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Kingdom of Glory hereafter: subject we must be either to his Mercy or his Power; for they that will not submit to his Golden Scepter, shall be bruised with his Rod of Iron; and those bis Enemies, that will not have him to reign over them, mall be brought forth and sain before him. Luke 19. 27.
4thly, From Christ's sitting at the right Hand of God, we may learn to triumph over Death and the Grave in the Words of the Apostle; 0 Death! where is thy Stingo Grave! where is thy Victory? But Thanks be to God who giveth us the Victory thro our Lord Jefus Chrift; I Cor. 15: We may challenge all our ghostly Enemies to do their worit in the Words of the fame Apostle; Who snall lay any thing to the Charge of God's Elect? It is Christ that died, or rather that is risen again, and set_down at the right Hand of God to make Intercession for us; Rom. 8. 34.
Sthly; From Christ's fitting at God's right Hand, let us learn by the Eye of Faith frequently to look up to him, to enable us to bear up with Courage under all the Troubles and Tribulations of this World : Só St. Stephen did, who looking up stedfastly into Heaven, saw the Son of God'standing at his right Hand; and from that Prospect he look'd down with Contempt on this world, and despis’d all the Rage, and Malice of his Persecutors, Acts 7. latter end. And fo the Apostle exhorts all good Christians to do, Heb. 12. 2. Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, who for the Glory that was set before him, endured the Crossã and despised the Shame, and is now set down at the right Hand of the Throne of God.
Othly, From Christ's interceding for us at the right Hand of God, let us learn to come boldly to the Throne of Grace; where we have a prevalent Friend and Advocate to obtain Grace and Mercy for us. And let us fo rely upon his Intercession, as not to seek to any other Mediators; for there is one Mediator between God and Man, the Man Christ JeJus: He hath all Power both in Heaven and Earth; and therefore as we have no need, fo neither have we any warrant to have recourse to any other.
Lastly, From Christ's being at the right Hand of God, we may learn the great Lesson of Heavenly-mindedness; to feek those things that are above, where Christ sitteth at the right Hand of God, Col. 3. 2. In a word, let us raise up our Hearts and Delires after him, that where he is, there may we in time be also: Which God grant, &c. Vol. IV, Part 2.
The Epistle for the Sunday after Ascension-Day.
1 Pet. iv.7.12. The End of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto Prayer, and above all things have fervent Charity among your selves; for Charity shall cover the Multitude of Sins, &c.
HE Collect for this Day minds us of God's exalting his only Son Jesus Christ with great Triumph unto
his Kingdom of Heaven; and thence takes occasion to beseech him not to leave us comfortless, but to send to us his Holy Ghost to comfort us, and to exalt us unto the fame place, whither our Saviour Christ is gone before.
To this end, the Epistle for the Day puts us in mind of the approaching End and Consummation of all things, that we may be fit to be receiv'd at last into that holy place, which Christ is gone before to prepare for us. In this Epif tle then we may observe,
First, A Proposition, in these words, The End of all things is at hand.
Secondly, Some preparatory Vertues or Graces that help to fit us for it. And they are,
ift, Sobriety or Temperance in the Use of God's Creatures ; Be ye therefore sober.
2dly, Watchfulness or Diligence in Prayer ; And watch unto Prayer.
3dly, Fervent Love and Charity among our selves, which will cover a Multitude of Sins.
4thly, Hospitality to be used one to another without grudg. ing; and this to be fhew'd by ministring the Gifts we have received, as occasion shall require, like good Stewards of the manifold Grace of God. Sthly, Teaching and instructing the People, as God hath
directed us, and miniftring to them, according to the Ability that God giveth us.
To which is added, the End we are to aim at in all these things; to wit, that God in all things may be glorified thro Jesus Chrift.
These are the things here recommended to prepare us for the Coming of the Holy Ghost, and after that for the Conclusion and Consummation of all things; which must be therefore particularly handled. I begin then with the Proposition laid down in these words, The End of all things is at hand; where we are tó enquire what is meant by the End of all things, and how it is faid to be at hand. For the
First, By the End of all things, fonie understand the End of the Jewish State, by the Destruction of the City and Temple of Jerusalem, when the whole Polity and Government of the Jews was diffolvd, and they came under the Power and Subjection of the Romans: Of this we read in St. Matt, 24. where our Saviour foretold the utter Ruin and Destruction of that obdurate Nation, for rejecting of him, and cafting the Word of Salvation from them; telling them, that the Temple, of which they boasted, should be raz’d to the Ground, not having one Stone of that stately Fabrick left upon another, that should not be thrown down : which Destruction was to be usherd in with niany amazing Signs and Tokens, such as the Coming of falfe Christs and false Prophets, with Signs in the Heayens, and on Earth Distress of Nations Mens Hearts failing them for fear of what is coming upon them; Wars and Rumors of Wars; the Sea and the waves roaring, and the like ; of which we read in that Chapter. When these things were fulfild, and the End of the Jewish Church and State came by the Destruction of Ferufalem, then happen'd that which is sometimes callid ouvlášeid té diwvos, the Confummation of the Age ; and here to téxos Táviwy, the End of all things.
Others again, by the End of all things here understand the End of the World ; of which they take the fore-mention'd Signs to be the Forerunners : so they understand that of St. Peter, 2 Epist. 3. 10. where, speaking of the Coming of the Lord at the last Day, 'tis describd by the Heavens paffing away with a great Noise, the Elements melting with fervent Heat, and the Earth's being burnt up with all things in it. This may be properly call’d the End of all things,
tho the former may not be excluded, as presaging and leading to this.
But how is this End of all things said to be at hand ? Why, if we take it for the Destruction of the Temple and City of Jerusalem, it was when St. Peter wrote this Epistle very nigh at hand. Christ himself told the Jews, that when they saw those Signs, they might conclude it to be near even at the doors, adding, that that Generation foould not pass away, till all these things were fulfill'd; Mat. 24., 33, 34. St. James likewise mentions that Day of the Lord as drawing nigh; for behold the Judg standeth at the door, James sa Accordingly this Destruction came upon them very short ly after, when the Romans çame and besiegd it round about, laying it even with the Ground, and not leaving one Stone upon another,
If we take the End of all things for the End of the World, that likewise is drawing nigh; for we are bid to be always upon our watch, left that Day' come upon us unawares. We are often minded in Scripture of the near Approach of that Day, that the time is at handy, that the Lord doth not delay his coming, but he that shall come will come, and will not ! tarry. The Time and Hour is conceald from us on purpose, that we may be continually upon our guard, and put our felves in a constant Readiness and Preparation for it.
And this will lead me, in the next place, to those preparatory Vertues or Graces here recommended to fit us for the coming of that time. The
ift Whereof is Sobriety; The End of all things is at hand, Be ye therefore føber. Now Sobriety or Temperance is that Vertue, that guides us aright in the modest and moderate Use of God's Creatures : when they are distinguishid, as they sometimes are, Sobriety is a Moderation in Drink ing, in opposition to Drunkenness; and Temperance in eating, in opposition to Surfeiting and Gluttony: but both. consisting in the moderate Use of God's Creatures, are commonly reckon'd as one Vertue, callid sometimes by the Name of Sobriety, and sometimes by that of Temperance; and so are they to be here consider'd.
But what is that moderate Use of God's Creatures, wherein this Vertue consists? Why, that will be beft known, by considering the Ends for which God gave them. And they were,
(1.) For preserving the Life of our Bodies, which depends upon the daily Food and Nourishment we receive from thefe Creatures. Oar Bodies are of that mouldring Franie and Constitution, that they stand in continual need of Sustenance to repair and support them ; and therefore God is graciously pleas'd to afford a constant Supply of Food to satisfy the two craving Neceilities of Nature, Hanger and Thirst; giving Meat for the one, and Drink for the other; without which they would prove deadly, and Nature would-link and fail under the want of both. Again,
(2.) God hath given us his Creatures, not only to preserve the Life, but the Health, Strength, and. Vigour of our Bodies : he hath taken care as of our Being, To likewife of our Well-being; and therefore hath not tyd us up to the pinching Necessities of Nature, that is, to eat no more than will just keep us from starying, and to drink no more than what will barely keep us from perishing with Thirst; but hath graciously allow'd us Plenty, to maintain the Health and Strength of our Bodies, that they may be the better fitted for the Work and Business of our Calling.
(3.) Another End or Use of God's Creatures, is for the innocent chearing and refreshing of the Mind, that it may the better bear up under the Burden of worldly Cares and Sorrows, for these are apt to link and lower the Spirits : and therefore God hath given these worldly Coniforts to be as Cordials to support them. Hence we read of Bread to strengthen, and Wine to chear the Heart of Man, and Oil to give him a chearful Countenance; which things may be lawfully us'd to those Ends: for God hath not only allow'd, but commanded us to rejoice in the good things wherewith he hath blessed us, and hath given us his Creatures not barely for Neceflity, but Delight.
These are the Ends for which they are bestow'd ; and consequently whilst we keep within the se Bounds, using the Creatures of God for the preserving of Life and Health, for increasing the Strength of the Body, and the Chearfulness of the Mind, we observe the Rules of Sobriety and Temperance: but they who transgress these Bounds, by eating to Surfeiting, and drinking to Drunkennels; they who instead of cherishing, enfeeble their Nature, using the Blessings of God to the impairing their Health, and drowning the Vigour and Activity both of Body and Mind; such as thefe abuse God's Creatures by Riot and Excess, and turn the Instances of the Divine Bounty into the Instruments of their own Ruin.