« PreviousContinue »
Serm. Wherefore. I take you to record this day, that V. / am pure from the blood of all men ; for I
"^'f have not shunned to deliver unto you all the coitnfel of God. Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the sock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to fed the church of God, which he hath purchafed with his own blood. For I know, that after my departing, Jhall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the sock. Also of your own. selves shopmen arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and. remember, that for the space of three years, I ceased not to warn every one. night- and day withtears. And. npw, brethren, I commend you to God, and. to the. word of his grace, whichis able to buildyou up, and give you an inhz~ ritance among them, which are sanctified. I have coveted no man sstiver, or gold, or. apparel. Tea, ye yourselves know, that these hands- have ministered to my necessities, and to them, that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring you ought to support- the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord 'Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed- to give than to receive.
The character and life os the Apostle
Acts Xx. 24.
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
IT hath been observed, in the last dis-Serm, course, that if the religion, which ^ the Apostle Paul taught, and with the Utmost diligence propagated in the world, was without any foundation in truth; either he perfectly knew this, and so acted 0^2 the
Serm. the part of an impostor; or, by the mere VI. force of enthusiasm, he was persuaded of *•—J the truth of it himself, but without any sound reason. In one or other of these suppositions, such as deny the truth and divine authority of the Christian religion must rest. I have already endeavoured to shew, that the apostle could not be an impostor: let us now inquire, whether from mere enthusiasm a tolerable account can be given of the part, which he acted.
That men have imagined divine impulses and inspirations without any reality, and that they have suffered great agitation and transport, which was all the work of their own over-heated fancy, is not to be denied. I shall not go about to assign the causes, or recount the many wonderful appearances, or the various kinds and degrees of this; which would lead me to the consideration of many things, difficult to be accounted for, and to a tedious disquisition, not at all necessary to the purpose of the present argument. It is enough to. observe, in general, that so far as enthusiasm prevailed!, understanding and sound judgment are laid aside. Men lose the calm and undisturbed use of their own powers;
and and are carried on by a heated imagination, Serm. which is quite beyond the controul of rea- VI. son; and it is known, that, in many instances, this hath arisen to a perfect phrenzy.
But certainly there is a great difference between this disorder of the mind, and those affections of it, which are naturally excited by a just discernment of the objects presented to it. What appeareth to us great and beautiful, if the mind is in a natural state, we cannot but admire and love; and our admiration and love must be in proportion to the degree of greatness, excellency, and beauty, discerned in the object. Now, any natural emotions, which are caused by such admiration, and the ardors of such love are so far from rising upon the ruins of good understanding and judgment, that they really arise from them; and it sheweth want of discernment and . taste, not to be affected. To apply this to the affairs of religion ; as the Supreme Being is an object great beyond all comprehension, and possessed of all possible perfection, especially of those moral perfections, which render him infinitely amiable j so it is the law of our nature, 0^3 that Serm. that we should love him with our whole YI- hearts: and surely just conceptions of God,
UrV~*-^ in a proper state of the mind, cannot but be attended with the highest admiration and love; which is not at all inconsistent with the clearest and freest use of Out rational powers, but indeed resulteth from it j and doth not hurt, but greatly strengthen the mind. If there are what We may call raptures in the love of God, they do not destroy or interrupt the serenity of the soul, but establish it rather, and raise it into a temper, which the most eool reflecting thoughts approve, and which yieldetk a: pure and solid joy. And while the expressions of divine goodness, especially asit appeareth in the gospel of Our Saviour, and a sense of bis love, who, in pursuance of the counsels of the Father, came into the world, and' suffered, and died for us, beget in the heart the utmost gratitude and an ardent zeal in' the cause of Christianity; or, in the language of the apostle* if there he constraints in the love of Christ, certainly this is no more, than what is natural and just; and what the coolest and most dispassionate believer would account rational, as well as dvftiful, to encourage. And,