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bath fent; John 17. 3. St. Paul defir'd to know nothing among the Corinthians, but Jefus Chrift, and him crucify'd; 2 Cor. 2. And likewife told thefe Philippians, that he counted all other things but as Lofs and Dung, in comparison of the Excellence of the Knowledg of Chrift; Chap. 3. 8.

(2.) To approve things that are excellent, implies not only the Knowledg, but a firm and ftedfaft Belief of them. 'Tis a great Malady of the Mind (as a Learned Divine hath obferv'd) to be fill'd with Doubts and Diffidence about the most excellent and ufeful matters; for thefe are fad Symptoms of a fhatter'd and broken Underftanding. A Man may indeed entertain fome Doubts in matters impertinent to Life or Happinefs without any danger, because neither his prefent or future Welfare is much concern'd in them. But to be wavering and at a lofs in things wherein our greatest Concernments lie, is a very great Infelicity. Thus to call in queftion the Differences of Good and Evil, to doubt the Truth of Divine Revelation, and to be in fufpence about the Doctrine of the Gofpel, and other like weighty and important Matters, is a fore Difeafe and Infirmity of the Mind, that fills it with great Anxieties, and brings on the greatest Uncertainties of Life and Practice.

And therefore we are told, that he that cometh unto God muft believe that he is, and that he is a Rewarder of them that diligently feek him; Heb. 11.6. that is, he must have a firm Perfuafion both of the Being and the Bounty of his Maker, together with a ftedfaft Faith in the Truth of the Gospel, and an unfhaken Belief of the Method of Salvation prefcrib'd in it. This is to approve things that are excellent, and is what St. Paul here prays for in the behalf of thefe Philippians.

Lastly, 'Tis not only to know and believe, but to chufe thefe divine and excellent things, above all other vain and useless matters. There is a Vanity that reigns too much in the Minds of Men, which leads them too far into the Search of nice and needlefs Speculations; and this hath occafion'd the starting of many curious and foolish Questions, which engender Strife, and greatly difturb the Peace and Quiet of the World. This is an Itch that hath feiz'd some of the wifer Men, who have thereby infected vulgar Minds, turning many from the Truth, and turning them unto Fa bles. The Apoftle fharply rebukes thefe things in his Epiftles to Timothy and Titus, as you may read, 1 Tim. 6. 4, 5. & Tit, 3.9,


To cure this Vanity, the Apoftle here directs, to study and approve the things that are excellent; that is, to divert the Mind from vain ufelefs Speculations, and fix it on more folid and ufeful Truths, fuch as the Knowledg of God and our felves, with the things that pertain to Life and Godliness: the doing whereof is the fecond thing here pray'd for in the behalf of the Philippians.

3. The third is, for Sincerity and an inoffenfive Converfation; That ye may be fincere and without offence to the day of Chrift. Among the many Faults and Mifcarriages in Religion, there is none more odious unto God, and more dangerous to Mens Souls, than that of Hypocrify, which is a mocking and affronting of God under a pretence of serving him 'tis like Judas's betraying of Chrift with a Kiss, or the Jews crying, Hail Mafter! when they were about to crucify him. Hypocrify is no better than a lying unto God and Man, and feeks what it can to put a cheat upon both 'tis an Affectation or feeming to be what a Man is not, and fo 'tis the Counterfeit of Religion, or an outward Shew and Appearance without the inward Truth and Reality of it. This was the great Sin of the Pharifees, for which our Saviour denounces many Woes against them. Mat. 23.

Now to be preferv'd from this Sin and Misery, the Apoftle directs to pray for Sincerity with an upright and inoffenfive Converfation; that is, to be the fame within as they appear without, that their Words may agree with their Minds, and their Actions with bath, This is that divine Grace that preferves the Purity of Heart and Life, and fo recommends us both to God and Men. This is that Simplicity and godly Sincerity, in which the Apoftle wills us to have our Converfation, that we may continue blameless and without offence to the day of Chrift; that is, till his fecond Coming to Judgment, when he will publickly expose and punish the Hypocrite, and openly commend and reward his faithful Servants.

4. The last thing here pray'd for, is, that the Philip pians might be filled with the Fruits of Righteousness, which are by Jefus Chrift to the glory and praife of God. Where by the Fruits of Righteousness, we are to understand the Fruits of God's Holy Spirit; fuch as Joy, Love, Peace, Long-fuffering, Meeknefs, Patience, Temperance, and the like, reckon'd up in Gal. 5.


To be filled with them, is to abound and grow up in them from a Stock of divine Grace, wrought in us by the Operation of the Holy Ghoft, and confer'd upon us by the Merits and Mediation of Jefus Chrift: which Fruits redound not only to our own good, but to the glory and praise of God. For herein is my Father glorify'd (faith Christ) that ye bring forth much Fruit. John 15.

Thus we fee the feveral Parts of the Apoftle's Prayer in the behalf of the Philippians, the Subject of this Day's Epiftle: From all which we may learn,

1. That 'tis an Office of great Charity to pray for one another; for this is the beft, and fometimes the only way we have to do them any fervice. So did St. Paul here to the Philippians, whom he always remember'd in every Prayer, making request with Joy. The like we find doing for the CoLoffians, Chap.1.9. Since the day we heard of your Faith, we ceafe not to pray for you. And elfewhere, God forbid that I should fin against God, in ceafing to pray for you. As if it were an Act of the greatest Impiety against God, as well as Injustice and Unkindness towards our Neighbour, to neglect fo weighty a Duty in their behalf. Thefe pious Examples recommend to us this great. Office of Charity, to be tenderly affected to, and to be always mindful of one another in our Prayers.

2, We learn hence the Subject-matter of our Prayers, or what it is that we are to pray for in the behalf of each other; And that is, for the Increase of Love to God and Man, that it may abound more and more towards both, for the Knowledg and Approbation of the best things, viz. fuch as are neceffary to our prefent Peace and future Happiness; for fuch a fincere and unblemish'd Life, as may lead to the Attainment of both; and finally, for fuch a Stock of Grace and good Fruits, as may tend to the Glory of God and our own Salvation.

This is a good Direction both for the Matter and Manner of our Prayers for one another, to which if we keep, we fhall do well, being affur'd of finding the Return of fuch Prayers in our own Bofom for Chrift hath encou rag'd us with the Promife of an Anfwer to fuch Petitions, and that whatsoever we ask the Father in his Name, he will giye it. Which God grant, &c.


The GOSPEL for the Two and Twentieth Sunday after Trinity.

St. Matthew xviii. 21, to the end. Peter faid unto Jefus, Lord, how oft fball my Brother fin against me, and I forgive him? till feven times? Jefus faith unto him, I fay not unto thee until feven times, but until feventy times feven. Therefore is the Kingdom of Heaven liken'd unto a certain King, who would take account of his Servants, &c.


HE Subject of the Gospel for this Day, is touching the great Duty of Mens forgiving one another their Trefpaffes; a Duty frequently injoin'd and inculcated by our Bleffed Saviour, and particularly in that excellent and divine Form of Prayer, which he gave to his Difciples, in which he taught them to ask Forgiveness of their Trefpaffes, as they forgave thofe that trefpafs against them where our forgiving of others, is made both the Condition and Measure of that Forgiveness which we ask for our felves; and to defire the one without doing the other, is rather to provoke than to prevail with him for a Blefling.

Now the Nature, Neceffity, and other Circumftances of this Duty, are explain'd to us in the Gospel for this Day, all which are illuftrated by a Parable of a certain King's dealing with his Servants, as we fhall fee in the handling of it.

The Gofpel begins with a Queftion mov'd by St. Peter, who came to Jefus, and faid unto him, Lord, how oft_shall my Brother fin against me, and I forgive him? The Occafion of this Question was from fome Difcourfe going before, where our Saviour had faid to his Difciples, If thy Brother hall trefpafs against thee, go and tell him his Fault between


thee and him; if he shall hear thee, thou haft gain'd thy Brother: that is, go and admonish him privately to avoid all Shame and Reproach, and if he repent and amend, forgive him. Now here St. Peter interpos'd, I know that we are to forbear our offending Brother; and if upon the first, fecond, or third Admonition he repent, to forgive him. But what if he who hath thus trefpafs'd, and repented once, relapfe into the fame or greater Fault, and repent again, how often muft I thus bear with him and forgive him? Muft I do this over and over again, till it comes perhaps to feven times? To this Jefus reply'd, I say not unto thee till feven times, but until feventy times Jeven. Where there is Numerus certus pro incerto; and the Senfe of the Phrafe is, that this is to be done not only often, but always, without any limitation of time: tho the number of his Offences be many and often repeated, yet as often as he renews his Repentance, fo often are we to renew our Forgiveness; according to that of St. Luke, Chap. 17. 4. If thy Brother trefpafs against thee feven times in a day, and feven times in a day turn again to thee, faying, I repent; fhalt forgive him. Whereby we fee, that God would have our pardoning Mercy be in fome measure like his, i. e. unweary'd and unlimited; which is to be merciful as our Heavenly Father is merciful. But the better to explain this matter, and to fhew how fully, how freely, and how frequently we are to remit the Injuries and Trefpaffes committed against us, 'tis here fet forth and illuftrated by a Parable, representing the Benefit of fo doing, and the Danger of doing otherwise.


The Parable begins in the next words: Therefore is the Kingdom of Heaven liken'd to a certain King, who would take account of his Servants. Where by the Kingdom of Heaven is meant the Church of Chrift, together with all the Parts and Members of it. God's dealing with them now under the Gospel, is here very fitly compar'd to a certain King, who had many Servants, whom he call'd to bring in their Account, to fee how they had manag'd their Truft, and what Debts they had contracted. By this King here is reprefented God Almighty, the great King and Sovereign of the World, who is elfewhere compar'd to a certain Houfeholder going into a far Country, and committing fundry Goods and Talents to his Servants, whom he after call'd to a Reckoning for them. But to go on with the Parable;


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