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commit fuch dangerous fins, as without the efpecial mercy of God must have fubjected them to everlasting punishment; how greatly doth it concern fuch faithless, finful, and daily offending creatures, (who can afford no figns of God's peculiar favor by any extraordinary fervice or obedience to his Majefty) how much, I fay, doth it behove fuch continually to fear, left they not only fall into the crimes which the others committed, but left they grow quite dead in tre paffes and fins, and all manner of ungodliness, which they were not. Thus, by confidering that the best are liable to fall, we fhould be led to confefs our own great weakness and natural difpofition to offend, and thall confequently feel the neceffity of daily calling upon God in prayer, for grace to ftrengthen and defend us from the power of the tempter; that when, through human frailty, we happen to be hurried into the commiffion of any fin, we may yet by true repentance and humble faith, be enabled to rife again, (as, doubtlefs thefe primitive fathers did) and not continue and grow in fin as the wicked do.
This then is our duty and our wisdom, in hearing and ftudying the fcripture; not to take offence at every thing that may happen to furprise our ignorance, or be too hard for our understanding, either in expreffion or application. And refpecting the objectionable conduct of fome characters, we fhould take warning by the failings of other people, thereby to eftablish our own faith and practice; to refolve dark paffages into the obfcurity that may proceed from imperfect tranflations, ignorance of ancient cuftoms, and the changes of times and manners in men and things. Not to be difgufted at plain or uncouth phrases, because they do not exactly agree with the refined language and expreffions of modern days, but humbly and charitably to conclude, that their meaning in the times, and by the persons they were used, had nothing improper or affenfive in it;
and that most likely, the levity or depravity of our own minds, may give a loofe conftruction, which in more honeft and innocent ages could never have been affixed to them*. In fhort, we fhould be careful ever to keep in mind, that whatever is recorded in holy fcripture, has paffed the fanction of DIVINE PERMISSION, that (God ordered all holy Scripture to be written for our learning, and not for our cenfure); and therefore we cannot be too cautious, left by coming to this fountain of all true wifdom with a fpirit of vain and impure difputation, this rich feaft of inftruction be turned into a fare and a Stumbling block; and that by weighing it only by the measure of our own fhallow underftanding, it fhould be fuffered to become a hurt, instead of a benefit to us. On the contrary, let us fo read, mark, learn, and pray for grace to digeft these precious treasures inwardly, that we fail not of the certain and falutary food they are calculated to convey, both to ftrengthen, comfort, and inftruct us (according to God's merciful defign) in all the profitable works of our falvation; by fuch an humble, carefu! ftudy of the facred volume, we fhall become thoroughly inftructed in the difcharge of every good work to the glory of God and the welfare of our own fouls. God grant us all this grace, as often as we apply to these living oracles, through the merits and for the fake of HIM who hath redeemed us even our Bleffed Lord and Savior Jefus Chrift: To whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
The forming falfe and unworthy conftructions of Holy Writ, doth alfo prove the great value of competent learning of various kinds, to understand the phrafeology of Scripture in the original languages; which if the objectors poffeffed but in a moderate degree, they would be afhamed of their fuperficial and profane re marks, which are founded as much in ignorance as levity of mind.
Second Part of the Homily on the fame Subject.
OU have already been fully fhewn, the many and great bleffings and benefits derived to mankind by the knowledge of the holy fcriptures. The attempts of profane and ignorant difputers, either to ridicule certain paffages, or to undervalue the general authority of fcripture, have likewife. been equally expofed, by fuch plain and fufficient reafons, as discover the great folly and wickedness of fuch endeavours. The arguments advanced in the former difcourfe, related chiefly to particular paffages of the Old Teftament. In order therefore to afford a still more complete view of the false wisdom of thefe profane wits, we will proceed to confider the objections that they have alfo made to certain parts of the New Testament; and by a fair. and pious explanation of these paffages, you will be able to judge of the weakness of their reasoning, and religious principles, at the fame time.
Some fhallow difputers have moft abfurdly affirmed, that feveral of our Bleffed Savior's precepts feem to oppofe the very end of regular government. Such as thefe; If any man fmite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other alfo. And if any
man will fue thee at law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak alfo. Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth. If thine eye, thine hand, or foot offend thee, cut either of them off, and caft them from thee. And they equally object to fome of St. Paul's maxims, to the fame effect. If thine enemy, faith he, be an bungry give him meat, if he be thirsty give him drink, for in fo doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, Rom. xii. 20. Thefe, and fuch like expreffions, to inconfiderate and hafty readers; to those who judge only by the measure of the selfish principle, and natural mind, may appear to have difficulties and contradictions, which really do not exift, when tried by the pure ftandard of christian principle, as we fhall now proceed to convince you, by a fair and confiftent expofition of them. Nor is it at all extraordinary, that they fhould ap pear unreasonable to the mere natural man; because, as the Apostle obferves, the natural man, (that is, the man wholly abforbed by the interefts of this life, as they affect his carnal nature) cannot underftand the things of God, because they are to be spiritually difcerned; and he must therefore partake of a different spirit or disposition (than that which was fpoilt by a degenerated nature) before he can fuffi¬ ciently enter into the truth and value of fcriptural precepts. As to the first objectionable rule, they who have duly attended to the general manner of our Lord's inftructing the people, will find that he frequently makes ufe of very firong figures and comparifons, to defcribe and recommend the importance of their several duties. The cafe before us, is one particular proof of it; it being a proverbial manner of expreffion, to fignify moft forcibly a meek fubmiffion to all injuries and affronts, even according to the pofitive example that Chrift fet them himself, and thereby to point out, that where the damage of any ill ufage is not great, it is more adviseable to fuffer it, and pafs it by, (though even on that