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CHIEF HEADS OF THE SERMONS.
MAN’S INABILITY TO FIND OUT GOD’S JUDGMENTS.
How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! P. 1.
The methods of divine Providence, whereof king Charles’s return (the subject of this day’s commemoration) is an eminent instance, surpass all human apprehension, 1. and the most advanced wisdom is an incompetent judge of the ways of God, with respect,
1st, To the reason or cause of them, 4. For men are prone to assign such causes as are either false, as that the happy in this life are the proper objects of God’s love; the miserable, of his hatred, 5. and that prosperity always at tends innocence, and sufferings, guilt, 9. or imperfect, 17.
2dly, To the event or issue of them, 18. For men usually prognosticate the event of an action, according to the measure of the ability of second agents, 18. or from success formerly gained under the same, or less probable circumstances, 19. or according to the preparations made for it, and the power employed in it, 21 .
Hence we may infer,
1. The folly of making success the rule of our actions, 24.
2. The necessity of depending upon Providence, 26.
3. The impossibility of a rational dependence, but in the way of lawful courses, 28.iv
SERMONS LV. LVI.
ENTHUSIASTS, NOT LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. P. 32.
It being clear, that the Spirit of God in some degree leads and helps all men, 33. it will be necessary, in the prosecution of these words, to shew,
1st, How the Spirit is said to be in men, 34. viz. two ways allowable by scripture, either,
1. Substantially, as he filleth all things, 34.
2. By the effects he produces in them, 35.
For the way, pretended to by the familists, viz. a personal indwelling in believers, is not to be proved either from reason or from scripture, 36.
2dly, How men are led by the Spirit, 38. viz.
1. Outwardly, by his prescribing rules of actions in the written word, 39.
2. Inwardly, by his illumination of the judgment, and bending of the will, 39.
For the way, pretended to by enthusiasts, viz. his speaking inwardly to them, 41. is not allowable; because,
1. Scripture is by the Spirit itself declared a rule both necessary and sufficient, 42.
2. That inward speaking is seldom alleged but for the patronage of such actions as cannot upon any other account be warranted, 43.
3. It is contrary to the experience of the generality of Christians, 44.
4. It opens a door to all profaneness and licentiousness of living, 45.
5. No man can assure himself, or others, that the Spirit speaks inwardly to him; neither from the quality of the things spoke, nor from reason, scripture, or miracles, 48.
An examination of what the pretenders to an immediate impulse of the Spirit plead from several scripture-examples, 57. as of Abraham, 65. Jacob, 66. the Egyptian midwives, 66. Moses, 66. Phinehas, 67. the Israelites, 67. Samson, 69. vEhud, 69. Jael, 70. Elijah, 70. Also with four observations relating to the examination of these examples, 58.
3dly, What is meant by being the sons of God; viz. by imitation, 72.
4thly, We may infer from the foregoing particulars,
1. That pretenders to such an inward voice of the Spirit in opposition to God’s written word, are not to be endured in the communion of a Christian church, as being the highest reproach to religion, 74. Nor,
2. To be tolerated in the state, as having a pernicious influence upon society, 76.
THANKFULNESS FOR PAST MERCIES, THE WAY TO OBTAIN FUTURE BLESSINGS.
What could have been done to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? P. 79.
From these words, a parallel is drawn between the sins of the Jews and those of this nation, 79. by considering in the text,
1st, The manner of God’s complaint, which runs in a pathetical interrogation, 81. importing in it a surprise grounded upon,
1. The strangeness, 81. and,
2. The unusual indignity of the thing, 82.
2dly, The complaint itself, 83. wherein is included,
1. The person complaining, God himself, 83.
2. The persons complained of, the Jews, 84.
3. The ground of the complaint, 85. which appears by observing,
1. How God dealt with them, by committing his oracles to them, 85. by his miraculous mercies, 87. and by his judgments for their correction, 90.vi
4. The issue of the complaint, ver. 5, 6. viz. The bereaving them of all their defences, 97. of their laws, and military force, 98. upon the failure of which will follow these evils:
1. From within; a growth of all sects and factions, 99.
2. From without; to be laid waste by a foreign enemy, 100.
THE NATURE, CAUSES, AND CONSEQUENCES OF ENVY.
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. P. 102.
In order to prove that of all sins there is none of greater malignity and baseness than envy, 102. it will be necessary to shew,
1st, What it is, and wherein its nature consists, 102.
2dly, What are its causes, 105. on the part,
1. Of the person envying, 106. viz. great malice and baseness of nature, 106. an unreasonable grasping ambition, 108. an inward sense of a man’s own weakness, 109. idleness, 111.
2. Of the person envied, 113. viz. great natural parts and abilities, 113. the favour of princes and great persons, 114. wealth and prosperity, 116. esteem and reputation, 119.
3dly, What are its effects, confusion and every evil work, 121.
1. To the envious person himself, 121.
2. To the person envied, 123. viz. a busy prying into all his concerns, 123. calumny or detraction, 124. his utter ruin and destruction, 126.
4thly, What use and improvement may be made of this subject, 128. by learning,
1. The extreme vanity of the best enjoyments of this world, 128.
2. The safety of the lowest, and the happiness of a middle condition, 129.
3. The necessity of depending upon Providence, 130.vii
CHRIST’S PROMISE, THE SUPPORT OF HIS DESPISED MINISTERS.
For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist. P. 134.
Our Saviour before his death, in order to support the ministers of his church against what should befall them after it, leaves with them this promise, 134. in the words of which is implied,
1st, A prediction, that the apostles should not fail of adversaries, 135. which would oppose them both in word, by gainsaying, 141. and indeed by resisting, 144.
2dly, The promise itself of such an assistance as should overcome all that opposition, 146. very necessary to remove the fears which he foresaw would be apt to seize their spirits, 147. In which promise we may consider,
1. The thing promised, viz. a mouth, 149. or an ability of speaking with great perspicuity, 149. simplicity, 151. zeal, 153. and wisdom, or a prudence in action and behaviour, 155. by opposing neither things nor persons any further than they stood in their way, 156: and opposing them resolutely whenever they did, 156. Which two, viz. mouth and wisdom, being united, have the greatest advantage, 158.
2. The person promising, viz. Christ, 158.
3. The means, by which that promise was performed, viz. the effusion of the Holy Ghost, 159.
FALSE METHODS OF GOVERNING THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND EXPLODED.
To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. P. 162.
From the way of St. Paul’s dealing with the schismatics viiiof his time, 164. a pattern may be drawn, how to deal with our dissenters, viz. not to yield up the least lawful, received constitution of our church to their demands or pretences, though never so urging and importunate, 167. The prosecution of which assertion shall be managed by considering,
1st, The pretences alleged by dissenters against our church’s ceremonies, 167. As,
1. The unlawfulness of those ceremonies, 169.
2. Their inexpediency, 170.
3. Their smallness, 172. Which three exceptions are confuted severally, 172.
2dly, The consequences of yielding or giving them up, 174. Which will appear very dangerous, if we observe,
1. The temper and disposition of those men who press for such a compliance, 174.
2. The effects of such a compliance heretofore, 176. and those, which a comprehension is likely to produce for the future, 177. together with a discourse upon toleration, 180.
3dly, The good and great influence of a strict adherence to the constitutions of our church, in procuring the settlement of it, and preserving the purity of the gospel amongst us, 189. because it is the most sovereign means,
1. To preserve unity in the church, 189.
2. To beget in the church’s enemies an opinion of the requisiteness of those usages, 190.
3. To possess them with an awful esteem of the conscience of the governors of the church, 191.
Lastly, A brief recapitulation is made of all the fore-alleged reasons and arguments, why (according to St. Paul’s example and dealing with the judaizing Christians) we are by no means to give place in the least to our dissenters, 197.
SERMONS LXI. LXII. LXIII.
[The chief heads of these sermons are printed p. vii. &c. of Vol. II. as they relate to the subject there treated of.]ix
SERMONS LXIV. LXV. LXVI.
DELIVERANCE FROM TEMPTATION THE PRIVILEGE OF THE RIGHTEOUS.
The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations. P. 289.
Man’s condition, with reference to temptation, is so desperate, that without the assistance of a superior good spirit he cannot be an equal match for the evil one, 289. And the text sets forth to us the signal mercy of God to the godly or truly pious persons, 292. in delivering them from all temptations or trials, chiefly such as are designed to corrupt them, 294.
1st, All the ways of deliverance from temptation may be reduced to these, 300.
1. Of being kept from it, 300.
2. Of being supported under it, 306.
3. Of being brought out of it, 311. when the temptation has in some measure prevailed; for there are several degrees, 312. viz. seduction, 312. enticement, 312. consent of the will, 313. commission of sin, 313. and the habitual reigning of sin, 314. Into which last state those scarcely fall who are actually in a state of grace, 317.
From the foregoing particulars we may learn,
1. The great goodness and wisdom of God in the severest precepts of religion, 318.
2. The most effectual method of dealing with a temptation, viz. prevention, 319.
2dly, The impulsive causes inducing God thus to deliver the godly, 323. are,
1. The free mercy of God, 324.
2. The prevailing intercession of Christ, 328. With some objections answered, 332. and a case resolved concerning the fallibility of regenerate persons, 334. and the several assurances of regeneration, 337. and the expectations men may have of being delivered, 335. in relation to xthe ways of entering into temptation, 343. illustrated by in stances of different success, 344. with a confutation of some pretences alleged by some bold men, who unwarrantably put themselves upon trial, 346.
3dly, Deliverance out of temptation is a transcendent privilege, 352. Which will appear from those intolerable evils consequent upon a prevailing temptation, 353. viz.
1. The soul’s utter loss and damnation, 354.
2. Loss of a man’s peace with God and his own conscience, 357.
8. Temporal judgments of God in some signal and severe affliction, 361.
4. The disgrace and reproach which it casts upon our Christian profession, 366.
With some useful inferences, 371. and directions for a man not to be peremptory with God in his prayers, for any particular enjoyment or state of life, 374. but to acquiesce in the state allotted him by Providence, 374.
THE HAPPINESS OF BEING KEPT FROM THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION.
Because thou has kept the word of my patience, therefore will I keep thee from the hour of temptation, which is coming upon all the world, to try the inhabitants of the earth. P. 377.
Nothing more sets off the greatness of God’s mercy in delivering his people out of temptation, than the critical time of his vouchsafing it, 377. For,
1st, There is a certain proper season and hour which gives a peculiar force and efficacy to temptation, 378.
2dly, A temptation attains its proper season and hour by these means, 382.
1. By the original, universal corruption of man’s nature, 382.
2. By every man’s particular corruption, 383.xi
3. By the continual offer of alluring objects agreeable to it, 385.
4. By the unspeakable malice and activity, the incredible skill and boldness of the tempter, 385.
5. By God’s just judgment, in commissioning this evil spirit to tempt at a rate more than ordinary, 387.
6. By a previous growing familiarity of the mind with the sin which a man is tempted to, 388.
7. By a long train of gradual, imperceivable encroaches of the flesh upon the spirit, 389.
3dly, A temptation’s proper season may be discerned by some signs, 391. As,
1. By an unusual concurrence of all circumstances and opportunities for the commission of any sin, 391.
2. By a strange averseness to, if not a total neglect of spiritual exercises, prayer, reading, and meditation, 393.
3. By a temptation’s unusual restlessness and importunity, 394.
4thly, Useful inferences may be drawn from this discourse, 397. Such as these;
1. Every time wherein a man is tempted, is not properly the hour of temptation, 397.
2. Every man shall assuredly meet with such an hour, 398.
3. The most successful way to be carried safe through this hour, is to keep the word of Christ’s patience, 400.
SERMONS LXVIII. LXIX.
HOW, AND BY WHAT WAYS, GOD DELIVERS US FROM TEMPTATION.
God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. P. 404.
True faith is bottomed upon God’s infinite wisdom and power; who alone is able to give a full and absolute deliverance out of temptation, 404, &c. Some of the principal temptations which threaten most the souls of men, are,xii
1. A public declared impunity to sin, 425.
2. The vicious examples of persons in place and power, 426.
3. The cruel oppressions of men in their persons, liberties, and estate, 428.
In opposition to which, we must consider,
1. That the strongest temptations to sin are no warrants to sin: and,
2. That God delivers only those who do their lawful utmost to deliver themselves, 429-
The deliverances out of temptation are of two sorts, 431.
1st, Those whereby God delivers immediately by himself and his own act, 431. As,
1. By putting an issue to the temptation, 407.
2. By supplying the soul with mighty inward strength to withstand it, 410.
3. By a providential change of a man’s whole course of life and circumstances of condition, 417.
4. By the overpowering operation of his holy Spirit, gradually weakening, and at length totally subduing the temptation, 421.
From these considerations, that God alone can deliver out of temptation, and that the ways by which he does it are above man’s power, and for the most part beyond his knowledge, 433. we may deduce these useful, practical consequences:
1. That the estimate of an escape from temptation is to. be taken from the final issue and result of it; that a temptation may continue very long, and give a man many foils before he escapes out of it: which affords an antidote against presumption on the one hand, and despair on the other, 433.
2. No way out of any calamity, if brought about by a man’s own sin, ought to be accounted a way allowed by God for his escape out of that calamity or temptation, 437. Nor,
3. To choose a lesser sin to avoid a greater, 439.
4. When a temptation is founded in suffering, none xiiiought to be so solicitous how to get out of it, as how to behave himself under it, 445.
5. There can be no suffering whatsoever, but may be endured without sin, 448.
Since to be delivered out of temptation is of an infinite concern, and since the tempter has so many advantages over us; we should be so much the more careful to use such means as our Saviour himself has prescribed to us, viz. watchfulness and prayer, 450.
WATCHFULNESS AND PRAYER, A SECURITY FROM TEMPTATION.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. P. 454.
In the Christian man’s warfare, the two great defensatives against temptation are watching and prayer, 455.
1st, Watching imports,
1. A sense of the greatness of the evil we contend against, 455.
2. A diligent survey of the wit and strength of our enemy, compared with the weakness and treachery of our own hearts, 458.
3. A consideration of the ways by which temptation has at any time prevailed upon ourselves or others, 461.
4. A continual intention of mind upon the danger, in opposition to idleness and remissness, 466.
5. A constant and severe temperance, 470.
2dly, Prayer, 476. is rendered effectual by,
1. Fervency, or importunity, 478.
2. Constancy, or perseverance, 479-
Lastly, Watching and prayer must always be joined together; the first without the last being but presumption, and the last without the first, mockery, 482. Which is shewed by two instances, in which men may pray against temptation without any success, 484.xiv
THE FOLLY OF TRUSTING IN OUR OWN HEARTS.
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool. P. 487.
Of all the cheats put upon a man by trusting, none is more pernicious than that of trusting his own heart, 487. and resigning up the entire conduct of himself to the directions of it, as of an able and a faithful guide, 488. The folly of which will appear by considering,
1st, The value of the things we commit to that trust, 490. viz.
1. The honour of God, who is our Creator, our Lord, and our Father, 490.
2. Our happiness in this world, with relation both to our temporal and spiritual concerns, 493.
3. Our eternal happiness hereafter, 497.
2dly, The undue qualifications of that heart to whose trust we commit these things, 499. who,
1. Cannot make good the trust because of its weakness, in point both of apprehension and of election, 499.
2. Will not make it good because of its deceitfulness, 502. Which shews itself in several delusions, that relate either to the commission of sin, 503. or to the performance of duty, 509. or to a man’s conversion, 513.
Since therefore the heart is so deceitful, and to trust it is inexcusable folly; we ought to trust only in the conduct of God’s holy Spirit, who will lead us into all truth, 515.
THE HOPE OF FUTURE GLORY AN EXCITEMENT TO PURITY OF LIFE.
Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. P. 518.
A Christian, though he has great privileges and hopes, xv yet ought not to presume, but prepare himself for future glory by the purity of his life, 518. Having considered how a man may be said to purify himself, and to such a degree, 519. even as Christ is pure; we shall in these words observe,
1st, What is implied in a man’s purifying of himself, 522. viz. to rid himself,
1. Of the power of sin; which consists in bewailing all his past sinful acts, 522. in a vigilant prevention of future ones, 524. And this will be effected by opposing every first sinful motion, 527. by frequently performing severe mortifying duties, 529. by often using fervent prayer, 531. Whence we may perceive the error of those who pursue the reformation of some particular sins only, 533. and of others who only complain of the evil of their nature, with out endeavouring to amend it, 535.
2. Of the guilt of sin, 536. which can be expiated by no duty within man’s power, 536. but only by applying the virtue of Christ’s blood to the soul through faith, 538.
2dly, How the hope of heaven does purify a man, 540. viz.
1. Upon a natural account, as it is a special grace, in its nature contrary to sin, 540.
2. Upon a moral account, by suggesting to the soul arguments for purification, 542. such as these; that purity is the necessary means to the acquisition of eternal happiness, 542. that it alone can qualify the soul for heaven, 543. that it is a duty we are obliged to out of gratitude, 545. that it only can evidence to us. our right in those glorious things that we hope for, 546.
From all these, every one may gather a certain criterion, by which to judge of his hope as to his future happiness, 547.xvi1
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