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his own soul, while he labours to make it manifest before the world, by his public discourses, and by the whole tenor of his conduct.
THE TRUE MINISTER STUDIES THE DIFFERENT
DISPENSATIONS, IN ORDER TO QUALIFY IMSELF FOR THE DISCHARGE OF EVERY PART OF ; HIS! DUTY., vir ins
n n!"3714 THE pastor, who is ill instructed in the mys. teries of our holy religion, loses himself and leads his sheep astray. The good pastor, on the contrary having found out the way to everlasting life, presses forward therein at the head of his flock, and exhorts every heedless Wanderer to follow his steps. He is conscious not only, that he has a mixture of sheep and goats in his fold; but he knows that, among the former, there are some, to whose spiritual condition the 'sincere milk of the word is much better adapted, than stronger food. To all of these he studies to ad. dress himself in a suitable manner. To those who are dead in trespasses and sin, equally destitute both of love and fear, he proclaims the first principles of the Gospel, such as “ repentance from dead works, faith toward God, and an eternal judgment.”. Those who are already awakened from the delusions of sin, he anxiously leads into the paths of grace; and endeavours to conduct those to evangelical perfection, who have felt the powers of the world to come." He easily distinguishes the mixed multitude of his hearers into a variety of classes. The unbelieving aud impene, itent, who are to be considered as without God and without hope in the world, are such as go on, witha out any symptom of fear, toward the gulph of perdition; whether it be by the high-road of vice, with the notoriously abandoned, or through the by-path of
bypocrisy, with pharisaical professors. Converted sinners, or believers, are either under the dispensation of the Father, under that of the Son, or under that of the Holy Ghost, according to the different progress they have made in spiritual things : and the faithful pastor is as perfectly acquainted with their various attainments, as a diligent tutor is acquainted with the different abilities of his several pupils.
Believers, under the dispensation of the Father, are ordinarily surrounded with a night of uncertainty and doubt, though visited, at times, with a few scattered rays of hope. Under the dispensation of the Son, the doubts of believers are dissipated, like those of the
two disciples who journeyed to Emmaus, while they • discover more clearly, and experience more powerfully,
the truths of the Gospel. But under the dispensation of the Spirit, they “ walk in the light," and are led “ into all truth, by the Spirit of truth ; the anointing which they have received, abideth in them, and teachcth them of all things” necessary to salvation.
A father of the church paraphrasing upon those words of the Apostle, “ Lord save us; we perish”.... apostrophizes thus with the doubting disciples ; You • have your Saviour with you, what danger can you • fear ?. We are yet, they reply, but children, and have attained but to a small degree of strength: hence we are afraid. The descent of the Holy Spirit, that divine protector, which has been graciously promised, has not yet filled us with full assurance. This has "been the cause of our unsteadiness hitherto ; and (hence, the Saviour so frequently reproaches us with
the weakness of our faith. Now, all those christians, who have not yet received the spiritual baptism, so frequently mentioned in the new Testament, are shut up in this state of weakness and doubt. But so soon as they are born of the Spirit, they cry out no longer with trembling fear, “ save us ; we perish !" but they cry out in transports of gratitude, “ God, according to his mercy, hath saved us, by the washing of regenera
tion, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he hatle shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour !" .; Under the dispensation of the Father, believers constantly experience the fear of God, and, in gene... ral, a much greater degree of fear than love. Under the economy of the Son, love begins to gain the asa cendency over fear. But under the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, “ perfect love casteth out fear;” be cause it is peculiarly the office of the Comforter, to de liver the soul from every thing that is liable to dis-, tress and torment it. * Under the economy of the Father, the believer is frequently heard to exclaim, “ O wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?" Under that of the Son, he gratefully cries out; " I thank God,” who hath affectually wrought this deliverance, “ through Jesus Christ our Lord :" but under the perfect Gospel, which is the dispensation of the Spirit, all believers are enabled to say, with one voice; “ We have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but we have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father! The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God, and joint heirs with Christ," · St. Paul thus distinguishes the different states of
advancement in the christian faith. The heir, as long as he is a child,” [and such is the case with believers, under the dispensation of the Father] “ differeth nothing from a servant, though he be Lord of all; but is under tutors and governors till the time appointed of his Father. Even so we were once in a state of bondage: but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son to redeem them . that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of Sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, Orying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more
á sérvant, but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God, through Christ : by whom we have access inte this grace, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
Our Lord himself evidently pointed out the pro. gressive state of the church, when turning to his disciples," he said; Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: for I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things, which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things, which ye hear and have not heard them.” Nevertheless, when their gracious Master held this language, he was at that time neither glorified, nor crucified : and it is well known, that the great glory of the Gospel, was to follow his sufferings and his triumphí
The same subject is treated by St. Peter in his first epistle, where he speaks of that full salvation, which is to be considered, as the end or recompense of faith. « Of which salvation," saith he, “the Prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ, which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the thing's, wbich are now reported unto you, by them that have preached the Gospel unto you, with the Holy Ghostsent down from Heaven, which things the Angels desire to look into. Happy are ye ! for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you. Ye are a chosen generation, à peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of him, who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light,"
Without an experimental knowledge of these several states, a minister can no more lead sinners to evangelical perfeetion, than an illiterate peasant can communicate sufficient intelligence to his rustic
companions, to pass an examination for the highest degree in a university.
It may here be necessary to mark out the grand truths, by which these dispensations are severally characterized.
The common language under the dispensation of the Father, is as follows : “God hath made of one blood all nations of men, and hath appointed the bounds of their habitation ; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he be not far from every one of us. The grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath appeared,” in different degrees, " to all men; For the living God is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe. God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation, he that feareth him and worketh righteoụsness, is accepted with him. Without faith it is impossible to please him : for he that comethi unto God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. He hath shewed thee, Oman, what is good ; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to alk humbly with thy God.”
Observe the language of the Son's dispensation. " Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men. I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people : for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. The hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Ye believe in God, believe also in me. If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. This is the work of God, that re believe on him. whom he hath sent....No man can come unto me, except the Kather, which hath sent we draw him : and every