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Sweets of Life would foon grow flat, infipid, and naufeous; were it not for a mixture of Sharp and Bitter, that quicken, and raise the Taste of them to us. This Obfervation, applied to the Benefits we ask at God's Hands, fhews his Delays in granting, to be for our Advantage. Becaufe, the longer we need them, the more fenfible we are that we need them; and the more comfort we take in them, when we have them. Nor is this all; But even our Expectations are placed to Account; provided we behave our felves in them as we ought. For he hath condefcended to call himself the Good-Man's Debtor : And he is the only Debtor, who loves to be perpetually called upon for Payment; who rewards Importunity with larger Intereft. And this is our Cafe, that we do not only relish what he gives the better for ftaying, but the longer we wait, the more bountifully he gives at laft.

Prov. xix. 17.

What other Reasons foever have ufually been, or may be alledged on this Occafion, will, if I mistake not, be easily reducible to These Two. And therefore I only add a few Cautions, neceffary to be taken along with us, and fo Conclude.

Now First, When I affirm the Delays we have been confidering, to tend to our Good, I defire it may be understood of our Spiritual Good: The Advancement of our Virtue here, and the Addition to our Reward hereafter. Which are indeed fo properly the Good of a Man, and of a Chriftian, that nothing elfe deferves that Title, excepting fo far forth, as it is fome way Subfervient to, and helps to promote, thefe great Ends.

Secondly, The requiring this Importunity in Prayer muft not be fo interpreted, as if God could take any delight in it, for its own fake, but he values it for the Effects it produces in Us. He is not like thofe haughty Eastern Monarchs, who take a Pride to fee

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a number of poor depending Creatures lye proftrate at their Foot. He is not to be conquered by many, or cajoled by fair Words: But he will have us Pray, and perfevere in it, purely for our own Benefit. He hath made it a Condition of obtaining our Requests, because it will certainly bring our Minds to fuch a frame, as Religion is defigned to make them of. For Prayer hath a vaft Influence upon the Difpofitions and Actions of Men. We cannot be frequent and ferious in it, without becoming better. And we cannot leave it off, or grow cold or formal in it, without degenerating and growing worse, in the general Course of our Lives. Nor is it any Change, which our Prayers make in God, but the Change they make in our felves, which is the Caufe of our Succefs. For he is unchangeably determined to grant, or not to grant, according as Men do, or do not, perform the Conditions he hath fixed for granting. All therefore depends upon Our Qualifications, and Fitnefs to receive that, which he is always ready to give, when we are duly qualified. And nothing hath fo direct a tendency to render us proper Objects of his Mercy, (that is, truly good Men) as frequent and fervent Prayer.

Laftly, It is neceffary we confider the true Ufe and End of fuch Prayer. It is to beg of God, that he will do for us, that which we cannot do for our felves; but then this fuppofes, that we fhould do all that we can for our felves, and depend upon Him for the reft. A Man, who, for the purpose, asks of God his daily Bread, without using his own Induftry to get it, by fuch lawful Methods, as Providence hath put into his Hands; does not make the right ufe of Prayer. And He, that begs not to be led into Temptation, without watching and ftriving, and fhunning the occafions of Sin; does not fo properly worship God, as mock him. Let Us do Our

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parts, and then we are fit to afk, that God would, and may be very confident that he will, do His. But, fince our own Endeavours are made a Condition of Succefs in this Affair, to afk new Graces, without improving those we have already, is vain and impious. We acknowledge indeed, in the Collect for this Day, that we are not able of our felves to help or keep our felves: but this is no ground for our prefuming, that God will help or keep Them, who take no care at all to do what they are enabled, though They are not able to do the whole, that is neceffary for this purpose. For He that made us without our concurrence, will not fave us without it. And we must work out our own Salvation with fear and trembling, if we would be heard in thofe Prayers, which entreat Him to work in us both to will, and to do of his good pleasure.

The Third Sunday in Lent.

The COLLECT.

WE befeech thee, Almighty God, lock upon the hearty Defires of thy humble Servants, and ftretch forth the right hand of thy Majefty, to be our defence against all our Enemies, through Jefus Chrift our Lord. Amen.

W

The EPISTLE.

Ephef. v. I.

Eye therefore followers of God, as dear Chil-
dren,

PARAPHRAS Ë.

1. Since then God hath been fo good to you (See Chap. iv. 32.) and let that provoke you to a refemblance of,

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confider your relation to ,
Him.

2. And walk in love, as Chrift alfo bath loved: us, and bath given himself for us, an Offering, and a Sacrifice to God for a fweet Smelling favour.

2. Let your Love too be like that of Christ's to us, who was content to become a Sacrifice,

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3. But for unclean and inordinate Lufts, be fo far from practising, as to abhor the very mention of them, for fo,

3. But fornication and uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh Saints;

as Chriftians, you ought to do.

4. The like Caution you should use with regard to fcurrilous and obfcene talk, a thing by

no means agreeable to your Character. But let your Mirth be exprefs'd in Thankfgiving, or (as St. Jerome) in graceful and becoming Difcourfe.

nor

4. Neither filthiness, foolish talking, nor jefting, which are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks.

10. Thus it is, that you must study and shew your knowledge and good

5. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean perfon, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inberitance in the Kingdom of Chrift and of God.

7. Do not therefore fhare in the guilt of

7. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

fuch Men, by giving them any Approbation or Countenance, much lefs by committing the fame Sins.

6. Let no man deceive you with vain words, for becaufe of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of difobedience.

S. For, confider, how your Circumstances are changed from a State of Ignorance, to one of clear Knowledge, in Jefus and his Gospel; and let your Practice be fuch as becomes this Knowledge.

the Gospel difcovers and expoles them; for this

8. For ye were fometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light.

9. (For all manner of Goodness, &c. are the Effects, which the Grace of the Holy Spirit

is

9. (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth,)

expected to produce in your Minds and Conversations.) 10. Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. liking of, that which our Lord hath declared he likes.

11. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

11. And have nothing to do with the Wickedness of the ignorant Heathen, but ufe all fitting means of putting it to shame.

12. For indeed the very Mysteries of their Religion are fo vile, as

not to be told without offence to modeft Ears.

12. For it is a fhame even to speak of those things which are done of them in fecret.

13. But the Light of 13. But all things that are reproved are made manifeft by the light, for whatsoever doth make manifeft is light.

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is the nature and bufinefs of Light, to detect the things which Darkness would conceal.

14. Where

14. Wherefore be faith, Awake thou that fleepeft, and arife from the dead, and Chrift fhall give thee light.

14. So that to this good Effect may not unfitly be applied those Paffages of the Prophet (Ifai. xxvi. 19. Ix. 1.) which defcribe the Coming and Kingdom of Chrift, as means of raifing Men from Death, rouzing them from Sleep, and bringing them out of a thick Night of Error, and Ignorance, and Vice, into the bright Shine of Knowledge and Virtue,

COMMENT.

T

HE Chapter next before had concluded with an Exhortation to Meekness, and Charity, and Pardon of Injuries; enforced with a Motive, taken from the Remembrance of God's Goodness in forgiving us. This Argument will offer itself to our Confideration hereafter. The Obligation we lie under to imitate fuch Goodness, is, in the beginning of this Chapter, farther urged, from the Relation, which already is, and confequently, the Refemblance there ought to be, between God and Us, confidered in the Capacity of Father and Children. The force of that Confideration hath been formerly treated of. To Ano

after

ther, which backs it here, I fhall fpeak Epif. for Sunday very briefly, and then proceed to fome other Particulars, intended to make the principal Subject of my prefent Discourse.

Not content then with the fingle Example of God the Father's Love in forgiving, the Apostle proposes for our Pattern, that alfo of God the Son, in offering himself a Sacrifice, thereby to purchase this Forgiveness for us. And what were We, that fo inarvellous an Inftance of Kindness and Condefcenfion fhould be exhibited in our Favour? And what was He, that He should vouchfafe that Favour? We Creatures, Sinners, Enemies, Rebels; He our Creator, our Lawgiver, our Benefactor, our Lord. We confequently had all the Unworthinefs, He all the Provocation, that habitual Difobedience, and Ingratitude, and ObZ 2

ftinacy

Ch. iv. 31, 32. *Gospel for 22d Sunday after Tri

nity.

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