Images de page

8.9. When the Lord Jefus, fpeaking of the judgment of the great day, fhall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jefus Chrift, who shall be punished with everlasting deftrution from the prefence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. So that the gofpel gives all imaginable difcou ragement to the tranfgreffion and difobedience of God's laws, by denunciation of the greatest dread and terror that can be prefented to human nature, enough to make any fenfible and confiderate man willing to do or forbear any thing, to escape fo horrible danger, to cut off a foot or hand, or to pluck out an eye, not only to reftrain nature in any thing, but even to offer violence to it, rather than to be caft into hell-fire, where the worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched, as our Saviour expreffeth it, Mark ix. 48. This is the first argument

from the threatenings. The

2. Is from the promises of the gofpel, which are full encouragement to obedience; and there are three great promifes made in the gospel to repentance, and the obedience of God's laws.

1. The promise of pardon and forgiveness.

2. Of grace and affiftance.

3. Of eternal life and happiness. And these certainly contain all the encouragement we can defire; that God will pardon what is part, aflift us in well-doing for the future, and reward our perfeverance in it to the end with eternal life; and all this is exprefly promised to us in the gopel.


1. The pardon and forgiveness of fins paft. 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. And this is a great encouragement to amendment, to be fully indemnified from all paft fins and tranfgreffions; and this promife is made to believing, which includes in it repentance and a better course.

2. The promife of grace and affiftance, to enable us to all the purposes of holiness and obedience. And this our Saviour hath moft exprefly and emphatically pro

mised to all that are fincerely refolved to make use of it; and that upon the easiest condition that can be, if we do but earnestly pray to God for it, telling us that we may, with the fame confidence and affurance of fuccefs, (nay with much greater) ask this of God, as we can any thing that is good, of the kindeft father upon earth, Luke xi. 9. And furely here is a mighty encouragement to well-doing, to be affured that God is most ready to afford his grace and affiftance to us to this purpose, if we heartily beg it of him. So that neither the confideration of our own weakness, nor of the power of our fpiritual enemies, can be any difcouragement or juft excufe to us from doing our duty, fince God offers us fo freely all the strength that we need, and to endow us with an inward principle of well-doing, more powerful and effectual to all the purposes of holiness and virtue, than any oppofition that can be raised against it. So St. John affures us, that we have God on our fide, and the powerful affiftance of his Holy Spirit, and therefore are fure of victory in this conflict; 1 John iv. 4. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome; because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. If the Spirit of God be more powerful than the devil, we are of the ftronger fide; and we have no just cause to complain of our inability and weakness to do the will of God, fince that strength and affiftance, which we may have for asking, is to all effects and purposes of our own power. And therefore St. Paul made no fcruple to call it so, and to fay, he was able to do all things; I am able to do all things through Chrift which ftrengtheneth me.


3. The promise of eternal life: and this is the great promife of the gofpel, and the crown of all the reft. 1 John ii. 25. This is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. And this is a reward fo great and glorious, and fo infinitely beyond the portion of our fervice and obedience, that nothing can be more encouraging. What should not men do in hopes of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, hath promised to us? The expectation of fuch a reward, fo well assured to us, is fufficient to encourage us to do our utmost, and to strain all our powers for the fecuring and attaining of it, which we


cannot do without holiness and obedience of life; for without holiness no man fhall fee the Lord. So that all the promises of the gospel are to encourage and ftrengthen us in well-doing, to make us partakers of the divine nature, that we should cleanfe our felves from all filthiness, and perfect holiness in the fear of God."

Thus you fee that the whole difpenfation of the gofpel, and the doctrines of it, and every part of thein, are all calculated to reform the minds and manners of men. This is the great defign of the Chriftian religion, and all the parts and powers of it, to clear and confirm and perfect the natural law, to reinforce the obligation of moral duties by fevere threatenings, and greater promifes, and to offer men more powerful grace and affiftance to the practice of all goodrefs and virtue; and they do not understand the Chriftian religion, who imagine any. other end and defign of it. There is nothing that our Saviour and his Apoftles do every where more vehemently declare, than that hearing and believing the doctrine of Chrift fignifies nothing, without the real virtues of a good life. Know, O vain man, that faith without works, is dead, faith St. James. For men to think that the mere belief of the gofpel, without the fruits and effects of a good life, will fave them, is a very fond and vain imagination. And thus much may fuffice to have fpoken concerning the point.




Of the neceffity of good works.

TIT. iii. 8.

This is a faithful faying, and these things I will that thou affirm conftantly, that they which have believed in God, might be careful to maintain good works. Thefe things are good and profitable unto men.


The fecond fermon on this text.

Rom thefe words I have proposed to handle thefe two points.

First, The certain truth or credibility of this faying and propofition, That they which have believed in God, ought to be careful to maintain good works. This I have spoken to, and come now to the

Second, The great fitnefs and neceffity of inculcating frequently upon all that profefs themselves Chriftians, the indifpenfible neceffity of the practice of the virtues of a good life. In the handling of this point, I fhall do these two things.

First, I fhall fhew the great fitnefs and neceffity of preffing upon people the indifpenfible neceffity of the virtues of a good life. And,

Secondly, Anfwer an objection or two, to which the preaching of this kind of doctrine may seem liable. I begin with the

Firft of thefe, viz. to fhew the great fitness and neceffity of inculcating and preffing upon all Chriftians the indifpenfible neceffity of the virtues of a good life. And this will appear to be very fit and necessary upon these two accounts.

I. Because men are fo very apt to deceive themfeves in this matter, and fo hardly brought to that wherein religion mainly confifts, viz. the practice of real goodness.

II. Be

II. Because of the indifpenfible neceffity of the thing to render us capable of the divine favour and acceptance, and of the reward of eternal life and happiness.

I. Because men are fo very apt to deceive themfelves in this matter, and fo hardly brought to that wherein religion mainly confifts, viz. the practice of real goodnefs. They are extremely defirous to reconcile, if it be poffible, the hopes of eternal happiness in another world, with a liberty to live as they lift in this prefent world; they are loth to be at the trouble and drudgery of mortifying their lufts, and fubduing and governing their paffions, and bridling their tongues, and ordering their whole converfation aright, and practifing all those duties which are comprehended in those two great commandments, the love of God and our neighbour. They would fain get into the favour of God, and make their calling and election fure, by fome eafier way, than by giving all diligence, to add to their faith virtue, and knowledge, and temperance, and patience, and brotherly kindness, and charity.

The plain truth of the matter is, men had rather religion fhould be any thing, than what indeed it is, the thwarting and croffing of our vitious inclinations, the curing of our evil and corrupt affections; the due care and government of our unruly appetites and paffions, the fincere endeavour and constant practice of all holinefs and virtue in our lives; and therefore they had much rather have fomething that might handfomely palliate and excufe their evil inclinations, than to extirpate them and cut them up; and rather than reform. and amend their vitious lives, make God an honourable amends and compenfation for them in fome other way,

This hath been the way and folly of mankind in all ages, to defeat the great end and defign of religion, and to thrust it by, by fubftituting fomething elfe in the place of it, which they hope may ferve the turn as well, and which hath the appearance of as much devotion and refpect, and perhaps of more coft and pains, than that which God requires of them. Men have ever been apt thus to impofe upon themfelves, and to please themfelves with a conceit of pleafing God full as well, or


« PrécédentContinuer »