Images de page
PDF
ePub

fpife the Hatred of Men; for greater is he (faith the Apofile) that is in us, than he that is in the World.

2dly, To fecure to us the Love of God, let us cherish a true and unfeign'd Love to the Brethren. This is the way here and elsewhere prefcrib'd to that end: he that loves his Brother is pass'd from Death to Life, but he that hateth him abideth in Death; yea, St. John here tells us, that he that hateth his Brother is a Murderer: he beareth that Rancour and Malice in his Heart, that when opportunity offers is apt to break out in Mischief and Slaughter, and we know that no fuch one hath any spiritual or eternal Life abiding in him; which fhould teach us to empty our Hearts of all fuch black Paffions, and to harbour nothing but Kindness and Charity.

3dly, Let us fo fix our Minds in the Love of God and our Neighbour, that our Hearts may not condemn us for lack of either; for if our Hearts condemn us, God, who is greater than our Hearts, and knoweth all things, will ratify the Sentence, and condemn us much more.

4thly, Let us labour for a calm, clear and abfolving Confcience, and that will give us Confidence towards God; it will give us Confidence in our Prayers, and make us go boldly to him for a Supply of what we want, and a Blef fing upon what we do. In a word, that our Hearts may not condemn us, let us abandon all bafe and unworthy things, and keep fteddy to the immutable Rules of Honesty and Vertue, fo fhall we have the Testimony of a good Confcience; which will be the beft Cordial at the Hour of Death, and the best Friend at the Day of Judgment,

[blocks in formation]

DISCOURSE XV.

The GOSPEL for the Second Sunday after Trinity.

St. Luke xiv. 16-25.

A certain Man made a great Supper, and bade many, and fent his Servant at Supper-time to Say to them that were bidden, Come, for all things are now ready; and they all, with one Confent, began to make Excufe, &c.

I

N this Gospel our Bleffed Saviour, according to his_ufual way of inftructing the People, fets forth in a Parable the liberal Provifions he hath made in the Gospel for all that will come to him; as alfo the Way and Manner of his inviting them; together with the Danger of refufing his Invitations of each of which particularly.

The Gospel and the Parable too begin thus; A certain Man made a great Supper, and bade many. This certain Man is by St. Matthew, in reciting the fame Parable, faid to be a certain King; Chap. 22. 2. This great Supper here is, by the other Evangelifts, faid to be a great Feaft made at the Marriage of his Son, which is wont to be fumptuous and magnificent: both which fignify to us the ample and glorious Entertainment that God the Father hath made and offer'd to us by his Son; and that not only in the general Provifions of the whole Gofpel, but more particularly in the Heavenly Feaft of the Holy Eucharift: wherein he gives us not the common and ordinary Bread of the Earth, but Bread from Heaven, the Bread of Life, which alone can feed our Souls to Life eternal. He prefents us with Dainties far above the Quails and Manna of the Ifraelites, yea above Angels Food, even the Body and Blood of his dear Son, as a Token of his Love, and the Means of our Reconciliation a which great things affording both Plenty and Pleasure, are here reprefented by a Supper or Marriage-Feaft, an Enter

[merged small][ocr errors]

tainment commonly attended with great Joy and many Endearments.

To this great Feast or Supper the Parable adds, He bade many; which fignifies that general and generous Invitation or Offer of all the Mercies of the Gofpel to all that will receive and accept of them. Ho, every one that thirfteth (faith the Prophet) come ye to the Waters, and he that hath no Mony, come ye buy and eat; yea, come buy Wine and Milk without Mony, and without Price: Ifa. 55. 1. This was a Prophecy or Promife of thofe gracious Tenders of Mercy and Salvation, that should be made by the Meffias in the latter Days, which fhould be free to all that would come upon his kind Invitation. The Call is earneft, and repeated feveral times, being bidden to come three times in one Verfe; and left any fhould keep back for their Poverty and Meannefs, he bids them come buy and eat Bread without Mony, and likewife to come buy and drink Wine without Price. Their Hunger and Thirst were the main Qualifications look'd for, and their hearty Acceptance was all the Price that was expected.

Accordingly we find this gracious Promife and Prophecy fulfil'd by our Bleffed Saviour in his free and frequent Calls upon Sinners to come to him, and to accept of Life and Salvation from him: Come unto me (faith he) all ye that are wea

ry and heavy laden, and I will give you Reft, Mat. 11. 29. Yea, we find him blaming and bewailing the Folly of fuch as refuse it, faying with fome Trouble and Concern, You will not come unto me, that ye may have Life; with many other Expoftulations to the fame purpofe: All which fhew us the infinite Love of Chrift to Mankind, in providing fuch great and good things for them, and likewise in fo earnestly and importunately inviting us to accept of them.

But who are the Meffengers employ'd to bid the Guests to this great Supper? Why, St. Luke here makes mention of but one Servant, but St. Matthew of more. By the fending of one Servant here, may perhaps be meant God the Father's fending his Son with the Offers of Grace and Mercy : By the fending of more Servants, mention'd by St. Matthew, may be meant Chrift's fending his Apoftles and Minifters upon the fame Errand; who as Ambaffadors in Chrift's ftead befeech us in his Name to partake of the Feast of fat things prepar❜d for them.

The Words of the Invitation to them that were bidden are, Come, for all things are now ready. St. Matthew adds,

Behold

Behold the Oxen and the Fatlings are killed, and all things are ready, Come unto the Marriage: meaning, that the Sacrifice is flain, the Feaft is prepar'd, and the Table is deck'd with all kind of Provifions; fo that there lacketh nothing but the Guefts to fit down: and therefore haften away, and defer not to come, being fo lovingly call'd and bidden by God himfelf; for your Company is expected, and you may be well affur'd of a hearty Welcome to your Lord's Table.

[ocr errors]

But what Anfwer did the Guests return to fo kind an Invitation? Why, the Anfwer in St. Matthew was, that they would not come. A rude and ungrateful Answer indeed! for who could have thought that fo great Love and Kindness fhould be fo unworthily requited, or fo unthankfully rejected? efpecially confidering the great Honour of feasting with the Son of God, the unfpeakable Pleasure and Delight that must be found in fuch Company, together with the infinite Benefit and Comfort that attend fo heavenly an Entertainment: all which, if duly weigh'd, will afford Motives and Encouragements enough to a chearful and thankful Acceptance. Whereas fuch a rude Refusal of the Divine Favours muft neceffarily incenfe, and fo great an Indignity justly raise the greatest Indignation. Which of you in fuch a cafe would not be mov'd? (faith our Church in the Exhortation to the Communion) who would not resent this as a great Injury and Unkindness done to him? And is not the Affront much greater when done to God, than when it is done to Men? And will he (think you) take that at our hands, which we are not willing to take from one another? Thefe are things worthy to be feriously thought of and confider'd by all wilful Abfenters from, and Contemners of the Lord's Table.

But the Answer of the Guests here in St. Luke, feems to be a little more modeft and mannerly; for they do not make fo light of the Invitation, as flatly to deny coming, but offer at fome Excufes for their not coming and accepting of it: for 'tis faid, They all with one Confent began to make Excufe, which yet were fo flender and frivolous, as in effect to be no better than a downright Refufal, as may be eafily feen by confidering of them.

The First faid, I have bought a Piece of Ground, and I must needs go and fee it, I pray thee have me excufed. A feign'd and frivolous Excufe, and no doubt a falfe one too; for who is fo foolish as to buy a Piece of Ground without fecing it? Do not Men take a strict View and Survey of Land before

they

they use to purchase it? And may not he be justly reckon'd a Fool that does otherwife? Is it a wife Bargain, for the buying a little piece of Ground for a few Years, to fell an everlasting Inheritance? and for a fmall fpot of Earth, to part with a Kingdom in Heaven? What is a Man profited, if he gain the whole World, and lofe his own Soul? And if the whole World can be no Recompence or Exchange for the Soul, fure to lofe it for a little piece of Ground, an inconfiderable part of it, must be a Bargain infinitely more fatal and foolish: fo that this must be acknowledg'd to be a very flender and trifling Excufe.

A Second faid, I have bought five Yoke of Oxen, and I go to prove them, I pray thee have me excufed. An Excufe no lefs frivolous than the former; for was there no other time for the trying of his Oxen, than when his Lord's Oxen and Fatlings were kill'd on purpose to entertain him? Is the proving of our Cattle of greater confequence than the approving of our felves to our great God and Mafter? Ought not the Attractives of his Love, and our Duty, to draw ftronger than a Yoke of Oxen? Are Beafts to be minded before and above our Saviour? and is Chrift's Yoke of lefs Confideration than a Yoke of Oxen? Alas! at how low a rate do fuch Men value the Blood of Chrift, who set the Blood of Bulls and Heifers above it? And when God. faith, All the Beafts of the Foreft are mine, and fo are the Cattle upon a thousand Hills, is it not abfurd to prefer the Care of Oxen before the Owner? fo that this too is a very weak and filly Excufe.

A Third faid, I have married a Wife, and therefore I cannot come. This was a more foolish and frivolous Excufe than all the reft for (as one hath wittily enough obferv'd) he might have brought his Wife along with him, and been the more welcome; and being a Marriage-Feaft, to which they were invited, none could have been more proper and welcome Guests than a new-marry'd Couple, who being a little before marry'd to one another, might by this means marry both their Souls to Chrift, and thereby live the more happily and comfortably together; it being a much better way of uniting their Affections, to go together to this Feast of Love and Charity in the Houfe of God, than to withdraw from each other into the Places of Difcord and Diffenfion.

These are the vain and frivolous Pretences mention'd in the Gospel for abfenting from the Lord's Supper. St. Mar

them

« PrécédentContinuer »