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over-nice in not coming out with it, till we are fure of a convenient Season.
A third Thing I observed in the Design of the Text was, that we are as much as is pofsible to avoid the provoking Mens Passions and Resentments, if we intend they shall receive Benefit by our Admonitions. For we are here put in Mind of the Fierceness of the Dog; and some think too of the Swine ; both of them most unmerciful Creatures, when thoroughly provoked, but innocent and friendly enough, when used gently. Of all Tempers, the haughty paffionate Tempers are the worst to deal with, Let a Bear robbed of ber Whelps meet a Man, rather than a Fool in bis Folly ; Prov. xvii. 12. The Meek will be guide in Judgment, says t'e Pfalmift, Pfal. xxv. 9. and the Meek will be teach his Way.
4. But I haften to the last Thing which I observed from the Words, and I shall be very brief upon it, having already, I doubt, incroached upon your Patience. It is to shew you what Aims and Views we should have, both pious and prudential, in administring our fraternal Admonitions. And in short, there are these three which I observe from the Text. Honour of Religion ; we are to take care that boly Things be not trampled under Foot. 2. The good of our Neighbour ; and therefore we are not to expose our holy Things to him, when we have Reason to believe he will encrease his Sin and Guilt by the Abuse of us and them ; but are to watch more favourable Opportunities. 3. Our own Safety and Preservation ; for that our Saviour is willing we should be cautioned to 3
mind, that wicked Men do not for our good Admonitions turn again and rent us.
Thus now I have treated at large this Subject against rah Judgment, which, if it were duly minded, would direct us admirably, both as to that inward Charity we ought to entertain of our Neighbour in our Hearts ; and as to the good Government of our Tongue, and a Difcretion and Moderation in all our Actions and Behaviour ; for the want of which three Things, there are so many Disorders in the World. If ye know these Things, happy are ye, if ye do them.
Now to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be all Praise, Honour and Glory, Might, Power and Dominion ; for ever and ever. Amen,
SE R M O N IX.
MAT. VII. 7.
Alk, and it mall be given you : seek, and ye Jhall find : knock, and it shall be opened unto
you. V. 8. For every one that asketh, receiveth : and
be that seeketh, findeth: and to bim that knock
eth, it mall be opened. V. 9.
Or what Man is there of you, whom if his Son ask Bread, will be give bim a Stone ? V. 10. Or if he ask a Fiß, will be give him a
Serpent ? V. 11. If ye tben being evil, know how to give
good Gifts unto your Children, how much more shall your Father which is in Heaven give good things to them that afk bim?
The First Sermon on this Text,
N the preceding divine Sermon on the Mount,
particularly from the 20th Verse of the fifth Chapter, our blessed Saviour had been teaching his Disciples higher Degrees of Duty than were taught by the best Jewish Doctors, the Scribes and Pharisees. In Pursuance of which Design, he had run through a great many of the chief Heads of Christian Morals, and had omitted nothing wherein that Doctrine wanted any Vin
. dication from the Corruptions which had been
brought into it, by the Misinterpretations of the Teachers of those Days, or the Imperfection which had been tolerated by Moses himself, because of the Hardness of their Hearts. And now the Sermon drawing towards a Conclusion, his chief Care at last is, to guard against every Thing that might obstruct the good Effects of it in the Lives of his Hearers. And to this End, first, he gives them a compleat Abridgment of allMoral Duty ; by reducing all to the Love of God and our Neighbour. At the same Time he shews them, how they might be enabled, by the Grace of God's Spirit, to yield Obedience to that Duty he had taught them; and how they might obtain this Grace by fervent and importunate Prayer. 2dly, He guards them against the Contagion of the common loose Opinions and bad Examples of the World, by advising them to enter in at the strait Gate. 3dly, He cautions them against the Seductions of false Prophets. And lastly, he guards them against the Delusion of an high Profession, without a fuitable Practice, acquainting them that in the
great Day of Accounts many will plead their high Profession, and their extraordinary Gifts, whom he will disown, because of their unsuitable Practice and Conversation.' So he concludes with an apposite Similitude of a wise and foolish Builder, to Thew them that all Gifts, and Talents, and Profession, will fignify nothing without such a well-grounded Faith as produces an holy Life and Conversation. These are the great concluding Points of this divine Sermon which remain to be handled,
What I have now read to you, relates to the first of them ; namely, The Encouragement to fervent Prayer ; and upon occasion of that, we are briefly taught with what Love, and Trust, and Confidence, we are to rely on God, as Children on a Father, and indeed put in Mind of our whole Duty to him.
In the Words we have these Two Things:
1. The Duty of fervent Prayer, joined with vigorous Endeavours after Grace, Ask, Seek, and Knock.
2. Several Encouragements to this Duty, taken from the Promises and Nature of God.
I. I begin with the Duty of Prayer, on which I intend to employ this Day's Meditation. In this, I think, it will be very proper to do these Three Things :
1. To consider the Occasion of the Duty in this Place, and to discourse it chiefly with an Eye to that.
2. What is the Nature, and what are the Exercises of it.
3. The Circumstance of Instancy or Frequency.
1. Let us consider the Occasion of pressing the Duty of Prayer in this place; which I take to be this: Our Saviour had been recommending a great many difficult Duties to his Disciples. Now, it was very natural for him to think they would be mightily discouraged, considering how VOL. IV.