« PreviousContinue »
ment of a Holy and Virtuous Life, doing the Will of God, that we may know of the Do&trine, and truft Our Saviour to make good his Word, in giving more Light to Our Souls, if we thus leek it after the Method He himhas prescribd to attain it.
Lastly, Since it has been shewn, how much the Will is concern'd in Faith, Let us have an Extreme care of cheating ourselves with this ordinary Excuse, this too common Pretence, Belief is not in our Power, we would Believe if we could. Let No Man thus deceive his Own Soul, but let him examin seriously his Own Mind, whether he speaks Truth to himself or no, when he says, He would believe. Let him, I say, deal sincerely with himself, and enquire impartially whether He do's not wish for and favour the side of his Lufts against Religion; whether these Doubts and Obscuritys arise from the Nature of the things to be consider'd, or from the Prevarication of his Sensual Defires; wherber he is not sway'd by some indirect Means, that seem to have no Influence upon him, some private Favourite Consideration, which he is loath to own, but which governs him effectually: Let him, as he values his own Salvation, do himself this Justice, make this nice Search into himand he will by it perceive the Deceit
fulness of his own Heart, and will find his Dulness to proceed not from want of Ability
but Will, like that of those of whom the Prophet complains, Who hear yet will not understand, and seeing see yet will not perceive; because their Heart is waxed gross, and their Ears are dull of hearing, and their Eyes have they clos’d, left they Jbould see with their Eyes, and hear with their Ears, and understand with their Hearts, and be converted. Let him not then plead Inability to Understand or Believe, but Remember that generally all our Ignorance and Unbelief is Wilful, for want of Will to do God's Will; and with dread and awe consider, that when Ignorance shall come to be pleaded in the Day whep Chrift shall come to judge the Secrets of Men's hearts, it may then amount to no better Excuse, than if instead of saying, We were unable to comprehend his Doctrine, we should alledge in our Justification, that we were unwilling to obey his Law. What a Sentence such a Plea juftly deserves, is easy to conceive; but that it may never be by any of Us Experienc'd, Let us take especial heed Brethren left there be in any of Us such an Evil Heart of Unbelief.
HESE Words are the Glad Tidings, which the two Disciples, that were going to Emaus, brought
back with them to the Eleven that were assembled at Jerusalem, full of anxious Thoughts and Disquiet, and scarce daring to believe the Return of their late Crucify'd Lord. But as express and positive as they are, they are yet the Words of those very Men, whom but just before we find confounded and overwhelm'd with Doubt and Despair, and saying, But We thought this bad been He, who should have Redeemd Ifrael. The Words of Them, who look'd upon the first Relation of Mary Magdalen and the
other devout Women, concerning the Lord's being Risen, as idle Tales and Believ'd them not;
and accordingly, ( before their Eyes were open'd) gave Christ himself this dubious and diffident Account of his own Resurrection, verse 23 and 24th of this Chap. Yea, and certain Women alfo of our Company made us astonisid, who were early at the Sea pulchre, and when they found not his Body, came, saying, they had seen a Vision of Angels, which said, that he was Alive. And certain of them that were with us went to the Sepulchre, and found it as the Women said, but Him they saw not. In such a Confternation were the Followers of our Lord upon the ignominious and cruel Death of their Master. The pleasing Dream of that Temporal Grandeur, with which they had so long amus'd and indulg'd their mistaken Hopes, being filed and vanilh’d, had left them Spiritless, and fall’n from the Heights of an Imaginary Kingdom, to the lowest Depths of real Misery and Despair. Instead of following their triumphant Leader to the Possession of his Throne, and a partaking of his Greatness and Power, they had been the wretched Spectators of his Majesty most scornfully Vilify'd by the insulting Soldiers ; the Enfigns of his Royalty abus'd and mock'd with a Scepter of Reeds and a Crown of Thorns, and himself at last Executed on the curs'd
Tree, after the manner of the greatest Malefactor or the meanest Slave. Their Minds having been so long poffefsd with Carnal Delusions, expecting fo suddain and illustrious a Delivery from the Roman Yoak, not that True and infinitely more Valuable Redemption from Spiritual Bondage and Sin; No Wonder if now, their Hearts faild them, if their Faith was stagger'd, and all the glorious Expectations of a Conquering and Princely Messias were dead, and bury'd, and seald up with Christ in the Grave. Neither the Miracles of his Life, which they had been so frequent Eye Witnesses of; nor the Divinity of his Person, which they had beliey'd and acknowledg'd; nor the joynt Predictions of the Prophets, which they had read; nor the express Promise of their Lord that the Third Day he should Rise again, which they had so often heard; were of Force enough to bear up their finking Spirits under the Pressure of this vaft Calamia ty, this, as they fear'd, irrecoverable Loss. With what an unexpreslible surprize of Joy must we then needs imagine that they were feiz'd, who put of all these afflicting Doubts and Fears, out of the most disconsolate and dejected Condition of Mind, on a suddain, by the undeniable Assurances of their own Senses, being convinc'd of the Lord's Refurrection, were themselves also rais d, as it