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patient, than for the unreasonable scandal those men would take at his charity : because those rigorists have no compassion, must Christ have no pity? They that seem so zealous for the obfervation of the fabbath, forget these maxims, when interest lies at stake, when the question is to take care of their cattle ; and this is the conduct of all their descendants, who imitate the unchristian zeal of these Pharisees. You will not find one of a thousand, who drops not these scrupulous maxims, when they will not stand with his interest.
The ministers of the church must imitate our Saviour, not the Pharisees; they must receive finners with sweetness and charity, to cure them ; not with severity, to exasperate their wounds, and to render them incurable.
Oh ! how many fee we, who scruple at trifles, and make no difficulty to transgress the most important precepts of the law? Who, in our Saviour's expression, strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel ? Distractions trouble fome ; and yet they give up all their time to temporal concerns, without remorse, as if their great affair lay in this world, and that they had nothing to fear, nothing to hope for, in the other : how many accuse themselves for being less charitable to the poor, who stick not to over-reach their neighbour, to engage him in suits of law, often unjust on their sides, and seldom necessary, and yet never think of reftitution. An omission of some religious duty puts many on the torture ; but to pass whole months in visits, feasts, and revellings, gives them no check, no remorse. Some make a conscience to omit the publick prayers of the church ; but none to defame their neighbour, to fling away considerable sums on vain and superfluous ornaments ; nay, and to reduce, by gaming,
their families to beggary: such people have pharilaical, that is, false consciences; they tremble at shadows, and fear not real dangers. They ftrain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
Imitate not, dear Christians, the Pharisees, who scrupulously observed our Saviour, that they might find something to censure, but made none to blame his charity, for curing a poor man on the sabbath; as if God had forbidden to shew, on that day, as much concern for men, as they had for their own cattle. Regulate your conscience by the precepts of the gospel, not by the false lights of a mistaken zeal ; fear to break God's commands, and, if you fall, seep not in your sin; examine your own conscience, condemn your failings, but meddle not with the actions of other men: till you can search their hearts, you are no competent judge : pretend not zeal for their good : it is oftentimes hard to distinguish true zeal from real malice ; and the observers of another's conduct feldom intend to correct faults, but merely to find them.
This paffage concludes with a parable, to teach the Pharisees (the proudeft of men) humility. When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding; sit down in the lowest room, that when he that bad thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher : then malt thou have worship in the presence of them that fit at meat with ihee. Our Lord not only recommends to us to take one of the lowest places, but the very last ; he will have us to esteem ourselves not only inferior to fome, but even to all. There is no danger, says St. Bernard, in humbling ourselves as much as we can: but there is in raising ourselves never fo little. A man (continues this father) who passes through a low door, risques
nothing by stooping too low; but he may hurt himself, who stoops not low enough.
One would think this virtue, so grateful to God, so necessary to Christians, were not hard. We are born in sin, subject to a thousand infirmities : what are all temporal advantages, but vain toys of no price, because of no duration ? the very gifts of grace are mere gratuities, and easily loft. Therefore, to be humble, we need only know ourselves : if I have a mind to raise myself, how many obstacles? how many rivals stand in my way? But if I endeavour to humble myself, no body takes it ill, no body opposes himself.
O dear Lord! let me know myself and know thee : thy example will teach me humility, and my own baseness will defend me from pride. When I see my God humbled to the very death of the cross, can I, a vile worm, affect greatness? Humble me, o God, in this world, to glorify me in the next.
Epistle to the Ephesians, Chap. iv. Verse
1. I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of ihe vocation wherewith ge are called.
2. With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love ;
3. Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as je are called in one hope of your calling;
5. One Lord, one faith, one baptism.
6. One God and Father of all, who is above all, aud through all, and in you all.
HE apostle conjures the Ephesians, with
all the tenderness imaginable, to lead lives worthy of the fanctity of the religion they profess'd: this exhortation regards all Christians, who by baptism enter into the family of Christ, and into all the obligations of his religion. At the sacred font we renounce the devil, the world, and the Aesh, to confecrate ourselves wholly to Christ : on this condition he receives us into his church, and adopts us for his children. We are therefore wholly his, and must square our lives by those rules he has left us in the gospel. It is not only a high disobedience, but an injustice, to follow, from morning to night, humour and fancy : to be follicitous to advance our interest, and unmindful of his glory. The apostle tells us, we belong not to ourselves, but to Jesus Christ. He must therefore regulate all our actions, the use of our wealth, our employment, and in a word our whole conduct. This is to live like a true christian, to live worthy of our vocation, to walk the short way to heaven.
By baptism I acknowledge Jesus for my Teacher, my Master, my Father, my Lord, lities oblige me to have a true zeal for his interests, to love and please him, to respect his orders, to obey his commands: those he has left us in his gospel ; they are our rule, and to these we must conform our lives. Give me, O Jesus, a lively and generous love for thee, that I may say to my last breath, Jesus is mine, and I am his : let me not blush to profess I am thy difciple, but give me the courage to glory in the profession, and rather to lose my life than to abandon my duty. Vol. II.
You have made me, my God, a Christian; let not this favour turn to my misfortune, nor draw upon me a more severe judgment, and a more terrible damnation, than that of infidels and pagans. Give me such a supply of grace, that I may fulfil all the duties of my profession, that all my actions be as holy, as the name of Chriftian I have the honour to bear , that I may live and die in the observance of thy law, and afterwards enjoy the eternal reward in heaven, which thou hast prepared for those that live up to the vocation on earth, wherewith they are called.
The apostle recommends particularly humility, mildness, patience, and charity. With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love. These virtues he inculcates almost in every chapter of his divine epistles, and conjures his converts to practise them. He learnt this doctrine from his Master ; learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, Matth. xi. 29. He sets us his life for a pattern, and commands us all to imitate it. We must therefore never seek honour and
applause, but even reject it, when offered, if God's glory does not oblige us to receive it. Thus our blessed Saviour, who had right to the empire ļof the world, refused the small kingdom of Juda ; he ordered his glorious appearance on Tabor to be kept secret : when he healed the sick, how often did he either command them to keep the miracle to themselves, or ascribed it to their faith ; thy faith harb made thee wbole, Luke viii. 48. although his goodness and power were the only causes of the cure. Thus did our blessed Lord refuse honour, he so justly deserved; he dropt favours where-ever he went, and would not even receive the glory,