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The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
Lord, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and
do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly Grace, may evermore be defended by thy mighty power, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The EPIST L E.
Coloff. ii. 12.
UT on therefore, as the cleft of God, boly and God hath so graciously
beloved, bowels of mercy, kindness, bumbleness chosen, fanctified, and
of mind, meekness, long-suffering. loved you that are Chri- 13. Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, stians', let it be your if any man bave a quarrel aguinst any ; even as Cbrift
behave your forgave you, so also do ye. felves as becomes men thus favoured. Shew the tenderest Compassion, the most fincere Affection to one another, have lowly Opinions of your selves, be now to wrath, and patient under Injuries, not harty to revenge, but imitating the goodness of Christ to Sinners, in your Carriage to those who have wronged or offended you. 14. Especially let the
14. And above all these things, put on ebarity, which Jove of your Brethren, is the bond of perfectness. founded on the love of 15. And let the peace of God rule in your bearts, 10 God, and of his love to which ye are called in Body, and be ye tbankful. you, be your constant Principle and Practice, for this will make you perfect in all manner of good Works; and in any Difference, let the Peace God requires of you be the Umpire to compose it ; remembring how he hath united you into one Body, his Church, which is a Mercy, that calls for your greatest thanks.
16. Let the Doctrine 16. Let tbe word of Cbris dwell in you richly in all of the Gospel be well wisdom, teacbing and admonishing one another, in Psalms studied, and liberally and Hymns, and spiritual Songs, finging with grace in communicated , and your bearts to the Lord, wisely employed by you: and in all your Assemblies give Praises to God, in such holy Hymns and Psalms, as either the Spirit shall dictate, or your own Piety compose ; so as may tend most to the Instruction and Edification of others, and best express your own Thanka fulness.
17. And in all your 17. And wbat foever you do in word or deed, do all in Actions and Words, the name of tbe Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and whether those of folemn tbe Farber by bim. Worship, or others, address
your selves to God, and expect his Acceptance by Jesus Chrift; For he is the anly Person, by whom our Prayers and Praises must be offered to his father under the Gospel, as all Mercies are derived down to us through bim, for which we pray to, or praise God,
Sund, in Adv.
"HE Duties (a) urged in this Epistle (a), Epift: for 1:
at the 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th in Sunday afVerses, The Obligations we all have to them, as Christians, The (6) high Coin- 6). Epift. for mendation of Charity, the common Source and Sum of them all ; And the Reasonableness (c) of forbearing and for- ) Epif. for 4giving, after Christ's Example, have had their places of being considered already.
My purpose, at present, is, to fix on the Subject of thr 16th Verfe, which Interpreters have generally agreed to understand, of those Ejaculations and pious Lauds, which Christians heretofore were so famous for, as, even by Heachens (d) and Ene
(d) Plin. Lib. mies, to have special notice taken, how
10. Epift. 37 constant and considerable a part of Divine Worship they made. These, (as is probable, not only from this and another parallel Text to the Ephesians, but a Passage very remarkable in the First to the Corinthians,) were such Ephes. v. 19, Effusions of Praise, as the Holy Ghost (among other extraordinary Gifts, seasonable and necessary for those early days of the Gospel) infused into Souls, transported with Zeal, and Gratitude, and Love. But, in regard those Gifts have long since ceased, and we are left to stated Methods ; in regard we have still some such Helps to our Devotion, as, we may be very confident, did originally (though in an Age far diftant from our own) proceed from the same Divine Spirit; I hope it will not be judged improper, because 'tis our own fault if it be unprofitable, for me, at this time, to set before you the Excellence and Usefulness of the Book of Psalms. The rather, because they are a constant Portion of our
1 Cor. xiv. 26.
Publick Service; and seem, by the Wisdom of our Church, to be recommended, with a distinguishing Concern, to our Study and Remembrance, by being so much oftner read in our Affemblies, than any other part of God's holy Word.
I shall not stay to insist (though somewhat might be said to good purpose on that Subject) upon the Advantage this Collection hath, by being of Poetical Composition. It shall suffice to observe, that this is designed, as all other Poetry is, or ought to be, for Instruction and Delight. My business shall be to shew, how well the Psaims acquit themselves of both these Offices. And consequently, how wise a choice They make, who pitch upon these, for a constant Companion, both of their niore retired Thoughts, and of their more publick Exercises of Devotion.
I. And First, For the Instructing Part, They, who at all attend to the Matter here treated of, cannot but see the Justice of those Ancients, who recommend this Book, as the Marrow and Epitome of Divine Knowledge, the Treasury and Storehouse of Piety and Prayer.
The ground of true Religion is laid in right and worthy Apprehensions of God, of his Providence, his Justice, his Power, and his Mercy. But where shall we be better furnished with, whence may we hope for more lively Representations of, these so necessary Truths ? How becomingly do the xixth, the xxxiiid, the civth, and cxlviiith Pfalms, besides sundry other incidental Passages, declare the Efficacy of that Almighty Word, which did but speak, and all things were made, commanded only, and forthwith they stood fast? The Beauty and Order of the Creatures, the wise Uses assigned to each of them, the Eternal Bounds which they cannot pass, The Glory of the Heavens, The Riches of the Earth and Seas, The wondrous and profitable Variety that fill them, And the perpetual necessary dependance of all these, upon the kindly Influence
and prolifick Goodness of the First Cause, cannot be suggested, in Idea's more lofty, in Terms more suitable to the Dignity of the Subject, than that Spirit, which made, and governs them all, hath here infused into the Holy Author.
The Effects of Divine Providence in general, That Light of God's Countenance, which shines, with a peculiar Lustre, upon the Person and the Posterity of the Good man ; Those Guards of Angels, that pitch their Tents round about his House, and chase away the Powers of Darkness from their beloved Charge; That distinguishing Care, which saves the Souls of such from death, and feeds them in the time of dearth, that keeps all their bones so, that not one of them is broken, shelters them under his wings, and secures them under bis feathers, and, even then, when thousands fall beside them, and ten thousands at their right band, forbids any Plague from coming nigh Their Persons or their Dwellings; are admirably describ'd in the xxxiiid, xxxivth, and xcist Psalms. And The Observations made there are back'd with so many Instances and Experiments, in other Places, relating to David's own Case; that, in speaking his own Sene and Soul, he fills every faithful Christian with holy Confidence and great Tranquillity, when Dangers and Calamities make their boldest Approaches.
The direful Vengeance, 'that awaits the Ungodly, That Fire and Brimstone, that Storm and Tempes, which hall be their portion to drink. Their Confusions, and Horrors, and unavoidable Destruction, are painted in such ghastly Colours, at the xith, xviiith, xxxyth, lxixth, and cixth Pfalms; as will, if any thing will, strike a damp into the Wicked, chill all their Blood, quell their proud Wrath, and almost force them to reflect, though most unwillingly, that there is verily a God that judgeth in the earth. A God, that will not forget the poor helpless Man, nor suffer the patient abiding of
the meek to perish for ever; But will put the mightiest and the boldest Sinners of them all in fear, and make them know themselves to be but Men.
These are Evidences of a God and Providence, which all, who believe such things, would naturally expect. But there is One Thought, more peculiariy David's own; for he helps us against the Difficulties too, which have staggered so many in this Belief. His xxxviith, lxxiiid, and xciid Psalms, do, with wonderful dexterity, unfold the Mystery of Good men being destitute, a Micted, tormented, while the Evil and Oppreffors live at their Ease, full of Health, and Plenty, and Power. These assure us, That the End of the perfect and upright Man is sure to be peace at the last; That the Rightecus and their seed are never utterly forsaken; That this short imaginary Happiness of the Wicked is but like the crackling of thorns under a pot, a Blaze, soon kindled, and soon out again : That it is a Subject to exercise our Patience, but by no means fit to provoke our Envy; That, the longer they are spared, the higher the Arm is lifted, and the heavier at last the Blow will fall : for when all the workers of wickedness do flourish, and look gay
green as the grass, 'tis only to reserve them for the fiery oven, and, that ibey may be destroyed for ever. word, Though other Considerations may stop short, yet if we will bear David company into the house of God, that is, apply our selves to Revealed Truths; we mall understand the end of these men, that the high places where they stand are slippery, that they fuddenly and surprisingly consume, perish, and come to a fearful end, and that their Glories, and even the remembrance and very Image of them, vanish like a dream, when one awaketh out of sleep. Thus these promiscuous Dispensations are fitted for excellent Improveinents. They will convince Men of the Folly of Sin, even in its most pompous and alluring Circumstances ;