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way i and so was the Jailor and his Family; and so have all Christians been ever since. All which shew us what regard we are to have for this Sacrament, and what care Parents are to take to bring their Children to it; especially considering, first, the great Benefits they receive by this Sacred Ordinance. This is the Door of Entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, and therefore our Saviour would have Children brought to it, because theirs u the Kingdom of Heaven; Mark 10.14. Tis the ordinary Means of Salvation 'y for .he that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved; Mark 16.16. The Spirit of God accompanying this Ordinance, gives the Remission of Sins, and seals to us the Promise of eternal Life. To this we may add, secondly, the Consideration of the extreme Danger of denying or delaying of Baptism j for he that believeth not, and is unbaptiz'd, shall be damned. By omitting of this Sacrament, we do as it were shut the Gate of Heaven against Infants, and deprive them of the ordinary Way and Means of their Salvation ^ which should make all Parents afraid or asham'd of this Neglect.
zdly, From Nicodemus's denying the Baptismal Regeneration, and others denying the Doctrine of the Trinity, because their weak Reason cannot comprehend how these things should be; we may learn not to depend too much> upon our own Reason, but to rely chiefly on Divine Revelation in such Mysteries: For the former, we fee, is a crooked, erring and uncertain Rule ., the latter is a sure, fafe and infallible Guide. We know how the Gentiles lost their way, when they had no better Conduct than their own Reason; and how the Heathens were bewilder'd, when they follow'd only the blind and uncertain Guidance of natural Light j both which led them into many vain Superstitions and gross Idolatrys: but thanks be to God, we are not left to grope in the dark as they were, but are happily assisted by brighter Revelations. Let us not then prefer a Candle before the Sun, or set up our dim Reason above the Light of Divine Revelations ., that is, let us not scan Mysteries "by, our weak and shallow Apprehensions, but rather make them the Objects of our Admiration than Curiosity. Particularly in this of the Trinity, let us thankfully acquiesce in what God-hsth reveal'd to us of himself, evermore praising him, and faying, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Sabbaoth.
Now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, three Persons and one God, be ascrib'd as is most due, all Glory, Honour, Praise, Might, Majesty and Dominion, both now and evermore. Amen.
The Epistle for the First Sunday after Trinity.
1 St. John iv. 7, to the end, Beloved, let us love one another; for hove is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God: he that loveth not, knoxveth not God, for God is Love, &c.
THE Collect for this Day teaches us to beg of God the Acceptance of our Prayers, and the Assistance of our Infirmities, that so in keeping his Commandments we may please him both in Will and Deed.
The Epistle mentions and insists upon the great Commandment of Love, which is indeed the Sum of all the Commandments ., and the keeping of it is therefore stil'd, the fulfilling of the Law.
It begins with an Exhortation to this excellent Grace, which it backs with many pressing Motives and Encouragements, and concludes with some Marks and Trials of the Truth of it, as we shall find in the following Discourse.
I begin, as the Epistle doth, with the Exhortation to this Grace of Love, in these words, Belvved, let us love one another , where 'tis usher'd in with the kind Compellation of Beloved, the better to insinuate and instil this Leflbn into us. St. John is in Scripture stil'd, The Beloved Disciple, or The Disciple whom Jesus loved; for he lean'd on his Breast, and so was nearest his Heart, and knew more of his Mind than any other: by which means his Breast being . inflam'd with the Love of God, breath'd out nothing but Love to the Brethren; Beloved faith he) let us love one a
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But what is the Love here exhorted to? Now tho Love be a Pasiion better felt than describ'd, yet the Love here recommended may be thus defin'd •, Tis a Vertue or gracious Disposition of Soul, u that keeps Men from doing any harm, and puts them upon doing all the good they can to one another. Where, 4 ;» - . * • • /, First, I stile it a Vertue, for so it is both moral and theological: as it is dictated by the natural Law of Reason, 'tis a moral Nrirtue"^10S^fij,Vtis,.hajidied by the Heathen Philosophers j as 'tis reveal'd and requir'd by the written Law of God, 'tis a theological Grace or Vertue, and so 'tis handled by Divines, Again, .' S;v. . J '..,'. .n -. ': .
Secondly, I stile it a gracious Disposition os Soul, to signify the Seat of it, which is within the Heart, where all true Love, is seated,, not outward only in the Lip or the Tongue, which is ho better than Hypocrisy and Dissimulation. '•Again,,' :' .'. - Thirdly, Here are added the two essential Properties of Love, which are to do no manner of harm, and to do. all possible good to one another. (
zst] I fay, true Lore keeps Men from doing any the least harm to another •, for Love worketh no 111 to his Neighbour, yea, it thinketh no Evil, faith the Apostle, and harbours not the least Thought of doing any bad turn. Now Men, you know, may receive much harm from another sundry ways; as in the Soul, by drawing them into Sin, or creating to them any unnecessary Grief or Trouble y in the Body, by Maiming, Murder, and any other Acts of Violence in his Goods, by taking or withholding from him any thing that is his; in his good Name, by spreading evil Reports, Backbiting and Detraction: From all which Evils the Love here requir'd will effectually restrain us i for these being the common Effects of Envy, Hatred and Malice, are inconsistent with that Love we owe to one another.
idly, True Love not only keeps Men from the least harm, but puts them upon doing all the good they can to each other^ for Love wishes well to his Neighbour, and that will move to the doing all good Offices for him. Now as Men may receive much hurt, so may they receive much good from.one another: as in their Soul, by keeping them from Sin, and lightning the Burden of their Sorrows •, in their Bodies, by preserving them from Violence and ill Ufage, by relieving their Necessities, and healing their Distempers 5 in their Goods, by defending them from Fraud, Rapine
and Oppression, and helping them to Right that suffer Wrong. In their good Names, by vindicating them from all unjust Calumnies, Censures and evil Reports, and giving them the just Praises due to their Merits and good Works. These and many other good Offices may be done to Manr kind, which the true Love we are to bear to one another will make us ever ready and willing to perform. This is briefly ,the Nature and Properties of that Brotherly Love which we are,here exhorted \to: To press and recommend which, the Apostle tells us,, •,
In the next, words, the Rife, and Original of this Love," whence it comes, and how it may be attaist'di for Love it of God, and every on_e that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God: meaning, that Love is the most Divine and God-like thing that can be found in us; by it we become most especially like unto God, and resemble him in that darling Astribute and Perfection, in which he most delighteth. Love is a Ray of the Divinity darted upon us, and where 'tis fix'd makes us in some measure Partakers of the Divine Nature j for every one that loveth is born of God: He is of a .heavenly Rife and Extraction, and comes from the Divine and Spiritual Seed; he is born not of the Will of Man, but of God, whom he resembles in his Nature and Perfection, as Children do their Parents in their Features and Com* plexion. Nothing makes us more the Children of God, or more nearly ally'd to the Divine Majesty, than this Grace of Love, which is our greatest Glory, and renders us most amiable and acceptable to him: for thereby God communicates himself to us, and gives us the most intimate Acr quaintance with, and Knowledg of his Mind j for he that loveth, is not only born of God, but knoweth God: that is, not with a bare notional Knowledg, such as evil Men and Spirits haye, which rather makes them tremble at, tha"n rejoice at him •, but with a faving experimental Knowledg, such as only good Men and Saints nave, who are thereby made like unto God, and transforms into the, fame Image from Glory to Glory. Whereas,
He that loveth not. knoweth not God j for God is Love: He is an utter Stranger to the Divine Nature, and never felt its Influence; he knoweth nothing of God as he ought to know, being destitute of Love• , he hath nothing of God in him, who is made up of Love and Kindness to Mankind • , he hath more of Envy and Enmity of the evil Spirits, to w•biyuhfc conforms, in his Nature, and with whom he mall have his Portion. To know God aright, is to be Followers ©f him as dear Children, and to walk in Love j for his very Nature and Essence consists in Love, and we cannot imitate or resemble him more than by the Acts of Kindnefe and Charity.
But wherein doth this transcendent Love of God to Mankind appear? Why, among other things the Apostle gives us a high and eminent Instance of it in the next Verse In this was munis eft ed the Love of God towards us, because that Cod sent his only-begotten Son into the World, that we might live thro him. 'when we were utterly lost and undone Dy the first Tiahfgfession, and thereby left in a helpless and hopeless Condition, God was pleas'd, out of his tender Msrcy, to take pity upon us, and to fend his only Son out of his Bdfotn to recover us from this forlorn State: and because nothing else could do it, he was content to die for us, that we might live thro him. When we were dead in Trespasses and Skis, he restor'd us again to a Life of Grace, and by his Holy Spirit hath given us the assur'd Hopes of being raistt to a Life of Glory. And what greater Expression of Love could be ever shewn us, than the Father s in sending, the Son's in consenting, the Spirit's in assisting, and all of them in contriving and effecting these things for us?
Herein is Love (faith our Apostle) not that we lovid God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the Propitiation for our Sins; that is, herein will this Love of God appear the greater, that we did not begin with any Love to God, that might engage or encourage him to make this Return to us: for we, alas! had no sense of our Condition, no power to help our selves, no, nor yet Ability so much as to ask any Relief•, but he began with us, and was before-hand in his Love to Hs •, yea, he was so early as to prevent us with his Loving-kindness, before we knew any thing of it, and sent his Son to propitiate his Wrath, and reconcile us to himself, when we were Enemies and Strangers to him: which must enhance his Love above all Expression or Conception.
From hence the Apostle very rationally infers, Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. These inexpressible and unrequitable Acts of the Divine Love should stir up in us something of a like Love and Affection to the Brethren; not that we can answer or come up to the Height of his unparallel'd Love towards us, but that we should imitate and return in all the good Offices