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Lion, walketh about, feeking whom he may devour. Pride and Ambition is fuppos'd to be the firft Sin of the Devil and his -evil Angels, and the Occafion of their Fall: for not being content with the high Station, wherein God had fet them, but affecting to be equal with, or fuperiour to the moft High, they were caft down from the bleffed Manfions of Light and Glory, in which they were firft feated, into the black Abyss of eternal Darkness: and though they are faid to be referv'd in Chains of Darkness, to the Judgment of the great Day; yet by God's Permiflion the Devil is here faid, to walk about as a roaring Lion, feeking whom he may devour. That deadly Adverfary of ours is daily feeking all Advantages to betray us, he watches what is moft apt to affect and blow us up, and then plies us with Temptations fuitable to the Vanity. Like a roaring Lion, he seeks firft to catch, and then to make us his Prey, for which reason, to arm our felves against him, St. Peter here exhorts us to be fober and vigilant, that we may the better difcover and defeat his Defigns. Where Sobriety implies,

If, Moderation in the ufe of God's Creatures; and fo to be fober is to take heed that our Hearts be not overcharg'd with Surfeiting and Drunkenness, by which we lose the Ufe of our Reafon, and the Benefit of God's Protection. Intemperance will eafily betray us into the Enemies hands, for it deprives us of all Power of refifting him; nor can we withstand any of his Affaults, when we cannot stand our ground which fhould teach us to have the Use of Reafon, and the Succours of Religion always ready; all which will be little enough to oppofe fo fubtle and powerful a Foe. Again,

2dly, There is a Sobriety of the Mind, that keeps it from Swelling and Pride; and fo to be fober is, not to think too highly of our felves, but to think foberly, according as God hath given the Measure of Faith. There is a Drunkenness of the Mind as well as the Body, both which we are induftriously to avoid, and carefully to obferve all the Rules of Sobriety, left Satan get an Advantage upon us, and being lifted up with Pride, we fall into the Snare and Condemnation of the Devil. To prevent which, the Apostle would have us add hereunto the great Duty of Vigilance or Watchfulness, Be fober, be vigilant, to watch against the Wiles of the Devil, for he ftill lies in wait, and feeks all Opportunities to furprize and circumvent usà which fhould fet us always upon our guard, looking every


way about us, and imploring the Affiftance of Divine Grace, to withstand the Evil one, and having done all, to ftand. To which end, the Apoftle directs us in the next words, to do our part; which is, To refift him ftedfast in the Faith; and then we may be fure that God will not be wanting on his. Refift the Devil (faith St. James) and he will flee from you; James 4.7. He will not, cannot ftand, if you withftand him; for Chrift hath broken his Power, and vanquish'd his Forces; and by the Power of his Grace hath made us more than Conquerors over him: fo that if you keep your ground, you are fure to win the Field, his Temptations cannot hurt you without confenting and yielding to him; all your Danger is from your own Cowardife, and you must tamely furrender your felves up to him, before he can do you the leaft Harm; which is Encouragement enough to refift and defy him: only keep your Courage, and continue ftedfaft in the Faith, and he muft and will flee from you. Above all things (faith St. Paul) take on the Shield of Faith, and that will quench all the fiery Darts of the Wicked; Eph. 6. 16. A ftedfaft Belief of the Power and Promifes of God, will repel all the Affaults of the Evil one; for this is the Victory that overcometh both the Devil and the World, even your Faith,

Neither let any of the Troubles or Trials of the World fhake the Conftancy of your Mind, or make you fall from your own Stedfaftnefs; Knowing, that the fame Afflictions are accomplish'd in your Brethren that are in the World: meaning, that they were not the only Sufferers in the World in this way, but they had Partners enough among their own Brethren; there was no Affliction had befallen them, but what was common to others: for their Brethren at Rome, and all other Parts of the World, were Sharers with them in the like Sufferings, and he would not have them think it hard, to tafte of that bitter Cup, which others drink off; but to be content to bear a Part in the common Miferies and Calamities of this Life.

To enable them hereunto, our Apoftle, in the next words, falls to his Prayers in their behalf, that God would give them Grace and Strength to bear up under whatever might befal them, faying, The God of all Grace, who hath called us into his eternal Glory by Chrift Jefus, after that have fuffer'd awhile, make you perfect, ftablish, strengthen, fettle you. Where he makes a folemn Addrefs to Almighty God, the Giver of all Grace and Goodnefs, who hath


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reveal'd and call'd us to a State of Salvation by the Sufferings of Chrift, after fome fhort Conformity to him in his Sufferings, to lead us on to Perfection; and instead of being fhaken by the Troubles of this Life, to be eftablish'd and confirm'd in the Expectation of future Glory, as the Reward of them. For the Hopes hereof he afcribes unto God all Honour and Praife, concluding with these words; To him be Glory and Dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

This is a brief Account of the Epiftle for this Day: the great Leffons we are taught by it, are to fhun Pride, and to learn Humility; to which end, we are to meditate this Day upon the Evil of the one, and the Goodness of the other. As for the Evil of Pride, it was the first and great Sin of the Devil, and that which made him truly fo; and if we may judg of the Heinousness of the Sin, by the Greatness of the Punishment, we may conclude it to be out of measure finful, for it caft the evil Angels from Heaven to Hell; that is, from the Top of the highest Happiness, into the Gulph of the deepest Mifery: and if God fpared not the Angels that finned, but caft them down to Hell, let not any proud Perfon think he fhall go unpunish'd. Let none then be puff'd up upon the account of any imaginary Excellence he may have above others, for 'tis only lent to or depofited with him; and if thou haft received it (faith the Apostle) why boafteft thou thy felf, as if thou receiv'd it not? Do not then feed thy Fancy with any Thoughts of thine own Worth, for that will make thee arrogate more to thy felf than belongs to thee; but rather think more upon thy Follies, thy Faults, and thy Frailties, and that will lower thy Spirits, and keep thee from fwelling with Pride and Vanity. Moreover, never compare thy felf with thofe that are beneath thee: for that may be apt to raise thy Efteem of thy felf, and make thee think more highly of thy felf, than thou oughtft to think: But if thou wilt make comparisons, let it always be with those that are above thee, that feeing how thou art excell'd in all natural and moral Excellencies, thou mayft come to think more foberly of thy felf, and in Honour prefer one another.

Laftly, Meditate on the Goodness and Gracefulness of Humility; how amiable it appears in the eyes of God and Man, and draws on it the Favour of both. Pride is

indeed hateful and odious to all Perfons, it leads Men into many a heinous Sin, and brings on many a heavy Punishment: But Humility is the Parent of all Vertue, and tho it may feem to deprefs, yet it certainly leads to Exaltatation; for he that exalteth himself shall be abafed, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Let us therefore ftrip our felves of all Pride and Haughtinefs of Mind, which ever goes before a Fall; and let us put on Meekness and Lowliness of Heart, that we may be exalted in due time. To which end, let us watch against the Temptations of the World and the Devil, which are apt to fwell us with Pride and Vanity, and earnestly pray to be cloth'd with Humility, and to be found in the number of the poor in Spirit, to whom belongs the Kingdom of Heaven. ́ A



The GOSPEL for the Third Sunday after

St. Luke xv. III,


Then drew near unto him all the Publicans and Sinners for to hear him: And the Pharifees and Scribes murmur'd, faying, This Man receiveth Sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this Parable to them, &c.


HE great Fame of Chrift's Doctrine and Miraclesdrew Perfons of all Sorts and Countries unto him. Among the reft we read here, that the Publicans and Sinners, fome of the worst of Men, were in that number, and likewife drew near unto him. The Publicans were Perfons infamous, even to a Proverb, and by their great Oppreffions and Exactions upon the People, had render'd themselves vile and odious in the fight of God and Man; and therefore we find them here, and often elfewhere, coupled with Sinners, or Perfons of a loofe and profligate Converfation. However, these among others came and


drew nigh to our Saviour; but upon what Errand? Why, that we are here told was to hear him. They had heard much of him, and of the great things that he spake and did, and now they had a great Mind and Defire to hear him themselves; either out of Curiofity, as fome think, it being ufual to flock after new and much cry'd up Teachers; or out of Defign, as others imagine, to enfnare and entrap him, to feek to get fome Advantage upon him, and to find what occafion they could against him; as fome hear, not to learn, but to carp. Others again, and I think with greater probability, conceive that they drew nigh to hear him with better Ends, namely, to learn their Duty from him, and how to direct and amend their Lives. They had feen what Change had been made in Matthew their Fellow-Publican, how he had left his Publican's Stall to follow Chrift, and become one of his Difciples: They had heard likewife of Zaccheus another Publican, how he had reftor❜d fourfold, and for that reafon Chrift came to his Houfe, and brought Salvation with him. The Noife of these and many other Matters brought them to Jefus to know the Truth, and to reap the Fruit of his Doctrine. To this end St. Matthew, whom our Saviour had lately call'd from the Receipt of Custom to be one of his Followers, made a Feaft for him; to which he alfo invited many of the Publicans and Sinners, that by hearing his Difcourfe, they might receive the fame Benefit, and become his Difciples. Accordingly our Saviour came and fat down to Meat in his Houfe, and many Publicans and Sinners came and fat down with him and his Difciples; which when the Pharifees faw, they began to take exception, asking the Difciples, Why eateth your Mafter with Publicans and Sinners? This Account St. Matthew gives of this Matter, Mat. 9. 10, 11, St. Luke here to the fame effect tells us, that upon the Publicans and Sinners drawing near unto Chrift to hear his Difcourfe, the Pharifees and Scribes murmur'd, faying, This Man receiveth Sinners, and eateth with them. The thing they here murmur'd at, was our Saviour's Freedom of Converfation with fuch bad Men. The Publicans being the Tribute-gatherers for the Roman Emperors, were generally Heathens and great Oppreffors, with whom it was forbidden by the Jewish Law to eat or converse. The Pharifees therefore and Scribes, who were fupercilious Defpifers of other Men, took great Offence at our Saviour's eating and converfing with them; telling his Difciples, that it was no way be.

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