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2. If Christ be the great Prophet of the church, the weakest christians need not be discouraged at the dulness and incapacity they find in themselves: for Christ is not only a patient and condescending Teacher, but he can also, as he has often done, reveal that to babes which is hid from the wise and learned. Matt. 11: 25. " The testimonies of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple.” Psa. 19: 7. Yea, and such as you are, the Lord delights to choose, that his grace may be the more conspicuous in your weakness. 1 Cor. 1: 26, 27. Well then, be not discouraged; others may know more in other things than you, but you are not incapable of knowing so much as shall save your souls, if Christ be your teacher: in other knowledge they excel you; but if ye know Jesus Christ, and the truth as it is in him, one drop of your knowledge is worth a whole sea of their gifts. It is better in kind, the one being but natural, the other supernatural, from the saving illuminations and inward teachings of the Spirit: and so is one of those "better things” that accompany salvation. It is better in respect to its effects: other knowledge leaves the heart dry, barren, and unaffected; but that little you have been taught of Christ, sheds down its gracious influences upon your affections, and slides sweetly to your melting hearts. So that as one "preferred the most despicable work of a plain rustic christian before all the triumphs of Alexander and Cesar," much more ought you to prefer one saving manifestation of the Spirit, to all the powerless illuminations of natural men.
3. If Christ be the great Prophet and Teacher of the church, prayer is a proper means for the increase of knowledge. Prayer is the golden key that unlocks that treasure. When Daniel was to expound the secret contained in the king's dream, about which the Chaldean magicians had racked their brains to no purpose; what course did Daniel take ? " He went to his house,” Dan.
2:17, 18, "and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions; that they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning his secret.” And then was the secret revealed to Daniel. Luther was wont to say, " Three things made a divine; meditation, temptation, and prayer.” Holy Mr. Bradford was wont to study upon his knees. Those truths that are learned by prayer, leave an unusual sweetness upon the heart. If Christ be our Teacher, it becomes all his saints to be at his feet.
4. If Christ be the great Prophet and Teacher of the church, we may thence discern and judge of doctrines, and it may serve us as a test by which to try them. For such as Christ is, such are the doctrines that flow from him. Every error pretends to derive itself from him ; but as Christ was holy, humble, heavenly, meek, peaceful, plain, and simple, and in all things alien, yea, contrary to the wisdom of the world and the gratifications of the flesh; such are the truths which he teaches. They have his character and image engraven on them. Would you
know then whether this or that doctrine be from the Spirit of Christ? Examine the doctrine itself by this rule. And whatsoever doctrine you find to encourage and countenance sin, to exalt self, to be accommodated to earthly designs and interests, to warp and bend to the humors and lusts of men: in a word, what doctrine soever makes them that profess it carnal, turbulent, proud, sensual, you may safely reject it, and 'conclude this never came from Jesus Christ. The doctrine of Christ is after godliness; his truth sanctifies. There is a spiritual taste, by which those that have their senses exercised can distinguish things that differ. "The spiritual man judgeth all things.” 1 Cor. 2 : 15. His ear trieth " words, as the mouth tasteth meats.” Job, 34 : 3. Receive nothing, let it come never so speciously, that hath not some relish of Christ and holiness
in it. Be sure, Christ never revealed any thing to men that derogates from his own glory, or prejudices and obstructs the ends of his own death.
5. And as it will serve us for a test of doctrines, so it serves for a test of ministers; and hence you may judge who are authorized and sent by Christ the great Prophet, to declare his will to men. Surely those whom he sends have his Spirit in their hearts, as well as his words in their mouths. And according to the measures of grace received, they faithfully endeavor to fulfil their ministry for Christ, as Christ did for his Father:"As my Father hath sent me,” says Christ, " so send I you.” John, 20:21. They take Christ for their pattern in the whole course of their ministration, and are such as sincerely endeavor to imitate the great Shepherd, in the following respects :
Jesus Christ was a faithful minister, the "faithful and true witness." Rev. 1:5. He declared the whole mind of God to men. Of him it was prophetically said, "I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness, and thy salvation; I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation.” Psa. 40 : 10. To the same sense, and almost in the same words, the apostle Paul professed, "I have kept back nothing that was profitable unto you," "I have showed you all things.” Acts, 20:20, 35. Not that every faithful minister, in course of his ministry, anatomizes the whole body of truth, and fully expounds and applies each particular to the people; but with respect to those doctrines which they have opportunity of opening, they do not, out of fear, or to accommodate and secure base, low ends, withhold the mind of God, or so corrupt and abuse his words as to subject truth to their own, or other men's lusts: "They preach not as pleasing men, but God.” 1 Thess. 2: 4. "For if we yet please men, we cannot be the servants of Christ."
Gal. 1:10. Truth must be spoken, though the greatest on earth be offended.
Jesus Christ was a tender-hearted minister, full of compassion to souls. He was sent to bind
the broken in heart. Isa. 61:1. He grieved at the hardness of men's hearts. Mark, 3 : 5. He mourned over Jerusalem, and said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! how oft would I have gathered thy children, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings!” Matt. 23:37. His bowels yearned when he saw the multitude as sheep having no shepherd. Matt. 9 : 36, This tender compassion of Christ must be in all the under shepherds. "God is my witness," says one of them, "how greatly I long after you all, in (or after the pattern of) the bowels of Christ Je. sus.” Phil. 1:8. He that shows a hard heart, unaffected by the dangers and miseries of souls, can never show a commission from Christ to authorize him for ministerial work.
Jesus Christ was a laborious, self-denying minister: he put a necessity on himself to finish his work in his day; a work infinitely great, in a very little time; "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day : the night cometh, when no man can work.” John, 9: 4. O how much work did Christ do in a little time on earth! " He went about doing good.” Acts, 10: 38. He was never idle. When he sits down at Jacob's well, to rest him, being weary, presently he falls into his work, preaching the Gospel to the Samaritan woman. In this must his ministers resemble him ; striving according to his working, that worketh in them mightily." Col. 1 : 28, 29.
Jesus Christ delighted in nothing more than the success of his ministry; to see the work of the Lord prosper in his hand, this was meat and drink to him. When the seventy returned, and reported the success of their first embassy, " Lord, even the devils are subject to us
through thy name !” he said unto them, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” As if he had said, You tell me no news, I saw it when I sent you at first: I knew the Gospel would succeed where it came ; "and in that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit.” Luke, 10:17, 18, 21. And is it not so with those sent by him? do not they value the success of their ministry? "My little children," saith Paul," of whom I travail again in birth, till Christ be formed in you.” Gal. 4 : 19.
Jesus Christ was a minister that lived up to his doctrine. His life and doctrine harmonized in all things. He urged to holiness in his doctrine, and was the great pattern of holiness in his life ; "Learn of me, I am meek and lowly.” Matt. 11 : 29. And such his ministers desire to approve themselves; "What ye have heard and seen in me, do.” Phil. 4: 9. He preached to their eyes as well as ears. His life was a comment on his doctrine. They might see holiness acted in his life, as well as hear it sounded by his lips. He preached the doctrine, and lived the application.
Jesus Christ was a minister that maintained sweet, secret communion with God in all his constant public labors. If he had been preaching and healing all the day, yet
he would redeem time from his very sleep to spend in secret prayer ;
" When he had sent the multitude away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray, and was there alone. Matt. 14: 23. O blessed pattern! Let the keepers of the vineyards remember they have a vineyard of their own to keep, a soul of their own that must be looked after as well as other men's. Those that, in these things, imitate Christ, are surely sent to us from him, and are worthy of double honor: they are a choice blessing to the people.