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to defraud them of their dues. It is against reason and
justice to defraud men of tliat which the law has appointed.

Observation and experience might teach you, how well
such dealings have prospered with such as have been making



THE DUTIES OE MINISTERS AND PEOPLE. 441

experiments. And the Scripture is plain : " It is a snare,"
saith the Wise Man, " to devour that which is holy,'^ or Prov. 20.
dedicated to God, as all your tithes were before you were '
born; and God Himself calls it robbery, to withhold the
tithes.

It is not for our own sakes that I have put you in mind
of these things; for, as St. Paul saith, a dispensation is
committed to us, and we must preach the Gospel, whether
we live by it or not. But it is for your sakes we tell you
these things, that God may bless your labours, as He has
promised to do ; and that you may not bring a moth and a
canker-worm into your barns, which shall secretly devour
your increase. " A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump ;" i Cor. 5. 6.
a little ill-gotten goods will carry away a greater substance ;
and " a fire not blown shall consume them ;" that is, they Job 20. 26.
shall be consumed, and nobody shall know how.

In short, my brethren, the world is bad enough as it is,
but it would be soon much worse, if the good providence of
God had not appointed an order of men, and made it their
indispensable duty, to preach the Gospel, to offer up the
prayers and oblations of the faithful, to praise God for His
mercies, and to intercede with Him when He is angry, to
warn the unruly, to comfort the feeble-minded, to support
the weak, and to be examples to their whole flock.

And because no man on earth is sufficient for these things
without the assistance of the Holy Ghost, therefore are they
set apart (after the example of the Apostles, and according Acts 13. 2, 3.
to the order of the Holy Spirit) by solemn prayer, and by
laying on of hands, that a greater grace may accompany
them in the discharge of the several parts of their duty.

In one word : God hath appointed His own ministers, by
whom He will give mankind those blessings which are neces-
sary to fit them for heaven and happiness. And though of
ourselves we are nothing, yet by the grace of God, who
sends us, we may be instruments of great good to men.

To sum up what has been said in a few words, that you
may remember the better : if we are Christ's ministers,
then we are accountable to Him, and to Him only, in things
pertaining to God. He, and He only, can appoint His own
ministers. If M^e are God's ministers, it believes us, above



442 THE DUTIES OF MINISTERS AND PEOPLE.

S E R M. all men, to do nothing unworthy the holiness of our charac-

— ters, that the ministry be not blamed. If we are the more

immediate servants of God, then ought we not to seek to
please men, nor to confer with flesh and blood, when our
Master's service calls for us.

You have seen, Christians, what we bind ourselves to,
when we become the ministers of Christ, "to watch for
your souls as they that must give an account ;" a considera-
tion so dreadful, that it often makes our hearts to ache with
fear and sorrow, when you least think of it.

Do not ye therefore add to our burden, (which is great
enough, God knows, already,) do not add to our trouble, by
despising our authority, which we have from Jesus Christ,
for in doing so you will despise Jesus Christ, and God that
sent Him. Do not slight our ministry, by which, if ever
you are, you must be reconciled to God. Do not despise
our persons, because we are weak men like yourselves, but
[2 Cor. 12. remember the Lord's word to St. Paul ; '' My strength is

9 T

'-' made perfect in weakness."

Lastly ; do not defraud us of what God has assigned us,
lest yourselves be the greatest losers ; but rather let both
you and we strive in our several places to glorify God.

We, by always remembering the vows that are upon us,
using the power which God hath given us for your edification
and not for your destruction ; and you readily obeying our
godly admonitions ; that both we and you may at last attain
the end of our faith and labours, even the salvation of our
souls. Which God grant, for Jesus Christ's sake.

To Whom, &c.



SERMON XCI.



AT THE DEDICATION OF THE NEW CHURCH IN KIRK LONAN.
MARCH 25, 1735.



2 Chron. vi. 40.

We have in the prayer of King Solomon, at the dedication op
THE TEMPLEj these vvorcls : — Mij God ! I beseech Thee, let Thine
eyes he ojmn, and let Thine ears he attent unto the 2iraijer that
is made in this place.

2 Chron. vii. 15. We have the gracious answer and promise of

God to this petition, in these words : Mine eyes shall he open, See Heb.
arid 3Iine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this
place.

We all know, that God is every where present to hear the
prayers of such as call upon Him in sincerity ; but then the
holy Scripture teaches us, that He is, in an especial manner,
present in the assemblies of the faithful.

"The Lord give thee blessing out of Zion," saith the [Ps.l28.5.]
Psalmist. Why out of Zion? Wliy because there was the
temple, the house of God, where His holy angels attended,
ascending from thence to caiTy the prayers of the devout
worshippers to the throne of God, and descending to bring
down blessings from God, as they are represented in a vision
to Jacob at Bethel.

Now, what the temple of Jerusalem was to that nation,
the same is every parish Chm^ch to us Christians, and it has
a right to all the same gracious promises which God did
make to the temple of Solomon.

Taking this for granted, we will proceed to consider some
truths, which have relation to this subject, and which are
not so well imderstood as they should be; such are these
following : —



444 AT THE DEDICATION OF THE

SERM. First; the great blessing of having convenient places for
'— the public worship of God.

Secondly ; the great sin of neglecting the pubHc worship ;
as also the evils and judgments which generally follow such
neglect.

Thirdly ; the great regard and reverence which Christians
ought to have for places dedicated to the honour and service
of God.

Fourthly; what their behaviour should be in such holy
places.

Fifthly ; the great blessing of a regular, settled ministry.

Sixthly ; the command of God, that His ministers shall
have all just encouragement to discharge their duty cheer-
fully and faithfulh^

And lastly ; the sin and punishment of those who go
about to make void this gracious design of God for the
good of His people, as well as for the support of His own
ministers.

I. We will first consider, what a very great blessing it is to
have convenient places for the public worship of God.

When God Avould shew His love and concern for His own
[Ezek.37. people, He lets them know, that He will set His tabernacle
'^ amongst them ; intimating, that He will always be near them,

to hear their prayers, and to help them.

And Avhen that people fell into sin, and into idolatry, to
shew His great disj)leasure against them. He suffered His
temple to be destroyed by heathens, as one of the greatest
punishments which could be laid upon them. And so they
found it and esteemed it, when once they came to feel the
want of it.

Be assured of it. Christians, the pubHc worship of God is
an indispensable duty, both with respect to God^s honour, and
our own greatest interest.

With respect to the lionoiu" of God, it is by this duty that
we profess, to all the world, that we are the servants of
God; that, therefore, we profess ourselves bound to adore,
to honoiu'j and obey Him, after the best and most public
manner we are able.

With respect to ourselves; as we live and depend upon
God's blessing, for our life and health, and for all the good



NEW CHURCH IN KIRK LONAN. 445

things that we have or hope for in this world, or in the
world to come, He expects that we should beg these blessings
in the places dedicated to His honour, as appears plainly
from the several promises He has made to Solomon^s prayer
at the dedication of the temple.

And our Saviour on His part hath promised, that where
two or three are gathered together in His name. He will
grant their requests, — much more will he answer the prayers
which are made in the great congregation (as the Psalmist
speaks) .

They, therefore, who imagine and say, that they can serve
God as well at home as at Church, have not considered what
we mean by the public worship ; that it is an open and public
acknowledgment of God's glorious perfections, and of our
dependence upon Him, of His power to help us, of His
justice to punish us when we do evil, of His mercy and
goodness to pity us.

It is owning to all the world, that we believe what He has
revealed in His holy Word there read to us ; that we expect
to be judged by that Word at the great day ; that therefore
we fear God, and consequently we may expect that all men,
with whom we have to do, may trust us as men fearing God's
judgments if we do wrong.

And in good truth, they that seldom or never attend the
public worship, can give no sure testimony to the world, that
they either believe a God or fear His judgments ; nor do
they give any proof to men, that they can be honest upon
any true principles of reason or religion.

II. But this is not all. The sin and evil of neglecting the
public worship is very great, ivith respect to ourselves.

Christians do not consider, how very apt the very best of
us are to forget the duty which we owe to God, to our
neighbour, and to ourselves ; and that the cares of the world
will soon blot out all thoughts of duty.

It pleased God, therefore, from the creation; (for He
knew what helps man would want to preserve in his mind
the remembrance of his Maker ;) it pleased Him to appoint
one day in seven to be kept holy ; and the neglect of this, in
all probability, was the occasion of that great wickedness
which brought on the flood upon the world of the ungodly.



446 AT THE DEDICATION OP THE

SERM. The same law continued after the flood; and yet, by the
— ^ — '- — neglect of it, how many nations now are there, who though
they sprang from one man, who taught his children the
knowledge of the true God, yet have, at this day, no re-
membrance of the Creator of heaven and earth !

The same law, as to the intent of it, is still in force, and
the sad effects of neglecting it are, and will always be, the
same. Such as observe it with any degree of seriousness
live in the fear of God ; while they that despise the Lord's
day, and His ordinances, are too plainly under the power and
government of Satan, who leads them captive at his will.

And it is very observable, that such as come to untimely
ends, if they die in their senses, do generally confess, that
the beginning of their ruin was the neglect of the public
worship, and profaning the Lord^s day.

And indeed it cannot be well otherways, if people will not
come to Church to be reproved, awakened, and made sensible
of what must come hereafter, if they continue to live in sin.

How harsh would it sound to hear a man say, I have
nothing to ask of God, I have nothing to thank Him for,
I do not owe Him any service, I can live without His
blessing, I desire not the knowledge of His ways. The
most careless sinner would tremble to repeat these words;
and yet this, in effect, is the language of those that wilfidly
neglect and despise the public worship of God ; — this is the
language of their actions, though not of their tongue.

E-emember, good Christians, that, as such, you all pretend
to be of the household of faith. Now, can any of you, with
any pretence, say, that you are of the household of faith,
when you are seldom or never seen at God's house, and with
His family?

Think seriously of this, and you will esteem it the greatest
blessing to have Churches to go to, and you will close with
every opportunity of going to your Father's house, lest you
lose the inheritance of His obedient and dutiful children.

We must not, indeed, charge all people with this sin.
A great unhappy distance from the Church, bad weather, short
days, old age, long and difficult vmys, ill health, and the like,
very often have hindered even some well-disposed people
from going to Church as often as they could wish.



NEW CHURCH IN KIRK LONAN. 447

[Several of these hindrances, God be praised for it, are
now removed, by this house which we have now dedicated to
His service. For it pleased God to put it into the hearts of
several well-disposed people, whose zeal ought not to be
forgotten, and whose names shall be recorded to posterity,
to begin and carry on this good work, obliging themselves,
through God's help, to finish it.

May our gracious God remember them all for good ; bless
their persons, their labours, and their families, and all those
who have any way contributed to this good work, and to the
glory of God, in building an house to the honour of His
Majesty ! And may this laudable and uncommon zeal pro-
voke many others to follow their example, where the houses
of God are falling into decay, or are too small for their con-
gregations to worship God with decency and devotion.]

III. The next thing we come to consider is, the great

BLESSING OF A REGULAR, SETTLED MINISTRY.

Now, that you may know how to value so great a blessing,
and that you may not be tempted by Satan and his agents
to despise their persons and their ministry ; pray take notice
of these following truths of the scripture of God : that God
has expressly promised to bless those whom His ministers
shall bless in His name. " I will bless them (saith our God), Numb, c,
" according to the blessing pronounced over them.''

And that you may not imagine, that this promise belonged
to the people of Israel only ; I must put you in mind of the
words of Jesus Christ our Saviour, when He sent His
apostles: "If, in any place you go to, there be a son o/[Luke lo.
peace," that is, any one disposed to receive your doctrine -'
and blessing, " your peace," the blessing of peace, " shall
rest upon him ; if not, your blessing of peace shall return to
you again." Which plainly shews that there is something
more than an empty ceremony in the blessing of Christ's
ministers.

But that which will most effectually convince all that are
disposed to be convinced, of the great blessing of a regular
ministry, will be, to set before you in one short view the
work of a minister of Christ. You will then see how much
they contribute to your salvation.

St. Paul declares expressly, " That God is in Christ recon- 2 Cor. 5. 19.



448 AT THE DEDICATION OF THE

SERM. ciling the world unto Himself; and that He has committed

XCI •
'■ — this word of reconciliation unto His ministers."

Let us see in what their ministry consists. And first, as
stewards over the house of God, (for so they are called in
the Word of God,) their duty as such is, to receive into His
household and family all who are desirous and capable of
being members thereof: and this they do by the sacrament of
baptism ; which is a blessing that few people of sense and
piety are willing to be deprived of, for themselves or their
children.

In the next place, the work of the ministry consists in
preaching the Gospel; that is, in convincing men, that they
are sinners, that they stand in need of God's mercy, and of
a Redeemer, for that God will call all men to an account,
and will judge them according as their works and lives agree
with the Gospel, or are contrary to it.

In order to this, they are to exhort Christians to mind
their duty, (which they are but too apt to forget,) and to
rebuke and to reprove them when they see them careless of
their souls ; to set before them the terrors of the world to
come, on one hand ; and, on the other, to set before them
the mercies of God, whenever they are truly afflicted with
the burden of their sins. Who does not see the great
blessing of such a ministration ?

But this is not all : Christians are apt to fall into sin after
baptism. What must they do to be restored to the favour
of God again? Why, Jesus Christ has ordained another
sacrament, and has appointed His ministers the dispensers
thereof; namely, a sacrament of reconciliation, for all such
as with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto God.
What a mighty blessing is this for repenting sinners !

Besides this, the ministers of Christ have a daily charge
upon them. They stand obliged (as the priests under the
law) to off'er unto God the concerns and prayers of their
several flocks ; to confess their own sins and the sins of their
people ; to give God thanks for the mercies He bestows upon
them ; and to beg God's protection and blessing upon their
persons and their labours. Who does not think this a very
great blessing indeed ?

In one word ; these are they, by whose ministry you are



NEW CHURCH IN KIRK LOXAN. 449

made Christians ; to whom the care of your souls is com-
mitted. These are they (as the apostle saith) who watch for
your souls, as they that must give an account. They are
the stewards or dispensers of the mysteries of God to His
elect ; by whom He instructs them in the truth, feeds them
with the bread of life, comforts afflicted souls, absolves the
penitent, arms them against the fear of death, and fits them
for a blessed eternity.

It is certain, these blessings would be more visible, if
every minister of Christ would do what he promises at his
ordination ; and woe be to them that do not endeavour to
do so !

If they would not take upon them to convert others till
they themselves were converted ; if they would undertake
the holy calling out of a true love of God, and for the souls
of men ; if their sermons were plain and practical, with an
eye to the understanding and capacities of those that are to
hear them ; if they would always read the service, and ad-
minister the sacraments, with great seriousness, doing holy
things after an holy manner ; and take care that the ministry
be not blamed, through any liberties they take : this would
convince the world effectually of the great blessing of a
standing ministry.

I shall conclude this head with the prophetical declaration
and curse of such as despised the priesthood under the law
of INIoses : and sure the ministers of Jesus Christ are not
less the care of God,

In the thirty-third chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses, pro-
phesying of Levi, and the priesthood, hath these remarkable
words : " They shall teach Jacob Thy judgments, and Israel
Thy law : they shall put incense before Thee, and burnt-
sacrifice upon Thine altar. Smite through the loins of them
that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they
rise not again ;" that is, as one may suppose, that they leave
no posterity behind them, as Korah, Dathan, and Abiram,
did not leave any to survive them.

Do not imagine. Christians, that it is for our own sakes,
but for yours, that we magnify our office, as the apostle
speaks : it is that you may be sensible of the blessing you
enjoy, and of the danger of despising the means of salvation.

WILSON. G Cr



450 AT THE DEDICATION OF THE

SKRM. IV. We come now to consider, the express command of
God, that His ministers should have all just encouragement to



discharge their duty with fidelity and cheerfulness.

An house of God supposes, that He has ^family : — that He
has servants and ministers peculiarly belonging to His house-
hold, which is His Church.

He took especial care for the support of these under the
law ; not leaving it to the fickle humours of those for whose
benefit they were appointed is minist ers.

St. Paul assures us, that Christ has done the same under
[1 Cor. 9. the Gospel : " So hath the Lord ordained, that they which
preach the Gospel, should live of the Gospel." So, that is,
(as is plain from what went before,) as the priests under the
law had a fixed maintenance appointed by God, so Christ
has ordained, that His ministers shall have a settled main-
tenance for preaching the Gospel.

Now, this was a tenth before the law, a tenth under the
law ; and a tenth has been continued under the Gospel, and
has been the least that any Christian lawgiver ever made
God's part. And this proportion is unchangeable, if either
the laws of God or man can make a thing unchangeable.
And if Christ's ministers (as it often happens) are forced to
take less than God's portion, rather than be continually
striving with the people of their flock, woe be to thera which
take the advantage of such lenity !

God has most solemnly promised His blessing upon the
payment of what He has appointed. The words are, as it
Mai. 3 10. were, a challenge to men : " Bring ye all the tithes into the
storehouse, and prove me herewith, saith the Lord of hosts,
if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you
out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to re-
ceive it."

And take notice, it is upon this very account, that the
IGai.vi. 7.] apostle saith, "God is not mocked;" that is, He will not
sufter Himself to be mocked ; " for whatsoever a man soweth,
that shall he reap."

Tiiat God gives, and withholds His blessings, as men and
nations deserve, is a truth not to be questioned by those that
either read His Word, or observe His providence.

V. We now come, in the last place, to consider, the great



NEW CHURCH IN KIRK LONAN. 451

regard and reverence which Christians ought to have for places
dedicated to the honour and service of God.

And first, if you remember that this is the house of God,
you will be careful aud zealous to keep it in good and decent
repair, as ever you expect the favour and blessing of God.

Hear what God Himself declared by His prophet Haggai,
[ch. i.] when they neglected to repair His temple : " Ye
have sown much and bring in little, and when ye brought it
home I did blow upon it; why? saith the Lord of hosts.
Why, because of My house which lieth waste, and ye run
every one to his own house."

This is very proper to be considered by those who grudge
every penny they pay towards the decent repairs of the
Church, and very often must be compelled by law even to be
kind to themselves.

Our next indispensable duty is, to go to Church on all such
days as are set ajjart for the public worship of God. And this
every Christian will choose to do, who has any regard either
for the honour of God, or for his own salvation.

As to the honour of God, they know little of the nature of
true religion, who do not know, that public worship is an
homage and duty which all people owe to the Creator of
heaven and earth. And it is a shrewd sign of atheism for
any man not to give this public testimony of his faith and
fear of God. And we may, without breach of charity, con-
clude, that such people have no concern at all for their
salvation.

What a murmuring such people would make, if a sentence
of excommunication were denounced against them, though
no temporal evils were to follow. And yet, by absenting
from Church, they, in effect, lay themselves under that
dreadful sentence, and put themselves under the power of
Satan.

VI. AYe are next to consider, what we go to Church for.
Why, even to beg God's pardon for those sins, which, if not
forgiven, will most certainly be our everlasting ruin ; to beg
those graces and helps, without which we can never please
God, never go to heaven ; and to give God thanks for those
mercies, which we have no reason to expect will be continued,
when we are so ungrateful as not to acknowledge them.

Gg2



452 AT THE DEDICATION OF THE

SERM. We are also to hear God's holy will and Word read and

XCI. . .
'- — preached, which is one of the great means of grace and salva-



tion. And we are, by a public appearance at God's house, to
testify our dependence upon God for life, and breath, and all
things ; and to profess openly, that we are members of His
household and family.

But remember, I beseech you, once for all, that it is no
honour done to God, to be acknowledyed, adored, and worship-
ped in the Church, by one who dishonours Him out of it.

We are now come into the house of God. Pray take

notice, that, in the language of the Scripture, we are said

IPs. 95. 2, to be BEFORE GoD, whcu we are in His house. This will

■-' oblige us to take especial care of our behaviour, during our

stay in His house.

We shall, in the most devout and humble manner and
posture, beseech Him to pardon what is past, and to amend
what is amiss in us for the time to come. We shall adore
the mercy of God, who spares us when we deserve punish-
ment ; and in all the duties we perform, we shall shew, by
our outward devout behaviour, that our hearts do really go



Online LibraryThomas WilsonThe works of the right reverend father in God, Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man (Volume 3) → online text (page 40 of 49)