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Till the cities be wasted.] This intimates there would be no relenting under all these judgments. but that these, as well as the word, and together with it, would harden them more, till they were almost quite consumed ; and this is usual; men think it would be otherwise ; but it is found, times of great plagues and judgments are no times of great conversion; but men are more hardened both against word and rod; their spirits grow stiff and obdured in a kind of desperation ; but mercy, coming as the spring sun-shine, mollifies and dissolves, and makes fruitful; therefore, such a day is to be longed for. I suspect we shall not see much done by the gospel till then ; and before that, we may suffer yet more dismal things, and be wasted with pestilence, sword, and famine; yet there is comfort in this, the Lord will not make a full end of us; a tenth shall be left; and if not we, yet at least our posterity shall reap
thc sweet fruits of our bitter calamities, that are the just fruits of our iniquities.
Ver. 13. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall re
turn, and shall be eaten; as a teil-tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them when they cast their leaves, so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.
There is still a remnant holy to God, the preservers of a land from utter ruin. Profane persons despise the children of God, and know not that they are beholden to them for the subsistence of the land, and of the world ; they are as these oaks, whose roots did bear up the earth of that high-way that went between the king's house and the temple, as the resemblance is taken by some.
In judgments, the Lord remembers that; Destroy it not, there is a blessing in it. As for the personal condition of believers, there may be a great decay; a winter visage may be upon it ; but yet the holy seed abideth in them, and is their stability; and still that word is true that is borrowed hence, semen
sanctum, statumen terræ ; "the holy seed, the subsistence or establishment of the earth.' When their number is completed, time shall end, and this visible world shall be set on fire: and this day is hastening forward, though most of us think but little, if at all, of it.
ROMANS XII. 3—12.
Ver. 3. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every
man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think ; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
ESIDES the common word of edification im
plying it, we find often, in the Scriptures, teaching compared to building; and, amongst other things, the resemblance holds in this, that in both, of necessity, there is a foundation first to be laid, and then the structure to be raised upon it. He that gives rules of life, without first fixing principles of faith, offers preposterously at building a house without laying a foundation; and he that instructs what to believe, and directs not withal a believer how to live, doth in vain lay a foundation, without following out the building: But the Apostles were not so foolish builders, as to sever these two in their labours in the Church, In this epistle, we find our Apostle excellently acquitting himself in both these. He first largely and firmly lays the ground-work, in the foregoing part of the epistle ; now he adds exhortations and directions touching the particular duties of Christians.
The first thing, certainly, to be done with a soul, is to convince it of sin and death, then to address and lead it in to Christ, our righteousness and life; this done, it should be taught to follow him: This is Christianity, to live in Christ, and to live to Christ; to live in him by faith, and to live to him in holiness; these our Apostle joined in his doctrine“; There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in
Chap. viii. 1.
Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The exhortation that begins this chapter, hath in it the whole sum of Christian obedience, fitly expressed, and strongly urged; and in that are all particular rules comprised.
But because of our ignorance and our sloth, we do not always readily draw forth particulars from these comprehensive general rules wherein they lie; we need therefore to be assisted in this; and to this the Scriptures descend, particularly the Apostles, in their Epistles, and that usually in the latter part of them ; and this is a main part of our duty in preaching the word, often to represent these rules to you, not so much that you may understand them better, though somewhat of this likewise may be needful, as that you may remember them, and eye them more, and walk according to them; and there is no more in these things truly known, than what is known after this manner. I have endeavoured, in the course of my teaching, to reach this end: My design, and I hope yours likewise, hath been, not to pass so much time, nor to pass it with empty delight, which in other things might be done at an easy rate, but that you be really built up heavenwards, and increase with the increase of God; that the truth and power of Christianity may possess our hearts, and grow there, and may be evident in our lives, to the glory of our Lord Jesus.
We shall endeavour to lay before you the particular
graces that are the ornaments of Christians; and this, not that you may look on them simply, and commend them, but may pursue them, and be clothed with them, and then they will be much more comely and commendable ; as a robe of rich apparel, if it seem fine while it hangs or lies by, it appears far better when it is put on.
The rules the Apostle is to give, he prefaces thus, For I say, through the grace given to me, I speak as the Messenger or Apostle of Christ, according to that knowledge and experience that he hath given Vol. II,
me of these things; and so take it, as from one that hath some interest in, and share of, these graces I recommend to you: And this, indeed, makes recommendations carry home. Oh! that we could truly say this. Alas! it is an uncomfortable, and commonly an unprofitable thing, to speak of Christ, and the graces of his Spirit, only as having heard of them, or read of them, as men that travel, in their studies, do of foreign countries.
And tñs xápora. The Apostle represents this, to add the more authority, and gain the more acceptance, to what he had to say ; and for this end, some care is to be had of the good opinion of people, so far as their interest is concerned, that the message we bring be not prejudged; otherwise, this truly set aside, it
little matter how we were mistaken or despised; yea, it were a thing some way desirable; only provided nothing be done on purpose, that may justly, yea, or that may probably, procure it; for that both piety and charity forbids.
To every man.] This is more pressing than if he had said simply, to you, or generally, to you all : for in men's talking of things, it proves often too true, quod omnibus, nemini ; but to every one, that each one suppose it spoke to him, as an ingenious picture looking to each in the room.'. Thus we ought to speak, and thus ye ought to hear. We to speak, not as telling some unconcerning stories, but as having business with you; and you to hear, not each for anotler, as you often do, “Oh! such a passage touched such an one, but each for ourselves.
The first particular the Apostle recommends, is that gracing grace of humility, the ornament and the safety of all other graces, and which is so peculiarly Christian. Somewhat philosophers speak of temperance, justice, and other like virtues, but these tend rather to blow up and swell the mind with big conceit and confidence of itself, than to dwell together with self-abasement and humility : But in the school of Christ, the first lesson of all is, self-denial