Immagini della pagina

clearly manifested, in his ss giving himself “ for us an offering and a sacrifice to God, “ for a sweet-smelling favour,Eph. v. 2.

These two memorable and interesting sentences, like the cherubims which covered the mercy-feat, have their faces looking one towards another ; and both smile with complacence upon every returning prodigal. For to connect them together, and bring them home to ourselves, I need only direct your attention to a third passage of . Scripture, where faith in the Son is expressly enjoined as an act of obedience to the will of the Father : 1 John iii. 23. “ This is the command of God,' that we “.fhould believe on the name of his Son « Jesus Christ.” Let us this day unite them all in our serious meditations at the table of the Lord; and improve them, as we ought' to do, forche establishment of our faith, and hope, and joy. We are not straitened in God: let us not be straitened in our own bowels; for this is the call which he addresseth to each believer in particular, 166 Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."

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

This is the record, that God hath given to us

eternal life: and this life is in his Šon.

W HY do not all to whom these good

VV tidings are published, receive them with humble gratitude and joy? Are they expressed in terms fo dark and ambiguous, that their meaning and import cannot be - fully ascertained? or is the offer of life loaded with such hard conditions, as exceed the powers of those to · whom it is addressed? Were either of these the case, unbelief would be furnished with something more than a plausible excuse. But every body must be sensible, that neither of these objections can, with any colour of justice, be charged upon the record as it lies before us in my text. To what then shall . we attribute the cold réception it meets with from the bulk of mankind; the conL 4


temptuous rejection of iç by many; and it the violent opposition that is made to it by : plot a few.

I thall not pretend to, enumerate all the different causes that might be assigned. There is one which, however it may appear a paradox to some, doth, in my opinion, unfold the most dangerous and fruitful scource of infidelity. It is briefly this:– The gospel-record is too plain to be understood, and foo gracious to be believed. . . · Here is nothing above the level of the lowest capacity ; nothing beyond the reach of the most degenerate among men. It requires no acuteness to discover what is meant by a gift; and if the gift he free edifencuinbered, all to whom it is offered are equally qualified to receive it. This pulls · up at once the eepeft-laid foundations of

pride and vain-lory, and thwarts that love of distinction and pre- eminence which from the date of the apoftasy, hath been the fatal inheritance of the human kind. We cannot bear the thought of being fed at a common" table, how richly soever that table may be furnished. Each of us would wish


to have a portion peculiar to himself; fomething that might denote a preference to others, and flatter that partial opinion which every one fondly cherisheth of his own perfonal importance.

Hence it is, that the record of God hath either been altogether rejected, or so interlined with the glosses of vain philosophy, as to alter its very frame, and render it not only ineffectual, but even adverse, to those falutary purposes for which it was intended.

The Almighty Independent Sovereign of the universe hath been tried at the bar of his own rebellious subjects. There it hath been decided what is fit and becoming the high station he holds. Plans of administration have been laid down for him, formed upon those systems of human government, which to each daring projector appeared the most complete : whereas the absurdity, as well as the arrogance, of all such attempts, are detected and reproved by two very plain questions, which the Apostle Paul proposes in the inth chapter of his epistle to the Romans, at the clofe; “ Who

“ hath

“ hath known the mind of the Lord, or who “ hath been his counsellor? Or who hath « first given to him, and it shall be recom66 pensed unto him again?" - No man of common understanding will hesitate a moment in giving an answer to these questions, but will readily reply, -None hath been his counsellor, neither is there any who hath first given to God ; “ for,” as it immediately follows, “ of him, and through him, and “ to him, are all things.” And yet how obvious, and how important, are the consequences of such acknowledgements ?

For if none hath been his counsellor, it is plain, that none can know his mind, till he shall be pleased to reveal it; nor even then can it be known any further than it is revealed. To supply what is concealed, with conclusions drawn from the reasonings of our own minds, would be the height of presumption: We must take his counsel as it lies before us in the record he hath given us, without adding to it, or subtracting from it. Again, if none hath first given to him, how erroneous must it be to measure the divine administration even by


« IndietroContinua »