« הקודםהמשך »
him by a particular interposition to favour Se Rm,1 some os them with a positive revelation of HI.' 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 significantly 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 calPd them a chosen nation to him, a peculiar treasure, a kingdom of prie/ls, and our Saviour tells us that fasNation 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~ 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 gracioufly 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
S E R M. nations to whom it mould be published with, III. out distinction, and so bringing many to **"~*~~J 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 concerning 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 declares these terms of acceptance, accomodated to the frailty of our present state, and the conscious fense we have of guilt, which gives the greatest encouragement to sinners who are willing to reform their lives and return to their duty, and at the fame 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 1 immortality to light, and declared, that God has * appointed a day <wberein be -will judge c
r * Acts xvii. 3V - .
the nvori^ in righteousness by that man, whomB E R be hath oHained; whereof he hath given ash-1 "I ranee unto \ll men, in that he hath raised*^"*" him from the dead.
This is that kingdom of heaven which ourlord fays 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, firft, 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-Testament shews it to be of absolute necessity. The mostimportant consequences depend upoiyt. The great author of our religion has told us that* except we repent we fioallperish. 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, Acts iii. 19. The great doctrines of christianity, which areideclared 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 Ms * Luke xiii. 3.
Serm.deeds of the body, and to be renewed in the spirit °f our ntinds, that is to repent. And ^■"v""-that future judgment which God has appointed, and the declaration and assurance of which is a peculiar glory of the gospel, strongly enforces the fame exhortation. These considerations will, I hope, engage your attention to that first and great instruction which our Saviour gave to the world.
The original word which is generally used in the New Testament for repentances, 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 Jhort 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 godliness and virtue. Under a specious shew gf outward sanctity was covered reigning
impiety, impiety, pride, and covetousness. TheSERM. heathen were deep funk in all manner of % wickedness^ in . adultery, fornication, lasci-^^*"^ J' viousness, 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. worjhip God in spirit and truth, to be sober, patient,. meek, humble, just, and merciful.
This is what the first ^eachers of christianity mean by repentance, which they fp. jearnestly and frequently inculcate, and they •sometimes represent it by .different notions, but which.amount to the fame thing in effect j as, by,. conversion to God, that is?i whereas men were in a vile subjection to sins, serving diverse lusts and pleasures, they re
vpounce the tyrannical usurpation of those ether lords who have had dominion over them, .anjd yield themselves to God as their only lightful Lord, to walk in his ways, and lo
ri,eep his Commandments. Sometimes it. is _hj;epresented under the images of a new crea*
. (ion, and a resurrection or revivalfrom death; Which signify that important moral change in
■ . \ "~! E 4 'the