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Our Apostle would have ns ieach and admonish one another in Psalms, and Hymns, and spiritual Songs, singing with Grace in our Hearts to the Lord •, Col. 3. 16. This is to begin the Work of Heaven here upon Earth, to join with the holy Angels above, and by sounding forth the Praises of our Maker, to prepare our selves for the Heavenly Choir* And indeed nothing tends more to elevate our Minds, to raise our Affections above this World, and to give us some Foretastes of Heaven, than a frequent Exercise and Delight in this Duty. To which the Apostle adds,
The great Duty of Thanksgiving, in the next words; Giving thanks always for all things unto God the Father, in the name of^ our Lord Jesus Christ. Where the Vertue of Thankfulness is made to extend to all times, and to all things. Adversity, as well as Prosperity, hath-its Blessings and good Ends, and therefore both are to be thank'd for•, In every thing give thanks, for they are all thankworthy. The Object is God the Father, from whom aD good things come; but through the name and for the fake of God the Son, by whose Merits and Mediation they are deriv'd'tO us: to whom therefore we are in Duty bound to give continual thanks, which is 'an Act of Justice as well as Religion, and is attended with present Pleasure, and an ample future Rewards!
Lastly, To promote this Gire and Circumspection of our Ways, we arc exhorted to the great Duty of Submission, in the last words • , Submitiing your selves one to another in the Fear of Gcd. . Which implies not only Submission to Superiors, who\ have the Authority over us, and a Power to command us in all lawful things•, but to Equals and Inferiours, to whom we owe all the good Offices of Kindness and Charity, complying with their: Infirmities, and" yielding to all their reasonable Desires and Necessities, and performing all the Duties that appertain to the several Conditions and Orders of Men. . . •
This is the Sum of the Epistle for this Day; from which we may learn to set a strict guard upon our Ways, and to consider the Nature and Lawfulness of all our Actions and Designs, before we set about them: let us do nothing rashly, nor carelefly run into Temptation, but do our best to avoid them, and to abstain from all Occasions and Appearances of Evil. To which end.
Let as often think of the End of out Christian Course, and have an eye to the Prize of our high Calling in Christ Jesus, that we may run with patience the Race that is let before us.
Finally: to conclude all, let us implore the Aid and Assistance of Heaven^ to be directed and kept in the way that leads to it j often praying with the Pfalmist, Shew me thy way, O Lord, and teath me thy Paths j guide me in the way that I should go, and let me not wander from thy Commandments. And thus by walking circumspectly in the Ways of Holiness here, we shall e'er long arrive at the Regions of Blise and Happiness hereafter: which God grant, &c. '''
.".Lt'^bi SCO'URSE LI.
The Gospel for the Twentieth Sunday after
'Matthew xxii. i 14.
.Jesus said, The Kjngdom of Heaven is like unto i certain Kjng who made a Marriage for his Soi, and sent forth his Servants to call them thtt were bidden to the Wedding: and they would not come, 8cc. f . .
1H I S Gospel for the Day contains a Parable, in which, under the Resemblance of a Ring's making a Marriage for his Son, and inviting many to it, is set forth the free and gracious Offer of the Gospel, together with the invaluable Blestings and Privileges of it: which Offer was first made to the Jewish Church and Nation, and upon their refufal 'twas made to the Gentiles, and in them to all Nations; adding withal, a severe Sentence upon those that rejected this Tender, or receiv'd it hot as they should. All which things being here figuratively express'd, will require a little unfolding: . .'<-'.'
The Parable begins thus; The Kingdom of Heaven is lib unto a certain King, who made a Marriage for his Son. * Wherel Where, by the Kingdom of Heaven is meant the Christian Church, or the State of the Gospel, for which'tis often tar ken in the New Testament. The King here meant, is God the Father, the great Sovereign of the World, and the sole Maker and Disposer of all things. His Son is Jesus Christy begotten of the Father before all Worlds. The Marriage here made was God the Father's giving his Son for the Salvation of Mankind; according to that of St. John, God so loved the World, that he gave his only-begotten Son. To which the Son also gave his Consent and Compliance; for he is faid so to love the World, as to give himself to and for tu This is here set forth by a Marriage, to shew the Nearness of Affection, and the Dearness of the Relation between them. Hence we find Christ often owning himself related to his Church, as a Husband to his Spouse, as you may fee throughout the Book of Canticles; and God himself isr faid to be nurry'd to his People, Jer. 3,14. Turn ye back' sliding Children, saith the Lord, for I am married unto you,' This is the Marriage here faid to be made, in which Christ gives himself to his Church, and the Church gives it' self back again unto Christ, and so by nuptial and mutual Endearments they become nearly join'd and united to each' other. St. Luie, in relating this Parable, tells us, that this Marriage was celebrated with a Feast or Wedding-Supper, Luke 14. And the fame is imply'd here in St. Matthew for the making a Marriage, is often render'd by making 1 Marriage-Feast for his Son. Now by this Feast here we. are to understand the spiritual Food of God's holy Word and Sacraments, the proper Food and Nourishment of the Soul, and the fittest Banquet for such a Solemnity: 'tis express'd sometimes by a Feast of sat things, and sometimes by Marrow and Fatness, the highest and best of all Feeding. St. John for its Excellency calls it Meat indeed, And Drink indeed ; as also the living Bread, or the Bread of Life, that' came down/from Heaven : shewing how vastly it exceeds Moses's Manna in the Wilderness, and all earthly Dainties for none of these could preserve any from Death, whereas this heavenly Food not only does that, but cherilheth the Spul to eternal Life.
To this divine Gospel-Feast, we read in the next Verse of a gracious and generous Invitation: for the King sent forth his Servants, to call them that were bidden to the Wedding, Where by the Servants that were fens forth, we are to understand the Ministers of Christ, and the Stewards of
the the Mysteries of God: of whom Christ himself declares, As my Father sent me, so send I you. They are commission'd by him, and lent as his Servants; to whom he added this Encouragement, He that beareth you, heareth me -, and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; arid he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.
But what was the Errand upon which he sent his Ministers and Ambassadors ?' Why, 'twas to call them that were bidden to the Wedding y to invite them to come away to this' great and glorious Banquet, i.e. to the Participation of God's Holy Word and Sacraments; to accept of the Offers of Mercy, and the Tenders of Salvation made to them in the Gospel ., and to that end, to call upon them to hear the Words of eternal Life, and to receive that immortal Food, that is able to fave their Souls. This is the Message they were sent to deliver.
But what Success had these Messengers, or what Answer was return'd to him that sent them? Why, a very rude and ungrateful one indeed ; They would not come. Who could have thought, that any should be so unthankful, as to refuse so kind an Invitation? or that so much Love mould meet with such Ingratitude? But so it was then, and so it is in a great measure to this day.
St. Luke makes their Answer a little more civil, tho 'twas in effect the fame ., for he tells us, They all with one Consent began to make Excuses: One had bought a piece of Ground, and must needs go and fee it, and so prayd to be excus'd: Another had bought five Take of Oxen, and was going to prove them, and for that reason prayd to be excus'd: Another had marry d a Wife, and he could not come. All which frivolous Excuses betray'd not only a Coldness, but a Contempt of the Invitation. The Design of all this is, to represent the great Obstinacy and Perverseness of the Jews, in rejecting the Doctrine of Christ, in despising his Miracles, and refusing all Overtures of Grace and Mercy that could be made to them. ;.
But how did the King resent these Slights and Indignities offer'd to him? Why, he was not presently mov'd to Indignation, but bore with them a while, and was willing to try them again; for the next words tell us, that he sent forth other. Servants, saying, tell them who are bidden, Behold, I have prcpar'd my Dinner, my Oxen and Failings are kilFd, and all things are ready, come unto the Marriage. He chang'd his Messengers,, lest they should have any Prejudices against the former,^and sent other Ambassadors to treat with them, letting them know, that their Master had prepar'd an Entertainment for;them, and that all things were ready foe their Reception, and that nothing was wanting but the Guest? to sit down and partake of it: which is in effect the fame that St. Paul told the Corinthians., Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, come therefore and keep the Feast.
But how, y;ra&.tbis second Message receiv'd? Why, much like the former for they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his Farm, aud another to his Merchandise. Their worldly Business, engrofs'd all their Time and Thoughts, and they had none of them to .spare upon cither, tho. more..heavenly matters: their Minds were set upon earthly Profits and. Preferments, and lbok'd chiefly how they might prosper and be promoted in this World, and therefore cared not for a Messiah, who only talk'd of advancing them in another; Yea, there was; a worse matter in it than this, for they handled these other Servants worse than the first; so the following words tell us, The Remnant took h 'u Servants, and entreated them spitefully, and flew them. One would think, if they would not come to the Feast, they might have had so much Manners as to have return'd thanks for the Invitation, arid to. treat the Messengers civilly, who came upon so kind an Errand. But instead of that, they abus'd and persecuted them; yea, they used them barbaroufly and kill'd them. This Passage relates to the Jews barbarous Ufage of the Prophets and Apostles that were sent unto them, of which our Saviour most pathetically reminds them, Mat. 23. 37.? O Jerufalem, Jerufalem, thou that killest the Prophets, and stoneji them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gather d thy Children together, as a Hen gathers her Chicken under her wings, and ye would not? Where we see how tenderly Christ resented their wicked and inhuman Carriage towards his Servants, as he still does all ill Treatment of his Ministers.
But how did the King take these repeated Refulals of his Offers, and the cruel Ufage of his Messengers? Why that the next words declare; When the King heard thereof, he was wroth, and sent forth his Armies, and destroy d those Murderers, and burnt up their City. Their stubborn and incorrigible Ingratitude kindled his Wrath against them, and when the Ministers he sent to them could not prevail to win them, he sent forth his Armies to destroy them, and to burn their City. The Armies he sent forth were ;.v the