Immagini della pagina

can save us from our Sins, can subdue our sensual Lufts and Pallions, and bestow the Holy Spirit on us, as an abiding Principle of Sanctification and Newness of Life. Were no more required to make Men good but to instruct them in their Duty, and in the Motives and Arguments of Obedience, and to give them all possible Afsu. rance of the Rewards and Punishments of the next Life, which are the most forcible Arguments of all; an extraordinary Prophet would have served for this purpose, and there had been no need of a Saviour. But mere Reason and Arguments, how powerful soever they be, cannot make a lame Man walk, nor a blind Man see, nor give a new spiritual Life to one dead in Trespafles and Sins. There is a diviner Power necessary to give Life and Energy to all the Arguments of Religion, a lightning, strengthning quickning, fanctifying Power; and this is the Work of a Saviour, not a Prophet. This is what Mankind have no natural Right to; for fupernatural Grace is not due to Nature, and therefore we cannot challenge it from our Maker, but must owe it to our Saviour. What is not due is Grace, and all Grace must be obtained for us, dispensed and administred by a Saviour.

This is another mighty Advantage, and glorious Privilege, which the Christian has above a Deift, by believing in a Saviour, that he has the Aflistances of the divine Grace and Holy Spirit to sanctify his Nature, to confirm his Faith, and strengthen his Resolutions, and to resist all the Temptations of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil: And if he beg these divine Affiftances, and comply with all Holy Motions, he shall in all things be more than Conqueror through Christ who strengthens bim.


[ocr errors]

But now should we suppose that a Deist could be saved in his own way, without a Saviour, by repenting sincerely of all his Sins, and obeying the Commandments of God, and living a holy. and virtuous Life'; yet how shall he be able to do all this? Is his Nature less corruptthan the rest of Mankind, or his Reason stronger to resist all the Affaults of Temptations, and to preserve his Innocence and Virtue? For, by rejecting a Saviour, he rejects all fupernatural Altistance, and must trust to the mere Powers of Nature; and how unable they are to make good Men, the Experience of the whole Heathen World wit: nesses, not excepting most of the Philosophers themselves, that when any Example of Virtue appeared, and a very little Appearance in so corrupta State of the World was thought very confiderable, they presently concluded that it was Hola ucies, had something Divine and Supernatu ral in it. Or, whatever low Attainments such Men may make in some moral and political Virtues, which yet few of them make any great Shew of, the divine Graces of the Christian Life, Poverty of Spirit, Purity of Haart, an universal Love and Charity, Piety and Devotion, and a Conversation in Heaven, are as much above their Attainments, as above their Philosophy: Indeed they never pretend to them, but reject Christianity for the sake of such divine Virtues, which they have nothing to object against, but that they are above their natural Powers, and natural Inclinations; and this I grant they are ; such as mere Nature, in this corrupt State, will neither teach, nor practise; but yet are true divine Perfections, fitted to the pure and spiritual State of the next Life, and which Chriftians, thro' the



Sanctification of the Spirit, and the Afliftances of the divine Grace attain unto.

3. There is another Notion of a Saviour, te Jave us from our Enemies, and from the Hands of all that hate uss that we being delivered out of the Hands of our Enemies, might serve him without Fear, in Holiness and Righteousness all the Days of our Lift, as it is in Zachary's Hymn. This Joshua was a Type of, who fought the Battels of Israel, drove out the Inhabitants of Canaan, and gave them Poffeffion of that good Land. And a little Consideration of the miserable State of the Heathen World, will satisfy us how much we wanted such a Saviour and Deliverer as this.

The great Enemy of Mankind is the Devil, with all his Retinue of evil Angels and seducing Spirits, who had set up his Kingdom in the World, and was worshipped for a God with in. pure and barbarous Rites and Ceremomies: For when Mankind had forsaken God, they fell under the Government of wicked Spirits, who used them like Slaves, and would have kept them so to this Day, had not this mighty Saviour and Deliverer appeared to save us out of the Hands of our Enemies, to destroy the Works, the Kingdom, and the Power of the Devil. And a Saviour was absolutely necessary to this purpose also, as we may easily conclude, if we believe, that for this Purpose the Son of God was manifested to destroy the Works of the Devil. Tho' we must acknow. ledge that the Devil, and all wicked Spirits, are absolutely under the Power of God, as all wicked Men are, yet God does no more fubdue and conquer wicked Spirits by an immediate Power, than he does wicked Men. No doubt but he could have destroyed the Canaanites by an immediate Vengeance; but he sent Joshua to fight the Lord's

Battels, Battels, and to drive them out; and he was a Type and Figure of the true Jesus, that mighty Saviour, who should appear to destroy the Devil's Kingdom, and to set up the Kingdom of God in the World; and therefore this is his Character, that he is God's King; I have set my King upon my holy. Hill of Sion.

But thor Christ has now destroyed the visible Kingdom of the Devil in the Chriftian World, so that he is no longer publickly worshipped with Temples, and Altars, and Priests, and Sacrifices; yet we stand in need of the daily Defence and Protection of our Saviour against his Wiles and Stratagems; for he is a very subtile, restless Spirit, who can transform himself into all Shapes, and make such dextrous Applications, and lay such invisible Snares for us, that we shall neither fee, nor suspect any Danger, till it is too late ; so that we have Reason every Day to pray, lead us not into Temptation, but deliver us from the evil one ; for the best of us all have reason to fear what the Success of the Combat would bé, should God deliver us up to be tempted by the Devil. But our Security is in the watchful Providence of our Saviour, who has the Devil under Command, and will not suffer him to tempt us above what we are able, and prays for us, as he did for Peter, that our Faith fail not.

And this is another inestimable Advantage, which Christianity gives us above Deifm, for Chrift defends none but

his own Disciples from the Infults of wicked Spirits; and therefore those who reject Christ, have no right to his Protection, but are exposed to all their Arts and Infinuations, who can suit all Tempers, and lead them on by gentle Steps, till they have them fafe ; and I confess Deifts themselves seem to me to be fad Examples of such Practices as these.


There can not be a more plausible Pretence, especially to Men of a Philosophical Genius, than to be very cautious of believing, to adhere to Reafon as the safest Guide, and to require strict Demonstration for every thing. No Man would suspect any hurt in this; and yet it is an infallible way to make Men Atheists. The Devil cannot deal with the Authority of God; It is written, answers all his Temptations, and makes him fly; but if he can bring you out of Conceit with Revelation, and persuade you to fing away your Bibles, he will reason with you as long as you will, and furnish you with such Reasons as you like best, as he finds you most inclined to, whether to Atheism, Infidelity, or Heresy. Is there any thing in the World that appears in more different Shapes, than what Men call human Reason, when it intermeddles in Religion? And can the Devil have a better Game to play, than to teach Men Reason and Philosophy.? And indeed, whoever considers what kind of Principles are cried up as solid Reason, by our modern Atheists, Deifts, and Hereticks, fo contrary to the common Notions and Sentiments of Mankind, can hardly think that there is any less in it than a preterna. tural Infatuation, all the perplex'd Turnings and Windings of the old Serpent are so visible in them. But I cannot insist on this now. This Men get by rejecting a Saviour, who alone can deliver us out of the Hands of our spiritual Enemies, that they fall into the Snares of that old Deceiver, the great Enemy of Souls.

[ocr errors]


« IndietroContinua »