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the Sun, which scorches and burns up the Corn that wanteth depth of Earth, does but cherish and ripen the good Corn. And thus it is with Amictions : They do not make Men unsincere, but find them so, and discover them to be so. The Fire separates the Dross from the Gold, but it makes no part Dross, which was not Dross before. Adversities are therefore called Tryals, because they bring our Integrity to the Touch. They shew, whether we serve God for present Profit and Convenience, or for his own sake, and from a well-grounded Persuasion of their Duty. Hence it is clear, we must not satisfy our selves with hearing, and considering, and applying ; but must compose our Minds with quiet and contented Submission to the good Providence of God, and esteem it our joy and Crown, when we are counted worthy to suffer for Christ and Righteousness-fake. If Christianity required the Conviction of our Judgment only, all who will be content to think and understand impartially, must be good Christians. But, because the Gospel is intended to rule in our Hearts, and to give Law to all our Passions, and all our Interests; therefore it is, that so great Quantities of this Spiritual Seed are fown in vain. And since no Man answers the End of that Seed, who refufus in Practice, what he allows in Speculation, by letting go his Hopes of Bliss in another World, for the declining any Miseries that can be endured in this World ; therefore the Virtue, which faints in the Day of Trial, however prosperous and promising it may appear, is allowed no better a Character, than that of Grain cast upon Stony Ground.
There is another Sense of the Word Patience, fit to be taken notice of, as it signifies Per
'Tool severance; and a contented Waiting for the appointed Weeks of Harvest. Thus the Hearers of this kind will not envy Them, who put forth apace
Mark iv. 27.
and spend themselves too fast ; but be content with Conflicts, though they be sharp and long; and to get some Ground upon their Lusts, though it be won but by Inches. To this purpose we may interpret our
Blessed Lord, when comparing the King
dom of God to Corn that cometh up cne knows not how. Its Growth is often not discernible by Others, sometimes not by our Selves; yet live and grow it does. And, if our Pride and Impatience, or some other ill Quality check it not, it will in due time produce wholsone and kindly, which is nuch rather to be chosen, than forward and undigested, Fruit. We must not therefore be discouraged, if we cannot be and do, what we desire and strive for. Grace, as well as Nature; works gradually, and must be left to its own Methods. And that is true of the Soil of our Hearts, which our Lord hath observed, to a purpose not very distant from this I am upon, that the
Earth bringeth forth Fruit of her self, first
the Blade, then the Ear, after that the full Corn in the Ear.
There needs no more to shew, what Temper is required to bring forth Fruit, and how it comes to pals, that this is so seldom done : That the Seed and the Sower are blameless, and all the Defects in the Ground it self. The Gospel sets both our Duty, and our Danger, before our Eyes. These it is the Minister's
part to urge. He must apply himself with all his Might, to perswade, to convince, to awaken, as occasion ferves. But all this our Master did in the utmost Perfection, and yet even He often sowed without any Fruit. And, the Truth is, What can We do? We can recommend Religion to Mens Consideration, and we ought to do it as powerfully as may be. But, after all we have faid, or can say, it will lie in their own Breasts, whether they will conAnd they who do not, are Hearers by
Mark iv. 28.
sider or no.
the Way-side. We may
tell our People, how loose the World should fit about them ; that a Good Life should be their main Concern ; that they must learn and practise their Duty, all Prejudice and Interest apart: But it is not in Our Power to disintangle their Hearts, and root out their Prejudices ; and tillthis bedone, they are Seed among Thorns. So, lastly, We can excite to Patience, but we cannot inspire it; and They who faint and fall off, are Stony Ground. Consequently, when the Preacher hath done all he can do, and all he ought to do ; still the Efficacy and Success of his Instructions will depend upon the Hearers themselves. Inadvertency and Worldly-mindedness, and Impatience, are Obstructions of every One's making, and therefore they must be of every One's removing too. And, where they are not taken out of the way, our Barrenness, and the whole Guilt of it, can rest no where, but upon our selves.
I have not forgotten to observe before, how much of this depends upon the Divine Asistance; and upon what Conditions we may be sure of That, to strengthen and to prosper our Endeavours. Let us but add to these our hearty Prayers, and the Work will certainly be done ; And therefore, That it may please thee to give all thy people increase of Grace, to hear meekly thy Word, and to receive it with pure Affeftion, and to bring forth the Fruits of the Spirit ;
We befeech Thee to hear us, gocd Lord!
The Sunday called Quinquagefima; Or, the Next
Sunday before LENT.
1 Cor. xiii. 1,2,3. Lord, who haft taught us that all our Doings without xii. 31.
Charity are nothing worth, send thy Holy Ghost, and Coloff. iii. 14
pour into our Hearts that moft excellent Gift of Cha: rity, the very bond of Peace and of all Virtues, without which
whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thy only Son Jesus Christ's sake, Amen.
Jam. ií. 26.
The EPISTLE, PARAP H R A SL,
Cor. xiii. 1. The Gifts of the I, Howgb I speak witb obe tongues of men and of Spirit, so much covet
angels, and bave not cbarity, I am become as ed and envied among
founding brass or a tinkling cymbal, you, are yet in no de 2. And though I have the gift of propbery, and under.. gree lo necessary for fand all mysteries and all knowledge, and ebougb I bave all one's self, or to useful fairb, fo bat I could remove mountains, and bave not cbae to others, as the Grace rity, I am not bing. of Charity
3: And though I bestow all my goods to feed tbe poor, 3. Nay, even the and tbough I give my body to be burned, and bave not cbae most exalted Acts of rity, it profiterb me not bing. Piety and Zeal lose all their Value, if they do not proceed from this Principle of Charity.
4. Cbarity sufferetb long, and is kind, Cbarity ene vierb not, Charity vauneetb not it self, is not pufs
fed up. 5. Doth not think as 5. Dorb not bebave it self unseemly, seekerb not ber own, ny good Office unfit to is not easily provoked, thinket bľno evil; be condescended to, (so 6; Rejoycetb noi in iniquity, but rejoycetb' in the Cbrysoft.) does not con trutb. fine its Endeavours to its own private Good ; does not give way to violence of Passion ; meditates no Mischief to (or suspects no ill of) others Takes no Satisfaction in the Faults, but the greatest imaginable, in the Virtues and commendable Qualities, of others.
g. Bearetb all things, believeth all tbings, bopeth all
things, enduretb all tbings. 8. The Acts of this 8. Charity never failetb; But wberber there be ProGrace are always in pbecies, they fall fail ; wberber there be tongues, obey season, whereas those shall cease ; wberber ebere be knowledge, it fopll vanish an extraordinary Gifts of way. Prophecy, &c. have their periods and particular occasions.
9. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 9. For the utmost we
know, even when thus enlightned, is very imperfect, and short of that which we shall know hereafter.
10. But when that which is perfeet is come, then that
And therefore wbicb is in part shall be done away.
when that Imperfecti
on and those Occasions, to which these Afiftances of the Spirit are vouchsafed, shall be at an end, there is an end of them too. So that they are plainly temporary, and never meant, as Charity is, to continue always.
11. When I qvas a child, I spake as a child, I underftcod as a child, I thou złt as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12. For now we see ebrough a glass darkly, but iben face to face; now I know in part, but then jball I know, even as also I am known.
13. And now abidetb Fairb, Hope, and Cbarily, these 13. Nay, even Faith three; but the greatest of tbefe is Charity.
and Hope, tho' excela
lent Virtues, are yet equal to Charity. The present State indeed requires and exercises all the three; But, in the future State, the two former will be luperfeded by Vision and Enjoyment, and Charity only will then remain.
COM M E N T.
HE Epistle for this Day is, in substance, nothing else but a Commendation of
Charity: consilting, Partly in a Preference given to it above other Gifts and Graces; and Partly in a Description of it, by such Effects and Properties, as demonstrate the Excellency and Usefulness of the Virtue it felf. Concerning the First of these I am not at liberty to treat. This being the proper Time for making good a former Promise, of explaining the Nature of Charity, and wherein it truly consists. Reserving voi. s. pag. 5. therefore the Præeminence of this Grace above the rest, to be shewn at an Occasion already laid out for that purpose; I chufe to confir:e my Thoughts at present to those Marks and Qualities mentioned in this Chapter, which may give us a just Notion of the thing, and consequently inable us to form a right Judgment, whether our Souls be of that Frame and