« AnteriorContinuar »
of those Passions that he will deal with them, as if he were affected with them as we are in such Cases, though the Passions themselves are not compatible to the Divine Nature: In like manner, when God is faid to rejoice at the Repentance of a Sinner, 'tis meant only of its being very agreeable and acceptable to him.
But why is the Joy greater for the finding of one lost Sheep, or the Return of one penitent Sinner, than of all the ninety and nine, that never went astray and needed ho Repentance? Why, this is here parabolically express'd, to signify, not that there is more Joy in Heaven for one that was once bad, than for many that had been always good •, but 'tis spoken only to enhance the Joy ttpon the present Occasion: for as the rescuing of one Child from the Pit of Destruction, affects more for the present than the Safety of all the rest, and as the rinding of one thing, suppos'd to be lost, rejoices more than the Possession of all the other so the Return of one lost Person, occasions more present Satisfaction, than many others, though the fame should happen to them in the like Circumstance.
This is the first Parable by which our Saviour sought to ronvince the Pharisees of the Reasonableness of his conversing with the Publicans and Sinners, in order to their Repentance and Salvation: for if there be Joy in Heaven at the Conversion of a Sinner, there should bejAMurmuring on Earth, at the Means us'd to reclaim thefj^
The second Parable to the like purpose is in the 8th, and following Verses: What Woman having ten Pieces of Silver, if she lose one Piece, doth not light a Candle., and sweep the House, and seek diligently till shefind it? Where the loft Sinner is compar'd to a lost Piece of Silver, which being a thing of Value, stamp'd and made current by the Regal Authority, was search'd after with great Diligence • , the Candle was lighted to look into every Corner, the House was swept that it might not lie hid or buried in the Dust, and all Means were us'd by a narrow and diligent Search, till she found if. In like manner, the Souls of Men being esteem'd precious, and stamp'd with the,Image of God, are to be carefully look'd after, and not suffer'd to be lost or cast away by Negligence or Inadvertency ^ but being of more Value than the whole World, ought to be preserv'd by the utmost Care and Vigilance, and no Means to be neglected for their Happiness and Salvation.
It follows in the Parable, that when the Woman had found her lost Piece of Mony, she calleth her Friends and Neighbours together, faying, Rejoice with me, for I have I found the Piece which I had lest. We are bid in Holy Scripture to rejoice with them that rejoicer as well as weep with them that weep that is, to bear a part in the Joys and Sorrows of one another, which will be a means of encreaflng the one, and lessening the other. The good Woman here having found what she sought for with great Care and Pains, is transported with a Joy suitable to the Concern she had for its Loss: of this Joy she would have her Neighbours to partake, and therefore calls them together to share with her in it; and from thence we are directed to the Delight and Satisfaction which the Saintsi and Angels have above at the Repentance of a Sinner: Likewise I fay unto you, There is Joy in the Presence of the jingels of God over one Sinner that repenteth. By which it appears, that Heaven feels, and is full of this Joy •, and when we are pleas'd with any wicked Man's turning from the Evil of his Ways, we join in Consort with the Heavenly Host, and bear a part of the general Joy with the blessed Inhabitants of Heaven, who all rejoice at the Conversion of a Sinner: and if there be so great and general a Satisfaction above in this cafe, sure we ought not to take any Offence at conversing with them here to that end.
The third and last Parable to this purpose is that of the Prodigal or lost Son ., which tho immediately following this, yet being out of the Gospel for this Day, lhall be the more lightly touch'd upon. This Son had wickedly left hfs Fa^ ther's House, ana. spent all his Substance in riotous living; by which means he was lost to his Father, to himself, and to all the Comforts of Life: but when he came to himself, he bewail'd his Misery and Folly,- and return'd to his Father, who receiv'd him as one rais'd from the Dead, and welcom'd him with an extraordinary Joy. At which when the elder Son repin'd, for shewing more Joy for a riotous profligate Son than was ever shew'd to him who never offended, the father mildly reply'd, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine, it was meet we fiould make merry and be glad -, for this thy Brother was dead, and is alive again , he was lost, and is found: signifying, that we may and ought to rejoice at the Return of straying Sinners. By these and the like Parables our Saviour endeavour'd to convince the Scribes
and Pharisees of the Benefit and Charity of his eating with Publicans and Sinners -, and that the Freedom of his Converfation with them was rather a matter of Joy, than any just occasion of Offence.
This is the Scope and Design of this Day's Gospel; from , which we may learn,
ist, The lost and undone Condition of Mankind in their natural and unregenerate State, whilst they continue in their Sins without Repentance: This is represented in the three Resemblances, of the lost Sheep, the lost Groat, and the lost Son all which set forth the Desperateness and Deplorableness of their Condition. The lost Sheep is never lafe or out of danger, till he be restor'd again to the Flock: The lost Groat is of no use or value, till it be found and added to the other Treasure: The lost Son is in a helpless and remediless Condition without returning to his Father. And such are the miserable Circumstances of all straying and wandering Sinners - , whilst they are addicted to Vice and Error, they are out of the way to all Happiness, and are going directly in the way to Hell and Destruction, if then they have any Sense or Apprehension, of their present Danger, or any Fears, as they well may, of worse hereafter, let this awaken them out of their Security, and seriously Consider their fad and desperate Condition. To which end we are here taught,
zdly, To use all possible Means and Industry to get out of this miserable and forlorn Estate ^ for this reason the Shepherd sought his stragling Sheep thro Defarts and Mountains, and could not rest till he found and brought them back to the Fold. The careful Woman lighted her Candle, swept the House, and ceased not her Search till she found the Piece that was mislaid. The lost Son could have no Ease or Comfort till he went back again to his Father: even so all wandering Sinners, that are gone out of the Way of God's Precepts and Protection, should use all possible means to get in again, and never give themselves any Rest till they "have found the Path of Life.
From the Joy that is in Heaven at the Conversion of Sinners, we may learn what Encouragement we have to the great Duty of Repentance j for hereby we not only promote our own Happiness, but in some measure add to the Joy and Felicity of Heaven, by doing a thing so delightful to God and his Holy Angels. Fulfil ye my Joy (faith St. Paul to the Philippians, in being like-minded; Phil. 2. 2. How much more should we fulfil the Joy of the glorify'd Spirits above, who are so zealously affected, and so tenderly concern'd for our Happiness and Salvation?DISCOURSE XVIII.
Lastly, From our Saviour's Freedom of Converfation in the World, we may learn Humanity, Courtesy arid Affability to Mankind. Nabal, for his Churlishness, was stil'd one of the Sons of Belial; and to bid others stand of, come not nigh, for I am holier than thou, is rather the Language of a proud Pharisee, than the Guise of a good Christian. Our Blessed Saviour shew'd himself marvelously free and converfable with all sorts of Men, in order to their Good j he fuffer'd the Publicans and Sinners to draw nigh to him, and to hear him, tho the Scribes and Pharisees blam'd this Familiarity: there was nothing austere or supercilious in him, but in the whole Course of his Life he was obliging and affable to all Men, and would have us lenrn that Lesson of him, to be meek and lowly in Heart; and that will keep us from despising any, and teach us to condescend to all good Offices to one another •, so shall we advance Peace, Goodwill and Happiness here on Earth, and add to the Joys and Hallelujahs of Heaven: Which God grant, for the Merits of Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Epistle for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity.
Rom. via. 18 24.
/ reckon that the Sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared. with the Glory that jball be revealed, in m; for the earnefl Expectation of the Creature waiteth for the Manifestation of the Sons of God: for the Creature was made subject to Vanity, &C.
TH E Collect for this Day teaches us to pray unto God, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy, to multiply upon us his Mercy, that he being our Ruler and Guide, we may so pass thro things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal.
Now because nothing is so apt to discourage and hinder us from seeking or attaining eternal good things, as the temporal Evils and Sufferings of this present Life j therefore the Epistle for the Day heartens us under them, with the Expectation not only of a speedy Relief, but of an eternal Reward for them: for if we suffer with Christ (faith the foregoing Verse) we Jhall also be glorify'd together. And then, setting them one against the others / reckon (faith the Apostle) that the Sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compar'd with the Glory that Jhall be reveal'd in tu. Where we may observe,
First, That Sufferings may and do befal the best Men here in this Life.
Secondly, That there is a future Glory that wilt be reveal'd in us to reward them.
Thirdly, That there is no Comparison between the one stnd the other.