« AnteriorContinuar »
Doctrine, the Apostle tells was to be pres
rowly confirm'd already, we may conclude them to be false and lying Wonders; for the end of Miracles being to seal a Divine Revelation, for God to work Miracles, where no Divine Truth is to be confirm'd, would be for him to set the broad Seal of Heaven to a Blank: and for the Spirit of God thus to confirm a Revelation that hath been al. ready confirm'd, would be to exert its Divine Power to no purpose, and to do such great things in vain ; which is absurd and irrational to iniagine.
Again, if any pretend to Miracles to confirm any false Doctrine, we may conclude them to be but Juggles and In postures; for as God sets not his Seal to a Blank, so much less to a Lye: and therefore we read, that if any false Prophet foretold things to come, or shew'd any Sign or Wonder, though the thing came to pass, yet, if he persuaded to Idolatry, or any evil Course, he was to be rejected as an Inipostor; and the Apostle tells us, that if any preach any other Doctrine, than that we have, though he pretend to Miracles, yea, though he were an Angel from Heaven, he was to be accursed..
Moreover, True Miracles may be known from false by the Circumstances and Manner of their Operation. Feign'd Miracles are commonly done by magical Arts and En. chantments, by Sleight of Hand, or Illusion of Sight; and such are perform'd ofttimes in the dark, or by Consent and Collusion of Parties. Of this kind were those of the Magicians, who contended with Mofes, till they were forc'd to own the Finger of God in Moses's Miracles, and only Juggling and Sleight of Hand in their own. Such were the Wonders done by Simon Magus, Apollonius, and others, in opposition to the Apostles; whereas Christ's Miracles were open and plain in the View of all People, and the undeniable Effects of a Divine Power, and all done to seal the Truth of the most Divine and Heavenly Revelation that was ever made known to the World. Persons known to be dead, by a word's fpeaking were brought to Life again, and seen to be so by Multitudes of People; Diseases incurable by the Rules of Physick, were immediately heald by a Word, by a Touch, by a Thought, and that as well absent as present. So was the Miracle perform'd on the Nobleman's Son, of which we read in the Gospel for this Day; which is here faid to be the second Miracle he wrought after his Return into Cana of Galilee, where he wrought the first.
This is the Substance of this Day's Gospel, which may teach us these Lessons.
ift, This Nobleman's coming to Christ, may teach the greatest Persons not to disdain to conie to him ; for he is higher than the highest, and the Necessities of all Mén may drive them to him. Indeed Vertue and Religion add a Lustre to Greatness, adorn Nobility, and render it the more Noble and Illustrious: Nobilitas sola eft atque unica Virtus ; Vertue is only true valuable Nobility : which should make Men study not so much to be great as good, and to prefer the Character of a true Christian before the highest of all earthly Titles.
Lafly, From this Discourse we may learn the Goodness of God in confirming our Faith by such evident Effects of a Divine Power; and likewise to answer the End and Design of them, by a firm believing in Christ, and a sted. fast adhering to the Doctrine deliver'd by him : by both laying the whole stress of our Hopes of Mercy and Salvation upon him, who is able to cure all the Maladies of Body and Soul, and will e'er long place us above the Reach or Danger of either : Which God grant, co
తలలతలతలతులతత తలతలు USESలతలతులతలతలతులతలతరులు
DISCOURSE LIV. The EPISTLE for the Two and Twentieth
Sunday after Trinity
Phil. i. 3
I thank my God upon every Remembrance of you,
always, in every Prayer of mine for you allí making request with "Joy, for your Fellowship in the Gospel, from the first Day until now, &c.
T HE Collect for this Day prays to God, to keep his
1 Houshold the Church in continual Godliness, that
d thro his Protection it may be free from all Adverfities, and devoutly given to serve him in good Works. Suitable whereunto,
The Epistle for the Day contains St. Paul's Prayer for these things in the behalf of the Philippians, that God would prosper the Church among them, and that they might persevere in Godliness and good Works. It begins,
First, With Thanksgiving unto God, for the good Work begun in them.
Secondly, It goes on with Petitions for the farther Increase and Perfection of it.
Thirdly, It concludes with some Helps and Means of continuing of it to the Day of Christ. Of which particularly ; beginning
First, As the Epistle doth, with Thanksgiving unto God, for the good work that was begun in them: I thank my God (faith he) upon every Remembrance of you. St. Paul at the time of writing this Epistle was a Prisoner at Rome for the Name of Christ, where these Philippians, whom he had lately converted to Christianity, sent him fone Relief by the hands of Epaphroditus their 'Bishop. In return whereof, he fent them by the same hands this Epiftle, full
the war of writing cery Rememegun in thens unto God.
of of Kindness and Acknowledgments; wherein he declares his hearty and frequent Remembrance of them, who had so kindly remember'd him. Their liberal Bounty towards him, had left such deep Impressions on his Mind, that nothing could wear them off; for he could neither forget the Kindness, nor the Persons that bestow'd it: both which put him upon thanking and praising God upon every Remembrance of them. And because he had no other way of requiting of them, but by praying for them, he lets them know, that he was always mindful of them in every Prayer of his, that Grace and Peace, with all other spiritual and temporal Blessings, might be multiply'd on them all : Making requellt with Joy for your Fellowship in the Gospel, from the first day until now'; mingling Rejoicing with his Petitions, for their being receiv'd into the Houshold of Christ's Church, and their liberal contributing to the propagating of the Gospeľ: which he observ'd in them from their first receiving the Faith to the present time, and therefore he never ceas'd praying and praising God for then, from the day that he first knew them till now. Being confident of this very thing (as he goes on) that he who hath begun a good Work in you, will perform it until the day of Christ. The good Work here said to be begun 'in them, may be under. ftood either of their first receiving the Gospel, whereby they were turn'd from the Darkness of Paganism to the Light of Christianity, and from the Power of Satan to the Privileges of the Sons of God; or else of this good beginning of their Charity, in relieving the Neceflities of the distreffed Saints: in both which, the Apostle is here persuaded of the Philippians, that they will persevere to the coming of Christ ; that is, that he who inclin'd them to embrace the Christian Faith, will keep them stedfast in it to the last; and that he who open'd their Hearts in Bounty and Liberality to the Needy, will extend and enlarge their Bowels to the Day of Christ, when they shall receive the Reward of so doing.
And this Opinion, he tells them in the next words, it was but meet for him to have of them all, not only for the great Affection he bore to them, as having them all in his Heart, but forasmuch as both in his Bonds, and in the Defence and Confirmation of the Gospel, they were all Partakers of his Grace : meaning, that in the Defence and Maintenance of the Gospel they all join'd and participated with him, both in the Joys and Sufferings that attended so difficult a
G g 3
greae Affection for him he tells the
Work. And therefore he calls God to witness what a fincere and entire Affection he harbour'd in his Breast towards them ; God is my Record (faith he) bow greatly I long after i you all in the Bowels of Jesus Chrift.
But, Secondly, what was the Matter of his Prayer, or the things he interceded for in their behalf? Why, that the following part of the Epistle for the Day will inform as : which goes on thus ;
ift, And this I pray, that your Love may abound more and more in Knowledg, and in all Judgment. And then it follows,
zly, That ye may approve things that are excellent,
3ly, That ye may be fincere, and without offence till the Day of Christ.
4ly, That ye may be filled with the Fruits of Righteousness, which are by Jesus Chrift, unto the Glory and Praise of God.
These are the chief Heads of the Apostle's Prayer for these Philippians ; which being all matters of great weight and benefit, may be recommended to the earnest Desires and Endeavours of all Christians.
1. The first and great thing here pray'd for, is for the Increase of the Grace of Love, which is the Bond of Perfectness, and the fulfilling of the Law; And this I pray, that your Love may abound more and more in Knowledg, and in all Fudgment. And this Love relates both to God and Man ; the one being to be lov'd for himself, and the other for God's sake.
(1.) As for the Love of God, that is the prime Duty of Religion, that includes all other parts of it: it hath the firkt and supreme Being for its Object, being fix'd on God the great Creator and Disposer of all things, who is the most amiable and lovely of all Beings, having all Goodness in himself, and shewing all Goodness to his Creatures; and therefore this Grace is well worth the praying for. So did the Apostle here for the Philippians, that the Belief of the Gospel might beget in them a hearty Love to God, with an inward Delight and Complacency in him : so should we likewise, that God would shed abroad his Love into our Hearts, and that too not in low and weak measures, but in the most ardent and intense degrees, that it may daily in. crease, and abound in us more and more. Which we should the rather do, because the Love of the World is too apt to abate, and sometimes to extinguish the Love of God. Earthly things have a false Byass, and draw strongly ; bę