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St. John viii. 46. 46. What Sign of a 4. ESUS said, which of you convincerb me of false Prophet can you
fin? Arid if I say ebe truth, Why do ye not be charge me with?
lieve me? 47. He that is of God, beareth God's zvords : ye tbere
fore bear tbem not, because ye are not of Ged. 48. Have we not rea- 48. Tben answered the Jews, and said unto him, son to call thee a Sepa- Say we not well, obat chou art a Samaritan, and baft i ratist, and Enemy to devil ? our Religion, a Man poffefs'd, Sc. What can we say too bad of thee?
49. Yesus answered, I have not a devil; but I bonoun
my Father, and ye de disponour me. 50. I do not
50. And I seek not my can glory, tbere is one tbat seckets Honour, as false Pro- and judgeth. pnets do ; but there is one, who observes how I am treated, and will call it to account.
51. By receiving my 51. Verily, verily I say unto you, If a man keep my Doctrine, I tell you, saying, ke jisoll never see death. and by that only, can you escape dying eternally.
52. They understand- 52. Then said the Jews unto bim, Now we krozu ing him of Temporal that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and tbe Proa Death, reply,
jhets : and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, be frall never taste of Death.
53. Art ihou greater than our fatber Abrabam, wbicb is dead? and tbe Propbets are dead: wbom makeft tbout
tby self? 54. For me to exalt
54. Jesus answered, If I koncur my self, my bonour is my self were very vain nothing : it is my Father that bonoureth me, of whom ye and exceptionable, but say, Ibat be is your God. my Father, even the God ye profess to belong to, he honours me, by bearing Testimony to my Loctrine.
55. Yet ye have not knoeun bim, but I kacau bim: and if Incuid say, I know lim not, I shall be a liar like unto you:
but I know him, ard keep his saying. 56. Abrabam with 56. Your Farber Abrakam rejoiced to see my day : and great Joy law by Faith be saw it, and was glad. soy then distant coming into the World, and that Prospect was matter of great Gladness to him.
57. Then said the Jews unto binn, Thou art not yet ffy
years old, and bast thou seen Abrabam ? 58. I assure you, my 58. Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, Being is of a Standing Before Abrakam was, I am. much longer than obrakuin, esen trom ali Eternity, and never had Beginning.
59. Tble $9. Then took they up Stones to cast at bim : but Jesus 59. At this the Jews bid bimself, and went out of the temple.
enraged, and thinking
that Saying blasphemous, were about in their Zeal to stone him, the Punishment usual for Blasphemy, and sometimes by their Zealots inflicted, without any formal Process or Sentence of Law.
S the Death of our Blessed Saviour is the Spring,
from whence all our Hopes and Confidences of Happiness and Mercy flow; and as the End of his Sufferings is the Benefit of wretched Man ; so the Manner of those Sufferings is likewise adapted to our Good. And, if within these it be fit to comprehend, not the last black Scene alone, but those many antecedent Passages of his Life, in which he endured the Contradiktion of Sinners against himself; the Gospel for this Day may well deferve its Place in our Liturgy. Thus the Church rises very gradually; In the Historical Part, from opprobrious Language, and a malicious, but vain Attempt upon his Sacred Life, to that Violence, which was permitted to take Effect: In the Instructive Part, from a Pattern of reproached and spighted Innocence, to One of Faithfulness to the very Death, and resisting even unto Blood, when God and Duty call.. This I conceive the great Design of, this the proper Method for, improving that Scripture read in your Ears this Day. And therefore my Work shall be, First, To represent our Saviour's Deportment upon this Occasion; And Then, To instance in such particular Virtues, deducible from thence, as would adorn our Lives, if well observed, when it is Our Lot to fall under the like Circumstances.
And First, We may, through the Management of this whole Affair, observe a Divine Prudence, in restraining at some times, and expressing at Others, the just Indignation our Lord conceived, at the Malice and Obstinacy of these wicked Jews. Of this we have a re
markable Pattern in the Return made to these Words : Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a Devil. The Reproach of Samaritan was one of the last Affronts, at that time capable of being passed upon any Man. It spoke him Idolater, and Schismatick, and, according to the Terms That People then stood upon with the Jews, every thing that was odious and despicable. Yet all this is only answered by Silence, as not worthy our Lord's Notice, But the Other part of having a Devil would draw down Scandal upon his Doctrine, and weaken the Authority of his Preaching. And therefore This was fit, nay it was necessary, to be confuted. And upon that Point he condescends to reason with them. Hence we may learn, how to distinguish Injuries, and how we should proportion our Resentments, according to the different Sorts, and Consequences of them. Where the Provocation is private, and terminates in our selves; It is a Mark of a great and Christian Mind, to put it up, or softly to reprove it. But where it reaches farther, and wounds deeper, Where Truth and Goodness are struck at through our Side ; Silence is Tameness there, For then the Cause ceases to be Own, God's Glory, and the Good of Mankind, are concerned, in the Respect due to Virtue and Religion ; And that, which is none of Ours, we ought not to recede from, nor can we give it up, without committing a Fault. Well were it, if this Rule were duly thought on, and punctually obferved. Then we should see a Stop put to Prophaneness, and all wicked Railleries upon Holy Things. These would not, with such a triumphant Boldness, be uttered, and esteemed a part of Mirth and Wit in Conversation, if they were not as wickedly received and applauded. Men would not be so jealous of their own Reputation, and at the same time fo injurious to God's, as we find them to be. They would not for every small, for every supposed Affront, require Blood, and execute a Murthesous Vengeance; and yet sport with the Majesty of Heaven, and his Oracles, as if These were fit for nothing, but to furnish Matter for a keen and faucy Jest. As if the Holiness of the Most High might be prostituted to the most contumelious Usage; while what the profligate Wretches falsely call their own Honour, must be facred and inviolable, and, like the Ark of old, not touched, but upon pain of Death. So contradictious, ic seems, are the Notions Some Men now have, of contemptuous Treatment, to those of our Great Master. So difierent their Deportment under it. He generously disdained the Infamies levelled at Himself; and His unspotted Inrocence gave him the Advantage of doing it securely. Others, perhaps, are the more impatient of Reproach, because Guilt, and Self-condemnation give it a Sting; They feel less concern for the Vindicating One, whom the most blasphemous Falfhoods cannot hurt, than for themselves, whose Impurities are already so foul and black, as not to bear Freedom and bold Truths.
But, Secondly, Our Saviour's Example here instructs us also, how to proceed in that Defence, which God and Religion require from Us. For those very things, which we may, nay which we are bound to vindicate, are not to be vindicated after every Manner. Some Order,and proper Measures are to be observed, even in the most Lawful, the most necessary Returns, to those that abuse and traduce them. And for This, Christ's own Words are a Pattern sufficient, to as many as are content to consider, and be guided by them. Jesus anfwered, I have not a Devil, but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. Herein he only clears himself from their wicked Suggestions, with all the Mildness, that became his Character, and the Justness of his Cause. As in other the like Occasions we find him returning cool Reason to their Rage, and barely exposing the Absurdity, the Impossibility, of their Charge against him ; the Inconsistence of his Actions with their blasphemous Thoughts; Andeven, when the Treachery of a Disciple
the prolonging an uncertain Tenure for a short space, and that, in a State of infinite Change and Trouble) worth giving this in Exchange for? Who must not see, that an Eternity of Torments, at least a manifest hazard of them, is too hard a Condition to close with, upon any Terms ? Who, that receives the Promises of Heaven, with any becoming Degree of Assurance, would grudge to keep the Favour of God, at the Expence of all this World can boast of, and to trust Him for the Amends to be made in another? And if so, then, 'tis certain, a Wilful Sin must not buy our present Ease ' and Safety. For such a one is not consistent with God's Favour, or a rational Hope of Eternal Happiness. Nay not only a Sin in it self, but what a Man thinks a Sin; For, tho' he should happen to be involved in unneceffary Niceties ; Yet, so long as he thinks a thing Sinful, altho' it be not really such, if we do it in that apprehension ; God, who judges Men, by the Integrity of their Hearts and not by the Perfection of their Understandings, will condemn that Person, as if it were a Sin. And such it is to Him. He violates his Conscience, who goes against the Dictates and present Light of it; He is an Offender in the Perverseness of his Will, tho he happen to be mistaken in the Determination of his Judg. ment. This therefore is the first Rule ; Do nothing, which your Conscience tells you ought not to be done. And if there be any other Choice left, but Sinning or Suffering ; gou may be confident, that He who never commanded any Man to Sin; hath, in those Circumstances, commanded cvery Man to Suffer. Secondly, The Other Rule is, That a Man
use all Lawful Means for his own Preservation; and, where the regular use of these is Successful, that may be accounted a Case, in which he was no way bound to Suffer. For instance: If, in a controverted Point, one uses the best means he can of informing himself, and, after diligent Enquiry and honest impartial Judging, he