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Kingdom of Glory hereafter: fubject we must be either to his Mercy or his Power; for they that will not fubmit to his Golden Scepter, fhall be bruifed with his Rod of Iron; and thofe his Enemies, that will not have him to reign over them, fhall be brought forth and flain before him. Luke 19. 27.
4thly, From Chrift's fitting at the right Hand of God, we may learn to triumph over Death and the Grave in the Words of the Apoftle; O Death! where is thy Sting? O Grave! where is thy Victory? But Thanks be to God who giveth us the Victory thro our Lord Jefus Chrift; 1 Cor. 15. We may challenge all our ghoftly Enemies to do their wort in the Words of the fame Apoftle; Who fhall lay any thing to the Charge of God's Elect? It is Chrift that died, or rather that is rifen again, and fet down at the right Hand of God to make Interceffion for us, Rom. 8. 34.
Sthly, From Chrift's fitting at God's right Hand, let us learn by the Eye of Faith frequently to look up to him, to enable us to bear up with Courage under all the Troubles and Tribulations of this World: Só St. Stephen did, who looking up stedfaftly into Heaven, faw the Son of God ftanding at his right Hand; and from that Profpect he look'd down with Contempt on this World, and defpis'd all the Rage and Malice of his Perfecutors, Acts 7. latter end. And fo the Apostle exhorts all good Chriftians to do, Heb. 12. 2. Looking unto Jefus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, who for the Glory that was fet before him, endured the Crofs, and defpifed the Shame, and is now fet down at the right Hand of the Throne of God.
6thly, From Chrift's interceding for us at the right Hand of God, let us learn to come boldly to the Throne of Grace, where we have a prevalent Friend and Advocate to obtain Grace and Mercy for us. And let us fo rely upon his Interceffion, as not to feek to any other Mediators; for there is one Mediator between God and Man, the Man Chrift Jefus: He hath all Power both in Heaven and Earth; and therefore as we have no need, fo neither have we any warrant to have recourfe to any other.
Laftly, From Chrift's being at the right Hand of God, we may learn the great Leffon of Heavenly-mindedness; to feek thofe things that are above, where Chrift fitteth at the right Hand of God, Col. 3. 2. In a word, let us raise up our Hearts and Defires after him, that where he is, there may we in time be alfo: Which God grant, &c.
Vol. LV. Part 2.
The EPISTLE for the Sunday after Afcenfion-Day.
1 Pet. iv. 7-12.
The End of all things is at hand; be ye therefore Sober, and watch unto Prayer, and above all things have fervent Charity among your felves; for Charity shall cover the Multitude of Sins, &c.
HE Collect for this Day minds us of God's exalting his only Son Jefus Chrift with great Triumph unto his Kingdom of Heaven; and thence takes occafion to befeech him not to leave us comfortless, but to fend to us his Holy Ghoft to comfort us, and to exalt us unto the fame place, whither our Saviour Chrift is gone before.
To this end, the Epiftle for the Day puts us in mind of the approaching End and Confummation of all things, that we may be fit to be receiv'd at laft into that holy place, which Chrift is gone before to prepare for us. In this Epif tle then we may observe,
First, A Propofition, in these words, The End of all things is at hand.
Secondly, Some preparatory Vertues or Graces that help to fit us for it. And they are,
ift, Sobriety or Temperance in the Ufe of God's Creatures; Be ye therefore fober.
2dly, Watchfulness or Diligence in Prayer; And watch unto Prayer.
3dly, Fervent Love and Charity among our felves, which will cover a Multitude of Sins.
4thly, Hofpitality to be used one to another without grudging, and this to be fhew'd by miniftring the Gifts we have received, as occafion fhall require, like good Stewards of the manifold Grace of God.
5thly, Teaching and inftructing the People, as God hath
directed us, and miniftring to them, according to the Ability that God giveth us.
To which is added, the End we are to aim at in all these things; to wit, that God in all things may be glorified thro Jefus Chrift.
Thefe are the things here recommended to prepare us for the Coming of the Holy Ghoft, and after that for the Conclufion and Confummation of all things; which muft be therefore particularly handled. I begin then with the Propofition laid down in these words, The End of all things is at hand; where we are to enquire what is meant by the End of all things, and how it is faid to be at hand. For the
Firft, By the End of all things, fone understand the End of the Jewish, State, by the Deltruction of the City and Temple of Jerufalem, when the whole Polity and Government of the Jews was diffolv'd, and they came under the Power and Subjection of the Romans: Of this we read in St. Matt. 24. where our Saviour foretold the utter Ruin and Deftruction of that obdurate Nation, for rejecting of him, and cafting the Word of Salvation from them; telling them, that the Temple, of which they boafted, fhould be raz'd to the Ground, not having one Stone of that stately Fabrick left upon another, that should not be thrown down: which Destruction was to be usher'd in with many amazing Signs and Tokens, fuch as the Coming of falfe Chrifts and falfe Prophets, with Signs in the Heavens, and on Earth Diftrefs of Nations; Mens Hearts failing them for fear of what is coming upon them; Wars and Rumors of Wars; the Sea and the Waves roaring, and the like; of which we read in that Chapter. When these things were fulfil'd, and the End of the Jewish Church and State came by the Destruction of Jerufalem, then happen'd that which is fometimes call'd curlshed T αίωνος, the Confummation of the Age; and here τὸ τέλος Távov, the End of all things.
Others again, by the End of all things here understand the End of the World; of which they take the fore-mention'd Signs to be the Forerunners: fo they understand that of St. Peter, 2 Epift. 3. 10. where, fpeaking of the Coming of the Lord at the laft Day, 'tis defcrib'd by the Heavens paffing away with a great Noife, the Elements melting with fervent Heat, and the Earth's being burnt up with all things in it. This may be properly call'd the End of all things,
tho the former may not be excluded, as prefaging and leading to this.
But how is this End of all things faid to be at hand? Why, if we take it for the Destruction of the Temple and City of Jerufalem, it was when St. Peter wrote this Epiftle very nigh at hand. Chrift himself told the Jews, that when they faw thofe Signs, they might conclude it to be near even at the doors; adding, that that Generation fhould not pafs away, till all these things were fulfill'd; Mat. 24. 33, 34. St. James likewife mentions that Day of the Lord as drawing nigh; for behold the Judg ftandeth at the door, James 5. Accordingly this Deftruction came upon them very fhortly after, when the Romans came and befieg'd it round about, laying it even with the Ground, and not leaving one Stone upon another.
If we take the End of all things for the End of the World, that likewife is drawing nigh; for we are bid to be always upon our watch, left that Day come upon us unawares. We are often minded in Scripture of the near Approachi of that Day, that the time is at hand, that the Lord doth not delay his coming, but he that shall come will come, and will not! tarry. The Time and Hour is conceal'd from us on purpose, that we may be continually upon our guard, and put our felves in a conftant Readiness and Preparation for it.
And this will lead me, in the next place, to thofe preparatory Vertues or Graces here recommended to fit us for the coming of that time. The
ift Whereof is Sobriety; The End of all things is at hand, Be ye therefore fober. Now Sobriety or Temperance is that Vertue, that guides us aright in the modest and moderate Ufe of God's Creatures: when they are distinguish'd, as they fometimes are, Sobriety is a Moderation in Drink ing, in oppofition to Drunkennefs; and Temperance in eating, in oppofition to Surfeiting and Gluttony: but both confifting in the moderate Ufe of God's Creatures, are commonly reckon'd as one Vertue, call'd fometimes by the Name of Sobriety, and fometimes by that of Temperance; andfo are they to be here confider'd.
But what is that moderate Ufe of God's Creatures, wherein this Vertue confifts? Why, known, by confidering the Ends for them. And they were,
that will be beft,
(1.) For preferving the Life of our Bodies, which de pends upon the daily Food and Nourishment we receive from thefe Creatures. Our Bodies are of that mouldring Frame and Conftitution, that they ftand in continual need of Suftenance to repair and fupport them; and therefore God is gracioully pleas'd to afford a conflant Supply of Food to fatisfy the two craving Neceffities of Nature, Hanger and Thirst; giving Meat for the one, and Drink for the other; without which they would prove deadly, and Nature would fink and fail under the want of both. Again,
(2.) God hath given us his Creatures, not only to preferve the Life, but the Health, Strength, and Vigour of our Bodies: he hath taken care as of our Being, fo likewife of our Well-being; and therefore hath not ty'd us up to the pinching Neceffities of Nature, that is, to eat no more than will just keep us from ftarving, and to drink no more than what will barely keep us from perifhing with Thirft; but hath graciously allow'd us Plenty, to maintain the Health and Strength of our Bodies, that they may be the better fitted for the Work and Business of our Calling.
(3.) Another End or Ufe of God's Creatures, is for the innocent chearing and refreshing of the Mind, that it may the better bear up under the Burden of worldly Cares and Sorrows, for thefe are apt to fink and lower the Spirits: and therefore God hath given these worldly Comforts to be as Cordials to fupport them. Hence we read of Bread to ftrengthen, and Wine to chear the Heart of Man, and Oil to give him a chearful Countenance; which things may be lawfully us'd to thofe Ends: for God hath not only allow'd, but commanded us to rejoice in the good things wherewith he hath bleffed us; and hath given us his Creatures not barely for Neceflity, but Delight.
Thefe are the Ends for which they are bestow'd; and confequently whilft we keep within thefe Bounds, ufing the Creatures of God for the preferving of Life and Health, for increafing the Strength of the Body, and the Chearfulnefs of the Mind, we obferve the Rules of Sobriety and Temperance: but they who tranfgrefs thefe Bounds, by eating to Surfeiting, and drinking to Drunkennels; they who inftead of cherishing, enfeeble their Nature, nfing the Bleffings of God to the impairing their Health, and drowning the Vigour and Activity both of Body and Mind; fuch as thefe abufe God's Creatures by Riot and Excels, and turn the Inftances of the Divine Bounty into the Inftruments of their own Ruin.