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part, and constituent of the call, and requisite not only to enable us to the thing as it is in the case of believing, but likewise to warrant that particular thing. For however the general call, " Occupy till I come," do warrant such as have parts and talents to employ them for God, yet doth it not warrant a godly able man to exercise his talents in a public ministerial way more than any others, until the Spirit determine his spirit. And this I found the Spirit did likewise to me, (1.) In representing to my soul the beauty and glory of the office of the ministry. O to serve the Lord in this! said I; nothing is like it! To testify for God, to hold forth the "riches of Christ," to bear his name; what more honourable employment! And like as the merchant must see the pearl ere he buy it, Mat. xiii. 45, and we must "see the Son" ere we "believe in him," so that beauty and glory of the work of the ministry must be seen ere we take with it. (2.) The Lord by his Spirit did draw out and incline my heart to this work; and so many times I was taken off from other studies and exercises, and was set on this, and many times did I ardently desire it; yea, I had marvellous delight in the exercise of any work belonging to the ministry, whether it was reading of theology, either practical or polemic, meditating upon or writing my thoughts, studying or preaching of sermons. And truly parents send their children to these trades that they observe them to be most of themselves inclined to; "Send me," said Isaiah, vi. 6. (3.) By fitting, preparing, and qualifying me for that employment; by renewing a distinct work of conversion in my soul; by exercising me with various and great outward afflictions; by discovering unto me something of the mystery of grace and of the gospel. And the more fitted I was, the more inclined to the work; and though I studied but little, yet the Lord blessed it marvellously. (4.) By doing my soul good, in being exercised in preparing for the ministry. For it was by studying to preach, and meditation on several subjects, that my soul recovered out of my first backsliding; and, by meditating upon subjects, .and preaching of them, I daily grew in grace and knowledge of Christ.
7thly, The Lord not only by his Spirit working inwardly upon me, but likewise by his work, did clear that he called me. For my heart was utterly averse to any other study or employment; all attempts, designs, and endeavours to settle .in any other station were crushed and broken, and matters in the world went still worse and worse, until I resolved and engaged with the work of the ministry; and from that time I observed the weather turned, and my captivity was turned back. What judgment can I make of the Lord's barring all other doors, and his opening of this, but that I should go in here, and look to no other thing?
8thly, I am much confirmed in my call to the ministry by that providence of the vows I made to this purpose, that I should be drawn out to make such a vow; that the Lord should so soon testify his approbation thereof, and answer me so suddenly, so clearly, so fully, and so particularly and suitably to my vow in all things. For my want of assurance was my great doubt, and that which made me afraid to engage with the ministry; whereupon I vowed solemnly, that if the Lord should clear up my interest to me, and reveal the mystery of the gospel, covenant of grace, and faith to me, I should then apply myself to the ministry, provided the Lord did answer this in five years. But the Lord in less than six weeks answered it; for in a month or thereabout did the Lord convince me of faith, called me to believe, opened his covenant to me, never left me till I believed it, and thereafter sealed it with the spirit of assurance. And in my vow I said, that if the Lord would hearken to me, in clearing of these things, I would look on it as an evident token he called me to serve him in the gospel.
9thly, About the latter end of the year 1665,I remember the Lord put this call close to my door, told me I was to be his witness, to testify for him against the world, to do all the good I could to mankind wherever I was called; and that I should make this my only work, and be faithful, free, and full in it; that many things needed reformation, and that the Lord would employ me in it. This was pressed much on me: and because I refused, and, like Jonah, fled from the Lord, he sent a storm of terrors after nie, and I was casten into a sea and depth of hell many weeks. The work I was called to was so hard, that I durst not undertake it, but delayed it.
lOthly, Another consideration that cleared ray call to me was, that the ministers and faithful servants of Jesus Christ did solemnly examine my call, and after trial of my gifts and conversation by several exercises and pieces of trial recommended me, being intimately and of a long time acquainted with me, having preached frequently in their hearing, and having given proof of my gifts, were so far satisfied with me, that unanimously, without the least censure, they agreed to trust me in the name of Christ with the dispensation of the gospel: and this was in the year 1672. They were better judges than myself, and they found the Lord had called me, and therefore did in the name of Christ declaratively empower me to exercise the office of the ministry.
Lastly, When I consider the effects which followed on my admission to the ministry, I am much confirmed in my call; for by preaching and discharging my duty otherwise, I myself was watered, my gifts increased, more of the Lord's will was manifested and made known to me, and my labours were blessed to many, to whose heart and case the Lord made me many times to speak. And though, while I was in Scotland, I never received nor would take a sixpence for preaching, but lived upon what was my own; yet I prospered much in my outward estate in the world, I cleared my debts, I reserved some part of my estate to my debts, and maintained myself; I married all my sisters, insomuch that in fourteen years I was better by eight or nine hundred pounds sterling than when I began, although there was never a week but 1 preached twice and sometimes oftener. And this I looked upon as a token of the Lord's acceptance of my labours.
Of a Minister's Work and Qualification.
1st, It was not merely to show or discover my gifts, by letting people know what I could say from a text of Scripture, that I was called; I had great inclinations of myself to preach and speak from Scripture. Nor was it to baptize or minister sacraments, nor was it the name or title of a minister that I was to take on, or which I did affect most; God did not send me to baptize but to preach. But that which I was called to was, to testify for God, to hold forth his name and ways to the dark world, and to deliver poor captives of Satan, and bring them to the " glorious liberty of the sons of God." This was I to make my only employment, to give myself to, and therein to be diligent, taking all occasions; and to be plain, full, and free in this charge. I was called to enter in hot war with the world and sinners, to fight by my testimony against them for God. This was it I was called unto, and unto a conversation suitable thereunto, and to "take up the cross daily and follow Christ." I was called to be a watchman, and to take the charge of the care of all my relations and acquaintances; to be a watchman over and keeper of them, and to be free and faithful in this with every one, and my own soul to lie at the stake to be forfeit if I failed; and this commission might have been discharged, though I had never taken a text or preached formally, Acts ix. 15; Rev. x.; John vii. 7; Acts xx. 18; Luke v. 10, and 2 Tim. ii. 19.
2dly, This being the minister's work and emldoyment, the means and ways by which he is to discharge this commission, and execute the end of his calling, are, 1. By public preaching, holding forth their sin and misery to men, and the remedy Christ Jesus, and persuading to be reconciled, 2 Cor. v. 21. Mat. xxviii.," Go, disciples, to all nations, preaching to them; preach the Gospel to every creature under heaven." By this means they publish their commission, and seek "obedience to the faith," in all the world, Rom. i. 5. And this they should do "in season and out of season," and in dependence on God both for what to say and a blessing, should say nothing but what they " have received from the Lord Jesus," and of which Christ should be the Alpha and Omega. 2. He is to discharge his office by praying for such as are committed to his charge, and that both publicly and privately, affectionately and fervently. You see Paul doth not cease to make mention of churches in his prayers. They are priests to God, who not only make supplication for themselves but for others. It is true, every Christian is bound to pray for the whole Church of Christ, and for the members especially to which himself is related; but a minister is in a special manner bound. He who doth not water his labours with affectionate prayers and tears, I doubt that he shall labour successfully. 3. He is to execute his commission by exhortation, private and occasional instruction, whether for reproof, comfort, or information and direction. And this is it which I suppose I was most called unto, \\z., to take all occasions with all persons in private discourse to make the name of Christ known, and to do them good, and to do this as my only work; and to do it boldly, and faithfully, and fully. And this to do is very hard in a right and effectual manner; to do this is harder than to preach publicly; and to be strengthened, directed, and encouraged in this is that for which I ought to live near in a dependence on Christ, "without whom we can do nothing," and of whom is all our sufficiency. In preaching, there are a great many whom we cannot reach, and there are many to whom we have no occasion to preach publicly; we may thus preach always, and speak more successfully than in public, where the greatest part of hearers do not understand the minister though he speak never so plainly. This likewise we arc called unto this day, seeing we are by force incapacitate; but oh, how is this neglected! Were ministers faithful in this, we should quickly sec a change in affairs; but, alas! with grief of heart I speak it, it is in this thing that I challenge myself most of any; it is in this that I have most come short, and I suppose it may be so with