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SERMON I.

THE CHRISTIAN'S OBLIGATIONS TO PEACE AND CHARITY.

Isaiah ii. 4.

They shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears

into pruning-hooks. The day is the third of Advent, designed by the Church for the celebration of the closer and nearer approach of the Majesty of heaven to this lowly sinful earth of ours, that ευλογημένη έρχομένη βασιλεία, «blessed coming kingdom,” as it is styled, Mark xi. 10. And the text is a piece of an Advent chapter, the very contents bespeak it so, Isaiah prophesying the coming, i.e. Advent of Christ's kingdom. All the unhappiness of it is, that this part of the prophecy about transforming of swords seems not yet to be fulfilled in our ears, that after so many centuries, Christ is not yet so effectually and throughly born amongst us, as was here foretold, that those glorious effects of His incarnation are not yet come to their full date, i. e. in effect, that Christ is come to His birth, and with Him all the well-natured charitable qualities, all the unity and peace and bliss in the world, and through the contrivances of the enemy-power, there is not liberty or “strength to bring forth,” all the precious issues of Chris- [Isa. tianity are resisted and obstructed and stifled in the womb,

xxxvi.] the temper of the pretending world being so strangely distant from the temper of Christ, the prophecies of His coming having so little of the sword in them, and the practice of Christendom so nothing else. Blessed Lord, that we might once be able to reconcile these contrary palvóueva, that we might one day celebrate an Advent indeed, and that the completion of the prophecy of this text might be an ingredient

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SERM. in the solemnity, that this of ours might be one of those

nations and people judged and rebuked, i. e. convinced and

converted by the incarnate Saviour, for then would these (Isa. ii. 4.] words of the text be verified of us, “They shall beat their

swords," &c.

The words are the character or effect of Christ's kingdom, of the state and power of His gospel in men's hearts; and I shall view them, first, absolutely, in the several parts or branches of this character: and then relatively, as they are peculiarly verified of the state of the gospel, or as they are a character of that.

In the absolute view you have, 1. The swords and spears on one side. 2. The plough-shares and pruning-hooks on the other. 3. The passage or motion of one of these into the other, by way of beating.

In the relative view we shall, 1. have occasion to vindicate the truth of this prophecy against the contrary appearances. 2. To shew you how, and by what means Christianity undertakes to work this great work, to beat the swords, &c.

I begin with the absolute view, and in that, with the most formidable part of the prospect, the swords and spears. Sharp assaulting piercing weapons found out and forged by the passions and wits of men, to arm their rage, to satisfy their covetings and ambitions, to manage all the quarrels that the carnal or diabolical affections of men have commenced or inflamed through the world. These are the gross elements made use of by the prophet figuratively to express the instruments of our hostilities that lie more covertly in our hearts, these invisible swords and spears, animosities, uncharitable, unpeaceable humours, that Christ came to allay and temper, to transform and beat into other shapes. And to put off the figure, and give you plain words instead of it; three sorts there are of these quarrels or hostilities, which seem all to be comprehended in these words.

1. Though more improperly, our hostilities against God, our rebellions and resistances against His will, our contrary

walkings to Him, the throwing off that yoke of moral or D's. ii. (3.) Christian duties, “ breaking those bands, casting off those

cords,” and that either, 1. In an universal dislike of His (Luke xix government, a direct nolumus hunc, that professed atheism 14.]

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that begins to set up to gather disciples and proselytes SERM. abroad in the world, that chair of the scorner, that disclaims religion as a pusillanimous thing, a ridiculous pedantic quality, that hath in their opinion dispirited and emasculated the world: or else, 2. By particular oppositions to His commands in the retail, sinning over all the precepts on either mount, taking part with the law of the members, against all the empires of the law of the mind, and under a Christian profession doing as much despite unto Christ as he that hath shut Him out of his mouth, and brain also; and in relation to these hostilities it is, that we ministers are posted from heaven like so many heralds at the news of a battery, or approach of the enemy, to demand a parley, before men proceed any further in their giantly Oeouaxia, or fighting against God, and our embassy is very submiss, as though God did beseech you by us, as Lot doth the Sodomites on their assault of the angels, “We pray you brethren, do not go wickedly,” (Gen. xix. we pray you in Christ's stead that you will not proceed in [2 Cor. v. your course, that you will be pacified and reconciled unto 20.] God; and sure these are formidable slaughtering weapons, very bloody threatening enemies, that make God think fit to send out embassies for treaty, and not venture His heaven to be stormed by them.

A second sort of hostilities possibly here meant are these against ourselves, the fatalest and bloodiest in the world, the piercing and wounding, and butchering our own poor souls, deforming and enfeebling them with our wasting habits of sin, exhausting the very principles of civil ingenuous nature, leaving never a vital spark or seed of humanity behind, but violating and grieving and quenching all, a direct felonia de se, murdering and assassinating these divine creatures which God had prepared to people heaven, and casting them out to the noisomest dunghills, employing them to the meanest offices in the world. Nay hostilities to the flesh itself; those sins that undertake to serve the grosser part of us, to have special fidelities and kindnesses to the flesh in all their warrings against the soul, are not yet so faithful in their performances, work oft the greatest malices to that very flesh, cast it sometimes into the fire, sometimes into the water, (Mark ix.

22.] despoil it of all the honour, beauty, spirits, joys, and life

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SERM. itself, leave it the piteousesty disfigured, rifled, wasted

flesh imaginable, and so have their malices and treacheries against that also. But the truth is, these are but the poπυγμαι, or σκιαμαχίαι, the prelusory lighter brandishings of these swords: the uncharitablenesses here especially designed are in the third place, those that (as our material swords and spears) are ordinarily employed against our brethren, or fellow Christians, either upon their lives, or their reputations, or their souls.

1. On their lives, when either our ambitions, or revenges, or which is the worst of all, and the bloodiest assassinate

(when it is set on it, when it is gotten into the Jesuit (Jas. iii.

chamber of meditation) our inpòs Srlos, bitter envying or 14.)

zeal, when that I say, like the blood of the mulberries to the elephant, shall inflame us to a brutality, a thirst of our

brethren's blood, turning the Christian into a Nimrod, a í Geri. x. mighty hunter before the Lord; giving the Church that new 9.]

notion of militant in shedding as much of other men's blood (and triumphing in that effusion) as in the primitive times it poured out of its own veins, when the heathen persecutors called for it; when Christians shall design God sacrifices,

bloody cannibal oblations, and, in that other stern sense of [Rom. xii. the Apostle's words, loyixàs Ovo las, “rational human sacri. 1.)

fices,” whole herds and hecatombs at once, and think to avert judgments, to work expiations, to perform supererogating services to God by that means.

2. On their reputations, whether in the language of the {Ps. lvii. slanderer and reviler, “whose words are spears and arrows, 4.)

and his tongue a sharp sword,” in the Psalmist's dialect, the preparative to that former practising on the life, putting men into wild beasts' skins, that they may be worried, and torn to pieces in their disguises; or whether yet in the higher strain of the censorious anathematizer, that breathes out woes and damnations, passes that bloody sentence upon all that walk not in his path toward Canaan; this spiritual assassinacy, this deepest dye of blood being most satanically designed on souls, and (because they cannot get those into their power) practising it in effigy, slaughtering them here in this the other Calvary, the place for the crucifying of reputations, turning men (upon any, upon no occasion) out of

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the communion of their charity, when they cannot out of SERM. bliss, and no doubt rejecting many whom the angels entertain more hospitably.

Lastly, on men's souls, whether by terrors or by invitations, by the sharp or by the soft weapon, working ruin and destruction on them : by the sharp, forcing to violate their consciences in hope to get their bodies or estates off from the torture,-as the Englishman is observed through impatience of any present pressure, to venture the vastest future danger that will pretend to ease or rescue him at the instant, and therefore they say the use of the rack was superseded in this nation,--and they that can be instruments in this savage enterprise, that can thus operate under the great Abaddon, in this profession of assaulting and wounding of souls, for which Christ was content to die, are sure some of the D'97 2 “the sons of bloods," in the plural, as the Hebrews call them; and so he also that is so skilled at the soft weapon, that by the fair insinuating carriage, by the help of the winning address, the siren mode or mien can inspire poison, whisper in destruction to the soul, -as the poetic present that had secret chains in it, fettering and enslaving of him that was pleased with it, ήσθη τα δώρα και εδέθη, και ο λύσων ουκ ήν, in the orator, the delight brought shackles, the beauty bands along with it, but no man to loose him that was presently ensnared by them,- he that can tole on the tame, well-natured, easily seducible into all the luxury, and the hell, the sin and the damnation imaginable, he is one of the fair-spoken swordmen, that David speaks of, “whose words are softer than (Ps. Iv.

21.] butter, and yet are they very swords.” You have had a view of the artillery in the text, the interpretation of the hostile weapons, "the swords and spears,” the furniture of the heathen's armoury before Christ's coming, (good God, that in their travel round about the world, they were not at length all transported hither, and like the teeth of old, sowed and sprung up a whole harvest of swords and spears, of animosities, and uncharitablenesses in this our land!) I hasten to the more innocent tools, the weapons of the husbandman's

3 [Johnson says of this word that it seems to be some barbarous provincial word meaning to train, to draw by de

grees. It is used by Locke and Fletcher and others.]

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