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as labpijfr'd under worse Distempers. However, our Saviour did not wholly decline the civil Society of these proud Precisians!, for we read here that he went into the House of one of the chief Pharisees to eat Bread ., he join'd with them in the common Actions of human Life, tho he had little hopes of bringing them to a better: for they were his greatest Enemies, and oppos'd all his Designs of Good, both to themselves and others. They kept a Distance from others, as Men of the Earth, and not worthy of the Converfation of such heavenly Persons as they: now our Saviour sought both by his Discourse and Example to cure this supercilious and disdainful Carriage, and to render them more affable, courteous and condescending to other Men. There was nothing four, morose or crabbed in him; but he was marveloufiy free and converfable with all Mankind, and would have them be so too.
But this incorrigible Sect, instead of mending their own Faults, endeavour'd to find all the Faults they could in him. To that end, our Saviour coming on the Sabbath-day to the House of this chief Pharisee, one of the best Quality, and a Ruler among them; 'tis faid, They watch'd him, and sought to take all Advantages against him. And this will lead me to the < 'l \
Second Thing propounded, viz.. the insidious and treacherous Carriage of these Pharisees towards him v who contrary to all the Laws of Hospitality, instead of welcoming, watched all Opportunities against hitil;; ;A . .
This was generally the Practice and Behaviour of the Lawyers and Pharisees towards him-, for sometimes they came to bim on purpose to tempt and entangle him in his Talk, ;'as ;.we read, Lme i®*z$. At other times they came to him with glozing and flattering Speeches, as in the Case of Tribute-mony, faying, Master, we know that thou, art true, and teachest the Way of God in Truth, neither regardest the Person of any Man; tell us therefore what thinkejl thou, Is it lawful to give'Tnhute unto Cefar or not ? Which Question proceeded not from any sincere Desire of being inform'd in the Truth of the Matter, but merely to expose hmi to the Rage either of the Jews or the Romans which made him, knowing their Wickedness, fay, Why tempt ye me, ye ^Hypocrites? Mat. 22. roy 17, &c. And here this chief Pharisee, and those about him, watch'd all our Saviour's Words and Actions, only to find-something
wherewherewith to charge and accuse him. Indeed, some Mens Talk and Gonverfetion are no better than Gins and Traps, defign'd not so much to please or inform, as to ensnare and entangle those they converse with. And such was that of the Pharisee in the Text, who upon Christ's coming to him on the Sabbath-day, hop'd to find him faying or doing something in Derogation of the Honour of that Day, which they held in great Estimation: Accordingly an Object being then presented before him, of a certain Man who hadthe Dropsy, they concluded that that might administer some Matter of Accufation against him, which our Saviour wisely forefaw and prevented. And that will lead us to the next thing here to be considered, viz*. .. \.;w ,. .
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Thirdly., Chrift'-s .great Wisdom in putting them 'to. silence, and thereby defeating their wicked Designs. The Advantage they thought to take against him, was about his caring this sick Man on the Sabbath-day: for the Jews, and especially the Pharisees, were strict and superstitious Observers of that Day, in which they would do no manner of Work, no not the common Offices of Humanity and Charity^ yea, they ahstain'd from the ordinary and neceflary Actions of human Life: for they would scarce eat or drink, or defend themseLves, if set upon on that day, which-made them twice a Prey to their Enemies j once to Ant iochtts, and another time to Pompey. They blam'd the Disciples for. plucking a few Ears of Corn on the Sabbath-day, tho warranted by Necessity, and the Exigence of a great Hunger, as we read, Mat. 12. They accus'd our Saviour for curing one that had a wither'd Hand on that Day, and sought to destroy him, as we read in the some Chapter. St. Luke tells us, that the Ruler of the Synagogue was mov'd with great Indignation against him for healing a Woman on that Day, who labour'd under a Spirit of Infirmity eighteen Tears; faying to the People, There are fix Days in which Men ought- to work, on them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath-day , Luke 13. 1t, &c.
And here the chief Pharisee in the Text watched whether he would heal this sick Man of his Dropsy on that day, that they might have wherewith to accuse him. But Christ knew their Hearts, and was able to frustrate their Design, and therefore he began with them, putting the Question to him, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath-day? St. Mark puts the Question farther, Is it lawful todoiiood on the Sabbathday, or to do Evil; to save Lise, or to kiH? Mark 3. 4, that is, Is it not much better to do Good) and to fave Life by healing, than to do Evil, and to kill, by neglecting it on that day? To which they answeir'd nothing, but held their peace) and Ending that they had nothing to iky against it* He took him, and healed him, and let him go.
But for their farther Satisfaction, he mov'd another Question to them, faying, Which of you shall have an Ass, or an
Sabbath-day? Su Matthew puts the Case even in the smallest Matters, fayings What Man is there among you, that shall have one Sheep, and if it sall into a Pit on the Sabbathday, will he not lay hold of it, and lift it out? How much then is a Man better than a Sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath-day; Mat. 12. To which St. Luke here adds, And they could not answer him again to these things.
Thus did our Saviour put these Lawyers and Pharisees td shame and silence, as he did him who merely to tempt him, ask'd which was the great Commandment in the Law; and those, that to entangle him would know whether it were lawful to pay Tribute to Ctsar: to all which he gave such Answers as struck them dumb, and made them ask rid more Questions, For, as St. Luke tells us. All his Adversaries were ajhamed, and all the People rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by himi Luke 13.17.
Moreover, our Saviour being at a Feast in this chief Pha-» risee's House, and observing how desirous the Lawyers and Pharisees were to take place, and to have the Precedence at the Feast, he put forth a Parable to them: which brings me to the last thing propounded, viz.i
Fourthly, Our Saviour's checking their Pride and Vanityj' in affecting Precedence and Preheminence above others; This Vanity he chastiseth here by a Parable, which he put forth to them that were bidden, when he mark'd hoW they chose out the chief Rooms -, faying unto them, When thou art bidden of any Man to a Wedding, fit not down in the highest Room, lest a more honourable Man than thou be bidden of him; and he that bade thee and him, come and fay to thee, Give this Man place, and thou begin with Shame to take the lowest Room: But when thou art bidden, go and fit down in the lowest Room, that when he that bade thee Cometh, he may fay unto thee, Friend, go up higher 9 then shalt thou have Wor
Ox sallen into a Pit, and will not st;
ship with them that fit at Meat with thee'. In which Parable he reprehends the Ambition and Folly of such as strive for5 Preheminence, and seek to exalt themselves above their Brethren; shewing it to be much more decent and honourable for a Man to set himself below, than above his Place j that Humility was the best Step to Honour* and that Pride leads only to Debasement. Christ had observ'd before of the Scribes and Pharisees, that they loved the uppermost Rooms at Feasts, and the chief Seats in the Synagogues; that they affected Greetings in the Markets, and to be called of Men, Rabbi, Rabbi: Mat.23.6,7. which made him upon all occasions seek to humble their Pride, and to check their Vanity* And we may observe some in our days, much like die Pharisees in this respect, affecting to be somebody this way, and too much courting Preheminence •, endeavouring to depress others to advance themselves, and to raise their own Reputation upon the Ruin of their Betters. Yea, we find something of this among Christ's own Disciples5 for we read, that there was a Strife among them, which of theni should be the greatest: To put a stop to this vain Contention, our Saviour tells them, that though such Contests may be found among the Kings and great Men of the Earth, yet it shall not be so among you 5 but let him that is greatest among you, be at the Tounger, and he that is chief, as he that doth serve: urging upon them his own Example; For whether is greater (faith he) he that fitttth at Meat, or he that ferveth? Is not he that fitteth at Meat? But I am among you as he that ferveth. Luke 22. 24,25, &c. And if he was ib far from courting Greatness, that he chose and prefer'd Meanness before it, can it become us to strive who shall be grea* test? When he took upon him the Form of a Servant, and did the meanest Offices of such, shall we take upon us, and covet to be call'd Masters? This is not to learn of our Saviour, to be meek and lowly in Heart, but to learn of Lucifer, to be proud and lofty in Spirit.
In short, this Haughtiness of Spirit is here sharply re* prehended, and the contrary Vertue of Humility as highly recommended to us in this Parable; both which are back'd with two strong Arguments in the Close: For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted; that is, he that affecteth the higher Rooms shall be brought low, and he that taketh the lower Seats shall be advanc'd higher. An assuming Boldness and Arrogance in Talk or Behaviour is commonly odious and
fulsom fulsom in the sight of all Men; and none rife higher in the Ojnnton of God and Man, chan* they who are lowest in their own. *. . . J'-. j; .> 'j ;'. N'„ . s ; '..v)'rJ\ !'.... r! '',i.i '-i o' ' '"'' .'
This is brietly the Sum of the Gospel for this Day ., which njay serve tx> instruct us in the following Lessons. As,
istt From our Saviour's Freedom of Converfation we may learn to be affable, courteous and condescending to all Men: This Christ's Command and Example plainly teach us; Learn of me (faith he) for I am meek and lowly in Heart. 'Tis no part of his Religion to be four, morose or cynical, for he convers'd familiarly with all forts of Men, and hath Will'd his Disciples to do so too. The Pharisees indeed were supercilious and austere, keeping a distance from others as unworthy of their Company, and faying, Stand off, come not nigh met for I am holier than thou ., and their modern Followers have something of the fame Morosenefs, feparating from others as Sinners, and fearing to be defil'd by their unholy Converfation: But our Saviour's Practice and Advice was quite otherwise; for he freely ajte and drank with Publicans and Sinners, and hath will'd as Co be courteous and kindly affectioned to all Men. We ar* indeed to stmn the Vices, but not the Persons of bad Men -, we are to avoid the Contagion of their Example, but not to .deny them the Civility of our Society. Nabal, for his Churlishness, was stil'd one of the Sons of Belial: and to stand at a morose distance from other Men, is rather the Guise of a proud Pharisee, than the Practice of a good Christian.
idly. , From the Pharisee's watching our Saviour to enfoare and entrap him, we learn the evil Effects os Malice and Hypocrisy, what a pernicious Influence they have upon Converfation, and how they poison and imbitter all Society. We read of some that watch for our: Halting, and fcek occasion against us ^ yea, lay Traps in our way on purpose to catch or make us fall. Our Saviour found this Dealing from the World, and the Diseiple is not above his Lord: Afarvelnot (faith he) if the World hate you, for they hated me before they hated you. Malice studies to undermine and to do harm, and will not suffer Men to fleep till they have done mischief: Hypocrisy seeks to cover such malicious De, signs with flattering Speeches, and to put fair Colours upon the foulest Actions. The World abounds with such treacherousand dangerous Enemies:, which may teach us to be as watchful to avoid, as they are to do mischief.