Images de page

this World, with a carelefs neglect of the other; their Hearts being fo bent upon their worldly Intereft, as to stick at no ways, how bafe or unjuft foever, to compass their Ends. Of this kind are all Worldlings and covetous Perfons, who fill their Heads with carking Cares and Fears about themselves, and harbour in their Hearts unjuft Defires and Hankerings after the Goods of others: fuch as these ferve Mammon more than God, and worship the Creature more than the Creator; for which reafon Covetoufnefs is often ftil'd Idolatry, and covetous Perfons are branded for Idolaters.

These are the bad Examples which the Apoftle here laments with Tears, and wills all Chriftians not to follow, but avoid to have no Fellowship with fuch unfruitful Works of Darkness, but rather reprove them: Not to conform to fuch vile Practices of the World, nor to follow a Multitude, how great and numerous foever, to do Evil; all which look no higher than thefe earthly things, and lead only to Mifery and Ruin.

But instead of them, he exhorts them to be Followers of him and the other Apoftles, who fet better Examples, and guide to higher and nobler things: for, as he goes on to tell them,

Our Converfation is in Heaven; that is, whereas others are fo addicted to the Earth, as to mind only the Pleafures, Profits, and Honours of this World, we look higher than this World, and mind chiefly the things above: and this will be a better Pattern for you to imitate and to lead you to Heaven, than they who are glued to the Earth, and lie groveling upon it; for our Converfation is in Heaven. The word in the Original is oxirevue, which alludes to a City or Corporation, which hath many Privileges and Duties belonging to those that are free of it, tho they live at fome diftance from it: and fo the Apoftle's Meaning is, that tho they were born in this World, and liv'd in it, yet they belong'd to another, and were free Denizens of Heaven, which is often ftil'd a City; and accordingly we converfe and behave our felves here as thofe that are free of another City above, and belong to it. Hence we find them declaring, that they look'd not at the things that are feen, but at the things which are not feen, for the things that are feen are temperal, but the things that are not feen are eternal: 2 Cor. 4, 18. And elsewhere, We walk by Faith, which is the Evidence of things not feen, and not by Sight, which


reaches only to prefent and perifhing Objects. This is that wherein the Apoftle would have us to be Followers of them, and likewife to mark them that do fo, according to their Example; the better to take off our Hearts from an inordi-. nate Love and Purfuit of earthly things, and to raise our Minds and Affections to the things of Heaven: for both which, they have left us both their Precept and their Pat


But the farther to recommend and enforce their Example upon us, of having, like them, our Conversation in Heaven, here are added two great Encouragements there

unto :

1. Because from thence we also look for the Saviour, our Lord Jefus Chrift. And,

2. Because when he comes, he will change our vile Body that it may be faftion'd like unto his glorious Body, according to his Working, whereby he is able to fubdue all things unto himfelf. Of each of which fomething briefly: And,

[ocr errors]

1. The Apoftle wills us to have our Converfation in Heaven, because we alfo, as well as they, from thence look for the Saviour, the Lord Jefus Chrift. That our Saviour Chrift will come again from Heaven to judg the World at the last Day, we are often told in Holy Scripture: This fame Fefus (faith the Angel to the Difciples) which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall fo come as ye have feen him go into Heaven; Acts 1. 11. He fhall come from Heaven, attended with his mighty Angels, faith St. Paul, 2 Theff. 1. 7. And elsewhere, He all come with a Shout, and in the Clouds of Heaven. Now the Expectation hereof fet the Apostles a looking, longing, and preparing for his Coming, which they did by Heavenly-Mindedness, and all other Acts of a pious Life. So St. Paul tells us, Tit. 2. 12, 13. The Grace of God which bringeth Salvation, hath appear'd to all Men; teaching us to deny Ungodlinefs and worldly Lufts, and to live righteously, foberly, and godly in this prefent World; looking for that bleed Hope, and the glorious Appearance of the Son of God, our Saviour Fefus Chrift. And herein we are call'd upon to imitate them, by having our Converfation in Heaven, from whence the Saviour comes, and whither we hope he will bring us: And the rather,

2. Because when he comes, he will change our vile Body, that it may be fashion'd according to his glorious Body, &c. meaning, that our crazy Bodies fhall be then freed from all the Deformities and Infirmities that now belong to them,


and be new fram'd and molded into the Fashion, Qualities, and Perfections of Chrift's Body: that is,

(1.) Our vile, bafe, and abject Bodies fhall be chang'd into glorious Bodies; fo faith St. Paul, It is fown in Dif honour, it is rais'd in Glory.

(2.) Our natural, earthly, and fleshly Bodies fhall be chang'd into fpiritual and heavenly Bodies; fo 'tis faid, It is fown a natural Body, it is rais'd a spiritual Body. Again,

(3.) Our weak, frail, and paffive Bodies fhall be chang'd into active, vigorous, and powerful Bodies; fo 'tis added, It is fown in Weakness, it is rais'd in Power. And,

Lastly, (4) Our mortal, corruptible Bodies, fhall be chang'd into immortal and incorruptible Bodies; fo 'tis farther faid, It is fown in Corruption, it is rais'd in Incorruption, and this Corruptible must put on Incorruption, and this Mortal must put on Immortality. In a word, both our Bodies and Souls fhall be refin'd and rais'd to all thofe glorious Qualities and Perfections, to which they are capable of being advanc'd; and when that which is Perfect is come, then all that is Imperfect shall be done away: And all this thall be done for us by that Infinite and Almighty Power, that is able to fubdue all things to himself.

Now if we look for thefe great things, as we undoubtedly may, what manner of Perfons ought we to be in all holy Converfation and Godliness? How frequently and firmly fhould our Minds and Meditations be fix'd on Heaven, from whence we expect the Coming of this Saviour, and with whom we hope to return and reign in Glory? This the Apostles did, and this they would have us to do, as alfo to obferve and imitate those that walk by their Example.

Thus having fhew'd the Drift and Scope of this Epistle, it remains, in the laft place, that I prefs upon you the great Leffon that is taught in it; and that is, to be Followers of the Holy Apoftles, and to fet their Lives and Actions before you, as a Pattern for yours. To this end, read often the Scriptures of the New Teftament, where their memorable Works and Actions are recorded, and bear them in mind, that you may have them always ready as occafion fhall require; not that you are to be Followers of them, in doing the Miracles and other wonder. ful Works that they did, for that was a Power or Privilege


peculiar to them, granted for a while only for the Confirmation and Propagation of the Gofpel; which being now well confirm'd and propagated, there can be no farther need or use of them, and therefore are not to be pray'd for or pretended to by us. Nor yet are we to be Followers of the Apostles in their Failings and Infirmities, fome whereof were very great; as St. Peter's denying his Master, St. Paul's perfecuting the Church, and the like, which are recorded in Scripture, not that we fhould follow, but forfake them: But that which we are call'd upon to imitate in them, is their Vertues, to follow their good Works, to have them before us as a Rule to govern our Actions, or as a Copy to tranfcribe in our Lives and Converfations, and to walk even as they walked. And indeed what better Precedents can we follow, than they who have not only chalk'd out our way for us by their Precepts, but likewife trod every Step of it before us by their Examples? To both which let us all learn to conform our Lives, and labour not to fwerve from either in the whole Courfe of our Converfation. To which end,

2. Let us abandon the Ways and Works of all loose, profane, and profligate Perfons; and fuch disorderly Walkers, as the Apostle could not speak of without weeping, let us not think of without abhorring and avoiding, for their End is Deftruction, to which they lead themselves and all their Followers: we have feen their Description, being fuch, whofe God is their Belly, whofe Glory is in their Shame, and who mind only earthly things. In opposition whereunto, let us,

3. Especially imitate the Apostles in their holy and heavenly Converfation: for tho they liv'd upon the Earth, yet they declar'd that they belong'd to another Country, they were but Pilgrims and Strangers here, their Citizenfhip and Converfation was in Heaven; they were dead and crucify'd to this World, their Hearts were there, where their Treasure was, even in Heaven, from whence they expected their Saviour to come and take them to himself. And fince we also look for the fame, let us learn to do and to demean our felves likewife, especially confidering the great and glorious Change that will then befal both our Body and Soul, from the many Miferies and Infirmities of this Earth, to all the Glories and Felicities of Heaven : To which God of his Mercy bring us all.


The GOSPEL for the Three and Twentieth Sunday after Trinity.

St. Mat. xxii. 15: -23.

Then went the Pharifees, and took Counsel how they might intangle him in his Talk: and they fent unto him their Difciples, with the Herodians, saying, &c.


HESE Words begin the Gospel for this Day, in which we may obferve the fpiteful and malicious Defigns of the Pharifees and others against our Saviour. The occafion of it was from a Parable related by him in the foregoing words, which fo ftung and nettled the Pharifees and others that were too plainly concern'd in it, that they went and confulted together how they might take fome advantage against him, and draw him into their Snare; for fo the first words tell us, They took Counsel how they might intangle him in his Talk. The Parties fent to him upon this Errand to fet upon him, were the Disciples of the Pharifees, with fome of the Herodians, who began with him in this glozing and infinuating Language, faying, Mafter, we know that thou art true, and teacheft the way of God in Truth, neither careft thou for any Man; meaning, that he was a free Speaker of his Mind, and would not difguife his Thoughts for the Fear or Flattery of any Man : which words they utter'd, not out of any Honour to him, but merely to encourage him to fuch a Freedom of Talk, that they might the better catch at fomething to make a Matter of Accufation against him. To which end they came to him with an earneft Defire to know his Mind freely and impartially, concerning the Matter of Tribute, a Point much debated among them at that time; Tell us therefore (fay they) what thinkest thou, is it lawful to give Tribute to Cæfar or not? Which Queftion proceeded_not



« PrécédentContinuer »