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The Gospel for Monday in Whitsun-Week.
St. John iii. 16- 22. God so loved the World, that he
gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting Life: for God sent not his Son into the World to condemn the World, but that the World through him might be saved, &c.
HE Epistle for this Day being the same with that
for Easter-Monday, where it hath been already han
dled, I shall not here repeat it, but refer the Reader to it. Only in the Clofe is added an Account of the Holy Ghost's Descent on the Gentiles; for which reason it is appointed to be read again on this Day: for while St. Peter was speaking to them, the Holy Ghoft fell on all them that heard the Word, either by some visible Appeatance, as it did on the Apostles; or by some Effects of it, which they heard or faw : at which the Jews, who had receiv'd the Gospel, marveld and magnify d God, because on the Gentiles also was poured out the Gift of the Holy Ghoft ; for they heard them speak with Tongues, and magnify God in the several Languages of other Nations. Whereupon St. Peter declar'd their Right to Baptism, and none could forbid Water, that they should not be baptized, who had equally receiv'd the Holy Ghost with themselves; and therefore St. Peter commanded them to be baptized in the Name of the Lord, and to be receiv'd into the Congregation of Christ's Flock; and so was departing from then, had they not pray'd him to tarry certain Days.
The Gospel for this Day, of which I am now to speak, contains,
First, The greatest Instance of the Divine Love, that was ever shew'd to the Sons of Men; and that was, God's giving them his or y-begotten Son.
Secondly, The End or Design of God's giving him; and that was, that Mankind should not perish, but have everlasting Life.
Thirdly, The Persons for whom he was given, and the Conditions upon which they are to receive Benefit by him ; and that is Faith, or believing in him : Whosoever belieu
Fourthly, The Danger of rejecting and disbelieving of him, which will inevitably bring upon them Shame and Condemination; And this is the Condemnation, &c. Of these things something particularly. And,
First, Of the great and unparallel'd Instance of the Divine Love unto Mankind, in giving them his Son, in these words, God so loved the World, that he gave his only-begotten Son This was the highest Instance of Love that could be shewn, or the noblest Testimony of Affection that could poflibly be given. And that will appear, by considering,
it, The Greatness of the Person loving us. 2dly, The Vileness of the Persons beloved. 3dly, The Manner of loving them. And, Athly, The Gift by which it is express’d,
ist, For the Person here said to love us ; 'tis God blesed for ever, who was infinitely happy in himself, in the Contemplation of his own Excellencies and Perfections, and needed nothing of the Complacence or Concurrence of his Creatures to add to or compleat his Happiness.
2dly, For the Persons beloved; 'tis here faid to be the World, God so loved the World, that is, Mankind, the prin. cipal Inhabitants and Governours of the World, who, by their Revolt from their Maker, had brought such a heavy Load of Miseries upon themselves and their Pofterity, as they were neither able to bear, or to remove. Their Dirobedience to God's Command' entail'd Death and Damnation upon all Men, and the whole Creation groan'd under the Weight of their Transgression. They who were made but little lower than the Angels, are funk by their Sins, and become worse than the Beast that perisheth, being Enemies unto God by evil Works, yea, Rebels and Traitors against him, and so liable to his Justice, and under the Sentence of
eternal Death. In this their fad and deplorable Condition God Almighty was pleas'd to cast an 'eye of Pity and Compassion upon them, and to contrive a way to help them out of this Mifery, which they could never do of themselves, These worthless and finful Sons of Adam are the Objects of this Divine Love.
3dly, For the Manner of loving them, the Apostle seems here to labour, and to be at a loss how to set it forth, fay. ing, God so loved the World, so wonderfully, so intensely, so undeservedly, so unconceivably, that he knew not how to express it, but by Extasy and Admiration ; which made another Apostle, in taking the Dimensions of it, to cry out, O'the Height and Depth, the Length and Breadth of the Love of God, that pafleth Knowledg? where he seems to be swallow'd up with Wonder and Astonishment at the Greatness and Freeness of this Divine Love: Which will farther appear, by considering,
4thly, The Greatness of the Gift, which he hath bestow'd and express'd his Love by; and that was, in giving his own only begotten and beloved Son: He gave not (as one hath observ’d) a Creature, or a Servant, or a Prophet, or an Angel, which might have been all Tokens of Respect; but he hath gone higher, and given us his Son, and that not a common or ordinary Son, but his only Son, his only-begotten Son, whom he gave to take our Nature and Guilt upon him; and by that gave him up to Death, a cruel and accursed Death, the just Punishment of it: which is an Instance of the biggest Affection that can reside in any Breast. Abraham's yielding up his only Son Isaac to be sacrific'd at God's Call, was an Instance of his great Love, as well as of his Faith and Obedience to his Maker: but that comes infinitely fhort of the Love of God, in yielding up his only: begotten Son to death for us.
Secondly, But what was the End or Design of God's giving us his only begotten Son? Why that (as we are here told) was, that Mankind should not perish, but have everlafting Life: without this Gift all Mankind must have perish'd everlastingly; for there is no other Name given under Heaved, whereby we can be saved, than the Name of our Lord Jesus, A&ts 6. This Son of God was pleas'd to humble himself not only to the Nature of Man, but to the Form of a Servant, nierely to serve us ; and became obedient to Dearb, even the Death of the Cross, to make an Atonement for our
Sins, to rescue us from the Power of the Devil, and to reconcile us unto God: which things we could not do for our felves; for where there is no Sacrifice or Satisfaction for Sin, there is no Salvation. Nothing then remains but a fearful looking for of Judgment and fiery Indignation to be poured out upon us; and without that Sacrifice we must have for ever suffer’d, because we could never satisfy. But now Christ hath redeem'd us from all Iniquity, and given his Life a Ransom for all, whereby he hath not only secur'd us from perishing, but procur'd for us everlasting Lise. In short, the End of Christ's Coming was not to destroy, but to fave: for fo the
Next words tell us, that God sent not his Son into the World to condemn the World, but that the World thro bim might be saved. This was the primary Design of his Miffion, not to condemn the World, but to rescue it from Condenination; tho, by reason of Mens rejecting of him, that which was intended for their rising, becomés accidentally an occasion of falling. So Simeon's Prophecy foretold of him, that the Child Jesus was set for the Fall as well as the Rising again of many in Israel, and for a Sign that small be spoken against, Luke 2. 34. And this will lead me, in the next place, to enquire,
Thirdly, Whether this Son of God was given up to death for all Men, or only for some particular Persons under par. ticular Conditions and Qualifications, and if so, who and what they are.
In answer to which, I say, (1.) That Christ's Death and Satisfaction is sufficient for all Men. The Greatness and Dignity of his Person put an infinite Value and Merit into his Sufferings, and that render'd it a sufficient Price and Compensation for the Sins of all Mankind. Hence he was usher'd in by St. John, as the Lamb of God that taketh away the Sins of the World: where the Love of God, in sending his Son for our Redemption, is extended to all; which is more expresly deliver'd in 1 John 2. 1,2. If any Man fin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our Sins, and not for ours only, but for the Sins of the whole World. And St. Paul teaches us, that Christ gave himself a Ransom for all, 1 Tim. 2. 6. meaning, that he had laid down a sufficient Price to redeem and ranfon them all, whereby they were deliver'd from a Neceflity of perishing, and put in the way of eternal Happiness and Salvation. He tajted Death for every Man, faith
the Author to the Hebrews, Chap. 2.9. And this is a faithfut Saying, and worthy of all Men to be receiv'd, that Jesus. Christ came into the World to save Sinners, 1 Tim. 1. 15. where, if Sinners are not excluded from Mercy, we may be well affur'd that the Tender of this Salvation extends to all. But,
(2.) Tho the Merits and Virtue of Christ's Death and Satisfaction be sufficient for, yet they are not effe&tual to all Men: for there are many thousands perish everlastingly, notwithstanding this Propitiation; and more fall into the Gulph of Perdition, than escape it. But yet this proceeds not from any Defećt or Imperfection in the Sacrifice, nor from any want of Love or Readiness in our Saviour to confer the Benefit and Efficacy of it; but from Mens being wanting to themselves, in not considering or observing the Terms upon which it is tender'd to them. And here we
(3.) That the Promises of Redemption and Salvation by Jesus Christ are not absolute, but conditional; they are made and perform'd only upon the Conditions of Faith and Repentance, and none but such as observe those Terms and Conditions can reap any Advantage from them. We must die unto Sin, before his dying for Sin can be of any avail to us; for he came to save his people from their Sins, not to make them fecure in them. He gave himfelf for them, to redeem them from all Iniquity, not to allow them in any; and to purify to himself a peculiar People, zealous of good Works. 'Tis whosoever believeth in him mall not perish, but have everLafting Life : where Faith is made the Condition of the Promise ; and we must believe, that is, receive his Doctrine, and become his Disciples and Followers, if we expect to receive Life and Salvation from him. He that believeth on him (faith he) is not condemned; that is, is not condemn'd here by his own Conscience, but may find Peace, Ease and Rest to his Soul; nor shall be condemn'd hereafter, but thall be commended and acquitted at the last and great Day of Account, when he thall be rescu'd from eternal Death, and reftor'd'to eternal Life: for if our Hearts condemn us not, then have we Confidence in God. But he that believeth not, is condemned already; that is, by his own Conscience, which ftings and upbraids him here, and fills him with many Fears and Terrors for his Unbelief; and will be much more condemn’d hereafter, because he hath not believed in the Name of the only begotten Son of God, but hath refus’d the only