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However, faith he in the following Verse, By the Grace of God I am what I am ; and his Grace, which was beI ftow'd on me, was not in vain, for I labour'd more abundant
ly than they all; yet not I, but the Grace of God which was I given me : meaning, that 'twas owing only to the Mercy and
Favour of God that he was what he was ; and that he endeavour'd to walk worthy of the Grace given to him, and to make a right use of it, which he had so far improv'd, as to be more industrious in the Work of the Gospel than all the other Disciples : which yet he would not in any manner ascribe to himself, but merely to the Grace and Goodness of God, that accompany'd and assisted him in all that he did,
He then sums up what he had before deliver'd to them ; Therefore (faith he) whether it were I or they, so we preach'a, and so ye believ'd: that is, however that matter be, whether you look upon me, to whom Christ appear'd after his Ascension, or on them to whom he appear'd before, you cannot have the least reason to doubt of the Truth of his Resurrection ; for we have all preach'd this Doctrine to you, and you have all accordingly receiv'd and embrac'd it.
Let none then shake or stagger your Faith in it, but be i stedfast, immovable, always abounding in the Work of the
Lord, and then your Labour will not be in vain in the Lord.
This is briefly the Sense and Substance of the Epistle for this Day; which by way of Application may serve to direct,
1. The Ministers of Christ, in their delivering the Truths of the Gospel: And,
2. The People, in their hearing and receiving of them.
1. I say, St. Paul's delivering to the Corinthians all, and nothing but what he had receiv'd, niay teach the Ministers of the Gospel not to come short of, nor to go beyond their Commission ; but faithfully to declare the whole Will of God, and no more. We see the Apostle conceal'd nothing which he had Authority to deliver; and St. Peter tells us, that they did not follow or publis any cunningly-devis'd Fables, when they made known the Power and Coming of the Lord Jesus, but were Eye-witnesses of his Majesty ; 2 Pet. 1. 16. And St. John tells us, that which we have heard and seen, and our Hands have handled of the Word of Life, that declare we unto you ; 1 John 1. 1, 2. teaching us to be well inform’d and instructed in the Truth of what we deliver,
before we instil or inculcate it upon others, that we may
ot obtrude upon them any thing contrary to found Doc trine, nor teach for Doctrine the Inventions or Commandments of Men. Moreover, the Apostles frequent deliver. ing the main Points of Christ's Death, Burial, and Resurrection, may direct us to make the great fundamental Truths of Christianity the chief Subject of our Discourses, to instil those first and necessary Principles into the Minds of the People; that by laying well the Foundation of Religion, they may be the more firmly built up in their most holy Faith
2. This Epistle directs the People to hear and receive these great Truths; and not only fo, but to remember what they have heard and receiv'd of them, and to hold them fast. The Apostle had obferv'd fome among the Corinthians, not only doubting, but even denying some of these great Articles, and wavering from the Faith which they had before learnt and receiv'd: this made him ask the question, How Say some among you, there is no Resurrection ? as if they were fallen away from the Faith which they had once embrac'd, and thereby cast off all Thoughts and Care of a future Life ; saying with the Epicure, Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. These he rebukes in the following words ; Be not deceiv'd (faith he) such evil Communications not only destroy the Faith, but corrupt good Manners. For they that think they shall die like Beasts, will be easily persuaded to live like such : by which means they will be for ever depriv'd of that Happiness, which they would not believe and prepare for; and likewise eternally feel that Misery, which they would not fear and prevent. Wherefore,
Let us hold fast the Profession of our Faith without wavering, and let not Satan or the World tempt us to Inconftancy, and cause us to fall from our own Stedfastness. In a word, as the Ministers of Christ are to preach and dif pense to the People the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, fo are the People to give diligent heed to what they hear, to treasure it up in their Memories, to ftand firm to it, and to make it the Rule and Measure of all their Actions ; fo shall both e'er long be happy in fo doing, and receive the End of their Faith, even the Salvation of their Souls : which God grant, &c.
DISCOURSE XXXIII. . The GOSPEL for the Eleventh Sunday after
. Jesus spake this Parable unto certain, which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despis’de others : Two Men went up into the Temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a Publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God I thank thee that I am not as other Men, &c.
HE Gospel for this Day fets forth, in a Parable, the righe Way and Manner of praying unto God,
and the certain good Success that will ensue upon the due performing of it, as also a wrong way of addrefsing to him, too often used, with the bad Iffue and Unluca cessfulness thereof.
It begins thus, Fesus spake this Parable to certain, which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despis'd others. By which it appears, that this Parable is design'd to check the Vanity of such as have too high an Opinion of their own Sanctity, and boast of a purer Way of Word fhip, join'd with a Contempt of those that go not after
Who they are, the Explication of the Parable will after shew us: Two Men went up into the Temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a Publican. Where we are to observe the Persons that went up, and they were a Pharisee and a Publican; the Place to which they went, and that was to the Temple ; and the End or Errand upon which they went, and that was to pray: All which may be worth our Observation.
For the Persons, they were a Pharisee and a Publican; the one the Name of a Sect, callid in the Acts of the Apo
stles, The strict Sect of the Pharisees; the other the Name of an Office, which was Collector of the Emperor's Tribute and Customs.
The Pharisees were so calld from their Separation, for they separated both from the Civil and Religious Converfation of other Men : they look'd upon themselves as the only heavenly Men, and kept a distance from others as Men of the Earth; calling themselves Saints, and all others Sinners. They blamed our Saviour for eating with Publicans and Sinners, with whom they would have no fellowship, no not to eat. This Man receiveth Sinners (faith one of them) and eateth with them. If he were a Prophet (saith another) 'he would know who or what manner of Woman this is that toucheth him, for she is a Sinner. They affected a ponipous Show of external Purity and Holiness, and were at great pains to polish the outward Garb, without any re. gard how it was within. They were mighty careful of washing the Outside of Pots, Cups, and Dishes, yea and of themselves too, when they came from Markets and Places of publick Concourse, to take off all imaginary Defilement, In hort, these were the Persons here mention'd by our Saviour, who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despis'd others.
On the other hand, the Publicans were Officers appointed to gather the Tribute-Mony, and other Revenues of the Emperor; which they often did with that Rigour and Oppression, that render'd them odious to the People, and were therefore generally rank'd with Sinners and Heathens. However, our Saviour calld some of these from the Publicans Stall to be his Disciples and Followers. Matthew obey'd his Call, and left all and follow'd him ; and from the Receit of Custom became a Receiver of his Doctrine, and an Attendant on his Person. Zaccheus, another Publican, restor’d fourfold; and from an Exactor of Tribute, became an Example of Righteousness. Of this fort was the Publican here mention'd; where by the Pharisee is meant a precise Jew or Secretary, by the Publican a Convert or penitent Sinner. These were the two Persons that went up: From whence I proceed,
Secondly, To the Place to which they went up, and that was to the Temple ; Two Men went up into the Temple. It feenis this Pharisee, whatever he was at other times, was no Separatist here ; for he went up with the Publican to
the Temple, the proper Place of publick Prayer : for so our Saviour ftild the Temple the House of Prayer, saying, My House is a House of Prayer, set apart for that purpose; cail'd therefore God's House, because dedicated to him, where he hath promis'd to meet, hear, and bless his People, and to make them joyful in his House of Prayer. I was glad (faith David) when they said unto me, Come let us go up to the House of God; our Feet fall stand in thy Gatesque Jerusalem. He rejoic'd to see the People unanimouslyrepair to the Temple, the publick Place of God's Worship; and for himself he tells us, that the Love or Zeal of God's House had even eaten him up : so much delighted was he in the Temple of God, the place where his Honour dwells. In the New Testament we find the Apostles daily in the Temple, blessing and praising God; Luke 24:53. Yea, we find our Blessed Saviour constantly repairing to Jerusalem, at the appointed Times of publick Worship; where he frequented the Temple and Synagogues set apart for that end: yea, so zealous was he for the Honour and Reverence of the Temple, that he whip'd out the Buyers and Sellers, as Profaners of it ; saying, My House is a House of Prayer, but ye have made it'a Den of Thieves.
The Temple then, or the Church, is the proper Place of publick Worship, where we are commanded to resort, if we hope to be heard, or to receive a Blessing; for those publick Places are by God's Appointment and Approbation set apart from common Uses, and consecrated for his Service, and being thus devoted to him, become holy unto the Lord.
Now this may plainly convince us of the Error aad Obstinacy of such Persons, as prefer a Barn, a Stable, or any private House, before the Church or House of God; and leave the consecrated Places of divine Worship, for the Places of Traffick and Merchandize, where beside other Fraud and Deceit, there are found those who deceive the Hearts of the Simple, and make merchandize of unstable Souls. St. Paul distinguishes between Houses to eat and drink in, and the Church of God to worship and pray in ; saying, Have ye not Houses to eat and drink in, or despise yé the Church of God? 1 Cor. 11. 22. And certainly it must be a great Contempt of God's House, to frequent unconsecrag ted Places before it : yea, the fame Apostle describes falle Teachers by their creeping into private Houses, and there leading captive filly Women, 2 Tim. 3. 6. Holy David pre