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SER M. just as we obtain any other grace or virtue; by reason, by
LXXIII.

meditation, and prayer.

We are sure, this is not the place we were made for ; and we easily see, that the things we so much admire are but marks of slavery, and sad instances of our being chained down to a world, which can never make us happy; that therefore we ought to disengage our hearts from it as soon as may be.

And then, let us remember, that all the little arts of diverting ourselves, and stifling that remorse which is the consequence of consenting to known iniquity, will soon be at an end; and we shall, in a little time, be sick of those pleasures, which now we are so fond of.

Then let us turn our eyes upon the place and happiness which our blessed Saviour has purchased and prepared for us. Let us retire, and consider on what conditions we may be happy for ever.

And if we find that the promise is sure, the reward worth our utmost endeavours, the conditions reasonable and necessary; what can we do less, than to pray to God to fix these thoughts in our hearts, to wean our affections from a world which we are but too apt to be fond of, and which will ruin us if we are so; and to bring us to Himself, by what ways to Him seem most meet?

If we live in the practice of these duties, our affections will be loose from the world, our hearts much in heaven, and we shall be secure of the favour of God, and from fear of evil.

Now, to make us very serious and concerned about these
[Acts 1. 11; things, let us remember, That this same Jesus, which was taken
Matt. 16.
27.]

up from us into heaven, shall so come in like manner as He has
been seen to go into heaven, namely, in the glory of His Father,
with His holy angels ; when He shall reward every man accord-
ing to his works.

Now, unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the
Lamb, be ascribed blessing, and honour, and glory, and power,
for ever and ever. Amen.

SERMON LXXIV.

TIIE MERCY OF GOD IN SENDING THE HOLY GHOST TO CONVERT

THE WORLD, AND TO REMAIN WITII HIS CHIURCH FOR EVER.

JOIN xvi. 7.

I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you thut I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you ; but if I depart, I will send IIim unto you.

That it would be better, and for their advantage, that Christ should leave His disciples, was a hard lesson, and our Saviour was forced to use an extraordinary way of speaking to satisfy them: I TELL YOU THE TRUTH.

And will not this for ever silence the corrupt reasonings of men, and oblige them to submit to the wisdom of God in all His dispensations; and look upon that to be the best which He does, how much soever it contradicts their hopes or desires ? That it would be better for the world that Christ, who had done so much good in it, should leave it; that it would be better for His disciples, who had been preserved, and taught, and comforted, by His presence, to have Him depart from them.

And yet this was the best for them, and for the world also. For when Jesus Christ had satisfied the justice of God by His death, He (according to His promise) sent down the Holy Ghost to teach and to comfort them, to convince and to convert the world,

By which good Spirit the apostles were enabled to teach mankind the way of happiness, whereby we, amongst many other nations, have been brought out of darkness and error, into the clear light and true knowledge of God, and of Ilis Son Jesus Christ; and by which good Spirit, all Christians

SERM. (if it is not their own fault) are enabled to know the will of LXXIV.

God, and to do what God requires of them.

By Him they are put in mind of their duty when they forget it; corrected when they are backward and negligent, supported under all temptations, comforted under afflictions, until they are fit for the kingdom of heaven.

Now, that we may better understand the mercy of God in sending the Holy Ghost after a very wonderful manner, to convert the world, and ever since to remain with His Church, to increase the number of believers, to guide and to preserve them to eternal happiness: that we may all be truly thankful to Christ for this great blessing, and very careful not to grieve the good Spirit of God, by which we are sanctified, it will be proper to consider these two particulars :

First, what we are by nature without the assistance of the Holy Ghost.

Secondly, what we are by grace; that is, as we are under the government and blessing of that good Spirit.

I. And first; we may see what we are by nature, by considering the condition of mankind before the Gospel was published; as well as by looking upon those parts of the world where it is not yet received.

The holy Scripture does very significantly call the state of

mankind before the preaching of the Gospel, a state of darkEph. 5.8.

ness : “Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light;" that is, ye were heretofore heathens, but now ye are Christians. And it was truly a state of darkness. They were subject to the prince and powers of darkness; they were engaged in works of darkness; they were ignorant of the true God; they were without hopes and without promises.

And thus it is, at this day, with all those nations who have not yet received the Gospel; they are under such power and dominion of the devil, as makes all good Christians to pity them. To see creatures like ourselves worship the sun and moon, and cry for help to creatures that cannot hear nor help them; to see them worship those very evil spirits which delight to afflict mankind, is what should make us seriously to value the blessing of knowing better things.

But we need not go so far for instances of what we are by nature, void of grace. Let us but seriously think of it, that whatever difference there is amongst men, if one man is in any thing better than another, it is purely owing to the good Spirit of God; for we are all born in sin, and prone to it; and though we have reason and understanding, yet we may see into what errors it would lead us, by observing into what errors it leads others. For is there

any

wicked. ness that can be named, that men born with reason, but destitute of the grace of God, have not committed ?

Our first parents are an instance sufficient to shew us what reason, in its greatest perfection, when left to itself, will end in; namely, in the destruction of those that trust to it. And will any man on earth pretend to govern himself by reason better than they did ?

In short; there is nothing so wicked, nothing so base, that one man is guilty of, but another is, by nature, capable of being so. And though this may look strange to one who finds in his breast an abhorrence for some vices, and supposes that he should die rather than be guilty of them; yet he may perhaps change his thoughts, when he considers, that there are few people who, in many instances, do not come to be in love with vices, which once in their lives they had a hearty dislike to. The holy Scriptures have given us several very noted examples of this. “Am I a dog," saith Hazael (2 Kings 8.

13; Mark to the Prophet, “ that ever I should do such vile things ?” 14. 31.] And yet, for all this abhorrence, he did those very wicked actions. “Though I die with Thee,” said St. Peter, "yet will I not deny Thee in any wise :” and yet, being left to himself, to make good that resolution, you know how it ended.

Now, these things are written for our example, that we may see what poor, weak, vile creatures we are by nature; that we may learn not to value ourselves, not to trust in our own strength; and to know, that whenever we do any thing that is good or praiseworthy, it is God that worketh in us (Phil. 2. both to will, and to do, of His own good pleasure, that we may

13.] justly ascribe the whole glory to God, who, having given us the earnest of His Spirit in baptism, continues to guide, and protect, and bless us all our days, at least until we drive that good Spirit from us by our evil deeds.

II. And this brings us to consider what we are by grace ; that is, as we are sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

SER M. Now that I may do this more to your advantage, I must LXXIV.

first in a few words, and in as plain a way as I can, endeavour to make you sensible of the true state and condition of a Christian.

Let us consider then, that we are creatures subject to sin and to misery; that God has permitted us to be born in this condition, that we may see the sad effects of forsaking the commands of God; and that, when we find we are unable to help ourselves, we may be brought to look up to and depend on Him for help and happiness, which, at our baptism, without any merit of ours, God hath covenanted to give us.

Now, to prove us, whether we will indeed live in a constant dependence upon God, and at all times seek to Him for help, He hath permitted the devil to tempt us; that is, to endeavour to draw us from our duty ; but at the same time, we have this faithful promise, that His good Spirit shall ever be with us, to defend, and comfort, and strengthen us, provided we seek to Him for help, and do not grieve Him by continuing in any known sin.

To encourage us thus to serve God, whatever good thing we do by His assistance, He will graciously reward it, as if it had been done purely by ourselves.

But if we shall neglect or despise God's assistance, and, by depending upon ourselves, yield to temptations, the Spirit of God will forsake us, and we shall become the devil's servants, and be very miserable both in this life and another.

From which it appears, that this world is not the place we were made for, but that this life is a state of trial and discipline, a state of temptation and danger. And yet we have no reason to complain; for if we depend upon God, He will give us an exceeding great reward, such as we could never deserve; and we are sure not to miscarry but by our own faults.

Nay, I must add, that the condition of every Christian is safer and better than that of our first parents in their state of innocency. They had reason and innocency to support them, and they notwithstanding fell; instead of which, we have an Almighty hand ever with us to assist and guide us, and a faithful promise of such a reward as by nature we have no right to. And if at any time we fall, we have an

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