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I. In the nature of the promises ; they are such as are agreeable to the goodness and majesty of the great God, and to our cafe and welfare, We need not here ftri&ly consider the promises, as they relate to this life. Such there are. Christian godliness has the promise of the life, that now is, as well as of that which is to come. But it is the design of this institution to carry our minds above earth and the affairs of it. The Jewish pedagogy was stored with motives and encouragements, taken from worldly welfare. But christianity finks our earthly expectations, and raises spiritual desires and hopes. As it implants a new nature, its promises and assurances are mostly suited thereto. It principally regards the soul, and its welfare and prosperity ; and in reference thereto, it very congruously promises such blessings as these;
1. A plenary remision of fin. This we want. This is needful to be enacted, and publish'd to a rebellious, guilty world. The nations were involv'd in all manner of impieties, when the gospel come out among them. The promise of the forgiveness of all fin would be a mighty motive ( in it felf) to induce the world to return to God. It is wont to prevail with rebellious nations, to lay down their arms and submit to their rightful soveraign. So it should do here. But the convinced sensible mind can scarce believe, that such idolatrous, polluting, and unnatural fins, as have been committed, can be forgiven by the most holy, righteous God. His glory must be consulted ; his
pure nature, and law must be honoured and vindicated. Accordingly, care is taken that an honorary foundation should be laid for this forgiveness. That a worthy sacrifice should be sain, and a sufficient atonement made for the transgressions of the world. Hereby the great God can, in honour forgive ; and the enlightned, trembling soul may be satisfy'd, that he will. And so the expiation and the remission are to be published and preached together. In the name of the sacrificed Redeemer, repentance and remission of sin is to be proclaimed to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And through him is preach'd unto you the forgiveness of lins. This now is granted to all penitent proselites ; to all, that, in relinquishing their fins, and reliance upon the atonement, do return to God. This favour is suitable to the great Governour of the
world ; (who can forgive sins, but God?) suitable to our guilty condition ; and to the peace of our afflicted minds.
2. There is the promise of a renewing, sanctifying Spirit. This also is highly needful to such a world as this. The sensible, or selfconscious mind does not only sec his own guilt, but feels his own indisposition and disability to spiritual good. He finds himself corrupt and depraved in his powers ; prone to evil; and lame to obedience ; he wants a new heart and new Spirit ; a renewed ability and aptitude for holy service and heavenly conversation. And for this an holy, heavenly spirit is promised and communicated. Whosoever thirsteth, let him come to me and drink. This spake he of the spirit, which they that believe on him, should receive. And we are witnesses of these things, and so also is the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him (a). That ye may be strengthned with might, by his spirit, in the inner man. This must be the gift of God, and the signal of heaven. Now he, who stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also fealed us, and given the earnest of the spirit in our hearts (6). Now he that hath wrought us for the self-Same thing, is God ; who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit (c). The making of such promises is congruous to the greatness and goodness of God; and the fulfilling of them must import his attestation, and saving design.
3. There is the promise of the eternal life in the heavenly world. An everlasting kingdom, he proposes and presents. Herein, the great God appears and acts like himself. Alass ! what are we, and all we can do and bear, that an endless glory should be set before us ! all our fervice is due already. And when we have done all that we can, we are but imperfect and unprofitable servants. But God will commend his love. The gift of God is eternal life. He will commend the meritorious atonement of his Son. That eternal life is the gift of God, in and through 0:4r Lord Jesus Christ. He will commend his wisdom and holincss, in encouraging and rewarding obedience. Be thou faithful to the death, and I will give thee the crown of life. Herc's promise (a) Acts 5.32, (6) 2 Cor.1,21,22:
(c) Ch.3. •
and reward, worthy of the eternal God ; a title to that blessed world that has already been represented.
II. In the nature of the threatnings. These are most tremendous and awful; suitable to the majesty of God, to the Father of Spirits, and the supreme Governour of the world. And they stand in a just opposition to the promises now mention'd. As
1. There is retention of sin, or the continuing and confirming the guilt of it. The gospel of Christ finds the world guilty ; from the first sin here committed, judgment passeth upon all to condemnation. And every man increases his guilt and inhanses his condemnation by his own personal transgressions. As dismission of guilt, and pardon of fin, is a singular mercy ; so the retention of guilt, and non-forgiveness, is a severe penalty. And this is here declared and enacted. He that believeth not the Son, fill not see life ; but the wrath of God ( already deserved and threatned) abideth on him (a). So, be that believeth on him (on the Son of God, that taketh
the fins of the world) is not condemned ; (his condemnation is reversed); but he that believeth not, is condemned already (and his condemnation is ratify’d) ; because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (b). It is suitable to the dominion and authority of God, to remit or retain fin; and to prescribe the terms, on which it Thall be remitted ; and on default of which, it shall be retained.
2. There is the with-holding of the Holy Spirit, and his gracious influences. As the communicating of this spirit is a great blefling ; so the denying, or the non-communication of him and his gifts, is a tremendous judgment. He is a spirit of wisdom and revelation, a spirit of grace, holiness, and supplication ; a spirit of adoption and consolation. His donations may well be emplored ; and his departure and withdrawment depricated. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me. The with-holding of the divine spirit is attended with the resigning of men up to their own lusts and corruptions ; and so, possibly, may be intended in such positive, ju(a) John 3:36. (6) v.18.
dicial expressions, as these ; he hath blinded their eyes, and hardned their hearts that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted and I should heal them (a). The christian verity allows us not to suppose, that God does infuse or impress finfül habits and dispositions on mens hearts. He is a God of holiness and purity. But he may withdraw the light, that has been abused ; and suffer the good dispositions to languish and die, that have been neglected and disobeyed. For whosoever hath not (i. e. hath not for use and practice) from bim fall be taken away, even that he hath (6). And so God shall send them strong delusion (by with=, holding the illuminations of his grace, deliver them up to prevailing errors) that they should (so that they shall in the event) believe a lie ; that they all may be damned, who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (). It is meet , we should know, that God has spiritual judgments in his hands. As he has all grace and spiritual endowments to bestow ; so he can deny or withdraw the same: Can deliver men up to a spirit of Number, to a hardned heart and a reprobate sense. Hereupon he ought to be feared and attended to: He is the God of the Spirits of all flesh ; has his gracious or judicial dispensations for Spirits in flesh; and can (and often does) punish the minds, hearts, and consciences of men.
3. There is the commination of eternal destruction in bell. Herein vindi&tive perfections will be illustrated and magnified.
God will not be mocked. If men will not now hear him in the day of his patience, he is resolved he will not hear them in the day of their final.calamity. The place and state of their punishment has already been, in: some measure, described. But no tongue, pen, or pencil, can delineate it. They must be remanded to the place and prison of unpardoned devils. They must go into everlasting punishment ; must be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from (and by) the glory of his power. There the worm (of their own tormenting conscience) will never die ; and the fire (of divine indignation and displeasure) will never be quenched. O, what severity is (A) John 12.47. (6) Mat. 13.12. () 2 Thef. 2.11.
here ! Infinite perfections, surely, muft they be, that are thus vindicated! An infinite majesty, that thus supports the prerogatives of his love, and the rights of his law, gospel, and government ! Here are sanctions,
that may justly awe and sway the world, and display the excellency and grandeur of the supreme Governour of it!
The Christian Institution is the inost excellent fu
perstructure upon the Religion of Nature.
S many as have well delineated the law of nature and the bran
ches of natural religion, have thereby laid a good foundation for christianity. And the declaration of chriftianity cannot be made with out the supposition or acknowledgment of the radical articles of natus ral light and law. It necessarily recognizes and averrs, 1. The existe ence of the only living, true, and glorious God, whose perfections are unbounded and unsearchable. 2. That this God is makcr and proprietor, disposer and final cause of all things, to whom all deference: and veneration, all worship and obedience is due from all the intellia
3. That man is a moral being, made under law to: his Creator, placed in a probatory world, where is and will be trial of his allegiance, fidelity, and gratitude. 4. That he is made for immortality, and capable of immortal reward or punishment. s. That dutys to God does not meet with its distinguished reward in this world ; nor sin usually with its remarkable punishment. · Here the righteous: are afflicted and exposed. The irreligious prosper and flourish. Here, kypocrites pass for pious ones ; and the pious are made a prey to oppressors. The case of the world calls for a righteous Judge and a righe scous Judgment thereupon. 6. It confesses (what is visibly and con