Images de page

piness which God hath promised to holy fouls. The doctrines of our religion are free from the fufpicions of a worldly intereft and defign. But if we confider the doctrines and innovations of that church which pretends to be the only chriftian catholic fociety in the world, we shall find that they are of another ftamp, and of a quite contrary tendency, that they favour fo rankly of a worldly intereft, that any im. partial man would at first fight judge them to be the contrivances of worldly, covetous, and ambious men, and that they did not look like divine truths and doctrines that are "of GoD," but that they are "of “the world,” and therefore they that propagate them, and would feduce men to them, "fpeak from the "world, and the world heareth them."


The evidences of the truth of the chri

ftian religion; with the cause and danger of infidelity.

2 COR. iv. 3, 4.

But if our gospel be bid, it is hid to them that are loft: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, left the light of the glorious gofpel of CHRIST, who is the image of GOD, fhould fhine unto them.



Shall explain these words, and then proceed to ccxxxiv. handle many things contained in them.

"If our gofpel be hid," or veiled; for by this The firft VOL. XI.


fermon on

metaphor this text.

SER M. metaphor the apostle alludes to what he had faid in CCXXXIV; the latter part of the foregoing chapter, concerning

"the veil which was upon Mofes his face, and up"on the hearts of the Jews, fo that they could not "fee to the end of that difpenfation." There was a great deal of obfcurity in that adminiftration: "but "the veil is done away in CHRIST." The gospel is a clear revelation, and fufficiently confpicuous in itfelf and now if it be hid from any, the fault is not in the obfcurity of the object, but in the blindness of men's minds.

"If our gofpel be hid, it is hid to them that are "loft;" to them that deferve to perish, because they will not fee.

"In whom the god of this world hath blinded "the minds of them that believe not." Some of the fathers, as St. Auguftin, and St. Chryfoftom, and feveral of the Greek fcholiafts read these words otherwife;" in whom God hath blinded the eyes of the "men of this world, who believe not ;" and fo refer this blindness to GoD's permiffion; in which fenfe he is faid elsewhere in fcripture, "to harden "men's hearts." The reason why they chufe this reading of the words rather than the other, was in oppofition to the Marcionites and Manichees; the former of which fects made ufe of this text to countenance their opinion of two gods; the one of the old teftament, whom they called "the juft God;" the other of the new, whom they ftiled "the good "God," the former of thefe, fay they, made the world, and is therefore here called "the god of this "world." The Manichees made ufe of this text to prove that the devil, whom they made the principle of all evil and imperfection, was the maker of


this world, and is therefore called the god of it. SER M., But there is no need why for this reafon we should, depart from the ufual reading of the words; for there is nothing in the true importance of them that can give countenance to thefe errors. For the devil, though he did not make this world, may be said to be "the god of it," upon a very good account, because the greatest part of the world being funk into idolatry and wickednefs, were become his lot and portion, who worshipped him as god, and did his works, and therefore were part of his dominion. So St. John tells us, 1 John iii. 8. "He that com"mitteth fin is of the devil:" and chap. v. 19. "we know that we are of GOD, and the whole « world lies in wickednefs,” ἐν τῷ πονερῷ κείται, which may be rendered more agreeably to the oppoto the fition which the apostle intended, "is fubject to the "evil one," is in his power, and under his dominion. According to which Plutarch tells us, that every unreasonable and brutish nature belongs to "the lot of bad fpirits." So that in this fenfe the devil may very well be faid to be "the god of this "world," as he is elsewhere called by our SAVIOUR, "the prince of this world." John xii. 31. "Now "fhall the prince of this world be caft out ;" and John xiv. 30. The prince of this world cometh." And fo the apostle, Eph. vi. 12. "The ruler of the "darkness of this world."



"Left the light of the glorious gospel of CHRIST,

who is the image of GOD, should shine unto "them, eis Tò un avyáσai, left they should fee, or "behold the light of the glorious gofpel;" for fo Hefych. tells us, that αὐγάζω αὐγάζομαι is ὁρῶ καὶ Bλew. It is called "the glorious gofpel of CHRIST," because

Dd 2


SER M. because of the glorious confirmation that was given to it by his miraculous refurrection and afcenfion, and his fending the holy Ghoft into the world: and CHRIST is faid to be "the image of God," because the power of the Deity did fhew forth itself in the miracles which he wrought.

The words being thus explained, the moft material things that offer themselves to our confideration in them are these three.

First, the full and clear evidence which we have of the truth of the gofpel, or of the chriftian religion; which the apostle expreffeth to us in these words, "the light of the glorious gospel of CHRIST."

Secondly, the cause of infidelity, notwithstanding all the evidence which the gospel carries along with it; which the apoftle expreffeth in these words, "in whom the god of this world hath blinded the 66 eyes of them that believe not."

Thirdly, the dangerous state of those, who having the gofpel propounded to them, do not believe it. The apostle tells them, they are loft and undone. "If "our gofpel be hid, it is hid to them that perish."

I begin with the first of these, namely, the full and clear evidence which we have of the truth of the gospel or chriftian religion. The only thing that can give us full affurance that any religion is true, is if we can be fatisfied that it is from GoD; for being once fatisfied of that, there can remain no doubt of the truth of any thing that comes from him, it being an effential part of the notion which every man hath of GOD, that he is "a GoD of truth."

Now there are two things muft concur to give the mind of man full fatisfaction that any religion is from GOD.

[ocr errors]


First, if the perfon that declares this religion SER M. give teftimony of his divine authority, that is, that he is fent and commiffioned by GoD to that purpose. And,

Secondly, if the religion which he declares contain nothing in it that is plainly repugnant to the nature of GOD. I fay, these two must concur: for though I could fuppofe a person to bring the highest testimony imaginable of his divine miffion and authority, fuppofe he should work a miracle for the confirmation of his doctrine; yet if there were any thing in the doctrine plainly repugnant to the natural notions which I have of GOD, I would not receive it as from GOD; the reason of which is plainly this, I can have no affurance that that is from GOD, which, if it were true, I fhould be uncertain whether there were a GOD or not. I cannot poffibly have any greater affurance that any thing is from GOD, than I have that there is a GOD: and I have no greater affurance that there is a GOD, than I have of his effential perfections, as that he is good, and powerful, and wise, and juft, &c. For by the very fame arguments that I come to know that there is a GOD, I know likewife that he must neceffarily have these perfections. So that if any thing fhould be offered to me as a revelation from GOD, which plainly contradicts those natural notions which I have of him, I must necessarily reject it, yea though it were backed with a miracle; because no man can at the fame time believe that there is a GOD of fuch and fuch perfections, and entertain any thing as from him, which evidently contradicts thofe perfections. And as this is reafonable in itself, fo it is clear from fcripturę. Deut. xiii. 1, 2, 3. "If there arife among you a prophet,

[blocks in formation]
« PrécédentContinuer »