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day, or to do Evil; to fave Life, or to kill? Mark 3. 4. tháť is, Is it not much better to do Good, and to fave Life by healing, than to do Evil, and to kill, by neglecting it on that day? To which they answer'd nothing, but held their peace and finding that they had nothing to fay against it, He took him, and healed him, and let him go.
But for their farther Satisfaction, he mov'd another Queftion to them, faying, Which of you shall have an Afs, or an Ox fallen into a Pit, and will not ftraitway pull him out on the Sabbath-day? St. Matthew puts the Cafe even in the fmalleft Matters, faying, What Man is there among you, that hall have one Sheep, and if it fall into a Pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold of it, and lift it out? How much then is a Man better than a Sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath-day; Mat. 12. To which St. Luke here adds, And they could not answer him again to these things.
Thus did our Saviour put thefe Lawyers and Pharifees to fhanie and filence, as he did him who merely to tempt him, ask'd which was the great Commandment in the Law; and thofe, that to entangle him would know whether it were lawful to pay Tribute to Cafar: to all which he gave fuch Answers as ftruck them dumb, and made them ask no more Questions. For, as St. Luke tells us, All his Adverfaries were afhamed, and all the People rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him. Luke 13. 17.
Moreover, our Saviour being at a Feaft in this chief Phas rifee's Houfe, and obferving how defirous the Lawyers and Pharifees were to take place, and to have the Precedence at the Feaft, he put forth a Parable to them: which brings me to the last thing propounded, viz.
Fourthly, Our Saviour's checking their Pride and Vanity, in affecting Precedence and Preheminence above others: This Vanity he chaftifeth here by a Parable, which he put forth to them that were bidden, when he mark'd how they chofe out the chief Rooms; faying unto them, When thou art bidden of any Man to a Wedding, fit not down in the higheft Room, left a more honourable Man than thou be bidden of him, and he that bade thee and him, come and fay to thee, Give this Man place, and thou begin with Shame to take the loweft Room: But when thou art bidden, go and fit down in the loweft Room, that when he that bade thee cometh, he may fay unto thee, Friend, go up higher; then shalt thou have Wor
Ship with them that fit at Meat with thee. In which Parable he reprehends the Ambition and Folly of fuch as ftrive for Preheminence, and feek to exalt themfelves above their Brethren; fhewing it to be much more decent and honourable for a Man to fet himself below, than above his Place; that Humility was the beft Step to Honour, and that Pride leads only to Debasement. Chrift had obferv'd before of the Scribes and Pharifees, that they loved the uppermost Room's at Feafts, and the chief Seats in the Synagogues; that they affected Greetings in the Markets, and to be called of Men, Rabbi, Rabbi: Mat. 23.6,7. which made him upon all occafions feek to humble their Pride, and to check their Vanity. And we may obferve fome in our days, much like the Pharifees in this refpect, affecting to be fomebody this way, and too much courting Preheminence; endeavouring to deprefs others to advance themselves, and to raise their own Reputation upon the Ruin of their Betters. Yea, we find fomething of this among Chrift's own Difciples; for we read, that there was a Strife among them, which of them fhould be the greatest: To put a stop to this vain Contention, our Saviour tells them, that though fuch Contests may be found among the Kings and great Men of the Earth, yet it fhall not be fo among you but let him that is greatest among you be as the Younger, and he that is chief, as he that doth ferve: urging upon them his own Example; For whether is greater (faith he) be that fitteth at Meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that fitteth at Meat? But I am among you as be that ferveth. Luke 22. 24, 25, &c. And if he was fo far from courting Greatnefs, that he chofe and prefer'd Meannefs before it, can it become us to ftrive who fhall be grea teft? When he took upon him the Form of a Servant, and did the meaneft Offices of fuch, fhall we take upon us, and covet to be call'd Masters? This is not to learn of our Saviour, to be meek and lowly in Heart, but to learn of Lucifer, to be proud and lofty in Spirit.
In fhort, this Haughtiness of Spirit is here fharply reprehended, and the contrary Vertue of Humility as highly recommended to us in this Parable; both which are back'd with two ftrong Arguments in the Clofe: For whofoever exalteth himself shall be abafed, and he that humbleth himself fhall be exalted; that is, he that affecteth the higher Rooms fhall be brought low, and he that taketh the lower Seats fhall be advanc'd higher. An affuming Boldness and Arrogance in Talk or Behaviour is commonly odious and
fulfom in the fight of all Men; and none rife higher in the Opinion of God and Man, than they who are lowest in their own.
This is briefly the Sum of the Gofpel for this Day; which may ferve to inftruct us in the following Leffons. Ás,
ift, From our Saviour's Freedom of Converfation we may learn to be affable, courteous and condescending to all Men: This Chrift's Command and Example plainly teach us; Learn of me (faith he) for I am meek and lowly in Heart. 'Tis no part of his Religion to be four, morofe or cynical; for he convers'd familiarly with all forts of Men, and hath will'd his Difciples to do fo too. The Pharifees indeed were fupercilious and auftere, keeping a distance from others as unworthy of their Company, and faying, Stand off, come not nigh me, for I am holier than thou; and their modern Followers have fomething of the fame Morofenefs, fepa rating from others as Sinners, and fearing to be defil'd by their unholy Converfation: But our Saviour's Practice and Advice was quite otherwife; for he freely ate and drank with Publicans and Sinners, and hath will'd us to be cour teous and kindly affectioned to all Men. We are indeed to fhun the Vices, but not the Perfons of bad Men, we are to avoid the Contagion of their Example, but not to deny them the Civility of our Society. Nabal, for his Churlifhnefs, was ftil'd one of the Sons of Belial and to ftand at a morofe distance from other Men, is rather the Guife of a proud Pharifee, than the Practice of a good Christian.
2dly, From the Pharifee's watching our Saviour to enfnare and entrap him, we learn the evil Effects of Malice and Hypocrify, what a pernicious Influence they have upon Converfation, and how they poifon and imbitter all Society. We read of fome that watch for our Halting, and feek occafion against us; yea, lay Traps in our way on pur pofe to catch or make us fall. Our Saviour found this Deal ing from the World, and the Difciple is not above his Lord: Marvel not (faith he) if the World hate you, for they hated me before they hated you. Malice ftudies to undermine and to do harm, and will not fuffer Men to fleep till they have done mischief: Hypocrify feeks to cover fuch malicious De figns with flattering Speeches, and to put fair Colours upon the fouleft Actions. The World abounds with fuch treache rous and dangerous Enemies; which may teach us to be as watchful to avoid, as they are to do mifchief.
3dly, From Chrift's defeating the malicious Designs of the Pharifee, in watching of him, we may learn to walk warily and circumfpectly, not as Fools, but as wife, and to arm our felves against the Wiles of the Wicked. When Chrift fent his Difciples abroad into the World, he told them, Behold I fend you forth as Sheep among Wolves; that is, among wicked and ungodly Men, who will be apt to worry and lie in wait for you, as the ravening Wolves do for the innocent Sheep: therefore (faith he) be ye wife as Serpents, and harmless as Doves. A Serpent, you know, hath many Ways to fecure and defend himself from Danger; it hath many Windings and Turnings to that purpose, and can incircle it felf into a narrow Compafs, the better to avoid being hit or receiving Harm. Which things may teach us to use all good Means to escape the Treachery and. Malice of defigning Men: but yet to the Wisdom of the Serpent we are to add the Harmleffnefs of the Dove; i, e. to use nothing but good and lawful Means to that end, and not betake our felves to finifter and indirect Courses to promote our Safety. The Dove, you know, is an innocent Creature, void of Gall, that often takes, but never does any harm, which we fhould therefore imitate in the Innocence of our Ways and Behaviour. Our Saviour filenc'd and fecur'd himself from thofe that watch'd him, and fought by tempting to bring him into Danger: In like manner we fhould cut off all occafion from them, that feek occafion against us, that they who watch for our halting may be afham'd, having no evil thing to say against us.
Laftly, From our Saviour's checking the Pharifees for their affecting Precedence and Preheminence, we may learn to caft off all Pride, and to be cloth'd with Humility: for God and Man refift the Proud, and pull down fuch as are lifted up; but both confpire to give Grace and Favour to the Humble. He putteth down the Mighty from their Seats (faith the Bleffed Virgin) that is, from thofe upper Rooms, and higher Seats, to which their Pride had mounted them; and exalteth the Humble and Meek, that is, fuch as they feek to depress and defpife. Wherefore let us strive not fo much to be Great as Good, and labour more for Lowliness than Haughtiness of Mind; and by thus humbling our felves, God fhall exalt us in due time: Which God grant, for the fake of Jefus Chrift, &c. Amen.
Vol. IV. Part 2.
The EPISTLE for the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity.
I thank my God always on your behalf, for the Grace of God which is given you by Jefus Christ, &c.
HE Collect for this Day teaches us to befeech God for Grace to withstand the Temptations of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil; and with pure Hearts and Minds to follow him, the only true God.
Suitable hereunto, the Epiffle for this Day contains St. Paul's Thanksgiving unto God, for giving this Grace unto the Corinthians, together with the many bleffed Fruits and Effects that proceeded from it: I thank my God always on your behalf, &c. Where we may obferve,
Firft, The great Duty of Thankfulness, I thank my God. Secondly, The Time when this Duty is to be perform'd; and that is always.
Thirdly, The Perfons for whom this is here done; and that is, for the Corinthians: Ithank my God always on your behalf.
Fourthly, The fubject Matter of his Thanksgiving; that is, for the Grace of God given unto them by Jefus Chrift. And,
Laftly, The bleffed Fruits and Effects of this Divine Grace, in the following part of this Epiftle. Of each of thefe particularly. And,
Firft, I must begin this Difcourfe, as St. Paul here does this Epiftle, with the great Duty of Thankfulness; I thank my God. There being no better way to derive the Bleflings of Heaven upon us, than by the Channel of a thankful Heart; and nothing more ftops the Current of future Favours, than Unthankfulnefs for former. Now Thankfulness