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Inexcusableness of those Men, that notwithstanding the Gospel Meaus.of Salvation, that have been so long afforded them, do ftill continue Infidels in their Judgment, or Immoral in their Lives.
What will these Men be able to say for themselves, when they come to appear before the Judge of the World, at the great Day of Accounts? Will they pretend there was not Force enough, in the Gospel-evidence, to convince them; or Weight enough in its Motives to reclaim them? Ah, their own Hearts will give them the Lye. They can no longer be able to deceive themselves.' There will be no Unbelievers, no feared Consciences, in the other State. They will then be clearly convinced, that God, for his. Part, did all that was necessary; nay, all that was fit to be done, in order to their Salvation : But they were resolved to shut their Eyes, and harden their Hearts against the gracious Means that were tendred them.
Oh, how will the Rich Man, and his five Brethren in Hell rise up in Judgment against these Men? For they only refused to hear Moses and the Prophets : But these, besides them, have obstinately refused to hear Christ and his Apostles, who bronght abundantly greater Light into the World, than the for
- ( ... Much more, How will the poor ignorant Heathens rise up in Judgment against them, who were destitute both of Moses and Chrift: and yet, to the Shame of Christians it may
be spoken, have several of them lived better Lives than many of us do.
May we not justly and sadly apply that Woe which our Saviour pronounced of Chorazin and Bethsaida, to Thousands among us? Woe unto you, Unbelievers; Woe unto you, O obftinate and irreclaimable Sinners'; for if the mighty Means of Grace, the mighty Evidence of Truth, had been afforded to Tyre and Sidun, to Sodom and Gomorrha, to Mahometans and Pagans that have been offered unto you, they would long ago have repented in Sackcloth and Ashes. But, I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for all these in the Day of Judgment, than for you. ..! Gud Almighty give us all Grace seriously to
consider these Things, that we may, by a timely and hearty closing with his Methods and Designs for our Salvation, prevent the dismal Consequences of Infidelity and a vicious Life; that so it may not be our Condemnation at the last Day, That Light is come into the World, and we have loved Darkness rather than Light.
15 GALAT. V. 13. Use not. Liberty for an Occasion, to the Fless. py ON N Y one that useth to make Reflecti
ons upon his own Actions, cannot oh but observe, That one of the great
Occasions of the Sins he is guilty of in the Course of his Life, is the too free use of his lawful Libertyd
I do not fay, that any Man doth commit Sin by using his lawful Liberty :(for that would be a kind of Contradiction:) But, I say, the using our Liberty to the utmost Pitch and Extent of that which we call Lawful, is the Occasion of a great many Sins that would otherwise not have been committed.
If one should offer to tempt a Man that hath any Sense of Vertue or Religion, to do a thing, that at the first sight appears Sinful or Wicked; it would certainly be rejected.
Every one that has any regard to God of Goodnefs, would start at fuch' a Propofal, But here is our Infclicity: A Temptation comes on by degrees. And at the first we are ingaged in nothing but what is Lawful and Honeft; and accordinglywe use that Liberty which Nature and Religion allow usz and so we proceed on insensibly in the usé of that Liberty, till at last we become uncertain whether we have not exceeded the Bounds of what is Lawful: And by this means we are often caught. . Nay, indeed, nothing but this could betray well-meaning Perfons, and such as are vertuously difpofed, into Sin. Licitis perimus omnes, said a devout Man: It
by Lawful Things that we commonly miscarry:
With great Reason, therefore, doth St. Paul give this Advice in the Text: Brethrer (faith he) ye have been called unto Liberty; only use not Liberty for an Occasion to the Fles.
There is no doubt, but the Apostle writ these Words upon Occasion of, and with Reference to, the great Controversy that was then on foot' among Chriftians, touching the Obligation of the Jewish Law.
Some, then, thought themselves bound in Conscience, to observe all the Precepts of Moses his Law. Other Christians thought they were freed by the coming of Christ, from all legal Observances. The Apostle determines the Cafe in Favour of these latter, and declares, That by the Gospel they were called unto Liberty, and were free from all the Mofaical
Impositions. : But: yet, nevertheless, he tells
This is the stric Sense of the Apostle's Words; as they come in here in the Text, and as they do relate to that Occasion upon which he writ them. But that Sense, with Reference to that Occasion, is now out of Doors among us: Though the general Advice that is here given, will eternally be good and useful; nay, and always needful to bei insisted on in all Ages of the World.
We have none, now, that use their Liberty for an Occasion to the Flesh, as to the Point of the Judaical Ceremonies. But we have abundance that do use it so as to other Matters. Nay, as I said before, this too free Use of our Liberty in lawful Things, is one of the greatest Sources and Fountains from whence most of our Irregularities do proceed. And, therefore, I do not know how I can entertain you more usefully upon this Text, than by endeavouring to give you the best Rules. I