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of those Passions that he will deal with them, as if he were affected with them as we are in such Cases, though the Passions themselves are not compatible to the Divine Nature : In like manner, when God' is said to rejoice at the Repentance of a Sinner, 'tis meant only of its being very agreeable and acceptable to hini.
But why is the Joy greater for the finding of one loft Sheep, or the Return of one penitent Sinner, than of all the ninety and nine, that never went astray and needed no Repentance? Why, this is here parabolically express'd, to fignify, not that there is more Joy in Heaven for one that was once bad, than for many that had been always good ; but 'tis fpoken only to enhance the Joy upon the present (ccasion : for as the rescuing of one Child from the Pit of Destruction, affects nrore for the present than the Safety of all the rest, and as the finding of one thing, fuppos'd to be loft, rejoices more than the Poffeffion of all the other ; so the Return of one loft Person, occafions more present Satisfaction, than many others, though the same should happen to them in the like Circumstance.
This is the first Parable by which our Saviour fought to convince the Pharisees of the Reafonableness of his conversing with the Publicans and Sinners, in order to their Repentance and Salvation : for if there be Joy in Heaven at the Conversion of a Sinner, there should be no Murmuring on Earth, at the Means us'd to reclaim theni.
The fecond Parable to the like purpose is in the 8th, and following Verses: IVhat Woman having ten Pieces of Silver, if me lose one Piece, doth not light a Candle, and sweep the House, and seek diligently till Me find it? Where the loft Sinner is compar’d to a lost Piece of Silver, which being a thing of Value, ftamp'd and made current by the Regal Authority, was fearch'd after with great Diligence; the Candle was lighted to look into every Corner, the House was swept that it might not lie hid or buried in the Dust, and all Means were us’d by a narrow and diligent Search, till The found it. In like manner, the Souls of Men being esteem'd precious, and stanıp'd with the Image of God, are to be carefully look'd after, and not fúffer'd to be lost or calt away by Negligence or inadvertency ; but being of more Value than the whole World, ought to be preserva by the utmost Care and Vigilance, and no Means to be neg. lected for their Happiness and Salvation.
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 leffening 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 fhe 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 front the Evil of his Ways, we join in Confort with the Heavenly Hoft, and bear a part of the general Joy with the blessed 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 fiould 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,
ift, The loft 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 lost Groat, and the loft Son; all which fet forth the Desperateness and De. plorableness of their Condition. The loft Sheep is never fafe 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 worfe 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 fo 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 measure 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.
DISCOURSE XVIII. 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 niay fo 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 shall be reveald 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.