The Glory of a True Church- The Conclusion
Know my Brethren, That God loves the Gates of Sion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.141 Therefore the publick Worship of God ought to be preferred before private.
1. This supposeth there must be a visible Church.
2. And that they frequently meet together to worship God.
3. That they have an orderly Ministry and one ordained Elder, at least, to administer all Publick Ordinances.
4. Moreover, that all Persons have free liberty to assemble with the Church, and to partake of all Ordinances, save those which peculiarly belong to the Church; as the Lord’s Supper, holy Discipline, and days of Prayer and Fasting. Then the Church of Old separated themselves from all Strangers.142
Yet others may attend on all other publick Ordinances with the Church; as publick Prayer, Reading, and Preaching the Word and in Singing God’s Praises, as hath formerly been proved. May others my Brethren, join in Prayer with us, and not praise God with us?
But, O my Brethren! Let me beseech you to shew your high Value, and Estimation for the publick Worship of God.
1. Since God prefers it thus: Or has so great Esteem of his publick Worship.
2. Because he is said to dwell in Sion; It is his Habitation for ever. The place, where his Honour dwells.143
3. Here God is most Glorified. In his Temple every one speaks of his Glory; My Praise shall be in the great Congregation.144
4. Here is most of God’s gracious presence (as one observes it.)
(1.) His effectual Presence, in all Places; Where I record my Name, thither will I come; and there will I bless thee.145
(2.) Here is More of his intimate presence: Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.146
(3.)He walks in the midst of the seven Golden Candlesticks.147
5. Here are the clearest manifestations of God’s Beauty, which made holy David desire to dwell there for ever.148 See the appearance of Christ to the Churches, Rev. 2. cap. 3.
6. In that it is said, that those that should be Saved, in the Apostles days, God added unto the Church.149
7. Here is most Spiritual Advantage to be got: Here the Dews of Hermon fall, they descend upon the Mountain of Sion. Here God commands the Blessing, even Life for evermore, I will abundantly bless her Provision, and satisfie her Poor with Bread. Here David’s Doubt was resolved.150
8. Here you received your first spiritual Breath, or Life, many Souls are daily Born to Christ. That good which is most Diffusive, is to be Preferred; but that good which most partake of, is most Diffusive; O magnifie the Lord with me! Let us exalt his Name together.151 Live Coals separated, soon die.
9. Brethren (as a worthy Divine observes) the Church in her publick Worship is the nearest Resemblance of Heaven, especially in Singing God’s Praises. What Esteem also had God’s Worthies of old, for God’s publick Worship? My Soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the Courts of the Lord. How amiable are thy Tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts!152
10. See how the Promises of God run to Sion, or to his Church.153 He will bless thee out of Sion. O let nothing discourage you in your waiting at the Posts of Christ’s Door.154 David desired Rather to be a Door-Keeper in the House of God, than to Dwell in the Tents of Wickedness.155 Yet nevertheless do not neglect, for the Lord’s sake, private Devotion; viz. Secret, and Family Prayer: O pray to be fitted for publick Worship! Come out of your Closets to the Church:156 What signifies all you do in Publick, if you are not such that keep up the Worship of God in your own Families?
O neglect not Prayer, Reading, and Meditation! And take care also to Educate and Catechise your Children; and live as Men and Women that are dead to this World; and walk for the Lord’s Sake as becomes the Gospel.157
See that Zeal and Knowledge go together; a good Conversation and a good Doctrine go together. These Two together, are better than One.
Brethren, he that makes the Word of God his Rule, in whatsoever he doth, and the Glory of God his end in what he doth shall have the Spirit of God to be his strength. This is like Solomon’s Three-fold Cord, that will be One, or it will be Three; it can’t be Two; nor can it be broken.158
Benjamin Keach- The Glory of a True Church, And its Discipline Displayed (1697)