« السابقةمتابعة »
tune to be evil spoken of, it is their fault that do it, and not ours; and therefore should not put us into passion; because another man's being injurious to me, is no good reason why I should be uneasy to myself. We thould not revenge the injuries done to us, no not upon them that do them, much less upon ourselves. Let no man's provocation make thee to lose thy patience. Be not such a fool, as to part with any one virtue, because some men are so malicious, as to endeavour to rob thee of the reputation of all the rest. When men speak ill of thee, do as Plato said he would do in that case, live
so, as that no body may believe them.”
All that now reinains, is, to reflect upon what hath been said, and to urge you and myself to do accordingly: for all is nothing if we do not practise what we fo plainly see to be our duty. Many are so taken up with the deep points and mysteries of religion, that they never think of the common duties and offices of human life. But faith and a good life are so far from clashing with one another, that the Christian religion hath made them infeparable. True faith is necessary in order to a good life, and a good life is the genuine product of a right belief; and therefore the one never ought to be pressed to the prejudice of the other.
I foresee what will be faid, because I have heard it so often said in the like case, that there is not one word of Jesus Christ in all this. No more is there in the text. And yet I hope that Jesus Christ is truly preached, whenever his will and laws, and the duties injoined by the Christian religion, are inculcated upon us.
But some men are pleased to say, that this is mere morality. I answer, That this is fcripture morality and Christian morality; and who hath any thing to say against that? Nay, I will go yet farther, that no man ought to pretend to believe the Christian religion, who lives in the neglect of so plain a duty, and in the practice of a sin fo clearly condemned by it, as this of evilspeaking is.
But because the word of God is quick and powerful, and parper than a two-edged sword, yea sharper than calumny itself, and pierceth the very hearts and consciences of men, laying us open to ourselves, and convincing us
of our more secret, as well as our more visible faults; I shall therefore at one view represent to you what is dispersedly said concerning this sin in the holy word of God.
And I have purposely reserved this to the last, because it is more persuasive and penetrating than any human discourse. And to this end, be pleased to consider in what company the Holy Ghost doth usually mention this fin. There is scarce any black catalogue of sins in the Bible, but we find this among them ; in the company of the very worft actions and most irregular passions of
Matth. xv. 19. Out of the heart (says our Saviour) proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, false-witness, evil-Speakings. And, Rom. i. 29. 30. the Apostle ranks backbiters with fornicators, and murderers, and haters of God; and with those of whom it is expressly faid, 1 Cor. vi. 10. that they shall not inherit the kinge dom of God.
And when he enumerates the sins of the last times, Men (says he, 2 Tim. iii. 2. 3.) shall be lovers of themselves, covetous, boasters, evil-speakers, without natural affection, perfidious, falfe-accusers, &c. And, which is the strangest of all, they who are said to be guilty of these great vices and enormities, are noted by the ApoAtle to be great pretenders to religion : for so it follows in the next words ; Having a form of godlinefs, but denying the power thereof. So that it is no new thing for men to make a more than ordinary profession of Christianity, and yet at the fame time to live in a most palpable contradiction to the precepts of that holy religion; as if any pretence to mystery, and I know not what extraordinary attainments in the knowledge of Christ, could exempt men from obedience to his laws, and set them above the virtues of a good life.
And now, after all this, do we hardly think that to be a fin, which is in scripture so frequently ranked with murder, and adultery, and the blackest crimes ; such as are inconsistent with the life and power of religion, and will certainly shut men out of the kingdom of God? Do we believe the Bible to be the word of God; and can we allow ourselves in the common practice of a sin, than which there is hardly any fault of mens lives more fre;
quently mentioned, more severely reproved, and more odiously branded in that holy book ?
Consider seriously these texts : Psal. xv. 1. Who Mall abide in thy tabernacle, who shall dwell in thy holy hill ? He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. Have ye never heard what our Saviour says, that of every idle word we mus? give an account in the day of judgment; that by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned? What can be more severe than that of St. James : If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridieth not his tongue, this man's religion is vain ? To conclude: The sin
which I have now warned men against, is plainly condemned by the word of God; and the duty which I have now been persuading you to, is easy for every man to understand; not hard for any man, that can but resolve to keep a good guard upon himself for some time, by the grace of God, to practise ; and most reasonable for all men, but especially for all Christians, to observe. It is as easy as a resolute silence upon just occasion; as reasonable as prudence, and jus ftice, and charity, and the preservation of peace and good-will among men, can make it; and of as necessary and indispensable an obligation as the authority of God can render any thing.
Upon all which considerations, let us every one of us be persuaded to take up David's deliberate resolution, Pfal. xxxix. 1. I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I offend not with my tongue. And I do verily believe, that, would we but heartily endeavour to amend this one fault, we Should soon be better men in our whole lives; I mean, that the correcting of this vice, together with those that are nearly allied to it, and may, at the same time, and almost with the fame resolution and care, be corrected, would make us owners of a great many considerable virtues, and carry us on a good way towards perfection; it being hardly to be imagined, that a man that makes conscience of his words should not take an equal or a greater care of his actions. And this I take to be both the true meaning, and the true reason, of that saying of St. James, and with which I shall conclude, If any man of fend not in word, the fame is a perfect man.
Now the God of peace, who brought again from the dead. our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good word and work to do his will, working in you always that which is well-pleasing in his fight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Concerning the divinity and incarnation of
our bleffed Saviour.
An ADVERTISEMENT to the Reader.
ago in the church of St. Lawrence-Jewry, in Lon-
author, are here made publick. The true reason whereof was not that which is commonly alle:dged for printing books, the importunity of friends; but the importunate clamours and malicious calumnies of others, whom the author heartily prays God to forgive, and to give them better minds; and to grant that the ensuing discourfes, the publication whereof was in so great a degree neceflary, may by his blefing prove ir Some measure useful.
S E R M O N
Concerning thedivinity of our blessed Saviour.
Preached in the church of St. Lawrence-Jewry, De
cember 30. 1679.
JOHN i. 14.
keheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the
The first sermon on this text.
concerning our blessed Sav the author and
1. His incarnation : The Word was made (or became) fiesh.
2. His life and conversation here among us: And dwelt among us, ètrives av ev huiv, he pitched his tabernacle amongst us ; he lived here below in this world, and, for a time, made his residence and abode with us.
3. That in this state of his humiliation he gave great and clear evidence of his divinity. Whilst he appeared as a man, and lived amongst us, there were great and glorious testimonies given of him, that he was the Son of God; and that in so peculiar a manner as no creature can be said to be: And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, &c.
I shall begin with the first of these, his incarnation, as most proper for this folemn time, which hath for many ages been set apart for the commemoration of the nativity and incarnation of our blessed Saviour. The Word was made flesh; that is, he who is personally called the Word, and whom the Evangelist St. John had so fully described in the beginning of this gospel, he became felh ; that is, assumed our nature, and became man. For so the word flesb is frequently used in fcripture for man, or human nature: Plal. lxv. 2. O thou that hearest prayer, into thee Mall all flesh come; that is, to thee shall all men address their fupplications. Again, Is. xl. 5. 6. The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all fleh fball see it together ; that is, all men shall behold and acknowledge it; and then it follows, All flesh is grass, speaking of the frailty and mortality of man. And fó likewise, in the New Testament, our blessed Saviour, foretelling the misery that was coining upon the Jewish nation, says, Matth. xxiv. 22. Except those days should be Shortened, no flesh should be saved ; that is, no man should escape and survive that great calamity and destruction which was coming upon them : Gal. ii. 16. By the works of the law (says the Apostle) shall no flesh (that is, no man) be justified.
So that by the Word's being made (or becoming) fielh, the Evangelist did not intend that he assumed only a hrman body without a soul, and was united only to a human body, which was the heresy of Apolli aris and his followers; but that he became man, that is, assumed the VOL. III. с