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God giveth the Increase.
BRISTOL, N. E. AUG. 30, 1721.
WHEN MR. NATHANAEL COTTON
ORDAINED THE PASTOR OF THE CHURCH THERE.
BY JOSEPH BELCHER, A. M. d. 172 3.
PASTOR OF THE CHURCH IN DEDHAM.
"Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness."-Ps. cx. 3. "The weapons of our warfare,are mighty through God."-1 Cor. x. 4.
MEUM EST DOCERE, VESTRUM AUSCULTARE; DEO PERFICERE.-Cyril.
BOSTON IN NEW ENGLAND.
PRINTED AND SOLD BY B. GREEN, IN NEWBURY STREET.
TO THE READER.
THAT the success of preaching the gospel, doth not depend on the instrument, but on the almighty power of God, is manifest, in that the best and ablest preacher, that ever was in the world, sadly complained, that he had "labored in vain, and spent his strength for nought:" so doth Christ speak, in Isa. xlix. 4. And this truth is with much clearness and solidity, evinced, in the Sermon emitted herewith. It is a very natural inference from the doctrine here insisted on, that if the ministers of the gospel are instruments, (though no more than such,) of the conversion and salvation of souls; they are for their works' sake, to be highly esteemed: Some have done so. The duke of Brunswick esteemed Urbanus Regius, his minister, as the greatest treasure he had in his dukedom, yea he valued him above his own life. Wherefore if men take up prejudices, against the faithful ministers of God, it will be unprofitable for themselves, for it will make their ministry to be unsuccessful, Heb. xiii. 17. It is much to be lamented, that it is so much so at this day in New England; and this for no other reason, but because the ministers of God have, after much study and prayer, declared to them, what they believe will be, more ways than one, for the benefit and safety of their people. It is sadly to be feared, that the awful judgment, by means whereof the slain of the Lord have been many among us, is but the beginning of sorrows; but that another seven times greater is near at hand. When the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, (ministers of God,) saying, "You Moses and Aaron have killed the Lord's people," God revenged the wrong done to the ministers of God, with a terrible plague; in that plague there died fourteen thousand and seven hundred. I pray God that some such thing may not befall the people of New England.
Concerning the worthy author of this excellent Sermon, how am I troubled, that he has lately been surprised with a dangerous paralysis; but the Lord found him faithfully attending his Master's work. It was
Austin's desire that he might die, Aut precantem, aut prædicantem: this faithful servant of Christ was found so doing. I pray for him in the words of the apostle John for Gaius, John iii. 2. Beloved, I wish above all things, that thou mayest prosper, and be in health, even as thy soul prospers."
As for the person lately ordained in the pastoral office to the church in Bristol, which occasioned the preaching of this suitable and profitable Sermon, I shall say little, nor is it (all circumstances considered) meet that I should say much, we know that he is descended from worthy ancestors. His father, Mr. Rowland Cotton, has been a great blessing to the church and town of Sandwich in New England. His great-grandfather, Mr. John Cotton of Boston, was in a singular manner in his day the father of New England. His judicious book; called, The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven with the Power thereof, has truly stated the Congregational way of church-discipline. A very learned man of the Presbyterian judgment, viz. Mr. Rutherford, declared, That if all Congregationals would come up to Mr. Cotton's Keys (and why should they not?) he would meet them half way. I cannot wish to him that has been lately ordained a pastor to the church in Bristol, a greater felicity, than that a double portion of his blessed great-grandfather's spirit, gifts, and ministerial abilities, may from the Lord Jesus Christ, be poured upon him. The Lord make him a rich blessing, and a son of peace to the people, where Providence has cast his lot, which is the prayer of,
Boston, Dec. 28, 1721.
1 COR. iii. 6.
"I have planted, Apollos watered: but God gave the increase."
THEY are the words (you are very sensible) of the great apostle Paul, and they were expressed by him as a dissuasive from those divisions which were crept into the church of God which was at Corinth. That church was as famous and flourishing as any in regard of gifts, but as one well expresses it, had crumbled into divisions, as they were eminent in knowledge.
The apostle had been with them a year and six months, planting and scattering good seed, and looking for an agreeable harvest, but no sooner had he turned his back and left them, but the enemy came and sowed his tares. How quickly do the best churches sometimes degenerate! We must not look for any here in this world without their imperfections and corruptions; a being perfectly free from these is not to be expected in this life, but is reserved for that which is to come.
What these contentions were about, which were among them, we have some account of, Chap. i. 12. "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ." It seems that these rents and factions which were among the Corinthians were not in matters of faith, but they arose from their being guilty of that, Jud. xvi. 5. "The having men's persons in admiration." And what is prohibited, James ii. 1. "The having the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect to persons." And truly however their gifts might be strong, this showed their grace to be, but weak. The having men's persons in admiration, the having the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ the Lord of glory with respect of persons, is a certain indication of this, and accordingly the apostle tells them, that he was
* Mr. Charnock.