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ADVERTISEMENT TO THE ED. OF 1823.
These Sermons do not appear to have been prepared or even intended for the press by the author, from whose rough drafts they were evidently printed in so careless and incorrect a manner, as in many passages to be absolutely unintelligible. In the present edition it has been deemed proper to have recourse occasionally to conjectural emendation of the text, in preparing which considerable use has been made of a copy bequeathed to the Bodleian Library by Charles Godwyn, B.D. in which many of the errors are corrected in Mr. Godwyn's own hand. But in all cases, in which an obvious and almost certain correction did not present itself, the original edition has been followed without alteration. A list of the words or passages corrected is subjoined to each volume.
CHIEF HEADS OF THE SERMONS.
EPHESIANS iv. 10.
He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all heavens,
that he might fill all things. P. I. Christianity, in those great matters of fact upon which it is founded, happily complies with man's mind, by affording proper objects to affect both the pensive, sad, and composed part of the soul, and also its more joyful, serene, and sprightly apprehensions ; which is instanced in many passages of Christ's life, from the humble manger, attended with angels, to his descent into the grave, followed by his miraculous resurrection and ascension, 1. This last great and crowning passage, however true, still affords scope for the noble actings of faith ; and since faith must rest itself upon a divine word, such a word we have here in the text, 2. Wherein are four things considerable :
I. Christ's humiliation implied in these words, he that descended, 3.
The Socinians answered concerning Christ's descent according to his divine nature, 4. And an inquiry made as to the place whither he descended, the lower parts of the earth, 4. which, 1. Some understand simply of the earth, as being the lowermost part of the world, 5. 2. Some of the grave, 5. 3. Some of hell itself, the place of the damned, 5. 4. The Romanists by the help of this text have spied a place called purgatory ; or rather the pope's kitchen, 5. These words may bear the same sense with those in Psalm cxxxix. 15. and be very properly taken for Christ's incarnation and conception in the womb of the blessed Virgin, 6. and that upon these grounds:
SOUTH, VOL. IV.
1. Because the former expositions have been shewn to be unnatural, forced, or impertinent, and there is no other besides this assignable, 6.
2. Since Paul here uses David's very words, it is most probable that he used them in David's sense, 7.
3. The words descending and ascending are so put together in the text, that they seem to intend a summary account of Christ's whole transaction in man's redemption, which was begun in his conception, and consummate in his ascension, 7.
II. Christ's glorious advancement and exaltation, he ascended far above all heavens ; that is, to the most eminent place of dignity and glory in the highest heaven, 7.
III. The qualification and state of Christ's person, in reference to both conditions : he was the same. He that descended, &c. which evinces the unity of the two natures in the same person, 9.
IV. The end of Christ's ascension, that he might fill all things, 12. All things may refer here, 1. To the scripture-prophecies and predictions, 12. 2. To the church, as he might fill that with his gifts and graces, 12. Or 3, (which interpretation is preferred) to all things in the world, 12. which he may be said thus to fill in a double respect.
1. Of the omnipresence of his nature, and universal diffusion of his godhead, 12.
2. Of the universal rule and government of all things committed to him as mediator upon his ascension, 14.
It now remains that we transcribe this into our lives, and by being the most obedient of servants, declare Christ to be the greatest of masters, 16.
EPHESIANS iv. 10.
That he might fill all things. P. 17.
1. All things may refer to the whole series of prophecies and predictions recorded of Christ in the scriptures, which he may be said to fulfil by his ascension, 17.
St. Paul vindicated against the Jews' charge of perverting the prophet's meaning in that eminent prediction, Psalm lxviii. 18, 18.
2. All things may refer to the church : which sense is here most insisted on, 19.
The church, from its very nature and constitution, has unavoidably a double need or necessity, which it is Christ's prerogative to fill, 20.
I. In respect of its government. Hereupon he gave some, apostles ; some, evangelists ; some, prophets ; some, pastors and teachers, 20.
2. In respect of instruction : for this Christ made a glorious provision by the diffusion of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles, 21. which passage two things are observable :
I. The time when, 21. Which is remarkable in respect,
1. Of Christian religion itself, it being about its first solemn promulgation, 21.
2. Of the apostles. It was when they entered upon the full execution of their apostolic office, 22.
II. The manner how the Holy Ghost was conferred ; namely, in the gift of tongues, 25. 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 effects; 1. To cleanse. 2. To consume and destroy, 26.
John ix. 4.
I. That there is a work appointed to every man to be performed by him, while he lives in the world, 28.
Man, as he is, 1. a part or member of the body politic, hath temporal work, whereby he is to approve himself a good citizen, in filling the place of a divine, lawyer, &c., 29.
2. As a member and subject of a spiritual and higher kingdom, he has also a spiritual calling or profession of a Christian ; and the work that this engages him to is threefold, 31.
1. Making his peace with God, 31. 2. Getting his sins mortified, 31.
3. Getting his heart purified with the proper graces and virtues of a Christian, 34.
II. That the time of this life being once expired, there is no further possibility of performing that work, 36.
The word by which the time of this life is expressed, viz. a day, 36. may emphatically denote three things :
1. The shortness of our time, 36. 2. The sufficiency of it for our work, 36. 3. The determinate stint and limitation of it, 37.
III. That the consideration of this ought to be the highest argument for using the utmost diligence in the discharge of this work, 38. Which requires all our diligence; 1. From its difficulty, 38. 2. From its necessity, 39.
PREACHED AT THE CONSECRATION OF DR. SETH WARD, BISHOP
I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee : for I am with thee to save thee and deliver thee, saith the Lord. P. 42.
Presbytery, derived by some from Jethro, came first from Midian, an heathenish place, 42. Their elders are mentioned sometimes in the Old Testament, but their office not described, 42. A superintendency of bishops over presbyters may be argued from the superiority of the priests over the Levites, much better than they can found their discipline upon the word elder, 43. But if God instituted such a standing superiority and jurisdiction of the priest over the Levites, these two things follow :
1. That such a superiority is not in itself absolutely irregular and unlawful, 43.
2. That neither does it carry in it an antipathy and contrariety to the power of godliness, 43.
And yet upon these two suppositions, as if there was something in the very vital constitution of such a subordination irreconcilable to godliness, are all the presbyters' calumnies commenced, 43.
In the words are three things considerable :
I. God's qualification of Jeremy to be an overseer in his church ; I will make thee a fenced brasen wall, 44.
Now a wall imports, l. Enclosure, 44. 2. Fortification, 44. This metaphor of a wall, as applied to a church-governor being explained; to make good that title he must have, I. Courage, 46. 2. Innocence and integrity, 47. 3. Authority, 48.
II. The opposition that the church-governor thus qualified will be sure to meet with in his office : They shall fight against thee, 50. And this they are like to do,
1. By seditious preaching and praying, 50.