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strip, we may sefely rely upon it, that we. are^ the Children of God. And this Evidence we have by die Spirit's betting witness with our Spirits, testifying to our Consciences that we are more than Servants (the highest Privilege that the Jews cduld boast of) even the Sons of God. And yet this is not all j for
\ Is Children, then Heirs, Heirs of God, and Joint-Heirs with Jtfiu Christ. '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 Father, we are thereby entitled as Heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven: to which we are Joint-Heirs with Christ; He indeed, as a Son by natural Generation, and so the First-born, and in that sense the only-begotten Son of God, and fe sole Heir by Nature• , we as Sons by Adoption and Grace, and by virtue of that having a share in the Inheritance, and fe 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 Kingdom. But how come we, who had forfeited both our SoaJhip and Right to the Inheritance by the first Transgression and Rebellion against our heavenly Father, to be thus r«stor'd by Adoption, and reinstated again into the Privileges of Sons? Why, this was done for us by the Merits and Mediation of Christ: for so faith the Apostle, If a Son. then an Heir thro Christ, Gal. 4.7. And tho no elder Brother is wont to divide the Inheritance with the younger, and make him Co-heir with him self; yet Christ, our elder Brother, hath taken us into Co-partner (hip 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 entail'd this Inheritance upon us j Heb. 1.4. 1 Pet. 1.4. So that we need not be dilmay'd at any Sufferings that may befal us for his fake: for
If so be that we suffer with him, we shall also be glortfy'd together. Christ himself was made perfect by Sufferings, and is thereby become our powerful and aH-sufficient Saviour •, he went to Heaven by the Cross, and we must go rhe fame way to obtain the Crown. The Happiness that he procur'd for us by his Sufferings, we are to be prepar'd for, and possess by our own: For God hath predestinated Hs to be conform'd to the Image of his Son, that he may be the
FirstFirst-borit among many Brethren; ver. 29. that Fs, We must first suffer with Christ, and then we shall reign with him.
Thus we see the Sense df all the material Pafiages of thisDay's Epistle from whende we are instructed in the following Lessons:
1. From ronr 'not being Debtors to the Flesh, we are taught to abandon all the sinful 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 neeessafy 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 afty timWalPd upon arid follicited to any Evil by the Importunity of our Lusts, let us not hearken or yield to arty ftrch Suggestion's of Our corrupt Nature, but rather let us turn the deaf Ear, and bid adieu to them. Mortify therefoYe 'yt>ur Members which are upon Earth, Fornication, Vndteahntfs,'and 'all inordinate Affection j and learn to possess your Vessels in San&ification, And Honour, not in the Lust of Concupiscence, 'as the Gentiles that know not Cod, but in all Purity and Holiness, as becometh Chriftiahs: Col. 3. 5. 17^4.^4,5.
2. Being Debtors to live after the Spirit, let us labour to;tiifeharge-thafObligation, by giving up ourselves to the Guidance artd 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 taWd, and to walk as becometh the Gospel of Christ whkh will stand the Trial of the last Day, and secure to us: the Reward of eternal Life -, for there is no Condemnation to them that we in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the Flesh, but after iheSpirit.
';'j.'Trbmthe great Privilege of Sonlhip granted to all; Inch, we may learn to behave our selves as the Sons or Children bf God. The Duty of Children, we know,1 is7 to lovetHeir Parents with a hearty and entire Affection 1. This we are to render in the highest and most superlative degree to-our Father in Heaven, loving him with all our Heart, and with all our Mind, and with all our Strengths aftd expressing it upon all Occasions. Again, Children owe Honour and Reverence to their Parents: A Son honoureth his Father, faith God ; and we have had 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 i If a Master, where is my Fear? saith the Lord of Hosts, Mai. 1. &. 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 observing 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 cast all our Care upon him, who careth for us, and to rely upon his Providence at all times without Anxiety 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 seek first the Kingdom of God and its Righteousness, all the Necesfaries 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 soon 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 shall be; this we know, that when he shall appear, we stall appear with him in Glory. . ,
''1 . Lastly.
Lastly, Since Christ obtairi'd this Kingdom for us by his Sufferings, let us not be asham'd of the Cross of Christ, but, with St. Vauli 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 (hall be reveal'a in us. In short, we fee the Duty of our Christian Profession, which is to abstain from all the sinful Lusts 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
St. Matthew vii. 15- 22.
Beware of false Prophets, which come unto you in Sheeps-Clothing, but inwardly, they are ravening Wolves, fe shall know them by their Fruits: Do Men gather Grapes of Thornst or Figs of Thistles? Even so every good Tree bringeth forth good Fruit, but a corrupt Tree evil Fruit, &c.
1 HIS Gospel for the Day is another Part or Portion of our Blessed Saviour's Sermon 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 them some Marks of Distinction to discover and discern them by, •
The Collect for the Day prays to be preserv'd from aU hurtful things: to which end, .:.
The Epistle directs against all fleshly Lusts, which are hurtful to the Body: • .. ,
The Gospel against false Prophets and Teachers, which tre hurtful to the Soul.
The Caution against these is in these words j Beware of false Prophets, Where we are to inquire,
First, Who are here meant by salse Prophets. And, Secondly, What is imply'd in bidding us to beware of them. For the
First, The false Prophets, against whom this Caution is given, were salse Claris, salse Apostles, and salse Teachers: of all which we read in the Apostles days, and some of which we have the fad experience of in ours.
The salse Christs were those that pretended to be that great 'Prophet, which was to come into the World, to leach and to fave Mankind; and so assumed to themselves Ae Dignity and the Office of the Meffias. Of these our Saviour himself foretold, Mat. 24. 5. Many (faith he) shall some in tny Rkuiic, faying, <Iam. Christ, and J/jall deceive manyk These he after Ailessalje Christs and salse Prophets, ver. 24. Of • tins sort'were Tkekdas, Judas of Galilee, $archeccbas, and others, in the beginning of Christianity; filch likewise was Eldavid in the sreth Century, who gave out that he was Christ, and drew many after him,• , and such were David George, Harlot, and Naylor in later days.
The..false Apostles were those who .pretended to be sent by Christ, and boasted of Miracles to conficm their-Mission. Of this sort were Barjesus, Elymas the Sorcerer, and Simon Magus, of whom we read in the Acts of the Apostles ^ these ga ve out themselves to he some 1 great Persons, and -bewitch'd many with their .Sorceries, A&s%. 9, 10. St. Paul stiles them salse Apostles, deceitful Workers, transforming themselves into the Apostles of 'Christ and no wonder (faith he) for Satan himself is transformed into an Artgel if Light. zGor. ir. ig, ~\.r~T
The:fdse.Teaehers were those that own'd the iDocttfne of Christ, but corrupted it by Errors, and undermiirtHt 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 seduce and beguile the Hearts of the Simple. These are the false Prophets and Teachers, against whom this Caution is fiven^