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over-nice in not coming out with it, till we are fure of a convenient Season.
A third Thing I obferved in the Design of the Text was, that we are as much as is poffible to avoid the provoking Mens Paffions and Refentments, if we intend they fhall receive Benefit by our Admonitions. For we are here put in Mind of the Fierceness of the Dog; and fome think too of the Swine; both of them most unmerciful Creatures, when thoroughly provoked, but innocent and friendly enough, when ufed gently. Of all Tempers, the haughty paffionate Tempers are the worft to deal with. Let a Bear robbed of her Whelps meet a Man, rather than a Fool in his Folly; Prov. xvii. 12. The Meek will be guide in Judgment, fays the Pfalmift, Pfal. xxv. 9. and the Meek will be teach his Way.
4. But I haften to the laft Thing which I obferved from the Words, and I fhall be very brief upon it, having already, I doubt, incroached upon your Patience. It is to shew you what Aims and Views we fhould have, both pious and prudential, in adminiftring our fraternal Admonitions. And in fhort, there are these three which I obferve from the Text. 1. The Honour of Religion; we are to take care that boly Things be not trampled under Foot. 2. The good of our Neighbour; and therefore we are not to expose our holy Things to him, when we have Reason to believe he will encrease his Sin and Guilt by the Abuse of us and them; but are to watch more favourable Opportunities. 3. Our own Safety and Prefervation; for that our Saviour is willing we should be cautioned to
mind, that wicked Men do not for our good Admonitions turn again and rent us.
Thus now I have treated at large this Subject against tafh Judgment, which, if it were duly minded, would direct us admirably, both as to that inward Charity we ought to entertain of our Neighbour in our Hearts; and as to the good Government of our Tongue, and a Difcretion and Moderation in all our Actions and Behaviour; for the want of which three Things, there are fo many Disorders in the World. If ye know these Things, happy are ye, if ye do
Now to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be all Praife, Honour and Glory, Might, Power and Dominion; for ever and ever. Amen.
MAT. VII. 7.
Afk, and it shall be given you feek, and ye fhall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto
V. 8. For every one that afketh, receiveth : and be that feeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
V. 9. Or what Man is there of you, whom if bis Son afk Bread, will be give him a Stone? V. 10. Or if he ask a Fish, will be give him a Serpent?
V. 11. If ye then being evil, know how to give good Gifts unto your Children, how much more fball your Father which is in Heaven give good things to them that ask him?
The First Sermon on this Text.
N the preceding divine Sermon on the Mount,
Chapter, our bleffed Saviour had been teaching his Disciples higher Degrees of Duty than were taught by the beft Jewish Doctors, the Scribes and Pharifees. In Purfuance of which Defign, he had run through a great many of the chief Heads of Chriftian Morals, and had omitted nothing wherein that Doctrine wanted any Vindication from the Corruptions which had been
brought into it, by the Mifinterpretations of the Teachers of thofe Days, or the Imperfection. which had been tolerated by Mofes himself, becaufe of the Hardness of their Hearts. And now the Sermon drawing towards a Conclufion, his chief Care at laft is, to guard against every Thing that might obftruct the good Effects of it in the Lives of his Hearers. And to this End, first, he gives them a compleat Abridgment of allMoral Duty; by reducing all to the Love of God and our Neighbour. At the fame Time he fhews them, how they might be enabled, by the Grace of God's Spirit, to yield Obedience to that Duty he had taught them; and how they might obtain this Grace by fervent and importunate Prayer. 2dly, He guards them against the Contagion of the common loose Opinions and bad Examples of the World, by advifing them to enter in at the ftrait Gate. 3dly, He cautions them against the Seductions of false Prophets. And lastly, he guards them against the Delufion of an high Profeffion, without a fuitable Practice, acquainting them that in the great Day of Accounts many will plead their high Profeffion, and their extraordinary Gifts, whom he will disown, because of their unfuitable Prac tice and Converfation. So he concludes with an appofite Similitude of a wife and foolish Builder, to fhew them that all Gifts, and Talents, and Profeffion, will fignify nothing without fuch a well-grounded Faith as produces an holy Life and Conversation. Thefe are the great concluding Points of this divine Sermon which remain to be handled.
What I have now read to you, relates to the first of them; namely, The Encouragement to fervent Prayer; and upon occafion of that, we are briefly taught with what Love, and Trust, and Confidence, we are to rely on God, as Children on a Father, and indeed put in Mind of our whole Duty to him.
In the Words we have these Two Things:
1. The Duty of fervent Prayer, joined with vigorous Endeavours after Grace, Ask, Seek, and Knock.
2. Several Encouragements to this Duty, taken from the Promises and Nature of God.
I. I begin with the Duty of Prayer, on which I intend to employ this Day's Meditation. In this, I think, it will be very proper to do these Three Things:
1. To confider the Occafion of the Duty in this Place, and to discourse it chiefly with an Eye to that.
2. What is the Nature, and what are the Exercises of it.
3. The Circumftance of Inftancy or Frequency.
1. Let us confider the Occafion of preffing the Duty of Prayer in this Place; which I take to be this: Our Saviour had been recommending a great many difficult Duties to his Disciples. Now, it was very natural for him to think they would be mightily difcouraged, confidering how VOL. IV. K difproportioned