Page images

one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy; SERM. who art thou that judgest another? It is, we see, XXII. an invading our Lord's right and authority, without most evident and reasonable cause, to censure or condemn our fellow-servants.

12. The consideration of this point our Saviour doth also improve, as an engagement to imitate himself in the practice of all virtue and piety; especially in the practice of charity, humility, and patience. It is proper for a servant to follow and attend upon his master in all places and in all performances; to compose himself in behaviour to the manners and example, to conform himself to the garb and condition of his Lord: is it not absurd and unseemly, that the servant should be more stately, or more delicate than his master; that he should slight those whom his master vouchsafes to respect; that he should refuse to undertake those employments, should scorn to undergo those hardships, which his master doth willingly condescend unto? To such purpose our Saviour discourseth; impressing by this argument on his disciples the duties of humility, charity, and patience, by him exemplified for that very end; Ye call me, saith he, Master, and Lord; John xiii. and ye say well, for so I am: if I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet; for I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. And having directed his disciples to the patient enduring of reproaches, affronts, and injuries put upon them, he enforces his precept by subjoining, The disciple is not above his master, nor the Matt. x.24. servant above his lord: it is enough for the dis-John xv.20. ciple to be as his master, and the servant as his

13, 14, 15.

Luke vi. 40.



SERM. lord; that is, the servant in all reason ought to be XXII. very well content, if he find such usage as his lord hath willingly and patiently undergone. And he Luke xxii. thus again impresses these duties on them; He that Matt. xx. is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve: for whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? but I am among you as he that serveth. Yea, St. John raiseth this consideration so T. 1 John high, that he saith thus; Because he laid down his life for us, we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

iii. 16.

13. Finally, for our satisfaction and encouragement, we may consider, that the service of Christ is rather indeed a great freedom than a service; it is a reducement into a most desirable estate, wherein we fully enjoy that wherein liberty is defined to consist, ἐξουσίαν αὐτοπραγίας, power of doing whatever (as reasonable and wise men) we please ourselves to do; wherein all things are lawful to us, excepting only such things as are unprofitable to us, or hurtful. What Aristotle made the character of a just prince, (whose government doth nowise prejudice true liberty,) that he doth not in his government chiefly aim at his own profit, but his subjects' good, is perfectly true of our Lord: he is indeed capable to receive no private benefit to himself, beside satisfaction in our welfare; all his laws and commands, all his administrations and proceedings, are purely diDeut. x.13. rected to our advantage. Even the statutes which

vi. 24.

Neh. ix. 13. God gave to Israel by Moses are said to have been commanded for their good, not for any good that could accrue to God from their observance: much more are the laws of Christ purely such; conducing

Quæ est vera liber

tus? inno



to the health, the safety, the peace, the comfort, the SERM. joy, the happiness both of our bodies and souls; of XXII. the present temporal life here, and of our immortal state hereafter; His religion is profitable unto all Tim. iv.8. things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. Well therefore might St. James call the law of Christ a perfect law of James i. 25. liberty; well might our Saviour say, If the Son set John viii. you free, then are ye free indeed. What the Stoics 36. vaunted of themselves, the Christian modestly and truly may say, that he is the only free man; it is this philosophy only, to which those words of Seneca may truly be applied; You must serve philosophy, that you may attain true liberty: for, if to be above the reach of all considerable evil or mischief; if to be safe from all enemies, and secure from all impressions of fortune; if to have no reason much to fear, or much to grieve for any thing; if not to desire things base, or things immoderate; if to have an especial command over one's self, is (as those philosophers define it) properly liberty; then is he most free that serves our Lord. If to be rescued from the servitude of disorderly passions and base vices is the greatest freedom, then the good Christian chiefly doth enjoy it. A good man, saith St. Austin, although he serve, is free; a bad man, although he reign, is a slave; not of one man, but, which is

f Philosophiæ servias oportet, ut tibi contingat vera libertas. Sen. Ep. 8. et 88.

Non homines timere, non fortunam; nec turpia velle, nec immodica; in se ipsum habere maximam potestatem, &c. Sen. Ep. 75.

Bonus etiamsi serviat, liber est; malus etiamsi regnet, servus est; nec unius hominis, sed quod gravius est tot dominorum, quot vitiorum. Aug. de Civ. Dei, iv. 112.

SERM. more grievous, of so many lords, as of vices. Such XXII. indeed is the benignity of our Lord, that he treats his faithful servants rather as friends than as serJohn xv.14. vants; Ye are, saith he, my friends, if ye do whatever I command you; I call you no more servants. Yea he bears to them the affection of a brother, and John xx.17. affords them the honour to be so styled; Go, saith he, after his resurrection, to Mary Magdalene, to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; to my God, and to your 1 John iii.1. God: and, "Ideтe moтanny άɣáпŋ, See ye what love the Father hath given us, that we should be called the sons of God.

i. 12.

Full of so many practical uses is this excellent point; the which I leave to be further deduced by your meditation.

Now, The God of peace sanctify you wholly ; and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom be glory and praise for ever. Amen.

1 Thess. v. 23.

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost.



MATT. i. 20.

WITHOUT any preface, or circumstance of

For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. Tyagiraiτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐστιν ἁγίου.

speech, we observe three particulars couched in these words. 1. The incarnation of Jesus our Lord, implied by the word to yewne, that which is conceived, or generated. 2. The principal efficient cause of this incarnation; the Holy Ghost; by whose immediate operation, without any active influence of man, he was generated, is of the Holy Ghost. 3. The concurrence of the blessed Virgin Mary, as the subject of that divine virtue and operation; he was conceived in her. Upon each of these particulars, being all of them considerable points of that faith which we daily profess, (and especially proper subjects of our meditation at this time,) I shall reflect, observing somewhat profitable for our edification both in way of right knowledge, and in tendency to practice.

I. Our Saviour Jesus was conceived and born; that is, the only Son of God, our Lord and Redeemer, the same who was from the beginning, and John i. 1,


« PreviousContinue »