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other kind: that retirement and meditation, fasting and prayer, are the right preparatives against all solicitations to sin; which yet may come upon us in the very midst of our religious duties, and strictest observances; nay, Satan may seek advantage from them to mislead us : that if, even at such times we are not secure, much less are we so in the midst of the cares and pursuits, but especially the pleasures of life; by thoughtless indulgence of which, we invite and aid the tempter, whom we ought to shun and oppose: that we should never venture out of the plain road of duty, to supply the most urgent necessities; never run into needless danger, in hope of extraordinary deliverance; never accept the greatest advantages, when offered as the price of our innocence: that riches, and honours, and power are the most dangerous of trials, being reserved for the last in the case of our blessed Lord : and whoever can reject them instantly with indignation, when offered on sinful conditions, as he did, is far advanced in the road to perfection: that laying up the doctrines and precepts of Scripture in our hearts, ready for use, is providing the best defence against our spiritual enemies; yet that Scripture itself may be easily perverted to misguide us, unless we carefully interpret one part of it by another, and every one by the design of the whole: that the effectual way of dealing with all evil suggestions, is to repel them with an immediate, and short, and determinate answer, founded on God's word; and that permitting them to reply to us, and plead with us, is only giving them a handle to deceive and destroy us: that they, who are led by the providence of God to meet difficulties, will, if they ask it, be filled with the Spirit of God to go through them ; and so with the temptation he will also make a way to

escape * : or, to speak in St. James's words, that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us ; and if we draw nigh to God, he will draw nigh to us f. That since we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one, who was in all points tempted like as we are, we may come boldly through him to the throne of grace, and find help in time of need. But then, as he was tempted without sin I, we must imitate, though we cannot equal, him; and really, though not perfectly in this life, conquer sin also: for only to him that overcometh will he grant to sit with him in his throne g. Yet, as the tempter departed from our Lord himself only for a scason, we are not to imagine, that he will ever depart wholly from us: but may still comfort ourselves, that if we put on the whole armour of God, and wrestle against him as we ought, we shall be able to stand against all his wiles || : nay, every attempt to weaken our virtues, shall only prove a wholesome exercise to strengthen and improve them; till at length, having fought the good fight of faith, we shall lay hold on eternal

life I; and not only the angels, who minister to us now assistance in our conflict, shall join with our fellow saints in applauding our victory, but the captain of our salvation ** himself acknowledge us openly for his good and faithful soldiers and servants ft. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation : for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them who love him 11.

1 Cor. x. 13. + James iv. 7, 8. I Heb. iv. 15, 16.

Rev. iii. 21. || Eph. vi. 11, 12. I Tim. vi. 12. ** Heb. ji. 10.

tt Matth. xxv. 21. 2 Tim. ïi. 3. 31 James i. 12.


PHIL. II. 21.

For all seek their own, not the things which are

Jesus Christ's.

THESE words contain both an account what the

practice of mankind is, and also an intimation what it should be. And therefore, in discoursing upon them, it will be proper,

1. To consider what is meant by seeking our own

lì. What by seeking the things of Jesus Christ.

III. To explain and prove the assertion, that all er the former, not the latter.

IV. To shew what we are to learn from it.

1. Seeking our own things, is pursuing our own in-liuations and fancies, or imagined worldly interests. Azri many strange fancies people of all ranks indulge. Some never ask themselves, whether the course which they are taking is likely to be for their good : others Reder Nacken it, though from time to time they er {y suspect it is not. Often they adopt, withQue caduction, the opinions of those about them, Midoun yet they are far from esteeming; and either

til vi sees that better judges think differently; or nie wie it, and will not regard it, but follow custom Dizada even against their own liking. Or it may but she's think a little, but think short; neither to the 44. Beat to any considerable part, even of the present hapi ingine what pleases now, must always please ;

and what brings no inconvenience yet, will never bring any. Indeed, usually, it is their principal point, to acquire the things which others wish for, though visibly of no real use; and they are vehement for whatever will make them envied as happy persons, though it produce little else than vexation and guilt. Some will not trust even their own experience against their prepossessions: but force themselves to believe, that the lives which they lead must needs be delightful, though they feel the contrary. Many lose the opportunities, and even the relish, of moderate and rational pleasures, by a wild pursuit of visionary and extravagant ones. Nay, there are some who not only follow wrong ways, but, as the text hath it, seek them: go purposely out of the plain road, as it were, in search of misery. It were much to be wished, that all these were more studious of their interest, even their temporal interest, than they are: it might be one step towards becoming what they ought. But still the most faithful and assiduous worshippers of the world's great idols, applause, advancement, profit, power, entirely mistake, if they hope that any of these things will either secure them lasting enjoyment, or preserve them from acute misery. A little reflection discovers, that happiness consists in somewhat stable and inward: whence the more thoughtful have learned to seek it in themselves. But, alas ! when we inspect ourselves, what a mixture do we find, of ignorance which we cannot enlighten, of weakness which we cannot strengthen, of wrongness which we cannot set right? Besides that all creatures, as such, are essentially insufficient for their own happiness; there is by nature a void within us, which must be filled fronı above, or we must remain for ever craving

and unsatisfied. Let us therefore look upwards, and consider,

II. The things which are Jesus Christ's : the benefits that he hath procured for us, with the knowledge of them that he hath communicated to us. And indeed what have we of value, that is not his? Some have pretended they could investigate all the doctrines, the duties, the rewards of religion completely by their own reason, and form themselves to a suitable disposition by their own strength. But the history of heathenism clearly shews, that no one ever did this ; nor probably therefore ever would. The one true God was scarce known. False deities of the worst characters were adored, instead of him, with rites that seldom, if ever, mended their votaries, often corrupted them.

The common rules of social life were by no means thoroughly understood; as the shocking custom of exposing children to perish, the barbarous combats of gladiators, the promiscuous and unnatural practices of lewdness, publicly allowed, give dreadful proofs. But the internal virtues of the heart were still less regarded; and they who seemed possessed of them, ascribed the merit wholly to themselves : very few said so much as the Pharisee, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are: scarce any with the Publican, God be merciful to me a sinner*. Yet how continually are the best of men guilty of faults! But they had hardly any notion of the universal need of repentance, or any name for humility of soul. Forgiveness of injuries was very unsteadily taught: benevolence to enemies lay yet further out of sight. Courage injuriously exercised, patriotism shewn by invading the rights of their

Luke xviii. 11. 13.

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