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Chrift himfelf declares, that when Tribulation or Perfecution arifeth by reafon of the Word, by and by they are offended; Mat. 13. 21. Now to prevent this Evil, and to fortify his Followers againft all future Trials, he here tells them before-hand what was like to befal him and them, and withal adds those Arguments of Confolation that may well enough. arm and fortify them against them. 1 42
But our Saviour does not here reft in Generals, but proceeds to fome particular Inftances of the evil and barbarous Treatment they were like to meet with from the World: As,
(1.) They hall put you out of the Synagogues; that is, they fhall caft you out of all their Affemblies, both Sacred and Civil, and not admit you either into their religious or common Converfation, and thereby fet fuch a. Márk of Reproach upon you, that you fhall not be familiarly convers'd with by any. This fame Evangelift tells us, that the Fews bad agreed already, that whofoever should confefs Jefus to be the Christ, he should be put out of the Synagogue, John 9.22. Accordingly the blind Man, to whom he reftor'd his Sight, confeffing of him, was caft out, as we read ver. 35, 36. & Chap. 12.42. We are told of others that believed on him, but becaufe of the Pharifees were afraid to confefs him, left they should be put out of the Synagogue. Now this cafting out of the Synagogue was done with all manner of contumelious Ufage, the Officers of the Court taking the condemn'd Perfon, and thrufting him with Shame and Difgrace out of the Affembly; and if he had any Place of Rule or Govern ment, he was to be depriv'd of his Office or Dignity, which made the Rulers afraid to confefs him, John 12. 42. To this reproachful Ufage our Saviour alludes, when he faid, Bleffed are ye when Men fhall hate you, and feparate you from their Company, and fhall reproach you, and caft out your Name as evil, for the Son of Man's fake; Luke 6. 22. Upon this account it was, that St. Paul, fpeaking of the Chriftians in his time, faid, We are made as the Filth of the World, and the Off-fcouring of all things to this day; 1 Cor. 4. 13.
But this putting out of the Synagogue fignify'd not only the excluding Men from civil Commerce and Converfation, but likewife from the facred and religious Affemblies; and fo 'twas the fane with Excommunication among the Jews. Hence St. Chryfoftom expounds this putting out of the Synagogue by cafting out of the Temple, and others by driving out of the House of God, as Perfons unworthy of the facred or
civil Society of God's People. But befide this contumelious and reproachful Ufage of their Names, our Saviour forewarns them,
(2.) Of greater Hardships and Violences that should be offer'd to their Perfons; for the time cometh (faith he) that whoever killeth you, will think that he doth God fervice: that is, fome Perfons would arife, who would be fo far from fparing or faving your Lives, that they would think the flaying of you not only lawful, but an acceptable Sacrifice unto God. So it happen'd to many of then in Jerufalem, which made our Saviour upbraid and lament over that unhappy City, for killing the Prophets, and toning of them that were fent unto it; Mat. 23. 37. And in this fome think our Saviour refer'd to the Sect of the Zealots among the Jews, who from Elias's calling for Fire from Heaven to confume the Enemy, and Phineas's Act of fudden Juftice upon Zimri and Cosbi, both done by a Divine Impulfe, took occafion to commit many Outrages, Cruelties and Murders without any due Courfe or Form of Law; their fiery and intemperate Zeal leading them on to a great Rigor and Extravagance of Action, under a Miftake or Mask of Religion : which fhews the Sinfulness and Danger of a furious and mistaken Zeal, and what bloody and violent Attempts it runs Men upon. Of fuch kind of Zealots we have had fad Experience in our Days, who have committed Treason, Sacrilege and Rebellion, under Pretences of Reformation; and both Church and State groan under the direful Effects of fuch a mad and miftaken Zeal to this day."
Others again fuppofe thefe Words of our Saviour to relate to the many heavy Perfecutions that foon after befel the Chriftians under their Heathen Governours, who fought to root out Chriftianity, by putting to death all that were call'd by, or call'd upon the Name of Chrift: Pilate mingled the Blood of fome with their Sacrifices; and we read of others flain at the Altar, taking it for a grateful Offering unto the Lord. St. Paul himself, before his Conversion, breath'd out Threatnings and Slaughter againft the Difciples of the Lord; and being exceedingly mad against them, perfecuted them from City to City: Acts 9. 1. & Chap. 26. 11. In all which he thought he did God good Service: he did it, as himself tells us, in all good Confcience, for he verily thought with himself, that he ought to do many things contrary to the Name of Jefus of Nazareth; Acts 23. 1. & Chap. 26. 9. which fhews what great care is to be taken to inform our Vol. IV. Part 2. D Con
Confcience aright in all Matters, that we be not misled by a falfe Light to do evil; for very bad things have been done by mif-guided Confciences. We have known fome have fhelter'd Schifm, Sedition, and all manner of Disorder and Difobedience under a pretence of Confcience; and tho God hath commanded all Men to be fabject to the higher Powers for Confcience fake, yet too many have pretended Cons fcience for disobeying them: Which things proceed either from a wilful Ignorance, or a blind and mistaken Zeal; for into these our Saviour refolves all the Cruelties and Violence us'd against his Difciples, faying in the next words, And thefe things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.
'Tis the want of the true Knowledg of God, and of his Son Jefus Chrift, that is the real Caufe of all Perfecutions against the Church; for they that have right and due Ap prehenfions of God, will be fo far from difhonouring of him, and disturbing his People, that they will harbour nothing but Love to him, and all that belong to him. And they that know Jefus Chrift aright to be fent from God, to be the Saviour of the World, will neither disbelieve him nor deftroy his Members: And therefore St. Paul tells us that this Knowledg was hid from the Princes of the World for had they known it, they would not have crucify'd the Lord of Glory: 1 Cor. 2. 8. And what St. Paul did before his Converfion in blafpheming God, and perfecuting the Church of Chrift, he confefs'd it to be all done ignorantly and in Unbelief; 1 Tim. 1.13. And this may teach us to labour af ter a true faving Knowledg of God and Chrift; for this is Life eternal (faith St. John) to know God, and Jefus Chrift whom he hath fent; John 17.3. To attain to both, we muft pray for humble and teachable Minds, and Hearts difpos'd to do the Will of God; for he that doth the Will of my Fa ther (faith our Saviour) he shall know the Doctrine, whether it be of God; John 7. 17. Now thefe things (faith Chrift in the Clofe of the Gospel) have I told you, that when the time fall come, ye may remember that I told you of them: that is, I have declar'd thefe Sufferings to you before-hand, that you may not be startled at them when they fhall happen to you, but being forewarn'd of them, you may be the better arm'd and prepar'd against them when they come.
This is the Sum of this Day's Gofpel; which we may thus improve.
Firft, From Chrift's promifing a Paraclete, that is, à Comforter, an Advocate and Inftructor, let us be ready to welcome him for all thofe Purposes; that is, let us hearken to his Confolations in all our Troubles and Diftreffes, and be ever willing to receive the Cordials he is pleas'd to adminifter, to keep us from fainting under them.
Again, Let us rely upon him as our Advocate and Interceffor, against the Cry and Guilt of our Sins; let us caft our felves upon the Merits of Chrift's Satisfaction, and depend upon his Holy Spirit, who is ever ready to plead our Caufe, and to make Interceffion for us.
Moreover, Let us hearken to the Advice and Directions of this Holy Monitor, both in his private Whispers, and more publick Instructions; never turning the deaf Ear to either, but always liftning to that Voice, faying to us, This is the Way, walk in it, when we are turning to the right Hand, or to the left: And then he who now guides us by his Coun fel here, will hereafter bring us to Glory.
Laftly, From what hath been faid concerning Chrift's foretelling the Sufferings of his Difciples, let us learn not to be fhaken by, or offended at then, whenfoever for Christ's fake they may happen to us; but let us manfully go thro and bear up under them: and then we who now bear the Crofs with him, fhall e'er long be crown'd with him in his everlasting Kingdom. Which God grant, &c.
The EPISTLE for Whitsunday
Acts ii. 1-] 2.
When the Day of Pentecoft was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place; and fuddenly there came a Sound from Heaven, as of a rush ing mighty Wind, and it filled all the Houfe where they were fitting. And there appeared unto them cloven Tongues like as of Fire, and it fat upon each of them and they were all filled with the Holy Ghoft, and began to speak with other Tongues, as the Spirit gave them Utterance, &c.
HE Collect for this great Festival minds us, that God did at this time teach the Hearts of his faithful People, by the fending to them the Light of his Holy Spirit; and thence befeeches him to grant us by the fame Spirit to have a right Judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy Comfort.
The Epiftle for the Day fhews us the Time, the Place, the Manner of God's fending his Holy Spirit, together with the wonderful Effects that follow'd upon this miraculous Defcent of each of which we have here a brief Account.
For the Time, the first Words tell us, it was when the Day of Pentecoft was fully come; that is, when fifty Days from Eafter were fully compleat and ended. But why on that Day? (faith a Reverend Father on thefe Words) To which, by way of Anfwer, he adds fome weighty Reafons:
As, 1ft, Moft meet it was, that the Coming of the Holy Ghoft fhould be at fome folemn Seafon or Feftival, that fa the Peoples Joy being in fome meafure ftir'd, they might receive him the more joyfully: as alfo, that the great Conccurfe of People, which those great Feafts ufually draw to