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SERM. we could not but be full of hope, and void of care XXXIII. concerning them; for that commonly we are so full of anxiety about the event of what we undertake, whence doth it arise, but from our neglect of this duty? for, having committed our business into so sure a hand, how could we further be solicitous about it? Had we, according to St. Peter's advice, 1 Pet. v. 7. cast our care upon the Lord; or, cast our burden upon him, (as the Psalmist exhorts us;) had we duly Psal. ix. 10. Sought and invoked him, who never faileth them that seek him, who is nigh to all them that call him; we should not have such a load of trou
Psal. lv. 22.
Old Transl. lxx. 4. Psal. cxlv.
Phil. iv. 6.
upon cxii. 7, 8. blesome care resting upon us; our hearts would be light and free as to all these things; we should be secure, that nothing very bad or disastrous could befall us; we should experience it true, what the prophet affirms in that prayer or psalm to God; Isa. xxvi. 3. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee. Be careful for nothing, St. Paul bids us; but in every thing let your requests be made known to God: if we perform the latter part, the former will naturally be consequent thereon. Thus, in the last place, should we do all things in the name of Jesus, (upon all occasions praying to him, or, which is all one, to God in his name,) which that we may do (that we are allowed and encouraged to do it) is also a privilege, and an advantage unvaluable.
In so many ways and particular respects may we and ought we to perform all we do in the name of Jesus we should do every thing out of grateful affection and respect to him, as our chief principle; every thing as his servants, aiming especially at the pleasing of him and promoting his honour, as our
principal end; every thing according to his will and SERM. commandment, as our constant rule; every thing XXXIII. after his example, as our best pattern; every thing in confidence of his gracious assistance and blessing, as our only strength and support; every thing with hope of acceptance purely upon his account; every thing with thankful sense and acknowledgment to God for the mercies and favours conveyed unto us by his means, conferred upon us for his sake; every thing with humble invocation of him, or with prayer to God in his name: in sum, every thing with a due and proper regard had to him; so that he be not passed over or left out in any thing we undertake; but come always into consideration, according as our relations to him and our obligations to him do require. In the performances of which duties the life indeed of our religion (of all our good practice, of all our devotion) doth consist.
To all this I shall only subjoin the mention of one general duty, implied in all and each of those we have propounded, which is this:
VIII. That our Lord Jesus should be frequently (and in a manner continually; always, as to the habitual disposition of our souls, actually upon all fit occasions) present to our minds and thoughts. This,
SERM. restrain our thoughts from it: (the covetous man's XXXIII. heart will be among his bags; the voluptuous man's mind will be in his dishes; the studious person will be musing on his notions, do he what he can:) why then may we not as well, as often direct our minds toward our Lord, and mix the remembrance of him with all other employments or entertainments of our thoughts? To do so is surely very requisite, and very expedient toward our good practice. Things far distant, or long absent, can have small efficacy, or influence: it is so, we see, in natural, and it is no less so in moral causalities; wherein representation to the fancy and memory have a force answerable to that, which real conjunction and approximation have in nature. As the heat and light of the sun, the further he goes, and the longer he stays from us, do the more, proportionably, decrease; so, according to our less frequently and less seriously thinking upon any object, our affection and our respect thereto decay. If therefore we desire, according to our duty, to maintain in our hearts such dispositions (due affection and due reverence) toward Jesus; if we intend to suit our actions accordingly with due regard to him; we should, in order to those purposes, apply this so necessary and useful mean, of frequently bending our minds toward him; the doing of which, in likelihood, will conduce much to the sanctifying our affections, and to the governing our actions in a constant performance of our duty. For we can hardly sure (admitting we do seriously believe him to be such as we profess to believe him) with any competent attention think of him, but that thought will be apt to restrain us from doing ill, to incite us to do well; since together with that thought, some
of his excellent perfections, some of our principal re- SERM. lations, and some of our great obligations to him, (each of which hath much virtue and force to those purposes,) will interpose and represent themselves. Frequently thinking of him, we shall sometimes apprehend him with incessant toil labouring in the Acts x. 38. service of God, and in promoting the welfare of men ; sometimes we shall imagine him undergoing all kind of contumelies and bitter pains, suffering by the cruel hands and tongues of spiteful men; we shall, as it were, behold him bleeding under the scourge, and hanging upon the cross for our sakes. Sometimes he will appear to our minds crowned with majesty, reigning in sovereign power and glory, having all things in subjection under his feet; sometimes also he will be represented as our Judge, before whose tribunal we must all shortly stand, and be obliged to render an account of all our doings: which thoughts passing through our minds, will be apt to make some impression upon our hearts, to have some influence upon our actions. For, can that most amiable and most venerable idea of a person so entirely pure and holy, so meek and humble, so full of benignity and charity toward all men, (particularly toward ourselves,) be otherwise than apt to beget some especial love and reverence toward him; than incline us strongly to do well, yea, than teach us what and how we should do so, in conformity to such a pattern set before us? it occurring to our thoughts, that he is our Lord and Master, (who made us, and maintains us; who purchased us to himself, and redeemed us from miserable slavery by his own heart-blood;) how can it fail to raise in us some awe, some sense of duty toward him? Will not the apprehension of what he did and what he suffered for us powerfully mind us, that, according
SERM. to all justice and equity, in all ingenuity and gratiXXXIII. tude, we are bound to do only that which will please
him? If we think of Jesus, when we are setting upon any action, shall we not thereupon be apt thus to interrogate ourselves? Shall I do otherwise than he did, or would have done, so rendering myself unlike or contrary to him? Shall I be so unfaithful to my glorious Master, as to disserve him, or to neglect his service? Shall I be so unworthy toward my gracious Redeemer, my best friend, my most bountiful benefactor, as to disoblige him, to wrong him, to dishonour him, to grieve him by thus doing? Shall I be so vain and rash as to cross him who is my King, able to control and subdue me; as to offend him who is my Judge, resolved to condemn and punish me? Shall I wilfully forfeit that friendship and favour of his, upon which all my happiness doth depend? Shall I procure his displeasure and enmity, from which my utter ruin must inevitably follow? Such considerations have a natural connection with our frequent thinking upon, and the presence, as it were, of our blessed Saviour to our minds; which therefore may be commended to us as an excellent instrument of bettering our hearts and our lives.
To conclude: Let us all always remember, and consider, that we are Christians, related unto Christ Jesus, and called by his name, and as so, in his name let us do all things.
Lord of all power and might; who art the author and giver of all good things; graft in our hearts the love of thy name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord.