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Favour, or any good thing, where God himself youchfafes to reside with his Holy Spirit,
Humble your felves therefore (faith our Apostle ) under the mighty Hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Submit your felves into God, and those he hath fet over you ; and likewise be subject to one another in all Humility, that ye may escape the Resistance of the mighty Hand of his Power and Justice, and receive the Assistance that will be reach'd out to you by the Hands of his Mercy. Mind not high things, but condescend to Men of low Eftate, and then God in his due time will exalt and reward your Humility ; for Pride is ever attended with a Fall, and Humility, with Rising : this being the first Step that mounts to Honour, 'tis the Root and Foundation of all other Graces, and upon that alone may we safely build our Hopes of Glory.
But because you may neet with some Difficulties and Discouragements in the lower Ground of Humility ; for where the Stile is low (we fay) every one is apt to go over ; therefore the Apostle, in the next words, wills you not to be dismay'd, but to caft all your Care upon God, who careth for you. Some indeed may interprét your Humi: lity to be only a Pulillanimity or Baseness of Mind, and miscall a humble Person, by the odious Name of one of a low, mean, and abject Spirit ; and so he may be apt to be insulted, abus'd, and affronted by insolent and haughty Men : but St, Péter here directs them not to be anxiously careful or concern'd about such Matters, but to refer all to the Guidance and Goodness of God, who will take a particular care of them, and not suffer any thing to befal then, but what may in the end tend to their Welfare. Christ hinfalf endur'd the Reproaches and Contradiction of Sinners; the Apostles went thro good Report and bad Report, through Honour and Dishonour, and have told us of Scofa fers in the latter days, walking after their own Lufts: and therefore we should not be troubled or discourag'd at those things, that have befallen the Son of God, and the best of Men ; efpecially considering, that all things shall work together for good to them that love God, and ļive by his Laws.
Furthermore, because the Devil, who fell by Pride, is still tenipting and drawing us into the fame Condemnation, therefore St. Peter, in the next Verse, advises us to be sober and vigilant, because our Adverfary the Devil, as a roaring K 3
Lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. Pride and Ambition is suppos'd to be the first Sin of the Devil and his evil Angels, and the Occasion of their Fall : for not being content with the high Station, wherein God had set them, but affecting to be equal with, or superiour to the most High, they were cast down from the blessed Mansions of Light and Glory, in which they were first seated, into the black Abyss of eternal Darkness: and though they are said to be reservd in Chains of Darkness, to the Judgment of the great Day; yet by God's Permission the Devil is here said, to walk about as a roaring Lion, seeking whom he may devour. That deadly Adversary of ours is daily seeking all Advantages to betray us, he watches what is most apt to affect and blow us up, and then plies us with Temptations suitable to the Vanity. Like a roaring Lion, he seeks first to catch, and then to make us his Prey; for which reason, to arm our selves against him, St. Peter here exhorts us to be sober and vigilant, that we may the better discover and defeat his Designs, Where Sobriety implies,
ift, Moderation in the use of God's Creatures, and so to be sober is to take heed that our Hearts be not overcharg'd with Surfeiting, and Drunkenness, by which we lose the Use of our Reafon, and the Benefit of God's Protection, Intemperance will easily betray us into the Enemies hands, for it deprives us of all Power of resisting him ; nor can we withstand any of his Affaults, when we cannot stand our ground: which should teach us to have the Use of Reason, and the Succours of Religion always ready ; all which will be little enough to oppose so subtle and powerful a Foe, Again,
2dly, There is a Sobriety of the Mind, that keeps it from Swelling and Pride ; and so to be sober is, not to think too highly of our felves, but to think soberly, 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 industriously to avoid, and carefully to observe all the Rules of Sobriety, lest 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 Gober, be vigilant; to watch against the Wiles of the Devil, for he still lies in wait, and seeks all Opportunities to surprize and circumvent us : which should fet us always upon our guard, looking every
way about us, and imploring the Assistance of Divine Grace, to withstand the Evil one, and having done all, to stand. To which end, the Apostle directs us in the next words, to do our part; which is, To resist him stedfait in the Faith; and then we may be sure that God will not be wanting on his. Resist the Devil (faith St. James) and he will flee from you ; James 4.7. He will not, cannot stand, if you withstand him ; for Christ hath broken his Power, and vanquish'd his Forces, and by the Power of his Grace hath made us more than Conquerors over him: so that if you keep your ground, you are sure to win the Field, his Temptations cannot hart you without confenting and yielding to him; all your Danger is from your own Cowardise, and you must tamely surrender your felves up to him, before he can do you the least Harm; which is Encouragement enough to resift and defy him: only keep your Courage, and continue stedfast in the Faith, and he muft and will fee 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 stedfast Belief of the Power and Promises of God, will repel all the Assaults of the Evil one ; for this is tbe Victory that overcometh both the Devil and the World, even your Faith,
Neither let any of the Troubles or Trials of the World shake the Constancy of your Mind, or make you fall from your own Stedfastness; Knowing, that the same Afictions are accomplib'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 Afliction 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 taste 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 Apostle, in the next words, falls to his Prayers in their behalf, that God would give them Grace and Strength to bear up onder whatever might befal them; saying, The God of all Grace, who bath called us into his eternal Glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffer'd awhile, make you perfect, stablish, Arengthen, settle you. Where he makes a folemn Address to Almighty God, the Giver of all Grace and Goodness, who hath
reveal'd and call'd us to a State of Salvation by the Sufferings of Christ, after some fhort Conformity to him in his Sufferings, to lead us on to Perfection; and instead of being shaken by the Troubles of this Life, to be establish'd and confirm'd in the Expectation of future Glory, as the Reward of them. For the Hopes hereof he ascribes unto God all Honour and Praise, concluding with these words; To him be Glory and Dominion for ever and ever. Amen,
This is a brief Account of the Epistle for this Day : the great Lessons 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 sinful, for it cast the evil Angels from Heaven to Hell, that is, from the Top of the highest Happiness, into the Gulph of the deepest Misery: and if God spared not the Angels that sinned, but cast them down to Hell, let not any proud Person think he shall 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 deposited with him; and if thou hajt received it (faith the Apostle) why boaftest thou thy self, as if thou receividst it not ? Do not then feed thy Fancy with any Thoughts of thine own Worth, for that will make thee arrogate more to thy self 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 swelling with Pride and Vanity. Moreover, never compare thy self with those that are beneath thee
; for that may be apt to raise thy Esteem of thy felt, and make thee think more highly of thy self, than thou oughtít to think : But if thou wilt make comparisons, let it always be with those that are above thee, that seeing how thou art excell'd in all natural and moral Excellencies, thou mayst come to think more soberly of thy self, and in Honour prefer one another,
Lastly, Meditate on the Goodness and Gracefulness of Humility ; how anriable 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 Persons, 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 seem to depress, yet it certainly leads to Exaltatation ; for be that exalteth himself mall be abased, and he that humbleth himself all be exalted. Let us therefore strip our felves of all Pride and Haughtiness 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 swell 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 men,
DIS COURSE XVII.
The GOSPEL for the Third Sunday after
St. Luke xv. I-II,
ners for to hear him: And the Pharisees and
THE great Fame of Christ's Doctrine and Miracles
drew Persons of all sorts and Countries unto him.
Among the rest we read here, that the Publicans and Sinners, fome of the worst of Men, were in that number, and likewise drew near unto him. The Publicans were Persons infamous, even to a Proverb, and by their great Oppressions and Exactions upon the People, had render'd themselves vile and odious in the sight of God and Man; and therefore we find them here, and often elsewhere, coupled with Sinners, or Persons of a loose and profligate Conversation. However, these among others came and