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grace with the outward means be necessary to work repentance, then the impenitence of those to whom this grace is not afforded, which yet is necessary to repentance, is neither any netvfin, nor any new aggravation of their former impenitence. For no man can imagine that ihe juft God will charge men with new guilt, and increase iheir condemnation, for remaining impenitent in fuch circumstances in which it is impossible for them to repent:
IV. I obferve from this discourse of our Saviour's, that an irresistible degree of grace is not necessary to repentance, nor commonly afforded to those who do repent. God may, where he pleaseth, without injury to any man, over-power his will, and stop hin in his course, and hinder him from making himself miserable, and by an irresistible right convince him of his error and the evil of his ways, and bring him to a better mind: but this God feldom does ; and when he does it, it is very probable it is not so much for their own fakes, as to make them inftruments of good to others. Thus, by a secret but over-powering influence, he over-ruled the disciples to follow our Saviour, and to leave their calling and relations, and all their temporal concernments to do it. But one of the most remarkable examples of this extraordinary grace of God, is St. Paul; who was violently stopt in his course of persecuting the Christians, and convinced of his lin, and brought over to Christianity, in a very extraordinary and forcible manner. And of this miraculous and extraordinary conversion, God himself gives this account, that he was e chosen vefsel unto him, to bear
name before the Gentiles, and Kings, and the children of Israel, A&ts ix. 15.; and St. Paul tells us, Gal. i. 15. 16. that for this end God had separated him from his mother's womb, and calied him by his grace, and revealed his Son to him, in that extraordinary manner, that he might preach among the Heathen.
But generally God does not bring men thus to repentance ; nor is it necessary he should. For if an irresistible degree of grace were always necessary to bring men to repentance, there could be no difference between the impenitence of Chorazin and Bethsaida, and of
Tyre and Sidon. For, according to this doctrine of the necessity of irresistible grace to the conversion of every man, it is evident, that Tyre and Sidon neither could, nor would have repented, without an irresistible degree of God's grace,' accompanying the outward means of repentance which he afforded to them ; be. cause such a degree of grace is necessary to repentance, and without it, it is impossible for any man to repent. But then it is as plain, on the contrary, that if Chorazin and Bethsaida had had the fame irresistible degree of God's grace, together with the outward means of repentance afforded to them, that they would have repented as certainly as Tyre and Sidon. Where then is the reason of upbraiding the impenitence of the one, more than of the other? where the aggravation of the one's guilt above the other? where the justice of punishing the impenitence of Chorazin and Bethsaida, more than theirs of Tyre and Sidon! For upon this supposition, they must either have repented both alike, or have been both equally impenitent. The sum of what I have said, is this, that if no man does, nor can repent, without such a degree of God's grace as cannot be refifted, no man's repentance is commendable, nor is one man's impenitence more blameable than another's ; Chorazin and Bethsaida can be in no more fault for continuing impenitent, han Tyre and
For either this irresistible grace is afforded to men or not : if it be, their repentance is necessary, and they cannot help it; if it be not, their repentance is impossible, and consequently their impenitence is necessary, and they cannot help it neither.
V. Iobserve from the main scope of our Saviour's difcourse, that the sins and impenitence of men receive their aggravation, and consequently shall have their punishment, proportionable to the opportunities and means of repentance which those persons have enjoyed and neglected.
For what is here said of miracles, is by equality of reason likewise true of all other advantages and means of repentance and falvation. The reason why miracles will be such an aggravation of the condemnation of men is, because they are so proper and powerful a
means to convince them of the truth and divinity of that doctrine which calls them to repentance. So that all those means which God affords to us of the knowJedge of our duty, of conviction of the evil and danger of a knful course, are so many helps and motives to repentance, and confequently will prove so many aggravations of our lin and punishment, if we continue impenitent. The
VI. And laft observation, and which naturally follows from the former, is this, that the case of those who are impenitent under the gospel, is of all others the most dangerous, and their damnation shall be heaviest and most fevere.
And this brings the case of these cities here in the text home to ourselves. Fór in truth there is no material difference between the case of Chorazin and Bethfaida and Capernaum, and, of ourselves in this city and nation, who enjoy the clear light of the gorpel, with all the freedom, and all the advantages that any people ever did. The mercies of God to this ination have been very great, especially in bringing us out of that darkness and fuperftition, which covered this western part of the world; in rescuing us from that great corruption and degeneracy of the Christian religion which prevailed among us, by fo early and fore. gular a reformation; and in continuing to long this great bleffing to us. The judgments of God have been likewife very great upon us for our fins. God hath manifefted himself by terrible things in righteousness; our eyes have seen many and dismal calamities in the space of a few years, which call loudly upon' us to repent and turn to God. God hath afforded is the most effectual means of repentance, and hath taken the most effectual course of bringing us to it. And though our blessed Saviour does not speak to us in perfon, nor do we at this day fee miracles wrought among us, as the Jews did; yet we have the doctrine which our blessed Saviour preached, faithfully transmitted to us, and a credible relation of the miracles wrought for the confirmation of that doctrine, and inany other arguments to persuade us of the truth of it, which those to whom our Saviour fpake had not, nor could not then have, taken
from the accomplishing of our Saviour's predictions, after his death; the speedy propagation and wonderful fuccefs of this doctrine in the world, by weak and inconsiderable means, against all the power and opposition of the world; the destruction of Jerusalem, and the dilpersion of the Jewish nation, according to our Saviour's prophecy; besides
many more that might be mentioned. And, which is a mighty advantage to us, we are free from those prejudices against the person of our Saviour and his doctrine, which the Jews, by the reverence which they bare to their rulers and teachers, were generally possessed withals we are brought up in the belief of it, and have drunk it in by education, and if we believe it, as we all profess to do, we have all the obligation and all the arguments to repentance, which the Jews could possibly have from the miracles which they faw; for they were means of repentance to them no otherways than as they brought them to the belief of our Saviour's doctrine, which called them to repentance,
So that if we continue impenitent, the same woe is denounced against us that is against Chorazin and Beth, saida'; and we may be said with Capernaum, to be lifted up to heaven, by the enjoyment of the most excellent means and advantages of salvation that any people ever did; which if we neglect, and stili continue wicked and impenitent under them, we may justly fear, that with them we shall be thrown down to hell, and have our place in the lowest part of that dismal dungeon, and in the very centre of that fiery furnace.
Never was there greater cause to upbraid the impenitence of any people, than of us, conlidering the means and opportunities which we enjoy and never had
any . greater reason to fear a severer doom, than we have. Impenitence in a Heathen is a great lin; else how should, God judge the world! But God takes no notice of that, in comparison of the impenitence of Christians, who enjoy the gospel, and are convinced of the truth, and up on the greatest reason ih the world profess
, to believe it We Christians' have all the obligations to repentance, that reason and revelation, nature and grace can lay upon us. Art thou convinced that thou hast sinned, and done that which is contrary to thy duty, and there
by provoked the wrath of God, and incensed his justice against thee? As thou art a man, and upon the stock of natural principles, thou art obliged to repentance. The same light of reason which discovers to thee the errors of thy life, and challengeth thee for thy impiety and intemperance, for thy injustice and oppression, for thy pride and passion; the same natural conscience which accuseth thee of any miscarriages, does oblige thee to be sorry for them, to turn from thy evil ways, and to break of thy sins by repentance. For nothing can be more unreasonable, than for a man to know a fault, and yet not think himself bound to be sorry for it; to be convinced of the evil of his ways, and not to think himself obliged by that very conviction, to turn from it, and forsake it. If there be any such thing as a natural law written in mens hearts, which the Apostle tells us the Heathens had, it is impossible to imagine, but that the law which obliges men not to transgress, should oblige them to repentance in case of transgression. And this every man in the world is bound to, though he had never seen the bible, nor heard of the name of Christ. And the revelation of the gospel doth not fuperfede this obligation, but adds new strength and force to it : and by how much this duty of repentance is more clearly revealed by our blessed Saviour in the gospel ; by how much the arguments which the gospel useth to persuade men, and encourage them to repentance, are greater and more powerful ; by so mucli is the impenitence of those who live under the gospel the more inexcusable.
Had we only fome faint hopes of God's mercy, a doubtful opinion and weak persuasion of the rewards and punishments of another world; yet we have a law within us, which, upon the probability of these confiderations, would oblige us to repentance. Indeed if men were assured upon good grounds, that there would be no future rewards and punishments; then the sanction of the law were gone, and it would lose its force and obligation : or if we did despair of the mercy of God, and had good reason to think repentance im. possible, or that it would do us no good; in that case there would be no sufficient inotive and arguinent to repentance : for no man can return to his duty, without