Images de page
PDF
ePub

directed us, and miniftring to them, according to the Ability that God giveth us.

To which is added, the End we are to aim at in all these things; to wit, that God in all things may be glorified thro Jefus Chrift.

Thefe are the things here recommended to prepare us for the Coming of the Holy Ghoft, and after that for the Conclufion and Confummation of all things; which muft be therefore particularly handled. I begin then with the Propofition laid down in thefe words, The End of all things is at hand; where we are tó enquire what is meant by the End of all things, and how it is faid to be at hand. For the

Firft, By the End of all things, fonie understand the End of the Jewish, State, by the Deltruction of the City and Temple of Jerufalem, when the whole Polity and Government of the Jews was diffolv'd, and they came under the Power and Subjection of the Romans: Of this we read in St. Matt. 24. where our Saviour foretold the utter Ruin and Deftruction of that obdurate Nation, for rejecting of him, and cafting the Word of Salvation from them; telling them, that the Temple, of which they boafted, fhould be raz'd to the Ground, not having one Stone of that stately Fabrick left upon another, that should not be thrown down: which Destruction was to be ufher'd in with niany amazing Signs and Tokens, fuch as the Coming of falfe Chrifts and falfe Prophets, with Signs in the Heavens, and on Earth Diftrefs of Nations Mens Hearts failing them for fear of what is coming upon them; Wars and Rumors of Wars; the Sea and the Waves roaring, and the like; of which we read in that Chapter. When these things were fulfil'd, and the End of the Jewish Church and State came by the Destruction of Jerufalem, then happen'd that which is fometimes call'd use T aivos, the Confummation of the Age; and here To Txos Távov, the End of all things.

Others again, by the End of all things here understand the End of the World; of which they take the fore-mention'd Signs to be the Forerunners: fo they understand that of St. Peter, 2 Epift. 3. 10. where, fpeaking of the Coming of the Lord at the laft Day, 'tis defcrib'd by the Heavens paffing away with a great Noife, the Elements melting with fervent Heat, and the Earth's being burnt up with all things in it. This may be properly call'd the End of all things,

C 2

tho

L

tho the former may not be excluded, as prefaging and leading to this.

But how is this End of all things faid to be at hand? Why, if we take it for the Deftruction of the Temple and City of Jerufalem, it was when St. Peter wrote this Epiftle very nigh at hand. Chrift himself told the Jews, that when they faw thofe Signs, they might conclude it to be near even at the doors; adding, that that Generation fhould not pass away, till all these things were fulfill'd; Mat. 24. 33, 34. St. James likewife mentions that Day of the Lord as drawing nigh, for behold the Fudg ftandeth at the door, James 5. Accordingly this Deftruction came upon them very fhortly after, when the Romans came and befieg'd it round about, laying it even with the Ground, and not leaving one Stone upon another.

If we take the End of all things for the End of the World, that likewife is drawing nigh; for we are bid to be always upon our watch, left that Day come upon us unawares. We are often minded in Scripture of the near Approach of that Day, that the time is at hand, that the Lord doth not delay his coming, but he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. The Time and Hour is conceal'd from us on purpose, that we may be continually upon our guard, and put our felves in a conftant Readiness and Preparation for it.

"

And this will lead me, in the next place, to those preparatory Vertues or Graces here recommended to fit us for the coming of that time. The

Ift Whereof is Sobriety; The End of all things is at hand, Be ye therefore fober. Now Sobriety or Temperance is that Vertue, that guides us aright in the modeft and mo derate Ufe of God's Creatures: when they are distinguish'd, as they fometimes are, Sobriety is a Moderation in Drink ing, in oppofition to Drunkenness, and Temperance in eating, in oppofition to Surfeiting and Gluttony: but both confifting in the moderate Ufe of God's Creatures, are commonly reckon'd as one Vertue, call'd fometimes by the Name of Sobriety, and fometimes by that of Temperance; andfo are they to be here confider'd.

But what is that moderate Ufe of God's Creatures, wherein this Vertue confifts? Why, that will be beft, known, by confidering the Ends for which God gave them. And they were,

[ocr errors]

(1.) For

(1.) For preferving the Life of our Bodies, which depends upon the daily Food and Nourishment we receive from thefe Creatures. Our Bodies are of that mouldring Frame and Constitution, that they ftand in continual need of Suftenance to repair and fupport them; and therefore God is gracioully pleas'd to afford a confiant Supply of Food to fatisfy the two craving Neceffities of Nature, Hanger and Thirst; giving Meat for the one, and Drink for the other; without which they would prove deadly, and Nature would fink and fail under the want of both. Again,

(2.) God hath given us his Creatures, not only to preferve the Life, but the Health, Strength, and Vigour of our Bodies: he hath taken care as of our Being, fo likewife of our Well-being; and therefore hath not ty'd us up to the pinching Neceflities of Nature, that is, to eat no more than will just keep us from ftarving, and to drink no more than what will barely keep us from perishing with Thirst; but hath graciously allow'd us Plenty, to maintain the Health and Strength of our Bodies, that they may be the better fitted for the Work and Business of our Calling.

(3.) Another End or Ufe of God's Creatures, is for the innocent chearing and refreshing of the Mind, that it may the better bear up under the Burden of worldly Cares and Sorrows, for thefe are apt to fink and lower the Spirits: and therefore God hath given these worldly Comforts to be as Cordials to fupport them. Hence we read of Bread to strengthen, and Wine to chear the Heart of Man, and Oil to give him a chearful Countenance; which things may be lawfully us'd to thofe Ends: for God hath not only allow'd, but commanded us to rejoice in the good things wherewith he hath bleffed us; and hath given us his Creatures not barely for Neceflity, but Delight.

[ocr errors]

These are the Ends for which they are beftow'd; and confequently whilft we keep within thefe Bounds, ufing the Creatures of God for the preferving of Life and Health, for increafing the Strength of the Body, and the Chearfulnefs of the Mind, we obferve the Rules of Sobriety and Temperance: but they who tranfgrefs thefe Bounds, by eating to Surfeiting, and drinking to Drunkennels; they who inftead of cherishing, enfeeble their Nature, ufing the Bleffings of God to the impairing their Health, and drowning the Vigour and Activity both of Body and Mind; fuch as thefe abufe God's Creatures by Riot and Excels, and turn the Inftances of the Divine Bounty into the Inftruments of their own Ruin.

C 3

Now

Now the End of all things being at hand, the Apostle wills us to be fober and temperate in all things, and to avoid all Abuse or intemperate Ufe of any of God's Creatures; that we may render a good Account of them, and receive the Reward of fo doing. To this we are frequently exhorted in Holy Scripture, from this Confideration of the End of all things drawing nigh: In the 21st of St. Luke, our Saviour fpeaking of the fudden Coming of the Lord, advises, ver. 24. Take heed to your felves, left at any time your Hearts be overcharg'd with Surfeiting and Drunkenness, and the Cares of this Life, and fo that Day come upon you unawares. St. Paul, from the Night's being far fpent, and the Day's being at hand, exhorts to caft off the Works of Darknefs, particularly mentioning Rioting and Drunkenness, as Vices that altogether unfit us for that feafon, Rom. 13. 12, 13. Let us that are of the Day (faith he) be fober, I Theff. 5. 8. and elsewhere he exhorts to live foberly, righteously, and godly in this prefent World, looking for the coming of our Lord Jefus Chrift; Tit. 2. 12, 13. Let Let your Moderation be known unto all Men, the Lord is at hand, Phil. 4. 5. that is, let us moderate our Defires for the good things, and our Paffions under the evil things of this Life,, and that will prepare us for the coming of the Lord. And that is the first Vertue here prefcrib'd to that end: The End of all things is at hand, be ye therefore fober.

Ι

The 2d is Watchfulness; And watch unto Prayer. The Certainty of the Coming of the Lord, together with the great Uncertainty of the Time of it, is fufficient to fet all Wife Men upon their watch, to be ever ready against that great and important Seafon; confidering the great Benefit of being prepar'd, and the great Danger of being furpriz'd at his Coming: the former will welcome us into our Mafter's Joy, the latter will doom us to endless Woe and Sorrow. Watch therefore (faith our Saviour, Mat. 24. 42.) · for ye know not the Day or Hour when your Lord cometh. His Coming (he tells us) will be as a Thief in the Night, which is wont to be in the deepeft Silence and Darkness, when he is least thought of or expected; and therefore the Apoftle calls upon us, not to fleep as do others, but to watch and be fober; that is, not to be lull'd into Supineness and Security by Luxury and Excefs, but to be always in a Pofture of Readiness by Watchfulness and Sobriety, To encou rage us all fo to be, we read that the faithful and wife Servant,

that

that is found upon his guard, and ready for his Master's Coming, fhall be made Ruler of all his Goods, Mat.24. 45, 46,&c. But the flothful and foolish Servant, that faith in his Heart, My Lord delayeth his Coming, and fo makes no Preparation for him, shall have his Portion with Hypocrites, where is weeping and gnashing of Teeth. Watch therefore (faith our Saviour, ver. 44.) for in fuch an Hour as ye think not of, the Son of Man cometh. And what he faid to his Difciples then, he faith unto all, Watch; Mark 13. 37.

And this Watchfulness muft be unto Prayer, which is always to go with it; for except God keep the City, the Watchman waketh in vain. Without the Aid and Affiftance of his Grace, all our Vigilance and Care will be to no purpofe, which we muft always call for by diligent Prayer. And therefore we find Watchfulness and Prayer generally join'd together; Watch and pray, that ye enter not into Temptation. The World and the Flefh are apt to take us from our Watch, and too often betray us by their Charms and Allurements; fo that fome greater Force is needful to guard us from thefe ghoftly and fubtle Enemies; and without the Affiftance of Divine Grace, call'd in by devout Prayer, they will be too hard for us. For which reafon the Apoftle, from the approaching End of all things, directs us to watch unto Prayer, that is, to be ftill upon our guard, and upon our Knees, to prevent Surprize, that the Day come not upon us unawares. To which he adds,

3dly, Another preparatory Vertue to that end; and that is, Above all things to have fervent Charity among your felves, for Charity hall cover the Multitude of Sins. Now this fervent Charity implies a hearty Love and Affection burning in Mens Breafts to one another; which if it be true and fincere, as it ought to be, will reftrain them from doing any the leaft Harm or Disturbance to their Neighbour, and will prompt them to perform all good Offices, that may promote the Welfare and Quiet of Mankind. This he would have minded above all things, because of the great Benefit and Comfort it will afford in this World, and the good Account it will turn to at the end of it. He that is forward to do Evil, and backward to do Good, bears no true Love either to God or his Neighbour, and will have a bad reckoning to make in the latter end: but he that hates every falfe way, and is ready to all Acts of Mercy and Kindness, is a true Lover of both and bleffed is he, whom his Lord when he cometh fhall find fo doing.

« PrécédentContinuer »