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THE

CHIEF HEADS OF THE SERMONS.


VOL. III.


SERMON XXXVII.

THE SCRIBE INSTRUCTED, &C.

Matthew xiii. 52.

Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. P. 3.

Christ here gives the character of a preacher or evangelist, 3. in these words; where we are to consider,

1st, What is meant by the scribe among the Jews, either as a civil or a church-officer, 5.

2dly, What it is to be instructed for the kingdom of heaven, 7.

3dly, What it is to bring out of one’s treasure things new and old, 8.

And then, by applying all this to the minister of the gospel, we are to examine,

1st, His qualifications, 11. viz.

1. A natural ability of the faculties of his mind, 12. judgment, 12. memory, 13. invention, 14.

2. An habitual preparation by study, 15. in point of learning and knowledge, 17. of significant speech and expression, 21.

2dly, The reasons of their necessity, 24. viz. 1 . Because the preacher’s work is to persuade, 24.

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2. Because God himself was at the expense of a miracle to endow the first preachers with them, 29.

3. Because the dignity of the subject, which is divinity, requires them, 30.

3dly, The inferences from these particulars, 32.

1. A reproof to such as discredit the ordinance of preaching, 32, 40. and the church itself, 41. either by light and comical, 32. or by dull and heavy discourses, 34.

2. An exhortation to such who design themselves for the ministry, to bestow a competent time in preparing for it, 42.

SERMON XXXVIII.

PROSPERITY EVER DANGEROUS TO VIRTUE.

Proverbs i. 32.

The prosperity of fools shall destroy them. P. 47.

The misery of all foolish or vicious persons is, that prosperity itself to them becomes destructive, 47. Because,

1st, They are ignorant or regardless of the ends where fore God sends it, 48.

1. To try and discover what is in a man, 49.

2. To encourage him in gratitude to his Maker, 51 .

3. To make him helpful to society, 52.

2dly, Prosperity is prone,

1. To abate men’s virtues, 53.

2. To heighten their corruptions, 57. such as pride, 58. luxury and uncleanness, 59. profaneness, 60.

3dly, It indisposes men to the means of their amendment, 62. rendering them,

1 . Averse to all counsel, 62.

%. Unfit for the sharp trials of adversity, under which they either despond or blaspheme, 63.

Therefore, that prosperity may not be destructive, a man ought,

1. To consider the uncertainty of it, 64. And

2. How little he is bettered by it, 65.

3. To use the severe duties of mortification, 66.

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SERMON XXXIX.

SHAMELESSNESS IN SIN THE CERTAIN FORERUNNER OF DESTRUCTION.

Jeremiah vi. 15.

Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall Jail among them that Jail: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord. P. 68.

Shamelessness in sin is the certain forerunner of destruction, 68. In the prosecution of which proposition we may observe,

1st, What shame is, 70. and how it is more effectual than law in its influence upon men, with respect to the evil threatened by it, 73. and to the extent of that evil, 74.

2dly, How men cast off that shame, 76.

1. By the commission of great sins, 77.

2. By a custom of sinning, 79.

3. By the examples of great persons, 80.

4. By the observation of the general practice, 81.

5. By having been once irrecoverably ashamed, 83. 3dly, The several degrees of shamelessness in sin, 84.

1. To shew respect to sinful persons, 84.

2. To defend sin, 85.

3. To glory in it, 87.

4thly, The reasons why shamelessness is so destructive, 88.

1. Because it presupposes those actions which God seldom lets go unpunished, 88. and,

2. It has a destructive influence upon the government of the world, 89.

5thly, The judgments, by which it procures the sinner’s ruin, 92.

1. A sudden and disastrous death, 92.

2. War and desolation, 92.

3. Captivity, 93.

Lastly, An application is made of the whole, 94.

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SERMON XL.

CONCEALMENT OF SIN NO SECURITY TO THE SINNER.

Numbers xxxii. 23.

Be sure your sin will find you out. P. 97.

These words reach the case of all sinners, 98.

1st, Sin upon a confidence of concealment, 98. For,

1. No man engages in sin, but as it bears some appearance of good, 98.

2. Shame and pain are by God made the consequents of sin, 99.

2dly, Take up that confidence, 103. upon,

1. Their own success, 103,

2. The success of others, 106.

3. An opinion of their own cunning, 108.

4. The hope of repentance, 110.

3dly, Are at last certainly defeated, 112. Because,

1. The very confidence of secrecy is the cause of the sinner’s discovery, 112.

2. There is sometimes a providential concurrence of unlikely accidents for a discovery, 113.

3. One sin sometimes is the means of discovering another, 115.

4. The sinner may discover himself through phrensy and distraction, 117. or be forced to it,

5. By his own conscience, 118.

6. He may be suddenly struck by some notable judgment, 119. Or,

Lastly, His guilt will follow him into another world, if he should chance to escape in this, 121.

SERMON XLI.

THE RECOMPENCE OF THE REWARD.

Hebrews xi. 24, 25, 26.

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach viiof Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of reward. P. 124.

A Christian is not bound to sequester his mind from respect to an ensuing reward, 125. For,

1st, Duty considered barely as duty is not sufficient to engage man’s will, 127. Because,

1. The soul has originally an averseness to duty, 128.

2. The affections of the soul are not at all gratified by any thing in duty, 130.

3. If duty of itself was a sufficient motive, then hope and fear would be needless, 135.

With an answer to some objections, 142.

2dly, A reward and a respect to it are necessary to engage man’s obedience, 149. not absolutely, but with respect to man’s present condition, 150. The proof whereof may be drawn from scripture, 151. and the practice of all law givers, 152.

Therefore it is every man’s infinite concern to fix to himself a principle to act by, which may bring him to his beatific end, 154.

SERMON XLII.

ON THE GENERAL RESURRECTION.

Acts xxiv. 15.

Having hope towards God, (which they themselves also allow,) that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. P. 157.

It is certain that there must be a general retribution, and, by consequence, a general resurrection, 157, 158.

The belief of which, though,

1st, It is exceeding difficult, 159. because,

1. Natural reason is averse to it, 160.

2. This averseness is grounded partly upon many improbabilities, 163. partly upon downright impossibilities charged upon it, 165. Yet,

2dly, Is founded upon sufficient and solid grounds, 168. which will appear,

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1. By answering the objections of improbability and impossibility, 168.

2. By positive arguments, 176.

3dly, Gaineth much worth and excellency from all those difficulties, 185. For from hence,

1. We collect the utter insufficiency of bare natural religion, 185.

2. We infer the impiety of Socinian opinions concerning the resurrection, 188.

SERMON XLIII.

THE DOCTRINE OF THE BLESSED TRINITY ASSERTED, AND PROVED NOT CONTRARY TO REASON.

Coloss. ii. 2.

To the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ. P. 194.

These words examined and explained prove the plurality of Persons in the divine nature a great mystery, to be acknowledged by all Christians, 194. which will appear by shewing,

1st, What conditions are required to denominate a thing a mystery, 198. viz.

1. That it be really true, and not contrary to reason, 198.

2. That it be above the reach of mere reason to find it out before it be revealed, 204.

3. That, being revealed, it be yet very difficult for, if not above finite reason fully to comprehend it, 209.

2dly, That all these conditions meet in the article of the Trinity, 198213.

With an account of the blasphemous expressions and assertions of the Socinians, 213.

Lastly, Since this article is of so great moment, it is fit to examine,

1. The causes which have unsettled and destroyed the belief of it, 219. Such as representing it in a figure, 219. expressing it by bold and insignificant terms, 220. building it on texts of scripture which will evince no such thing, 221.

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2. The means how to fix and continue it in the mind, 221. by acquiescing in revelation, 222. and suppressing all over-curious inquiries into the nature of it, 222.

SERMON XLIV. XLV.

ILL-DISPOSED AFFECTIONS BOTH NATURALLY AND PENALLY THE CAUSE OF DARKNESS AND ERROR IN THE JUDGMENT.

2 Thess. ii. 11.

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. P. 224.

A very severe judgment is here denounced against them who receive not the love of the truth, 224. which will be best understood by shewing,

1st, How the mind of man can believe a lie, either,

1. Through the remoteness of the faculty from its object, 230. or,

2. Through some weakness or disorder in it, 231.

2dly, What it is to receive the love of truth, 232. viz. to esteem, 232. and to choose it, 236. And consequently, what it is not to receive it, 237.

3dly, How the not receiving the love of truth into the will, disposes the understanding to delusion, 240.

1. By drawing the understanding from fixing its contemplation upon truth, 240.

2. By prejudicing it against it, 242.

3. By darkening the mind, which is the peculiar malignity of every vice, 244.

4thly, How God can properly be said to send men delusions, 246.

1. By withdrawing his enlightening influence from the understanding, 247.

2. By commissioning the spirit of falsehood to seduce the sinner, 250.

3. By providential disposing of men into such circumstances of life as have an efficacy to delude, 252.

4. By his permission of lying wonders, 255.

5thly, Wherein the greatness of this delusion consists, 259.

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1. In itself; as it is spiritual, and directly annoys a man’s soul, 259. and more particularly blasts his understanding, 263.

2. In its consequences, 268. as it renders the conscience useless, 268. and ends in a total destruction, 270.

6thly, What deductions may be made from the whole, 272.

1. That it is not inconsistent with God’s holiness to punish one sin with another, 272.

2. That the best way to confirm our faith about the truths of religion is to love and acknowledge them, 277.

3. That hereby we may be able to find out the true cause of atheism, 281. and fanaticism, 283.

SERMON XLVI. XLVII.

COVETOUSNESS PROVED NO LESS AN ABSURDITY IN REASON, THAN A CONTRADICTION TO RELIGION, NOR A MORE UNSURE WAY TO RICHES, THAN RICHES THEMSELVES TO HAPPINESS.

Luke xii. 15.

And he said unto them. Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. P. 287.

It is natural for man to aim at happiness, the way to which seems to be an abundance of this world’s good things, and covetousness is supposed the means to acquire it. But our Saviour confutes this in these words, 287 288. which contains,

1st, A dehortation, 289. wherein we may observe,

1. The author of it, Christ himself, 290. the Lord of the universe, 292. depressed to the lowest estate of poverty, 292.

2. The thing we are dehorted from, covetousness, 293. by which is not meant a prudent forecast and parsimony, 294. but an anxious care about worldly things, attended with a distrust of Providence, 295. a rapacity in getting, 298. by all illegal ways, 301. a tenaciousness in keeping, 303.

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3. The way how we are dehorted from it; Take heed and beware, 306. For it is very apt to prevail upon us, by its near resemblance to virtue, 307. the plausibility of its pleas, 308. the reputation it generally gives in the world, 311. And there is a great difficulty in removing it, 313.

2dly, The reason of that dehortation, 288, 318. that a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth, 318. Because,

1. In the getting of them men are put upon the greatest toils and labours, 320. run the greatest dangers, 322. commit the greatest sins, 326. And,

2. When they are gotten, are attended with excessive cares, 328. with an insatiable desire of getting more, 331. are exposed to many temptations, 333. to the malice and envy of all about them, 335.

3. The possession of earthly riches is not able to remove those things which chiefly render men miserable, 337. such as affect his mind, 337. or his body, 338.

4. The greatest happiness this life is capable of, may be enjoyed without that abundance, 341.

SERMON XLVIII.

NO MAN EVER WENT TO HEAVEN, WHOSE HEART WAS NOT THERE BEFORE.

Matthew vi. 21.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. P. 348.

These words concerning man’s heart’s being fixed upon his treasure or chief good, 348. may be considered,

1st, As an entire proposition in themselves, 349.

1. Supposing, that every man has something which he accounts his treasure, 350. which appears from the activity of his mind, 350. and the method of his acting, 352.

2. Declaring, that every man places his whole heart upon that treasure, 353. by a restless endeavour to acquire it, 354. by a continual delight in it, 356. by supporting himself xiiwith it in all his troubles, 358. by a willingness to part with all other things to preserve it, 359.

2dly, As they enforce the foregoing precept in the 19th and 20th verses; wherein the things on earth and the things in heaven are represented as rivals for men’s affections, 361. and that the last ought to claim them in preference to the other will be proved,

1. By considering the world, how vastly inferior it is to the worth of man’s heart, 364.

2. By considering the world in itself, 367. how all its enjoyments are perishing, 367. and out of our power, 369. And on the contrary, heaven is the exchange God gives for man’s heart, 365. and the enjoyments above are indefectible, endless, 368. and not to be taken away, 370.

The improvement of these particulars is to convince us of the extreme vanity of most men’s pretences to religion, 371.

SERMON XLIX.

VIRTUOUS EDUCATION OF YOUTH, THE WAY TO A HAPPY OLD AGE.

Proverbs xxii. 6.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. P. 379.

The rebellion of forty-one has had ever since a very pernicious influence upon this kingdom, 379. To hinder the mischief whereof, Solomon’s advice is best, to plant virtue in youth, in order to ensure the practice of it in a man’s mature or declining age, 383. For since every man is naturally disposed to evil, and this evil principle will (if not hindered) pass into action, and those vicious habits will, from personal, grow national; and no remedy against this can be had but by an early discipline; it is absolutely necessary that the minds of youth should be formed with a virtuous preventing education, 386. which is the business of

1. Parents, who ought to deserve that honour which their children must pay them; and to instil into their hearts early principles of their duty to God and their king, 390.

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2. Schoolmasters; whose influence is more powerful than of preachers themselves, 395. and who ought to use great discretion in the management of that charge, 397.

3. The clergy; who should chiefly attend first upon catechising, 400. then confirmation, 402. and lastly, instructing them from the pulpit, not failing often to remind them of obedience and subjection to the government, 405.

Lastly, It is incumbent upon great men to suppress conventicling schools or academies, 409. and to countenance all legal free grammar-schools, 411.

SERMON L.

PRETENCE OF CONSCIENCE NO EXCUSE FOR REBELLION.

Judges xix. 30.

And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds. P. 415.

These words were occasioned by a foul and detestable fact, which, for want of kingly government, happened in one of the tribes of Israel, 415. but may be applied to express the murder of king Charles the First, 418. The unparalleled strangeness of which deed will appear, if we consider,

1. The qualities, human accomplishments and personal virtues of the person murdered, 421.

2. The gradual preparations to such a murder, a factious ministry and a covenant, 426. and their rebellious catechism, 428.

3. The actors in this tragical scene, 431.

4. Their manner of procedure in it, 432. openly, 433. cruelly, 434. and with pretences of conscience, and protestations of religion, 439.

5. The fatal consequences of it, 440. such as were of a civil, 440. or a religious concern, 442.

Lastly, Hereupon we ought to take advice, 445. and consider, that our sins have been the cause of our calamities; and that the best way to avoid the same evil is to sin no more, 447.

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SERMON LI.

SATAN HIMSELF TRANSFORMED INTO AN ANGEL OF LIGHT.

2 Cor. xi. 14.

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. P. 450.

These words suppose that there is a Devil; and forewarn us against his deceitful disguises, 450. and the sense of the words may be prosecuted by shewing,

1st, What influence he has upon the soul, and how he conveys his fallacies, 454.

1. In moving, or sometimes altering the humours of the body, 454.

2. In suggesting the ideas of things to the imagination, 455.

3. In a personal possession of the man, 457.

2dly, Several instances, wherein he, under the mask of light, has imposed upon the Christian world, 459. making use,

1. Of the church’s abhorrence of polytheism, to bring in Arianism, 459.

2. Of the zealous adoration of Christ’s person, to introduce the superstitious worship of Popery, 461.

3. Of the shaking off of Popery, to bring in the two extremes of Socinianism, 471. and Enthusiasm, 479. with a comparison of this last with Popery, 480.

3dly, Certain principles, whereby he is like to repeat his cheats upon the world, 485.

1. By making faith and free grace undermine the necessity of a good life, 485.

2. By opposing the power of godliness irreconcilably to all forms, 487.

3. By making the kingdom of Christ oppose the kingdoms of the world, 489.

Therefore we ought not to cast the least pleasing look upon any of his insidious offers, 489. but encounter him with watchfulness and prayer, 494.

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SERMON LII.

THE CERTAINTY OF OUR SAVIOUR’S RESURRECTION.

John xx. 29.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. P. 496.

The resurrection of a body before its total dissolution is easier to be believed than after it; and it was this last sort of resurrection, which puzzled Thomas’s reason, 496, 497. with various objections, 500. Which, after some preliminary considerations, 502. are severally proposed, and answered under eight heads, 502. together with a confutation of the lie invented by the Jews, 515. Then, all objections being removed, Christ’s resurrection is proposed to our belief upon certain and sufficient grounds, 517. viz.

1st, The constant, uniform affirmation of such persons, as had sufficient means to be informed of the truth, 520. and were of an unquestionable sincerity, 521.

2dly, The miracles which confirmed the apostle’s words, 523.

Lastly, That such tradition has greater reason for its belief, than can be suggested for its disbelief, 525.

Thence we ought to admire the commanding excellency of faith, which can force its way through the opposition of carnal reason, with an entire submission to divine revelation, 526.

SERMON LIII.

OBEDIENCE FOR CONSCIENCE SAKE, THE DUTY OF GOOD SUBJECTS.

Rom. xiii. 5.

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. P. 531.

In these words there is,

1st, A duty enjoined, viz. subjection, 531. which the believers of the church of Rome are commanded to pay Nero, 532.

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2dly, The ground of this duty, for conscience sake, 534. In which we are to consider,

1. The absolute unlawfulness of resistance, 537. notwithstanding the doctrine of the sons both of Rome, 538. and of Geneva, 543. of the Scotch, 546. and English puritans, 548. With an account, how far human laws bind the conscience, 550.

2. The scandal which resistance casts upon Christianity, 553.

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