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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 chofen nation to him, a peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priests, and our Saviour tells us that salvation 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 unfit to answer the more extensive purposes of that grace, designed for mankind in the ful nefs 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 disobedient to the wisdom of the just; reducing to their duty the rebellious, not of one, but of all
E 2 - nations
Serm.nations to whom it should be published with, III. out distinction, and so bringing many to
g lory. It is the excellency of this last and ..:beft scheme, that it proposes the first great
principles of religion, with an admirable plainness, it gives such instructions concerna 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 to accept, and of men to perform ; it de-3 clares these terms of acceptance, accomod"} dated to the frailty of our present ftate, 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-131 dispensable necessity of reforming; and it in 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
Ro l len uns fiatal uqarer did to thesab .. . .. * Acts xvü. 31.
... .sau 53 the world in righteousness by that man, whom Serm. be hath ondained; whereof be hath given aflum III. rance unto all men, in that be bath raised him 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 great 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 men. The whole strain of the New-Teftament shews it to be of absolute necessity. The most important confequences depend upon it. The great author of our religion has told us that* except we repent we mall perish. After the resurrection of Christ, the apostles filled with the holy ghost, pressed it upon men in this manner, repent and bé converted, that your fins may be blotted out, Acts 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
deeds * Luke xiii. 3
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. Thefe 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 short 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 fubftantial godļiness and virtue. Under a specious fhèw of outward sanctity was covered reigning
impiety, pride, and covetousness. The SERM. heathen were deep funk in all manner of Ill. 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 christianity, mean by repentance, which they so earnestly and frequently inculcate, and they sometimes represent it by different notions, but which amount to the same thing in effect; as, by conversion to God, that is, whereas men were in a vile subjection to sins, serving diverse lusts and pleasures, they renounce 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 his ways, 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