« PreviousContinue »
SER M.us Laws to walk by, we should be miserable
Wretches indeed : And though he gave us Laws, yet were his Method of conveying them to us either by a Voice or a Messenger from Heaven, .we should forego the Bleffing to avoid the Means: But as he has made Man the Minister, we have all the Comforts and Advantages of his Word, without the Dread of his Appearance.
And as we are thus free from all Apprehenfions from the Ministers of the Word; fo are we secure by the same Means, that no more of the Word itself will be imposed upon us than we shall be able to bear. Were it indeed the Office of superior Agents, of Beings unacquainted with the Clogs and Hindrances of Flesh and Blood, to expound the Rules of our Obedience ; we might reasonably fear that through Ignorance of our Weakness, they would interpret it in too strict a Sense for the Capacity of our human Frame. But this Fear we are delivered from by the good Providence of God, who has appointed no others to explain his Laws to us, than such as are themselves obliged to walk by those Laws, and under the same Impediments as those they preach to; and consequently such as will give no other Interpretation of his Word,
than what human Nature, under all it's In-S ERM.
Nor must we omit still another Advantage
Were all our Instructions to be given immediately from Heaven ; as often as we wavered in any Uncertainties, we should be uneasy for a new Messenger from thence to resolve our Doubts. And though God, through his infinite Mercy, has given us the Scriptures to be a standing Rule, whereby to conform our Lives yet they are not without their Δυσνόημα, , Things hard to be understood, which, without
ser M. some supernatural Assistance, they that are
unlearned and unstable would wrest to their own Destruction, 2 Pet. iii. 16. in the plainer Texts of Scripture, when applied to a Man's own Case, some Scruples may arise, which his natural Propensity to favour himself, may make him unfit to resolve. But now by this gracious Institution Provisions are made for all these Exigencies. For as by the Ministry of Men he has given a Rule of Life for the Use of Men; so is the Sense and Meaning of that Rule, to be fought for of no other than Men: To the end that the Igrorant may know where to apply for Instruction, the Doubtful for Satisfaction, the Penitent for Pardon, and all Mankind for the Interpretation of the Word. Which, as it is now administered, is (as Mofes faid of the Law) not hidden from us, neither is it far of: It is not in Heaven, that we should say, Who Jhall go up for us to Heaven, and bring it into us, that we may bear it and do it? Neither is it beyond the Sea, that we fould say, Who shall go over the Sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may bear it and do it? But the Word is very nigh unto us, that we may bear it and do it, Deut. xxx.
Thus have I shewed in some Measure the SERM. Benefits and Advantages accruing to Mankind from God's revealing to us his Will by the Ministry of Man. I shall therefore add no more on this Head, than to observe to you by Way of Inference, the horrid Impiety of some Men, who, because God has been so gracious as to communicate to them his Word after so familiar a Manner, fet at Nought his Institution, and even renounce the Word 'itself for the Sake of it's Ministers. Can any thing be more ungrateful as well as wicked and profane, than for those, for whose Sakes this Institution was appointed, and even at their own Requests, to despise and contemn it ? We find it
Record that it was the unanimous Desire of the Children of Israel to Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear ; but let not GOD Speak with us, left we die, Exod. xx, 19. From whence we may learn that the Ministry of Man was once thought a Blessing; why then should the Continuance of it render it mean and despicable ? Are Men better prepared now to meet God himself ? Or is it because we have no further Occasion to hear from him at all? Neither of these may be granted. For as to the first; the Appearance of an
SERM. Angel only, has through all Ages put Man
kind to the same Fear and Dread; and there-
A Character, one would think,