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the Gentiles. And that he might not be difcourag'd by his Sufferings for them, he would have them to be mindful of him in their Prayers, that he might not be daunted, but Speak boldly, as he ought to fpeak.
This is briefly the Sum of the Epiftle for this Day, which contains the Armour that Chriftians are to be furnifh'd withal in their fpiritual Warfare with ghoftly Enemies. All that remains, is to exhort all Chriftians to take and put on this Armour, that they may be able to withstand the Evilone, and to stand too in the evil Day. We fee we are all engag'd in a Holy War with the Devil, the World and the Flesh; and that thefe are all powerful, cunning and dangerous Foes, apt to inveigle, betray and undo us; and therefore it ftands us upon to arm our felves as well as we can against them. Our Saviour willeth him that goeth to war, to fit down and confider the Number and Forces of his Enemy, and whether he be able to meet him with a greater or leffer Strength, left he be foil'd, and mifcarry thro his own Inconfideration. And as this is to be done in ordinary Battles, fo is it much more to be minded in these spiritual Conflicts; where, as the Honour of the Victory, fo the Danger of the Defeat is much greater. Let us then manfully fet our felves against thofe Enemies, against whom we have lifted our felves, and proclaim'd open War. Our Apostle, we fee, hath furnifh'd us with Armour both offenfive and defenfive, in the Ufe whereof we may be affur'd of Succefs, and to come off more than Conquerors thro Chrift that loveth us. If we ftand our Ground, we are fure to win the Field, and to be crown'd at last with a glorious Victory; fo we are told by the Captain of our Salvation, Be faithful unto Death, and I will give thee a Crown of Life: and fo St. Paul found by Experience, who having fought the good Fight of Faith, and finished his Course with Patience, had a Crown laid up for him, which God the righteous Judg will give to him, and to all that love and look for his Appearance. 2 Tim. 47,8.
Wherefore, my Brethren, be ftrong in the Lord, and put on the whole Armour of God, viz. The Girdle of Truth, that ye may know the Truth as it is in Jefus; The Breaft plate of Righteoufnefs, to guard you from all Iniquity: Have your Feet hod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace, that you may run the Paths of God's Commandments: Take to you the Shield of Faith, that will defend you from
all the Darts and Devices of the Devil: Put on the Hel met or Hope of Salvation, to quicken you in the Ways of Vertue; and forget not the Sword of the Spirit, to preferve you from all Vice and Error. To all which add fervent Prayer and Supplication for a Blefling upon all these; fo fhall ye be able to withstand in the evil Day, and having done all, to ftand.
The GOSPEL for the One and Twentieth Sunday after Trinity.
St. John iv. 46, to the end.
There was a certain Nobleman, whofe Son was fick at Capernaum; when he heard that Jefus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto him, and befought him, that he would come down and heal his Son, for he was at the point of Death, &c.
HE Gospel for the Day contains a Relation of a Miracle, wrought on a certain Nobleman's Son, who lay fick at Capernaum, his own City, the Place of his principal Refidence, where many of his Miracles were done. The Relation of it begins thus: There was a certain Nobleman, whofe Son was fick at Capernaum; when he heard that Jefus was come there, he went unto him, &c. Where we may obferve, that the Report of his Miracles drew Perfons of all Ranks and Qualities unto him, Rich and Poor, Honourable and Mean; fome of all forts came to fee and partake of the Influence of his fanative or healing Power. Here we find a certain Nobleman coming to him, who, as fome Tranflators tell us, was a Royal Officer, viz. one of Herod the Tetrarch's principal Officers, who was at that time King of the Country of Galilee. And elsewhere we read of Nicodemus, a Ruler of the Jews,
drawing nigh to him, led by the Fame of his mighty Works. John 3. 1, 2.
'Tis true indeed, .Chrift, in the Beginning of his Miniftry, call'd only Fishermen and Mechanicks, the meanest and moft illiterate Perfons, to be his Disciples and Followers; to fhew his Doctrine to be purely Divine, without any Mixture of Art, human Power or Policy, to carry it on, of which their great Ignorance and Simplicity could not give the leaft colour of Sufpicion. This is the Senfe of St. Paul in thefe words: Not many Wife, not many Mighty, not many Noble are called; but God hath chofen the foolish things of the World to confound the wife, and the weak things of the World to confound the mighty; and the base things of the World, and things that are despised, hath God chofen, yea, and things that are not, to bring to nought things that are: 1 Cor. 1. 16. And by fuch weak and contemptible Means in the Eyes of Men, the Word of God mightily grew and prevail'd; and being thus fpread and confirm'd by Miracles, it drew in Profelytes in all Places, and of all Ranks and Conditions: among the reft, our Nobleman or Courtier in the Text, believ'd and came to him. But what was his Errand? Why, He befought him, that he would come down, and heal his Son, and this he did by reafon of the Extremity of his Sickness, for he was at the point of Death: He had before try'd all the Arts of Phyfick, and the Skill of Phyficians, but all in vain; nothing appear'd in him but Death, which made him to have recourfe to our Saviour, befeeching him to effect that Cure on his Son by a Divine Power, which was no otherwife to be done.
Then faid Jefus unto him, Except ye fee Signs and Wonders, ye will not believe. Our Saviour perceiv'd, that this Nobleman's Faith depended mainly upon the Report of his Miracles, that 'twas the feeing or hearing of them that brought him to him; and unless he did fee fome Wonder or other before him, his Faith would grow weak, if not die away. Except ye fee Signs and Wonders, ye will not believe: Where he feems to blame this Nobleman for what he more sharply reprov'd in the Pharifees, who asking a Sign from him, anfwer'd, An evil and adulterous Generation feeketh after a Sign, and there shall be no Sign given it but the Sign of the Prophet Jonas, &c. Mat. 12. 38, 39. Where he doth not altogether condemn all asking for a Sign; for it being foretold of the Meffias, that he fhould come with Miracles, Şigns and great Wonders, they might well enough ask a
Sign or Miracle of him for their Satisfaction: and therefore we find him often appealing to his Miracles for the Truth of his Miffion, and calling upon the World to believe him, if not for his own, yet for his Work's fake. If I had not done the Works among them (faith he) which no Man elfe did, they had not had Sin, i. e. in not believing me; John 15. 24. It was not then the Expectation of Miracles, that our Saviour rebuk'd in them, but their defiring them for wrong Ends, and their being unfatisfy'd in the Kind and Nature of them: they must have fome Wonder done, more to please their Fancy, than to confirm their Faith; all the Miracles he had done on Earth would not fatisfy, but they must have a Sign or Prodigy from Heaven; that is, fome blazing Sight or Shew in the Air, to feed their Eyes, and fet the World a gazing. 'Twas their Hypocrify and Unbelief, their Curiofity and Incredulity, that Chrift there condemn'd, and therefore would not gratify their vain Humours in doing more, when he had done enough already for their Conviction, if they had any mind to believe; for fuch as thefe, he tells them, he had but one Miracle more, and inftead of a Sign from Heaven, they fhould have only one from the Earth, viz. the Sign of the Prophet Jonas, who was a Token or Type of Chrift's Refurrection from the Dead, the laft and greatest of all Miracles: for as Jonas lay three Days bury'd in the Whale's Belly, and then came to Life again, fo fhould the Son of Man lie three Days and three Nights in the Heart of the Earth, and then rife again from the Dead. And if that Miracle would not convince them, nothing could, and so they must be feal'd up under final Impenitence and Infidelity. This was the Cafe of the Scribes and Pharifees, those Monsters of Unbelief and Hypocrify.
But our Nobleman in the Text was not fo faithless or unbelieving; he defir'd indeed a Sign, but he was convinc'd and converted by it; he did not ask it to gratify his Curiofity, but to ftrengthen his Faith, and to be the more firmly perfuaded of his Power to heal his Son: And therefore he renew'd his Request unto him, faying, Sir, come down e'er my Child die. Chrift perceiv'd the Increase of his Faith by the Earneftnefs of his Suit, he found his Belief of his Power grew ftronger and ftronger, and that he was well affur'd of his Ability to cure his Son, tho left by all Phyficians; and without the Aid of his Divine Power, the Cafe was defperate, and without Remedy. Jefus perceiving all
this, and willing farther to encourage the Increase of his Faith, faith unto him, Go thy way, thy Son liveth; i. e. return home as fpeedily and cheerfully as thou canft, and when thou comeft to thy Houfe, thou fhalt find thy Son alive and in good Health: Words full of Comfort to one prefs'd with Grief, and Fear of lofing his beloved Son.
But what Influence had thefe Words on the Nobleman, to whom they were spoken? Why, a very good one; for the next words tell us, that the Man believed the Word that Jefus had spoken unto him, and he went his way: He was fully perfuaded of the Truth of what Chrift had told him, and stagger'd not through Unbelief or Diftruft concerning it, but went his way homeward with a Heart full of Joy, and free from all Doubts and Fears concerning his Son.
And the Event prov'd accordingly; for as he was now going down, his Servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy Son liveth: And when he came to his Houfe, he found his Son not only recover'd, but perfectly found and well as he was before. And the better to fatisfy himself in the Circumstances of this extraordinary Cure, he enquired of his Servants the Hour when he began to amend, to fee whether it answer'd the Time in which he spake thofe words to him: And they faid unto him, It was yesterday at the feventh Hour, that the Fever left him; by which Anfwer, The Father knew that it was at the fame Hour, in the which Jefus faid unto him, Thy Son liveth: the Circumftance of Time making the Cure fo much the more remarkable.
This is the Miracle here related in all its Circumftances, which was exceeding great, confidering the extreme Sicknefs of the Perfon, who was at the point of Death, and fo left for dead by all that acted by the natural and artificial Ways of Medicine; fo that the Recovery of him was the faving of one from the Grave, who was just dropping into it, and in a manner raifing him from the Dead.
But what Effect had this Miracle upon the Nobleman, at whose Request it was done? Why, that the following words tell us; He himself believed, and his whole House: He concluded, that the Cure wrought upon his Son could not be done but by a Divine Power, and that likewife was a fufficient Demonftration, that the Doctrine deliver'd by him must be alfo Divine; for Miracles being the Seal of a Divine Commiffion, he very well thought that God would never fet it to an Impoftor, nor impower any to do those things, but one that comes from him: And therefore he