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(6.) The Jixth and last Thing I mentioned as necessary towards reducing of our Saviour's Precepts into Practice, is Patience and Constancy. The observing of these Precepts is not the Work of a Day, or a Month, or a Year; but the Work of our whole Life. It is terrible to think how many have begun in the Spirit, and ended in the Flesh; how several, who have had the best Opportunities for Company and Education (as Judas in Christ's own Family) have proved much worse than others that had no such Advantages. We must then gird up the Loins of our Minds, and set ourselves so much more steadily to the running of our Christian Course, as we fee the Day approaching; as Runners in a long Race, reserve most of their Strength and Courage to the last; so we must never reckon our Work done, till we have finished our whole Course we have to run in this World. There is no Man so perfect in his Duty, but that he has still some Corruption to mortify, some more Grace to acquire, some Talents to improve, some Duties to learn more perfectly, and his Peace with God to make more secure, at least to clear up the Evidence and Assurance of it more plainly; and therefore we have no Reason to beJlothful, but to be Followers of them who through Faith and Patience inherit the Promises, Heb. vi. 12.
So much for the plain Description here given os a good Christian, as he is one that heareth and doeth these Sayings of our Saviour's. I find Time will not serve to consider his Success, how his Labours shall stand firm both against all Trials here, and the great Trial in the Day of Judg
Y 3 ment ment hereafter: and therefore I must refer it, together with the Description and Unsuccessfulness of a bad Christian, to another Opportunity. I have briefly recommended to you several Christian Duties of great Importance, namely, as to Hearing, a Diligence to use the Means and Opportunities, Attention, Faith, Consideration, Meditation, Conference, especially Instruction of your Children, Commemoration in the holy Sacrament, and, above all, frequent Practice; then as to the practical Part, holy Resolutions, Christian Vigilance, fervent Prayer for Grace, Repentance after Lapses, Courage against bad Examples, and Patience and Perseverance to the end. God of his infinite Mercy grant, that we may conscientiously practise these Things, and daily grow in Grace, and in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. To him with the Father, &c.
Mat. VII. 24.
'Therefore whosoever heareth these Sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wife Man, which built his House upon a Rock:
V. 25. And the Rain descended, and the Floods came, and the Winds blew, and beat upon that House: and it fell not, for it was founded upon a Rock.
V. 26. And every one that heareth these Sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a sooli/h Man, which built his House upon the Sand.
V. 27. And the Rain descended, and the Floods came, and the Winds blew, and beat upon that House: and it fell, and great was the Fall of it.
The Third Sermon on this Text.
NO T to spend your Time in repeating or recapitulating what in two former Discourses I have observed from these Words: The last Observation I made from them was, That we have here a short Description both of a good and of a bad Christian; with the Success of the Labours of the one, and the Unsuccessfulness of
Y 4 the . the Labours of the other. I began, as my Text doth, with the Description of the good Christian, which is, that he is one that both heareth, that is, learneth, and doeth these Sayings of our Saviours. And having dispatched that at the last OccaGon;
The next thing the Text requires us to consider is, The good Success of his Labours, in these Words; / will liken him unto a wife Man, which built his House upon a Rock; and the Rain descended, and the Floods came, and the Winds klew, and beat upon that House: and it fell not, for it was founded upon a Rock. In which Words I shall briefly consider these five Things:
j. In general, the Comparison between the Fabrick of Religion, and the Fabrick of an House.
2. The Comparison between a lively Faith in Christ, and the laying a good solid Foundation for building upon.
3. The Superstructure of a fair Building, ora good Life, which made an handsome Shew; hut. in fair Weather could not well be distinguished from the Religion of an Hypocrite -, they made each of them so good an Appearance.
4. The Proof of the Excellency and Solidity of his Religion,, beyond that of the Hypocrite, in that it stood firm against all Shocks and Trials.
• : 5. The Consequence of this, that his Religion served him not only for his present temporary E\nds, but like a good well built durable Houle, answered the Ends of a lasting Habitation, ...-.. . t..
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: -1. We are in general to consider the Comparison between the Fabrick of Religion, and the Fabrick of an House. As building a great House is one of the greatest Designs Men commonly undertake, a Design which ought to be well laid, and the Expence of it to be well considered, before it is gone about; a Work which requires a skilful Master-Builder or Architect, and good Artists under him of all Sorts; a Work, which requires a great Preparation of good Materials, and a mighty Diligence to carry it on; a Work, which must not be done by halves; for if it remains unfinished, it is only a lasting Monument of the Folly and Inability of the Undertaker; but turns to no manner of Account as to the Accommodation and Conveniencies designed thereby; so it is with Religion, it is the greatest Design a Man can set about, and should be the most seriously weighed and considered. To go thorow with it, it will put us to the Charge of every other Thing that is most dear and valuable; a Design, in which, under God, the great Architect, there are abundance of Under-Labourers and Fellow-Workers with Christ; a Design, which of all other, requires the most intent Pains and Diligence, and Constancy, and Perseverance; and which, if we do not accomplish it, will be the most eternal Monument of our Shame and Folly; but will answer nothing as to our eternal Accommodation and Felicity. But though all these might be usefully insisted on, yet because it seems not to be our Saviour's Design in this Place to urge any more of this Simile, $han what will fall in properly enough under