Page images
PDF
EPUB

our common and natural Notions of those S e RM.
Virtues ; but were of a kind quite diffe- VIII.
rent, and inconceivable to us; how then
could Men be obliged to imitate they
knew not what? or how could it become
possible in any sense to be holy as he is Ho-
ly, if it could not be understood by us,
What Holiness is ? The Truth therefore
plainly is; As Light is Light, where soever
and in what degree foever it appears, and
has no communion or fimilitude with
Darkness: fo Goodness, in whomsoever
and in what degree soever it be found, still
always carries along with it the same I-
dea of Goodness; and has no communion
or Fellowship with Wickedness.

3dly and Lastly; From hence it ap-
pears, of how great importance it is to
Men, to frame to themselves right and
worthy Notions of God. For such as are
the Conceptions Men have, of the Object
of their Worship; fuch also will propor-
tionably, be their own Behaviour and
Practice. The Gentiles, who worshipped
vile and impure Deities, were themselves
accordingly given up to work all Unclean-
ness with Greediness. The Jews, when
they fell from the Worship of the True

God;

[ocr errors]

Ser m. God, to serve the Idols and Images of reVIII. ally or fictitiously cruel Dæmons ;

were

themselves accordingly devested of humanity, and sacrificed even their own Children to Moloch. And among Christians likewise, it is too fad and true an observation; that in proportion as they have departed from the Simplicity of the Gospel, and feigned to themselves either ridiculous or wicked notions of the infinitely wise and good God; so has their religion accordingly been changed either into a ridiculous, or into a barbarous and cruel Superstition. The only possible remedy for which Evil, is to adhere stedfastly and immoveably to the natural and unchangeable notions of righteousness and koliness in God, and the indispensable necefsity of true righteousness and holiness

among Men.

SERMON

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

9
St John iii. 16.
For God so loved the World, that

be gave his only-begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him,
Mould not perish, but have ever-
lasting Life.

[ocr errors]

T

HESE Words are part of Se r M. that Excellent

Discourse, IX. wherein our Saviour instructed Nicodemus, giving him a

short Account of the Doctrine of the Gospel ; And the Words them

selves,

Ser m. felves, are a brief Summary of that whole IX. Discourse. Nicodemus was

à Man of Learning and Authority among the Jews, and, as it seems, of a better and more pious Disposition, than the generality of those of his own Rank. Moved therefore by the Greatness of our Saviour's Miracles, and probably also having studied the Prophecies, which foretold the çoming of the Messias about That Season ; he thought himself bound to inquire what That Doctrine was, which our Saviour began so publickly and with fo great Authority to teach ; And accordingly he goes to him by Night, to converse privately about it.

Our Saviour, addressing himself to him as to a Man of Understanding, begins at the Foundation of the Whole ; and represents to him the Necefsity of entring upon a religious Course of Life, according to the perfecter and more spiritual Principles of the Christian institution: ver. 3. Except, says he, a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Which

ch Expression, Nicodemus at first not understanding; our Saviour further explains it to him, ver. 5. Except, fays he, a Man be born of Water and of

the

the Spirit ; except he be baptized into the Serm.

IX. Profession of the true Religion, and, suitably to this external Obligation, be inwardly renewed and purified from all wicked Dispositions in the Spirit of his Mind; be cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. For, what foever is born of the Flesh, can be but Flesh; That which is born of the Spirit, That only is Spirit. By natural Birth, a Man can have no other Title, than only to the injoyments of this Natural and Mortal Life : To Immortality and a share in the Kingdom of God, he cannot be intitled, but by a New and Spiritual Birth, by being delivered from the Dominion of Fleshly Lusts, and living under the more perfect Law of Reafon and Religion. To make This ftill more intelligible, and to take off the Difficulty of apprehending the meaning of that Phrase of being Born again, our Saviour proceeds to illustrate it by an easy fimilitude, ver. 7; that, as in the Course of Nature some of the greatest and most fenfible Effects are produced by secret and imperceptible Causes ; so it ought not to be wondred at, if some of the greatest Moral Effects, and most important Chan

ges

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »