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2 Tim. iv.
Nay, which is more, Would the Holy Ghost have represented the Union between Him and his Church,
by that Union between Man and Wife! I urge not • here the Conjecture, because but a Conjecture, that
this Feast was for the Marriage of that very Disciple, whom Jesus loved : But I ought not to forbear, and will leave you to apply, that Character given by St. Paul, who, without limitation to Persons of
any. Quality, declares, that Forbidding to Marry is one mark of Seducing Spirits, and DeEtrines of Devils.
Secondly, Let me, after the Example of many, who have treated of this Passage, exhort all, who enter into that state, to imitate these Persons of Cana in Galilee, by inviting Jesus to the Marriage. My meaning I cannot better express, than in the words of the same Office, that we ought not to undertake so considerable an alteration of our Circumstances, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy the carnal appetite ; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God. Which I take to be of that Consequence to the Happiness of Mankind, that scarce any thing can be more. And certainly no body ought to wonder at the Coldness, the Indifference, nay it were well if I could stop there, but I must say too, the Variance and Divisions, the scandalous Separations, and yet the more scandalous Cohabitings, of the nearest Relations; By which so many Families are undone in their Fortunes, dishonoured in their Blood, tainted with Diseases, corrupted in their Education, ruined by domestick Patterns of Vice. These, I say, are Consequences which no wise Man can think strange, where so many Matches are made, in which the true Ends of them are never consulted. Where Wisdom, and Virtue, and Religion, and A. greeableness of Humour, and Modesty of Behaviour are wholly over-look’d; and the Beauty and Fortune
are the only Inducements : This indeed may be to call Mammon, or Venus, but it is perfectly to shut out Chirst and his Disciples, from the Marriage.
Thirdly, I hope it will not, because I know it ought not, be thought unbecoming my Profession, to say, that this Passage shews, how little ground there is, for that stiff and precise Temper, which condemns all outward Expressions of Mirth, by publick and folemn Entertainments. Our Lord's Example hath
justified such Meetings of Friends in more Instances besides this; and indeed his Life throughout is a Pattern of Social
Virtues. And, provided the Mirth be inJohn xii.
nocent, the Conversation inoffensive, the Enjoyment of God's good Creatures moderate ; I think no considering Man can deny, but that they are capable of serving many good purposes ; and it is plain too, that they do not bring us under any necessity of Sin. So that, if any spiritual Inconvenience follow, the blame is not due to the Things, but to the Abuse of them. And this is no more, than every thing else is liable to, as well as these.
Lastly, Let us intreat our merciful Saviour, That he would repeat this Miracle over again, in every one of our Hearts. That he would take compassion on our Frailties, which render us dead and insipid, weak and unstable as Water: and that he would endue us with a generous and a strong, even with his own heavenly Spirit. That we may get above that Flatness and Coldness, too common in holy Duties ; and serve him with Sprightliness and Vigour. He, who answered at last the Request of his Mother, will most graciously suffer himself to be vanquished by our Importunities. And oh! that We, by the help of his Grace, may be able to draw out such good Wine, as the great Governor of the Feast will condescend to accept : Even of that Feast, where He himself is the
Bridegroom, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Fit and prepare us all, Dearest Redeemer, to sit down with thee at thy Table, in thy Kingdom ; and then consummate thy Nuptials, and our Happiness. Yea come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.
The Third Sunday after the Epiphany.
Lmighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our Infirmie ties, and in all our Dangers and Neceflities stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us, through Jesus Christ our' Lord.
16. Let not a vain 16. BE not wife in your own conceits.
opinion of your own Wisdom blow you up into disdain of others, or dispose you to use them ill.
17. Recompen.ce to no man evil for evil, Provide 17. Nay, if others tóing's boneft in the fight of all men.
use you so, do not re
turn it in the same kind. In the mean while do nothing unbecoming your Character, nothing that may offend, or give any body any occasion of using you so. 18. If it be posible, as much as lieth in you,
live 18. Live in Love peaceably with all nen.
and Peace with every
body. And if some be so unreasonable, that after all you can do, they will not live so with you ; be sure that the ground of this Division do not begin on your part : and when begun, use all your Endeavours to heal up the Breach again.
19. Dearly beloved, avenge not your selves, but ra 19. But I beg of you, aber give place unto wratb: for it is written, Ven- by all the tender affegeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.
&tion I bear you, take
the matter into your own Hands by private Revenge, but leave that to God, and wait his leisure to do you right : for you know, the Scripture says, this belongs to Him, and you must not ufurp what he hath relerved to himself,
20. But repay wrongs 20. Therefore if thine Enemy bunger, feed bim; if with kindness, and re be ebirsi, give bim drink; for in jo daing tbou shalt beap lieve the necessities of coals of fire upon bis bead. them that hate you : for this will either melt down your Enemy into Repentance for his faults, to add to his Punishment, if, after such meekness and charity, he still remain obdurate.
21. Never give any 21. Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil Man that Advantage with good. over you, that his doing a base or unjust thing should prevail with You to do the like. But maintain your Virtue, and get the glory of softening and vanquishing his ill, by your good, nature,
form toward our Common Head, as myftical Members of Christ's Body; After those, which more immediately concern our Selves, with regard to the Station and Office, appointed us to hold in that Body; After those, to which our Brethren have a right, who seem sensible of the near Relation between us, and desirous to discharge Their part; The Apostle now proceeds to direct our Behaviour toward such, as either are not of that Body, or carry themselves to us, as if they were not. So that the whole of what remains to be said upon this Chapter, may not unfitly be reduced to that General Topick of Vertue, mentioned only in my last, but referred to this Difcourse, for the Consideration due to it. That, I mean, of Meekness, and Constancy under Persecutions and Wrongs. In which the Scripture before us gives me a fair occasion to observe, First, The Methods proper for preventing such Injuries; and Setondly, "The Deportment, which becomes Christians, when they have the unhappiness of suffering under them.
I begin with explaining the Methods, proper for preventing our falling under such Injuries and Tryals.
1. The First of These is a moderate Opinion of our Selves, and our Abilities; express’d by not being wise in our own Conceits: : Wisdom is a perfection, peculiar to reasonable Creatures. Which; though all Men are far from declaring their Perswasion of, by a becoming diligence for attaining it ; Yet every Man thus far declares it, as, upon no occasion, to think his Honour more sensibly wounded, than by Reproaches for want of it. And as no fancied Excellence is apt to blow us up so much, as those, which raise the Opinion of our own Understanding ; so it may be truly said, that no one Quality disposes us, either to do, or to refent any Wrongs, comparably to that of entertaining lofty Conceits of our Sufficiency. For all Anger proceeds upon a Notiori of Contempt, and the Sting of Provocation lies in the thought of our being treated, not only unjustly, buc unworthily; That we are Nighted and undervalued, and looked upon, as little, and of no consideration, by them who take the liberty of using us ill. This Reflection chiefly pushes us on to Revenge, that we may make them, to their coft, know what we are, and how much we can do, to vindicate our Selves, and annoy Them. From hence it follows, that Refentments will naturally hold proportion, with that esteem Men have of themselves, and suppose they deserve from others. Hence Solomon calls it proud Wrath, and the Person that dealeth in it, proud and baughty Scorner. Daily Experience proving, that the better and greater Themselves, and the less Other People, àre in their Eyes; the more jealous of Affronts, the more peevish and perverse, the more contentious and fierce Men generally are: more disposed to pick Quarrels, where there is no occasion ; and more implacable and averse to Reconciliation; where there hath been any real occasion given. And, if this be so, as we plainly find and feel
Prov. xxi. 24.