Sidor som bilder

their fins they dearly love, and take delight in. And therefore they do not look upon it as a salvation, but as a spoil, to have them taken from them. And yet it is most certain, that this was the great salvation which Christ designed us, and which he became man to procure for us ; He shall be called Jesus, faith the angel, because he shall save his people from their


Our greatest evils are our sins; and Christ's saving, is his reforming, and reducing the hearts of the finful and difobedient to the obedience of the just. He saves, when he makes the bold and hardened finner to tremble, and the proud man humble; when he pofsefseth the hearts of the peevish and contentious, of the envious and revengeful, with meekness and patience, charity and peace. He delivers the covetous man, from his unfatiable love of riches; the carnal mind, from its intemperate desire of sensual pleafures. In short, he faves us from our own self-will; and makes us to become entirely resigned to the will of God.

This This reformation of our hearts and lives, by rescuing us from all finful desires and wicked practices, was the great deliverance which Christ was sent to effect for us; as might be evidenced, --from the blessing promised to Abraham, which did principally intend it ;=from the predictions of prophets concerning the Messiah, which clearly foretold it;- from the covenant promised to be made with the house of Israel in those days, which doth in plain terms express it ; -- from the declarations of Christ and his apostles, who every where proclaim, that the end of his coming was, to call finners to repentance; to turn men from darkness to light; to redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works; and that his gospel appeareth bringing falvation, in teaching us, that denying all ungodliness and worldly lufts, we should live soberly, godly, and righteously, in this present world. All these are so many direct arguments, and clear proofs, of Christ's design to save men, by making them better ; and that his deliverance was


[ocr errors]

to consist chiefly in their reformation, and in rescuing them from the bondage of their sins.

But in regard the gospel of Christ is the great means of working this deliverance, and is (as St. Paul calls it) the power of God unto Salvation; I shall rather chuse at present to inlift more particularly upon such parts of it, as are peculiarly fitted for this design; which will be the best way of clearing up this doctrine.--And those are. chiefly three; the precepts, the promises, and the threatenings, which are declared to us therein.

AND FIRST, I shall consider the precepts of the gospel.–And that the great falva. tion which these are designed to promote among us, is this deliverance from our sins, is plain from hence ; because they do most fully, and indispensibly exact it. Never did the precepts of former lawgivers, extend the compass of virtue so wide, and advance it to such a pitch, as the laws of Christ do. They require a more full obedience, and a more perfect reformation, than before that Time the world had ever


heard of. They teach virtue in the highest degrees, and require obedience in all imaginable instances ; representing plainly the nature of several fins, and discovering clearly an irregularity and sinfulness in several actions, which the Gentiles, nay even the Fews themselves, never dreamed


As to the Gentiles.-it is well known, that they discerned no evil in worshipping of images, and inferior deities, in idolatrous rites, and superstitious observances. They knew no fin, in hating of an enemy, in cursing and reproaching of him, in returning his affronts, and revenging his injuries. In these actions, as in several others, they had no sense of fin, nor any fears of punishment. These things, as the Pfalmift says, God afterwards thewed to Jacob, and declared to Israel ; but as for the Heathen nations, they have not known them. But now, as for the finfulness of these things, and the dreadful sentence which shall be denounced upon all, who continue in these practices, the law of Christ is express and peremptory. He who bateth his brother, saith St. John, is

M 3. a mur

a murderer ; and he who is, angry with his brother without a cause, faith our Saviour, especially if he suffer his anger to transport him into reproachful words, and contumelious expressions, shall be in danger of hell-fire.- Render no man evil for evil, says our religion; but love your enemies ; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them that despitefully use you ; that so you may be perfect, and the true children of your Father which is in heaven, who is kind even to the unthankful, and to the evil. . And as to the Jews, although they had a more perfećt way to walk by, than the Heathens had ; yet even their obedience fell much short of that pitch which Ours must attain to. For in several things, the law itself was indulgent to them, by reason of the hardness of their hearts. And as for other things, whose finfulness the law did really discover to them; they were still kept in a general ignorance of them, through the corrupt glosses, and perverse interpretations of their wise men. But

.: i.


« FöregåendeFortsätt »