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eth the things spoken unto the heart, and gives them subsis. tence in it, Heb. xi. 1.; without which, as to us, they flow up and down in loose and uncertain notions. This then is the principal part of our duty in heeding the things spoken, for it gives entrance to them into the soul, without which, they are poured upon it as water upon a stick that is fully dry.
. 4. Labouring to express the word received in a conforinity of heart and life unto it, is another part of this attention. This is the next proper end of our hearing. And to do a thing appointed unto an end, without aiming at that end, is no better than the not doing it at all, in some cases much worse. The apostle says of the Romans, that they were cast into the mould of the doctrine of the gospel, chap. vi. 17. It lett upon their hearts an impression of its own likeness, or produced in them the express image of that holiness, purity, and wisdoin which it revealeth. This is to “ behold with open face the glory of the Lord in a glass, and to be changed into the same image,” 2 Cor. iii. 18. that is, the image of the Lord Christ, manitested unto us, and reflected upon us by and in the glass of the gospel. When the heart of the hearer is quickened, enlivened, spirited with gospel truths, and by them is moulded and fashion. ed into their likeness, and expresseth that likeness in its fruits, or in a conversation becoming the gospel, then is the word attended unto in a right manner. This will secure the word a station in our hearts, and give it a permanent abode in us. This is the indwelling of the word, whereof there are many degrees, and we ought to aim that it should be plentiful.
5. Watchfulness against all opposition that is made either against the truth or power of the word in us, belongs also unto this duty. And as these oppositions are many, so ought this watchfulness to be great and diligent. And these things have we added for the further explication of the duty that is pressed on us by the apostle: the necessity whereof, for the preser. vation of the truth in our hearts and minds, will further appear in the ensuing observation.
II. There are sundry times and seasons wherein, and several ways and means whereby, men are in danger to lose the word that they have heard, if they attend not diligently unto its preservation. MOTOTE, at any iine,' or by any way or means. This our Saviour teacheth us at large in the parable of the seed, which was retained but in one sort of ground of those four whereinto it was cast, Matt. xii. And this the experience of all times and ages confirmeth. Yea, few there are at any time wbo keep the word heard as they ought. We may briei: ly name the seasons wherein, and the ways whereby the hearts and minds of men are made as leaking vessels, to pour out and lose the word that they have heard,
1. Some lose it in a time of peace and prosperity. That is a season which slays the foolish.. Jeshurun waxes fat and kicks. According to men's pastures they are filled, and forget the Lord. They feed their lusts high, until they loath the word. Quails often make a lean soul. A prosperous outward estate hath ruined many a conviction from the word, yea, and weakened faith and obedience in many of the saints themselves. The warmth of prosperity breeds swarms of apostates, as the heat of the sun doth insects in the spring. . ,
2. Some lose it in a time of persecution. “When persecution ariseth,” saith our Saviour, " they fall away.” Many go on apace in profession until they come to see the cross; this sight puts them to a stand, and then turns them quite out of the way. They thought not of it, and do not like it. We know what havock this hath made amongst professors in all ages, and commonly where it destroys the bodies of ten, it destroys the souls of a hundred. This is the season wherein stars fall from the firmament, in reference whereunto innurnerable are the precepts for watchfulness, wisdom, patience, enduring, that are given us in the gospel.
3. Some lose it in a time of trial by temptation; it pleaseth God in his wisdom and grace to suffer sometimes an hour of temptation to come forth upon the world, upon the church in the world, for their trial, Rev. ii. 10. And he doth it that his own thereby may be made conformable unto their head Jesus Christ, who had his especial hour of temptation. Now in such a season, temptation worketh variously, according as men are exposed unto it, or as God seeth meet that they should be tried by it. Every thing that such days abound withal, shall have in it-the force of a temptation. And the usual effect of this work is, that it brings professors into a slumber, Matt. xxv. 5. In this state, many utterly lose the word. They have been cast into a negligent slumber by the secret power and efficacy of temptation; and when they awake and look about them, the whole power of the word is lost and departed from them. With reference unto these and the like seasons it is, that the apostle gives us this caution, to take heed lest at any time the word which we have heard do slip out.
The ways and means also whereby this wretched effect is produced are various, yea, innumerable: some of them only I shall mention, whereunto the rest may be reduced. As, 1. Love of this present world. This made Demas a leaking vessel, 2 Tim. iv. 10, and choaks one fourth part of the seed in the parable, Matt. xiii. Many might have been rich in grace, had they not made it their end and business to be rich in this world, i Tim. vi. 9. But this is too well known, as well as too little regarded. 2. Love of sin. A secret lust cherisbed
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in the heart will make it plenum rimarum, full of chinks,' that it will never retain the showers of the word; and it will assuredly open them as fast as convictions stop theni. 3. False doctrines, errors, heresies, false worship, superstition and idola. tries will do the same. I place these things together, as those which work in the same kind upon the curiosity, vanity and darkness of the minds of men. These break the vessel, and at once pour out all the benefits of the word that ever were received. And many the like instances might be given.
And this gives us the reason of the necessity of that heeding of the word which we before insisted on. Without it, at one time or other, by one means or other, we shall lose all the design of the word upon our souls. That alone will preserve us, and carry us through the course and difficulties of our profession. The duty mentioned then is of no less concern unto us than our souls, for without it we perish. Let us not deceive ourselves, a slothful, negligent hearing of the word will bring no man to life. The commands we have to watch, pray, strive, labour and fight, are not in vain. The warnings given us of the opposition that is made to our faith by indwelling sin, Satan and the world, are not left on record for nothing: no more are the sad examples which we have of many, who beginning a good profession, have utterly turned aside to sin and folly.
All these things, I say, teach us the necessity of the duty which the apostle enjoineth, and which we have explained.
III. The word heard is not lost without the great sin, as well as the inevitable ruin of the souls of men. Lost it is, when it is not mixed with faith, when we receive it not in good and bonest hearts, when the end of it is not accomplished in us, and towards us. And this befals us not without our sin, and woful neglect of duty. The word of its own nature is apt to abide, to incorporate itself with us, and to take root: but we cast it out, we pour it forth from us. And they have a woful account to make, on whose souls the guilt thereof shall be found at the last day.
IV. It is in the nature of the word of the gospel to water bar. ren hearts, and to make them fruitful unto God. Hence, as was shewed, was it compared to water, dews, and rain, which is the foundation of the metaphorical expression here used. Where this word comes, it makes the “ parched ground a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water," Isa. xxxv. 7. These are the waters of the sanctuary, that.“ heal the barren places of the earth," and make them fruitful, Ezek, xlvii. The river that “ makes glad the city of God," Psal. xlvi. 7. That river of “ living water” that comes forth from the throne of God, Rev. xxij. 1. And the places and persons which are not healed or benefited by these waters, are “ left to barrenness and burning for everniore,” Ezek. xlvii. 11. Heb. vi. 8. With the dew hereof doth God " water his church every moment," Isa, xxvii. 3. And then doth it " grow as a lilly, and cast forth its roots as Lebanon,” Hos. xiv. 5-7. Abundant fruitfulness un, to God follows a gracious receiving of this dew from him. Blessed are they who have this dew distilling on them every morning, who are watered as the garden of God, as a “ land that God careth for:”
V. The consideration of the revelation of the gospel by the Son of God, is a powerful motive unto that diligent attendance unto it, which we have before described.---This is the inference that the apostle makes from the proposition that he had made of the excellency of the Son of God: 0.26 T8To, therefore.'
And this is that which in the greatest part of the ensuing chapter he doth pursue. This is that which God declares, that he might so justly expect and look for, namely, that when he sent his Son to the vineyard, he should be regarded and attende ed unto.
And this is most reasonable upon many accounts.
1. Because of the authority wherewith he spake the word. Others spake and delivered their message as servants, he as the Lord over his own house, ch. iii. 6. The Father himself gave him all his authority for the revealing of his mind, and there. fure proclaimed from heaven, that if any one would have any thing to do with God, they were to hear him, Matt. xvii. 5. 2 Pet. i. 17. The whole authority of God was with him, for him, did God the Father seal, or put the stamp of all his authority upon; and he spake accordingly, Matt. vii. 29. And therefore he spake both in his own name, and the name of his Father; so that this authority sprung partly from the dignity of his person, for being God and man, though he spake on the earth, yet he who was the Son of man was in heaven still, John ii. 13. and therefore is said to speak from heaven, Heb. xii. 21. and coming from heaven was still above all, John iii. 31. having power and authority over all; and partly from his commission that he had from his Father, which, as we said before, gave all authority into his hand, John v. 26, 27. Being then in himself the Son of God, and being peculiarly designed to reveal the mind and will of the Father, which the prophet calls his “ standing and feeding in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God," Mic. v. 4. all the authority of God over the souls and consciences of men, is exerted in this revelation of the gospel by him. It cannot then be neglected without the contempt of all the authority of God. And this will be a sore aggravation of the sin of unbelievers and apostates at the last day. If we attend not unto the word on this account, we shall suffer on this account. He that despiseth the
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word, despiseth him; and he that despiseth him, despiseth him also who sent him.
2. Because of the love that is in it. There is in it the love of the Father in sending the Son, for the revealing of himself and his mind unto the children of men. There is also in it the love of the Son himself, condescending to teach and instruct the sons of men, who by their own fault were cast into error and darkness. Greater love could not God nor his eternal Son manifest unto us, than that he should undertake in his own person to become our instructor; see 1 John v. 20. He that shall consider the brutish stupidity and blindness of the generality of mankind in the things of God, the miserable fluctuating and endless uncertainties of the more inquiring part of them ; and withal the greatness of their concern in being brought unto the knowledge of the truth, cannot but in some, measure see the greatness of this love of Christ in revealing unto us the whole counsel of God. Hence his words and speech are said to be gracious, Luke iv. 22. and grace to be poured into lis lips, Psal. xlv. 2. And this is no small motive into our attention to the word.
3. The fulness of the revelation itself by him made unto us, is of the same importance. He came not to declare a part or parcel, but the whole will of God, all that we are to know, all that we are to do, all that we are to believe: “ In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” Col. ii. 3. He opened all the dark sentences of the will of God hidden from the foundation of the world. There is in his doctrine all wisdom, all knowledge, as all light is in the sun, and all water in the sea; there being nothing of the one or the other in any other thing, but by a communication from them. Now, if every word of God be excellent, if every part and parcel of it delivered by any of his servants of old was to be attended to on the penalty of extermination out of the number of his people; how much more will our condition be miserable, as our blindness and obstinacy now is, if we have not a heart to attend to this full revelation of himself and bis will.
4. Because it is final.- Last of all he sent his Son, and bath spoken unto us by him. Never more in this world will he speak with that kind of speaking. No new, no farther revelation of God is to be expected in this world, but what is made by Jesus Christ. To this we must attend, or we are lost for ever.
VI. The true and only way of honouring the Lord Chiist as the Son of God, is by diligent attendance and obedience into his word.—The apostle having evidenced his glory as the Son of God, makes this his only inference from it. So doth he himself: · If you love me,' saith he, keep my commandnent's.' Where there is no obedience unto the word, there is neither