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3dly, Another Direction here given, is to avoid Theft, and to labour for an honeft Livelihood, in the following words; Let him that ftole fteal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his Hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Stealing was another Sin that was rife, and commonly practis'd among the Gentiles, who having little or no fenfe of Property, brake down the Inclosures of Right, and invaded one another. Their Ignorance of God and his Laws led them into all the Acts of Rapine and Injuftice without any Remorfe, whereas these things are fet in a better Light by the Gof pel, and we more clearly fee the Evil and Danger of them: and if the Heathens, who had only the dim Light of Nature and Reafon to direct them, were left without Excufe in thefe Matters; how much more inexcufable fhall we be, who befide that have the clearer Light of Revelation to guide us in them? Let none then that pretend to be Chrif tians, prove Thieves or Robbers; or if any have been found guilty of this Sin, let them reform and freal no more, but rather learn by their own Labour to earn their own living: for Theft is the Effect of Idleness, and the lazy Perfon hath no Way of living but by stealing; to prevent which, let them work with their Hands, if they are engag'd in any Handicraft or mechanical Employments; or with their Heads, if they are fet in higher Stations for the publick Good, that they may have fufficient not only for their own Neceffities and Conveniences, but to fupply the Wants of those that need.
4thly, Another Direction here given, is to avoid all corrupt Communication, which leads to all the unnatural Lufts and Uncleanness of the Gentiles: Ver. 29. Let no corrupt Communication come out of your Mouth, but that which is good to the ufe of edifying, that it may minifter Grace to the Hearers. Evil Communication corrupts good Manners, whereas good Difcourfe tends to inftil Knowledg, and increase Piety. The Tongue, if employ'd aright, is the Glory of a Man; but if us'd otherwife, is a Shame and Reproach to him, being an Inftrument and Incentive to much Wickednefs. Leud Talk proceeds from a corrupt Heart, and brings on corrupt Practices, as foul Streams iffue from a corrupt Fountain, and going on contract greater Foulness; and therefore our Saviour wills that our Communication be yea, yea, nay, nay, for whatfoever is more than these cometh of Evil, Mat. 5. All Additions of Obscenity or Swearing
Swearing are from the Devil, and lead to him; and therefore fhould be as carefully fhunn'd and avoided, as we flee from Poison and Infection. To all which the Apostle adds,
5thly, A Caution againft grieving the Holy Spirit of God, by whom ye are feal'd unto the Day of Redemption, ver. 30. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, which is done by the foremention'd Vices: for the Spirit of God being a Spirit of Truth, cannot but be offended with Lying and Falfhood; as alfo being a Spirit of Meekness, must be difpleas'd with all inordinate Paffion; being a Spirit of Juftice and Integrity, cannot away with the evil Arts of Difhonefty and Double-Dealing; and, laftly, being a Spirit of Purity, is griev'd at all Impurity of Words or Actions. All which Evils being fo directly contrary to the Nature and Office of the Holy Spirit, will, if perfifted in without Repentance, caufe him to withdraw his Grace and Prefence from us. But befide thefe, there are two things that do more especially grieve and provoke the Holy Spirit of God; and they are, the quenching its good Motions, and the ftifling and abufing its Gifts. For the
(1.) The Holy Spirit of God, either by the Calls of his Holy Word, or the fecret Checks and Whispers of our own Confcience, often minds us of our Duty, and perfuades to it; it gives us to hear a Voice behind or within us, faying, This is the way, walk in it, when we are turning to the right Hand or to the left. Hence it chears and comforts us, when we go aright; and reprehends and troubles us, when we go aftray. Now the hearkening to these good Motions, rejoices the Holy Spirit, and caufes him to abide with us, but the turning the deaf Ear or fuppreffing of them, grieves and drives him from us. Again,
(2.) The Holy Spirit of God is pleas'd to beftow many Gifts and Talents upon us, for the Good of our felves and others; which if we ufe and employ aright to the Ends for which they are given, this Holy Spirit will be fo far pleas'd as to pronounce us good and faithful Servants now, and reward us at laft with an Entrance into our Master's Joy : but if we neglect or abufe them, that is, if we neither ufe them at all, or ufe them amifs; he will be fo far difpleas'd as to deprive us of them, and not only withdraw the Light of his Grace here, but doom us to everlasting Darkness hereafter: which fhould make us careful to pleafe, and afraid to grieve him. And that becaufe 'tis by this Spirit that we are feal'd to the Day of Redemption; that is,
as Goods that are bought are wont to be mark'd with the Buyer's Seal or Mark, fo the Spirit of God is the Seal by which we are mark'd for the purchas'd and redeem'd People of God. Where there is an Allufion to thofe Places or Countries, where Men are as ordinarily bought, as any other Commodity, in which nothing is more ordinary than to fet a Seal or Mark upon them, either in their Forehead, or in fome other part, to diftinguish them from other Mens Servants. In like manner, the Servants of God are diftinguifh'd from others by this Seal of the Spirit fo the Apoftle tells us, The Foundation of God ftandeth fure, having this Seal, the Lord knoweth who are his, being hereby feal'd to the great Day of Redemption.
Finally, The Apoftle to conclude all, exhorts thefe Ephefians, that all Bitterness of Spirit, all Wrath and Anger, and Clamour, and Evil-speaking be put away from them, with all Malice. All which being fo oppofite and difpleafing to the Spirit of God, which is to direct and rule our Hearts, they should above all things labour to fubdue and mortify, as contrary to the Commands of Chrift, and the Spirit of the Gospel, which they had receiv'd: Adding in the Clofe, that inftead of thofe black Paffions before rehears'd, they fhould be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's fake had forgiven them. Thefe are fome of the prime and peculiar Vertues of Chriftianity, and fome of the principal Graces of God's Holy Spirit, which teaches us an univerfal Kindness to all Men, a compaffionate Tenderness for all their Infirmities, and a ready Forgiveness of all little Injuries and Indignities; for all which Christ hath given both his Command and Example.
This is the Sum of the Epiftle for this Day, wherein what St. Paul faith here to the Ephefians, he faith unto all Chriftians, and to us efpecially, who are of the Gentile Race and therefore having by the Light of the Gospel, the Vices of the Heathens, and the Vertues of Chrif tians fo clearly difcover'd to us, let us all learn heartily to forfake the former, and follow the latter to our Lives end: Which God grant, &c.
The GOSPEL for the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity.
St. Matthew ix. 1-9.
Jefus entered into a Ship, and passed over, and came into his own City; and behold they brought to him a Man fick of the Palfy, lying on a Bed,
HIS Gofpel for the Day contains an Account of a Miracle wrought by our Saviour, in healing a Perfon fick of the Palfy; in the relating whereof we may obferve,
First, The Circumstances leading to it.
Secondly, What happen'd at the time of working it. And, Thirdly, What follow'd after it.
First, For the Circumftances leading to it. We read in the first Verfe, that Jefus entred into a Ship, and paffed over: He was then on the other fide of the Water, in the Country of the Gergefens, where he difpoffefs'd a Legion of Devils out of two Men poffefs'd with them; which Spirits entring into a Herd of Swine, they ran violently down a fteep place into the Sea, and perifh'd in the Waters. The People, aftonish'd at the feeing or hearing hereof, went all out of the City to meet Jefus, and being terrify'd at the Greatnefs of his Power, or troubled for the Lofs of their Swine, inftead of defiring more of his Company, they befought him, that he would depart out of their Coafts: Hereupon he entred into a Ship, and passed over to the other fide, and came into his own City; that is, into Capernaum, á City in Galilee, call'd his own City, becanfe he then had his Habitation, and dwelt there. The former Place of his Abode was Nazareth, the Place of his Conception and Education;
Education; for which, as alfo for his long Continuance there, he is often call'd Jefus of Nazareth. During his Abode there he liv'd in conftant Communion with the Jewish Church, of which he was a Member; for St. Luke tells us, that his Cuftom was to go into the Synagogue every Sabbathday; where he fometimes stood up to read, and teach the People: Luke 4. 16. Though the People of Nazareth were none of the best, as appears by that proverbial Saying, Can any Good come out of Nazareth? yet he made no Separation, and blam'd the Pharifees for fo doing upon Pretences of greater Purity. So great a Lover was Jefus Chrift of the Peace and Unity of the Church, for which he gave both his Precept and Example, contrary to the Practice of fome feeming Zealots in our Days, who for worldly Ends rend and divide the Chriftian Church.
But to go on, Chrift leaving Nazareth, came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the Sea-Coast, in the Borders of Zabulon and Naphthali, as we read, Matth. 4. 13. When he came there, he began to preach and to expound to the People the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven; infomuch that they who before fate in Darkness, Saw great Light, and to them which fate in the Region and Shadow of Death, is Light Sprung up, ver. 16, 17. of that Chapter. The Fame of his Doctrine, which was confirm'd by many Miracles, brought much People unto him: among the reft, we are here told in our Text, that upon his Return to his own City, or Dwelling-place at Capernaum, Behold, they brought to him a Man fick of the Palfy, lying on a Bed. Sometimes they brought or carry'd infirm, difeafed and poffeffed People unto him; at other times he himfelf went to them that were unable to come: fometimes he fent Salvation to them, and by his Word fpake them whole at a dif tance, it being all one to his Divine Power to cure them present or absent. Here they brought to him a Paralytick, that was fo fick and fhaken with a Palfy, that he could neither ftand nor go, and fo could only be brought lying on a Bed.
But how was he receiv'd? Did our Saviour refufe to fee him, or to take the trouble of the Cure? Did he dif dain his Poverty, or difmifs him without hearing or healing of him? No, he was fo far from refuting any, that he fought out Objects for his Mercy and Compaffion to work upon; he was never weary, but ftill went up and down doing Good; his Will was always as ready as his