The Necessity of a Standing Ministry
Numbers 3:1-13
These also are the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day that the LORD spoke with Moses in mount Sinai.…

We see in this place, how Moses immediately after the numbering of the people, that meddled not with the ministry of the word, or killing of the sacrifices, or serving in the tabernacle, or carrying of the ark, or teaching of the people, handleth in the next place the fashion of the ministry. For let there be never so great order or good policy in the commonwealth, yet if the care of the ministry be neglected, all is to little purpose. We see from hence the goodly order that God observeth in this great army. He establisheth among them most carefully the holy ministry to the end they might be instructed in the Word. Hereby we learn that among all nations and people under the heavens, the ministry of the Word ought to be planted and established, to guide them in the ways of godliness.

1. A certain and settled ministry is an evident token that God hath a church and a people to be begotten by the immortal seed of the Word.

2. Without the light of the Word the people remain in darkness and cannot see: they grope at noonday, and know not what they do — as it was in Egypt when the plague of palpable darkness was sent among them (Exodus 10:23).

3. The necessity of a ministry is so evident that all the Gentiles had their priests and prophets that attended on their profane and superstitious altars, and it was their first care to establish a religion, such as it was, among them. If it were thus among them who saw darkly, and were without the true light of the Scripture, much more ought we to learn it, that have been taught better things, and have the sure word of the prophets to guide us.

4. Such is our frailty, that notwithstanding we live under a settled ministry, and have given our names to the faith, yet we are ready to start back again. For as the body is prone to pine away without supply of daily food, so are our souls ready to perish, being destitute of the heavenly manna of the Word of God.Uses:

1. There is offered unto us this truth arising from the doctrine itself, that the preaching of the Word by the minister, and the hearing of it by the people, is no ceremony nor a matter of indifferency, such as may either be done or left undone at our own discretion, but it is such a part of the public service of God as ought not to be neglected without great sin.

2. It serveth to reprove divers abuses.

(1) Such as think and spare not to say that the ministry is a vain and superfluous thing, and that the ministers are men that may very well be spared, as if they were a sixth finger upon the hand, or a sixth toe upon the foot; that is bringing a burden rather than a benefit. For as they account the Sabbath the loss of one day in a week, so they account the maintenance of the ministry the loss of their goods. These have learned another language than the tongue of Canaan. They do not the works that beseem Christians, and they cannot speak as beseemeth those that profess the fear of God, if so be they do profess so much. Is it a needless thing to have the light of the sun in the firmament, without which all things are covered with darkness, and nothing can have life and quickening? But the sun is not more necessary to be in the world than the light of the Word in the Church to give life and light unto them that sit in darkness (Matthew 4:16). Is it needless to have labourers to reap down our corn in time of harvest? To have meat brought unto us and provided for us when we are hungry, or drink when we are thirsty?

(2) The vain conceit of their hearts, who having learned the principles of religion and some grounds of knowledge, proceed no further, as if they had no more use of the Word, whereas there is matter of instruction always to be learned out of the Word for all persons. When we have eaten one kind of meat one day, we eat the next day as hungrily of it as we did before.

(3) They that extol to the skies the kingdoms and commonwealths of the heathen as the only prosperous, flourishing, and happy nations, which indeed excelled in outward glory and thereby dazzled the eyes of many, yet indeed were no better than assemblies of men destitute of religion, and consequently of salvation. Their peace and prosperity, their wealth and dignity, were all carnal and momentary, rising out of the earth, and sinking down into the earth again; their praise also is of men. It is the maintenance of true religion that maketh a people truly happy, and the means of spreading abroad true religion is the ministry of the Word. There is no way to know it and to practise it but by this.

3. Must the ministry be established among all people under heaven? Then let every one of us be careful for our parts to plant it among us, and to bring it home to the places of our abode.

4. Let the ministers be careful to discharge their calling, and to teach the people in season and out of season. They must be lights of the world, and as savoury salt to season them with wholesome doctrine.

5. Let the people carefully attend to the ministry of the Word, where it is settled and planted, with a good conscience, as to God's holy ordinance vouchsafed unto them. Let them bring attention in hearing, diligence in marking, and obedience in practising. Let them not use any delays to shift off the performance of this duty.

(W. Attersoll.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: These also are the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day that the LORD spake with Moses in mount Sinai.

WEB: Now this is the history of the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day that Yahweh spoke with Moses in Mount Sinai.

The Measure of the Divine Demands Upon Man
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