Imatges de pÓgina
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uppermost in bis thoughts, and at the same time a present advantage is to be got by sin, he is not for quitting what is at hand and certain, for that which is at a distance and uncertain. There is no doubt, but those who act thus unsteadily and inconsistently, if they were asked whether they believed all the truths of the gospel, would think it a rude question, and would take it ill to have their faith thus impeached ; nay, it is possible, that when they put the question to themselves, they may answer it in the affirmative. But it is no better a proof, that one whose actions show him to be an infidel is a true believer because he calls and thinks himself so, than it is that that poor deluded madman is truly rich and powerful, who, at the same time that he begs and starves, styles and fancies himself a prince or emperor.

I might go on to prove the danger and sinfulness of being double-minded, and the necessity of that purity of heart and singleness of intention which St. James here presses, from other topics ; but I hope what hath

, been said of its inconsistency with the love of God, with perfection, and with faith, is sufficient to convince those who are willing to be persuaded. I would not be misunderstood, as if I had in any of the discourses I have made on this copious subject condemned all care for the things of this world, all provision for the necessities and conveniences of this life, all pursuit of temporal blessings and lawful pleasures, as inconsistent with that purity of heart and singleness of intention which our apostle here enjoins. When I recommend to you the making God's glory and your own salvation your only end, I mean no more, than that this should be your main end. You may propose to yourselves other designs which fall in with this, and which

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mote this; but you must aim at none which interfere with this, none but what are capable of being so managed as to be serviceable to this.

We are made up of souls and bodies; the appetites of the body are so craving and so loud, that there is no danger of our forgetting to supply their wants; but the necessities of our souls are not so importunate and clamorous, and therefore there is great danger lest we should be unmindful of them. When both can be at once lawfully gratified, both securely may; but when the flesh lusteth against the spirit, when the love of the world would set us at enmity with God, then I would have our greatest and most durable interest determine our choice. The maxim upon which those who are resolved to thrive in this world proceed is known to be this: an estate is to be had ; if it can be got honestly, so much the better; but if not, yet still an estate must be got. Now I would have the principle, upon which the sincere Christian acts, the reverse of this. My business is to serve God and to save my own soul; if I can save my soul without any damage to my body or to my estate, I will do it; but if not, yet still I must remember, that I have a soul to be saved. Whatever therefore we take in hand, let us remember this is our end ; let us pursue this end, and we shall never do amiss.

SERMON XXXVIII.

PREACHED BEFORE THE QUEEN, ON NOV. 5,1705.

MATTHEW X. 16.

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves : be ye

therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. The holy evangelist hath given us in this chapter an authentic copy of a commission which issued from the highest authority; which conveyed the fullest powers that were ever granted to any of the sons of men; which was not to be executed without the utmost difficulty and danger; but was accompanied with such instructions, as, if duly observed, would render all difficulties superable, and be a sure guard against all dangers. This commission was given to the apostles by our Saviour, the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords : its purport was to rescue, not one people or nation, but the whole race of mankind, from a state of the most abject and wretched slavery; to put an end to the tyranny of a proud and cruel usurper; and to establish the kingdom of God upon earth. Such a design as this, which threatened an entire overthrow to the dominion of Satan, would be sure to meet with all the opposition that the fury of hell could raise against it; and though, from the success of it, men might promise to themselves the most perfect liberty, and an affluence of the greatest blessings, yet they were grown so much in love with their chains, and were so insensible of their true interest, that they also would unite all their forces to stop the progress, to defeat the enterprise, and to outrage the persons of those who came for their deliverance. The message, which the apostles were to carry into all places whither they were to go, was, Peace upon earth, and good will Luke ii. 14. towards men : but the entertainment they were every where to look for, was hatred, persecution, and death. They must not hope that the sacredness of their character and the majesty of Him by whom they were sent would secure them from indignities and wrongs : for they were to represent a despised, insulted, and persecuted Master; and from the reception which he had found might plainly foresee what sort of treatment they were to expect. The disciple, he tells them, is Matt. I. 24,

x not above his master, nor the servant above his lord : it 25. is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. Naked and unarmed, they were to expose themselves to the rage of a stiffnecked, hard-hearted, and merciless people : against such they are taught to provide, and are allowed to use no other arms than wisdom and innocence.

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves : be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

The wisdom of the serpent might seem to include in the notion of it some degrees of subtlety and guile; the simplicity of the dove might be thought to intimate some defect of wariness and prudence: our Saviour therefore requires such a temperature of both, that what was wanting in either might be supplied from the superabundance of the other; so that from their conjunction might result perfect wisdom, free from all guile, and a well-guarded innocence, without the least mixture of indiscretion.

Higher degrees of wisdom and integrity were requisite in the apostles than are absolutely necessary to every disciple of Christ: for they were to lay the first foundations of that church against which the gates of hell were never to prevail; and their eminence in wisdom and virtue would in a great measure prevent the mischief that might redound to our holy faith from any defect of the like qualifications in those Christians who should come after them. But since the church of God in all ages is best preserved by the same methods by wbich it was at first established, the same qualifications of prudence and innocence, which were necessary for the planting of Christ's church, are, though in more scanty proportions, still requisite for its support and maintenance. But neither are equal measures of these graces at this time required in all Christians: much less detriment would ensue to the church of God from the want of either of these in private persons, who are only to adorn it with their lives, than from the like want in pastors, who are to guide it by their vigilance; or in magistrates, who are to protect it by their authority: and therefore larger proportions of wisdom and integrity are required in princes, who are to go out and come in before God's people, than are necessary in those, who, being placed under their government, reap the benefit of their wise and just administration : a more plentiful share of God's Urim and Thummim, brightness of understanding and perfection of virtue, ought to rest upon his holy ones, who are, by their doctrine and example, to teach Jacob God's judgments, and Israel his laws, than are of necessity required in those who are to seek the law at their mouths. But though higher degrees of wisdom and innocence are required in some Christians than in others, yet the duties themselves

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