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Fitft-born among many Brethren; ver. 29. that is, we must firit suffer with Christ, and then we Mall reign with him.
Thus we see the Sense of all the material Paffages of this Day's Epistle ; from whence 'we are instructed in the following Lessons :
1. From our not being Debtors to the Flesh, we are taught to abandon all the linful Lusts and Desires of it, and that too upon pain of Death and Damnation; for if we live after the Flesh; we shall die. Indeed to fatisfy the ordina. ry and natural Appetites and Cravings of the Flesh, is necessary to preserve our bodily Life ; but to-gratify the unlawful and irregular Motions of it, will bring upon us Death temporal and 'eternal : and therefore if we are at any time cálld upon and follicited to any Evil by the Importanity of our' Lusts, let us not hearken or yield to any such Suggestions of our corrupt Nature, but rather let us turn the deaf Ear, and bid adieu to 'thén. Mortify therea fore your Members which are upon Earth, Fornication, Unceannefs, and all inordinate Affection; and learn to polefs your Vesels in San£tification, and Honour, not in the Luft of Concupifcente, 'as the Gentiles that know not God, but in all Purity and Holiness, as becometh Chriftians: Col. 3. S. i Thell. 4.4, 5:
2. Being Debtors to live after the Spirit, let us labour to discharge that Obligation, by giving up our felves to the Guidance and Conduct of God's Holy Spirit, following the Direction of its Light, and the Influence of his Grace in all our ways. This is to walk worthy of the Vocation wherewith We are called, and to walk as becometh the Gospel of Chrift: which will stand the Trial of the last Day, and fecure to us the Reward of eternal Life ; for there is no Condemnation to them that are in Chrif Jesus, who walk not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit.
3. From the great Privilege of Sonship granted to all fach, we may learn to behave our felves as the Sons or Children of God. The Daty of Children, we know, is to love their Parents with a hearty and entire Affection ? This we are to render in the highest and most fuperlative degree to our Father in Heaven, Loving him with all our Heart, and with all our Mind, and with all our Strength, and exprefling it upon all Occasions. Again, Children owe Honour and Reverence to their parents: A Son honoureth bis Father, faith God; and we have bad Fathers in the Flesh,
and gave them Reverence, faith the Apostle. This likewise is in the highest measure due to our heavenly Father, which we are therefore daily to pay him in all our Words and Works : If I then be a Father, where is mine Honour ? If a Mafter, where is my Fear? saith the Lord of Hofts, Mal. 1. 6. both which he justly expects and challenges from us.
Moreover, Children owe: Obedience to their Parents ; Children, obey your Parents (faith the Apostle) as it is fit in the Lord. And this Obedience is to be shew'd by obferving their Commands, hearkning to their Counsel, and kindly receiving their Admonitions and Corrections; knowing that they proceed from Love, and aim only at their Welfare.
Now this Obedience is most eminently due to our Maker and Father in Heaven : Hath not the Potter power over the Clay (faith the Apostle) which he made and formed? And hath not God much more the power over his Creatures, the Works of his own Hands? who are therefore infinitely oblig'd to serve and obey him, especially considering that his Commandments are never grievous, and his Corrections are always for our Good.
Once more, Children owe a Trust and Confidence in their Parents, and a Dependence upon their Care and Provision for them : And this we are call’d upon to do in a more especial manner as to our heavenly Father; for we are bid to cart all our Care upon him, who careth for
US, and to rely upon his Providence at all times without Anxs iety and Distrust. This Lesson our Saviour teaches us at large in his Sermon on the Mount, Mat. 6. where he useth many Arguments to take us off from all follicitous Care of Food and Raiment, with a Promise, that if we feek first the Kingdom of God and its Righteousness, all the Neces. faries of Life shall be added to us.
4. From God's making all his Sons Heirs, we learn the exceeding great Honour and Dignity that Christianity brings its Followers to ; it makes them
Heirs at present, and will shortly enter them into the possession of a Kingdom, and that not an earthly fading Kingdom, that foon vanishes away, but a Kingdom in Heaven, that can never be mov'd or taken from them. Now are we the Sons of God (faith the Apostle) but it doth not yet appear what we Mall be ; this we know, that when he hall appear, .we fall appear with him in Glory.
Lastly, Şince Christ obtain'd this Kingdom for us by his Sufferings, let us not be ashamid of the Cross of Chrift, but, with St. Paul, rather glory in, than groan under it; and then we may with him reckon the Sufferings of this present Life not worthy to be nam'd or compar'd with the Glory that mall be reveald in us. In short, we see the Duty of our Christian Profession, which is to abstain from all the sinful Lufts of the Flesh, and to follow the Fruits and Dictates of God's Holy Spirit, and likewise the Dignity of our high Calling, to be the Sons and Heirs of God, and Joint-Heirs with Jesus Christ of his Heavenly Kingdom. To which God of his infinite Mercy bring us all, c.
The GOSPEL for the Eighth Sunday after
Sheeps-Clothing, but inwardly, they are ravening Wolves. Te Shall know them by their Fruits: Do - Men gather
. Grapes of Thorns, or Figs of Thistles? Even so every good Tree bringeth forth good Fruit, but a corrupt Tree evil Fruit, &c.
THIS Gospel for the Day is another Part or Portion
of our Blessed Saviour's Sernion on the Mount,
wherein he cautions his Disciples and Followers against false. Prophets and Teachers; letting them know the Manner and Ends of their Coming, and giving then some Marks of Distinction to discover and discern them by...
The Collect for the Day prays to be preserv'd from all burtful things : to which end,
The Epistle directs against all fleshly Lusts, which are burtful to the Body :
The Gospel against false Prophets and Teachers, which are hurtful to the Soul.
The Caution against these is in these words; Beware of false Prophets. Where we are to inquire,
First, Who are here meant by false Prophets. And,
Secondly, What is imply'd in bidding us to beware of them. For the
First, The .falfe Prophets, against whom this Caution is given, were false Chrifts, falfe Apostles, and false Teachers : of all which we read in the Apostles days, and some of which we have the fad experience of in ours.
The false Chrifts were thofe that pretended to be that great Prophet, which was to come into the World, to teach and to fave Mankind; and fo affumed to themselves the Dignity and the Office of the Meflias. Of these our Saviour himself foretold, Mat. 24. 5. Many (faith he) mall çome in my Name, saying, dan Chrift, and shall
deceive many. These he after stiles falfe Chrifts and false Prophets, yer. 24 Of this fort'were Theudas, Judas of Galilee, Barchocebas, and others, in the beginning of Christianity; such like. wise was Eldavid in the frxth Century, who gave out that he was Christ, and drew many after him, and fuch were David George, Hacket, ånd Naylor in later days.
The falfe Apoftles were those who pretended to be sent by Christ, and boasted of Miracles to confirm their Miffion." of this fort were Barjesus, Elymas the Sorcerer, and Simon Magus, of whoni we read in the Acts of the Apostles; these gaye out themselves to be fome great Persons, and bewitch'd many with their Sorgeries, Acts 8.95 10. St. Paul itiles them false Apofles, deceitful Workers, transforming themselves into the Apostles of Christ, and no Wonder (faith he) for Satan himself is transformd into an Angel of Light. 2 Cor. 11. 13.
The falfe. Teachers were those that own'd the Doctrine of Chrift, but corrupted it by Errors, and undermind it by Divisions ; building Hay and Stubble upon the Foundation of Chriftianity, and blending the Truth with many impure and corrupt Mixtures. Such were the Gnosticks of old, who pretended to greater Knowledg.than others; and such are the Sectaries and Separatists of our days, who by boasting of new Lights and Inspirations feduce and beguile the Hearts of the Simple. These are the false Prophets and Teachers, against whom this Caution is given.
But, Secondly, what is imply'd in Christ's bidding his Followers to beware of them? Why, that he himself hath in some measure told us ; saying, Mat. 24. Believe them not, and go not after them: that is, Be not too forward to receive their Doctrine, nor too easy to be misled by their Example.
Our Saviour had been before speaking of that different Dialect, that would be found among Christians in the latter days; One saying, Lo! here is Chrift ; and another, Lo ! there : to which he subjoins this Advice, Believe them not : For there mall arise false Chrifts and false Prophets, and all Mem great Signs and Wonders ; insomuch that, if it were pojfible, they mall deceive the very Elect. And St. Fohn gives the fame Advice ; Beloved, believe not every Spirit, for many false Prophets are gone abroad into the World. Error is fometimes so set off by artificial Colours, that 'tis not easy for weak People to see through the Disguise, or to discern the Face of Truth: some mistake thro Ignorance, and others by Design, speaking things that they should not, for filthy Lucre's fake. False Teachers commonly work upon the Credulity of the Vulgar, and blindly lead them into many Errors; and therefore be not too easy of Belief, nor tamely yield up your Faith to them.
Again, If any say concerning Christ, Behold be is in the Defart! go not forth : Behold he is in the secret Chambers ! believe it not. In like manner, if any fay, Behold he is in the Conclave of Catholicks, or in the Conventicles of Sectaries; believe them not, and 'go' not after them. Be not drawn aside from the ways of Truth and Peace by such Calls or Examples. St. Paul bids us, to mark those that cause Divisions, not to follow, but avoid them. And from such as have only a form of Godliness without the Power of it, he warns all good Christians to turn away, saying as Jacob did of Simeon and Levi, Brethren in Iniquity, My Soul come not thou into their Secrets, to their Asemblies mine Honour be not thou united. In a word, it is niuch more fafe for the common People to give themselves up to the Guidance and Instructions of their lawful and authoriz'd Pastors, than to heap to themselves Teachers, having itching
Ears; who are apt to dram them from the Truth, and to turn them untò Fables. This is imply'd in the Cautiơn here given, Beware of false Prophets.