« PreviousContinue »
returning to the love of God and goodness; and no man can return to the love of God, who believes that he bears an implacable hatred against him, and is resolved to make him miserable for ever. During this persuasion, no man can repent. And this seems to be the reason, why the devils continue impenitent.
But the Heathens were not without hopes of God's mercy, and
those small hopes which they had, they encouraged themselves into repentance; as you may see in the instance of the Ninevites, Let them turn every one from his evil wars, and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell, if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? Jonah iii. 8. 9. But if we, who have the clearest dilo coveries, and the highest assurance of this, who profess to believe that God hath declared himself plaçable to all mankind, that he is in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and that upon our repentance he will not impute our sins to us ; if we, to whoin the wrath of God is reveal. ed from heaven, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, and to whom life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel; if after all this, we still go on in an impenitent course, what shall we be able to plead in excuse of ourselves at that great day! The men of Nineveh shall rise up in judgment against such an impenitent generation, and condemn it; because they repented upon the terror of lighter threatnings, and upon the encouragement of weaker hopes.
And therefore it concerns us, who call ourselves Christians, and enjoy the clear revelation of the gospel, to look about us, and take heed how we continue in an evil course. For if we remain impenitent, after all the arguments which the gospel, fuper-added to the light of nature, affords to us to bring us to repentance, it shall not only be more tolerable for the men of Nineveh, but for Tyre and Sidon, for Sodom and Gomorrah, the most wicked and impenitent Heathens, at the day of judgment, than for us. For, because we have stronger arguments, and more powerful encouragements to repentance, than they had, if we do not repent, we shall incet with a heavier doom, and a fiercer damnation. The heathen world had many excuses to VOL. VIII.
plead plead for themselves, which we have not. The times of that ignorance God winked at : but now commands all men every where to repent; because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given effurance unto all men, in that he hath raised bim from the dead.
S E R M ON
Of the immortality of the soul, as discovered
by nature, and by revelation.
2 Tim. i. 10. But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savi.
our Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light, through the gospel.
The first sermon on this text.
HE delign of the Apostle in these two epistles to Timothy, is to direct him how he
ought to demean himself, in the office which he bore in the church; which he does in the first epistle : and to encourage him in his work; which he does here in ihe second : in which, after his usual falutation, he endeavours to arm him againit the fear of thofe persecutions, and the shame of those reproaches, which would probably attend him in the work of the gospel, ver. 8. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner ; but be thou partaker of the efflictions of the gospel, according to the power of God, who hath faved us, and called us with an holy calling : as if he had said, The God whom thou servest in this employment, and by whose power thou art strengthen. ed,' is he that hathsaved and called us with an holy calling, that is, it is he who, by Jesus Christ, hath brought fal. vation to us, and called us to this holy profellion ; not
according to our works, that is, not that we, by any thing that we have done, have deserved this at his hand, but according to his own purpose and grace, that is, according to his own gracious purpose, which was given us in Chriji before the world began, that is, which from all eternity he decreed and determined to accomplish by Jesus Chrift; but is now made manifeft by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ; that is, which gracious purpofe of his is now clearly discovered by our Saviour Jesus Christ's coming into the world, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light, through the gospel.
Which words express to us two happy effects of Christ's appearance: 1. The abolishing of death; and, 2. The bringing of life and immortality to light. In the handling of thefe words, I shall,
First, Open to you the meaning of the several expreslions in the text.
Secondly, Shew what our Saviour Jesus Christ did towards the abolishing of death, and bringing to light life and immortality
For the first, I Mall Thew,
1. What is here meant by the appearing of Fejas Chrift.
II. What by the abolishing of death.
I. What is here meant by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ. The scripture useth several phrases to express this thing to us. As it was the gracious design of God the Father, so it is called, the giving of his son, or sending him into the world. John iii. 16. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son. Gal. iv. 4. In the fulness of time God sent his Son. As it was the voluntary undertaking of God the Son, so it is called his coming into the world. In relation to his incarnation, ' whereby he was made visible to us in his body, and likewise in reference to the obscure promises, and prophecies, and types of the Old Testamont, it is called his manifeftatim, or appearance. So the Apostle expresseth it, i John iii. s. Te know that he was manifested to take away our fins; by which we are to understand primarily his incarnation, his appearing in our
nature, whereby he became visible to us.
As he was God, he could not appear to us, dwelling in light and glory, not to be approached by us in this state of mortality, and therefore be cloathed himself in flesh, that he might appear and become manifest to us.
I say, by his appearing we are primarily to understand his incarnation : yet not only that, but likewise all that was consequent upon this, the actions of his life, and his death and refurrection ; because all these concur to the producing of these happy effects mentioned in the text.
II. What is meant by the abolishing of death. By this we are not to understand, that Christ, by his appearance, hath rooted death out of the world, so that men are no longer subject to it. For we see that even good men, and those who are partakers of the benefits of Christ's death, are still subject to the common law of mortality : but this expression of Christ's having abolifbed death, fignifies the conquest and victory which Christ hath gained over death in his own person, in that after he was dead, and laid in his grave, he sose again from the dead, he freed himfelf from the bands of death, and broke loose from the fetters of it, they not being able to hold him, as the expresion is, Ads ii. 24.; and consequently hath, by this victory over it, given us an assurance of a resurrection to a better life. For fince Christ hath abolished death, and triumphed over it, and thereby over the powers of darkness ; (for so the Apostle tells us, that by his death, and that which followed it, his resurrection from the dead, he hath destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. The devil, he contributed all he could to the death of Christ, by tempting Judas to betray him, and engaging all his instruments in the procuring of it; as he had before brought in death into the world, by tempting the first man to sin, upon which death ensued; thus far he prevailed, and thought his kingdom was fafe, having procured the death of him who was so great an enemy to it; but Christ, by rising from the dead, defeats the devil of his design, and plainly conquers bim, who had arrogated to himself the power of death ;) I say, lince Christ hath thus vanquished death, and triumph
ed over it, and him that had the power of it, death hath lost its dominion, and Christ hath taken the whole power and disposal of it; as you find, Rev. i. 18. I ain he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hell and of death.
Now, Christ hath not only thus conquered death for himself, but likewise for all those who believe on him; so that death shall not be able to keep them for ever under its power : but Christ, by the fame power whereby le railed up himself from the dead, will also quicken our mortal bodies, and raise them up to a new life; for he keeps the keys of hell and death : and as a reward of his sufferings and submission to death, he hath power conferred upon him, to give eternal life to as many as he pleafes. In this sense, death, though it be not quite chased out of the world, yet it is virtually and in effect abolished by the appearance of Jesus Christ, having, in a great measure, lost its power and dominion; and since Christ hath assured us of a final rescue from it, the power of it is rendered infignificant and inconfiderable, and the fting and terror of it is taken away. So the Apostle tells us in the fore-mentioned place, Heb. ii. 14. 15. that Christ having, by death, destroyed him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; he hath delivered those who, through fear of death, were all their life-time fübjeft to bondage. And not only the power and terror of death is, for the present, in a great measure taken away; but it shall at last be utterly destroyed. So the A postle tells us, i Cor. xv. 26. The last enemy that Mall be destroyed is death; which inakcs the Apostle, in the latter end of this chapter, to break forth into that triumph,ver.54.55. So when this corruptible thall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is the victory?
III. What is here meant by bringing life and immora tality to light. Life and immortality is here, by a frequent Hebraism, put for immortal life; as also immediately before the text, you find purpose and grace, put for God's gracicus purpose. The phrase of bringing tolight is spoken
of things which were before either wholly or