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pose those Gainsayers, so are we still to endeavour to put them to silence, by the ordinary ways of Argument or Au. thority.
2. If the living of God be the firft and great Commando ment, then this ought to be first minded and endeavour'd by us, that we may be rooted and grounded in the Love of him ; and that growing and increasing in us, will lead us to all the other parts of our Duty to hini. To which end, we are to think often of his infinite and adorable Perfections, together with his unspeakable Love and Kindness to us, which are great enough to engage and inflame our Affec tions : adding hereunto our daily Prayers, that he would fhed abroad his Love into our Hearts, that we may no longer resist his powerful Charms, and that we may at last obtain that Crown of Life, which he hath promis’d and prepar'd for them that love hini.
3. If the Love of our Neighbour be the second Command ment, and like unto the first, then ought this in the next place to be minded and labour'd for and let us not think (as too many do that their Duty to God will excuse thein from their Buty to their Neighbour. We may not make the two Tables of the Law to clash or interfere with one another, nor think that the keeping of the one will atone for the breaking of the other ; but being both alike in their Authority and Obligation, they are to be equally kept and obferv'd by us, loving God for his own, and our Neighbous for his sake. And,
Lastly, If on these two Commandments hang all the Lam and the Prophets, then all our Hopes and Expectationis must depend upon the Observation of themi The Will of God must not be perforni'd by halves, nor may we hope to enter into Life without keeping both these Commandments. And as God hath in both consulted our Good, as well as his owni Glory, so let us make both the standing Rule of our Lives and Actions.
The Epistle for the Nineteenth Sunday after
Ephes. iv. 17, to the end.
henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in
HE Collect for this Day teaches us to pray to God,
that forasmuch as without him we are not able to
please hin, he would mercifully grant us his Holy Spirit, in all things to direct and rule our Hearts. Accordingly,
The Epistle for the Day shews us,
Firft, Our utter Inability of our felves to please God, fet forth by the natural State of the Gentiles before they receiv'd the Gospel.
Secondly, The gracious Aids and Assistances of God's Holy Spirit in order to please him, represented in the happy Estate of Christians by the Grace and Favour of the Gospel.
Thirdly, Some of those Rules by which the Holy Spirit in all things directs our Hearts in the right way. These things are the Sum of this Epistle, which must therefore be particularly consider'd.
First, The Epistle begins with an earnest Exhortation to the Ephesians, who were lately converted from Heathenism to Christianity, to lead other and better Lives than they did before their Conversion. This I say and testify in the Lord (faith the Apostle) that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles, &c. This is a matter that I am foleninly to de. clare and publish to you, that being become Christians, ye live no longer after the manner of Heathens, either in the Vanity of their Minds, or the Yileness of their Practices :
for tho in tinies of Ignorance God wink'd at many things, yet now he commands all Men to repent, and to turn from their Idol Worship to the living God. Let your Carriage therefore be suitable to your Privileges, and your Actions answer your Profession, which alone can render then pleasing and acceptable unto God. From whence he proceeds to let these Ephesians know their utter Inability to please God in their Gentile State. And that,
ist, Because their Understandings were dárken'd, and their Minds overspread with Blindness and Ignorance. Te were sometimes Darkness (faith the Apostle) Eph. 5. 8. Before the Light of the Gospel fhone upon you, ye were not only dark, but Darkness it felf, being destitute of all true Knowledg of God, of Christ, or your felves, and so were; as the expresses it, without 'God, and without Chrift, and without Hope in the World. This was the forlorn Condition of the Ephesians, whilst they continu'd Heathens; and this is the natural State and Condition of us all, before we are receiv'd into Christ's Church and become Christians; in which Estate 'tis impossible to please God. Again,
2dly, He tells them in the next Verse, that they were alienated from the Life of God through the Ignorance that was in them, and because of the Blindness of their Hearts: meaning, that their want of Knowledg drove them to those courses, that depriv'd them of all spiritual Life, and made them dead in Trespasses and Sins ; by which means they were no more able to move in the ways of God, than а dead Carcase, which is void of all Motion: and fure in such à Condition 'tis no way poslible to please God. And we too in our natural State are as far remov'd from all spiritual Life and Motion, till we are quicken'd by Divine Grace. Moreover,
3dly, He tells them in the following Verse, that they were
past feeling, and so gave themselves over unto Lasciviousness, to work all Uncleanness with greediness: that is, their Hearts were harden'd, and their Consciences so sear’d, that they lost all the Impressions of Good and Evil; a long Course of sinning had brought that Senfleffness and Bea numniedness upon their Spirits, that they felt no more the weight of their Sins, than a dead Man in the Grave doth the Burden of Earth that lies, upon him. This made them commit all manner of Vice and Wickedness without any Regret or Remorse, and especially the abominable Vices of Uncleanness; running as greedily after their Lusts, as a
hungry Person does after his Victuals ; giving themselves over to all kind of Lewdness and Lasciviousness, and fó falling into those beastly and unnatural Lusts, that are not to be nam'd among Christians.
This is the fad Condition of the Heathens or Gentiles, and this was the deplorable State of these Ephesians, before they embrac'd Christianity, of which the Apostle thought fit to put them in mind ; Eph. 2. 12. Te were (faith he) without Christ, Aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, and Strangers from the Covenants of Promise, having no Hopes and without God in the World. In which Condition we may well enough conclude, that neither they, nor we can do any thing of our felves to please God. From whence the Apostle proceeds, in the four following Verses, to declare the happy Change made in them, by the Light of the Gospel, and the Influence of the Divine Grace: Which will lead me,
Secondly, To the gracious Aids and Aflistances of God's holy Spirit, to enable us to please him. When St. Paul had recited the many Miseries, and abominable Vices of the Heathens; he adds in the next words, concerning the Ephefians, But ye have not so learn'd Chrift: meaning, that they had learn'd better things from the Christian Religion, if to be that they had heard him, and been taught by him, as the Truth is in Jesus; that is, if they had heard and receiv'd the Word aright, and been throughly instructed in the Truth of the Christian Doctrine, they would soon fee the Error and Danger of those Ways, for that would difcover to them the Deformity of their former Practices, and lead them to new and better Courses. And this he tells them, is the main Design of Christ's Religion, that ye fhould learn thereby to put off concerning the former Conversation the old Man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful Lusts : that is, that ye should change your former Course of Life, and cast off those vile and linful Practices that lead to such foul and filthy Lufts. And be rener'd in the Spirit of your Mind ; that it may be set on new and better things. Which is express’d in the next words, by putting on the new Man, which after God is created in Righteousness and true Holiness : that is, that ye seek to beget in you new Desires, new Purposes, and Pursuits after greater and nobler Objects, that ye may be restor'd again to that loft Image of God, which consists in a sincere Piety and Purity of Mind.
This is what the Apostle hop'd and pray'd for in the behalf of these
Ephesians, upon their receiving the Gospel, and becoming Christians : that the Change of their Mind might be accompanied with a Change of their Life, and their new Principles engage them to new Practices according to them ; by which alone they could be enabled to please God, and to do things acceptable to him. All which are owing to the Light of the Gospel, and the blessed Influences of God's Holy Spirit working by it. And this will lead me, in the
Third Place, to the Rules here given by the Holy Spirit to direct our Hearts aright in the Ways of Christianity; and these Directions take up the remaining Part of this Chapter, The great general Direction to these Ephesians, is, that henceforth they walk not as other Gentiles walk'd in the Vanity of their Minds, but that they shụn all the Deeds of Darkness practis'd by them, and walk as Children of the Light, and as becometh Christians. To which end, the
Il Rule given to them, is to avoid lying, and to speak nothing but Truth in their Commerce and Communication with one another ; ver. 25. Wherefore putting away lying, Speak every Man Truth with his Neighbour, for we are Members one of another. Įying was one of the great Sins and Abominations of the Heathens, who having little or no regard to Truth, dealt, chiefly in Falshood and Deceit. 'Tis one of the Works of the Devil, who is a lying Spirit in the Mouths of all that are given to it: Te are of your Father the Devil (faith our Saviour) and the Works of your Father ye will do, for he was a Lyar from the beginning, and the Father of it. When he speaketboa Lye, he speaketh of his own, før he was the first Inventor, and is still the great Sollicitor to it. Why bath Satan filld thy Heart (faith St. Peter to Ananias) that thou mouldst lye unto the Holy Ghost? Acts 5. 3. 'Tis the Devil that puts it into Mens Hearts to fallify and utter Lyes : and therefore however you liv'd in these things whilst ye continued Heathens, yet now being Christians you must abhor and abandon them; for lying is directly opposite and provoking to the Holy Spirit, who is a Spirit of Truth, and desireth Truth in the inner and outward Parts. And because out of the Abundance of the Heart the Mouth speaketh, we must first cleanse the Fountạin, that the Streams issuing from it may be pure and