תמונות בעמוד

him by a particular interposition to favour SERM.
some of them with a positive revelation of III.
his will, to reclaim them from their errors
and lead them in the way to happiness.
For this end was the constitution of Israel
form’d, which is fignificantly and justly
called a Theocracy; God himself was King,
the laws were given by him, nay, and he kept
in his own hand the last resort of power in the
execution. The people under that form of
divine government, were the special favourites
of heaven ; God himself call’d them a chosen
nation to him, a peculiar treasure, a kingdom
of priests, and our Saviour tells us that fal-
vation was of the Jews. But whatever the
special reasons might be, taken from the
genius of that people and the circumstances
of the time, there was in that oeconomy a
great mixture of ceremony and external
pomp, which rendered it imperfect, and un-
fit to answer the more extensive purposes of
that grace, designed for mankind in the ful
ness of time : And therefore it must give way
to a better constitution, a new kingdom of
grace, which God erected and put into the
hands of his son, to be wisely and graciously
administred by him, for turning the disobe-
dient to the wisdom of the just; reducing to their
duty the rebellious, not of one, but of all


[ocr errors]

E 2

Serm.nations to whom it should be published with-
III. out distinction, and so bringing many to

glory. It is the excellency of this last and
best scheme, that it proposes the first great
principles of religion, with an admirable
plainness, it gives such instructions concern.
ing the Deity, his moral perfections and his
providence, and concerning the obligations
and duties of morality, that is, of piety,
temperance, righteousness, and charity, as
are most answerable to the natural sentiments
of mankind, and which our own hearts,
if we seriously attend to them, cannot but
approve; it prescribes such a pure, simple,
and reasonable worship as is worthy of God 1
to accept, and of men to perform ; it de-3
clares these terms of acceptance, accomo
dated to the frailty of our present state, and
the conscious sense we have of guilt, which
gives the greatest encouragement to finners
who are willing to reform their lives and
return to their duty, and at the same time,
lays them under the greatest and most in-
dispensable necessity of reforming; and it
enforces our obedience to the laws of God
in the strongest manner, and by the most
powerful motives, having brought life and
immortality to light, and declared, that God
has * appointed a day wherein be will judge

bis the


* Acts xvü. 31.

[ocr errors]

the world in righteousness by that man, whom Serm.
be bath.ordained; whereof he hath given afsun III.
rance unto all men, in that be hath raised
bim from the dead.

This is that kingdom of heaven which our
lord says in my text was then at hand, it
was begun to be erected, and the model of
it would soon be compleated ; and that men
might be the qualified approved subjects of
it, and entitled to the


salvation it proposes, he exhorts them to repent. I shall at this time, first, consider the duty of repentance, and then, lay before you some motives to the practice of it. Surely, this, if any thing in christianity, is of importance to

The whole strain of the New-Teftament shews it to be of absolute necessity. The most important consequences depend upon it. The great author of our religion has told us that* except we repent we shall perish. After the resurrection of Christ, the apostles filled with the holy ghost, pressed it upon men in this manner, repent and be converted, that

your fins may be blotted out, Ads iii. 19. The great doctrines of christianity, which are declared to be of its very essence, do all point to it as their proper improvement. The death of Christ is represented as calling upon us to be crucified with him, to mortify the

E 3

deeds * Luke xii. 3.


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Serm.deeds of the body, and to be renewed in the III. Spirit of our minds, that is to repent. And

that future judgment which God has appointed, and the declaration and assurance of which is a peculiar glory of the gospel, strongly enforces the same exhortation.

These confiderations will, I hope, engage your attention to that first and great instruc-, tion which our Saviour gave to the world.

The original word which is generally used in the New Testament for repentance, does properly signify a change of mind, and very agreeeable it is to the nature of the thing; for that religious repentance which God injoins, and peremptorily insists on as the condition of forgiveness, and our obtaining his favour, is a change of our dispositions from evil to good, and as the genuine fruit of it, the ammendment of our lives. The gospel supposes men to have universally finned and come sort of the glory of God, nay, it declares that those to whom the great salvation was first offered, both Jews and Gentiles, were very corrupt. Among the Jews religion had degenerated into empty form, and trifling ceremonies were substituted in the place of substantial gode ļiness and virtue. Under à specious fhew of outward sanctity was covered reigning


[ocr errors]

ianpiety, pride, and covetousness.

The SERM. heathen were deep sunk in all manner of III

. wickedness, in adultery, fornication, lasciviousness, revelling, drunkenness, unnatural contentions and animosities. Such were the persons whom Christ and his apostles called to repent, that is, to change their inclinations and tempers, to unlearn their vitious habits, to bring forth fruits meet for amendment of life, to become lovers of God and men, to worship God in spirit and truth, to be sober, patient, meek, humble, just, and merciful.

This is what the first teachers of christia-
nity mean by repentance, which they fo.
earnestly and frequently inculcate, and they
sometimes represent it by different notions,
but which amount to the same thing in ef-
fect ; as, by, conversion to God, that is,
whereas men were in a vile subjection to sins,
serving diverse lusts and pleasures, they re-,
nounce the tyrannical usurpation of those

other lords who have had dominion over them
and yield themselves to God as their only
rightful Lord, to walk in bis


and to keep his Commandments. Sometimes it is - represented under the images of a new crea. tion, and a resurrection or revival from death which signify that important moral change in



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


« הקודםהמשך »