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To the Honourably [.j;
Sir JAMES ELPHINSTON Sf L O G IE, Baronet;
s i R;
IAm not ashamed to prefix your Name before theft Sermons, and to acknowledge to the W*rld how much I am obliged to jour Kjndnefs, in the Words of the wife Kjng, A Friend' lovethatall Times, and a Brother is born for Adversity, * Prov. 17. 17.
However the Holy CatholicJc Church, without which there is no Salvation, Acts 2. be one and the fame in all Jges, as professing One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, which initiates and consigns us into that blessed Society; Yet to use the Words of the weeping Prophet, (Jer. 2. 28.) According to the Number of thy Cities, O Scotland, so are thy Churches and different Communions. It was Jeroboams Sin, that be cast out the Priests of the LORD, and the Festivals of the Church, and ordained other Feasts to be kept, which he devised of his own Heart, I ICjngs 12.
There is a great Difference betwixt Religion and Superstition; the one stlls ihe Mind with Knowledge, Love and Tranquility, the other is full of Fears and Distractions. Superstitio Error infanis, (fays Seneca) amandos timet, quos cOlit violat; as Cicero observed of the Heathen Worship, Tota resinventa est Falaciis ad Quæstum, aut adSuperstitionem, ant ad Terrorem.
Our uncharitable Divisions and Zjal, without Kjiowledge or Consideration, make many, like Gallio, careless of all Religion, as Optatus argued against the Donatists, Vos dicitis licet, nos non licet, interlicet vestrum, & non licet nostrum, nutant & remigant animi Populorum. If some be mad upon their Images, others a mad upon their Imaginations, and run from Superstttion to Sacrnegi, Rom. 2. / wi(b we had not Occasion to say of some Tacitus fays of the Jews, Apud ipsos Fides obstinata, Miser
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^HESE Sermons, which were formerly preached on our • Holy Festivals," are now published.and enlarged in a plain and easie Method for Reading ami Meditation; there is nothing of Controverfie in them which may .'displease Christians of different Denominates, but all edifying and. comfortable Doctrines, which may^e Useful, even to •'(those who despise: our Holy.D^ys : . If they would consider that ^alf Days are GOD's Days, ;and those, more, than others, which iareset apart in a special Manner, and stjtent in his Service, He that yegardeth A Day, regardeth it unto the .Lord, : andgiitelfy'God Thanks, fays the Apostle. .
We observe those Solemnities in.the Exercise os Woi'flfip &nd ^ Devotion with more than ordinary Joy and Gladness of HetfWV "Sending Portions to the Poor, and carresting; oqe an'0thdi5#ith. . .'the Entertainments of Hospitality and Friendship; if any go .further to Excess and Intemperance, we condemn such Abuses "and Extravagancies, as the Dregs of Superstition, the Excrcficencies of unbridled Appetites, and a Stain to our most Holy ReligioH.
'. We teach all Men every where to live decently as in the Day', 'not in Rioting and Drunkenness, not in Chambering afret •Wantonness, not in Strife and.En vying, but to put on the Lord . Jesus Christ, to imitate him in his Lise and Manners, and to . make no Provision for the Flesti, to fulfil the Lusts thereof. So . careful has die People of GOD been in all Ages to perpetuate the g "r s" Memory
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Memory of GOD's Mercies, both'to the World in jjenera^ and to themselves in particular, that upon every new Oceasianr of this Nature, they would fix new Designations upon some certain Times and Places. * .
As every wife and good Man hath his Calendar, and particular Days in the Week, of Humiliation and Thanksgiving for some private Sins, or speeial Mercies, so should we Remark these Sign* memoralia, every Sign and every Circumstance of the Divine Mercies, publick or private, Ne volumine temporum . ingrata subrepatOblivio, ("faysthe Father) that the wonderful Works of GOD may not be forgotten, but had in everlasting Remembrance. .J
Whoso U Wife, and will observe these things, even they shaU understand the loving Kjndness of the LORD, fays the Psalmist.
Of this Discrimination, ot Days, wtjy one comes to be holier than another, the Author of' Ectlesustrcw, Chap. $3. gives us an Account by comparing the Times with the Persons of Men. Why doth one Day excel another, when as all the Light of every Day in the Year is of the Sun? By the Knowledge of the LORD they were distinguished, and he altered Seasons and Feasts; some of them hath he made high Days, and hallowed them, and some of them hath he made ordinary Days: And all • Men are from the Ground, and uidamWzs created of Earth in much Knowledge, the LORD hath divided them, and made their Ways divers. Some of them hath he blessed and exalted, and some of them hath he fanctified: and set near himself 5 but some of them hath he cursed and brought low and turned out of their Places. Therefore the Jews were commanded to obierve the.fourteenth Day of the Month Abib for a Memorial of their Egyptian Exodus; and Judas Maccabeus, with the Congregation of the Jews, appointed the Anniverfary Feast of the Dedication, to Worship GOD in the Purity pf his Ordinances, who had delivered them from all their Enemies: Thus Mordecai and Esther ordained the Feast of Purim, (so called from Pur or casting of Lots to destroy the jfaw) in Remembrance of their