« ZurückWeiter »
we cannot without our own fault depart from them: Ignorance of the Letter cannot be pleaded, where so many ways to Knowledge are open, so many Afiftances ever at hand : Nor can we possibly excuse our selves under a want of Resolution, when every one shou'd be strong in the Faith. Besides, the giving up of any one Gospel-Truth, certainly undermines the Foundation of the whole; and every different Sect of Men may claim the like Concession from us. Therefore St. Paul. in his Epistle to Timothy, sets forth with plainness of Speech what the found Do&rine is; and then tells him with great Authority, These things command and teach.
If Preachers might swerve from the Doctrines of the Gospel, the Gospel it self wou'd foon have dwindled into Interpretation, and Men wou'd no longer have preach'd Christ, but themselves. Our Saviour Christ was so sensible of the necessity of adhering to those Doctrines which he taught, that he made it the Mark of the true Disciples; and therefore said to some of his Followers, If ye.continue in my word, then are ye my Disciples indeed. Therefore let us not depart from the Doctrines of Christ, but hold fast the Profesion of our Faith without wavering. And let us beware, left being led away by the error of the wicked, we fall from our own stedfastness. For we are only made Pariakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence unio the end. This Stedfastness, this Continuance in Pra&tice and Do&trine, is the Mark of a constant Love of Christ, and will be rewarded with nothing less than eternal Salvation : Therefore, in St. Matthew, we are well assured from the gracious Lips of our Blefled Saviour, that the love of many Mall wax cold; but he that Mall endure unto the end, the same mall be saved.
Which leads me, in the Laft place, to consider the Reward of Continuing in them; which is, that by doing this, we shall fave our felves, and them ibat hear us.
There is nothing which excites Industry so much as the Greatness of the Reward, and the Certainty of it, and no Reward can be more certain, nor more great, than that proposed to us in the Text. It is saving our felves, it is saving others; which is answering the great Goodness of God, the great End proposed in the Gospel, and the great Labours undertaken by Christ; it is making our felves Fellow-labourers with Christ in the glorious Salvation of Mankind. This gives us some Share in that great and delightful Work. Christ gave us the New Covenant of Grace, and the Lips of his Priests disperse the wholfome Knowledge of it. Christ died for us, and his Ministers (hew forth the Merits of his precious Blood Shedding. Christ faveth us, by interceding for us at the Throne of Grace; and the Preachers contribute their Part, by purifying the Minds of the People from wicked Desires, and by teaching them how to pray to Christ with an upright Heart, and in such a manner as they may be heard. Christ gave us the Seal of his Covenant in the Holy Baptism, and seemed to give his very Self in the Blessed Sacrament ; and these are administred by the Hands of the Priest, and when received with fit and proper Dispositions of Mind, they are Joy, and Life, and Immortality. This is faving them that bear us ; and the doing of it, is the greatest Honour to our own felves; for we are never more glorious, never more useful, than when we are made the Instruments of God for working out the Salvation of others.
And as saving others, is the greatest Honour to our felves, so it is likewise conferring the greatest Happiness on those that are saved. It is conducting them to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and such as never fadeth away ; it is bestowing on them eternal glory, everlasting life, immortal pleasure, and joy and peace and love unspeakable. It is delivering those that were ap
pointed to wrath, and setting them in heavenly places, making them heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ which is the great Salvation, and the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ.
As this is a great Happiness to others, fo, in a great measure, it communicates it self to those who are the Authors of it : For to a good Mind it is no smail degree of Happiness to see others in a happy state ; and much more fo, to behold those Persons whom we our felves have made Happy. We feel a secret Pleasure in protecting a Flower from a Wind or a Frost, or saving the Life of a poor irrational Creature. There is a Compassion, which perceives an inward Joy and Satisfa&tion in helping the Weak, and raising up the Sick from the Bed of Death. What inward Pleasure and Contentment of Mind did Pharaoh's Daughter feel, when she saved the Child Mofes from the Dangers of the River ? The very Pleasure of having laved him, engaged her Affections, and made her love him as her own Son. And if faving a single Child was a great Satisfaction, altho' it were reserved to all the Miseries of this World, where Tribulation and Distress, where Famine or the Sword might render Life wretched and uncomfortable; How much greater Pleafyre must it be, to confer on Multitudes all the joys of an everlasting Happiness, which can never be interrupted by any future Grief or Anguish. This must certainly very much encrease our own Bliss. For what Joy must it be to us to appear in Heaven before a kind and gracious Judge, and to lead forth those whom we have saved, and to say to Christ, in his own Words, These are they whom thou hast given me, and not one of them is perished !
This must be a State of endlels Joy and Glory ; therefore if we are Prudent, let us take Heed unto our selves; if we are Learned, let us take Heed unto our Do&trine ; if we are Steady, let us continue in
them; and if we wou'd be happy now and hereafter, let us endeavour to save ourselves, and them that hear us : So that in the Great Day of Retribution Christ may reward both us and those that have often heard us, in these most gracious and comfortable Words, Come ye good and faithful servants, come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the World,