« PreviousContinue »
we are in the wrong, and religion in the right, because it harh the bełt and soberest reason of mankind on its fide.
Let us then with all readiness of mind entertain that light which God hath afforded to us, to conduct us and shew us the way to happiness, whether by the principles of natural religion, or by the revelati.. on of the gospel in its primitive purity and lustre, and not as it hath been muffled and disguised by the ignorance and superstition which prevailed in afterages, till the light of the reformation sprang out, and restored a new day to us, and called us again out of darkness into a marvellous light, which by the blessing of God we have now enjoyed for many years, and which we cannot go about to quench, without incurring the condemnation in the text.
Thirdly, and lastly, Let us take heed of .pra&ical infidelity, of oppofing and contradiéting the Chri. ftian religion by our wicked lives and actions. Though we profess to believe the gospel, yet if our deeds be evil, we do in effect and by interpretation reject it, and love darkness rather than light ; though we alsent to the truth of it, yet we with-hold it in unrighteousness, we resist the virtue and efficacy of it, and do oppose and blaspheme it by our lives ; nay, we do as much as in us lies to make others atheists, by exposing religion to the contempt and scorn of such persons, and by opening their mouths against it ; as either not containing the laws of a good life, or as deftitute of power and efficacy to persuade men to the obedience of those laws. Where, will they say, is this excellent religion, so much boasted of ? How does it appear ? Look into the lives of Christians, and there you will best see the admirable effects of this doctrine; the mighty force of this institution ! And what a shameful reproach is this to us! What a scandal and disparagement to our holy religion, to see some of the worst of men wearing the badge and livery of the best religion and institution that ever was in the world !.
I conclude all with the words of the Apoftle, PhiJip. i. 27. Only let your converjation be as it bem
cometh the gospel of Chrift; and stand fast in one Spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel.
The ground of bad mens enmity to the
. .. . JOHN ii. 20.
A Mong all the advantages which God hath afA forded mankind, to conduct them to eternal Id happiness, the light of the Christian religion is incomparably the greatest ; which makes it the greater wonder, that at its first appearing in the world, it should meet with such unkind entertainment, and so fierce and violent an opposition. Of all the bles. fings of nature, light is the most welcome and plea. sant ; and surely to the mind of man, rightly dispo. fed, truth is as agreeable and delightful, as it is to the eye to behold the fun : and yet we find, that when the most glorious light that ever the world saw, visited mankind, and Truth itself was incarnate, and came down from heaven to dwell among us, it was so far from being welcomed by the world, that it was treated with all imaginable rudeness, and was opposed by the Jews, with as much fierceness and rage, as if an enemy had invaded their country, with a design to take away their place and nation. No sooner did the Son of God appear, and begin to send forth his light and truth among them, by the publick preaching of his' doctrine, but the teachers and rulers ainong the Jews rose up against him as a
common enemy, and were never quiet till they had taken him out of the way, and by this means, as they thought, quite extinguished that light.
Now what can we imagine should be the reason of all this, that a person who gave such clear evidence that he came from God, that a doctrine which car. ries such clear evidence of its divine original, should be rejected with so much indignation and scorn ? That light and truth, which are so agreeable to mankind and so universally welcome, Ihould be so dir. dainfully repulsed ? What account can be given of it, but that which our Saviour here gives in the text ? Light is come into the world, but men loved dark. ness rather than light; because their deeds were evil. For every one that doth evil, bateth the light, nei. ther cometh to the light, left his deeds jould be re. proved, (or discovered; for fo the word likewise fignifies, and may very fitly be fo rendered in this place) but (as it follows) be that doth the truth, cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifeft, that they are wrought in God; that is, that they are of a divine ftamp and original. In which words our Saviour represents to us the different disposition and carriage of good and bad men, as to the receiving or rejecting of truth, when it is offered to them They that are wicked and worldly are enemies to truth, because they have designs contrary to it. Every one that doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, left his deeds would be reo proved. And on the contrary, a good man, he that: doth the truth, and sincerely practises what he knows, cometh to the light, that his deed's may be made manifest.
I shall not need to handle these distinctly, because 's in speaking to one, the contrary will fufficiently apo pear. That therefore which I shall speak to at this time, shall be the former of these, viz. The enmity of bad men, and of those who carry on ill designs to the truth, together with the causes and reasons of it. Every one that doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, left his deeds should be dife covered. Here our Saviour's doctrine (as I have
shewn in the three laft discourses) is represented to us by the metaphor of light, because it was so clear a revelation of the will of God, and our duty; and carried in it so much evidence of its divinity ; it being the chief property of light to discover itself, and other things : so that those great and important truths contained in our Saviour's doctrine, are the light here spoken of, and which men of bad designs and practices are said to hate and decline ; Every one that doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, left his deeds mould be reproved.
"In which words two things offer themselves to our consideration : .
First, The enmity of wicked men to the truth : Every one that doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light.
Secondly, The ground or reason of this enmity : Left his deeds jould be discovered. .
First, The enmity of wicked men to the truth : Every one that doth evil, hateth the light. Men of ill designs and practices hate the light, and because they hate it they shun it, and flee from it, neither cometh he to the light. Now this enmity to truth appears principally in these two things, in sheir refilt. ance, and in their persecution of it: - 1. In their opposition and resistance of it. A bad, man is not only averse from the entertainment of it, and loth to admit it, but thinks himself concerned to relift it. Thus the Jews opposed those divine truths, which our Saviour declared to them, they did not only refuse to receive them, but they set themselyes to confute them, and by all means to blast the credit of them, and to charge them not only with novelty and imposture, but with a seditious design, and with blasphemous and odious consequences ; they perverted every thing he said to a bad sense, and put malicious constructions upon all he did, though never so blameless and innocent. When he instruct. ed the people, they said he was stirring them up to sedition ; when he told them he was the Son of God, they made him a blasphemer for saying so ; when he healed on the fabbath-day, they charged him with
profaneness ; when he confirmed his doctrine by miracles, the greatest and plainest that ever were wrought, they reported him a Magician; when they could find no fault with many parts of his doctrine, which was so holy and excellent that malice itself was not able to misrepresent it, or take any exception to it, they endeavoured to destroy the credit of it, by raising scandals upon him for his life; because his conversation was free and familiar, they taxed him for a wine-bibber and a glutton : and because he accompanied with bad men, in order to the reclaiming and reforming of them, they represented him as a favourer of fuch persons, a friend of publicans and finners.
By these and such like calumnies they endeavour, ed to disparage his doctrine, and to alienate men
selves, they did what they could to keep others from embracing it ; and as our Saviour tells us, shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, neither going iza themselves, nor suffering others that were going in, to enter.
2. The enmity of bad men to the truth likewise. appears in their persecution of it, not only in those that propound it to them, but in all those that give entertainment to it: and this is the highest expression of enmity that can be, to be satisfied with nothing less than the destruction and extirpation of. what we hate. And thus the Jews declared their en. mity to the gospel. When this great light came in' to the world, they not only shut their eyes against it, but endeavoured to extinguish it, by persecuting the author of this doctrine, and all those that published it, and made profession of it į they persecuted our Saviour all his life, and were continually contriving mischief against him, seeking to intrap him in his words, and so render him obnoxious to the Roman government, and at last putting him to death upon a false and forged accusation, and all this out of en. mity to that truth which he delivered to them from God; as he himself tells us, John viii. 40. But now