Sayfadaki görseller

were communicated; this as the means of their believing, as the ground of their profession, they were diligently to remember, consider, and attend to." The duty itself, and the manner of its performance, are expressed in the word (ISPOSEZELv) “to attend or give heed.” It is an attendance with reverence, assent, and readiness to obey, see Acts xvi, 14. God opened the heart of Lydia (APOGEXEvv) to attend unto the things that were spoken;" not to give them the hearing only; there was no need of the opening of her heart for the mere attention of her ear; but she attended with readiness, humility, and resolution to obey the word. To attend then to the word preached, is to consider the author of it, the matter, the importance, and the ends of it, with faith, subjection of spirit, and constancy.

$4. The duty exhorted to being laid down, a motive or enforcement is subjoined, taken from the danger that would ensue from the neglect of it. And this is either from the sin, or from the punishment, that would attend it, according to the various interpretations of the word (Fepaeppuw pev) flow out, or fall. If it signifies to “fall,” or “perish,” then the punishment of the neglect is intimated. We shall perish as water that is poured on the earth. This sense of the word is embraced by few expositors, yet is it not altogether unworthy our notice; though strictly it is our sinful losing of the word, and the benefits thereof which the apostle intendeth. And this appears further if we remark, that in the next verses he doth not proceed to prove what he had asserted in this verse, but goes on to other arguments to the same purpose. The expression is supposed generally to allude to leaking vessels, which let the water, poured into them one way, to run out many ways. The word relates to the persons, not to the things, because it contains a crime. It is our duty

[ocr errors]

to retain the word which we have heard; and, therefore, it is not said that the water flows out, but that we, as it were, pour it out. "And this crime is denoted by the addition of the preposition (Tepee) to the verb (Quelv.) For as the simple verb denotes the passing away” of any thing, as water, whether it deserves to be retained or no; so the compound doth the losing of that perversely which we ought to have retained. And there is an elegant metaphor in the word; for as the drops of rain falling on the earth, water it and make it fruitful, so does the celestial doctrine make fruitful unto God the souls of men, upon whom it descends. And in respect to the word of the gospel it is, that the Lord Christ is said to come down was the showers on the mown grass,” Psalm lxxii, 6; so the apostle calls the preaching of the gospel to men, the watering of them, 1 Cor. iii, 6, 7; and elsewhere compares them, to whom it is preached, to the “earth that drinketh in the rain," Heb. vi, 7. Hence, in the words we are upon, men are said to pour out the word preached, when by their negligence they lose, instead of retaining, the benefit of the gospel. So when our Savior had compared the same word to seed, he sets out men's falling from it by all the ways and means whereby seed cast into the earth may be lost or become unprofitable, Matt. xiii. And as he shows this is done various ways, so there are many times and seasons,' ways and means, by which we are in danger of losing, or of pouring out, through misimprovement, (as a vessel that does not answer the end for which it is made,) the water or rain of the word which we have received. And this is' referred to in that expression, "lest at any time,”

$5. (II.) From the words thus explained, we may proceed to the folowing observations:

Obs. 1. Diligent attendance to the word of the gos“ pel is indispensably necessary for perseverance in the profession of it; such a profession, I mean, as is acceptable to God, or will be useful to our own souls. The profession of most is a merely not renouncing the gospel in word, whilst in their hearts and lives they deny the power of it every day. A saving profession is that which expresseth the efficacy of the word to salvation, Rom. x, 10. This will never be the effect of a lifeless attendance; for it implies,

(1.) A due valuation of the grace tendered in it, and of the word itself on that account. Thus the original word' (APOTEXEI) denotes such an attendance to any thing, as proceeds from an estimation and valuation of it answerable to its worth. If we have no such thoughts of the gospel, we can never attend to it as we ought; and if we consider it not as that wherein our chief interest lies, we consider it to no profit. The field wherein is the pearl of great price, is so to be **heeded,” as to be valued above all other possessions whatsoever, Matt. xii, 45, 46. They who esteemed not the marriage feast of the king above all avocations and worldly concerns, were shut out as unworthy, Matt. xxii, 7. If the gospel be not more to us than all the world besides, we shall never continue in an useful possession of it. Constant high thoughts, then, of the necessity, worth, glory, and excellency of the gospel, especially on account of the author of it, and the grace dispensed in it, is the first step in that “diligent heeding" of it, which is here required, that we may keep our faith firm unto the end.

(2.) Diligent study of the gospel and searching into the mind of God in it, that so we may grow wise in its holy mysteries, is another part of this duty. The gospel is the wisdom of God, 1 Cor. in 24; and in it are laid up all the stores and treasures of that wig . dom, Col. ii, 2, 3. It is to be sought for as silver, and to be searched after as hid treasures, Prov. ïi, 4; that is, as worthy the utmost pains and diligence. Men with indefatigable pains, and often with great danger, pierce into the bowels of the earth in search of hidden treasures. Such treasures are not gathered, by every lazy passenger on the surface of the earth. They must dig, seek, and search, who intend to be made

partakers of them; and so must we do for these treasures of heavenly wisdom. The mystery of the grace of the gospel is great and deep, such as the angels desire to bow down and look into, 1 Pet. i, 12; and which the prophets of old, notwithstanding the advantage of inspiration, “inquired diligently" after, verse 11. Without this, no man will hold fast his profession. Nor doth any man neglect the gospel, but he that knows it not, 2 Cor. iv, 3, 4. This is the great principle of apostasy in the world, that men have owned the gospel, but never knew what it was; and therefore foolishly leave the profession of it, as they lightly took it up. Study ing the word is the security of our faith.

(3.) Mixing the word with faith is also required in this attention, see chap. iv, 2. As good not hear, as not believe; believing is the end of hearing, Rom. Xi

X Il; and therefore Lydia's faith is called her attention, Acts xvi, 14. To hear, and not believe, is in the spiritual life, what to see meat, and not to eat it, is in the natural; it will please the fancy, but will never nourish the soul. Faith alone realizeth the things spoken to the heart, and gives them subsistence in it, Heb. xi, 1, without which, as to us, they hover in loose and uncertain notions.

(4.) Laboring to express the word received, in a conformity of heart and life to it, is another part of this attention. This is the next proper end of our hearing; and to do a thing appointed for a certain 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 gospel doctrine, chap. vi, 13. It left upon their hearts an impression of its own likeness, or produced in them an express image of that holiness, purity, and wisdom, which it revealeth. This is “to behold, with open face, the glory of the Lord, as in a glass, and to be changed into the same image,” 2 Cor. iv, 18; that is, the image of the Lord Christ, manifested to us, and reflected upon us by means of the gospel. When the heart of the hearer is animated with gospel truths, and is thereby, moulded and fashioned into their likeness, and expresseth that likeness in its fruits, or a conversation becoming the gospel, then is the word attended to in a right manner. This, and this alone, will secure to the word a station in our hearts, and give it a permanent abode.

(5.) Watchfulness against all opposition to the truth, or power of the word in us, belongs also to this duty. And as these oppositions are so many, powerful, and dangerous, so ought this watchfulness to be great and diligent. Hence,

$6. Obs. 2. There are sundry times and seasons, several ways and means, men are in danger of losing the word that they have heard, if they attend not diligently to preserve it. (MYTOTE) at any time," or "by any way or means.” This our Savior teacheth us at large in the parable of the sced, which was retained but in one sort of ground out of the four into which it was cast, Matt. xiii. And this is confirmed by the experience of all ages. Yea, few there are at any time, who, when they have heard the gospel, keep it as they

« ÖncekiDevam »