« PreviousContinue »
were in the world before. This doctrine of the Christian religion is a perfect, and therefore a final discovery of the will of God to man; because it can receive no amendment, therefore it shall never have any change or alteration,
I will conclude this particular with that inference which the Apostle to the Hebrews makes, from the consideration of the perfection and unchangeableness of the gospel dispensation, which he calls a kingdom which cannot be maken, Heb. xii. 28, 29. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. The better and more perfect, and more unchangeable our religion is, the better we should be; the more stedfastly should we persist in the sincere profession and practice of it: and if we do not, the heavier will be our condemnation; For our God is a consuming fire. I proceed to the · Fourth Particular observable in the text, viz. The great unreasonableness of rejecting this doctrine of the gospel. It is to make the absurdest judgment and choice that is possible; to prefer darkness before light. Men loved darkness rather than light; that is, they chose rather to continue in their former ignorance, than to entertain the most clear and perfect dir. covery of God's will to mankind. And what can be more absurd and unreasonable, when the difference is so palpable, and the choice so plain? That man is blind that cannot distinguish light from darkness; and he is very perverse and obftinate, who seeing the difference between them, will choose darkness rather than light. Such was the unreasonableness of those who rejected the gospel when it was revealed to the world: since nothing is more clear to an impartial and considerate man, than that the Christian religigion is the best and most perfect institution, of the greatest and most universal concernment to mankind, that ever was revealed to men; and our blessed Savi. our, who was the author and founder of this religion, gave greater evidence that he came from God, than any other Prophet or Teacher that ever was; and the
worship worship of God which this religion prescribes, is most agreeable to his nature, being a spiritual and a reasonable service, fit for men to give and for God to accept. In a word, the precepts of the gospel are more excellent in themselves, and better calculated for the happiness and perfection of human nature ; and the motives and arguments to persuade men to the obedience of these precepts, more powerful than those of any other religion that ever yet appeared in the world. 108
So that the difference between the Christian religi. on, and all others that have been received and pro. fest in the world, is so plain and apparent, that no. thing but passion, or prejudice, or interest, or some other faulty principle, can hinder any man from yield. ing his affent to Christianity. The comparison is al. most equal to that betwixt light and darkness; and therefore our Saviour had great reason to speak so severely of the infidelity of the Jews, wlio rejected such a doctrine, propounded to them with so much evidence and advantage. And because the Jews are the great scripture pattern of perverse infidelity and opposition to the truth, it will not be amils to take our eftimate and measure of the unreasonableness of this spirit and temper, from the properties and cha. racters which we find of it in the Jews, most of which do still inseparably accompany the spirit of infidelity wherever it is, that as face answers face in water, so does the infidelity of this prelent age resemble that of the Jews in our Saviour's time, in all those perverse and unreasonable qualities which did then attend it; and therefore I shall take notice of some of the chief of them, as I find them dispersed. up and down in the history of the New Testament.
But this, and what remains to be faid upon this argument, I must reserve for another discourse.
The excellency and universality of the
Christian revelation, with the sin and
JOHN iii. 19. 'And this is the condemnation, that light is come into
the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
IT THEN I began to discourse on these words,
First, The description which is here given of our Saviour and his doctrine, by the metaphor of light. Light is come.
Secondly, The universal influence of this light, Light is come into the world. : Thirdly, The excellency and advantages of the doctrine of the gospel, above any other doctrine or inftirution, even that of the Jewish religion, which was likewise imniediately from God. They are all but darkness, in comparison with this, Light is come into the world; and men loved darkness.
These three I have dispatched, and have entered upon the fourth particular observable in my text, viz. . . ;
The great unreasonableness of rejecting this doctrine of the gospel. It is to make the absurdest judgment and choice that is possible, to prefer darkness before, light. Men loved darkness rather than light.
The difference between the Christian religion and all others is so very plain, that our Saviour had great
reason to speak thus severely of the infidelity of the Jews. And because the Jews are the great fcripture pattern of perverse infidelity, I proposed the taking an estimate of the unreasonableness of this spirit and temper, from the characters which we find of it in that people, most of which do still inseparably attend the spirit of infidelity, wherever it is. I shall therefore take notice of some of the chief of those characters, as I find them dispersed up and down in the history of the New Testament, and they are these which follow: · I. Monstrous partiality, in denying and rejecting that revelation, which had not only as great but greater evidence, than other things which they did believe, and were ready enough to entertain. They believed Moses and the Prophets; and the great con. firmation which was given to them, was by the mi. racles which God wrought by them. Those miracles they did not see themselves; but received them from the testimony of their forefathers, being brought down to them by a very credible and uncontrouled revelation, which they had no reason to doubt of the truth of ; but they themselves saw the miracles which our Saviour wrought, which were more and greater than the miracles of Moses and all the Prophets, so that they were eye-witnesses of that divine power which accompanied our Saviour ; and yet they rejected him and his doctrine ; nay, so unequally did they deal with him, that after they had rejected him, notwithstanding all the evidence which he gave that he came from God, they greedily received and ran after falle prophets, who gave no such testimony. So our Saviour foretells concerning them, John v. 43. and so afterwards it came to pass, I am come, faith he, in my Father's name, that is, have given fufficient evidence that he sent me, and ye received me not ; if another Mall come in his own name, him will ge receive. In his own name ; that is, without any miracles to prove that he comes from God. i · And to Thew their horrible partiality yet more, after they had refused the clearest testimony that God .. Vol. x.
could give of him, they were contented to accept of the disagreeing testimony of two witnesses against him, and upon that uncertain evidence to put him to death.
And this hath been the temper of those that op. pose the truth in all ages, and in all kind of matters. Thus the church of Rome will needs understand those words of our Saviour, This is my body, in the sense of transubstantiation, contrary to the plain intention of them, and in contradiction to the reason and senses of all mankind ; and yet they will not understand the plain inftitution of the facra. ment in both kinds. And thus the Atheists, who will not believe that there is a God, which made the world, can yet swallow things ten times harder to be belie. ved ; as that either the world was eternal of itself, or the matter of it ; and that the parts of this matter being in perpetual motion, did after infinite trials and attempts at last happen to settle in this order in which we now are; that is, that this admirable frame of the world, which hath all the characters upon it of deep wisdom and contrivance, was made merely by chance, and without direction and design of any intelligent author ; so partial is infidelity, as to assent to the most absurd things, rather than believe the re. velations of God, or to own those principles, which are naturally imprinted upon the minds of men, and have the general consent of mankind.
II. Another usual concomitant of infidelity is un. reasonable and groundless prejudice. The Jews were strangely prejudiced against our Saviour, and that upon the weakest and Nightest ground, as that his original was known among them. John vii, 27. How. beit. we know this man whence he is : but when Christ cometb, no man knoweth whence he is. Surely they were very ready to take exceptions against him, that would urge this for an objection ; for what it his original were known, might he not be from God for all that ? Moses was a great Prophet, and yet it was very well known from whence he was ; and it was no where said in the Old Testament that his original should be unknown ; nay, on the contrary,