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another, but is only concerned to know the right way. Such indifferency of mind every good man hath ; he is ready to receive truth, when sufficient evidence is offered to him, because he is not concerned that the contrary proposition should be true. If a man be addicted to any lust, he is not likely to judge impartially of things : and therefore our Sa. viour doth with great reason require this disposition to qualify a man for the discerning of truth, John vii. 17. If any man will do God's will, he Mall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that is desirous to do the will of God, he is likely to judge indifferently concerning any doctrine that pretends to be from God ; for if there be not good evidence for it, he hath no reason to deceive himself, by entertaining that as from God, which he hath no assurance that it is so ; and if there be good evidence for it, he hath no reason to reject it : but if a man be enslaved to any vice or Just, he is not free to judge of those matters which touch upon his interest ; but is under a great temptation to infidelity, because he must needs be unwilling to acknowledge the truth of that doctrine which lies so cross to his interest.
Thirdly, This does not excuse the infidelity of men, that the Devil is in some fort the cause of it'; because he cannot blind our minds, unless we consent to it: He can only suggest false principles to us, but we may choose whether we will entertain them ; he can only tempt us to be wicked, he cannot force us to be so whether we will or not: as we may resist the dictates, and quench the blessed motions and suggestions of God's Spirit, and too often do ; so may we resist the Devil, and repell or quench those fiery darts which he casts into our minds, though we do not do it so often as we should. We cannot resist the motions of God's Spirit without injury to ourselves : But we may safely oppose the suggestions of the Devil ; and we may do it with success, it we sincerely endeavour it. So God hath promised, that if we resist the Devil, he mall flee from us : But if we voluntarily consent to his temptations, and suffer our
selyes felves to be blinded by him, the fault is our own, as well as his, and we are guilty of that infidelity which we suffer him to tempt us to. And this will appear, if we consider,
Fourthly, The wickedness and unreasonableness of infidelity. The scripture every where gives it a bad character, calling it, an evil heart of unbelief, to depart from the living God. Not to believe those revelations of God, which are sufficiently propounded to us, is an apostasy from the living God, a kind of atheism, and an argument of a very evil temper and difpofition. And therefore St. John speaks of infidelity, as the highest affront to God imaginable, and as it were a giving God the lie, 1 John v. 10. He that believeth not the record which God hath given of his son, is said to make God a liar.
The greatest and clearest testimonies that ever God gave to any person in the world, were to Jesus Christ, and yet how full of infidelity were the Jews to whom those testimonies were given ? They are the great patterns of infidelity, who resisted such immediate evidence ; and by the characters which the New Te. ftament gives us of them, we may judge of the evil and unreasonableness of infidelity : And if we con. fult the history of the New Testament, we shall find infidelity described by such characters and properties, and accompanied with such qualities, as shew it to be a very evil and unreasonable spirit. The principal of them are these :
1. Monstrous partiality in denying that which had greater evidence than other matters which they did believe.
2. Unreasonable and groundless prejudice. 3. A childish kind of perverseness. 4. Obstinacy, and pertinacious persisting in error.'
5. Want of patience to consider and examine what can be said for the truth.
6. Rudeness, and boisterous falling into uncivil terms.
7. Fury, and outrageous passion.
6. Infidelity is usually attended with bloody and inhuman persecution. But the treating on these par
ticulars I reserve for another subject. [ See the fola lowing three sermons on John iii. 19. ]
The third and last thing contained in the text, is the dangerous state of those who having the gospel propounded to them, yet do not entertain and be. lieve it ; the Apostle tells us they are in a loft and perishing condition ; If our gospel be bid, it is hid to them that are loft.
I say, of those who have the gospel propounded to them. As for those to whom the gospel was never offered, they shall not be condemned for their unbelief of it : God will not punish them for not believing the revelation which was never propounded to them, but for sinning against the law written in their hearts. So the Apostle hath stated this matter, Rom. ii. 12, 14; 15. they that have a law revealed to them by God, Thall be judged by that law; but they that are without such a law, shall be judged without the law, by the law which is written in their hearts. Those persons and nations in the world, to whom the gospel was not revealed, shall not be condemned for not believing it ; but for fins com. mitted by then against the light of nature, and the Jaw which is written in every man's breast.
But those who have the gospel propounded to them, and yet continue in unbelief, their case is the most dangerous of any persons in the world, whether they be fpeculative or practical infidels.
1. For speculative infidels (of whom I have been principally speaking) we may guess how great their condemnation shall be, by the greatness of their sin, which I have endeavoured fully to describe to you with all its aggravations. It is called, Heb. iii. 12. An evil heart of unbelief, to depart from the living God, εν τώ απος ήναι από Θεού ζωντος. Ιnfdelity is a kind of apostasy from God ; it is said to be the giving God the lie, 1 John V. 10. He that believeth on the Son of God, hetke the witness in himself: he that believeth not God, bath made him a liar ; and we cannot but think that God will severely punish those who put such affronts upon him : It is but e
qual qual that they who resist the clearest light, should have their portion in utter darkness.
2. For the practical infidels, those who in words acknowledge the gospel to be true, but in works deny it ; their condition is every whit as bad as the others ; nay, I had almost said, that it shall be more tolerable at the day of judgment for the speculative infidel, than for them. He who denies the truth of the Christian religion, and lives contrary to the precepts of it, he acts suitably to his principles ; but he that owns the truth of the gospel, and lives a wicked life, offers violence to those principles which he hath entertained.
For if we profess ourselves Christians, by this profesfion we declare to the world, that we believe that the Son of God hath delivered that doctrine to the world, which we call the gospel, and hath promised to be the author of eternal salvation to them that obey him, and hath threatened men with eternal mi. sery in case of disobedience ; and that we make not the least doubt, but that both in his promises and threatenings God will be as good as his word : But if in the midst of this profession, we live contrary to the holy precepts of the gospel, in ungodliness and worldly lufts, in profane swearing, by a trifling and irreverent use of the great and glorious name of God, in the neglect of God, and of the duties of religion, in the profanation of his day, in drunk. enness and filthy lufts, in fraud and oppression, in lying and perjury, in wrath and malice, in enmity and uncharitableness, one toward another ; this very thing, that we have made profession of the gospel, will be an aggravation of our condemnation. Do we think, that at the day of judgment, we shall escape by pleading this for ourselves, that we believed the gospel, and made profession of it ? No! out of our own mouths we shall be condemned ; for it seems we knew our master's will, and get did it not ; we were convinced that we ought not to do such things, and yet we did them ; we believed the glorious promises of the gospel, and yet we neglected this great Salvation, as a thing, not worthy the look.
ing after; we were verily persuaded of the intolerable and endless torments of hell, and yet we would leap into those flames.
Nothing can make more against us, than such an apology as this ; our very excuse will be the highest accusation and charge that can be brought againft us, and out of our own confession we shall be condemned.
All that now remains, is to make some applicati: on of this discourse which I have made to you concerning the truth of the Christian religion, which I
First, To persuade us to a firm belief of the Chriftian religion. And,
Secondly, To live according to it. But as to this, I have prevented myself in some former discourses. [ See serm. 224. and 228.]
The excellency and univerfality of the
Christian revelation, with the fin and danger of rejecting it.
Jonn iii. 19. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
The first sermon on this text.
T the 16th yerse of this chapter our Saviour A declares to Nicodemus (who was already conLa vinced by his miracles, that he was a teacher come from God) the great love and goodness of God to mankind, in sending him into the world, to be