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the Ease and Happiness of our Neighbours; and, as Opportunity offers, to do Good unto all Men. We are, according to our Abilities, to better the State of their Bodies and Minds, that others may bless God for our imparting those Blessings unto them, which he hath more liberally bestow'd upon us.
2. The Miracle in the Text, as well as the rest recorded in Holy Scripture, may serve to confirm us in the Belief of Christ's Doctrine, that he was the true promis'd Mesfias, the Son of God, and the Saviour of the World. So we find Nicodemm confessing, / know (faith he) that thou art a Teacher come from God', for none could do the Works that thou dost, except God were with him: John 3. 2. He spake as no Man spake, and did the Works which no Man ever did or could do j for which many believ'd on him. That the Messias or Saviour of the World was to do Miracles when he came, is evident from that Prophecy of Isaias, Chap. 35. ver. 4, 5,6. Be strong (faith he) and fear not, behold, your God shall come and save you: then the Eyes ef the Blind (hall be open'd, and the Ears of the Deaf shaU be unstopp'd; then shall the Lame leap as an Hart, and the Tongue of the Dumb shall sing. Al l which things were punctually fulfil'd and done by our Blessed Saviour, who made the Blind to see, the Deaf to hear, and the Dumb to speak. Hence we find him often urging the Testimony of his Miracles for the Truth of his Messiahship. When St. John sent some of his Disciples to him, with this Question, Art thou he that should come, or must we look for another? His Answer was an Appeal to his Miracles, Go tell John (faith he) those things which ye dohear and fee; the Blind receive their Sight, the Lame walk, the Lepers are cleans d, the Deaf hear, the Dead are rais'd up, and the Poor have the Gospel preach'd to them; and blessed is he, whosoever Jhall not be offended in me: Mat. 11.4, 5,6. Miracles are the Seal of a Divine Commission, as being the Effects of a Divine Power i and he that brings this to attest his Doctrine, may be well enough suppos'd to come from God: And therefore we find our Saviour thus reasoning with the Jews, If I do not the Works of my Father, that is, such as manifest a Divine Power, and a Commission from Heaven, believe me not; but if I do, tho ye believe not me, believe the Works, that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him; John 10. 37,38. So that from this Evidence we may fafely take him for our Saviour, and repose our whole Trust and Confidence in him- 3, From
3. From Christ's looking up to Heaven before he did the Miracle, as was before oblerv'd, we learn to begin all our Works with Prayer, and to implore the Divine Blessing in all our Enterprizes. This we, who have no power of our selves to help our selves, have far more Need and Reason to do, than he who had all power given him both in Heaven and Earth and if the Son of God, in his Fulness of Power, crav'd the Aid of his heavenly Father, how much more ought we, in our State of Impotence and Inability, to look up to him for Assistance in all our Undertakings? To this we are directed in Phil. 4.6. In every thing by Prayer and Supplication, with Thanksgiving, let your Requests be made known unto God.
Lastly, From the solemn Acknowledgment here made of Christ's Power and Goodness, in curing this deaf and dumbMan, laying, He hath done all things well, he maketh the Deaf ta hear, and the Dumb to speak; let us learn to own the Hand of God in all his merciful and wonderful Works, ascribing nothing to our selves, but all to his Power and Glory. This Lesson we are taught not only here, but throughout the whole Book of Scripture. The Plalmist especially calls upon us to magnify and extol the Works of the Lord, and in all Conditions and Necessities to have our whole Trust and Dependance upon him; and thus by beginning all our Works with Prayer, and ending them with Praise, we shall find the Comfort and Reward of both: Which God grant, &c.
The Epistle for the Thirteenth Sunday after
Gal. iii. 16. and following Verses.
To Abraham and his Seed were the Promises made. He faith not unto Seeds, as of many, but as of one, and to thy Seed, which is Chrijl; and this I fay, 8rc.
THE Collect for this Day teaches us to pray unto God for Grace, that we may so faithfully serve him in this Life, that we fail not finally to attain his heavenly Promises. The Promises here meant are those of Justification and Salvation by Faith in Christ, whereby all Mankind, who, by the Sin of our first Parents, were doom'd to temporal and eternal Death, are, by the Merits of a Saviour, happily rcstor'd to a spiritual and everlasting Life. These St. Peter stiles, exceeding great and precious Promises, as proceeding from the rich inexhaustible Treasure of Divine Goodness, i Pet. i. 4. And of these St. Paul here treats in the Epistle for this Day, which begins with the sixteenth Verse of this Chapter, Now to Abraham and his Seed were the Promises made, and so on to the 23d: In which we are taught,
First, To whom these Promises were made, and when.
Secondly, That the Law which was given after did not va-cate or difannul them.
Thirdly, To what End or Use the Law serv'd, and how it was given.
Fourthly, The Consistency of the Law with these Promises, and the Conclusion of the whole. Of which particularly: And,
First, Of the Persons to whom these Promises were made, aud that the first words of the Epistle tell us, 'Twa*
to to Abraham and his Seed. Now this Promise was made to Abraham, long before the giving of the Law by Moses ; of which we read, Gen. 12. 3. In. thee, that is, in thy Seed, shall all the Families of the Earth be blessed. He saith not of Seeds, as of many, faith the Apostle; for Abraham's Children by the Bond-woman, viz.. Iflmael and his Issue, were not included in the Promise; but in the singular Number, as of one, that is, Isaac, born of Sarah the Free-woman, who was a Type of Christ, that descended from him: and therefore 'tis added, and to thy Seed, which is Christ. This is more fully exprefs'd, Chap, A., ver. 22, &c. where we read, That Abraham had two Sons, the one by a Bond-maidt the other by a Free-woman ; the one denoting the Law, and the other the Gospel. He who was of the Bond-woman was born after the Flesh, and so subject to the carnal Ordinances and Observances of Moses % Law but he of the Free-woman, was by Promise, and so free from those Mofaical Rites, and are justify'd not with, but without them. After which he applies this to the Christians, faying, ver. 28. Now wf, Brethren, as Ifaac was, are the Children of the Promise; that is, intitled to the Grace of the Gospel, and seek not Justification by the Works of the Law; for we are not Children of the Bond-woman, but of the Free, ver. 31. The Sense of all which is, that the Promise of God's blessing all the Nations of the Earth, both Gentiles as well as Jews, was made to Abraham and his Seed: not to the spurious Brood of Hagar the Handmaid, who continu'd under Circumcision, and were Debtors to the whole Law ., but to the lawful Issiie of Sarah his Wife, who, by an extraordinary Blessing of Heaven, conceiv'd and brought forth her only Son lsaact who was to be the Instrument of conveying down these great Blessings to the World. The Descendants from -faint are those Israelites mention'd by St. Paul, Rom. 9. To whom pertaineth the Adoption, and the Glory, and the Covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the Service of God, and the Promises; whose are the Fathers, and of whom, as concerning the Flesh, Christ came, who is over all, G od bless ed for ever; ver. 4, 5. These great Privileges belong'd to them, as they were the Offspring of Abraham, to whom Christ was primarily and principally promis'd and sent.
But did the Promise of these great Blessings belong to all that descended from the Loins of Abraham, Isaac, and facob? No, faith the Apostle, for they are not all Israel that are of Israel, neither, because they are the Seed of Abraham,
are they all Children; but in Ifaac shall thy Seed be caffd t meaning, that they shall be reckon'd the Seed of Abraham who are born after the manner of Isaac's Birth, that is, by the Word or Promise of God -, for they which are the Children of the Flesh (faith he) these are not the Children os God, but the Children of the Promise are counted for the Seed; ver. 6,7,8. The Sense whereof is, that the Promise made to Abraham and his Seed, was not made to his carnal, but his spiritual Seed, to Believers begotten after the Image of his Faith, and born by the Word of God, as was Isaacs
Now Abraham's Faith is deserib'd to us in sundry places of Scripture: Abraham believ'd in God, and it was counted to him for Righteousness; Rom. 4. 3. Gal. 3.6. He stagger'd not at the Promise of God through Unbelief, but was strong in Faith, giving glory to Gad; being fully persuaded, that what he had promis'd he was also able to perform. Again, the fame Apostle affirms, That he was not weak in Faith, but against Hope believ'd in Hope, that he might be the Father of many Nations ; according to that which was spoken, So shaH thy Seed be; Rom. 4. 18, &c. Moreover, the Author to the Hebrews tells us, that by Faith Abraham left his own Country, obeying God's Call, not knowing whither he went: by Faith he trusted in God's Promise that he should have a Sod, tho he was old, and Sarah past Age for the natural Course of Conception. By Faith he offer'd up his only Son Isaac, the Son of his Love and of his Hope, that he should be comforted, and aU Nations blessed in him j still believing that of him, tho as good as dead, should spring as many as the Stars in the Sky for Multitude, and as the Sand on the Sea-shore innumerable: judging him faithful that had promis'd these things, and counting that God was able to raise up Isaac again from the dead, to accomplish his Purpose; from whence he receiv'd him in a Figure. Heb. 11. 8- —20.
These are some of the many noble Acts of Abraham's Faith, so often recorded, and so much celebrated in Holy Scripture: all which were counted to him for Righteous'' ness, that is, they justify'd him before God, and procur'd Acceptance with him.
Now they that tread in the steps of his Fa^th, and imi-, tate his stedfast Belief of the Promises, they are the spiritual Seed of Abraham, to whom these Promises of Justification a,nd. Salvation were made: in respect of these it is, that he fe cali'd the Father of the Faithful, and tht Father of