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indeed is their custom, in treating of most of the grand passages of the gospel, till they have even made their religion itself but a metaphor, that is, something like a religion, but not a religion.

But the design of this great action being to signify and to transmit spiritual notices by sensible conveyances, it must not wholly be passed over in silence.

Briefly therefore, it exhibits to the world the great means chosen by God for the propagation of the kingdom of Christ. The apostles, beating upon that general misconceit of the Jews about the kingdom of the Messiah, in the preceding chapter, ver. 6, asked Christ, Whether he would at that time restore the kingdom to Israel? and questionless, in the strength of that prejudice, they expected here some strange appearance of angels that should conquer the world before them, and bring all nations to the Jewish yoke and subjection.

But suddenly, by a new kind of warlike preparation, they receive no other weapons but tongues, the proper badges of him that is the eternal Word, weapons that draw no blood, break no bones; their only armour and artillery was variety of languages, that fitted them more to travel over than to conquer the world: and thus was that first cause of the world's confusion made the great instrument of its salvation.

And as these tongues were a proper representation of the gospel, so the peculiar nature and efficacy of this gospel was emphatically set forth by those attending circumstances of the fire and the mighty wind, both of which are notable for these two effects.

1. To cleanse. 2. To consume and destroy. The gospel came like a great and mighty wind, to dry and cleanse a dirty and polluted world; like a fire, to purge and carry off that dross that had spread and settled itself in the inmost regions of our nature. The design of Christianity was nothing else but to make virtue as universal and as natural to men as vice, as desirable to their thoughts, and as suitable to their affections. Christ's intent was not so much to amuse men's reason with the belief of strange propositions, but to refine their manners, to correct their tempers, to turn vultures into doves, goats into sheep; to make the drunkard once for all vomit up

his sin; to bring the wanton only in love with purity, and to see no beauty but in holiness; to make men, of covetous, cruel, and intemperate, to become liberal, courteous, and sober; in a word, to be new creatures and excellent persons.

And therefore he that, in the profession of so pure and noble a religion, thinks not of the design of it, but only hears, and never feels the word; to whom it comes only in the sound of the wind, but not in the force and efficacy of the fire: who, in the midst of all spiritual helps, of the several methods of amendment and renovation; as, seasonable sermons, continual prayers, frequent sacraments, and the like; yet carries his old, base inclinations fresh and lively about him; and cannot say that he ever conquered so much as one habitual sin, nor got the better of any one vile appetite; but remains sordidly obnoxious, and a slave to all its motions and returns; so that by a desperate vicissitude of sin and duty, he hears and sins, prays and sins, partakes and sins; and that perhaps with a better stomach than before; till, by such a continual mockery of God, he comes at length to have finished the fatal round of reprobation such a one will find, that that Word which could not cleanse him will be a wind to blast, and a fire to consume him ; and that the same Spirit, that only breathed in gentle, but neglected persuasions, will at length, like a resisted tempest, rage in the sad effects of incurable breaches and a final confusion.


JOHN ix. 4.

-The night cometh, when no man can work.

HESE words, as they lie in the context, are a general


maxim or assertion, assigned as a reason of Christ's constancy and assiduity in the particular discharge of those works, which, as mediator, he was to perform while he was yet conversant in the world. And for the figurative scheme of the words, there is nothing more usual in the dialect of scripture, than to set forth and express the time allotted for this life by day; and the time and state after life, which is death, by night the reasons of which similitude being very natural and obvious, to be exact and particular in recounting them would be but to tell men what they know already, and consequently a work both precise and superfluous.


The sense of the text seems most naturally to lay itself forth in these three propositions:

I. That there is a work allotted, begun, cut out, and appointed to every man, to be performed by him while he lives in the world.

II. That the time of this life being once expired, there is no further opportunity or possibility of performing that work. III. That the consideration of this ought to be the highest and the most pressing argument to every man, to use his utmost diligence in discharging the work incumbent upon him in this life.

I. For the first of these, That there is a work cut out, &c.

we must observe, that every man may be considered under a double capacity or relation:

1. As he is a part or member of the body politic, and so is not his own, but stands included in and possessed by the community. In which capacity he is obliged to contribute his proportion of help to the public; as sharing from thence with others the benefits of society, and so being accountable to make it some retribution in his particular station and condition.

2. A man may be considered as he is a member and subject of a spiritual and higher kingdom. And in this capacity he is to pursue the personal, yet great interest of his own salvation. He is sent into this world to make sure of a better; to glorify his Maker by studying to save himself; and, in a word, to aim at enjoyments divine and supernatural, and higher than this animal life can aspire unto.

Now these two capacities are very different; by the former, a man is to approve himself a good citizen; by the latter, a good Christian: and though these relations have their precise limits and distinctions, yet we are not to be ignorant of the subordination of one to the other, as its superior. So that if they chance to clash and thwart, the inferior must give way; nor must a man do any thing to preserve a civil interest that is contrary to a spiritual, and the greater obligations lying upon him with reference to the good of his soul, and the invaluable concerns of felicity in the other world. The distinction of a politic and a private conscience is a thing that true reason explodes, and religion abhors, as placing the matter of duty under a contradiction, and consequently can be nothing but an art to give a man satisfaction in the midst of his


We have seen then how every man sustains a double capacity; according to which he has also a double work or calling.

1. A temporal one, by which he is to fill up some place in the commonwealth by the exercise of some useful profession, whether as a divine, lawyer, or physician; a merchant, soldier, mariner, or any inferior handicraft; by all which, as by so many greater and less wheels, the business of the vast

body of the public is carried on, its necessities served, and its state upheld.

And God, who has ordained both society and order, accounts himself so much served by each man's diligent pursuit, though of the meanest trade, that his stepping out of the bounds of it to some other work (as he presumes) more excellent, is but a bold and thankless presumption, by which the man puts himself out of the common way and guard of Providence. For God requires no man to be praying or reading when the exigence of his profession calls him to his hammer or his needle; nor commands any one from his shop to go hear a sermon in the church, much less to preach one in the pulpit.

God, as the lord and great master of the family of the universe, is still calling upon all his servants to work and labour; a thing so much disdained by the gallant and the epicure, is yet that general standing price that God and nature has set upon every enjoyment on this side heaven; and he that invades the possession of any thing, but upon this claim, is an intruder and an usurper. I have given order, says the apostle, 2 Thess. iii. 10, that if any one refuse to labour, neither should he eat. It is the active arm and the busy hand that must both purvey for the mouth, and withal give it a right to every morsel that is put into it.

Some perhaps think they are not born to labour, because they are born to estates. But the sentence that God passed upon Adam is universal; we find in it no exception or proviso for any noble or illustrious drone: no greatness can privilege a man to lie basking in sloth and idleness; and to eat the labours of the husbandman's hand, and drink the sweat of his brow; to wallow and sleep in ease only, as an useless lump of well clothed, well descended earth: earth for heaviness only, but not for fruitfulness, serves no other end of society, but only to make one in a number.

But it may be replied, Shall those whom God has blessed in the world, and, as it were, by a particular mark of his providential favour exempted from the general curse of toil and labour, be obliged to work in a trade, or to be of such or such a laborious profession? No, I answer, that they need

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