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Christ himself declares, that when Tribulation or Persecution ariseth by reason os the Word, by and by they are offended; Mat. 13. 21. Now to prevent this Evil, and to fortify his Followers against all future Trials, he here tells them before-hand what was like to befal him and them, and withal adds those Arguments of Consolation that may well enough arm and fortify them against them. •'• .,
But our Saviour does not here rest in Generals, but proceeds to some particular Instances of the evil and barbarous Treatment they were like to meet with from the World: As, . . . v.. ;. • .: . . J. .
They Jhallput you out of the Synagogues; that is, they shall cast you out of all their Assemblies, both Sacred and Civil, and not admit you either into their religious or common Converfation, and thereby set such a Mark of Reproach upon you, that you shall not be familiarly convers'd with by any. This fame Evangelist tells us, that the Jems had agreed already, that whosoever jhould confess Jesus to be the Christ, he should be put out of the Synagogue, John 9.22. Atcordingly the blind Man, to whom he restor'd his Sight, confessing of him, was cast out, as we read wr. 35, 36. & Chap. 12.42. We are told of others that believed on him, but because of the Pharisees were afraid to confess him, lest they ftrould be put out of the Synagogue. Now this casting out of the Synagogue was done with all manner of contumelious Ufage, the Officers of the Court taking the condemn'd Person, and thrusting him with Shame and Disgrace out of the Assembly; and if he had any Place of Rule or Government, he was to te depriv'd of his Office or Dignity, which made the Rulers afraid to confess him, John 12. 42. T« this reproachful Ufage our Saviour alludes, when he faid, Blessed are ye when Men shall hate you, and separate you from their Company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your Name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake; Luke 6. 22. Upo» this account it was, that St. Paul, speaking of the Christians in bis time, faid, We are made as the Filth of the World, and the Off-scouring of all things to this day; 1 Cor. 4.13,
But this putting out of the Synagogue signify'd not only the excluding Men from civil Commerce and Converfation, but likewise from tke facred and religious Assemblies and fo 'twas the fafltewith Excommunication among the Jews. Hence St. Chryfostcm expounds this putting out of the Synagogue by casting out of the Temple, and others by driving out of theUiufe.of God, as Persons unworthy of the focred or civil Society of God's People. But beside this contumelious and reproachful Ufage of their Names, our Saviour forewarns them,
(2.) Of greater Hardships and Violences that should be offer'd to their Persons •, for the time cometh (faith he) that .whoever killeth you, will think that he doth God service: that is, some Persons would arise, who would be so far from sparing or faving.your Lives, that they would think the flaying of you not only lawful, but an acceptable Sacrifice unto God. So it happen'd to many of them in Jerusalem^ which made our Saviour upbraid and lament over that unhappy City, for kilting the Prophets, and Honing of them that rvere sent unto it; Mat. 23. 37. And in this some think our Saviour refer'd to the Sect of the Zealots among the Jews, who from Elias's calling for Fire from Heaven to consume the Enemy, and Phineas's Act of sudden Justice upon Zimri and Cosbi, both done by a Divine Impulse, took occasion to commit many Outrages, Cruelties and Murders without any due Course or Form of Law their fiery and intempe.rate Zeal leading them on to a great Rigor and Extravagance of Action, under a Mistake or Misk of Religion: which shews the Sinfulnesi and Danger of a furious and mistaken Zeal, and what bloody and violent Attempts it runs Men upon. Of such kind of Zealots we have had fad Experience in our Days, who have committed Treason, Sacrilege and Rebellion, under Pretences of Reformation and both Church and State groan under the direful Effects of such a mad and mistaken Zeal to this day. • .^
Others again suppose these Words of our Saviour to relate to the many heavy Persecutions that soon after befel the Christians under their Heathen Governours, who sought to root out Christianity^ by putting to death all that were calfd by, or call'd upon the Name of Christ: Pilate mingled the Blood of some with their Sacrificesand we read of others slain at the Altar, taking it for a grateful Offering unto the Lord. St. Paul himself, before his Conversion, breath'd out Threatnings and Slaughter against the Disciples of the Lord; and being exceedingly mad against them, persecuted them from City to City: Acts 9. 1. & Chap. 26. 1 r. In all which he thought he did God good Service: he did it, as himself tells us, in all good Conscience, for he verily thought with himself, that he ought to do many.,things contrary to the Name of Jesus of Nazareth• , Aces 23.1. & Chap. 26. 9. which shews what great care is to be taken to inform our
Vol. IV. Part 2. D ConConscience aright in all Matters, that we be not misled bf a false Light to do evil- , for very bad things have been dong by mis-guided Consciences. We have known some have shelter'd Schism, Sedition, and all manner of Disorder and Disobedience under a pretence of Conscience; and tho God hath commanded all Men to be subject to the higher Powers for Conscience fake, yet too many have pretended Con> science for disobeying them: Which things proceed eitheje from a wilful Ignorance, or a blind and mistaken Zeal-, so* into these our Saviour resolves all the Cruelties and Violence us'd against his Disciples, faying in the next words, An$ these things will they do unto you, because they have not knowp. the Father, nor me. \ . o ,j
'Tis the want of the true Knowledg of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, that is the real Cause of all Persecutions against the Church; for they that have right and due Ap^ prehensions of God, will be so far from dishonouring of nim, and disturbing his People, that they will harbour nothing but Love to him, and all that belong to him. And they that know Jesus Christ aright to be sent from God^ to be the Saviour of the World, will neither disbelieve him, nor destroy his Members: And therefore St. Paul tells usy that this Knowledg was hid from the Princes of the World*, for had they known it, they would not have crucify d the Lor^ of Glory; 1 Cor. 2. 8. And what St. Paul did before hi$ Conversion in blaspheming God, and persecuting the Churclk of Christ, he confcss'd it to be all done ignorantly and its Unbelief; i Tim, 1./13, And this may teach us to labour af. ter a true faving Knowledg of God and Christ; for this » Life eternal (faith St, John) to know God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent; John 17. 3. To attain to both, we must pray for humble and teachable Minds, and Hearts dispos'cl to do she Will of God j for he that doth the Will of my Father .(faith our Saviour) he shall know the Doctrine, whether it be of God; John 7. 17. Now these things (faith Christ i<i .the Close of tae Gospel) have I told you, that when the tina flail come, ye may remember that I toljd you of them:. that is, I have declar'd these Sufferings to you before hand, that you may not be startled at them when they shall happefi to you; but being forewarn'd of them, you may be th* better arm'd and prepar'd against them when they come.
This is the Sum, Q| thi; Day's Gospel; which we may thus improve.
First, From Christ's promising a Paraclete, that is, a Comforter, an Advocate and Instructor, let us be ready to welcome him for all those Purposes that is, let us hearkeri to his Consolations in all our Troubles and Distresses, and be ever willing to receive the Cordials he is pleas'd to administer, to keep us (torn fainting under them.
Again, Let us rely upon him as our Advocate and Intercessor, against the Cry and Guilt of our Sins j let us cast pur selves upon the Merits of Christ's Satisfaction, and depend upon his Holy Spirit, who is ever ready to plead our Cause, and to make Intercession for us.
Moreover, Let us hearken to the Advice and Directions of this Holy Monitor, both in his private Whispers, and more publick Instructions ., never turning the deaf Ear to either, but always Ustning to that Voice, faying to us, 7hib is the Way, walk in its when we are turning to the right Hand, or to the left: And then he who now guides us by his Counsel here, will hereafter bring us to Glory.
Lastly, From what hath been said concerning Christ's foretelling the Sufferings of his Disciples, let us learn not to be shakenby, or offended at them, whensoever for Christ's lake they may happen to us; but let us manfully go thro and bear up under them: and then we who now bear the Cross with him, shall e'er long be crown'd with him in his everlasting Kingdom. Which God grant, &c.
Acts ii. i 12.
When the Day of Pentecofl was fully come* they were, all with one accord, in one place, and suddenly there came a Sound from Heaven, as of a rush* ing mighty Wind, and it filed all the House where they were fitting. And there appeared unto them .cloven Tongues like as of tire, and it fat upon each of them: and they were all filed with the Holy Ghoft, and began to speak with other Tongues^ +s the Spirit gave them Vtterance, Sec,
TH E Collect for this great Festival minds us, that God did at this time teach the Hearts of his faithful People, by the sending to them the Light of his Holy Spirit j and thence beseeches him to grant us by the .fame Spirit to have a right Judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy Comfort.
The Epistle for the Day shews us the Time, the Place, the Manner of God's sending his Holy Spirit, together with the wonderful Effects that follow'd upon this miraculous Descent: of each of which we have here a brief Account.
For the Time, the first Words tell us, it was when the Day of Pentecost was fully cume; that is, when fifty Days from Easter were fully compleat and ended. But why on that Day? (faith a Reverend Father on these Words) To which, by way of Answer, he adds some weighty Reasons:
As, i//, Most meet it was, that the Coming of the Holy Ghost should beat some solemn Season or Festival, that so the Peoples Joy being in some measure stir'd, they might receive him the more joyfully: as also, that the great Conic urse of People, which those great Feasts usually draw together,.