Page images

of thofe Paffions that he will deal with them, as if he were affected with them as we are in fuch Cafes, though the Paffions themselves are not compatible to the Divine Nature: In like manner, when God is faid to rejoice at the Repentance of a Sinner, 'tis meant only of its being very agreeable and acceptable to him.

But why is the Joy greater for the finding of one loft Sheep, or the Return of one penitent Sinner, than of all the ninety and nine, that never went aftray and needed no Repentance? Why, this is here parabolically exprefs'd, to fignify, not that there is more Joy in Heaven for one that was once bad, than for many that had been always good; but 'tis fpoken only to enhance the Joy upon the prefent Occafion for as the refcuing of one Child from the Pit of Deftruction, affects more for the prefent than the Safety of all the reft, and as the finding of one thing, fuppos'd to be loft, rejoices more than the Poffeffion of all the other; fo the Return of one loft Perfon, occafions more prefent Satisfaction, than many others, though the fame fhould happen to them in the like Circumftance.

This is the firft Parable by which our Saviour fought to convince the Pharifees of the Reafonableness of his converfing with the Publicans and Sinners, in order to their Repentance and Salvation: for if there be Joy in Heaven at the Converfion of a Sinner, there fhould be no Murmuring on Earth, at the Means us'd to reclaim then.

The fecond Parable to the like purpose is in the 8th, and following Verfes: What Woman having ten Pieces of Silver, if the lofe one Piece, doth not light a Candle, and fweep the Houfe, and feek diligently till she find it? Where the loft Sinner is compar'd to a loft Piece of Silver, which being a thing of Value, ftamp'd and made current by the Regal Authori ty, was fearch'd after with great Diligence; the Candle was lighted to look into every Corner, the Houfe was fwept that it might not lie hid or buried in the Dust, and all Means were us'd by a narrow and diligent Search, till the found it. In like manner, the Souls of Men being efteem'd precious, and ftanip'd with the Image of God, are to be carefully look'd after, and not fuffer'd to be loft or calt away by Negligence or Inadvertency; but being of more Value than the whole World, ought to be preferv'd by the utmoft Care and Vigilance, and no Means to be neg. lected for their Happiness and Salvation.

It follows in the Parable, that when the Woman had found her loft Piece of Mony, fhe calleth her Friends and Neighbours together, faying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the Piece which I had loft. We are bid in Holy Scripture to rejoice with them that rejoice, as well as weep with them that weep; that is, to bear a part in the Joys and Sorrows of one another, which will be a means of encreafing the one, and leffening the other. The good Woman here having found what fhe fought for with great Care and Pains, is tranfported with a Joy fuitable to the Concern fhe had for its Lofs: of this Joy fhe would have her Neighbours to partake, and therefore calls them together to fhare with her in it; and from thence we are directed to the Delight and Satisfaction which the Saints and Angels have above at the Repentance of a Sinner: Likewife I fay unto you, There is Joy in the Prefence of the Angels of God over one Sinner that repenteth. By which it appears, that Heaven feels, and is full of this Joy; and when we are pleas'd with any wicked Man's turning from the Evil of his Ways, we join in Confort with the Heavenly Hoft, and bear a part of the general Joy with the bleffed Inhabitants of Heaven, who all rejoice at the Converfion of a Sinner: and if there be fo great and general a Satisfaction above in this cafe, fure we ought not to take any Offence at converfing with them here to that end.


The third and laft Parable to this purpofe is that of the Prodigal or loft Son; which tho immediately following this, yet being out of the Gofpel for this Day, fhall be the more lightly touch'd upon. This Son had wickedly left his Father's Houfe, and spent all his Subftance in riotous living; by which means he was loft to his Father, to himself, and to all the Comforts of Life: but when he came to himself, he bewail'd his Mifery and Folly, and return'd to his Father, who receiv'd him as one rais'd from the Dead, and welcom'd him with an extraordinary Joy. At which when the elder Son repin'd, for fhewing more Joy for a riotous profligate Son than was ever fhew'd to him who never offended, the Father mildly reply'd, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine, it was meet we should make merry and be glad, for this thy Brother was dead, and is alive again, he was lost, and is found: fignifying, that we may and ought to rejoice at the Return of ftraying Sinners. By thefe and the like Parables our Saviour endeavour'd to convince the Scribes


and Pharifees of the Benefit and Charity of his eating with Publicans and Sinners; and that the Freedom of his Converfation with them was rather a matter of Joy, than any juft occafion of Offence..

This is the Scope and Design of this Day's Gofpel; from which we may learn,

Ift, The loft and undone Condition of Mankind in their natural and unregenerate State, whilft they continue in their Sins without Repentance: This is reprefented in the three Refemblances, of the loft Sheep, the loft Groat, and the loft Son; all which fet forth the Defperatenefs and Deplorableness of their Condition. The loft Sheep is never fafe or out of danger, till he be reftor'd again to the Flock: The loft Groat is of no ufe or value, till it be found and added to the other Treafure: The loft Son is in a helpless and remedilefs Condition without returning to his Father. And fuch are the miferable Circumstances of all straying and wandering Sinners; whilft they are addicted to Vice and Error, they are out of the way to all Happiness, and are going directly in the way to Hell and Destruction. If then they have any Senfe or Apprehenfion of their prefent Danger, or any Fears, as they well may, of worfe hereafter, let this awaken them out of their Security, and seriously confider their fad and defperate Condition. To which end we are here taught,

2dly, To ufe all poffible Means and Industry to get out of this miferable and forlorn Eftate; for this reafon the Shepherd fought his ftragling Sheep thro Defarts and Mountains, and could not reft till he found and brought them back to the Fold. The careful Woman lighted her Candle, fwept the Houfe, and ceafed not her Search till fhe found the Piece that was miflaid. The loft Son could have no Eafe or Comfort till he went back again to his Father: even fo all wandering Sinners, that are gone out of the Way of God's Precepts and Protection, fhould ufe all poflible means to get in again, and never give themfelves any Reft till they have found the Path of Life.

3dly, From the Joy that is in Heaven at the Converfion of Sinners, we may learn what Encouragement we have to the great Duty of Repentance; for hereby we not only promote our own Happiness, but in fome measure add to the Joy and Felicity of Heaven, by doing a thing fo delightful to God and his Holy Angels. Fulfil ye my Joy (faith


St. Paul to the Philippians, in being like-minded; Phil. 2. 2. How much more fhould we fulfil the Joy of the glori fy'd Spirits above, who are so zealously affected, and fo tenderly concern'd for our Happiness and Salvation?

Laftly, From our Saviour's Freedom of Converfation in the World, we may learn Humanity, Courtefy and Affability to Mankind. Nabal, for his Churlifhnefs, was ftil'd one of the Sons of Belial, and to bid others ftand off, come not nigh, for I am holier than thou, is rather the Language of a proud Pharifee, than the Guife of a good Chriftian. Our Bleffed Saviour fhew'd himself marveloufly free and converfable with all forts of Men, in order to their Good; he fuffer'd the Publicans and Sinners to draw nigh to him, and to hear him, tho the Scribes and Pharifees blam'd this Familiarity: there was nothing auftere or fupercilious in him, but in the whole Course of his Life he was obliging and affable to all Men, and would have us learn that Leffon of him, to be meek and lowly in Heart; and that will keep us from defpifing any, and teach us to condefcend to all good Offices to one another; fo fhall we advance Peace, Goodwill and Happiness here on Earth, and add to the Joys and Hallelujahs of Heaven: Which God grant, for the Merits of Jefus Chrift. Amen.

Vol. IV. Part 2.



[merged small][ocr errors]


The EPISTLE for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity.

Rom. viii. 18


I reckon that the Sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the Glory that fhall be revealed in us; for the earnest Expecta tion of the Creature waiteth for the Manifeftation of the Sons of God: for the Creature was made Jubject to Vanity, &c.

for this us to


God, without whom nothing is ftrong, nothing is holy, to multiply upon us his Mercy, that he being our Ruler and Guide, we may fo pafs thro things temporal, that we finally lofe not the things eternal.

Now because nothing is fo apt to discourage and hinder us from feeking or attaining eternal good things, as the temporal Evils and Sufferings of this prefent Life; therefore the Epiftle for the Day heartens us under them, with the Expectation not only of a fpeedy Relief, but of an eternal Reward for them: for if we fuffer with Chrift (faith the foregoing Verfe) we shall also be glorify'd together. And then fetting them one against the other; I reckon (faith the Apoitle) that the Sufferings of this prefent time are not worthy to be compar'd with the Glory that jhall be reveal'd in us. Where we may obferve,

First, That Sufferings may and do befal the best Men here in this Life.

Secondly, That there is a future Glory that will be reveal'd in us to reward them.

Thirdly, That there is no Comparison between the one and the other.

« PreviousContinue »