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ple, in a firm Assurance of Christ's Ability to heal us,
4. But, in regard we have been taught by the first
Acts iv. 12.
Christians, though he be, without Occasion for such a Check from within, such an Opinion of his own Unworthiness? Which of us can look back, I do not fay upon his Faults, (those are a black and ghastly sight indeed) but even upon his Acts of Devotion, and Penitence, and Turning to God, without a secret Shame, and sensible Regret? How many fad Relapses into Sin, How many feeble Resolutions, How many broken Sacramental Vows, does even this best, and most comfortable, Prospect of our Lives presently alarm us with ? And how are we fecure, that those of this, or any other Day, shall be more firm, and more successful, than the Past? And if so, How can we forbid them, who so oft have been deceived in themselves, still to go on, in fearing and suspecting themselves? In truth, How can we answer it, should we forbear exhorting, and conjuring them so to do? For such a holy Jealousy may awaken their Care, and the Remembrance of their former Failings will render them more watchful over their own treacherous Hearts; more prudent in the midst of Snares and Temptations, more strictly conscientious to strengthen, to recollect, to charge themselves home with their Promises of better Obedience, for the time to come? Especially, a becoming Diffidence in their own very poor Performances will most effectually conduce to their Humiliation, and clip the Wings of that Security and Spiritual Pride, which, of all other Vices, most obstructs our Improvement in Virtue, and our Acceptance with God. For the Humble are his Delight; and These will never think their Piety disparaged, by praying, in the modest Words and Meaning of this bashful Leper, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
III. And those that pray with the same Disposition, he not only can, but will make clean. For my Third and last Head consists of the Success this Petitioner
found, and the Methods of his Recovery, in those Words, Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will be thou clean. And immediately his Leprosy was cleansed. From whence I only beg you to observe, the Readiness of our Dear Redeemer to shew Mercy, The Efficacy of such fervent Prayers to procure it, The Suddenness, and the Perfection, of the Cure. And as easy, as powerful, as speedy, will Our Spiritual Recoveries be; provided we prepare our Hearts, and be equally fitted for that Mercy, which only waits a Disposition in Us, proper to receive it. Once more, I cannot but take notice of our Blessed Lord's marvellous and most amazing Condescension. He, though able to have healed with speaking the Word only, yet disdained not to touch the poor polluted Wretch. Even so, scorn not our polluted Hearts, O meek and gracious Saviour, but touch them in much Mercy and Power, though deformed with the Leprosy of Sin, and defiled with long and manifold Uncleanness. Put forth, not thy Hand only, but the renewing Graces of thy Holy Spirit. Oh enter into us, dwell with us, and reign in and over us, that we may also live, and reign with, Thee for ever! And since, till that blessed time come, we must be content to continue liable to many Weaknesses, and great Temptations ; Hear, we beseeeh thee, the Petition proper to this Day, That thou would'st deal with Us, as with this happy Leper, by Mercifully looking upon our Infirmities, and, in all our Dangers and Necessities, stretching forth thy right hand to help and defend us, O Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany.
Matth. viii. 24, 25.
God, who knowest us to be set in the midst of
of the frailty of our Nature we cannot always
PAR AP H RAS E.
Rom. xiii. 1. 1, 2. Let every Chri
E T every foul be subject unto the big ber Powe ftian of what Rank or
ers: for there is no Power but of God. Ibe Profession foever, know
Powers that be are ordained of God. that the Gospel fets 2. Whosoever tberefore refifteth the Power, refifteth the none of its Professors Ordinance of God: and tbey that refifl, shall receive to loose, from Obedience tbemselves damnation. to the Supreme Magi
strate, and to those that are in Authority under him: but 1 Pet. ii. 13. quite contrary, teaches them all to acknowledge the Authority of
such to be derived from God. Consequently, whoever shall refint this Power, refifts God the Author and Appointer of it; and must expect severely to be punished for such Impiety; if not by course of Law, and the Governor so disobeyed; yet by some method which God will find for the revenging such Affronts, to his own Ordinance.
3. For the Design of 3. For Rulers are not a terror to good works , bur all Government is to re to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the Powstrain Vice, and to en er? Do that which is good, and obou shalt bave praise of courage and Support the same. Virtue. So that Men, who behave themselves orderly and well, have no ill to dread, but very beneficial Consequences to expect, from the Institution and Exercise of it.
4. For the Magistrate 4. For be is the Minister of God to thee for good. is appointed by God for But if tbou do that which is cvil, be afraid: For be thy Security and De- bearcib not the Sword in vain, for be is the Minister fence ; so that, if thou of God, a Rovenger to execute wrath on bim ibar dotb suffer any harm by him, evil, this is (generally) thy own fault; when thou, by breach of Duty, provokest him to use that Power which God, who hath put Life and Death into his Hands, gave him, for the necessary Correction and exemplary Punishment, of wicked and disorderly Men.
5. This proves Men 5. Wherefore ye muß needs be subject, not only for wrath, under an Engagement but also for conscience fake,
to Submission, not purely from a Principle of Self-preservation, to escape the Civil Sword; but to avoid Sin and Guilt, in obedience to that God whose Commission he hath, and in gratitude for the Benefits, that such a Constitution procures to them.
6. For, for this cause pay you tribute also: for they
6. This is the ground are God's Ministers, attending continually upon this very of Governors and their tbing,
Dignity being supported
at the Publick Expence. And a very reasonable one it is, fince they are the Officers of God, who hath a right to all we have, and make the Protection and Ease of their Subjects, who pay it, the whole care and business of their Lives.
7. Render therefore unto all tbeir Dues; Tribute to 7. And therefore let wbom Tribute is due ; Custom to wbom Cuftom ; Fear to it be Your Car: too whom Fear; Honour to whom Honcur.
to pay them juftly all
those Aids and Impofitions, all that Subjection and Reverence, which the Laws of God or Man have given them a right to.
Rom the several Duties obliging all Christians in
their Personal Capacity, (which are contained in the Twelfth of this Epistle, and have been spoken to ac large, upon the Three Sundays next before) S. Paul does here proceed to such as are Political, and oblige us, as Members of a Civil Body. A Subject, no less necessary than the Former, and particularly so, at the time of his writing to these Romans. As will easily be made appear, by taking a very short view of the Church's Circumstances, at that Juncture.
It had been, for some time, an Opinion too prevalent, among the Jews, that They, as the peculiar People of God, could not be bound in Conscience to obey any foreign Jurisdiction, exercised' by Heathens and Idolaters: such as the Romans, their then Conquerors, were. The
of the Persons, as yet gained over to the Faith of the Gospel, were such as had been trained up in the Jewish Persuasion. Men, who still retained fo profound a Veneration for their former Principles, that the Apostles found great difficulty, in bringing them off clear from fuch