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efpecially when we our felves have found favour in that kind, The Mafter here had remitted to his Servant many Talents and Pounds, and yet the fame Servant would not remit a few Pence or Farthings to his Fellow-Servant; for which the Master was so highly offended at his Cruelty and Ingratitude, that he revok'd his former Pardon, and call'd him to another Reckoning, where the remitted Sum was again charg'd upon him and exacted from him, and he caft into Prifon till he fhould pay the utmost Farthing. The fame Dealing may they reasonably expect, and will furely find at God's hand, who are thus cruel and unmerciful to their Fellow-Creatures. We daily run on the score with our Maker, and contract Debts to him, which we can never pay; and if we expect that God fhould forgive us our Debts, we must forgive them that are indebted unto us, without which we cannot hope for any Favour: for this is the Condition upon which God hath promis'd, and ́ upon which we are to ask Forgiveness of our Trespasses, viz. as we forgive them that trefpafs against us; without which, neither Reason nor Religion can give us any Encouragement to hope for it: for God expects that we fhould be fo difpos'd towards our Brethren, as we would have him be towards us, which is no more than what the golden Rule of Reafon and Equity requires of us; to wit, to do to others as we would be done by our felves. So that if we forgive others, we may reafonably hope to be forgiven our felves; but if we have no Bowels of Mercy and Compaffion towards our Brethren, we may not wonder if God's be clos'd up, and yearn not towards us. Wherefore, in the
Laft Place, let us learn to forgive others, as well as ask Forgiveness at God's hand, for thefe are fo closely tack'd and link'd together, that we may not hope for God's Pardon, without granting ours. Let us lay afide all Malice and Prejudice against our Brethren, and quit all old Scores against thofe that have not paid that Duty and Refpect that is owing to us; yea, let us forgive Enemies that have us'd us ill and done us harm, and then we may depend upon God's Goodness in forgiving our Offences. If we pass not by the leffer Debts and Wrongs of our Brethren, God will exact his greater from us; and therefore let us take heed, that we bring not God ftrictly to account with us, for our being too rigorous towards others: but let us learn to fhew Mercy in smaller Matters, and then we fhall find Mercy in greater; which God grant, &c.
The EPISTLE for the Three and Twentieth Sunday after Trinity.
Phil. iii. 17, to the end.
Brethren, be Followers together of me, and mark them who walk fo, as ye have us for Enfample; for many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are Enemies of the Cross of Chrift, &c.
HE Collect for this Day befeeches God to hear the devout Prayers of his Church, and to grant that thofe things which we ask faithfully, may be obtain'd effectually. To which end,
The Epiftle for the Day teaches us how our Perfons muft be qualify'd, that our Prayers may be accepted; to wit, by following our Forerunners in the Faith, and a pious Imitation of their Examples. It begins with the loving Compellation of Brethren, which the Apoftle here gives to the Philippians, on purpose to infinuate and inftil his Inftructions into them; for that is better done by the endearing Expreffions of Love and Kindness, than the rougher Methods of Power and Paffion, as gentler Rains pierce deeper than greater Storms: and therefore St. Paul told Philemon, Phil. 8. 9. that tho he might command him as a Father, yet he chofe rather to intreat him as a Brother. In like manner he treats the Philippians here, not as Strangers or Ene mies, but intreats them as Friends and Brethren, the bet ter to prevail and work upon them. The Advice he here ufhers in with thefe Endearments, is, that they would follow his Steps, and thofe of the other Apoftles, and ob ferve and imitate thofe that walk fo, as they have them for Enfamples; and that because there are many who walk very diforderly, and fet fuch bad Examples before them, as lead only to Mifery and Deftruction, by minding nothing but Senfualities and earthly things; whereas the other will
lead them to Heaven, where their Converfation is: from whence alfo we look for a Saviour, and thereby prepare for the fecond Coming of the Lord Jefus Chrift, who will then change our vile mortal Body into the fashion of his glorious Body, by that infinite Power whereby he is able to fubdue all things to himself.
This is the Senfe and Subftance of this Day's Epiftle, which must be therefore particularly confider'd. Accord ingly I begin,
Firft, With the great and principal thing which the Apoftle here exhorts to, and that is, To be Followers together of him, and the other Apoftles; and to mark them who walk fo, as they have them for Enfamples. Examples you know have a very great Influence upon Mens Manners, either for the mending or marring of them; they often draw much ftronger than Precepts, and moft Men like Sheep are wont to go, not fo much where they fhould, as where they fee others go before them: which fhews it to be a Matter of great confequence what Company we keep, and what Patterns we have before us. 'Twas wife Advice of a learned Heathen, that every one fhould propound to himself the beft Patterns, not only of Vertue in general, but of each Vertue in particular; inftancing in the Piety of Socrates, the Gravity of Caro, the Juftice of Ariftides, the Fidelity of Regulus, and the like, willing them to fet thefe and other like good Examples before them, as their Copy to write after, and to tranfcribe their Vertues as a Rule of their Lives and Actions, This excellent Advice hath been improv❜d by others fince, who have directed to the read, ing the Lives of the most eminent and worthy Perfons recorded in Sacred and Civil Hiftory, and making Obfervation of the beft and worthieft Actions related of them, that by often thinking and remembring of them, they may be a Spur to our Emulation, and prick us forward to the
Practice and Imitation of them.
But the Epiftle for this Day propounds to us the best Patterns of this kind that can be fet, to wit, the Lives and Actions of the Holy Apoftles; whofe Diligence in propagating the Gofpel, Conftancy to the Faith, and firm Adherence to the Principles and Practices of their Profeflion, notwithstanding all the Difficulties and Difcouragements they met with in it, are highly worthy to be follow'd by all. Chriftians. But the foregoing Verfes, mentioning the Harmony of the Apostles in Doctrine and Difcipline, and
their exhorting all Chriftians, as far as they had attain'd, to walk by the fame Rules without Difcord or Diffenfion, im plies the being Followers of them in these things; and not only fo, but to mark them that walk fo, as ye have them for Enfamples; following fuch as follow them, and learning by their Pattern to do likewife.
But why doth the Apostle fo earnestly prefs their Example upon all their Followers? Why, that the next words will tell us, For many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping: meaning, that there were many that walk'd fo diforderly, and fo contrary to the Christian Profeffion, that he could not think of them without Trouble, nor fpeak of them without Tears. And who were they? Why, the Apostle defcribes them in the following words:
Ift, By their being Enemies of the Crofs of Chrift. Of this fort were the Jews and the Greeks in thofe days; the one denying, and the other deriding a crucify'd Saviour. So St. Paul tells us, that he preach'd Christ crucify'd, to the Jews a Stumbling-Block, and to the Greeks Faolishness. And fuch are the Deilts and Infidels of our Age, who call the preaching of Chrift by the name of Prieftcraft, and ridicule Religion and all the Myfteries of the Gofpel. Thefe are truly Enemies of the Cross of Chrift; and as the Apostle could not fpeak of thofe of old without weeping, fo are thefe hardly to be mention'd without Tears, efpecially confidering what he adds in the next words, that their End is Deftruction for there being no other Name given under Heaven, by which we can be fav'd, but the Name of Chrift, who is the only Peace-maker between God and Man, how can any hope for Mercy or Pardon without him? Hence the Apoftle asks the Queftion, How shall we escape, if we neglect fo great Salvation? For this is to trample under foot the Son of God, who is alone able to help us, and to count the Blood of the Crofs an unholy thing, which is only able to fanctify us. He that rejects the Remedy, muft perish without Relief, and he that refufeth Redemption, muft remain a Slave for ever. They that are Enemies to the Cross of Chrift, can be no true Friends to themfelves; yea, they are greater Enemies to their own Souls, than they can be to our Saviour, for they dafh against the Rock of their Salvation, and muft fuffer an everlasting Shipwreck. These are the Perfons that drew Tears from
the Apostle, of whom he had often told the Philippians, and here tells them even weeping. Again,
2dly, He defcribes them by their making their Belly their God, in the next words, Whofe God is their Belly: that is, their Minds are chiefly fet upon what they fhall eat, and what they fhall drink, and give themfelves up to the Sway of an unruly Appetite. Of this fort are all Gluttons and Epicures, who study all manner of Delicacies to pamper the Body, and make provifion for the Lufts of the Flesh. These have their Heads and their Hearts bufied about their Bellies, which they labour to ferve and pleafe more than God; but they that fare thus well here, will fare the worfe for it hereafter, when these things come to be reckon'd for. The rich Glutton in the Gospel, that far'd deliciously every day, wanted at laft a Cup of cold Water to cool his Tongue; and they who now with fo much Care and Coft pamper their Body, fhall e'er long pine with everlafting Hunger: And therefore our Saviour gave a strict Charge to his Followers, to take heed that their Hearts be not overcharg'd with Surfeiting and Drunkenness, left that day come upon them unawares: Luke 21. 34. Again,
3dly, The Apoftle defcribes thefe diforderly Walkers by their glorying in their Shame, in the fame Verfe, Whofe Glory is in their Shame: that is, they glory in the Follies and Deformities of human Nature, and boaft of thofe bafe and beaftly Lufts, of which they ought to be afham'd. Of this fort are all fenfual and voluptuous Perfons, who are Lovers of Pleafure more than Lovers of God, who having caft off all Blufhing, pride themselves in the rehearsing of their vile Debauches: Of thefe the Apostle fpeaks, Eph. 4. 19. who being paft Shame or feeling of any Remorse, gave themfelves up to Lafcivioufnefs, committing all Uncleanness with Greediness. And too many fuch there are in our days, who have steel'd their Foreheads, and fear'd their Confciences beyond all fenfe of Evil, boafting of their Wickednefs, and glorying in that which fhould overwhelm them with Shame and Sorrow: but all fuch Boafting is vain, and will end at laft in the greatest Shame and Confufion of Face for ever. And because thefe could not weep for themselves, the Apostle here weeps for them, confidering the fatal end of all fuch Folly and Boafting.
Laftly, Thefe diforderly Walkers here are defcrib'd by their minding earthly things, in the fame Verfe, Who mind earthly things, that is, who cherish an inordinate Love of