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enlighten and guide us, support and comfort us, and aid and assist us in all the parts of our duty here; till the happy time shall come of our admission into the eternal joy of our most blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in his heavenly kingdom.
“ To which God, of his infinite mercy, in his own good time, bring us all, through the merits of our “ divine Redeemer, and the guidance of his holy
Spirit. To whom be ascribed, as is most due, all “ honour and praise, might, majesty, and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.” 66 And we beseech thee, O God, from whom all good things do come, and who didst teach the “ hearts of thy faithful people, by sending to them, “ in a wondrous manner, at the day of Pentecost, “ the light of thy Holy Spirit; grant us by the same
Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and
evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort, and by “his inspiration to think those things that be good, “ and by his merciful guiding to perform the same, “ through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and
reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen P.”
Collect for Whitsunday, and the Fifth Sunday after Easter.
OF THE EASINESS OF CHRIST'S YOKE, AND
LIGHTNESS OF HIS BURDEN.
MATT. xi. 30.
My yoke is easy, and my burden is light. IT is usual with men of loose and careless lives, when urged to a more circumspect and religious conversation, as becomes those that profess themselves to be the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ, to complain of the difficulty of living as he hath enjoined us, and treading in his holy steps; which, till the heat of youth is over, and nature, either by sickness or by age, is grown more tame and governable, they look upon as next door to impossible, and therefore in vain to attempt; and so give themselves up to the stream of their own inclinations and propensions, and glide smoothly and jocundly down with it, flattering themselves that the great goodness of God will make favourable allowances for what cannot be helped, and not expect from them what they are unable to perform.
A strange contrivance this to defeat the wise and kind care he hath taken to shew us the right and only way to happiness; and a very unworthy reflection upon him, as making our duty so disproportionate to our ability; and thereby accusing him as accessary to our ruin, in requiring from us what is so far beyond our strength, and then so severely punishing us, as he declares he will, for nonperformance: or else supposing him to be so over-easy and indulgent, and regardless of his honour, as to admit of any excuse whatever for our disobedience, even such a one as lays all the blame upon himself.
But, to leave no room for any thing of this nature, the scripture represents religion as the most delightful thing in the world ; and so exactly suited and adapted to us, that it is by no means grievous a, but our reasonable service b.
Holy David, a great proficient in it, with raptures of delight cries out, o how sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth ! More are they to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine goldd: I have had more delight in thy commandments than in all manner of riches. One day in thy courts is better than a thousand e. And his wise son had the same thoughts of it, and recommends the study of wisdom, by which he means religion, from the same topic of the ease and pleasures that attend it. Happy, says he,' is the man that findeth wisdom, and that getteth understanding:—She is more precious than rubies : and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.—Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peacef. And our blessed Lord, both greater and wiser than Solomon, and who best of all knew the nature and excellency of religion, useth the same motive to incline men to embrace that perfection of it which he taught; Come unto me, says he, ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke
b Rom. xii. 1.
c Psalm cxix. 103. d Psalm xix. 10. e Psalm lxxxiv. 10. f Prov. iii, 13. &c.
John v. 3.
upon you, and learn of me; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. That is, there is no such inward complacency and true satisfaction of mind, as will arise from the conscientious practice of those holy rules of life which our Saviour hath prescribed us; and which will consequently render them highly delightful and easy in the performance. And though even the Christian religion may in some respects be called a yoke and a burden, (as all discipline and duty is,) yet it is the lightest and easiest that ever was laid upon the sons of men; so easy, that it does not in the least gall any of our powers and faculties, but is highly agreeable to all; and so light, that instead of oppressing or tiring either soul or body, nothing more conduceth to the raising and inspiriting of both. It is such a servitude as is perfect freedom, a freedom from the worst and most intolerable of all slaveries, that of sin ; and such a burden as, like the ballast of a ship, in no case hinders our motion towards happiness, or sinks and depresses us with its unreasonable weight, but only serves to keep us steady, and make us sail securely amidst the unruly billows and fierce blasts of this tempestuous and dangerous sea of human life ; that we be not overset by the prosperities of the world, nor overwhelmed by its misfortunes; but safely outride all the storms, and overcome all the temptations we shall meet with in it, till we arrive at the haven of eternal tranquillity and rest.
It is my design therefore, in this Discourse, to convince men of the easiness of Christ's yoke, and the lightness of his burden above all other, by shewing them upon what particular accounts it is so; that so they may no longer cry out of the insuperable difficulties of Christianity, but be fully satisfied of the contrary; and inclined sincerely and affectionately to embrace a discipline that is not only so excellent, but withal so pleasant and easy as this is. Not but that it is a yoke and a burden, as was hinted before, and such as must be entirely submitted to; so that it is not sufficient, as some erroneously teach, barely to believe what Christ hath done and suffered for us, and upon him, his merits and righteousness, to depend for salvation, without any endeavours of our own to purify ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit: for why call ye me Lord, Lord, says our Saviour, and do not the things that I command? And to speak much of his wondrous goodness to us, and pretend to raptures of affection and gratitude to him for it, without owning the indispensable obligation of obedience to his laws, is no better than a piece of fawning hypocrisy, which will be of very fatal consequence at last.
Now this yoke of our blessed Master, the religion he taught us, is easy, and his burden light.
I. First, in its own nature.
II. Secondly, by reason of the great assistances we have from above, to enable us to do what it requires of us.
III. Thirdly, by reason of the indulgence of repentance when we do amiss. And,
IV. Lastly, by reason of the exceeding great and glorious reward proposed to such as shall patiently wear this yoke and bear this burden.
I. First, our Lord's yoke is easy, and his burden light, considered in itself.