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furnish'd with Guests. But then care must be taken, to fit and prepare our selves for this holy Feast, to have on our Wedding-Garment, that we may be welcome Guests to this Marriage-Supper ; fór holy things may not be given to Dogs. And what our Saviour here faid to the obstinate Jews, he faith to all impenitent Sinners ; None of those Men'that were bidden Mall taste of my Supper.
This is the Sum of this Day's Gospel : which may
1. To magnify and adore the infinite Love and Condescension of Christ, in making such ample Provisions for
us, and so graciously inviting his worthless Creatures to them.
The Plenty and Coftliness of his Provisions, is represented by the killing of his Oxen and Fatlings, the best of his Cattel, and the choicest of his Herds and Flocks. The Freedom and Kindness of his Invitation is express’d by his bidding of many; indeed, all that by a due Preparation of themselves will come and accept of it: he calls both Jew and Gentile, Male and Female, Bond and Free ; for they are all one in Christ Jesus. By which he fews himself to be no Respecter of Persons, but in every Nation he that feareth God, and worketh Righteousness, is accepted of him. This is a Mercy too great to be express’d, indeed too great to be expected, had hot God of his undeservd Goodness vouchsafed to be ftow it, and is therefore to be own'd and accepted with all Thankfulness.
2. From the many Excuses made by the Guests for their not accepting of this Supper, we may learn the natural Backwardness and Averfeness of Mankind to their own Good. Tho they were here invited to a highly honourable and beneficial Entertainment, yet every slight Pretence was thought sufficient to keep them from it, and no Intreaty could prevail with them for their own Happiness
. Indeed, the Matters alledg'd by them were in theniselves lawful and innocent: their buying and seeing a Farm, their providing and proving of Oxen, their espousing and enjoying a Wife, were things in their' due time and place very allowable; but the fault was, the preferring these trifling and perishing matters of the World, above the weightier things of Hea. ven, and the great Affairs of Eternity : their minding a Farn above the Kingdom of Heaven, their taking greater care of Oxen than their own Souls, and their loving Fa
ther and Mother, Husband and Wife, more than Christ: which they that do, are not worthy of him.
3. From the Master of the Feast's great Displeasure at these things, we may learn the Danger as well as Vanity of all such Excuses : he was so wroth with them, as to threaten that they should not taste of his Supper; they should neither feed at his Table here, nor feast with him hereafter. But 'tis to be fear'd there are some in our days, that abstain from this Feast upon worse Excuses than these : they are loth to come, because they are unwilling to leave their Sins, and amend their Lives, or be oblig'd to such a Strictness as the holy Sacrament requires. But if those more innocent Excuses in the Gospel were not accepted, with what Indignation (think you) will those viler Pretences be rejected ? Wherefore, in the last place, let us lay aside all manner of Excuses, and make our felves ready to go to the Lord's Supper; and so by accepting of Grace now, we shall e’er long be advanc'd to Glory.
D IS COURSE XVI.
The EPISTLE for the Third Sunday after
I St. Peter v. 5-12.
with Humility; for God refifteth the Proud, and
you in due time, &c.
HE Collect for this Day beseeches God mercifully
given a hearty Desire to pray, may by his mighty Aid be defended and comforted in all Dangers and Adver. sities. Now because Pride and Haughtiness of Spirit is the greatest Obstacle to the Success of our Prayers, and to our Security from Dangers, and nothing conduces more to a
good Event and Issue in both, than Humility and Lowliness of Mind ; therefore
The Epistle for this Day cautions us against the one, and earnestly exhorts to the other. To which end, it begins,
First, With a general Exhortation to mutual Subjection and Condescension to each other, in these words, All of you be subject one to another. There is a more particular Subjection due from Inferiours to Superiours, which confifts in honouring their persons, and obeying their Laws : and this is frequently requir'd in Holy Scripture ; Let every Soul be subject to the Higher Powers, faith St. Paul, Rom. 13. I. And put them in mind (faith he to Titus) to be subject. to Principalities and Powers, and to obey Magiftrates ; Tit. 2. 1. Wherefore ye must needs be subječt, not only for Wrath, but for Conscience sake ; Rom. 13. 8. with many other places to the same purpose. This Subjection is to be paid only to Princes, and other Magistrates commislion'd by them, whom God hath invested with his own Power to rule and govern those committed to their charge.
Bat there is another and more general kind of Subjection, that concerns all Men, Superiours, Inferiours, and Équals; who are all requir'd in some sense to be subject one to another : The younger are to submit to the elder, and the elder are to direct, counsel, and assist the younger ; and Men of all Ranks and Stations are to condescend to good Offices, and be helpful one to another : there is none fo high, but may and ought to stoop for the good of those beneath him, and there is none so low, but may be ferviceable to those above them. There is that mutual Dependence of each of these upon the other, that neither of them can say, I have no need of thee; for they all stand in continual need of Help and Assistance from one another : and therefore all of them ought to be so far subject, as to be ready to all good Offices for one another. Of this Christ himself hath given us an Example; for tho he were Lord of all, yet he took upon him the Form of a Servant, and stoop'd fo low as to wash his Disciples Feet, merely to teach us to do likewise. · There are some, and those many times of very mean Rise and Rank, that affect more Power, and assume to themselves more Honour than belongs to them; they would fain be seen and thought to be fomebody, which makes them oftimes Busy-bodies in other Mens matters, and Medlers in things which they neither understand, nor appertain to them : as if they had all Wisdom, Vol. IV. Part 2
and none had Wit enough to do their own business without their Advice. Such as these are so far from being subject, that they would top their Superiours, thinking themselves wiser than their Teachers or Governours, and so take upon them to pose and controul their Betters. To these espe. cially the Apostle gives this Caution, All of you be subject one to another : that is, instead of aspiring or usurping Power over others, let each of you esteem others better than your felves, and rather put your felves under, than lift your selves above them.' Our Blessed Saviour finding fome of his Disciples contending for Preheminence, and striving who amongst them should be greatest, sharply rebuk'd their Va. nity ; saying, He that would be greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve adding, that he himself was among them, as one that ferveth. Luke 22. 26, 27. Now,
This Subjection of one to another, is by St. Peter here explain’d and express’d by Humility; All of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with Humility. Where 'twill be requisite to fhew, what this Humility is, what it is to be cloth'd with Humility, and likewise what Influence it hath in making Men subject one to another,
For the first, Humility is a Vertue, that consists not in wearing old Clothes, or in any affected Garbs of Austerity or Mortification ; for a Beggar may be prouder in his Rags, than a good Christian in finer and more fashionable Attire: hut Humility lies in the Heart, and consists in such a low and mean Opinion of our felves, as keeps us from overvaluing of our felves, or undervalaing of others,
There is indeed a Branch of Humility, that respects our Carriage towards God, and that confifts in such a deep Sense of our own Vileness, compar'd with the infinite Greatness of God, as makes us to abhor our felves, and adoré our Maker,
But the Humility we are here exhorted to, respects our Carriage towards Men, and lies in fubduing all those vain
nd high Thoughts of our felves, as caufe us to overlook and neglect our Duty to others : And fo 'tis oppos'd to Pride, or such an overweening Conceit of our felves, as is apt to lift Men up, and makes them to despise others, tho many times better than themselves. Whereas Humility consists in having low and mean Thoughts of our felves, and being content that others should have the fame of us not arrogantly assuming Honour to our félves, but in honour preferring one another.
But what is it to be clothed with Humility ? The word in the Original is éy xolelor date, which fignifies the putting on of a Coat or Garment peculiar to Servants, by wearing whereof, as by a Livery, they were distinguish'd from 0thers, and known to whom they belong'd: The Expresion gives us to understand, that Humility is the Badg or Cognizance of a good Christian; and to be cloth'd with it, is to wear Christ's Livery, and to be known to be his Disciples : for he himself was meek and lowly in Heart, Mat. 11. 28. and would have the Same Mind to be in us, as was in him, to stoop even to the Form of a Servant; Phil. 2. In token' whereof, we are to put on Humility as a Mark of Christ's Followers, and that too not as a loose Garment, that may be put off again, and laid aside at pleasure; but so to be cloth'd with it, as never to change, or be uncloth'd again: for Humility is a Garment, which tho it may look bare or coarse, yet will never wear out, or be out of fashion ; for no Garb is so becoming, or renders us more amiable in the fight of God or Man. 'Tis indeed the best of all Garments, for 'twill keep us warm in all Times and Conditions ; 'tis not only Clothing, to guard us from Cold and Nakedness, but like a Coat of Mail defends us from all Affaults of our Enemies. In a word,
Humility is a Garment that answers all the Necessities, and secures from all the Dangers of the Soul : 'tis an Ornamient in fair Weather, and a Safeguard in foul ; for it adorns Prosperity, and fuccours in Adversity. It enamels other Vertues, and like Charity covers a multitude of Sins. And therefore above all things we should be clothed with Humility, or, as the word lignifies, be so girt about with it, as never to part with, or depart from it.
But what InHuence hath this Vertue in making Men subject one to another? Why, much every way: for as Pride lifts Men up in their Thoughts above others, and so they conie to despise and look down with Contenipt upon those they think beneath them, by which it occasions great Diforder and Disturbance in the World; so Humility, on the other hand, makes Men low in their own eyes, by which they become yielding and condescending to another, and so hush up many Quarrels and Contentions. Solomon tells us, that 'tis the proud Heart that Airreth up Strife, and only by Pride comet b Contention: whereas Humility leads to Peace, and puts Men upon the study of Quiet, by doing their own Business, without meddling or interposing in the Af