« PreviousContinue »
phane and incorrigible Sinners. He winked indeed at the times of ignorance, but now commandeth all men every where to repent. If a man will not turn, he will what his sword, Pfal, vii. 13. And then the dreadful Consequence of his Anger himself tells us, Deut. xxxii, 40, 41. For I lift up my hand to heaver, and Say I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold of judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. Let us therefore perfect our Repentance, while a Space is yet open for us, before Mercy return to Judg. ment, and the Door be shut upon us; that so we also may partake of the goodness, fora bearance, and long-Suffering of God, and not fall into their Condemnation, who despise the riches of them. Whofo is wise, will ponder these things, and they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord.
I Cor. I. 23:
the Jews a stumbling block, and
HE coming of the Messias into the
World, and therewith the Manitestation of the Divine Mercy to loit Mankind, which we at this time Commemorate, was so signal a Benefit, and in all respects so infinite, that it cannot but administer Matter of Admiration to us, to see it rejected, derided and opposed, by the greatest part of Mankind. It may justly seem strange to us, that that which was proposed by God to rescue Men from that fatal Ignorance wherein they were involved, should be treated with Scorn, becoirie a Stumbling-block, and be accounted Folly. That the glad tidings of great joy to Men, should be made a Matter of Derilion,
and be received not with Thankfulness, as it delerved, but with Scoifs and Contumelies.
But such is the unhappiness of Mankind, ever since the Fall of Adam, that their Understandings being darkned with Ignorance, as well as their Wills corrupted with Passions and inordinate Desires; it hath been equally difficult, without the Assistance of Revelation, to find out the Truth, as to pursue the Dictates of it, when once discovered. Such is the natural consequence of that unhappy Fall, and such have been the Effects of it in all Ages.
But then, whereas the Corruptions of the Will could not be denied or dissembled, the Sense of which induced Men to seek Remedies for them; the failings of the Understand
ing were so far from being perceived and acI knowledged, that a great part of Mankind
had flattered themselves into an Opinion of a perfect Knowledge, and believed the Truth not only to be posseiled by them, but their own Understandings to be the Rule and Measure of it. They had framed to themselves a System of Religion, either from their own vain Imaginations, or some precedent mistaken Revelation; and being pre-possessed with Notions derived from thence, refused to hearken to any Doctrine different from them. They falsely imagined their own Conceptions to be infallible; and thereby treated the Chriftian Religion, which opposed them as an erroneous and ridiculous Doctrine, especially be
ing ing proposed with that unaffected Simplicity, to which themselves were so much strangers; as believing every Opinion to be so much Divine, by how much more it was more res fined, and placed beyond the common Apprehensions of Men.
Whereas the Christian Doctrine was more humane and easie, lay level with the Capacity of the meanest Persons, and excluded not the most illiterate from a perfect knowledge of it; being an Enemy to Pride and Oftentation, devoid of Subtilties, and unuseful Niceties, and resembling the Nakedness as well as the Purity of Paradise; withal teaching such Mysteries, as might directly contribute to destroy the Pride of such Men, not only by opposing their Opinions, but also teaching the Mystery of God incarnate, therein humbling himself to take upon him an humane State, living a mean and obscure Life, and at last undergoing the shame of the Cross; a Mystery which at once intirely ruined both the carnal and spiri, tual Pride of the World.
The Simplicity of the Christian Religion, its want of all those external pompous Arguments of Subtilty and mistaken Learning, which recommended other Systems, together with its opposition to the received false Opi. nions of Men, had induced some Christians at Cornith, who lived among the learned Philosophers of the Heathens, and Doctors of the Jewish Law, to doubt of the Truth of it; 0. thers to refine it into a System of mysterious
and subtil Niceties; and so hindred many from becoming Christians,
The Apostle therefore in this Chapter argueth against all these Men, and in the 17th Verse, opposeth to these new Refiners of Christianity, his own Example; who had preached the Gospel among them without any affected shew of Elaquence; with a Simplicity becoming the Majesty, and agreeable to the Intention of the Lawgiver, Nor with Wisdom of words, least the Cross of Christ should be made of none effect, and fail of its Design; as it would' most certainly do, if proposed according to the Fancies of those Men, who turned it into a System of difficult and elaborate Contemplation. For liereby it would exceed the Reach and Capacity of the greater part of Mankind; whereas it was indifferently intended for the benefit of all
. And it would want that powerful Confirmation of the truth of it, that being proposed in a plain and familiar way by mean and unlearned Persons, it notwithstanding surmounted the pompous Learning of the Schools
and Synagogue, and gained a more universal Reception in the World, That therefore, as God had chose to contrive the Redemption of Mankind in a way very different from their Conceptions ; fo he had chose to reveal the Mystery of it in a method contrary to that which they used in the Propagation of their several Sects; which occasioned the preaching of the Crojs to be accounted foolishness, Verse 18.