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suitable for those who are not afraid to violate the most holy laws, and to contradict the pattern of Christ, to leave their profession, and to take some other more complying with their lusts. It is not the title of a Christian, that sanctifies those who' pollute and defame it. It is not wearing the livery of Christ, that can honour those who stain it by their filthiness : but it is an aggravation of their guilt. It is an inconceivable indignity to our Saviour, and revives the old calumnies of the heathens, as if the gospel were a sanctuary for criminals, when those that call him Lord, do not what he commands them. “I know,” saith Christ, “the blasphemy of them that say, they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan,” Rev. ii. 9. Those that own the profession of Christianity, and live in unchristian practices, are baptized pagans, and in effect revile our blessed Redeemer, as if he had proclaimed a licentious impunity for sinners. Such wretches may deceive themselves with a pretence they believe in Christ, and that visibly they declare their dependance on him ; but this pretence will be as unprofitable as it is vain: it is not the calling of him Lord, that will give them admission into the kingdom of heaven, Matt. vii. 21. The naked name of a Christian cannot protect them from the wrath of God. Tertullian smartly upbraids some in his time, who were careless of the dignity and purity, of the Christian profession in their lives, imagining that they might · reverence God in their hearts without regarding him in their actions; that they might “salvo metu et fide peccare,” sin without losing their fear of God and their faith. To refute this gross contradiction, he propounds it in a sensible example: Hoc est, salva castitate matrimonium violare ; salva pietate parenti venenum temperare ;" this is the same thing as to violate the fidelity of marriage without the wounding of chastity, or to poison a parent without failing in the duty that is owing to them. And to express his indignation, he tells them, “Sic ergo et ipsi salva venia in gehennam detruduntur, dum salvo metu peccant:" let them expect that God will cast them into hell, without prejudice to their pårdon, as they pretend to sin without prejudice to the respect they bear him.
To sum up all, Jesus Christ, as by his doctrine and life he clearly discovered our duty, so he offers to us the aid of his Spirit for our assistance, by which the commands of the gospel are not only possible but easy: and to enforce our
obligations, he hath threatened such vengeance to the rebellious, and promised such a reward to those that obey the gospel, that it is impossible we should not be deeply affected with them, if we seriously believe them: and he hath given such an evidence of their truth, that it is impossible we should not believe them, unless “the god of this world had blinded our minds.” It is matter therefore of just astonishment, that Christians should not express the efficacy of the gospel in their actions. How can a reasonable creature believe that eternal damnation shall be the punishment of sin, and yet live in the wilful practice of it? The historian speaking of mushrooms that sometimes proved deadly to whole families, asks with wonder, “What pleasure could allure them to eat such doubtful meat ?" yet they may be so corrected as to become innocent. But when it is certain that the pleasures of sin are mortal, can any one be tempted by those attractives to venture on that which will undoubtedly bring death to the soul ? Let sense itself be judge, and make the comparison between whatsoever the present life can afford for delight in sin, and what the future death will bring to torment it. Let the flesh see into what torments all its delights shall be changed, and with what other fire than of impure lust it shall burn for ever.
Besides, we are encouraged to our duty with the assurance of a happiness so excellent, that not only the enjoyment of it in the next world, but the just expectation of it here makes us truly blessed. If the reward were small or the promise uncertain, there might be some pretence for our not performing the conditions to obtain it; but when the one is infinitely great, and the other as true as the God of truth, what more powerful motive can be conceived to make us holy? It is the apostle's chosen argument, that we should
walk worthy of him who hath called us to his kingdom and glory.” The heathens were in a great measure strangers to the secrets of another world : they had but a shadow of probability; we have the light of truth brought down from heaven by the Son of God, that reveals to us a blessedness that deserves our most ardent active affections. But if men are not wrought on by natural reason nor divine faith ; if neither terrors of the Lord, nor the blessed hope can persuade them from sin to holiness, their condition is irrecoverable. In this the rules of natural and spiritual healing agree, Hippocrat. Sect. 7. Aphor. ult. Where neither corrosive nor lenitives are successful, we must use the knife; if cutting off is unprofitable, we must sear the part; if the fire is ineffectual, the ulcer is incurable. If the threatening of hell-fire through unbelief and carelessness is not feared, and hath no efficacy to correct and change sinners, what remains but to make a presage of eternal death, that will unavoidably and speedily seize on them ? And if so clear a discovery of the heavenly glory doth not produce in men a living faith that works by love, and a lively hope that purifies the heart and conversation, what can be concluded, but that they are wholly sensual and senseless, and shall be for ever deprived of that blessedness they now despise and neglect ?
THE POWER OF GOD IN REDEMPTION.
The divine power is admirably glorified in the creation of the world, not only in regard of the greatness of the effect, that comprehends the heavens and earth and all things in them, but in regard of the marvellous way of its production ; for he made the great universe without the concurrence of any material cause, from nothing. For this reason the raising of this glorious fabric is produced as the distinctive character of the Deity from the troop of false gods. The Psalmist declares, “ The Lord is to be seared above all gods; for all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens,” Psalm xcvi. 4, 5. And as he began the creation by proceeding from nothing to real existence, so in forming the other parts, he drew them from infirm and indisposed matter, as from a second nothing; that all his creatures might bear the real testimonies of infinite power. Thus he commanded light to arise out of darkness, and sensible creatures from an insensible element. He created man, the accomplishment of all his works, from the lowest and grossest element, the earth.
Now although at the first view we might conceive that the visible world is the greatest miracle that ever God performed, yet upon serious reflection we shall discover, that the works of grace are as wonderful as the works of nature, and that the power of God is as evidently expressed in our redemption, as in the creation.
For the fuller understanding of this, I will consider some of the principal effects of the divine power in order to our blessed recovery.
I. The incarnation of the Son of God, in accomplishing whereof such power was exercised, as no limited understanding is able to comprehend. The word was made flesh,” John i. 14. This signifies the real union between the human nature and the divine in our Redeemer. Before his incarnation he appeared in a human form to the patriarchs, and in the flaming bush to Moses ; but it is never said with respect to those apparitions, that the word was made flame or man. But when he came into the world to save us, he assumed the complete nature of man into a hypostatical union with himself. That admirable person possesses the titles, qualities, and natures of God and man. In that ineffable union, each of the natures preserves its proper form with all the necessary consequences proceeding from it. The human nature is joined to the eternal Word, but not changed into its divinity: it is not infinite and impassible. The Deity is united to flesh, but not transformed into its nature ; it is not finite and passible. Though there is a distinction, yet no separation ; there are two natures, but one sole Jesus. In the same subsistence the Creator and the creature are miraculously allied. Now this is a work fully responsible to omnipotence, and expresses whatever it signifies by that title. The apostle mentions it with an attribute of excellency; “ Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh," 1 Tim. iii. 16.
It is as sublime, as holy. In this the divine power appears in its magnificence, and in some respects more glorious than in the creation ; for there is incomparably a greater disparity between the majesty, greatness, and infiniteness of God, and the meanness of man, than between the whole world and nothing. The degrees of disparity between the world and nothing are not actually infinite, but between the most excellent creature and the glorious Creator, they are absolutely infinite. From hence it is, that that which in other things resolves our doubts, here increases the wonder, and in appearance makes it more incredible.
“Ye do err,” saith Christ to the Sadducees, who denied the 'resurrection, “not knowing the power of God.” But the more raised thoughts we have of his immense power, the more unlikely his conjunction with a nature so far beneath him will seem to be.
II. The divine power was magnified in our Redeemer's supernatural conception. It was requisite his body should be miraculously formed of the substance of a woman by the operation of the Holy Ghost, not only in respect of its singular dignity, and that he might be the pattern of our regeneration that is performed by the efficacy of the Spirit not of the flesh, but in respect of his office; for undertaking to reconcile God by the expiation of our sin, he must be allied to us, and absolutely pure from the stain of sin. Heaven and earth concurred to form that divine man the King of both, the earth furnishing matter, and heaven the principle of his conception. Accordingly the angel told Mary, who questioned how she could be a mother not having known a man,
“The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God,” Luke i. 35. This was foretold many ages as an admirable effect of God's power. When Judah was oppressed by two potent kings, and despaired of an escape, to raise their drooping spirits the prophet tells them, the Lord himself would give them a sign of their future deliverance ; Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and 'shall call his name Emmanuel,” Isa, vii. 14. The argument is from the greater to the less ; for it is apparently more difficult that a virgin, without injury or blemish to her purity and integrity, should conceive and bring forth Emmanuel, than the defeating of human forces how great soever. If God will accomplish that stupendous, unheard of wonder, much more would he rescue his people from the fury of their adversaries.
III. The divine power was eminently declared in the miracles our Saviour wrought during the time of his public ministry to verify his divine mission, that he was the great prophet sent from God to instruct men in the way of life.
In discoursing of this, I will briefly show, that miracles were a convincing proof of his celestial calling, and that the performance of them was necessary in order to the conviction of the world, and consider particularly those he wrought.
A miracle is an extraordinary operation of God in nature, either in stopping its course, or in producing some effects that are above its laws and power; so that when he is pleased to work any, they are his seal to authorize the person and doctrine to which they are annexed. By them faith is made