Page images

The Fame as well as the Benefit of it is gone abroad into the World. And this will lead us to the

Laft Thing recorded of this Miracle; and that is, that this Rumour of him went forth throughout all Judea, and all the Regions round about. The Fame of his Miracles, and the Teftimony they gave to the Truth of his Meffiahfhip, fpread into all parts, infomuch that all Galilee, and the Cities of Judea and Palestine, and all the circumambient Regions round about them, receiv'd the Report of him: which drew many to fee and partake of the Benefit of his Miracles, and thereby become Profelytes and Converts to his Doctrine.

Thus we see the Miracle here related in all its Circumftances and Effects, the greatest indeed of all Miracles, which is the raifing of a dead Perfon to Life, the fole Work of a Divine Power and Goodness. It remains only to infer a few practical Leffons from the whole : And,

Ift, From Chrift's Readiness to go from the Centurion's Servant at Jerufalem, to the Widow's Son at Nain, we may learn not to omit any Opportunities of doing good to the Bodies or Souls of Men. We fee here how forward and follicitous our Saviour was about both, making no Scruples or Delays in ferving of either; but cheerfully embracing all Opportunities of contributing to their bodily Health, and promoting their eternal Welfare. He fooner wanted Objects, than Will to fhew Kindness; and nothing pleas'd him better, than to find Men to have Faith enough to come to him, and to be heal'd by him. This was the Bufinefs, the Recreation, and the whole Employment of our Bleffed Lord; and nothing renders us more like unto him, than a Defire and Delight in doing good in the best way and manner that we are able.

2dly, From our Saviour's compaffionating and comforting the difconfolate Widow upon the Death of her dear and only Son, we may learn to commiferate and condole with each other upon the Lofs of Friends and Relations, and to bear a part as well in the Sorrows as Joys of one another. We are apt and forward enough to fhare in the Comforts and Profperity of others, and to rejoice with them that rejoice, but are commonly too fhy and backward in pitying or partaking in their Troubles and Misfortunes, and to weep with them that weep: The one gratifies the Corruption, but the other tends more to the Perfection of our Nature; and


our Saviour's Example here directs us as much or more to the latter than the former, for we often read that he wept and fhed Tears, but never that he laugh'd, or indulg'd himfelf in too much Mirth.

3dly, From the Miracle here wrought in raising the Widow's dead Child to Life again, we may learn farther to confirm our Faith in him, and to take him for the Son of God, and the Saviour of the World, for the mighty Works that were done by him, which nothing lefs than a Divine Power and Goodnefs were able to effect. Miracles are the Broad Seal of Heaven, which is never fet to any Commiffion but what comes from God; which made Nicodemus, a Ruler of the Jews, fay to our Saviour, I know that thou art a Teacher come from God, for none can do the Works that thou doft, except God were with him; John 3. 1, 2. Thefe Miracles abundantly teftify his Miffion, that his Doctrine is divine, and contains the Words of eternal Life, and that his Precepts are the beft, the wifeft, and the fafeft Rules to lead us to it: And therefore it must be not only our Duty, but our Wisdom and trueft Intereft to receive the one, and to obey the other.

4thly, From the Fear that fell on the People at the fight of this Miracle, we may learn to fear the Lord and his Goodness, as 'twas promis'd and prophefy'd of the latter Days, Hofea 3. 5. Let us fear to offend fo great and fo good a God, who is able to do fuch great things for our Happiness or our Deftruction. Such was the Fear of these in this Gospel, a Fear of Aftonishment, that fet them a wondering at the Greatnefs of his Power; not a Fear of Defperation, to make them diftruft his Goodness: for we find their Fear did not drive them from, but to him; it led them to the admiring and adoring his infinite Power, and instead of falling away, they fell to glorifying of God. From whence we may learn,

Sthly, To give God the Glory of all his Mercies; not afcribing any thing to our felves, to our own Power or Merits, but acknowledging our Weakness and Worthleff nefs, and adoring his Power and Goodness in all the ordinary and extraordinary Acts of his Providence towards us.

6thly, From their unanimous owning this great Prophet to be rifen up among them, let us learn to do likewise, and to blefs God for thus vifiting us with his Salvation.

Laftly, From the Rumour that went of him throughout all the Country and Regions round about, let us learn to publish

publish his Honour, and to fpread the Fame of his Miracles and good Works to Mankind.

[ocr errors]

Upon the whole, let us take heed of an evil Heart of Unbelief, in departing from the Truths of the Gofpel reveal'd to us. Remember the Fate of Corazin, Bethfaida, and Capernaum, who for not believing in Chrift, when they heard his Doctrine and faw his Miracles, were fentenc'd to a more heavy and intolerable Doom than Tyre and Sydon, and other barbarous Nations, where the Sound of these things never came and better would it be for us, not to have known the ways of Righteousness, than having known them, to depart from the holy Commandment. In a word therefore, let us all fay with him in the Gofpel, and fay it heartily, Lord I believe, help my Unbelief.

[ocr errors]


The EPISTLE for the Seventeenth Sunday after




Ephef. iv. 17.


I therefore the Prisoner of the Lord, beseech you, that ye walk worthy of the Vocation wherewith are call'd, with all Lowlinefs and Meekness, with Long-fuffering, forbearing one another in Love; endeavouring to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace. There is one Body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called into one Hope of your Calling, &c.


E are taught to pray, in the Collect for this Day, that the Grace of God may always prevent and follow us, and make us to be continually given to all good Works, thro Jefus Chrift our Lord. To this end, St. Paul, then a Prifoner at Rome for the Caufe of Chrift, makes mention in the Epiftle for this Day, of some of thofe Graces and good Works, that we are continually to Vol. IV. Part 2.



[ocr errors]

follow and be given to; beginning in the first Verse with a general Exhortation to thefe Ephesians, and in them to all Christians, to walk worthy of the Vocation wherewith they were call'd. Where by the Vocation wherewith they were call'd, is meant the Chriftian Profeflion, by which they were call'd out of their former Heathen State to a State of Christianity; that is, to become Chriftians, and to embrace the Chriftian Faith, reveal'd to them by the Gospel.

To walk worthy of this Vocation, is to lead holy Lives fuitable to the Commands and Obligations it lays upon us. So St. Peter expounds it, That as he which hath call'd us is holy, fo we should be holy in all manner of Conversation; becaufe it is written, Be je holy, for I am holy: 1Pet. 1. 15, 16. From this general Exhortation he proceeds to fome of those particular Graces, which we pray may always prevent and follow us, to wit, that our good Works may be done,

Ift, With all Lowlinefs; that is, with a humble and lowly Opinion of our felves, free from all Pride, Vanity, and Loftiness of Spirit.

2dly, With all Meekness; that is, with all Mildness and Gentleness of Behaviour towards others, free from all Paffion, Prejudice, or Partiality.

3dly, With Long-fuffering, that is, with a patient bearing of leffer Wrongs and Injuries, free from fudden Rage or Thoughts of Revenge.

4thly, With forbearing one another in Love; that is, bear ing with the Infirmities, and hiding the Indifcretions of each other, free from all Cenfuring, Detraction, and Backbiting. Thefe are fome of the principal Graces and Vertues, that answer and adorn our Chriftian Profeffion; and they that live in the practice of them, may be truly faid to walk worthy of the Vocation wherewith they are call'd.

But the chiefeft Vertue here prefcrib'd and infifted on for that purpofe, is the living together in Unity and Peace, as becometh good Chriftians and good Subjects. To this we are directed in the next words, Endeavouring to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace. The Unity of the Spirit is that to which we are call'd, and by which we are united by the Holy Spirit. 'Tis often exprefs'd and illuftrated in Scripture by the Union that is between the Body and the Soul; that as all the Members of the natural Body are join'd together and united by one Soul, fo all the Members of Chrift's mystical Body the Church are united and ani

[ocr errors]


mated by one Spirit, call'd therefore the Unity of the Spirit. And this is to be kept in the Bond of Peace; that is, by one Fellowship, Difcipline, and Communion, which ferves to join all the Parts and Members of Chrift's Body, as a Bond is wont to tye and faften things together. So that the Senfe of the Exhortation is, that, all Chriftians fhould labour to live peaceably together in the Unity of the Church, without Diffenfion and Separation, and to preferve the Bond of Charity and Chriftian Communion, with which the Holy Spirit hath join'd all Chriftians together. This is here and in fundry other places of Scripture ftrictly charg'd and prefs'd upon us, as a good means to walk worthy of the Vocation wherewith we are call'd: for Unity and Peace will recommend our Profeffion to its greatest Enemies, whereas Difcord and Diffenfion mightily expofe and difparage it; and therefore the former are to be kept intire and inviolate, and the latter to be fun'd and avoided by all good Chriftians.


For this reafon, our Saviour's laft Prayer in the behalf of his Difciples, was, That they all might be one, as he and his Father were one, that the World might believe that God had fent him which they will fooner do, by feeing his Followers live in Love and Unity together, than by ob ferving them to clash and feparate from one another. And therefore St. Paul earnestly prefs'd the Philippians, to ftand faft in one Spirit, with one Mind ftriving together for the Faith of the Gofpel; Phil. 1. 27. And here he gives the fame Charge to the Ephefians; to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace.

But the better to enforce this Unity upon them and us, the Apostle here adds many weighty Arguments to engage us to the Love and Practice of it; and thefe take up the re maining part of this Day's Epiftle. As

ift, He tells us in the next Verfe, that there is but one Body: meaning, that there is but one Chriftian Catholick Church, which is in Scripture frequently call'd the Body of Chrift For as we have many Members in one Body (faith the Apoftle) and all the Members have not the fame Office, fo we being many are one Body in Chrift; Rom. 12. 4, 5. Tho there be many Congregations meeting in feveral places for the Convenience of Worship and Difcipline, yet the Church of Chrift is but one all the World over. It was at firft confin'd to Judea, the Jews having a Partition-Wall to feparate and diftinguish them from all other Nations, BB 2


« PreviousContinue »