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them? Why, that our Saviour answers in the next words, Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. If your principal Care and Labour be employ'd about heavenly Matters, you shall not want a fufficient Portion of earthly things, they shall be added as Vantage to a Bargain, or as a Viaticum to carry you on thro this World in the way to a better. David tells us, that tho the Lions may lack and suffer Hunger, yet they that fear the Lord shall want no manner of thing that is good; for God will give Grace and Glory, and no good thing will he withhold from him that leads a godly Life : and therefore our Saviour bids his Dif ciples not to labour for the Meat that perimeth, but for that which endureth to eternal Life; that is, our Labour for the one should be nothing in comparison to the other.
But may we not lay up something for the Casualties of Times, and provide for the future? That our Saviour anfwers in the last words of the Chapter ; Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrom all take thought for the things of it self: He that provides for you to-day will do the same to-morrow, and therefore do not forestal Evils by any anxious Fears and Cares about them; for sufficient to the Day is the Evil thereof.
Thus I have gone thro the Gospel for this Day; from which we may learn many Lessons : I shall mention only two. And,
Ist, Since we cannot ferve two Masters, God and Mammon, let us chuse this Day the Service of God, and resolve with Foshua, that whatever others do, I and my House will serve the Lord ; Josh. 24. To which we are encouragd, he being the best of Masters, that fets his Servants on the best of Work; and pays them the best of Wages. But because Mammon or the World is apt to put in for a share of our Service, and to entice us from God's Service, under a pretence of providing Necessaries for our felves here; let us learn,
2dly, To put our Trust in God, and to cast our felves upon his Providence in the way of his own Appointment; and by thus committing our felves and our Ways unto him, he will bring things to pass, that tend to our Ease and Comfort here, and our eternal Happiness hereafter : Which God grant, &c.
The EPISTLE for the Sixteenth Sunday after
Eph. iii. 13, to the end. I desire that ye faint not at my Tribulations for you,
which is your Glory. For this cause I bow my Knees unto the Father of the Lord Jesus, &c.
THE Collect for this Day teaches us to implore the
Divine Pity to purify and protect his Church; and
because it cannot continue in Safety without his Succour, we beseech him to preserve it evermore by his Help and Goodness.
In the Epistle for the Day we have an Account of St. Paul's praying thus in the behalf
of the Church of Ephesus; which Epistle begins with his Request to these Ephesians, and is continu'd with his Prayer for them, and concludes with his Doxology, or praising God in their behalf: each of which must be particularly consider'd. And,
First, Of the Request that St. Paul here makes to these Ephesians, in those words, I desire that ye faint not at my Tribulations for you, which is your Glory. The Apostle had endur'd many and great Amictions for their fake ; for he, being the Apostle of the Gentiles, ordaind and sent to preach the Gospel to them, was for that reason mightily oppos'd and perfecuted by the Jews, who judg'd it unlawful to preach to any but those of their own Church and Nation; and no wonder, this being a Mystery not known to former Ages, who were so far from preaching to the Gentiles, that they look'd upon them as Aliens and Outcasts, and thought it unlawful to converfe or have any thing to do with them. Yea, this Mystery was hidden from the very Angels, as we read ver. 10. of this Chapter : 'Twas first reveals to St. Peter, Acts 10. whọ preach'd to the Gentiles; for which he was blam'd by the rest of the
Apostles, and the Brethren of the Circumcision, as we read Ålts 11.' And here in this Chapter St. Paul tells us, it was reveald to him, who was made a Minister of this Dispenfation of the Grace of God, to preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable Riches of Christ. This he did to these Ephesians, who were some of the Gentile Converts, to whom he was sent, and for so doing he was made a Prisoner, and suffer'd great Persecution : fo he tells them, ver. I. For this cause I Paul am made a Prisoner of Jesus Chrift for you Gentiles. Now lest they should be discourag'd by his Troubles for their fakes, and fall back again to Judaism and Circumcision by his Bonds, he desires them here not to faint at his Tribulations for them ; nor be any ways troubled at any thing that might befal him in their Cause, which he tells them was their Glory, and therefore should be rather matter of Glorying and Rejoicing, than of Sorrow and Despondency to them, that God should raise up and commission him to instruct them in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, and likewise to enable him to do and suffer any thing for their Conversion and Salvation; which
j is a Cordial strong enough to keep them from fainting under his or their own Afflictions. And having thus endeavour'd to raise their Spirits by this Request to them, he proceeds,
Secondly, To his Prayers and falling upon his Kneės for them; For this Cause (faith he) I bow my Knees unto the Father of the Lord Jesus Chrift, of whom the whole Family of Heaven and Earth is nam'd, that he would grant you, &c. Where we may observe,
IA, The Cause or Occasion of his praying for them ; For this Cause.
2dly, The humble Posture he us'd in his Prayers; for this Cause I bow my Knees. 3dly, The Object to whom his Prayer was directed;
То the Father of our Lord Jesus Chrift, &c.
4thly, The Subject-matter of his Prayer, in the following part of this Epistle.
IA, For the Cause or Occasion of his Prayer, that is imply'd in the words, For this Cause; which relates to what went before, namely, to keep them from fainting at his Tribulations for them: That they might not stumble or be offended at the Cross of Christ, which he and they might meet with in his Cause; that they might neither fáint nor Vol. IV. Part 2
fall away at any Troubles that might happen to either. This was the Occasion and Opportunity he made use of to offer up his Prayers in the behalf of these Ephesians; and gives us to understand, that in times of Difficulty and Trouble we are to put up our Prayers for Grace and Strength to bear them.' Amictions and Troubles are apt to fink the Spirits, and our natural Weakness is such, that without the Divine Succour we cannot stand upright; times of Trouble are times of Trial, and the Faith of nany hath fail'd in the Furnace of Amiction. We read of fome, that in time of Temptation fell away, and when Persecution arose, by reaSon of the Word, by and by they were offended. And therefore we must especially at sạch times pray to be preserv’d from Impatience and Apoftacy, and to be kept by the Power of God through Faith unto Salvation. This is a proper Seafon to make our Requests known unto God, that we may be enabled to stand in the evil Day, and be in nothing terrify'd by our Adversaries, which will be our Glory. This the Apostle here did for the Ephesians, and we find him doing the same in the behalf of the Philippians; for he being then a Prisoner at Rome, and fearing left their Faith should be shaken by his Bonds, prays for them that they might stand fast in one Spirit, with one Mind Atriving together for the Faith of the Gospel : Phil. 1. 27, 28. This was the Cause or Motive of the Apostle's Prayer; which may teach' us to do the same upon the like occasion, viz. to pray for Constancy and Perseverance in times of Persecution, that our Faith be not shock'd by our own or others Sufferings: And for this we have both a Precept, and a Promise of Encouragement from God himself;" saying, Call upon me in the time of Trouble, and I will hear thee, and thou malt_praise me; Pfal. 50. 12. From the Occasion of the Apostle's Prayer I proceed,
2dly, To the humble Posture us'd by him in it, and that was Kneeling; for this cause I bow my Knees. This Circumstance is here taken notice of, to recommend it to our Imitation. St. Paul did not, as too many in our days do, sit at his Prayers, or present his Maker with a rude unmannerly Devotion;, no, he fhew'd more Reverence, and bowed his Knees before hini. Sitting (we know) is a Por. ture of Ease and Sloth, and betokens that Freedom and Familiarity which may well enough pass among Equals, but is never us'd as a Gesture of Reverence or Respect to Superiors. We count it a great Rudeness to fit in the Pre
sence of a great Man, and never present a Petition to a Prince but upon our Knees; and Mall we fhew less Revea rence to God Almighty, than we are wont to do to our Fellow-Creatures? The Prophet Malachi brings in the Al. mighty upbraiding the Irreverence of such as present him with the Lame, and the Blind, and other indecent Sacrifices; bidding them go and offer it to their Governors, and see whether they would accept their persons, or be pleased with Fuch Services : Mal. 1. 8. And shall we think that good enough for the great Majesty of Heaven and Earth, which would be reckon'd an Affront to earthly Magistrates? If we consult the Precepts and Precedents of former times, we shall find the Practice of good Men in all Ages to be kneeling, standing, or proftrating, but never fitting at their Prayers. David calls upon all that will draw nigh to God, to worship and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker; Psal. 95.6. Accordingly we find King Solomon kneeling upon his Knees before the Altar of the Lord, and spreading up bis Hands to Heaven ; 1 Kings 8.54. And the fame is affirm'd of him in 2 Chron. 6.13. Daniel is said to kneel upon his Knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before bis God, as his Custom was; Dan. 6. 10. But left any should think this only an Old Testament Ceremony, we find in the Gospel our Blessed Saviour upon his Knees, praying to his heavenly Father ; Luke 22. 41. And generally they that addressid to him for Mercy kneeled doton and prayed, as we read Mat. 17. 14. Mark 1.40. St. Stephen's Prayer for his Persecutors was upon his Knees; Acts 7.60. and so was St. Peter's, Acts 9. 40. St. Paul here is bowing his Knees unto God; and elsewhere tells us, that at the Name of Jesus, which is mention'd in every Prayer, every Knee Mould bomo; Phil. 2. 10. 'Twere endless to recite the many places to this purpose.
And now methinks so many Precepts and Examples for this humble Posture of Kneeling should teach us better Manners, than to sit at our Prayers ; especially considering, that the Church, whereof we are Menibers, hath likewise requir'd this lowly Gesture from us: whereas that other of Sitting hath no where any Precept or Precedent to countenance it.
Indeed the adorable Greatness of the Divine Majesty is fufficient to check all manner of Irreverence in our Approaches to him ; and a due sense of his infinite Distance from us would oblige us to all Humility of Body and Mind, A a'2