« PreviousContinue »
ings, and purify them by that Faith, difcover the Myfteries hid from Ages and Generations, and fcatter the Clouds which hang over the World? Are not Grace and Truth reprefented to us as the Glory of the Word that was made Flesh and dwelt among us, and the Defign of his tabernacling with Men (a)? Thefe Doctrines are the great Means of working a Reformation in the Souls of Men, and improving them in Holiness; Sanctify them through thy Truth, thy Word is Truth; and for their Sakes I fanctify my felf, that they also may be fanEtified through the Truth (b): One of the noble Advantages to be expected from that Glory and Happiness of the Gofpel-State, the Milion of the Holy Spirit, was that he will guide us into all Truth (c): This is what the great Apoftle of the Gentiles wishes fo earnestly in behalf of the Coloffians. That they might attain unto all the Riches of the full Afurance of Understanding, in the Knowledge of the Mystery of God, even of the Father and of Chrift (d): How pathetically are we exhorted, To hold fast the Profeffion of our Faith without wavering; for he is faithful that hath promised (e): To hold the Mystery of Faith in a pure Confcience (f), and to continue grounded and fettled in the Faith, and unmoved from the Hope of the Gospel, which we have heard (g). And is not through the whole Scriptures, a Departure from the Faith reprefented as an Apoftacy from Chriftianity, and deftructive of the Souls of Men? Upon them that receive not the Love of the Truth, God will fend Strong Delusions; that they should believe a Lie: That they all might be damned, who believed not the Truth (h): And what can be more plain and explicite, than the Words of the Apoftle? Whosoever tranfgreffeth and abideth not in the DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, HATH NOT GOD; he that abideth in the DOCTRINE of Chrift, be bath both the FATHER AND THE SON (i). were eafy to add innumerable more Places to the fame Purpofe.
With what Horror then, Amazement and Grief of Soul, muft we look upon the Apoftacy of thefe latter Times, and the fatal Succefs with which the old Serpent beguiles foolish Men, and fpreads his hellish Conquefts over their Minds to the Destruction of Truth and Godlinefs? Can we remember that we are Chriftians, and behold with Unconcernednefs, the Mifts and Darknets of thefe infernal Regions overclouding the Light of the Gospel, and drawing a Shadow over the divine Amiablenefs and Beauty of Truth? fo many mad Men who love to breathe this impure Air, and fuck in with Greedinefs thefe lothfom poifonous Va pours of Error and Blindness.
Muft it not fetch up a Grone from our Hearts fwelled with Sorrow; and draw down Tears from our Eyes, that proud vain Men fhould dare to profane the facredeft Myfteries, and infolently vilifie the Eternal Truths to which the Son of God bare wit
(a) John 1. 15. (b) John 17. 17, 19. (c) John 16. 13. (d) Col.2.2. (e) Heb. 10. 23. (ƒ) 1 Tim, 3. 9, 11, 12, (i) 2 John v. 9.
nefs: That monftrous Herefies fhould be entertain'd by poor im pious Creatures, who have no Pity upon their own Souls; but willingly fall into the Snare of the Devil, and offer fo pleafing a Sacrifice, as a cheated murdered Soul is to his hellish Malice? And that others who profefs the Truth, fhould behave with an inglo rious Neutrality, as if they were no ways concerned in the Matter, and the Honour of a Redeemer and his Gospel might with out a Struggle be abandoned; and with an equal Perfidioufnefs, as if they openly deferted the Captain of Salvation, the Treafures of Wisdom and Knowledge laid up in him are undervalued, as mere Speculations, and difputable Questions concerning intricate If not unintelligible Points.
Is this the Treatment we give to that excellent Revelation, and the Return made to the Kindness of our Friend? Is this all the Influence which the Love of God, and the Compaffions of a Saviour have on us? The expiring Sighs and Grones, and the dying Blood of him, who fuffered that he might give a Teftimony to the Truth, and bring us from Darkness unto Light? Do we give fo cold an Acceptation, and lend fo infenfible an Ear to the joyful Sound, which hath come down from Heaven, and carries alongst with it divine Pleasures and Bleffings to a People, that know it, and are di rected thereby to walk in the Light of God's Countenance, and to rejoice in bis Name all the Day (a)? Is this the Entertainment we give to the moft important Truths, flowing from the Mouth of the greatest Prophet, endeared to us by the moft moving and affectionate Arguments, and fupported by the strongest Evidence? Truths that are beautified by the Luftre of an eternal Excellency, and furrounded with the Characters of ineffable Wisdom and Knowledge, that Faith of the Gofpel, and thofe Mysteries of Man's Redemption which are the Refult of Divine Counfels, and the Glory of an infinite Understanding, are gazed at with Wonder and Delight, and look'd into with the curious Eye of the most exalted Angel, which furnish Matter for the eternal Contemplation of Heaven, and the loud unwearied Songs of numberlefs Crowds of adoring admiring Seraphs.
Are the Gospel of Chrift, and the Truth he bore witness to, receiv'd with fo much Efteem, Affection and Wonder in Hea yen; and yet defpis'd, corrupted, or undervalued upon Earth, by Men for whofe Salvation this Gospel is defigned, to whom it discovers Life and Immortality, and opens fuch an amazing Scene of triumphing Love and victorious Grace, and of all the mighty Things that Heaven and Hell mean? as if there were a finall Difference betwixt this admirable and harmonious Contrivance, that divine Syftem of the brightest and wifeft and molt momentuous Doctrines, and the confuled Heap of deformed Errors and monftrous Herefies; and as if it were but a Matter of trifling Specu lation, whether the Purity and Light of Heaven, or the Clouds and the Smoke of the fulphurous and fiery Lake, poffefs the
(a) Pfal. 89. 14, 16.
Hearts of Men, and whether the Kingdom of Darkness, or that of the Son of God prevail in the World.
But ah! an increased Horror feizes upon our Spirits, and Aftonishment is added to our Thought, that fuch hideous and lothfom Productions of Hell fhould take root in thefe Parts of the World, which God hath blefled with the nobleft Difcoveries of the Gospel, and the cleareft and moft certain Knowledge of the Kingdom of his dear Son, and hath wrought fo amazing Things to deliver them from the Ignorance of Paganifin, and the tyrannical Blindness of Popery: And yet that any of us ungrateful to God our Saviour, and ftupid to our plaineft Interefts, fhould be fo laboriously employed to form a Covering of thick Darkness and Error, whereby we may hinder thefe Kays of eternal Light, which are diffufed in fuch Plenty, and darted down fo ftrong and direct by that Glorious Sun, from touching our Eyes and irradiat ing our Souls.
When fo difmal a State of things prefents it felf to our View, can those who retain any Love for their Saviour, and Value for divine Revelation, without blufhing neglect any Opportunity whereby they may profefs their Adherence to the facred Truths of the Gofpel, and declare to all the World, as loudly as they can, their inviolable Efteem and Veneration for thefe adorable Myfteries? may manifeft the warmest Zeal for their Honour, and act with an undaunted Courage in their Defence; and may fhow with how vigorous an Affection, that pure Light is received into their Souls, and that a Regard for the Glory of their Redeemer and the Doctrines of his Grace, is ftronger than their other Paffions, and fuperior to the most dazling Charms of this World, and the moft alluring Temptations of Life. Then especially they fhould hold faft the Profeffion of their Faith without wavering for he is faithful that hath promifed (a): and profefs a good Profeffion before many Witnefes (b): And then they should feparate betwixt the Clean and the Unclean (c), fly away from the Tabernacles of the ungodly and perverfe Men, and have no Fellowship with the unfruitful Works of Darkness.
Every Word that proceedeth from the Mouth of the great Prophet of the Church, or the Infpiration of the Holy Ghoft, merits our Belief and Regard; but no doubt our Esteem and Zeal fhould rife in proportion to the Nature and Importance of the Doctrines. When the great Foundations of Chriftianity are undermined when the Perfon, Offices and Work of the Meffiah are robbed of their Glory, openly denied and treated with Scorn, or debas'd as indifferent and inconfiderable; when the Return made to the Author of the great Salvation,, is the impugning of his Divinity, and, because he took on him the Form of a Servant the facrilegious Detracting from his Equality with God; and when falfe Teachers de privily bring in damnable Herefies, even denying the Lord that bought them: Then our Zeal fhould be invigorated and flow
(4) Heb. 10. 23. (b) 1 Tim, 6. 12, (+) 2 Cor. 6. 17.
out with a higher Tide of Affection; then we fhould be valiant for the Truth, and ftand up for the Glory of our Mafter against open Enemies and traiterous Renegadoes; we should then make the plaineft Declarations of our own Faith, account it inglorious to languish and give back in fuch a Caufe, to fculk behind the Covert of ambiguous Words, and, as if we were Mediators betwixt God and his infolent Adverfaries, with a deteftable Lukewarmness to fet up for reconciling Schemes, whereby a Confederacy may be entred into betwixt Light and Darknefs, God and Belial, No, let us then with the openeft Candor declare our felves on the Lord's fide, and stand faft in one Spirit with one Mind, friving together for the Faith of the Gospel; in Nothing terrified by our Adver Jaries (a); Then is the proper Time to be influenced by what our Saviour tells us, Whofoor fhall be afham'd of me and of my Words, of him Shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own Glory, and in his Father's, and of the Holy Angels (b): Whosoever shall confefs me before Men, him will I confefs alfo before my Father which is in Heaven (c).
And how momentuous Arguments have we to ftir us up to all this, and to put Life and Conftancy in our Endeavours: All the mighty Powers of eternal loving Kindness; That Love of God which fent his Son into the World to fave us, and enlighten our Souls with thefe heavenly Doctrines; all the Wonders of Mercy, and the Triumphs of a dying Redeemer's Grace, with an united Force flow into our Hearts, and confpire to warm our Affections, and animate our Paffions with a heavenly Flame in the Caufe of our Saviour. The native Beauty and Simplicity of the Gospel-truths, furrounded with all the Glories of our Saviour's Death and Love, attended with the higheft Powers of Duty and Gratitude and Ge nerofity, and teftified to by the loudeft Applaufes of Heavenly Hofts; can never mifs to furnish an endless Train, and an irrefiftible Force of Motives: Can there be a Breaft in which they will fail to make an Impreffion?
Behold! Yonder our exalted Lord looking down from his Throne, to encourage and enliven us; he is expecting what we will do for his Honour, and how our Bowels are moved within us; he points out his Blood and Wounds which faved us from everlasting Death, the Crofs which he endured, and the Shame he defpifed to make us happy, the Scorn of the Multitude, the Rage and Hatred of the Learned, the Madnefs and Blindness of the Rulers of this World, yea the hellish Efforts and Hiffings of the infernal Hofts which could never shake his Refolution, and make him defert our Caufe; He reprefents to our View the Light and Joy of a reconciled God, and the Eternal Pleafures of the Sanctuary of Immortality, all the Fruits of his Purchafe; and he makes bare his glorious Arm, that Arm which pulled us out of Hell, and drave back the devouring Flames: And he looks to fee, after fuch an amazing and delightful Profpect, what Return
() Phil. X. 27, 28. (b) Luke 9.26, (e) Matth. 10. 32.
we will make to him; if it be poffible for us to look on, and fee him robbed of his Glory and Majefty, his Deity vilified, and his Truths and Caufe given up and betrayed: And were there any ufe for Terrors in to affectionate an Argument, he prefents the fearful End of Apoftates and Deferters from the Armies of Ifrael, while at the fame time he allures us with as great Encouragements to Fidelity, It is a faithful Saying, for if we be dead with him, wo Shall alfo live with him: If we fuffer, we shall also reign with him ;. If we deny him, he will also deny us; If we believe not, yet be abideth faithful, he cannot deny himself (a).
Let these things arm us with an invincible Refolution, and infpire us with a generous Warmth for the Glory and Interefts of our Bleffed Mafter; and let us never count any thing too dear, whereby we may honour him in a declining Age and in the Midft of a perverfe World, and let the Paffions of a holy Indignation and Zeal, exert themselves with a growing Vigour and Affection; let us never be frightned or enticed away from him, or beguiled with fair Pretences of cunning Deceivers: But with an equal Fortitude and Sincerity, let us fhow a juft Difdain for that Laughter and Wit which profane the Myfteries of Religion, a Contempt for that Learning and thefe Accomplishments which are made Engines to overturn our Saviour's Throne, and for the Arrogance and Selffufficiency of proud imperious Hereticks; let us never be fhaken by the Authority of great Names, or a Regard to our Friends and our Party, or by the undervaluing Thoughts and the Frowns of the Rich and the Great, nor be cooled by their Indifferency in that Caufe; Let us how that the Side of our God and Saviour, is the Party to which we'll facrifice all other Interefts and Perfons, that however learned and knowing fome Men may be, however much we formerly respected and loved them, whatever Obligations we thought our felves under to their useful Labours in Matters (tho' of juft Concern to us) of infinitely lefs Moment, That all these can never make us forget our Mafter, that his Blood and Death are ftronger Ties upon our Souls, and have a higher Claim to our Endeavours, and that whenever they come in Competition with his Dignity and Glory, we'll make no Scruple to expofe to publick Contempt the Reputation and Learning of fuch Men, yea though they were Angels from Heaven, to reckon them accurfed (b).
And let us never be feized by Cowardice and Sloth, tho' re commended by the Names of Charity and Peace and Liberty and Prudence: But may we abhor that pretended Charity, which cannot fubfift without the Ruins of the nobleft Part of true Charity, a fervent Love to God; and let us never think our Eafe, and Efteem, and Party, and Politicks, and Life it felf, when compounded into one, too coftly a Sacrifice to the Deity of Chrift, and the Defence of the Truth, but offer it with Cheerfulness and Joy.
(4) a Tim. 2. 11, 12, 13. (5) Gal. 1. 8.