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SERM. and consideration; so that we may well understand, may be LVIII. able to weigh, may retain in memory, and may become duly affected with their discourses; we must not hear them drowsily and slightly, as if we were nothing concerned, or were hearing an impertinent tale; their word should not pass through the ears, and slip away without effect; but sink into the understanding, into the memory, into the heart; like Matt, xiii. the good seed falling into a depth of earth, able to afford it root and nourishment: therefore we must attend diligently Heb. ii. 1. thereto : megiodorégws oùv det goden, we should therefore give more abundant heed, as the Apostle saith, to the things we hear, lest at any time we should let them slip. This duty 1 Thess. ii. the nature and importance of their word requireth it is the word not of men, but, in truth, the word of the great God, (his word as proceeding from him, as declaring his mind and will, as tendering his overtures of grace and mercy,) which as such challengeth great regard and awe; it informeth us of our chief duties, it furthereth our main interests, it guideth us into, it urgeth us forward in the Jam. i. 21. way to eternal happiness; it is the word that is able to save our souls, to render us wise unto salvation; it therefore claimeth and deserveth from us most earnest attention; it is a great indignity and folly not to yield it.



3. We should to their instructions bring good dispositions of mind, such as may render them most effectual and fruitful to us; such as are right intention, candour, docility, meekness.


We should not be induced to hear them out of curiosity, (as having itching ears,) being desirous to hear some new things, some fine notions, some taking discourse; somewhat to fancy or talk pleasantly about, (as the Acts xvii. Athenians heard St. Paul;) not out of censoriousness, or inclination to criticize and find fault, (as the Pharisees heard Luke xi. 54. our Saviour, laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him ;) not out of design to gratify our passions in hearing them, to reprove other persons, or for any such corrupt and sinister intention; but altogether out of pure design that

we may be improved in knowledge, and excited to the prac- SERM. tice of our duty.


We should not come to hear them with minds imbued with ill prejudices and partial affections, which may obstruct the virtue and efficacy of their discourse, or may hinder us from judging fairly and truly about what they say; but with such freedom and ingenuity as may dispose us readily to yield unto and acquiesce in any profitable truth declared by them; like the generous Bereans, who received the word Acts xvii. μετὰ τάσης προθυμίας, toith all alacrity and readiness of mind, searching the Scriptures daily, whether these things were 80; ús ȧgriyimta Bgion, like infants newly born, that come to 1 Pet. ii. 2. the dug without any other inclination than to suck what is needful for their sustenance.



We should be docile and tractable, willing and apt to learn, shaking off all those indispositions of soul (all dulness and sluggishness, all peevishness and perverseness, all pride and self-conceitedness, all corrupt affection and indulgence to our conceits, our humours, our passions, our lusts and inordinate desires) which may obstruct our understanding of the word, our yielding assent to it, our receiving impression from it: there were those, concerning whom the Apostle said, that he could not proceed in his discourse, because they were vaIgoi raïs àxoais, dull of Heb. v. 11. hearing, (or sluggish in hearing,) who were indisposed to (1 Cor. iii. hear, and uncapable to understand, because they would not be at the pains to rouse up their fancies, and fix their minds upon a serious consideration of things: there were those, who had a spirit of slumber, eyes not to see, and ears Isa. xxix. not to hear; who did hear with the ear, but not under- Rom. xi. 8. stand; seeing did see, but not perceive; for their heart had Isa. vi. 9. waxed gross, their ears were dull of hearing, and their 26. eyes were closed; such indocile persons there always have John xii. been, who, being stupified and perverted by corrupt affections, became uncapable of bettering from good instruc tion: all such we should strive to free ourselves from, that we may perform this duty to our guides, and in meekness Jam. i. 21. receive the engrafted word.


Acts xxviii.



These practices (of hearing, of attending, of coming LVIII. well disposed to instruction) are at least steps and degrees necessarily prerequisite to the obedience prescribed; and farther to press them all together upon us, we may consider, that it is strictly incumbent on them (under danger of heavy 1 Cor. ix. punishment and woe) willingly, earnestly, with all diligence and patience, to labour in teaching and admonishing us; they


2 Cor. v. 14.

Rom. xii. 3..

1 Tim. v.


1 Tim. iv.

13, 16.

2 Tim.iv.2.

1 Pet. v. 2. must give attendance, and take heed unto their doctrine, that it may be sound and profitable; they must preach the word, and be instant upon it in season, out of season, (that is, not only taking, but seeking and snatching all occasions to do Col. i. 28. it,) reproving, rebuking, exhorting with all long suffering and doctrine; they must warn every man, and teach every man in all wisdom, that they may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: as they are obliged in such manner to do these things, so there must be correspondent duties lying upon us, to receive their doctrine readily, carefully, patient1 Cor. iv. 2. ly, sincerely, and fairly: as they must be faithful dispensers of God's heavenly truth and holy mysteries, so we must be obsequious entertainers of them: imposing such commands on them doth imply reciprocal obligations in their hearers and scholars; otherwise their office would be vain, and their endeavours fruitless; God no less would be frustrated in his design, than we should be deprived of the advantages of their institution.

But farther, it is a more immediate ingredient of this duty, that

4. We should effectually be enlightened by their doctrine, be convinced by their arguments persuading truth and duty, be moved by their admonitions and exhortations to good practice; we should open our eyes to the light which they shed forth upon us, we should surrender our judgment to the proofs which they allege, we should yield our hearts and affections pliable to their mollifying and warming discourses; it is their part to subdue our minds to the obedience of faith, and to subject our wills to the ob2 Cor. x. 5. servance of God's commandments, (casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the


knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought SERM. to the obedience of Christ;) it must therefore answerably be our duty not to resist, not to hold out, not to persist obstinate in our errors or prejudices; to submit our minds to the power of truth, being willingly and gladly conquered by it; it must be our duty to subjugate our wills, to bend our inclinations, to form our affections to a free compliance of heart with the duties urged upon us; we should not be like those disciples, of whom our Lord complaineth thus ; O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have Luke xxiv. spoken: nor like the Jews, with whom St. Stephen thus expostulates; Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and Acts vii. 51. ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost. They should 20. ii. 4 speak with power and efficacy; we therefore should not by our indispositions (by obstinacy of conceit or hardness


1 Cor. iv.

of heart) obstruct their endeavours: they should be co- 2 Cor. i. 24. workers of your joy, (that is, working in us that faith and 1 Cor. iii.. those virtues, which are productive of true joy and comfort to us ;) we therefore should co-work with them toward the same end: they should edify us in knowledge and holiness; we should therefore yield ourselves to be fashioned and polished by them.

5. We should, in fine, obey their doctrine by conforming our practice thereto; this our Lord prescribed in regard even to the Jewish guides and doctors, The Scribes Matt. xxiii. and Pharisees sit in Moses's seat; all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; the same we may well conceive that he requireth in respect to his own ministers, the teachers of a better law, authorized to direct us by his own commission, and thereto more specially qualified by his grace: this is indeed the crown and completion of all; to hear signifieth nothing; to be convinced in our mind, and to be affected in our heart, will but aggravate our guilt, if we neglect practice: every sermon we hear, that sheweth us our duty, will in effect be an inditement upon us, will ground a sentence of condemnation, if we transgress it; for, as the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, Heb. vi. 7, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dress-8. x. 26.

SERM. ed, receiveth blessing from God, so that which beareth thorns LVIII, and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing, and its end Rom. ii. 13. is to be burned: and, Not the hearers of the law are just with God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. And it Jam. i. 22. is a good advice, that of St. James, Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves; it is, he intimateth, a fallacy some are apt to put upon themselves, to conceit they have done sufficiently when they have lent an ear to the word; this is the least part to be done in regard to it, practice is ali in all; what is it to be shewed the way, and to know it exactly, if we do not walk in it, if we do not by it arrive to our journey's end, the salvation of our souls? To have waited upon our Lord himself, and hung upon his discourse, was not available; for when in the day of account some shall begin to allege, We have eaten and drunk before thee, and thou hast taught in our streets; our Lord will say, I know you not, whence are ye; depart from me all ye workers of iniquity. And it is our Lord's Matt. vii. declaration in the case, Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock;—but every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.


Luke xiii. 26, 27.

(John xiv. 21.)

Markvi. 20. Many are very earnest to hear, they hear gladly, as Matt. xiii. Herod did St. John Baptist's homilies; they receive the word with joy, as the temporary believers in the parable


Is. lviii. 2. did; they do, as those men did in the Prophet, delight to know God's ways, do ask of God the ordinances of justice, do take delight in approaching God; or as those in another Prophet, who speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come I pray you, and hear, what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord: and they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but will not do them; for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness: and, lo, thou art to them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and

Ezek. xxxiii. 30, 31, 32.

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