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It follows in the Parable, that when the Woman had found her loft Piece of Mony, she calleth her Friends and Neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have i found the Piece which I had loft. We are bid in Holy Scrips ture to rejoice with them that rejoice, as well as weep with theán that weep; that is, to bear a part in the Joys and Sorrows of one another, which will be a means of encreasing the one, and lefsening the other. The good Woman here having found what the fought for with great Care and Pains, is transported with a Joy fuitable to the Concern fhe had for its Lofs: of this Joy the would have her Neighbours to partake, and therefore calls them together to fhare with her in it; and from thence we are directed to the Delight and Satisfaction which the Saints and Angels have above at the Repentance of a Sinner: Likewise I say unto you. There is Joy in the Presence of the Angels of God over one Sinner that repenteth. By which it appears, that Heaven feels, and is full of this Joy, and when we are pleas'd with any wicked Man's turning from the Evil of his Ways, we join in Confort with the Heavenly Hoft, and bear a part of the general Joy with the bleffed Inhabitants of Heaven, who all rejoice at the Conversion of a Sinner : and if there be fo great and general a Satisfaction above in this case, fure we ought not to take any- Offence at converfing with them here to that end.
The third and last Parable to this purpose is that of the Prodigal or lost Son; which tho inmediately following this, yet being out of the Gospel for this Day, shall be the more lightly touch'd upon. This Son had wickedly left his Father's House, and spent all his Substance in riotous living; by which means he was lost to his Father, to hiniself, and to all the Comforts of Life: but when he came to himself, he bewail'd his Misery and Folly, and return’d to his father, who receiv'd him as one rais'd from the Dead, and welcom'd him with an extraordinary Joy. At which when the elder Son repin'd, for fhewing inore Joy, for a riotous profligate Son than was ever few'd to him who never offended, the Father mildly reply'd, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine, it was meet we could make merry and be glad; for this thy Brother was dead, and is alive again, he was lost, and is found : fignifying, that we may and ought to rejoice at the Return of straying Sinners. By these and the like Parables our Saviour endeavour'd to convince the Scribes
and Pharisees of the Benefit and Charity of his eating with Publicans and Sinners; and that the Freedom of his Conversation with them was rather a matter of Joy, than any just occasion of Offence.
This is the Scope and Design of this Day's Gospel ; from which we may learn,
It, The lost and undone Condition of Mankind in their natural and unregenerate State, whilst they continue in their Sins without Repentance : This is represented in the three Resemblances, of the loft Sheep, the loft Groat, and the loft Son; all which fet forth the Desperateness and De
3 plorableness of their Condition. The loft Sheep is never lafe or out of danger, till he be restor'd again to the Flock: The loft Groat is of no use or value, till it be found and added to the other Treasure : The lost Son is in a helpless and remediless Condition without returning to his father. And such are the miserable Circumstances of all straying and wandering Sinners; whilst they are addicted to Vice and Error, they are out of the way to all Happiness, and are going directly in the way to Hell and Destruction. If then they have any Sense or Apprehension of their present Danger, or any Fears, as they well may, of worse hereafter, let this awaken them out of their Security, and seriously consider their fad and desperate Condition. To which end we are here taught,
2dly, To use all possible Means and Industry to get out of this miserable and forlorn Estate; for this reason the Shepherd fought his stragling Sheep thro Defarts and Mountains, and could not rest till he found and brought them back to the Fold. The careful Woman lighted her Candle, swept the House, and ceased not her Search till she found the Piece that was mislaid. The loft Son could have no Ease or Comfort till he went back again to his Father: even so all wandering Sinners, that are gone out of the Way of God's Precepts and Protection, should use all posible means to get in again, and never give themselves any Rest till they have found the Path of Life.
3dly, From the Joy that is in Heaven at the Conversion of Sinners, we may learn what Encouragement we have to the great Duty of Repentance; for hereby we not only promote our own Happiness, but in some nieasure add to the Joy and Felicity of Heaven, by doing a thing fo delightful to God and his Holy Angels. Fulfil ye my Joy (faith
St. Paul to the Philippians, in being like-minded; Phil. 2. 2. How much more should we fulfil the Joy of the glori: fy'd Spirits above, who are so zealously affected, and so tenderly concern'd for our Happiness and Salvation?
Lastly, From our Saviour's Freedom of Conversation in the World, we may learn Humanity, Courtesy and Affability to Mankind. Nabal, for his Churlishness, was stild one of the Sons of Belial; and to bid others stand off, come not nigh, for I am holier than thou, is rather the Language of a proud Pharisee, than the Guise of a good Christian, Our Blessed Saviour fhew'd himself marvelously free and conversable with all forts of Men, in order to their Good; he suffer'd the Publicans and Sinners to draw nigh to hin, and to hear him, tho the Scribes and Pharisees blam'd this Familiarity: there was nothing austere or supercilious in hini, but in the whole Course of his Life he was obliging and affable to all Men, and would have us learn that Lesson of him, to be meek and lowly in Heart; and that will keep us from despising any, and teach us to condescend to all good Offices to one another; fo fhall we advance Peace, Goodwill and Happiness here on Earth, and add to the Joys and Hallelujahs of Heaven: Which God grant, for the Merits of Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Epistle for the Fourth Sunday after
Rom. viii. 18-24. I reckon that the Sufferings of this present time are
not worthy to be compared with the Glory that Shall be revealed in us; for the earnest Expectation of the Creature waiteth for the Manifestation
of the Sons of God: for the Creature was made jubject to Vanity, &c.
HE Collect for this Day teaches us to pray unto
holy, to multiply upon us his Mercy, that he being our Ruler and Guide, we may so pass thro things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal,
Now because nothing is so apt to discourage and hinder us from seeking or attaining eternal good things, as the temporal Evils and Sufferings of this present Life; therefore the Epistle for the Day heartens us under them, with the Expectation not only of a speedy Relief, but of an eternal Reward for them: for if we suffer with Chrift (faith the foregoing Verse) we shall also be glorify'd together. And then setting them one against the other ; I reckon (faith the ApoItle) that the Sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compar'd with the Glory that jhall be reveaľd in us. Where we may observe,
First, That Sufferings may and do befal the best Men here in this Life,
Secondly, That there is a future Glory that will be reveal'd in us to reward them.
Tiirdly, That there is no Comparison between the one and the other.
First, First, I say, That the best Men may and often do meet with Sufferings here in this Life. This is here plainly suppos'd, for the Apostle's reckoning the present Sufferings not fit to be compard with our future Glory, manifestly implies, that he reckon'd upon them; and fo must we too, while we live here, or elle we shall find our felves much out in our Reckoning: for this World is the Scene of Misery and Trouble, and no Vertue or Goodness, how great foever, can exempt us from them; yea, sometimes the greater it is, the more it exposes to Envy and Trouble. Fob, the richest and best Man in the East, had a large share of them : David, a Man after God's own Heart, was more than ordinarily exercis'd with them: yea, the Son of God himself, the great Example of all Holiness and Vertue, could not have this bitter Cup pass from him, and many of his Followers and Disciples have ever since drank deep of the same; which made the Apostle say, All that will live godly in Christ Jesues must suffer Perfecution. The Way to Heaven is not strew'd with Roses, but beset with Thorns, and we are thro many Tribulations to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the way that all the Saints and Martyrs have gone before us ; they endur'd the Cross before they obtain'd the Crown, and 'twill be in vain for us to hope to arrive at it any o
Sufferings then must be reckon'd upon here in this Life; which are sent to us, to keep us humble, to try our Patience and Constancy, to wean us from this World, and to prepare us for a better. And this will lead us,
Secondly, To the next thing suppos’d or taken for granted in these words; to wit, That there is a future Glory referv'd as a Reward for our present Sufferings: for the Apostle's mentioning here a Glory to be reveald in us to crown our present Sufferings, plainly supposeth the Truth of both; and that as we now feel the one, we shall e'er long receive the other. This future Glory is express'd in Scripture, sometimes by a Kingdom, sometimes by a Crown of Righteousness, sometimes by an Inheritance immortal, undea filed, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for us : Which Happiness was only guess'd at by the wiselt Heathens, who from the Amictions of good Men, and the Profperity of bad, concluded that there will be another Life, in which these things will be set right, when Vice fhall reL2