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keeps a continual Watch over himself, will SERM. not easily fall into any & oss Sin. For what XI. can prevail with that Man to commit Adultery, who has made a Covenant with his Eyes? And how should he be guilty of Stealing, who doth not allow himself to covet ? Can we imagine that Perfon would be guilty of a deliberate Perjury, who fears an Oath? So that, if Men vere watchful over the first Motions of Sin, they would never break out into actual Transgressions.
2. SOBRIETY and Watchfulness over ourselves would bring us much Comfort, in a Time of Affliction. For that Man, who, by a continual Watchfulness over himself, has acquired an Habit of Virtue and Religion, has no Reason to be afraid of any Dangers or Troubles which can assault him. The Words of my Text were writ in those Times, when the Church was under Persecution, and the Professors of Christianity expected hourly to seal the Faith which they professed with their Blood ; and, to prepare Men for these Sufferings, the Apostle gives them this Advice, to be sober and vigilant, to stand upon
their Guard, and to prepare themselves for those Evils, they had ReaIon to expect. And now, as to our own
SERM. Particulars, let us but, by a sober and viXI. gilant Life, keep up our Interest in God's
Favour and Protection, and we need not be afraid of the Terror by Night, or the Arrow that fieth by Day: Nor for the Pestilence that walketb in Darkness; nor for the Destruction that walketh at Noonday: Death itself, that King of Terrors, will be a Messenger of Peace to us; and that Man, whose Accounts are set strait, shall have nothing else to do, at his last Hour, but, with old Simeon, to sing his Nunc dimittis, and to lie down in his Grave as a Man doth in his Bed. This is the blessed Condition of that Man, who has lived soberly and watchfully; he is free from all those Fears and Agonies which torment the sensual Sinner, and his Çonscience yields him the peaceable Fruits of Righteousness.
What remains therefore, but that we all be prevailed on to be so careful of our Thoughts, Words, and Actions, and to weigh them in the Balance of the Sanctuary, as that the main Intent and Design of our Lives may be to promote God's Glory, and to save our own Souls. This will defeat the Designs of our Adversary the Devil; for, though he walks about like A roaring Lion, seeking whom be may devour, yet he drags his Chain along with Serm. him, and is so far restrained by God's XI. Grace and Power, that he cannot hurt us without his Permission, and unless we, ourselves, contribute to our own Ruin : But if we are careless and negligent, if we Neep, when we should stand upon our Guard, it is no Wonder, if the evil One fows his Tares in our Souls, and prevails
WHEREFORE let me beseech you, as you love the eternal Salvation of your Souls, to be sober and vigilant, to stand upon your Guard, to resist the Devil, and he will flee from you, and to think no Pains and Labour too much, forasmuch as ye know that your Labour shall not be vain in the Lord.
SER MON XII.
Of Self-Denial, and Taking up the
LUKE ix. 23.
will come after me, let him deny
Ogreat were the Prejudices both of XII. the Jews and Gentiles, against the
Gospel of our Saviour Chrift; fa
dull® were their Understandings, and so hard were their Hearts, that it was with very great Difficulty they comprehended and closed with the Truths delivered by him; and therefore our Saviour did not, all at once, discover to them the Contents of his Message, and the Extent of his Commission ; he did not presently
display his Beams, or suffer that Light SERM. which he brought into the World to shine XII. out with its most glorious Rays, and brightest Lustre; this had not been to inlighten the World, but to dazzle their Eyes, and wholly to render their Faculties useless ; for the Blindness of the Understanding may as well be caused by the Excellency of the Object, as by the Obscurity of it; and, therefore, he did not publish the
great Wonders of his Gospel, those Things which were with most Difficulty believed and practised, till he had by Degrees purged their Minds, and prepared and rendered them disposed to receive them. And this Course he took, not only with his ordinary Hearers, and the obstinate Scribes and Pharisees, but with his Apostles themselves : For he gave them Line upon Line, and Precept upon Precept, here a little and there a little, and discovered his Truths unto them, in Proportion to their Ability to bear them; he took every Opportunity to instruct them, and to remove their Prejudices : In his Life-time, he taught them the chief and fundamental Points of his Doctrine ; but it was not, till after his Resurrection, that they were fully and perfectly instructed in that Way.