Gambar halaman
[ocr errors]

On viewing these scenes of horror, and this melancholy state of confusion, infinite goodness without any other motive, to engage the affections of his people, and render himself an object of their love, and highest veneration, sent his only son, from heaven; to acquaint them with their danger, and whom to apply to, for help and deliverance. The intention of which was, to destroy every degree of vice, and every specie of corruption in our hearts, as the best expedient, to bend the stubborn wills of finful men, and render them capable of ruling vitiated desires ; of preserving the rights of conscience pure,

and its faithful dictates inviolable. When men are rescued from the malignant diseases of fin, and influenced by the luggestions of undefiled reason, and the motions of God's unerring spirit, they will not only perceive the beauty and propriety of christian precepts, and their fitness to promote unchangeable good

but the impossibility also, of recovering their primitive rectitude, without forsaking their former licentious courses, and leading new and better lives for the future. For if our minds are not seasoned with piety, and a resemblance of God in holiness is neglected, we, after such illustrious instances of mercy, shall be rendered wholly in

excusable, comprehensive paffage, Titus ii. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, lay chiefly on his mind, and most remarkably affected his soul. " The grace of God that bringeth falvation hath appeared unto all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lufts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this prefent world, looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearance of the great God and our faviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works. These things speak and exhort and rebuke with all authority.'


excusable, and subject to the perpetual rebukes and menaces of conscience. For we without unfeigned forrow of heart, and timely repentance, shall continue in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Consideration on the divine purity, and the unchangeableness of God's holy nature, will satisfy every serious studious person, that whatever methods men propose, or different schemes pursue, unless they Iteadily adhere to such as the deity has prescribed and appointed, they will lose sight of their heavenly guide; sit down in the fearful shades of darkness, and in the gloomy horrors of death.

Obstinate offenders that oppose the doctrines of christianity, cannot possibly avoid the severest reflections, and the sharpest censures of infinite wisdom, but are obnoxious to the anger of divine omnipotence, and liable to forfeit the undeserved and inconceivable mercies of redemption. Nothing is more clear to honest enquirers, than that the gospel abounds with instances of God's love and his special regard for penitential transgressors, which is mostexcellently expressed, to fill their souls with the attractive and lovely charms of virtue, and all that blessedness their reasonable natures are capable of, and were originally designed for. All which stupendous mercies, and the unspeakable riches of divine grace, Christ has purchased for them; not with such corruptible or perishable things as silver and gold, but with his own precious blood, as of a lamb without spot and without blemish; that our faith and hope might not rest in man, but in the mighty power of God. So that if our Lord's injunctions


are despised, and the wise designs of providence contradicted, we reproachfully follow our vain imaginations, spurn at the kindness of our munificent benefactor, and contumeliously treat his favours, and the blessed means of everlasting salvation.* By thus rejecting the gospel mode of salvation, and the free unmerited favours resulting from it, we foolishly oppose our own happiness, and pursue the dark inchantments of sin; the ensnaring demands of lust, and every other injurious and pernicious passion. That we may Thun these fatal allurements, and the inseparable miseries that are joined to them, and that will follow an intimacy with them; our Lord in the tender bowels of compassion, forewarns us of evil folicitations, and the destructive consequences of yielding to them, and assures us that if his benign invitations,and instructions are arrogantly slighted, we, after such an obstinate refusal, can receive no' spiritual advantages, from those bright discoveries of pardon and forgiveness, which are


* The pious and judicious Dr. Scot thus affirms, God never imposes laws on us pro imperio, as arbitrary tests and trials of our obedience, nor exacts them of us to serve himself, or to advance his own interest and greatness; but the chief design of them is to do us good, to render our lives placid and easy, and to perfect and glorify our natures.

This if we firmly believe, will infinitely encourage our obedience. For when I am sure God commands me nothing, but what my own health, ease, and happiness requires, and that every law of his is both a necessary and sovereign prescription, against the diseases of my nature, and that he could not prescribe less than he hath, without being defective in his care and recovery

of my happiness; with what prudence and modesty can I grudge to obey him, when I ferve myself by it, to the nobleft and best Purpofes in the world. Scot's christian life, part the 2d, vol. 1, chap. 4, 173, 144.

[2] the pure effects, of God's disinterested love, and calculated for the sole good of his creatures. Because they are designed as rational helps, and as sovereign Remedies, to revive and comfort the broken hearted, and those that are oppressed with sorrow; not only believers of the Jewish nation, but also those among the Gentiles, to gather together the Children of God, and incorporate them into one holy community ; that being delivered from pagan darkness, and the impure worship of false deities, they may be presented without spot or wrinkle, and unblameable in the light of that God; who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. So that unless our natures are sanctified, and we are become new creatures, and breathe after heaven, and the fruition of heavenly things, our louls will naturally cleave to the earth, and perish in the giddy mazes and reiterated rounds of animal delights. For though Christ voluntarily died for finners, yet the spiritual privileges, and saving benefits of his death, belong to none but luch, as are washed from their fins in his blood, and apparently manifest its sovereign virtues, by an intire submiffien to the divine will, and the refulgent light of divine revelation : and therefore if we do not conform to its efficacious precepts, and religiously observe its invariable and reasonable commands, we shall never feel its vital power and energy in perfecting that holiness, without which we shall never see the Lord. Or if we turn his grace

into wantonness, we cannot maintain thequiet possession ofourselves, nor the celestial communications of our God : Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see


God, the exclusion of all others is determined, and there is no revoking this decree, nor any other of God's immutable purposes. The righteousness of the kingdom is the direct and certain way of entering into it. A few good actions performed now and then, i. e. such as are compatible with our secular affairs, or convenient to support our temporal concerns, are not available: but a steady uniform course of obedience, when actuated by true faith and the love of God, will render us meet for glory, and our happy abode in eternity, where nothing that is unclean or unholy shall ever enter. This would appear most obvious, from reading our saviour's fermon on the mount, such a sermon for divine and facred wisdom, as the world never heard before; where in the most perspicuous language, we may discover what difpofitions are requisite, to prepare our fpirits for mercy, at the final day of retribution ; by having thofe duties beautifully ranged in order, and cleared of all those false glof. fes, which the scribes and pharisees put upon it. The tenor and scope of which, is to teach mankind to be holy, and all that profess the name of Jesus, to avoid the impure and foul embraces of fin, and to depart from all iniquity. That which gives the gospel scheme the pre-eminence, and renders it infinitely preferable to all others, is the purity and excellency of its precepts, but if those precepts are perverted, or employed to advance such purposes, as God in his providence never intended, we debase our intellectual natures, and greatly injure ourselves, for he that finneth against God, wrongeth his own soul. It


[ocr errors]
« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »