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SERM. is plainly declared, that we are but stewards of these XXXIII. things, having received them in trust, not to use them Matt. xxv. according to our pleasure, but to employ them with the 14.xxiv.45. best advantage for God's service; and accordingly shall in
the last judgment be ftri&tly accountable for them; so that if we have embezzled or perverted them to abuse, it will then appear far worse for us, than if we never had received them; much better indeed it will be for us, that we had been poorest beggars, filliest idiots, most def
picable wretches here, than not to have duly improved Luke xii. our wealth, parts, and honour to God's service; To whom
foever much is given, from him much shall be required, is the rule that punctually in that great audit will be observed.
5. The consideration of this point may induce us to the observing strict justice and equity in all our dealings: there are in this world many advantages of doing injury and iniquity safely in respect to men; without intrenching upon human laws, without incurring any cbeck, or any correction from them; they reach to very few cases, they retrench only some great outrages, and punish fome enormous crimes, apparently noxious to the peace or welfare of common society ;c the stroke of human law may also (even where it taketh cognizance, where it maketh provision to secure right, or repair wrong) often be evaded by power, or eluded by Neight, by gift, by favour: but as the divine law doth extend universally to the prohibition of all iniquity whatever, (small as well as great, fecret no less than visible,) fo the divine judgment inevitably will reach to all: the least wrongful word, by which we hurt the good name of our neighbour, the least exaction or hard dealing with him, the least overreaching him by craft, (however blameless these things may seem here, however they may pass with commendation, as instances
of wit or ability,) will surely then be condemned and pu1 Theft. iv. nished; Let no man, faith St. Paul, go beyond and defraud
c Quam angufta innocentia eft, ad legem bonum effe, quanto latius off, ciorum patet, quam juris regula? Sen. de Ir. ii. 37.
his brother in any matter, 816TËxôixos ó Kúpios asegi wartwv SERM. TOLDÓTWv, because God will judge and avenge for all these XXXIII, things ; so that, as the same Apostle teacheth us, the un-2 Cor, vi. 9. jus, the wrongful, the revilers, the rapacious, shall not inherit the kingdom of God; that day will detect all wicked fraud and cozenage, will defeat all unjust might and oppression; no power shall be able to break through, no wit shall skill to decline, no friendship or favour will help to keep off the impartial sentence and the irresistible stroke of that judgment; There is no darkness or shadow of Job xxxiv. death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves 22. from being detected, from being profecuted and punished. The poor, the meek, the simple, who rather choose to fuffer than do wrong, shall there find a certain patronage and a full redress; that strict abstinence from wrong, which here may pass for fimplicity, shall then be approved for the best wisdom; and this overreaching craft, which now men are fo conceited of, will then appear wretched folly, when all ill-gotten profits with shameful regret shall in effect be refunded, yea shall bring grievous damages and fore penalties for them : in fine, then it will be most evident, that he who injureth another doth indeed chiefly hurt himfelf; he that cheateth his neighbour doth really gull himself, and abuse his own soul.
6. The consideration of this point is apt to breed charity in us; charity of all forts; charity in giving, charity in forgiving, charity in judging and censuring of men.
1. It should incline us freely to impart our goods, and to contribute our endeavours, for the relief of our poor neighbour; for that the last judgment will in especial manner proceed upon a regard to the performance or the neglect of this duty: it shall be the test of piety, and a ground of recompense at the last day: to charitable perfons, who had relieved him in his poor brethren and members, our Lord himself telleth us, that he will fay, Because I was hungry, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, Matt. Ixv. and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me 85. in; I was naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye vihted me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me; there,
Matt. xx 41.
SERM. fore, Come, ye blessed of my Father, enter into the kingdom XXXIII. prepared for you from the foundation of the world. To
them, who contrarily had neglected to fuccour and comfort their poor brethren, he will pronounce the contrary doom ; Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels : for I was hun, gry, and ye gave me no meat, &c. And what argument can there be imagined more forcible to engage us on the practice of this duty?
2. It should likewise dispose us readily to forgive all injuries and discourtesies received from any man: for since we shall at that trial need abundance of favour and mercy from God, we should in all reason and duty be willing to fhew the like to others for God's fake and at his command; especially since he hath appointed the doing so for an indispensable condition, without which we shall not receive mercy or pardon from him ; so that infallibly, if we will be rigorous and hard to others in this case, we must expect the like extremity and severity
from God: for the laws and rules of God's proceeding lames ii. 13. then are these; He shall have judgment without mercy, Matt. vi.15. that hath shewed no mercy ; If ye forgive not men their
trespases, neither will God forgive you your trespasses : and by a lively example, in way of history or parable, our Lord in the Gospel hath expressed what words (in case of our refusing to remit to our neighbour his debts and
trespasses against us) we shall hear, what usage we shall Matt. xviii. find at that day ; 0 thou wicked servant, (will God say to
any such unmerciful person of us,) I forgave thee all that debt, because thou depredst me : Mouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And the Lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
3. It likewise serveth to restrain us from all undue, all rash and harsh censure concerning the persons, the actions, the state of our neighbour; whereby we do invade our Lord's office, making ourselves judges in his room ; whereby we usurp his right, exercising jurisdiction over his fubjects ; 'whereby we arrogate to ourselves his attri
butes, who alone is able to know and judge rightly ; SERM, Why, saith St. Paul, doft thou judge thy brother? or why XXXIII. dost thou set at nought thy brother ? we shall all stand at Rom, the judgment seat of Christ; it is the office of Christ, 10. which we must not encroach upon: and, Who art thou Rom. xiv.4. (doth he again expoftulate) that judgest another's servant ? to his own master he sandeth or falleth. We wrong our Lord, in assuming authority over his servants ; we wrong our brethren, in making ourselves their masters : and, Judge nothing before the time, faith the same Apostle, until the Lord come, who fall enlighten the hidden things of darkness, and manifest the counsels of hearts. We blind wretches in effe&t do make ourselves gods, and facrilegiously assert his incommunicable perfections to ourselves, when we presume to search the hearts, or pretend to know the secret intentions of our brethren. Again, There James iv. is, faith another Apostle, one lawgiver, who can save or 12. destroy: who art thou that judgest another ? that is, how intolerably rash, unjust, and arrogant art thou, who featest thyself upon God's tribunal, and thence dost adventure to pronounce doom upon his people? Did we indeed well consider this judgment, we should rather think it adviseable to be mindful of our own case, than to pass sentence upon that of others; observing how liable ourselves are, we should scarce have the heart to carp at others; finding what great need our actions will then have of favourable interpretation, we should surely be more candid and mild in censuring other men's actions ; especially considering, that by harsh judgment of others we make our own case worse, and inflame our reckoning; we directly thence incur guilt, we aggravate our own offences, and render, ourselves inexcusable; we expose ourselves upon that score to condemnation; for, With what judgment we Matt. vii. 2. judge, we shall be judged; and with what measure we mete, Luke vi. 37. it hall be measured to us again, our Lord doth fay: and, Inexcufable, faith St. Paul, thou art, O man, whoever thou Rom. iin, art that judgest; for wherein thou judgest another, thou %. condemnes thyself: and, ren otevážete xatásrýaw, Do not, James v. 9.
SERM. faith St. James, grudge (or make moanful complaint) XM1. against one another, left you be condemned: behold, the
judge standeth before the doors.
7. It serveth also to support and comfort us, as against all other wrongful dealing, so against injuries of this kind; against all unjust and uncharitable censures, groundless Nanders and surmises, undeserved scorns and reproaches of men; for that assuredly at that judgment right will be done to him that suffereth in this kind; his innocence
will be cleared, his good name will be vindicated and rePl. xxxvii. paired; God will bring forth his righteousness as the light,
and his judgment as the noonday; whence approving his
conscience to God in well-doing, he may cheerfully say 1 Cor. iv. 3. with St. Paul, With me it is a very small thing, that I 1 John iii. Should be judged of you, or of man's judgment : If our
heart do not condemn us, we may (whatever the opinions or discourses of man be concerning us) have a cheerful boldness and comfortable hope in regard to God: ethe obloquy of men is a part of that cross which every good man here is appointed to bear, and assuredly shall meet with; for the devil and the world do nothing, if they cannot by impudent assaults dash, or by malicious fuga gestions blast the practice of goodness: but this confideration may easily raise us to bear it with patience, or with resolution to furmount it; it thence appearing, that
it nowise can harm us ; for if God is our judge, what Non timebo can the fancies or the tattles of men concern us; I will
not fear the judgment of men, who hall have God for my judicium, habiturus judge, was with good reason said by St. Jerome. judicem
8. It upon the like ground should preserve us from Hier.
being deluded and poisoned by the more favourable opi. nions of men. There are visibly two great rocks, upon which frequently men do split, and make shipwreck of good conscience; compliance with the practice, and regard to the opinions of others. Men out of compplai
Kõv návros dizábwow, ó di dıxaotis ároynpr8n7ai, odsis Heoi abyos cãs izsávar ψήφου, κάν άπαντες έπαινίσωσι και θαυμάσωσιν, εκείνος δε με καταδικάζη, έδιν μει rámov öð$2.0s tās izrivo ugíaws. Chryf. tom. viji. p. 98.