Joseph Stennett.

The Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 3) online

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Online LibraryJoseph StennettThe Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 26)
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Theological Seminary,


Cttse^ Division

Sneff. Section

Book, Nd.„

w 5



of the late

Reverend and Learned

Mr. Jofeph Stennett*


Containirtg Twelve Sermons^
never before publiflied*

An Alphabetical Index of Matters.


Printed in the Year M.DCC.XXXI,





P Reached at F inner s-Hall^ Dec. 2, 1704.
Exod. xxiii. 2. the former part of the
verfe, Thou Jhalt not follow a multitude to

do evil

Page I


Preach'd at Pinners-Hall, Dec. 9, 1704.
The fecond Sermon on the fame text-



Preach'd at Pimiers-Hally Dec. 16, 1704.
The third Sermon on the fame text.


Preach'd at Barbican^ Nov. 28, 1708.

I John V. 3. For this is the love of Gody
that we keep his command7nents : and hii
commandments are not grievous, 83

Vol, III. A S E R-



Preached at Piyiners-Hally April 28, 1705.

Matt. V. 20. For I fay unto you^ that e:)^-

cept your righteoiilhefs Jhall exceed the rtgh-

teoiijhefs of the Scribes and Pharifees, ye Jhall

in no cafe enter into the kingdom of heaven,

The fecond Sermon on the fame text.

Preach'd at P inner s-JJ all ^ May 12, 1705.
The third Sermon on the fame text.



Preach'd at Joiners-Hall^ March 24, 1705-6.

Prov. iii. 11, 12. My fon^ ^^fp^f ^^i ^^^

chafiening of the Lord : neither be weary of

his co7Te5lion, For whom the Lord lovethy

he correBeth ; even as a father the fon^ in

whom he delightetk 235


Preach'd at Joiners-Hall^ March 24, 1705-6,
The fecond S e R m o n on the fame text.

Preach'd at Pi?2ncrs-Hall, Jan. 20, 1704-5.

on a facramental occallon.
John i. 29. ^he next day John feeth J efts
comiiig unto him, and faithy Behold the
Lamb of God^ which taketh away the fin of
the worlds 30 1

S E R-



Prt^Lch'd^t Pinners-Hall, Jan. 27, 1704-^.
The fecond S e r m o n on the fame text.



Occafion'd by the death of Mr.


Preached at Pinners-Hall, Aug. 17, 1706.
Job iii. 17. T'bere the wicked ceafe from trou"
bling : and there the weary be at reji, 372


S E R-



The unreafonablenefs and dan-
ger of following a multi-
tude to do evil confidered.

Preach'd at TINNERS-HALL,

December 2, 1704.

Ex6d. xxiii. 2.

The former part of the verfe,

Thoujhalt not follow a multitude to do evil.

The firft Sermon on this text.

He light of nature teaches

men to feek fociety one with

another, and to be impatient

in a ftate of folitude : and in

order to enjoy the advantages

of community, they naturally

defirc to be formed into order, that they

may have the Oenefit of fome kind of go-

Vol. Ill, B vernmenc

2 The danger of following

vernment and regularity among themfelves.
But tho thcfe are great advantages when
duly improved, they are very prejudicial
when they are abuled. There is no defire
more natural and neceflary to men than that
of being happy ; and yet none is more abu-
fed than this, becaufe moft men feek hap-
pinefs in the pleafures of fin : but that is
not where it ought to be expedled, or where
it ever will be effeftually found. And fo in
feeking the benefits and advantages of fo-
ciety, of order, and government, the cor-
rupt nature of men engages them to purfue
things in fuch a manner as that they aug-
ment their guilt, and likewife their mifery,
infl:ead of alleviating it : for while they a-
void folitude, and delight themfelves in fo-
ciety, they are ready to follow the multitude
to do evil j and while they feek the advan-
tage of order, and government, inftead of
regular fubmiffion to their fuperiors, they
often yield themfelves up to be governed by
them after fuch a manner as is inconfiftent
with their allegiance to the fupreme Being.
They devote their confciences to them -, in
which fort they ought not to be the fervarits
of 7nen \ They make them lords of their
faith, and of their confciences, and obey
them in fuch inftances wherein their obe-
dience to men is inconfiftent with what they
owe to God.

» X Cor. 7' 15«


Serm. I. a multitude to do eviL 5

In oppofition to this great evil, the words
of our text, and thofe which follow in the
fame verfe, are fixed as ftanding rules. Thou
Jhalt not follow a multitude to do evil : we
are not to be fo complaifant to mankind as
to follow great numbers in any thing that is
evil. Neither flmlt thou /peak i?i a caufe to
decline after ^najiy to wrejl judgment : we
ought not to have fuch complaifance for evil
governors, or for falfe witnefles, as to join
with them in perverting and wreiling of
judgment. This latter word inany^ is the
fame in the original ^ with the former. But
fome interpret both to fignify great perfons
in quality, as v/ell as a great number of
people. Some interpret the former part to
relate precifely to a multitude of people ; but
think that the latter word tranilated manv^
fignifies the mighty, or governors : Them
Jljalt not fpcak in a caufe to incline after the
mighty^ or governors, to wrefl judgment.
Perhaps thefe words may be accommodated
to botli, ftridlly fpeaking : and then two of
the greateft prejudices, and the mofl perni-
cious in the world, are forbidden thereby.
We are not to incline either after the mul^
titude'j or after the mighty ^ after thofe who
have power, who are perfons of authority,
of quality and rank, to do any thing that is
evil. There is nothing more common in the
world than the tranfgreffion of this precept :
therefore I think hardly any thing to be

^ D^ai.

B z more

A The danger of foliorjuing

more iifcfiil than to cftablifli the truth and
the realonablcnefs of it 3 I mean, of the pre-
cept, in oppofition to the vice that is fo com-
mon, and of which few men are intirely

Thcfe words were given by God to Mofes,
when he was reveahng his mind to the Jews :
and they are a part of that law, which, if
wel!-obferved by them, would have made
them appear to be a wife people in the eyes
of all nations in the world, as well as have
promoted holinefs and religion amongft them
in fuch a manner as to have fecured to them
the divine favour. After the giving the de-
calogue, or ten commandments upon mount
Sinai, with an audible voice from heaven,
which diftinguiflied it from all other laws ;
God was pleafed to give a body of laws,
which were partly an inculcation of the ten
precepts, and partly an explication of them \
partly cerem.onial, which God thought fit
then to eftablidi ; and partly what were cal-
led judicial, ftridly relating to the Jewifh
polity, and fuited to the circumilances they
were to be in in the land of Canaan. Thefe
lafl cannot be accommodated to people un-
der other circumftances ; as, the w^ay ap-
pointed for mortgaging and releafing of eftates,
the way of fetting their fervants at liberty,
or continuing them in their fervice ; and di-
vers things of this kind, which could fuit no
nation in the world but themfelves.


Serm. I. a multitude to do evil, y

The words of our text are a part of a
moral law. They are a rule given, which
may dired: not only in matters of judgment,
and of the condudl of civil life ; but in efpe-
cial manner in matters of religion and con-
fcience. And it is evident, that the prin-
cipal defign of forbidding us to follow a mul-
titude to do evil^ is, not merely to fignify
that it is imprudent to follow a multitude
to engage in vulgar errors, to bring any diC-
advantage upon ourfelves ; but to let us know
that it is criminal to follow a multitude to
commit a moral evil, to do any thing v/hich
is finful. Every one who hath the exercife
of reafon, muft needs grant that this rule
is a moral one -, that it is founded upon the
moral law : for, Jin is the tranjgrejjion of the
law ^ ; and this forbids us to commit fin upon
any account whatfoever, let the pretence be
ever fo fpecious ; fuffers us riot to imagine
that it will be any excufe to us that a mul-
titude of people do the fame thing, or that
rulers and governors do the fame thing, or
require us to do it. The law of God is a-
gainft this : for fin, which is abfolutely fin-
ful, that is evil in itfelf ; and all the numbers,
or power in the world, can never mak^ it
innocent, or make it change its nature, fo
as that we {l:iould not become criminal if we
jpommit it.

« I John 5.4.

B 3 This

6 The danger cf following

This is a rule that is conftant and ftanding;
in all times and leafons. No-body can be
fo abfurd as to imagine, that it is lefs cri-
minal to follow a multitude to do evil now,
than it was when thefe precepts were firft
delivered by the hand of Mofes to the people
of Ifrael. The difference betwixt virtue and
vice, good and evil, is flill the lame. There-
fore this is a perpetual rule, and ought to
guide and govern us in all feafons and gene-
rations of the world ; and w^ill be a ftanding
precept for ever, as being founded upon the
jufl confideration of the nature of God, and
the neceffary difference betwixt good and

So much therefore may fuffice as to the
nature of this precept, and the obligation
of it. That which I promife myfelf to do
upon this text, is,

I. To explain it more particularly.

II. To (hew the neceffity of fuch a pre-
cept ; the great need that this people,
and indeed all the world, have of it.

III. To fliew the juflice and reafonabknefs
of it. And then,

IV. To make fome improvem.enr.

I. Having given you the general fcope of
the precept, I would explain it to you a little
more particularly. And we may take no-
tice both of the form and matter of it.

J. Of

Serni. L a multitude to do evil. 7

I. Of the form of it. And here we may

(i.) That It is a negative precept. And
fuch are moft of the precepts of the deca-
logue. God forbids fuch and fuch fins ; and
this is to raife a becoming horror in our minds
at the thoughts of evil. This is a very in-
ftrudive and pathetic manner of enjoining
precepts. It is a fainter and colder way of
giving laws to fay, thou fhalt preferve the
life of thy neighbour, or thou (halt do juf-
tice to thy neighbour ; tho this comprehends
that we are not to kill or to fteal. But thou
Jhalt not kill, or, thou Jhalt not Jleal ; this is
ftriking immediately upon the thing;, and
pointing at it, fo as no man can excufe him-
felf, or fay he does not underftand the mean-
ing or extent of fuch a precept. So here,
Thou Jldalt not follow a 7?iultitude to do evil.
Indeed the fubftance of this we have in di-
vers poiitive laws of God. As, when the
Lord commands us to own him to be our
God, and to worfhip him : the having him
wholly for our God, comprehends in it that
we fliould pay him fo great a refpedl as never
to make others lords of our confciences, or
bring others in competition with him. To
follow a multitude^ or follow great men to do
evil \ this would be to tranfgrefs the law,
which forbids us to have any other gods be-
fides him. But now tho that be compre-
hended in it, yet this comes more diredlly
to the particular cafe. That law which

B 4 com-

8 The danger of follo'ujing

commands us to worfhip God, fhews that
we are not to pay fuch adoration and reve-
rence to men as to follow them to do evil,
which is to a6t contrary to God to pleafe
them : but our text is a more exprefs and
particular declaration of the divine will in
this refpe^l;. Tis a good general rule, that
thofe laws which prefcribe duties to us, for-
bid the contrary fins ; and thofe laws which
forbid eviL prefcribe the con^.rary duties.
So here, when we are bid not to follow a mid"
titiide to do evil^ we are to conceive that this
doth comprehend in it that we are to per-
form all thofe duties v^^hich are contrary to
the fin here prohibited ; that we are to love
God, to adore and glorify him, to ht go-
verned by him, by truth and reafon, againll
all authority, againft all numbers whatfo-
ever. So that you fee this law is very com-
prehenfive, if we will take it in its due la-
titude : and God difcovers his will in it in
a very exprefs manner.

{2.) Another thing to be obferved in the
form of this precept is, that it is given di-
rectly to every fingle perfon ; not only in
general to men, you fhall not do fo, but
thou fialt not. No man may excufe him-
felf, and think either that he is too great,
as being a magiilrate ; or too little, or defpi-
cable, as being of no account and confe-
qucnce in the world in comparifon of others,
and fo is not reached by this law. 'Tis fo
exprcffcd;, left any man Ihould lay, ^^ I am

" fo

Serm. I. a multitude to do evil. p

" fo ignorant, and have fo few means of
" knowledge and inftruftion, that I muft
" follow a multitude \ I have no other rule
** to go by : left any fhould fay, I have not
*' the opportunities and advantages for the
*' direction of my confcience as others have,
'' therefore I think it fafeft to follow my
** leaders and governors, and to be directed
" by them in this matter ; and I hope God
*' will not be extreme to mark my iniquities,
becaufe I am under fo many difadvantages,
and can't examine and look into things fo
ftridlly as others." All thefe kinds of ex-
cufes are prevented by the terms of the law,
l^hou jhalt not. As the prophet fpeaks to
David, when he lays his fin before him, T^hou
art the ma?i ^ ; fo when God fets this pre-
cept before us, I may fay to every one of
you, thou art the perfon to whom God
fpeaks : neither thou, nor thou, nor any of
you, may tranfgrefs this law upon any pre-
tence whatfoever ; none of you may follow
a multitude to do evil

2. We are to confider the matter of the
precept. And here I muft explain to you
what is fignified by doing of evil ; what by
the multitude \ and what by following a ^nul-

(i.) What is fignified by doing of evil.
You know that there are two forts of evils,
the evil of fin, and the evil of puniihment j

* 2 Sam. n, 7,


id The danger of follo'^sjing

one is called moral, and the other penal evil*
It is evident that it is moral evil which is
fpoken againfl in our text. It may be law-
ful to follow a multitude of rulers, or p^o-
vernors, in mfliding punilhments when they
are jufl. So that there is no pretence in the
world that this can fignify any other than
moral evil. The word in the original ^ is in
evily or evils : and fo the Septuagint ^ render
it, I'bou Jhalt not be after many in evil, or in
wickednefs : in evil ; that is, in fin, in doing
of evil, in doing that which is contrary to
the divine rule which God hath prefcribed.

Now the fenfe of it, according to this ex-
plication, mufh be to this purpofe : Thou
fait 7iot follow a 7nultitude to commit any
fin ; whether this fin be what they call a fin
of commifTion, or of omiffion ; whether it
be to do that which God forbids, or to omit
doing that which God commands. *S/;z is
the tranfgrejjion of the law s. This is a good
definition of it which the apoftle hath given
us. And this regards not only our external
behaviour, but the internal government of
ourfelves. We are not to follow a multitude
in our belief, in our notions, in the dodlrines
or principles which we embrace, if they are
evil, if they are erroneous, if they are wrong ;
any more than we are to follow a multitude
in doing a criminal aftion which is openly
done by them.

^ OCh, i

Online LibraryJoseph StennettThe Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 26)