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SERM. tiles also, as St. Paul urges this argument; and as XV. also the reason of the thing and the voice of nature doth declare: from this God, I say, so disposed, so related toward us all, so equally concerned in regard to us; so impartial in his affection, so unconfined in his bounty; we should have reason to expect rather no revelation at all, than one so scant, and pinched in such narrow bounds; so ill proportioned to the glory due to himself, to the need and benefit of mankind. We cannot reasonably imagine that he should contract the effects of his goodness, or the manifesta
tions of his glory, to so slender a parcel of mankind, Deut. ix. 4. (no better qualified, no more deserving such special regard, than the rest; as himself, to repress their Matt. v.45. fond conceits, and probably in way of anticipation, to intimate his design of further extending that favour in due season to others, who might pretend thereto with as much right and reason as themselves, doth sometime declare.) That he, who hath freely dispensed the influences of sun and stars to all alike, should cause the light of his heavenly truth to shine, as it were, but into one small closet of his spacious house; leaving all the rest, so many stately rooms thereof, encompassed with shades of ignorance and error; that he should pour down the showers of his blessings spiritual (otherwise than he hath done those natural) upon one only scarce discernible spot of ground; letting all the world beside (like a desert of sand) lie parched with drought, overspread with desolation and barrenness.
This revelation therefore was not in this respect sufficient; wanting in its nature and design that due condition of generality and amplitude". But,
* Ἐπὶ τῆς παλαιᾶς ὁ νόμος ἔκειτο, ὅτε οὐ πολλὴ ἀρίστης πολιτείας ἡ ἀκρί
από δυο. ζωο
2. Further; As this revelation was particular, so SERM. was it also partial; as God did not by it speak his mind to all, so did he not therein speak out all his mind. Our apostle to the Hebrews chargeth it with blameableness; (ei πρúтy zväμeμæтos, if the first cove- Heb. viii. nant had been blameless ;) with imperfection, with weakness, with improfitableness, (álétnois μèv yàp yive- Heb. vii. 18. ται προαγούσης ἐντολῆς διὰ τὸ αὐτῆς ἀσθενὲς καὶ ἀνωφελές· οὐδὲν Gal. iii. 21. γὰρ ἐτελείωσεν ὁ νόμος· There is made an abolition of wo the precedent commandment for the weakness and Rom. viii.3. unprofitableness thereof: for the law made nothing ovμov, iv perfect ;) he means all this in degree, and in comparison to what was possible, and in some respects needful. Which charge may be easily made good, (a priori,) considering both the parts thereof which direct, and those which excite to practice; together with the means and aids enabling and facilitating obedience to the laws or rules enjoined; also, (a posteriori,) if we regard the fruits and effects thereof. Surveying first, I say, the directive part, we may observe both a redundancy in things circumstantial or exterior, and a defectiveness in things substantial and interior: there be ritual institutions in vast number very nicely described and strongly pressed; the observation of times and places, the distinction of meats and of habits, (touch not, taste not, handle Heb. ix. 9, not,) corporeal cleansings and purgations; modalities of exterior performance in sacrifices and oblations, those dikawμaтa capкòs, (justifications of the mere flesh, that only concerned the body or outward man, and could not perfect the observer's conscience; could
βεια, ὅτε εἰσαγωγὴ τοῦ θείου ἦν, ὅτε παιδικὰ τὰ παραγγέλματα, ὅτε τὸ γάλα, ὅτε ὁ παιδαγωγός, ὅτε ὁ λύχνος, ὅτε ὁ τύπος, καὶ ἡ σκιά. Chrys. tom. vi. Or. 44.
SERM. neither satisfy or edify his mind and inward man,) we see with extreme punctuality prescribed and enjoined, some of them under very heavy penalties, (of utter extermination and excision.) While moral duties (duties of justice and charity, yea of temperance and sobriety itself) and spiritual devotions (so exceedingly more agreeable to rational nature, and which could not but be much more pleasing to God) were more sparingly delivered in precept, less clearly explained, not so fully urged with rational inducements, nor in a due proportion guarded with rewards. Many things were plainly permitted, or tacitly connived at, (as polygamy and divorce, some kinds of retaliation, cursing, revenge; some degrees of uncharitableness,) which even natural reason dislikes, or condemns. So faulty was that dispensation, as to the part thereof directive of life; and it was no less in that part, which promotes and secures good practice, by applying fit excitements to obedience, and fit restraints from disobedience; rightly managing those great instruments and springs of human activity, natural courage, hope, and fear. Nothing so damps men's alacrity in endeavour, as desperation or diffidence of good success; nothing so quickens it, as a confidence or strong presumption thereof: and how then could they be very earnest in endeavours to please God, who were not assured of (yea, had so much reason to diffide in) God's placability and readiness, upon repentance, to forgive sins wilfully and presumptuously committed, such as no man surely lives altogether free from? The not opening a door of mercy seems discouraging and apt to slacken performance of duty; what was then the shutting it up Deut. xxvii. close, the bolting it with that iron bar, Cursed is
he that abides not in all things written in this law S ERM. to do them; which at least will exclude assurance, XV. will quash the hopes of mercy; will consequently Gal. iii. 10. enervate the sinews of care and industry in serving God. Neither were the rewards of either kind (those that spurred to obedience, those that stopped from disobedience) in measure or in kind such as the reason of things doth afford and require. They were only temporal, and chiefly corporeal or sensible; such as belonged to the outward state of this transitory life, which neither can deserve much regard, nor are apt to have great efficacy: for who will in effect, why should any man in reason, highly value the accommodations of this short and uncertain life? who will, who should be, greatly terrified with the inconveniences thereof? whom, probably, would such considerations sufficiently animate to encounter and sustain the perils, the difficulties, the troubles, and the disgraces, to which often the practice of virtue is exposed? whom would they guard from the enchantments of pleasure, profit, and honour, alluring men to sin? the pleasures of sense, how improper an encouragement, how unworthy a recompense are they for the labours and achievements of virtue ! incomparably better surely, more worthy of regard, and more effectual upon man's reason, more apt to produce and to promote real virtue and hearty piety, are the rewards concerning the future state of our immortal soul; which yet it is a question whether that law doth ever mention; it is plain it doth not
b Ὅτε πάντα ἦν σαρκικὰ, καὶ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ λόγος οὐδείς. Chrys. tom. vi. Or. 98.
Περὶ οὐρανίων οὐδέποτε λόγος ἦν, οὐδὲ μελλόντων μνήμη, &c. Chrys. ad Olymp. 5. p. 60. Vid. tom. vii. p. 16.
SERM. clearly propound and apply them. Indeed as to eviXV. dent discovery concerning the immortality of man's
soul, or the future state, so material a point of religion, of so grand moment and influence upon practice, even the Gentile theology, assisted by ancient common tradition, seems to have outgone the Jewish, grounding upon their revealed law; the pagan priests more expressly taught, more frequently inculcated arguments drawn from thence, than the Hebrew prophets; a plain instance and argument of the imperfection of this religion.
I subjoin, God's not thereby (in an ordinary certain way, according to any pact or promise) affording or exhibiting such interior influences of grace upon the minds of men, as, considering the natural frailty, blindness, and impotency of men, appears necessary to render them obedient to the rules of duty, to guide them in the ways of truth and goodness, to free them from error and sin, to shield and animate them against temptation; is a main defect in that religion; apt to breed fear in the onset upon duty, to nourish doubt in the performance thereof, to settle despair upon a fall or defeat. It presented to men's eyes the obligation to duty, the difficulty thereof, the danger of transgressing it, but did not openly represent the means requisite to perform it. And what can be more discouraging or discomforting, than to see oneself, upon great peril and penalty, obliged to that, which is apparently very hard, or, considering his strength, impossible, no help or support being visible? especially joining the consideration before touched, that no evasion by pardon, no rise by repentance doth appear. Whence we may well infer, that indeed, in effect, this dispensation