flesh, but let your neighbour sink or swim ; 
and if public preaching will not save them, let them 
perish. But if the case be far otherwise, you had 
best look about you. 

Section II. 
Objections to this Duty. 

I shall next answer some of those objections 
which may be made to the practice I have been re- 
commending. 

Objection 1. We teach our people in public: and 
how then are we bound to teach them, man by man, 
besides? 

Answer, You pray for them in public; must you 



306 

not also pray for them in private? Paul taught 
every man, and exhorted every man, and that both 
publicly, and from house to house, night and day, 
with tears. But what need we say more, when 
experience speaks so loudly on this subject ! I am 
daily forced to wonder, how lamentably ignorant 
many of our people are, who have seemed diligent 
hearers of me these ten or twelve years, while I 
spoke as plainly as I was able to speak ! Some 
know not that each person in the Trinity is God; 
nor that Christ is God and man ; nor that he took 
his human nature to heaven; nor what they must 
trust to for pardon and salvation ; nor many similar 
important principles of our faith. Nay, some who 
come constantly to private meetings are grossly 
ignorant : whereas, in one hour's familiar instruction 
of them in private, they seem to understand more, 
and better, than they did in all their lives before. 

Objection 2. This course will take up so much 
time, that a man will have no opportunity to follow 
his studies. Most of us are young and inexperi- 
enced, and have need of much time to improve our 
own abilities, and to extend our own knowledge, 
which this course will entirely prevent. 

Ansioer 1. We suppose those whom we persuade 
to this work to understand the substance of the 
Christian religion, and to be able to teach it to 
others. And the addition of less necessary things, 
is not to be preferred before this needful communi- 
cation of the fundamental principles of religion. I 
highly value common knowledge, and would not en- 
courage any to set light by it : but I value the sav- 
ing of souls more. That work, which is our great 



307 

end, must be done, whatever be left undone. It is 
a very desirable thing for a physician to have tho- 
roughly studied his art ; and to be able to see the 
reason of his practice, and to resolve such difficult 
controversies as are before him ; but if he had the 
charge of an hospital, or lived in a city where the 
pestilence was raging, if he would be studying de 
fermentatione^ de circulatione sanguinis^ de vesiculo 
chyli^ de instrumentis sanguificationis, and similar 
useful points, when he should be visiting his patients, 
and saving men's lives ; if he should even turn them 
away, and let them perish, and tell them that he has 
not time to give them advice, because he must follow 
his own studies, — I should consider that man as a 
most preposterous student, who preferred the means 
before the end of his studies ; indeed, I should think 
him but a civil kind of murderer. Men's souls may 
be saved without knowing, whether God did pre- 
determine the creature in all its acts, — whether the 
understanding necessarily determines the will, — whe- 
ther God works grace in a physical or in a moral 
way of causation, — what free-will is, — whether God 
have scientiam mediam, or positive decrees de malo 
cidpce; and a hundred similar questions, which are 
probably the things you would be studying when 
you should be saving souls. Get well to heaven, 
and help your people thither, and you shall know all 
these things in a moment, and a thousand more, 
which now, by all your studies, you can never know ; 
and is not this the most expeditious and certain way 
to knowledo;e ? 

2. If you grow not extensively in knowledge, you 
will by this way of diligent practice obtain the inteu- 



508 

sive more excellent growth. If you know not so 
many things as others, you will know the great things 
better than they : for this serious dealing with sin- 
ners for their salvation, will help you to far deeper 
apprehensions of the saving principles of religion, 
than you can get by any other means; and a little 
more knowledge of these is worth all the other know- 
ledge in the world. O, when I am looking heaven- 
ward, and gazing towards the inaccessible light, and 
aspiring after the knowledge of God, and find my 
soul so dark and distant, that I am ready to say, ' I 
know not God — he is above me — quite out of my 
reach !' methhiks I could willingly exchange all the 
other knowledge I have, for one glimpse more of the 
knowledge of God and of the life to come. O that 
I had never known a word in logic or metaphysics, 
nor known whatever schoolmen said, so I had but 
one spark more of that light which would show me 
the things that I must shortly see ! For my part, 
I conceive, that by serious talking of everlasting 
things, and teaching the creed, or some short cate- 
chism, you may grow more in knowledge, (though 
not in the knowledge of more things,) and prove 
much wiser men, than if you spent that time in study- 
ing common or curious, though less necessary things. 
Perhaps it will be found, before we have done, 
that this employment tends to make men much abler 
pastors for the church, than private studies alone. 
He will be the ablest physician, lawyer, and divine 
too, that addeth practice and experience to his 
studies : while that man shall prove a useless drone 
that refuseth God's service all his life, under pretence 
of preparing for it ; and let men's souls pass on to 



309 

perdition, while he pretendeth to be studying how to 
recover them, or to get more ability to help and save 
them. 

3. Yet let me add, that though I count this the 
chief, I would have you to have more, because those 
subservient sciences are very useful ; and therefore, 
I say, that you may have competent time for both — 
Lose no time upon vain recreations and employments: 
consume it not in needless sleep : trifle not away a 
minute. Do what you do with all your might ; and 
then see whether you have not competent time for 
these other pursuits. If you set apart but two days 
in a week to this great work, you may find some time 
for common studies out of the other four. 

Indeed, are not four days in the week (after so 
many years spent in the university) a fair proportion 
for men to study controversies and sermons? Though 
my weakness deprive me of abundance of time, and 
extraordinary works take up six, if not eight parts of 
my time, yet I bless God I can find time to provide 
for preaching two days a-week, notwithstanding the 
two days for personal instruction. Now, for those 
that are not troubled with any extraordinary work, ( I 
mean writings, and avocations of several kinds, besides 
the ordinary work of the ministry,) I cannot believe, 
but if they are willing, they may find two half days a 
week at least for this work. 

4. Duties are to be taken together : the greatest 
is to be preferred ; but none are to be neglected that 
can be performed; one is not to be pleaded against 
another, but each is to know its proper place : but if 
there were such a case of necessity, that we could not 
carry on further .studies, and instruct the ignorant too, 



310 

1 would throw aside all the libraries in the world, 
rather than be guilty of the perdition of one soul ; or, 
at least, I know that this would be my duty. 

Objection 3. But this course will destroy the health 
of our bodies, by conthiual spending our spirits, and 
allowing us no time for necessary recreations ; and it 
will wholly lock us up from friendly intercourse with 
others, so that we must never stir from home, nor 
enjoy ourselves a day with our friends, for the relaxa- 
tion of our minds ; but, as we shall seem uncourteous 
and morose to others, so we shall tire ourselves, and 
the bow that is always bent will he in danger of break- 
ing at last. 

Answer 1. This is the plea of the flesh for its own 
interest. The sluggard saith, There is a lion in the 
way ; nor will he plough, because of the cold. There 
is no duty of moment and self-denial, but, if you con- 
sult with flesh and blood, it will give you as wise rea- 
sons as these against it. Who would ever have been 
burnt at a stake for Christ, if this reasoning had been 
good? yea, or who would ever have been a Christian ? 

2. We may take time for necessary recreation, and 
yet attend to this work. An hour, or half an hour's 
walk before meat, is as much recreation as is necessary 
for the health of most of the weaker sort of students. 
I have reason to know somewhat of this by long ex- 
perience. Though I have a body that hath languished 
under great weaknesses for many years, and my dis- 
eases have been such as require as much exercise as 
almost any in the world, and I have found exercise 
the principal means of my preservation till now, and, 
therefore, havie as great reason to plead for it as any 
man that I know, yet I have found that the foresaid 



811 

proportion hath been blessed to my preservation^ 
though I know that much more had been Hke to have 
tended to my greater health. Indeed, I do not know- 
one minister in a hundred that needeth so much exer- 
cise as myself. Yea, I know abundance of ministers 
that scarce ever use any exercise at all : though I com- 
mend not this in them ; I doubt not but it is our duty 
to use so much exercise as is necessary for the pre- 
servation of our health, so far as our work requireth; 
otherwise we should, for one day's work, lose the 
opportunity of many. But this may be done, and 
yet the work that we are engaged in be done too. 
On those two days a-week that you set apart for this 
work, what hinders but you may take an hour or two 
to walk, for the exercise of your bodies? Much 
more on other days. 

But as for those men who limit not their recrea- 
tions to stated hours, but must have them for the 
pleasing of their voluptuous humour, and not merely 
to fit them for their work, such sensualists have need 
to study better the nature of Christianity, and to 
learn the danger of living after the flesh, and to get 
more mortification and self-denial, before they preach 
these things to others. If you must needs have 
your pleasures, you should not have put yourselves 
into a calling that requireth you to make God and 
his service your pleasure, and restraineth you so 
much from fleshly pleasures. Is it not your bap- 
tismal engagement to fight against the flesh ? and do 
you not know that much of the Christian warfare 
consisteth in the combat between the flesh and the 
spirit? and that this is the difference between a true 
Christian and an unconverted man, that the one liveth 



312 

after the Spirit, and mortifieth the deeds and desires 
of the body, and the other Uveth after the flesh ? 
And do you make it your calHng to preach all this to 
others; and, notwithstanding this, must you needs 
have your pleasures ? If you must, then for shame 
give over the preaching of the gospel, and the pro- 
fession of Christianity, and profess yourselves to be 
what you are; and as " you sow to the flesh, so of 
the flesh you shall reap corruption." Doth even 
Paul say, " I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; 
50 fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I 
keep under my body, and bring it into subjection ; 
lest that, by any means, when I have preached to 
others, I myself should be a castaway." And have 
not such sinners as we still more need to do so? 
What ! shall we pamper our bodies, and give them 
their desires in unnecessary pleasure, when Paul must 
keep under his body, and bring it into subjection ? 
Must Paul do this, lest, after all his preaching, he 
should be a castaway ? and have not we much more 
cause to fear it of ourselves? I know that some 
pleasure is lawful ; that is, when it is of use to fit us 
for our work. But for a man to be so far in love 
with his pleasures, as for the sake of them to waste 
unnecessarily his precious time, and to neglect the 
great work of men's salvation, yea, and to plead for 
this as if it must or might be done, and so to justify 
himself in such a course, is a wickedness inconsistent 
with the common fidelity of a Christian, much more 
with the fidelity of a minister of Christ. Such 
wretches as are " lovers of pleasures more than lovers 
of God," must look to be loved of him accordingly, 
and are fitter to be cast out of Christian communion, 



313 

than to be the chief in the church, for we are com- 
manded " from such to turn away." Recreations 
for a student must be specially for the exercise of his 
body, he having before him such variety of delights 
to his mind. And they must be used as whetting 
is by the mower, — only so far as is necessary to his 
work. We must be careful that they rob us not of 
our precious time, but be kept within the narrowest 
possible bounds. 

3. The labour in which we are engaged is not 
likely much to impair our health. It is true, it must 
be serious; but that will but excite and revive our 
spirits, and not so much spend them. Men can talk 
all day long about other matters, without any abate- 
ment of their health; and why may we not talk with 
men about their salvation, without such great abate- 
ment of ours ? 

4. What have we our time and strength for, but 
to lay them out for God ? What is a candle made 
for, but to burn ? Burned and wasted we must be, 
and is it not fitter it should be in lighting men to 
heaven, and in working for God, than in living to 
the flesh ? How little difference is there between 
the pleasure of a long and of a short life, when they 
are both at an end ! What comfort will it be to 
you at death, that you lengthened your life by short- 
ening your work? He that works much, liveth 
much. Our life is to be esteemed according to the 
ends and works of it, and not according to the mere 
duration. As Seneca says of a drone, " Ibi jacet, 
non ibi vivit; et diu fuit, non diu vixit." Will it 
not comfort us more at death, to review a short time 
faithfully spent, than a long life spent unfaithfully? 

O 42 



314 

5. As for visits and civilities, if they be of greater 
use than our ministerial employments, you may break 
the Sabbath for them, you may forbear preaching 
for them, and you may also forbear this private work. 
But if it be otherwise, how dare you make them a 
jDretence for neglecting so great a duty ? Must God 
wait on your friends ? What though they be lords, 
or knights, or gentlemen ; must they be served be- 
fore God ? Or is their displeasure or censure a 
greater hurt to you than God's displeasure or cen- 
sure? Or dare you think, when God will question 
you for your neglects, to put him off with this ex- 
cuse, * Lord, I would have spent more of my time 
in seeking men's salvation ; but such a gentleman, or 
such a friend, would have taken it ill if I had not 
waited on them !' If you yet seek to please men, 
you are no longer the servants of Christ. He that 
dare spend his life in flesh-pleasing, and man-pleas- 
ing, is bolder than I am. And he that dare waste 
his time in compliments, doth little consider what he 
hath to do with it. O that I could but improve my 
time, according to my convictions of the necessity of 
improving it! He that hath looked death in the 
face as oft as I have done, I will not thank him if 
he value his time. I profess I wonder at those 
ministers who have time to spare, — who can hunt, 
or shoot, or bowl, or use the like recreations, two or 
three hours, yea, whole days together, — that can sit 
an hour together in vain discourse, and spend whole 
days in complimental visits, and journeys to such 
ends. Good Lord ! what do these men think on ! — 
when so many souls around them cry for help, and 
death gives us no respite, and they know not how 



315 

short a time their people and they may be together, 
— when the smallest parish hath so much work that 
may employ all their diligence, night and day ! 
Brethren, I hope you are willing to be plainly dealt 
with. If you have no sense of the worth of souls, 
and of the preciousness of that blood which was shed 
for them, and of the glory to which they are going, 
and of the misery of which they are in danger, you 
are not Christians, and, consequently, are very unfit 
to be ministers. And if you have, how can you find 
time for needless recreations, visits, or discourses ? 
Dare you, like idle gossips, trifle away your time, 
when you have such works as these to do, and so 
many of them ? O precious time ! How swiftly 
doth it pass away ! How soon will it be gone ! 
What are the forty years of my life that are past ! 
Were every day as long as a month, methinks it were 
too short for the work of a day ! Have we not 
already lost time enough, in the days of our vanity ? 
Never do I come to a dying man that is not utterly 
stupid, but he better sees the worth of time ! O ! 
then, if they could call time back again, how loud 
would they call ! If they could but buy it, what 
would they not give for it ! And yet we can afford 
to trifle it away ! yea, and to allow ourselves in this, 
and wilfully to cast off" the greatest works of God ! 
O what a befooling thing is sin, that can thus distract 
men that seem so wise ! Is it possible that a man 
of any compassion and honesty, or any concern about 
his ministerial duty, or any sense of the strictness of 
his account, should have time to spare for idleness 
and vanity? 

And I must tell you further, brethren, that if 
o2 



S16 

another might take some time for mere delight, which 
is not necessary, yet so cannot you ; for your under- 
taking binds you to stricter attendance than other 
men are bound to. May a physician, when the 
plague is raging, take any more relaxation or recrea- 
tion than is necessary for his life, when so many are 
expecting his help in a case of life and death ? As 
his pleasure is not worth men's lives, still less is yours 
worth men's souls. Suppose a city were besieged, 
and the enemy watching, on one side, all advantages 
to surprise it, and, on the other, seeking to fire it 
with granadoes, which they are throwing in continu- 
ally, I pray you tell me, if some men undertake, as 
their office, to watch the ports, and others to quench 
the fire that may be kindled in the houses, what time 
will you allow these men for recreation or relaxation, 
when the city is in danger, and the fire will burn on, 
and prevail, if they intermit their diligence ? Or 
would you excuse one of these men, if he come off 
his work, and say, I am but flesh and blood, I must 
have some relaxation and pleasure ? Surely, at the 
utmost, you would allow him none but what was 
absolutely necessary. 

Do not grudge at this, and say, " This is a hard 
saying, who can bear it ?" For it is your mercy ; 
and you are well, if you know when you are well, as 
I shall show you in answering the next objection. 

Objection 4. I do not think that it is required of 
ministers that they make drudges of themselves. If 
they preach diligently, and visit the sick, and perform 
other ministerial duties, and occasionally do good to 
those they converse with, I do not think that God 
doth require that we should thus tie ourselves to in- 



317 

struct every person distinctly, and to make our lives 
a burden and a slavery. 

Answer. Of what use and weight the duty is, 
I have showed before, and how plainly it is com- 
manded. And do you think God doth not require 
you to do all the good you can? Will you stand 
by, and see sinners gasping^under the pangs of death, 
and say, ' God doth not require me to make myself 
a drudge to save them ?' Is this the voice of Chris- 
tian or ministerial compassion ? Or is it not rather 
the voice of sensual laziness and diabolical cruelty? 
Doth God set you work to do, and will you not be- 
lieve that he would have you do it ? Is this the 
voice of obedience or of rebellion ? It is all one 
whether your flesh prevail with you to deny obedience 
to acknowledged duty, and say plainly, ' I will obey 
no further than it pleaseth me ;' or whether it may 
make you wilfully reject the evidence that should 
convince you that it is a duty, and say, ' I will not 
believe it to be my duty, unless it please me.' It is 
the character of a hypocrite, to make a religion to 
himself of the cheapest part of God's service, which 
will stand with his fleshly ends and felicity, and to 
reject the rest which is inconsistent therewith. And 
to the words of hypocrisy, this objection superaddeth 
the words of gross impiety. For what a wretched 
calumny is this against the most high God, to call 
his service a slavery and drudgery ! What thoughts 
have such men of their Master, their work, and their 
wages ? — the thoughts of a believer, or of an infidel ? 
Are these men like to honour God, and promote his 
service, that have such base thoughts of it themselves? 
Do these men delight in holiness, that account it a 



-p 



318 

slavish work ? Do they believe indeed the misery 
of sinners, that account it such a drudgery to be 
diligent to save them ? Christ saith, that " he that 
denieth not himself, and forsaketh not all, and taketh 
not up his cross, and foUoweth him, cannot be his 
disciple." But these men count it a slavery to labour 
hard in his vineyard, and to deny their ease, at a time 
when they have all accommodations and encourage- 
ments. How far is this from forsaking all ! And 
how can these men be fit for the ministry, who are 
such enemies to self-denial, and, consequently, to 
true Christianity? I am, therefore, forced to say, 
that hence arises the chief misery of the church, 

THAT so MANY ARE MADE MINISTERS BEFORE 

THEY ARE CHRISTIANS. If these men had seen 
the diligence of Christ in doing good, when he ne- 
glected his meat to talk with one woman, and when 
he had no time to eat bread, would they not have 
been of the mind of his carnal friends, who went to 
lay hold on him, and said, " He is beside himself?" 
They would have told Christ he made a drudge of 
himself, and God did not require all this ado. If 
they had seen him all day in preaching, and all night 
in prayer, it seems he would have had this censure 
from them for his labour ! I cannot but advise these 
men to search their own hearts, whether they un- 
feignedly believe that word which they preach. Do 
you indeed believe that such glory awaiteth those 
who die in the Lord, and such torment those who 
die unconverted? If you do, how can you think 
any labour too much for such weighty ends? If 
you do not, say so, and get you out of the vineyard, 
and go, with the prodigal, to keep swine, and under- 
take not to feed the flock of Christ. 



319 

Do you not know, brethren, that it is your own 
benefit which you grudge at ? The more you do, 
the more you will receive : the more you lay out, 
the more you will have coming in. If you are 
strangers to these Christian paradoxes, you should 
not have undertaken to teach them to others. At 
present, our incomes of spiritual life and peace are 
commonly in the way of duty; so that he who is 
most in duty hath most of God. Exercise of grace 
increaseth it. And is it a slavery to be more with 
God, and to receive more from him, than other men ? 
It is the chief solace of a gracious soul to be doing 
good, and receiving by doing ; and to be much exer- 
cised about those divine thincrs which have his heart. 
Besides, we prepare for fuller receivings hereafter ; 
we put out our talents to usury, and, by improving 
them, we shall make five become ten, and so be made 
rulers of ten cities. Is it a drudgery to send to the 
most distant parts of the world, to exchange our trifles 
for gold and jewels? Do not these men seek to 
justify the profane, who make all diligent godliness a 
drudgery, and reproach it as a precise and tedious 
life, and say, they will never believe but a man may 
be saved without all this ado ? Even so say these 
in respect to the work of the ministry. They take 
this diligence for ungrateful tediousness, and will not 
believe but a man may be a faithful minister without 
all this ado ! It is a heinous sin to be neffliiient in 
so great a business; but to approve of that negligence, 
and so to be impenitent — and to plead against duty 
as] if it were none — and when they should lay out 
themselves for the saving of souls, to say, ' I do not 
believe that God requireth it,' — this is so great an 



320 

aggravation of the sin, that, where the church's ne- 
cessity doth not force us to make use of such men, 
for want of better, I cannot but think them worthy 
to be cast out as rubbish, and as " salt that hath 
lost its savour, that is neither fit for the land, nor yet 
for the dung-hill." And if such ministers become 
a by-word and a reproach, let them thank themselves ; 
for it is their own sin that maketh them vile. And 
while they thus debase the service of Christ, they 
do but debase themselves, and prepare for a greater 
debasement at the last. 

Objection 5. But if you make such severe laws 
for ministers, the church will be left without them. 
For what man will choose such a toilsome life for 
himself? or what parents will impose such a burden 
on their children? Men will avoid it both for the 
bodily toil, and the danger to their consciences, if 
they should not well discharge it. 

Ansiuer 1. It is not we, but Christ, who hath 
imposed these laws which you call severe : and if I 
should misinterpret them, that woxdd not relax them, 
nor excuse you. He that made them, knew why he 
did it, and will expect obedience to them. Is infinite 
goodness to be questioned or suspected by us, as 
making bad or unmerciful laws ? Nay, it is pure 
mercy in him to impose this great duty upon us. If 
physicians were required to be as diligent as possible' 
in hospitals, or pest-houses, or with other patients, in 
order to save their lives, would there not be more 
of mercy than of rigour in this law ? What ! must 
God let the souls of your neighbours perish, to save 
you a little labour and suffering, and this in mercy to 
you? O what a miserable world should we have, if 
blind, self-conceited man had the ruling of it ! 



2. As to a supply of pastors, Christ will take care 
of that. He who imposeth duty, hath the fulness 
of the Spirit, and can give men's hearts to obey his 
laws. Do you tliink Christ will suffer all men to 
be as cruel, unmerciful, fleshly, and self-seeking, as 
you ? He who himself undertook the work of our 
redemption, and bore our transgressions, and hath 
been faithful as the chief Shepherd of the church, 
will not lose all his labour and suffering, for want of 
instruments to carry on his work, nor will he come 
down again to do all himself, because no other will 
do it ; but he will provide men to be his servants 
and ushers in his school, who shall willingly take the 
labour on them, and rejoice to be so employed, and 
account that the happiest life in the world, which 
you account so great a toil, and would not exchange 
it for all your ease and carnal pleasure; but, for the 
saving of souls, and the propagating of the gospel of 
Christ, will be content to " bear the burden and heat 
of the day — and to fill up the measure of the suffer- 
ings of Christ in their bodies — and to work while it 
is day — and to be the servants of all, and not to please 
themselves, but others, for their edification — and to 
become all things to all men, that they may save 
some — and to endure all things for the elect's sake — 
and to spend and be spent for their fellow-creatures, 
though the more they love, the less they should be 
beloved, and should be accounted their enemies for 
telling them the truth." Such pastors will Christ 
provide his people, after his own heart, who " will 
feed them with knowledge ;" as men that " seek not 
theirs, but them." What ! do you think Christ 
will have no servants, if such as you shall, with 
o 3 



322 

Demas, " turn to the present world, and forsake 
him ?" If you dishke his service, you may seek a 
better where you can find it, and boast of your gain 
in the end : but do not threaten him with the loss of 
your service. He hath made such laws as you will 
call severe, for all who will be saved, as well as for 
his ministers : for all who will be his disciples must 
" deny themselves, and mortify the flesh, and be 
crucified to the world, and take up their cross and 
follow him." And yet Christ will not be without 
disciples, nor will he conceal his seeming hard terms 
from men to entice them to his service, but he will 
tell them of the worst, and then let them come or 
not as they choose. He will call to them beforehand 
to count the cost, and will tell them, that " the foxes 
have holes^ and the birds of the air have nests, but 
the Son of man hath not where to lay his head;" 
that he comes not to give them worldly peace and 
prosperity, but to call them to " suffer with him, 
that they may reign with him," and " in patience to 
possess their souls." And all this he will cause his 
chosen to perform. If you be come to that pass with 
Christ, as the Israelites were once with David, and 
say, " Will the son of Jesse give you fields and 
vineyards ? Every man to your tents, O Israel !" 
and if you say, " Now look to thy own house, thou 
Son of David !" you shall see that Christ will look 
to his own house ; and do you look to yours as well 
as you can, and tell me, at the hour of death and 
judgment, which is the better bargain, and whether 
Christ had more need of you, or you of him. 

As to scruples of conscience, for fear of failing, 
let it be remarked, 1. It is not involuntary imper- 



fections that Christ will take so heinously : it is un- 
faithfulness and wilful negligence. 2. It will not 
serve your turn to run out of the vineyard, on pre- 
tence of scruples, that you cannot do the work as 
you ought. He can follow you, and overtake you, 
as he did Jonah, with such a storm as shall lay you 
" in the belly of hell." To cast off a duty, because 
you cannot be faithful in the performance of it, will 
prove but a poor excuse at last. If men had but 
calculated well at first, the diflPerence between things 
temporal and things eternal, and what they shall lose 
or get by Christ, and had possessed that faith which 
is " the evidence of things not seen," and had lived 
by faith, and not by sense, all these objections would 
be easily resolved by us ; and would appear as the 
reasoning of children, or rather of men who had lost 
their senses. 

Objection 6. But to what purpose is all this, when 
most of the people will not submit ? They will not 
come to us to.be catechised, and will tell us that they 
are now too old to go to school. And therefore it 
is better to let them alone, as trouble them and our- 
selves to no purpose. 

Answer 1. It is not to be denied that too many 
people are obstinate in their wickedness, that the 
" simple ones love simplicity, and the scorners delight 
in scorning, and fools hate knowledge." But the 
worse they are, the sadder is their case, and the more 
to be pitied, and the more diligent should we be for 
their recovery. 

2. I wish it were not the blame of ministers, that 
a great part of the people are so obstinate and con- 
temptuous ! If we did but burn and shine before 



.3^4 

them as we ought — had we convincing sermons and 
convincing lives — did we set ourselves to do all the 
good we could, whatever it might cost us — were we 
more meek and humble, more loving and charitable, 
and showed them that we set light by all worldly 
things, in comparison of their salvation, — much more 
might be done by us than is done, and the mouths of 
many would be stopped; and though the wicked will 
still do wickedly, yet more would be tractable, and 
the wicked would be fewer and calmer than they are. 
If you say, that some of the ablest and godliest 
ministers in the country have had as untractable and 
scornful parishioners as others — I answer, that some 
able godly men have been too lordly and strange, and 
some of them too uncharitable and worldly, and back- 
ward to costly, though necessary good works, and 
some of them have done but little in private, when 
they have done excellently in public, and so have 
hindered the fruit of their labours. But where 
there are not these impediments, experience telleth 
us that the success is much greater, at least as to the 
bowing of people to more calmness and docility. 

3. The wilfulness of the people will not excuse us 
from our duty. - If we offer them not our help, how 
do we know who will refuse it ? Offering it is our 
part, and accepting it is theirs. If we offer it not, 
we leave them excusable, for then they refuse it not; 
but then we are left without excuse. But if they 
refuse our help when it is offered, we have done our 
part, and delivered our own souls. 

4. If some refuse our help, others will accept it : 
and the success with them may. be so much, as may 
reward all our labour, were it even greater. All our 



825 

people are not wrought on by our public preaching, 
and yet we must not, on this account, give it over 
as unprofitable. 

Objection 7. But what likelihood is there that men 
will be converted by this means, who are not con- 
verted by the preaching of the word, when that is 
God's chief ordinance for that end ? Faith cometh 
by hearing, and hearing by the preaching of the word. 

Answer 1 . The advantages of this practice I have 
shown you before, and therefore I will not now re- 
peat them ; only, lest any think that this will hinder 
them from preaching, I may add, to the many bene- 
fits which I formerly enumerated, that it will be an 
excellent means of helping you in preaching. For 
as the physician's work is half done when he under- 
stands the disease, so, when you are well acquainted 
with your people's case, you will know what to preach 
on; and it will furnish you with useful matter for your 
sermons, better than many hour's study will do. 

2. I hope there is none so silly as to think this 
conference is not preaching. What ! doth the num- 
ber we speak to make it preaching ? Or doth inter- 
locution make it none ? Surely a man may as truly 
preach to one as to a thousand. And, as we have 
already said, if you examine, you will find that most 
of the preaching recorded in the New Testament 
was by conference, and frequently interlocutory ; and 
that with one or two, fewer or more, as opportunity 
offered. Thus Christ himself did most commonly 
preach. Besides, we must take account of our peo- 
ple's learning, if we regard the success of our work. 

There is nothing, therefore, from God, from the 
Scriptures, or from right reason, to cause us to have 



32d 

any doubts as to our work, or to be unwilling to it. 
But from the world, from the flesh, and from the 
devil, we shall have much, and more perhaps than 
we anticipate. But against all temptations, if we 
have recourse to God, and look, on the one hand, to 
our great obligations, and the hopeful effects, and 
the blessed reward, on the other, we shall see that 
we have little cause to draw back or to faint. 

Let us set before us the pattern in our text, and 
learn thence our duty. O what a lesson is here be- 
fore us ! But how ill is it learned by those who 
still question whether these things be their duty ! 
I confess, some of these words of Paul have been so 
often presented before my eyes, and impressed upon 
my conscience, that I have been much convinced by 
them of my duty and my neglect. And I think 
this one speech better deserveth a twelvemonth's 
study, than most things that young students spend 
their time upon. O brethren ! write it on your 
study doors — set it in capital letters, that it may be 
ever before your eyes ! Could we but well learn two 
or three lines of it, what preachers should we be ! 

1. Our general Business — Serving the Lord 

WITH ALL HUMILITY OF MIND, AND WITH MANY 
TEARS. 

2. Our special Work — Take heed to our- 
selves, AND to all the FLOCK. 

3. Our Doctrine — Repentance toward God, 

AND FAITH TOWARD OUR LoRD JeSUS ChRIST. 

4. The place and manner of Teaching — I have 

TAUGHT YOU PUBLICLY, AND FROM HOUSE TO 
HOUSE. 

5. His Diligence, Earnestness, and Affection — I 



327 

CEASED NOT TO WARN EVERY ONE NIGHT AND 

DAY WITH TEARS. This is that which must win 
souls, and preserve them. 

6. His Fidelity — I kept back nothing that 

WAS PROFITABLE UNTO YOU, AND HAVE NOT 
SHUNNED TO DECLARE UNTO YOU ALL THE COUN- 
SEL OF God. 

7. His Disinterestedness and Self-denial for the 
sake of the Gospel — I have coveted no man's 

SILVER, OR gold, OR APPAREL: YEA, THESE HANDS 
HAVE MINISTERED UNTO MY NECESSITIES, AND TO 
THEM THAT WERE WITH ME, REMEMBERING THE 
WORDS OF THE LoRD JeSUS, HOW HE SAID, 1t IS 
MORE BLESSED TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE. 

8. His Patience and Perseverance — None of 

THESE THINGS MOVE ME, NEITHER COUNT I MY 
LIFE DEAR UNTO ME, SO THAT I MIGHT FINISH MY 
COURSE WITH JOY^ AND THE MINISTRY WHICH I 
HAVE RECEIVED OF THE LoRD JeSUS. 

9. His Prayerfulness — I commend you to God 

AND TO THE WORD OF HIS GRACE, WHICH IS ABLE 
TO BUILD YOU UP, AND TO GIVE YOU AN INHERI- 
TANCE AMONG ALL THEM WHICH ARE SANCTIFIED. 

10. His Purity of Conscience — Wherefore 

I TAKE YOU TO RECORD THIS DAY, THAT I AM 
PURE FROM THE BLOOD OF ALL MEN. 

Write all this upon your hearts, and it will do 
yourselves and the church more good than twenty 
years' study of those lower things, which, though 
they may get you greater applause in the world, yet, 
if separated from these, they will make you but as 
" sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal." 

The great advantage of ministers having a sincere 



328 

heart, is this, that God and glory, and the salvation 
of souls, are their very end ; and where that end is 
truly intended, no labour or suffering will stop them, 
or turn them back ; for a man must have his end 
whatever it cost him. Whatever he forgets, he will 
still retain this lesson : " One thing is needful, 
— Seek ye first the kingdom of God and 
HIS righteousness." Hence he says, " Necessity 
is laid upon me, yea, woe is unto me if I preach not 
the gospel." This is it that will most effectually 
make easy all our labours, and make light all our 
burdens, and make tolerable all our sufferings, and 
cause us to venture on any hazards, if we may only 
win souls to Christ. That which I once made the 
motto of my colours in another warfare, I desire may 
be still before my eyes in this ; which yet, according 
to my intentions, is not altogether another. On one 
side, " He that saveth his life shall lose it," — on 
the other, " Nee propter vitam vivendi perdere 
causas." He who krioweth that he serveth a God 
that will never suffer any man to be a loser by him, 
need not fear what hazards he runs in his cause : 
and he who knows that he seeks a prize, which, if 
obtained, will infinitely overbalance his cost, may 
boldly engage his whole estate on it, and sell all 
to purchase so rich a pearl. Well, brethren, I will 
spend no more words in exhorting wise merchants 
to such a bargain, nor telling teachers themselves 
such common truths ; and if I have already said 
more than is necessary, I shall be glad. I hope I 
may now take it for granted, that you are resolved 
on the utmost diligence and fidelity in the work ; 
and, on this supposition, I shall now proceed to give 



329 

you some directions for the successful prosecution 
of it. 



Section III. 
Directions for this Duty. 

It is so important a work wijich we have before 
us, that it is a thousand pities it should be destroyed 
in the birth, and perish in our hands. And though 
I know that we have a knotty generation to deal 
with, and that it is past the power of any of us to 
change a carnal heart without the effectual operation 
of the Holy Ghost; yet it is so usual with God to 
work by means, and to bless the right endeavours of 
his servants, that I cannot fear but great things will 
be accomplished, and a wonderful blow will be given 
to the kingdom of darkness by this work, if it do 
not miscarry through the fault of the ministers 
themselves. The main danger arises from the want 
either of diligence or of skill. Of the former, I 
have spoken much already. As to the latter, I am 
so conscious of my own unskilfulness, that I am 
far from imagining that I am fit to give directions 
to any but the younger and more inexperienced of 
the ministry; and, therefore, I expect so much jus- 
tice in your interpretation of what I say, as that you 
will suppose me now to speak to none but such. 
But yet something I shall say, and not pass over 
this part in silence, because the number of such is 
so great; and I am apprehensive that the welfare of 
the church and nation doth so much depend on the 
right management of this work. 



330 

The points as to which you need to be solicitous, 
are these two : — 

I. To bring your people to submit to this course 
of private catechising or instruction ; for if they will 
not come to you, or allow you to come to them, what 
good can they receive ? 

II. To do the work in such a manner as will tend 
to the success of it. 

Article I. — We are first to give you some di' 
rections for bringing your people to submit to this 
course of catechising and instruction. 

I. The chief means of this is, for a minister so 
to conduct himself in the general course of his life 
and ministry, as to convince his people of his ability, 
sincerity, and unfeigned love to them. For if they 
take him to be ignorant, they will despise his in- 
structions, and think themselves as wise as he; and 
if they think him self-seeking, or hypocritical, and 
one that doth not mean as he saith, they will suspect 
all he says and does for them, and will not regard 
him. Whereas, if they are convinced that he un- 
derstandeth what he doth, and have high thoughts 
of his abilities, they will reverence him, and the more 
easily stoop to his advice ; and when they are per- 
suaded of his uprightness, they will the less suspect 
his motions; and when they perceive that he intend- 
eth no private ends of his own, but merely their 
good, they will the more readily be persuaded by him. 
And because those to whom I write are supposed to 
be none of the most able ministers, and may there- 
fore despair of being reverenced for their parts — I 
would say to them, you have the more need to study 



331 

and labour for their increase : and that which you 
want in ability, must be made up in other qualifica- 
tions, and then your advice may be as successful as 
others. 

If ministers were content to purchase an interest 
in the affections of their people at the dearest rates 
to their own flesh, and would condescend to them, 
and be familiar and affectionate, and prudent in their 
carriage, and abound according to their ability, in 
good works, they might do much more with their 
people than ordinarily they do ; not that we should 
much regard an interest in them for our own sakes, 
but that we may be more capable of promoting the 
interests of Christ, and of furthering their salvation. 
Were it not for their own sakes, it were no great 
matter whether they love or hate us ; but what com- 
mander can do any great service with an army that 
hates him? And how can we think that they will 
much regard our counsel, while they abhor or disre- 
gard the persons that give it them ? Labour, there- 
fore, for some competent interest in the estimation 
and affection of your people, and then you may the 
better prevail with them. 

But some perhaps will say, what should a minister 
do who finds he hath lost the affections of his people ? 
To this I answer, — If they be so vile a people, that 
they hate him not for any weakness, or misconduct 
of his, but merely for endeavouring their good, and 
would hate any other that should do his duty ; then 
must he, with patience and meekness, continue to 
" instruct those that oppose themselves, if God per- 
adventure will give them repentance to the acknow- 
ledgment of the truth." But if it be on account of 



332 

any weakness of his, or difFerence about lesser opin- 
ions, or prejudice against his own person, let him 
first try to remove the prejudice by all lawful means ; 
and if he cannot, let him say to them, ' It is not 
for myself, but for you that I labour : and therefore, 
seeing that you will not obey the word from me, I 
desire that you will agree to accept of some other 
that may do you that good which I cannot ;' and so 
leave them, and try whether another man may not 
be fitter for them, and he fitter for another people. 
For an ingenuous man can hardly stay with a people 
against their wills ; and a sincere man can still more 
hardly, for any benefit of his own, remain in a place 
where he is likely to be unprofitable, and to hinder 
the good which they might receive from another 
man, who hath the advantage of a general interest 
in their affection and esteem. 

II. Supposing this general preparation, the next 
thing to be done is, — To use the most effectual 
means to convince them of the benefit and necessity 
of this course to their own souls. The way to win 
the consent of people to any thing that you propose, 
is to prove that it is profitable for them. You must 
therefore preach to them some powerful convincing 
sermons to this purpose beforehand, and show them 
the benefit and necessity of knowledge of divine 
truths in general, and of knowing the first principles 
in particular; and that the aged have the same duty 
and need as others, and in some respects much more : 
e.^. from Heb. v. 12. " For when for the time ye 
ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach 
you again which be the first principles of the oracles 
of God ; and are become such as have need of milk, 



333 

and not of strong meat," which afFordeth us many 
observations suitable to our present object. As, 

1. That God's oracles must be a man's lessons. 

2. Ministers must teach these, and people must 
learn them from them. 

3. The oracles of God have some fundamental 
principles, which all must know who wish to be 
saved. 

4. These principles must be first learned : that is 
the right order. 

5. It may be reasonably expected that people 
should thrive in knowledge, according to the means 
of instruction which they possess ; and if they do not, 
it is their great sin. 

6. If any have lived long in the church, under 
the means of knowledge, and yet are ignorant of 
these first principles, they have need to be yet taught 
them, how old soever they mr.y be. All this is plain 
from the text; whence we have a fair opportunity, 
by many clear convincing reasons, to show them : — 
1. The necessity of knowing God's oracles. 2. 
And more especially of the fundamental principles. 
3. And particularly for the aged, who have sinfully 
lost so much time already, and have so long pro- 
mised to repent when they were old; who should 
be teachers of the young, and whose ignorance is a 
double sin and shame ; who have now so Httle time 
in which to learn, and are so near to death and judg- 
ment; and who have souls to save or lose as well as 
others. Convince them how impossible it is to go 
the way to heaven without knowing it, when there 
are so many difficulties and enemies in the way ; and 
when men cannot do their worldly business without 



334^ 

knowledge, nor learn a trade without an apprentice- 
ship. Convince them what a contradiction it is to 
be a Christian, and yet to refuse to learn ; for what 
is a Christian but a disciple of Christ ? And how 
can he be a disciple of Christ that refuseth to be 
taught by him ? And he that refuseth to be taught 
by his ministers, refuseth to be taught by him : for 
Christ will not come down from heaven again to 
teach them by his own mouth, but hath appointed 
his ministers to keep school and teach them under 
him. To say, therefore, that they will not be taught 
by his ministers, is to say they will not be taught by 
Christ ; and that is to say they will not be his dis- 
ciples, or no Christians. 

Make them understand that it is not an arbitrary 
business of our own devising and imposing; but 
that necessity is laid upon us, and that if we look not 
to every member of the flock according to our ability, 
they may perish in their iniquity, but their blood 
will be required at our hand. Show them that it is 
God, and not we, who is the contriver and imposer 
of the work; and that therefore they blame God 
more than us in accusing it. Ask them, would they 
be so cruel to their minister as to wish him to cast 
away his own soul, knowingly and wilfully, for fear 
of troubling them by trying to hinder their damna- 
tion? Acquaint them fully with the nature of the 
ministerial office, and the church's need of it ; how 
it consisteth in teaching and guiding all the flock ; 
and that, as they must come to the congregation as 
scholars to school, so must they be content to give an 
account of what they have learned, and to be further 
instructed, man by man. Let them know what a 



335 

tendency this hath to their salvation ; — what a pro- 
fitable improvement it will be of their time — and 
how much vanity and evil it will prevent. And 
when they once find that it is for their own good, 
they will the more easily yield to it. 

III. When this is done, it will be very necessary 
that we give one of the catechisms to every family 
in the parish, whether rich or poor, that so they 
may be without excuse; for if you leave it to them- 
selves to purchase them, perhaps the half of them 
will not get them ; whereas, when they have copies 
put into their hands, the receiving of them will be a 
kind of engagement to learn them ; and if they do 
but read the exhortation, (as it is likely they will,) 
it will perhaps convince them and incite them to 
submit. As to the delivery of them, the best way 
is, for the minister first to give notice in the congre- 
gation, that they shall be brought to their houses, 
and then to go himself from house to house and 
deliver them, and take the opportunity of persuading 
them to the work; and as he goes round, to take a 
list of all the persons who have come to years of 
discretion in the several families, that he may know 
whom he has to take care of and instruct, and whom 
he has to expect, when it cometh to their turn. I 
have formerly, in distributing some other books 
among my people, desired every family to call for 
them ; but I found more confusion and uncertainty 
in that way, and now adopt this as the better method. 
But in small congregations either way may do. 

As to the expense of the catechisms, if the minis- 
ter be able, it will be well for him to bear it : if not, 
the best aflPected among the richer class of his people 



336 

should bear it among them. Or, on a day of humi- 
liation, in preparation for the work, let the collection 
that is usually made for the poor, be employed in 
purchasing catechisms, and the people be desired to 
be more liberal than ordinary ; and what is wanting, 
the well-affected to the work may make up. 

As to the order of proceeding, it will be necessary 
that we take the people in order, family by family, 
beginning a month or six weeks after the delivery of 
the catechisms, that they may have time to learn 
them. And thus, taking them in common, they will 
be the more willing to come, and the backward will 
be the more ashamed to keep off. 

IV. Be sure that you deal gently with them, and 
take off all discouragements as effectually as you can. 

1. Tell them publicly, that if they have learned 
any other catechism already, you will not urge them 
to learn this, unless they desire it themselves : for, 
the substance of all catechisms that are orthodox is 
the same ; only, that your reasons for offering them 
this were its brevity and fulness, that you might give 
them as much as possible in few words, and so make 
their work more easy. Or, if any of them would 
rather learn some other catechism, let them have 
their choice. 

2. As for the old people who are of weak memo- 
ries, and not likely to live long in the world, and 
who complain that they cannot remember the words, 
tell them that you do not expect them to perplex 
their minds about it, but to hear it often read over, 
and to see that they understand it, and to get the 
matter into their minds and hearts, and then they 
may be borne with, though they remember not the 
words. 



387 

3. Let your dealing with those you begin with be 
so gentle, convincing, and winning, that the report 
of it may be an encouragement to others to come. 

Lastly, If all this will not serve to bring any par- 
ticular persons to submit, do not cast them off; but 
go to them and expostulate with them, and learn what 
their reasons are, and convince them of the sinful- 
ness and danger of their neglect of the help that is 
offered them. A soul is so precious that we should 
not lose one for want of labour, but follow them while 
there is any hope, and not give them up as desperate 
till there be no remedy. Before we give them 
over let us try the utmost, that we may have the ex- 
perience of their obstinate contempt to warrant our 
forsaking them : charity beareth and waiteth long. 

Article II. — Having used these means to pro- 
cure them to come and submit to your instructions, 
we are next to consider how you may deal most effec- 
tually with them in the work. And again I must 
say, that I think it an easier matter by far to compose 
and preach a good sermon, than to deal rightly with 
an ignorant man for his instruction in the more essen- 
tial principles of religion. As much as this work is 
contemned by some, I doubt not it will try the gifts 
and spirit of ministers, and show you the difference 
between one man and another more fully than preach- 
ing will do. And here I shall, as fitting my purpose, 
transcribe the words of a most learned, orthodox, and 
godly man, Archbishop Usher, in his sermon before 
King James, at Wansted, on Eph. iv. 13. — " Your 
Majesty's care can never be sufficiently commended, 
in taking order that the chief heads of the catechism 
P 42 



338 

should, in the ordinary ministry, be dihgently pro- 
pounded and explained unto the people throughout 
the land ; which I wish were as duly executed every 
where, as it was piously by you intended. Great 
scholars possibly may think, that it standeth not so 
well with their credit to stoop thus low, and to spend 
so much of their time in teaching these rudiments 
and first principles of the doctrine of Christ ; but 
they should consider, that the laying of the founda- 
tion skilfully, as it is the matter of greatest importance 
in the whole building, so is it the very master-piece 
of the wisest builder, ' According to the grace of 
God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder, 
I have laid the foundation,' saith the great Apostle. 
And let the learnedst of us all try it whenever we 
please, we shall find, that to lay this ground-work 
rightly, (that is, to apply ourselves to the capacity of 
the common auditory, and to make an ignorant man 
to understand these mysteries in some good measure,) 
will put us to the trial of our skill, and trouble us a 
ffreat deal more, than if we were to discuss a contro- 
versy, or handle a subtle point of learning in the 
schools. Yet Christ did give, as well his apostles, 
and prophets, and evangelists, as his ordinary pastors 
and teachers, to bring us all, both learned and un- 
learned, unto the unity of this faith and knowledge; 

AND THE NEGLECTING OF THIS, IS THE FRUSTRAT- 
ING OF THE WHOLE WORK OF THE MINISTRY. For 

let US preach ever so many sermons to the people, 
our labour is but lost, as long as the foundation is 
unlaid, and the first principles untaught, upon which 
all other doctrine must be builded." 

The directions which I think necessary to give for 
the right managing of the woik, are the following : — 



339 

I. When your people come to you, one family or 
more, begin with a brief preface, to mollify their 
minds, and to remove all offence, unwillingness, or 
discouragement, and to prepare them for receiving 
your instructions. * My friends,' you may say, ' it 
may perhaps seem to some of you, an unusual and 
a troublesome business that I put you upon ; but I 
hope you will not think it needless : for if I had 
thought so, I would have spared both you and my- 
self this labour. But my conscience hath told me, 
yea, God hath told me in his word so solemnly, what 
it is to have the charge of souls, and how the blood 
of them that perish will be required at the hands of 
a minister that neglecteth them, that I dare not be 
guilty of it as 1 have hitherto been. Alas ! all our 
business in this world is to get well to heaven ; and 
God hath appointed us to be guides to his people, to 
help them safe thither. If this be well done, all is 
done ; and if this be not done, we are for ever un- 
done ! The Lord knows how short a time you and 
I may be together; and therefore it concerns us to 
do what we can for our own and your salvation, be- 
fore we leave you, or you leave the world. All other 
business in the world is but as toys and dreams in 
comparison of this. The labours of your calling are 
but to prop up a cottage of clay, while your souls are 
hastening to death and judgment, which may even 
now be near at hand. I hope, therefore, you will be 
glad of help in so needful a work, and not think it 
much that I put you to this trouble, when the trifles 
of the world cannot be got with much greater trouble.' 
— This, or something to this purpose, may tend to 
make them more willing to hear you, and receive in- 
p2 



340 

struction, and to give you some account of their know- 
ledge and practice. 

II. When you have spoken thus to them all, take 
them one hy one, and deal with them as far as you 
can in private, out of the hearing of the rest; for 
some cannot speak freely before others, and some will 
not endure to be questioned before others, because 
they think that it will tend to their shame to have 
others hear their answers; and some persons that 
can make better answers themselves, will be ready, 
when they are gone, to talk of what they heard, and 
to disgrace those that speak not so well as themselves; 
and so people will be discouraged, and persons who 
are backward to the exercise will have pretences to 
forbear and forsake it, and to say, ' They will not 
come to be made a scorn and a laughing-stock.' You 
must, therefore, be very careful to prevent all these 
inconveniences. But the main reason is, as I find by 
experience, people will better take plain close dealing 
about their sin, and misery, and duty, when you have 
them alone, than they will before others ; and if you 
have not an opportunity to set home the truth, and 
to deal freely with their consciences, you will frustrate 
all. If, therefore, you have a convenient place, let 
the rest stay in one room while you confer with each 
person by himself in another room ; only, in order to 
avoid scandal, we must speak to the women only in 
the presence of some others ; and if we lose some 
advantage by this, there is no remedy. It is better 
to do so, than, by giving occasion of reproach to the 
malicious, to destroy all the work. Yet we may so 
contrive it, that though some others be in the room, 
yet what things are less fit for their observance may 
be spoken submissa voce, that they may not hear it ; 



341 

and, therefore, they may be placed at the remotest 
part of the room ; or, at least, let none be present 
but the members of the same family, who are more 
familiar, and not so likely to reproach one another. 
And then, in your most rousing examinations and 
reproofs, deal most with the ignorant, secure, and 
vicious, that you may have the clearer ground for your 
close dealing, and that the hearing of it may awaken 
the by-standers, to whom you seem not so directly to 
apply it. These small things deserve attention, be- 
cause they are in order to a work that is not small, 
and small errors may hinder a great deal of good. 

III. Begin your work by taking an account of what 
they have learned of the words of the catechism, and 
receiving their answer to each question ; and, if they 
are able to repeat but little or none of it, try whether 
they can rehearse the creed and the decalogue. 

IV. Then choose out some of the weightiest 
points, and try, by farther questions, how far they 
understand them. And therein be careful of the 
following things : 1. That you do not begin with less 
necessary points, but with those which they them- 
selves may perceive are of highest importance. For 
example: ' What do you think becomes of men 
when they die? What shall become of us after the 
end of the world? Do you believe that you have 
any sin ; or that you were born with sin ? What 
doth every sin deserve ? What remedy hath God 
provided for the saving of sinful, miserable souls? 
Hath any one suffered for our sins in our stead ; or 
must we suffer for them ourselves ? Who are they 
that God will pardon ; and who shall be saved by the 
blood of Christ? What change must be made on 
all who shall be saved: and how is this change 



34^ 

efFected ? Wherein lies our chief happiness ? And 
what is it that our hearts must be most set upon? 

2. Beware of asking them nice, or needless, or 
doubtful, or very difficult questions, though about 
those matters that are of greatest weight in them- 
selves. Some self-conceited persons will be as busy 
with such questions which they cannot answer them- 
selves, and as censorious of the poor people that cannot 
answer them, as if life and death depended on them. 

3. So contrive your questions, that they may per- 
ceive what you mean, and that it is not a nice defini- 
tion, but simply a solution, that you expect : and seek 
not after words but things, and even leave them to 
a bare Yes, or No, or the mere election of one of the 
two descriptions which you yourself may have pro- 
posed. For example : ' What is God ? Is he 
made of flesh and blood as we are; or is he an in- 
visible Spirit ? Is he a man, or is he not ? Had he 
any beginning ? Can he die ? What is faith ? Is 
it a believing all the word of God ? What is it to 
believe in Christ ? Is it the same thing as to become 
a true Christian; or to believe that Christ is the Sa- 
viour of sinners, and to trust in him, as your Saviour, 
to pardon, sanctify, govern, and glorify yo"u ? What 
is repentance? Is it only to be sorry for sin; or is 
it the change of the mind from sin to God, and a for- 
saking of it?' 

4. When you perceive that they do not under- 
stand the meaning of your question, you must draw 
out their answer by an equivalent, or expository 
question ; or, if that will not do, you must frame the 
answer into your question, and require, in reply, but 
Yes, or No. I have often asked some very igno- 
rant people, ' How do you think that your sins, 



343 

which are so many and so great, can be pardoned?' 
And they tell me, ' By their repenting and amend- 
ing their lives ;' and never mention Jesus Christ. I 
ask them further, * But do you think that your 
amendment can make God any satisfaction for the 
sin that is past?' They will answer, ' We hope 
so, or else we know not what will ?' One would 
think that these men had no knowledge of Christ at 
all, since they make no mention of him; and some I 
indeed find have no knowledge of him ; — and when I 
tell them the history of Christ, and what he is, and 
did, and suffered, they stand wondering at it, as a 
strange thing; and some say, they never heard this 
much before, nor knew it, though they came to 
church every Lord's day. But some, I perceive, 
give such answers, because they understand not the 
scope of my question : but suppose that I take Christ's 
death for granted, and that I only ask them, ' What 
shall make God satisfaction, as their part under 
Christ?' — though in this, also, they discover sad 
ignorance. And when I ask them, ' Whether their 
good deeds can merit any thing from God?' they 
answer, ' No; but they hope God will accept them.' 
And if I ask further, ' Can you be saved without the 
death of Christ ?' they say, ' No.' And if I ask, 
still further, * What hath he done or suffered for you?' 
they will say, * He died for us;' or ' He shed his blood 
for us ;' and will profess that they place their confidence 
in that for salvation. Many men have that in their 
minds, which is not ripe for utterance ; and, through 
an imperfect education and disuse, they are strangers 
to the expression of those things of which they yet 
have some conception. And, by the way, you may 
here see reason why you should deal very tenderly with 



344 

the common people, for matter of knowledge, and de- 
fect of expression, if they are teachable and tractable, 
and willing to use the means ; for many, even ancient 
godly persons, cannot express themselves with any 
tolerable propriety, nor yet learn when expressions 
are put into their mouths. Some of the most pious, 
experienced, approved Christians that I know, aged 
people, complain to me, with tears, that they cannot 
learn the words of the catechism ; and, when I con- 
sider their advantages — that they have enjoyed the 
most excellent helps, in constant duty, and in the 
best company, for forty, fifty, or sixty years together 
— it teacheth me what to expect from poor ignorant 
people, who never had such company and converse 
for one year or week ; and not to reject them so hastily 
as some hot and too high professors would have us do. 
5. If you find them at a loss, and unable to an- 
swer your questions, do not drive them too hard, 
or too long, with question after question, lest they 
conceive you intend only to puzzle them, and dis- 
grace them ; but, when you perceive that they can- 
not answer, step in yourself, and take the burden 
off them, and answer the question yourself; and do 
it thoroughly and plainly, and give a full explana- 
tion of the whole truth to them, that, by your teach- 
ing, they may be brought to understand it before you 
leave them. And herein it is commonly necessary 
that you fetch up the matter ab origine, and take it 
in order, till you come to the point in question. 

V. When you have done what you see cause in 
the trial of their knowledge, proceed next to instruct 
them yourselves ; and this must be according to their 
several capacities. If it be a professor, that under- 
standeth the fundamental principles of religion, fall 



345 

upon somewhat which you perceive that he most 
needeth, either explaining further some of the mys- 
teries of the gospel, or laying the grounds of some 
duty which he may doubt of, or showing the neces- 
sity of what he neglecteth, or pointing out his sins 
or mistakes, as may be most convincing and edifying 
to him. If, on the other hand, it be one who is 
grossly ignorant, give him a plain, familiar recital of 
the sum of the Christian faith in a few words ; for 
though it be in the catechism already, yet a more 
familiar way may better help him to understand it. 
Thus : — ' You must know, that from everlasting there 
was one God, who had no beginning, and will have 
no end ; who is not a body as we are, but a most 
pure, spiritual Being, that knoweth all things, and 
can do all things, and hath all goodness and blessed- 
ness in himself. This God is but one, but yet 
Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and Holy 
Ghost, in a manner that is above our understanding. 
And you must know, that this One God did make 
all the world by his word ; the heavens he made to 
be the place of his glory, and a multitude of holy 
angels to serve him. But some of these did, by 
pride, or some other sin, fall from their high estate, 
and are become devils, and shall be miserable for 
ever. When he had created the earth, he made 
man, as his noblest creature here below, even one 
man and one woman, Adam and Eve ; and he made 
them perfect, without any sin, and put them into the 
garden of Eden, and forbade them to eat of one tree 
in the garden, and told them, that if they ate of it 
they should die. But the devil, who had first fallen 
himself, did tempt themi to sin, and they yielded to 
p3 



346 

his temptation, and thus fell under the curse of God's 
law. But God, of his infinite wisdom and mercy, 
did send his own Son, Jesus Christ, to be their Re- 
deemer, who, in the fulness of time, was made man, 
being born of a virgin, by the power of the Holy 
Ghost, and lived on earth, among the Jews, about 
thirty-three years ; during which time he preached 
the gospel himself, and wrought many miracles to 
prove his doctrine, healing the lame, the blind, the 
sick, and raising the dead by a word; and, in the 
end, he was offered upon the cross, as a sacrifice for 
our sins, to bear that curse which we should have 
borne. And now, if sinners will but beheve in him, 
and repent of their sins, he will freely pardon all that 
is past, and will sanctify their corrupted nature, and 
will at length bring them to his heavenly kingdom. 
But if they make light of their sins, and of his mercy, 
he will condemn them to everlasting misery in hell. 
This gospel, Christ, having risen from the dead on 
the third day, appointed his ministers to preach to 
all the world; and when he had given this in charge 
to all his apostles, he ascended up into heaven, before 
their faces, where he is now in glory, with God the 
Father, in our nature. And, at the end of this 
world, he will come again in our nature, and will raise 
the dead to life again, and bring them all before him, 
that they may " give an account of all the deeds 
done in the body, whether they be good, or whether 
they be evil." If, therefore, you mean to be saved, 
you must believe in Christ, as the only Saviour from 
the wrath to come; you must repent of your sins; 
you must, in short, be wholly new creatures, or there 
will be no salvation for you.' — Some such short re- 
hearsal of the principles of religion, in the most fami- 



347 

liar manner that you can devise, with a brief touch 
of application in the end, will be necessary when you 
deal with the grossly ignorant. And if you perceive 
they understand you not, go over it again, and ask 
them whether they understand it, and try to fix it in 
their memories. 

VI. Whether they be grossly ignorant or not, 
if you suspect them to be unconverted, endeavour 
next to make some prudent inquiry into their states. 
The best and least offensive way of doing this, will 
be to prepare them for the inquiry, by saying some- 
thing that may soften their minds, and convince them 
of the necessity of the inquiry, and then to take 
occasion, from some article in the catechism, to touch 
their conscience. For example : ' You see that the 
Holy Ghost doth, by the word, enlighten men's 
minds, and soften and open their hearts, and turn 
them from the power of Satan unto God, through 
faith in Christ, and sanctifies and makes them pecu- 
liar people ; and that none but these shall be made 
partakers of everlasting life. Now, though I have 
no desire, needlessly, to pry into any man's secrets, 
yet, because it is the office of ministers to give advice 
to their people in matters of salvation, and because 
it is so dangerous a thing to be mistaken, as to points 
which involve everlasting life or everlasting death, I 
would entreat you to deal honestly, and tell me. 
Whether or not you ever found this great change 
upon your own heart ? Did you ever find the Spirit 
of God, by the word, come in upon your understand- 
ing, with a new and heavenly life, which hath made 
you a new creature ? The Lord, who seeth your 
heart, doth know whether it be so or not : I pray you, 
therefore, see that you speak the truth.* 



348 

If he tell you that he hopes he is converted— all 
are sinners — but he is sorry for his sins, or the like; 
then tell him, more particularly, in a few words, of 
some of the plainest marks of true conversion, and 
so renew and enforce the inquiry; — thus: ' Because 
your salvation or damnation is involved in this, I 
would fain help you a little in regard to it, that you 
may not be mistaken in a matter of such transcendent 
importance, but may find out the truth before it be 
too late ; for as God will judge us impartially, so we 
have his word before us, by which we may judge 
ourselves ; for this word tells us most certainly who 
they are that shall go to heaven, and who to hell. 
Now the Scripture tells us that the state of an un- 
converted man is this : He seeth no great felicity in 
the love and communion of God in the life to come, 
which may draw his heart thither from this present 
world; but he liveth to his carnal self, or to the 
flesh ; and the main bent of his life is, that it may 
go well with him on earth ; and that religion which 
he hath is but a little by the by, lest he should be 
damned when he can keep the world no longer ; 
so that the world and the flesh are highest in his 
esteem, and nearest to his heart, and God and glory 
stand below them, and all their service of God is 
but a giving him that which the world and flesh 
can spare. This is the case of every unconverted 
man ; and all who are in this case are in a state of 
misery. But he that is truly converted, hath had a 
light shining into his soul from God, which hath 
showed him the greatness of his sin and misery, and 
made it a heavy load upon his soul ; and showed him 
what Christ is, and what he hath done for sinners, 
and made him admire the riches of God's grace in 



349 

him ! O what glad news is it to him, that yet there 
is hope for such lost sinners as he ! that so many 
and so great sins may be pardoned ! and that pardon 
is offered to all who will accept of it ! How gladly 
doth he entertain this message and offer ! And, for 
the time to come, he resigneth himself and all that 
he hath to Christ, to be wholly his, and to be dis- 
posed of by him in order to the everlasting glory 
which he hath promised. He hath now such a sight 
of the blessed state of the saints in glory, that he 
despiseth all this world as dross and dung in com- 
parison of it ; and there he layeth up his happiness 
and his hopes, and takes all the affairs of this life 
but as so many helps or hinderances in the way to 
that ; so that the main care and business of his life is 
to be happy in the life to come. This is the case of 
all who are truly converted, and who shall be saved. 
Now, is this the case with you, or is it not ? Have you 
experienced such a change as this upon your soul ?' 

If he say, he hopes he hath, descend to some par- 
ticulars, — thus: ' I pray you then answer me these 
two or three questions. 1. Can you truly say, that 
all the known sins of your past life are the grief of 
your heart, and that you have felt that everlasting 
misery is due to you for them ; and that, under a 
sense of this heavy burden, you have felt yourself a 
lost man, and have gladly entertained the news of a 
Saviour, and cast your soul upon Christ alone, for 
pardon by his blood ? 2. Can you truly say, that 
your heart is so far turned from sin, that you hate 
the sins which you once loved; and love that holy 
life which you formerly hated ; and that you do not 
now live in the wilful practice of any known sin ? 
Is there no sin which you are not heartily willing to 



350 

forsake, whatever it cost you ; and no duty which 
you are not willing to perform ? 3. Can you truly 
say, that you have so far taken the everlasting en- 
joyment of God for your happiness, that it hath the 
most of your heart, of your love, desire, and care; 
and that you are resolved, by the strength of divine 
grace, to let go all that you have in the world, rather 
than hazard it ; and that it is your daily, and your 
principal business to seek it ? Can you truly say, 
that though you have your failings and sins, yet 
your main care, and the bent of your whole life, is 
to please God and to enjoy him for ever; and that 
you give the world God's leavings, as it were, and 
not God the world's leavings ; and that your worldly 
business is but as a traveller's seeking for provision 
in his journey, and heaven is the place that you take 
for your home ?' 

If he answer in the affirmative to these questions, 
tell him how great a thing it is for a man's heart to 
abhor his sin, and to lay up his happiness unfeignedly 
in another world ; and to live in this world for an- 
other that is out of sight ; and, therefore, desire him 
to see that it be so indeed. Then turn to some of 
the articles in the catechism, which treat of those 
duties which you most suspect him to omit, and ask 
him, whether he performs such or such a duty ; as, 
for instance, prayer in his family, or in private, and 
the holy spending of the Lord's day. 

I would, however, advise you to be very cautious 
how you pass too hasty or absolute censures on any 
you have to do with ; because, it is not so easy a matter 
to discern a man to be certainly graceless, as many 
imagine it to be ; and you may do the work in hand 
as well without such an absolute conclusion as with it. 



851 

VII. If, however, you have, either by former dis- 
covery of gross ignorance, or by these latter inquiries 
into his spiritual state, discerned an apparent proba- 
bility that the person is yet in an unconverted state ; 
your next business is to employ all your skill to bring 
his heart to a sense of his condition. For example : 
' Truly, my friend, I have no mind, the Lord 
knows, to make your condition worse than it is, nor 
to occasion you any causeless fear or trouble ; but, I 
suppose, you would count me an insidious enemy, 
and not a faithful minister, if I should flatter you, 
and not tell you the truth. If you seek a physician 
in your sickness, you would have him tell you the 
truth, though it were the worst, — much more here. 
For there the knowledge of your disease may, by 
your fears, increase it ; but here you must know it, 
or else you can never be recovered from it. I much 
fear that you are yet a stranger to the Christian 
life. For if you were a Christian indeed, and truly 
converted, your very heart would be set on God and 
the life to come, and you would make it your chief 
business to prepare for everlasting happiness; and 
you durst not, you would not, live in any wilful sin, 
nor in the neglect of any known duty ! Alas ! 
what have you done? how have you spent your time 
till now ? Did you not know that you had a soul 
to be saved or lost ; and that you must live in heaven 
or in hell for ever; and that you had your life and 
time in this world chiefly for the purpose of prepar- 
ing for another ? Alas ! what have you been doing 
all your days that you are so ignorant, or so unpre- 
pared for death, if it should now find you ? If you 
had but as much mind of heaven as of earth, you 
would have known more of it, and done more for it, 



352 

and inquired more diligently after it, than you have 
done ! You can learn how to do your business in 
the world, and why could you not learn more of the 
will of God, if you had but attended to it ? You 
have neighbours that could learn more, that have 
had as much to do in the world as you, and who 
have had as little time. Do you think that heaven 
is not worth your labour? or that it can be had 
without any care or pains — when you cannot have 
the trifles of this world without them — and when 
God had bid you seek first his kingdom and the 
righteousness thereof? Alas ! my friends, what if 
you had died before this hour in an unconverted 
state ! what then had become of you, and where had 
you now been ? Alas ! that you were so cruel to 
yourselves, as to venture your everlasting state so 
desperately as you have done ! What did you 
think of? Did you not all this while know that you 
must shortly die, and be judged as you were then 
found ? Had you any greater work to do, or any 
greater business to mind, than your everlasting sal- 
vation ! Do you think that all that you can get in 
this world will comfort you in a dying hour, or pur- 
chase your salvation, or ease the pains of hell ?' 

Set these things home with a peculiar earnestness; 
for if you get not to the heart, you do little or nothing, 
and that which affect eth not is soon forgotten. 

VIII. Conclude the whole with a practical ex- 
hortation, which must contain two parts : first, the 
duty of believing in Christ ; and, secondly, of using 
the external means of grace for the time to come, 
and the avoiding of former sins. For example : 
* My friend, I am heartily sorry to find you in so 
sad a case, but I should be more sorry to leave you 



853 

in it ; and therefore let me entreat you, for the Lord's 
sake, and for your own sake, to regard what I shall 
say to you as to the time to come. It is of the 
Lord's great mercy that he did not cut you off in 
your unconverted state, and that you have yet life 
and time, and that there is a remedy provided for 
you in the blood of Christ, and that pardon, and 
sanctification, and everlasting life, are oflPered to you 
as well as to others : God hath not left sinful man 
to utter destruction, as he hath done the devils ; nor 
hath he made any exception in the offer of pardon 
and everlasting life against you, any more than against 
any other. If you had yet but a bleeding heart for 
sin, and could come to Christ believingly for re- 
covery, and resign yourselves to him as your Sa- 
viour and Lord, and would be a new man for the 
time to come, the Lord would have mercy on you in 
the pardon of your sins, and the everlasting salvation 
of your soul ; and I must tell you, that as it must be 
the great work of God's grace to give you such a 
heart, so, if ever he mean to pardon and save you, 
he will make this change upon you ; he will make 
you feel your sin as the heaviest burden in the world, 
as that which is most odious in itself, and hath ex- 
posed you to his wrath and curse ; he will make you 
see that you are a lost man, and that there is nothing 
for you but everlasting damnation, unless you are 
pardoned by the blood of Christ, and sanctified by 
his Spirit : he will make you see the need you have 
of Christ, and how all your hope and life are in him ; 
— he will make you see the vanity of this world and 
all that it can afford you, and that all your happiness 
is with God, in that everlasting life in heaven, 
where you may, with the saints and angels, behold 



354. 

his glory, and live in his love, and be employed in 
his praises. Let me tell you, that, till this work be 
done upon you, you are a miserable man ; and if 
you die before it is done, you are lost for ever. 
Now you have hope and help before you, but then 
there will be none. Let me therefore entreat you, 
as you love your soul, First, that you will not rest 
in the condition in which you at present are. Be 
not quiet in your mind till a saving change is wrought 
in your heart. Think, when you rise in the morn- 
ing, O what if this day should be my last, and death 
should find me in an unrenewed state ! Think, 
when you are about your labour, O how much greater 
a work have I yet to do, to get my soul reconciled 
to God and sanctified of his Spirit ! Think, when 
you are eating, or drinking, or looking on any thing 
that you possess in the world, What good will all 
this do me, if I live and die an enemy to God, and 
a stranger to Christ and his Spirit, and so perish 
for ever ! Let these thoughts be day and night 
upon your mind, till your soul be changed. Secondly, 
I entreat you to bethink yourselves seriously what 
a vain world this is, and how shortly it will leave 
you to a cold grave, and to everlasting misery, if 
you have not a better treasure than it : and consider 
what it is to live in the presence of God, and to 
reign witli Christ, and be like the angels ; and that 
this is the life that Christ hath procured you, and is 
preparing for you, and offereth you, if you will only 
accept of it ; — and O think, whether it be not mad- 
ness to slight such an endless glory, and to prefer 
these fleshly dreams, and earthly shadows before it ! 
Accustom yourself to such considerations as these, 
when you are alone, and let them take possession of 



855 

your mind. Thirdly, I entreat, that you will pre- 
sently, without any more delay, accept of this felicity 
and this Saviour : close with the Lord Jesus that 
offereth you this eternal life : joyfully and thankfully 
accept his oiFer, as the only way to make you happy : 
and then you may believe that all your sins shall be 
done away by him. Fourthly, Resolve presently 
against your former sins : find out what hath defiled 
your heart and life, and cast it from you, as you 
would do poison out of your stomach ; and abhor the 
thought of taking it again. My last request to you 
is, that you will set yourself to the diligent use of 
the means of grace, till this change be wrought, 
and then continue the use of these means till you 
are confirmed, and at last perfected. 1. As you 
cannot of yourself effect this change upon your 
heart and life, betake yourself daily to God in 
prayer, and beg earnestly, as for your life, that he 
will pardon all your sins, and change your heart, 
and show you the riches of his grace in Christ, and 
the glory of his kingdom. Follow God day and 
night with these requests. 2. Fly from temptations 
and occasions of sin, and forsake your former evil 
company, and betake yourselves to the company of 
those that fear God, and will help you in the way 
to heaven. 3. Be careful, in a particular manner, 
to spend the Lord's day in holy exercises, both 
public and private, and lose not one quarter of an 
hour of any of your time, but especially of that 
most precious time, which God hath given you pur- 
posely, that you may set your mind upon him, and 
be instructed by him, and prepare yourself for your 
latter end. — What say you to these things ? Will 
you do this presently, or at least so much of it as 



356 

you can ? Will you give me a promise to this eflPect, 
and study henceforth to keep that promise ?' 

And here be sure, if you can, to get their pro- 
mise, and engage them to amendment, especially to 
use the means of grace, and to change their com- 
pany, and to forsake their sins, because these are 
more within their reach, and in this way they may 
wait for the accomplishment of that change that is 
not yet wrought. And do this solemnly, reminding 
them of the presence of God, who heareth their pro- 
mises, and who will expect the performance of them ; 
and when you afterwards have opportunity, you may 
remember them of that promise. 

IX. At the dismissing of them, do these two 
things: — 

1. Mollify their minds by a few words deprecat- 
ing any thing like offence. For example : ' I pray 
you take it not ill that I have put you to this trou- 
ble, or dealt thus freely with you : it is as little 
pleasure to me as to you : if I did not know these 
things to be true and necessary, I would have spared 
this labour to myself and you ; but I know that we 
shall be here together but a little while ; we are al- 
most at the world to come already ; and therefore 
it is time for us all to look about us, and see that 
we be ready when God shall call us. 

2. As we may not soon have an opportunity to 
speak with the same persons, set them in the way of 
perfecting what you have begun. I. Engage the 
master of each family to call all his family to repeat, 
every Lord's day, what they have learned of the 
catechism; and to continue this practice till they 
have all learned it perfectly : and when they have 
done so, still to continue to hear them regularly re- 



357 

cite it, that they may not forget it ; for even to the 
most judicious, it will be an excellent help to have 
in memory, a sum of the Christian religion, as to 
matter, arrangement, and words. 2. As to the 
rulers of families themselves, or those that are under 
such masters as will not help them, if they have 
learned some part of the catechism only, engage 
them either to come again to you, (though before 
their course,) when they have learned the rest, or else 
to go to some able experienced neighbour, and repeat 
it to him ; and do you take the assistance of such 
persons, when you cannot have time yourself. 

X. Have all the names of your parishioners by 
you in a book; and when they come and repeat the 
catechism, note in your book who come, and who do 
not; and who are so grossly ignorant as to be unfit 
for the Lord's supper, and who not ; and as you per- 
ceive the necessities of each, so deal with them for 
the future. But as to those that are utterly obsti- 
nate, and will not come to you, nor be instructed by 
you, deal with them as the obstinate despisers of in- 
struction should be dealt with, in regard to sealing 
and confirming ordinances ; which is, to avoid them, 
and not to hold holy or familiar communion with 
them, in the Lord's supper or other ordinances. 

XL Through the whole course of your confer- 
ence with them, see that the manner as well as the 
matter be suited to the end. And concerning the 
manner observe these particulars : — 

L That you make a difference according to the 
character of the persons whom you have to deal 
with. To the youthful, you must lay greater shame 
on sensual /oluptuousness, and show them the na- 
ture and necessity of mortification. To the aged, 



368 

you must do more to disgrace this present world, 
and make them apprehensive of the nearness of their 
change, and the aggravations of their sin, if they 
shall live and die in ignorance or impenitency. To 
the young and to inferiors, you must be more free; 
to superiors and elders, more reverend. To the 
rich, you must show the vanity of this world ; and 
the nature and necessity of self-denial; and the 
damnableness of preferring the present state to the 
next ; together with the necessity of improving their 
talents in doing good to others. To the poor, you 
must show the great riches of glory which are of- 
fered to them in the gospel, and how well present 
comfort may be spared, when everlasting joy may be 
got. Those sins must also be most insisted on which 
each one's age, or sex, or temperament, or calhng 
and employment in the world, doth most incline them 
to : as in females, loquacity, evil speeches, passion, 
malice, pride : in males, drunkenness, ambition, &c. 

2. Be as condescending, familiar, and plain as 
possible, with those that are of weaker capacity. 

3. Give them Scripture proof of all you say, that 
they may see that it is not you only, but God by 
you that speaketh to them. 

4. Be as serious in the whole exercise, but spe- 
cially in the appUcatory part, as you can. I scarcely 
fear any thing more, than that some careless ministers 
will slubber over the work, and do all superficially 
and without life, and destroy this as they do all other 
duties, by turning it into a mere formality : putting 
a few cold questions to their people, and giving them 
two or three cold words of advice, without any life and 
feeling in themselves, and not likely to produce any 
feeling in the hearers. But surely he that valueth 



359 

souls, and knowetli what an opportunity is before him, 
will go through the exercise with deep seriousness, 
and will be as earnest with them as for life or death. 

5. To this end, I should think it very necessary 
that, both before and in the work, we take special pains 
with our own hearts, to excite and strengthen our 
belief of the truth of the gospel, and of the invisible 
glory and misery that are to come. I am confident 
this work will exceedingly try the strength of our 
belief. For he that is but superficially a Christian, 
and not sound at bottom, will likely feel his zeal 
quite fail him, especially when the duty is grown 
common, for want of a lively faith in the things of 
which he is to treat. An affected, hypocritical fer- 
vency will not hold out long in duties of this kind. 
A pulpit shall have more of it, than a conference with 
poor ignorant souls. For the pulpit is the hypocri- 
tical minister's stage ; there, and in the press, and in 
other public acts, where there is room for ostentation, 
you shall have his best, perhaps his all. It is other 
kind of men that must effectually do the work now 
in hand. 

6. It is, therefore, very meet that we prepare our- 
selves for it by seicret prayer; and, if time would per- 
mit, and there be many together, it were well if we 
began and ended with a short prayer with our people. 

7. Carry on all, even the most pungent reproofs, 
with clear demonstrations of love to their souls, and 
make them feel, through the whole, that you aim at 
nothing but their salvation : and avoid all harsh dis- 
couraging language. 

8. If you have not time to deal so fully with each 
individual as is here directed, then, 1. Omit not the 
most necessary parts. 2. Take several of them to- 



860 

gether who are friends, and who will not seek to di- 
vulge each other's weaknesses, and speak to them in 
common as much as concerneth all. Only the ex- 
aminations of their knowledge and state, and of their 
convictions of sin and misery, and special directions to 
them, must be used to the individuals alone: but take 
heed of slubbering it over with an unfaithful laziness, 
or by being too brief, without a real necessity. 

Lastly, If God enable you, extend your charity to 
those of the poorer sort, before they part from you. 
Give them something towards their relief, and for the 
time that is thus taken from their labours ; especially 
for the encouragement of them that do best : and to 
the rest, promise them so much when they have 
learned the catechism. I know you cannot give 
what you have not, but I speak to them that can. 

And now, brethren, I have done with my advice, 
and leave you to the practice. Though the proud 
may receive it with scorn, and the selfish and slothful 
with distaste, or even indignation, I doubt not but 
God will use it, in despite of the opposition of sin 
and Satan, to the awakening of many of his servants 
to their duty, and the promoting of the work of a 
right reformation : and that his blessing will accom- 
pany the present undertaking, for the saving of many 
a soul, the peace of you that undertake and perform 
it, the exciting of his servants throughout the nation 
to second you, and the increase of the purity and the 
unity of his churches. Amen. 

FINIS. 



1925 1925 

PHILADELPHIA HOLINESS 
CONVENTION 

November 6th to 15th inclusive 
at Columbia Ave. M. E. Church 

23rd and Columbia Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 
Pastor, Rev. J. W. Tindall, D. D. 

Evangelists 
Rev. H. C. Morrison, D. D., Wilmore, Ky. 
Rev. H. L. Burkett, Collingswood, N. J. 

also 

other Prominent Preachers and Christian 

Workers will assist in the meeting 



ORDER OF SERVICE 
Opening Service Friday Eve'g, November 6 

at 8 o'clock 
Preaching every afternoon and evening at 

2.30 and 8 o'clock 
Song Service every evening at 7.30 
Sunday Services 10.30, 3.20 and 7.30 

College Quartet, to be with us Saturday 

night and Sunday 

Directions 
Trolley No. 51, Front and Chestnut Streets 

stops at the Church door, running up 

Ninth Street. 

Good restaurants near the Church 
All come to the great feast of good things 



For further information, write 

Rev. Frank W. Scott, 2225 N. Mascher St. 

Philadelphia, Pa. 



REV. GEO. Q. HAMMELL, 
Director, Delanco, N. J. 



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