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Comfort and Happiness
. We know not how oft they cast a beam of Light into our Mind, and let fall a spark of Fire into our Hearts, and nou rish and feed fome way or other the good Inclinations and Purposes that are in our Souls ; and therefore we should thank God for them, more than we do for our Meat and Drink, and Cloathing, or any of the Refreshinents of this outward Life: Nay, what if I say that they make wholesom Seasons, and good Food, and all such Things? It was the Opinion, I am sure, of some of the ancient Christians, who thought themselves beholden to them every way; so that whatsoever we thank God for, we should not omit to acknowledge their Service, and the friendly Courtesies which they do us continually.
But I said something of this in the Morning, and there is no tiene remaining to speak more of it now, unless I should wave two Things which I ought to recommend to your Thoughts and Care, one of which I told you in the beginning, my
Text would directly lead unto, The First is this, that we should indeavour to iinitate them, and become like to them in our Nature and Disposition. If we have a mind to gratifie thein, if we would oblige those to whom we are already so much beholden, and invite them to be more kind unto us, it must not be by our Prayers to them, or Praises of them, as fond Superstition thinks; but by studying to resemble them all we can in their excellent Qualities. It is an Offence no doubt to these holy Beings, to see us address those Services to them,
which they know to be due to none but God, the Creator of all. But they cannot chuse but take a delight in our Vertue and Goodness; both as by this means we approach nearer to their Nature, and are more fit for their Friendship and Converse; and also as they fee herein fome Effect of their Care and Pains, who have been fo long Ministers of God for our Good. Let us imitate them in their Hatred of Wickedness, and their Love to Purity and Holiness of Life. Let us iinitate them in their Charity and kind Difpo. fition to do Good to others. In their Joy at the Amendment of Sinners, and their Progress in Vestue. Let us follow their Humility also and Condescention to those who are inferiour to us. Let us remember withal 'the Chearfulness and Readiness of their Obedience to the Divine Commands; and bear in mind their Watchfulness and Diligence, so as to stir up our selves to conforın to that Pattern. And lastly, let us be zealous for the Honour of God, that his Kingdom may be upheld and increased, and the Kingdom of the Devil pulled down. In order to which I must desire you, in the Second Place, • To take special heed how you do any thing to the Scandal of any of your Christian Brethren, and particularly those that are infirm. That is the Thing for which our Saviour alledges this Care of God over his little ones, by the Ministry of his Angels, that every Christian might take Care left he gave Offence to those who were so dear to God, and tender'd so much by him. , That is, lest he did any thing which should tay
a Block in the Way of any of his Christian Neighbours, either to discourage him, or inake hím stuinble, or plainly turn him out of his Christian Course; for that's the Meaning of this Word offend, or give scandal, in these holy Books; which is done Two Ways. : First, By despiGng of our Brethren, ånd setting them at nought. This is apt many times to link Men of otherwise great Spirits, and therefore more deject the Feeble and Weak. It is a great Discouragement to a Man to see himself contemned and had in no Efteen at all. It is a Temptation to many Sins. It makes a Man have ill Thoughts of that Religion, which such Despisers profefs : And therefore it is a most Unchristian Quality, and quite contrary to the Ana gelical Disposition, which doth not scorn us because we are fo much below them.
Secondly, There is a greater Scandal than this, by giving of an ill Example; which may lead those afide, who inind more what others do, than what they say. And this especially concerns those who are the Guides of others, that they walk circumfpe&ly, left they draw many along with them into Destruction, who are so weak as to follow their Examples, rather than any Rules that they can give them. The antient Christians made bold to add, that we should be affraid to give any Offence to our Guardian Angel, which
make him turn aside from us, and
leave his Charge. St. Bafil expressLib. de Vera ly uses these Words ; We ought to Viig n.
baven Reverence to our Keeper, and not dejpise the Angel to whom is committed inμέλειαν τη σωτηρίας ημU, the Care of our Salvation, But this was, in Effect, said before : And nothing, we are to think, is more offensive to them, than to give any Occasion of Offence to those who are under their Care as well as our selves. Of this let us beware: And thus doing we shall fulfil the Intent' of our Saviour's Dilcourse in this place ; and we shall do all that which I now exhorted you unto, in Imitation of the Angels. For by having such a Regard to our Christian Brethren, as not to despise them, nor offend thein ; we shall express our Piety, our Charity, our Humility, our Watchfulness, and qur Zeal for the Glory of God, and the Honour of Christ's Religion, all together.
Great God! the Lord of all the Hosts of
Heaven, both visible and invisible, who bast disposed all things in a most excellent and admirable Order, for the Service and Benefit of each other, and sendest thy Blessings as far as us in this lower World, by the Ministry of thy Angels; the nobleft of which refuse not to wait upon ws, and to bring thy Favours to us : More especially I acknowledge thy astonishing Grace, in committing all thy Authority and Power in Hea. ven and Earth, unto One in our own Likeness,
the Lord Jesus ; 'who loved us so much as to lay dovon bis Life for us, and who was so much loved by thee as to be raised from his Grave, and advanced far above all Principalities, and Powers, and Dominions, whom thou hast" put in Subjektion under bis Feet.
I rejoice; O God, in this great Consolation which thou haft fent us by the Holy Ghost, who affures us of the Love that all the Heavenly Court bear unto us, as Members of the Body of the Lord Jesus*;, whom they likewise love, and bonour, and worship, and constantly obey, defiring to look into the great Secrets of thy Love declared toʻus in thy holy Gospel. I praise thee, O blessed Lord of all, and thank thee, as well as I am able, rejoicing to think that 'tby most Glorious Majesty is lauded and magnified continually by the better Praises of those Heavenly. Ministers, who excel in Strength, and do thy Commandments, he arkning to the Voice of thy Word. O how great is thy Power, W.isdom, and Goodness, which so many Millions of Holy Ones delight to celebrate with their joyful Hymns; and reft not Day nor Night, saying, Holy, Holy
, Holy Lord God Almighty, which is, which wa's, and which is to come.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to receive my poor Praises, which I offer up unto thee, with the rest of the Children of Men, who have a pious Sense of thy great Benefits conferred on them. For thou hast
not only put the Fear of Man upon Eçclus. 17.4, all Flesh, and given himn Dominion 5, 7, 8, 9.
over Beasts and Fowls; but put the Love of us into the Hearts of Angels, who own