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CHIEF HEADS OF THE SERMONS,
THE WAYS OF WISDOM ARE WAYS OF PLEASANTNESS.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness. Page 3.
Some objections against this truth are removed, 3. and the duty of repentance represented under a mixture of sweetness, 11.
The excellencies of the pleasure of wisdom are enumerated:
I. As it is the pleasure of the mind, 13. in reference, 1. to speculation, 13. on the account of the greatness, 14. and newness of the objects, 16. 2. To practice, 17.
II. As it never satiates and wearies, 18. The comparison of other pleasures with it; such as that of an epicure, 19. that of ambition, 21. that of friendship and conversation, 22.
III. As it is in nobody’s power, but only in his that has it, 23. which property and perpetuity is not to be found in worldly enjoyments, 24.
A consequence is drawn against the absurd austerities of the Romish profession, 25.
A short description of the religious pleasure, 27.
OF THE CREATION OF MAN IN THE IMAGE OF GOD.
So God created man in Ms own image, in the image of God created he him. P. 28.
The several false opinions of the heathen philosophers concerning the original of the world, 31.cxxvi
The image of God in man considered, 32.
I. Wherein it does not consist, adequately and formally; not in power and dominion, as the Socinians erroneously assert, 33.
II. Wherein it does consist: 1. In the universal rectitude of all the faculties of the soul, 35. viz. of his understanding, 35. both speculative, 36. and practical, 38. Of his will, 40. Concerning the freedom of it, 41. Of his passions, 42: love, 43. hatred, 44. anger, 45. joy, 45. sorrow, 46. hope, 46. fear, 47. 2. In those characters of majesty that God imprinted upon his body, 48.
The consideration of the irreparable loss sustained in the fall of our first parents, 50. and of the excellency of Christian religion, designed by God to repair the breaches of our humanity, 52.
INTEREST DEPOSED, AND TRUTH RESTORED.
But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. P. 56.
The occasion of those words inquired into, 56. and their explication, by being compared with other parallel scriptures, 58. and some observations deduced from them, 59.
The explication of them, by shewing,
I. How many ways Christ and his truths may be denied, 60. 1. By an heretical judgment, 61. 2. By oral expressions, 63. 3. By our actions, 64.
What denial is intended by these words, 66.
II. The causes inducing men to deny Christ in his truths, 67. 1. The seeming absurdity of many truths, 67. 2. Their unprofitableness, 69. 3. Their apparent danger, 71.
III. How far a man may consult his safety in time of persecution, without denying Christ, 73. 1. By withdrawing his person, 73. 2. By concealing his judgment, 73.
When those ways of securing ourselves are not lawful, 74.cxxvii
IV. What is meant by Christ’s denial of us, 76. with reference, 1. To the action itself, 76. 2. To its circumstances, 78.
V. How many uses may be drawn from the words, 80. 1. An exhortation chiefly to persons in authority, to defend Christ in his truth, 80. and in his members, 81. 2. An in formation, to shew us the danger as well as baseness of denying Christ, 83.
RELIGION THE BEST REASON OF STATE.
After this thing king Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth. P. 85.
Jeroboam’s history and practice, 85. Some observations from it, 89. An explication of the words high places, 90. and consecration, 91.
The sense of the words drawn into two propositions, 91.
I. The means to strengthen or to ruin the civil power, is either to establish or destroy the right worship of God, 91. Of which proposition the truth is proved by all records of divine and profane history, 92. and the reason is drawn from the judicial proceeding of God; and from the dependence of the principles of government upon religion, 92.
From which may be inferred, 1. The pestilential design of disjoining the civil and ecclesiastical interest, 99. 2. The danger of any thing that may make even the true religion suspected to be false, 101.
II. The way to destroy religion is to embase the dispensers of it, 103. which is done, 1. By divesting them of all temporal privileges and advantages, 103. 2. By admitting unworthy persons to this function, 108. By which cxxviiimeans, 1st, ministers are brought under contempt, 111. 2dly, Men of fit parts and abilities are discouraged from undertaking the ministry, 114.
A brief recapitulation of the whole, 117.
THE DUTIES OF THE EPISCOPAL FUNCTION.
These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. P. 122.
Titus supposed to be a bishop in all this epistle, 122. The duties of which place are,
I. To teach, 124. either immediately by himself, 127. or mediately by the subordinate ministration of others, 128.
II. To rule, 129. by an exaction of duty from persons under him, 130. by a protection of the persons under the discharge of their duty, 131. and by animadversion upon such as neglect it, 131.
And the means better to execute those duties, is not to be despised, 124-134. in the handling of which prescription these things may be observed:
1. The ill effects that contempt has upon government, 134. 2. The causes upon which church-rulers are frequently despised, 137. And they are
Either groundless; such as their very profession itself, 138. loss of their former grandeur and privilege, 139.
Or just; such as ignorance, 140. viciousness, 141. fearfulness, 142. and a proneness to despise others, 143.
The character of a clergyman, 144.
WHY CHRIST’S DOCTRINE WAS REJECTED BY THE JEWS.
If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doc trine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. P. 146.
An account of the Jewish and Christian economy, 146.cxxix
The gospel must meet with a rightly disposed will, before it can gain the assent of the understanding, 148. which will appear from the following considerations:
I. What Christ’s doctrine is, with relation to matters of belief, 149. and to matters of practice, 149.
II. That men’s unbelief of that doctrine was from no defect in the arguments, 152. whose strength was sufficient, from the completion of all the predictions, 152. and the authority of miracles, 153. And whose insufficiency (if there could have been any) was not the cause of the unbelief of the Jews, 154. who assented to things less evident, 155. neither evident nor certain, but only probable, 156. neither evident, nor certain, nor probable, but false and fallacious, 156.
III. That the Jewish unbelief proceeded from the pravity of the will influencing the understanding to a disbelief of Christianity, 157. the last being prepossessed with other notions, and the first being wholly governed by covetousness and ambition, 157.
IV. That a well-disposed mind, with a readiness to obey the will of God, is the best means to enlighten the understanding to a belief of Christianity, 160. upon the account both of God’s goodness, 160. and of a natural efficiency, 162. arising from a right disposition of the will, which will engage the understanding in the search of the truth through diligence, 163. and impartiality, 165.
From which particulars may be learned, 1. The true cause of atheism and scepticism, 167. 2. The most effectual means of becoming good Christians, 169.
GOD’S PECULIAR REGARD TO PLACES SET APART FOR DIVINE WORSHIP.
God hath loved the gates of Sion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. P. 175.
All comparisons import, in the superior part of them, cxxxdifference and preeminence, 175. and so from the comparison of this text arise these propositions:
I. That God bears a different respect to consecrated places, from what he bears to all others, 175. which difference he shews, 1. By the interposals of his providence for the erecting and preserving of them, 176. 2. By his punishments upon the violators of them, 180. 3. Not upon the account of any inherent sanctity in the things themselves, but because he has the sole property of them, 186. by appropriating them to his peculiar use, 187. and by deed of gift made by surrender on man’s part, 187. and by acceptance on his, 189.
II. That God prefers the worship paid to him in such places above that in all others, 193. because, 1. Such places are naturally apt to excite a greater devotion, 193. 2. In them our worship is a more direct service and homage to him, 197.
From all which we are taught to have these three ingredients in our devotion; desire, reverence, and confidence, 199.
ALL CONTINGENCIES UNDER THE DIRECTION OF GOD’S PROVIDENCE,
The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing of it is of the Lord. P. 201.
God’s providence has its influence upon all things, even the most fortuitous, such as the casting of lots, P. 201. Which things, implying in themselves somewhat future and some what contingent, are,
I. In reference to men, out of the reach of their knowledge and of their power, 202.
II. In reference to God, comprehended by a certain knowledge, 204. and governed by as certain a providence, 205. and by him directed to both certain, 205. and great ends, 208. in reference,
1. To societies, or united bodies of men, 208. 2. To particular cxxxipersons, whether public, as princes, 214. or private, touching their lives, 217. health, 218. reputation, 218. friendships, 221. employments, 222.
Therefore we ought to rely on divine Providence; and be neither too confident in prosperity, 225. nor too despondent in adversity, 227. but carry a conscience clear towards God, who is the sole and absolute disposer of all things, 228.
THE WISDOM OF THIS WORLD.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. P. 229.
Worldly wisdom, in scripture, is taken sometimes for philosophy, 229. sometimes, as here, for policy, 230. which,
I. Governs its actions generally by these rules, 231. 1. By a constant dissimulation; not a bare concealment of one’s mind; but a man’s positive professing what he is not, and resolves not to be, 231. 2. By submitting conscience and religion to one’s interest, 234. 3. By making one’s self the sole end of all actions, 237. 4. By having no respect to friendship, gratitude, or sense of honour, 239.
Which rules and principles are,
II. Foolish and absurd in reference to God, 241. because in the pursuit of them man pitches, 1. Upon an end, unproportionable, 242. to the measure of his duration, 242. or to the vastness of his desires, 243. 2. Upon means in themselves insufficient for, 244. and frequently contrary to the attaining of such ends, 247. which is proved to happen in the four foregoing rules of the worldly politician, 248.
Therefore we ought to be sincere, 255. and commit our persons and concerns to the wise and good providence of God, 255.
GOOD INCLINATIONS NO EXCUSE FOR BAD ACTIONS.
For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according cxxxiito that a man hath, and not according” to that he hath not. P. 257.
Men are apt to abuse the world and themselves in some general principles of action; and particularly in this, That God accepts the will for the deed, 257. The delusion of which is laid open in these words, 258. expressing, that where there is no power, God accepts the will; but implying, that where there is, he does not. So there is no thing of so fatal an import as the plea of a good intention, and of a good will, 258. for God requires the obedience of the whole man, and never accepts the will but as such, 262. Thence we may understand how far it holds good, that God accepts the will for the deed, 265. a rule whose
I. Ground is founded upon that eternal truth, that God requires of man nothing impossible, 265. and consequently whose,
II. Bounds are determined by what power man naturally hath, 265. but whose,
III. Misapplication consists in these, 266. 1. That men often mistake for an act of the will what really is not so, 266. as a bare approbation, 266. wishing, 267. mere inclination, 269. 2. That men mistake for impossibilities things which are not truly so, 271. as in duties of very great labour, 271. danger, 273. cost, 278. in conquering an inveterate habit, 283.
Therefore there is not a weightier case of conscience, than to know how far God accepts the will, and when men truly will a thing, and have really no power, 286.
OF THE ODIOUS SIN OF INGRATITUDE.
And the children of Israel remembered not the Lord their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side: neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shewed unto Israel. P. 288.cxxxiii
The history of Gideon, and the Israelites behaviour towards him, 288. are the subject and occasion of these words, which treat of their ingratitude both towards God and man, 290. This vice in this latter sense is described, 291. by shewing,
I. What gratitude is, 291. what are its parts, 292. what grounds it hath in the law of nature, 293. Of God’s word, 296. Of man, 296.
II. The nature and baseness of ingratitude, 300.
III. That ingratitude proceeds from a proneness to do ill turns with a complacency upon the sight of any mischief be falling another; and from an utter insensibility of all kindnesses, 302.
IV. That it is always attended with many other ill qualities, 304. pride, 305. hard-heartedness, 307. and false hood, 310. Therefore,
V. What consequences may be drawn from the premises, 310. 1. Never to enter into a league of friendship with an ungrateful person, 310. because, 2. he cannot be altered by any acts of kindness, 311. and, 3. he has no true sense of religion, 313. Exhortation to gratitude as a debt to God, 314.
OF THE BASE SINS OF FALSEHOOD AND LYING.
Lying lips are abomination to the Lord. P. 316.
The universality of lying is described, 316. And this vice is further prosecuted, by shewing,
I. The nature of it, 319. wherein it consists, 319. and the unlawfulness of all sorts of lies, whether pernicious, officious, or jocose, 320.
II. The effects of it, 325. all sins that came into the world, 325. all miseries that befall mankind, 326. an utter dissolution of all society, 330. an indisposition to the impressions of religion, 333.
III. The punishments of it: the loss of all credit, 336. the hatred of all whom the liar has or would have deceived cxxxiv337. and an eternal separation from God, 342, All which particulars are briefly summed up, 343.
THE PRACTICE OF RELIGION ENFORCED BY REASON.
He that walketh uprightly walketh surely. P. 349
The life of man is in scripture expressed by walking; which to do surely, great caution must be taken not to lay down false principles, or mistake in consequences from right ones, 349. but to walk uprightly, under the notion of an infinite mind governing the world, and an expectation of another state hereafter, 349. Which two principles will secure us in all our actions, whether they be considered,
I. As true, 351. the folly of a sinner presuming upon God’s mercy, 353. or relying upon a future repentance, 356. or whether supposed,
II. As only probable, 357. No man, in most temporal concerns, acts upon surer grounds than of probability, 359. And self-preservation will oblige a man to undergo a lesser evil to secure himself from the probability of a greater, 361. Probability supposes that a thing may or may not be; both which are examined with relation to a future state, 361.
III. As false, 364. Under this supposition the virtuous walketh more surely than the wicked, with reference to temporal enjoyments: reputation, 364. quietness, 366. health, 369. Answer to an objection, that many sinners enjoy all these, 371.
Thence we may perceive the folly of atheistical persons, 373. and learn to walk uprightly, as the best ground for our present and future happiness, 376.
OF THE LOVE OF CHRIST TO HIS DISCIPLES.
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth cxxxvnot what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father have I made known unto you. P. 378.
The superlative love of Christ appears in the several degrees of his kindness to man, before he was created, 378. when created, 379. when fallen, 379. whom even he not only spared, but, from the number of subjects, took into the retinue of his servants, and further advanced to the privilege of a friend, 380. The difference between which two appellations is this:
I. That a servant is for the most part, 1. unacquainted with his master’s designs, 383. 2. restrained with a degenerous awe of mind, 383. 3. endued with a mercenary disposition, 384.
II. That a friend is blessed with many privileges; as, 1. Freedom of access, 385. 2. Favourable construction of all passages, 386. 3. Sympathy in joy and grief, 390. 4. Communication of secrets, 392. 5. Counsel and advice, 395. 6. Constancy and perpetuity, 396.
In every one of which particulars, the excellency of Christ’s friendship shining forth, 400. we may learn the high advantage of true piety, 401.
SERMONS XV. XVI.
AGAINST LONG EXTEMPORE PRAYERS
Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few. P. 405.
Solomon having been spoken to by God himself, and so the fittest to teach us how to speak to God, here observes to us, that when we are in God’s house, we are more especially in his presence; that this ought to create a reverence in our addresses to him, and that this reverence consists in the preparation of our thoughts and the government of our expressions, 405. the two great joint ingredients of prayer, 415. Of which,cxxxvi
The first is premeditation of thought, 406. 415. 417.
The second is, ordering of our words by pertinence and brevity of expression, 406. 435.
Because prayer prevails upon God,
Not as it does with men, by way of information, 406. persuasion, 407. importunity, 408. An objection to this last is answered, 413.
But as it is the fulfilling of that condition upon which God dispenseth his blessings to mankind, 409. An objection to this is removed, 409.
As it is most properly an act of dependence upon God, 412. a dependence not natural, but moral; for else it would belong indifferently to the wicked as well as to the just, 412.
I. Premeditation ought to respect, 1. The object of our prayers; God and his divine perfections, 416. 2. The matter of our prayers, 418. either things of absolute necessity, as the virtues of a pious life; or of unquestionable charity, as the innocent comforts of it, 419. 3. The order and disposition of our prayers, 421. by excluding every thing which may seem irreverent, incoherent, and impertinent; absurd and irrational; 421. rude, slight, and careless, 422.
Therefore all Christian churches have governed their public worship by a liturgy, or set form of prayer, 423. Which way of praying is truly,
To pray by the Spirit; that is, with the heart, not hypo critically; and according to the rules prescribed by God’s holy Spirit, not unwarrantably, or by a pretence to immediate inspiration, 424.
Not to stint, but help and enlarge the spirit of prayer, 427. for the soul being of a limited nature, cannot at the same time supply two distinct faculties to the same height of operation; words are the work of the brain; and devotion, properly the business of the heart, indispensably required in prayer, 428.
Whereas, on the contrary,
Extempore prayers stint the spirit, by calling off the faculties of the soul from dealing with the heart both in the minister and in the people, 427, 428. And besides,cxxxvii
They are prone to encourage pride and ostentation, 429. faction and sedition, 431.
II. Brevity of expression, the greatest perfection of speech, 435. authorized by both divine, 435. and human examples, 437. suited best to the modesty, 440. discretion, 440. and respect required in all suppliants, 441. is still further enforced in our addresses to God by these arguments, 441. 1. That all the reasons for prolixity of speech with men cease to be so, when we pray to God, 442. 2. That there are but few things necessary to be prayed for, 448. 3. That the person who prays cannot keep up the same fervour and attention in a long as in a short prayer, 450. 4. That shortness of speech is the most natural and lively way of expressing the utmost agonies of the soul, 451. 5. That we have examples in scripture, both of brevity and prolixity of speech in prayer, as of brevity in the Lord’s Prayer, 453. the practice of it in our Saviour himself, 454. the success of it in several instances; as of the leper, of , the blind man, and of the publican, 455. Whereas the heathens and the pharisees, the grand instances of idolatry and hypocrisy, are noted for prolixity, 456.
By these rules we may judge, 1. of our church’s excellent liturgy; for its brevity and fulness, for the frequent opportunity of mentioning the name and some great attribute of God; for its alternate responses, which thing properly denominates it a Book of Common-Prayer, 457. for appointing even a form of prayer before sermons, 459. 2. Of the dissenters prayers, always notable for length and tautology, incoherence and confusion, 460.
And, after this comparison, pronounce our liturgy the greatest treasure of rational devotion; and pray God would vouchsafe long to continue to us the use of it, 463.cxxxviii1
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