« FöregåendeFortsätt »
as the pharisees and scribes; men prepossessed with corrupt opinions and vicious affections, obstructive to the belief of his doctrine and observance of his laws; and worldly persons; proud and selfconceited, crafty and deceitful, covetous, ambitious, and worldly men, incorrigibly tinctured with that ppóvnua ris oaprès, ‘carnal wisdom and affection;' which "is enmity to God; so that it is not subject to the law of God, nor can be;’ inextricably engaged in the friendship of the world; which is enmity to God: to such men the gospel would certainly be a scandal or a folly: they would never be able to relish or digest the doctrine of purity, self-denial, patience, and the like doctrines opposite to carnal sense and conceit which it teacheth. From such wise and prudent men (conceited of their little wisdoms, and doting on their own fancies) God did conceal those heavenly mysteries, which they would have despised and derided: those ‘many wise according to the flesh, many powerful, many noble,” God did not choose to call into his church. Accordingly we may observe in the history of the Apostles, that God's Spirit did prohibit the Apostles passing through some places, it discerning how unsuccessful (at those seasons, in those circumstances, according to those dispositions of men) their preaching would be: “Passing through Phrygia and Galatia, being hindered by the Spirit to speak the word in Asia; coming to Mysia, they essayed to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered them not.' Moreover there is plainly the like reason why God should withhold his saving truth from some people, as why he should withdraw it from others; when it is abused or proves fruitless: but of such withdrawing we have many plain instances, attended with the declaration of the reasons of them : our Lord prophesied thus concerning the Jews; “I say unto you, that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation doing the fruits thereof;’ they, when our Saviour would have gathered them under his wings, wilfully refusing. Our Lord charged his disciples, when by any they were repulsed or neglected in their preaching, to leave those persons and places, “shaking off the dust from their feet,” in token of an utter (eis paprispiov &n' abrows) detestation and desertion of them: and accordingly we see them practising in their Acts; when they perceived men perversely contradictious, or desperately senseless and stupid, so that they clamored against the gospel, and thrust it from them, they abstained from farther dealing with them, turning their endeavors otherwhere, toward persons of a more docile and ingenuous temper; thence more susceptive of faith and repentance: “To you,' say Paul and Barnabas to the contradicting and reproachful Jews, ‘it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken; but seeing you put it from you, (or thrust it away from you, dra,0eiade abrov,) and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, we turn to the Gentiles.’ So when the church of Ephesus was grown cold in charity, and deficient in good works, God threatens to remove her candlestick; or to withdraw from her that light of truth, which shone with so little beneficial influence. It seems evident that God for the like reasons may withhold the discovery of his truth, or forbear to interpose his providence; so as to transmit light thither, where men's deeds are so evil, that they will love darkness rather than light; where their eyes are so dim and weak, that the light will but offend, and by the having it, hurt them ; where they, by the having it declared to them, will only incur farther mischief and misery; it would prove to them but douň 6avárov, a ‘deadly scent,’ as the most comfortable perfumes are offensive sometimes and noxious to distempered bodies. Wherefore as where the light doth shine most clearly, it is men's voluntary pravity, that by it many are not effectually brought to salvation; so it is men's voluntary depraving and corrupting themselves, (misusing their natural light, choking the seeds of natural ingenuity, thwarting God's secret whispers and motions, complying with the suggestions of the wicked one,) so as to be rendered unmeet for the susception of God's heavenly truth and grace, which hinders God (who proceedeth ordinarily with men, in sweet and reasonable methods, not in way of impetuous violence and coaction) from dispensing them: we may say of such in the words of the prophet, “They have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.’ ‘Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.” Tj čavrow dyabórnri rāow 6 Koptos éyyizei Hakpuropey & avrous hueis 8ta ris àpaprias, “God doth by his goodness approach to all, more : Praecedit aliquid in peccatoribus, saith he, quo, quamvis nondum sint justificati, digni efficiantur justificatione: et idem praecedit in aliis peccatoribus quo digni sint obtusione. But, 3. If all these considerations do not thoroughly satisfy us concerning the reason of God’s proceedings in this case, we may consider that God’s providence is inscrutable and impenetrable to us; that, according to the psalmist, as “God’s mercy is in the heavens, and his faithfulness reacheth to the clouds;’ so ‘ his righteousness is like the great mountains,’ (too high for our reason to climb,) “and his judgments,’ toxA) āovagos, a great abyss, too deep for our feeble understanding to fathom: that his ways are more subtile and spiritual than to be traced by our dim and gross sight. So on contemplation of a like case, although, as it seems, hardly so obscure or unaccountable as this, the case concerning God’s conditional rejection of that people, whom he in a special manner had so much and so long favored, St. Paul himself doth profess. That therefore although we cannot fully resolve the difficulty, we notwithstanding without distrust should adhere to those positive and plain declarations, whereby God representeth himself seriously designing and earnestly desiring, ‘That all men should come to the knowlege of the truth; that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance;’ not doubting but his declared mind, and his secret providence, although we cannot thoroughly discern or explain their consistency, do yet really and fully conspire. But no farther at this time,
SUMMARY OF SERMON. LXXIV.
I TIMoth Y, chAP. Iv.—vERSE 10.
8. As our Saviour was such to all men by his doctrine, or the general discovery of all saving truth; so may he be esteemed such in regard to his exemplary practice, whereby on the open stage of the world, and in the view of all that would attend to him, he represented a living pattern of all goodness; by imitating which we may certainly attain to salvation. He that will consider that practice, shall find it admirably fitted for general instruction and imitation, calculated for all places and all people: this topic enlarged on. 9. Jesus is the Saviour of all men, as having combated and vanquished all the enemies of man's welfare and happiness; enabling us also to withstand and overcome them. Man's enemies described, together with our Lord's suitable and efficacious methods of subduing them. The Devil, that adversary, &c., who usurped and exercised a domination over mankind, as the prince of the world. The world itself, whose friendship is enmity with God. The flesh, which lusts against the spirit. Our sins, which are very grievous enemies, loading us with guilt, and stinging us with remorse. Our conscience, which is an enemy, accusing us, and condemning us for sin. The Law, which in its rigor, as requiring exact obedience, and our inability perfectly to observe it, was our enemy. Death, the last enemy that shall be destroyed, and which most we fear.