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in the fight of God, in and through the merits and mediation of Jefus Chrift the righteous. Bleffed are they (faith St. John very plainly, in the conclufion of that obfcure book of his revelation) Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, Rev. xxii. 14.
I fpeak now to a great many who are at the upper end of the world, and command all the pleafures and enjoyments of it; but the time is coming, and (whether we think of it or not) is very near at hand, when we fhall fee an end of all perfection, and of all that is desirable upon earth, and upon which men are apt to value themselves fo much in this world; and then nothing but religion, and the confcience of having done our duty to God and man, will ftand us in ftead, and yield true comfort to us. When we are going to leave the world, how fhall we then with that we had made religion the great bufinefs of our lives; and in the day of God's grace and mercy, had exercifed repentance, and made our peace with God, and prepared ourselves for another world; that after our departure hence, we might be admitted into the prefence of God, where is fulness of joy, and at whofe right hand are pleasures for e
Let no man therefore, of what rank or condition foever he be in this world, think himself too great to be good, and too wife to be religious, and to take care of his immortal foul, and his everlafting happinefs in another world; fince nothing but this will approve itself to be true wisdom at the laft. All other things will have an end with this life; but religion and the fear of God is of a vast extent, and hath an influence upon our whole duration, and, after the courfe of this life is ended, will put us into the fecure poffeffion of a happiness which shall never have an end.
I will conclude this whole difcourfe with those words of our bleffed Saviour, If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. Which thou, who art the eternal spring of truth and goodness, grant that we may all know and do in this our day, for thy mer
cies fake in Jefus Chrift; to whom with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, dominion and power, now and for ever.
The nature and influence of the promises of the gospel.
2 PETER i. 4.
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promifes; that by thefe ye might be partakers of the divine nature.
The first fermon on this text?
HE connexion of thefe words with the former is fomewhat obfcure, but it seems to be this. The Apostle had in the verfe before faid, that the divine power of Chrift hath by the knowledge of the gospel given us all things that pertain to life and godliness; that is, by the knowledge of the gofpel we are furnished with all advantages which conduce to make men happy in the next life, and religious in this; and then it follows, whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promifes Whereby; this feems to refer to the whole of the foregoing verfe; as if it had been faid, "Chrift by "the gofpel hath given to us all things that conduce "to our future happinefs; and in order thereto, all things which tend to make men holy and good." Or elfe, life and godliness are, by a Hebraifm frequent in the New Teftament, put for a godly life. And then among all thofe things which conduce to a godly life, the Apoftle inftanceth in the promises of the gofpel, which do fo directly tend to make men partakers of a divine nature.
In the handling of these words, I shall,
First, Confider the promises here fpoken of; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promifes.
Secondly, The influence which these promises ought to have upon us; that by thefe ye might be made partakers of a divine nature.
Firft, We will confider the promises which are here fpoken of; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promifes. And because the chief promises of the gofpel are here intended, I fhall take occafion from this text to handle the doctrine of the promises, which is frequently difcourfed of in divinity, but not always fo clearly ftated. And to this purpose, it will be proper to take into confideration thefe four things:
I. What the promises are which are here fpoken of; whereby are given unto us promises.
II. Why they are faid to be fo great and precious; exceeding great and precious promifes.
III. We will confider the tenor of thefe promifes: IV. When men are faid to have a right to them, fo as they may apply them to themselves. These four heads will comprehend what I have to fay upon this argument.
I. What the promises are which the Apostle here fpeaks of; whereby are given unto us promises. And, no doubt, the Apoftle here intends thofe great and excellent promifes which Chrift hath made to us in the gofpel. So that, to fatisfy ourselves in this enquiry, we need only to confider what are the principal promifes of the gofpel. Now the great promis fes of the gofpel are these three :
1. The promife of the free pardon and forgivenefs of our frns, upon our faith and repentance.
2. The promife of God's grace and holy spirit to affift our obedience.
3. The promise of eternal life to reward it.
1. The promife of the pardon and forgiveness of our fins, upon our faith and repentance. The gofpel hath made full and clear promifes to this purpofe '; that if we believe the gofpel, and will forfake our fins, and amend our wicked lives, all that is paft
fhall be forgiven us, and that Chrift died for this end, to obtain for us remiffion of fins in his blood. The light of nature, upon confideration of the mercy and goodness of God, gave men good hopes, that upon their repentance God would forgive their fins, and turn away his wrath from them. But mankind was doubtful of this, and therefore they used expiatory facrifices to appeafe the offended Deity. The Jewish religion allowed of no expiation, but for legal impurities, and involuntary tranfgreffions, fuch as proceeded from ignorance and inadvertency s but not for fins of prefumption, and fuch as were committed with an high hand. If men finned wilfully, there was no facrifice appointed by the law for fuch fins. But the grace of the gofpel juftifies us from the greatest fins, upon our faith and fincere repentance. So St. Paul tells the Jews, Acts xiii. 38. 39. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of fins: And by him all that believe are juftified from all things, from which ye could not be juftified by the law of Mofes. There was no general promife of pardon, nor way of expiation under the law; perfect remiffion of fins is clearly revealed, and afcertained to us only by the gospel.
2. Another great promife of the gospel is the pro mife of God's grace, and Holy Spirit, to affift our o bedience. Our bleffed Saviour hath promised, that our heavenly father will give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him. It is true indeed, there was a peculiar promife of the Holy Ghost to the Apoftles and Chriftians of the firft ages, which is not now to be expected; namely, an extraordinary and miraculous power, whereby they were qualified to publish the gofpel to the world, and to give confirmation to it. But now that the Chriftian religion is propagated and fettled in the world, the great end and use of these miraculous gifts is ceafed But yet the Spirit of God doth ftill concur with the gofpel, and work upon the minds of men, to excite and affift them to that which is good. And though this operation be very fecret, fo as we cannot give an account of the manner of N 3
it, yet the effects of it are very fenfible, and this influence of God's Holy Spirit is common to all Chriftians in all ages of the world. This propofition is: univerfally true, and in all ages and times; If any man hath not the Spirit of Chrift, he is none of his.
It must be acknowledged, that the Spirit doth not now work upon men in that fudden and fenfible manner, as it did in the first times of Chriftianity : because then men were ftrongly poffeffed with the prejudices of other religions, which they had been brought up in; and therefore as more outward means of conviction were then neceffary, fo likewife a more powerful internal operation of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men, to conquer and bear down those prejudices, and to fubdue them to the obedience of faith. But now the principles of religion and goodnefs are more gradually inftilled into the minds of men, by the gentle degrees of pious inftruction and education; and with thefe means the Spirit of God concurs in a more human way, which is more fuited and accommodated to our reason, and offers less violence to the nature of men. So that this promife of God's Holy Spirit is now made good to us, as the neceffity and circumstances of our prefent ftate do require. God does not ufe fuch extraordinary means for the producing of thofe effects, which may be accomplished in a more ordinary way. The affiftance of God's Holy Spirit is ftill neceffary to men, to incline and enable them to that which is good; but not in that manner and degree that it was neceffary at first Because the prejudices against Christianity are not now fo great, and many of thofe advantages which were neceffarily wanting at firft, are now Tupplied in an ordinary way; and therefore it is not reasonable now to expect the fame extraordinary operation of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men, which we read of in the firft beginnings of Christianity.
3. There is likewife the promise of eternal life to reward and crown our obedience. And this the fcripture fpeaks of as the great promise of the gofpel, John ii. 25. This is the promise which he hath