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SERMON

Concerning the
OBLIGATION

FROM
Scripture-Knowledge.

St. John XV. 22.
If I had not come and spoken unto them,

they had not had Sin; but now they have
no Cloak for their Sin.

HE WORD was made Flesh
(says the same

Evangelist) and came and dwelt among us, and we aw his glory, as the glory of the only begotten Son of God; full of grace and truth. His Conversation was endearing, his Works all Mercy, his Doctrine convincing, and his Overtures of Reward more great and encou

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tainment.

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raging than Mankind had ever heard of before : Never was such a gracious Per. fon fent upon such an acceptable Message, and yer he met with very unequal Enter

The unprejudic’d and conlidering Party of those that heard him, repenred, and they that repented re. cer: ed himn ; and to as many as received him, he gave power to become the Sons of God: But others were otherwise dispos’d; they felt no burchen of 'Sin, and there fore no cause of Repentance ; they thought their affections happily engag'd in this World, and therefore cared not for removing them to another : Opinion and Business and Enjoyments had taken

up

their Hearts, and fillid them as full as the Inn of Bethlehem was at his Nativity ; and these could not receive him. For God in all his Methods of Salvation never puts any force upon us; he always treats Man as he made him, that is, as a rational and free agent ; he proposes aptly, and inD4

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vites tenderly ; but then he leaves us to the discretion of Compliance; he moves and assists us to the best, but still he leaves us with power to do as we please; because 'tis that alone that commends our choice, when we do as we ought. They say of the Manna in the Wilderness, that it had no actual taste of its own, but received its taste from the fancy of the Eater ; so that an Ilraelite did make his Meal either nauseous or pleasant, according to his own either thankful or peevish disposition. And if so, that Manna bare a general resemblance to all the Dispensations of Providence which are generally determin'd co good or evil ( as co us) meerly by our own usage and reception ; and have all their influences governed by our deportment. 'Tis our different Temper that makes the same Heat both mele and harden; 'cis our different Difposition that makes the same act of God both Mercy and Judgment : And as of

all

a

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him ;

all the Mercies that God has vouchsafed to Man, there is none of a Kinder De. sign than that which we now commemorate, The Nativity of our Saviour so there is none capable of being abused into more fatal effects, 'Tis upon this account, that the same Jesus Christ is called in Scripture, The Rock of Ages ; which is a term of equivocal importance: he is a Rock, and they that will, may save themselves

upon

but they that will not, must necessarily split against him : 'Tis by reason of him ( says the Apostle ) that there is now no condemnation ; but 'tis by reason of him too (lays my Text) that there is now no Excuse. If I had not, &c.

To take the most proper Sense of the Words, I suppose in the first place, that by Them (if I had not come and spoken to them) is meant, not simply the Jews, to whom our Saviour himselfhad spoken; but likewise all others, to whom the same Gospel should at any time be

preached :

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preached : for 'cis evident, that our Saviour means the same here that he does in the foregoing Verses by the Worlds which signifies extensively all such as are disobedient to the Gospel

. In the fecond place, I suppose that the Expresfion, They had not had Sin, is to be caken only comparatively; that is, They had not had fin in such a measure : For we know that both Jews and Heathens had a Law, by which in proportion they are to be convicted. Thirdly, We must observe, that the Word tespaos in the Text, which is rendred. Cloak, fignifics any sort of Apology or Colour ; either such as may really excuse, or else such as can only be pretended to excuse ; and then the plain sense of the Words will appear to be this, That Before the Revelation of the Gospel there was such Apology for Sin in the World, as did much lesen and excuse the Guilt of the Sinner ; but that since this Revelation the Guilt of Sin is aggravated, and there remains no Ex

cuse,

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