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lured with hopes of advantage, (for his perfections were already infinite,) nor affrighted by fear of punishment, (for he had all power under him,) but chiefly through his own goodness and free love to man, did debase himself by taking the manhood into God, did humble himself to live among us, having been vested not only with our flesh, but with all the frailties and infirmities of human nature except sin, (for he was exposed to hunger and cold, poverty and nakedness, grief and pain, calumny and reproaches, contempt and infamy, and at length to the bitter pains of a cruel death,) after which he rose again on the third day, the great intendment and design of all which was, to inspire men with real holiness and purity by his doctrine, and by his exemplary life powerfully to engage their affections to the practice and observation of the doctrine he delivered; for as much as in his death he expiated our sins, satisfying God for us, suffering what we ought to have undergone, (since ‘by his stripes are we made whole,') and by his resurrection on this day completed all the rest, thereby proving the truth of his mission from the Father and of his doctrine, and thus confirmed our faith, exempted our scruples, fixed and settled our hopes, in going before to prepare a place for us; the consideration of all this, I say, should excite in us the greatest reverence of his power, and imprint on our souls the deepest resentment of his mercy, seeing that our gratitude to him can never be too great, nor our expressions of it. Lastly, reflection on the certainty of the resurrection should lay a strict tie on us to lead a life suitable thereunto; which chiefly consists in the mortification of our lusts, the subduing our passions, and overcoming our unruly appetites, by making them all conform to reason and grace, and in walking humbly before God, being just and honest with man, and preserving ourselves from the alloys of the flesh and temptations of Satan, by the exercise of all Christian virtues; which will be best done by striving to make our behavior agree and conform unto the example of the holy Jesus. Before I conclude, it may be necessary to animadvert on a great error lately crept into the minds, not only of many ignorant, but of some learned men; they mistaking such passages as
these : (John vi. 40.) him that believeth on the Son of man will I raise up at the last day;’ and (Luke xx. 35.) “they that shall be accounted worthy to obtain the resurrection;' also that of St. Paul (Phil. iii. 11.) “if by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead.” From these and the like places, they have fallen into that beiov 86%pa of Epicurus recorded by Plutarch, that sweet principle of dissolute men, that the righteous indeed may partake of another life after death, but the wicked need have no concern when once huddled into dust, since annihilation, or eternal imprisonment in the grave, is their sentence. And that this notion may appear more plausible, there is another sect of men, who, contemplating the love and goodness of God, cannot allow that he should punish a finite creature with such a disproportionate mulct as eternal misery; and therefore, say the former, they shall not be at all hereafter, who die in their sins: but it must be answered that these men little consider that the God, against whose command we sin, is infinite; that the mercy and goodness which we abuse, are so also; and that with regard to his laws, as they set out infinite punishment to the transgressor, so there is by them allowed infinite reward to the performer; and it is made perfectly matter of our choice under his covenant to take the right side or the wrong: wherefore if we will freely and by election precipitate ourselves into the bottomless gulf, volenti non fit injuria; our damnation is of ourselves, and therefore most just. But in farther reply to both these extravagant conceits, I shall urge St. John against the first; ‘the hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation : (St. John v. 28. 29.) And as for the latter, St. Matthew tells us how all shall speed; “the wicked shall go away eis kóNaow aiéviov, and the righteous eis ow), aléviov:’ the very same word that here is used to express the eternity of the righteous man's happiness, is also used to signify the eternal torments of the wicked. Indeed it was the very end of Christ's coming, to fulfil the word of God; by which is understood his
threatnings of judgment, as well as his promises of mercy: and his kingdom and government is established, by punishing the wicked, as well as by rewarding the just; and therefore both shall so far partake of the power of Christ's death and resurrection, as to be brought again to life and being; that is, to a capacity of receiving his final sentence.
THIRD ADDITIONAL SERMON.
MATTHEW, CHAP. V.-VERSE 16.
PRELIMINARY observations on the effects of a good and bad example, &c.: words of the text explained : manner of treating it laid down.
I. It is first considered when properly our light may be said to shine before men, viz. when by all the actions of our lives we make it apparent to the world that we are Christians in deed and in earnest ; when our works and actions accord with the profession of our faith, &c. This topic enlarged on, and the exercise of Christian virtues pointed out and recommended.
II. Occasion is hence taken to detect those several sorts of hypocrites or impostors, who pretend to be great lights, when they are quite the contrary. The presumption of such persons is shown to arise, 1. from pride; or, 2. from a froward, crossgrained disposition; or, 3. from a distempered state of body and species of melancholy, which inclines them to a dismal apprehension of things, and renders them the vassals of Superstition rather than the servants of Religion.
III. Another sort of men are next considered; very different from the foregoing, but yet subject to blame, who might be, and yet are not lights to the world ; who live virtuously and do many good actions, but to avoid the fault of vain-glory, run into the contrary extreme, and deprive those good actions of that influence on others which they ought to have.