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The next words tells us, that the Face of the Lord is against them that do Evil. He is so far from countenancing the Wicked and Contentious, that he fets his face against them, and is no Friend, but a profess'd Enemy to them. To lift up the Light of the Countenance, is in Scripture-Phrase "a token of Favour or Kindness; but to set the Face against any, is to bid defiance to him, first to frown, and then to fight him. Accordingly, God's setting his Face here against such Evil-doers, is either to humble them for their good, or to bring greater Evils upon them, to punish their Pride and Presumption.
But farther to comfort and encourage the Obedient, he asks the Question in the following Verse, Who is he that will harm you, if ye are Followers of that which is good ? Being guarded by the Protection of Divine Providence, and the Integrity of your own Actions, few or none will in cline or venture to do you any mischief. But if any should be so wicked as to moleft and trouble you for adhering to the ways of Unity and Vertue, be not discourag'd at such Sufferings; For if ye suffer for Righteousness sake, happy, are ye, and be not afraid of their Terror, neither be troubled. Be not dismay'd or disturbid at these things, but rejoice in such Tribulations, for great is your Reward in Heaven, Rather count them as Blessings, than sink under them as Burdens; for if you bear up manfully a while, they will tend to the Increase of Grace here, and of Glory hereafter, Only fanctify the Lord God in your Hearts; be thankful to him for all his Dispensations, fet him up in your Hearts as your Lord God, and make him your Fear and your Dread; and then he will be both your Patron and your Portion for
This is in short the Substance of the Epistle for this Day; the whole Design whereof is to persuade us to be all of one mind in the Principles and Practices of true Religion, to unite in the Worship and Service of God, and to join together in the Practice of all Christian Vertues, tending to our own Good, and the Welfare of one another.
But here some may be apt to tell us, that 'tis not poftible for all Men to be of one mind in these matters, and that fuch an Unity never was or can be in the Christian Church.
In answer to this, the Example of the primitive Chrisgians, of whom we read that they were of one heart and one anind, and that they continu'd Stedfaft in the Apoftles Dac
trine and Fcllowship, and in breaking of Bread, and in Prayer; is a plain Confutation of this Objection : for this news such a Unity to be both possible and practicable, and that there was a time when this Union was found, and Dissenfions unknown aniong Christians,' Which Example is recorded for our Direction and Encouragement, to let us know, that if we will do as they did, we may be as they were. Beside,
The frequent and earnest Exhortations to this Unity in Holy Scripture, plainly shew it to be attainable by all that will use the means, and have a mind to it ; for the Holy Ghost never calls or puts any upon impossible or impracticable Tasks.
Moreover, the many farp and severe Checks given by the Apostles to the Authors and Abettors of Divisions, farther shew this Unity to be both possible and necessary : for as they would not advise to any thing that was imporsible, so neither would they blame any for what was unavoidable.
But there are others who tell us, that if such an Unity were poflible, yet it is not necessary, no more than’tis for all Men to be of the fame Stature and Complexion, and that different Opinions and Practices may as well be allow'd in the Church, as different Trades and Callings are in the World. In answer to this, I say,
ift, For all Men to be of the fame Stature and Complexion, is - neither in their power, nor is it under any command, and so can be in no wise necessary; whereas to be all of one mind is frequently conimanded in God's Word, and so must be a necessary Duty. And,
2dly, Tho there may be many particular Callings and Professions in the World, to employ Mens different Gifts and Abilities for the publick Good; yet there is but one general Calling as Christians, in which they are all to agree and go hand in hand together. So the Apostle tells us, we are all called into one Calling, and have all but one Hope of this Calling, even the Salvation of our Souls ; which we are therefore all to aim at, without varying from, or dividing in it,
Thus we see wherein we are all to be of one mind; namely, in all the Acts and Duties of Religion, that we owe to God and to one another ; together with the Weakness of those Exceptions that are commonly bronght a
It remains then, that we be all Followers of this Unanimity, and jointly agree in all the Parts and Duties of it; going to the House of God together as Friends, and to each other's Houses as Neighbours, abounding in all Acts of Piety and Devotion to the one, and of Justice, Kindness, and Compaflion to the other. This is to dwell together in Unity, which the Psalmist makes the goodlieft and pleafantest of all Prospects, Pfal. 133. 1. 'Tis to live the Life of Saints here, and of Angels hereafter ; yea, 'tis to do the Will of God on Earth, as 'tis done in Heaven : for there is a perfečt Harmony, Consent and Unity among the blessed Spirits above, who all join in one Confort, and with united Hearts and Minds do, the Will, and sing the Praises of their Ma. ker; and to fit us for those heavenly Mansions, we must labour for the fame Concord and Unanimity here. Discord and Dissensions are the Dispositions of Hell, and lead to those infernal Regions; 'tis Love, Peace, and Unity, that most prepare us for the Habitations above, and qualify us for the Happiness and blessed Society of Heaven.
But how may we come to be thus of one mind in serving of God and one another? Why, that must be done,
1. By removing all the Obstacles of this godly Love and Unity ; such as turbulent and unruly Paflions, which are apt to discompofe and divide mens Minds; Pride, and a vain Conceit of our own Wisdom, which makes Men refractory to their Superiours, and peremptory in their own ways; inordinate Self-Love and worldly Interest, which draw too strongly from the ways of Truth and Peace, and lead into all manner of Errors and Divisions : which occasion'd St. Paul's Advice, that all Bitterness, Wrath, Clamour, and Evil-speaking be put away, with all Malice; Eph.4. 31. 'And St. Peter's to the fame purpose, to lay aside all Guile, and Hypocrisy, and Envy, and Evil-Speaking; 1 Pet. 2. 1. These are the main Hindrancés of Unity, and are therefore to be carefully watch'd against and avoided by all that would proIf you observe it, you shall find most Men commending Peace, and speaking up for Unity: but the mischief is, they must all have it in their own way, tho ever so different and contrary one to the other ; they are willing enough that all Men should be of one mind, but then every Man must be of theirs, or else they cannot agree with them. 'Tis this pats all the difficulty into this Duty, and renders it in a great measure unpracticable.
for it. 2. That we niay be all of one mind in these desirable Matters, we must labour for those gracious Qualities and Dispositions, that can alone fit us for it; such as Meekness, Humility, Submission to Superiours, and the like : which excellent Graces and Vertues will mightily conduce to this Union of Heart and Mind, and 'tis the lack of them that creates all the Discord and Diffenfion that is among 13.
Now there is but one Expedient to cure this Evil, and that is, for Men to think modestly and foberly of themselves, to allow their Teachers and Governours to know more, and to be wiser than they ; and fo to submit their private Judgment to the publick Wisdom. By thus hearkning and yielding to thofe whom God hath appointed to teach and direct us, we may foon come to be of one mind, but without it never. Which made the Apostle exhort alí Christians, not to think more highly of themselves than they ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God hath given to every one the Measure of Faith ; Rom. 12. 3. In a word then, let me bespeak you in the words of the same Apostle; If there be any Consolation in Chrift, if any Comfort of Love; if any Fellowship of the Spirit, if any Bowels of Mercies, fulfil ye my Joy, that ye be like-minded, having the Same Love, being of one aceord, and of one mind : Phil, 2. 1,2. So shall we become one Flock and one Fold, underone great Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls : which God
DISCOURSE XXI. . The Gospel for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity,
St. Luke v. i 12. It came to pass, that as the People press”d upon him
to hear the Word of God, he stood by the Lake of Gennesareth, and saw two Ships standing by the Lake; but the Fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their Nets : And he entred into one of the Ships, which was Simon's, &c.
HE People, mov'd by the Divine Discourses and miraculous Cures of our blessed Saviour, flock'd in
great Multitudes to him from all Parts: and being a Teacher come from Heaven to thew the Way thither, they press'd hard through Crouds and Throngs to hear him ; as he that conies with glad Tidings shall be sure to have many Followers.
Some of those that thus press’d upon him, had been the Disciples of the Scribes and Pharisees, who having (as they were inform’d) corrupted and falsify'd the Law, they delir'd to hear the pure Word of God out of Christ's Mouth, and therefore strove hard to come near him to that end.
The Place where he stood, when they came to him, was by the Lake of Gennefareth ; calld sometimes the Sea of Galilee, Mat. 4. 18, sometimes the Lake or Sea of Tiberias, Mat. 14. 34. and here the Lake of Gennefareth. At our Saviour's standing there, He saw two Ships ftanding by the Lake ; but the Fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their Nets. These two Ships or Boats belong'd, the one to Andrew and Peter, the other to fames and John, the Sons of Zebedee : And these were the Fishermen here mention’d. But there seems to be fome fmall diffe