Page images
PDF
EPUB

to fuffer our felves to be led away by the fame Prejudices with them. Men perhaps. professing Christianity may imagine this to be impossible, while they continue in the open Profession of it, and so take no Care to prevent it. But if we examine our felves, I fear, we shall find our selves obnoxious to the fame Prejudices, and to have been often se, duced by them; if not to a Desertion of our Religion, yet to a Violation of it.

Was the Christian Faith a Stumbling-block to the Jews, because defeating their hopes of a tenporal Messias, and worldly Happiness? And are not we often tempted by the Pleasures of this world to withdraw our O. bedience from the Laws of God, and thereby in effect to deny him? As often as Men preferr their worldly Interest to the least Duty of Religion; as often as by too anxious a Diligence about the Affairs of this Life, they neglect the care of another; they give juit Reason to others to suspect them guilty of the fame Errour of placing all their Happiness on this side Heaven, and dis-believing the Joys of Paradise. Did the Jews often unfeasonably and importunately require a Sign? And are not we often induced to distruit Providence, and murmur against the Divine Goodness; as often as God deferrs to rescue us from imminent Dangers and Calaunities, and immediately ingageth not his miraculous Power in our Alliitance? Do not Men call in question the Justice of the Divine

Dispensation; because God refuseth to violate the established Laws of his Government, and sometimes permiteeth the Good to pass unrewarded, and the Wicked to escape unpunished in this Life? Was the Christian Religion Foolishness to the Greeks, because proposed by mean and unlearned Persons? And have not the Effects of spiritual Pride been deplored in all Ages of the Church, and continue to this Day; while Men, puffed up with a vain Opinion of their own extraordinary Knowledge in Divine Matters, refuse to hear the Voice of their ordinary Pastor, scorn to be instructed by him, and rudely turn their Backs upon him? Did the Greek Philosophers despise Christianity, because plain and simple, easie to be understood, and not difficult to be performed? And are not we often betrayed by a like Prejudice to neglect our Duty, and lay aside

the Study of Divine Things? How many Christians are at this Day displeased with a sober and rational Form of Worship; either because it is nut fraught with pompous and unuseful Ceremonies, or because it is devoid of Enthusiastick Raptures, and unintelligible Impertinencies? So that we must acknowledge our selves to be no less concerned in the Words and Meaning of my Text, than were formerly either

Jews or Greeks. To conclude, if the most certain Truths, and most holy Religion, be notwithstanding liable to the contradiction of foolish and unVOL. I.

rea,

[ocr errors]

reasonable Men; if the Prejudices against
Christianity be found to be unjust and false;
let us neither be offended at the Opposition
of her Enemies, nor drawn into like
Mistakes with them either by Passion or In-
advertency. Let us give most humble and
hearty Thanks to God, for sending his Son,
as at this time, into the World to redeem
us, and reveal to us his Will and Pleasure.
Let us adore his Wisdom and Goodness, who
liath contrived such excellent Methods,
whereby the knowledge of this Mystery and
Revelation may, with sufficient certainty,
be transmitted to all Ages; in proving the
Happiness of our Knowledge, by securing to
our selves the Rewards of it in a careful
Practice of our Duty; that so we may here
with Comfort hold fast, and hereafter with
Glory obtain the Promises of everlasting Life :
To which God of his infinite Mercy bring
us all, for the sake of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

195

SERMON VII. Preach'd January 20, 1689. ať

Lambeth Chapel.

Hebr. IX. 27. It is appointed unto Men once to

die, but after this the Judg

ment.

I

Intend not from these words to prove the

Mortality of Mankind, or shew that all the Members of it are subject to that fatal Doom. The Experience of almost Six Thousand Years may abundantly convince us of this. And least we should imagine our felves to be particularly exempted trom the common Calamity of Mankind, that decay which we find in our Bodies, and those frequent Infirmities to which we are all subject, permits us not to entertain any Hopes of such an extraordinary Priviledge. The necessity of ending this Life is to apparent, that it would be trißing to endeavour to demonstrate it ; however the consideration of that necessity is a Matter of the greatest Moment, and which may justly require the most serious Reflections of our Mind.

But that is not my present purpose, nor the design of the Apostle in these Words, wherein is expressed the divine Determination in relation to the Mortality, and future Judgment of Men, and the Order of them; namely, that God hath decreed, that all Men shall once Die, and that after Death they shall receive either the Reward or Punishment of their Actions. Now however the secret Decrees of God be'unsearchable, and his ways pajł finding out; however a curious desire of know. ing the Nature and Reasons of them may be rash and fruitless; yet in these which so immediately and universally concern Mankind, and are, in effect, the great Object of our Religion, no Enquiry can be unnecessary or unuseful; the Reasons of them are obvious and satisfactory, such as may not only be discovered by us, but even ought not to be unknown to us; and surely not without Reason: For nothing tends more effectually to secure the Honour of God, and induce us to acquiesce in his Decrees, than an intire Satisfaction of the Justice and Wifdom of them. And if this be necessary in relation to all the Divine Decrees which respect us;

how much more will it concern us to have a perfect knowledge of the Reafons of those grand Decrees, of Death and Judgment, which the Apostle liath compre.

hended

« PreviousContinue »