« PreviousContinue »
tent and disobedient ; * and the servant, who SERM: knowing his Lord's will, does not prepare himself to do it, will deserve to be beaten with many stripes.
I may add, under this head, the gracious assistance which the gospel affords that men may be led to repentance. It is the glory of christianity to be the ministration of the spirit. Not only was the holy Ghost sent down from heaven to attestit by miraculous gifts and operations at first, but the divine comforter abides always with the followers of Christ, to instruct them, to lead them in the
of truth, and incline them to the practice of their duty. Now as all their obedience is summed upin repentance, from which consolation naturally arises, and to the increase whereof it tends, the operations of the Holy Spirit may
be said to have this for their end. The prophet Zechariah foretelling the glory of the last days, or of the christian dispensation when the most perfect model of religion should take place, and real piety and virtue should flourish, says chap. xii. 10. It shall come to pass saith the Lord, that I will pour on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of Juppli
* Luke xii. 47
SERM.cations, and they shall look upon me whom they
in bitterness. The Holy Spirit then pour'd
Holy Spirit to help our infirmities, to en-SERM. lighten our darkness, and to strengthen our IV. feeble powers;
and if after all we will remain impenitent, and defeat the best means, and gracious efforts of mercy for our recovery, our ruin must be wholly charg'd on ourselves.
And, lastly, the kingdom of heaven, or the gospel, has brought life and immortality to light, and since we have entrance with boldness into the holiest of all by tbe blood of Jesus, by that new and living way, which he bath confecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh. The apostle's inference is very just, Heb. x. 22. Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, baving our hearts Sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with purc waters; that is, let us come to God in the exercise of faith and unfeigned repentance, It is true, that reason itself and natural religion carries no small light into futurity. When we consider the moral perfections of God, from which we infer that some time or other he will make a distinction between the good and the bad, which is not done in the external administration of providence here, for as Solomon observes, Ecclef. ix. 2.
SERM. All things come alike to all, there is one event
to the righteous and to the wicked, to the good, and to the clean, and to the unclean, to him that sacrificeth, and to him that facrisceth not ; as is the good, so is the finner, and be that Sweareth as be that feareth an cath; when, I say, we consider this, we conclude very reasonably, that there will be a great difference made hereafter in the condition of men, by the appointment of their great, judge.
But, christianity gives us still a much clearer light into the other world. It represents a future judgment, and the awful important issues of it in the most affecting manner ; that Jesus Christ, as the visible judge, will fit on his throne, fummon the whole human race to appear before him, and distribute to every one rewards and
punishments, according to what they have done in the body, whether it be good or evil. By this powerful consideration, God requires all men to repent : the hope of an absolute and compleat justification, and the enjoyment of an eternal rest, and of fulness of joy in God's presence, if they fulfil the terms of his covenant; if amending their evil ways and breaking off their fins, they
patiently continue in well doing, is the SerM.
IV. strongest inducement that can be propos'd to a reasonable nature. And, on the contrary, the fear of that judgment and fiery indignation wherewith God will consume his adversaries, one would think sufficient to awaken the attention of the most obdurate finners, and dispose them to forsake their sins. Not that such fear is sufficient of itself to produce true repentance, but at least, it shews the extreme folly of impenitency; and as it is generally the first thing that takes hold of very corrupt and harden'd hearts, it may excite such confideration as shall end in an ingenuous conversion to God.
I shall now make some practical reflections on all that has been said, and the first, which I think a very important one, is, that we should take care to avoid resting in false appearances of repentance, and substituting any thing else in the room of that true repentance which the gospel does indispensably require. They are grofs errors of the Papists, and of a most dangerous tendency to place the
power of forgiving fins in the hands of frail and fallible men, and annex that forgiveness to fastings, confessions, penances, or any thing of a like nature. These