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5. The last thing, the former four being established and admitted, is to inquire, How private Christians may be most helpful herein.— The text gives a general direction when it enjoins them to "walk in wisdom toward them that are without." And this will administer to us occasion to lay-out this general direction more distinctly and particularly.

Thus, I hope, the opening of the text hath reflected some light upon the question; and all that I have to offer may be gathered up in this


Private Christians, walking "in wisdom toward them that are without," may be exceeding helpful to promote the entertainment of the gospel among them.

This they may do, and more; for they may be helpful to promote their conversion and salvation. To further the entertainment of the gospel among them, is but the means; to promote their conversion and salvation, is the end; and the means are for the end. Now it is expressly affirmed, that a private believer may save an infidel: "For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or, how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?" (1 Cor. vii. 16.) That is, the believing party may be induced to cohabit with the unbeliever upon a hopeful prospect, that it is possible to conquer them by love, to attract them to have an esteem for holiness by an exemplary conversation, and to obtain God's grace for them by ardent prayers, and so be the means of saving their souls. The apostle Peter exhorts Christian women who were yoked with unbelievers, to become eminent for their modesty, chastity, humility, and respectfulness to their husbands, by the same argument: "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of their wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear." (1 Peter iii. 1, 2.) Christian graces, being so exercised that they may be seen in their proper lustre, are excellent orators, and have a mighty power to persuade. It is more to live virtue, than to commend it. Let me have leave to say to women professing godliness," as the apostle styles them, (1 Tim. ii. 10,)—0, live to such an eminent pitch of holiness, that ye may raise an admiration of you in the judgments of such as otherwise would have no great reverence for religion, and give them occasion to say, as it is reported that Libanins, a Heathen philosopher, did, Proh, quales feminas habent Christiani! "O, what excellent women have these Christians!"

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The correspondence between the text and the question having been, as I think, sufficiently insisted upon, I shall now apply myself to give a direct and satisfactory answer to the question propounded. And, that I may speak to it the more intelligibly and profitably, I shall consider,

I. The persons mentioned in it.—And they are private Christians.

II. Their duty and work.-And that is, to be helpful to promote the entertainment of the gospel.

III. The way that they are to take, and the means that they are to make use of, that they may be most helpful in the carrying on of that blessed work.

I. The persons specified.-And they are private Christians. In which is intimated, 1. Their general character, as Christians. 2. The restrictive term that is added to denote their special circumstance, as they are private Christians.—Which limits our inquiries, or calls on us to speak more specially at least of the duty and work of private Christians in the undertaking mentioned in the question.

1. It is supposed, that Christians only will be willing or proper to be made use of in this holy work. We may conclude, that they who reject the gospel, and put away salvation from them, (as those did who are mentioned, Acts xiii. 46,) will never, while they continue in that temper and disposition, promote the entertainment of the gospel, but will endeavour to obstruct and hinder it.

But all Christians, in the most comprehensive latitude, both stand obliged in point of duty, and may also eventually be helpful, to promote the spreading of the gospel, even every one who "nameth the name of Christ," (2 Tim. ii. 19,) or that is "called by his name," as, Jer. xiv. 9. Even those Christians as are such only by external profession, though they remain destitute of internal and real sanctification, may be helpful herein by their common gifts, their interests, their services, and by contributing their assistance and encouragement to those who are engaged in this holy work. And they may be influenced by such motives and inducements as may excite and engage them thereunto. Such as these, for aught I know, may be admitted to contribute their help to build the temple of the Lord, and are not to be excluded. For probably Christ's aphorism, "He that is not against us is on our part," (Mark ix. 40,) may be understood of such. But how far such may be accepted or rewarded, falls not under our present inquiry. This, I presume, will be admitted by all,—that such only as are Christians indeed (as Christ said of Nathanael, "Behold an Israelite indeed," John i. 47) are the only persons who are rightly principled and will be found sincerely affected to this blessed work, and will be most vigorously active in carrying it on. This may touching the persons under their general character as Christians.


2. Their special circumstance, as they are private Christians.— Whereby they are distinguished from such as are invested with public offices. Such are Christian rulers and magistrates, who are the ministers of God, who bear the sword; and such as are called to preach the gospel, who are ministers of the word. I confess, these come not directly within the compass of our question, for that concerns private Christians; neither yet ought they wholly to be excluded out of it, because they are Christians, and therefore are not silently to be passed over. And so I shall say something, yet but little, of them. Doubtless both Christian magistrates and ministers of the gospel are as much obliged, in point of duty, to promote the

entertainment of the gospel, as private Christians; and they may do more, because they have greater advantages put into their hands; for that is a rule laid down by our Saviour himself: "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." (Luke xii. 48.)

(1.) For Christian rulers.—When their hearts are thoroughly knit to Christ in faith and love, and they act upon gospel-principles, and according to the rules thereof, what wonderful things may they perform toward the enlargement of the kingdom of Christ in the world! If a poor bond-slave, who lies in the lowest rank of men, may in his station "serve the Lord Christ," (Col. iii. 24,) what eminent services may princes and potentates do him, who are placed in the highest rank of men, and dignified with the title of " gods!" (Psalm lxxxii. 6.) The zeal of Constantine the Great for the Christian religion is praised by more than are disposed to imitate it; but when those who have given their strength and power to the beast shall hate the whore, and make her desolate, and devote their crowns and sceptres to the Lamb, we may hope for those blessed days wherein the light of the gospel shall shine forth so gloriously as to illustrate the whole world. This should excite all private Christians to pray hard, that God would put it into the hearts of kings, and those who are in authority, to "kiss the Son," by whom they reign.

(2.) As for the ministers of the gospel.—All they who understand and attend unto their office and duty, must acknowledge that they are under the strictest and most forcible engagements in the world to lay out themselves entirely, and to the uttermost of their capacity, to serve the Lord Jesus, and to help forward the enlargement of his kingdom. And yet it is not the duty and work of every ordinary minister to go up and down the world to preach the gospel for the conversion of the Heathen, as the apostles and evangelists did: "Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation;" (Rom. xv. 20 ;) because they are commanded by Christ to attend upon their proper flocks. (Acts xx. 28; 1 Peter v. 1, 2.) But what measures they are to take farther, or what methods they are to pursue, to promote the spreading of the gospel, is indeed a very Christian and noble inquiry; at the debate whereof I should most gladly stand as a silent learner, and not presume to be a director. However, I hope it will be excusable, if I offer one thing to the consideration of those whose piety and learning may challenge a due esteem in the hearts of all that fear God. We have had among us committees for the encouragement and increase of trade. And what, if there were some to consult how the gospel might be propagated? The Papists have at Rome their Congregatio de propaganda Fide. ["College for the Propagation of the Faith."] Their design may be very ill, while they contrive not how that "faith which was once delivered to the saints may be propagated, but how the leaven of their own superstition may be diffused, and especially how the pope's kingdom may be enlarged. And yet to deliberate how the gospel of the grace of God may be carried into the dark corners of the earth, for the conversion and

salvation of them who are ready to perish, and so the kingdom of Christ get ground in the world, is, I am sure, a most holy and excellent design; and so I recommend this also to the prayers of godly, private Christians.

These few things being suggested touching those Christians who bear a public character, I now shall address myself to all godly, private Christians; and I must exhort and beseech them, with all the fervour I can, to set their hearts sincerely upon this glorious work, and to bestir themselves in it with all their might. This belongs to every Christian, as such, in what circumstances soever the providence of God doth dispose of them, whether they be high or low, noble or base, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, male or female: none are to be excluded or exempted.

But it is likely this may seem strange to many private Christians, that they should be charged, in the name of Christ, to be helpful to promote the spreading of the gospel all the world over. "Alas!" will one say, with the eunuch, "I am a dry tree;" (Isai. lvi. 3 ;) "and no such fruit is to be expected from me." "And I," will another say, "am but a cipher, and make no figure in the world, as the phrase goes; and therefore I can signify nothing." But let me beseech all private Christians to take heed of shifting off from themselves any duty or service that Christ calls them to, or would employ them in; and to suspend their determination a little, until I have showed them, as Christ shall enable me, how and wherein private Christians may be helpful in this great and good work. And then, I hope, they will see that they may do much more therein than possibly they have hitherto apprehended.

II. The Second thing mentioned is their duty and work.-Which is, to be helpful in promoting the entertainment of the gospel.

III. And the Third thing is, how or in what ways and by what means they may be most helpful in it.

But, for dispatch-sake, I shall speak to both these conjunctly.

Now, that I may proceed herein the more clearly and profitably, I think it may be useful to place private Christians, according to their several circumstances and capacities, as to the matter now under consideration, in three ranks or orders.

(I.) There are many private Christians who live very remote from such places and people as have not the gospel preached unto them, or at least have not hitherto entertained it.

(II.) There are some private Christians who may occasionally go into, or may providentially be cast into, such places.

(III.) There are some private Christians who live among such people, in a more fixed or constant residence.-As in our factories abroad, or in our plantations in the Indies, or other Heathen places.

Now, though it be the duty of all private Christians to promote the entertainment of the gospel; yet all cannot take the same measures, nor be active in the same ways. And therefore it may be to very good purpose to let each of them to see wherein their proper work doth lie, that they may contribute their assistance accordingly.

(I.) Most of the private Christians among us live very remote from those people who have not as yet entertained the gospel.—And so they cannot be helpful unto them by personal instruction or counsel; neither can they attract them by the example of their holy conversation. And yet they may greatly contribute toward the promoting of the entertainment of the gospel among them. And that they may

do several ways: For instance :

1. They may, and ought to, pray in faith, that the gospel may be sent among them, that it may be received by them, and be blessed to the conversion and salvation of all that are ordained to eternal life among them.-For, such prayers being according to the will of God, they may be confident that he heareth them. (1 John v. 14.) And that God requireth and expecteth such prayers from them, cannot be unknown to any who acquaint themselves with the scriptures.

For, (1.) Our Lord Jesus Christ recommendeth this matter to the prayers of private Christians: "Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest." (Matt. ix. 37, 38.) Here we may take notice,

(i.) That by the metaphor or allegory of a harvest our Saviour would instruct us, that as, when the corn is ripe, men use to employ reapers to cut it down and gather it in; so there are some blessed seasons wherein God hath decreed to send the gospel among a people, and accordingly prepares and disposeth them for the reception of it, and raiseth in them a propensity and strong affection toward it. Thus it was when John the Baptist came and preached that "the kingdom of heaven" was "at hand;" (Matt. iii. 2;) and it follows, in verse 5, "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan." And our Saviour sets a special remark upon that time: "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." (Matt. xi. 12.) When therefore ye hear that the day of the gospel begins to dawn in any of the dark corners of the earth, then lift up a prayer that the grace and power of the Spirit may accompany it, and make it successful.

(ii.) Our Saviour teacheth you to pray that the labourers may be increased proportionably to the work; as when he saith, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few." Pray then that God would employ such as are skilful and industrious; such as Paul describes, 2 Tim. ii. 15: "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" and pray that God would employ such a number of them as is sufficient for the work. A reverend person among us hath for many years complained, that in many places where there is but one to labour in the ministerial work, there is enough for three or four, though all of them be very industrious. But it seems that men either cannot or will not make better provision.

(iii.) Private Christians, when they perceive how the case stands, should be importunate with God, that he would "send forth labourers

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