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foul fiend to come again, it is but just with God to abandon us for ever; and permit us, since we will needs have it so, to be as wicked and as miserable as hell itself can make us.
1. But thou, O most compassionate Saviour Jesus, God manifest in the flesh to destroy the works of the Devil! thou divine conqueror of the powers of darkness, before whose presence they tremble as their dreaded Judge ! have pity on me, whom thou hast redeemed from their tyranny with thy most precious blood; and suffer me not any more to fall into their merciless hands, but cover me with the shadow of thy wings, that under thy defence I may be safe!
Thou knowest, O Lord, whereof I am made, and rememberest that I am but dust; and thou thyself hast experienced how powerful and how subtle my spiritual enemies are, so that of myself it cannot be expected that I should stand before them: O do thou therefore come to my assistance, and never leave me nor forsake me for thy mercies' sake! Up, Lord, disappoint them, and cast them down; make bare thy almighty arm with which thou once didst throw them down from heaven like lightning, and in all my dangers and temptations stand up to help me : confine their malice, confound their devices, and chain them up from doing any further mischief to me!
Thou, gracious Lord, (I bless thy goodness,) art always ready on thy part to give me seasonable succour and relief : O may I never be wanting to myself, but always vigilant and sober, and in a posture of defence; that I may give my enemy no advantage over me, but whenever he assaults me, beat him off with shame and disappointment!
( do thou uphold me with thy powerful grace, that I may never fall from my steadfastness, nor repent of my repentance, nor change thy gentle, reasonable service for the intolerable slavery of the infernal tyrant; nor be deceived by his allurements, nor affrighted by his terrors into a neglect of my bounden duty to thee, and a compliance with his cursed will : but having begun well, go on with constancy and resolution in the good way that I have chosen to the last! So shall I likewise conquer by thy might, and giving thee entire possession of my soul, be secured against the unclean spirit's return : So shall I be full of comfort and joy and holy hope in this world; and when thou shalt please to call me hence, be guarded by thy holy angels in safety to thy blissful presence; and there for ever triumph with thee in thy heavenly kingdom. Which grant for thy mercies' sake, O most compassionate and blessed Saviour Jesus. Amen.
Of a builder that was not able to finish, &c.
LUKE xiv. 28–33. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not
down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have suffi
cient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not
able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to
finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sit
teth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with
twenty thousand ? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an
ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all
that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. IN the 26th verse of this chapter, we find our Lord telling the great multitudes that followed him upon account of the many beneficial miracles he wrought, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple: that is, not absolutely hate them, (which is so barbarous and unnatural, and so impious too, that Christ could never mean it in that sense,) but as the parallel place, Matt. x. 37, teaches us to understand it, He that loveth father or mother, or son or daughter, more than me, is not worthy of me : and the same is to be understood of our life too. And ver. 38. Whosoever doth not bear his
BRAGGE, VOL. III.
cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple; or as St. Mark hath it, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow mea : that is, as it is in the close of this parable, Whosoever he be of you, that forsaketh not all that he hath, or is not ready in preparation of mind to do so, whenever I shall call him to it, but will prefer any thing before me and my service, whether it be his nearest relations, his own flesh and blood, any thing that is most dear to him in this world, and will not be content to bear the cross too, to suffer affliction and persecution, and lose his very life for my sake, cannot be my disciple.
Now this our Lord thought fit to tell the people, that in such vast numbers crowded after him, not to discourage them from believing in him, and affright them from embracing his doctrine, and giving themselves up to his discipline, which he so earnestly invited all that heard him to submit to; but that they might not deceive themselves with expecting great worldly advantages from being his followers, (as they were very prone to do,) and have a right notion of the nature and design of the religion he taught: which was to wean men from this perishing world, and fit and prepare them for heaven; and likewise to warn them beforehand of the ill treatment they would meet with here, and that purely for their being his disciples; that so they might not be too much surprised when it came, nor tempted to desert him by reason of it, but bear it with patience and constancy; and which whosoever did not should not be owned by him, nor esteemed as worthy of him. He dealt thus plainly with them, that they
a Mark viii. 34.
might know what they had to trust to, if they became his disciples, and what as such he expected from them; that so if they were resolved to follow him, they might do it sincerely and considerately, and with souls ready armed against all difficulties, and prepared for the worst that could come upon them for his sake. And to shew how needful it was for him to tell them the truth in this matter, and for them seriously to weigh and consider it, he spoke the parables above recited ; namely, Which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first and counteth the cost, &c. Or what king going to war against another king, sitteth not down first and consulteth, &c. And as in these and all other cases of like nature no man can hope to proceed successfully by rashly venturing upon any thing without previous mature consideration, and a man must revolve in his mind by what means he may best attain what he aims at, and think whether he is able to go thorough with this or that design before he meddles with it, if he would have it end prosperously and well, and not expose himself to shame and ruin; so in the great concern of religion we must sit down and consult and consider, and proceed warily and prudently, that we may be able effectually to do the duties of it, (expressed here by building a tower,) and as effectually to resist all temptations to the contrary, (expressed by one king's meeting with ten thousand another that comes against him with twenty.) And he that takes so wise a course as this need not doubt of finishing his great undertaking successfully.
Having thus shewn the true meaning and design of these parables, we shall, in discoursing upon