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poral Death; and likewife deftroys the Power, Peace and Tranquillity of the Soul, and so leads to spiritual and eternal Death. Intemperance as naturally overwhelms the Spirits, as Water drowns what is caft into it; and the Flames of Luft as neceffarily waste and confume, as the Fire burns any combustible Matter: fo that Death is the neceffary Confequent of Sin, and proceeds from it as naturally as an Effect does from its Caufe.
2. Sin hath a moral Tendency as a meritorious Caufe to deferve Death; for there is a Guilt in Sin that obliges to Punishment, and Death is faid to be the Wages of Sin, which -Juftice therefore requires to be paid: and this we may be affur'd will be done either in this World, or in that which is to come.
This is the bad Fruit, and the bad End of all vitious Courses, which are attended with Mischief and Shame here, and endless Mifery and Torment hereafter; of which the Apostle here minds the converted Romans.
But now (faith he) being made free from Sin, and become the Servants of God, ye have your Fruit unto Holiness, and the End everlasting Life: that is, you being deliver❜d from the Slavery ye were in unto Sin, and brought over to the Service of God, you have other and better Fruit than you had before; Fruit that will improve you in Grace and Ho linefs now, and e'er long bring you to endless Glory and Happiness for as Death is the Wages of Sin, being as due to it as Wages to Work, and Hire to the Labourer; fo the Gift of God is eternal Life: which God of his infinite Grace and Goodness hath made the Portion of the Righteous, and affign'd as the Reward of a holy and vertuous Life; and that thro Jefus Chrift our Lord, that is, by the Merits of his Death, and the Virtue of his Satisfaction.
This is the Scope of this Day's Epiftle; from which we may infer a few things. As,
ift, From St. Paul's fpeaking to these Romans after the manner of Men, because of the Infirmities of the Flesh, we may learn to condefcend to the Capacities of our Hearers, and to accommodate our Speeches to the Weakness of their Understandings; otherwife we do but beat the Air, and prove Barbarians to one another.
2dly, The Apoftle's advifing them to make those Menbers the Servants of Righteoufnefs, which they had before us'd as the Inftruments of Sin, teaches us to bestow at least
the fame pains in the Service of God, that Sinners do in the Drudgeries of their Lufts, and then we shall foon find the Comfort more, and the Reward greater. Did Men go as cheerfully and heartily to Church, as they do to a Market, and take as much care to provide for their Souls, as they do for their Bodies; did they mind the next World, as frequently as they do this, and be as, follicitous to obtain Heaven hereafter, as they are to gain and fecure a little Spot of Earth here; they would find their Labour turn to a far better Account, and their Pains recompens'd with a higher and nobler Reward.
3dly, From the Unfruitfulness, Shamefulness and Destructiveness of all finful Courfes, let us learn to abhor and abandon them. Who but a Madman would labour for nothing, and weary himself for what is worse than nothing? And yet fo do all they that have Fellowship with the unfruitful Works of Darkness: we have feen what bitter Fruit the Soul, Body and Estate reap from these things; fo that to continue in them is but to court Mifery, and be fond of our own Deftruction.
Again, Who is there but fhuns Difgrace, and flies from Shame and Confufion of Face? And yet the Wife-man tells us, this is the Promotion of Fools: and therefore if Interest will not, let the Shame of the World prevail with us to leave all vile and vitious Courfes; but if neither of thefe can, let the fatal End and Iffue of Sin diffuade us from it: we fee the End of it is Death; and who, that confiders what he doth, would follow that which leads to fo miferable an End?
In a word then, let us die unto Sin, that we may escape eternal Death; and let us live unto Righteousness, that having our Fruit unto Holiness, our End may be everlasting Life: Which God grant, &c.
The GOSPEL for the Seventh Sunday after
St. Mark viii. 1-10.
In thofe Days the Multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jefus called bis Difciples unto him, and faith unto them, I have Compas fion on the Multitude, because they have now been with b me three Days, and have nothing to eat; and if I send them away fafting to their own Houses, they will faint by the way, for divers of them came from far, &c.
HIS Miracle of the Loaves is order'd by the Church to be read three times in the Year, in the Gofpels for three feveral Sundays: the firft on the fourth Sunday in Lent, of which before; the fecond on this feventh Sunday after Trinity, of which now; the third on the laft Sunday after Trinity, of which hereafter. And this perhaps was appointed, partly for the Greatness, and partly for the Commodioufnefs of the Miracle; it being fit to inftruct, and apt to take with the Multitude, who are fooner won and wrought upon by Arguments taken from the prefent Profits and Provisions of this Life, than from future, tho more heavenly Food.
There is indeed fome circumftantial Difference between the three Evangelifts in the relating of it. As,
(1.) In the Circumftance of Time when it was done : St. Matthew relates it as done juft after the News of the beheading of John the Baptift; Mat. 14. St. Mark here, immediatel after a Miracle wrought upon a deaf and dunib Man; St. John about the time of the Paffover, John 6. 4.
Vol. IV. Part 2.
(2.) For the Number of the Perfons that did eat: St. Mark here mentions about four thousand, St. John about five thousand, St. Matthew about five thousand Men, befide Women and Children, Mat. 14. 21. Again,
(3.) For the Number of the Loaves and Provisions: St. Mark here relates feven Loaves, and a few small Fishes; St. Matthem and St. John but five Loaves, and two small Fishes. Then,
Laftly, For the Fragments that were left and taken up: St. Mark here mentions but seven Baskets that were fill'd with them; St. Matthew and St. John twelve Baskets full. But thefe Differences are only in a few fmall Circumftances, and may eafily happen among Relaters and Transcribers: tho fome, and perhaps probably enough, fuppofe this Mira cle to be done more than once; and if it were repeated, thefe little Differences may be eafily reconcil'd. But however that be,
The Subftance of the Relation is the fame in all the Evangelifts, who all agree that the Operation was miraculous, it being infinitely above the power of any natural Agent to feed four, as well as five thousand, with those small Provifions; and 'twas equally impoffible, in any natural way, to fill feven as well as twelve Baskets with the poor Remainders.
But to come to the Gospel; it begins the Relation of this Miracle thus, In thofe Days the Multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Fefus called his Difciples, and faith unto them, I have Compaffion on the Multitude, becaufe thay have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat, &c. Where, in the Account of this Matter, we may obferve,
First, The Number of the Perfons that were here in want and diftrefs; and they were a Multitude, and a very great Multitude: This was a Circumftance that mov'd our Saviour's Bowels, and ought indeed to open and enlarge ours. The great Numbers of the Indigent and Needy, that are made fo by the Cafualties of Fire, or other unavoidable Accidents, are to open our Hearts and Hands to their Relief: Of this fort were the Multitude here fed by our Saviour; they were not the Idle and the Lazy, that would not labour to feed themselves, but fuch as had been for fome time in a defart Place, where no Provisions could be had, and fo could get nothing to eat and what the Defart was to them then,
that decrepit old Age, long Sickness, Multitude of Children, Want of Work, and fuch like helpless Calamities, are to others now; they are difabled from fuftaining themselves, and fo are caft upon the Bounty of the Rich: and where the Number of thefe is great, there our Care and Charity must be the greater: not that we are to give to every one that asketh, no nor yet to every one that needeth; for that would exhaust our Subftance, and reduce us to want our felves. Chrift indeed was able to feed Thoufands by Miracle; his Power was equal to his Will, and both were infinite and without Bounds; his Mercy is over all his Works, and is able to fupply all their Wants: but we are finite and limited both in our Being and Substance; our Goodness extendeth not to all, and therefore we are to give only out of the Ability and Abundance that God hath given: but where the Objects are more numerous, there the Hand is to be the more bounteous, knowing, that he that foweth fparingly hall reap sparingly, and he that foweth bountifully fhall reap bountifully. Again,
Secondly, We may obferve here the Extremity of Want and Neceffity that this Multitude were in; They have nothing to eat (faith the Text) and they have been with me three days (faith our Saviour) without any Suftenance or Provi fion fo that they were ready to ftarve and pine away for Hunger. The Multitudes here fed by him were in a Place remote from all Accommodation; and having been there for fome days without Food, were driven to the utmoft Neceffity, juft upon the point of fainting and languishing. Now in this fad and deplorable Cafe, 'tis faid,
Thirdly, That Jefus call'd his Difciples to him, and faid, I have Compaffion on the Multitude, because they have been with me three days, and have nothing to eat, and if I fend them away fafting to their own Houfes, they will faint by the way, for divers of them came from far. Times of Mifery are the Seafons of Pity: this mov'd our Saviour's Compaffion towards them, and his Bowels turn'd within him, and fo fhould ours in the like cafe. The Multitude had attended him as long as they were able, and now could go no farther without fainting, nor fubfift any longer without Suftenance. God fuffers his own People fometimes to be in Straits, and to labour under great Difficulties and Neceflities, but then as a Father pitieth his Child, whom he loveth,