Page images
PDF
EPUB

mise of Christ was made to his disciples; that is, to his Church; they therefore, who would find him, must seek him in his Church; where his word is preached, and his sacraments are administered. He is with us by his spirit; according to his promise; I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you. If any one delights in the study of the Gospel; is attentive to public worship; is constant at the communion; regular in his private devotions; and in charity with his neighbours; that man is undoubtedly in the company of Jesus Christ every day of his life; and he may use those words of the Apostle; who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword*? Distress and persecution were from the beginning the lot of those who chose to be with Jesus Christ; and, in some degree, it must be so now; and will be, to the end of the world; but they who are sensible of what they have received from him, will not be separated from him for any of these considerations. In all these things, they will be more than conquerors through him that loved them.

So far this man in the gospel is a lesson to us; that we should find a delight in the society of our blessed Redeemer, and wish to be ever with him. Gratitude is a pleasing service, and devout meditation may captivate our minds, so as to make us forget what we owe to the public. So our Saviour himself was pleased to think, upon this occasion; therefore he did not suffer the man whom he bad restored to remain in his com

pany, but gave him a charge, to employ himself in another manner; go home, said he, to thy friends, and

* Rom. viii. 35.

tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. In this, he teaches us what we also are to do; who, in all the good that happens to us, are to be mindful of others, as well as of ourselves. A person cured of some grievous distemper, by some powerful medicine, gives notice to the public, that others, under the same malady, may find the same relief. The man whom Jesus had cured was ordered to take this course: he published in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him; and all men did marvel. He told his neighbours, what he had been, and what he now was, by the divine blessing. All the circumstances of the Legion of Devils, and the possession and destruction of the herd of swine, were undoubtedly recounted by him to the astonishment of the hearers; and for what end? Not to gratify the ambition of his deliverer, but that others might be encouraged to come to him; for he who had saved this one sinner, is the Saviour of all mankind.

And now, my brethren, you see your own duty, and the design of this whole narrative. It is related in the gospel, for the same reason as it was published in Decapolis; that all sinners may know where to go for that saving health, which is to restore their minds to quietness and comfort. For all the diseases of the spirit, which are a thousand times worse than the troubles of the world, or the distempers of the body, there is no cure, but from him who was manifested to destroy the works of the Devil; whose worst work is the deprivation of the human mind by the power of indwelling sin, which drives men to all those extravagances which render this world such a miserable place as we find it. The passions of men are like

storms and tempests which disturb the elements, destroy the fruits of the earth, and send the poor distressed mariner to the bottom of the sea. Such are the effects of those vices, which the evil spirit infuses into the hearts of men; their lives are rendered vain and miserable, and their souls are shipwrecked.

Compare the two states of the man, whose case we have been considering: think what he was, when he was wandering among the tombs and mountains ; and afterwards, when he was sitting quiet in his right mind with Jesus Christ. Compare these together, and consider, which you would chuse; for you have the one or the other, as you think proper. The same difference, which you see in this man, is to be found in different people at this day; and which do you think are the happier? A company of drunkards and profligates, who are raving and swearing, and quarrelling and blaspheming over their liquor; or a society of Christians, singing Psalms and hearing the word of God? The former sort can never expect their happiness from such a way of life, till the Devil is in them; and when he has got possession of them, nothing is to be wondered at. But the sober and the godly have the advantage of them every way, both in this world and the world to come: for here, they are with Jesus Christ and in their right mind; and when the others shall exchange their false mirth (which is now no better than madness) for weeping and wailing and gnashing of the teeth; when they shall lose their lusts and their Saviour besides, who will not remain in their coasts; they who have been cured of their sins and miseries in this mortal state, shall no more be separated from him; they shall be ever with the Lord; publishing his praises to saints Ꮓ

VOL. III.

and angels, in such terms as the Holy Spirit hath already suggested to us-O give thanks unto the Lord for he is gracious, and his mercy endureth for ever: let them give thanks whom the Lord hath redeemed, and delivered from the hand of the enemy. Psalm cvii. 1, 2.

SERMON VI.

THE SAME NIGHT PETER WAS SLEEPING BETWEEN TWO
SOLDIERS, BOUND WITH TWO CHAINS ; AND THE
KEEPERS BEFORE THE DOOR KEPT THE PRISON.
AND BEHOLD, THE ANGEL OF THE LORD CAME UPON HIM,
AND A LIGHT SHINED IN THE PRISON; AND HE SMOTE
PETER ON THE SIDE, AND RAISED HIM UP, SAYING,
ARISE UP QUICKLY. AND HIS CHAINS FELL OFF FROM
HIS HANDS. ACTS xii. 6, 7.

THE mind of man is formed for thought and meditation; and the pleasure of the understanding, where it has proper matter to exercise and amuse it, is far preferable to the indulgence of the passions. Happy should we be, if we could always think so!

The best matter in the world for meditation is that of the holy Scripture; first, because it is selected for us by the wisdom that made the world. The thoughts which men suggest to us in their conversation or their writings, have too frequently their beginning and their ending in this world; and are either imaginary and false, or earthly and unprofitable: and the meditation arising from such matter, how finely and elegantly soever it may be, will at last be slender and useless as the web which the spider draws from its own bowels. Secondly, because the matter of the Scripture not only affords a more rational amusement to the mind in this life, but is always of service to help it forward to the enjoyment of a better. It nourishes

« PreviousContinue »