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manifold imperfections in our very best duties and fervices; insomuch that we shall be forced to make the same acknowledgement concerning them, which Solomon does concerning the imperfection of all things under the sun ; that auhich is crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is wanting cannot le numbered. And when all is done, we have all of us reason to say, not only that we are unprofitable servants, baving done nothing but what was our duty to do; but have cause likewise, with great shame and confusion of face, to acknowledge that we have been in many respecs wicked and slothful servants, and so very far from having done what was our duty to do, that the greatest part of the good which the most of us have done, is the least part of the good which we might and ought to have done,
The practice of religion, in all the parts and instances of our duty, is work more than enough for the best and greatest mind, for the longest and best ordered life. The commandment of God is exceeding broad; and an obedience in any good measure equal to the extent of it, extremely difficult. And after all, as the man in the gospel said with tears to our Saviour, concerning the weakness of his own faith, Lord, I believe, help thou my uribelief, Mark ix. 24. : so the best of men may fay, and say it with tears too, concerning every grace and virtue wherein they excel most, “ Lord, I aspire, I endeavour after it, be thou “ pleased to affist my weakness, and to help me by thy
grace continually to do better."
The sum of all is this, If we be careful to do our best, and make it the constant and sincere endeavour of our lives to please God, and to keep his command. ments, we shall be accepted of him ; for God values this more than whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices, more than thousands of rams, and ten thousands of ri. vers of oil ; because this is an essential part of religion, To love God with all our hearts and minds; and strength, and to love our neighbours as ourselves. The duties comprehended in these two at commandments, sincerely practised by us, (though with a great deal of imperfection), will certainly be acceptable in Vol. V.
the sight of God, in and through the merits and me. diation of Jesus Christ the righteous, Blesed are they (faith St John very plainly, in the conclusion of that obfcure book of his revelation) Blessed are they that do bis commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, Rev. xxii. 14.
I speak now to a great many who are at the upper end of the world, and command all the pleasures and enjoyments of it; but the time is coming, and (whether we think of it or not) is very near at hand, when we shall see an end of all perfection, and of all that is desirable upon earth, and upon which men are apt to value themselves so much in this world; and then nothing but religion, and the conscience of having done our duty to God and man, will stand us in stead, and yield true comfort to us. When we are going to leave the world, how shall we then with that we had made religion the great business of our lives; and in the day of God's grace and mercy, had exercised repent
ince, and made our peace with God, and prepared ourselves for another world; that after our departure hence, we might be admitted into the presence of God, cuhere is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore!
Let no man therefore, of what rank or condition foever he be in this world, think himself too great to be good, and too wise to be religious, and to take care of his immortal foul, and his everlasting happiness in another world; since nothing but this will approve itself to be true wisdom at the last. All other things will have an end with this life; but religion and the fear of God is of a vast extent, and hath an influence upon our whole duration, and, after the course of this life is ended, will put us into the secure pofleffion of a happiness which shall never have an end.
I will conclude this whole discourse with those words of our blessed Saviour, If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. Which thou, who art the eternal Spring of truth and goodness, grant that we may all know and do in this our day, for thy mercies sake in Jesus Chrift; to whom with the Father, and ihe Holy
Ghost, be all honour and glory, dominion and power, now and for ever. Amen.
S E R M 0 Ο Ν
The nature and influence of the promises of
2 PETER i. 4. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious
promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature:
The first sermon on this text.
HE connection of these words with the former,
is somewhat obscure ; but it seems to be this. The Apostle had in the verse before faid, That the divine power of Christ hath by the knowledge of the gospel given us all things that pertain to life and godlinefs; that is, by the knowledge of the gospel we are furnished with all advantanges which conduce to make men happy in the next life, and religious in this; and then it follows, whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises. Whereby; this seems to refer to the whole of the foregoing verse; as if it had been said, “ Christ by the gospel hath given to us all
things that conduce to our future happiness; and « in order thereto, all things which tend to make os men holy and good.” Or else, life and godliness are, by a Hebraism frequent in the New Testa. ment, put for a godly life: And then among all thofe things which conduce to a godly life, the Apofle instanceth in the promises of the gospel, which do so directly tend to make men partakers of a divine nas ture, In the handling of these words, I shall, N 2
First, Consider the promises here spoken of : Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promiles.
Secondly, The influence which these promises ought to have upon us : That hy these ye might be made par. takers of a divine nature.
First, We will consider the promises which are here spoken of: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises. And because the chief promiles of the gospel are here intended, I shall take occafion from this text to handle the doctrine of the promises, which is frequently discoursed of in divinity, but not always fo clearly stated. And to this purpose it will be proper to take into consideration these four things.
1. What the promises are which are here spoken of: Whereby are given unto us promises.
2. Why they are said to be so great and precious : Exceeding great and precious promises.
3. We will consider the tenor of these promises.
4. When men are said to have a right to them, fo. as they may apply them to themselves. These four heads will comprehend what I have to say upon this argument.
I. What the promises are which the Apostle here speaks of: Whereby are given unto us promises. And no doubt, the Apostle here intends those great and excellent promises which Christ hath made to us in the gospel. So that, to satisfy ourselves in this inquiry, we need only to consider what are the principal promises of the gospel. Now the great promises of the gospel are these three.
1. The promise of the free pardon and forgiveness of our fins, upon our faith and repentance.
2. The promise of God's grace and holy Spirit to affit our obedience.
3. The promise of eternal life to reward it.
1. The promise of the pardon and forgiveness of our lins, upon our faith and repentance. The gospel hath made full and clear promises to this purpose, that if we believe the gospel, and will forsake our sins, and amend our wicked lives, all that is past
shall be forgiven us, and that Christ died for this end; to obtain for us remiffion of fins in his blood. The light of nature, upon consideration of the mercy and goodness of God, gave men good hopes, that upon their repentance God would forgive their fins, and turn away his wrath from them. But mankind was doubtful of this, and therefore they used expiatory facrifices to appease the offended Deity. The Jewish religion allowed of no expiation, but for legal impurities, and davoluntary tranfgreffions, such as pro. ceeded from ignorance and inadvertency; but not for fins of presumption, and such as were committed with an high hand. If men finned wilfully, there was no facrifice appointed by the law for such fins. But the grace of the gospel justifies us from the greatest fins, upon our faith and sincere repentance. So St Paul tells the Jews, Acts xiii. 38. 39. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of fins : And by him all that believe are justified from all things, froizz which ye could not be justified by the law of Mofes. There was no general promise of pardon, nor way of expiation under the law; perfect remission of fins is clearly revealed, and ascertained to us only by the: gospel,
2. Another great promise of the gospel is, the pro: mise of God's grace, and Holy Spirit, to assist our obedience. Our blessed Saviour hath promised, that our heavenly Father will give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him. It is true indeed, there was a peculiar promise of the Holy Ghost to the Apostles and Christians of the first ages, which is not'now to be expected, namely; an extraordinary and miraculous power, whereby they were qualified to publish the gospel to the world, and to give confirmation to it. But now that the Christian religion is propagated and settled in the world, the great end and use of thefe miracua lous gifts is ceased. But yet the Spirit of God doth : still concur with the gospel, and work upon the minds of men, to excite and afliit them to that which is good. And though this operation be very fecret, so as we cannot give an account of the manner of it,