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thip, we may safely rely upon it, that we are the Children of God. And this Evidence we have by the Spirit's bearing witness with our Spirits, testifying to our Consciences that we are more than Servants (the highest Privilege that the Jews could boast of) even the Sons of God. And yet this is not all; for
If Children, then Heirs, Heirs, of God, and Joint-Heirs with Jesus Chrift. 'Tis, we know, the Custom of all Places and Countries, that Children should be Heirs to their Father: in like manner therefore God being our Father, we thereby become Heirs of God; and being our heavenly Fa. ther, we are thereby entitled as Heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven: to which we are Joint-Heirs with Chrift; He indeed, as a Son by natural Generation, and so the Firft-born, and in that sense the only-begotten Son of God, and fo fole Heir by Nature ; We, as Sons by Adoption and Grace, and by virtue of that having a share in the Inheritance, and fo are Co-heirs with Christ. In earthly Kingdoms the Inheritance goes
only to the elder Brother, but God makes all his Children Heirs, and Joint-Partakers of his heavenly King. dom. But how come we, who had forfeited both our Sonfhip and Right to the Inheritance by the first Transgression and Rebellion against our heavenly Father, to be thus reftor’d by Adaption, and reinstated again into the Privileges of Sons? Why, this was done for us by the Merits and Mediation of Chrift: for fo faith the Apostle, If a song then an Heir thro Clarift, Gal. 4. 7. And tho no elder Brother is wont to divide the Inheritance with the younger, and make him Co-heir with himself; yet Christ, our elder Brother, hath taken us into Co-partnership with him; and by his Sufferings purchas'd and procur'd Redemption for us, and by that means hath made us Heirs of Salvation, and entaild this Inheritance upon us; Heb. 1. 4. 1 Pet. 1.4. So that we need not be dismay'd at any Sufferings that may befal us for his fake: for
If so be that we suffer with him, we Mall also be glorifild together. Christ himself was made perfect by Sufferings, and is thereby become our powerful and all-sufficient Saviour; he went to Heaven by the Cross, and we must go the same way to obtain the Crown. The Happiness that he procurd for us by his Sufferings, we are to be prepard for, and possess by our own : For God hath predeftinated '88 to be conform’d to the Image of bis Son, that he may be the
Fitft-born among many Brethren; ver. 29. that is, we must firit suffer with Christ, and then we Mall reign with him.
Thus we see the Sense of all the material Paffages of this Day's Epistle ; from whence 'we are instructed in the following Lessons :
1. From our not being Debtors to the Flesh, we are taught to abandon all the linful Lusts and Desires of it, and that too upon pain of Death and Damnation; for if we live after the Flesh; we shall die. Indeed to fatisfy the ordina. ry and natural Appetites and Cravings of the Flesh, is necessary to preserve our bodily Life ; but to-gratify the unlawful and irregular Motions of it, will bring upon us Death temporal and 'eternal : and therefore if we are at any time cálld upon and follicited to any Evil by the Importanity of our' Lusts, let us not hearken or yield to any such Suggestions of our corrupt Nature, but rather let us turn the deaf Ear, and bid adieu to 'thén. Mortify therea fore your Members which are upon Earth, Fornication, Unceannefs, and all inordinate Affection; and learn to polefs your Vesels in San£tification, and Honour, not in the Luft of Concupifcente, 'as the Gentiles that know not God, but in all Purity and Holiness, as becometh Chriftians: Col. 3. S. i Thell. 4.4, 5:
2. Being Debtors to live after the Spirit, let us labour to discharge that Obligation, by giving up our felves to the Guidance and Conduct of God's Holy Spirit, following the Direction of its Light, and the Influence of his Grace in all our ways. This is to walk worthy of the Vocation wherewith We are called, and to walk as becometh the Gospel of Chrift: which will stand the Trial of the last Day, and fecure to us the Reward of eternal Life ; for there is no Condemnation to them that are in Chrif Jesus, who walk not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit.
3. From the great Privilege of Sonship granted to all fach, we may learn to behave our felves as the Sons or Children of God. The Daty of Children, we know, is to love their Parents with a hearty and entire Affection ? This we are to render in the highest and most fuperlative degree to our Father in Heaven, Loving him with all our Heart, and with all our Mind, and with all our Strength, and exprefling it upon all Occasions. Again, Children owe Honour and Reverence to their parents: A Son honoureth bis Father, faith God; and we have bad Fathers in the Flesh,
and gave them Reverence, faith the Apostle. This likewise is in the highest measure due to our heavenly Father, which we are therefore daily to pay him in all our Words and Works : If I then be a Father, where is mine Honour ? If a Mafter, where is my Fear? saith the Lord of Hofts, Mal. 1. 6. both which he justly expects and challenges from us.
Moreover, Children owe: Obedience to their Parents ; Children, obey your Parents (faith the Apostle) as it is fit in the Lord. And this Obedience is to be shew'd by obferving their Commands, hearkning to their Counsel, and kindly receiving their Admonitions and Corrections; knowing that they proceed from Love, and aim only at their Welfare.
Now this Obedience is most eminently due to our Maker and Father in Heaven : Hath not the Potter power over the Clay (faith the Apostle) which he made and formed? And hath not God much more the power over his Creatures, the Works of his own Hands? who are therefore infinitely oblig'd to serve and obey him, especially considering that his Commandments are never grievous, and his Corrections are always for our Good.
Once more, Children owe a Trust and Confidence in their Parents, and a Dependence upon their Care and Provision for them : And this we are call’d upon to do in a more especial manner as to our heavenly Father; for we are bid to cart all our Care upon him, who careth for
US, and to rely upon his Providence at all times without Anxs iety and Distrust. This Lesson our Saviour teaches us at large in his Sermon on the Mount, Mat. 6. where he useth many Arguments to take us off from all follicitous Care of Food and Raiment, with a Promise, that if we feek first the Kingdom of God and its Righteousness, all the Neces. faries of Life shall be added to us.
4. From God's making all his Sons Heirs, we learn the exceeding great Honour and Dignity that Christianity brings its Followers to ; it makes them
Heirs at present, and will shortly enter them into the possession of a Kingdom, and that not an earthly fading Kingdom, that foon vanishes away, but a Kingdom in Heaven, that can never be mov'd or taken from them. Now are we the Sons of God (faith the Apostle) but it doth not yet appear what we Mall be ; this we know, that when he hall appear, .we fall appear with him in Glory.
Lastly, Şince Christ obtain'd this Kingdom for us by his Sufferings, let us not be ashamid of the Cross of Chrift, but, with St. Paul, rather glory in, than groan under it; and then we may with him reckon the Sufferings of this present Life not worthy to be nam'd or compar'd with the Glory that mall be reveald in us. In short, we see the Duty of our Christian Profession, which is to abstain from all the sinful Lufts of the Flesh, and to follow the Fruits and Dictates of God's Holy Spirit, and likewise the Dignity of our high Calling, to be the Sons and Heirs of God, and Joint-Heirs with Jesus Christ of his Heavenly Kingdom. To which God of his infinite Mercy bring us all, c.
The GOSPEL for the Eighth Sunday after
Sheeps-Clothing, but inwardly, they are ravening Wolves. Te Shall know them by their Fruits: Do - Men gather
. Grapes of Thorns, or Figs of Thistles? Even so every good Tree bringeth forth good Fruit, but a corrupt Tree evil Fruit, &c.
THIS Gospel for the Day is another Part or Portion
of our Blessed Saviour's Sernion on the Mount,
wherein he cautions his Disciples and Followers against false. Prophets and Teachers; letting them know the Manner and Ends of their Coming, and giving then some Marks of Distinction to discover and discern them by...
The Collect for the Day prays to be preserv'd from all burtful things : to which end,
The Epistle directs against all fleshly Lusts, which are burtful to the Body :
The Gospel against false Prophets and Teachers, which are hurtful to the Soul.
The Caution against these is in these words; Beware of falje Prophets, Where we are to inquire,
Firft, Who are here meant by false Prophets. And,
Secondly, What is imply'd in bidding us to beware of them. For the
First, The falfe Prophets, against whom this Caution is given, were falfe Chrifts, false Apostles, and false Teacher's : of all which we read in the Apostles days, and some of which we have the fad experience of in ours.
The false Chrifts were those that pretended to be that great Prophet, which was to come into the World, to teach and to save Mankind; and so affumed to themselves the Dignity and the Office of the Messias. Of these our Saviour himself foretold, Mat. 24. 5. Many (faith he) jhall çome in my Name, saying, dam Chrift, and jhall deceive many. These he after stiles falfe Chrifts and falfe Prophets, yer. 24 Of this fort'were Theudas, Judas of Galilee, Barchocebas, and others, in the beginning of Christianity, such likewise was Eídavid in the fixth Century, who gave out that he was Christ, and drew many after him, and such were David George, Hacket, and Naylor in later days.
The falfe Apoftles were those who pretended to be sent by Chrift, and boasted of Miracles to confirm their Mirfion. Of this sort were Barjesus, Elymas 'the Sorcerer, and Simon Magus, of whom we read in the Acts of the Apostles; these gave out themselves to be fome great Persons, and bewitch'd many with their Sorceries, Acts 8. 9. 10. St. Paul ftiles them falfe Apoftles, deceitful Workers, transforming themselves into the Apostles of Christ ; and no Wonder (faith he) for Satan himself is transform'd into an Angel of Light. 2 Cor. 11. 13.
The falfe. Teachers were those that own'd the Doctrine of Christ, but corrupted it by Errors, and undermin dit by Divisions, building Hay and Stubble upon the Foundation of Christianity, and blending the Truth with many impure and corrupt Mixtures. Such were the Gnosticks of old, who pretended to greater Knowledg.than others; and such are the Sectaries and Separatists of our days, who by boasting of new Lights and Inspirations feduce and be guile the Hearts of the Simple. These are the false Prophets and Teachers, against whom this Caution is given