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CHIEF HEADS OF THE SERMONS.
SERMONS XLVII. XLVIII. XLIX. L.
ROMANS xii. 18.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. P. 1. 31. 64. 97.
Christianity the last and most correct edition of the law of nature: every precept of it may be resolved into a natural reason; as advancing and improving nature in the higher degrees and grander concerns of it. Christianity takes care for man, not only in his religious capacity, but also in his civil and political, binding the bonds of government faster, by the happy provisions of peace, 1.
I. The shewing what is implied in the duty here enjoined.
II. What are the measures and proportions by which it is to be determined.
III. What are the means by which it is to be determined.
IV. What the motives by which it may be enforced.
I. The duty here enjoined is, live peaceably; which may be taken,
1. For the actual enjoyment of peace with all men: and so he only lives peaceably, whom no man molests. But this cannot be the sense intended here, (1.) Because so to live peaceably is impossible, 1. From the contentious, unreasonable humour of many men, 2. 2. From the contrary and inconsistent interests of many men, 5. (2.) Because, though it were not impossible, it can be no man’s duty, 6.
For a peaceable behaviour towards all men; which is the iv duty here enjoined: it seems adequately to consist of two things,
1. A forbearance of all hostile actions; and that in a double respect. (1.) In a way of prevention, 8. (2.) Of retaliation, 10.
2. A forbearance of injurious, provoking words, 13.
II. The measures and proportions by which it is to be determined are expressed in these words: if it be possible, 15.
Now possible may be taken two ways: 1. As it is opposed to naturally impossible, and that which cannot be done, 15. 2. As opposed to morally impossible, and that which cannot be done lawfully, 15.
But the observance of peace being limited by the measure of lawful, all inquiries concerning the breaking of it are reducible to these two:
1. Whether it be at all lawful.
2. Supposing it lawful, when and where it ought to be judged so.
Under the first is discussed that great question, whether war can be lawful for Christians, 17.
War is of two distinct kinds. 1. Defensive, in order to keep off and repel an evil designed to the public. 2. Offensive, for revenging a public injury done to a community. And it is allowable upon the strength of these arguments:
(1.) As it (the defensive) is properly an act of self-preservation, 17.
(2.) As it (the offensive) is a proper act of distributive justice, 19.
(3.) Because St. John the Baptist, Christ himself, and the apostles, judged the employment of a soldier lawful, 21.
The ground of the Socinians’ arguments in this case, viz. that God, under the Mosaical covenant, promised only temporal possessions to his people, therefore war was lawful to them; but now, under the covenant of grace through Christ, has made no promise of temporal enjoyments, but on the contrary bids us to despise them, and therefore has vtaken from us all right of war and resistance. This argument examined and confuted, 23. And
The scriptures produced by those who abet the utter unlawfulness of war examined and explained. As,
II. Isaiah ii. 4. 31.
III. Matthew xxvi. 52. 33.
IV. James iv. 1. 34.
Under the second inquiry, supposing it lawful, when and where it ought to be judged so?
First, some general grounds, that may authorize war, are laid down. As when those with whom we are at peace,
1. Declare that they will annoy us, unless we cut off our limbs, &c. and upon our refusal disturb us, 37.
2. Declare war with us, unless we will renounce our religion, 37.
3. Injure us to that degree as a nation, as to blast our honour and reputation, 38.
4. Declare war with us, unless we will quit our civil rights, 38.
Secondly, some particular cases are resolved; as,
First case. Whether it be lawful for subjects in any case to make war upon the magistrate? 39.
Grotius’s seven cases, wherein he asserts it to be lawful, 41.
David Parseus his arguments, in a set and long dispute upon Rom. xiii. examined and answered, 43.
Second case. Whether it be lawful for one private man to make war upon another in those encounters which we commonly call duels? 49. And here are set down,
1. The cases in which a duel is lawful. As (1.) When two malefactors condemned to die are appointed by the magistrate to fight, upon promise of life to the conqueror, 49. (2.) When two armies are drawn out, and the decision of the battle is cast upon a single combat, 50. (3.) When one challenges another, and resolves to kill him, unless he accepts the combat, 50.
2. The cases in which duels are utterly unlawful. Asvi
(1.) When they are undertook for vain ostentation, 52. (2.) To purge oneself from some crime objected, 53. (3.) When two agree upon a duel, for the decision of right, mutually claimed by both, agreeing that the right shall fall to the conqueror, 53. (4.) When undertaken for revenge, or some injury done, or affront passed, 54.
But other arguments there are against duels, besides their unlawfulness. As,
1. The judgment of men generally condemning them, 57.
2. The wretched consequences of the thing itself; which are twofold: (1.) Such as attend the conquered person, viz. ]. A disastrous death, 58. 2. Death eternal, 59(2.) Such as attend the conqueror. 1. In case he is apprehended, 60. 2. Supposing he escapes by flight, 61. 3. Supposing by the intercession of great friends he has outbraved justice, and triumphed over the law by a full acquitment, 62.
Third case. Whether it be lawful to repel force by force, so as to kill another in one’s own defence? 64.
If a man has no other means to escape, it is lawful upon two reasons. 1. The great natural right of self-preservation, 65. 2. From that place where Christ commands his disciples to provide themselves swords, 65. Add to this, the suffrage of the civil law, 66.
Yet so to assert the privilege as to take off the danger, it is stated under its due limitations by three inquiries.
1st, What those things are which may be thus defended; namely,
1. Life, 66. 2. Limbs, 67. 3. Chastity invaded by force, 69. 4. Estate or goods; which case admitting of some more doubt than the others, the opinions for the negative are stated and answered, 69.
Whatsoever a man may thus do for himself, the same also is lawful for him to do in the same danger and extremity of his neighbour, 73.
2dly, What are the conditions required to render such a defence lawful; which are these:vii
(1.) That the violence be so apparent, great, and pressing, that there can be no other means of escape, 75. (2.) That there be no possibility of recourse to a magistrate for a legal protection, 76. (3.) That a man design only his own defence, without any hatred or bitter purpose of revenge, 78.
3dly, Who are the persons against whom we may thus defend ourselves, 78.
Fourth case. Whether it be allowable for Christians to prosecute, and go to law with one another?
1. The arguments brought against it are examined, 81. Which seem principally to bear upon two scriptures, (1.) Matt. v. 40. (2.) 1 Cor. vi. 7. The arguments against going to law being drawn from the letter of these scriptures, they are examined and explained according to the sense of them, 81-87. The third argument is the strict command that lies upon Christians to forgive injuries. Here prosecutions are distinguished as they concern restitution or punishment, and going to law with regard to the first of these shewn to be just and allowable, 87.
The arguments for the proof of the assertion are next considered. Which are,
1. That it is to endeavour the execution of justice, in the proper acts of it, between man and man, 90.
2. That if Christian religion prohibits law, observance of this religion draws after it the utter dissolution of all government, 91.
The limitations of law-contentions are three:
1. That a man takes not this course, but upon a very great and urgent cause, 93.
2. That he be willing to agree upon any tolerable and just terms, rather than to proceed to a suit, 94.
3. Supposing great cause, and no satisfaction, that he manage his suit by the rule of charity, and not of revenge, 95.
III. The means by which the duty of living peaceably is to be effected, are,
1. A suppression of all distasteful, aggravating apprehensions of any ill turn or unkind behaviour from men, 97.viii
2. The forbearing all pragmatical or malicious informations against those with whom we converse, 104.
3. That men would be willing in some cases to wave the prosecution of their rights, and not too rigorously to insist upon them, 112. As (1.) When the recovery of it seems impossible, 113. (2.) When it is but inconsiderable, but the recovery troublesome and contentious, 115. (3.) When a recompence is offered, 116.
4. To reflect upon the example of Christ, and the strict injunction lying upon us to follow it, 118.
5. Not to adhere too strictly to our own judgments of things doubtful in themselves, 120.
IV. The motives and arguments to enforce this duty are,
1. The excellency of the thing itself, 122.
2. The excellency of the principle from which peaceableness of spirit proceeds, 124.
3. The blessing entailed upon it by promise, Matt. v. 124. Two instances of this blessing, that certainly attend the peaceable in this world: (1.) An easy, undisturbed, and quiet enjoyment of themselves, 125. (2.) Honour and reputation, which such a temper of mind fixes upon their persons, 126. Their report survives them, and their memory is blessed. Their name is glorified upon earth, and their souls in heaven, 128.
The wages of sin is death. P. 129.
A discourse of sin not superfluous, while the commission of it is continual, and yet the preventing necessary.
The design of the words prosecuted in discussing three things:
I. Shewing what sin is, 130. As it is usually divided into two sorts:
1. Original sin, 130.
2. Actual sin, 132. Which is considered two ways:
(1.) According to the subject matter of it: as, 1. The ix sin of our words, 133. 2. Of our external actions, 134. 3. Of our desires, 134.
(2.) According to the degree or measure of it: as 1. When a man is engaged in a sinful course by surprise and infirmity, 135. 2. Against the reluctancies of an awakened conscience, 136. 3. In defiance to conscience, 137.
II. Shewing, what is comprised in death, which is here allotted for the sinner’s wages. And
1. For death temporal, 138.
2. Death eternal, 140. Which has other properties besides its eternity, to increase the horror of it. As (1.) It bereaves a man of all the pleasures and comforts which he enjoyed in this world, 141. (2.) Of that inexpressible good, the beatific fruition of God, 142. (3.) As it fills both body and soul with the highest torment and anguish that can be received within a finite capacity, 143.
III. Shewing in what respect death is property called the wages of sin.
1. Because the payment of wages still presupposes service and labour, 144.
2. Because wages do always imply a merit in the work, requiring such a compensation, 147.
Now sin is a direct stroke, 1st, At God’s sovereignty, 149. 2dly, At his very being, 150.
Having thus shewn what sin is, and what death is, the certain inevitable wages of sin; he who likes the wages, let him go about the work, 151.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. P. 152.
It may at first seem wonderful, that there are so few men in the world happy, when happiness is so freely offered: but this wonder vanishes upon considering the preposterous ways of men’s acting, who passionately pursue the end, and yet overlook the means: many perishing eternally because xthey cannot eat, drink, sleep, and play themselves into salvation. But this great sermon of our Saviour teaches us much other things, being fraught with the most sublime and absolute morality ever vented in the world, 152. An eminent instance whereof we have in the text, which is discussed under four heads:
I. Shewing, what it is to be pure in heart.
Purity in general cannot be better explained than by its opposition, 1. To mixture, 154. 2. To pollution, 155.
Purity in heart is shewn, (1.) By way of negation; that it does not consist in the external exercise of religion, 156. There being many other reasons for the outward piety of a man’s behaviour. As, 1. A virtuous and strict education, 157. 2. The circumstances and occasions of his life, 159. 3. The care and tenderness of his honour, 160.
(2.) Positively, wherein it does consist, viz. in an inward change and renovation of the heart, by the infusion of such a principle as naturally suits and complies with whatsoever is pure, holy, and commanded by God, 162. Which more especially manifests itself, (1.) In the purity and untainted sanctity of the thoughts, 163. (2.) In a sanctified regulation of the desires, 164. (3.) In a fearful and solicitous avoiding of every thing that may tend to sully or defile it, 166.
II. Explaining, what it is to see God.
Some disputes of the schools concerning this, 168.
Our enjoyment of God is expressed by seeing him; because the sense of seeing, (1.) Represents the object with greater clearness and evidence than any of the other senses, 170. (2.) Is most universally exercised and employed, 170. (3.) Is the sense of pleasure and delight, 171. (4.) Is the most comprehensive and insatiable, 171.
III. Shewing, how this purity fits and qualifies the soul for the sight of God; namely, by causing a suitableness between God and the soul, 172.
Now during the soul’s impurity, God is utterly unsuitable to it in a double respect.xi
1. Of the great unlikeness, 173. 2. Of the great contrariety there is betwixt them, 173.
IV. The brief use and application is, to correct our too great easiness and credulity in judging of the spiritual estate, either of ourselves or others. If we would prevent the judgment of God, we must imitate it, judging of ourselves as he will judge of us: for he who has outward purity only, without a thorough renovation within him, and a sanctified disposition of heart, may indeed hereafter see God, but then he is like to see him only as his judge, 174.
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. P. 178.
As all sects and institutions have their distinguishing badge, or characteristic name, that of Christianity is comprised in the crucifixion of the flesh, and the lusts thereof, 178.
This explained, by shewing,
I. What is meant by being Christ’s: it consists in accepting of, and having an interest in Christ, as he is offered and proposed in the gospel, under three offices; his prophetical, his kingly, and his sacerdotal, 179.
II. What is meant by the flesh, and the affections and lusts: by the former we are to understand the whole entire body of sin and corruption, the inbred proneness in our nature to all evil; by the latter, the drawing forth of that propensity or principle into the several commissions of sin, through the course of our lives, 180.
The text further prosecuted in shewing two things:
I. Why this vitiosity and corrupt habit of nature comes to have this denomination of flesh: and that for three reasons:
1. Because of its situation and place, which is principally in the flesh; concupiscence, which is the radix of all sin, following the crasis and temperature of the body, 181.xii
2. Because of its close, inseparable nearness to the soul; being, as it were, ingrafted into it, and thereby made connatural to it, 186.
3. Because of its dearness to us; there being nothing we prosecute with a more affectionate tenderness, than our bodies; and sin being our darling, the queen-regent of our affections, 188.
Hence is inferred,
1. The deplorable estate of fallen man, 191.
2. The great difficulty the duty of mortification, 191.
3. The mean and sordid employment of every sinner, 192.
II. What is imported by the crucifixion of the flesh: under which is shewn;
1. What is the reason of the use of it in this place: it is used by way of allusion to Christ, of whose behaviour and sufferings every Christian is to be a living copy and representation, 193.
2. The full force and significancy of the expression: it imports four things: (1.) The death of sin, 196. (2.) Its violent death, 198. (3.) Its painful, bitter, and vexatious death, 199. (4.) Its shameful and cursed death, 201.
3. Some means prescribed for the enabling us to the performance of this duty: viz.
(1.) A constant and pertinacious denying our affections and lusts in all their cravings for satisfaction, 203.
(2.) The encountering them by actions of the opposite virtues, 204.
IV. What may be drawn, by way of consequence and deduction, from what has been delivered: and,
1. We collect the high concernment and absolute necessity of every man’s crucifying his carnal, worldly affections, because, without it, he cannot be a Christian, 205.
2. We gather a standing and infallible criterion to distinguish those that are not Christ’s from those that are, 206.
An objection, that “it is an hard and discouraging assertion, that none should be reputed Christ’s, unless he has fully crucified and destroyed his sin,” answered by explaining xiiithe doctrine to mean, an active resolution against sin, 206.
PREACHED JANUARY 30th.
Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood. P. 209
A short account being given of this whole prophecy, which foretells the great event of the Babylonish captivity, 209. the words of the text are prosecuted in five particulars.
I. The ground and cause of this woe or curse; which was the justly abhorred sin of blood-guiltiness, 212.
II. The condition of the person against whom this curse is denounced: he was such an one as had actually established a government and built a city with blood, 214.
III. The latitude and extent of “this woe or curse; which includes the miseries of both worlds, present and future: and, to go no further than the present, is made up of the following ingredients:
1. A general hatred and detestation, fastened upon such men’s persons, 217.
2. The torment of continual jealousy and suspicion, 219.
3. The shortness and certain dissolution of the government, that he endeavours so to establish, 220.
4. The sad and dismal end that usually attends such persons, 222.
IV. The reasons, why a curse or woe is so peculiarly denounced against this sin. Among many, these are produced:
1. Because the sin of bloodshed makes the most direct breach upon human society, of which the providence of God owns the peculiar care and protection, 224.
2. For the malignity of those sins, that almost always go in conjunction with it; particularly the sins of fraud, deceitfulness, and hypocrisy, 226.
V. An application of all to this present occasion, 227. by xiv shewing how close and home the subject-matter of the text comes to the business of this annual solemnity.
1. In the charge of unjust effusion of blood, considered, 1. As public, and acted by and upon a community, as in war, 228. or, 2. Personal, in the assassination of any particular man, 229.
2. In the end or design for which it was shed; namely, the erecting and setting up of a government, 230.
3. In the woe or curse denounced, which is shewn to have befell these bloody builders. 1. In the shortness of the government so set up, 231. 2. In the general hatred that followed their persons,
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the Devil. P. 234.
This divine apostle endeavours to give the world a right information about this so great and concerning affair in this chapter, and particularly in these words; wherein we have,
I. An account of Christ’s coming into the world, in this expression; the Son of God was manifested. Which term, though it principally relates to the actual coming of Christ into the world, yet is of a larger comprehension, and leads to an enumeration and consideration of passages before and after his nativity, 234.
II. The end and design of his coming, which was to destroy the works of the Devil. In the prosecution of which is shewn,
1. What were those works of the Devil that the Son of God destroyed, 238. and these works are reduced to three: 1. Delusion, his first art of ruining mankind; which is displayed by a survey of the world lying under gentilism, in their principles of speculation and practice, 239. 2dly, Sin. As the Devil deceived men only to make them sinful, some account is given of his success herein, 243. xv 3dly, Death: the inseparable concomitant of the former, 247.
2dly, The ways and means by which he destroys them. Now as the works of the Devil were three, so Christ encounters them by those three distinct offices belonging to him as mediator. 1st, As a prophet, he destroys and removes that delusion, that had possessed the world, by those divine and saving discoveries of truth, exhibited in the doctrine and religion promulged by him, 248. 2dly, As a priest, he destroyed sin, by that satisfaction that he paid down for it, and by that supply of grace that he purchased, for the conquering and rooting it out of the hearts of believers, 250. 3dly, As a king he destroys death by his power: for it is he that has the keys of life and death., opening where none shuts, and shutting where none opens, 251.
And when Herod the king-heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. P. 253.
It having been the method of divine Providence, to point out extraordinary events and passages with some peculiar characters of remark; such as may alarm the minds and engage the eyes of the world, in a more exact observance of, and attention to, the hand of God in such great changes; no event was ever ushered in with such notable prodigies and circumstances as the nativity of our blessed Saviour, 253. Some of them the apostle recounts in this chapter; which may be reduced to these two heads:
I. The solemn address and homage made to him by the wise men of the east. Under which passage these particulars are considered:
1. Who and what these wise men were, 255.
2. The place from whence they came, 258.
3. About what time they came to Jerusalem, 260.
4. What that star was that appeared to them, 262.xvi
5. How they could collect our Saviour’s birth by that star, 263.
II. Herod’s behaviour thereupon, 266. Herod is discoursed of,
1. In respect of his condition and temper, in reference to his government of Judaea; which are marked out by three things recorded of him, both in sacred and profane story. 1st, His usurpation, 266. 2d, His cruelty, 267. 3d, His magnificence, 268.
2. In respect of his behaviour and deportment, upon this particular occasion, which shews itself, 1. In that trouble and anxiety of mind that he conceived upon this news, 270. 2. In that wretched course he took to secure himself against his supposed competitor, 271.
3. In respect of the influence this his behaviour had upon those under his government.
The question, why Christ, being born the right and lawful king of the Jews, yet gave way to this bloody usurper, and did not assume the government to himself, answered:
1. Because his assuming it would have crossed the very design of that religion that he was then about to establish; which was, to unite both Jew and Gentile into one church or body, 273.
2. Christ voluntarily waved the Jewish crown, that he might hereby declare to the world the nature of his proper kingdom; which was, to be wholly without the grandeur of human sovereignty, and the splendour of earthly courts, 274.
He that loves father or mother better than me is not worthy of me. P. 275.
Our Saviour here presents himself and the world together, as competitors for our best affections, challenging a transcendent affection on our parts, because of a transcendent worthiness on his, 275.xvii
By father and mother are to be understood whatsoever enjoyments are dear unto us, 276. and from the next expression, he is not worthy of me, the doctrine of merit must not be asserted: because there is a twofold worthiness, 1. According to the real inherent value of the thing; and so no man by his choicest endeavours can be said to be worthy of Christ, 277. 2. When a thing is worthy, not for any value in itself, but because God freely accepts it as such, 277.
This being premised, the sense of the words is prosecuted in three particulars.
I. In shewing what is included and comprehended in that love to Christ here mentioned.
It may include five things. 1. An esteem and valuation of Christ above all worldly enjoyments whatsoever, 278. 2. A choosing him before all other enjoyments, 279. 3. Service and obedience to him, 281. 4. Acting for him in opposition to all other things, 284. 5. It imports a full acquiescence in him alone, even in the absence and want of all other felicities, 286.
II. In shewing the reasons and motives that may induce us to this love.
1. He is the best able to reward our love, 291.
2. He has shewn the greatest love to us, 294. and obliged us with two of the highest instances of it: 1. He died for us, 296. 2. He died for us while we were enemies, and in the phrase of scripture, enmity itself against him, 298.
III. In shewing the signs and characters whereby we may discern this love.
1. A frequent and indeed a continual thinking of him, 300.
2. A willingness to leave the world, whensoever God shall think fit by death to summon us to a nearer converse with Christ, 301.
3. A zeal for his honour, and an impatience to hear or see any indignity offered him, 302.xviii
SERMONS LVIII. LIX. LX.
In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. P. 305. 321. 337.
Prayer is to be exercised with the greatest caution and exactness, being the most solemn intercourse earth can have with heaven. The distance between God and us, so great by nature, and yet greater by sin, makes it fearful to address him: but Christ has smoothed a way; and we are commanded to come with a good heart, not only in respect of innocence, but also of confidence, 305.
The words prosecuted in the discussion of four things.
I. That there is a certain boldness and confidence, very well becoming of our humblest addresses to God, 306.
This is evident; for it is the very language of prayer to treat God with the appellation of Father. The nature of this confidence is not so easily set forth by positive description, as by the opposition that it bears to its extremes; which are of two sorts.
1. In defect. This confidence is herein opposed, 1. To desperation and horror of conscience, 307. 2. To doubtings and groundless scrupulosities, 308. Some of these stated and answered, 309.
2. In excess. Herein confidence is opposed, 1. To rashness and precipitation, 312. 2. To impudence or irreverence, which may shew itself many ways in prayer, but more especially, 1. By using of saucy, familiar expressions to God, 315. or, 2. In venting crude, sudden, extemporary conceptions before God, 317.
II. Is shewn, that the foundation of this confidence is laid in the mediation of Christ, 319. which is yet more evidently set forth,
III. In shewing the reason, why Christ’s mediation ought to minister such confidence to us: which is, the incomparable fitness of Christ for the performance of that work, 321. and this appears by considering him,
1. In respect of God, with whom he is to mediate, 322. God xix in this business sustains a double capacity, (1.) Of a Father; and there cannot be a more promising ground of success in all Christ’s pleas for us, 322. (2.) Of a Judge: now Christ appears for us, not only as an advocate, but as a surety, paying down to God on our behalf the very utmost that his justice can exact, 323. and besides God himself appointed him to this work, 324.
2. In reference to men, for whom he mediates. He bears a fourfold relation to them. 1. Of a friend, 326. 2. Of a brother, 327. 3. Of a surety, 328. 4. Of a lord or master, 329.
3. In respect of himself, who performs the office. 1. He is perfectly acquainted with all our wants and necessities, 331. 2. He is heartily sensible of and concerned about them, 333. 3. He is best able to express and set them before the Father, 334.
IV. Whether there is any other ground that may rationally embolden us, in these our addresses to him, 337.
If there is, it must be either, 1. Something within; as the merit of our good actions, 337. But this cannot be, 1. Because none can merit but by doing something absolutely by his own power, for the advantage of him from whom he merits, 338. 2. Because to merit is to do something over and above what is due, 338. It must then be,
2. Something without us: and this must be the help and intercession either, 1. Of angels, or 2. Of saints, 339.
Angels cannot mediate for us, and present our prayers; 1. Because it is impossible for them to know and perfectly discern the thoughts, 339. 2. Because no angel can know at once all the prayers that are even uttered in words throughout the world, 339-
The arguments some bring for the knowledge of angels, partly upon scripture, 340. and partly upon reason, 344. examined and answered, 341. 344.
The foregoing arguments against angels proceed more forcibly against the intercession of saints: to which there may be added over and above, 1. That God sometimes takes his saints out of the world, that they may not know and see xx what happens in the world, 346. 2. We have an express declaration of their ignorance of the state of things below in Isaiah lxiii. 16. 347.
The Romish arguments from scripture, Luke xxi. and from reason, stated and answered, 348.
The invocation of saints supposed to arise, 1. From the solemn meetings, used by the primitive Christians, at the saints’ sepulchres, and there celebrating the memory of their martyrdom, 351. 2. From those seeds of the Platonic philosophy, that so much leavened many of the primitive Christians, 352. 3. From the people’s being bred in idolatry, 352. But the primitive fathers held no such thing; and the council of Trent, that pretended to determine the case, put the world off with an ambiguity, 353.
Conclusion, that Christ is the only true way; the way that has light to direct, and life to reward them that walk in it; and consequently there is no coming to the Father but by him, 355.
And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man. P. 357.
God, in the first chapter, looks over all created beings, and pronounces them to be good: in this chapter, he surveys the sons of men before the flood, and delivers his judgment, that they were exceeding wicked, nay totally corrupt and depraved. But amidst those aboundings of wickedness, God left not himself without a witness in their hearts: they had many checks and calls from the Holy Spirit, which, by their resolution to persist in sin, they did at length totally extinguish. God withdraws his Spirit, and the strivings of it: and presently the flood breaks in upon them, to their utter perdition, 357.
The words afford several observations; as first, from the method God took in this judgment, first withdrawing his Spirit, and then introducing the flood, we may observe,xxi
1. D. That God’s taking away his Spirit from any soul, is the certain forerunner of the ruin of that soul, 358.
2. From that expression of the Spirits striving with man, we may observe,
2. D. That there is in the heart of man a natural enmity and opposition to the motions of God’s holy Spirit, 359.
3. From the same expression we may observe,
3. D. That the Spirit in its dealings with the heart is very earnest and vehement, 359-
4. From the definitive sentence God here passes we may observe,
4. D. That there is a set time, after which the convincing operations of God’s Spirit upon the heart of man, in order to his conversion, being resisted, will cease, and for ever leave him, 359.
This last doctrine, seeming to take in the chief scope of the Spirit in these words, is here prosecuted in four things.
I. In endeavouring to prove and demonstrate the truth of this assertion from scripture, 360.
That it is the way of God’s dealings still to withdraw his Spirit after some notorious resistance, instanced from several scriptures: 1. From Psalm xcv. 10, 11. 360. 2. From Heb. iv. 7. 361. 3. From Luke xix. 42. 361. And from Gen. xv. 16. 362.
Here note, that by a set time, is not to be understood a general set time, which is the same in every man; but a set and stinted time in respect of every particular man’s life, in which there is some limited period wherein the workings of the Spirit will for ever stop, 364.
II. In shewing how many ways the Spirit may be resisted; that is, in every way which the Spirit takes to command and persuade the soul to the performance of duty and the avoidance of sin, 364. As,
1. Externally, by the letter of the word, either written or preached, it may be resisted, 365. 1. By a negligent hearing and a careless attendance upon it, 367. 2. By acting in a clear and open contrariety to it, 368. And this last kind of resisting is great and open rebellion; 1. Because action is the xxii very perfection and consummation of sin, 370. 2. Because sin in the actions argues an overflowing and a redundancy of sin in the heart, 370.
2. By its immediate internal workings upon the soul. And here the Spirit may be resisted,
1, In its illumination of the understanding; that is, its infusing a certain light into the mind, in some measure enabling it to discern and judge of the things of God, 371. Now this light is threefold: 1. That universal light, usually termed the light of nature, 372. 2. A notional light of scripture; or a bare knowledge of and assent to scripture truths, 373. 3. A special convincing light, which is an higher degree, yet may be resisted and totally extinguished, 374.
2. In its conviction of the will, 376. Now the convincing works of the Spirit upon the will, in all which it may be opposed, are, 1. A begetting in it some good desires, wishes, and inclinations, 377. 2. An enabling it to perform some imperfect obedience, 378. 3. An enabling it to forsake some sins, 380.
III. In shewing the reasons why upon such resistance the Spirit finally withdraws.
1. The first reason is drawn from God’s decree, 382.
2. Because it is most agreeable to the great intent and design of the gospel, l. In converting and saving the elect, 385. 2. In rendering reprobates inexcusable, 386.
3. Because it highly tends to the vindication of God’s honour: 1. As it is a punishment to the sinner, 390. 2. As a vindication of his attributes: 1. Of wisdom, 392. 2. Of mercy, in shewing it is no ways inferior, much less contrary to his holiness, 393. and not repugnant to his justice, 394.
4. Because it naturally raises in the hearts of men an esteem and valuation of the Spirit’s workings: 1. An esteem of fear, 396. 2. An esteem of love, 396.
IV. In an application. We are exhorted not to quench the Spirit, but to cherish all his suggestions and instructions, 397. Because our resisting the Spirit will,xxiii
1st, Certainly bereave us of his comforts, 398. which are, 1. Giving a man to understand his interest in Christ, and consequently in the love of God, 399. 2. Discovering to him that grace that is within him, 400.
2d, It will bring a man under hardness of heart, and a reprobate sense, by way, 1. Of natural causation, 402. 2. Of a judicial curse from God, 402.
3d, It puts a man in the very next disposition to the great and unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost; the foregoing acts being like so many degrees and steps leading to this dreadful sin, which is only a greater kind of resistance of the Spirit, 402.
For I say unto you. That unless your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees; ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. P. 405.
Our blessed Saviour here shews, first, that eternal salvation cannot be attained by the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees; secondly, that it may be obtained by such a one as does exceed it, 405.
For understanding the words it is explained,
I. That these scribes and pharisees amongst the Jews were such as owned themselves the strictest livers and best teachers in the world, 406.
II. That righteousness here has a twofold acception. 1. Righteousness of doctrine, 406. 2. Righteousness in point of practice, 407.
III. That the kingdom of heaven has three several significations in scripture: 1. It is taken for the Christian economy, opposed to the Jewish and Mosaic, 407. 2. For the kingdom of grace, 408. 3. For the kingdom of glory, 408.
These things premised, the entire sense of the words lies in three propositions.
1. That a righteousness is absolutely necessary to the attainment of salvation, 409.xxiv
2. That every degree of righteousness is not sufficient to entitle the soul to eternal happiness, 409.
3. That the righteousness that saves must far surpass the greatest righteousness of the most refined hypocrite in the world, 409.
This proposition, virtually containing both the former, is the subject of the discourse, and prosecuted in three things.
I. Shewing the defects of the hypocrites, (here expressed by the scribes and pharisees,) 410.
As, 1. That it consisted chiefly in the external actions of duty, 410. 2. That it was but partial and imperfect, not extending itself equally to all God’s commands, 412. 3. That it is legal; that is, such a one as expects to win heaven upon the strength of itself, and its own worth, 416.
II. Shewing the perfections and qualities by which the righteousness that saves transcends that of the hypocrites.
Among many, four are insisted upon: 1. That it is entirely the same, whether the eye of man see it or not, 420. 2. That it is an active watching against and opposing every even the least sin, 423. 3. That it is such an one as always aspires and presses forward to still an higher and an higher perfection, 426. 4. The fourth and certainly distinguishing property of it is humility, 428.
III. Shewing the necessity of such a righteousness in order to a man’s salvation. Which arises,
1. From the holiness of God, 430.
2. From the work and employment of a glorified person in heaven: and no person, whom the grace of God has not thoroughly renewed and sanctified, can be fit for such a task; for it is righteousness alone that must both bring men to heaven, and make heaven itself a place of happiness to those that are brought thither, 432.1
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