« AnteriorContinuar »
made use of, as it were, to bring up his people out of Egypt, as he did of Moses, should take heed that they do not provoke God as Moses did, by assuming too much to themselves, and by their intemperate zeal, to shut them out from seeing the good things that God is going to do for his church in this world. The fruits of Moses' unbelief, which provoked God to shut him out of Canaan, and not to suffer him to partake of those great things God was about to do for Israel on earth, were chiefly these two things: First, his mingling bitterness with his zeal: he had a great zeal for God, and he could not bear to see the intolerable stiff-neckedness of the people, that they did not acknowledge the work of God, and were not convinced by all his wonders that they had seen: but human passion was mingled with his zeal, Psalm cvi. 32, 33. "They angered him also at the waters of strife; so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes: because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips." Hear now ye rebels, says he, with bitterness of language. Secondly, he behaved himself, and spoke with an assuming air he assumed too much to himself: hear now, ye rebels, must we fetch water out of this rock! Spiritual pride wrought in Moses at that time: his temptations to it were very great, for he had had great discoveries of God, and had been privileged with intimate and sweet communion with him, and God had made him the instrument of great good to his church; and though he was so humble a person, and, by God's own testimony, meek above all men upon the face of the whole earth, yet his temptations were too strong for him which surely should make our young ministers, that have of late been highly favored, and have had great success, exceeding careful, and distrustful of themselves. Alas! how far are we from having the strength of holy, meek, aged Moses! The temptation at this day is exceeding great, to both those errors that Moses was guilty of; there is great temptation to bitterness and corrupt passion with zeal; for there is so much unreasonable opposition made
against this glorious work of God, and so much stiff-neckedness manifested in multitudes of this generation, notwithstanding all the great and wonderful works in which God has passed before them, that it greatly tends to provoke the spirits of such as have the interest of this work at heart, so as to move them to speak unadvisedly with their lips. And there is also great temptation to an assuming behavior in some persons: when a minister is greatly succeeded, from time to time, and so draws the eyes of the multitude upon him, and he sees himself flocked after, and resorted to as an oracle, and people are ready to adore him, and to offer sacrifice to him, as it was with Paul and Barnabas, at Lystra, it is almost impossible for a man to avoid taking upon him the airs of a master, or some extraordinary person; a man had need to have a great stock of humility, and much divine assistance, to resist the temptation. But the greater our dangers are, the more ought to be our watchfulness and prayerfulness, and diffidence of ourselves, lest we bring ourselves into mischief. Fishermen that have been very successful, and have caught a great many fish, had need to be careful that they do not at length begin to burn incense to their net. And we should take warning by Gideon, who, after God had highly favored and exalted him, and made him the instrument of working a wonderful deliverance for his people, at length made a god of the spoils of his enemies, which became a snare to him and to his house, so as to prove the ruin of his family.
All young ministers, in this day of the bringing up the ark of God, should take warning by the example of a young Levite in Israel, viz. Uzza, the son of Abinadab. He seemed to have a real concern for the ark of God, and to be zealous and engaged in his mind, on that joyful occasion of bringing up the ark, and God made him an instrument to bring the ark out of its long continued obscurity in Kirjath-jearim, and he was succeeded to bring it a considerable way towards Mount Zion; but for his want of humility, reverence, and
circumspection, and assuming to himself, or taking too much upon him, God broke forth upon him, and smote him for his error, so that he never lived to see and partake of the great joy of his church, on occasion of the carrying up the ark into Mount Zion, and the great blessings of heaven upon Israel, that were consequent upon it. Ministers that have been improved to carry on this work, have been chiefly of the younger sort, who have doubtless (as Uzza had) a real concern for the ark; and it is evident that they are much animated and engaged in their minds (as he was) in this joyful day of bringing up the ark; and they are afraid what will become of the ark under the conduct of its ministers (that are sometimes in scripture compared to oxen); they see the ark shakes, and they are afraid these blundering oxen will throw it; and some of them, it is to be feared, have been over officious on this occasion, and have assumed too much to themselves, and have been bold to put forth their hand to take hold of the ark, as though they were the only fit and worthy persons to defend it.
If young ministers had great humility, without a mixture, it would dispose them especially to treat aged ministers with respect and reverence, as their fathers, notwithstanding that a sovereign God may have given them greater assistance and success than they have had. 1 Pet. v. 5. "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder; yea, all of you, be subject one to another; and be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." Lev. xix. 32. "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God; I am the Lord."
As spiritual pride disposes persons to assume much to themselves, so it also disposes them to treat others with neglect on the contrary, pure Christian humility disposes persons to honor all men, agreeable to that rule, 1 Pet. ii. 17.
There has been in some, that I believe are true friends of religion, too much of an appearance of this fruit of spiritual
pride, in their treatment of those that they looked upon to be carnal men; and particularly in refusing to enter into any discourse or reasoning with them. Indeed to spend a great deal of time in jangling and warm debates about religion, is not the way to propagate religion, but to hinder it; and some are so dreadfully set against this work, that it is a dismal task to dispute with them, all that one can say is utterly in vain; I have found it so by experience; and to go to enter into disputes about religion, at some times, is quite unseasonable, as particularly in meetings for religious conference, or exercises of worship. But yet we ought to be very careful that we do not refuse to discourse with men, with any appearance of a supercilious neglect, as though we counted them not worthy to be regarded; on the contrary, we should condescend to carnal men, as Christ has condescended to us, to bear with our unteachableness and stupidity, and still to follow us with instructions, line upon line, and precept upon precept, saying, Come let us reason together; setting light before us, and using all manner of arguments with us, and waiting upon such dull scholars, as it were hoping that we should receive light. We should be ready with meekness and calmness, without hot disputing, to give our reasons, why we think this work is the work of God, to carnal men when they ask us, and not turn them by as not worthy to be talked with; as the apostle directed the primitive Christians to be ready to give a reason of the Christian faith and hope, to the enemies of Christianity. 1 Pet. iii. 15. "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." And we ought not to condemn all reasoning about things of religion, under the name of carnal reason. For my part, I desire no better than that those that oppose this work, should come fairly to submit to have the cause betwixt us tried by strict reasoning.
One qualification that the scripture speaks of, once and again, as requisite in a minister, is, that he should be apt to
teach, 1 Tim. iii. 2. And the apostle seems to explain what he means by it, in 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25.; or at least there expresses one thing he intends by it, viz. that a minister should be ready meekly to condescend to and instruct opposers. "And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance, to the acknowledging of the truth.”
Errors in a revival, arising from the adoption of wrong principles.
SECONDLY, Another thing from whence errors in conduct, that attend such a revival of religion, do arise, is wrong principles.
And one erroneous principle, than which scarce any has proved more mischievous to the present glorious work of God, is a notion that it is God's manner, now in these days, to guide his saints, at least some that are more eminent, by inspiration, or immediate revelation, and to make known to them what shall come to pass hereafter, or what it is his will that they should do, by impressions that he by his Spirit makes upon their minds, either with or without texts of scripture; whereby something is made known to them, that is not taught in the scripture as the words lie in the Bible. By such a notion the devil has a great door opened for him ; and if once this opinion should come to be fully yielded to, and established in the church of God, Satan would have opportunity thereby to set up himself as the guide and oracle of God's people, and to have his word regarded as their infallible rule, and so to lead them where he would, and to in
troduce what he pleased, and soon to bring the Bible into