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SERM." wondrous works?" Doing all this in CHRIST'S CCXXVIII. name, implies that they profefs'd to believe in him; but notwithstanding all this, if they be "workers of ini"quity," CHRIST will fay to fuch, "Depart from

me, I know you not," If our SAVIOUR make a true and proper reprefentation of the day of judgment, and the proceedings of it, Matt. xxv. men's faith fhall then be tried by the real fruits and effects of it; then the enquiry fhall be, how men have lived? what good they have done, or omitted and neglected? and accordingly fentence will be paffed upon them. Nay, fuch a faith is fo far from faving, that it will be an aggravation of our condemnation, and fink us the deeper into hell. "There is one that condemneth

you, even JEsUs in whom ye trust."

Secondly, a life unfuitable to our belief is the high way to infidelity and atheism, to bring others and our felves to it.

1. To bring others to infidelity and atheism, and to confirm them in it. What can be a more effectual bar to keep heathens, and Jews, and Turks from entertaining the gofpel? What can be a greater confirmation of them in their infidelity, than fo to mifreprefent chriftian religion to them, as we do by our unfuitable lives? What can be a ftronger prejudice against it, to men who do not look narrowly into it, but only fee it at a distance, than to fee what fruit it produces in the lives of Chriftians? May they not invert that proverbial fpeech of our SAVIOUR's, "Does a vine fend forth thorns?" If christianity were fuch a holy inftitution, how comes it to pass that Chriftians are fo wicked? If JESUS CHRIST were fo excellent a mafter, we fhoud fee it in his fcholars; fi Chriftus fanita docuiffet, chriftiani fantè vixiffent, as Salvian fpeaks. And it is the way to


bring men to atheism. What more like to take SER M. men off from all religion, than to fee the religion, which pretends to be the beft in the world, reprefented by the lives of Chriftians at fuch a difadvantage, as if it were a barren and fruitless, and ineffectual thing, and as if they who profefs it, did believe Fit to be a lie, and gave no credit at all to the doctrines of it.

2. It is the way to bring ourselves to infidelity and atheism. As an erroneous judgment and understanding hath usually an evil influence upon men's lives, fo much more a vicious and corrupt life hath a bad influence upon men's understandings. It is fo uneafy a thing for men to act contrary to their reafon, and against the dictates of their understandings, that men, for their own quiet, and in their own defence, will bend their judgments, and make them comply with the interest of their lufts. Men's affec-· tions, which way foever they incline, fet a biafs upon their understandings; and this doth not only proceed from the nature of the thing, but from the juft judgment of GOD. 2 Theff. ii. 10, 11, 12. the apoftle tells us, that "thofe who receive not the truth "in the love of it, that they may be faved; GOD "will fend them ftrong delufions, to believe lies ; "that they all may be damned, who believe not "the truth, but have pleafure in unrighteoufnefs.” If men once have "pleafure in unrighteoufnefs," it will not be long before they give, over "believing "the truth," becaufe GoD by his juft judgment will give them over to themfelves, to follow the biafs of their own corrupt hearts, which inclines them “to "believe lies." Of all perfons in the world, a wicked and unholy Chriftian is moft like to turn a fpeculative infidel and atheift; and none fo likely to fall

into this grofs darkness, as those who refift and quench fo great a light as that of the gospel is, which they profess to believe.


Of the miracles wrought in confirmation of christianity.


HE B. ii. 4.

GOD alfo bearing them witness, both with figns and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the boly Ghoft, according to his own will.

Hoever impartially confiders the chriftian religion, cannot but acknowledge the laws and precepts of it to be fo reasonable; and the practice of them fo evidently to tend, not only to the happinefs of particular persons, but to the peace and welfare of the world; and the promises and threatnings of the gospel, which are the great motives to perfuade men to the obedience of thofe laws, to be fo agreeable to the natural hopes and fears which mankind were always poffeffed withal; that upon this confideration, it might juftly be expected, that the doctrine of chriftianity, upon the first publication of it, fhould have been entertained with a readiness of mind proportionable to the reasonablenefs of it.

Or if the bare reafonablenefs of it be not thought inducement enough, we may eafily imagine, how GOD, if he had pleafed, could upon the firft appear



ance of this religion in the world, have given it fuch SER M. advantages, as would mightily have contributed to the more eafy reception and entertainment of it. He could have ordered things fo, that our bleffed SAVIOUR, the author of this doctrine, fhould have been, as the Jews expected, a great temporal monarch; he could have raised him to that dignity, and have armed him with that authority, as must have given him a mighty power and influence over mankind, and would have gained the great, and the wife, and the learned to have been active inftruments in the propagating of this religion, and in perfuading men to the embracing of it.

But he, "whofe ways are above our ways, and "whose thoughts are above our thoughts, as the "heavens are above the earth," did not think fit to have it promoted and carried on this way; nay, he feems on purpose to have strip'd it of all fecular advantages, that it might be perfectly free from all fufpicion of a worldly intereft and defign, and that it might be evident to all the world, that it was "a plant "which his own right-hand had planted;" and that it did not owe it's establishment to the authority, and wisdom, and contrivance of men, but to the power of God, and to the immediate favour and contrivance of heaven.

And now being thus deftitute of all worldly affiftance, though never fo reasonable in itself, it was not likely that it fhould be able with fuccefs to grapple with the lufts and corruptions of men, to which it was fo directly oppofite; nor with the ftrong prejudices of their education in a contrary religion, which are always hard to be overcome; nor with the temporal interefts of men, which were all at that time to be renounced and quitted for it's



SER M. fake; unless it had fome other advantages to make way for it, and to recommend it to the minds of men. For having no fecular baits and allurements to tempt men to the profeffion of it, no earthly contrivance and affiftance to fupport it and bear it out; but on the contrary, the most violent and powerful oppofition raised against it; it was neceffary that those who offered it to the world, fhould be able to give credit to it fome other way, and to produce very fenfible and convincing arguments of another kind otherwise they might have difpaired of ever conquering the prejudices of men against it, and of perfuading them to embrace that religion, which was fo apparently contrary both to their inclinations and


So that in these circumftances, in order to the full conviction of men, that thofe, who publifhed this doctrine to them, came from GoD and were commiffioned and fent by him to teach the world, it was very fitting, that God himself fhould give fome remarkable testimony to the first preachers of it: and this, the text tells us, he did by "bearing witness to "them with figns and wonders, and with divers mi"racles, and gifts of the holy Ghost."

For the better understanding of these words, we fhall do well to reflect upon the defign of this epiftle, which was to establish the Jews, who had but newly embraced christianity, in the ftedfast belief and profeffion of it, notwithstanding the troubles and persecutions which attended it; and to this end the apoftle represents to them, that the gofpel was delivered with more authority, and had a greater confirmation given to it, than the law. The law was delivered by angels, but the gofpel by the Son of GoD: and if the contempt of the law was fo feverely punished, what

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