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Reniedy vouchsafed him by the Son of God, the only Sa: viour of the World : And if our Hearts condenin us for it already, God, who is greater than our Hearts, and knoweth all things, will surely bring upon us a greater Condemnation. I John 3. 20, 21.
And having mention'd this future and eternal Condemnation, the Apostle gives us in the next words some account of the Ground and Cause of it, saying, This is the Condemnation, that Light is come into the World, and Men love Dark: ness rather than Light, because their Deeds are evil: Where this Condemnation is aggravated,
ift, From the Greatness of the Blessing vouchsafed, that Light is come into the World.
2dly, From the Ingratitude or bad Use that is made of it; Men love Darkness rather than Light. And,
3dly, From the Ground and Reason here given for their so doing; Because their Deeds are evil. All which must mightily enhance the Guilt, and aggravate their Condemnation. For the
Ift, By the Light's coming into the World, is meant the Son of God's appearing in it, to reveal the Mind and Will of his Father for the Salvation of Mankind; who is therefore stild, The Light of the World, or the Light that lightens every one that cometh into the World; John 1. 9. The Prophet Malachi, before his Appearance, call him, The Sun of Righteousness, who was shortly to arise with Healing in his Wings: Which Prophecy St. Luke tells us was fulfild, when this Day.spring from on high visited us with his Salvation. The World before his coming was wrapt in Clouds and thick Darkness; the Jews had but a very imperfect Knowledg of a Saviour, and the Gentiles had none at all, being without God, without Chrift, and so without Hope in the World. But Christ at his Coming dispeld this Darkness of Error and Ignorance, and scatter'd the bright Beams of Light and Knowledg over the benighted World: He shin'd by the Luftre of his Doctrine and Miracles to the ends of the Earth, and all Nations may now see the Salvation of God, for he hath brought Life and Immortality to light by the Gospel;
he hath enlighten'd the World with the Knowledg of all necessary and Divine Truths, and thereby shew'd himself to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. By following his Doctrine we cannot err, and by treading the Steps of his Example we shall surely arrive to everlasting Life, so that we are not left in Ignorance of our Duty, but the Way
of Salvation is made plain before us, and Light is come inta the World.
But zdly, What use doth the World make of it? Why, such is the Folly and Ingratitude of most Men, as to love Darkness rather than Light, to prefer Error and Ignorance before the Knowledg of the Truth, and to chuse rather to walk on still in Darkness, than to tread the Path that leads to the Light of everlasting Life. Such as these wilfully shut their Eyes against the Light flashing in their Faces, and cast the Word of God behind their backs; saying with them in Job, Depart from us, we desire not the Knowledg of thy Ways, Chap. 21. 14. One would think the World should be transported with Joy at this great Light's coming into it; and that all Men should welcome this Sun of Righteousness: as 'tis reported some of the Northern People do the Sun, who wanting its Light for some Months, when it begins to peep out and rise to them, they all salute it with Joy and Exultation, crying out, ido o pinos, Behold the Sun! In like manner, it might be expected, that the benighted World that had a long time lain in Darkness, and in the Shadow of Death, should rejoice at the Appearance of this Sun of Righteousness, meeting him with Acclamations of Joy, and saying, ido ó óneos, Behold the Sun! or with St. John, ide o šuvos, Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the Sins of the World! But lo! the quite contrary, He came unto his own (that is, to the Jews, who were his own People, of his own Stock and Lineage) and yet they receiv'd him not, John 1. 11. Yea, they from whom he might expect the best Reception, were so far from receiving hin, that they rejected his Person and despised his Doctrine ; and instead of owning him as a Saviour, treated him as a Malefactor : They shut up this great Light of the World in the dark Lanthorn of the Grave; and eclips'd awhile this Sun of Righteousness. And tho he foon rose again, and breaking thro the Cloud, after shin’d the brighter ; yet they still hated the Light, Nlighted his Instructions, and would have none of his Ways. And so do the Atheists, Deists, and many nominal Christians to this day.
But what is the Ground or Reason of this ill Carriage ? Why, the Reason here given is, Because their Deeds are evil: They love Darkness rather than Light, because their Deeds are evil. The Course of Men's Lives have a strange and strong Influence apon their Belief and Opinion of
things, and evil Practices do very much corrupt and debauch good Principles. 'Tis obvious to observe, that good Men, who lead holy and vertuous Lives, easily believe the Truths of the Gospel, which they see tend so much to the Happiness of this Life and the next; they feel their Minds inclin'd to receive Christ as the Saviour of the World, and both desire and delight in the Knowledg of his Ways: they chuse Light rather than Darkness, and prefer Knowledg before Ignorance, and that because their Deeds are good: they labour to regulate their Practice by the Rule of God's Word, and instead of fhutting their Eyes against the Light, they pray God to open them, that they may more clear ly see the wonderful things of his Law. And thus an honest Mind leads them to the Knowledg of Divine Truths. Whereas bad Men, on the other hand, who lead loose and wic. ked Lives, do all they can to extinguish the Light of Truth, which shews them the Error and Danger of their Ways, and would stop their career of Wickednefs : for this reafon they hate Knowledg, and endeavour to stifle and fup, press the Light of it from shining into their Understandings, and that because their Deeds are evil. Their Works being contrary to God's Word, they care not to receive or hearken to what makes against them; but rather seek to put out that Light, which they have no mind to work or walk by. And therefore the Evangelist in the next words adds, that every one that doth evil hateth the Light, neither cometh to the Light, left his Deeds should be reproved, There are some Sins fo foul, as to fhun all Discovery, and to cover a black Veil of Darkness, to hide their Deformity. There are others attended with that Shame and Disgrace, as not to be able to bear the Light, and so are acted under Vizors and Disguises, to avoid the Reproach and Cenfures of the World. Again, there are others so full of Mischief and Danger both to Body, Soul, and Goods, that few care to own or be thought Actors of them. And generally all sorts of Sinners feek Secrecy, to conceal the Bafeness and Obliquity of their Actions.
But he that doth iruth, cometh to the Light, that his Deeds made be made manifeft, that they are wrought in God. Where by Works of Truth are meant vertuous and good Works, done in conformity to God's Word, and the Rules of right Reason. Such Works do not decline, but defire the Light; they come to it to be made manifest, and rather court than fly Observation. For these being wrought in
God; that is, according to his Will, and by the Direction of his Holy Spirit, have the Approbation of God and Conscience too: and the more they are expos’d to Light, the more Joy and Comfort do they bring to them that do them.
This is the Sense and Drift of this Day's Gospel; which 1. The infinite Love of Godito Mankind, in giving his Son to be our Saviour; so as to admire, adore, and answer the Ends of it.
2. The great Danger of Ingratitude, and the Abuse of such Love; which defeats the Design, and deprives us of the Benefit of it, so as to abhor and avoid it.
3. The Honour and happy Issue of good and vertuous Actions, which will intitle us to the Salvation procurd by it. All which are to be the Subject of this Day's Meditations, and the Practice of our whole Life: which God
The EPIsTLE for Tuesday in Whitsun-Week.
Acts viii. 14-17 When the Apostles that were at Jerusalem heard
that Samaria had receiv’d the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John; who when they were come down pray?d for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost; for as yet he was fallen upon none of them, only they were baptiz'd in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their Hands upon them, and they receiv’d the Holy Ghost.
FTER the Death of St. Stephen, there follow'd a great Perfecution of the Church which was at Jeru
Salem; by means whereof, the Disciples that were there, were all scatter'd about throughout the Regions of
Juden and Samaria, except the Apostles, who remain'd at Jerusalem. Among those that were scatter'd, Philip the Deacon went down to the City of Samaria, and preach'd Christ unto them. Where the People with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the Miracles done by him : for he dispoffess'd evil and unclean Spirits, and many that were troubled with Palsies and Lameness were heald by him ; which occafion'd great Joy in all the City. Now Samaria was a City or Country inhabited by Jews and Gentiles, and so they had a Medley or Mixture of Religions, partly Jewish, and partly Heathenish ; for they feared the Lord, and served their own Gods, after the manner of other Nations; 2 Kings 17.33. They mingled the Service of the true God with that of the false and heathen Gods, and blended their Worship with Idolatry. In our Saviour's time there was a great Controversy between the Jews and the Samaritans, about the Object and Place of Worship; of which we read, Fohn 4. where our Saviour told the Samaritans, that they worship'd they knew not what, ver. 22. meaning, that they were Idolaters, and wanting the Knowledg of the true God, fell down to false and idol Gods; and such they continu'd, till Philip went down and preach'd to them, and by his Doctrine and Miracles convinc'd and converted them all to the Christian Faith : infomuch that they believing what Philip preach'd concerning the Kingdom of God, and the Name of Jesus Chrift, became Profelytes to the Gospel, and were baptized both Men and Women.
Now when the Apoftles, who were at Jerusalem, heard that Samaria had receiv'd the Word of God, they fent unto them Peter and John : that is, hearing the good Success of St. PhiLips Ministry at Samaria, by the Accession of so many Converts to Christianity, and knowing that Philip had gone fo far with them as his Office of a Deacon would reach, namely, to teach and to baptize them; they thought fit to send down two of their own Company with the farther Power of Apostles, to do something more for them. The Persons fent were St. Peter and St. John, two of the prime Apostles; the one the Apostle of the Circumcifion, the other the Disciple whom Jesus loved. But what was the End or Errand upon which they were sent? Why, that was partly to confirm the new Converts, and partly to ordain Elders and Pastors to instruct and govern them in the feveral Cities or Parts of the Country,