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Serm. ments, and, when all other Help fails, then 1.
we begin to fly to God for his Assistance. ~It is certainly our Duty, in a Time of
Sickness, to make Use of those Means which God has appointed; we must not so depend upon God as to expect that he should work a Miracle to encourage our Sloth and Laziness; he takes no Notice of the Prayers of the careless Suppliant. This is taught us in the Holy Scripture; for there we read, that, even when God defigned to work a Miracle, yet he was sometimes pleased to make Use of Means to bring it about, though such as were disproportionable to the Effect it did produce. Thus, when God was pleased to
add fifteen Years to the Life of Hezekiah, 2 Kings he commands him to apply a Lump of Figs
to the Sore, and he should recover;
and, when our Saviour Christ gave Sight to John ix. the blind Man, he took Spittle and Clay 6.
and anointed his Eyes, which could be to no other Purpose, but only to teach us, that he expects we should make Use of those Means he has appointed, and that his Grace is bestowed upon us, as an Encouragement to our diligent Endeavours. But then, let us consider, that every Creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with Thanks
XX. 7 •
1 Tim. iv. 4, 5
giving, for it is fanétified by the Word of SERM. God and Prayer; and that it is not by Bread I. alone that we live, but by every Words which proceedeth out of the Mouth of God. Mat. iv. In the first place, therefore, let us make our Application to God, and call him in to our Affistance ; and then he will bless and fanctify to us those Means which we use, and render them effectual. Thus, when the Husbandman (for I cannot illustrate what I have said by a more proper Instance, an Instance frequently made Use of in the Holy Scripture) I say, when the Husbandman cultivates and tills the Ground, he makes Use of all his Skill, his Labour, and Industry, he fows his Seed in the Sweat of his Brow, he takes the most proper and convenient Seafons ; but still he must depend upon God for a Blessing on his Endeavours, that God who gives the former and the latter Rain : And thus it is with the Seed of the Word, fown upon the Hearts of Men; the Preacher must diligently and faithfully perform his Duty, in dispensing the Word, the Hearers must fit and dispose their Hearts for the receiving it, and diligently attend to it, when it is delivered to them, but still the Success will depend, upon God's Bleffing; for whether it be
SERM. Paul that plants, or Apollos that waters, it I. is certainly God who gives the Increase.
2. FROM hence we may also learn, "how foolish and unreasonable it is, to make Use of unlawful and unjust Means to bring our Designs about. For if these
Men's Condemnation is just, who do Evil, Rom. iii. that Good may come of it, much more
is theirs so, who make Use of the most base and finful Means, to effect the most villainous Practices ; or abuse the most holy Things, to the Abetting of the most unrighteous Purposes. Of this those, who call themselves the Members of the Catholic Church, are, in a great Measure, guilıy; it is the avowed Opinion of their Casuists, that an holy and good End sanctifies the Means, that picus Frauds, i.e. juggling Tricks and false Miracles, may be made Use of to draw in the Vulgar; and, that Fire and Faggot, Massacres and Aflatlinations, are good Arguments to convert Heretics. Such Opinions and Praciices are, indeed, disowned by us Proiefiants; and I could heartily wish, that we were guilty of none like them : But, alas ! it is too common, even with us, to cover the basest Practices, under the Pretence of Religion : But those, who do thus, are so far from putting
their Trust in God, that hereby they list SERM. and enter themselves into the Devil's Service. For Sin is the work of the Devil, and his Servants we are, whose Work we do. We think him most wise whose Advice we take, and under whose Conduct we place ourselves; and, if we make use of finful Means to attain our Ends, when God has allowed us only those which are good and lawful, we do, in Effect, declare, that we have a greater Trust and Confidence in the Devil than in God himself. God has frequently told us in his Holy Word, that if we fear him, and make use of those Means which he has appointed, and obey the Voice of his Servants, he will protect us in all Calamities, support us under all Temptations, and deliver us in all our Straights and Necessities; that his Ear is not heavy that he cannot bear, nor his Arm shortened that he cannot save, those who trust and depend on him; and, if we will not hearken to his Voice, and obey his Counsels, it is but just with God to leave us to ourselves, to withdraw that Help and Assistance, which we make so little Account of, and to suffer our Enemies to destroy us.
Of this we have a plain Instance in Saul, who, because God
SERM. did not presently hear him, and return I. a speedy Answer to his Prayers, for
fakes God, and addresses himself to the Witch of Endor, i. e. to the Devil himself; and you may see the fatal Consequence of so doing; he had an Answer, indeed, but it was such an one, as brought Fire and Brimstone along with it, and
foretold the utter Destruction both of i Sam. him and his House ; To-morrow thou and xxviii. 19. thy Sons Mall be with me. So little En
couragement has any one to go out of God's Way, or to have any Thing to do with those, who either really do, of pretend to deal with the Devil, and his Instruments; all such Wisdom, as this, will prove Folly in the End, because it is not according to Godliness.
3. FROM hence, we may learn the Reason, why so many of our Designs miscarry, and our Enterprizes prove so unsuccessful ; because we trust too much to our own Wisdom and Strength, we facrifice to our own Nets, and burn Incense to our own Drags, and do not call God in to our timely Assistance. The Reason, why so many Temptations get the Upper-hand of us, is, because we think to overcome these Sons of Anach, by our own Power ; why we link under