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ADAPTED TO ;^^^;^^^ 




BY J O S E P H L A T H R O P, D.D. 





BY 3(Jaia^ ^^omajef, jun. 

S»ld at the WORCESTER BOOKSTORE, and by Thomas and Ah- 
DKEws, Bojlon. 



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ChRISTs Miracles recorded, 

that men might believe. 



^he Credibility and Importance 

pjthe Go/pel Report. 



The Guilt and Danger of Unbe- 




Pilate's Indifference to the Truth, 



The horrible Guilt of ihofe -who 
flrengthen the hands of the 




The wonderful Definition of thofe 

-who defpife the GofpeL 



The SuhjeB continued. 



The Cure and Converfionof Naa- 

man the Leper. 



The Firfl Fruits unto Chrifl. 



The Obfcurity and Uncertainty of 

the Way of the Wicked. 



A Paralytic healed on the Faith 

of others. 



The Vial poured on the Sun con- 
fidered in accommodation to 

the Prefent Times. 




Sermon ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ Page 

XXXVIIL Religion ejfentially included in 

the Love of our Country. 213 
XXXIX. The injluence of Religion to en- 

large the Mind. 229 

XL. The changing Nature of Worldly 

Things. 252 

XLI. The infamous CharaBer of the 

Churl. 267 

XLII. The different EffeBs of a fimilar 
Education illujlrated in 
Herod and Manaen. 282 

XLIII. The Dovelike Defcent of the Spir* 

it on Chrifl. 299 

XLIV. The SuhjeB improved. 323 

XLV, Parting with Friends a painful 

Trial. 331 

XLVI. Thankfulnefs to God for daily 

Benefits. 346 

XLVIL The Chrijlian charaBerized, rvho 

has been with Jefus. 362 

XLVIII. The Impotent Man at the Pool of 

Bethefda. 378 

XLIX The awakened Jailor inJlruSled in 

the way of Salvation, 393 

L, Micah's Confidence and Difap- 

poinimcnt in his Priefl. 408 



Tut ^ tyMAT^acle^ 'reccyt.ded, thai t^yVt 


072A,ahi uUiCV&. 

John xx. 30, 31. 

Ani> many othr fgns truly did Jefus, in the prefence 

of his difciples, -which are not written in this book ; 

but thcfe are written, that ye might believe that Jc* 

Jus is the Chrijl the Jon oj God ; and that believing 

ye might have lijc through his name, 

S God has made us rational crea- 
tures, the religion which he re- 
quires of us mufl be a rational 
fervice. Faith, which is the great 
principle of religion, mufl be 
founded in evidence. Reafon, 
in the fallen ftate of our nature, could never dif- 
cover all the things neceflary for us to knoK. 
Vol. II. B It 

6 Serm. XXVL 

It would never inveftigate the way in which, and 
the terms on which, finners may regain the loft 
favour of God. For our knowledge of thefe things 
we muft be indebted to revelation. 

To judge of the evidence, by which the truth 
of revelation is proved, muft be the province of 
reafon. God never requires us to believe any 
thing propofed to us, without competent evidence 
of its truth. Whenever he fends to men a rev- 
elation of his will, he fends it accompanied with 
demonftration of its divine original. 

The gofpel revelation came to the world in this 
manner : — It began to be fpoken by the Son of 
God himfelf, and was confirmed by them who 
heard him. The difciples, whom he chofe for 
his attendants, were witnefles of his doQiines 
and works : And they not only related them to 
others in that age, but have left a written narra- 
tive for the benefit of fucceeding ages ; and this 
narrative is handed down to us. 

The Apoftle John, having given a fummary 
hiftory of Chrift's works, fubjoins this general ob- 
fervation ; *' Many other figns did Jefus, which are 
not written in this book ; but thefe are written that 
yemight believe him to be the Sonof God.and that 
believing ye might have life through his name — ,** 

I. It is here fuppofed, that the miracles per- 
formed by Jefus Chrift, were a fufficient evidence 
of his divine authority. 

Miracles, which are effects produced above the 
common powers of nature, and in a way and man- 

Serm. xxvr. '7 

Her different from its ordinary and flated courfe, 
plainly difcover God's immediate interpofition. 
And from the goodnefs and faithfulnefs of God 
we may certainly conclude, that he never will 
immediately and fupernaturally interpofe to give 
fuch credibility to a falfehood, that men, judging 
rationally, mufl receive it as a truth. It wag 
therefore a juft conclufion of Nicodemus, that 
Jefus muft be a teacher come from God, becaufc 
no man could do the miracles which he did, ex- 
cept God were with him. 

The miracles of Chrifl were great and numer- 
ous. He conftantly appealed to them as divine 
feals of his million, and on them he placed the 
credit of all his doftriries. To fuppofe that God, 
in fuch a cafe, fhould enable an impoftor to per- 
form thefe flupendous works, or fhould perform 
them for him, is contrary to all our ideas of his 
moral charafter. All moral evidence depends on 
the veracity of God. They who faw Chrift caft 
out devils, heal the fick, raife the dead, ftill the 
tempefts, only by a fingle word ; and afterward 
yield himfelf to death ; and[ then, exa6lly accord- 
ing to his prediction, rife from the dead, afcend 
into heaven, and ftied down on his difciples the 
promifed gifts of the fpirit ; could not rationally 
doubt, that he was, what he declared himfelf to 
be, the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world ; 
and that, confequently, all his do6lrines were 
true, his precepts pure, and his whole religion a 
heavenly inftitution. 

B 2 IL 

Serm. XXVL 

II. As thele ligns were evidence to thofe who 
faio them, fo the record given of them is evidence 
to fucceeding ages. This the evangelift teaches 
us, when he fays, " Thefe figns are written that 
ye might believe." For if they could be evidence 
only to thofe who faw them, there was no reafon 
why they Ihould be written; nor would the writ- 
ing of them be a mean of faith. 

The apoftle obferves, that Chrift performed 
them in the prefence of his difciples. Mod of them 
indeed, were wrought in the prefence of multi- 
tudes : But as the difciples were to be wirneflea 
of them to the world, the evangelift: particularly 
mentions this circum fiance, to give credibility to 
their teftimony. That which they faw and heard, 
they declared to others. They did not relate Chrift's 
miracles on fame or report, but from their own 
immediate knowledge. They teftified that which 
they faw, and their teftimony is worthy of belief. 

The difciples of Jefus were credible witnefles 
of the fads which they related ; becaufe it was not 
poffible that they Ihould be deceived ; they could 
]be undfer no poffible temptation to deceive others % 
nor was it in their power to have deceived man- 
kind, even if they had formed fuch a defign. 

1. They could not be miflaken themfelves in 
the matters, which they relate, but mud infallibly 
know whether they were true or not. 

The miracles, which they have recorded, were 
matters which fell under their own obfervation, 
and were fubje6l to their own fenfes. Whether 


Serm. XXVL 


they faw the dead rife ; the fick and lame healed; 
ftorms compofed; thoufands fed with a few- 
loaves ; and, befure, whether they were thern- 
felves able to work miracles and fpeak with di- 
vers tongues ; whether Jefus, who was crucified, 
^dually rofe and appeared to them ; whether 
they converfed with him, faw his wounds, and 
heard him communicate his infiruclions to ihem ; 
were fa6ls in which they could not pofTibly be mif- 
aken. If their fenfes, in fuch plain, obvious mat- 
ters, could deceive them, we cannot trufi our fenfes 
in any cafe. If their relation of fads is not true, 
they mufl have aimed to deceive mankind. But, 
2. They could be under no temptation to re- 
iate thefe things, if they had not known them to 
be true, becaufe, by their teflimony, they expof- 
ed themfelves to the lofs of every thing that is 
^efirable, and to the fuffering of every thing that 
is terrible, in this world. Poverty, reproach, 
perfecution and death, were the confequences of 
their perfeverance in their teflimony, and confe- 
quences which they forefaw, and which Chrifl 
^ad warned them to expe6l. And it can never 
he imagined that a number of men, in cool blood, 
fliouid combine together to facrifice every thing 
that is dear in life, for the fake of impofmg a 
falfehood on the world — ihould all fteadiiy per- 
fevere in this defign, after they began to feel the 
confequences of it, and fhould even perfifl: in it 
till death, and none among them fhould defert 
tlie caufe and difcover the fraud. Such a com- 
B 3 bination 

lO Serm. XXVL 

bination, fo executed, was never known, or heard 
of, nor is human nature capable of it. And, 

3. If they had been difpofed to deceive man- 
kind in thefe fa6ts, it was not in their power to 
do it, nor could it be in their thoughts to attempt 
it. The fa6ls which they relate, and the docv 
trines which they deliver, are fo great and won- 
derful, that it is abfurd to fuppofe a number of 
men fhould frame them out of their own inven- 
tion. Had not the things which they declare 
been true, they could not have maintained that 
uniformity and confiftency which appear in their 
teftimony : Much lefs could fuch a number of 
perfons have been confident with one another. 
And if their teftimony had not been true, it was, 
in the time of it, eafy to deted the fraud and 
prevent it from fpreading. Thefa6ls which they 
relate, they declared were done publickly ; in the 
view of the world ; and then very lately. ' And 
had there been no fuch miracles, there would 
have been no credit given to their report. The 
difciples had enemies who wifhed to confound 
them. The Jews, efpecially their rulers, fpared 
no pains to fupprefs the chriftian caufe. Their 
enmity to it would have prompted them to con- 
vi6i the difciples of falfehood, if they had not 
known, that the fafts related were indifputable. 
Had they difcovered any impofture, they would 
immediately have made it publick. And hnce 
they never denied the fa6ls aflerted by the apof- 
tjes, but rather denied the confequences of them, 


Seum, XXVI. It 

they muft undoubtedly have b.een convinced^ 
that they were real, and not nditious. 

Had not the miracles, faid to have been wrought 
by Jefus and his difciples, been real, the gofpei 
never could have gained fo extenfive credit, as 
in fad it did ; and if it had not been then receiv- 
ed, it would have been more difficult to intro- 
duce it, and give it a fpread aftervv^ard : For it 
is always more eafy to eftablilh a fcheme when 
it is new, than to revive it, after it has been re- 
jected and proved to be falfe. 

The facred writings carry in them an air of 
honefty and impartiality. They are of a holy 
nature and beneficial tendency. The pious and 
exemplary lives of the apoftles proved them to 
be under the influence of the religion which they 
taught ; and their dying in defence of it (hewed, 
that they firmly believed it to be divine. Its 
wonderful fuccefs, without the fupport of human 
power, demonftrates, that it was patronifed by 
heaven. The gofpei hiftory comes down to us 
with the pafTport of all former ages, and with ev- 
ery circumftance of credibility that can poffi- 
bly attend any hiftory. 

There are four men, who have profeffedly writ- 
ten memoirs of the life of Jefus Chrift. Two of 
them were his attendant difciples ; the other two 
were contemporary and converfant with his dif- 
ciples. Four others have written epiftles to par- 
ticular focieties of chriftians, or to chriftians in 
general. In thefe epiftles they recognife the 
B-j character, 

12 Seiim. XXVI. 

charader, affert or allude to the miracles, and 
teach the doclrines of Jefus, as they are related 
in thofe memoirs. So ihat this hid ry ftand. on 
the credit of eight different perfons, mod of 
whom were the immediate difciples of Jefus, and 
all of them his contemporaries. They wrote fepa- 
rately, on different occafions, without the ieafl 
appearance of concert or coilufion ; and yet all 
fubilantially agree. To fome of the principal 
fads there is the concurrent teflimony of heathen 
writers. Thefe memoirs and epiftles were re- 
ceived as genuine, in theapoflolick and next fuc- 
ceeding age, and from age to age, down to the 
prefent time. In fhort the gofpel hiftory, if con- 
fidered merely as human, is better authenticated 
than any other ancient hiflory extant. If we 
doubt its truth, we muft doubt the truth of all 
hiftory, and believe nothing, but what we fee 
with our own eyes.— I proceed to obferve, 

III. Though the evangelifts have not written 
every thing which Chrill did and taught, yet, 
they have written as much as is neceffary to the 
eftablifhment of our faith. Saint John fays, Ma^ 
7iy other things truly did J ejus, which are not writ- 
ten in this book, but thefe are written that ye might 
believe. He fays afterward, There are many other 
things zohich Jefus did, which, if they fiould be writ' 
ten, every one, I fuppofe that even the world iff If 
could not contain the books ihat fhoidd be written. 
A particular narrative of every thing which Chrift 
did and fpake, would have fwelled the facred 


Serm. XXVL 13 

volume beyond bounds. Few or none would 
have found ability to procure it, or time to read 
it. So that it would have been much lefs ufeful 
to the world, than the concife, fummary account 
which is now given us. They who can reje6l 
the gofpel, after all the evidence which arifes 
from the miracles written, might as well reje6l it, 
if the number were ten times as great. And 
though every difcourfe which oar Saviour deliver- 
ed is not given us at full length, yet we have a 
fummary view of all the doBrmts which he 
taught. Though many things which he fpake 
are omitted in the hiftory, yet no effential and 
important truth is fupprefled* 

The obfervation here made, may be applied to 
the works and fermons of his apoUles. It is not 
neceffary to fuppofe, nor indeed is it probable, 
that the New Teilament contains all their tranf- 
a6lions. It is certain that we have only a fum- 
mary account of the fermons which they preach- 
ed ; and, in fome inftances, there is only men- 
tion made of their preaching at fuch a place, 
without any particular detail of the matters on 
which they fpake. Nor is the fuppofition unrea- 
fonable, that they might write many epillles, on 
one occafion and another, which, are not tranf- 
mitted to us. But then we have, in the facred 
volume, all the doHriiies fully taught, which we 
could have had, if every fermon preached, and 
every letter written by the apoftles, had been 
given us at full lengfh, As rhey wrote to dif- 

14 Serm, XXVL 

ferent churches, they would undoubtedly write 
many of the fame things repeatedly. We find 
this to be in fome meafure the cafe with many of 
the epiftles which we have. There is a great 
fimilarity between that to the Ephefians, and that 
to the Coloffians. There is ;=ilmoft no fentiment 
in the one, but what occurs in the other, and 
often in nearly the fame exprefJions. The epif- 
tle to Titus contains little, but what we find m 
tliofe to Timothy. There is a great refemblance 
between Jude's epiflle, and part of the fecond 
epiftle of Peter, 

A repetition of the fame things, efpecially of 
the more important truths and duties of religion, 
is of great ufe. It helps us to a better under- 
ilanding of them ; it tends to imprefs them on 
the mind ; it ferves to fix them in the memory ; 
it fhews what the infpired writers efteemed the 
mod weighty matters, and were moft folicitous 
to inculcate. It is attended alfo with another 
important advantage. It fecures the fcriptures 
from the poflibjlity of material corruption. If 
the religion of the gofpel had been written fyf- 
tematically ; and the fame do6lrine, or precept, 
had been only once exprefled ; evil minded men, 
by altering a fingle pafTage, would have erafed an 
(cfTential point, and changed the fubftance of the 
fyftem. But now, as the fame things are inter- 
fperfed in various parts, the corruption of a fin- 
gle text, will afFeft none of the great truths of 
religion, becaufe the truth contained in the text 


Serm. XXVI. 15 

fo corrupted, is to be found elfewhere. In order 
to blot out any of the doQrines of religion, the 
fcriptures muft be altered in fo many places at 
dnce, that every reader would immediately ob- 
ferve and reje^ the corruption. From this one 
circumftance, we may be abfolutely certain, that 
the facred fcriptures have never fufFered any 
material or effential alterations, either from the 
careleiTnefs of tranfcriber3, or the artifice of im- 

But though it feems neceflary, that there fhould 
be frequent repetitions of the fame things, yet it 
is by no means neceffary, that every thing which 
Chrift did and fpake, or which the apofties 
preached and wrote, fhould be conveyed to us ; 
for fo many things could not be contained with- 
in the compafs of a volume adapted to common 

From the miracles recorded, we have all the 
evidence of the divine authority of the fcriptures, 
which we could have from a thoufand more. 
And from the writings tranfmitted to us, we have 
all the inftru6lions concerning our faith and 
duty, that we fhould have had, if every fermon 
delivered by Chrift and his apofties, and all the 
letters which the apofties wrote, had been con- 
veyed to us at large. For as the fermons were 
delivered, and the letters were written to differ- 
ent perfons, at different times, they were doubt- 
lefs in fubftance fimilar to thofe which we now 
poffefs : So that the fcriptures are perfeS, and 


i6 Serm. XXVI. 

fully adapted to their end, though, in the days 
of infpiration and miracles, many things were 
fpoken and done, v/hich are not contained in 
this book. 

What was the great end for which the fcrip- 
tares were written, the apoftle teaches us ; 

IV. In the fourth place. Thefe things arexorit- 
ten that ye might believe. 

Faith is the great principle of religion. The 
fcriptures teach us, what is that evidence on 
which their divine authority is founded, and 
point out to us the great truths which are to gov- 
ern our practice. 

The Chriftian needs to go no farther, than to 
the Bible itfelf, to hnd evidence of its divinity, 
if we only receive it witb the regard due to com- 
mon hiflory, v/e muil believe, that there were 
fuch perfons as Jefus and his apoftles, and that 
fehey performed very wonderful works. If they 
performed fuch works, they were fent of God i 
and if they were fent of God, the do6^rines which 
they taught are to be believed ; and the rules of 
life, which they gave, are to be obeyed. The 
purity, harmony, benevolent defign and ufefui 
tendency of thefe do6i:rines and precepts, afford 
additional evidence for the confirmation of pur 

The faith of a Chriflian mufl not flop in a 
rational convidion of the divine authority of the 
fcriptures ; nor in a juft apprehenfion of the 
fenfe and meaning of them. It muft go farther. 


Serm, XXVL 17 

It muft regard the fyftem of religion there 
taught, as excellent and important ; and yield a 
full and unreferved confent to it. That only i^ 
true faith, which has a pra61ical influence. The 
apoftle fays to the Theffalonians, '' The word, 
which ye heard of us, ye received, not as the 
word of man, but, as it is in truth, the word of 
God, which efFeaually worketh in you which 
believe/' He commends them " for their work 
of faith and their labour of love." That is faith, 
which gives the do6lrines of the gofpel their 
proper operation on the heart and life. If we 
acknowledge the gofpel to be true, on a rational 
convidion of the iufficiency of its evidence, and 
yet treat it as if it were falfe ; if we ov.m Chrift 
as a Saviour, and yet make no application to 
him, and place no dependence on him for falva- 
tion ; if we profefs the do6lrines which he has 
taught, and yet are wholly uninfluenced by them 
in our condu6l ; if we commend his precepts as 
excellent, and yet live in oppofition to them ; 
our faith is only fpeculation, and our fpeculative 
faith is pra6lical unbelief. But if we fo receive 
the gofpel, that it effe6tually works in us, cafls 
down imaginations, and every high thing which 
exalts itfelf againft the knowledge of God, and 
brings into captivity every thought to the obe- 
dience of Chrift ; then our faith is fuch as the 
gofpel requires. 

If the gofpel is true, it muft be infinitely im- 
portant. To receive it with indifference, is to 


i8 Serm. XXVL 

treat it with contempt. To defpife it is to ex«* 
pofe ourfelves to that wonderful deftruclion, 
which it reveals from heaven againft them who 
hold the truth in unrighteoufnefs. If to difbe- 
lieve the gofpel againft all the evidence which 
attends it, difcovers perverfenefs of heart ; what 
ftupidity, what obftinacy, what madnefs do they 
difcover, who profefs to believe it, and yet live 
in dire6l oppofition to it ! 

It is only the influential, the pra£lical faith, 
which is worthy of the name. 
This brings us to obferve, 
V. That to this fatith is annexed eternal life, 
** Thefe things are written, that ye might believe, 
and that believing ye might have life through 
Chrift's name/' 

The gofpel confiders mankind as a guilty race, 
under condemnation to everlafting death. To 
redeem them from death, and bring them to the 
hope of immortality here, and the enjoyment of 
it hereafter, was the great end for which Chrift 
appeared on earth. To accomplifh this defign, 
he not only lived among men, wrought miracles, 
and went about teaching, and doing good ; but 
fuffered death, revived, and entered into glory. 
Eternal life, therefore, comes to us in his name> 
and our faith and hope muft regard him in the 
chara6ler of a faviour and redeemer. If we have 
life through his name, our faith muft be in his 
name. The apoftle Peter fays, *'We are re* 
deemed by the precious blood of Chrift^- who 



Serm. XXVI. 19 

tvas ordained before the foundation of the worlds 
but was manifefted in thefe laft times for ixs, 
who by him do believe in God that raifed hini 
from the dead, and gave him glory, that our 
faith and hope might be in God." 

Faith entitles us to eternal life. *' Believing, 
we have life through his name." But the faith 
to which this mighty privilege is annexed, is 
fuch as we have already defcribed ; a faith 
which efFe£lually works in us. To no other 
faith do we find the promife of life made. To 
know, therefore, whether we have life through 
the name of Chrift, we muft inquire, whether 
we have purified our hearts by obeying the truth ; 
whether the fpirit and temper of the gofpel is 
formed in us ; whether we are created in Chrift 
Jefus to good works, which God has ordained 
that we fhould walk in them. 


:• HOW wonderful is the grace of God, in mak- 
ing fuch preparation for our faith and happinefs ! 
A Saviour has been fent from heaven — the moft 
ftupendous miracles have been wrought — the 
moft fublime and glorious dodlrines have been 
delivered — thefe have been written — the writings 
have been preferved and conveyed to us, that 
we might believe, and that believing, we might 
have eternal life. How great is the perverfenefs 
of men, that they ftiould need fuch mighty ef- 
forts of divine power to bring them to believe 


20 * Serm, XXVL 

How amazing is the pervei-fenefs of thofe who 
remain in unbelief and difobedience againft all 
thefe efForts of God*s grace and power ! — How 
juft will be the condemnation of thofe, who will 
not, by all the means ufed with them, and by 
all the advantages beflowed on them, be brought 
to believe in Chrift's name, and accept the glo- 
rious life, which he has purchafed for them, and 
revealed to them ! It is faid of fome, that Chrift 
himfelf marvelled becaufe of their unbelief. 
And marvellous it is, that fmners fhould need 
fo much done for them to overcome their unbe- 
lief and enmity ; and that fo many fhould con- 
tinue unbelieving and impenitent after all that 
is done. 

God has written to us the great things of his 
grace ; he has fent to us the word of falvation. 
Let us beware, left this be our condemnation, 
that life is offered us, and we have chofen death; 
and light has come to us, and we have loved 


*fnc KOreclwildu and U n7iho%ia7ice. or int 

Isaiah liii. i. 
^ Who hath believed our report ? 

1 HIS chapter contains a propheticlc 
defcription of the fufFerings of Jefus Chrift — of 
the gracious purpofes of his death — and of the 
contempt and oppofition which fhould attend 
him in the courfe of his miniRry. 

The words of our text are a complaint of the 
incredulity of thofe, to whom his gofpel fhould 
be preached by himfelf in his own perfon, and 
by his apoftles after him. 

The words are by faint John applied to thofe, 
who, when they faw Chrifl's miracles, would not 
receive him as the promifed Saviour. *' Though 
he had done fo many miracles before them, yet 
they believed not on him ; that the faying of 
Efaias the prophet might be fulfilled, Lord, 
£ Who hath believed our report ? — And to whom 
hath the arm of the Lord been revealed ?" The 

Vol. IL C apoftle 

22^ Serm. XXVIL 

apoflle Paul, fpeaking of the perverfenefs of the 
Jews under his preaching, and that of the other 
apoftles, fays, in the words of Ifaiah, ** How 
beautiful are the feet of them, who preach the 
gofpel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good 
things ! But they have not all obeyed the gof- 
pel ; for the fame prophet fays, Lord, i Who 
hath believed our report ?'* 

The report here intended is the gofpel. The 
complaint is, tliat few believe it. And thiscom^ 
plaint is made by thofe, who preached in the 
mod engaging manner, and with the higheft to- 
kens of their divine commiffion. 

The text is not a lamentation over thofe who 
had never heard the gofpel, but a reprehenfion 
of thofe who had heard, and yet would not be- 
lieve. The prophet fpeaking of the Mefliah, 
whom he calls God's fervant, fays, " He ihall 
deal prudently — he fhallfprinklemany nations— 
that which had not been told them, they fhall 
fee ; and that which they had not heard, fhall 
they confider." But he adds, *' i Who hath be- 
lieved our report ?" John applies the prophecy 
as fulfilled in thofe who had adtually feen Chrift's 
miracles. Paul, in like manner, applies it to 
thofe, who had feen the feet of the melfengers, 
who brought glad tidings. 

We will contemplate the gofpel under this 
idea, that is, a Report, And then we will confid- 
€r the complaint ; ^ Who hath believed it ? 

I. Wc 

Serm. XXVIL 

I. We will contemplate this report, and in- 
quire whether it is not worthy of our attention 
and belief. 

1. The report, which we hear, is a moll in- 
ftruBive report. 

It brings us information of many things, which 
were before unknown, and which, without this 
information, never could have been known to the 
fons of men. *' That which had not been told 
us, we fee." The gofpel, for this reafon, is call- 
ed a meffage, good tidings, and tidings of great 

The leading truths of natural religion, as the 
exiflence and providence of God, the immortal- 
ity of the foul, and the obligations to virtue, are 
agreeable to the dictates of reafon ; and perhaps 
might be, in fome meafure, difcbvered without 
revelation. At lead they were known among 
thofe, who had never enjoyed a written revela- 
tion, though, indeed, we cannot fay, how far 
thefe might be indebted to traditional informa- 
tion. But certainly thofe truths, which imme- 
diately relate to the recovery and falvation of 
fmners, human reafon could never invefligate* 
I Whether the guilty can be pardoned-or, if there 
is pardon for them, in what way it will be grant- 
ed, and on what terms it may be obtained — • 
whether they may hope for God's affiflance in 
complying with thefe terms — whether forgivenefs 
will be repeated after new offences — whether 
there will be a refurredion of the body — and 
what is the nature of the life to come ? There are 
C % quellions 

24 Serm. xxvir^ 

queftions to which reafon can return nofatisfac- 
tory anfwer. Our knowledge in thefe intereft- 
ing matters comes by the report of the gofpeU 
And thefe are fome of its principal fubjeds. 

This leads me to fay, 
2. The gofpel is a veipoYtfrom heaven, 

Jefus the fon of God, and his infpired apoftles,. 
call it their report. 

We often hear rumours, of one kind and 
another, of which we know not the original. 
Their found, like that of the winds, ftrikes our 
ears, but we know not whence it comes, nor 
whither it goes. If we attempt to trace them, we 
cannot find the author or occafion. Before we 
have gone far, they appear to be fubftantially 
changed. And yet thefe precarious reports meet 
with many who will readily believe them, eager- 
ly take them up, and induflrioufly hand them 

The report, which we have heard, is not like 
thefe. We know whence it is. It originated in 
heaven, and from thence is fent down to us. 
The apoftie commends the Thelfalonians, that 
when they heard the gofpel preached, *' they re- 
ceived it not as the word of men, but, as it is in 
truth, the word of God." He warns the He- 
brews, that they refufe not him, who fpeaketh ; 
for, fays he, *' if they efcaped not, who refufed 
him that fpoke on earth, much more fiiall not 
we efcape, if we turn away from him, that fpeak- 
-eth from heaven." — *' ,; How (hall we efcape, if 


Serm. XXVIL 25 

we negle6lthis great falvation, tvhich, at the firft, 
began to be fpoken by the Lord, and was con- 
firmed to us by them who heard him ?" 

The gofpel was, in fome degree, made known 
to the patriarchs ; and afterwards more fully to 
the prophets. But *' God, who, at fundry times, 
and in divers manners, fpake to the fathers by 
tht prophets, has, in thefe laft days, fpoken to 
us by his fon." The knowledge communicated 
to the fathers was from heaven ; for '' holy men 
of God fpake, as they were moved by the Holy 
Ghoft." But the gofpel revelation is, in a more 
eminent fenfe, from heaven, as it was fpoken to 
men immediately by the mouth of a divine in- 
ftrudor. And his inflru6lions have come to us, 
not as mod other reports come, by uncertain. 
traditionary conveyance from one to another ; 
but in a way far more fure and fatisfadory — by 
authentick records. This divine teacher chofe a 
■number of difciples, who attended upon him, 
during his abode on earth, and received his doc- 
trines immediately from his mouth. Thefe doc- 
trines they, in his name, preached to the world, 
for the benefit of that age ; and committed to 
writing, for the ufe of fucceeding ages. The re- 
port comes to us, not as a doubtful hearfay, but 
^s a faithful record. 

Whatever evidence we might have, that the 
Son of God once appeared on earth, yet if we 
had no information concerning his doclrines, but 
what came by traditionary report, we mufl re- 
ceive it with great diffidence ; for, in pafiing 
C 3 through 

26 Serm. XXVII, 

through a fucceffion of many generations, il: 
might be materially altered. Tradition, in the 
early ages of the world, when human life was ex- 
tended to almoft a thoufand years, was a much 
fafer mode of conveyance, than it can be now, 
fince the great redu6lion of our m^ortal term. 
The great do6lrines of revelation are not left in 
the precarious hands of tradition. Soon after 
Chrifl's afceniion, they were, by his attendants, 
committed to writing. And copies of their writ- 
ings were, in a fhort time, fo multiplied and dif- 
perfed, as to fland fecure againfl any attempts 
to corrupt them. Had the facred records been 
altered, while the writers were alive, they would 
have dete61;ed and remedied the evil. By the time 
that they were gone off the ftage, the copies were 
too numerous to admit of an alteration, which 
Ihould be common to them all. . If only a few- 
copies had been mutilated and corrupted, thefe, 
by comparing them with other copies, might have 
been correfted. To introduce into them all, at 
the fame time, any great and effential alterations, 
mufl have been fo evidently impra6licable, that 
we cannot fuppofe it would ever be attem.pted. 
If then the gofpel was, at firft, a report from 
heaven, we are flill to regard it as fuch ; for it 
has been conveyed to us in a way which fecures 
it from ail reafonable fufpicion of effential cor- 

We may therefore add, 

3. The gofpel is a credible report. 



Many reports come to us without evidence. 
we only hear them ; but know not what is their 
foundation, or whether they have any. And yet 
even thefe reports pafs not wholly unregarded. 
I How readily do we give credit and circulation 
to ill reports concerning our neighbours ? — How 
eafily are we alarmed at thj-eatening reports con- 
cerning our perfons and properties ? — How fond- 
ly do we embrace favourable reports concerning 
our particular friends ? Such rumours as thefe we 
often believe, without waiting to examine their ev- 
idence or credibility. But if any important intel- 
ligence is brought to us, which is both rational in 
itfelf, and, at the fame time, fupportedby a com- 
petent number of reputable witneffes, we may 
much rather judge it worthy of our attention and 

With this evidence the gofpel comes. 

It is credible in its own nature. It gives us 
the mod noble and exalted ideas of the perfec- 
tions and providence of God. It lays before us 
a fyftem of moral duties fully correfponding 
with the divine characier. That we fhould love 
God with all our hearts, and our neighbours as 
ourfelves — that we (hould relieve the miferies, 
and promote the happinefs of others, as we have 
opportunity — that we fhould govern our paflions 
and reftrain our appetites— rthat we fhould ufe 
the good things of the world without abu fmg 
them, are duties which the gofpel inculcates and 
reafon approves. 

C4 The 

28 Serm. XXVIL 

The do6lrines of the goFpel, though beyond the 
difcovery, and above the comprehenfion of rea- 
fon, are, in no inftance, contrary to its didates. 
They are all adapted to promote real virtue and 
righteoufnefs. The immortality of the foul ; 
the refurre6lion of the body, a future judgment, 
and the equitable diftribution of reurards and 
punifliments, are motives of folemn importance, 
urging us to repentance of fm, and holinefs of 
life. The difcovery of God's mercy to forgive 
the penitent, and of his grace to aflift the humble, 
is adapted to raife our drooping hopes, and ani- 
mate us againil all the difficulties, which may 
attend us in a courfe of religion. The benev- 
olent defign, and holy tendency of the gofpel, 
in all its doclrines and precepts, render it wor- 
thy of our belief and acceptance. 

Befides this internal evidence, God has been 
pleafed to give it the fanftion of his own tefti- 

The miracles, which Jefus performed, were, 
to his firft difciples, a complete demonftration 
of the truth of his doftrines. The hiftory of his 
life, miracles, death and refurre6lion, delivered 
on the teftimony of thefe difciples, is to us a 
fufficient evidence of the fame. For, as they 
converfed with him, and faw and heard the 
things which they relate, they could not them- 
felves be deceived. The innocence and integrity 
of their lives, and their felfdenials and fufferings 
in their mailer's caufe, fecure them from the fuf- 


Serm. XXVll. 29 

picion of a defign to deceive others. The nu- 
merous adverfaries to the Chrillian caufe among 
the learned men and rulers of the Jews and Gen- 
tiles, rendered it impoiTible, that thefe difciples, 
had they been ever fo crafty and difhoneft, 
fhould impofe a fraud on the world. They con- 
firmed their teflimony and do6lrines by miracles 
performed in their mafter's name. They ap- 
peared to live and a61: under the influence of 
their own doctrines ; and thus gave practical 
evidence of their fmcerity in preaching them. 
They refigned every worldly intereft in fupport 
of the facred caufe, in which they were engaged ; 
and thus made it manifefl to all, that the mo- 
tives which governed theni were not the interefts 
and honours of this world ; but a belief of, and 
regard to that folemn futurity, which they, with 
fuch confidence, proclaimed to mankind. 

In confequence of their preaching, the gofpel 
gained footing, and fpread to a great extent in 
the world ; which it never could have done, if 
the fa6ls alleged by them, had been only fictions 
of their own heads. If there never had been 
fuch a man as Jefus of Nazareth, who publickly 
preached, and wrought miracles in Judea ; who 
was tried and condemned by the Jewifla council, 
and fentenced to crucifixion by the Roman gov- 
ernor, and who, within three days after his death 
and burial, rofe again and appeared to many ; 
a few men, combined together, could never, by 
any artifice or contrivance, have perfuaded the 


30 Serm. XXVIL 

world to believe thcfc things ; becaufe the con- 
trary rnufl have been univerfally known. That 
chriflianity did gain credit, and fpread in the 
world, and has, for feveral ages continued, 
even down to this time, we all know. This 
fa6l is an undeniable evidence of its truth and 
divinity. For it did not take place and prevail, 
either by fecret fraud or open force, as impof- 
tures ufually have done ; but by the teftimony 
of a few men to plain matters of faft, to 
which they appeal as well known, and which, 
had they not been real, could ealily have been 

Errors have fometimes been introduced and 
propagated by the artful reafoning of intereft- 
ed men. But chriflianity refts not on the bafis 
of human reafoning, or a fubtile, intricate train 
of argumentation : It Hands on the ground of 
plain fads, of which every man is able to judge. 
The life, miracles, death andrefurredion of Jefus 
of Nazareth are the fads which fupport it. If 
thefe did really take place, the gofpel is true. 
Whether they did or not, men of common 
abilities were as competent to judge, as men of 
the profoundefl learning. 

We, who live in the prefent age, have not, in 
every refped, the fame evidence of the truth of the 
gofpel, as they had, who were eye witneiTes of 
thofe fads. But we have their teftimony, in 
the mod authentick manner, conveyed to us. 
Some advantages we have, which they had npt. 


Serm. XXVII. 31 

We have the examination of preceding ages. 
We fee chriftianity flill fupporting itfclf againft 
all the oppoQtion of the world. We fee the 
unwearied attempts of its enemies to fubvert it, 
rendered fruitlels and vain. We fee many of 
the predidions, contained in thefe records, al- 
ready verified ; and others, to all appearance, 
haftening on toward an accomplifhment. Thefe 
things amount to a full proof that the gofpel is 
divine. We are to regard it then as a credible 

4. It is an inter ejling report, 

Thofe reports, which, in ourfocial interviews, 
arc the more ufual topics of difcourfe, are, in 
comparifon with this, of fmall importance. 
Some of them relate to peace and war ; the 
fuccefs and defeat of armies ; the policies of 
kingdoms; and the progrefs of arts and com- 
merce. Some of them refpeft the affairs of 
families ; the condu6t of particular perfons ; 
contentions and lawfuits between neighbours ; 
the folly of one man, and the wifdom of anoth- 
er. Many of them are altogether trifling, and 
introduced to fupply the want of thought, and 
fill up the vacuities of converfation. But the 
report, which we have from heaven, is infinitely 
important and equally concerns every fon of 
Adam. If other reports engage the attention 
of fome, this demands the regard of all. 

From the gofpel we learn, that the human 
race have, by tifanfgrefliQn, falhn under the di- 

32 Seam. XXVIL 

vine difpleafure. This report correfponds with 
our own experience and obfervation. We fee 
death reigning over the fons of men. That 
death entered into the world by fin, is a reafona- 
ble fuppofition j and it is an exprefs doctrine of 
revelation. Death is not all that the (inner has 
to fear. Confcience apprehends fomething more 
awful than this ; and the wrath of God is re- 
vealed from heaven againfl all ungodlinefs and 
unrighteoufnefs of men. Thefe are alarming 
reports. Whether tKere be any remedy for our 
iinhappy condition ; how we fhall obtain deliv^ 
crance from the wrath to come, are ferious and 
important inquiries. 

The gofpel brings us a joyful meifage. It 
proclaims peace and good will to men. It dif- 
covers a facrifice offered for our fins by Jefus 
the Son of God, v/ho was manifefted in human 
flefli. It affures us that God is in Chrifl, recon- 
ciling the world to himfelf, not imputing their 
trefpaffes. Pardon here, and glory in heaven, it 
promifes without diftin6lion, to all who repent, 
and do works meet for repentance. 

^ How interefling are thefe reports ? Our exift- 
€nce here is Ihort. All our worldly poITeffions 
and profpe6ls we muft foon refign. ^ Shall we 
have nothing in exchange ? To think that our 
cxiftence terminates with death, is (hocking to 
nature. To look for a miferable exiltencc 
beyond death is more tremendous ilill. How 


Serm. XXVIL 33 

joyful then is the information, that there is be- 
fore us an exiftence, which, will be lading with- 
out end, and nray alfo be happy beyond concep- 
tion — that the mod guilty may be pardoned, 
and the moft unworthy may obtain a blefled 

In other cafes, we readily receive a report 
which favours our intereft, and correfponds with 
our willies. We eafily believe an ill report of 
an enemy, or a good report of a friend. We 
eagerly attend to advice which agrees with our 
previous refolutions ; and we, with little fufpic- 
ion embrace, as our friend, the man who prom- 
ifes to ferve our intereft. The gofpel report is 
then moft worthy of our acceptance. This (hews 
us how we may be great and happy 1 It points 
out to us our real intereft, and inftru6ls us 
how we may fecure it. 

5. This is a puhlick report. It is what we 
have all heard, and heard often. 

Some reports are cautioufly whifpered from 
one friend and confidant to another. Hov/ever 
interefting they may be, there are many, who 
have no opportunity to take the betiefitof them. 
If there is a report of great profits to be made by a 
particular article of commerce-of a great demand 
for fome of the neceflaries of life in a certain 
place-of a great fcarcity of fome ufeful commod- 
ity likely to happen foon ; they who firft hear this 

report, will keep it to themfelves ; or communi- 

34 SeRm. XXVIL 

cate it only to a few feledl; friends, who may 
aflifl them in the monopoly. 

But the report, of which we ate now fpeaking, 
is common. All have the fame opportunity to 
make ufe of it. None can fay, they have never 
heard it. " The found has gone forth into all 
the earth ;** as the apollle obferves ; " and the 
word to the ends of the world." 

If we fail of thofe bleffings, which the gofpel 
offers, we cannot plead in our excufe, that the 
report of them never had reached us ; or that 
others had firfl engrofTed them. They are pub^ 
lifhed and propofed to ail. How many foever 
Lave obtained a fhare in them, enough flill re- 
mains for us. The report is, *' Ho ! every one 
that thirfleth, come to the waters, and he that 
hath no money ; come ye, buy and eat ; yea, 
come, buy wine and milk without money, and 
without price." — ** Whofoever will, let him come 
and take of the water of life freely." 

Finally, this is an ancient report. It was made 
ages ago. Our fathers heard it, and have told 
it to us : We heard it in our childhood ; and 
hear it flill. It is often repeated in our ears, 
and importunately urged on our confciences. If 
we defpife it, foon will be verified that part, 
which we are mod reluctant to hear ; *' He 
who believeth not, fliall not fee life ; but the 
wrath of God abideth on him." 

" Men and brethren, and whofoever among 
you feareth God, unto you, unto you is the 


Sdrm. XXVII, 35 

word of this falvation fent." -Through Jefus 

Chrift is preached unto you the forgivenefs of 
Tins : And hy him all who believe are juftified 
from all things from which ye cannot be juftified 
hy the law of nature, nor could the Jews be jufti- 
fied by the law of Mofes. Beware therefore left: 
that come upon you, which is fpoken of in the 
prophets, *' Behold, ye defpifers, and wonder 
and perifli." For faith the Almighty, *' I work a 
work in your days, a work which ye will in no 
wife believe, though a man declare it to you/* 

The guilt and danger of unbelief will be 
more fully reprefented in another difcourfe. 




fjk& ^alli and zDaTiacT of CCnueueL 

Isaiah liii. i. 
^ Who hath believed cur Report ? 

X HESE words are a prophetick com- 
plaint of the incredulity and difobedience of 
thofe, to whom the gofpel fliould be preached 
hy Jefus in perfon, and by his difciples after 

We have already confidered, what kind of 
report the gofpel is. — We have feen, that, in 
every view, it is worthy of our moft ferious re- 

Let us now, 

II. Confider, whether a proper attention is 
paid to this report among thofe to whom it is 
fent, or who have an opportunity to hear it. 

The complaint in the text is, " i Who hath 
believed our report ?" 

The prophet fpeaks in the perfon of Jefus 
Chrift, and his apoflles. He fortells, that un- 

Serm. XXVIII. 37 

der their miniflry, there would be many unbe- 
lievers : And fo the event has proved. 

As it was in their day, fo it has been fince. 
The gofpel, which to fome is a favour of life un- 
to life, is to others a favour of death unto death. 

There are many nations, which have not be- 
lieved the report. 

The words of the Pfalmiftj concerning the 
works of nature, Saint Paul applies to the preach- 
ers of the gofpel. — " Their found is gone out 
through all the earth, and their words to the 
ends of the world. There is no fpeech nor lan- 
guage, where their voice is not heard.*' 

The commiffion which Chrifl gave to his apof- 
tles was, that they ihould preach the gofpel to all 
nations. This commifTion they executed with fi- 
delity. They travelled intb various parts of the 
world. Many nations they perfonally vifited. 
Wherever they went, they preached in places of 
pubiick refort. And where they found a com- 
petent number of believers, they planted church- 
es ; and in every church they ordained ftated el- 
ders. To the churches which they had planted 
they wrote many letters, which were publickly 
read, as well in other churches as in thofe to 
which they were immediately direfted. They 
performed miracles in the prefence of multitudes, 
and in the mod confpicuous manner. The 
doors of the houfes, in which they preached, 
were opened to all, to heathens and unbelievers, 
as well as to chriflians. And they, as occafion 

Vol. II. D required. 

38 Serm. XXVIir. 

required, fpake in all the various languages of the 
people who aflembled to hear them. They might 
therefore properly be faid to preach the gofpel 
to all nations. Many, from all the nations com- 
prehended within the Roman empire, heard their 
dodrines and faw their miracles ; and thefe would 
naturally carry to others information of the things 
which they had feen and heard. Probably there 
were few or none within the empire, but who, 
in the apoftlek's time, either heard the gofpel, or 
heard fuch report concerning it, as Ought to have 
awakened their attention to it. The intercourfe 
of the Romans with other nations could not fail 
to convey the report beyond the bounds of the 
empire. Nor Was the miniftry of the apoftles, 
and the primitive preachers confined within 
thefe limits. Their labours occupied a larger 
fphere. The work which they began, was, in 
the next age, flill purfued, and carried to a wid- 
er extent. Infhort, it may be doubted^ whether 
there is any nation in the world, which has not 
at one time or another had the offer of the gof- 
pel. If ithas not been adually preached among 
them, yet the knowledge of it has been conveyed 
to them in fuch a meaf ure, as might juflly have 
led them to enquire into its nature and evidence. 
The true reafon why they have it not, is their 
indifference to it when they hear it, and their 
rejedion of it when it is offered. 

If there were, among mankind, the fame at- 
tention to the concerns of religion, as there is to 


Serm. XXVIIL 39 

the intereft of the prefent world, the gofpel, be- 
fore this time, would have overfpread the earth. 
The valuable arts and manufa6lures of one 
country are foon introduced into all commercial 
countries, and from thence conveyed to places 
more obfcure. The produce and works of 
China and the Indies are circulated through 
Europe, and all the civilized parts of America : 
And many of them are not unknown even 
among the favages of America, and the barbari- 
ans of Africa. If a ufeful or curious difcovery 
is made in one nation, it foon is communicated 
to othei-s. The ufe of theloadftone and the com- 
pafs, of gunpowder and fire arms did not long 
reft with the firft inventors. If mankind felt 
the fame folicitude to improve in virtue and 
goodnefs, as to increafe in wealth and power — 
the fame concern to fpread the knowledge of re- 
ligion, as to promote arts, manufa6lures and 
commerce, chriftianity had long fmce been the 
religion of the world. But fuch is their ftupid- 
ity with regard to their moft important interefts, 
that it is ftill confined to much the fmaller part 
of our fallen race. 

Among thofe, to whom the gofpel is preached, 
there are many, who avowedly reje6l it ; and 

of thofe who profefs to believe it, there are many, 
who in works deny it. 

The oppofition of the heart to the pra6lical 

defign of the gofpel, is confidered as unbelief. 

The apoftle fays of the Jews, <* They have not 
Da ^^^ 

40 Serm. XXVIII. 

all obeyed, the gofpel, for Efaias faith, i Who 
hath believed our report ? 

The gofpel is not a dry fyllem of fpeculative 
opinions, defignc4 for our amufement, but a 
wife colleftion of do6lrines and precepts, intend- 
ed for the government of our lives. And the 
faith, which it requires is not merely an a6l of 
the underftanding in alfenting to it as true, 
but an exercife alfo of the will in embracing it as 
goo4» It is believing with the heart, and re- 
ceiving the love of the truth. He, who does 
not in heart receive, andin pra^ice bbey, the 
truth, is guilty of unbelief. His faith, in divine 
eftimation, is of no yalue, becaufe it has no 
influence, and produces no effetl. The apof- 
tle commends the faith of thofe, " who when 
they heard the word, received it as the word of 
God, which efFedually works in them that be- 
lieve.'* As he fays of circumcifion, we may 
fay alfo of faith — It verily profiteth, if we obey 
the gofpel ; but if not, it then becomes unbelief. 
Of the wicked fervant who fmites his fellows, 
and drinks with the drunken, our Lord fays, 
*' His portion fhall be appointed to him with 
unbelievers.'* His vicious life ranks him with in- 
fidels. Elfewhere it is faid, ** His portion Ihall be 
with hypocrites," with thofe, who, in pra£lice coa- 
tradidl what, in words, they profefs to believe. 

The Jews, who rebelled againfl: God in the 
wildernefs, were deftroyed by various judgments, 
becaufe of their unbelief. They faw the mighty 



works, which God ivrought for their falvation ; 
but they finned againfl him, tempted him in 
their hearts, and provoked him by their difobe- 
dience ; and therefore it is faid, ** They believed 
not in God, nor trujled in his falvation/' 

We wonder, perhaps, at thofe, who heard 
the gofpel from the mouth of Jefus and his 
apoftles, and yet treated it as a fidion and 
impofture. It is faid, that Jefus himfelf mar- 
velled, becaufe of their unbelief. 

They, however, are not the only unbelievers. 
The gofpel, which Chrift and his apoftles 
preached, is tranfmitted to our age, — ^i Have we 
received it ? It cannot be faid, we have all 
obeyed it. There are many who live in the 
allowed praQice of the fins, which this manifeft- 
ly condemns. They are unjuft and oppreffive 
to their neighbours ; vain and impious in their 
language; wild and extravagant in their diver- 
fions ; intemperate and irregular in their indul- 
gences. I Do they believe the report, that be- 
caufe of thefe things the wrath of God is com- 
ing on the children of difobedience ? 

Many are under a fpirit of flumber. They 
have eyes, but fee not, ears have they, but they 
hear not, neither do they underftand. They feel 
no folicitude about their eternal falvation ; no 
concern to underftand the terms of it, or to af- 
certain their intereft in it. They do not evea 
profefs the gofpel, or attend with conftancy on 
its inftitutions. i Do they believe that there is 
D 3 before 

4« SeRm. XXVIII. 

before them an eternal ftate of retribution ? — 
I Do they believe that by the law of God they 
are condemned already, and that only the di- 
vine patience fufpends the execution of the fen- 
tence which is gone forth againft them ? — ^ Do 
they believe that Jefus the Son of God came 
down from heaven to call them to repent?ince, 
and that on this repentance their eternal happi- 
nefs depends ? — i What ? beljeve thefe things, 
and yet negle6l the means of their falvation ? 
negledl; prayer, felfexamination— and ?ittendance 
on divine worfhip ? What inconfiftency is here ! 

There are fome who attend on the external 
forms of religion, and yet pradlically renounce 
it. They come before God as his people, and 
hear his words ; but they will not do them. The 
interefts of the world are fupreme in their 
thoughts. They are cumbered about thefe 
things ; but the one thing, which is needful, finds 
no place in their hearts. They have been warn^ 
cd that many, like them, will Hand before the 
Judge at the lafl day, and plead, ** Lord, Lord, 
live have eaten and drunk in thy prefence, and 
thou haft taught in our ftreets ; but he will fay, 
I know you not ; depart from me ye workers of 
iniquity/* i Do they believe this report ? 

There are fome, who pay little regard to the 
power of Godlinefs. They believe, in general 
that there is fuch a thing as religion ; but have 
very partial and fuperficial conceptions of it. 
They keep, or feem to keep fome of the com- 

Serm. XXVIII. 


mandments. They cannot be charged with any 
of the grofs violations of the rules of godlinefs, 
fobriety, truth and righteoufnefs ; and they hope 
they fhall ftand approved, i Do they believe 
that God looks on the heart, and requires truth 
in the inward parts ? — i Do they believe that love 
to God, faith in the Mediator, and benevolence 
to mankind are effential to religion ? — ^ Do not 
do6lrines of this kind feem like idle reports ? 

If, befides fpeculative infidels, all who care- 
lefsly negle6l divine ordinances — all who are ig- 
norant of, and uninfluenced by divine truths — 
all who live unconcerned about, and inattentive 
to their eternal falvation — all who regard the 
interefts of the world in preference to heaven 
and future happinefs — if all thefe are found in 
the lift of unbelievers, may not the old complaint 
be renewed, ** i Who hath believed our report ? 

If the report, which is fent among us, is fo 
important and interefting, fo rational and cred- 
ible, as has been reprefented, ^Whence is it, that 
fo many difregard it ? ^ Is it becaufe they have 
not capacity to underftand its defign, or to ex- 
amine its evidence ? They have reafon fufhcient 
for their worldly purpofes. They are wife for their 
temporal intereft. But there is in them an evil 
heart of unbelief. Our Saviour fays, '* This is the 
condemnation, that light has come into the world, 
but they have loved darknefs rather than light, 
becaufe their deeds are evil ; for every one, that 
D 4 4oth 

44 Serm, XXVIII. 

doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh he to 
the light, left his deeds fhould be reproved/* 
By way of improvement then, 

1. Let us refle6l on the great guilt of unbe- 
lievers in a gofpel land, and the awful condem- 
nation, to which they ftand expofed. 

When we view, with ferious attention, the plan 
of the gofpel, it appears to be perfectly adapt- 
ed to our real neceffities, and fully to correfpond 
with our reafonable wiflies. Herein God has 
abounded to us in all wifdom and prudence. 
Here is a fure foundation laid to fupport our hope 
— clear and complete evidence given to gain our 
faith — the mo ft powerful arguments ufed to 
command our confent — and the moft fuitable 
afliftances offered to animate our refolution. 
They who perifti under thefe advantages, muft 
impute to themfelves their own deftru6lion. 

If fm by the commandment becomes exceeds 
ingly finful, by the gofpel it becomes exceedingly 
more fo. If they who defpifed the law of Mo- 
fes, died without mercy, how fevere will be the 
puniftiment of thofe who trample on the grace 
of Chrift. We lament the unhappy condition 
of the heathens, who have not heard the report 
of the gofpel : i But how much more deplorable 
will be the condition of thofe who have heard, 
and will not believe ? We are they to whom 
this report has come. It will not pafs by us 
with indifference, and leave us as it found us. 
If we will not receive it, or will not be influenc- 

Serm. XXVIII. 45 

ed by It ; if we reje6l it, as if it were not true, 
or difregard it, as if it were not important, it 
will, beyond all conception, aggravate our pref- 
ent guilt, and augment our future punifhment. 
The time is juft at hand, when mortals will 
know what is the iffue and refult of the gofpel 
with refpeci: to them. It will be a favour of 
life, or of death. O, hear, that your fouls may 
live. Know in this your day, the things which 
belong to your peace, before they are hidden 
from your eyes. 

2. If there are many who hear the report of 
the gofpel, and yet believe it not, each one 
Jhould be folicitous for himfelf. 

We are warned that many will be loft. Let 
us not be high minded, but fear. *' Enter in at 
the flrait gate,*' fays our Lord, ** for wide is the 
gate and broad is the way, which leads to de- 
ftru6lion, and many there are who go in thereat. 
Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which 
leads to life, and few there are who find it/' 
The apoftle to the Hebrews urges the fame argu- 
ment. God pronounced concerning the genera- 
tion which came out of Egypt, that, becaufe of 
their unbelief, they ftiould not enter into his 
reft. *' Let us therefore fear," fays the apoftle, 
** left a promife being left us of entering into 
his reft, any of us ftiouid feem to come fliort of 

When Chrift faid to his difciples, " One of 
you ftiall betray me " ftruck with a general 


46 Serm, XXVIII. 

aftonifhment, they felt a folemn anxiety, each 
one for himfelf, They faid to him, one and all, 
'* I Lord, is it I ?"— *' ^ ^^^^> is it I ?"— Even 
Judas joined in the enquiry. It was a juft con- 
cern. I How much greater reafon have we to be 
folicitous for ourfelves, when we are often warn- 
ed, that, of the many who are called, few are 

chofen ? 

We believe, in general, that many will periih 
from among thofe who enjoy the gofpel. We 
allow that their doom will be awful. But wc 
flatter ourfelves, that we Ihall efcape it. Let us 
enquire, what is the ground of our hope. 

I Do we think, that the temper of the gofpel 
is formed in us, and that our title to heaven is 
already fecured ? Happy indeed are we, if this 
is our ftate and chara61:er. But in a mat- 
ter of fuch confequence, let us proceed cautioufly 
and hope humbly. Peter, when his Lord afked 
him, ** I Loveft thou me ?" anfwered boldly 
** Yea, Lord, thou knoweft that I love thee." 
But Jefus renewed the queftion ; and, on receiv- 
ing the fame anfwer, repeated the queftion again* 
He has taught us, that we fhould not be too 
hafty in our conclufions, or too confident in our 
hopes. The gofpel inftru6ls us, that we muft 
examine ourfelves, whether we are in the faith— 
that we muft prove our own felves — that we muft 
give diligence to the full aft'urance of hope ta 
the end. 


Serm. XXVIII- if 

Let U3 exarnine the foundation of our hope. 
I Does it reft wholly on the gracious proraife of 
God in Jefus Chrift ? If our hope leans on any- 
other fupport, it muft fall. Guilty creatures 
have no ground but this, on which they can ftand. 

Let us examine whether we have cornplied 
with the terms of the promife. ^ Have we been 
careful to underftand them ? i Do we feel our 
hearts confenting to them ? i Do we find that 
hatred of fin ; that tendernefs of confcience ; 
that watchfulnefs againft temptations ; that de- 
light in duty ; and that fteady concern to approve 
ourfelves to God, which are the fruits of gofpel 
faith and repentance ? 

Let us examine, what is the influence of our 
hope. A falfe hope makes men fecure and care- 
lefs; bold and prefumptuous. A true hope 
will make them watchful and humble, attentive 
to themfelves, and charitable to others. Every 
one who has this hope, purifies himfelf. 

Let us examine, whether we make improve- 
ments in religion. The vain hypocrite glories 
in his prefent attainments. The humble chrif- 
tian afpires after perfedion. 

It is probable there may b^ fome, who will not 
even pretend to an evidence of their prefent title 
to falvation. They hope however, that they 
(hall obtain it by a future compliance with its 

I But can you live contented and eafy in fuch 
^ ftate as this ? ^ Do you not think, that many 


48 Serm. XXVIIL 

have perifhed in their fins, who had as ftrong 
refolutions, as you have, of future repentance ? 
I Do you imagine, that every one, who intended 
to feek falvation, has adually fo fought as to ob- 
tain ? If not, then perhaps your intentions will 
fail you. 

I Do you expe£l peculiar favour, becaufe you 
have taken more pains in religion than fome 
others ; or have not linned fo grofsly as they ? 
Doubtlefs you will have full credit for all 
the good you have don^ ; and you will not be 
iHinifhed for lins, which you never committed 
in aft, or indulged in heart. 

But whether you are greater linners or fmaller, 
is not the prefent queflion. If you are under 
the power of fm, you are under condemnation. 
And, whatever pains you have taken in fome 
particular matters, if you have not fully confent- 
cd to the terms of falvation, it is none of yours. 

When you fee fome grofs fmners proceeding, 
with apparent unconcern in their guilty courfe, 
you wonder, that they are not alarmed at the dan- 
ger, which fo evidently threatens them. — i But, 
why have not you as much caufe to be alarmed as- 
they ? I Are not you alfo expofed to condem- 
nation ? ,1 Can you be faved without repent- 
ance ? ^ Mud not repentance, in its general na- 
tiire, be the fame thing in you as in them ? 
^ How then can you feel fecure, while you think 
them in danger ? 

Serm. XXVIIL 49 

I Is it not probable, that there may be, in the 
place of punilhment, fome, whofe guilt was not 
fo aggravated as yours ? — fome, who never fin- 
ned againft equal light, warnings and reftraints ? 
• — Some, who never abufed fo much grace, nor 
wearied fo long patience ? — Yea, is it not fup- 
pofeable, that, in the world of mifery, there may- 
be thofe, who have taken as great pains, employ- 
ed as many thoughts, and fpent as much time, 
in the concerns of their fouls, as ever you have 
done ? — Many of the. unhappy perfons, who 
will be fhut out of Chrifl's Kingdom, are fuch 
as have fought to enter in ; but have fought 
negligently, or unfeafonably. They are fuch as 
have heard him teach, eaten in his prefence, and 
done many things in his name ; but ftill they 
have been workers of iniquity. 

£ Can you fay more in your favour, than did 
the young ruler mentioned in thegofpel ? — ^ Or 
have you been more folicitous than he, to learn 
the way to heaven ? But he parted with his Sav- 
iour: He wifhed to obtain eternal life; but 
would not, for its fake, forego the interefts of 
the world. 

Have you been more diligent in feeking after 
Chrift, than fome, of whom we read, that they 
went from place to place, and croifed the fea to 
find him. And yet thefe were chiefly influenc- 
ed by a defire to eat of his loaves. 

Whatever pains you have taken in religion, 
and whatever attention you have paid to the 


50 Serm. XXVIIL 

report of the gofpel ; if you have not aftually 
fubmitted to its precepts, and yielded to the in- 
fluence of its do6lrines — if you have not confent- 
cd, that Chrift fhall be yours in all his chara6ters, 
and that you will be his with all your powers, 
you have no fhare in his falvation. 

If you can fuppofe, that many have been loft, 
who have come as near to the kingdom of heav- 
en as you ; then fear left you come ftiort of it, 
and give all diligence to make your calling fure. 

3. We learn from our fubje6l, that the unfuc- 
cefsfulnefs of the gofpel is not always to be im- 
puted to the want of fidelity or ability, in the 
preachers of it. It muft often be afcribed to 
fome other caufe. 

The prophets of old ; the apoftles of Jefus ; 
yea, the Saviour himfelf complained, ** i Who 
hath believed our report ?'* 

Zeal and diligence in minifters are doubtlefs 
important. As they are more wife and faithful, 
there is more reafon to hope for fuccefs. 

But there is fomething alfo for hearers to do. 
If they will not receive the report, it is publifti- 
cd to them in vain. 

Every one fees, that a minifter fliould attend, 
with great concern, to the duties of his calling, 
becaufe it is a folemn and weighty calling, i But 
what makes it fo folemn and weighty ? — Becaufe 
it relates to men's falvation. Your falvation 
then is a weighty matter, i And ought not you 
to attend tg it ? Preaching is but a mean of fal- 
vation i 

Serm. XXVIII. 5t 

vation ; and means unapplied will never fave 
your fouls. 

You think your minifler fhould be laborious 
in his work, i But have you nothing to do ? 
He muft watch for your fouls, i Muft not you 
watch for your own ? 

If a minifler (hould negleft the flated duties 
of his profeflion, out of indolence, or love of 
the world — if he ftiould feldom appear in the 
fan6luary to deliver the divine report, becaufe 
he was too much devoted to his eafe, or too 
much entangled in the affairs of this life, to have 
leifure or fpirit for the facred fervice ; you 
would not be in doubt what to think of him, nor 
very fcrupulous what you faid of him. — But he 
is no more bound to preach, than you are to 
hear. If then worldly afFedions and cares have 
introduced into your fouls fuch an indifference, 
or difrelifh to divine worfhip, that you attend it 
but feldom, and never with any fpirit and zeal, 
pray, tell me, i Why are not you as criminal as 
fuch a minifter ? 

If a minifter, inftead of preaching on the great 
fubjeds, which concern men's falvation, fhould 
only give ledures on hiftory or aftronomy, 
hufbandry or politicks ; though you might 
think him a man of learning, you would con- 
demn him as unworthy the name of a minifter. 
But if you attend more to the interefts, honours 
or pleafures of the world, than to the falvation 
of your fouls, i What arc you better than he ? 


52 Serm, XXVIIL 

As long as you refufe to hear the truth, and to 
work out your falvation, it is a matter of little con- 
fequence to you, whether your minifter preach- 
es on piety and religion, or on hufbandry and 
politicks ; or indeed whether he preaches at all. 

If you fuppofed, that a minifter had no con- 
cern for men's falvation ; and appeared in his 
defk from week to week, only to exhibit his tal- 
ents, or to fecure a maintenance ; you would 
think he ihamefuUy proftituted his profellion. 
But if hifi aim in preaching fhould be to fave 
your fouls, your aim in hearing fhould be to 
fave your own. If then you come to the houfc 
of God only out of cuftom, or to pafs away a 
dull hour ; or if, while you are there, you are 
thoughtlefs and inattentive, or hear only to 
make unkind animadverfions ; you arc no better 
than the minifter, who preaches for lucre or ap- 

It is common to remark on the coldnefs of 
minifters ; but i How will you excufe your own 
indifference in a matter which infinitely concern* 
you ? 

You think that if minifters were more zealous, 
you fhould be fo too. Perhaps alfo, if you 
were more attentive to the word preached, and 
more diligent in the work of your falvation, you 
would thus give fome courage and animation to 
them. Let us then ftrive together, and be fel* 
low workers to the kingdom of God, 


Serm. XXVIII. 53 

Some are ready to fay, ** If we could hear 
the word preached in fuch a manner — if fuch 
doftrines were oftener taught — if the terrors of 
God's word were more ftrongly difplayed, and 
more clofely applied ; more good would be done, 
and we fhould hope for fome fenfible benefit.'* 
With this expedation, they change the place of 
their attendance. But imagine not, that all the 
fuccefs depends on the peculiar manner, or en- 
gaging addrefs of the fpeaker. ^ What are 
preachers, but miniflers by whom men believe 
even as the Lord gives to every man ? Glory 
not in men. Remember that much depends on 
the blefhng of God. And that you may receive 
this, repair to his houfe, hear his word with a 
humble quiet and teachable temper, and lift up 
your hearts to him for his grace to accompany it, 
Paul and Apollos can only plant and water. 
It is God who gives the increafe. Look to him, 
that he would multiply the feed fown, and caufe 
it to bring forth fruit unto life eternal. 




Jdate^d indiAhr'C'nce. to ik& dTidk. 

€g»M« «e ; ' * 

John xviii. 38* 

Pilate faith unto him, ^ What is truth ? And when 
he had /aid this, he went out again unto the Jews, 
and faith unto them, I find in hi7n no fault at all. 

J ESUS was, by the Jewifli coun- 
cil, brought before Pilate the Roman gov- 
ernor, and accufed as one who perverted the 
nation from their allegiance, and forbade to give 
tribute to Cefar, faying, that he himfelf was a king. 
Pilate having heard the charge, demanded of 
him, '* I Art thou the king of the Jews ?** Jefus 
acknowledged, that he had called himfelf a king. 
But he added, " My kingdom is not of this 
world/' If it were, " then would my fervants 
fight ; that I fhould not be delivered to the Jews." 
As I have not permitted, much lefs attempted any 
thing of this kind, it is manifeft, that ** my king- 

Serm. XXiX. ^j 

dom is not from hence." Pilate fays, «* £ Art 
thou a king then ?" And yet thy kingdom not 
of this world ? ** ^ What fort of kingdom doll 
thou claim 1" Jefus explains the matter. — *' It is 
as thou fayefl :'* I am a king. But my kingdom 
confifls in the power and dominion of truth. 
" To this end was I bom, and for this caufc 
came I into the world, that I might bear wjtnefs 
to the truth;*' — might reveal it by my do6lrines, 
confirm it by my works, andimprefs it on men's 
hearts by my fpirit. *' Every one, who is of the 
truth, heareth my voice." They who believe 
the truth, and a6i under its influence, are my 

Pilate feems, from this anfwer to be fatisfied 
that Jefv^s had no defign againft the civil gov- 
ernment. He probably viewed his prifoner, as 
a new philofopher, who was introducing fome 
peculiar fyflem of opinions, which he affc6led 
to call by the parae of a kingdom. But as long 
as he meddled not with affairs of flate, Pilate 
was willing, that he Ihould teach his own fyflem, 
and name it according to his own fancy. 

Thus far Pilate difcovered a commendable 
honefty and candour. But his indifference to 
the doctrine of Chrifl was highly cenfurable. 
When Jefus faid, " I came to bear witnefs to 
the truth;*' Pilate indeed afked, ** ^ What is 
truth ?*' But, without waiting for an anfwer, he 
went out to the Jews, and faid, *' I find no 
f^ult in him." He was neither difpofed to con* 

5$ Serm. XXIX, 

demn him as a ufurper, nor to hear him as a 

As Pilate was a Roman, who had refided but 
a fhort time in Judea, probably he was little ac- 
quainted with the fcriptures of the Jews, and their 
expeftations concerning the Mefliah. He had, 
however full information, that this Jefus affum- 
ed a high chara6ter. The report of his numerous 
miracles, and engaging manner of teaching, could 
not have efcaped the governor's ears. He now 
had an opportunity to fee Jefus, and converfc 
with him perfonally. He had heard his prifon- 
er declare, that he was fent into the world to bear 
witnefs to the truth. He mud have been con- 
vinced, from what had pafled in his prefence, 
that this was no ordinary perfon, who non^ flood 
before him. He repeatedly acknowledged, that 
he could find no fault in him. Well he knew 
that the Jews had delivered him for envy. Va- 
rious expedients he tried to calm their rage, and 
effe6l his releafe. And, finally, when he gave 
fentence againfl him, he wafhed his hands before 
the multitude, and faid, *' I am innocent from 
the blood of this juft man : See ye to it." 

From thefe circumftances, it is evident that he 
entertained a high opinion of Jefus. 

The governor had now the fairefl: opportunity 
to learn the chara6ler which Chrift had affumed, 
and the doQrine which he came to teach. He 
was fitting on his judgment feat, and Jefus was 
Handing before him. He might propofe what 


Serm. XXIX; 57 

queftions he pleafdd ! Afid to queflions of im- 
portance, propofed with an honeft intention, 
Jefus certainly would have returned a full an- 
fwer. Pilate was adting in his official capacity, 
and no man would interrupt him. ^ Who could 
ivifti to be under better advantages than thefe ? 
But good, as they were, no ufe did he make of 

You think, perhaps, it had been happy for 
tis, if Pilate had fhown a little more regard to 
his own queftion. It vv^as really important; and 
you with to know, how this divine inftruc- 
tor would have anfwered it. His anfwer might 
have folved many doubts, which often arife on 
the fame queflion. 

To Pilate indeed it was important to have, re- 
ceived an anfwer ; and it was his own indiffer- 
ence which prevented it. But to you the quef- 
tion is already anfwered. And whatever Jefus 
might have faid on this occafion, you would have 
learnt from it nothing more than you may now 
find in reading his gofpeL AH his inftrudions 
are, in e{Fe6l, anfwers to the fame quellioti. 

Our divine Lord perfe6tly knew what was in 
man. If Pilate propofed the queflion as a mat- 
ter of curioiity, it might be expeded, that Chrifl 
would anfwer it, as he anfwered other curious 
queftions, by turning the enquirers attfotion to 
iomething, which more nearly Concerned him. 
But if his defire had been to receive inftruftion 
in fuch truths as immediately related to his duty 

i^ Serm. XXIX, 

and falvation, the anfwer of Jefus would have 
been, in fubftance, the fame, as he at other 
times gave to fimilar queflions. On your own 
account then, you have no caufc to regret that 
]Pilate*s indifference prevented an anfwer. 

If you enquire, what is the truth, in fome of 
the queflions, which have divided theological 
and metaphyseal difputants ; as how fin firft 
entered into God's creation, and why he has per- 
mitted it to exift — wherein confills the moral 
freedom of rational beings, and how God carries 
on the great fcheme of his government without 
controling this freedom— how the divine and 
human natures are united in Jefus Chrift ; or 
even how flefh and fpirit are united in man — If 
fuch as thefe arc your enquiries, I cannot prom- 
ife you, that you will find an anfwer in the gof- 
pel. And I much doubt whether Chrift would 
have anfwered them, if they had been propofed 
when he was on earth. 

But if your enquiries are concerning thingg 
of real importance to your falvation, you may 
certainly meet with abundant fatisfa6lion. " God 
has given you all things, which pertain to life 
and godhnefs, through the knowledge of him, 
tvho has called youio glory and virtue." 

J Do you wifh to know the chara£ler of the' 
Deity, and how he is to be worfhipped ? Read 
Chrift's difcourfe with the woman of Samaria. 
There you learn, that ** God is a Spirit ; and they 
who worfiiip him, muft woifliip him in fpirit 

Sehm. XXIX, ^g 

and in truth." And they who thus worfhip him, 
are accepted, in whatever place their devotions 
are offered. Read alfo Paul's fermon to the 
people of Athens. There you are taught that 
«' God who made the world, and all things 
therein, dwelleth not in temples made with hands, 
neither is worfhipped hy men's hands, as though 
he needed any thing from them, feeing he giveth 
to all life and breath, and all thi ngs ; and in 
him we live and move, and have our being." 

I Would you know wherein your true happi- 

nefs confifts ? Read the beginning of Chrift's 

fermon on the mount. There you will find, 
that happinefs little depends on external cir-* 
cumftances, but is effentially connected with a 
holy and virtuous temper of mind. 

^ Are you folicitous to underftand the nature 
and extent of moral duties ? — Read on in the 
fame fermon. There you have them, ftated 
with precifion, explained with perfpicuity, and 
refcued from the vile interpretations, by which 
men of corrupt minds had perverted them. 

I Would you be inftruded, what is your great 
bufinefs in life, and what is the moft worthy ob- 
je61: of your purfuit ? — Still read on. The Sav- 
iour tells you, *' Lay not up for yourfelves treaf- 
ures on earth where moths corrupt, and thieves 
break through and Ileal ; but lay up for your- 
felves in heaven treafures which will never fail." 
*— ** Take no thought for things which concern 
E4 the 

ea SEkM, XXIX; 

the body ; but feek firft the kingdom 6f God, 
and thefe things fhall be added." 

I Do jou enquire, what you muft do to be 
iaved ? — Read Chrifl's anfwer to the rich young 
ruler. — " If thou wilt enter into life, keep the 
commandments.'* When, profeffing to have done 
this from his youth, he alked, what more , was 
necefTary, Jefus replied, *' If thou wilt be per- 
fe6^, go, fell that thou haft and give to the poor, 
and thou fhalt have treafure in heaven : And 
come, follow me." You hence learn, that a par- 
tial and external obfervance of the commands 
of God will not intitleyou to heaven ; but there 
muft be in your heart fuch a fupreme love to 
God, fuch a full fubmifiion to the Saviour, and 
fuch a ftrong regard to the future world, asfliall 
raife you above earthly things, and difpofe you 
to ufe them charitably, while you have them, and 
refign them cheerfully, when providence de- 
mands them. The anfwer which the apoftles 
of Jefus gave to hmilar enquiries, though ex- 
preft*ed in different words, is, in fubftance the 
fame. "Repent and be converted, that your fins 
may be blotted out." "Believe on the Lord 
|efus Chrift, and ye fliall be faved." 

^ Are you deiirous to form a.juft idea of the 
manner in which you mufl feek falvation ? — 
Hear what Chrift faid, when one afked him, 
whether few would be faved. " Strive to enter 
ill at the ftrait gate, for many will feek to enter 
in, and will not be able. When ^e mafter of 


Serm. XXIX, 6£ 

tke houfe has fhut the door, many will knock, 
and fay, Lord, open to us, for we have eatea 
arid drurik in thy prefence, and thou h^ft 
taught in our ftreets. But he will fay, I know' 
you not : Depart from me all workers of in- 
iquity/' Voii here fee, that you muft feek fal- 
vation with diligence, and without delay ; not 
merely by an obfervance of the forms of religion; 
but by renouncing every fin, and complying 
with every duty. To the famepurpofe is Paul's 
advice ; ** Work out your falvation with^ 
fear and trembling, for it is God, who worketh 
in you — Do all things without murmuring or 

You will afk perhaps, ^i What ground is there 
to believe, that God will work in us ? — Hear 
the words of Chrift himfelf. " I fay unto you, 
afk and ye ihall receive — If a parent will give 
bread to his children, ^ How much more will 
your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to 
them who afk him ? 

I Would you learn, which are the principal 
duties of religion ? — Jefus has told you — *' Thefe 
are to love God with all your heart, and your 
neighbours as yourfelves. On thefe two hang 
all the law and the prophets/* 

In (hort — If you wifh to be informed, what 
are the moft important and interefting dodrines 
in the fyftem of religious truths ; only confider^ 
what are the doQrines, which Chrift and his- 


& Serm. XXIX. 

apollles have mofl: frequently inculcated, and 
mod warmly urged. 

Say now, whether, on the important queftion, 
*' £ What is truth ?" you need farther inftruc- 
tion than Chrift has given you. 

If you feek inftrudlion with the fpirit of his 
difciples, who love the truth and hear his voice, 
you will learn all that immediately relates to 
your duty, and eflentially concerns your falva- 
tion. If your enquiries are direded to different 
obje£ls, look not to Chrift for an anfwer. He 
came, not to gratify an idle curiofity, but to 
guide the meek in judgement, and teach the 
humble his way. 

Beware, however, that you indulge not the 
fame indifference which you condemn in Pilate, 
He declared Jefus to be an innocent and juft 
man ; but he ftill remained an unbeliever. 
You have the gofpel of Chrift, and you profefs 
to believe that it is divine. Learn then what 
it teaches, and pra6life what it requires. 

There are, doubtlefs many as negligent as 
this heathen was : We will confiderfome inftan* 
ces, in which this criminal negligence appears. 

There is, in fome, an indifference to religioa 
in general. 

Perhaps they outwardly conform to the pre« 
vailing ufage of their country ; but fcarcely 
fpend a thought, whether the common religion 
is true, or whether, in reality, there is any fuch 


Serm. XXIX. 63 

They think it bed for mankind, that fomc 
apprehenfions of a Deity and a future judgment, 
and fome forms of religious worlhip, fhould be 
kept up in the world; becaufe thefe tend to 
peace and good order. But to religion, confid* 
cred as a mean of rendering us acceptable to 
God, and of preparing us for future happinefs, 
they pay no attention. 

They may think, that a general acquaintance 
with the common fentiments of the time and 
place, is a neceffary part of a good education, 
becaufe it qualifies a man for converfation ia 
fome forts of company. But farther than this, 
they care little about it. They learn the relig- 
ion of their own country, for the fame reafon, 
that they would fludy the language and man- 
ners of a foreign country, if they were going to 
travel there. 

But if we are rational and immortal creatures, 
religion mud be a matter of infinite importance 
to us all ; and every man is bound immediate- 
ly to examine what it is. If he is in doubt, 
whether chriflianity is divine, he ought to en- 
quire into its evidences. When he is fettled in a 
general belief of its divinity, he is not to reft here 
but to apply himfelf, without delay, to obtain 
a knowledge of its dodrines, and an intercft in 
its promifes. 

There are many, who acknowledge, in gener- 
al, the truth of the gofpel ; but negle6l to en- 
quire, whether they are conformed to it. 


64 Serm. XXlXl 

If they rtiould meet with a prof^ffed infidel^ 
they would urge upon him a care to examine fo 
important a matter, as the truth of revelation. 
If he appeared to difregard their advice, they 
would wonder at his fteglrgence in a cafe fo in- 
terefting. And yet they are as inattentive to 
^he flate of religion in their own hearts, as the 
infidel is to the credibility of revelation. 

But, my friends, ^ What is the gofpel like to 
do for you, if you have not fubmitted to it ? 
^^ What advantage do you expe6t from it, with- 
out obeying it ? [ And w^here js your confiften- 
cy, in being folicitious that others fhould believe 
it, while yoa negle6l to fecure the bleffings of 

There are feme, who affent to the great do6l* 
tines of the gofpel, and underftand the eflfential 
terms of acceptance with God ; and, though 
their corifcieiices teftify , that they have never com- 
plied with thefe terms, they are little afFedled 
with the danger of their Condition. 

One would think that this fbonld be daily rii 
-their minds — fhould call them often to their 
elofets, and warm their hearts, when they are 
there — fhould check the levity of their fpirits, 
and give a diftafte to every fenfual indulgence. 
But ft ill their time is divided between their 
bufinefs and their amufements. If convi£lion.% 
now and then, arife uninvited, and ferious 
thoughts infenfibly Ileal upon them, they fmoth- 


Serm. XXIX. 6s .. 

er them in the cares, or difTipate them in the 
pleafures of life. 

There are others who delay the work of relig- 
ion for the prefent, and content themfelves with 
the purpofe of a future application to it. 

I Are not fome of you, who now hear me, to 
be found in this clafs ? You call him carelefs 
and negligent, who attends not to his w^orldly 
bufinefs in the proper feafon. i Does not the 
defcription belong to you, while you delay a 
bufinefs of infinitely higher importance ? Be-* 
hold, now is the day of falvation. The morrow 
is not yours. You know not what it will bring 
forth. You would not dare, I fuppofe, finally 
to difmifs all concern about religion, and to fix 
a refolution, that you will never think of it 
again. But if it is too important to be forever 
neglected, it is too important to be at all delay- 
ed. Future opportunities are at beft, uncertain. 
It is certain none will be better than the prefent. 

Further : If you are not on your guard againfl 
fm ; if you expofe yourfelves to vifible tempta- 
tions, or run into any known and obvious wick- 
ednefs, you difcover as little regard to religion, 
as little concern about futurity, as Pilate did. 

He was carelefs about religion in general. 
He feemed indifferent what it was, or whether 
there were any fuch thing. You believe, that 
there is fuch a thing, and that it is to be 
found among chriftiansonly. Thus far you are 
fettled ; and thus far it is well. ,j But what is 


66 Serm. XXIX. 

the defign of religion ? i Does it not teach yo^ 
to depart from iniquity, and to live pioufly, 
juftly and foberly ? i Does it give you hope antj 
comfort in any other way ? ^ And will you flill 
go on fearlefs in a courfe of fm ? ^ Will you 
praQife the very things, which your religion 
condemns ? £ Will you venture into the places 
of temptation ? ^ Can you refle6l on your pad 
fins without remorfe, and repeat them without 
concern ? i What benefit then do you expe6l 
from your religion ? 

A negle6l of, or negligent attendance on the 
appointed means of religion, indicates a fpirit of 

You have God's word. i Does it lie by you 
unexamined ? His houfe is near you. ^ Do 
you withdraw your feet from it ? i Or do you 
read and hear the folemn truths of religion, 
without attention and felf application ? ^ Is 
your mind wholly unimpreiTed with the warn- 
ings which are given you ? ^ Do you make light 
of the calls and invitations of divine grace ? 
I When you hear the terms of faivation propof- 
ed, can you reje6l them without concern ; and 
depart from God's houfe, with the fame cold 
heart, which you brought there ? i Do you live 
without prayer — without communion with God 
in the clofet or family ? — Think not of Pilate's 
indifference. Be aftonilhed at your own. 

To awaken the attention of mankind to the 
calls of religion, ^ What arguments can be ufed ? 

TJ^5 ' 

Serm. XXIX. I7 

The fubjea: fpeaks loudly for itfelf. No argu.^ 
ments can be urged, of greater force and efficacy, 
than the natural voice of religion proclaiming 
its own importance. Every man knows, that 
if there is a Supreme Deity, there mufl be fuch 
SL thing as religion ; and that this muft, in its 
very nature, immediately, infinitely, and eter- 
nally, concern every rational creature ; and him- 
felf no lefs than others. And the man who 
with this convi61ion, can compofe his mind to a 
ftate of indifference, and difmifs all foUcitude, 
cither to know what religion is, or to comply 
with its demands and fecure its hopes, feems to 
have nonplufTed all the powers of reafon and 
eloquence — every power, but that which is di- 
vine. For no argupient can be fet before him 
more forcible, than that which he already 
knows, but does not regard — already confeffes, 
but does not feel. 

Only then attend to the nature of religion — 
confider the vafl concern which you have in it 
—view life, as it is, a probationary ftate foon to 
terminate, according to the choice you make, 
in felicity or in woe. Remember what heaven 
has done to bring you acquainted with re- 
ligion, and to urge your compliance with it. 
Look forward to that ferious hour, when you 
will ftand between this and the eternal world. 
Anticipate the apprehenfions, which guilt will 
then feel ; the judgment which wifdom will 
then form j and the joys, which piety will then 


68 Serm. XXrX. 

give. Make now the choice, which you will 
hereafter approve ; and reprobate the condu6t, 
which foon you muft condemn. You cannot 
feel indifferent about religion long. Indulge 
your indifference no longer. 




en tn& naTidd of the Tvtcktd^ 

Jeremiah xxiii. 14. 

/ havefeen alfo in the prophets of Jerufahm an 
horrible thing : — They Jlrengthen the hands of 
evildoers^ that none doth return from his wick* 

VV HILE the Jews continued un-« 
der God's fpecial care and protedion, he favour- 
ed them with the dated miniftry of his holy- 
prophets, who, as occafion required, warned 
them of their dangers, reproved them for their 
iniquities, and exhorted them to repentance. 
The plainnefs of their preaching, and the fever« 
ity of their rebukes, in times of degeneracy, often 
awakened the angry refentments of their hear- 
ers. In thefe times there arofe falfe prophets, 
who, to gain popular applaufe, preached fmooth 
and flattering do6i;rines. Such preachers met 
with a welcome reception among the vicious and 
Vol. 1L F ungodly 

70" Serm. XXX. 

ungodly; who always love to have their guilty 
confciences pacified, without the felfdenial of 
forfaking their fins. 

Thefe deceivers and flatterers of the people, 
God by his prophet condemns in the latter part 
of this chapter, and particularly in the words 
which have been read. 

That the wicked fhould forfake their way, 
inuft evidently be agreeable to the will of a holy 
and merciful God. Every thing, therefore, 
which tends to encourage their hearts in impeni- 
tence, and ftrengthen their hands in iniquity, 
mud highly provoke his difpleafure. 

Various are the ways, in which fmners 
ftrengthen each other's hands. Example and en- 
ticement ; an open negleft and avowed con- 
tempt of the inftituted means of religion ; plead- 
ing in defence of vice ; ridiculing the virtues of 
a godly charadler ; oppoiition to the. great doc-. 
trines of religion ; and the propagation of cor- 
rupt and licentious opinions, ail tend to this 

'^ Now whatever be the means, by which men 
flrengthen the hands, and hinder the repentance 
of evildoers, they commit an horrible thing in 
the fight of God." 

This is the obfervation which lies before us, 
and which we will endeavour to illuflrate. 
1. All fin is horrible in its nature. 
It is contrary to the charafter and will of an 
klfinite Being — a Being of glorious purity, fu- 


SrHM. XXX. ^^ 

preme authority and almighty power — a Being 
who cannot be tempted with evil, nor even look 
on iniquity — a Being, in whofe prefence the 
ftars are extinguilhed, and the angels veil their 

*' Sin, by the Commandment, becomes exceed- 
ing finful." Every offence abounds in the view 
of the confcience, when the law with power en- 
ters the mind. This is exceeding broad. It extends 
to every motion of the heart, and adlion of the 
life. It requires truth in the inward parts, and 
holinefs in all the converfation. It forbids the 
a6l of iniquity, and condemns the thought of 

God's utter abhorrence of (in is clearlv mark- 
ed by the awful judgments, which, in his prov* 
idence, are executed on the workers of iniquity; 
and more ftrongly cxprefTed by the amazing 
punifhment, which, in his word, is threatened 
againft the finally impenitent. 

The purity of the divine charaQer, and the 
horrible nature of fin, are flill more flrikingly 
difplayed in the grand and furprifing method 
adopted for the redemption of our degenerate 
and guilty race. We are not redeemed from 
our vain converfation, by filver and gold, but 
by the precious blood of the Son of God. The 
great God our Saviour gave himfelf for us, that 
he might redeem us from our iniquities, and 
fave us from the wrath to come. 

Fs If 

ys Serm. XXX. 

If all fin is fo contrary to the holy nature and 
perfeQ law of God, and to the merciful delign 
of the Saviour's death; think, I befeech you, 
what indignity, what iiifult, you ofiFer to the di- 
vine majefly, when you not only do iniquity 
yourfelves, but ftrengthen them who do it. To 
have pleafure in them who work evil, and to de- 
light in the perverfenefs of the wicked, is the 
completion of a vicious chara£ler, and the lad 
llage in theprogrefs of guilt. 

What a fearful thing mud it be, to fall in- 
to the hands of the living God,, thus diftionoured 
and provoked !— Who knows the power of his 
anger ! 

2. To ftrengthen the hands and hinder the 
repentance of finners, is to oppofe the great 
plan of the divine government. It is to fet your 
faces and lift your hands againft the Almighty. 

Ever fmce the apoftafy of our race, all the 
meafures of the divine government have heeh 
uniformly direded to the great and benevolent 
purpofe of recovering fmners from their wicked- 
nefs, and bringing them to repentance and hap- 

For this end, God was pleafed, immediately 
after our revolt, to reveal a Saviour, who fhould 
make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in 
everlafting righteoufnefs. For this purpofe he 
fent forth his prophets and minifters, infpired 
them with divine and heavenly knowledge by 


SeRM. XXX: jrg 

his own good Spirit, and commanded them to 
admonilh and inRiudl a fecure and guilty world. 

With the fame merciful intention, he has giv- 
en a {landing revelation of his will, explained 
the nature and difplayed the importance of the 
religion which he requires ; confirmed this reve- 
lation by miracles, preferved it by his provi- 
dence, and continued, from age to age, the evi- 
dence of its divine original, by the ftriking ac- 
complifhment of a feries of marvellous predic- 

In purfuance of this great and glorious defign, 
he fent down from heaven his own Son, the ex- 
prefs image of his p.erfon, who, having alfumed 
our flefh, dwelt among men, taught the way of 
God in truth, fuffered death to expiate our guilt, 
rofe from the grave to difplay his power over 
death, and returned to heaven to appear as an 
advocate for us. With this view, he has alfo 
inftituted the publick preaching of the gofpel, 
and commiffioned his minifters to warn every 
man and teach every man in all wifdom, and 
befeech them, in his name, to be reconciled to 

The difpenfations of his providence are adapt- 
ed and intended to make all mep know, that to 
forfake him, is an evil and a bitter thing. The 
connexion between vice and mifery, and between 
virtue and happinefs, is obvious to common ob- 
fervation, and felt in common experience. This 
divine eftablifhment is defigned as a (landing 
F3 calj 

7-4 Serm. XXX. 

call to virtue, and warning againft vice. Befideg 
this, God often fees fit, by publick and national 
calamities, to condemn and punifh a general 
corruption of manners. 

In addition to all the external means of re- 
pentance and holinefs, God, unfought and un- 
lolicited, grants to fmnei-s the awakening and 
convincing influences of his gracious Spirit. 
Thefe divine operations are fometimes carried fo 
high, that the fpirit is faid to Jlrive with them ; 
and continued fo long, that he is faid to be grieved, 
and even wearied with their perverfenefs. 

Such meafures God has taken, and fuch he 
is Hill purfuing, for the recovery of finners. 
I What a horrible thing muflr it then be, for you 
to (Irengthen their guilty hands, embolden their 
daring hearts, and prevent their return to God ? 
— ^ What impious oppofition is this to his holy 
will ?— ^ What infult on his authority ? — i What 
contempt of his power and grace, his wifdom and 
love ? — I What can be conceived more infolent and 
provokingP-^'^PIow fhall he pardon you for this?" 

3. To flrengthen the hands of the wicked is 
a horrible thing, becaufe it diredly tends to the 
mifery of mankind ; and therefore is the reverfe 
of that benevolence, which ought to govern us 
iqi^ll our condu61; toward one another. 

The tendency of a wicked life is mifery in 
this world ; and the end of it, more intolerable 
mifery in the next. Repentance is the only 
condition of the divine pardon ; holinefs is an 


Serm. XXX» tjp 

itidifpenlible qualification for that eternal hap- 
pinefs, which ihe gofpei reveals. 

The fmits and confequences of, final impeni- 
tence are, in fcripture, reprefentcd by language 
o£ mod awful import, and by images which 
flrike the feeling and attentive mind with amaze- 
ment and horror. 

That they will be dreadful, beyond our pref- 
ent conceptians, may juflly be concluded from 
the nature of fin as an oppofition to God's 
charaQei- and government ; and efpecially from 
the extraordinary method which he has taken 
for our redemption. Had not the demerit of 
lin been exceedingly great, a divine Saviour 
would not have interpofed by his o\vn death to 
refcue us from it. 

Confider then, ye who ftrengthcn the hands of 
the finnei-, you are urging him forward into that 
evcrlafting deflra6lion, which is fo great, fo amaz- 
ingly great, that to fave men from it, the Son of 
God himfelf fuffered a mofl painful death. If 
you ob[lru6l and prevent his repentance, you hin- 
der him from obtaining a fliare in that falvation 
which was purchafed, not hy filver and gold, 
but by the precious blood of a divine Redeemer. 
^ Can you think it a fmall thing to be a6live in 
bringing one of your fellow immortals to a con- 
dition fo awful, as that which awaits the un- 
godly ? 

The apoftle cautions Chriilians, not to ufe 
their liberty, in a manner which might embol- 
F 4 den 

^S Serm. XXX • 

den others in inquity, or prove a ftumbling block 
to the weak, left by thefe means, a brother 
Jhould perifh for whom Chrift died. For when 
v/e fm againft our brother, we fin againil Chrift. 
Now if it be criminal and dangerous to occafion 
the deftru6lion of others by an imprudent ufe 
of innocent liberty, ^ What a horrible thing muft 
it be, dire6tly and intentionally to ftrengthen the 
hands of the wicked, and throw obftru6lions in 
the way of their repentance ? Awful is the de- 
nunciation of the Son of God againft thofe, who 
fhut up the kingdom of heaven againft men, and 
neither enter into it themfelves, nor fuffer thofe, 
who are entering, to come in. 

Confider farther; when you ftrengthen the 
hands of an evildoer, you contribute to the 
fpread and diff"ufion of vice and mifery. If one 
finner repents, and turns to a godly life, none 
can tell how much evil may be prevented, and 
how much good may be done. If this finner 
continues in his guilty courfe, we cannot mea- 
fure the greatnefs, nor comprehend the extent 
of the mifchief which may follow. He may cor- 
rupt and deftroy others ; and thefe may ftill 
fpread the corruption farther ; and from hand to 
hand, it may be circulated round to an unknown 
diftance, and be tranfmitted down to remote 
generations. And how many will finally per- 
ifli, by means of one finner whom you have 
ftrengthened, you cannot forefce. 


&ERM. XXX. 77 

If you iliould hereafter be convinced of the 
error of your ways, yet you will not be able to 
recall the corruptions which you have commu- 
nicated, nor to repair the mifchicfs which you 
have occafioned. Some, whom you have feduc- 
ed, may be already in a ftate of punifliment. 
If they are alive, yet they may not be within 
your reach ; or they may by this time be too 
much confirmed in wickednefs, to be recovered 
hy your advice. Or could you reclaim them, yet 
you know not how many they have feduced. 
The evil, which originated with you, may now 
be propagated too far, and infufed into too ma- 
ny for you to think of extingui filing it. If by 
your repentance, you can fave your own foul, 
it is happy : You cannot, by your counfels and 
warnings, fave theirs. 

If your ilrengthening the hands of evildoers 
may be produdive of fo great, fo extenfive, fo 
lading mifchief to the fouls of your fellow men, 
I Muft you not confefs it to be a horrible thing ? 
4. By this condu61:, you fupport the caufe, 
and cooperate with the influence of that evil 
fpirit, w^ho works in the children of difobedience. 
Sin was firft introduced into our world by 
the artifice of Satan, who, by pride and rebel- 
lion, having fallen under God*s wrath, feduced 
man into tranfgreflion. He is ftill carrying on 
a delign in oppolition to the kingdom of God. 
He flill goes about feeking whom he may deflro)^ 
He is called the ruler of the darknefs of this 


7^ Serm. XXX, 

world, and the prince of tlie power of the air. 
The place where error and vice abound, is called 
the place, where Satan's throne is. His king- 
dom is a kingdom of darknefs, d^lufion and 
wickednefs : The kingdom of God is a king^ 
dom of light, truth and benevolence. They 
who pervert the right ways of the Lord, and 
turn others from the faith, imitate the chara6ler, 
fecond the defign, and do the work of the devil ; 
and are called bis children, his minifters and 
fervants. They are agents in his caufe, and 
fadors in his trade. They a£l under his influ- 
ence, and in conformity to his will ; they mull 
therefore, take a fliare in his punifhment hereaf- 
ter, as well as in his guilt and infamy here. 
. .While we contemplate, wnth horror, the char- 
ader of infernal fpirits, drawn in the facred 
writings, we fhould confider it as a mofl horri- 
ble thing for human beings, in a flate of proba- 
tion, to imitate this character. 

Thofe evil fpirits, who left their own habita- 
tion, are referved in everlafling chains under 
darknefs to the judgment of the great day. 
For them no redemption is provided ; to them 
no probation is granted; hope never calls a 
fmile on them. 

We are placed under hope. Salvation is pur- 
chafed for us, and offered to us. A day of pro- 
bation is afligned us. We are all under like 
circumQanccs of guilt and danger, and under 
like oilers of grace and pardon ; and we are 


Sfrm. XXX, i^g 

all expofed to the machinations of a common 
enemy. ^ Shall any of us revolt from the inter- 
eft of humanity and love, and join the adverfa- 
ry ? O ye heavens, be aftonifhed at this, and be 
ye horribly afraid ! — Let us flretch out friendly 
hands, encourage, animate and flrenglhen one 
another in the work of our common falvation, 
and become fellow helpers to the kingdom of 

5. To flrengthen the hands of the wicked is 
a horrible thing, becaufe we thus become partak- 
ers of their fins. 

When others, by our enticement, example, 
or encouragement, or in confequence of any li- 
centious errors, which they have caught from 
us, are induced to commit iniquity, we fiiare 
with them in the guilt. They are anfwerable 
for yielding to our influence, in oppofition to 
the better information, which they have receiv- 
ed ; but we mud (land anfwerable for all that 
we have fpoken and done, to draw them away 
from virtue and truth ; and for our neglect of 
that which we fliould have done to lead and 
encourage them in the path of wifdom, and 
prevent their apollafy. If we have feduced them 
to, or encouraged them in, an evil courfe; while 
they purfue it, they are finning at our expenfe, 
and at our rifk, as well as their own. They 
are agents and fa6lors under us, and with them 
we mud finally divide the fatal reward of ini» 


fto Serm. XXX< 

Let us realize, hov/ great is the guilt of our 
own proper iniquities, and we fhall think it a 
horrible thing to augment it by a participation 
in the guilt of other men. ,3 And yet how great 
a proportion of fome men's guilt will come from 
this quarter ? They have <Jo2?e much to cor- 
rupt from virtue the fimple and incautious, and 
to confirm evildoers in their wickednefs. Their 
influence has run far, and fpread wide. It ope- 
rates, at diftant hand, on many whom they never 
have feen. It works without their knowledge, 
grows while they fieep, and is accumulating theii* 
guilt, while they are unaware of the mifchief. 
Of thofe who bring in damnable herefies, and 
who feduce many to follow their pernicious 
ways, the apoflle fays, *' Their judgment now, 
of a long time, lingereth not, and their damna- 
tion flumbereth not. 

6. The fin under confideration is an horrible 
thing, as it is dire6lly contrary to the commands 
of God, and marked with his peculiar abhor- 

We are required to rebuke our brother, and 
not fuffer lin upon him — to exhort one another, 
left any be hardened through the deceitfulnefs 
of fm — to take heed left any root of bitternefs, 
fpringing up, trouble us, and thereby many be 
defiled — to have compaflion on fmners, and 
fave them with fear, pulling them out of the 
lire — to beware, left we put a ftumbling block, 
or an occalion to fall, in our brother's way. 


Sj^rm, XXXi 8: 

Of him who turneth away from the law of God 
and draweth others after him, Mofes fays, " The 
Lord will not fpare him, but the anger of the 
Lord will fmoke againft him, and he will fepa* 
rate him to all evil." The moil infamous part 
of Jeroboam's chara6ler was, that he made If- 
rael to fin ; and this is affigned as a fpecial 
reafon of God's judgment on him and his 
houfe. The chief ground of the woes denounc- 
ed againft the Pharifees, was, that they fhut up 
the kingdom of God againft men. God's juflice 
is glorified in heaven for his vengeance on thofe 
who had corrupted the earth. One can fcarce- 
ly without fhuddering, read Paul's awful rebuke 
on the forcerer of Paphos, who fought by his 
artifice to turn away from the faith the deputy 
of the country — '* O full of all fubtilty and all 
mifchief, thou child of the Devil, thou enemy of 
all righteoufnefs ; i Vv'ilt thou not ceafe to per- 
vert the right ways of the Lord ? Behold now 
the hand of the Lord is upon thee". — Paul fays 
of thofe Jews, who forbade the apoilles to fpeak 
to the Gentiles, that they might be faved, 
" They pleafe not God, and are contrary to all 
men; they fill up the meafure of their fins al- 
ways, that wrath rmxy come upon them to the 
uttermoft. " 

We fee then the horrible nature, and fearful 
danger of the fin condemned in the text — 
ftrcngthening the hands of evildoers, that 


825 Serm. XXX< 

none doth return from his wiclccdnefs/' Let us 
apply the fubjeft. 

You will firfl apply it to the minifters of 
the gofpel, and the publick teachers of religion. 
1 mufl juftify the application. Doubtlefs they 
are deeply concerned in it. If they ceafe to 
warn the wicked of his evil wa:y — if they per- 
vert the word of God — if by their example they 
countenance wickednefs, or by their do6lrine 
diffeminate error, it may juflly be apprehended 
that many will perifh hy their means, and at 
their hands will be required the fouls which 
thus are loft. But know, my brethren, your 
minifter is not alone concerned in the fubjed. 
Permit him in his turn, to apply to you. 

You have declared yourfelves the fubjefis cf 
God's kingdom ; fee that you fliut not up the 
way to it, and that you lay no obftrudiohs be- 
fore thofe who are entering into it. Provide 
things honeft in the fight of all men. Take heed 
left, by your means, the way of truth be evil 
fpoken of. Let your converfation in all things, 
be as the gofpel of Chrift. If you walk 
according to the courfe of this world, fulfilling 
the defires of the fiefii and of the mind ; if you 
neglect the worfliip and ordinances of God's 
houfe ; if you talk lightly about the doctrines 
and duties of religion ; if you plead in favour 
of corrupt opinions ; or propagate by your dif- 
courfe, or other means, thofe fentiments, which 
tend to beguile unftable foul§; you do more to 


Serm. XXX. 83 

ftrengthen the hands of the wicked, and to pre- 
vent their repentance, than if you had never af- 
fumed the chriflian charader. 

Many are looking to you ; fome that they 
may be guided by your example ; fome that 
they may mark your mifcarriages, and find oc- 
cafion to reproach both you and your religion. 
Walk in a plain path becaufe of your obfervers ; 
hy well doing put to filence the ignorance of 
fooliOi men ; ftiew yourfelves in all things a pat- 
tern of good works, that they, who would accuf6 
you, may be alhamed, having no evil thing to 
fay of you. 

Heads of families will not fail to apply a fub- 
je6V fo pertinent to them. 

The virtue of thofe under your care depends 
much on your prudence and fidelity. If you 
command your children and houfehold, and 
train them up in virtuous fentiments and man- 
ners, you may hope, that, through God's grace, 
they v;ill keep the way of the Lord, and that 
you fhall rejoice, beholding their good con- 
verfation in Chrifl. But if they make them- 
felves vile, and you lay on them no reflraints, 
and give them no warning of their danger; 
if amidft the inftrudions which caufe to en% 
you leave them unguarded and defencelefs ; 
if, far from intruding and warning them iu 
this unexperienced and critical period, you cor- 
rupt thsm by your own example and conver- 
fation, ftrengthea their hands in their evil 

works ^ 

$4 :Serm. XXX* 

workiv, and fortify their confciences againfl: the 
Csills to repentance ; ^i What will you do, when 
God rifeth up ; and when he viliteth, what will 
you anfiver him ? If it be a horrible thing to 
Hrengthen other fmners in wickednefs, i What 
nnme (hall we find to exprefs your guilt, when 
you hide yourfelves from your own flelh, and 
harden yourfelves againft them, as if they were 
not yours ? 

Let the young beware, left they ftrengthen 
each other's hands in evil doing. 

You have opportunities to do much good, or 
much evil among thofe of your age, and thofe 
who often ailociate with you. 

If deeply imxpreffed w^ith a fenfe of religion 
and the future world, you walk in the path of 
wifdom and virtue ; if you have no fellowlhip 
with the wicked in their evil works, but rather 
reprove them ; your prefence will reftrain the 
vicious, your reproofs awaken the carelefs, and 
your examples ftrengthen the virtuous. A ref- 
ormation difcovering itfelf among a few, may 
hopefully fpread and extend its influence to 

But if you walk in vanity and vice, fet your 
tongues againft the heavens ; make light of the 
great concerns of futurity ; hear with eagernefs^ 
and communicate with pleafure, the fentiments 
which tend to licentioufnefs ; make a mock 
of fin, and of the threatenings of God; and la- 
bour to fortify yourfelves and others againft the 


Serm. XXX. 85 

convi£iions, which might lead to repentance; 
you will do more, than you can imagine, to cor- 
rupt the young generation, to which you belong, 
and, alas, I fear, few of you will return from 
your wickednefs. 

Finally. If it is fo horrible a thing to (Irength- 
en evildoers, it is horrible alfo to be ftrengthen- 
cd in evil doing. Beware then, left, being cor- 
rupted by the example and advice of the wicked, 
you grow bold in fin, and, become hardened in 
guilt. '' If finners entice thee, hearken not to 
them. Enter not into the path of the wicked; 
go not in the way of evil men : Avoid it, pafs 
not by it, turn from it and pafs away ! Get wif- 
dom, take faft hold of inftrudion ; let her not 
go : Keep her, for fhe is thy life, exalt her, and 
Ihe Ihall promote the^; forfakc her not, and (he 
ftiall preferve thee." 





Acts xiii. 40, 41. 

Beware therefore Itji that come upon you, which is 
fpokenofin the prophets ; Behold, ye dejpifcrs, and 
wonder and perijh : For I work a work in your 
days ; a work which ye Jliall in no wife believe^ 
though a man declare it to you. 

jL he Apoflle Paul, preaching to 
iho, Jews in Antioch, gives them a fummary \itw 
of the nature and evidences of the gofpel,its exten- 
live defign, and its glorious privileges ; and then 
in the words of our text, folemnly warns thtm 
of that deftru'dlion, which, by their contempt of 
this gofpel, they wei'c urging on themfelves. 
" BevNTarc left that come upon you, which is fpok- 
en of in the prophets,'* 

The paffage in the prophets, to which the Apof- 
lle alludes, is in Habakkuk, Chap. i. ver. 5. 


Serm, XXXI. ^j 

''Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and 
wonder marvelloufly : For I work a work in your 
days, which ye will not believe, though it be 
told you/' The event here predi6led is God's 
work of judgment on impenitent linners; as ap- 
pears from the following verfes, in which the 
terrible defolation coming on the guilty land of 
Judea, is drawn in all the ftrong colours of pro- 
phetick defcription. 

** Behold, ye defpifers, and perifh,*' i. e. Ye, 
who are defpifers, will periflb. In the fame form 
of fpeech, Peter exprefles the doom of the forcer- 
er : *' Thy money perifh with thee," or thy mon- 
ey will perilh with thep. ** Wonder and perifh V* 
i. e. Ye will perifh wonderfully — in a manner 
which ye will not believe though it be told you. 
The expreffion is agreeable to the idiom of the 
fcripture language. God's purpofe and grace fig- 
nify his gracious purpofe. Life and immortality 
are immortal life. The defires of tht Jlejh and of 
the mind are the defires of the flefhly mind. The 
things which pertain to life and godlinefs are the 
things which pertain to a godly life. 

The words of our text will lead us, 

I. To confider the charader of thefe defpifers^ 
ivho are fo folemnly warned of their danger. 

II. To fhew in what refpe6ts it may be faid^ 
They will perifh wonderfully, 

III. To enforce the warning which is given 
them, : Bezvare left this deftru6lion come upoa 

G 2 L Wc 

^8 Serm. XXXL 

I. We will confider the chara6ler of thefe 

As the Apoflle is opening the nature, pfopor- 
ingthe evidences, and difplaying the grace of the 
gofpel, fo, by defpifers, he mufl intend thofe who 
defpife religion ; efpecially fuch as treat with 
contempt the great falvation purchafed by. the 
fon of God, and preached by the apollles in his 

i. There are fome who defpife all religion^ 
atid reje6t even thofe fundamental principles, 
which revelation prefuppofes ; fuch as the ex- 
iftence and providence of God, the difference be- 
tween moral good and evil, and the freedom and 
accountablenefs of man. 

Such defpifers there were in David's time, 
*' The wicked triumph, and the workers of iniq- 
uity boaft themfelves, and utter hard things ; 
they flay the widow and murder the fatherlefs ; 
yet they fay, The Lord will not fee, neither will 
the God of Jacob regard it." — " The wicked, 
through the pride of their countenance, will not 
feek after God. They fay, God hath forgotten. 
He hideth his face, he will never fee it. They 
contemn God, and fay in their heart, Thou wilt 
not require it.'* The prophet Ifaiah complains 
of fome atheiftical mockers, who, when God 
called to mourning and weeping, gave themfelves 
to luxury and riot, faying, *' Let us eat and drink, 
for tomorrow we die." 


SeKU, XXXI. ^g 

If men can perfaade themfeives that there js 
no God, or that he exercifes no moral govern- 
ment ; that there is no diflPerence between virtue 
^nd vice, except fo far as the one. or the other may 
ferve their prefent convenience ; and that, con- 
fequently, there is no future flate of retribution ; 
they will, of courfe, view religion in whatever 
form it appears, as alike ufelefs and vain. The 
pnly religion, in this cafe, is to enjoy life while 
we csn, and defpife death when it comes. 

But thefe licentious fentiments are fo contra- 
ry to the didlates of realbn and common fenfe, 
that men can never entertahi them, unlefs their 
minds are firft debauched by the habits of vice, 
and their judgments perverted by a confcioufnefs 
of guilt. They who fay in their hearts, there is 
no God, are corrupt, and have done abominable 
works. They admit the principles of irreligion, 
to fortify their confciences againfl the terrors of 
a future judgment. Thefe principles muft be 
the eflpeds of previous corruption : They cannot 
be the fuggellions of fober reafon. We need 
but open our eyes to be ratiqnally convinced of 
the exiftence and government of one eternal, 
independent, all perfed Being. "The invifible 
things of God, from the creation of the world, 
are clearly feen, being underftood by the things 
which are made, even his eternal power and god- 
head." As we are intelligent creatures, we mull 
be accountable for our condu6l. Our natural 
defire of immortality fhews.that we are dcfigned 
G 3 f9f 

go Serm. XXXI. 

for a future exiftence. As God is a holy and 
righteous governor, wc may naturally expert 
that he will make a difference between the vir- 
tuous and the wicked. In the prefent ftate there 
is no equal diflribution of rewards and punilh- 
ments ; there mud then be another ftate in which 
this diftribution may take place. 

2. There are fome, who pretend to believe 
the truths of natural religion ; but defpife all 
revelation. From the fuppofed fufficiency of 
human reafon for all the purpofes of religion, 
they conclude, that no fupernatural difcovery 
ever has been, or ever will be made. 

They, indeed, profefs to believe as much of 
the Bible, as reafon previoully di61;ates ; for 
truth is not the lefs truth for being found there, 
but on the authority of revelation they will be- 
lieve nothing; far if reafon is fufficient, revela- 
tion is needlefs. 

In the days of the apoftles there were many, 
who, profefling themfelves to be wife, became 
fools. In their exalted opinion of human wif- 
dom, they defpifed as foolifhnefs the doQrine of 
the crofs. 'But, with all their wifdom they knew 
not God — knew not his true charatler, nor the 
way of acceptance with him. It therefore pleaf- 
ed God, by this which the world called the fool- 
iflmefs of preaching, to fave them who believed. 
The dodrine of a Saviour, crucified for the fins 
of men, was to the Jews a ftumbling block, an4 



SUu. XXXI. 91 

to the Greeks foolifhnefs ; but to them who were 
faved, it was the power and the wifdom of God. 

Reafon and revelation choofe to walk hand ia 
hand ; and nothing can be more unkind than to 
fet them at variance* 

Reafon is employed in difcovering the exifl- 
ence and perfeftions of God — in examining the 
evidences of revelation — in afcertaining the fenfe 
of particular doQrines and precepts, and, in mak- 
ing the proper application of them to ourfelves. 
But then reafon, with its highed improvements, 
cannot without th^ aid of revelation, lead us to 
the knowledge of all necelTary truths. 

There are many things, which though they 
appear reafonable, when they are fuggefted, 
yet, without a previous fuggeftion, would never 
have occurred to our thoughts. The know- 
ledge of natural religion is much improved by 
the gofpel. The mofl learned men among the 
heathens had but imperfeft and cenfufed notions 
of the diving chara6ler and government, of moral 
obligation and a future ftate, in comparifon 
with the knowledge now attained by common 
chridians. ^ What can it be but jhe gofpel, 
which makes this difference ? Reafon was as 
good in ancient, as it is in modern times. Be- 
iides, there are fome important matters con- 
cerning which reafon can give us no fatisfaQory 

Every man, on the lead attention, mufl be 
convinced, that he has violated the moral ob- 
G 4 ligations. 

9« Sermo XXXL 

ligations under which his Creator has placed 
him. He is then worthy of punifhment. ^i And 
how fhall he know, whether God will forgive 
him ? If be hopes that forgivenefs may be ob- 
tained, yet I How (hall he learn, what terms God 
will require ? Repentance is a reafonable exer- 
cife : ^But can this, on its own intrinfick worth, 
claim forgivenefs ? The fmner is dependant on 
the mercy of God ; but how far, how often, 
to what fubjeds, and on what conditions he 
will fhew mercy, we learn only from revelation ; 
reafon cannot inform us. 

Much lefs could reafon difcover the method, 
in which God difpenfes his pardoning mercy to 
fallen men. It is the gofpel only, which teaches 
us, how God can bejuft and the juftifier of them 
who believe. The fufFerings of the fon of God 
for the redemption of an apoftate race, is the wif- 
dom of God in a myflery, even the hidden wif- 
dom which he has revealed by his fpirit. 
" 3. There are fome, who acknowledge, in gen- 
eral, the truth of the gofpel ; but defpife its 
peculiar doBrines. 

In our Saviour's day, many among his pro- 
feffed difciplcs, offended at the do6i;rine of his 
atonement for human guilt, went back and 
%valked no more with him. 

Paul fpeaks of fome, who, by denying there- 
furre6lion, had made fhipwreck of their own 
faith; and, by teaching that the refurre6iiori 
was pad, had overthrown the faith of others. 


Serm. XXXL 93 

Peter forewarns chriftians, that, in the lall 
days, there will come fcoffers, walking after 
their own lufts, and faying, i Where is the 
promife of Chrift's coming to judge the world? 

John fpeaks of certain deceivers, who denied, 
that Jefus Chrifl was come in the flefh, and 
confequently denied the reality of his atone- 
ment for the fins of men. *' Every fpirit" fays 
this Apoftle, ** which confeffeth not that Jefus 
Chrifl: is come in the flefh, is the fpirit of anti- 
chrifl:.'* A denial of his incarnation and atone- 
ment, is, in efFe6l, a denial of the whole gof- 
pel — a reje6lion of all its peculiar dodlrines. 
Thefe deceivers profeffed to be without fm. As 
they had no fenfible convidlion of their owa 
guilt, they faw no occafion for an expiatory fac- 
rifice. Hence they went into the vifionary o- 
pinion, that Chrifl fuflPered only in appearance, 
not in reality. 

. In oppofition to this dangerous herefy, the 
apofl;le, in the beginning of his epiflle, afferts the 
univerfal finfulnefs of mankind, as the truerea- 
fon of ChriU's incarnation and death. — "The 
blood of Jefus Chrift, the Son of God, cleanf- 
eth us from all fin. If we fay that we have no 
fm, we deceive ourfelves, and the truth is not in 
us. If we confefs our fins, God is faithful and 
jufl to forgive us our fins, and to cleanfe us 
from all unrighteoufnefs. If we fay that we 
have not finned, we make him a liar and his 
word is not in us. If any man fin we have an 


94 Serm. XXXL 

advocate with the Father, Jefus Chr-ifl the righte- 
ous : And he is the propitiation for our fins ; 
and not for ours only, but alfo for the fins of 
the whole world/' 

Chi id came to feek and to fave them who are 
loft. If we are not loft, we need none to feek 
us. If we have not fmned, we need none to 
fave us. The whole plan of the gofpel is 
founded in the fuppofition. of human apoftafy, 
depravity and guilt. If you deny this, it is ab- 
find to tc^lk of redemption by Chnft; ^ For 
what is there, from which re6litude and inno- 
cence need to be redeemed ? Whatever refpe6l 
you may profefs for the gofpel ; if you believe 
that human nature is unpolluted and gniltlefs^ 
and that your own fouls are pure and without 
fpot, you will defpife the do6liines of juftifica- 
tion by faith in Chriil's blood ; renovation by 
the power of the holy fpirit, and falvation by 
God's fovereigngnrce; and, confequendy will re- 
jeQ every thing in the gofpel, which diftinguifti- 
es it from the religion of nature. 

4. There is ftill another fort of defpifers, per- 
haps more numerous than the former : 1 mean 
fuch as profefs to believe the gofpel in all its ef- 
fential dodrines, and yet in their hfaj'tSRud lives, 
oppofe it. 

If, on hearing the chara6lers of defpifers as 
already defcribed, you can acqiiit yourfelves, it 
is well: But be not high minded. Attend to 


Serm. XXXI. 95 

this which has now been mentioned ; for by. this, 
I fear, many will be condemned. 

You either efteem the gofpei, or you defpife 
it : There is no medium : Indifference is con- 
tempt. Confider how you treat the things which 
you value — i Do you treat the gofpel in the fame 
manner ? 

What you efteem, will be much in your 
thoughts. *' Where the treafure is, there the 
heart will be." The mifer's thoughts are on his 
money ; the libertine's thoughts are on his pieaf- 
ures ; a lover's thoughts are on his abfent friend. 
I How are your thoughts employed ? — ^i Do they 
habitually run after Chrill and his falvation, 
the promifes of his word, and the blcfiings of 
his grace? ([Do you love to pay him your 
morning and evening vifits ? In the employ- 
ments of the world, i Do your hearts frequently 
ileal away for a (hort interview with him ? i Or, 
on the contrary, does the world engrofs your 
foul ? I Does it lie down and rife up with you, 
and poifefs you all the day ? ^i Is the fabbath 
a wearinefs, God's worfhip a burden, and con- 
verfe with his word an irkfome talk ? By thus 
examining the current of your thoughts, you 
will learn the fource from which they fpring, 
and the iffue to which they tend. 

** Out of the abundance of the heart, the 
mouth fpeaketh/' 

They who are of the world, fpeak of tho 
world, and the world hears them. They who 


g$ Serm. XXXL 

are born from above, have their converfation in 
heaven. Their true intereft, beft friend, flrong- 
efl afFe6l;ions and highefl hopes are there ; and 
there they find the moil agreeable fubjeds of 
difcourfe. Filled with divine love, and warmed 
with pious zeal, they relifh the converfation, 
which turns on heavenly themes. On proper 
occafions they will introduce it; and when it is 
introduced by others, they will gladly take a 
part in it. They will fpeak often one to anoth- 
er, that they may receive and communicate 
light and heat, and may fan each other's too lan- 
guid fires into a briUcer flame. 

There are, indeed, burning lips, which fome- 
times accompany a wicked heart. There are 
fome fulfome hypocrites, w^hofe religion wholly 
confifls in the talk of the lips. Thefe often ex- 
pofe religion to contempt by an improper man- 
ner of urging it into converfation. Be ye not 
like them. But then if you feel an averfion to 
ferious difcourfe, and a difpofiiion to divert it, 
Vv'henever it meets you, ^ How dwells the love of 
God in you ? 

What you efleem will influence your praUice* 
That which you make your great end, will chief- 
ly govern your affions. If your heart is fet 
on any particular obje6l, whether it be honour, 
wealth, or pleafure, that obje61: you will purfue 
with an engagednefs proportionable to the efli- 
mation which you make of it. Enquire then; 
I Do the bleflings of the gofpel command your 

defires ? 

Serm. XXXI. ^j 

defires ? — i Do its promifes animate your hopes ? 
— I Do its threatenings awaken your fears ?— 
^ Do its precepts guide your fteps ? — i If you 
are llrangers to this holy influence of the gof- 
pel, how can you fay, you do not defpife it ? 
The world is not viewed with indifference. If 
this has the higheft place in your mind, the gof- 
pel is defpifed. You cannot ferve God and mam- 
mon. If you hold to the one, you defpife the 

You are folicitous to acquire an interejl in 
that which you efleem moft valuable. Your 
love of the world prompts your diligence to get 
a fhare in it. Your afFe6tion for a particular 
perfon makes you fludious to pleafe him. If 
you value the gofpel of Chrift, you will feel a 
deep concern to obtain the great falvation which 
it reveals. You will be careful to underfland 
the terms of it. You will renounce every thing, 
which you know to be contrary to it. You will 
count all things but loft in comparifon with it* 
You will cut off your right hand, and pluck out 
your right eye, when it caufes you to offend. 
You will not run the hazard of lofmg your foul, 
though you might thus gain the whole world. 
Such a price you will judge infinitely too great 
for the purchafe. The world cannot be given 
back in exchange for the foul. 

If you value an object, you will be careful 
to a/certain your intereft in it. The hufband- 
man will not purchafe a farm of him, who can- 

gS Serm. XXXL 

not make him a good title. The merchant will 
not tmll his wares to thofe who appear unable 
to pay him. If one (liould tell you, your title 
to your eftate was precarious, you would not 
refl till you had examined it, taken advice 
upon it, and made it as fecure as pofTible. If 
you fiiould hear, that fome principal debtor 
was like to fail, you would take meafures imme- 
diately to fave your debt. If you have the 
fame value for the bleflings of the gofpel, as 
you have for the interefts of the world, you will 
be as prudent and diligent to fecure them. You 
will examine yourfelf, whether you are in the 
faith, and whether Chrift is formed in you. Ev-. 
ery doubt which arifes in your mind, will give 
you fenfible concern, and put you on new en* 
quiry. You will give diligence to the full af- 
furance of hope. — j How do you find the mat« 
ter ? — I Can you live from month to month, 
and from year to year, carelefs, and unconcern- 
ed, without a clear, or even a probable evidence 
of your title to the great falvation of the gofpel ? 
Let me tell you, moft certainly you defpife it. 
You would not remain thus indifferent, if any 
confiderable worldly intcrell was in the fams 
precarious fituation. 

Whafe you chiefly value, you will fpare no 
pains or expenfe to fecure. To this you will 
make all other interefts fubfervient. Go then, 
imitate the wifdom of the hufbandman, who, 
"having found a trcafure hid in a fieid, fold all 


Serm, XXXI. gg 

that he had, and purchafed that field — adopt 
the prudence of the merchant, feeking goodly 
pearls, who, having found one pearl of great 
price, fold all his goods to procure it. Seek 
firil the kingdom of God and his righteoufnefs. 
Lay up treafures in heaven. Imagine not that a 
few tranfient thoughts, cold petitions and lifelefs 
endeavours, will entitle you to glory. If your 
feeking rifes no higher than thus, it is but neg- 
le6l. In the falvation of the foul there is fuch 
an evident and undifputed fuperiority to every 
worldly intereft, that this indolent feeking of the 
former, while the latter is purfued with ardour, 
is little better than dire8: contempt, i And how 
will you efcape, if you negle6l this great falva- 
tion ? — A falvation declared to be great by the 
price which the Redeemer has paid for the pur- 
chafe of it, by the a[Fe6lionate importunity with 
which he has urged your acceptance of it, and 
hy the joy of heaveri over thofe who obtain a 
fhare in it. 

Once more. What w^e efteera, we ordinarily 
choofe that others ihould cllecm too. We are 
pleafed when they approve our judgment. It 
grieves us to fee them defpife the intcrefts which 
we value, and to hear them reproach the friends 
whom we honour. If we love the gofpcl, we 
(hall defire that all men would embrace it. Wc. 
Ihall openly profefs our belief of, and attach- 
ment to it. If we have, by any means, cad a 
llaia upon it, we (hall, on conviction, immediate- 

lOO ' Serm. XXXL 

ly wipe it ofFbya voluntary confefliotl of our er- 
ror. We fhall recommend this gofpel to others 
hy a regular attendance on its ordinances, and 
exemplary obedierice to its precepts. When we 
hear men reproach its heavenly dotlrines, or fee 
them trample on its facredinftitutions, our hearts 
will be warmed with holy indignation. We 
fhall wifli to fee its influence among men more 
cxtenfive and powerful, and fhall gladly con- 
tribute our aid to this important purpofe. 

Enquire now, how it is with you, i Can you 
reft contented without a profeffion of the gofpel, 
and an attendance on its ordinances ? i Can you 
plead, or patiently hear other plead in defence 
of licentious opinions, or in excufe of ungodly 
pra6lices ? ^ Can you liften with fmiles of pleaf- 
ure, or even ftand with filent indifference, 
when men cavil at the evidences, ridicule the 
doftrines, and vilify the inftitutions of the gofpel ? 
I Can you take a part in, or refrain to bear tefti- 
mony againft the impious flanders, which pro- 
fane finners wantonly throw out againft it ? 

You certainly defpife it Beware then, left 

that come upon you, which is fpoken of in the 
prophets, Behold ye defpifers, and wonder and 

To open and apply this warning, will be the 
bufincfs of our next difcourfe. 




Acts xiii. 40, 41. 

Bezvare therefore lejl that come upon you, which ii 
fpoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye defpiferSy 

and wonder and perijh : For I work a work in 
your days ; a work which ye will in no wife be* 

lieve, though a man declare it to you. 

IN our preceding difcourfe we illuf- 
trated the character of thefe defpifers, whom the 
Apoftle in our text, fo folemnly warns of their 
danger. We proceed, 

II. To Ihew in what refpeds, it may be faid, 
They will perifii wonderfully. 

Mere are two things afferted : That deftruc- 
tion awaits contemptuous fmners ; and that this 
deflru6lion, when it comes, will be wonderful. 
H Firjt, 

102 Serm. xxxii, 

Firji, Deftru6lion awaits contemptuous Cni 

The Apoftle fays, " If righteoufnefs com^ 
by the lavv, Chrifl; is dead in vain." If falvatiori 
is attainable by the mere flrength of nature, and 
hy the works of righteoufnefs which we already 
have done, or in future fhall do, in vain is the 
gofpel plan contrived and revealed. Chrifl 
came to fave them who are loft. If we are not 
loft, we need tio Saviour : If we are loft, we cart 
befavedonly by him. ** Other foundation can 
xio man lay, than tha.t is kid, which is JefuS 
Chrift, neither is there falvation in any other; 
for there is no other name given' under heaven 
among men, whereby they muft be faved. 

if this fcheme was fo important, that the wif- 
dom of God would not fave fallen men without 
it; furely they who defpife and reject it, will, 
in the juftice of God, be excluded froni the ben- 
efit of it. 

How far the divine mercy, through a Redeem- 
er, may be extended to heathens who have 
never known the gofpel, it is not material to 
en€5[uire. Let it, if you pleafe, be admitted, that 
fome of them will be partakers of God's mercy 
without a dired and explicit faith in Jefus 
Chrift ; yet this is nothing to us, who have a£lu- 
ally heard of this divine Saviour, and to whom 
falvation has been offered in his name. If wfi 
defpife the redemption, we fin wilfully, for wc 
have received the knowledge of the truth ; and 


Serm. XXXIL 15^^ 

for us there remains no more facrifice for (in. 
You will tell me, the Apoftle Peter has faid, 
God is no refpe6ler of perfons ; but, in every 
nation, he that feareth God and worketh right- 
eoufnefs is accepted of him." — ^ Will you 
hence conclude, that there is no need of faith in 
Chrift, and fubmiffion to his gofpel ? This cer- 
tainly cannot be Peter's meaning; for ^ Would 
he preach the gofpel of falvation; and, at the 
fame time, tell his hearers, that it was of no im- 
portance to them ? His meaning evidently is, 
that falvation is not confined to any particular na- 
tion, a5,the Jews proudly imagined; but that the 
offer of it is made, without dillin^tion, to men 
of all nations. So this Apoflle elfewhere ex- 
preffes thje matter — " God puts no difference 
between Jews and Gentiles, purifying their 
hearts by faith." ''He grants to the latter, as 
well as the former, repentance unto life." 

It was upon the occafion of his being fent to 
preach the gofpel to Cornelius, a Roman cen- 
turion, that Peter made this refledion, " In ev- 
ery nation he that feareth God is accepted of 
him." This Cornelius, it is faid, " was a devout 
man, one that feared God, gave much alms, and 
prayed always.". But all his goodnefs did not 
make it unnecefl'ary for him to hear and obey 
the gofpel. A vifion was fent from heaven to 
inform him, that his righteoufnefs was not fuf- 
ficient; but he mufi look out for farther in- 
H 2 ftru6lion. 

J04 Serm. XXXII, 

flrudion* He was ordered to call for Peter, 
who fhould teach him words, by which he might 
be faved. 

Some perhaps will afk, i What if this devout 
Gentile had never heard of the gofpel, but had 
died in the exercife of that religion, which he had 
already learned, and hitherto pradifed ? In this 
cafe ^ What would have become of him ? i Would 

he not have been faved ? But this is a quef- 

tion of mere curiofity and fpeculation. The fo- 
lution of it will no way afFed us, who have been 
a6lually called to the fellowfhip of the gofpeL 
God could, no doubt, as eafily have revealed 
Chrifl to him by a heavenly meflenger, as dire6l 
him whither to fend for an apoftle, who fhould 
teach him the way of falvation. And if the 
means of knowledge had not been within his 
reach, we cannot pretend to fay, that a Saviour 
would not have been more immediately difcov- 
cred to him. 

But the knowledge of the gofpel certainly was 
important ; and the means of this knowledge 
were attainable; and Cornelius muft condudl 
accordingly. Let me now afk you ; i What if 
he had difobeyed the heavenly vifion ? £ What 
if he had refufed to fend for Peter, or to hear 
him, when he came, or to comply with his in- 
ftrudlions when they were given ? — j What if, 
infilling on the fufficiency of his own prayers 
and alms to infure his acceptance with God ; 
he had exploded the idea of faith in Chrifl, re- 

Serm. XXXII. 105 

Jiance oa his grace, baptifm in his name, and a 
profeffion of his gofpel ? — i Would you then 
have fupppfed, there was any fincerity in his 
prayers, any piety in his devotions, any virtue 
in his alms and works of righteoufnefs ? ^* Do 
you think, God will be pleafed with the prayers 
of thofe, who refufe to follow the dire£lions 
which they pray for ? ,1 Do you imagine, 
he will accept the alms and offerings of thofe, 
who deny him thafc obedience, which is better 
than facrifice ? 

Reafon teaches us our obligation to obey the 
will of God. I How then can men pretend 
to follow reafon, when they rejed; the inflruc- 
tions of revelation, and defpife the way of fal- 
vation which this discovers for guilty mortals ? 

Whatever may be the condition of heathens, 
who never heard of Chrift, awful mufl be the 
fate of thofe, who, having heard of him, defpife 
and refufe the only Lord who bought them. 

The gofpel has declared, that " They who be- 
lieve not, fhall die in their fins — that they are 
condemned already, becaufe they believe not-in 
the name of the only begotten Son of God," If 
obedience to God is necelTary to falvation, faith 
in Chrift mufl; be necelTary ; for this is the com- 
mand of God, [' that we believe on him whom 
he hath fent." 

'* When the Lord Jefus fliall be revealed from 
heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, 
ha will take vengeance, not only on them who 
H pt know 

loS Serm. XXXIL 

know not God, but alfoon fuch as obey not the 
gofpel of bur Lord Jefus Chrift, who Ihall be 
punifhed with everlafling deftruQion from the 
prefence of the Lord, and from the glory of his 
power, when he fhall come to be glorified in his 
i'aints, and to be admired in all them that be- 

We fee, then, that deftrudion awaits unbe= 
licving, contemptuous finners. 

' Our text teaches us, Secondly, That this def- 
trudion, when it comes, will be wonderful. '^ Be- 
hold, ye defpifers, and wonder and perifh." 

i.The phrafe may intend, that fuch finners 
will perifh uUexpeBedly — will meet with unlooked 
for deftru6tion — with a punifhment which they 
little thought of, and which therefore will fill 
them with wonder and allonifhment. It is faid 
of jerufaiem, ** Becaufe flie remembered not 
her lad end, therefore Ihe Came down wonder- 

The fcripture reprefents the deflrudlion of fin- 
ners, in general, as coming upon them by fur- 
prife. This will efpecially be the fate of thofe 
who def pi fe the gofpel. Their contempt of, and 
inattention to their falvation muft arife either 
from unfeeling ftupidity, or blind felf flattery. 
They either think riot at all, or, when they hear 
the warnings of God, they cry, ** Peace and 
fafety." Therefore fudden deftruftion comes 
upon them. If they had any fenfible convic- 
tions of their own guilt and rfialifing apprehen« 

- fion$ 

Serm. XXXil. toy 

fions of the deftru6lion which awaits them, they 
vv^ould prize the gofpel beyond all the treafures 
of the univerfe. Its gracious invitations and 
urgent calls would be more welcome to them, 
than cold water to the thirfty, liberty to captives, 
or pardon to condemned malefa6lors. They 
would liften to them with avidity, and embrace 
them with ardour and joy. 

The greater part of finners find fome way or 
other tQ delude themfelves into a perfuafion^ 
that they fhall efcape the judgment of God. If 
tljey do not exprefsly deny the truth, ytt they 
fludiouQy evade the force of the divine threat* 
enings. They either banifh them from their 
minds, or view them as refpeding times afar ofiF 
and leaving room for a future repentance; or 
they flatter themfelyes, that God will never ex- 
ecute them, or will not execute them fo fully as 
the language of fcrjpture feems to import : Or 
they indulge a vain, unfounded opinion of their 
owu goodnefs ; or, hardened through the deceit- 
fulnefs of fin, they refill the impreffion of every 
warning, however pertinent and folemn. Def- 
trudlion, when it falls on fuch finners, will take 
them by terrible furprife. 

How will the athcijl, the infidel, the haughty 
unbeliever be amazed, when he finds the awful 
reality of thofe eternal fcenes of woe, which now 
he derides, as the fickly dreams of weak and 
credulous religionifts ! — How will the flupid 
fms of pleafiirc be aftonifhed, when in hell they 
H 4 lift 

io8 Serm. XXXII. 

lift up their eyes, being in torments, and per- 
ceive themfelves deeply funk in that gulf of mif- 
ery, in which there is no confolation and from 
which there is no redemption ! — What fevere 
difappointment will mortify the proud heart of 
the hypocrite, when, full of the hopes of heaven, 
he drops into deftru6lion, and beholds, in the 
kingdom of God. thoufands whom he had un- 
charitably reprobated ! — What dreadful furprife 
will overwhelm the prefumptuous fmner, who, 
while he is putting far oJBFthe evil day, and rely- 
ing on the purpofe of a future repentance, is 
arretted in all his guilt and driven away in his 
wickednefs !-^How will profane and impious 
wretches be confounded, who, while they mock 
at fm, fcoflF at the judgment to come, and fport 
with eternal damnation, are feized in the midft 
of their impiety, and configned to everlafting 
burnings ! 

" Confider this, ye who forget God, left he 
tear you in pieces ; and there be none to deliv- 

2. The deftru6lion of defpifers will be won- 
derful, as it will exceed all prefentr conception* 
'' There is a ftrange punilhment for the workers 
of iniquity/' 

Some temporal judgments are fo great, that they 
are called ftrange and marvellous works. Thus 
fpeaks the Almighty, by the mouth of his prophet, 
*' For as much as this people have removed their 
heart far. from me, ^nd feek to hide their work 


Serm, XXXIL 109 

in the dark, and fay, l Who feeth us ? therefore 
will I proceed to do a marvellous work amomg 
them, even a marvellous work, and a wonder — 
Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is at hand; 
it fhall be as deflrudion from the Almighty: 
Therefore fhall all hands be faint, and every 
heart fhall melt, and they fhall be afraid : 
Pangs and forrows fhall take hold of them; 
they fhall be amazed one at another." ^ How- 
much more flrange and marvellous will be the 
future punifhment of defpifers ? — *' God will 
perform a work which they would not believe, 
though a man fhould declare it to them/' 
** I Who knows the power of God's anger ? As 
his fear is, fo is his wrath/* There is no paffion 
in the human heart, more boundlefs than fear. 
This is prone to exaggerate evil. It often far 
exceeds the magnitude of its obje6l. But, in 
this cafe, it is incapable of excefs ; it falls far 
fhort of that, which the wrath of God can do, 
and v/hich, the fcripture tells us, it will do. 

We cannot conceive the mifery which muft 
attend a total deprivation of every enjoyment. 
Many have known the pains of poverty, ficknefs, 
captivity and flavery. Their pains, however, 
by a kindly intermixture of bleffings, have been 
greatly mitigated and foftened. The want of 
every comfort they never have experienced. 
But this is what contemptuous finners will, one 
day feel. They have their portion of good 
things only in this life. Hereafter they will be 


jio Serm. XXXIL 

tormented, and will have no refl (Jay nor night. 
The rich man, tormented in flames, vyas denied 
the fmall requeft, that the beggar might |3efent 
to cool his tongue, by touching it only with \iis 
finger dipped in water. 

We cannot conceive the greatefl anguifh of a 
f elf condemning confcience. 

Some indeed, have known this to a painful 
degree. Cain under the horrors of guilt, antic- 
ipated a punifhment greater than he could bear, 
Judas, tormented with the flings of remorfe, chofe 
ftrangling and death rather than life. If the ter- 
rors of confcience may, even in this world, be fa 
intolerable, i What will they be in thofe regions 
of darknefs, thofe gloomy and difmal fhade», 
where peace and hope can never enter ? There 
linners will meet with nothing to divert their 
penlive minds. There all the paft fcenes of their 
lives, their contempt of offered mercy, and abufe 
of divine grace, all their ungodly deeds, and hard 
and impious fpeeches, will come full and frefh to 
their remembrance and perpetually haunt their 
guilty fouls. I Can it be imagined, what keen re- 
flexions will pierce them through and through? 
— ^What anguilh will wring their hearts under 
the corrofions of the worm which never dies ? 

Sinners cannot, at prefent, have a full idea of 
that pofitive punifhment, which awaits them. 

Many have known fevere pains from difeafes, 
wounds and broken limbs. But thefe will give 
no adequate conception of that torment, which 


Serm. XXXIL iii 

die fcrlpture exprelTes hy the fire which fiiall 
never be quenched. 

The diftrefs of total defpair is beyond all im- 

Under our greatell worldly affiidions, hope 
(lands ^)y to confole and fuflain us. With- 
out this, fome of our troubles would be infup- 
portable. The apprehenfion of future mifery 
has driven fome to the borders of dillra6iion ; 
and yet, in their gloomiefl hours hope has fhed 
fome fparks of light around them. But in the 
world of mifery, defpair will be perfe6l. Every 
gleam of hope will be excluded. There will be 
" utter darknefs/' and this rendered more hide- 
ous by univerfal wailing and gnafhing of teeth. 

We can form no full and clear conception of 
eternity. This is an obje6l too big for our com- 
prehenfion. We can add, years to years, and 
ages to ages, until we lofe ourfelves in numbers; 
but our calculation, after all, flops infinitely 
fhort of eternity. Yet this is the duration of the 
future punifhment of the ungodly* Amazing 
thought I I Who can dwell with devouring 
fire ? I Who can dwell with everlafting burn- 
ings ? ' 

Behold, ye defpifers, and wonder and periCh ! 

3. This exprcffion teaches, us that the punifh- 
ment of thofe who defpife the gofpel, will be 
wonderful, compared with that of other fmners. 
They will be diflinguifhed in the world of mif^: 


118 Serm. XXXII. 

Mo fes having enumerated the fingular privi- 
leges, which God had vouchfafed to his favoured 
people, fays to them, '* If ye will not obferve to 
do all the words of this law, the Lord will make 
your plagues wonderful/' 

The gofpel abounds in warnings of this kind. 
** If the word fpoken by angels was ftedfaft,'*' 
fays the Apoftle to the Hebrews, ** and every 
tranfgreflion and difobedience received a jufl re- 
compence of reward ^ How ftiall we efcape, if we 
negleft fo great falvation ?" — " He who defpif- 
cd Mofes's law, died without mercy : i Of how 
much forer punifliment (hall he be thought wor- 
thy, who hath trodden under foot the fon of 
God ?'* — ** If we fin wilfully after we have re- 
ceived the knowledge of the truth, there remain- 
eth a fearful looking for of judgment/' — *' If 
they efcaped not, who refufed him that fpake 
on earth ; much more fliall not we efcape, if we 
turn away from him that fpeaketh from heaven. ' 
The Apoftle Peter, to guard chriftians againft 
apoftacy, holds up the fame warning — ** It had 
been better for them not to have known the way 
of righteoufnefs, than, after they have known it, 
to turn from the holy commandment delivered 
to them." Remarkable are the words of our 
Saviour to his Apoftles, when he fent them forth 
to preach the kingdom of heaven — '• Whofoever 
fhall not receive you, nor hear your words ; 
when ye depart out of that houfe, or city, fhake 
off the duft of your feet; verily I fay unto you, 
it fliall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom 


Serm. XXXII. 113 

and Gomorra in the day of judgment:, than for 
that city." Thefe words deferve particular at- 
ten lion* 

The people of Sodom and Gomorra are fet 
forth, as an example, fuffering the vengeance of 
fire from heaven. But though they fufFcred a 
llrange punifhment in this world, they are flill 
referved unto judgment, for a feverer doom. 
And yet their punifhment, after all, will be far 
more tolerable, than the punifhment of thofe 
who defpife the gofpel. Our Lord does not fay, 
Whofoever fhall pradife all the enormities of 
Sodom; but, ** whofoever fhall not hear your 
words ;'* it fhall be more tolerable for the men of 
Sodom, than for him. Defpifers then will perifh 
wonderfully — in a manner, which they would 
not believe, though one fhould declare it to them. 

It is time now, that we proceed, as was pro- 

III. To urge and enforce the caution in the 
text — ** Beware, lefl this come upon you/' 

In mercy to our guilty world, God has fent 
down his Son from heaven, to make the purchafe, 
proclaim the offers, and Hate the terms of eter- 
nal falvation. To us the word of this falvation 
is fent. The queflion now propofed is, i Will 
you accept it ? — 

If you will accept the benefit, you mufl fub- 
mit to the terms of it. You mufl repent and 
turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. 
You muft put off the old man with his deeds, 


X14 Serm. XXXlio' 

he renetved in the fpirit of your mind, and put 
on the new man, which is created after fhe image 
of God. You muft renounce all confidence in 
the flefh, and place your dependence on the 
righteoufnefs of the Redeemer, as the ground of 
your jullification to eternal life. You muft 
form your holy refolutions in a humble reliance 
on the grace of the divine fpirit, without which 
you can do nothing. In a word, you _ muft, 
with a ferious and deliberate choice, yield your- 
selves to the government of the gofpel of Chrift. 
If you will not dp this, you defpife his gofpel, 
and all the bleflings which it reveals. And 
whatever may be the condition of thofe, who 
have never heard of it, your contempt muft 
certainly be followed with confequences, awful 
beyond defcription, 

Confider, I befeech you, what it is that you def» 
pife. It is a gofpel preached by the Son of God 
from heaven— confirmed by figns, and wonders 
and divers miracles — preferved in the world by 
a merciful providence, and tranfmitted to you by 
peculiar favour. How wortby then of your 
thankful acceptation ! 

To defpife this, is to defpife that pearl of great 
price, to purchafe which you fliould be willing 
to fell all that you have. Its dodrines are heav- 
enly — its precepts are pure — its promifes arc\ 
precious — it contains the unfearchable riches of 
Chrift — treafures of wifdom and grace, which 
angels contemplate ^yith. admiration, 


Serm. XXXIL 115 

To defpife this, is to defpife God's greateft 
gift, even the gift of his own Son, who came to 
feek and to fave them who were loft. It is to 
defpife his diftin^uifhing goodnefs, in revealing 
to you the things which are hidden from multi- 
tudes of your fellow men, and which many 
prophets and righteous men have defiied to fee. 
It is to defpife your own fouls, which, in the ef- 
timation of the Redeemer, are fo precious, that 
he gave himfelf up to death for their falvation. 
It is to defpife the fpirit of grace, which has of- 
ten ftrove with you, to awaken you from ftu- 
pidity, recover you from unbelief, and draw you 
to the Saviour. 

Judge now, what muft be the confequence of 
this contempt. Know ye, that your judgment 
lingers not. The Lord will foon arife, that hs 
tnay do his 'work, his ftrange work ; and may 
finifh his a6i, his ftrange a6l. He will fweep 
away your refuge of lies, and deftroy all your 
hiding places. Now, therefore, be ye not mock- 
ers, left this which is fpoken, come upon you. 

Enquire, whether you are not to be numbered 
among thofe who are called defpifers. You d6 
not, perhaps, direQIy dift)elieve, or profelTedly 
reje6l any elFential doftrine of the gofpel ; much 
lefs the gofpel itfelf. You receive and acknowl- 
edge it as true, i But does this employ your 
thoughts, engage your attention, influence your 
heart, and govern your condu6t ? ^ Is it your 
great concern to fecure the falvation, which 


ii6 Serm. XXXIL 

it reveals ; and your ferious enquiry, whether 
you have any lot or part in this matter ? i Do 
you give all diligence to make your calling and 
eleQion fure ? i Are you willing to renounce 
every thing, which appears inconfiftent with 
your eternal hopes ? i Do you love the word, 
worlhip and ordinances of God, and delight to 

attend upon them as the means of falvation ? 

I Muft not many confefs, that they come ftiortof 
this charader ? i Yea, that their chara6ier is the 

reverfe of this ? Let me particularly expof- 

tulate with the young. ^ Are there not among 
you, fome who think little about religion, and 
the vaft concerns of eternity, and who devote 
themfelves wholly to the pleafures, amufements 
and vanities of the world ? — i Some, who fpend 
few of their private hours in converfing with the 
fcriptures, maintain no fecret communion with 
God, and pay no reverence to the worfhip of 

the fanduary ? ^i Some, who can ftand out a 

whole prayer, or fit out a whole fermon, and 
yet fcarcely know what has been fpoken ; and 
are more inattentive, when the concerns of their 
falvation are urged, than if they were hearing a 
novel or romance ? — ^ Some, who feldom look 
into themfelves to learn the ftate of their fouls, 
rarely aik advice on their fpiritual concerns, and 
love no converfation lefs, than that which turns 
on ferious fubjeQs ? — i Do we fee you, my 
young hearers, giving yourfelves up to Jefus 
your Lord, and making an open profefiion of 


Serm. XXXIL hj 

his gofpel ? £ Do we fee you flocking into his 
church, and gathering around his table ? ^ Do 
we fee you animating and encouraging one 

another to piety and good works ?- ^i Can it 

be faid, that among you, even among you, there 
are none who defpife the Saviour ? 

I Will a gracious God pour his fpirit upon our 
feed, and his bleffing upon our offspring, that 
they may fpring up as grafs under the vernal 
fhowers, and as willows by the water courfes ? 
Then fhall we hear one faying, I am the Lord's, 
and another calling himfelf by the name of Ja- 
cob : We fliall fee them fubfcribing with their 
hands to the Lord, and enrolling themfelves 
among his people : We fhall behold them fly- 
ing unto Jefus as a cloud, and gathering into 
his houfe, as doves to their windows. 

The gofpel is too great, too precious to be 
defpifed. It contains the words of eternal life : 
Hear it, and know it for your good. 

Give glory to the Lord your God, before he 
caufe darknefs, and before your feet ftumble on 
the dark mountains, left, while ye look for light, 
he turn it into darknefs and the fliadow of 




II. K I N G s, V. 13. 

Ani his fervants dame near andfpake unto him, and- 
faid. My father, if the prophet had bid thee do 
fbme great thing, Wouldjl thou not have done 

it ? J How much rather then, xvhen he faith to 

thee, Wafh and he dean ? 

J^ AAMAN, the chief commander 
of the Syrian army, a man of great reputation 
in his country, and in high eflimation with his 
king, was grievoufly afflided with the leprofy ; 
a difeafe, which feemed in its nature to be incur- 
able, and which, by its progrefs in the prefent 
cafe, threatened fpeedy death. On the advice 
of a Hebrew girl, who was a fervant in his fam- 
ily, the Syrian general took a journey into the 



Serm. XXXIIL tig 

land of Ifrael, hoping, from her information, to 
receive a cure by the power and prayers of the 
prophet Elifha. He came, with horfes and 
chariots and a train of attendants, to the proph- 
et's houfe, and waited at the gate, until his per- 
fon and bufinefs were made known, expe6ling 
that the man of God would foon appear, and 
with great folemnity perform the cure. But the 
prophet only fent to him a fervant, with this 
fimple prefcription, " Go, wafh feven times in 
Jordan, and thy flefh Ihall come again to thee, 
and thou Ihalt be clean." The general think- 
ing his dignity contemned, and his misfortune 
infulted by a ridiculous prefcription indignantly 
replied, *' Behold, I thought, he will furely come 
out to me, and call upon the name of the Lord 
his God, and ftrike his hand over the place, and 
recover the leper. ^ Are not Abana and Phar- 
par, rivers of Damafcus, better than all the wa- 
ters of Ifrael ? i May I not wafh in them and be 
clean ?" — " So he turned and went away in a 
rage." His fervants, relu6lant to think that 
their hopes fhould be fruftrated by his paf- 
fionate refolution, expoflulated with him, in the 
words, which have juft been read. ** My father, 
if the prophet had bidden thee do fome great 
thing, Wouldft thou not have done it ? i How- 
much rather then, when he faith to thee, Wafh 
and be clean V* 

Their judicious expoftulation recalled hisrea- 
fon. He applied the remedy, and obtained a 
1 2 cure» 

120 Serm. XXXIIL 

cure. He immediately returned to the prophet, 
acknowledged the Supreme God, and profeffed 
his lefolution to worfhip, from that time, no 
other deity, but the God of Ifrael. 

This ftory will afford us feveral ufeful in- 

I. We fee the dangerous confequences of a 
hafty judgment in matters of importance. 

This had like to have proved fatal to Naamari. 
It has often proved fatal to others. He con- 
du6lcd with much difcretion, until he had heard 
the prophet's advice. At this critical moment 
his prudence deferted him. He turned away in 
anger; and, if his paflion had continued, he 
would have been a leper to the day of his death. 
From his ralhnefs and precipitance, let others 
learn wifdom and caution. 

*' Judge not according to the appearance," fays 
our divine Lord, " but judge righteous judg- 

Let this rule guide your enquiries concerning 
the do6lrines of religion. Reje6l: not a doftrine, 
becaufe it contradi£ls an opinion, which once 
you have formed, or oppofes a defign which now 
you are purfuing; but examine it coolly, and 
decide upon it impartially. If it appears, to be 
a do6lrine agreeable to reafon, founded in fcrip- 
ture, and tending to virtue, admit it as divine, 
however diverfe it may be from your former 
conceptions, or prefent inclinations. 


Serm. XXXIIL 121 

When you meet with an unexpe6led reproof, 
fufFer not your refentments to rife ; but hear it 
calmly and apply it ferioufly. If you are not 
too good to offend, think not yourfelf too great 
to be admonifhed. " Let the righteous fmite 
you ; it will be a kindnefs : Let him reprove 
you ; it will be an excellent oil, which fhall not 
break your head." If you proudly prefume 
that you have done no wrong, or rafhly deem 
him your enemy who reminds you of the wrong 
you have done, you are hardly capable of 
amendment. '' Seeft thou a man wife in his 
own conceit ; — there is more hope of a fool, 
than of him.'* 

In the progrefs of the religious life, difficul- 
ties, unforefeen and unthought of, will probably 
occur. But how great foevcr they may be, hold 
on your way with conftancy. You have felt a 
convidion of the importance of religion, and 
formed a refolution in its favour. You now at- 
tend on the appointed means of grace — you re» 
frain from fome of your pa ft guilty pradlices— 
you feek God's mercy with an earneftnefs, 
which is new and unexperienced. Hopeful be- 
ginnings thefe. *' Then {hall you know, if you 
follow on to know the Lord.'* When the lep- 
er of Syria came and waited at Elilha's door, 
there was a fair profpe6i; of his recovery. Do 
not like him turn back in difguft. Perhaps you 
will not find the eafy fuccefs, which you ex- 
pe6led. Still v/ait on God, and maintain your 
I a hope. 


122 Serm. XXXIIL 

hope. Say not, with the hypocrites of old, 
** It is vain to ferve the Lord ; and, ^ What 
profit is it, that we walk mournfully before 
him ?" he; has not faid to you, *' Seek me in 

I What a hopeful difpofition appeared in the 
young ruler mentioned by the evangelifts ? He 
came to Chrift, and enquired, how he fliould 
enter into life. He treated his divine inflru6t- 
or with reverence. The advice firft given him 
he received with approbation, profeiTed a com- 
pliance, and afked, What more was to be done ? 
Alas ! I How many are there, who never appear 
to go as far in religion as he did ? But flill, un- 
happy youth! he failed. When he heard, that 
a temper to renounce the world for heaven, was 
neceffary to complete the religious character, he 
went away ; not indeed, like the Syrian in a 
rage ; but in forrow, that religion would not 
comport with the love of riches* 

Work out your falvation with fear and tremb- 
ling : Wait on God, and he will flrengthen 
your heart. Look well to yourfelves, that ye 
lofe not the things, which have been wrought, 
but that ye receive a full reward. 

n. We are here taught, that we are not to 
make our own humour the ftandard by which 
to form our judgment in matters of divine ap- 

This was Naaman's fault. If the prophet had 
come out to him, and, with the afFc6led folem- 
nity of a heathen inchanter, had invoked his God, 


Serm. XXXIIL i23 

and flruck his hand over the diflempered part, 
the leper would have expefted a cure. But the 
fimple advice to wafh in Jordan, appeared too 
ridiculous to be regarded. His fei-vants pru- 
dently fuggefl to him, that this was the ad- 
vice of an acknowledged prophet; and the pro- 
priety of it ought not to be difputed, even 
though it had been attended with the greatefl 

The temper of Naaman has often appeared in 

The Jews groaned for deliverance from 
Egypt; and deliverance was granted. But be- 
caufe they were not led right on, by the ftiort- 
eft pafTage, to Canaan, they murmured againit 
Mofes, and againfl: God, and wiflied themfelves 
^in their former bondage. 

At the time of Chrift's appearance, the peo- 
ple were in earneft expe6lation of their Mefliah; 
but, becaufe he appeared in a form difiperent 
from that which their own fancy had defcribed, 
they rejeded him as an impoftor ; nor could 
they by all his reafoning and miracles, be con- 
vinced, that they had mifunderftood the proph- 

Among the Gentiles, Chrift crucified for the 
falvation of men was foolifhnefs ; ^ For how 
(hould he fave others, who himfelf fufFered as a 
criminal ? The plain and artlefs manner in 
which the apoftles preached, difgufted their 
pride. They imagined, it would htive been far 
1^4 more 

124 Serm. XXXIII. 

more agreeable' to the wifclorh of God to employ, 
in reforming the world, fome acute philofopher 
.and fubtile difputer. Thus, carried away with 
their own humour and prejudice, many defpifed 
the gofpel of falvation. 

In the chriflian world, the religion of Jefus, 
which, in its original inRitution, is rational and 
pure, has been cruelly tortured and deformed by 
the vain conceits of men. For fome it is too fim- 
ple, and they think it would be much beautified 
and improved by the addition of a few more 
ceremonies. Others can hardly be reconciled to 
the few ceremonies which really belong to it. 
The precept concerning the fabbath, they choofe 
to throw among the obfolete rites of Judaifm ; 
for they fee no reafon for recefs from labour, or 
application to the duties of piety, on one day 
more than another. They apprehend no ad- 
vantage from a ftated attendance on publick wor- 
fliip ; for they can pray, and read the Bible, in 
private; and, if more is neceffary, they can fup- 
ply themfelves with books well adapted to piety. 
They conceive not, what good it can do to ap- 
ply a little water to a perfon's body, efpccially 
to the body of a child, with the invocation of a 
facred name. The child knows not what is 
done; much lefs for what end it is done, i Is 
falvation at all conne6led with fuch ceremo- 
nies ? — They imagine there can be no real ben- 
efit in eating bread and drinking wine iov the re- 
membrance of Chrift : i May he not as well be 


Serm. XXXIIL 125 

remembered by reading the hiftory of his life 
and death ? 

By cavils, like thefe, many fatisfy themfelves 
in the negleft of the plaineft inftitutions of the 
gofpel ; juft as the Syrian leper, when he was 
ordered to wafh in Jordan, objedled, *' ^ Are not 
Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damafcus, better 
than all the waters of Ifrael ? — j May I not wa(h 
in them and be clean ? 

The fame humour often oppofes the doElrines, 
as well as inftitutions of God. Some haftily re- 
je61: every do6lrine, which contradids their own 
temper and pra6tice ; as if nothing could be true, 
but what will juftify them. Some pronounce 
every do6lrine falfe or ufelefs, which comes not 
within their comprehenfion ; as if a do6lrine too 
grand for the human mind to grafp, might not 
be fo far underftood, as to influence an honed 
heart. Some make light of every thing in fcrip- 
ture, for which they cannot aflign a reafon ; as 
if there could be no reafons for God's appoint- 
ments, but what lie obvious to them. So Naa- 
man rejetled Elifha's advice, becaufe he could 
fee no reafon, why the waters of Jordan fhould 
be more efficacious in the leprofy, than thofe of 
any other river. 

His fervants have fuggefted the proper tem- 
per in fuch cafes, which is fubmiiTion to the au- 
thority of God. A prophet had bidden him wafli 
in Jordan. 

When a revelation is propofed to us, we are 
to examine its evidence; and with fuch evi- 

1^6 Serm. XXXIII. 

dence as ap.pears rationally conclufive we are 
to reft fatisfied. Whatever difficulties may arife 
from the imperfe6lion of human reafon, thefe 
Ihouldnotbe confidered as invalidating pofitivc 
proof. Settled in the full belief of revelation, 
we are to receive, as divine, every doClrine and 
precept which we find in it, and to govern oux 
lives by them. 

This leads us to another obfervation ; 

III. If we expe6b fuccefs in any great and 
good defign, we muft humbly follow the in- 
flru6lions of God. When Naaman waftied in 
Jordan, according to the faying of the man of 
God, his flefh came again, and he was clean. 

God could have cleanfed this leper by one 
wafhing as well as feven, or without fending him 
to Jordan at all. But he faw fit to make this 
prefcription, and Naaman muft obey. 

He who made the earth, and placed us upon 
it. could command it to yield us a fpontaneous 
fupply. But then, i What would be the ufe of 
thofe a6live powers, which he has given us ? 
If we were fupported, like trees and plants, 
merely by a mechanical nutrition, there would 
be a manifeft incongruity in the works of God. 
Our powers would be unemployed ; we fhould 
fink into thoughtlefs ingratitude : We fhould 
forget our benefa6tor and defpife his benefits. 

In common life, we fee our dependance on 
God, and the importance of applying the pow- 
ers which wc poifefs. The cafe is the fame in 


Serm. XXXIIL 127 

the religious life. By grace we are faved ; and, 
by attendance on means, we obtain this grace. 
You will afk, " i Cannot God renew the hearts of 
linners without their application of means ?" — 
Grant that he can : Yet, fmce he has prefcribed 
this, they are to expe6l his grace only in this 

" I But will God hear the prayers of the un- 
converted ?" I Why not ? — He has dire6led 
them to enquire of him, and he has not faid to 
them, ** Seek ye me in vain/' You will fay, 
*^ There is no real holinefs in their prayers ; 
they are made only from natural principles," 
It is granted: But God hears the ravens when 
they cry. i May he not hear the voice of na- 
ture in rational, as well as in animal creatures ? 

When Ifrael, in their afflidion, fought God, 
and returned and enquired early after him, he, 
being full of compaflion, fufpended their def- 
tru6lion, and prolonged their fpace of repent- 
ance, though their heart was not right with 
him, and they were not ftedfafl in his covenant. 

You will afk, i " What peculiar benefit can 
arife from attending on publick inftitutions ? 
£ Why may we not read and meditate, with as 
much profit, in private ?" — Do the latter, and 
leave not the former undone. 

*' ^'But is God dependent on a particular fet 
of means ?" If he is not dependent, yet you are. 
And if, under pretence of exalting his free and 
fovereign grace, you negle6l the inllituted means 


128 Serm. XXXIII. 

of religion, you mock the grace which you pro- 
fefs to magnify. 
To proceed ; 

IV. If,. in a cafe of importance, we would ufe 
difficult and doubtful means, rather than aban- 
don the objecl in view, much more fhould we 
apply cheap and eafy means, when we have 
good hope of fuccefs. 

Naaman's cafe was extremely unhappy. Af- 
fllQed with an increafmg difeafe, for which no 
remedy was known, he had nothing to expe£l 
but death, i What would he not give, to ob- 
tain a cure ? 

He had taken a journey to the land of Ifrael. 
lie had brought with him ten changes of rai- 
ment, as many talents of filver, and fix thouf- 
and pieces of gold, as a prefent to the man, 
who Ihould heal him. A mighty prefent; but 
not greater than he would give for his health. 
Eefides this ; had the prophet prefcribed the 
moil painful operations and expenfive medi- 
cines, Naaman would have fubmitted to them, 
even without the pofitive affurance of a cure. 
^ How much more reafonable was it, that he 
lliould go andwafh in Jordan, when he had a 
promife from the man of God, that his flefti 
Ihould come again and he fhould be clean? 

This argument his fervants urged with great 
propriety, and it had its efiFe61:. To the cafe 
of fmners it may be applied with fuperior 


Serm. XXXIII. 129 

Convinced of your guilty ftate, let this be 
your ferious enquiry ; *' ^ What mull we do to 
be faved ?'' Your falvation indeed comes from 
God. But it comes only in a way of repent- 
ance. Without this, it will be as abfurd to ex- 
pert the falvation of the gofpel, as for Naaman 
to have hoped for a cure, while he refufed the 
waters of Jordan. When fo vaft an obje6i: is 
depending, if God had bidden you to do fome 
great thing, ^ Would you not have done it ? 
I How much rather, when he fays to you, *' Re- 
pent and be faved ?" 

Had a life of the mod painful felf denial 
been made the condition of your eternal hap- 
pinefs, reafon would didate a compliance with 
it. How much more ought you to comply 
with the terms, which are in fa 61 propofed ! 
Thefe are all mild and gracious. They are at- 
tended with no arbitrary mortifications. The 
religion, which prepares you for heaven, eon- 
tributes to your happinefs here. It will relieve 
you from the vexation of irregular pafiions, 
and the torments of confcious guilt. It will 
reclaim you from the way of tranfgrefforSj 
which is hard, and dire6l your feet in paths 
of pleafantnefs and peace. It will give order to 
your foul, and tranquillity to your confcience. 
It will open to you the mod delightful prof- 
pe£ts, and fill you with joyful hopes. It can- 
not, indeed, fecure you from the outward 
troubles which refult from a.ftate of mortality; 



Serm. xxxiir 

but it will yield you the firmefl fupport, and 
the fweetefl confolation under them. 

If religion deprived you of all the bleffings, 
and involved you in all the evils of the prefent 
world; yet, fince it is neceflfary to the happi- 
nefs of the next, it furely ought to be your 
choice : i How much more when it unites the 
interefts of both worlds ? 

Farther. Though God had only prefcribed 
the means, and flated the terms of falvation, 
you ought, in a cafe of fuch mighty import- 
ance, to attend to them : ^ How much more 
when a promifc is annexed ? If a patient, in 
dangerous ficknefs, fhould refufe all medicines, 
becaufe their fuccefs was uncertain, we fhould 
conclude that his diftemper had difturbed his 
reafon. When life is depending, rather than 
fubmit to certain death we try precarious reme- 

The Ninevltes, being warned of approach- 
ing deflrudion, cried mightily unto God, and 
turned from their evil ways; '* for," f^iid they, 
** I Who can tell, if God will turn from his 
fierce anger, that we perifh not ?" Had you 
no more ground of hope than they, yet you 
ought, like them, to apply the means of pref- 
ervation : ^ How much more, when God has 
afTured you, that whofo confefTeth and forfaketh 
his fins fhall find mercy ? 

Naaman's hope was reafonable. It floo^ 
however, on more precarious ground than yours. 

' He 

S^K^. XXXIII. $3$ 

He had heard of the prophet Elifha, and of 
great things which he had done. But his fird 
information came from a Hebrew child in his 
family. If Elifha was endued with extraordi- 
nary powers, it appeared not, how far thefer 
powers extended. He never had been known, 
either by water, or any other means, to heal a 
leper, though there were, among his own coun- 
trymen, patients enough, on v/hom he might 
have tried his power. Thefe circumftances nat- 
urally rendered doubtful the iflfue of the pro- 
pofed expedient. His fervants, however, judged 
it wife to make a trial ; and they judged right. 

Your hopes reft on firmer ground. You re- 
ceive your diredions from the facred fcriptiires, 
which are proved, by the higheft evidence, to be 
the word of God. The means prefcribed in your 
cafe, you know, come from divine authority. 
In the ufe of them many have found fuccefs. 
You are not the firft who have been advifed to 
apply them. They have, in every age, been 
bleffed to the falvation of thoufands. You are 
not called to make a doubtful experiment: 
But to ufe an approved remedy. ^ What think 
you ? — I Did Naaman's fervants reafon well ? — 
Say then, i What can excufe your negligence, 
to whom their reafoning more ftrongly applies ? 
V. There is one thing more to be remarked in 
this ftory ; namely, the benefits which Naaman 
i^eived by his compliance with the good ad- 
vice of his fervants. Thefe were reftoration to 
health, and converfion to the truth. '' Thea 


132 Serm. XXXIIL 

he went and dipped himfelf feven time^ in Jor- 
dan, according to the faj^ing of the man of God, 
and his ilefh came again, as the flefh of a child." 

Though he was a man of high fpirits and 
hafty paffion, there feems to have been a noble 
bonefly in his difpofition. He could take ad- 
vice from his fervants ; and feel the force of 
an argument, even when it condemned himfelf. 

They addrelTed him with tokens of refpe6l. 
They did not bluntly rebuke him, but mod- 
eRly expoflulated with him. To reprove the 
faults and expofe the errors of our friends— 
of our fuperiors — efpecially, if they be men of 
hafty tempers, is a delicate office. We mud ap- 
proach them cautioufly, and touch them foftly. 
We rauft choofe out acceptable words ; for thefe 
are the mofl: forceable. It is better gently to in- 
finuate, than roughly to obtrude our advice. 
** A word fitly fpoken is like apples of gold 
in pi£lures of filver." 

We fhould always be open to the counfel of 
our friends ; hear it with calmnefs, when it is 
offered; examine it with fairnefs, when we 
have heard it; ^nd follow it as far as w^e are 
convinced it is juft. He who feels too felf 
important to be advifed to his duty, is hardly 
capable of being reclaimed from his faults. A 
palTionate temper expofes men to a thoufand 
mifchiefs. This temper, joined with pride, ob- 
ftinacy and ignorance, is fatal. Naaman re- 
pented of his rafhnefs. He tried the remedy, 

and received a cure. 


§£RM. XXXIIL 133 

This was not the greatefl benefit which he 
found in complying with the prophet's advice. 
Convinced by his miraculous cure, that Jeho- 
vah was the only true God, he returned to the 
man of God, and faid, ** Behold now, I know 
that there is no God in all the earth, but in If- 
rael ; I will henceforth offer neither burnt of- 
fering, nor facrifice untb any other gods but 
the Lord/' 

By this journey to the land of Ifrael, he ob- 
tained a cure of his idolatry, as well as of his 
leprofy. Surely he did not regret his labour. 

Men's intereft often turns on circumftances, 
which feem trivial, and from which they had 
little expe6latiort. Naaman brought with him 
his fervants, not for counfel, but attendance » 
But their advice was the occafion of his being 
healed of his difeafe, and reclaimed from his 
error. Had they not interpofed, he would 
probably have returned home in his paffion, 
and carried his leprofy and idolatry with him. 
We may often fee the wifdom and goodnefs o£ 
providence, in things, which, at firft view, 
feemed fmall and inconfiderable. Our lifej our 
virtue, bur deliverance from danger, and our fe- 
curity from temptation, may depend on occur- 
rences, which feem to us quite indifferent. 
God can overrule the fmalleft circumftances to 
tke -moft important iffue. 

it is a mighty advantage to have thofe about 
TiSj who have more virtue and difcretion than 
K ourfelves* 

if34' Serm. XXXIIIo 

ourfelves. He who walks with wife men, will 
be wife. 

The leprofy of Naaman's body was the occa- 
Hon which brought hini to the knowledge and 
belief of the true religion. The greateft evils, 
which we fuflPer in life, may, in the hand of 
providence, become the means of our greateft^ 
good. This confideration Ihould teach us fub- 
miflion to the ways of God. Affliction, much 
oftener than profperity, is the means of virtue. 
By captivity Manaffeh was awakened to repen- 
tance. By a famine the prodigal was brought 
to himfelf. Moft men; who have been reclaimed 
from a vicious life, may, I believe, date the firft 
beginning of ferious confideration from a dan- 
gerous ficknefs, a grievous difappointment, the 
death of an intimate friend, or fome other pain- 
ful trial. Many have feen caufe to blefs God 
for the things^ which- once they thought were 
againft them. 

It may feem perhaps, • from the following pari 
of this llory, that Naaman was but a partial 
convert to the worfhip of God. He fays to the 
prophet, '* In this thing the Lord pardon thy 
ferv ant, that when my mailer goeth into the 
houfe of Rimmon to worfhip there, and he lean- 
eth on my hand, and I bow myfelf in the houfe 
of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy fervent in this ^ 
thing." Some have, from hence, fuppofed, that 
he intended flill to worfhip the gods of his 
country, left he Ihould forfeit his high ofBce un-' 


•Serm. XXXIIL *13^ 

der the king. But the prophet's anfwcr, favours 
not this fuppofition. He fays, *' Go in peace." 

Naaman had refolved to worfliip no other god, 
but the Lord ; and as an open teftimony of his 
faith in him, to build him an altar in Damafcus, 
with materials carried from the land of Ifrael. 
His office, however, under the king, required 
his attendance in the temple of Rimmon, when- 
ever his mafter went thither to worfhip; and 
when the king, leaning on his fhoulder, fhould 
bow in the temple he muft unavoidably bow 
with him. Now he enquires of the prophet, 
whether fuch an involuntary a6lion, after he had 
given publick proof of his faith in the God of 
Ifrael, would be matter of offence. He feems t^ 
hope, it might be difpenfed with, and he need 
not refign his office. The prophet lays, *' Go 
in peace." Civil refpe6l to your king is not 
inconfiftent with the worfhip of God. 'iuli 

True religion is pure and uncorrupt. It is 
direded to the one fupreme God. It confifls in 
loving and ferving him with an undivided heart. 
But it diffolves not our natural, or civil relations 
nor cancels the obligations which refult from 
them : It only requires us to perform the duties 
of thefe relations with fimplicity and fincerity, 
as to God, and not men. If Naaman in order 
to retain his office, had determined to worfliip 
the idols of his country, vain and unacceptable 
would have been his facrifices to the God of 
Ifrael, But if he made open declaration of his 
K 2 abhorrence 

33$ serm. xxxiri. 

abhorrence of the Syrian idolatry, and only- 
attended on the king in compliance with the 
civil duties of his ftation, the prophet fignifies, 
that he might be accepted. 

New converts are to be treated with tender- 
nefs. Too rigorous impofitions may difcour- 
age hopeful beginnings. Our Saviour would 
not put new wine into old bottles, left the bottles 
Ihould burft, and the wine be fpilled> 

The converfion of fo refpefl^able an officer in 
the Syrian nation might produce happy confe-- 
quences to others. The altar which he ere6led, 
and the worfhip which he paid, in his own coun- 
try, to the one fupreme God, might be the occa- 
lion of reclaiming many from their idolatry. 
Great and important effe6ls^ are often produced- 
from fmall beginnings. The reformation of onor 
iinner may eventually prove the faivation of 
thoufands. Faul obtained mercy, that in him 
Chrift might (hew forth all long fuffering for a 
pattern to them, who Ihould afterward believe 
to life everlafting. 

God has wonderful' ways in bringing aliout 
his merciful purpofes to men. He often makes 
a fmall circumftance produ6tive of mighty events, 
and turns a worldly calamity into an eternal 
blefling. We ftiould learn to regard his hand 
in all our changes, to truft his wifdom in all our 
perplexities, to trace the ways of his providence 
in their wonderful connexions, to improve our 
xvorldly affliftions for the advancement of relig- 



ion in our hearts, and to exhibit before men 
fuch a bright example of good works, that they 
alio may glorify God. 





dk& indi u^zatU iOTih (^nziUj, 

-■La . »0 > » ®-»»<ao3}ove«»f<^^ 

Romans, xvi. v. 

Salute my well beloved Epenetus, who is the Jirjl_ 
fruits oj Achaia unto Chrijl. 

A AUL in his falutations to hischrif- 
tian friends, mentions fomethingin the chara6ler 
of almoft every one, as a ground and reafon of 
his afFedion and efteem. What he particularly 
commends in this Epenetus is, that he was the 
Jirjl fruits of Achaia unto Chrifh, Some copies 
read, the firft fruits of Afia, which reading fome 
think fhould be preferred, becaufe the Apoflle 
fays, 1 Cor. xvi, 15. that tht hovfe of Stephanas 
was the firfl: fruits of Achaia, But perhaps 
Epenetus might be the firfl: pcrfon, and the houfe- 
hold of Stephanas the firft family, in Achaia, 
which openly embraced the gofpel. On this 


S£RM. XXXIV. 13^ 

^Tuppofitian the paffages, as they {land, are fully 

The firfl fruits under the lawr, were an oflFer« 
ing made to God of part of the harveft in ac- 
knowledgment of his bounty. This offering 
was made of the firft ripe fruits, and before the 
Jiarvefl was begun. In allufion to this offering, 
Jefus Chrift is called, *•' the firft fruits of them 
that flept/' becaufe he was the firftborn from 
the dead, and his refurre6lion is an earneft 
and pledge of the refurredion of believers. 

The fandifying and comforting influences of 
the fpirit, which are now vouchfafed to chrift- 
ians, are called the Jirji fruits of the Spirits 
For as the firft fruits were to the Jews pledge* 
of the enfuing harveft, fo the graces of the Spirit 
are tokens and earnefts of heavenly happinefs. 

The Apoftle James fays, " God of his owa 
will hath begotten us by the word of truth, 
that we ftiould be a kind of firft fruits of his 
creatures :" Or that we fhould be confecrated 
to his fervice ; as the firft fruits of harveft 
were dedicated to him, in acknowledgment that 
all was his gift. 

In the fourteenth chapter of the Revelation, 
they who were redeemed from among men; 
they who in times of general corruption, had not 
defiled themfelves, but preferved their purity ; 
they who had followed the Lamb whither fo- 
ever he went, are called " the firft fruits unto 
God and the Lamb." Thefe, like the firftborn 
and firft fruits under the law, were dedicated to 
K 4 God; 

I4q Serm. XXXIV. 

God ; and their fidelity was an earneft of a 
more plentiful acceflion to the church of God 
in future times. 

By 2L like allufion to the ofFeting, which pre- 
ceded the harveft, the Apoftle calls the firft con- 
verts to the faith of Chrift in a particular place, the 
firft fruits of that place unto Chrift. They refem- 
bled the firft fruits, not only in their early dedi- 
cation of themfelves to Chrift, but alfo as their 
converfion was a meati and an earneft of a fuc- 
ceeding harveft there. You fee then the fpecial 
reafon why Paul falutes Epenetus in thofe terms. 

Now confider this man, dwelling in the midft 
of heathens and idolaters, furrounded with daily 
examples of vice and fuperftition, and long ac- 
cuftomed to the manners of the world ; but, qvl 
the preaching of an Apoftle of Chrift, renounc- 
ing his former yices and errors; coming out 
from among a corrupt and idolatrous multitude ; 
Handing forth alone in th^ profeflion of the 
truth and the reformation of his life; and, by 
his example, and converfation, inviting his fel- 
low citizens to turn from their vanities and 
ferve the living God ; and will you not admire 
his integrity, zeal and fortitude — His opennefs 
to conviQion — The ftrength of his faith in 
Chrift, and the benevolence of his heart toward 
thofe around him? Viewing Epenetus in this 
light, Will you wonder, that Paul remembers 
him in his chriftian falutations ; calls him his 
beloved friend ; and celebrates his virtue as the 
Jirji fruits of Achaia unto Chrift? i In what an 


IfiRM. XXXIV. til 

amiable and important light does he fland ? 
I What higher and nobler chara6i:er could be 
given of him, than the Apoflle has exprelFed in 
thefe few words ? 

We are here naturally led to this remark, that 
Jorzvardnefs in religion is a diaraBer highly com' 
mendable in the fight of Jefus Chrijl, So our 
apollle elleemed it. He therefore ever fpeaks in 
terms of peculiar honor and affeQion, concern- 
ing thofe who firft embraced the gofpel in a 
particular place; who were in Chrifl: before 
him ; who ran great hazards in the caufe of 
truth ; who had been his helpers in the work of 
Chrift; and who had labored much in the 

Let us firft fhew how a forwardnefs in relig- 
ion may difcover itfelf. And then difplay the 
excellency and commendablenefs of this difpo- 

We will firft confider the difpofition here 
commended in Epenetus: He was the firji 
fruits to Chrifl. He diftinguifhed himfelf by a 
promptitude, zeal and forwardnefs in the caufc 
of the gofpel. 

There is, in fome perfons, a certain vanity — a 
felf importance, which makes them forget their 
proper place, and urges them to take the lead in 
every matter in which they mean to bear a part. 
They affume haughty airs, and dictatorial lan- 
guage ; feel fuperior to advice, and competent 
to prefcribe to every man. They are fwift to 
fpeak on every fubjed, and flow to hear on. 


i42 Sl^RM. XXXIV, 

any. Thty are bold and confident in their own 
opinions; fixed and obflinate in their own refo- 
iutions ; and liberal in their cenfures of all who 
dill'ent from them. 

This is forzvardnefs indQQd ; but not forward- 
nefs in religion. True religion is always at« 
tended with humility; with fober thoughts of 
ourfelves ; with a charitable difpofition to oth- 
ers ; with a modeft diftrufl of our own wifdom, 
ftrength, and virtue; and with a ready attention 
to the inflruftions and counfeis of thofe, who 
Tftay be our helpers in Chrift Jefus. Paul, 
though the chief of the Apoflles, thankfully ac- 
cepted affiflance in his work from private chrif* 
tians ; even from thofe who had been converted 
!>V his miniilry. 

While we aim to be forward in religion, let 
us avoid every thing that favours of pride and 
oRentation. This, fo far as it prevails, is incon- 
fiftent with religion in ourfelves, and fo far as it 
appears, will defeat our endeavours to promote 
religion among others. Particularly, 

1. Early religion may be called the firfl: fruits 
unto Chrifl. It difcovers an amiable forwardnefs 
to ferve him. Epenetus was not called by the 
gofpel in his youth : He enjoyed not thofe early 
advantages, which many now enjoy. But ix 
feems probable, that he embraced the firll op- 
portunity to hear the gofpel, and accepted the 
firft invitation to devote himfelf to Chrift. 
His religion had all the virtue and excellency of 
early religion. He gave to Chrift the firft fruits, 


3erm. XXXiV. 143 

it not of life itfelf, yet of that part of life in 
which he was favoured with the heavenly call. 
All have now this call in their youth. They, 
who are moft forward and feafonable in obeying 
it, are the firft fri^its to Chrift. They give him. 
their pureft and beft time, as an earned that all 
(hall be confecrateci to hini. 

You, w:ho are young, are from the very cir- 
cumflance of your age, tempted to delay the 
work of religion. Many of you appear to live 
with great indifFerenqe to It. By your example 
you embolden one another in the dangerous neg- 
left. Noiv, if any of you, awaker^ed to a fenfe 
of your danger, ftiould renounce the vanities of 
your youth, and dedicate yourfelves to the fer- 
vice of your redeemer, you would be to him the 
firft fruits among your fellows. <; And who 
i,nows, what a harveft might enfue ? Your ex- 
ample lyiight encourage others ; your early zeal 
might provoke many. But ftill you would be 
entitled to the diftin61ion of being in Chrifl be- 
fore them. 

2. Forwardnefs in religion will appear in an 
open projejjion of it, and a diligent attendance on 
tiie means of it. 

There may be a profeflion of religion, when 
the heart is not engaged in it. But a zeal for 
religion, without a profeflion, cannot be fup- 
pofed ; for a profeflion is not only injoined as 
a duty in itfelf, but prefcribed as a mean of pro- 
moting religion among others. The man who 
really believes the gofpel of Chrjfl:, and feels 
the vaft importance of it, will openly declare 


Hi Serm. XXXIV. 

before men the views and apprehenfions, which 
he entertains of it. The apoftle fays, " I am 
not afliamed of the gofpel of Chrifl, for it is 
the power of God to falvation to every ons 
that believes/* The believer will wifli the prev- 
alence of religion among others. That a dif- 
penfation, on which the eternal happinefs of 
guilty men fo elTentially depends, fhould be 
generally negle6led and difregarded, is a thought 
which deeply wounds the benevolent feelings 
.of his foul. As he delires that others fhould 
have the fame fentiments of it with him, fo 
he openly avows his regard to it ; and by a 
diligent attendance on the inftituted ordinances 
of it, invites all to come and feek an acquaint- 
ance with it, and Ihare in its divine and heav- 
enly bleflings. 

3. One who is forward in religion, will main^ 
tain the profeffion and practice of it, though 
he fhould thus render himfelf^w^-w/flr. 

Epenetus profefTed the religion of the gofpel, 
when all around him were in a diflPerent fenti- 
ment and pradice. He was the firft, among all 
the people in Achaia, to (land forth in its caufe. 
Stephanas was the firft there, who dedicated hi$ 
whole family to Chrifl, and fet up the worfhip of 
Cod in his houfe. i What a noble zeal and for- 
titude they difcovered, in adventuring to be fin- 
gular in the faith and obedience of the gofpel ? 

The chriftian, who is forward and zealous in 
religion, will profefs it, though his neighbours 
treat it with indifference. He will maintain the 


g£RM. XXXIV. 145 

worfhip of God in his family, though all around 
him' defpifc and even ridicule his ftridl and Con- 
fcientious devotion. The cavillers at family 
worfhip, he anfwers in the language of the cap- 
tain of Ifrael, ** If it feem evil to you to ferve 
the Lord, chufe you this day whom you will 
ferve ; but as for me and my houfe, we will 
ferve the Lord." 

He wirll attend on th€ inftituted ordinances of 
God's houfe, and require the attendance of his 
children witb him, though the manner of others is 
to forfake the affembling of themfelves together- 
He will have no fellowffiip with the unfruit- 
ful works of darknefs, but will rather reprove 
them. He will be the companion of them who 
fear God, and will fay to evil doers, depart from 
me, though they may think it flrange that he 
runs not with them to the fame excefs of riot, 
fpeaking evil of him. 

He will not be conformed to this world ; but, 
beilig transformed by the renewing of his mind, 
he proves^ what is the good and acceptable and 
perfed will of God. 

In matters of a worldly nature, he will ufe 
gi*eat condefcenfion for the fake of peace. But 
in religion he will be governed, not by the opin- 
ions and cuftoms of the world, but by the plain 
inftru£lions of God's word. He is peaceable, 
gentle and eafy to be entreated ; but he is firfl 
pure. He reckons it a fmall thing to be judged 
of mart's judgment, (ince he who will judge him 
i^ the Lord, And though he is difpofed, in mat- 

S4^' SiRM. XXXIV: 

ters of indlfFerence, to pleafe men for their good 
to edification, yet he will not pleafe them with 
the hazard of offending God. An aim to pleafe 
God is the grand principle that governs hirri 
in all his converfation. This leads me to fay, 

4. Forwardnefs in religion mufl appear in a 
zeal for great ejfential things. 

There are many who are forward in little 
matters ; zealous for or againft fpeculative opin- 
ions, outward forms, and the peculiar tenets and 
ufages which difcriminate particular fe6ls. But 
this is not forwardnefs in religion ; it is only 
forwardnefs in a party defign. This is not to 
offer to Chrifl the firft fruits of obedience. It 
is rather to offer him the ftraw and chaff, in- 
flead of the full laden ftieaf. 

The chriftian, forward in religion, princi- 
pally regards the fubflantial and weighty mat- 
ters of the gofpel. He is zealous to repent 
and to maintain good works. He is fervent in 
fpirit, ferving the Lord. Pie abounds in the 
proper fruits of the fpirit, righteoufnefs, good- 
ncfs and truth. His heart is fet in him againff 
fin of every kind, efpecially againft his own 
fins ; and engaged in the great and unqueftion- 
able duties of the gofpel. He gives diligence 
to make his calling and ele6lion fure, by con- 
tinual improvements in all the graces of the 
chriftian temper. He is folicitous to abound 
in them, that he may never fall, but an entrance 
may be miniftered to him abundantly into the 

kingdom of Chrift, 

5. One 

Se-rm. XXXIV, Hi 

Q, One who is forward in religsort, labours to> 
promote it among others. 

When Paul calls his beloved Epenetus the 
firfl fruits of Achaia to Chrifl, he intimates that 
a rich harvell followed; for the hrft fruits im- 
ply a following harveft. This forward chriftiaa 
doubtlefs aflifted Paul in his work, and contrib- 
uted his aid in the culture of the foil, and in. 
the production and coIle6tion of the crop. His 
converfion to the faith, and his exemplary con- 
verfation, were among the means which gave the 
gofpel a fuccefsful fpread in Achaia. 

The forward chriftian will principally attend 
to the Hate of religion in his own foul. He will 
not negled his own vineyard, to keep (he vine- 
yards of his brethren. He will not be officious^ 
to wipe the mote out of his brother's eye, while 
a beam is in his own. He will not fpend his- 
zeal in cenfuring the fins of others, and indulge 
iniquity in his own heart. His firfl care is to 
cleanfe himfelf from all filthinefs of the flefhr- 
and fpirit, perfeding holinefs in the fear of God, 

He next attends to the (late of religion in his 
family. He commands his children and his^. 
hbufehold after him to keep the way of the 
Lord. He is watchful over their manners, that 
he may reftrain them from making themfelves 
vile, and from rendering others fo by their vile 

But his influence is not confined within the^ 
v.^alls of his own dwelling; it extends to thofe^ 
abound* He laments the prevalence of iniquity,. 


14S Serm. XXXlt. 

and the decline of religion, wherever he ob- 
ferves it. He prays that God would revive hi» 
work, and fludies how he may be ihflrumental 
in advancing it. 

He readily concurs in atiy reafonable meaf- 
ures for this purpofe. As the preaching of the 
gofpel is an inflituted mean of religion, he hon- 
ours it by his attendance, gives credit to it by his 
example, and, when there is opportunity, fec- 
onds it by his advice and reproof. 

They who fear God will fpeak often one to 
another in a way of confultation, what thejr 
ought to do for the Lord, when men make void 
his ftatutes. If they fee a proper occafion, they 
will cheerfully impart their fubflance for the re^ 
lief of their neceflitous brethren, for the fupport 
t)f Chrift's caufe, and for the affiftance of fuch 
as are under any peculiar difadvahtages with 
refpeft to religion. Such was the zeal of the 
primitive chrillians. The houfe of Stephanas, 
which was the firfl: fruits of Achaia, addided 
themfelves to the miniftry of the faints. Paul 
commends to the Corinthians the forwardnefs of 
the ehriftiahs in Macedonia, whofe deep poverty- 
abounded to the riches of their liberality ; and 
who, even beyond their power, were willing of 
themfelves, without folicitation, to contribute to 
the relief of their diflreffed brethren in Judea. 
And the forwardnefs of the Corinthians he alfo 
commends in the following terms — *' It is fuper- 
fluous for me to write to you concerning the 
miniflering to the faints ; for 1 know the for- 

Serm. XXXIV. 149 

wardnefs of your mind, for which I boall of 
you to them of Macedonia — ^and your zeal hath 
provoked very many/' 

The forwardnefs of religious zeal among chrift- 
ians can be difplayed in nothing more fubftan- 
tially, than in their liberal minds toward each 

6. The forward chriftian afpires to greater em^ 
inence in religion. He is not fatished with what 
he is, nor contented with what he has done : He 
would grow in grace, and abound flill more in 
all the fruits of righteoufnefs. He reckons not 
himfelf to be already perfe6l ; but forgetting the 
things which are behind, he reaches forward to 
the things which are before, and preiTes toward 
the mark for the prize of the high calling of 
God in Chrift. The fuperior example of others 
humbles him for his defe6ts, and animates his 
endeavours to equal their virtues. He would be 
enriched in every thing by Chrift, fo as to become 
behind his brethren in no gift, which may con- 
duce to his eminence and ulefulnefs in his chrift- 
ian fphere ; and thus he waits for the coming of 
Jefus Chrift, who, he trufts, will confirm him to 
the end, that he may be blamelefs in the day of 
Chrift Jefus his Lord. 

But I may no longer detain you on this branch 
of my fubjed. I proceed, 

n. To ftiew the excellency and amiablenefs 
of this forwardnefs in religion. 

Paul commends Epenetus and calls him his 
beloved, becaufe he was the firft fruits of Achaia 
L to 

150 Serm. XXXIV- 

to Chrift. Heboafts to the Corinthians concern- 
ing the forwardnefs of them in Macedonia, and 
to the latter concerning the forwardnefs of the 
Corinthians, in the common caufe of Chrift. 

1. This forwardnefs is commendable as an 
evidence of fincerity. It fhews the concurrence 
and engagednefs of the heart. The hypocrite is 
flothful in bufinefs ; or zealous only in fome lefs 
important matters. One who is forward in the 
great concerns of religion, and maintains his 
fidelity to Chrift, even when others defpife or 
oppofe his caufe, gives fubftantial proof that his 
heart is right with God. He may find joy in 
the confcioufnefs, that his coiiverfation is in fim- 
plicity and godly fincerity. 

2. This forwardnefs" in religion is commenda- 
ble on account of its ufefulnefs. 

The flothful, negligent chriftian emboldens 
finners in their tranfgreflions, and confirms them 
ill their ftupidity. If he fleeps as do others, he 
v;ill lull them into a profounder fleep. But he 
who is forward in religion, not only reproves 
negligent chriftians, but condemns fecure and 
thoughtlefs finners. When Noah obeyed the 
divine warning, it is faid, he condemned the 
world. The zeal of fome in Corinth provoked 
very many. When a finner awakes to repent- 
ance, and runs no longer with former compan- 
ions to excefs of riot, he warns them to repent 
and forfake the path of deftru6lion. His en- 
gagednefs in the work of falvation, admonifhes 
them of its importance. When a youth yields 


Serm. XXXIV. i^i 

himfelf to Chrifl, profefles his gofpel, and walks 
agreeably to it, his example invites his fellows to 
forfake the foolifh and live, and to go in the way 
of underllanding. A rich harveft enfued, when 
Epenetus had offered the firft fruits to Chrifl:^ 
Should fome of you, my young hearers, difcover 
a warm but modell zeal in the work of Chrifl ; 
and an a6live, but Ready concern for your own 
falvation, you know not how many might be 
won by your example. While you are faving 
your own fouls, you know not how many more 
might be faved by your means. While you are 
doing good to yourfelves, you know not how- 
much good you might do toothers. ^ How de- 
lightful would be the refle61:ion to your own 
minds, that you had been the firft fruits to Chrifl, 
and that your offering had been followed with a 
plenteous harvefl ? ^i How much would it fweeten 
life to think, you were following Chrift to gi^rjy 
and, by your example, drawing others along in 
the fame joyful path ? ^i How much will it add to 
the delights of heaven, to find, that your firfl 
fruits have been the means and occafion of gath- 
ering a harveft of fheaves into Chrift's garner? 
Aaimated by fuch thoughts and profpe6ls, come, 
engage in the fervice of Chrift, and fhew fuch 
diligence and forwardnefs in it, that your zeal 
may provoke very many. 

3. This forwardnefs in religion is commend- 
able, as it is honorable to Chrift. To him belong 
the firft fruits of your lives. You are redeemed 
by his death ; you are bought with the price of his 
L z blood. 

^52 SERM.XXXlt^ 

blood. Glorify him therefore in your body and 
fpirit, which are his. Prefent yourfelves holy to 
him. This is your reafonable fervice. ^ How 
can you honor him, but hy the dedication of 
yourfelves to him ? The more forward you 
are in his caufe, the more honor you bring 
to his name. The earlier you begin to ferve 
him, the greater fervice will you do him. The 
more aftive and diligent you are, the more influ- 
ence your example will have on others. 

Chrifl i^ honoured by the increafe of his fub- 
je6ls. By your forwardnefs, you will contrib- 
ute to this increafe. 

4. Forwardnefs in religion is commendable as 
an imitation of Chrifl, 

He was, in early life, about his Father's bufi- 
nefs. He faid, " I mull work the works of him 
tha:t fent me." It was his meat and drink to do 
God's will. He was forward on all occafions 
to promote the honor of God and the happinefs 
of men. Fervent was his love to men's foul?, 
and Itrong was his abhorrence of iin. He went 
about doing good. No dangers, not even death 
in its moft dreadful form, could damp the ardor 
of his refolution, To him was applied the ex- 
preffion of the Pfalmift. *'The zeal of thine 
houfe hath confumed me." We are to learn 
zeal, as well as humility, of Jefus Chrifl. It 
is the Chriflian's greatefl honor and happinefs 
to be like him. 

5. This forwardnefs in religion is amiable and 
commendable, becaufe it is in the highefl degree 


S^RM. XXXIV. i5g 

rational. It is regarding things according to 
their nature and importance. It is direding our 
zeal to the right obje61; and employing our ac- 
tivity in a matter of the higheft moment, and 
mofl laRing confequence. i How trifling are 
all the interefls of this world, compared with 
the future ? i What is the body to the foul, 
and this momentary life to eternal duration ? 
Religion is the means of our future and ever- 
lafling happinefs. It is that on which our all 
depends, i In what then Ihould we be forward 
and zealous, if not in this ? ^ What fhall we be 
diligent about, if we may negle6l our falvation ? 

Finally; We have no promife of fuccefs on 
any other condition, but diligence in our work. 

This is the command of Chriil. Seek firft 
the kingdom of God, Strive to enter in at the 
flrait gate. 

This is the direSion of the Apoftle. Work 
out your falvation with fear and trembling, for 
it is God that worketh in you. Be not flothful 
in bufmefs, but fervent in fpirit, ferving the 
Lord. Flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope 
fet before you. Such is the conltant language 
of fcripture. Think not then, that you are to 
be faved in a way of negligence. The promife 
is only to thofe who give diligence to make their 
calling and ele6lion fure. 

It is by forwardnefs in religion, that you be- 
come entitled to the conftant aids of God's 
grace. God gives his holy Spirit to them who 
a Ik:, and feek and knock. He works in thofe 
L 3 who 

154 Serm. XXXIV, 

who work out their own falvation. He beftows 
his bleffing on thofe who pray with all prayer, 
and watch thereunto with all perfeverance. 

Let the united influence of thefe motives 
prompt us to zeal and a6livity in religion, ex- 
cite the young to oflFer the firfl fruits, and all 
to offer the remaining fruits of their lives to 
God, that having our fruit unto holinefs, our 
end may be eternal life. 





.t/>4^ Uudcwriiu and LtTiccTtaiTiiu of 
th& Tvau of the TVtckea* 

«>«=>»»»»»®^»<CC^gQ& € < « « < e i 

Proverbs, iv. 19, 

The way of the wicked is a$ darknefs : They know 
not at what they Jlumble, 

JL HE way of the wicked is here contrafled 
to the path of the jufl. This, the wife man fays, 
is as the fhining light, which fhineth more and more 
unto the perfeH day. 

The virtuous and upright man walks in the 
light, and clearly difcerns his way. He looks 
well to his goings, and (huns the evils which he 
forefees. If he is in doubt, he makes enquiry, 
and attends to the anfwer. His path grows 
plainer, the farther he advances ; and fmoother, 
the more it is trodden. An increaling pleafure 
L 4 invites 

156 Serm. XXXV. 

invites him along, and a chceerful hope quickens 
his fteps. 

The reverfe of this is the way of the ungodly. 
Their path is involved in darknefs, and befet with 
fnares. They fee not what dangers await them, 
nor into what mifchiefs the next Hep may plunge 
them. They have no fecurity where they are, 
and find none where they go. Ail around them 
is obfcurity, and all before them is uncertainty. 

Such is the way of the wicked; and in this 
refpe6l, as well as many others, the way of tranf- 
greifors is hard. 

There can be no real felf enjoyment without 
inward peace and confcious fafety. A flate of 
doubtful apprehenfion, in cafes of importance, is 
a ftate of difquietude and uneafinefs. To be 
fufpended between hope and fear, is to hang in 
torture. And there are cafes in which the antici- 
pation of evil is as diftrefling as the evil itfelf, 
and fufpenfe is as painful as to realize the 

We will confider the unhappy flate of the 
wicked, in this refpe6l, that it is a flate of infecu- 
rity and uncertainty. 

We will view the finner in feveral different 
lights — as believing the great principles of relig- 
ion, but contradidling them in pra6lice — as af- 
fuming an external form of religion without in- 
tegrity of heart — as acknowledging the obliga- 
tions of natural religion, but difcarding revela- 
tion — and finally, as renouncing all religion, 


Sekm. XXXV, to7 

whether natural or revealed, both in theory and 
in pradice. 

Thefe feveral defcriptions will comprehend all 
forts of wicked men ; and, in each of thefe views, 
v/e (hall find them to be in a Hate of great un- 
certainty and infecurity ; and therefore, in a 
flate far remote from happinefs. 

1. We will confider the man, who admits the 
principles of religion in fpeculation, but contra- 
dids them in pra6lice. His way is darknefs. 
Light, indeed, has come to him ; but he loves 
darknefs rather than light. lie is not guided by 
the di6tates of reafon, or the precepts of revela- 
tion ; but purfues a courfe in dire6l oppofition 
to both. He profcffes to believe the divine au- 
thority of thegofpel but will not be fubje6l to it. 
He acknowledges an eternal flate of retribution ; 
but condu6i;s as if there were none. He com- 
plains of the vanity of the world ; but in the 
world he feeks his happinefs. He allows the 
important difference between moral good and 
evil ; but in pra6tice confounds the diilindion. 
He does not walk by any fleady rule, or follow 
any certain line of condud ; but is driven in 
various diredions by the impulfe of luft, paf- 
fion and intereft. He never knows what courfe 
he (hall next purfue ; for he cannot tell what the 
next impulfe will be ; what gufl of paflion will 
take him, or what wind of temptation will drive 
him away. 

While the love of the world reigns in him 
fuprcme, he is expofed to tvcry vice. No in- 

t5^ Ser^i. XXXV. 

iqaily will he decline, which promifes him fuc- 
cefs in his favorite purfuit. Determined on his 
obje6i:, he falls into temptation and a fnare, and 
many foolilli and hurtful iufls, which drown 
inen in perdition. 

He knowS; indeed that his courfe is danger- 
ous: He intends to (lop in feafon, and turn tp 
the path of virtue. But vain is his purpofe. 
The way before him is covered with darknefs. 
He cannot fee whither he is going, nor where 
he (hall make a ftnnd. He has wandered from 
the right way, and ftill he will love to wander. 

The path of vice is full of windings. One 
devious tra6t leads on to another. The farther 
one proceeds, the inore he is bewildered, and the 
more difficult and doubtful will be his recovery. 
Like the traveller, who has loft his way in the 
night, he is deceived by every diftant light which 
appears, and mifled by every new path which 
opens : The deep and dangerous morafs he mif- 
takes for a fmooth and fpacious plain : He devi- 
ates fo far, and changes his courfe fo often, that 
his head is turned, and fcarcely will he believe 
the friend who points out his homeward way. 

It is the hope of future repentance, which rec- 
onciles the fmner at prefent, to his guilty courfe. 
But his hope is attended with great uncertainty. 
Every ftep in his progrefs increafes the difficulty, 
and lefl'ens the probability of his return. New 
temptations meet him to entice him along; and 
new embarrailments are thrown behind to ob- 
ilru6l his retreat. His way forward is dawn 


Serm. xxxy. 159 

the hill ; to return he mull climb the precipiece. 
By habit his mind becomes more inclined to 
evil, his imagination more fafcinated to pleaf- 
ure, and his confcience more callous to reproof. 
Long accuflomed to procraflinate, he can pro- 
craftinate ftill, and do it with greater facility, 
and with lefs regret, than at firfl. The profpeft 
of a future fcafon and a better opportunity ftill 
flatters and beguiles him. That daily he is 
growing older, and death drawing nearer, he 
well knows ; but never does he feel himfelf fo 
old or infirm, but that he fancies he may hold 
out fome time longer; and his intended repent- 
ance is limited within the time which he ex- 
perts to live. Thus by repeated refolutions, and 
continued delays, he deadens a fenfe of relig- 
ion, and becomes hardened through the deceit- 
fulnefs of fin. In the mean time, he cannot tell, 
but the grace of God may withdraw its kindly 
influences, and the providence of God withhold 
its wonted prote£lion ; unexpeQed death may 
break his penitential purpofes, or ftupidity cf 
confcience extinguifli his ferious fentiments. 

Thus his way is dark and doubtful. He en- 
ters upon it without light, and walks in it with- 
out a guide. He knows not whither he fliall 
wander, nor to what lengths he fhall proceed; 
what temptations will decoy him, nor what 
fnares will intangle him. He has departed 
from the way of peace, nor can he be fure that 
he fliall find it again. " His own iniquities fliall 
take the wicked himfelf, he fliall be holden in 
tht cords of his fms ; he fliall die without in- 


i6o Serm. XXXV. 

ilrudicn, and in the greatnefs of his folly, he 

(hall go aflray." 

2. Let us confider the hypocrite, who, with- 
out integrity of heart, alFumes the external form 
of religion. His way is dark and Jlipperyu 

He believes that there is fuch a thing as relig- 
ion, and that it is a matter, in which he is really 
concerned. He views a future ftate as certain, 
and preparation for it as immediately impor- 
tant. He thinks of death as a change which is 
near, and which, whenever it comes, will place 
the fons of men in a flate valliy different from 
this — in a ftate of endlefs happinefs or woe, 
*' His heartis, indeed, full of love to this world; 
but, fince he muft leave it, he willies to have a 
good hope in the view of another. Death is a 
terror to him ; but die he mull ; and he defires 
to die the death of the righteous, and like him 
to finifh his day5 in peace. He is fure he (hould 
enjoy himfelf, and bis earthly trea Cures much 
better, if he could only free his mind from thi3 
painful bondage to the fear of death-r-this troub- 
lefome apprehenQon of the wrath to come. He 
applies himfelf to obtain that eafy and tranquil 
Hate, which fcems fo defirable. He has no 
more love to religion, than he ufed to have. 
Terror only has awakened him from his guilty 
flumbers. It is not the temper of godiinefs ; it 
is only the pleafure of a good hope, which is 
the immediate obje6l of his defire. Under the 
influence of this defire, he examines the nature 
of religion ; but forms lax and partial notions 


Serm. XXXV. i6.t 

of it : He attends, with diligence, to Tome re- 
ligious duties; but cliofes thofe which coft him 
little felfdenial : He avoids grofs immorali- 
ties ; but is not fo fcrupulous in fmaller mat- 
ters : He makes a good profefFion, and does 
as much as he thinks necelTary to fupport a fair 
charafter: Invited by fome new appearance 
of zeal, and by a profpeO: of having his conver- 
fion foon fanftioned, he, perhaps, joins himfelf 
to a new feci : He there hears things fpoken 
which flatter his fpiritual pride: He magni- 
fies his good works, and fhuts his eyes againft 
his evil ones; efpecially againft the corruptions 
of his heart : He compares himfelf with fome 
others, and fancies the eomparifon turns much 
to his advantage. So the Pharifce tiufted that 
he was righteous, becaufe he faftcd often, ab- 
flained from adultery and extortion, and was 
not fo vile as he thought a certain publican to 
be ; feleding, for the eomparifon, a man whom 
he defpifed ; though really a much better man 
than himfelf. Thus the hypocrite, partly by 
finking the chriftian charader below what it 
ought to be, and partly by exalting his own 
above what it really is, acquires a hope, that 
his future intereft is fecure. 

But flill his ftate is darknefs. He gains his 
hope by felf deception, and maintains it by felf- 
flattery ; not by an impartial examination of 
his heart and a diflind knowledge of his char- 
ader. The hope which he obtains, is not the 


i62 Serm. XXXV- 

precious ruetal which brightens in the trial ; 
it is a rotten fubftance, which Ihines only 
in the dark. Amidfl his prefumptuous confi- 
dence, th^re is ufaally a fecret fufpicion, that all 
within is not found. There is a jealoufy and 
diftruft of himfelf. There is a confcioufnefs of 
fome partiality, precipitancy and unfairnefs in 
the judgment which he has made. His heart 
does not feel right. There is not that deepj 
calm, fenfible pleafure, which accompanies 
godly Gncerity, and pure, unafFe61ed religion. 
The hope, w^hich fprings fpontaneoufly from 
an honeft and good heart, is fubflantial and 
fatisfying. The labored, artificial hope of the 
hypocrite, is hollow, empty and unfound. It 
will not bear the touch. Like the fruit of 
Sodom, it looks fair to the eye, but when it is 
handled, it turns to fmoke and afhes. The 
honefl chriftian examines and proves himfelf, 
whether he is in the faith. He adopts the hum- 
ble prayer of the Pfalmift, " Search me, O God, 
and try my heart ; fee if there be any wicked 
way in me, and lead me in the way everlaft- 
ing." The hypocrite dillruflful of his cafe, 
glides over it fuperficially. Like a man of fuf- 
picious worldly circumltances, he is afraid to 
look into his affairs and adjull his accounts — 
to compare his debts and credits, his means and 
expenfes, left he fhould find himfelf haftening 
to bankruptcy. A painful fufpicion, now and 
then, intrudes itfelf and demands a reckoning; 
but he difmilfcs the intruder with fair promifes, 


a^ndconfoles himfelf with rtew flattefies. Thus he 
paffes through life in darknefs and uncertainty^ 
His hope fprings from ignorance of himftlf and 
religion ; it is attended with diftruft and anx- 
iety, and will ilTue in painful difappointment. 

We proceei, 

3. To confider the wicked man in another 
point of light; as believing the great truths of 
natural religion, but difcarding revelation. 

His way is covered with darknefs. He has 
no light to direct his eye or guide his (leps. 
With refpe6l to the nature, condition and means 
of future happinefs, an awful uncertainty at- 
tends him. There is no ground on which his 
faith can (land ; no fupport on which his hope 
can lean. 

He believes there is a God. a providence and 
a future life. He believes men are moral and 
accountable beings, who will hereafter be treated 
in fome meafure according to their chara6lers. 
So much, he thinks, is taught by reafon. But 
the gofpel, confidered as a revelation from God, 
he reje6ts as ufelefs, and incredible. Its mo- 
ral precepts he acknowledges to be good ; but 
the do6trines of falvation through a dying Sav- 
iour — of renovation by the influence of the 
Holy Spirit — of eternal life as a gift of fove- 
reign grace — and of everlafting punilhment as 
the wages of fin, and the defert of unbelief— 
thefe he will not receive, nor own the authority 
of the book which contains them. They are 
too oppofite to his pride and felfconceit, to his 


iSi Serm. XXXV. 

worldly affe6lions and fiefhly lulls, to obtain a 
place in his creed, 

I Now what does this man gain by rejeding 

the gofpel ? He only gives up the hopes of 

religion : He neither cancels its obligations, nor 
finnihilates its terrors. 

Every man, who has juft fentiments of mo- 
rality, muft know, that he is under obligations 
to virtue; and every man who is acquainted 
with himfelf, muft confefs that he has, in many 
inftances, violated thefe obligations, and there- 
fore Hands guilty before God; and every man, 
who has any rational apprehenfions of the De- 
ity, muft acknowledge, that vice is contrary to 
his nature, and deferving of his wrath. If we 
fet a fide the gofpel, yet it ftill remains a truth — 
a truth founded in the principles of reafon and 
nature, that the finner is expofed to punifhment. 

The gofpel has not a-eated any new danger, 
or contrived any nevy punifliment, which with- 
out it would never have exifted : But it has 
warned men of their real danger, and pointed 
out the way of deliverance. It teaches us, that 
God is rich in mercy to thofe who call upon 
him — that he will pardon and accept repenting 
iinners, how guilty foever they have been — that 
he will aflTift by his grace thofe who frame their 
ways to turn to him. Our hope in God's mercy 
it confirms by explicit promifes, and efpecially 
by the difcovery of a Saviour who died to take 
away the fin of the world. 


Serm. XXXV. 165 

^ If we rejed this Saviour, to whom fhall we 

go ? 1 If we refufe the corner ftone which 

God has laid, on what foundation fhall we 

build ?• Reafon teaches us our obligations, 

and confcience owns that we have broken them. 
Our guilt and danger are undeniable. £ But 
where do we learn, that God v^ill forgive — that 
he will accept of repentance — that on repent* 
ance he will pardon all lin — that his grace will 
abound unto eternal life — that he will give his 
holy Spirit to them who a(k him ? — Thefe con. 
foling truths, reafon can never teach ; we learn 
them only from the gofpeL The man, there- 
fore, who rejeds this, walks in darknefs. He 
has no light to guide him in the way of peace. 
He knows not whither he goes. 

4. There is another viev\r, which we are to 
take of the wicked. We will confider them as 
renouncing the great principles of natural relig- 
ion, the exiftence and government of God, mor- 
al obligation, and a future retribution. There 
are fome fuch infidels as thcfe ; but their way 
is covered with darknefs, more gloomy and dii- 
mal than that which involves the path of other 

A thinking man — and fuch men pretend to 
think with fuperior freedom — a thinking man 
can have no fettled peace, on any principles but 
thofe of religion ; bccaufe on no other can hs 
poITefs any kind of fecurity. If we fet afide 
the belief of a God, a providence, and a future 
M exigence.. 

i66 Serm. XXXV. 


exiflence, all before us is uncertainty and confu- 
fion, darknefs, and horror. 

Take an Atheift, and examine what fource of 
light and comfort he can find. 

He believes that when he dies there is an end 
cf him ; that this fpark of intelleQ is extin- 
guifhed, and will be kindled no more. On this 
belief, he purfues the pleafures of the world, as 
the only obje6l worthy of his attention. " Let 
us eat and drink," fays he, ** for tomorrow we 

I But will this fentiment, even admitting it 
were true, cheer and brighten his paffage 
through life ? No ; it will cover his path with 
darknefs. How gloomy the thought, that this 
rational nature — this confcious rnind, mud be 
blotted out of creation, and utterly extinguifhed 
forever 1 

Annihilation, indeed, is not fo horrible an 
event, as pofitive and perpetual mifery : But 
Hill it is horrible ; and no man will indulge the 
thought of it, unlefs it be, that he may thus re- 
lieve his mind from the fear of fomething worfe. 

Confcious of guilt, the fmner flies to this ref- 
iige for fecurity : But perhaps his refuge will 
fail him. 

Look around : Here is a mighty fabrick, a 
flupendous univerfe, which exhibits every mark 
of power, wifdom and defign. This in fome 
way or other, has come into exiftence. Cer- 
tainly it does not look like the wanton fport of 
chance ; but like the Regular operation of a 


S«RM. XXXV. tSy 

wife, benevolent, almighty Creator. If there is 
a God who made the world and placed men 
upon it, undoubtedly he obferves and diftin- 
guifties their different a6lions ; and it may juftly 
be expedled, that he will treat them accordingly. 

The Athiefl then, after all he can fay, muft 
view himfelf as in a ftate of danger — after all 
his felfflattery, he mufl fear, that there is a day 
of reckoning at hand. 

But even though he could be fure, that there 
is no God, or providence, and that the world, 
•and all that belongs to it, are the efFefts of 
chance or fate, flill, i What fecurity has he, that 
lie fhall not be miferable; yea, miferable in the 
extreme, and forever ? If accident, or necef- 
fity has thrown him into exiftehce here, it may 
as well throw him into exiilence fomewhere 
elfe; and in what condition he fhall find him- 
felf at the next change, he cannot conje6i;ure. 
It is at leaft an equal chance that, when the 
body is diflblved, he ftill fhall live a confcious 
being: And, if he has an exigence, this may 
ns well be miferable as happy. If chance has 
fubjeded him to fome mifery in this flate, per- 
haps it will handle him more rudely in the 
next. There is no knowing, what contingence 
or neceflity may do; and no provifion can be 
made againft the caprice of the one, or the ty- 
ranny of the other. 

The man, then, who difbelieves the exiilence 
and providence of a God, and the difference be- 
tween moral good and evil, mud be in a mo ft 
M 2 gloomy 

i68 Serm. XXXV. 

gloomy and difmal (late. Plis way is darknefs. 
He has no fecurity in any line of condud;, and 
he cannot conje6lure what is before him in the 
confufion of events. Every thing bodes danger 
and threatens mifery. There is no being to 
whom he can repair for help — no fan6luary to 
which he can retreat for fafety. Even virtue is 
confounded, and prudence is nonplufled. Do 
what he will, he lies at the mercy of wild and 
Wanton chance, or of cruel and unexorable 
fate. His forethought is blind, caution is ufe- 
lefs, and prayer is vain. There is no fecurity 
of good, or remedy for evil. All around him 
is darknefs, and all before him is horror. 

Say now, i Is this a defirable flate ? — i A 
ftate for which a wife nian would exchange the 
comforts of religion ? 

£ What peace and fatisfa6lion can a mortal 
feel without a perfuafion, that there is a wife, 
juft and good Being, who made and governs the 
world, and that this Being is his friend ?^ — ^ That 
there is a way to obtain the protedion and fe- 
cure the favour of this Being, and that he has 
found and chofen the way ? 

With this perfuafion he may poffefs a cheer- 
ful ferenity amidfl: all the viciditudes of life; 
for to the virtuous, God is a prefent help in 
trouble, and all things will he turn to their 
advantage. " God is our refuge and ftrength," 
fays the Pfalmill ; *' therefore will not we fear, 
though the earth be removed, and though moun- 
tains be carried into the midfl; of the feaj 


Serm. XXXV. 169 

.though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, 
and though the mountains (hake with the fwel- 
iing thereof/' 

A wife and thinking man, as he regards 
his own peace and happinefs, will endeavour 
fully to underftand what religion is, and on 
what ground it (lands ; what it requires him to 
be, and forbids him to do; what hopes and 
what fears it propofes, as motives to duty. 
When he has learnt what religion is, it will be 
Lis next concern to comply with its defign and 
fecure its bleffings. And next to this, it will 
be his care to know his own chara6ler and con- 
dition, and to judge whether he may fafely ap- 
propriate the promifes of religion, or is flill ex- 
.pofed to its threatenings. 

Confider then, what beings you are. You 
have a rank afTigned you in the intelligent cre- 
ation. Look around, and behold plain evidences 
of the exiflence and government of a Deity. 
Realize your dependence on him and account- 
ablenefs to him. Refleft on your important fit- 
uation. You are on trial for eternal happinefs. 
How precious then is every hour! Think of 
your advantages. To you God has committed 
his facred oracles. Here, under a confcioufnef^ 
of your guilt, you may find hope and comfort. 
Here you may learn, that God is merciful to 
forgive the penitent, and to fupport their vir- 
tuous refolutions — that his falvation is dif- 
penfed to fmners, through the righteoufnefs of 
iiis fon, and that it is unto all, and upon alj 
M 3 them 

170 Serm. XXXV. 

them who believe in this Saviour, and there is 
no difference. Here alfo you learn, that if you 
fin prefumptuoufly, after you have received the 
knowledge of the truth; if you do defpite to 
the Spirit of grace, and trample on the blood of 
the Redeemer, there remains no more facrifice 
fpr fin, 

^ Go now, fall down before God in the exer- 
cife of humble faith and deep repentance ; re- 
nounce every fin, and yield yourfelves to him, 
to ferve hira in newnefs of life. Cultivate in 
your hearts the temper which the gofpel re- 
quires. Repel with indignation every attack 
on your faith and virtue. Indulge no fenti- 
tnents which tend to corrupt the manners. — 
Make improveriients in knowledge, and abound 
;n every good work. 

The zealous pra6lice of religion, is the bed 
guard againft error in do6lrine, and defeftion 
from the truth. Maintain a good confcience, 
and you will not make fhipwreck of the faith. 
Shun the way of the wicked ; for this is as dark- 
nefs; they know not at what they flumble. 
Walk in the path of the juft ; for this is as the 
Ihining light, which fhincth more and more unto 
the perfeQ day. 



fA. J a'Y^alutto h&al&d ot the tTadk oj 

^>»>»^»<C0@OQ>€<-C» c< »»t«» ^'« 

Mark, ii. 5. 

When Jefus Jaw their faith, he /aid unto theftck of 
the Palfy, Son, thyfms be forgiven thee. 

XjY the preaching and miracles of Je- 
fus Chrift in Capernaum, his fame was much cel- 
ebrated in that city and in the country around ; 
fo that wherever he went, as foon as the people 
knew where he was, they crowded around him; 
fome to hear his do61;rines, and fome to receive 
cures for themfelves or their friends. 

At the time of the tranfadion referred to in the 
text, he was in a private houfe in this city, whith- 
^er, it feems, he had retired for refrefhment and 
reft. The people, hearing that he was there, 
gathered together in fuch multitudes, that there 
M 4 was 

173 / Serm. XXXVI. 

was no room to receive them, not even about 
the door. And while he was preaching the word 
to them, probably from an upper chamber in the 
houfe, there came four men, bringing on a bed, a 
poor helpjefs patient, with a defign to lay him 
before Jefus ; hoping, that, moved at the fight of 
fuch a raiferable obje6l, he would exert for his 
relief that healing power, with which he was en- 
dued. When they drew near the houfe, they 
found fuch a throng within and around it, that 
they could not come to him through the door : 
They therefore afcended to the roof of the houfe, 
(for the Jewifh houfes, being flat roofed, had 
flairs without) and there opened a pafTage fo wide, 
as to let down the paralytic, with his bed, into 
the chamber, where Jefus was. *' And he, fee- 
ing their faith, faid to the fick of the palfy, Son, 
thy fins be forgiveri thee." 

The great pains, which they took in this cafe, 
difcovered their full belief of Chrift's power and 
mercy to heal this unhappy man. Jefus could 
as eafily have healed him at a diftance; but that 
the miracle might be as publick as poffible, he 
fufpended the exercife of his healing power, till 
they had let the man down before him through 
the roof. For his miracles were defigned, not 
merely for the benefit of the particular perfons, 
who were the immediate fubje61s of them; but 
rather for the general benefit of mankind in ef- 
tablilliing the truth of his gofpel. 

The phrafe ufed to exprefs the fick man's re- 
lea fe from his infirmity is, Thy fins he forgiven 


Serm. XXXVL 173 

thee. That it is not a rcmifTion of the moral 
guik of fin, which is here intended, is evident, 
becaufe it was granted upon the faith of others. 
Whether the paralytic himfelf believed, or not, 
it is not faid — be this as it may ; yet his faith was 
not the fpecial reafon of his being healed, but 
the faith of thofe who brought him. As the de- 
fign of the miracle was to make a publick difplay 
of Chrifl's divine power, fo their faith, and not 
the faith of the patient himfelf, gave occalion for 
the exercife of this power in healing him ; for it 
was their faith which brought the patient before 
bim in this confpicuous manner. The remiffion 
of moral guilt is granted only on perfonal faith 
and penitence. In the following words our Sav- 
iour fufficiently explains what he here intends by 
this phrafe. When fome reafoned within them- 
felves, ** Why doth this man fpcak blafphemy ? 
I Who can forgive fin but God alone ?" Jefus 
faid, '* I Why reafon ye thefe things in your 
hearts ? Whether is eafier to fay, Thy fins be for- 
given thee; or to fay, Arife, take up thy bed and 
walk ? But that ye may know, that the Son of Man 
hath power on earth to forgive fins, he faith to 
the fick of the palfy, Arife, take up thy bed, and 
go thy way into thine houfe. And immediately 
he arofe, took up his bed, and went forth before 
them all. And they were all amazed, and glori- 
fied God." 

The Jews confidered temporal calamities, and 
efpecially difeafes of body, as the punifhment of 
fome particular fins, of which the fufFerers had 



i7# Serm. XXXVr. 

^fceen guilty, Hence this enquiry of the difciples 
concerning the man born blind ; ** i Who finned, 
this man, or his parents ?'' For this reafon, the 
removal of ficknefs was exprefled by the forgive^ 
nefs of fm ; for it ivas confidered as a releafe from 
the temporal punifhraent of it. This language 
is ufed in the Old Teflament. The prophet fays, 
" The inhabitant fhall not fay, I am fick, for the 
people fhall be forgiven their iniquities/' The 
Pfalmifl fays, ** Blefs the Lord, O my foul, who 
forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy 
difeafes." This obfervation fhews the perverfe- 
nefs of the Pharifees, in charging Chrifl with 
blafphemy, for faying, Thy hns are forgiven thee, 
>vhen they knzw it to be a common expreflioiiL 
for releafe from bodily affliftions. They called 
ehat blafphemy in him, which in otbersi would 
have palfed as innocent. 

What I would efpecially remark in thefe words, 
h the benefit, which this fick man received, fron^ 
the faith of others. He was healed upon the 
faith of the men who brought him to Jefus. Sev- 
eral in (lances of the fame kind occur in the hif- 
tory of Chrifl's miracles. 

The faith of the centurion obtained a cure foi: 
his fervant. The devil was caft put of a man 
deaf and dumb, through the faith of thofe who 
attended him, when he himfelf had no tongue tp 
afk the favour. The daughter of one is raifed 
from the dead, and the fon of another is deliver- 
ed from an unclean fpirit by the faith of the 
father. The earned prayer and Ilrong faith of 


Sertii. XXXVI. T 75 

the woman of Canaan, obtained" relief for her 
daughter, who was grievoufly vexed with a devil. 
The condud of the Saviour, in thefe inftances, 
is agreeable to the general plan of God's moral 

As he has placed mankind in a flate of mu- 
tual dependence, fo it is an efifential part of the 
conftitution of his government, that fome (hall 
be benefited by the faith and piety, or {hall be lia- 
ble to fufFer by the vice and wickednefs of others. 
The beflowment indeed, of future and eternal 
bleflings, muft depend on perfonal qualifications. 
T'he happinefs pf the heavenly world can be 
enjoyed only by thofe, whofe hearts are pre- 
pared for it, and whofe tempers are affimi- 
lated to it. " Without holinefs no man can 
fee the Lord/' — " Except a man be born of the 
Spirit, and made partaker of a divine nature, he 
cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven." But 
then God is often pleafed to grant temporal 
bleflings, and fpiritual privileges and advan- 
tages to fome, in confequence of the faith, piety 
and prayers of others. 

Obfervation fhews us, that this is no uncom- 
mon cafe. The virtue and happinefs of com- 
munities greatly depend on the wifdom and fn- 
tec^rity of rulers. Publick manners are formed 
by the example of men in power and influence, 
and the national profperity is conne6led with 
national virtue. So it is alfo in families. Not 
only the health and comfort, but the virtue and 
reputation of children, are owing in a great meaf. 


S76 Serm. XXXVL 

lire to the wife care, good example, and faithful 
JFi flra6tions of thofe by whom they are educated. 
It is the parent who ufually gives the firft vir- 
tuous or vicious turn to the manners of the young. 
And this early bias often determines the char- 
a6ler for life. The child, (rained up in the v/ay 
in which he fhould go, purfues it flill when he 
is old. The youth, negleded and left to his 
own perverfe inclinations, brings fliame on his 
family, and ruin on himfelf. 

The cafe is the fame with neighbourhoods 
and chriflian focieties. A few vicious perfons 
in a vicinity, v»^ill fometimes corrupt a number 
rnore, and by degrees fpread the infeftion of 
their baleful example far around. On the 
other hand, men of flri6l virtue and exemplary 
piety, are, by their example and converfation, 
a great reftraint on the wicked, and a mighty 
encouragement to thofe who aie virtuoufly dif- 

The advantages vrhich one enjoys by his 
connexion with the virtuous, and the dangers 
to which another is expofed by his connexion 
with the vicious, are not always owing merely to 
himfelf, but ofien to the immediate providence 
oF God, who allots to each one, fuch trials, and 
fach i.fTiRances, as his wifdom fees fit. That 
one is born of virtuous parents, and receives the 
fjiH rudiments of his education in a pious fam- 
ily — that another has hU lot afligned him in an 
irreligious and prayerlefs houfe, is not the re- 
Xult of their o;vn previous choice, but of the 


Stau. XXXVt. iff 

fovereign difpofal of providence. And every one, 
as foon as he arrives at the age of difcretion and 
conlidcration, is bound fo to improve the ad- 
vantages which he enjoys as to guard againiE 
the influence of the temptations which farround 

From this part of the divine conftitution, we 
Biay derive fome ufeful inftrudions. 

1. We fee the reafonablenefs of inter cejfion. 

If God is pleafed to employ fome men as vifihle 
inflruments of general good, we may rationally 
fuppofe, that he often, in a more fecret and in- 
ijifihle manner, conneds the happinefs of many 
with the fervent prayers of a few, or even one 
godly foul. Of the Jews, in a corrupt period, 
the Apoflle fays, " They were beloved for their 
fathers' fake : For the chriRian churches which 
he had planted, he prays, that God would grant 
them his fpirit and grace : And their prayers 
he folicits for himfelf, that God would auifl 
and fucceed him in his work, and fupport and 
comfort him in his trials. And he piofelTes a 
full expeclation of great and extenfive good, 
from the united efficacy of his and thdr fuppli- 
cations and intercellions. 

His prayers for them, and his requell of their 
prayers for him, and his advice to Chrillfans in 
general to pray for one another and for all men, 
are grounded on this principle, that God i.* 
pleafed to grant favors to fome, in conhderaLion 
ef the faith, piety and iniercellkn of olher:?. 


178 SzRM. XXXVL 

If this were not agreeable to the plan of God's 
government, there would be no foundation for 
interceffion in any cafe whatever. 

Though we are afTured that God will never 
fave an impenitent fihner, on account of anoth- 
er's repentance or interceffion, yet we may fup- 
pofe, that, in anfwer to the prayers of godljr 
friends, he often grants to finners the vieans of 
repentance, and his blejfmg to accompany thefe 
means, and to render them efFe£lual. 

God has feen fit to place men in a connexion 
with each other. He has put into them affec- 
tions and feelings", which lead them to affociate 
together, and which intereft them in each other's 
happinefs. He requires benevolence as a main 
principle of all virtue. For the encouragement 
of this benevolence, he is pleafed to fmile upon 
the regular operations of it, and to render them 
fubfervient to our mutual happinefs. One e^- 
ercife of benevolence is interceffion ; and it is as 
reafonable to fuppofe that he ffiould make our 
mutual interceffions beneficial to each other, as 
that he ffiould blefs and fucceed our inftru6tions 
to children, our counfels to friends, our alms to 
the poor, or any other exercife of charity; foi* 
it is his influence that gives them efficacy. 

Some will afk perhaps, i How is it reafona- 
ble, that our future happinefs ffiould be made 
to depend on another's prayers ? We have not 
the command of their hearts — ^we cannot oblige 
them to pray for us — ^i Why ffiould we be ex- 

pofed to fuffer for their neglc6l ? 


Serm. XXXVI. ijg 

You will not fufFer for their negledl ; you will 
iufFer only for your own. Aflc humbly and you 
will receive ; feek diligently and you will find. 
Comply with the terms of the gofpel, and the 
bleffings promifed are yours. Do your own 
duty well and you are fafe. God will not 
withhold from you any good thing, which you 
can claim on the foot of his juflice, or his prom- 
ife, whether others pray for you or not. But 
what if he vouchfafes to you fome favours, 
which you have not afked, or which you have 
forfeited by negle6l ? i What if, in his good 
providence, he brings you in the way of fome 
ufeful warnings and inftru6lions, and grants 
you fome awakening and convincing influences 
of his kind fpirit, when you have not fought 
them ? I And, what if he does this in anfwer 
to the fervent prayers of others ? i Will yoii 
fay that all this is wrong ? jM^ill you confider 
it as a matter of complaint ? i Will you think it 
unreafonable that chriftiari friends fhould im- 
plore for you that mercy which you have def- 
pifed; and that God fhotild regard their prayeij? 
for you, when you make none for yourfelves ? 
• — God will injure no man — he will break his 
promife with no man : But he often bellows 
undeferved and uncovenanted mercies — he of- 
ten continues, or renews abufed and forfeited fa- 
vors. Arid thefe are not the lefs to be efteemed, 
becaufe they are granted in confequcnce of the 
faith and prayers of others ; but rather to be re- 
ceived with more admiring gratitude. 

2, W^e 

8o Serm. XXXVt 

2. We fee from this fubje6l, that the do61rine 
of fciipture concerning our being involved in 
the confequences of the primitive apoflafy, is 
agreeable to the analogy of providence. 

The fcripture plainly teaches us, that the firfl: 
jnan flood in a publick capacity, and adled for 
his pofterity ; and that, in confequence of his 
tranfgreffion, they not only are expofed to death, 
but inherit a difordered conftitution, a depraved 
nature, which, as foon as they begin their moral 
life, leads them aftray. The Apoftle fays, ** By 
one man fin entered into the world, and death by 
fin. By one man's offence death reigned. By 
one man's difobedience many were made fin- 

I Does this look hard and unjufl ? It is noth- 
ing fingular or uncommon. 

If an offender againfl the (late is punifhed 
with death or confifcation, his children fuffer 
lofs. The man who fpends his fubflance in 
riot and debauchery, beggars his family as well 
as himfelf. The parent who, by intemperance, 
deflroys his conflitution, often tranfmits difeafes 
to his children, which renders their life unhappy, 
and iffue in early death. Bodily diforders dif- 
temper the mind, difturb the paffions, becloud 
the intelletl, and introduce irregular inclina* 
tions. Not only bodily difeafes, but mental 
difpofiliojis, are often hereditary and 
ted from father to fon. The vicious examples 
and corrupt principles of fome parents, early 
deprave the minds and vitiate the planners of 


Serm. XXXVl. 1,8 

their children, and it is no eafy piatter to re- 
cover them to right fentiments and a virtuous life, 
I And why is it thought unjuft, that we fhould 
partake of fome unhappy confequences from the 
firft tranfgreiTion, rather than that we (hould be 
liable to fuffer for the mifcondu6l of our imme- 
diate parents ? The latter we fee to be fa6l ; 
and it were abfurd t© deny the former. But 
whether we believe the dodlri-ne in queflion or 
tiot, dill mankind are mortal in body, and de- 
praved in mind. They are liable to death, and 
inclined to fin. Either they were made fo ia 
their original flate, or by fomc fubfequent means 
they are fallen into this ftate. ^ And which ap- 
pears mod reafonable-That they fhould come 6u,t 
of the Creator's hands fuch as we now fee them ; 
tor, that they fhould be fuffered to fall into fuch 
a ftate in confequence of the perverfenefs and 
difobedience of'their firft progenitors ? — i Should 
you fee a nation in a ftate of diftraftion and riot, 
violence and confufion, Which would appear 
moft credible — That this was the original confti- 
tution of their government; or, that it was an un- 
happy ftate, introduced by the folly and injuf- 
tice of fome, who, being appointed to a6l for 
them, had abufed and perverted their conftitu* 
tion ? If we deny the tranfmiffion of fin and 
death from the firft off^ender, ftill we cannot thus 
get rid of fin nor of death. They are both in 
the world, and they both feem likely to continue: 
And our^ deliverance from them comes not by a 
denidA^' the caufc which the fcripture afligns, 
VoL;rLJ*^ N but 


t82 Serm. XXXVL 

but by an application of the remedy which God 
has provided. ^This brings me to remark, 

'3! That oiir falvatibn through the atonement 
and righteournefG of a redeemer, appears to cor- 
r'efpond with the general conflitution of God's 
rndral government. 

it'is'ari effential part of the divine plan, that 
the virtue of fome fhould not only benefit them- 
felves, but extend its kind and falutary influence 
to others. We fee this to be the cafe among men ; 
and probably it is the cafe among all moral beings ; 
except thofe who are in a ftate of punifhment. 
The angels, we are told, are miniflering fpirits, 
fent forth to miniller to the heirs of falvation. 
On the other hand, the preaching of the gofpel, 
J^y the apoftles, was intended, no6 only to make 
all men fee whal is the fellowfhip of the myftery, 
which had been hidden from former ages, butalfo 
to difplay unto principalities and powers, in heav- 
enly places, the manifold wifdom of God. And 
we are taught in the book of Daniel, that the an- 
gels flrengthen and help one another in the fer- 
vices refpedively affigned them. The glory of 
God's moral kingdom greatly confifts in the be- 
nevolence of his fubjecls toward one another, 
and in the difpofition of all to promote the gen- 
eral happinefs. Were it not agreeable to the di- 
vine conflitution, that the virtuous anions of 
one fhould, in fome way or other, redound to 
the benefit of many, there would be no room: 
for benevolence ; It would ceafe to be a virtue. 


Serm. XXXVL 183 

It appears then to he a credible thing, that when 
the human race had fallen into guilt and ruin, 
a Saviour fliould be fen t from heaven, to inftruft 
them by his dodrines, to exemplify their duty in 
his life, and alfo to redeem them from punifh- 
pient by his death; and that the benefits of his 
righteoufnefs and death (hould be made over to 
them, on their humble faith and fincere repen- 
tance. Though this difpenfation of grace fur- 
pafiTes all human difcovery, yet there is nothing 
in it contrary to reafon, or to the analogy of 
providence ; but, in many refpeds, it correfponds 
with both. The gofpel teaches us, that we are 
juftified by God's grace, through the redemption 
that is in Chrifl ; that we have redemption 
through his blood ; that we are made the righte- 
oufnefs of God in him ; and that to a^ many as 
believe, God imputeth righteoufnefs without 
works. It is not the intention of Chrift's death 
to fave us from puniftiment in a way of fin ; but 
to procure for us pardon in the way of repent- 
ance. ** He bore our fin^, that we, being dead 
to fin, (hould live to righteoufnefs." The mercv 
of God is inclined to pardon and fave finners ; 
but his wifdom faw fit to difpenfe pardon and 
falvation only through the blood of a Redeemer, 
that thus fin might be condemned, God's juftice 
difplayed, and his law magnified. God fent his 
fon in the likenefs of finful flelh, that he, by a 
facrifice for fin, might condemn fin in the fiefh. 
He fet him forth a propitiation, that he might be 
jufl and the juftifier of them who believe. Tiie 
N 2 law- 

i'84 Serm. XXXVI. 

law therefore is not made void, but eftablifhcd 
through faith. I would obferve, 

4. Our fubje£l removes the principal obje61ion 
urged againfl the dedication of infants to God in 
the ordinance of baptifm. For it fliews, that 
fome may be benefited by tlie faith of others. 

It is ofteii afked '' i What advantage is baptifm 
to infants ? They have no knowledge of the ufe 
and defign of it. They have not that faith, which 
is required to baptifm. If they are baptifed, it 
cannot be on their own faith ; it mull be on the 
faith of their parents : ^ And what benefit can 
they derive from the faith of another ?** 

But this is no more an obje6lion againfl; the 
baptifm of infants, than againfl interceffion for 
infants. If your children are fick, you pray for 
the prefervation of their lives. If they appear 
to be in danger of death, you pray for their re- 
ception into the world of glory. If when they 
come forward in life, you fee them wickedly in- 
clined, you pray for divine reflraints. Yea, what- 
ever be their cafe, you commend them to God's 
care and prote6lion, and pray that he would im- 
part to them his fahQifying and faving grace. 
I And do you not pray in faith ; with a belief that 
God is merciful and gracious, and that your 
prayers may avail to obtain for them fome real 
benefits ? But if the faith of the parent can be 
no advantage to his children, i Why fhouldyou 
pray for them ? ^ If it can be an advantage. Why 
may you not dedicate them to God in baptifm ? 
The objedion certainly is no ftronger in the latter 



Se.rm. XXXVI. 1:85 

cafe, than in the former. They are as ignorant 
of what you do in one cafe, as in the other. 
Chrifl often bellowed healing mercy on children, 
when be was applied to in their behaif. And 
when fome brought little children to him, that 
Jie fhould pray for them, he complied with the 
vequeft. He took them into his arms, laid his 
liands on them, and bleffed them, and faid, Suffer 
the little children to come to me, for of fuch is 
the kingdom of heaven. 

We fee that the faith and prayers of parents 
may procure fome advantages for children : 
I Why fhould the doubt arife in the cafe of bap- 
tifm only ? There feems to be no doubt in any 
other cafe. 

It is not the faith of the parent, which faves 
his children. If they arefaved, it is by the mer- 
cy of God through the redemption that is in 

But then God has inflituted a gracious cove- 
nant, in which hepromifes, that he will be a God 
to believers and to their children. In token of 
hisfaithfulnefs, he has appointed baptifm as a feal 
of this covenant. The believing parent dedicates 
his children to God, trufling that he will be a God 
to them ; that if they are removed in infancy, 
he will receive them to his kingdom ; if they are 
continued in life, he will grant them the means 
of falvation, and will pour on them his fpiritand 
bleflTmg. At the fame time, he refolves, that he 
>vill bring them up in the nurture and admoni- 
tion of the Lord. ^ Now does it feem unreafona» 
N3 ble 

i86 Serm. XXXVL 

bie that God fhould exercife mercy towards 
children ? That he fhould exprefs his defigns of 
mercy, hy comprehending them within his cove- 
nant, and by making promifes in their favour ? 
That he fhould require parents to give them up 
to him, and fhould inflitute a particular form and 
ceremony to be ufed on the occafion ? ,3 Is it no 
advantage to children to have the prayers of par- 
ents, and the prayers of the church of God in their 
behalf ? ^ Is it no advantage, that they fhould be 
brought up under the care of thofe, who have 
a6lually given them to God, and folemnly en- 
gaged to train them up for him ? If there is any 
advantage in thefe things, then their baptifm is a. 
reaibnable fervice. 

I But fhali we imagine, that no children are fay- 
ed but the baptifed offspring of chriflians ? I an- 
fwer, God's tender mercies are over all his 
works ; but the promifes of the covenant are to 
believers and their children ; not to unbelievers 
or heathens, as fuch, and their children. Thefe 
we are to leave, where the fcripture leaves them, 
in the hands of a righteous and merciful God. 
But, ^ Is it no comfort to refleft, that there are 
given to us exceeding great and precious prom- 
ifes ? Admitting that all who die in infancy will 
be faved, yet, ^ Can it be thought unreafonable, 
that the baptifed offspring of pious Chriflians 
fhould have fome advantages, in the kingdom of 
heaven, above thof<i who are not within the cov« 
enant of promife ? The mercies of God are free, 
and he diilributes them with a fovereign hand, aji 


S.ZRM. XXXVI. 187 

his wifdom dire6ls. Our bufinefs is to attend to 
God's inftitutions and commands, and in the way 
of duty to trufl his promifes. 

5. Our fubje6l teaches us the importance of 
tlie flation in which we are placed. We are act- 
ing not merely for ourfelves, but for others — for 
many others — how many we cannot tell ; for we 
know not how many are conneded with us ; 
nor how extenfive may be the influence of our 
good or bad condu6l. 

A holy and religious life is certainly of vafl 
importance to ourfelves ; for on this depends the 
happinefs of our exiftence through all the fuc- 
ceeding ages of eternal duration. But when we 
confider ourfelves as Handing in a near connex- 
ion with our fellow probationers — when we real- 
ize, how much good a fmner may deftroy, or a 
faint promote — how many fouls may be corrupt- 
ed by the example of the one, and how many 
may be converted by the influence of the other ; 
the importance of our perfonal religion rifes be- 
yond all conception. 

You view the minifter, the ruler, and the pa- 
rent, as having a fl;ation affigned them, in which 
others are deeply interefted. You think, that 
they ought to a6t in their places with anxious 
fidelity, becaufe on this may depend the happi- 
nefs of multitudes. But remember, no man lives 
to himfelf alone. You are in a capacity to do 
much good ; and your abufe of this capacity 
may, in its Gonfequences, prove the ruin of 

N 4 Viewing 

i88 &ERM. XXXVI. 

Viewing yourfelves ia this light, you will, in 
regard to the happinefs of others, as well as your 
o.wii, be careful what manner of perfons you are, 

6. Vv^'e fee that benevolence muft be an effen- 
tlal part of true religion. 

If God has placed us in fuch a connexion with 
thofe around us, that their virtue and happinefs 
xvill be afFe6led by our condu6l, we are evidently 
bound to a6i; with a regard to their intereft. 

We are, indeed, more capable of ferving our 
own intereft, than that of others ; and the inter- 
eft of our friends, than that of ftrangers. We 
are, therefore, firft charged with the care of our- 
felves, and next with the care of our families and 
dependents. We know our own and their wants 
more perfe6lly, and feel them more fenfibly, than 
we can the wants of thofe at a diftance. But we 
are to wifli well to all ; to do good, as we have 
opportunity ; and to pray for thofe, to whom 
our a6lual beneficence cannot extend. 

Benevolence is a principle which ought uni- 
formly to govern us, in the common duties of life 
and religion. We are to work with our hands 
the thing which is good, that we may not only 
fupply our own wants, but give to them who 
need. And we are to maintain the pra6tice of 
piety and virtue, that we may not only fecure 
our own reward, but aftift others in fecuring 

On this principle alfo, w^e are to exercife for- 
bearance and condcfcenfion to one Another, and 
lo feek, not merely our own profit, but tne profit 


Serm. XXXVL 189 

of many. The Chriftian, who, under pretence 
of promoting piety in his own heart, a6ts, in 
doubtful matters, v/ith a haughty indifference 
to the peace and edification of his brethren, 
plainly fhows that he is void of that charity, 
which is the glory of religion, and without which 
all his zeal will profit him nothing. 

Let us therefore, as becomes Chriflians, ex- 
hort and comfort, flrengthen and encourage one 
another in every good work, and thus be fellow 
helpers to the kingdom of God. 




c t/tcil fiotvred iTiio ike. cfaot ; con/id* 
c^&cl t7t acco'Vi^noaaiiori to ik& hxef&ni 



FAST SERMON, April, 1794, 

Revelation xri. 8, 9. 

And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the 
fun ; and pomcr was given unto him to fcorch 
men with fire. And men were fcorched with 
great heat, and llafphe^ned the name of God^ 
which hath power over thefe plagues ; and they re- 
pented not to give him glory. 

Whatever may be the grea^ 
events, or the precife period, primarily intended 
in this figurative defcription ; it may juftly be 
accommodated to any time, when the vials of 
God's anger are poured on a guilty world, and 
the effeQs produced by them, are increafing infi- 
delity and impiety, ii>ftead of general repentance 

and amendment. 


Sim. XXXVII. 191 

This book of the Revelation is a prophetick 
dcfcription of the mod inteiefling occurrences, 
relaiing to the church, which were to take place 
in the world, from the time of faint John's vifion, 
down to the final judgment. 

Whoever believes, that this book was written 
ieve'n'teen hundred y£ars ago, as we have indu- 
bitable evidence that it was, mud believe, that it 
was di6lated by divine infpiration ; becaufe we 
fee, in fa61:, that many of the events fo long 
fince foretold, have been exadly accomplifhed. 
To mention but one inftance, and that a marvel- 
lous one ; it foretels. That there would arife, in 
the Chriftian church, an idolatrous power, which 
fhould continue twelve hundred and fixty years — 
that this power would gradually gain ftrength, 
and widely extend its influence — that it would 
introduce and eftablilh the fuperflitions of pa- 
ganifm, and cruelly perfecute and deftroy thofe 
who adhered to the purity of the gofpel — that, 
in this long period, true religion would often be 
reduced to a low, and almoft defperate condi- 
tion ; but that, all along, there would be fome 
to ftand forth as witneffes to its truth, and fup- 
porters of its intereft, even at the peril of their 
lives— that toward the clofe of this period, the 
idolatrous and perfecuting power would gradual- 
ly decline, until it fhould be utterly extinguiflied, 
and the pure gofpel univerfally prevail. 

And, I Who does not know, that, within a few 
centuries after John's time, there adually arofe 
fuch a power, which has now continued in the 


192 Serm. XXXVil. 

ChriRian world, for more than athoufand years, 
cxercifing all that fuperftition, oppreffion ancl 
tyranny, which are here defcribed ? — And, i Vv ho 
4oes not fee, that this power has, for fome years,, 
been on the decline, and is now tending to its 
«xlt ? 

As it 15 difficult to afcertain, with precifionj 
the time when itarofe ; fo it is difficult to deter- 
mine, with exa6lnefs, the time when it will fall. 
But that it is now drawing toward its difTolution, 
lliere can be no reafonable doubt. All appear- 
ances juflify this expeQation. 

Its deflru6lion, however, will be attended with 
■\^iolent flruggles, and terrible convulfions, the 
effedls of which will be extenfively felt. This 
we m^y juflly apprehend from its national in- 
fluence and connexions ; and this feems agreea- 
ble to prophecy. 

We are then to look for great events and im- 
portant changes in the world, before the extinc- 
tion of this oppreffive power. 

Some of the changes leading to its diiTolution 
are probably intended in our text. But whether 
they are already pad, or flill future, or even now 
2n operation, may perhaps be doubtful. Mr. 
Lowman thinks, that the words are a defcription 
of the divifions and convulfions, which rent the 
papal dominions in the fifteenth century, juR be- 
fore the reformation : And that the next vial, 
•x.'hich was poured into the feat of the beafl, is a 
prediQion of the reformation itfelf. Biffiop 
Keivton fuppofes, that none of the feven vials 


§ERM. xxxvir. 153 

have yet been poured out, but that they all re- 
f'pe6l times which are dill future. 

Mr. Fleming, who publilhed his fentiments 
tnore than ninety years ago, has applied this 
prophecy, in part, to the time now prefent. And 
he has, with remarkable exadnefs of time and 
circumftances, defcribed Tome of the events of 
the day ; fuch as the violent contefl between 
France and Aitfiria, which are the principal par- 
ties in the prefent war ; the deprelFed condition 
of France, and efpecially of the royal family ; 
and the fuperiority, which France, in her turn, 
Ihould gain over her enemies. 

Whether the principles, on vvhich he grounds 
his calculations, are juft, I fhall not take upon 
me to determine. However this may be, there 
are feveral circumftances in the prefent time, to 
which the predidion may be accommodated, and 
which point it out to us as a fubjecl of our atten- 
tion and improvement. 

This correfpondence I ^lall firil illuflrate ; and 
then ftiall lead your thoughts to a pra61ical ufe 
of the pa (fa ge. 

The correfpondence of this predi61ion with 
the prefent time, I fhall illuftrate in feveral cir- 

The three preceding vials were poured out up- 
on the earth, upon the fea, and upon the rivers 
and fountains of water. This fourth is poured 
out upon the sun. It muft therefore portend 
fome events more important and interefting than 

the former. 


194 Serm. XXXVII. 

The luminaries of heaven, in prophetick ftilc, 
denote kingdoms and empires. In the prophecy 
of Balaam, it is faid, " There (hall come 2l Jiar 
out of Jacob, and a fceptre fhall rife out of If- 
rael/* In Daniel's vifion of the he goat, it is 
faid, ** His horn waxed great, even to the hoji of 
heaven, and did call down fome of the Jiars to 
the ground/' The downfall of Babylon is ex- 
prelTed by '* the falling of the morning Jiar!* 
The fun then, being the greateft and mofl illuf- 
trious of the heavenly luminaries, mull, in this 
prophecy, intend fome of the principal kingdoms 
and powers of the world. 

Farther : As the fun is a body of the moll ex- 
tenfive influence in the fyftem, and that which 
gives light to other bodies, fo the vial poured on 
the fun naturally denotes a general war among 
the mod refpe61;able nations ; a war fo vehement 
and extenfive, that its malignant fury is felt in 
all the enlightened parts of the world. 

It is faid, *' Men were fcorched with great 
heat." This probably intends fome diftinguifh- 
ing circumftances of cruelty and zeal in the man- 
ner of profecuting the war. 

The moral effedl of it is a vifible increafe of 
impiety and irreligion. *' Men blafphemed the 
name of God, who had power over thefe plagues, 
and repented not to give him glory." 

Keeping thefe circumftances of the prophecy 
in view, let us inquire, whether we cannot fee 
them, at this period, remarkably verified. 


S'ERM. XXXVI-L ig^^ 

,| .The prefent European war is, with little inter-, 
miflion, a contiauation of the late American W2ii-. 
It evidently originated from our long and bloody 
Gontefl wixh Britain for the rights of indepen- 
dence. The principles of republicanifm, here af- 
ferted and defended both by the pen of the poli- 
tician, and the fword of the foldier. were, with a 
kind of eledtrical llroke, transfufed through tlie 
army and navy of France, which had been fent 
to our afliflance. By them thefe principles were 
dilTeminated through that mighty kingdom. 
There they imm-ediaiely began to operate with 
vigour, and foon they effedted a complete revo^ 
lution. Alarmed at this great event, the ruling 
powers of neighboring, nations combined to re- 
ftore and fupport the exploded fyflem of moii* 
archy. The houfe of Auftria, from its^near con- 
nexion with the royal family of France, took the 
lead, and other nations followed the example. 
The war is become general. The powers whicU 
remain neutral, may perhaps find themfelves un- 
der a neceihty of taking part in the war, or of 
combining in force to preferve their neutrality. 
If any particular nations are defignated, in the 
prophecy, by the sun, on account of ihdr power, 
i^r/luence, or enlightened ftate, thefe are certainly 
engaged in the controverfy. 

And they are fcorched with great heat. Never 
has a war been conduced with fiercer zeal and 
keener animofity. In ordinary wars, the object; 
is fome point of honour, tra6l of territory, or 
privilege of trade. And after a few millions of 


i$6 "Serm. XXXVIL 

treafure, and a feu^ hundred thoufands of lives 
have been facrificed, the contending parties, 
wearied out and exhaufled, open a treaty of 
peace, make mutual conceflions, and fit down 
nearly in the fame place, from whence they arofe. 
But in this war the obje6l is different. France 
is contending for her republican government : 
Kings are contending for their crowns. France 
expeds, that, if fhe is overpowered, fhe mull fee 
her territory difmembered, her exploded mon- 
archy reftored, her citizens enflaved, and her 
liberties trampled in the dirt. The confederated 
kings expeft, that if France fupports her revolu- 
tion, they (hall fe€l convulfions in their own do- 
minions, and fee one revolution following anoth- 
er, till the crowns of monarchs are tofled from 
their heads, and the fceptres w relied from their 

Thefe apprehenfions fire the zeal, and urge 
the exertions of the parties in fupport of their re- 
fpedive objedls. They view the controverfy, as 
embracing every thing great and important ; and 
as not to end, like former wars, in mutual refti- 
tution, and a friendly accommodation ; but ei- 
ther in the total fubverfion, or in the general ef- 
tablifhment of abfolute monarchy. 

The war is profecuted with uncommon fe- 

For many years paft the manners of mankind 
have, by the increafe of knowledge, been gradu- 
ally foftening. Even war had begun to diveft 
itfelf of its horrors, and to alTume a milder form. 


Serm. XXXVII. i97 

But now v/e fee the barbarity of uncivilized ages, 
which had been retiring, called back again on the 

But what moil fignally marks the coincidenc>e 
of the prophecy v/ith the afpedls of the times, is 
the prevailing impiety. 

Look through Europe; — i What fymptoms of 
a reformation can you fee ? lis there any increafe 
of piety ? — I Any amendment of morals — any 
fpecial attention to the interefts of religion ? E- 
ven in France, which has experienced a variety 
of interefting events, i Have there been any na- 
tional acknowledgments of a governing Provi- 
dence ? On the contrary, ^ Are not the forms 
of religion derided, the principles of piety explod- 
ed, atheifm avowed, and the entrance of their 
churchyards marked with this awful fentiment, 
that *' Death is an eternal fleep ?" 

It may beufeful to inquire, i What can be the 
caufe of this apparent grow-th of irreligion among 
a people, who have long enjoyed the gofpel, and 
are now under fuch fevere calamities ? 

This is, in fome degree, the ufual effe6l of war ; 
efpecially of inteftine and civil convulhons. 
Thefe, when they rife high, and operate with vi- 
olence, engrofs the thoughts and converfation, 
awaken malignant paflions and bitter crimina- 
tions, diflipate ferious fentiments, and vitiate the 

In France, the eRablifhed religion, for ages, 
has been popery, with its grolTefl abfurditics. 
The revolution has fuddenly torn off the mafk 
Vj:.. n. O of 

ig8 Serm. XXXVit 

of ignorance, and broken the fetters of bigotry. 
People are now at liberty to fee with their own 
eyes, to fpeak what they think, and ad what they 
pleafe. In a zeal againfl the newly difcovered 
abfurdities of ancient fuperftitions, many have 
rufhed to the oppofite extreme, and difcarded 
even rational chriftianity. 

Infidels, of whom there have long been num- 
bers among the men of learnir'^ and influence, 
taking advantage of the times, ^ e induftrioufly, 
and too fuccefsfully, dilTemi' . their licentious 

It may farther be obferved, that the civil and 
ecclefiaflical eflablifhments were intimately in- 
corporated; and the forms of religion made the 
tools of ftate policy. The church and the nobil- 
ity poITeired a great part of the moft valuable 
lands, and engroffcd a large Ihare of the publick 
revenues. As religion, in the hands of tyrants, 
has been made an inflrument of oppreflion, the 
people, on a fudden difcovery of the facrilegious 
fraud, have, in their furprife, conceived an indif- 
criminatc prejudice againfl the very name of re- 
ligion ; and, without waiting to diflinguifh the 
precious from the vile, and to feparate the ra- 
tional from the abfurd, they have almofl exploded 
the fubftance of chriftianity. We mult believe, 
however, that the feeds of truth are latent in the 
foil, and when this inclement feafon is pafl, they 
will be cultivated with wifer attention, and fpring 
up under a more fmiling fky. 


§£RM. XXXVII. 159 

From what has taken place in France, we have 
caufe to fear, what may be the general Hate of 
religion, for a time, before the introdudion of the 
happy period which the fcriptures foretel. 

In moft of the nations of Europe the govern* 
ment is fimilar to the late government of France ; 
efpecially in refpe6t of the union of the civil and 
religious eftablifhments ; and in refpefl of the 
defpotifm exercifed over the body of the people. 
Before that happy period commences, there will 
be revolutions in favour of liberty. For civil 
liberty is a necellary preparative to the progrefs 
of truth, and a difcriminating circumflance of 
that timd. Human nature is the fame in other 
nations, as in France ; and we may expe61:, that 
political revolutions will have the fame eflFe6l on 
the ilate of religion elfewhere, as they have had 

The reafons why the American revolution did 
not, with the ancient forms of government, fub- 
vert the forms of religion, were, becaufe religion 
and police were not in the fame manner blended, 
and the people were more enlightened, and lefs 

Religion, in its natural tendency, is fubfervi- 
ent to the peace and happinefs of fociety, and 
therefore ought to be prote6led and fupported by 
the civil government ; but it ought never to be fo 
incorporated with it, as to become a tool of tem- 
poral domination. 

From a view of the flate of Europe, from a re- 
colle6tioii of what has taken place in France, and 
O 2 from 

200 Serm. XXXVIL 

from the prophetic intimations of fcripture, there 
is much caufe to fear, that deifm and atheifm, 
and, with them, every fpecies of immorality, will, 
for a time, increafe in the world, and religion 
fmk into obfcurity, or be confined to a narrow 

Perfecution probably will no more kindle her 
faggots, or draw her fword. But a general indif- 
ference to, and contempt of the gofpel, may as 
fadly deprefs the interell and glory of the church, 
as ever perfecution has done. 

Infidelity is the laft expedient, which the grand 
adverfary will employ, to banifh truth from the 
earth. In this he may probably fucceed for a 
while ; but he will finally be defeated. When 
the rage of contention fhall fubfide, and Liberty 
fhall extend her benign influence among the na- 
tions, their paflions will fettle into a calm ; free 
enquiry will take place; the evidences of truth 
will rife to view, and come home, with force, to 
the mind ; a more plentiful eflPufion of the divine 
fpirit will be granted, than men's minds, amidll 
the rage of war, and the tumult of revolutions, 
are capable of receiving ; the gofpel will be 
preached with purity and zeal, and heard with 
candour and attention ; its happy influence will 
be felt in fociety and its divine power experienc- 
ed in the heart; and the church will grow under 
the patronage of government, when pious rulers 
fhall be its nurfing fathers. 


Serm. xxxvir. 201 

While we lament the declining ftate of religion 
in Europe, we may, with juil concern, bring our 
refledions nearer home. 

Since our late war with Britain, literature and 
arts have been improving in the country ; but 
our moral ftate appears not to be mended. To 
ourfelves we may apply God's reproof of Ifrael, 
*' As they increafed, fo they fmned/' And we 
may fear the threatening which follows — " There- 
fore will I turn their glory into fhame.-' 

We have, too fondly for an infant people, im- 
itated the luxuries of European nations. The 
pomp and fhow of foreign courts feem to have 
charms too captivating to be refifted. Many of 
our private citizens afFe6l a flile of living, which 
their means will not fully juftify. Infidelity, 
in the feveral forms of deifm, univerfalifm, and 
fatalifm, has made threatening progrefs. Many 
are induftrioufly labouring to throw off the falu- 
tary reftraints, which the gofpel lays on men's 
paffions and lufts. The publick worfhip of God, 
that kind and friendly inftitution, is growing 
into awful negle£i;, not merely among the higher 
ranks, but among people of every clafs. The 
Sabbath, which was revered by our fathers, and 
obfervedwith a confcientious exa61;nefs,is treated 
with indifference. A religious profeflion, and an 
attendance on the fpecial ordinances of Ghrifl, 
are, by many, utterly difregarded. Family de- 
votion feems to be growing into difufe, and fam» 
ily government is declining with it. 


202 Serm. XXXVIL 

Though we have lately experienced an impor- 
tant revolution, yet the day of danger may not 
be pail : Befure our moral ftate does not prom- 
ife us fecurity. Our connexions with the na- 
tions of Europe are fo ftrong, and our refem- 
blance of them in impiety and wickednefs is fo 
great, that we may juftly apprehend a fhare in 
their calamities. When the vial is poured out 
upon the fun, the burning beams will be darted 
far around, and the remote inhabitants of the 
earth, will be fcorched with the malignant heat. 
Revolutions in Europe will probably fhake our 
ground, and perhaps produce fome new and un- 
expedted changes. Let us not, in our profpcr- 
ity, imagine that our mountain (lands ftrong, 
nor flatter ourfelves, that its foundation can 
never be moved, 

I Is it not apparent, that the words of our text, 
whatever period they primarily intend, may 
juftly be accommodated to cur own times ? — Let 
us then ferioufly regard the praQical inftru6lions. 
which they aff'ord us. 

1. We are here taught, that it deeply concerns 
us to give glory to God by repentance of fin, 
and amendment of life. 

It is the complaint in the text, that, under 
God's judgments, men repented not to give him 
glory. Let us beware, left this complaint be 
verified in us. 

The eternal, independent God, manifefis him- 
fclf before our eyes ir; the grandeur and variety 
of the works which he has made, in the regular 


Serm. XXXVII. 203 

couiTe of his providence, and in the judgments 
which he executes on the earrh. 

When we contemplate events in the natural, 
or political world, we are fully convinced, that 
there fits, at the head of the univerfe, a Being of 
infinite power, unfearchable wifdom, unwearied 
goodnefs, and perfeQ righteoufnefs. The Lord 
reigns ; let the faints rejoice ; but let the guilty 
tremble. Injufticeand oppreffion are often feen 
in the governments adminiftered by men. '■ But 
marvel not at the matter, i Doth not he who 
is higher than the higheft regard it ? And there 
be higher than they.'' 

If we believe there is fuch a Being, we mull 
feel our obligation to glorify him. The man, 
who acknowledging the exiftence and govern- 
ment of this all perfe61: Being, can banifh him 
from his thoughts, live without a fenfe of his 
goodnefs, or a fear of his difplcafure — without 
prayer in the day of diftrefs, or praife in the 
time of profperity — ^can confine his cares to the 
prefent fhort term of exiflence, and negle61; all 
preparation for futurity — this man difcovers a 
ftupidity no lefs criminal than atheifm itfelf. 

By breaking the commandment, we difhonour 
God : By returning to our duty, we give him 

Repentance is an acknowledgment of God, as 
a Being glorious in holinefs — a Being who can- 
not look on iniquity, and who will by no means 
clear the guilty. It is a reliance on his great 
name, *' The Lord God merciful and gracious, 
O 4 forgiving 

204 ^^^^'' XXXVIL 

forgiving iniquities, tra-nrgiefTions and fins/' It 
is a fubmiflion to his fupreme authority, who 
has commanded all men, every where, to repent. 
It is a compliance with the benevolent purpofe 
of his moral governnient toward our apoftate 
race, which is to recover them from guilt and 
ruin, and bring them to glory and virtue. It is 
obeying the Son of God, who came to redeem us 
from iniquity, and to purify unXo himfelf a pe- 
culiar people zealous of good works. It is em- 
bracing the kind motions of the divine fpirit, 
who ilrives with perverfe tranfgreffors, to turn 
them from fm to righteoufnefs, and from difobe- 
dience to the wifdom of the juft. 

2. The complaint in the text, *' that under 
God's judgments, men repented not to give him 
glory ,*' fuppofes and implies, that judgments are 
defigned and adapted to awaken fmners and 
bring them to repentance. 

They difplay the majefty and fupremacy of 
God, who has power over all plagues. 

They ihew us human weaknefs and depend- 
ence, and the precarious continuance of all 
earthly riches and glories. 

They make it manifeft to every eye, that he 
who rules in the heavens, can bring princes to 
nothing, and make the judges of the earth as 

They demonllrate the awful juflice of God, 
who comes forth out of his place to punifli the 
inhabitants of the world for their iniquity; and 
they folcmnly warn us of that dreadful day, 


Serm. XXXVII. 2C5 

when he will defcend with fire, and ride forth 
in his chariots hkea whirlwind, to render his an- 
ger with fury, and his rebukes with flames oF fire. 
They teach us the horrible nature and fatal 
tendency of vice; for from hence come wars and 
fightings. It is ambition, avarice and revenge, 
which have fo often thrown the nations into 
confufion, and poured deftrudion over half the 


Wafting calamities are fuited to make m^n 
thoughtful and ferious, to remind them of a fu- 
ture world, and to imprefs on their hearts a 
fenfe of the vanity of this. 

Wars, the moft common fcourges of guilty 
nations, multiply deaths, efpecially among the 
youthful and a6live part of our fpecies ; increafe 
the number of diftreffed widows, helplefs or- 
phans, and mourning parents ; render life and 
its enjoyments precarious; change the courfe of 
bufinefs ; transfer property from man to man ; 
diffipate wealth in the hands of one, and accu- 
mulate it in the hands of another, to be again 
fcattered and driven away by the next rude blaft, 
or the next fweeping furge. 

In fuch an uncertain and gloomy ftate of 
things, when death, captivity and forrow, ftalk 
around — when worldly interefts are all afloat, 
and the very ground on which we ftand, is con- 
vulfed, one would think, mankind muft be- 
come more ferious and prayerful, more indiffer- 
ent to this world, and more attentive to the vafl 
concerns of futurity, 


2o6 Serm. XXXVII. 

Thefe hdppy effe6l3 divine judgments doubt- 
lefs produce on many; but the efFe6ls are far 
more partial than we fhould have imagined. 
Yea I Our text teaches us, 

3. That men, under judgments fent for their 
reformation, fometimes grow more impious and 

When the vial was poured out upon the fun, 
and men were fcorched with fire, '' they repented 
not, but blafphemed the name of God." The 
fame was the effetl of the next vial. When this 
was poured on the feat of the beaft, " his king- 
dom was full of darknefs, and men gnawed their 
tongues for pain, and blafphemed the God of 
heaven becaufe of their pains, and repented not 
of their deeds.'* So, when the feventh angel 
poured out his vial into the air, there fell upon 
men a great hail, and they blafphemed the name 
of God, becaufe of the plague." 

Thefe expreffions, doubtlefs, denote a great 
prevalence of impiety, profanenefs and infidel- 

The wickednefs which abounds under thefe 

vials, is of a very different kind from that which 
appeared under the former judgments, delig- 
nated by the trumpets. 

When the fixth angel founded hjs trumpet, as 
related in the ninth chapter, the four angels 
bound at the river Euphrates, were let loofe to 
flay the third part of men.' 

This is, by Mr. Lowman, referred to the con- 
quefts of the Saracens in Spain and other parts 


Serm. XXXVII, 


of Europe, in the eighth century. But Dr. New- 
ton and others apply it to the deRrudive Wcly^ 
of the Turks, or Othmans, in the eaftern part 
of the Roman empire, which began in the thir- 
tisenth century, and continued, with fome in- 
termiflions, until all the eaitern empire was re- 
duced under the Othman dominion. 

Now it is remarked, that, '' The reft of the men, 
who were not killed by thefe plagues, yet re- 
pented not of the works of their hands, that they 
Ihould not worfhip devils, and idols of gold, fil- 
ver, brafs, wood and ftone ; neither repented 
they of their murders, forceries, fornications and 

It is obfervable, that, under the plagues of the 
vials, pothing is faid about the worfhip of idols 
and denions, and the pradicc of forcery and di- 
vination, and pretenfions to miracles and revela- 
tions. But it is faid, once and again, " Men 
blafphcmed the name of God." They discarded 
all revelation, and threw off all regard to God 
and his providence. 

The difference is, in my mind, remarkable. 
I Have not fads verified the predictions ? 

In preceding ages, whenever any great calam- 
ities fell on the papal dominions, every fpecies 
of fuperftition was increafed ; fuch as the wor- 
fhip of images, prayers for the dead, the adora- 
tion of faints, donations to the church, mortifi- 
cations of the body, and the obfervance of fef- 
tivals and holidays ; for thefe were confidered 


2oB Serm. XXXVII, 

as the only means of removing divine judgment, 
and propitiating an angry Deity. 

Thefe forms of fuperftitionhave, forfome time, 
been finking into difcredit. ^ But do we find, 
that, as they have declined, rational religion has 
increafed ? ^ Has not infidelity rather come for« 
ward to take their place ? 

Superflition is not the prevailing chara6leri(lic 
of the day. But if impiety, infidelity and irre- 
iigion abound in the chriftian world, and in- 
creafe among us ; we may conclude, that we 
have fallen into the times defcribed in our text^ 
or into times which much refemble them. 

4. There is one obfervation more, which natu- 
rally arifes from our text; namely, that the vi- 
als of God's wrath will continue to be poured 
on the chriftian world, *till it is reformed. 

Under the fourth vial, men repented not of 
their deeds ; and therefore another immediately 
follows. Under this the fame fpirit of impiety 
remains ; and a fixth vial fucceeds. Still men 
blafpheiiie God's name, becaufe of their plagues ; 
and plagues more dreadful, and more extenfive 
foon enfue. 

If men's wickednefs is a caufe of divine judg- 
ments, incorrigiblenefs is a reafon of their con- 
tinuance. If by preceding plagues they will not 
be reformed, God threatens, that he will punifti 
them feven times more — and ftill feven times 
more — for their fins. Such was the rule of God's 
government over the Jews : And fuch is the meth- 
od of his proceeding toward the chrifti-an world. 


Serm. XXXVII. 2og 

Trumpet founds after trumpet, to alarm the 
flumbering church : Vial after vial, is poured 
forth to awaken and reclaim the guilty nations. 

It is evidently God's defign to purge out of his 
kingdom ail things that offend, and to eftablifh 
in the earth a kingdom of truth and righteouf- 
nefs ; and until this glorious change fhall be ef- 
fe6led, his judgments will be continued. He 
has taken in hand the folemn work of reforming 
a guilty world; and he will fee it accomplilhed. 

We flatter ourfelves perhaps, that the awful 
judgments foretold, are to fall only on the papal 
nations ; and that proteftants will be employed 
as agents to punifh the more guilty and corrupt. 
But we may apply to ourfelves the words of the 
prophet to the people of Ifrael, when they cru- 
elly made war on their brethren of Judah : 
" I Are there not with you, even with you, fins 
againft the Lord your God ?" 

There are fms among the protellant, as well 
as papal nations — in America as well as Europe. 
Wherever the plagues may firft fall, the effedls of 
them will be extenfively felt. The vials will be 
poured out, not only into the feat of the beafl, 
but upon the earth, the rivers, the feas, the air. 

and even the fun itfelf. 

From the prefent afpecl of the times, the com- 
mon analogy of providence, and the predidions 
and threatenings of fcripture, ^Ve have reafon to 
expeft, that there will be great calamities among 
the nations of the earth ; and that in thefe ca- 
lamities we ourfelves fliall have a fharc. Our 


eio Serm. XXXVII 

connexion and intercourfe with Europe render 
this probable: And there are alfo with us, even 
with us, fins againft the Lord. ^ 

God is undoubtedly working, in his provi- 
dence, to bring forward a more happy ilate o^ 
the church and of the world. But there is ftill 
much to be done; and great calamities are yet 
to be expected. 

This is the warning of fcripture arid provi- 
dence; Prepare to meet your God, 

Let us be well eftabliflied in the great principles 
of religion ; and take heed left we be drawn away 
with the error of the wricked. When we fee. or 
hear that licentious opinions abound, let us re- 
mernberj that this is an event which the gofpel 
has fi3retold, and by this circumftance let us be 
confirmed in our faith. 

Perhaps the greateft danger will not be in our 
day, but in fucceeding times. Let us therefore 
train up our children in the knowledge and be- 
lief of the gofpel, and form their manners ac- 
cording to its do6lrines and precepts. 

They who poifon the tender minds of the youth 
with licentious and deiftical notions, or throw 
in their way books written with a defign to ridi- 
cule and difcredit the gofpel, are a6ling a part 
moil unfriendly to the interefts of fociety, the 
dhurch of God, and the fouls of men. 

Liberality of fentiment, in oppofition to 
blind bigotry, is much to be commended. But 
let no man, under pretence of liberality in re- 
ligion, proftrate religion itfelf. Opennefs of 


Serm. xxxvir. gii 

mind and candour of enquiiy are amiable ia 
chriflian profeffors ; and amiable in the young. 
But to give their minds a bias in favour of infi- 
delity, and in oppofition to the gofpel, before 
they have capacity and opportunity for exten- 
five reading and critical refearches, is not to pro- 
mote, but prevent opennefs and candour. The 
gofpel is certainly harmlefs. It has no tendency 
to make men worfe. It will not debafe their 
minds, corrupt their virtue, or render them un- 
friendly to one another. Its tendency is the re- 
verfe. If a man does not believe it to be divine, 
yet he mull believe it to be good. It is impoITi- 
ble therefore that any man, in labouring to ob- 
flru6l it, (hould be influenced by laudable mo- 
tives. They who, by writing or converfation, 
by publifhing or circulating licentious books, 
fpread the principles of infidelity, mud have 
fome unworthy defign. 

It is pretended by fome, that if we educate 
youth in the belief of the gofpel, we prejudice 
their minds, prevent their freedom in enquiry, 
and make them only chriftians by tradition.—^ 
But if the gofpel may be true, and is certainly 
good, a bias in its favour is, at lead, fafe ; a bias 
again fl: it may be fatal. It is unjufl, however, 
to call a religious education by the name of pre^ 
judice. As well may you give this name to a 
fecular, or civil education. As well may you lay, 
that youthful idlenefs and ignorance are fine- 
preparations for future eminence in a fecular 
calling, or a civil profeflion. 


m Serm. xxxvii. 

If there is no danger in teaching our children 
the arts of life, there can be none in teaching 
them the exiftence and providence of God, the 
immortality of the foul, the obligations of vir- 
tue, and the do6lrine of falvation through a dy- 
ing Saviour. 

Thefe fentiments are fo agreeable to the dic- 
tates of reafon, fo adapted to the wants of na- 
ture, and fo conducive to the peace of the mind^ 
that the benevolent heart will wifh their univer- 
fal influence. 

It becomes us alfo, to honour the inftitutions 
of God, to fan6iify his day, attend on his wor- 
fhip and obferve his ordinances ; for thefe are 
the means of promoting knowledge, piety and 

Let every one review his life, repent of his 
fins, and work out his falvation. Our prefent 
term of exiftence is fhort ; there is a world be- 
fore us ; death is our paffage to that world. Pre- 
pared for death, we are prepared for every 
change which precedes it : Secure of heaven we 
have nothing to fear from this changing world. 

Let us by our example recommend religion, 
fupport its credit, and aid its influence ; and to 
all our labours add our fervent prayers, that, in 
the mida of the years, God would revive his 
work, and in wrath remember mercy. 




JttuaioTi ep&TiticilliL trialadccl 171 inc JLove^ 

Luke vii, 4, 5. 

And when they came to Jefus^ they be/ought him in^ 
Jlantly, faying, That he was worthy for whom he 
Jhould do this, for he loveth our nation^ and hr 
hath built us a Synagogue. 

X HE perfon of whom this high char- 
a6ler is given, was a Roman Centurion, who 
commanded a company of foldiers ftationed in 
Capernaum. By reliding in Judea, he had ac- 
quired a knowledge of, and was become a profe- 
lyte to the Jewifti religion ; and by his juftice and 
benevolence, he had greatly endeared himfelf to 
the people among whom he was converfant. 

This officer had a fervant, who was taken dan- 
geroufly fick. Having heard the farae of Jefus, 
Vot. II. P he 


Serm. XXXVIIio 

he defired fome of the elders of the Jews, to go 
and entreat his compafllon for this unhappy 
young man. The elders went; and when they 
were come to Jefus, they befought him, with 
great importunity, to grant to the centurion the 
favour which he aflced ; alleging this argument, 
*' He is worthy for whom thou ftiouldft do this, 
for he loveth our nation, and hath built us a 

As he had, for fome time, dwelt in Judea, had 
embraced the religion of the country, and prob- 
ably intended here to fpend the reft of his days, 
he might now confider this as his own country. 
His love to the nation, with which he was con- 
ceded, the elders urge as an evidence of his per- 
fonal worth, and as a reafon why they hoped Je- 
fus would grant the favour requefted. Jefus ac- 
tofdihgly wetit ahd healed the fervant. And, not 
only on account of the centurion's love to the na- 
tion, but alfo in regard to that benevolence which 
he expreffed for a fervant, the humility with 
which he made his application, the ftrength of 
his faith, and the juft reafoning by which he fup- 
ported it, Jefus, in the prefence of the people, 
gave him this high commendation ; " I have not 
found fo great faith; no, not in Ifrael." 

The encomiums beftowed on this centurion, 
may lead us to confider the nature, and fruits 
of love to our country. 

This is the fame thing as love to our neighbour, 
with only fuch circumftantial differences, as arife 
from the different relations of the obje6t. 


Serm. XXXVlil. 215 

Love to cur neighbour the apoftle has explain- 
ed, '' Owe no man any thing," fays he, '' but to 
love one another ; for he who loveth another, 
hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou fhalt not 
commit adultery ; thou fhalt not kill ; thou fhalt 
not ileal ; thou fhalt not bear falfe witnefs ; 
thou fhalt not covet : And, if there be any other 
commandment, it is briefly comprehended in 
this faying, Thou fhalt love thy neighbour, as 
thyfelf. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour ; 
therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." 

Love to our country is this love to our neigh- 
bour, extended on the national fcale, and applied 
to the national interefl. It is a defire of the gen- 
eral happinefs, and a difpofition to promote it, 
according to our rank and flation in fociety. 

This love, however, will not flop at (he 
bounds of our country ; it will pafs over, and 
extend its good wiflies to the whole human race. 
It would rejoice to fee, not one country only, 
but the world of mankind, in a flate of profper- 
ity and happinefs. 

As every man is charged with the immediate 
care of himfelf, and his family, fo he naturally 
feels more fenfibly for himfelf and them, than for 
mankind at large. But while felflove prompts 
him to feek his own interefl, and natural affec- 
tion excites him to confult the interefl of his 
particular friends, benevolence operating in a 
jufl degree, will reflrain him from purfuing his 
P a ©wn 

«i6 Serm. XXXVIIIo 

6wn intereft, or that or his friends, in ways inju- 
rious to the rights of others. 

A regard to our country is ftrcngthened by 
.6ur connexion tvrth it. — " For our brethren and 
companions' fake, we fay, Peace be within her." 
Selflove and benevolence are here combined. 
They cooperate and affift eath other. But if we 
regard our country only for our own fake, this 
is mere fclfijhnejs, a principle which will exdite 
us to feek our country's good, or hurt, according 
as we imagine, the one, or the other will beft 
promote our own feparate and perfonal intereft. 

Though we are not required to love another 
rnore than ourfelves ; yet we are required fo to 
love all men, as to injure none for the fake of 
ourfelves ; but evefi to facrifice our particular 
intereft for the greater good of a number ; not 
feeking our own pi'ofit, but the profit of many 
that they may htfdved. 

He who loves another with a pure heart, wifhes 
all men happy. As he will not feek his own 
intereft at the experife of his neighbours ; or the 
intereft of his friends at the expenfe of his coun- 
try ; fo neither will he attempt or defire to raife 
the glory, or extend the bounds of his country 
by opprefTing or exterminating other nations, who 
have the fame right, with himfelf, to exiftence, 
liberty and happinefs. 

War is always unlawful except in cafes of nec- 
effary felfdefence. Whenever its objed is merely 
wealth, or glory, or the extcnfion of territory, it 


Serm. XXXVIII. £17 

is the moft horrid of all crimes ; for every crime 
is involved in it, and every calamity produced 

If a nation, already pofTefTed of more territory 
than they can occupy, ftiould wantonly attempt 
to difpoflefs other nations, by fpreading among 
them promifcuous deflrudioii, whatever preten- 
lions they may make of love to their own coun- 
try, they are but the robbers and murderers of 
their fellow creatures ; and humanity will weep 
at their fuccefs. The boafled patriotifm of the 
ancient Romans was only pride, ambition and 
avarice; and their love to their country, was cru- 
elty to the human race. 

Thefe remarks may be fufficient to illuftrate 
the general principle. We will now attend to 
its operations. 

1. If we love our country, we fhall be afFe6led 
with her dangers and calamities. 

*'If I forget thee, O Jerufalem," fays the 
Pfalmift ; "let my right hand forget her cun- 
ning. If I do not remember thee; if I prefer 
not Jerufalem above my chief joy, let my tongue 
cleave to the roof of my mQUth." As all pub- 
lick calamities are the confequences of prevail- 
ing wickednefs, love to our country will lament, 
not only the calamities themfelves, but efpecially 
the vices, which operate to the introdu6tion of 
them. ** If ye v/ill not hear," fays the prophet 
to the impenitent Jews, ** my foul fhall weep in 
fecret places for your pride, and mine eyes fhall 
run down with tears.'* 

P 3 2. This 

2i§ Serm, XXXVIII. 

2. This principle will reftrain us from injur- 
ing, and prompt us to ferve our country. *' Love 
works no ill." ^^By love we ferve one another." 

All vice and immorality tend to the common 
niifery. In proportion as iniquity abounds, the 
publick profperity is endangered. Confequently 
every vicious man is bringing evil on his coun- 
try. If his vices dp not affeft the general hap- 
pinefs immediately, yet they may do it remotely, 
by corrupting the manners of others. No man 
is fo inconfiderable, but that, by an evil exam- 
ple, he may deflroy much good. The friend of 
his country will, on a principle of love, abflain 
from every fpecies of vice and impiety. 

And on the other hand, he will pra6life every 
focial virtue. 

If he is called to a publick llation, he will be 
faithful there, remembering, that he is exalted, 
not for himfelf, but for others ; that his country 
has a demand upon him, which he is bound to 
pay ; that fhe is not a fervant to him, but he is 
a fervant to her ; that he is veiled with author- 
ity, not to be miniftered unto, but to rainifter. 

If he a6i;s in a private ftation, he will be care- 
ful to fill his humble fpbere. He will live in 
all godlinefs and honelly; cheerfully bear his 
part of publick burdens ; contribute to the 
fupport of reafonable government ; yield obedi- 
ence to juft and good laws ; give his voice for 
the promotion of fuch men as he believes are 
qualified, by their virtues and abilities, to lead 


SfiRM. XXXVIII. 210 

in fociety ; and will ufe his influence for the 
general encouragement of religion. 

As piety is the foundation of focial virtue, 
he will pay due reverence to thofe facred infli- 
tutiqns, which are the means of bringing men to 
the knowledge of God and preferving a ferife of 
his fupreme government. In this view, he 
will honor the fabbath, and the ordinances of 
divine worlliip, knowing them to be the infli- 
tuted means of piety toward God, and of right- 
eoufnefs and benevolence to men. This leads 
me to obferve, 

3, A lover of his country has an afFedion for 
the church of God, and a concern to promote 
its credit and intereft. 

The centurion fliewed his love to the nation 
by building a fynagogue. It cannot be doubted, 
that he attended at the fynagogue too. He was 
a friend to religion ; thus he fhewed himfelf a 
friend to the nation. David fays, " Becaufe of 
the houfe of the Lord, I will feek thy good.'* 
He regarded his own country above all others, 
becaufe the church of God was there. In this 
appeared Mofes's patriotifm. '' He chofe rather 
to fufFer affli6lion with the people of God, than 
to enjoy the pleafures of fin for a feafon." He 
elleemed the reproach of Chrifl, greater riches 
than the treafures in Egypt." 

Chrift is head over all things for the church. 

He has promifed to preferve her againft all the 

^{faults of her enemies. He orders the difpenfa- 

tions of his providence in reference to her good * 

P4 fo2^ 

220 Serm. XXXVIII. 

for her reformation, when fhe is corrupt ; for 
her fecurity, when (he reforms. *' As many 
as I love," fays he, '* I rebuke and chaflen : Be 
zealous therefore and repent/' A people fo far 
degenerated, as to defpife the means of reforma- 
tion, fooii lofe their fpiritu^l privileges, and, 
with them, their national fecurity. 

The church of God among a people, as long 
as fhe maintains her purity, is their ftrongeft bul- 
wark. " Beautiful for fituation is mount Zion, 
the joy of the whole earth. God is known in 
her palaces for a refuge." But when fhe fo far 
conforms to the manners of the world, as to ceafe 
to be a church of God, fhe falls under that aw- 
ful threatening, *' You only have I known of all 
the families of the earth ; therefore I will punilh 
you for all your iniquities/* 

Since religion is fo neceffary to the happinefs 
of civil fociety, an enemy to the former cannot 
be a friend to the latter. He who treats revela- 
tion with contempt ; he who tramples on divine 
inllitutions ; he who encourages vice and impi- 
ety by his example and converfation, does more 
to undermine the national fecurity, than, by any 
other means, he can do to eftablifh it. 

4. Love to our country will exprefs itfelf in 
prayers for her profperity. *' Pray for the peace 
of Jerufalem," fays the Pfalmift, ** they profper 
that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and 
profperity within thy palaces." The apoflle di- 
leds, that " prayers be made for all men/' and 
particularly '' for them who are in authority, 


Serm. XXXVllL 521 

that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life. — 
This is acceptable in the fight of God/* Prayer 
is a proper expreffion of our benevolence to 
men, as well as of our piety to God. If we be- 
lieve that there is an allwife, and almighty Gov- 
ernor, who fuperintends the affairs of nations, 
we muft believe it to be his will, that we (hould 
apply to him for national bleflings and protec- 
tions, as well as for perfonal fupports and mer- 

I have illuftrated the nature and operations of 
love to our country. I now aflc your attention 
to fome refle61ions which refult from the fubje£t. 

1. True patriotifm is a nobler attainment than 
fome feem to imagine. 

It includes compaflion for the unhappy, ha- 
tred of fm, love of virtue, difintereftednefs, felf- 
denial, induftry, prudence, piety and devotion ; 
yea, every thing that is excellent and amiable. 
It is not an empty found, but a folid virtue, or 
rather an affemblage of virtues. It is not a phi- 
lofophical parade, but a chriftian grace ; yea, a 
collection of graces. 

Though the gofpel has not injoined the love 
of our country, in thefe very words, yet it has 
abundantly inculcated the thing itfelf. It re- 
quires us to love our neighbours, our brethren, our 
enemies, and all men ; and to look not only at 
our own things, but alfo at the things of others. 

2. There is a great difference between talking 
warmly in our country's favour, and really lov- 

ing It. 



A man may fay much in the praife of his coun- 
try, its conftitution, trade, foil and climate, and 
give it the preference to all other countries ; he 
may plead for its rights with great earneftnefs, 
and do much to fupport its credit and refpefta- 
bility ; and yet not be a real lover of it- — not have 
any pure benevolence, any piety to God, or re« 
gard to virtue; but be influenced wholly by 
ambition and avarice ; he may dill praclife thofe 
vices, which, if they fhould generally prevail, 
would bring national mifery and ruin. Balaam 
could not be hired to curfe Ifrael. He faid the 
finell things of the nation. — " God hath not be- 
held iniquity in Jacob, nor feen perverfenefs in 
Ifrael. BlefTed is every one that bleffeth them, 
and curfed is every one that curfeth them.*' 
I Was not he a friend to God's people ? — Follo^ 
him a little farther, and you will fee. Though 
he would not aflift their deilrudion by a pro- 
phetic execration, yet he told their enemy, hoiy 
he might bring on them an efEcacious curfe. 
He taught Balak to call a {tumbling block before 
them, by which they would fall into fornication 
and idolatry. This advice was more fatal, in its 
confequences, than a hundred formal execrations 
would have been. It was the means of involving 
them in fuch guilt, as could not be expiated 
without the death of multitudes. Every man, 
who is a promoter of wickednefs is an enemy to 
his country. He contributes to its difgrace and 
mifery. ^ Did not Achan fm in the accurfed 

thing ? 


thing ? but that man perifhed not alone in his 

3. It appears from our fubjeft, that a people, 
v/ho enjoy, and profefs to believe divine revela- 
tion, ought to make fome ftated provifion for 
maintaining and preferving the focial worfhip of 
the Deity. 

This is a plain diclate of reafon, as well as 
fcripture. God made mankind to fubfifl in a 
flate of fociety, every thing which is, in its na- 
ture, necellary to the welfare of fociety, mull be 
approved by him. Every one knows, that foci- 
ety cannot be continued, much lefs be happy, 
without fome degree of virtue, and without a 
general reftraint on man's felfifh pafTions and 
vicious inclinations. The firfl and principal ob- 
jedl in every fociety mufl be, to prevent, or re- 
train injuftice, oppreffion, fenfuality, idlenefs 
and diffolutenefs of manners ; and to encourage 
and fupport righteoufnefs, fobriety, induflry, 
and all thofe virtues, which tend to the happi- 
nefs of individuals, and of the community. — 
Now there are but two ways in which this defign 
can be efFe6led. It mud be either by light and 
reafon ; or, by force and terror, ^i And which is 
moil confiftent with the liberty and dignity of 
rational beings ; to govern them by ftripes and 
gibbets, prifons and workhoufes ; or, to govern 
them by convidion and perfuafion, argument 
and motive ? If mankind ought to be governed, 
not as flaves, but freemen — not as brutes, but 
moral agents, then provifion ought to be made 


224 Serm. XXXVIIL 

for the diffufion of neceffary knowledge, and ef- 
pecially of the knowledge, of religion, which of- 
fers the grand motives to every focial and private 
virtue. There ought to be fchoolsfor the inftrac- 
tion and education of youth. There ought alfo 
to be fome (landing means of more publick and 
general infl:ru6lion in the great principles and 
duties of religion. Every one knows that the 
belief of the being and providence of God, and 
the apprehenlion of a future (late of retribution, 
are the grand principles of all virtue. And it 
is alfo evident, that the publick, focial worfhip 
of God is the beft, and the only e{Fe6lual mean 
of maintaining and diffufing among a peoplq 
this apprehenfion and belief. If then there were 
no fuch thing as the gofpel, it would flill be the 
duty and interell of every community, to pro- 
vide means for promoting the knowledge of naU 
iiral religion ; fuch as the being and government 
of God, a future retribution, the nature and 
neceffity of virtue, its tendency to the happinefs 
of fociety and of particular perfons, and the mif- 
erable confequences of vice ; becaufe fuch provi- 
fion v/ould be a more cheap, rational and liberal 
way of governing mankind, than any other that 
can be imagined. 

Civil magiftrates have no right to di6late men's 
belief, or control their confciences. But the wor- 
fhip of the JDeity, and the obligations of virtue, 
are contrary to no man's confcience. He who 
has any religion at all, acknowledges thcje. He 


SiKM. XXXVllI. 2^5 

who has no jeligion, and believes none, can have 
jio confcience in the matter. 

It appears then, that the gofpel, properly 
ipeaking, never cofls men any thing; for it calU 
them to do nothing more, than, as members of 
fociety, they are bound to do; and, as good 
members of fociety, they would be inclined to 
do, if the gofpel had never come to them. 

If, in a focial and civil view, they would be 
bound to maintain publick teachers, who fliould 
explain and inculcate the principles and duties of 
natural religion, ^ What grievance is it that the 
gofpel requires them to maintain chiijlian teach- 
ers ? The gofpel inftruds us in all thofe truths 
and virtues, which belong to natural religion, 
and which are neceflary to the good of fociety 
in the prefent flate. i Has it injured us in point- 
ing out a way to heaven through a Redeemer, in 
promiiing pardon to fmners on repentance, and 
in offering grace to help our infirmities ? 

The reafon why fome doubt, whether civil 
rulers Ihould concern themfelves in the fupport 
of religion, is, becaufe it is a matter which re- 
lates to men's fouls. And indeed, confidered 
fimply in this view, it muft be merely a matter 
of private judgment in which the civil powers 
are not to interfere. But fo far as it relates to 
the good of fociety, rulers ought to encourage and 
fupport this as well as any thing c\h, which re- 
lates to the fame end. 

They who deny, that rulers have any thing to 
do in religious matters, will find themfelves in- 

226 Serm. xxxviii^ 

v61ved in abfurdity and contradi6Hon. For, oti 
their ground, it will follow, that there mud bfe 
no laws again fl vice, or in favour of virtue — no 
laws againft theft, oppreflion, drunkennefs, idle- 
hefs and profanity ; or in favour of ihduftry, 
charity, righteoufhefs and fobriety. For fucli 
laws have relation to matters, which effentially 
concern religion. If we allow, that there may 
be laws to regulate our focial manners, we grant 
the whole matter in queftion ; becaufe our focial 
manners are immediately conne6led with relig- 
ion. And if thefe are to be regulated, it will fol- 
low, that the worfhip of the Deity, the obfervance 
of the fabbath, and an attendance on the acknow- 
ledged inftitutions of heaven, are to be encour- 
aged and fupported ; becaufe thefe are the beft 
and fureft means of promoting focial virtue and 

4. If we ought to regard the iritereft of our 
country at large, we ought, for the fame reafons, 
to confult the peace and happinefs of the fmaller 
focieties of which we are members. 

The fame principles, which ought to govern 
nations, ought alfo to govern thofe fotieties, into 
which nations are fubdivided. The apoftle's in- 
llru61:ion fhould be religioufiy obferved in all 
our focial condu6l;, *' Let nothing be done 
through ftrife, or vain glory ; but, in lowiinefs 
of mind, let each efteem other better than him- 
felf." In all communities, there will often be a 
diverfity cf fentiment, and a collifion of intereft. 


Skrm. XXXVlIi. 22j 

Peace and happinefs will therefore depend on 
candor and condefcenfion. 

In civil fociety we muft never purfueour own 
fuppofed intereft in a manner evidently preju- 
dicial to the general welfare. In religious foci- 
ety, we muft never, in circumftantial things, fo 
fliffly adhere to our peculiar fcntiments, as to 
deprive others of the means of edification in 
things elFentiaL For the convenience of focial 
worfhip, it is neceffary that chriftians fliould be 
formed into particular churches. When a church 
is formed, the members, however divided in fen- 
timent about fmaller things, fliould, with united 
afFe6lion, purfue the great obj e6ts in which they 
are agreed ; and (hould fo far condefcend to one 
another, that they may, with one mind, and one 
mouth, glorify God. 

If the whole fociety isbutjuft competent to 
the maintenance of publick worfiiip, the con- 
fequence of divifions is, that none will enjoy the 
privilege. If a part iriftitute a mode of worfhip 
hy themfelves, with an intention to exclude their 
brethren, they render that a burden, which to 
the whole united would be eafy ; and in the iffue 
deprive the whole of a privilege, which all wifh 
to enjoy. Let none therefore feek merely to 
pleafe himfelf, but let every one pleafe his neigh- 
bour for his good to edification. 

5. We fee how careful we fliould be, that no 
felfifti or unworthy motive influence our focial, 
or relfgious condu(5l, 



The elders of the Jews, when they afked of Je- 
fus a favour for the centurion, added, *' He is 
worthy for whom thou ftiouldft do this, for he 
loveth our nation, and hath built us a fynagogue/' 
They exprelTed their fenfe, that a fpirit of benev- 
olence, and a regard to the general intereft of 
religion, were proper qualifications for divine 
favours. Chrift complies with the requeft thus 
urged ; and by his compliance confirms the juft- 
nefs of the fentiment. A man no farther a6ls as 
a member of fociety, than he is guided by be- 
nevolence ; and his devotions are no farther ac- 
ceptable, than charity mingles itfelf with them. 
Be ye therefore fober and watch unto prayer ; 
and, above all things, have fervent charity among 




Unc ^/ TiHacTice' of Uteuoyioot io e'nla')o^^e 
ike' ^/ti7idi» 

^^>^ «r «€» n M m** 

2 Corinthians, vi. 13. 

Now Jot a recompenfe in the fame, (I /peak as unto 
my Childj'en) be ye alfo enlarged. 

\JF this enlargednefs of mind, which 
the apoflle recommends to the Corinthians, he 
himfelf was an eminent example. All his 
worldly honours, interefls and profpedls he 
cheerfully rclinquifhed, for the fervice of Chrifl 
in preaching the gofpel of falvation. In the 
profecution of this work, he was not confined 
to the places, where he found it moil lucrative 
to himfelf; he rather chofe to bellow his labour, 
where it feemed mod necefTary for others. In 
the churches of Macedonia he was received with 
much cordiality, and treated with fmgular kind- 
nefs» They not only contributed to his fup- 
Vor, JL Q port 

a30 Serm. XXXI"Xo 

port while he was among them, but mitiiftered 
to his neceflities, when he was abfent from them. 
Alluding to their liberality, he fays to the Corin- 
thians, " I robbed other churches, taking wages 
of them, to do you fervice/* In Corinth, a 
place of grcAt opulence, he found little of this 
liberal fpirit. And fuch was the oppofition 
which he met with from falfe apoftles, that he 
declined to receive the fcanty fupplies which 
were offered him. He fays, ** I have kept my- 
felf from being burthenfome to you, and fo will 
I keep myfelf. Notwithflanding the liberality of 
other churches, and the parfimony of this, he 
here beftowed- a great part of his labours, both 
in preaching and in writing. In this chapter, 
after a detail of his labours and fufferings in 
the caufe of the gofpel, he, with great pathos 
and earneflnefs, addfeffes himfelf to his Corin- 
thian brethren ; *' O ye Corinthians, our mouth 
is opcti linto you; our heart is enlarged. Ye 
are not ftraitened in us; but ye are ftraitened 
in your own bowels. Now for a recompenfe in 
the fame, be ye alfo enlarged." 

What the apoille here recommends is an d?2- 
larged mind, in oppofition to ^Jlraite7ied, conlra^i- 
ed mind. 

We will illuflrate this enlarged mind, in its na- 
ture and operations : And then fhew the proper 
means of obtaining it. 

I. The nature and operations of an enlarged 
»imJ are firft to be confidered. 


S^RM. XXXIX. 2gt 

The apoftle evidently intends, by the phrafe, 
fome eminent meafure of a virtuohs and holy 

1. The chriflian of an enlarged mind enter- 
tains comprehenlive and conneded ideas of the 
religion of the gofpel, and regards the feveral 
parts of it, according to their comparative ufeful- 
hefs and importance. 

There are fome, who profefs a zeal for relig- 
ion, but confine their zeal to a few particular 
things, to certain favourite fentiments and ufages ; 
and thefe not the mod important in the chriflian 
fcheme, if they in any fenfe belong to it. A- 
mong many of the primitive believers an attach- 
ment to the rites and ceremonies, in which they 
had been educated, almofl excluded benevo- 
lence and charity to their more liberal brethren. 
On this account, the apoflle calls them weak in 
faith — babes in Chrift. They might have hon- 
eft intentions, but they had not confiftent ideas 
of the nature of the gofpel. 

The enlarged chriflian imbibes his religious 
fentiments frefh and pure from the deep foun- 
tain of divine truth, not from thefhallow, varia- 
ble flrearn of human opinion. Regarding the 
Deity as the great object to which all religion is 
direfted, he proves what is acceptable to him. 

Contemplating the perfe6l chara6ler of God, 
lie concludes, that all religion mufl confifl in rec- 
titude of heart and holinefs of life — that love to 
him, and benevolence to men mufl be its lead- 
ing principles — and that to purify the heart, and 
O 2 promote 

232 Serm. XXXIX. 

promote the works of righteoufnefs, muft be the 
great end of all the do6lrines and inftitutions of 
the gofpel. He defpifes not the leafl command ; 
but he principally attends to the things which 
make the fubftance of religion ; and. in fubfervi- 
ence to thefe, he honors every ordinance which 
he finds to be fanclioned by divine authority, 

2. The enlarged chriftian, in matters of relig- 
ion, ]\Jidgts freely and independently. 

There are fome, who, with unthinking indo- 
lence, take their religious fentiments as they are 
didated by others. In oppofition to this implicit 
credulity, our Saviour fays, *' Call no man your 
Father on earth, for one is your Father, who is in- 
heaven." An attention is due to the opinions 
of wife and good men. But we are to give no 
man dominion over our faith. TheBereans were 
commended, becaufe they received, with all 
readinefs of mind, the do6lrines taught by the a- 
poftles, and fearched the fcriptures daily, whether 
thefe things were fo. 

The chriPiian of a large and liberal mind will 
not receive do6lrines, as the commandments of 
men ; nor, on the other hand, will he cavil and 
obje6l againfl them, to fhew his fuperiority to 
the opinions of men. The latter difcovers as 
much pride and felfconceit, as the former dif- 
covers indolence and carelefTnefs ; and it is diffi- 
cult to fay, which is mofl: inconfiftent with an 
open and generous foul. 

3. The enlarged mind yields an unreferved 
fubmiffion to the divine government. 


Serm. XXXIX, 


To the man, whofc views arc contraOed with- 
in himfelf, the ways of God are fubjedh of daily 
complaint. As he has no higher aim than his 
own worldly interefl, fo he has no higher wifh, 
than toSnd that providence makes him its favo- 
rite. Difappoitments vex him, poverty morti- 
fies him, the profperity of others torments him ; 
for he fees no reafon, why they fhould be more 
happy, and more fuccefsful than himfelf. 

The man of an enlarged heart contemplates 
the ways of Cod on a more extenlive fcale. He 
does not confider himfelf as the only obje6: of 
the divine care, nor the prefent life as the only 
term of his exiftence, nor this world as made 
and governed merely for his ufe. He looks up 
to God as a Being of unfearchable wifdom and 
unbounded goodnefs, whofe government extends 
to all creatures, and whofe defigns reach forward 
to the remoteft ages of futurity. He believes 
that there is a fecret connexion in all God's dif- 
penfations, and feels himfelf incompetent to 
judge what will befl promote the general inter- 
eft, or even his own. He confidcrs, that the tem- 
porary evils, which he fuflfers, may be produc- 
tive of lafting good to others-, that the worldly 
profperity, which he fometimes defires, might, 
if granted, operate to the prejudice of many ; 
and that his prefent affliftions may, in ways un- 
known and unfufpe6led, turn to his own eternal 
benefit. He therefore acquiefces in all the allot- 
ments of providence, and rejoices that his inter- 
efts are in better hands than his own. 

Q 3 4. The 

234 Serm. XXXIX- 

4. The enlarged cliriftian is of a humble mind. 
The man of a narrow^, illiberal heart thinks 
highly of his own worth, is tenacious of his own 
opinions, and devoted to his own intereft. Vain- 
ly puffed up with a flefhly mind, he aflumes airs 
of importance, magnifies his own works, and de- 
preciates the virtues of others. But the man of en- 
larged and liberal fentiments thinks foberly, fpeaks 
modeflly and walks hiimbly. He confiders himfelf 
as only a fingle being in the immenfe creation of 
God. Contemplating tlie infinity of the Creator, 
the extent and variety of his works, and the count- 
lefs myriads of fuperior intelligences, which wait 
around him, he links into nothing in his own 
eftimation. Yea; when he recollects the many 
inftances of eminent virtue and wifdom, which 
have appeared among the human race, he dares 
not exalt himfelf above his fellow mortals ; but 
is rather difpofed to think others better than him- 
felf. From an enlarged view of the Creator and 
his works, the pious Pfalmifl: was led to the moft 
abafing thoughts of man. *' ^ O Lord, how ex- 
cellent is thy name in all the earth, who haft fet 
thy glory above the heavens ? When I confider 
thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon 
and ftars, which thou haft ordained. ,1 What is 
man, that thou art mindful of him; and the Son 
of man, that thou vifiteft him ?" 

Influenced by this fpirit of humility, the chrif- 
tian reveres the word of revelation, and receives 
with fubmiflion its heavenly inftrutlions. Ev- 
ery high thing within him, Viliich exalts itfelf 


Serm. xxxrx. 23 

again ft the knowledge of God is brought low, 
and evei-y thought is captivated to the obedience 
of Chrift. He values the counfels of his friends, 
and liflens to their faithful reproofs; and is ever 
ready, on convidlion, to change his fentiments, 
and amend his condu6l; to retracl his errors and 
confefs his faults. 

5. The enlarged heart is a benevolent heart. 

*' We are poor," fays the apoflle, " yet make 
many rich; we have nothing, yet poftefs all 
things — our heart is enlarged." 

He, whofe feelings are contra6led within him- 
felf, yiQws with indifference the misfortunes of a 
neighbour, he rather watches to make feme ad- 
vantage from them, than ftudies how to relieve 
them. But the enlarged chriftian confiders all 
men as his fellow creatures, partakers of the fame 
nature, and fubjedl: to the fame fenfations witli 
himfelf. From what hefuflPers, he realizes what 
they fufFer in fimilar circumftances. It is one oi 
his highell pleafures to abate the miferies, and 
advance the happinefs of th^fe around him. Ev- 
ery a6l of beneficence to the needy returns back 
to himfelf bringing the reward of homefelt fatis-- 

His goodnefs is not confined to friends anti 
favorites, to this religious {t^^ or that political 
party ; but extends to all as there is opportunity. 
Like the good Samaritan, he can fhew mercy to 
the diPirefled, though they are of another nation, 
and of a different religion; yea, though, in time 
pafl, they have been his enemies. 

Q4 He 

^2^6 Serm. XXXIX, 

He can do good to thofe from whom he expeQs 
no recompenfe ; for he looks for his recompenfe 
in the gratification of his own benevolence, and 
in the approbation of his God. 

Among his fellow chriflians he maintains an 
obliging candour. Confcious of imperfe6bion in 
himfelf, he looks for perfe6lion in none ; and 
fenfible of his need of candour from his brethren, 
he fhews that they may expecl it from him. He 
will not haftily condemn them for every error in 
fentiment, or renounce communion with them for 
every diverfity of ufage ; but wherein he finds 
them agreeing with him, he will walk by the fame 
rule ; and wherein they are differently minded, 
he prays that God will reveal even this unto them. 

He will not refent every inadvertent adion or 
cxpreflion, though it may feem exceptionable; 
but will make allowance for the common infirmi- 
ties of human nature, and for the peculiar weak^ 
neflfes and temptations of particular perfons. 

Real injuries he can forgive on moderate terms. 
And knowing how forward felflov^e is to magnif}- 
the injuries which it receives, and to palliate 
thofe which it commits, he is careful, in cafes of 
variance, not to flate too high the conditions of 

He can facrifice his own intereft to the fuperior 
happinefs of his fellow men, like faint Paul, who 
fought not his own profit, but the profit of many, 
that they might be faved. 

He does not view as lofl all the blelfings, which 
are difperfed among the human race, nor wilh to 


Serm, XXXIX. 237 

grafp them with his own hands. He de fires the 
happinefs of all men, and with pleafure beholds 
his fellow creatures rejoicing under the fmiles of 
providence. His neighbour's fmitful field and 
plentiful harveft, peaceful manfion and con- 
tented afpe£l, refrefh and cheer his heart. He 
takes a fenfible fhare in the bleffings, which they 
enjoy, and is happy in their profperity. 

He readily acknowledges the kindnelTes which 
are done him. Pie can more eafily forgive an 
injury, than forget a favour. Injuries, he knows, 
may proceed from accident, inadvertence, or 
tranfient paffion, without fettled malice or de- 
liberate intention ; but favours are ufually the 
efFeds of a kind and friendly difpofition; and 
the fmallefl kindnefs done wuth good will, is 
rather to be acknowledged, than the greateft in- 
jury done by accident, is to be refented. The 
enlarged mind marks this difference; and while 
it pafles over many injuries without ferious re- 
fentment, it will let no favour ftand unnoticed. 

The man of enlarged views cultivates a good 
opinion of mankind. When he thinks mod fa- 
vourably of them, he bed enjoys himfelf. Their 
virtues he had rather notice than their failings. 
For the former he gives them full credit; the 
latter he wifties to extenuate and excufe. 

Perverfe as mankind are, he finds, that, while 
he aQs well himfelf, he can, for the moil part, 
live peacably with them. And bad as the world 
is, he, in the courfe of his bufinefs, meets more 


2^8 Serm. XXXIX, 

honeft men than knaves ; and is oftener treated 
withjuflice, than defrauded of his rights. 

If he is fometimes defamed, yet while "he pro- 
vides things honed in the iight of all men, his 
charader is generally fafe. He is oftener com- 
mended for worthy adions, than flandercd for 
iufpeded faults. 

How much foever fome complain of their 
neighbours, every man finds it better to live in 
fociety, than in folitude. No man choofes to re- 
tire from the world, and confine himfelf to a her- 
mitage. Every one therefore mud be prefumed 
to receive more good than evil from thofe around 

The man of a large and liberal mind, thus 
viewing the flate of the world, and the difpofi- 
tions of mankind, embraces in the arms of his 
benevolence the whole human race, and thofe 
efpecially with whom he has inter,courfe and 
connexion : He does good as he has oportu- 
nity ; and the good which he receives, he thank- 
fully remembers and cheerfully requites. 

Thefe are the operations of a heart enlarged. 

II. We propofed, in the fecond place, to con- 
fider the proper means of obtaining and improv- 
ing this liberality and largenefs of mind. 

1. The firfl thing, which here offers itfelf to 
our thoughts, is an intimate acquaintance with 
the holy fcriptures. 

All moral excellency and mental improvement 
have their foundation in knowledge. It is not, 
however^ any and every kind of knowledge that 


StRM. XXXIX. ^oa 

will enlarge the mind. One may indulge his 
curiofity in prying into the affairs of his neigh- 
bours, and the fecret tranladions of families; he 
may fludioufly acquaint himfelf with athoufand 
tnfles which have no relation to his duty as a 
chriftian, or his bufinefs as a man; and after all 
his frivolous acquifitions, be more flraitened and 
contrafted than he was before. The knowledge 
which enlarges the foul, is that which is great in 
its obje6t, and ufeful in its tendency. 

In this view the reading of hiflory is very im- 
portant, efpecially to the young. Thus they re- 
call the years, which have gone by, and bring pad 
events to be prefent. They run back to diftant 
ages, converfe with thofe who lived on this globe 
long before iJiey had a being. They learn what 
were the fentiments, manners and purfuitsof men, 
thoufands of years ago ; fee the, -gradual progrefs 
of arts and civilization ; perceive the difference 
between the rude ages of antiquity, and the peri- 
ods of modern refinement; and contemplate hu- 
3nan nature in its various forms and a^itudes. 
Hence they difcern plain proofs of a governing 
Providence, gain convi6lion of human depravity, 
remark the abfurdities of heathen mythology, and 
are led to conclude the neceffity of divine revela- 
tion in order to juft and rational fentiments of 
God and religion. 

But there is no reading fo immediately condu- 
cive to the enlargement of the mind, as that of 
the holy fcriptures. 


240 Serm. XXXIX, 

We all have this book in our hands, have ear- 
ly been accuftomed to read it, have been taught 
fome of its contents from our cradles, and we for- 
get its facred importance. If it had come to us 
fuddenly, as a new difcovery, and with the fanc- 
tion of divine authority, we fhould open it with 
eagernefs, and read it with aftonifliment. 

The idea of a book didated by the infpiration 
of God, for the in[lru6i:ion of mortals, is a grand 
and noble conception. It leads us to view the 
Deity as a Being of wonderful condefceniion ; 
and mankind as fuftaining an important rank a- 
mong his creatures. 

The matters contained in this volume are the 
moll intereiling that can be imagined. 

The fubje6ls of common hiflory are often en- 
tertaining and affeding; but compared with fome 
of the fubjeds which the bible exhibits to us, 
they appear fmall and trifling. 

Vulgar hiftory gives us the charader of kings 
and emperors, ftatefmen and heroes, and details 
to us their great adions, and mighty atchieve- 
ments. But the fcriptures exhibit the chara6ter, 
and defcribe the government of that infinite, eter- 
nal, all perfed Being, before whom princes are 
nothing, and the judges of the earth are vanity. 

Hiflory relates the rife and fall, the changes 
and revolutions of flates and kingdoms. But 
the fcriptures inform us, how worlds rofe out of 
chaos into being and order; and how they will, 
in fome future period, be dilFolved, and pafs a- 


Serm. XXXIX- 2'^i 

Hifloiy gives us an account of the firil fettle- 
ment and gradual population of particular coun- 
tries. But the Bible has chofen a grander theme. 
It teaches us the firfl beginning, and the early in- 
creafe of the human race, and the manner in 
which the world was peopled from one created 
pair. Yea, it rifes above this globe ; it afcends 
to the fkies ; it brings us intelligence of impor- 
tant things in the invifible world' ; fuch as the 
creation, offices and employments of angels and 
fpirits, the apoflafy of multitudes of thefe fupe- 
rior beings, the condition into which they are 
fallen, and the end to which they are referved. 

Hiflory informs us of great changes, which 
have happened in particular countries, by means 
of foreign invafions, or internal rebellions. But 
the fcriptures in{lru6l us, how our whole race 
have departed from God, and what is the awful 
confequence of this univerfal defedion. They, 
at the fame time, difcover to us a divine Saviour, 
who affumcd human flefh, appeared in this world, 
exhibited a pattern of virtue, taught a fyflem of 
important truths, died a facrifice for the guilt of 
men, and rofe from the dead as the firfh fruits of 
a general refurredion, and a pledge of eternal 
life to them who believe. 

Hiflory gives us a defcription of the earth, the 
genius of its inhabitants-, the produce of ifs cli- 
mates, and the policies of its kingdoms. But the 
book of God difcovers to us a world, which mor- 
tai eye hath not feen. It defcribes tht riches and 
glorier. of the Pjeavenlv (late, ^be caiplovmenls of 

242 Serm. xxxix: 

Its inhabitants, and the qualifications neceiTaiy 
to our obtaining a fettlcment among them. 

If any knowledge is of ufe to elevate the mind, 
the knowledge of the fcriptures is the mofl ufe- 
ful ] for thefe bring to us things of the higheft na- 
ture and mofl interefting confequence — things 
which relate, not to particular nations or ages 
only; but to the world— to other worlds — to all 
mankind in all the ages of eternity. 

2. That we niay be enlarged, it is necelTary 
that we fubmit to the powder of the gofpel, and 
feel its influence on our hearts. 

Knowledge is highly lifeful ; but this alone 
will rather fwell, than enlarge the mind. It is 
charity which edifies. 

We often fee men of learned education, and 
extenfive knowledge, who are ftill contra6led in 
their views, and illiberal in their fentiments. 
And we fometime<; ^ee men of moderate erudi- 
tion, who difcover an amiable generofity and op- 
ennefs of mind. The former have fought knowl- 
edge for worldly ends, and devoted their acquire- 
ments to the low purpofes of ambition and covet- 
oufnefs. The latter have fludied the gofpel of 
Chrift, that they might underfland its nature and 
feel its influence ; and their knowledge has made 
them better men — more humble in their thoughts 
of themfelves — more liberal in their fentiments 
of their fellow chriflians — and more benevolent 
to all men. 

The infuflicien cy of knowledge alone, and the 
efficacy of real religion to enlarge the mind, we 


Serm. xxxrx. 2-43' 

fiee in the apoflle Paul, Let us view this man 
in the two diflperent periods of his life ; the one 
before, and the other after, he became a chriflian. 
Paul was a man of fuperior natural abilities, 
and literary accomplifhments. He received as 
good an education as his country afforded. He 
was converfant with the writings of Mofes and 
the prophets. He was well acquainted v.'ith the 
rites and forms of his religion, and with the an- 
cient prediQions concerning a Saviour to come. 
And from feveral paffagcs in his writings it ap- 
pears, that he had read the mod celebrated poets 
and philofophers. But with all his fine talents 
and dillinguifhed knowledge, Paul was ftill a 
bigot. He had an illiberal contraded fpirit. 
He gloried in his Hebrew bloed, in his defcent 
from Abraham, in his circumciiion on. the ap- 
pointed- day, in his pharifean pnnciples, and in 
his ftriQ obfervance of the legal ceremonies ; and 
on thefe grounds he built his hopes of falvation. 
He had a zeal for religion, but it was a fierce, un- 
merciful zeal; a zeal which llimulated him to 
perfecute the church of Chrift and wafle it. The 
falvation of God he limited to his own country — 
t9 his own proud fe£l. The reil of mankind he 
configned over to deflru6lion. His foul, thus 
contracted by pride, felfconceit and falfe zeal, 
could not receive the rays of divine light, which 
fhone around him. The benevolent db6lrines of 
Jefus had no charms to captivate his darkened 
mind. The miracles of the Son of God had no? 


244 Serm. XXXIX, 

power to convince his obfliiiate heart. He breath- 
ed out threatening and flaughter againft the dif- 
ciples of the Lord. 

Paul, in the height of his perfecuting rage, 
was arretted by a divine hand. Such glaring 
evidence was poured in upon him, as overcame 
his prejudices, and convinced him, that the gof« 
pel was from heaven. He received it as divinely 
excellent, and bowed to its authority. 

From this time you fee him quite a different 
man. His mind is enlarged by the religion, 
which he has embraced, and all his condu6l fpeaks 
the benevolence of his heart. 

He no longer confiders God, as the God of 
Jews only : He adores him as the God of Gen- 
tiles, as rich in mercy to all who call upon him, 
and as governing the world without refpe6l of 
perfons. He believes that the Mefliah came, not 
to exalt ]tws to dominion over other nations ; 
but to bring falvation to a guilty world. He 
now can facrifice all his temporal profpe6ls to 
the fpiritual intereft of his fellow men, not feek- 
ing his own profit, but the profit of many, that 
they may be faved. He reckons not his own 
life dear to himfelf, that he may fulfil the miniflry 
appointed him, and finifh his courfe with joy. 
What things were gain to him, thefe now he ef- 
teems lofs for Chrift. While he keeps under his 
body, left he fhould be a caftaway, he is made 
all things to all men, that he may by all means 
fave fome. All his preaching breathes conde- 


Serm. XXXIX. 24S 

fcenfion and goodnefs. There is nothing in it 
to encourage flifFnefs and obftinacy among chrifl:- 
iaris ; but every thing to mollify the paflions. 
fweeten the fpiriis and fmooth the manners. He 
entertains the moft liberal views of the purpofes 
of God's grace. The grace manifefled in his 
converfion, he celebrates in terms of high admi- 
ration, becaufe it was defigned, not for his fake 
only, but rather for the general good of man- 
kind. He gives thanks for the fuccefs of the 
gofpel in particular places ; becaufe hence the 
riches of God's grace would be known in places 
remote, and in ages to come. He admires the 
difpenfation of divine mercy to guilty men; be- 
caufe hereby the manifold wifdom of God would 
be more clearly feen in heavenly places. He 
regards all men, and all moral beings, as one 
family, one grand corhmunity, under Jefus their 
head. He wilhes to fee chriflians all united in 
love, and fludying the things which make for 
the common falvation. 

That which made fo mighty a change in Paul, 
was the cordial reception of the gofpel. As 
foon as this began to operate in his heart, his 
views were enlarged — his profpedls were extend- 
ed—his benevolence ftretched wider and wider 
Its arms, until it embraced the whole fyftem of 
rational creatures. The man, who like Paul, 
would enlarge his mind, mufl. not content him- 
felf with a cold, fpeculative belief of the gofpel ; 
Vol. n, R hut 

o^g Serm. XXXIX, 

but cultivate in his heart the fpiiit and genius of 
Chrift's religion. 

3. The enlargement of the mind depends 
tnuch on fecial intercourfe, efpecially on focial 

He who withdraws himfeif from the world, 
will be apt to think of his fellow men worfe 
than they deferve. The prophet Elijah, in his 
gloomy cave, pronounced all men his enemies, 
and grew weary of life. God calls him to come 
forth, mingle with mankind, and attend the du- 
ties of his office ; aiTuring him, that, corrupt as 
the nation was, there were many good men re- 
maining. Abraham, before he converfed with 
the people of Gerar, thought furely the fear o^ 
God was not in that place ; but, on acquaint- 
ance, he found in it piety enough to rebuke his 

By performing the duties of focial life, we 
ftrengthen and improve the focial afiedions^ 
Inconverfing with mankind, we meet with many- 
agreeable chara6lers ; fee many worthy a6lions ; 
receive many inftru8:ive fentiments, which, other- 
wife, would have efeaped our notice. By the 
reciprocal exchange of good offices we become 
ihterefled in each other's happinefs. 

In this view, religious foeiety is of great utility. 
When chriilians ftatedly aflemble together to in- 
voke the fame Father, in the name of the fame 
Mediator, and unite their voices in imploring 
the fame bleffings, each for his fellow worfhip- 
crs, as well as far himfeif, they confider them- 




felves as a fiaterhity, all fianding in the fame 
relation to God, and all related to one another. 
Feeling each other's wants, and rejoicing in each 
other's profperity, they almoll forget the diftinc- 
tions of intereft. The church of Chrift is one ; 
all particular churches are members of the fame 
general community ; and all fhould endeavour 
to keep the unity of the fpirit in the bond of 
peace, 5tnd by love ferve one another. 

The breaft, in which chriftian love dwells, 
mud be enlarged. There is no place for it with 
thofe who are ftraitened in their own bowels ; 
for this affe6lion does not confine its regards to 
a particular fe£l or fociety, it embraces all 
churches of the faints. 

Nothing is more inconfiftent with enlargednefs 
of heart, than a cuftomary negle6l of fecial wor- 
fhip. It has often been obferved, that they who 
withdraw from the affemblies of the faints, con- 
trail an unfocial fournefs toward mankind, a 
fufpicious diftruft of their neighbours, and difaf- 
fedion to thofe around them ; or elfe they run 
into fentimcnts of infidelity and irrelisfion. 

And it is obvious to every one, that thofe chrift- 
ians, who, either through miftaken zeal, or acci- 
dental difguft, feparate from their brethren, and 
form new fe£ls, foon lofe that liberality and en- 
largednefs of heart, which are among the beau- 
ties and glories of religion. They perfuade them- 
felves to believe, and aliow^ themfelves to fpeak, 
of their fellow chriflians, many unkind and un- 
favourable things, which, if they would mingle 
R 2 • with 

^48 Serm. XXXIX. 

with them, they would know to be without foun- 

Honeft chriftians may think differently. But, 
if once they begin to magnify their differences 
into caufes of difunion, they will foon come to 
condemn, perhaps to hate one another. Let 
them walk Together, hand in hand, and maintain 
fellowfhip in the things in which they are agreed ; 
and they will eafily fee that the things in which 
they differ are but fmall, compared with the 

The animofities between different fe6ls of chrifl« 
ians are much increafed by their (landing at a 
diftanCe. If they would mingle in the civil and 
religious life, they would fee, that religion is not 
confined to any one fe£l, but may be found in 
others, as well as their own, 

4. Praye?' is of great ufe to enlarge the mind. 

This is a facred converfe with God. It is the 
opening of our defires and feelings to him. It is 
an exercife well adapted to raifeour hearts above 
tkis world, and elevate our rffeRions to divine 
and heavenly obje6ls. ^j Will the chriflian, who 
has been employed in communion with his God, 
immediately return tp the vanities and follies of 
the v;orld ? j Will he at once forget where he 
has been, what he has been doing, and the high 
privilege, which he has enjoyed ? By a regu- 
lar devotion, we fet God always before us, and 
live in his prefence. i How grand and folemn the 
thought, that we are furrounded with the Deity, 
and filled with his fulnefs — that his eyes ob- 


Serm. XXXLK. 249 

ferves our ways, and his counfei guides our fleps 
— that his ear attends our requefls, and his 
bounty fupplies our wants ? 

Converfe with God fuppofes a helief of his 
providence. If we believe that he is good to us, 
we muft bf^lieve that he is alfo good to others. 
And if our fellow men are objeds of his care, as 
well as we, they ought to be objeds of our be- 
nevolence, as well as we of theirs. 

From that univerfal providence, which prayer 
acknowledges, we are led to view all men as our 
brethren, belonging to the fame houfehold with 
us. We are taught that we muft pray for all 
men, for this is acceptable in the fight of God 
our Saviour. We muft then wifti well to all ; 
otherwife our prayers will contradidt the fenti- 
ments of our hearts. 

Thus prayer enlarges the foul, exalts our 
thoughts of God and his providence, and extends 
the circle of our benevolence to all his creatures. 

From what has been faid, we fee that many 
have miftaken ideas of real greatnefs of mind. 

^ Do you imagine, that you difcover an enlarg- 
ed foul, when you throw oflF the fear of God 
and a future judgment — when you trample.on 
the precepts and fpurn the threatenings of fcrip- 
ture — when you defpife what your ferious neigh- 
bours revere — when you fet up your reafon in op- 
pofition to revelation, and your humour in op- 
pofition to divine inftitutions ? ^ Do you call it 
greatnefs of mind, to rife into high refentment 
R 3 for 

250 Serm. XXXIX. 

for trifling wrongs — to utter paflionate language 
when you receive an offence — to revenge an in- 
jury and revile an enemy ? — You greatly miRake 
the matter. Piety and fubmifficn to God, humil- 
ity and modeily in your language and deport- 
ment, meeknefs and condefcenfion when offences 
happen, goodnefs and benevolence to all men ; 
thefe are the things which indicate an enlarged 
mind. Pride, paflion, revenge, precipitancy and 
contentious zeal, difcover a low, fmall, contracl- 
ed foul. The glory and greatnefs of the divine 
chara6ler are goodnefs and mercy. The dignity 
of man is likenefs to God. 

Our fubjecb teaches us, that the gofpel is a 
moil noble inflitution, wherever it comes with 
power, it mends the heart and adorns the life; 
makes men more ufeful to others, more agreeable 
in all relations, more capable of enjoying them- 
felves. If an}/ man be in Chrilf , he is a new crea- 

We learn farther, that the gofpel bears plain 
marks of a divine original. Wherever it produ- 
ces its proper efFe6i, it enlarges the heart, elevates 
the affedlions, infpires with unbounded benevo- 
lence, and makes men like to God. So divine a 
religion muft have a divine original. Wifdom, 
fo pure and peaceable, fo full of mercy and good 
fruits, mufh be wifdom from above. 

He who believes, has the witnefs in himfelf. 
Having -experienced the transforming power of 


Serm. XXXiX. 251 

the gofpel on his ov/n heart, he feels an unwav- 
ering convitlion that it is from God. 

The man, who rejeQs the gofpel of Chrift, 
as a human invention, has never known its di- 
vine elBcacy. He is a flranger to that humility, 
meeknefs, condefc^nlion, bene vole^ice and heav- 
enlinefs, which it uniformly inculcates, and in 
which greatnefs of mind confifts. The more the 
foul is enlarged, the more it will be delivered 
from, and fecured againft, fceptical thoughts. 

You who complain of doubts and unbelief, fit 
down and enquire, i Whether you have ever 
fubmitted to the government of Chrift's religion ? 
If you regard it only as a matter of fpeculation, 
no wonder that the tempter throws doubts ir^ 
your way. If you regard it as matter of prac- 
tice, and cultivate the temper of it in your 
hearts, you will feel its excellence and import- 
ance. Continue in Chrift's word, and you are 
his difciples indeed, and you (hall know the 
truth, and the truth will make you free. 







2. Corinthians, vii. 31, 

-The fajhion of this World pajfeth away. 

X HE mutable and tranfient nature 
of sill things around us, is here adduced as an 
argument againft depreflion in adverfity, and ex- 
ultation in profperity, eagernefs in our worldly 
purfuits, and anxiety about future events. 
*' The time is fhort/' fays the apoflle, '' it re- 
rnaineth, that they who weep, be as if they wept 
not.; they who rejoice, as if they rejoiced not ; 
they who buy, as if they poffeffed not ; they 
who ufe the world, as not abufing it : For the 
Jajhion of this world pajfeth away" 

To illufhate and improve this thought, is the 
defign of the prefent difcourfe. 


SeP-m. XL. ^n^ 

All things around us are changing. 

The vilible heavens daily vary their appearance, 
and prefent to us different fcenes. The ftars, 
which now exhibit themfelves to our view, are 
not the fame which a few months ago, adorned 
our evening hemifphere ; but another affemblage, 
which have come in their place, and which will 
again give place to them. The moon, from e- 
vening to evening, changes her face : At one 
time file appears full orbed, and foon hides 
herfelf in darknefs. 

The fun approaches us with his lively beams 
and gives us fummer ; then, retiring to the other 
pole, he leaves us to feel our dependence on his 
friendly vifits, and to realize how intolerable 
would be our ftate if he fhould too long delay 
his return. 

Spring and fummer, autumn and winter, walk 
their rounds, and follow each other in clofe fuc- 
ceffion. None of them abide with us long. Each 
in his turn jufl appears, makes a tranfient viiit, 
and, flepping forward on his way, gives room 
to the next. 

In every feafon we experience a great variety 
in the temperature of the air, the courfe and 
flrength of the winds, and the afped of the fkies. 
Cool winds mitigate the fierce heat of the fum- 
mer's fun ; and warm breezes, now and then, 
foften the rigor of the winter's froft. Thus each 
feafon is comfortable in its mean, and tolerable 
in its extremes. 


254 Serm. XL. 

Nature is continually' diverfifying her drefs. 
We fee her at one time, clothed with verdure, 
and enriched with fruitage ; then defpoiled of 
her ornaments and treafures, veiled with fnow, 
and deformed with froft. 

For a few months fhe teems with life ; the 
groves and fields, the grafs and flowers, the very 
air, all are peopled with living myriads. Thefe, 
for a few days, play in the fummer's beams : 
" But God hides his face, and they are troubled : 
He takes away their breath, and they die and re- 
turn to their duft. Again he fendeth forth his 
fpirit, and they are created : He rencweth the face 
of the earth/' 

Time makes obfervable changes in the fuiface 
of our globe. By the wafhing of rains, moun» 
tains are wafting and valleys are filling. By fub- 
terraneous winds and fires, new mountains are 
heaved up, and new valleys are funk. In one 
place, the land encroaches on the fea ; in a- 
nother, the fea makes inroads on the land. By 
the power of tempefts and tides, iflands are unit- 
ed to continents, and continents are difmembered 
to form new iflands. Rivers and flreams forfake 
their old beds, and force new channels. Forefts 
decay in one place, and grow up in another ; 
and, in a tra£l: of time, a different fpecies fuc- 
cceds in the place where the old ft)reft was de- 

Every age introduces great alterations in the 
bounds of empires, in the political and commer- 
cial interefts of nations, in their forms of govern- 

SlRM. XL. gr» 

ment, in their enmities and friendlliips. In our 
own country. ^ What a vafl extent of wildernefs 
has been populated within a few years ? ^ How 
prodigioufly have our numbers increafed ? i How 
wonderfully have arts, commerce and learnirig 
been improved ? i What an aftonifhing revolu- 
tion have we feen ? The flate of Europe is aifo 
much changed, and ftill is changing. A few 
years may perhaps produce far greater alterations, 
than have yet taken place. The day is coming, 
*' when iniquity will have an end, and the pro- 
fane and wicked prince will be put down. The 
crown will be taken frofn his head, and the dia- 
dem will be removed. And God will exalt him 
that is low, and abafe him that is high. The 
government of nations he will overturn, overturn, 
overturn ; and it fhall be no more, until he come 
whole right it is, and it fhall be given to him.*' 

Families, as well as nations, are changing. 
New ones are forming as elder ones pafs awav. 
They remain not long at a ftand ; when they 
have reached their growth, they foon begin to 
decline. Some of the members are removed by 
death ; and others are fcattered, here and there, 
to form new houfeholds. Some families, in two 
or three generations, are multiplied into a num- 
ber ; others are extinguifhed. 

The lands which have been acquired, and the 
property which has been accumulated, by the 
prudence, induftry and enterprife of the propri- 
etor, are often alienated by the misfortune, or 
folly of the defcendants. Eftates rarely continue 


2^S SfiRM. XL^ 

long in the fame line, or in the fame name* 
What is colle6led by the hands of one, is dif- 
perfed by the next hands into which it falls. 
No man can enfure to his poileri ty the acquifi- 
tions of his own induftry; nor can he tell who 
fhall be after him. Riches arc often kept for 
the owners to their hurt, and thofe riches perilh 
by evil travel. 

The condition of every perfon is in continual 
mutation. We come into the world helplefs and 
dependent : We increafe in (lature, flrength and 
uuderilanding, until we attain to our maturity : 
Soon we begin to decline in all our powers : We 
return to the weaknefs of infancy, and fink into 
the dull. 

As we advance in life, our views and apprehen- 
fions of men and things, and our tafle and incli- 
nation for the obje6ls around us, greatly alter. 
The things which we reliibed in youth, we de- 
fpife when we come to manhood. The pleafures 
of our mature age become infipid in our de- 
clining years. In the world to come, all earthly 
interefts and purfuits will alike be objetis of our 

The inhabitants of the world are changing. 
The rational beings who people it now, a few 
years ago had not an exiftence ; and thofe who 
will people it a few years hence, have not an 
exiilence now. The race of mortals is like the 
river, which rolls by us. From year to year, it 
has the fame general appearance, is bounded 
nearly by the fame banks, flows in the fame 


Serm. XL. 257 

courfe, and is called by the fame name : But the 
water is continued by fucceffion : That which 
paffes by us this hour, is not the fame which paflf- 
ed an hour ago, or will pafs an hour hence. So 
changes the ftream of human fucceffion. Every 
hour fome of our mortal race are paffing away, 
and others are coming forward, to follow them 
down the current into that boundlefs ocean, where 
all will, by and by, be abforbed. 

There is a mighty change which awaits us ail ; 
a change which generations before us have expe- 
rienced, and which is appointed for thofe who 
are coming after us. We are to pafs from this 
world, where we now live, where we were born 
and have grown up, where we have formed con- 
nexions, contra6led friendfhips, and acquired 
property; and we are to enter into another 
world widely different from this ; a world which 
we have never feen, and of which we have had 
but inperfeO: information ; a world to which 
many of our friends have gone, but from which 
none have returned to tell us what it is. There 
we mufh exilt in a new manner, and amidll new 
connexions. Our bodies we muft leave behind, 
for a while, to receive them in fome diftant pe- 
riod, new made, and diiTerently fafhioned. Iii 
the mean time, we (hall live unbodied fpirits, and. 
among fpirits, like us, unbodied. Our views^ 
actions and communications will be fuch as are 
proper to fpirits, and fuch as beings, in thisgrofs 
Itate of flelh, cannot clearly apprehend. This' 
change will be more important than all preced- 

2^8 Sekm. XLv 

iiig ones. The change, from a world known to a 
world unknown ; from an exiftence in bodies, to 
an exiftence v/ithout bodies, is inconceivably 
great. But there is a circumftance in our final 
change far greater ftill. It removes us from a 
llate of probation to a ftate of retribution, where 
we fhali enjoy complete happinefs without fear 
of lofs, or fuffer extreme mifery without hope ol 
deliverance. As the inhabitants of the world, fo 
the world itfelf is pafling away. The heavens 
and the earth, which are now, are kept in fiore, 
referved unto fire, againft the day of judgment, 
and perdition of ungodly men. The day of the 
Lord will come : Then the heavens (hall depart 
as a fcroil, when it is rolled together, and every 
mountain and ifland fhall be removed out of 
:heir places, and the earth and the works which 
are therein ihall be burnt up. Neverthelefs, wc, 
according to his promife, look for new heavens, 
and a new earth, in which dwelleth righteouf^ 

Let us now improve the fentiment, which we 
have been illuftrating. 

1. The mutable condition of the world may 
lead us to contemplate the immutability of the 
Creator. ** The heavens and the earth fhall per- 
ilh, but he Hiall endure. They (hall wax old 
as a garment, and as a vefture fhall they be 
changed ; but he is the fame, and of his years 
there is no end." It is the nature of the world, 
to be mutable. It is the will of the Creator, that 
the fafhion of it ihould pafs away. One ufe of 


tiiQ changes which we fee, is to remind us of the 
unchangeabienefs of him, by whom all thin<y» 
were made. 

Thefe changes prove the exiftence of one eter- 
nal, independent, allperfed Being. The order 
w^ith which they are guided, and the ends to 
which they are direded, (hew them to be the ef- 
fe6is, not of blind chance, but of unerring wif- 
dom. I Is it by chance, that the moon waxes and 
wanes — that the fun approaches and decHnes — 
that the feafons follow each other in fucceffion, 
and give variety to the face of nature — that th« 
numerous tribes of creatures are fupplied, and 
that the millions, which perifh at the approach 
of winter, revive with the returning fpring ? ^ Is 
it by chance that revolutions take place in dates 
and kingdoms — that fmall caufes are produdive 
of vaft and ftupendous events — and that the 
counfels of men are defeated by difproportionate 
means ? 

The harmony which we behold in the changes 
of the natural world, and the good efFeds, which, 
contrary to human expedation, we often fee pro- 
duced by changes in the political world, are 
demonft rations, that an infinite, all perfeQ Being 
prefides in the univerfe, and direfts all changes 
and events. 

This Being mud himfelf be unchangeable. His 
nature and happinefs are not afFeded by the vi- 
ciffitudes of time, nor his throne fhaken by the 
convulfions of the world. With him is no va- 
riablenefs, nor Ihadaw of turning. As he is pof- 


s6o Serm. XL. 

feffed of all perfe6lions, there can be no addition 
'to his glory and felicity. As he is infinite and 
independent, there can be no diminution of his 
dignity and excellence. As he has an unlimited 
knowledge of all things, there can be no change 
of his purpofes and defigns. As he is above all, 
none can reftrain his power, or control his will. 

When we fee all things around us changing, 
and feel ourfelves partaking in the general mu- 
tability of the creatures, it is matter of high con- 
folation, that the Being, who governs the world, 
h ever the fame, and that all changes among the 
creatures are under his direftion. *' He looketh 
down from the height of his fanduary; from 
heaven doth he behold the earth. He heareth 
the groaning of the afflifted, and regardeth the 
prayer of the deftitute. The children of his fer- 
vants ftiall continue, and their feed (hail be ef- 
tablilhed before him. He changeth not, there- 
fore we are not confumed. His compaffions fail 
not, they are new every morning ; great is his 

2. In the changes of the world we may fee 
much of the wifdom and goodnefs of God. 

The mutability of things, though it caufes fome 
pain, is on the whole, a fource of enjoyment. 
We are formed to love variety. If only one un- 
diverfified fcene was continually prefented to us, 
it would foon lofe all its power to pleafe, and 
life itfelf would become a burden. 

The traveller, paffing over a fmooth and level 
plain, where, all along, a train of fimilar objeds 


Serm. XL. 26 1 

meets his eyeSj foon finds the fcene growing dull 
and tedious. He is impatient for a change. He 
longs for the rifing hill, and the finking vale; 
the ragged clifF, and the flowing ftream; the 
wild foreft, and the cultivated field. A varied 
rnotion refls his body, and a diverfified land- 
fcape charms his imagination. Equally weari- 
fome would be our journey through life, if noth- 
ing new occurred oh the road. 

Let a man choofe his own condition. Let him 
be placed in the moft agreeable circumftances, 
that he can imagine. Let him have as much 
wealth and honour, as many friends, and as pleaf- 
ing companions, as he can wilh. And now let 
his condition be fixed, and remain exa6lly the 
fame, without any poflible change—^ Will he en- 
joy it ? — He cannot enjoy it for a fingle week. 
There mufl be fomething new, or every pleafure 
flattens and becomes infipid. Stretched on a bed 
of down, we foon grow reftlefs, and turn from 
fide to fide. 

As our pleafures are heightened, fo our pains 
are mitigated, by variety. In the roughefl: roads 
that we travel, we meet with fome fmooth way, 
where we can walk with eafe; and in the fl:eep- 
eft; afcents that we climb, there are places where 
we may fit down and reft. 

Many are the troubles of the world ; but they 
are intermixed with pleafures. And our troub- 
les are not always the fame; one pafles away, as 
another comes. The burden does not continu- 
ally prefs on the fame part. We find fome relief 
Vol. n. S by 

262 Sj^rm. XL. 

by Ihifting it from fhoulder to fhoulder. The 
chriftian finds more eflFedual fupport in the per- 
fuafion, that this troublous fcene is but prepar- 
atory to a happier (late, where all the changes 
will be only variety of good. 

3. Thetranfient fafhion of the world, and the 
mutable condition of man, dire6l our thoughts to 
a future flate of exiftence. 

One change leads to another. There is a con- 
nexion in the chain of events. Each feafon is' 
preparatory to the next. Summer and autumn 
provide for winter: Winter difpofesthe earth for 
the culture of fummer. Youth is preparatory to 
manhood, and this to old age. We may naturally 
then conclude, that death is introdudory to a new 
ftate of exiftence. All previous changes {land in 
connexion with fomething elfe ; ^i Shall we imag- 
ine that fo great a change as death, is indifferent 
and unconne6led ? Our fight is bounded by the 
srave, but the chain is flill extended. Pain, in 
this (late, ufually precedes high enjoyment; the 
humiliating circumflances of death are preludes 
to glory and immortality. 

In fpring we behold- nature reviving from the 
dreary ftate of winter, and afTumingnew life and 
vigour. This change is emblematical of the gen- 
eral revivifcence of the human race, i What is 
the fpring, but a refurre6lion of nature from 
the grave ? i May not men as well be raifed ? 
I May he not rife in a fuperior form, and to a 
nobler exiftence ? The contemptible worm, which 
crawls on the ground, and lives on the weed, 


SeRm. XL. 263 

foon dies, and, incrufted in his own fhell, lies 
fenfelefs and inadive. But he is not confined 
here ; he burfts the fhell, ftarts forth a fuperior 
creature, wings the air, and fips the flowers of the 
field. I May not man, who is now nourifhed 
from the duft, and is returning to the dufl, come 
forth immortal and incorruptible, rife to a fupe- 
rior world, exift in a nobler manner, and drink 
of pleafures untafted here ? All things point to 
another world, and remind us, that for the holy 
and virtuous there is a ftate far better than this. 

4. As the faChion of the world is paffing away, 
it becomes us, under themoft agreeable profpe6i;s, 
to rejoice as if we rejoiced not. 

If, in our profperity, we imagine, that we ftiall 
never be moved, we forget what we are, and in 
what a world we live. When our mountain feems 
to ft and ftrong, let us remember, that it is God's 
hand, which holds it fteady, and his favour which 
gives us comfort. When he hides his face, wc 
Ihall be troubled ; when he withdraws his hand, 
our mountain will totter. 

We fhould live above the world — above the 
creature ; for the unftable world — the changing 
creature, cannot give us permanent happinefs. 

True chriftians are defcribed, in the revejation, 
as clothed with the fun, crowned with ftars, and 
having the moon under their feet. The moon, 
which is an attendant on this earth, «nnd is fub^ 
je61: to obfervable changes, is emblematical of the 
mutability of earthly things. The chriflian, whofe 
S 2 head 

26^ Serm. XU 

head is amOrig the ftars, whofe faith and affec- 
tions are in heaven, defpifes the interefts and 
glories of the world; for thefe, like the moon, are 
always changing. 

5. If the fafhion of the world is paffing away, 
let us, in aliliQion, weep as if we wept not. 

Things may change for the better, as well as for 
the worfe. As adverfity fucceeds profperity, fo 
profperity fucceeds adverfity. As darknefs follows 
the day, fo light chafes away the darknefs. Give 
thanks, O ye faints, at the remembrance of God's 
holy government ; for his anger endures for a 
moment; but in his favour is life. Weeping 
may continue for a night, but joy comes in the 
mornirig. Severe affli6lions feldom laft long. 
The merciful God will not contend forever, for 
the fpirit would fail before him. Though he 
caufe. grief, yet will he have compaffion accord- 
ing to the multitude of his tender mercies. 

6; The changing nature of things around us, 
Ihould remind us of our great change. When 
we fee the fafhion af the world pafling away, it' 
becomes us to realife that we are paffing away 
alfo, and have here no continuing city. 

The feaman, in a feeble bark, toffed on the tu- 
multuous ocean, driven by changing winds, rif- 
ing and falling with the fluduating waters, furely 
will not imagine himfelf on firm ground, nor 
forget his danger of being fwallowed up in the 

\Ve are on a rolling element. Every thing, 
witich we behold, is fhifting its appearance. Noth- 

Serm. XL. 265 

ing is permanent. The fcene is changing every 
hour. New obje6ls prefent themfelves, and new- 
events take place. Time is on the wing. Each 
moment is a new portion of time, which never 
was ours before; and while we fpeak, it is gone. 
Every breath imbibes a new portion of air; and 
when we have expired it, we can colle6l it no 
more. Our fellow men are moving off the ftage; 
they retire behind the curtain, and never are feen 
again. Like bubbles on the ftream, they rife and 
float; they fwell and burfl; : They rife no more; 
but others fucced in their place. Amidft thele 
•changes, i Gan we forget, that we are mutable 
and mortal ? Let us live as on the borders of eter- 
nity, looking and preparing for that folemn mo- 
ment, which will remove us from this changing 
fcene, to a world where all things will be new. 

Finally: The tranfient nature of worldly 

things fhould lead our thoughts to heaven, where 
none of the painful viciffitudes of the prefent 
Hate will attend us. 

Changes there will be in heaven ; but not like 
fome, which now we fee. They will be only 
changes for the better — from glory to glory — 
from perfedion to perfe6lion. There will be no 
fear of lofing the crown, which we have gained, 
or of being banifhed from the bled abodes, into 
which we have entered. He who is holy, will be 
holy ftill. He will be made a pillar in the tem- 
ple of God, and go no more out. 

Let all be folicitous to become the fubje6ls of 
th*t moral change, which qualifies for fo glori* 
S3 ous 

266 Serm. XL, 

ous a flate. While all things are changing, lefc 
us confider, that one change is needful — a 
change from fin to holinefs ; from the fafhion of 
the world to the image of God. Let this be the 
objc6l of our fervent defires. This will prepare 
us for the great change which awaits us ; the 
change from this to another ftate. 

When our fouls are made partakers of a di- 
vine nature, and filled with divine love, all world- 
ly changes will work for our good, and contrib- 
ute to our growing preparation for the enjoy- 
ment of God. 

Then Ihall we rejoice in the thought, that 
though the heavens and the earth are waxing old, 
and will be changed as a garment, yet God is the 
fame forever, and his fervants will be eftablifhed 
before him. 





tfh& cTifo/TTtocod Oha7>aci&r^ of tk& (^l^io^L 


1 Samuel, xxv. 2, 3. 

There was a man in Maon, whofe pojffjions were in 
Carmel ; and the man was very great, and he had 
three thoufandjheep, and a thoufand goats ; and 
he was Jheering his flieep in Carmel. And the 
name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his 
wife was Abigail. And fhe was a woman of a 
good underjianding, and of a beautiful countenance ; 
but the man was churlifh and evil in his doings. — 

X HIS Nabal obtained a place in fac- 
red hiftpry, not by any virtuous or worthy ac- 
tion, but merely by the churliftinefs of his tem- 
per, and the confequences which it produced. 
The feverity of his manners in domellick life 
might probably have pafTed without this publick 
notice, had not the fame feverity appeared on a 
delicate! and critical occafion. 

S 4 Davids 

;68 Serm. XU. 

David, with his adherents, driven into the 
wildernefs by Saul's perfecution, applied to this 
opulent farmer, in a time of family feftiviiy, to 
fend a fmall refrefhment to him and his people. 
The fcurrilous return which he made to David's 
requeft, was fuch as would have touched the feel- 
ings of any man, efpecially fuch a man as Da- 
vid, naturally quick and fenfible, and now irri- 
tated by an unprovoked perfecution. David took 
a refolution, rafh indeed, and unjuilifiable, but, 
under his circumftances, in fome meafure excuf- 
able, to extirpate the churl and all that belonged 
to him. 

Abigail his wife, having heard of his rudenefs, 
and apprehending the mifchicf which was arifing, 
interpdfed with fuch prudence and addrefs, as to 
prevent the execution. 

The flory is familiar to you : 1 fhall not need 
to relate it at large. We fhall naturally advert 
to the mod material circumftances in illuftratihg 
the charafter of Nabal. 

This man was placed, by providence, in a con- 
dition to enjoy as much happinefs as the world 
can give. David falutes him, as the man who 
lived in profperity. He was diftinguiftied from 
all around him by extenfive poifeffions, fuccefs 
in bufmefs, the multitude of his flocks, the num- 
ber of his fervants, and the grandeur of his en- 
tertainments. In addition to all this, he was high- 
ly favoured in his domeftick connexion. The 
v/oman, whom he had chofen for his companion 
in life, was beautiful in her perfon, fuperior in 


Si^^M. XLI. %6g 

hjcr accomplifhments, fweet in her temper, foft in 
her manners, and engaging in her addrefs. Such 
flie appears through the v.'hole flory. 

View the man only thus far, and you will pro- 
nounce him one of the happieft of mortals. In the 
fequel, however, you find him quite the reverfe. 
He (lands diftinguifhed, as much for his infa- 
mous life and miferable death, as for his worldly 
greatnefs and profperity. If you afic, i What 
could make fo profperous a man unhappy ? The 
hi dorian tells you, The man was churliJJi and. evil, 
in his doings. 

The characler of the churl^ here afcribed to Na- 
bal, is drawn at large, by the prophet Ifaiah, chap. 
xxxii. 5 — "The vile perfon fhali no more be 
called liberal, nor the churl faid to be bountiful; 
fpr the vile perfon will fpeak villany, and his heart 
\yiil work iniquity, to pra6life hypocrify, and ut- 
ter error againfl: the Lord, to make empty the 
foul of the hungry, and he will caufe the drink 
of the thirfty to fail. The inftruments alfo of the 
churl are evil. He devifeth wicked devices to 
dellroy the poor with lying words, even when the 
needy fpeaketh right : But the liberal devifeth 
liberal things, and by liberal things Ihall he 

1. The repulfe, which Nabal gave to David's 
meffengers, (hews him to have been of a contraEl- 
edf illiberal mind. 

If the happinefs of man confided in the abund- 
ance of the things which he pofTeffes, Nabal had 
been happy. But, quite the reverfe, an abund« 


270 , Serm. XU, 

ance, without difcretion to ufe it, capacity to en- 
joy it, and benevolence to apply it, tends only to 
mifery. To a narrow and covetous foul, it is a 
fource of jealoufy, anxiety and fear. 

Mankind are placed in a mutual connexion 
with, and dependence on, one another, that there 
might be occafion and opportunity for the mu- 
tual exercife of kindnefs and beneficence. To do 
good and communicate, to relieve impotent dif- 
trefs, to cheer the defponding heart, to refcue the 
fons of virtue from the temptations of want, and 
fpread peace and contentment among the poor 
and aSiicled, is one of the highefl pleafures of a 
generous mind. Riches in the hands of one who 
poireffes fuch a foul, are a bleffmg to himfelf 
and to thofe around him. While they enable him 
to increafe the happinefs of others, they make an 
addition to his own. He remembers the words 
of our Lord, recorded by Saint Luke, It is more 
hlejfed to give, than to receive. Job, in the day 
of his adverfity, refleded with heartfelt fatisfac- 
tion, that he had delivered the poor who cried, 
and the needy who had none to help them ; 
that he had caufed the widow's heart to fmg for 
joy, and the blefling of thofe, who were ready 
to perifti, had come upon him. 

The churl, incapable of doing good, is more 
miferabie in proportion to his abundance. His 
only enjoyment is mere animal gratification ; and 
this is often accompanied with regret. He is vex- 
ed with perpetual fufpiciotis of the envy and ill 
intentions of his neighbours. If he gives, it is with 



SeRM. XLI. 271 

relu6lance. His alms are extorted, rather than 
beftowed. He refleds upon them with pain. He 
upbraids thofe who have received them. He ac- 
cufes himfelf with folly and imprudence, and 
refolves to guard in future againll fuch wafle 
and mifapplication. The a6tion which, in good 
men, would be a virtue, becomes a vice in him, 
hy the evil paflions which it awakens; and that 
which would gratify their benevolent feelings, is 
2. torment to him, by croffing the intentions of 
his illiberal heart. 

2. Ingratitude was confpicuous in the chara6ler 
of Nabal. He rendered evil for good, 

David politely fuggefts the good offices which 
his people had done for Nabal, while his flocks 
were abroad in the fields. Nabal's fhepherds 
confefs the juflice of the reprefentation. — ^'* The 
men/* fay they, ** were very good to us ; we 
were not hurt, neither lacked we any thing, as 
long as we were converfant with them in the 
fields ; but they were a wall to us by night and 
hy day." 

The fmalleft fenfe of obligation would have 
prompted a voluntary acknowledgment, to thofe 
who had yielded him fuch friendly prote6lion ; 
at a time too, when their neceffities were urgent, 
and they had power to have taken, with impu- 
nity, whatever their occafion required. But in- 
flead of this, to reje6l their decent application, 
and revile them as a gang of runaway fervants, 
was a ftriking proof of a bafe and ungrateful 


£72 Serm. X'LI, 

The happinefs of mankind much depends on 
reciprocal courtefies. It is often in our power to 
render eflential fervices to our neighbours, with- 
<Dut fenQble inconvenience to ourfelves. A libe- 
ral mind rejoices in fuch opportunities, i Who 
of us, on recolle6lion, will not find, that he has 
frequently received unfolicited beiiefixs from 
thofe around him? We eafily feel and remem- 
ber an injury: But the kindneffes done us are 
more numerous than the injuries. Men feldom 
offer a dire6l, intentional wrong, unlefs they are 
preffed with great temptations, or. impelled by 
accidental paffions ; and thefe ufually are tran- 
fier^t. But there are a thoufand little offices of 
goodnefs, which they voluntarily perform becaufe 
they come naturally in their way, and fall in 
with the common feelings of humanity. It would 
tend much to cement friendlhip, unite neighbour- 
hood, and preferve the peace of fociety, if in- 
flead of ferioufly noticing every trivial and caf- 
ual wrong, we fhould remark, acknowledge, and 
requite the good turns which are done us. 
The man who finds, that his goodnefs is well ac- 
cepted, feels himfelf repaid, and is encouraged 
to repeat it. But indifference and inattention in 
thofe whom he has fludied to oblige, mortifies 
liis feelings, and damps the ardor of his benevo- 

Befure, if a fubftantial kindnefs is done us, in 
the time of our calamity, to negle6l: the bene- 
fa6lor, in the day of our profperity and his mif- 
fortune, is a degree of ingratitude not eafy to be 


S^ERM. XLf. 2^^g' 

borne. Indifference, in fuch a cafe, wounds 
more deeply, than a pofitive injury in another: 
A pofitive injury, in this cafe, will wound more 
deepiy ftill. Nabal's ingratitude was provoking;, 
thefcurrility added to it was intolerable. 

It was a noble fpirit of gratitude, as well as 
piety, which the patriarch Jofeph expreffed, 
when being folicited by his mailer's wife to an 
a6l of lewdnefs, he replied, ** Behold my mafler 
Icnoweth not what is with me in the houfe, and 
he hath committed all that he hath to my hand, 
neither hath he kept back any thing from me, 
but thee, becaufe thou art his wife, j How then 
<^ail I do this great wickedn^fs, and fin againfl 
God ?" It is remarked much to the difhonor of 
one of Pharaoh's officers, to whom Jofeph had 
fhewed kindntrs, when they were fellow prifoners, 
''that in the days of his profperity, he remem- 
bered not Jofeph, but forgat him/' 

Gratitude feels a kindnefs, retains a fenfe of it, 
delights to acknowledge and requite it. The 
pleafure which it has felt in kindneffes received, 
prompts it to communicate like pleafure to oth- 
ers. The fame habitual difpofition which ex- 
cites returns of favour to a benefador, operates 
in a way of liberality to the indigent. He who 
experiences the fatisfa6lion of receiving a feafon- 
able benefit, without a heart to give to others, in 
fimilar want, the fame fatisfadion, is a ftranger 
to the power of gratitude. 

3. Nabal was a man of hrutalrnanners, and«?2w 

governed pajfion. 


'/-74 Serm. XLI^ 

The anfwer which he returned to David's po- 
lite requefl, difcovered the favage more than the 
man. *' i Who is David ? i Who is the fon of 
Jefle ? There be many fervants, now adays, that 
break away, every man from his mafler. i Shall 
I then take my bread, and my water, and the 
flefh which I have killed for my ftieerers, and 
give them to men, whom I know not, whence they 
be ?'* Whatever allowance may be made for a 
harfh expreflicn under a fudden provocation, fuch 
cool, unprovoked fcurrility, fuch railing in re- 
turn for civility, indicates a heart thoroughly vi- 
tiated and depraved. 

Religion requires, that our fpeech be always 
with grace, feafoned with fait, that we be gentle 
to all men, courteous, and eafy to be entreated. 

Many of the contentions, which happen be- 
tween neighbours and friends, arife from the un- 
governed petulance of the tongue. Men, fubje6l 
to gufls of paffion and rafhnefs of fpeech, often 
create to themfelves enemies, and difoblige and 
alienate their friends. But with a man, whofe 
temper and language are generally lawlefs and 
ungoverned, no friendfhip can be formed ; no 
fociety can be maintained. ** Make no friend- 
fhip," fays Solomon, ** with an angry man ; and 
with a furious man thou fhalt not go, left thou 
learn his ways, and get a fnare to thy foul.*' It 
is not an eafy matter to preferve our temper, 
while we converfe with one who has no com- 
mand of his own. The fparks of his fire, will 
e^fily kindle in us, for we all have combullible 


Serm. XLI. 275 

materials about us. If we have treated him with 
friendfhip, his ill nature is the more provoking, 
Solomon therefore advifes, that we form no un- 
neceflfary connexion with men of lawlefs pafTions 
and infolent manners, left we lofe the command 
of our own tempers, and be hurried into a dan- 
gerous contention. 

To call others by opprobrious names, expofes 
us to the judgment of God. Revilers are ranked 
among the odious chara6lers, which are excluded 
from the kingdom of heaven. Chriftianity for- 
bids us to render raiHng for railing ; much more to 
begin the railing. On the contrary, it teaches us, 
that being reviled, we fhould blefs ; being defam- 
ed, we ftiould entreat. In the prefent weaknefs 
of human nature, fuch a command of ourfelves 
will often be found difficult. Left, therefore, 
we incautioufly fall into excefs, the apoftle di- 
reds, that if any man, who is called a brother, 
be a reviler, we keep no company with him. 

4. This Nabal appears to have been peculiarly 
JraElious and troiiblefomc, in his cxvn family. 

His fervants, too well acquainted with his tem- 
per and manners, chara6lerize him, as fuchafon 
of Belial, that a man cannot fpeak to him. His 
wife, when fhe faw danger arifing againft the 
family, ventured not to fpeak with him on the 

The happinefs of domeftick life coniifts mod 
effentially in peace and harmony. The peace of 
a family depends on nothing fo much as on the 
foft and eafy manners, the courteous and oblig- 

27*5 Serm. XLL 

ing language, the fmooth and placid tempers of 
the heads toward each other, and toward the in- 
ferior members. Government in a houfehold is 
much better fupported by goodnefs, than by rig- 
or. There is a low, groveling familiarity, which 
renders a man contemptible. But to avoid this, 
he need not be a tyrant. Watlton feverity is in- 
con fiftent with domeftick authority. This may 
produce a fear arid dread, which will operate oc- 
cafionally : Goodnefs only will infpire with that 
calm reverence and fteady afFe9:ion, which are 
the true principles of obedience. 

The man, who can never give an anfwer mildly, 
nor grant a requeft cheerfully — who can never 
pafs over the fmalleft fault without menaces, nor 
reward a virtuous a6tioh with his fmiles-— wh6 
can never fpeak, but with flerri and forbidding 
airs; nor reprove and advife, but with rough 
and boifterous palTion — who never can enter into 
eafy converfation with his companion, nor invite 
his children to the entertainment of inflrudive 
or amufmg difcourfe— who can fhew no tokens 
of approbation, when they have endeavoured to 
pleafe him, nor reflrain the ftorm of paflion, if a 
crofs accident happens — fuch a man, however he 
may be feared, cannot be reverenced. Though 
he may be dreaded, he cannot be loved. The 
external homage paid him, is attended with in- 
ward contempt. The obedience which he receives 
is extorted; not given. It is like the worfhip which 
certain heathens are faid to pay to the devil ; 


Sjsrm. XLI. 277 

not in hope that he will do them good, but from 
fear that he will do them miCchief. 

This man can enjoy none of the pleafure of 
do me flick friendQiip, the pleafure of mingling 
fouls, exchanging fentiments, and communicat- 
ing the feelings of the heart. His ilate is a kind 
<j)f folitude; he h?is free intercourfe with none; 
and they, who are compelled to be near him, 
think their flate worfethan folitude, becaufe (hey 
qre in perpetual fear. Abigail, in her important 
adventure to pacify David's exafperated fpirits, 
conferred with her fervants, rather than with her 
hufband. From his advice fhe could expecl no 
aid ; and it was dangerous to fpeak to him. 

5. A habit which added much to the infamy 
of his charaQer, and probably aggravated the 
ruggednefs of his temper and manners, was in- 

At the time, when his wife was interpofing to 
divert the florm, which his rudenefs had raifed 
againft his family, the brute himfelf was drunk. 
** He held a feall in his houfe, like the feall of a 
king ; and his heart was merry witliin him, for 
he was very drunken." The manner in which 
he flew on David's meffengers, gives reafon to 
fufpe6l, that his fpirits had already been heated. 

A temper naturally mild may be fpoiied by 
excefs. But when the natural pafiions are hafly 
and violent, intemperance feldom fails to urge 
them into a tempejl. To govern the pafhons 
and rule the tongue is, in mod men, a worJc 
of vigilance. But men of quick and fudden tem- 
VoL, II, T pers 


278 Serm. XLf> 

pers have need to be peculiarly on their gUard. 
It is, of all .men, the moft dangerous for thtm to 
indulge the appetite. Indulgence inflames their 
fpirits, and divefts them of the power of felf com* 
mand. When they have given the paffions fur 
preme dominion, there is no extravagance from 
which they are fecure, and no mifchief to which 
they are not expofed. Nabal inflamed with wine, 
by a rafh and paffionate fpeech, involved him- 
felf and his family in a danger, which would 
have iffued fatally, had not the prudence of his 
wife diverted it. ^ *' Who hath woe ?'* fays Sol- 
oman, ^"Who hath forrow?" ^ Who hath con- 
tentions? ^ Who hath babblings ? ^ Who. hath 
wounds without caufe ? i Who hath rednefs of 
eyes? They that tarry lotig at the wine ; they; 
that go to feek mixed wine. Look not on the., 
wine, when it is red — at the lafl, it biteth like a 
ferpent, and ftingeth like an adder. Thine heart 
(hall utter perverfe things : Yea, thou fhall be as 
he that lieth down in the midft of the fea, or as 
he that lieth on the top of a maft. " — Once more ; 
This Nabal was as infamous for his fujilla^ 
nimity as for the violence of his paffions and the 
rudenefs of his manners. _ , • ; 

,,>When Abigail related to him David's high 
refentment and bloody refolution, and the man-, 
ner in which fhe had prevented the approaching 
evil, *'his heart died within him and became as 
a ftone/' Such a fatal {hock did the flory give.^ 
him, that he furvived it only ten days. Though 
he could rail on David at a diftance, in haughty 


S^RM. XLI* g>ijQ 

and bluftering language, yet he had not fortitude 
to meet a danger when it was coming, nor even 
to bear the recital of it after it was pad. His foul 
enfeebled by paflion and intemperance, immedi- 
ately funk under the thought of calamity. A 
firmnefs to meet danger and bear adverfity, is 
feldom found in thofe, who give indulgence to 
appetite and paflion. *' This takes away the 

If we would be prepared for the viciflitudes of 
an inconftant world, we muft habituate ourfelves 
to fobriety and felfgovernment. If we would 
enjoy the bleflings of friendlhip, and the comforts 
of our worldly pofleflions, we muft reftrain our 
appetites, redlify our tempers and rule our 
tongues. The greateft affluence can never make 
a man happy, without a virtuous mind and pru- 
dent manners, 

Nabal was blefl*ed with a plentiful fortune^ 
and an amiable companion. ^ But what could 
thefe defirable circumftances avail the churlifh 
wretch, who was void of the feelings of benevo- 
lence, and a ftranger to the fentiments of grati- 
tude — who knew not when to do a favor, nor how 
to acknowledge a courtefy — whofe rough paflions 
and rude language alienated his friends, and made 
llrangers his enemies — whofe wanton govern- 
ment excited the contempt of his fervants — 
whofe unfocial manners extinguifhed the affec- 
tions of his wife — whofe exceflive indulgence 
obliterated the feeble traces of reafon, which paf- 
T 2 (ion 

s>8o Serm. XLt, 

fion had left, and who, at laft, died fioin a mere 
d'epieffion of fpiiit, at the thought of a danger, 
in which his own mad condu6t had involved 
him ? 

Such a character, in the greateft affluence, ap- 
pears contemptible m every eye. 

Let us not be folicitous for worldly wealth : Ouir 
only folicitude fhould be to approve ourfelv^s to 
God by re£litude of heart, and piety of life. 
Kiches can make no man happy without virtue. 
The virtuous man may be happy without riclies. 
Worldly wealth is a curfe when it falls to the 
fhare of one, who knows neither ho\V' to ufe it, 
nor how to enjoy it. 

Had Nabal lived in poverty, inRead of plenty, 
he might have a£ted more difcreetly, and died 
lefs ihfamoufly. The natural haughtinefs of his 
temper was probably increafed by the idea of his 
worldly importance; and his affluent fubftance 
afforded him the means of deflroying himfelf by 

Providence gives us fome inftances of men ru- 
ined and undone by their affluence, to teach us 
that it is neither to be envied in others, nor cov- 
eted for ourfelves. We fometimes fee thofe, w^ho, 
having a6led with propriety, and acquitted them- 
felves with reputation, in the lower grades of 
life, grow haughty, infolent and vain, on a fud- 
den elevation. Let us then have our converfa- 
tion without covetoufnefs, and be content with 
fuch things as w^e have. 


S^RM. LXL ggj 

That we njay enjoy ourfelves, let us rule our 
fpirits. He who is a flave to his own paffions, 
is rubje61:to perpetual torment within, and expof- 
ed to a thoufand vexations from without. 

That we may enjoy the world, let us ufe it 
with fobriety; for all cxcefs is as inconfiilent 
with enjoyment, as it is with virtue. That we 
may prevent injuries, let us do none ourfelves ; 
for I Who will harm us, if we are followers of that 
which is good ? If we would have friends we 
mud (hew ourfelves friendly. Friendlhip is a 
delicate flower ; it may beblafted by the frequent 
winds of paffion, or be nipped by the froft of 

If we wifh for refpe6l from our children and 
domefticks let us rule them by the laws of kind- 
nefs and love, forbearing menaces and not pro- 
voking them to anger, lelt they be difcouraged. 
A padionate government brings contempt ; wan- 
ton feverity excites rebellion. 

If we would know the ileady pleafures of do- 
.meftick union, let us be pitiful and courteous, 
kind in our language, and obligirig in our man- 
ners. Smooth language prevents, and foft an- 
fwers turn away wrath. Love is the happinefs 
of domeftick connexions. Better is a dinner of 
herbs where love is, than a flailed ox and hatred 





I ^S E R M O N XLII. _ ^ 

-taCfffni Slit Ho ?io; 

t7i^5 dau^cTtt effedd or a ^i^nda^ c^ci- 
acaiioTi tlliodt'r^aied iti %/Cezod amd 
xMtaTiacn. • >^ 

Acts xiii, i. - - 

JVbry thtrt were, in the church that was at Antioch, 
certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and 
Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cy- 
rene, and Manaen, who had been brought up 
with Herod the tetrarch. 

VV E here fee two men educated in 
the fame family, and probably in much the fame 
manner, and yet purfuing a very different courfe 
of life. — *' Manaen was brought up with Herod 
the tetrarch/' 

It would be natural to expe£l, that children, 
who grew up together under fimilar examples and 
inftrudions, fhould appear in the fame moral 


3erm. XLII. 2S3 

;ind religious chara^ler, when they came forward 
into publick life. But in the inftance before us, 
^he event was otherwife. We find one among 
the miniders, and the other among the perfecu- 
tors of the church of Chrifl. 

The whole family of the Herods- are fligma- 
tifed in hiftory for their lull and ambition, and 
efpecially for their cruelty, Herod the great flew 
the infants in Bethlehem ; his fon imprifoned 
aind murdered John the Baptift; and his grand- 
fon killed James the apollle. 

Manaen is no where mentioned in the facred 
hidory, but in this place, AH that we read of 
him is, that he was brought up with Herod, as a 
brother, but was afterward among the prophets 
and teachers in the church at Antioch, and was 
one of thofe who miniftered to the Lord, and who, 
by the dire£lio^ of the Holy Gholl, feparated 
Barnabas and Paul tp the work of preaching the 
gofpel among the Gentiles. His name, as well 
a^ the place of his early education, Ihews that 
he was a Tew by defcent, — -- .^ 

The church in Antioch was one of the moft 
famous chriflian churches. It was here that the 
difciples of Chrill firft afl'umed the name of chrift- 
lans. From Manaen's being found miniftering 
to the Lord among the prophets in this church, we 
may conclude, that he early profefled his belief 
of the gofpel. And the fuperior learning which 
he had acquired in his education witlr a young 
prince, together with his diftinguifhed piety, zeal 
'atid fortitude, recommended him to the apoftles 
' T 4 a& 

284 Serm. XLIL 

as a man wdl qualified to take part with them 
in their miniftry. He was certainly a man emi- 
nent for his faith and virtue, as Well as for his 
learning and abilities; elfe he would not fo foon 
have been admitted to a place among the proph- 
ets and teachers in this celebrated church. 

The charader of Herod was juft the reverfe of 
Manaen's. He was vicious and debauched m 
his private life, haughty, cruel and tyrannical in 
his government and a murderer of ChriR's fore- 

So diverfe were the charaders of thefe two 
men, who were brought up together under fim- 
ilar inftruftions and examples. 

AVhat kind of education they had in their 
youth, v/e may form fome probable conjecture 
from Herod's high defcent. He was of princely 
blood, and, doubtlefs, had a princely education : 
And as he was probably to be a chief ruler in 
Judea, we mull fuppbfe, that he was inftru6led 
in the Jewifh religion : For this was juftly ef- 
teemed a neceffary branch of education in one, 
who was to prefide over that people. Paul fays 
to Herod Agrippa, " I know thee to be expert in 
all cuftoms and queftions, which are among the 
Jews ;" and he appeals to him, as one, who, *' be- 
lieved the prophets.'* Thus Agrippa was educa- 
ted ; and probably his predeceiTors were educa- 
ted in the fame manner. 

As Manaen was brought up with Herod, we 
may conclude, that he alfo, as well as Herod, 
was carefully inflruClcd in the writings of Mofes 


Serm, XLIf. gSj 

atid the prophets, and in the rites and forms of 
the Jefwifh religion, with thofe other branches of 
learning, which are judged neceffary to qualify 
men for high and important ftations. 

But amidft thefe fuperior advantages, there 
were undoubtedly many dangerous temptations* 
The pomp and pleafure of princely courts, and 
the corrupt examples that are often feen there, 
are by no means favourable to youthful piety. 
Herod made no virtuous improvement of the 
advantages v/hich attended his early life. On 
the contrary, he was led away by the corrupt 
manners of an impious court. Manaen, in the 
fame fituation, early became religious, efcaped 
the corruptions of the world, and made fuch ad- 
vancement in knowledge and piety, that we find 
him ranked among fome of the firft preachers of 
the gofpcl. 

We here fee, that youths, brought up in the 
Came -family, and in the fame manner, may take 
to every different courfes, and make a very dif- 
ferent end. 

Men's lives are not always anfwerable to the 
advantages which they enjoy. '' Many are called 
but few are chofen." That fame gofpel, which is 
a favour of life unto life to fome, is to others a 
favour of death unto death. The preaching of 
the crofs of Chrift, which was to fome a rock of 
fdVation, was to others a flone of flumbling- 
Thefe obfervations of fcripture we fee verified in 
fact. Among the multitudes, which enjoy the 
fame gofpel ; yea,, and who profefs to believe it 


286 St^H. XLIL 

too, there are different chara6lers. While foipe, 
by a patient continuance in welldoing, feek fov 
glory, there are others who obey not the truth, 
but hold it in unrighteoufnefs. 
•^ : Nor is this diverhty of charader to be feen 
only. in larger focieties ; it may be found in par^ 
ticular families, /tif^ pot^n- bpuhnoo ^w ^is£>> 

Education doubtlefs has great influence in form? 
ing the temper and manners. It is reafonable to 
expe6l, that men will ordinarily be yirtuous or 
vicious, according to the turn which is given to 
their minds in the difcipline of youth.: If you 
train up a child in the way in which he Ihould 
go, you may hope, that, when he is old, he will 
not depart from it ; but if you leave him to him- 
felf, to the impulfe of his own giddy inclinations, 
and to the corrupt influence of vicious examples ; 
and befure, if to them you add your own cor- 
rupt example and counfel, you may reaConably 
expe6t, he will bring his friends to fliame, and 
himfelf to ruin. 

There are, however, exceptions from this ob. 
fervation. There arc fome who under great dif- 
advantages early enter upon a virtuous courfe, 
and fteadily purfue it through life ; and there 
are thofe, who, in contempt of the befl: inftruc- 
tions and examples, make themfelves vile and 
will not be reftrained. In the family of David^ 
who refolved to walk within his houfe in a per- 
fe61; way, there was rebellious Abfalom. In the 
houfe of Jeroboam, who made Ifrael tg,f|n, there 
^as godly Abijah. ^^j ^rf. 

Serm. XLIL iiSy 

i^.'-iiin Tome families we fee 'thie children generally 
of a fober and virtuous turn ; and in other fattl* 
ilies we fee them the reverfe. When the chil- 
dren are generally vicious, we fufpeQ there h 
fome grofs negle6l in thofe who have had the 
care of them ; or if they are of a contrary char- 
after, we conclude much pains have been taken 
in their religious education. And though, 'for 
the moft part, this conclufion will be found juft, 
yet it is not always fo. For we fee this differ- 
ence of charadler take place among children of 
the fame family, ivho have had the fame inftruc- 
tions and examples. 

It will naturally be enquired, £ Whence pro- 
cecds this difference ? 

1. There is undoubtedly a very great diverfity 
in natural temper. 

Though all are partakers of the corruption con- 
fequent on the primitive apoftafy, yet this cor- 
ruption does not always appear and operate in 
jufl the fame way. Though in all there is an in- 
clination to evil, yet the inclination is not in all 
to the fame evil, or in the fame degree. This di- 
verfity calls for different treatment. The fame 
kind of government, which would be ufeful to 
one, may be dangerous to another. Thofe re- 
ftraints, which wOuld be fufficient for this youth, 
may be unfelt and difregarded by that ; and the 
curb, which would only hold the latter, might 
break and deftroy the tender fpirit of the former. 

It: is the wifdom of parents to watch and ob- 
ferve the various paffions; tempers and propenfi- 


2B8 Serm. XLII. 

ties of their children, and diverfify .their govern^ 
ment accordingly. And then, 

2. Children early have difiFerqnl: worldly prof- 
pe<3^, which often make a great difierence in their 
charaQer and condu6i;. 

This was remarkably the cafe o.f the two young 
inen mentioned in our text. Though Herod and 
Manaen were educated together, yet they had 
TiOt the fame profpe6l in life. Herod, who was of 
royal defcent, had early expedlations of being ex- 
alted to a throne. This grand obje6l probably 
cngrofTed his thoughts ; and to this all his am- 
bition, and all his fludies were direded. The 
other had no fuch obje6l before him. He was 
born to a humbler lot. His mind was more at 
liberty to admit the fober concerns of religion. 
Worldly greatnefs is not ufually the moft fa- 
vourable to piety. The apoflle fays, '' Not many 
wife men after the flefh, not many mighty, not 
roany noble are called." He who would receive 
the kingdom of God, mufl humble himfelf as a 
little child. Such a difference of profpefts, as 
there was between thefe two perfons, cannot ordi- 
narily take place. But ther« may be a difference 
in a lefs degree, among brethren in every family. 

Different pafTions, and capacities put young 
men on different purfuits. Some, through a nat- 
ural indolence or felf difhdence, fall fo low in their 
^yiews and defjgns, that they never reach to emi- 
nence in any profefTion ; nor attain to that degree 
of ufefulnefs and refpectability of which they feem 
.naturally capable. Others take their aimfohighy 


Serm. XLII. 289- 

that they never can- rife to the objeCl by any virtu- 
ous exertions. Hence by their afpiring ambitioa 
they areurged to anindiredandwindingpath,that 
they may climb the deep afcent, where the cau- 
tious foot of virtue will not date to tread. *' They 
who will be rich/' fays the ^poftle, ** Fall into 
temptation, and a fnare, and many foolifli luSs^ 
which drown men in final perdition/' Happj^ 
is the youth, who fets out in life, with a govern- 
ing aim to approve himfelf to God, and fecure 
the joys of immortality; and to this aim fubor- 
dinates all his temporal views, 

3. The fovereign grace of God muft alfo be ac- 
knowledged in the difference which we often ob- 
ferve among the members of the fame family. 

The dependence of mankind in their fallen ftat€, 
on the influence of the divine Spirit, mull be ac- 
knowledged by all who believe revelation. God 
affords this kindly influence to all under the gof- 
pel, efpecially in the early period of life. There* 
is a day, when the Spirit of grace flrives with, 
them, and the things of their peace may b^ 
known. Happy are they, who early attend to. 
thefe things, and who obey the heavenly voice 
while it is called to day. As this grace is unde- 
ferved, fo it may be afforded to different perfons 
in various degrees, and for a different length of 
time. No man can demand it as his native 
right, and therefore none can complain, though 
it is afforded to others in a greater meafuro 
than to himfelf. Befides, j Where is the youth 
who can fay. He has never grieved the fpirit of 

grace — 

grace — never refilled its holy motions— never re- 
ceived its influence in vain ,i If among thofe, 
who have alike forfeited the grace of God, it is 
withdrawn from fome, and renewed to otherfii, 
^ Where is the injuftice ? i Shall the eye of man 
be evil, becaufe God is good ? ^ May not God 
have mercy on whom he will have mercy, when 
he owes his mercy to none ? -i ^r 

Farther Though men may be born and 

educated under the fame external advantages, yet 
doubtlefs fome do more than others to oppofe 
the grace, and quench the fpirit of God. And 
perhaps many, who appear to us to pofTefs the 
happieft natural temper, and to condu61: among 
mankind with the moft agreeable manners, may 
have indulged thofe impious thoughts and pa f- 
fions toward God, which others never dared to 
retain ; and, by their fecret wickednefs, have done 
more to provoke God, and grieve his holy fpirit,- 
than fome who appear far more criminal in the 
undifcerning eye of man. Though the grace of 
God is fovereign, it is not arbitrary. It makes a 
difiPerence among men in the beftowment of out-"- 
ward advantages and inward afliflances; but di-'*^ 
vine wifdom always fees a reafon for this difPer^^^ 
cnce, though human ignorance difcerns none, ' '^^ 
This fubjedl will afford feveral ufeful reflect'' 
tions. * 

1. We fee the particular care, which was taken 
in the apoftolick times, that publick teachers •' 
ihould be men of diflinguifhed learning and abil-"^ 
ity, as well as exemplary virtue and piety. "^ 


^ S^RM. XLII. fig^i: 

Mod of Chrifl's firft difciples were, indeed, 
men who had received, in their youth, but a 
common education. But before they were fenfc 
forth to preach, they were taken under the im- 
mediate difcipline and inftrudion of Jefus him- 
felf ; and were, for feveral years, trained up for 
the miniftry under his care. Paul enjoyed not 
this privilege ; but he had other literary advan? 
ta^es J he was a man of the firft education in 
his day, being brought up at the feet of Gama- 
liel. |o oi EToif-K) ncrit : t- :ijdmci> 

When the difciples, after their mafter*s afren- 
fion, fent forth teachers into the churches which 
they had planted, they ever gave a preference to 
men of learning, Manaen was one who had 
been favoured with a princely education. Timo- 
thy from a child had known the holy fcriptures. 
Apollos was a man, mighty in the fcriptures, 
Luke^ Stephen, and others, appear to have been 
men of fuperiour literary accomplifliments. And, 
as the apoftles always confidered learning to be 
a defirable qualification in thofe whom they rec- 
ommended to the miniftry, fo they aifo caution- 
ed the minifters whom they ordained, not to lay 
hands fuddenly on any man, and particularly 
on novices, who had not had time to furnifh . 
their rninds with competent knowledge to be- 
come teachers of others. >._ 

2. We Cee that parents ought to pay , a particu- 
lar attention to the different tempers and difpofi- 
tions of their children, ap^ ^Y^xiiiy.thdx gQvern^ 
ment accordingly^ -,.i<%. -^,f ..:,,;, 4 f^^ jy- ^^ ^ 

igz Sesim. XLII, 

As there is a variety in the natural aiad conRi- 
tutional bias of the human mind, fo the fame 
manner of government, which would be proper 
for one, might be very unfuitable for another. 
Some muft be ruled with greater rigor, others 
with more lenity— Some kept und^r a feverer 
curb, others treated with more tendernefs and 
indulgence. The parent ought to watch the early 
inclinations of his children, that he may cor- 
re6l their evil propenfities, before they are grown 
into incurable habits ; and may encourage and 
confirm every hopeful difpofition, left it be over- 
borne by the power of temptation. Family gov- 
ernment is a work which requires much care 
and prudence, that it may be adapted to the 
tempers and circumftances, infirmities and dan- 
gers of thofe who are the fubjeQs of it; and di^ 
vcrfified according to their refpeftive cafes. 

3. The young may here fee, that no worldly 
connexions, no outward temptations, no intice- 
xnents or examples, will excufe them in the neg- 
le6l of religion. 

Herod the tetrarch was a man of a vicious 
and abandoned charaQer. Though he did fome 
commendable adions, he is not applauded for 
any habitual virtue ; nor was there fcarcely a 
vice of which he was not capable. Manaen, 
converfant in a royal court, and connected with 
fo vile a companion, received an education, 
which, however favourable to learning, was ex- 
ceedingly dangerous to his virtue. And yet we 
find him fo diflinguifhed for his piety, that he 


Serm. XLli. 293 

is early numbered among the prophets and 
teachers of the church. 

There is fuch a thing, as a youth's maintain- 
ing his virtue, amidft the moft powerful tempta- 
tions. There is fuch a thing, as being blamelefs 
and harmlefs, and without rebuke, in the midft 
of the vicious and profane. There is fuch a 
thing, as difcharging the duties of relation and 
friendlhip to bad men, without an imitation of 
their wicked manners. You are not tofeek con- 
nexions with the ungodly ; you are not to cbufe 
them for your ftated companions. There is al- 
ways danger in aflbciating with the vicious : 
And you are not unneceflarily to throw, your- 
feives into the jaws of danger. It was David's 
wifdom, that, when he refolved to keep God's 
commandments, he faid to evildoers, Depart 
from me. But if providence fo orders your fit- 
uation in life, that you are unavoidably conver- 
fant with the wicked, you mufl; guard againfl 
the infeQion of their corrupt advice arid exam- 
ple. If you mud have fellowfhip with them 
in your civil concerns, yet have no fellow- 
fhip with their unfruitful works, but rather re- 
prove them. The man who voluntarily runs 
into the company of the profane, will eafily be 
feduced by them ; for he goes wiLh a heart dif- 
pofed to conform to their manners ; and, by in- 
viting temptations, he forfeits the divine protec- 
tion. But if providence calls you into the place 
of temptation, and you take heed to your ways. 
Vol. IL V ' while 

294 "' Serm. XLIL 

while the wicked are before you, the grace of 
God will be ready to your affiftance. 

Let this refolution be fixed in your minds, 
that you will walk in the path of virtue ; and 
when you meet with temptations to depart from 
it, liften not to them; repel them in their firfl 
approach; renew your good refolution; think of 
the danger of violating it ; and apply to God 
for his preferving grace. Thus you may keep 
yourfelves unfpotted from the world, and the 
wicked one will not touch you. 

4. The young are here cautioned, that they 
abufe not the grace of God. 

You fee, that perfons in the fame family, and 
under the fame advantages, purfue different 
courfes, and come to different ends, i If external 
means alone were fullicient to religion, why 
w^as Herod fo different from Manaen ? The grace 
of God was undoubtedly to be acknowledged in 
the prefervation of the latter from the guilty 
courfe of the former, i But what if Manaen had 
continually oppofed every ferious fentiment, 
conviftion and refolution excited in his mind ? 
I What if he had ftudied to extinguifh a fenfe of 
virtue, by encouraging the principles of infidel- 
ity ? I What if he had conflantly fought to ban- 
ifti all rational thoughts and religious purpofes, 
hy diffipation and fenfuality ? <! Is it probable 
that'we fhould have found him among the pro- 
feffors and the teachers of religion ? Some, in- 
deed, are recovered, late in life, from grofs wick- 
ednefs. But more ufually, they who give them- 


Serm. XLII. ^g^ 

felves up to impiety and irreligion in youth, be- 
come fo hardened in their fins, and fo dead to a 
fenfe of their danger, that nothing awakens them 
to repentance. 

If you depend on the grace of God, it is of 
importance that you early attend to its kind mo- 
tions on your hearts ; that you encourage the con- 
victions which it awakens on your confciences • 
and that you purfue the virtuous refolutions 
which it excites. Never dare to a6l contrary to 
the real fenfe and feeling of your minds — never 
dare to entertain any corrupt and licentious 
principles — never dare to make light of thino-s 
ferious, and to treat with contempt thefacred in- 
flitutions of religion. Carefully avoid whatever 
tends to flupify the confcience, and to deaden 
the fenfibility of the heart. For if you thus op- 
pofe and abufe that grace of God, on which you 
depend, you have reafon to fear, that you will 
foon be hardened through the deceitfulnefs of 
fm, and will finally perifii in your guilt and im- 

5. Let the young be rational and difcreet in 
forming their worldly profpe6ls. 

Herod's royal birth gave fcope to his ambi- 
tion ; and the expeQation of worldly greatnefs 
contributed to draw him off from religion, and 
to plunge him into thofe vices which terminated 
in his ruin. If the honors and the riches of the 
world are fo dangerous, let none raife high prof- 
pe61:s to themfelves. Set out in life with an aim 
to do good — to ferve God in works of piety, and 
to ferve your generation in the pra6lice of juftice 
U 3 and 

2^6 Serm. XLli. 

and chanty. Think of no v/oildly honor and 
wealth, but what fhall rife on the foundation of 
virtue and righteoufnefs. You may aim at a de- 
gree of refpedability among men. This is an 
honed and manly aim. But never aim at any 
kind of worldly greatnefs, but what may be at- 
tained in a way of well doing. Virtue is dignity 
in itfelf. All kinds of worldly dignity, but that 
which is built on a virtuous chara^ler, .are but 
marks of infamy* 

Remember, you have a part to a6l in this 
world, which bears a relation to the future. 
Seek firft the kingdom of God. Seek nothing 
that is contrary to this. Governed by a fuperior 
regard to futurity, you may purfue your worldly 
interefls with innocence. While religious prin- 
ciples predominate in your heart, you may pro- 
ceed fafely. Your fecular employments will be 
fubfervient to the intereft of your fouls ; and 
your religion will alfo contribute to your tempo- 
ral happinefs. 

When you fee the young, who enjoy the means 
of religion, and the advantages of a good educa- 
tion, running headlong into the path of vice and 
ruin, look upon them with compaflion and fear. 
Pity them, and tremble for yourfelves. 

Let a view of their danger awaken your cau- 
tion to avoid the fame. Warn them of the mif- 
ery before them. At leaft, fhow them, by your 
example, that you view their track as fatal. Fly 
from it, and walk in the way everlafling. '•' Bleffed 
is the man who walketh not in the counfel of the 


Serm. XLII. 207 

ungodly, nor ftandeth in the way of finners, nor 
fitteth in the feat of the fcornful ; but who de- 
lights in the law of his God, and meditates therein 

6. How unhappy will be the cafe of thofe 
youths, who have not only enjoyed a good edu- 
cation, but been favored with pious examples 
among the youths of their connexion, and yet, 
after all, have purfued the path of vice. This 
was the cafe of Herod. Manaen was much to 
be commended, that he had followed religion in 
oppofition to the vicious example of Herod, 
with whom he had been brought up. Herod 
is worthy of a forer condemnation, becaufe he 
turned away from religion, when he had fo invit- 
ing an example before him in the amiable life 
and manners of Manaen his fofter brother. The 
virtue of the one is exalted ; the guilt of the 
other is aggravated, by the contraft. 

Know, my young friend, if finners intice you, 
you are not to confent. You cannot excufe 
yourfelf in a vicious courfe, though you have 
ever fo many enticements. How inexcufable 
are you then, if you run into this courfe, in op- 
pofition to the virtuous and pious examples of 
your friends and companions. You may not 
follow a multitude to do evil ; much lefs may 
you forfake the virtuous to do evil alone. The 
true penitent will no longer run, with former 
guilty companions, intoexcefs of riot, i And will 
you dare to run into excefs of riot, when you fee 
others flying from the fatal track ? 

y 3 You 

&9^ Serm. XLIL 

You are brought up in a religious family. 
You have, in common with others, received fea- 
fonable indruQions and warnings. ,i Bo you fee 
fome with whom you are educated, walking in 
v/ifdom's way, devoting themfelves to God, and 
working out their faivation ? And are you care- 
iefs and fenfuai, profane and ungodly ; legard- 
lefs of God's word, and of your own faivation ? 
I What excufe will be found for you ? Thofe 
virtuous youths have been brought up with you ; 
I And why have you perverted an education, 
which has been fo falutary to them ? You and 
they have dwelt together here, and enjoyed fimilar 
advantages — you value their company and friend- 
Ihip — you efleem them for their virtuous man- 
ners — I But will you purfue a courfe fo diverfe 
from theirs ? i Mull there foon be an eternal fep- 
aration between you and them ? While they are 
rifmg to the world of glory, i Will you rufli 
headlong down to the regions of darknefs ? 

Let their example rebuke your impiety ; awak- 
en you from your careleifnefs ; and engage you 
to mind, in this your day, the things which be- 
long to your peace. 

Be a follower of them who through faith and 
patience inherit the promifes. Be the compan- 
ion of them who fear God and keep his com- 
mandments. Let their friends, be your friends ; 
their God, your God; and whither they go, do 
you goalfo. 




tjh& ^ov&ltke zVefc&nt or th& cffii^ii 





Luke iii, 22< 

Tilt Holy Ghojl defcended, in a bodily Jhape, like a 
dove upon him. 

This vlfible defcent of the Holy 
Ghod on our divine Lord, was at the time of 
his baptifm, when he was entering on his pub- 
lick miniflry. The priefts under the law were 
inaugurated into office by the ceremony of an- 
ointing with oil, and vyafhing with water. Jefus, 
that he might conform to every divine inftitu- 
tion, chofe to begin the execution of his facred 
office, by the like folemn confecration. He 
therefore came to John to be baptifed of him. 
Immediately after his baptifm, while he was 
praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Gbofl; 
U 4 defcended 

300 Serm. XLIIL 

delcended on him, and there ifTued from the Iky 
a voice proclaiming him God's beloved fon, and 
commanding the people to hear him. 

This was a manifefl fulfilment of the prophecy 
of Ifaiah. *' The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, 
becaufe he hath anointed m.e to preach good tid- 
ings to the meek." — That his baptifm was his 
unftion to the miniflry, Peter exprefsly teaches, 
in the tenth chapter of the Ads.— '-The word 
%vhich God fent to the children of Ifrael, preach- 
ing peace by Jefus Chrifl, that word ye know, 
which was publiftied throughout all Judea, and 
began from Galilee, after the baptifm, which John 
preached ; how God anointed Jefus of Naza- 
reth with the holy Ghofi a^id with power.*' 

Jefus, being the divine mediator, and himfelf 
without fin, could not need baptifm for the pur- 
pofes, for which it is applied to us. The bap- 
tifm which he received muft, in its defign, be a 
very different thing from that, which he after- 
ward iriflituted, as a token of the remifhon of 
fm, and eternal life in a way of faith and repent- 
ance. Hence it appears, that all arguments drawn 
from his baptifm, to determine the time, or man- 
ner in which others fhould be baptifed, are wholly 

After Chrifl 's baptifm, *' heaven was opened, 
and the holy Ghofl defcended in a vifible form." 
The appearance probably was a hriglit cloudy 
which, under the old teflament, was the ordinary 
fymbol of God's prefence. When the voice here 
mentioned, was uttered again at the transfigura- 

Serm. XLIII. 3<^ 

uon on the mount, it proceeded from a bright 
cloud, which overfliadowed him and his attend- 
in,<3- difciples. This cloud is called by Saint Peter, 
the excellent glory. When the holy Ghoft fell on 
the difciples at the time of pentecoft, there was 
the appearance of Jire. Chrifl: is faid to baptife 
with the holy Ghojl and with Jire, In allufion to 
thefe reprefentations, men's oppofition to the 
Spirit of grace, is called quenching the Spirit. 
Theevangelift fays, "The holy Ghoft defcend- 
ed, in a bodily Jhape as a dove,*' It is not necef- 
fary to fuppofe, that here was the fiapc or figure 
of a dove; iior indeed will the fyntax of the 
greek words well admit this fenfe. The refem- 
jblance was rather in the manner of defcent. The 
bright cloud, the excellent glory, defcended, as a 
dove defcends, gently hovering around, and fet- 
tling upon the head of Jefus. 

l^y this fymbol, and the voice attending it, he 
^as manifeftly declared to be the Son of God. Ac- 
cordingly John fays, '' I have feen the Spirit de- 
fcending from heaven as a dove, and it abode upon 
him. And I knew him not; i. e. until this time, 
I had not fo full and certain a knowledge of him : 
*'But he that fent me to baptife with water, the 
fame had faid to me, upon whom thou (halt fee the 
Spirit defcending and remaining, the fame is he 
who baptifeth with the holy Ghoft. And I faw 
and bare record, that this is the Son of God." 

The defcent of the Spirit on Chrift as a dove, 
is a circumftance taken notice of by all the evan- 
geUfts ; and it deferves our particular attention. 


302 Serm. XLIII, 

This might be intended to point out Jefus, as 
the melTenger of peace, to a guilty world. 

Noah, in the time of the deluge, fent forth a 
dove out of the ark, to difcover whether the 
waters were abated. In the eveninsr fhe return- 
ed to him, with an olive leaf in her mouth. By 
this he knew, that the face of the earth began to 
be uncovered. This was to the patriarch wel- 
come intelligence. More glorious news does 
Chrift bring to our guilty race. 

When Jefus preached in the fynagogue of Naz- 
areth, he applied to himfeif the words of the 
prophet — *' The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, 
becaufe he hath anointed me to preach the gof- 
pel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to 
publifti deliverance to the captives, and recover- 
ing of fight to the blind, to fet at liberty them 
that are bruifed, and to proclaim the acceptable 
year of the Lord." He faid to his hearers, '• This 
fcripture is, today, fulfilled in your ears/' — 
^' And all bare him witnefs, and wondered at 
the gracious words which proeeded out of his 

The dovelike defcent of the Spirit on Jefus, 
indicated him to the alTembled multitude, as a 
pattern of meeknefs, innocence and love, of 
which virtues the dove is an emblem. And his 
fubfequcnt m dinners correfponded with the em- 
blem. He was harmlefs and inoffenfive in all 
his behaviour. Under injuries he was mild and 
gentle. In his publick office he was tender and 
aflFedionate. He laboured to convince and re- 

Serm. XLIII. 303 

claim fmners by thefoft and winning arguments 
of goodnefs and compafBon, rather than to ter- 
rify and amaze them by the awful difplays of 
wrath and power. Thus was fulfilled in him 
the -predidion of the prophet — " Behold my 
fervant, whom I uphold ; my beloved, in whom 
my foul delighteth. I will put my Spirit upon 
him, and he {ball fhew judgment to the Gentiles. 
He fhall not drive nor cry, nor Ihall any man 
hear his voice in the (Ireet; a bruifed reed fhall 
he not break, nor quench the fmoking flax, un- 
til he bring forth judgment unto vi6lory." 

This defcent of the Spirit in the manner of a 
dove, may alfo be defigned to fignify to us the 
true genius of Chrift's gofpel, and the diftin- 
guilhing charader of his difciples. 

Hence then we may obferve that the religion of 
Jejas confijls in a dovelike temper. This obferva- 
tion we will endeavour to iliuftrate. 

That we may proceed with fafety we will give 
no indulgence to imagination, but will flri6lly 
follow the allufions which we find in fcripture- 
1. The dove is an emblem of purity. 

In the law of Mofes this was reckoned a clean 
bird ; and it was fele6led for an offering in the 
ceremony of purification. The dovelike defcent 
of the Spirit on Chrifl reminds us, that, by his 
gofpel we are called, not to uncleannefs, but to 
fan6tification. His precepts require the flri61efl 
purity of thought and intention. His doBrines, 
in their proper influence, raife our views above 
earthly interefls, and direct them to things which 


304 Serm. XLIIL 

are in heaven. His example teaches us to be 
holy, undefiled and feparate from Tinners. His 
Spirit in its operations and fruits, correfponds 
with his examples, do6lrines and precepts. If 
then we profefs to be chriftians, we acknowledge 
our obligation to deny ungodlinefs and worldly 
lufts, and to live foberlj^, righteoufly and pioufly 
in the world, looking unto Chrift, who gave him- 
felf for us, that he might redeern us from ini- 
quity, and purify us to himfelf, a people zealous 
of good works. 

2. Chrill dire6ls his difciples to be hannlefi 
as doves. 

Of this dovelike temper he was himfelf ari 
amiable pattern. The fam.e meek and inofFen- 
* five fpirit which was in him, mufi alfo be in us. 
We are to give no offence, but to pleafe all men 
in all things, feeking the profit of many, that 
they may be faved. We are to condefcend to 
men of low eftate ; to l:)ear the infirmities of the 
weak; in matters of indifference to comply 
with the opinions of our brethren, and in mat- 
ters of doubt to receive them without uncharit- 
able difputation, always allowing them the lib- 
erty which \VQ claim for ourfelves, to follow the 
didlates of confcience. We are to be pitiful in 
our feelings, courteous in our language and gen- 
tle in our manners. We are to be peaceable 
when differences happen to arife, candid in our 
conflruciion of men's doubtful a6lions, and ready 
to forgive when we meet with injuries. We ars 
to be quiet and do our own bufinefs, to be ten^ 


S'erm. XLIII. 3a5- 

der of the reputation of our neighbours, to fpeak 
evil of no man, to render unto all the honour 
and rerpe6t which belong to them, and treat 
them according to their condition and chara6ler 
in life. In a word, we are to follow Chrift's 
fteps, who was holy and harmlefs, who did no 
fin, neither was guile found iii his mouth. 

3. The dove, in the book of Canticles, is an 
emblem of cheerfulnefs and joy, 

'' Lo, the winter is pad and gone, the flowers 
appear on the earth ; the time of the finging of 
birds is come ; the voice of the turtle is heard 
in our land." 

The dovelike temper of the gofpel is fv\^eer, 
ferene and pleafant. Joy is one of the fruits 
of the fpirit : It is one of the chara6lers of Chrift's 
religion : It is the temper with which we accept- 
ably ferve him. " The kingdom of God is right- 
eoufnefs and peace, and joy in the Holy Gholl ; 
and he that in thefe things ferveth Chrift, is ac- 
cepted of God, and approved of men/' True 
chriftians have joy and peace in believing, and 
abound in hope through the power of the holy 

With joy they contemplate the glorious dif- 
coveries of the gofpel ; the wonderful mercy of 
God to a guilty world ; the aftonifhing interpo- 
fition of a divine Saviour for the redemption of 
our perifhing race ; and the free and gracious 
offers of falvation to the chief of finners. 

The precepts of Chrift's religion they approve 
and choofe, as divinely excellent, fuited to guid« 


3d6 Serm. XLIIL 

their anions, refine their tempers, and prepare 
their hearts for heavenly pleafures. 

They rejoice in that holy and benevolent gov- 
ernment, which God exercifes in the world ; and 
in the liberty which he indulges them, to repair 
to his throne for the fupply of all th-eir wants, 
and for prote6iion in all their dangers. 

When they can appropriate the rich promifes 
of God, and afcertain their intereft in them, 
their religious joy, feeling its prefent fecurity, 
and anticipating its approaching felicity, will 
fometimes fwell pafl utterance, and rife beyond 
the reach of defcription. *' The trial of your 
faith," fays Saint Peter, " will be found to glory 
and honor at the appearing of Chrift ; whom 
having not feen, ye love; in whom, though now 
ye fee him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy 
unfpeakable and full of glory ; receiving the 
end of your faith, the falvation of your fouls." 

The religion of Chrift, where it has its genuine 
influence, produces a holy, humble joy in God. 
It does not make men four, morofe and peevifli ; 
but contented, ferene and thankful. It difpofes 
them, not to cenfure, but to juftify the ways of 
God — not to complain of, but to acquiefce in the 
plan of his government. It does not deprefs their 
fpirits, and fpread a gloom over their faces; but 
infpires their fouls with cheerful and pleafing 
hopes, which a ftranger intermeddles not with. 
It teaches them to contemplate the wifdom, juf- 
tice and goodnefs of God in all his difpenfations, 
and thus gives a relifh to prcfperity, and confola- 


Serm. XLIII. 307 

tion in adverfifey. It extends the profpeds be- 
yond this mortal ftate, and opens to the view 
more glorious fcenes of delight above the fkies, 
from whence faith and hope look down, with in- 
difference, on the tranfient and unfatisfying ob- 
jeQs of the world. It miniflers to the mind mat- 
ter of meditation and employment, fweetly a- 
dapted to its renewed and fpiritual tafle ; and 
thus fecures it from that reftlefs anxiety, which 
vexes and torments earthly fouls. 

It is not, then, the four and complaining, the 
gloomy and fretful, but it is the cheerful and 
contented, the ferene and thankful chriflian, who 
difcovers the genuine fpirit, the dovelike temper 
of Chrift's religion. 

4. Doves are diflinguifhed by their mutual^- 
delity and love. 

To this fecial and affeftionate property there 
are frequent allufions in fcripture. The bride- 
groom, in the book of Canticles, calls the bride 
by this, among other endearing names, '■' 0, 'my 
dove, let me fee thy face, and hear thy voice, for 
thy voice is fweet, and thy face is comely." Peo- 
ple in afflidlion are defcribed as " mourning like 
doves," who have lofl their companions. 

Mutual love is the temper of the gofpei. This 
is Chrift's command to his difciples, " Love one 
another, as I have loved you." *' By this,'' fays 
he, " Ihall all men know that ye are my difci- 
ples, if ye love one another." Chriftians are re- 
quired '' to love one another with a pure heart 


3o8 SEm. XLIII. 

fervently, and above all things to have fervent 
charity among themfelves." 

Under the influence of this fervent charity, 
they will efteem and regard one another for that 
fimilarity of temper and manners, which is com- 
mon to them all, and which they have all learnt 
from the fame gofpel. They will take pleafure 
in each other's company, and delight to alfociate 
for the joint worfhip of their common Lord. 
They will maintain a Hxi^t fidelity. Having cov- 
enanted together for mutual edification and com- 
fort, they will walk in the fame fleps, and by the 
fame rule. They will not rove and fcatter abroad ; 
but, like the flock of Chrilt, they will come togeth- 
er in one place, and keep the unity of the fpirit in 
the bond of peace. They will walk in all lowlinefs 
and meeknefs, bearing offences, forgiving inju- 
ries, and returning again to peace if fellowfhip 
happens to be interrupted. They will take a 
fenfible fhare in each others pleafures and affec- 
tions. If one fuffers, they will fuffer with him ; 
if one is honoured, all will rejoice. If one wan- 
ders away, or feems to be loft, all will mourn 
his unhappy cafe, and pray for his recovery. 
They will bev/ail fuch as have finned and have 
Slot repented ; and him who repents they will 
reftore in the fpirit of meeknefs, confidering them- 
felves, left they alfo be tempted. 

5. The dove is a defencelefs bird. Hence fhe 
is defcribed as ** dwelling in the clefts of the 
rocks, and in the fecret places of the flairs'' ; and 
as ** flying to her windows" in times of danger. 


SeJim. XLlIi. QQQ 

In this view Ihe is an emblem of chiiiiian fait k 
dnd hiimilicy. 

True believers, fenfible of their weaknefs, and 
of the dangers which attend them, truft not in 
themfelves, but in the power and grace of their 
Saviour. They dare not wander from him, and 
commit themfelves to the world at large, for they 
know that birds of prey, the powers of the air, 
are feeking whom they may deftroy. They keep 
near to their Divine Prote6lor, dwell in his houfe, 
and live on the food which is there provided. 
They venture not to depart from the fight, or 
the reach of his windows. When temptations 
purfue them, hither they fly for fecurity. To 
the felfrighteous hypocrite, his own goodnefs 
and flrength is a flrong city, a high wall in his 
own conceit. But to humble believers, the name 
of their Redeemer is a ftrcng tower ; into this 
they run, and are fafe. 

6. The excellent glory, which defcended like 
a dove, and relied on Jefus, might be intended 
to reprefent the beauties of his church, adorned 
and dignified by the graces of his fpirit. 

The church of Chrift is compared to a fair 
princefs, all glorious within, and clothed in gar- 
ments of wrought gold. The dove, which is 3l 
beautiful bird, is a natural emblem of the virtues 
and good works, which diftinguilh the chriftian 
charaQer. By this allufion, the Pfalmifl de- 
fcribes the glorious change made in the people 
of God, when they were delivered from (he bond- 
age and fupcrflitions of Egypt, and admitted to 
Vol. IL W enjoy 

310 Serm. XLIIL 

enjoy the peculiar privileges of the fanduaiy. 
*' Though ye have lien among the pots, yet ys 
fhall be as the wings of ^-dove covered with fii- 
ver, and her feathers with yellow gold." 

The reformation of the church, after a time 
of great declenfion, is exprefled by her *' rifing 
from the duft, putting on her beautiful garments, 
and (hining forth in the glory of her Lord." 
The profelTors of godlinefs are exhorted to adorn 
themfelves, not with gold, and pearls, and coflly 
array, but with good works, and the ornament of 
a meek and quiet fpirit ; for thefe are of great 
price in the fight of God. The righteoufnefs of 
the faints is compared to white raiment. They 
who watch and keep their garments, will walk 
withChvift in white, for they are worthy. 

But lell I purfue the allufions too far, I will 
only obferve, once more, 

• 7. The dove, which is a fruitful bird, is, by I- 
faiah, made an emblem of the increafe of the 
church in her happy and profperous periods* 
Then converts fhall fly unto God's altar, '* as 
doves to their windows/* 

He fays,*' The Redeemer fhall come to Zion — 
his Spirit Ihall be upon her, and his words Ihall 
not depart out of her mouth, nor out of the mouth 
of her feed — and the glory of the Lord fhall be 
upon her. The Gentiles fiiall come to her light, 
and kings to the brightnefs of her rifing. Lift 
up thine eyes, and fee; all they gather themfelves 
together; they come unto thee. Thy fons Ihall 
come from far, and thy daughters (hall be nurfed 


Serm, XLIII. Bit 

at thy fide. The abundance of the fea-fliall be 
converted to thee, and the forces of the Gentiles 
ihall come to thee/' 

Having mentioned, by name, feveral countries, 
from whence converts fhall come to glorify God 
in his houfe, the prophet is furprifed with ftill 
new accejfions from unknown, or unexpe£led 
parts of the world. ** i Who are thefe, that fly as 
a cloud, and as doves to their windows ?'* A flight 
of birds refembles a cloud. The multitudes preff- 
ing from all parts into the kingdom of Chrift, the 
prophet compares to a cloud of doves flying into 
the windows of the dovehoufes. " Who are 
thefe that fly !" It is an expreflTion of admi- 
ration and furprife at fuch a: fpeedy increafe 
of the church, from perfons, or countries, in 
which fuch a change had been little expefted. 
A (imilar exprefTion we find in the revelation. 
After an hundred and forty and four thouf- 
and had been fealed out of all the tribes of 
Ifrael, John fays, '* He beheld; and lo, a great 
multitude which no man could number, from 
all nations and people, flood before the throne, 
;ind before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, 
and cried, Salvation to our God and to the 
Lamb." And one of the elders faid, " i What 
are thefe which are arrayed in white robes ? and, 
I Whence come they ? On enquiry, it was found, 
that '^ thefe had come out of great tribulation/' 
They had come into the church through great 
trials and dangers. Such almighty accefTion was 
matter of admiration and joy among angels^ 
W 2 ' as 

312 Serm. XLIII. 

as well as men. If there is joy in heaven, when 
one finner repents, how great will be the joy, 
when nations are born at once, and the earth 
brings forth in a day ! 

The focial and benevolent fpirit of religion in 
chriflians, operates in fervent deiires and prayers 
for the increafe of Chrift's flock. They look 
and long for the time, the fet time, to favour 
Zion. They mourn the decay of religion among 
profefTors, and the general indifference to it 
among mankind. They fpeak often one to 
another, that they may be fellowhelpers, to 
the truth. They comfort and encourage thofe 
who would join themfelves to the Lord; they 
take up the Humbling blocks out of the way of the 
lame and feeble. They animate the young and 
tender, the diffident and fearful. They are care- 
ful not to perplex weak and honefl minds with 
difficulties and objeQions, and thus to make the 
hearts of the righteous fad, whom God hath not 
made fad; but rather to remove dangerous im- 
pediments, and confirm good refolutions. This 
is the divine inftruQion ; " Cafl ye up ; go 
through the gates ; prepare the way ; gather out 
the ftones ; fay to the daughter of Zion, Behold, 
thy falvation cometh." Though the glorious 
things foretold concerning the church, remain 
to be accomplifhed in fome future time ; yet, if. 
chriflians would unite in their prayers and la- 
bours for her increafe, fome part of the promifed 
glory might be anticipated in our own times. 





Luke iii. 22. 

Tht holy Ghojl defccnded, in a bodily Jhape, like a 
dove upon him, 

Jr ROM this cotnparifon of the defcent 
ofthefpirit on Chrift, to the gentle hovering of a 
dove when it alights, we have obferved, that the 
Spirit of Chrijl's religion is a dovelike Spirit, 

This obfervation we have illuftrated in feveral 
particular inftances, taken from the allufions of 
facred fcripture. 

The ill a lira ti on of our fubjefl opens to our 
view fome important matters, which I Ihall now 
lay before you, as its proper improvement, 

1. Our fubjea fuggefts to us, that the Spirit of 
Chrift ufually comes to the foul in a mild and 
W o gtntk 

3^4 Serm. XLIV. 

gentle manner. His operations are, as his fruits, 
doveljke, fvveet and kind. 

The benevolent and friendly nature of the dif« 
penfation which Chrift was about to introduce, 
was intimated in the manner of the Spirit's de- 

The law, which was a miniftration of death and 
condemnation, was delivered to the people with 
circumftances of terror and amazement. God 
came down on the mount with thunder and 
lightening, with an earthquake and tempeft ; and 
uttered the law with fuch an awful voice, that 
they who heard it, intreated, that it might not be 
fpoken any more. 

Chrill came in a different manner to publifhhis 
gofpel. Reappeared, not in the terrors of unviel- 
ed divinity, but in the fafhionof a man— -not in 
the forbidding majefly of a monarch, but in the 
more familiar form of an ordinary perfon. He 
taught with fuch a foft and eafy addrefs, that 
they who heard him, wondered at the gracious 
words, which proceeded out of his mouth, and 
confeffed, that never man fpake like him. I^e 
dwelt among men full of grace, as well as of 
truth. If his reproofs were fometimes pointed 
with feverity, it was only when they met with 
callous and obdurate hearts. 

As his manner of teaching, fo the doBrincs 
which he taught, were kind and gracious. While 
he with plainnefs condemned the finner, and 
warned him of the awful confequence of his im- 

Serai. XLIV. n^g 

penitence, he proclaimed aloud the mercy of 
God to pardon the penitent, and, with melting 
eyes, lamented the dreadful fate of the obfli- 
nate and irreclaimable. 

The ordinary influence of his Spirit, in the 
converfion of finners, correfponds with the gen- 
ius of his gofpel, and the manner of his inftruc* 

The miraculous gifts of the Spirit, on the day 
of pentecolt, were difpenfed in a more grand 
and folemn manner. " When the difciples were 
gathered together, fuddenly there came a found 
from heaven as of a rufhing mighty wind, and 
it filled the houfe, where they were : And there 
appeared cloven tongues, like as of fire, and fat 
on each of them ; and they were filled with the 
holy Ghofl, and fpakc with other tongues." But 
the ordinary operation of the Spirit in the reno- 
vation of finners, and the faiiQification of believ- 
ers, is foft and mild — not like a flame of fire, but 
like a genial warmth — not like a rufiiing wind, 
but like a gentle breeze. The apoflle fays, " God 
has not given us the fpirit of bondage, but the 
fpirit of adoption — not the fpirit of fear, but the 
fpirit of love and of a found mind. 

The awakening and convincing power of the 
Spirit in finners is, doubtlcis, often attended 
with a degree of terror, greater or lefs according 
to the degree of guilt and enmity previoufly con- 
tra6led. But this terror, fo far as it is the efFeft 
of gofpel truth, and divine influence, is accom- 
panied with hope, not with delpair. Sinners 
W 4 under 

316 Serm. XLIV» 

under convi^lion may, indeed, be fo filled with 
a fenfe of guilt and danger, as, in a great meafure, 
to overlook the encouragements of the gofpel, 
and confequently to fall into great defpondency. 
But their defponding apprehenfions proceed from 
the wcaknefs of nature, or the power of temp- 
tations ; not from the dire6l influence of the 
Spirit of God. 

The gofpel, while it reprefents the awful danger 
of the carelefs and impenitent, propofes to the 
awakened and enquiring every poflible encour- 
agement. And the influence of the Spirit is fo 
agreeable to the gofpel, and fo confentaneous to 
reafon, that a man never feels the power of di- 
vine truth fo fenfibly, nor exercifes his under- 
ftanding fo clearly, as when he is under this 
heavenly dire6lion. 

A perfon, under true convi6lion of fin, will 
be deeply humbled, will fee vaft unworthinefs ; 
will feel his defert of condemnation ; will ad- 
mire God's patience toward fo guilty a creature. 
But horrible, defpairing apprehenfions are no 
part of real convi6tion. The divine Spirit comes 
to the foul, not like a vulture to terrify and de- 
vour, but like a dove to invite and allure. 

The Pfalmift confeff*es, that he had felt anx- 
ious doubts of God's mercy ; but he afcribes 
them to '* his own infirmity," not to the divine 

If we were to fuppofe a perfon enlightened to 
a view of his own finfulnefs, and, at the fame 
timCj a flranger to the hopes of the gofpel, we. 


Serm. XLIV, 317 

might expe6l to find him in a flate of horror and dif- 
may. But they who underftand the way of fal- 
valion through a redeemer, will feel hope kindly 
interpofing to relieve the terrors of guilt; ex- 
cept where hope is fecluded by partial views, 
miftaken opinions, injudicious counfel, a gloomy 
temper, or powerful temptations. The gof- 
pel holds up terrors to the impenitent and obfti- 
nate ; but the enquiring and returning fee a 
hope fet before them. 

You fear, perhaps, that you have never ex- 
perienced the transforming power of divine 
grace, becaufe you cannot remember to have 
felt thofe amazing terrors, of which you have 
heard fome godly people fpeak. But you mull 
confider, that the gofpel makes no certain degree 
of terror, the rule by which to judge of the fm- 
cerity of your repentance. This may be various 
in different fubje6ls, according to their different 
chara6i;ers and circumftances. The habitual dif- 
pofition of your hearts, with refpefl to fin and 
holinefs, is a far more certain indication of your 
charader. If you have had thofe convidions 
of fin, which have ilTued in a hatred of it, and 
in a choice of holinefs, you have had all that are 
neceffary. And whatever pangs and terrors you 
have known, if they have left you in the love, 
andunder the power of fin, your lafl ftateis worfe 
than the firfl. You are to judge of your (latCj 
rather by your habitual temper than by any 
temporary exercifes. A calm fedate view of the 
evil of fin, accompanied with a jufl apprehenfion 


3i8 Serm. XLIV. 

of the grace and mercy of the gofpel, is far 
more likely to produce a durable good efiPedl, 
than any violent overbearing terrors. Judas had 
horror without repentance. Felix was fuddenly 
flruck with the fear of a future judgment, but 
ftill continued in his fins. The height of relig- 
ious terrors will not enfure repentance, nor af- 
ford an evidence of it. More calm convidions 
often ilTue well. The Eunuch became a believer 
hy a rational attention to the gofpel ; and he 
went his way rejoicing. Lydia, in hearing the 
word, felt her heart opened to attend to the 
truth; and fhe was judged faithful to the Lord. 

I would not be underftood to infinuate, that 
violent convi6lions 7iever precede true repentance. 
Paul and the jailer trembled and were aftonifh- 
ed. But what I intend is, that there may be fuch 
convi6lions without repentance; and that there 
may be, and often is, repentance produced in a 
more eafy and gentle manner : So that we are to 
judge of the fmcerity of our repentance, rather 
by its abiding fruits, than by any remarkable cir- 
cumftances which preceded it. 

2. Our fubje61: farther teaches us, that they 
only are led by the Spirit of God, who are of a 
dovelike temper. 

True chriftians have in them the mind, which 
was in Chrift, and which w^as emblematically 
fignified in the gentle and dovelikc defcent of 
the Spirit upon him. 

The fpirit of God is faid to dwell in the hearts 

of believers. They are required to be filled with 


Serm. XLIV, 


the Spirit. Their having the fpirit is the teft, 
by which they are to judge, whether they belong 
to Chrift. *' Hereby we know that Chrifl is iu 
us, becaufe he hath given us of his Spirit." '' If 
any man have not the Spirit of Chrifl, he is none 
of his.'' 

Now, whether we have the fpirit of Chrift, or 
not, muft be determined by enquiring, whether 
we have that benevolent, pure, peaceable and 
humble temper, which the Spirit produces and 
preferves in thofe hearts where he makes his ref- 
idence. Let us always remember, that the Spirit 
comes like the dove. 

The divine influence will not render men 
haughty and turbulent, contentious and pafTion- 
ate, ftifF and overbearing, but calm and feri- 
ous, modeft and teachable, mild and condefcend- 
ing. *' The wifdom which is from above, is firll 
pure, then peaceable, gentle and eafy to be in- 
treated, full of mercy and good fruits, without 
partiality, and without hypocrify." The apoftle 
fays, '' The fpirits of the prophets are fubje6l to 
the prophets ; for God is not the author of con- 
fufion, but of peace/' This obfervation he 
makes in oppofition to thofe who excufed their 
diforderly condu6l, by alleging, that they were 
under the high operations of the Spirit. He 
would have them believe, that a divine operation 
never produced confufion in the mind, or dif- 
turbance in the church — never rendered men 
irrational in their condu6l, or troublefome to 


$20 Se^m. XLIV. 

their brethren — never was carried to fuch a 
height, as to deprive them of felfcommand, and 
transform them into madmen. 

It is abfurd then to impute to an uncommon 
influence of the Spirit any error of condudl, ex- 
cefs of paflion, extravagance of zeal, or bitter- 
nefs of cenfure ; for the Spirit comes like the 
dove. He is in the ftill, fm.all voice ; not in the 
ftorro, the earthquake and the fire. The fruits 
of the Spirit are, like his influences, fweet and 
benevolent. Thefe are love, joy, peace, longfuf- 
fering, gentlenefs, meeknefs, goodnefs, faith and 
^mperance. In thefe the main fubflance of re- 
ligion conQfls. 

True religion makes men humble and felf- 
diflruftful ; not arrogant and vain. It will not 
difpofe them to talk much of their own good- 
nefs ; but to fhew out of a good converfation 
their works with meeknefs of wifdom. It will 
not prompt the new convert, or youthful peni- 
tent, to affume the publick teacher and reprover, 
but will make him fwift to hear and flow to fpeak. 
It will not render the flomachs of new born babes 
difficult and fqueamifh, and apt to be difgufled 
with plain and wholefome food — it will teach 
them to lay apart all guile and hypocrify, and 
envy and evil fpeaking, and to feek the fmcere 
milk of the word, that they may grow thereby. 
It will urge men often to the humble exercifes of 
devotion — to felfexamination, confeflion, repen- 
tance and prayer. But it will not turn the fecret 


Serm. XLIV. 321 

devotions of the clofet into loud, oftentatious, 
pharifaical prayers. It will warm the heart with 
godly zeal : But this zeal will choofe to employ 
itfelf chiefly at home, in perfonal repentance 
and reformation. Whenever it goes abroad, it 
will take for its companions, Humility, Prudence 
and Charity. Bitter zeal defcends not from heav- 
en. It is not the fruit of that Spirit, which comes 
like the dove. " The wrath of man workcth not 
the righteoufnefs of God ; but the fruit of right- 
eoufnefs is fown in peace of them who make 

That enlightening and convincing influence, 
which difcovers to one the corruptions of his 
own heart, will, of courfe, make him humble. 
It will difpofe him to think others better than 
himfelf — not to fay, *' Stand by yourfelves, come 
not near to me, for I am holier than you." 
That temper, which is a fruit of the Spirit, la- 
ments the prevalence of error and wickednefs. 
But while it labours to promote chriftian purity, 
it labours alfo to promote charity and peace. 
While it longs for greater unity of fentiment, it 
is chiefly folicitous to fee a unity of aff'e£lion, 
among chrifl;ian profeflbrs. It reprobates none 
for fmall difl^erences, but judges with candour, 
and fl:udies the things which make for mutual 

It is by the exercife of fuch a dovelike temper, 
that we gain fatisfadtory evidence of our having 
the fpirit of Chrill. Whatever warmth of afl^ec- 
tion we may have felt on certain occafions ; if, 


^22 Serm. XLlv. 

in our general conduQ, we obey the motions of 
the flefti, we are not led by the fpirit. If we 
walk in the fpirit, we fhall not fulfil the lulls of 


3. Oar fabje6l reminds us of our obligations 

to adorn with good works our chiillian charac- 
ter, and to recommend to the choice of others the 
religion which weprofefs. We fhould refemble 
the dove, whofe wings are covered with filver, 
and her feathers with yellow gold. 

Chriflians are exhorted to provide things hon- 
ell in the fight of all men — to adorn the doc- 
trine of their Saviour in all things — to take heed, 
that their good be not evil fpoken of — to think 
efpecially of thofe things, which are of good 

That we may beautify our chriftian profef- 
iions we mud fee that our lives correfpond with 
it. '•' Let every one who nameth the name of 
Chri ft, depart from iniquity." If in words, we 
profefs to know Chrift, but in works deny him, 
we are abominable. We difgrace our profeflion 
and expofe it to contempt. We reprefent relig- 
ion as an empty, unmeaning thing. Paul fays, 
*' Though I fpeak with the tongue of men and 
angels, and have not chanty, I am as founding 
brafs, and a tinkling cymbal." 

We mufl maintain the univerfal pra6lice of 
duty. ''' Then fiiall we not be aflaamed, when 
ive have refpc^l to all God's commandments.'* 
The beauty of religion appears in its felfconfift- 
€ncy and uniformity. If w<- feem (o be ftri6l: 


■ I'm 

and confcientious In fome things, while we are 
loofe and carelefs in others, our religion is dif- 
jointed, misfhapen and deformed. 

We mufl particularly attend to the more m- 
portant parts of religion. He who is fcrupulous 
in trifles, and licentious in matters of real obli- 
gation — he who is fevere to condemn other peo- 
ple's errors, and yet admits palpable vice in his 
own pradice, fhews himfelf to be a hypocrite in 
heart, while, with his mouth, h'e pretends much 

The beauty of religion much depends on our 
maintaining the more amiable and engaging vir- 
tues ; fuch as charity, peaceablenefs, humility 
and meeknefs. However ferious, devout and 
godly we may feem, if we are i'elfifh, difhoneft, 
contentious, haughty, rigid and cenforious, our 
religion makes but an unfightly and forbidding 

A meek and quiet fpirit is an ornament of 
great price in the fight of God, and of peculiar 
beauty in the fight of men. 

Chriftian prudence is alfo very neceflary, that 
we may enjoy the comfort and difplay the beauty 
of our religion. We are required to be xvife, as 
well as harmlefs—- to walk in wifdom, and fhew- 
our works with meeknefs of wifdom. The pious 
chriftian, ading under the dire6tion of prudence, 
does every duty in its proper time, and attends 
to the various parts of religion in their place, 
and according to their importance^ fo that all 
coincide and unite in a beautiful order and 


324 Serm. XLIV. 

fymmetry. While he is conftant and exa6l in 
things of real obligation; in matters of indiffer- 
ence he is eafy and condefcending. And xvhile 
he a6ls mth a liberality of fentiment, which will 
be fettered by no human fyftems, and enilaved 
to no human cufloms, he avoids, in his dif- 
courfe and anions, thofe incautious freedoms, 
which, however innocent in themfelves, might 
grieve the tender minds of his brethren, or em- 
bolden finners to tranfgrefs. 

Our fubje6l teaches us our obligation to la- 
bour for the increafe of Chrifl's church — not 
only to enter into it ourfelves, but alfo to encour- 
age others to come and join themfelves to it. 

The fpirit of the gofpel is reprefented by the 
fy mbol of the dove. This fpecies of birds, loves 
to mingle in flocks. Hence the increafe of the 
church is expreffed by the flying of doves to 
their windows. 

Chrifl: came into the world to receive to him- 
felf a kingdom. He has purchafed a church 
with his own blood. He fends forth his fervants, 
to invite all, as many as they find, both bad and 
good, to come into it, that it may be filled* 
When, in the increafe of fubjetls, he fees thQ 
travail of his foul, he is fatisfied. 

They who come into his church, fhould bring 
with them a dovelike temper. They fiiould 
come fenfible of their guilt and weaknefs, and 
trufling in his grace and power for their fecu- 
rlty. They fliould come with pure.and upright 
intentions, with humble thoughts of themfelves, 


Skrm. XLIV. « 


with meeknefs and love to mankind, and with a 
fixed purpofe to maintain their fidelity to Chrift, 
and to one another. 

That they may flrengthen their faith and char- 
ity, and confirm their pious refolutions, they muft 
attend on the ordinances of Chrill's houfe ; and 
that they may promote his caufe and bring hon- 
our to his name, they mufl: invite and encourage 
the attendance of others. They nmfl throw no 
impediments in the way of his little ones ; but 
rather prepare the way, gather out the itones, 
and take up the ftumbling blocks. 

There are many things, which hinder the 
growth of Chrift's church, Thcfe we Ihould be 
folicitous to remove. 

The carelefs and irregular lives of chriftian 
profeilors are a Humbling block to many. 

However unjufl it may be, there are many 
who will reproach the whole church for the 
faults of particular members. And fuch re- 
proaches often operate as hinderances to ferious 
people, who would gladly enjoy the privileges 
of religious communion. If a church counte- 
nances, or tolerates known immoralities in any 
of her members, (he becomes a partaker of their 
guilt. But there may be irregularities, which 
are known only to a few, and for which the 
church colleQively is not refponfible. And 
there are many unguarded liberties taken by pro- 
feilors, which, though really difhonourable to re- 
ligion, cannot eafily be made matters of pubiick 
Vol. II. X ■ Now, 

326 Serm. XUV. 

Nou% as vv^e would prevent, or remove fuch 
Humbling blocks, we mud walk inofFenfiveiy 
ourfelves; and, when there is occafion, reprove 
and exhort one another in the fpirit of meeknefs. 
The way to promote the purity of the church is 
prefcribed by the apoftle. — ** Let us cleanfe our- 
felves from all filthinefs of the flefh and of the 

Controverjies among chriftians often have an 
tinhappy influence on the young and tender. 

When they fee the profeffors of the fame relig- 
ion withdrawing from each other's fellowfhip for 
differences in do6]:rine or difcipline, they are 
thrown into doubts, what denomination to choofe, 
and eventually perhaps they think contemptu- 
oufly of all, and join with none. 

To remove this flumbling block, we mufl: be- 
have toward each other with the dovelike fpirit 
of meeknefs, condefcenlion and love — never con- 
tend about little things, nor renounce commu- 
nion with a church foi* trivial errors. To reje61i 
a church, v;hich God has received, is to exalt 
ourfelves above him. And, concerning every 
church, we are to hope, that God has received 
her till fhe appears to have admitted eflTential 
corruptions ; and to retain them, after means of 
reformation have been ufed. 

Some caft flumbling blocks in the way of oth^ 
crs, by demanding in a church greater purity, 
than any means, which Chrift has put into our 
Bands, are eompeient to eflpcft. 

Serm. XLIV. f^2f 

No church on earth, however good are her 
aims, and however vigilant her difcipline, can 
prevent all impurity. Even the churches planted 
by the apoftles had fome corrupt and ungodly 
members. ** The kingdom of God is like a net 
caft into the fea, which gathers of every kind; 
and when they have brought it to the fhore, they 
gather the good into veffels, and caft the bad a- 
way. So fhall it be in the end of the world. 
Then the wicked Ihall be fevered from among 

Now if we reprobate in the grofsthofe churches, 
w^hich have in their communion fome unre- 
generate perfons, we lay ftumbling blocks before 
the weak; for, ^ Where fliall a church be found, 
to which they may venture to join ? 

Some lay hinderances in the way of others, hy 
fcandalizing the churches of Chiift, as if they 
profejfedly received, and knowingly tolerated wick- 
ed and ungodly perfons. 

This, 1 fuppoie, is a groundlcfs reproach. 
However negligent fome churches may be in the 
difcipline of offenders, yet I kno\v of none which 
a6ls on fo lax a principle. The churches require 
of their members a profeffed belief of, and fub- 
jettion to the gofpel of Chrift ; but they pre- 
tend not to be judges of the fincerity of the heart. 
They may probably admit, and retain fome, who 
give not all that evidence of their real godlinefs, 
which might be wifhed : But then it fhould be 
confidered, that they are vefted with no other au- 
thority than what Chrift has given them in his 
X 2 word ; 

328 Serm. XLIV. 

word; and that this is given for edification, not 
for deftruftion. They have from him no warrant 
to exclude men from the privileges of his houfe, 
but in a way of difcipiine. They may not cut 
them off arbitrarily, but only by a manifellation 
of their wickednefs. 

Some embarrafs the way to Chrifl's church by 
dreadful reprefentations of the peculiar guilt in- 
curred by approaching it inunregeneracy. They 
Itate the cafe in fuch a manner, that many will 
conclude, it is fafeft to forbear, until they have 
full and indubitable evidence of their converfion. 

But this is dating the cafe incautioufiy. Chrill 
commands all to come into his church, and to 
come in the fincerity of repentance and faith. 
He allows no man to turn away from it; and no 
man to enter into it for vile and wicked ends. 
A perfon's doubts concerning the goodnefs of 
his ilate, are not a reafon why he fhould negleO: 
this, or any other duty ; but a reafon, why he 
fhould examine himfelf, repent of his fins, and 
amend his ways. No man Ihould be deterred 
from entering into the church, by an apprehen- 
fion, that this, if he is unconverted, will be a great 
er fm than to abfent himfelf. For he is not to 
deliberate how he may fin moil fafely, but to be 
watchful that he may not fin at all. The wicked 
man is no where fafe, neither in the church, 
nor out of it. He who came to the marriage, 
and continued there without a wedding garment, 
and they who refufed to come at all, were pun- 
ifhed with equal feverity. No man ought to at- 

Serm. XLIV. 


tend on divine ordinances, in a formal and hyp- 
ocritical manner ; and no ferious perfon ought 
to negleft them, from doubts concerning his ha- 
bitual ftate. Let every one examine his prefent 
views and aims. He who is confcious that he 
a61:s under a fenfe of his obligation to God, and 
with a defire and intention to do his will, may 
be encouraged from hence to draw near to him ; 
nor ftiould he indulge the apprehenfion, that 
there is for him greater fafety without, than with- 
in the church; or real fafety any where, but in 
the path of duty, and in a flate of favour with 

Permit me to add : There are fome profef- 

fors of religion, who greatly obftru6l the growth 
and edification of the church, by their impru- 
dent cavils at the preaching, and illiberal ani- 
madverfions on the condu6l of minillers, efpe- 
cially in the prefence of children and youth, and 
in the company of the weak, unliable and difaf- 
fe6led. We, who are minillers, are confcious of 
many imperfe6vions ; and we thank our people 
when they favour us with their friendly advice/ 
But if they only talk againft us by the walls, and 
in the doors of their houfes, we confider them, 
as obllruding our influence, and weakening our 
hands ; as encouraging the enemies of religion, 
and pulling down the church of Chriil, which 
we Ihould all unite to build up and ellablifli. 

To conclude. As we wifli to promote the 
growth of Chrifl's church, let us walk worthy of 
him, wko has called us to his kingdom and glo- 
X3 ry; 

$^o Serm. XLIV. 

ry ; ftudy the things which make for peace ; 
condefcend to each other in cafes of di6Ference; 
contribute to the purity of the church by the 
holinefs of our own lives ; encourage thofe in 
whom hopeful difpofitions appear; lead them 
by our counfels and examples ; thus prepare the 
way and take up the Humbling blocks which 
caufe many to fall ; and let us pray for the hap- 
py time, when converts fhall flock into the king- 
dom of Chrifl as clouds, and as doves to their 





Psalm ixxxviii. 18. 

Lover and friend hajl thou put far from me, and 
mine acquaintance into darknefs. 

X HE author of this pi aim is called 
Heman the Ezrahite. He was not the celebrated 
muCcian of that name, who lived in David's 
time ; for that was a defcendant of Levi from his 
fon Kohath, and is therefore called a Kohathite, 
This was probably a defcendant of Judah from 
his fon Zerah, In what time he lived, and on 
what occafion he compofed this pfalm, is uncer- 
tain. From feveral expreflions, however, in the 
pfalm, it is probable, that he lived in the time 
of the captivity ; and, being a perfon of di^- 
tindion, was confined in fome lonely prifon, 
and excluded from intercourfe with his particu- 
lar friends. It is evident, at leaft, that fome dif- 

X 4 treffing 

332 Serm. XLV. 

trefling affii6lion gave occafion to thefe medita- 
tions; for they all run in a penfive and mournful 
ftrain. In his affli6lion, there was one circum- 
llance, which he felt with the mod tender fenfi- 
bility ; and that was feparation from his former 
acquaintance. He fays, verfe 8th, '' Thou haft 
put away mine acquaintance far from me ; and 
hall made me an abomination to them : I am 
fhut up, and 1 cannot come forth/* The fame 
complaint he repeats at the clofe of the pfaim. — 
'* Lover and friend, haft thou put far from me, 
and mine acquaintance into darknefs/' 

Many of his near friends, probably, were dead, 
having been flain by the Chaldeans. Some, per- 
haps, were confined in prifons remote from him, 
fo that he could receive no vifits from them. He 
could only fit, and mourn, in folitude, his pain- 
ful condition. That foft and tender folace, which 
fympathizing converfation among fellow fuff'er- 
ers is w^ont to afford, was now denied to him. 
But there was one confolation, of which the world 
could not deprive him, communion with God and 
•meditation on his providence. 

The words of our text will lead us to contem- 
plate, the pleafures and advantages of friendftiip 
— the painful trial of parting with friends — and 
the confolation, which, under fuch trials, is deriv- 
ed from a belief of God's governing providence. 

I. The happinefs of life greatly depends on 
intimate friendfhips. 

God made man for fociety ; and it is not good 
for him to be alone. In a ftate of folitude, he 


Serm. XLV. . ^^5 

could neither enjoy the world, nor himfelf. His 
natural paffions prompt him, and his unavoid- 
able wants impel him, to affociate with others. 

The power of fpeech, given us by the Creator, 
fiiews that we were dehgned for mutual inter- 
courfe; for, in folitude, this faculty would be 

We are naturally dependent on one another. 
No man isfufficient to relieve his own neceffities. 
It is by an interchange of cares and labours, that 
mankind fubfiR in a tolerable condition. 

Man alone would make but flow progrefs in 
mental improvement. It is by mutual commu- 
nication of experience and acquirement, that our 
powers are enlarged, and our knowledge advanc- 
ed. The knowledge which one acquires would 
beof butfmall ufe, if it was confined to himfelf; 
and more than half the pleafure of it would be 
loft to himfelf, if he had not opportunity to im- 
part it to others. 

As we cannot maintain an adual intercourfe 
with the human race in general, we are naturally 
led to form particular friendftiips. Heman. 
among his acquaintance, found fpme who were 
his friends and lovers. The divine Saviour, 
whofe benevolence extended to all men, embrac- 
ed fome as his intimate friends. He regarded 
with fpecial a[re6lion, thofe who received his 
doQrines. Among the believers in Judea, there 
were fome whofe houfes he made the place of his 
retreat ; and, in the family of his difciples, there 


34 Serm. XLV. 

was one, diflinguiflied by the n^me of the difci- 
ple whom he loved. 

In this world of change and trial, we find much 
latisfadion and refrefliment in having friends 
near us, with whom we may often converfe — to 
whom we can communicate our fentiments and 
feelings — from whom we can receive advice and 
affidance in our troubles — and in whofe fidelity 
and affeclion we can place uniufpefting confi- 

Such friendfhips are always ufeful ; but their 
importance is never fo fenfibly realized as in 
times of adverfily. When burdens lie heavy 
upon us, and our Ptrength is finking under them, 
we rejoice to find one at hand, on whofe friendly 
arm we can lean — into whofe open bofom we 
can pour our cqmplaints — and whofe fympa- 
thizing prayers v/ill afcend with ours to the 
throne of grace. 

Heman fays, ''My foul is full of troubles; I 
am as a man who hath rio ftrength — my acquaint- 
ance is put far from me.*' A more melancholiy 
{late, than this which he defcribes, can hardy 
be imagined — preffed with forrow, deprived of 
ftrength, and removed from friends. 

Friendfhip is neceffary on religious accounts. 
Religion itfelf is of a focial nature. It greatly 
confifts in benevolent difpofitions and friendly 
offices. Friendfhip, founded on virtuous prin- 
ciples, foftens and humanizes the heart, and pro- 
motes a general philanthropy — a good will to 
ail around us. In the progrefs of the chriflian 


Serm. XLV. 335 

temper, we add to brotherly kindnefs, charity. 
By what we feel in our ov\rii particular connex- 
ions, we learn what others feel in theirs, and thus 
we more fenfibly intereft ourfelves in their joys 
and forrows. 

Virtuous friendfliip, is fubfervient to piety. 
Mutual example and converfation warm a godly 
zeal, confirm good rcfolutions, fortify the foul 
againfl temptations, and facilitate the difl&cult 
duties of religion. "Iron fharpeneth iron, fo a 
manfharpeneth the countenance of his friend :" — 
" Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart : So 
doth the fweetnefs of a man's friend by hearty 

There is no kind of friendfhip fo intimate and 
ufeful, as the domejlick. This, perhaps, our Pfalm- 
ifl: had particularly in view when he fpake, in 
fuch an affectionate manner, of the removal of' 
acquaintance, lover and friend. 

This friendfhip, which is ufually founded in 
affeclion, is ftrengthened and confirmed by unity 
of intereft, reciprocal offices of kindnefs, and dai- 
ly intercourfe and converfation. In the expref- 
five language of fcripture, the parties are " one 
flefti." Their views, defigns and concerns are 
the fame, they have a common relation to thofe 
who defcend from them — their affe6lions meet 
and mingle in the fame objeds — and, by degrees, 
the fibres of their hearts become fo interwoven 
and intwifted, that a feparation cannot be made 
without diftreffing pangs and bleeding wounds. 
We propofed, 

11. To 

335 Serm. XLV. 

II. To contemplate the painful trial of parting 
with intimate friends. This Heman laments as 
the fevered circumftance. in his affliaion, that 
*' lover and friend were put far from him." The 
removal of any friend is an affliQ:ion that mud 
be felt, but nothing wounds the heart fo deeply 
as the diffolution of the conjugal connexion. 
This crofies the ilrongeft afFe£lion, and fruft rates 
the mod pleafmg hopes of the furviving partner. 
It brings on a gloomy train of new and unex- 
perienced cares. Every rifmg care revives a 
pungent fenfe of the lofs fuftained. In former 
afflidions, there was the folace of mutual fym- 
pathy. In this the penfive mourner fits alone 
and keeps filence, finding none, to whom the 
feelings of the heart can be communicated, 
or who can take an equal fhare in its anguifh. 
The anguifh is augmented by a recolledion of 
pad delights, which now are ded, to return no 
more. The light of children deprived of one 
who naturally cared for them, fwells the tide of 
grief. When the defolate mourner walks abroad, 
nature appears covered with a gloom ; and when 
he treads the empty chamber, abforbed in filent 
meditation, the hollow dome fadly echoes to the 
found of his feet, and rnburnfully whifpers back 
his deep fetched fighs. Every obje6l; which 
meets his eyes — every found which drikes his 
ears, reminds him that lover and friend is put 
far from him, and his acquaintance into dark- 


Serm. XLV. ooy 

Refle6i;ion eafily convinces us, that fuch an 
afflidion is great : How great, experience only 
can realize. 

The fcripture, whii" is always juft and natur- 
al in its defcriptioRs, places this among the moft 
grievous adverfities. God fays to the propheC 
Ezekiel, "Son of man, behold, I take away from 
thee, the deGre of thine eyes with a flroke : YeC 
neither fhalt thou mourn nor weep ; neither fhall 
tears run down thy cheeks." — This is not to be 
underftood as a general prohibition of mourn- 
ing for the lofs of friends ; but as an iniimation, 
that the prophet's affiidion would be fo ^reat 
and fudden, as to confound and aftoniih him, 
lock up the avenues of tears, and render him in- 
capable of the relief which nature affords in 
Hiore moderate aflQi6lions, In this, Ezekiei was 
align to the children of Ifrael. He fays, '-'I 
fpake to the people in the morning, and at even 
my wife died ; and I did as I was commanded. 
And the people faid unto me, i Wilt thou not 
tell us, what thefe things are to us ? And I an- 
fwered them, Thus faith the Lord, I will profane 
my fanftuary, the excellency of your ftrength, 
and the defireof your eyes.; and that which your 
foul pitieth ; and your children fhall fall by 
the fword ; and ye fhall do as I have done; ye 
fhall not mourn nor weep, but fhall pine away 
in your iniquities." — The greatnefs of that dif- 
trefs, which Ihould attend the defolation of Judea, 
is here aptly reprefented by the fudden death of 
the prophet's wife ; an event which left him in 


33^ Serm. XLV» 

fuch folitary. deep felt anguifh, as groans could 
not exprefs, nor tears relieve. 

A ftate of great and helplefs calamity, is alfo 
cxpreflTed by a ftate of widowhood. The prophet 
Jeremiah defcribing the defolation of Jerufalem, 
fays, *' How doth the city (it folitary that was 
full of people ! How is fhe become a widow ! 
She hath none to comfort her/' Widowhood is 
confidered, in fcripture, as a ftate peculiarly 
helplefs and pitiable. 

Hence we meet with fo many cautions not to 
opprefs the widow; and fo many injundions to 
relieve and defertd her. The apoftles confidered 
the cafes of thofe who were widows and defolate, 
as intitled to fpecial attention. For fuch the 
primitive church made particular provifion. 
When Jefus faw the breathlefs body of a young 
man carried forth to the grave, a circumftance in 
the cafe, which touched his benevolent heart, 
was, that this was the only fon of his mother, 
and flie was a widow. Pitying her afflidlion, 
he flopped the proceffion, awoke the dead, and 
reftored him to her alive. 

The language of fcripture, in fuch tender 
cafes, correfponds with the feelings of nature. 
We proceed to fliew. 

That in this, as indeed in every affli^lion, the 
beft confolation is drawn from a belief of, and 
meditation upon, God's governing providence. 

In the lofs of friends, Heman acknowledged 
God's holy and fovereign hand. *' Thoii. haft: 
put them far from me." 


SiRM. XLV. .^2Q 

This confideration filenced David's complaint; 
" I was dumb ; I opened not my mouth, be- 
Gaufe thou didft it/' Job felt the influence of 
the fame fentiment. *' The Lord gave ; and he 
hath tat en away ; and bleffed be his name." 

All events are under the dire6lion of God's 
hand. The circumftances of our life, the time 
and manner of our death, the relations which 
we fuflain, and the, continuance and diifolution 
of the connexions which we form, are ordered 
and determined by his providence. To him the 
fcripture afcribes, not only great, but fmall ; no£ 
only miraculous, but common occurrences ; not 
only the fufpenfion, but the operation of the laws 
of nature ; yea alfo, the events in v»7hich human 
agency is concerned, as well as thofe which feem 
to proceed more immediately from him. 

Hence good men derive their flrongefl Confo- 
lation amidft the vicillitudes and adverfities of 
this mortal ftate. 

God is fupreme and above all : He gives not 
an account of his matters : ^ Who fhali fay to 
him, What doeft thou ? Though he is high, he 
has refpe6l to the lowly ; the hairs of their head 
are all numbered. Though his judgments are 
unfearchable, yet we know that they are right, 
and no injury can we fear from him. His wifdom: 
is perfe61; ; it clearly views every circumflance of 
our condition, and exa6lly traces all the connex- 
ions of things, even lo the remoteft ages of eter- 
Hity ; it can judge for us with fafety in feafons 
of greateft darknefs ; and can overrule, for ou? 


34C> Serm. XLV. 

good, the afflidibns, which are mofl threatening 
in their appearance, andmoft painful to bear. He 
is very pitiful and of tender mercy : He afflids 
not willingly, nor grieves the children of men ; 
but corrects them for their profit, that they may 
be partakers of his holinefs ; he is a very pref- 
ent help to thofe who are in trouble ; he invites 
them to call upon him, and alTures them of his 
gracious attention. And though what he does, 
they know not now, he has given them his faith- 
ful promife, that no evil fhall happen to the juft, 
but all things (hall work together for their good. 
This life is a ihort period of probation for e- 
ternal happinefs. In the profpe6t of approach- 
ing glory, believers may rejoice, though now, for 
a feafon, if need be, they are in heavinefs, 
through manifold temptations. 

A ftate of mortality muft neceifariiy be attend- 
ed with afflidion. The connexions, and rela* 
tions, which exiil among the human race, are 
proper for the prefent ftate. We could not fub- 
fift, nor the world be continued without them. 
The reciprocal aflPedion which lefults from thefe 
connexions, is exceedingly ufeful and happy. It 
fweetens and endears the relations of life, and 
facilitates the relative and focial duties. But 
ilill it is a fpring of bitter anguifh, when thefe 
connexions are broken. Without it we cannot 
enjoy the pleafures, nor difcharge the duties, of 
friendlhip. And while we have it, we cannot 
but feel the ftroke, which parts from us lover 
and friend, and hides them long in darknefs* 


S^ERM. XLV. g^i 

AfIli(5lion mufl therefore be an attendant on fuch 
a condition as the Creator has hc-/e affigned us. 

We wonder, perhaps, why fo benevolent a Be- 
ing fhould place his creatures in a condition fub- 
je6i: to fo much forrow. But we fhould reilea, 
that this affedion, from which forrow fprings, is, 
on the whole, a fource of fuperiour enjoyment. 
We derive from it more pleafure than pain. The 
greater part of our prefent happinefs arifes from 
friendfhip and fociety. The love which unites 
friends, makes their connexion happy while it 
lads. It is the lot of mod men to enjoy, throup-h 
life, more friends than they lofe. The pain of 
feparation is indeed rriore pungent, but lefs per- 
manent, than the pleafure of the union. Time^ 
reafon and grace, improve and heighten the lat- 
ter, but kindly mitigate and foften the former. 

Let it alio be remembered, that this life is only 
a fmall part of our exiltence — a fhort trial in 
order to lailing happinefs ; and " thefe prefent 
light affiidions, which are but for a moment, are 
working for us a far more exceeding and an e- 
ternal weight of glory.'* 

They admonilh us of the fhortnefs of life and 
quicken us to improve it. 

Cool ledures on human frailty, and general 
obfervations on the mortality of our race, often 
leave the heart unaffeQed. But the removal of 
a near and intimate friend brings the thoughts 
of death home to our feelings. When the awful 
llroke comes within the walls of our own cham- 
ber — within the curtains of our own bed, v/e 
Vol. IL Z cannot 

342 Serm. XLVo 

cannot refill the impreflion of this ferious truth, 
that we muil alfo fail. We (hall then, if at any 
time, feel how fliort and tranfient this life is; 
enter into a ferious examination of ourfelvcs ; 
and form new refolutions to improve the uncer- 
tain remains of life in the pra6lice of religion. 

The vanity of the world never appears more 
liianifeft, than when they, on whom our worldly 
joys chiefly depended, are removed into dark- 
nefs. How empty the world looks to one, 
whom lover and friend have forfaken ! i What 
iinds he now worth living for? In this folitary 
condition his meditations will rife to that bet- 
ter ilate, v/here more lailing connexions will be 
formed, and thefe melancholy changes will af- 
fii6i him no more. 

The removal of friends is an admonition to 
draw near to God, and place our hope in him. 
'* She that is a widow indeed, trufts in God, 
and continues in prayers and fupplications night 
and day." And well fhe may ; for God, her 
maker and her hufband, has given her this kind 
invitation and promife, *' Leave thy fatherlefs 
children, I will preferve them ; and let the wid- 
ow tvafi in me." W^hen friends are about us, 
we place a confidence, alas ! too great a confi- 
dence in them. When they are put into dark- 
nefs, we feel how juR: is this caution, " Truil 
not in man, vi^hofe breath is in his noilrils ; i For 
wherein is he to be accounted of ? We then 
repair to God as the only unfailing friend. On 
liim wc caft our cares, and to him we make 


iSfeRM. XLV. 243 

known our re^uefls. We find our fouls more en- 
larged in communion with him; can open out- 
hearts more freely and fully ; perceive a greater 
fenfibility of mind, fervency of defire, fixednefs 
of attention, and copioufnefs of expreflion, than 
we ever found in thofe dull periods of life, when 
profperity deadened our affedions, and the world 
engroifed our thoughts. 

Religion now (lands confeffed in its reality 
and importance. 

In the fmooth feafons of life, we can pafs along 
with little help from religion. We fatisfy our- 
felves, perhaps, with a general belief of its truths 
and a formal attendance on its duties. But in. 
the day of affliction, we find no fource of real 
comfort, but in religion. We look not to the 
world for relief; for this we fee to be full of for- 
row and difappointment. It is only a belief of 
God*s perfections and government, a confciouf- 
nefs of our love to him, an application of his 
promifes, and a hope of future joys, that can 
make afflidlion fit foft and eafy upon us, and en- 
able us with dignity to fuftain its weight. 

When a friend is removed, we naturally 
think how important religion was to him : But 
our thoughts, which anxioufly follow him to an- 
other world, foon return back in this home- 
felt refledlion ; *' As neceffary as religion was 
to him, fo necelfary it is to us. We are as mor- 
tal as he was. Our folicitude muft be no more 
about thofe who are gone before us ; but about 
ourfelves who are foon to follow them^" 

Z 2 We 

344 Serm. XLV. 

We now learn the reafpnablenefs of content- 

At ordinary times, how anxious are we about 
our worldly condition! How fearful of this and 
the other pofiible evil ! How eafily difcompofed 
by trifling incidents ! But now, when a real af- 
flidion has befallen us, trifles appear what they 
are. We fee that former occafions of difquiet- 
ude, were unworthy of the attention which we 
gave them. We now think, we could fubmit to 
them all, without one uneafy thought, if we 
might be, as in months paft, when our lover and 
friend was with us. We now learn to rebuke 
ihofe foolifli anxieties, which, in profperous days, 
fo often vexed our fpirits, and embittered our 

Afflidion teaches us humility. 

When we look on the breathlefs remains of an 
intimate friend, we fee what all men are — what 
we ourfelves are — creatures of duft, returning 
to duft again, i What is all the glory of man, 
but a fading flower ? ^ What is all the pride of 
worldly dl[lin6lion, but vanity and corruption ? 
£ What can we fee, as a pretence for exultation, 
in ourfelves, who are finners, under fentence of 
death ? 

Affli6lion teaches us compaflion. 

While we feel the forrow which attends the 
difiblution of our intimate connexions, we learn 
what others feel in fimilar trials : We fee the 
propriety of the apoftle's advice; *' Remember 

them who are in bonds, as bound with them ; 


Serm. XLV. g^r 

and thofe who fufFer adverfity, as being your- 
felves alfo in the body/' 

Finally ; -The death of friends is of ufe to 

awaken into exercife our faith in Jefus Chrift, 
who died to redeem us from the grave ; has rifen 
to affure us of immortality ; has afcended to 
prepare for us a place in heaven ; and now lives 
that we might live alfo. 

Let us extend our views to that glorious flate 
whither he is gone ; live under the influence of 
his religion, in imitation of his example, and in 
the hopes of his kingdom ; and thus confole our 
hearts in all the forrows of life, reckoning that 
all the fufferings of the prefent lime, are un- 
worthy to be compared with the glory which 
fhall be revealed. 




Psalm, Ixviii* 19. 

Blejfed be the Lord who daily loadeth us wiih hen- 
ejits, even the God of our falvation. 

J\ BEING, whofe prefence pervades 
the univerfe, whofe power fuftains all worlds, 
and whofe goodnefs fupplies the wants of every 
living thing, is the mofl: grand and delightful 
thought, that can fill and warm the human mind. 
To contemplate the perfe6lions and works of 
this Being, to adore him for what he is, and 
praife him for what he does, is the nobleft exer- 
cife, that can employ a rational creature. This 
is the principal work of angels and faints in heav- 
en, and not a fmall part of the employment of 
godly fouls on earth. 


Serm. XLVL - . ^^y 

Sudden and furprifing interpofitions of prov- 
idence may. deeply afFe6l thofe, who in ordinary 
circumftances, live without God in the world. 
But they, whofe minds are formed to an habitual 
fenfe of his government, will feriouily obferve 
his daily benefits, and regard them as calls to 
daily devotion. Under a fenfe of tlieje, David 
was prefTed with a load of gratitude, of which he 
could difburthen himfelf only by daily praife. 

** Blelfed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us 
with benefits." 

To illuftrate irhe propriety of this acknowledp^- 
ment ; and to {hew our obligations to praife our 
great Benefador, is the defign of the prefent dif- 

I. We will illuftrate the propnefy of David's 
thankful acknowledgment. 

Common and daily mercies are thofe, wiLh 
which we are principally loaded. From them 
arife our highefl obligations to gratitude. For, 

1. God's daily benefits are, by far, the moil 

*' I How precious are his thoughts unto us ? 
I How great is the fum of them ? If we fhould 
count them, they are jnore in number than the 
fand."— *' How many are the wonderful works, 
which he has done ; and his thoughts, which are 
to usward ! They cannot be reckoned up in or- 
der to him. If we would declare and fpeak of 
them, they are more than can be numbered." 

The frame of our bodies, and the faculties of 
our minds difplay the goodnefs of the Creator, 
Z 4 *' 1 will 

348 Serm. XLVI. 

'• I will praife thee/' fays David, '' for I am fear- 
fully and wonderfully tnade. Marvellous are 
thy works, and that my foul knoweth right well. 

How curious, and complicated is the body in 
which we refide ! Every part is adapted to fome 
important end. Every member has its obvious 
ufe : Every veffel and fibre anfwers fome elTen- 
tial purpofe in the animal economy. 

The feveral fenfes are minifters of information 
and enjoyment. They (land as monitors to 
warn us of danger, and wait as guides to direcl 
us in our path. 

As this decaying frame is kept in repair hy 
continual nutrition, the Creator has put within 
us an appetite for our necelFary food, that the 
daily ufe of it may be accompanied with delight, 
and the means of procuring it may be purfued 
with cheerfulnefs. 

The natural pafiions, ading in their proper 
places, appear to be cfTential parts of our confli- 
tution, and difplay the wifdom and goodnefs*of 
him who made us. Fear guards us from dan- 
ger — dcfire quickens our pOirfuit of happinefs — 
hope animates and fweelens our Xdihonx s—Jhame 
reltrains us from unworthy aQions — love unites 
us in fociety — companion interefts us in each oth- 
er's welfare, and prompts our exertions for the 
relief of diftrefs. 

As our infant flate is helplefs and dependent, 
God has implanted in the parent's breafl a ftrong 
affe6lion for his offspring, which, v/hile it fecures 


Serm. XL VI. 349 

them from negle6l, fweetens his duty to them, 
and comforts him in the toil of his hands. 

To prefide over the inferior powers, the infpi- 
ration of the Almighty has given us underfland- 
ing. This elevates us above the animal tribes^ 
and renders us capable of fuperiour fervices, en- 
joyments and profpedls. 

*' The earth is full of his riches/' The table 
of his providence is widely fpread, and bounti- 
fully furnilhed, to fupply our outward wants, 
and gratify our natural defires. 

*^ The heavens declare his glory : '* The fun 
enlightens and warms us with his beams; and, 
when he retires, the moon and flars hang out their 
lamps to abate the gloom and foften the horrors 
of night. The winds, by their various motions, 
preferve the falubiity of the air, waft around 
the clouds freighted with enriching (bowers, mit- 
igate the fultry heat of the fumraer's fun, kindly 
fan the weary laborer and the panting animal, 
facilitate the procefs of vegetation, and aid the 
intercourfe of diftant nations. 

We are vifited with unfailin,cr returns of dav 
and night, which alternately invite us to labour 
and reft. The viciffitude of the feafons, with- 
out which the greater part of the globe would be 
incapable of habitation, is regularly maintained. 

The heavens and the earth hold out to our 
view, various objeds of contemplation for the 
improvement of the mind. They prefent us 
with fcenes of grandeur to ftrike us with afton- 
ilbment : They exhibit works of wifdom to 


350 SfiiiM. XLVL 

raife our admiration : They difcover endlefs proofs 
of divine bounty to excite our gratitude. , , 

Befides thefe daily benefits, which are common 
to all, every one may recolle6l a thoufand perfonal 
and domeflick favours ; fuch as the continuance of 
his reafon and health; fuccefs in his calling; de- 
liverance from danger ; a capacity for refrefh- 
ment and repofe ; the joys of peace and friend- 
Ihip ; and quietnefs and fafety in his dwelling, 
God compaffes our paths by day, and our beds 
by night : He keeps us while we fleep ; and when 
we awake we are flili with him. To the blefiinsrs 
of his providence are added thofe of his grace. 
By hi^ lively oracles and inftituted worfliip, he 
aflPords us the means .of fpiritual knowledge and 
comfort. Through the redemption of his Son 
he oflFers us the pardon of fin, the afliflance of his 
fpirit, accefs to him in prayer, and the light x)f 
his countenance. 

Thefe are not tranfient, but permanent privi- 
leges. He continues them to us, until, by put- 
ting them away, we judge ourfelves unw^orthy of 
them. Lo, thefe are a part of his ways. In vain 
we attempt to recount his benefits : yVs well may 
we number the ftars of heaven, which, while we 
gaze, lofe all diflinction, and mingle in one gen- 
eral glow. 

2. Daily benefits are the gncatejl in their na- 

Thefe are effential not only to our temporary 
exiftence in this life, but to our eternal happinefs 

in . 

Serm. XLVL 35t 

in the next. Compared with thefe, the mercies, 
which we caWfpecial, are of fmall importance. 

A providential deliverance from unforefeen 
danger will deeply affe6t the mind : But, i Are wc 
not more indebted to divine goodnefs for the pre- 
vention of fuch danger ? It is a mercy to be fnatch- 
ed from the jaws of death : But, ^ Is it not a fu- 
periour mercy to be preferved from falling into 
this extremity ? Recovery from fevere ficknefs is 
a favour : But, ^ Is not continued health a far 
greater favour ? The fudden accumulation of 
property, by God's blefling on our lawful deCgns, 
would be regarded, at lead, with a tranfient grat- 
itude : I Shall we then forget the daily fupply 
of our wants, and the daily fuccefs of our la- 
bours ? Thefe are bounties of fuperiour confe- 
quence. . 

Still more precious is the privilege of daily 
converfe with God's word, accefs to his throne, 
hope in his mercy, and affiftance from his fpirit. 
3, Daily benefits are the moft extenfive. 
The man, in whom the benevolence of thegof- 
pel reigns, rejoices with them who rejoice. The 
pleafure which refults from his perfonal bleffings, 
is heightened by a participation in the bleffings 
enjoyed by others. Special and extraordinary fa- 
vours are the lot of but few, and of thefe but fel- 
dom. Ordinary mercies flow every where ; they 
appear widely fpread among the human race. 
In the contemplation of thefe, as enjoyed by man- 
kind in general, the benevolent heart rejoices dai- 
ly. In the view of the other it can rejoice but 


352 Serm. XLVI. 

rarely, becaufe they are thinly fcattered, and fel- 
dom feen. Great riches, elevated honours, and 
remarkable fuccefs in bulinefs, if they are to be 
called benefits, yet are benefits vouchfafed to a 
fmall proportion of mankind; and they are of- 
tener the objetls of envy, than of real, fmcere 
congratulation. They yield little fatisfadion to 
the poireffors, and little pieafure to the fpe6la- 
tors. Common mercies are fo equably diflFufed, 
that they offer no provocation to envy ; and fo 
generally enjoyed, that the good man, ev..ry where, 
meets a gratification of his benevolent wiflies. 

The heavens declare the glory, and the earth 
difplays the goodnefs of God to all men. The 
common Parent caufes his fun to fhine, and his 
fliowers to fall promifcuoufly, on the rich and the 
poor, on the evil and the good. The feafons dif-r 
penfe their influence, and the earth diftributesits 
bounties without partiality. Health and compe- 
tence are indulged to men in general, for much 
the greater part of life. There are few, who can- 
not number more days of eafe, fecurity and ful- 
nefs, than of pain, terror and want. 

The blefiings of God's grace are held out to 
men, with a free and undiflinguifhing hand. Par- 
don is offered, on the fame terms, to finners of 
every defcription. The doors of heaven are fet 
open for the reception of all who will enter. The 
aids and comforts of God's Spirit are promifed, 
without exception, to all who feek them. In 
Chrift Jefus there is neither bond nor free, Greek 
nor Jew, but all are one in him. 

4, Common 

Serm. XLVI. gr^ 

4. Common mercies are permanent, becaufe thev 
are neceffary. Special benefits are but occafional, 
and therefore tranficnt. We neither need them 
often, nor can enjoy them long. As they ufual- 
ly fucceed fome great aifli6tion, or imminent dz.*Ti-' 
ger, they are well fuited to awaken the {lumber- 
ing mind into gratitude and praife. But we can- 
not receive them often, becaufe we are not often 
in adverfity. We are continually with God. He 
guides us by his counfel, prote6ls us by his pow^ 
er, and fupplies us by his goodnefs. The mer* 
cies which attend us one day, return with the re- 
turning day. They fail not; they are new every 

We fee how juftly it may be faid, *' We are 
daily loaded with benefits." Oar daily mercies 
are innmnerabk — they are of infinite weight— th^y 
are conjiant — they are extended to alL 

While we enjoy them ourfelves, we may look 
around, and fee thoufands Iharing them with us. 
The pleafures of benevolence may unite with the 
jOVS of gratitude, to enliven and exalt our praife. 

II. Let us now contemplate our obligations to 
render praife to the God of our falvation. 

Bleffings which flow from pure, feifmoving 
goodnefs and love, without any merit on our 
part, or felfiflinefs on the part of the giver, are 
the proper matter of our thankfgiving. Such are 
all the bleffings which come from God. It is not 
his own profit, nor our worthinefs ; but his mer- 
cy, and our neceffity, which move him to beliow 
them. As he is pofleired of infinite wifdom and 


354 Serm. XLVI^ 

power, he can need nothing from his creatures, 
and can have no motive out of himfelf — no mo- 
tive but his own goodnefs, to difpenfe his favours 
to them. He is not worfhipped by men's hands, 
as though he needed any thing from them, feeing 
he gives to them life, and breath and all things. — 
** Of him, through him, and to him are all things. 
To him be glory forever.*' We are not only de- 
pendent, but guilty : We have done nothing to 
merit, but much to forfeit, the bleffings of God's 
love. In this view our obligations to gratitude 
are mightily increafed. His mercies and our in- 
iquities are heightened by the contrail. Our in- 
iquities, committed againft his rich mercy, are 
vaftly aggravated. His mercy, exercifed amidft 
all our guilt is inconceivably exalted. The Pfalm- 
ift contemplates them together, that he may feel 
the flronger fenfe of both. *' Many, O Lord, are 
thy wonderful works, and thy thoughts which 
are to usward. They are more than can be num- 
bered."—" Mine iniquities have taken hold < o.a 
me, fo that I cannot look up. They are m.ore 
than the hairs of my head ; therefore my heart 
faileth me." 

For God's innumerable and unm.erited benefits, 
our gratitude and obedience is a proper return ; 
and the more fo, becaufe this is the only return 
we can make. ** i What fhall I render to the 
Lord," fays David, " for all his benefits ? I will 
take the cup of falvation, and call upon the name 
of the Lord ; I will offer the facrifice of thankf- 
giving. I will pay my vows to the Lord." 


vSerm. XLVI, 


Our obligation to praife God is as plain and 
undeniable, as our obligation to love, truft, or 
fear hira. It arifes from his charaQer, and our 
reiaiion to him. If we ought to love him, be- 
caufe he is perfe6l — to fear him becaufe he is al- 
mighty — to truft in him, becaufe he is alifuffi- 
cient ; then we ought to be thankful to him and 
blefs his name, becaufe he is the God of falvation^ 
who daily loads us with benefits. 

" It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord; 
it is pleafant, and praife is comely." Praife em- 
ploys our noblelt powers, fweetens the temper, 
expels anxious cares, ftills the murmurs of dif- 
content, fmooths the rude paffions, and compofes 
the foul, in the day of adverlity, to cheerful hope 
and refignation. 

I What can difturb and ruffle a mind filled 
with a delightful fenfe of God's righteous govern- 
ment, and daily employed in the grateful contem- 
plation of his wonderful goodnefs and love ? This 
exercife is adapted to raife us above the world, 
and fit us for heaven. It is the employment of 
faints and angels there ; and will be ours, when 
we arrive there. 

Charity is greater than faith and hope, becaufe 
thefe will ceafe with life ; but that will never fail. 
Praife is better than prayer and humiliation, be- 
caufe thefe are exercifes which belong only to the 
prefent ftate ; that will be the everlafting bufi- 
nefs of happy fpirits above. 

A pious man needs no arguments to evince his 
obligation to this duty. He feels it juft as he 


35<5 Serm. XLVI. 

feels his obligation to love and fear God. It is 
his very temper. A view of God's charaQer ex- 
cites his admiration and praife. A recollecliou 
of divine benefits awakens his gratitude and joy. 
. Our fabje6t will eaiily fuggefl to us fome ufe- 
ful reflections. 

1 . How vafl are our obligations to our heaven- 
ly Benefa6lor ! 

If obligations are proportionable to benefits re- 
ceived, ours tnuft be immenfe ; for we are daily 
loaded with benefits. If a friend ffiould relieve 
us in a time of helplefs didrefs, or refcueusfrom 
death in the moment of defpairing anguifh, his 
kindnefs would leave on our hearts an imprefTion 
of gratitude, which time could not obliterate. 
We fhould delight to fee his face. We fhould 
often feek his company. With pleafure we fhould 
repeat to him, and relate to others, the flory of 
our calamity and deliverance. ^ And fhall we 
forget the God of our falvation, who has not on- 
ly refcued us from danger and diftrefs, but pre- 
vented us with the blefTings of his goodnefs ? The 
blefTmgs which he bellows are of infinite value, 
continued from day to day, and numerous as the 
moments of our lives. How our obligations in- 
creafe ! How fhould our gratitude fwell and over- 
flow ! I Who can utter the mighty a6ls of our 
God l-^i Who can fhew forth all his praife ? The 
grateful heart feels more than the mouth can ex- 
prefs.— The Flalmift fays, " Praife waitetb for 
thee, O God, in Zion/' The margin renders it 
more emphatically, ** Praife hfilent before thee.** 


lERM. XLVI. Qk^ 

When praife attempts to fpeak God's goodnefs, 
it falters — it finks into filence under the weight 
of the fubjed — it waits in folemn fnfpenfe to 
know what to fay ; and, after all, rather admires 
than utters the memory df God's great goodnefs. 
2. Our fubjc6l ftrongly urges us to daily de- 

The Pfalmifl fays, *' Every day will I praife 

thee, and blefs thy name forever/' '« It is a 

good thing to give thanks to the Lord, to praife 
thy name, O molt high; to fhew forth thy loving 
kindnefs in the morning, and thy faithful nefs, 
every night/* 

The daily worfhip of God by prayer and 
thankfgiving, is a duty fo plainly refulting from 
our continual dependence on him, and his unceaf- 
ing bounty to us, that a thinking mind cannot but 
difcern it, and a pious heart cannot but feel it. 
And if, in private devotion, we ought to recolle61; 
and acknowledge perforial favours ; for the fame 
rcafon, families are bound to recognize their 
common bleilings, and with united voices to ex- 
prefs their common gratitude and joy, 

3. How unreafonable is envy and difcontent I 
When we look round on our fellow mortals, 
we fee thofe whom we imagine to be in a more 
eligible condition than ourfelves. But perhaps 
we misjudge. We fee only the brighter fide of 
their condition, and we attend to the dark fide of 
our own. In our flate, there are agreeable cir- 
cumllances, which we overlook ; in theirs, fcjna 
Vol. II, A a circumdances 

358 Serm. XLVL 

circumftances of bitternefs may lie concealed 
from our notice. 

But whatever may be their condition, i Can we 
not find, in our own, fufficient matter of praife ? 
I Who can fay, he is not daily a fubjed of divine 
favours ? Yea, daily loaded with them ? — i Shall 
we be diflatisfied with a condition, in which we 
daily experience more mercies than we can ex- 
prefs ? — ^ Shall we envy the bleflings of our 
neighbours, when our own amount to fuch a load, 
as all our gratitude cannot equal ? 

When we feel ungodly pailions working with- 
in us, let us commune with our own hearts, and 
be Hill. Let us review the benefits which we 
have received, and meditate on thofe which we 
enjoy, and thus learn, in every Hate, to be content. 

4. We fee, that there is no occafion for anxie- 
ty about fut'jre events. 

We have daily been loaded with God's mer- 
cies, and firll we may truft ourfelves in his hands. 

Changes often take place in nations, in fam- 
ilies, and in the condition of particular perfons f 
but thefe changes are under the direction of a 
Being who never errs. Religion allows us, and 
prudence direfts us, to guard againft the evils 
which threaten our perfons, our property, or our 
friends : But neither religion nor prudence per- 
mit us to indulge anxious fears, ^i Has God ev- 
er forfaken us ? — ^ Has he not fed and clothed 
us by his bounty, guided us by his counfel, and 
protected us by his power ?-— ^i Has he not fmil- 


Serm, XLVL 359 

ed on our labours, and blefiTed the works of our 
hands ? — I And why may we not Rill rely on his 
care ? — i Has he not opened to the view of faith 
and hope a glorious world, in which dwell right- 
eoufnei's, peace and joy ? — ^i And fhall we be fo- 
licitous about particular events, which may await 
Us here ? — i What have we to do — we tranfient, 
itinerant beings — but to fecure a title to that bet- 
ter world, to purfue the line of our duty here, to 
leave all events with God, and lay up for our- 
felves a treafure in the heavens ? The good man 
is not afraid of evil tidings i His heart is fixed 
trufting in the Lord. 

5. We have abundant reafon for fubmillion un- 
der the advcrfities of life. 

As this is a Hate of probation, afflidions are 
neceffary : But while we fufFer them, we are 
loaded with benefits. ^ Who can fay, he has not 
received from the hand of God more crood than 
evil — more bleffings than calamities ? We meet 
with difappointments ; but thefe are often the 
fruits of our own unreafonable expectations. 
Our prudent labours are oftener fucceeded than 
blafted. We have days of pain and ficknefs : 
But more numerous are our days of health and 
quietnefs. We fuffer the lofs of friends : But 
we are not left folitary ; other friends furvive. 
Our fubftance may be providentially diminiihed : 
But (lill we have bread to eat, and raiment to put 
on. If we (hould experience the fpoiling of our 
A a 2 earthly 

j6d Serm. XLVi> 

earthly goods ; yet we have the means of pro- 
viding for ourfelves in heaven a better and an en-* 
during fubftance. 

After all this, i Can we fay, that we have caufe 
to complain ? The world may fall fhort of our 
wifiies ; but heaven will far exceed them. 

6. Our fubje6l calls upon us to abound in 
works of goodnefs. 

If we are loaded with benefits, fome of them 
v/e Ihould communicate to thofe who need. 

Though all around us Ihare in the divine boun- 
ty, all fhare not alike. Some may want particu- 
lar bleflings, which we enjoy ; and we may want 
thofe which they enjoy. There ought then to be 
a reciprocation of benefits — an interchange of 
good offices. We are required to bear one anoth- 
er's burdens, and fo fulfil the law of Chrift. The 
apoille inftrudls us, that mutual benevolence 
ought to introduce among chriftians a kind of e- 
auality ; that our abundance ought to afford a 
fupply for the want of our brethren ; and their a- 
bundance, rt another time, or in another refpe6l, 
ought to yield a fupply for our want ; according 
as it is written concerning the manna ; Ke who 
gathered much, had nothing over, having com- 
municated the overplus to him who had gather- 
ed lefs ; and he who gathered little, had no lack, 
having received a fupply from him who had gath- 
ered more. 

This diflribution to the necelTities of others, is 
the nobleft expreffion of our gratitude to God. 


Serm. XLVI. 


The apollle fays, ** Let us offer to God the facri- 
fice of praife continually, giving thanks to his 
name; but to do good and to communicate forget 
not, for with fuch facrifices God is well pleaf- 


A a ^ 


^::^^^^^^^/sio ^^ 5' ^^^ss:-^\^^'!h>^>^<?"=^j^r^»^^c;;i*2p» 




Acts iv. 13. 

Now -when they Jaw the holdncjs of Peter and John^ 
and perceived that they were ignorant and im- 
learned men, theymarvelUd ; and they took knowl- 
edge of them, that they had b^en with Jefus* 

JL HE two apoftles here named, as 
they went up to the temple at the hour of prayer, 
met with a cripple, who, having, from his birth, 
been unable to walk, was laid at the gate of the 
temple, to afk alms of the people, who came 
thither for devotion. Attentive to thedefign, for 
which he was placed there, he feems to have let 
none pafs unfolicited. ** Seeing Peter and John 
about to enter into the temple, he afked alms of 
them. Inftead of giving him money, an article 
in which they did not abound, they exercifed 


Serm. XLVII. 363 

their charity in a more ufeful way. They faid 
to him ; *' In the name of Jefus of Nazareth, rife 
up and walk." And immediately he received 
ftrength, went with them into the temple, and 
joined in the praifes of God. 

The publicity and notoriety of the miracle 
rendered it, at once, a topick of common conver- 
fation. '' The people were filled with amaze- 
ment, and ran together greatly wondering." The 
apoftles improved the occafion, to demonflrate 
the divine power and authority of Jefus of Naz- 
areth, who had been rejeded as an impoflor, and 
crucified as a malefa6lor; and to exhort the peo- 
ple to repentance, for the remiffion of fins in his 
name. And their preaching, accompanied with 
fo notable a miracle, had a mighty e[Fe£l. Of 
thofe who heard the word, thouiands believed, 
and acknowledged the Saviour. 

Alarmed at the miracle and its confequences, 
the high pried fummoned a council, called the 
apoiUes before him, and examined them, by what 
power, and in what name they had done this ? 
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghoft, anfwered, 
*' Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Ifrael; 
if we be this day examined concerning th^ good 
deed done to this impotent man, by what means 
he is made whole : Be it known to you all, and 
to all the people of Ifrael, that hy the name of 
Jefus of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom 
God hath raifed from the dead, even by HIM 
doth this man fland before you whole. This is 
the Hone, which is fetat nought hy you builders, 
A a. A which 

3^4 Serm. XLVIL 

which is become the head of the corner; neither 
is there falvation in any other." The freedom 
and alTurance, with which the apoflles fpake, fur- 
prifed the rulers. It is faid, *' When they faw 
the boldnefs of Peter and John, and perceived 
that they were unlearned and ignorant men, tliey 
marvelled." They are called unlearned, and ig- 
norant, or private men, as the word may be ren- 
dered; i. e. men of private education. lihQy 
were not men, who then appeared unlearned and 
ignorant. The freedom with which they fpake, 
the knowledge which they difcovered in the holy 
icriptures, efpecially in the ancient prophecies, 
and the force of their reafoning to prove that Je- 
fus was the Chrifl, convinced the rulers, that they 
were, at that time, men of fuperiour abilities and 
:;cquirements. But it was matter of admiration, 
how thefe men, who had only had a private edu- 
cation, and never had been infl;ru6led in the Jew- 
ifh fchools, fliould difcover fuch an uncommon 
degr£e-x)f knowledge and boldnefs, to fpeak and 
argue in defence of their religion. So the Jews, 
when they heard Jefus teach in the temple, mar- 
veijed, faying, "^ How knoweth this man letters, 

having never learned?" "But, it is added, 

the rulers took knowledge of thefe men, that they 
had been with Jefus." This was fufficientto ac- 
count for their fuperiour knowledge and bold- 

It is here obfervable, that though Chrifl chofe 
for his difciples, men of private education, yet 
he fent them not forth to preach his gofpel, until 


Serm. XLVII. 365 

they had been, for fome time, under his own im- 
mediate inflrudion. Paul, whofe early education 
had been fuperiour, was, foon after his conver- 
fion, employed in the miniftry. But flill he 
was previoufly inflruded in the do6i;rines of the 
gofpel by Annanias, who was fent to him for 
that purpofe. Even in that day, when uncom- 
mon gifts were beftowed by the immediate power 
of the Spirit, a preparatory education was ordi- 
narily required to furnifh men for the gofpel 
miniftry. Novices were not to be introduced 
into fo great and important an oflBce. The apof- 
tle to the Hebrews intimates, that there muft be 
time fpent in learning the principles of the ora- 
cles of God, and in going on from thence to more 
perfetl knowledge, before men are qualified to 
become teachers of others. Kow abfurd is it 
then, in this day, when prophecy has failed, and 
the fupernatural gift of knowledge has ceafed, 
for the unlearned and ignorant to affume, with- 
out a previous education, the work of publick 

inftrudion ? 

But not to enlarge on this incidental thought; 
what I would efpecially notice in the v^^ords, is 
the happy influence of an acquaintance with 

The Jewifh rulers faw fomething in thefe apof- 
tles, which appeared marvellous, until they took 
knowledge of them, that they had been with 

We will confider. How the expreflion of being 
-with Jefus, msiy be applied to others, as well as 


366 Serm. XLVII. 

to his immediate difciples : And how they, who 
have been v*'ith him, ought to dillinguifh them- 


I. The expreflion of being with Jefus may be 

applied to many others, as well as to his imme- 
diate diFciples. 

1. It may be applied to ail who enjoy the 

Peter and John, and their fellow difciples, 
were favoured with a perfonal knowledge of, and 
admitted to, familiar converfe with their divine 
Lord. Being daily in his company, they could 
hear his excellent inilructions ; obferve his heav- 
enly life, behold his wonderful works ; and take 
a part in his fublime devotions. Happy difci- 
ples 1 I How great was their privilege ? 1 But 

is yours inferiour ? You have his gofpei. This 
communicates to you the inflrudions which the/ 
heard — the works which they beheld— the exam- 
ple which they followed — and the devotions in 
which they joined. In regard therefore to all 
the purpofes of faith, knowledge and virtue, you 
may be with him, as truely as they were. You 
think, they had a peculiar advantage in hearing 
his living voice, and feeing his living manners. 
And I Would not they alfo fay, You have a pe- 
culiar advantage in converfing w^ith his written 
v/ord, and in reviewing, at your pleafure, the 
things which you have learned ? If a living voice 
will touch the heart more fenfibly, yet it is more 
tranfient than the written word. This is m.uch 
better adapted to enrich your memory, . and im« 


Serm. XLVII. 367 

prove your knowledge. What then could be ex- 
pelled of them as difciples of Jefus, more than 
may be expeded of you ? You think that men, 
who had been with Jefus, as they were, fhould 
daily live under the influence of his dodrines and 
in conformity to his example, ^i And ought not 
you to do the fame ? You are as fully taught, as 
they were, how you ought to walk and to pleafe 
God ; and every motive, which they had, is alfo 
propofed to you. If you then, who have thus 
been with Jefus from your youth, and have ever 
lived under his in[liu6lions, are governed by the 
ipterefts, and conformed to the manners of this 
world, ^ What will you fay in your own excufe ? 

2. There is a flill higher fenfe in which the 
true believer has been with Jefus. 

He has received the renewing influence of the 
fpirit of Chrift, and experienced the fanCtifying 
power of his gofpel. He has not only heard the 
Saviour's inviting voice, but has enjoyed fellow- 
fhip with him, and been made a partaker of his 
grace. The moil important intercourfe, which 
the firfl difciples h*d with their Lord was of this 
kind. Barely to behold his works, and receive 
his inflrudiions, was but a fmall thing, compared 
v/ith the efficacious influence of his grace on their 
hearts. Of this every real believer is a fubjed ; 
and therefore, in the highefl and moft eminent 
fenfe of the expreflion, he has been with Jefus- 
There v/as a miraculous power of the fpirit, de- 
hgned for the eitablifliment of the gofpel, which 
was peculiar to the apoiloiick age. But the more 


g6^ Serm. XLVIL 

gentle influence of the Spirit, which aids the effi- 
cacy of the gofpel on thofe who hear it, is in a 
greater or lefs degree, common to all ages. Chrill 
fays, " The words, which I fpeak, they are fpirit 
and they are life/' The Spirit which Chrift 
promifed to his difciples, was to '* abide with 
them always." The gofpel is called " a min- 
iftration of the Spirit.'' In regard of his Spirit, 
dwelling in the hearts of believers, Chrift prom- 
ifes, that " He will come and make his abode 
with them." 

If then you have received the fpirit of Chrift, 
in his renewing and comforting influence, you 
have, in themoft defirable fenfe of theexpreflion, 
been with him»— ^ And ought you not to be dif- 
tinguiftied from a wicked world ? ^i Ought you 
not to live in fuch a manner as will manifeft your 
acquaintance and intimacy with him ? ^ If he 
has come and made his abode with you, will 
younot ferve him in newnefs of fpirit and puri- 
ty of life ? If you have been called to the fel- 
lowftiip of the Son of God, and to the commun- 
ion of the Holy Ghoft — if you are heirs of God, 
and joint heirs with Jefus Chrift, then walk no 
more according to the courfe of this world, ful- 
filling the defires of the flefti and of the mind, 
but walk in the Spirit, and manifeft the life of 
Chrift in your own. For you are debtors to live 
not after the flefli, but after the Spirit— -not ac- 
cording to the courfe of the world, but according 
to the pattern of your divine Redeemer. 


Serm. XLVII. 3^^ 

3. As true believers have been with Jefus in 
their renovation by his Spirit 3 fo there are times, 
when they have fpecial intercourle and commun- 
ion with him. 

. They are often with him in their private devo- 

He has commanded them to enter into their 
clofet, and pfay in fecret to their heavenly Fath- 
er, who will reward them openly. They are 
careful to obey the command, and they experi- 
ence the fulfilment of, the promife. When they 
draw near to God, with a humble fenfe of their 
wants and their unv/orthinefs — with a believing 
view of Chrifl's power and grace — with earnefl 
de fires of the mercies which they need, and with 
lively hopes of obtaining them through his me- 
diation ; then may they be faid to have hztvi 
with him. Such a fenfible interview will be ac- 
companied with penitence for fin and refolution^ 
againil it — with greater indifference to the world 
— and with more ardent afpirations of foul after 
heaven and holinefs. 

But alas ! how often does the chriilian fee! 
fuch a deadnefs on his fpirits, fuch a faintnefs in 
his defires, and fuch a languor in his afFedlions, 
as fcarcely to know, whether he has been with 
his Saviour, or has only made a formal vifit to 
his clofet. He retires without the refrefhment, 
which he fometimes hnds, becaufe he has been, 
there without the life, which he fometimes feels. 
The hypocrite is content with the forraaiitiy of 
a vifit. The fincere chriHian kments his languid 


370 Serm. XLVIl. 

faith, and unanimated devotion. He adopts the 
language of Job, " O that I knew where I might 
find him. 1 would come even to his feat ; 1 
would order my caufe before him, and fill my 
mouth with arguments. I would know the 
words which he would anfwer me, and under- 
ftand what he v/ould fay to me." He examines 
his heart to find what fecret iniquity has inter- 
cepted the glad beams of his Saviour*s love. He 
calls to mind his fins, and lays them, in humble 
confeffion, before God. He labours to awaken 
in his foul greater life and fervour of devotion. 
And though, after all, he fhould not find that 
fpirit and afFeftion in duty, which he defires, ftiii 
his refolution is fixed to walk with Chrift in all 
holy converfation. In this refolution chiefly con- 
fifts the power of godlinefs. The warmth of af- 
fe61:ion may, even in good chriftians, be variable. 
And fome, perhaps, imagine that religion de- 
cays in their fouls, in proportion as their devout 
afFe61;ions cool. But this is not always the cafe. 
I Do you (liil cleave to God with purpofe of 
heart? ^ Are your refolutions againfl every fin, 
and for every duty, as firm and fteady as ever? 
Then interpret not the languor of your affedlions, 
as an indication of the decay of religion; but 
rather impute it lo the infirmities of nature. *' The 
fpirit is willing, but the flefh is weak." Lively 
afFedions, well balanced, and wifely direQed, are 
great helps to duty, and contribute much to the 
facility and pleafure of pra6lical religion. But 
a heart, under the calm and rational influence of 


StRM. XLVII. 371 

the great do(5trines of the gofpel, fteadily fixed 
for God, and firmly refolved againft every fin, 
is principally to be regarded. 

As true chriflians are with Jefus in their pri- 
vate devotions, fo they are often with him in fo^ 
cial worJJiip. 

He has promifed his difciples, ** If two of you 
Ihall agree on earth, as touching any thing that 
they fhall afk, it lliail be done for them of my 
Father who is in heaven; for where two or three 
are gathered together in my name, there am I in 
tht midll of thera/' Chriil has inftituted focial 
worfhip, and required his difciples to attend 
upon it, for their edification in knowledge, purity 
and love. When they, in regard to his in ilitu- 
tion, and in obedience to his command, alToci- 
ate in divine worfhip, they come together in his 
name. When thus they come together, he is in 
the midft of them, by the miniftration of his 
%vord for their inflruclion, by the influence of his 
Spirit for their afTiflance, and by his gracious 
notice for their acceptance. If when we retire 
from the place, where he has appointed to meet 
us, we can, on refledion, find that Vv'e have re- 
ceived his word with correfponding purpofes and 
difpofitions of foul — that we have felt its hum- 
bling and quickening power — that in focial 
prayer our hearts have really joined — that defirc 
has accompanied our petitions ; humiliation, cur 
confeffions; gratitude, our praifes ; and charity, 
our interceilions ; then may we fay, We have 
been with Jefus. 

Again ; 

373 StRM. XLVif. 

Again : He has appointed his holy fupper, as a 
tnedium of intercourfe with him ; and he requires 
our obfervance of it, that we may rtmember, and 
Jhew forth his death. Here he reprefents his body 
wounded for our tranfgreflions— our great guilt, 
which nothing but his blood could expiate — his 
amazing love in givinghimfelf afacrificefor us — 
the full pardon purchafed by his death — and the 
neceffity of repentance and newnefs of life, in or- 
der to our obtaining his great falvation. When 
we attend upon this ordinance with fuch views of 
Chrill — with godly forrow for our fins — with love 
and gratitude to him, who has died for us — with 
humble reliance on his atonement and intercef- 
fion — and with fixed purpofes of heart to hon- 
our him before men ; then may we be faid to 
have been with him. 

When Jefus firft inflituted this ordinance, he 
attended it with his difciples. But if they had 
ho other views of him, than what his bodily pref- 
ence orFered to their fight, they were with him to 
little purpofe. The view, which faith gives of 
him, as a divine teacher and a fpiritual Saviour, 
and fuch defires and refolutions, as this view is 
fuited to infpire, are now, and were then, of prin- 
cipal importance in attending on this fupper. 

We have feen what it is to have been with Je- 

n. We will now confider, how fuch as have 
been with him, ought to diflinguifh them Pelves. 

The rulers of the Jews marvelled at the con- 
du6: of the two apoilles, until they took knowl- 

Serm. XLVII. 373 

edge of them, that they had been with Jefus. The 
expreffion importSj that they, who had been form- 
ed by his example, and under his in{tru6lions, 
differed from the men of the world ; and difcov- 
cred fuch tempers and manners, as were, in fome 
degree, peculiar to themfelves. 

It was Peter's earnefl advice to thofe who pro- 
fefTed their faith in Chrift, that they fhould keep 
themfelves from that untoward generation. It 
was Paul's exhortation to fuch, that they fhould 
not be conformed to this world, nor walk, as the 
Gentiles walked ; but fhould prove what Vv'as the 
acceptable will of God. It is faid of thofe, who 
had felt the transforming power of the gofpel, 
that the Gentiles with whom they had formerly 
walked, thought it ftrange, that they ran not with 
them flill to the fame excefs of riot. Chrid fig- 
nifies to his difciples, that they fhould do more 
than others — fhould be as the fait of the earth — 
as a city fet on a hill — as lights, to guide others 
in the way of truth. 

You may then juftly enquire, ^ In whatrefpedts 
chriflians ought to be diflinguifhed ? 

1. If you have been with Jefus, be watchful a- 
gainfl all fin. You have feen him, who fufFered 
death to redeem you from inquity : i How can 
you continue any longer therein ? You have be- 
held him wounded for your tranfgreffions, and 
bruifed for your iniquities : Surely you will not 
dare to wound him again. If he has been cruci- 
fied for you, you will not crucify him afrefh, and 
put him to open fhame ; but you will crucify 

Vol. II. B b your 

374 Serm. XLVII, 

your vrle aEFeQ:ions, put on his charaQer, and 
walk in his fpirit. 

2. If you have been with Chrift, and trained 
up under his inftruclions, it tnay juftly be ex- 
pelled, that you Ihould excel in religious knowl- 

If his firft difciples had come forth from un- 
der his tuition, as ignorant of his religion, as when' 
he called them, ^ Who would not have condemn- 
ed their flupidity ? You enjoy his gofpel, which 
is able to make you wife unto falvation, and fur- 
nifli you for every good work. If when, for the 
time, you might have been teachers of others, 
you have ftill need tabe taught what are the firft 
principles of the oracles of God, you are crimi- 
nally dull of hearing. 

3'. If you have been with Jefus, then fhew your- 
felves to be like him. 

Learn of him to be meek and lowly, patient 
and contented, pious and heavenly. If the dif- 
ciples, who lived with him, and were daily in his 
company, had caught nothing of his temper and 
manners, they would have difcovered a flubbor!i 
and intractable mind. You have feen his amia- 
ble example drawn in his gofpel— you have heard 
it defcribed in thepublickdifpenfationof his word 
' — you have beheld him exhibited in the ordinance 
of the fupper : ^i And have you not learned to be 
like him ? — ^ Are you ftill like the men of the 
world — vain and haughty, covetous and ambi- 
tious, paffionate and contentious ? — ^ Who would 
think, that you had hQtn with Jefus ? He was 


SeRM. XLVIL ^ne 

meek and gentle, peaceable and eondefcending, 
contented in poverty, and patient in adverlity. 

4. Set your affe6lions on things in heaven, for 
Jefus is there. 

He came to deliver you from this evil ivorld. 
He fubmitted to poverty, to teach you the vanity 
of worldly wealth and honour. He died and rofe 
again to point your thoughts, and draw your af- 
fe6lions toward a fuperiour world. 

If you have been converfant.with him, it may 
be expelled, that you fhould be dead to this 
world, and that your converfation fhould be in 
heaven. Your intereft is there ; let your hearts 
be there alfo. The apoftle fays to the Coloffians, 
*' You, being dead in your fins, God hath quick- 
ened with Chriil ; and, being baptifed into his 
death, ye are rifen with him by the faith of the 
operation of God. If ye then be rifen with Chrift, 
feek the things which are above, where Chriil fit- 
teth on the right hand of God." 

5. It is obferved of thefe apoftles, that they 
difcovered a marvellous zeal and fortitude in the 
caufe oiF Chrift, This was the efFedl of their ac- 
quaintance with him. 

The fpirit of his religion is a fpirit of power 
and of a found mind. It infpires with refolution 
and courage in times of oppofition and danger. 
If we have feen Chrift's example — his ieal for 
God— his contempt of the world — his perfever- 
ance in his work : If we have learned his doc- 
trines, heard his promifes and contemplated the 
glorious rewards which he has prepared for the 
Bb 2 faithful; 

376 Serm. XLVIL 

faithful ; we may Be ftrong in the power of his 
might. If then we faint in the day of adveiTity, 
yield to temptations, or diflemble our religion in 
the prefence of fcoffers, we adas thafe, who have 
never been with Jefus. 

6. The religion of Jefus breathes a fpirit of 

A pattern of the mofl exalted benevolence he 
hrmfelf has exhibited; and the fame benevolence 
he has inculcated on his difciples. He has taught 
them to love one another — to love enemies — to 
love all men. It may then be expefted of thofe, 
who are formed under his example and inftruc- 
tions, that " they fhould put away all bitternefs, 
wrath, malice, envy, clamour and evil fpeaking ; 
and put on, as the ele6l of God, bowels of mer- 
cies, kindnefs, meeknefs and long fufFering, for- 
giving one another, as Chrift forgiveth them ; and 
that, above all things, they put on charity, which 
is the bond of perfednefs." — " By this,"' fays our 
Lord,*'fhall all men know thatye are my difciples, 
if ye love another.'* If then we have nothing of 
his love, I Shall we fay, we have been with him ? 
No : We have not feen him, nor known him ; or 
we have companied with him in vain. 

Let us ferioufly apply thefe thoughts. 

If we find not in ourfelves the temper which 
was in Chrift, let us humbly lament our negle£l 
of the privileges which we enjoy, and more wife- 
ly improve them in future. 

We fee, when we may be faid to make a prop- 
er ufe of ordinances, and to attend upon them ac- 

Serm. XLVII. 377 

ceptably. It is when we have fo h^cn with Chi id, 
as to learn his religion, and become conformed 
to it. 

We have, this day, been near to Chrift in his 
houfe, and at his table : Let us not walk accord- 
ing to the courfe of the world, but according to 
the pattern and precepts of our divine mailer. Let 
us, who have been fo highly honoured of God, as 
to be called to the fellowfliip of his Son, depart 
from all iniquity, be zealous of good works, live 
above the world, and maintain a humble, con- 
tented, benevolent and peaceable fpirit ; thus men 
will be conftrained toconfefs, that Jefus is among 
U5 of a truth. 





Une> Jonhoteni tyftaoz ai ik& uool of 

John v. i— — -9. 

Ajttr tkis there -was afeaf. of the Jews, and. J ejus 

went up to Jeriifalem. Now there is at Jtruja- 

lem, by thejheepmarket, a pool, which is called, in 

the Hebrew tongue, Bethefda, having Jive porches. 

In thefe lay a great multitude of impotent folk, 

of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving 

of the water. For an angel went down at a certain 

jeafon into the pool, and troubled the water. Who- 

foever then, frji after the troubling of the water, 

Jlepped in, was made whole of whatfoever difeafe 

he had. And a certain man was there, which had 

an infrmity thirty and eight years. When Jefus 

Jaw him lie, and kneio that he had been now a long 

time in that cafe, he f aid unto him, ^ Wilt thou be 

made whole ? The impotent man anftvered him ; 


S^RM. XLVIII. . sjA 

Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to 
put me into the pool; but while I am coming, anoth- 
er Jleppeth in before me, Jefus faith unto him, 
Arife, take up thy bed and walk. And immedi- 
ately he was made whole, and took up his bed and 
walked. And on the fame day was thefabbath, 

JL HE feaft here mentioned, on ac- 
count of which Jefus went up to Jerufalem, was 
probably the paffover ; for at this, all the males 
were required to appear before God in the tem- 

Though the Jewifh church, in that day, had 
greatly degenerated from its ancient purity, and 
in many things had departed from the divine in- 
flitutions, yet Chrift did not withdraw from her 
communion ; but he conftantly attended with 
her on the felHvals appointed by the law. 

The Evangelifl: fays, " Now at Jerufalem, hy 
the fheepmarket,'* or fheepgate, as it is elfewhere 
called, '* there is a pool, which is called in the 
Hebrew tongue Bethefda, having five porches/' 
The word rendered a pool, properly (ignifies a 
bath, or a place iox fwimming. It wasjufl with- 
in the walls of the city, near one of the prinr 
^ipal gates ; and it had feveral porches, or cover- 
ed walks, for the convenience of thofe, who came 
thither to bathe themfelves, 

'\ At a certain feafon," it is faid, *' an angel 
went down into the pool and troubled the water," 
or put it in motion ; '* whofoever then firfl after 
B b 4 the 

380 Serm. XLVIIL 

the troubling of the water, flepped in, was made 
whole of whatfoever difeafe he had.*' 

Some have conjedured, that the healing virtue 
of this water was derived from the entrails of the 
beads, flain for facrifice, which, they fuppofe, 
were thrown into it ; and that the angel, who ftir- 
red the water, was only a meflenger, or officer, 
fent at certain times to put it in motion. But 
it feems altogether incredible, that water, from 
any natural caufe, fhould cure all /oris of difeafes 
— that its healing virtue fhould operate only at 
particular feafons — that it fhould help only the per- 
fon who Jirjl Jiepped in — or that fuch multitudes 
fhould wait for a certain officer to come and flir 
the water ; and fhould not rather do it themfelves, 
or call on feme perfon to do it for them. Nor 
does it appear probable, that the facrifices were 
wafhed in this pool, as there was in the temple a 
laver for that purpofe. It is manifeft, therefore, 
that the efficacy of this water was miraculous. 

This pool feems to have been the fame which 
is elfewhere called the pool of Shiloah, or Siloam, 
whither Jefus fent the blind man to wafh, after he 
had anointed his eyes with clay. 

We find fome allufions to it in the Old Tefla- 

The difobedience of the Jews to the mild gov- 
ernment of the Prince of Peace, is, in the prophet, 
expreffed by " their refufing the waters of Shiloah, 
which go foftly." The faith of fuch as received 
the gofpel is foretold by a fimilar allufion. 
'' With joy fhall they draw water out of the wells 


Serm. XLVIir, 381 

oi Jalvation** or the fountains of health. The 
word Shiloah, which fignifies one. who isfent^ is a 
name by which the MeiTiah is called, in prophecv, 
particularly in that of Jacob, *^ Thefceptre jfhall 
not depart from Judah — until Shiloah come/' 
As thefe waters were typical of Chrifl, and of the 
bleflings which flow from him, God might com- 
municate to them this healing virtue, to prepare 
the Jews for the reception of the true Shiloah, and 
to lead them unto that fountain, which heihould 
open for uncleannefs. 

The hiRorian tells us, that, in the porticoes of 
this pool, " lay a great multitude of impotent 
folk, blind, halt, withered, waiting for the mov- 
ing of the water/' 

What pains men will take, even on the mofl 
doubtful profpe61:, for the cure of their bodily dif- 
eafes ; and yet under their fpiritual maladies, 
how negligent are they to feek relief, though they 
enjoy the mofl efficacious means I Multitudes 
came and lay at the pool to be healed of their 
blindnefs, lamenefs and other infirmities ; but 
of thofe, whofe fouls were perifliing under guilt, 
how few applied to the Divine Phyfician ! They 
who lay at thefe falutary waters, ^ame to them 
with great fmcerity — with real dell res to be heal- 
ed. This was their fole intention. There was 
not a dilTembler among them. But of thofe, who 
went to hear the Heavenly Preacher, many were 
influenced by the mod unworthy motives. Their 
aim was not, to learn their duty by his inftruc- 
tions, to receive convi6lion from his reproofs, or 


3^2 Serm. XLVOL 

to obtain falvation through his righteoufnefs ; but 
rather to eat of his loaves, or to enfnare him in 
his talk, or to gratify their vain curiofity. 

Look into your own hearts — ^ Do you find no 
fuch hypocrify, or inconfiflency there? If you 
^re fick, you apply to the phyfician with an un- 
feigned defire of health ; and his prefcriptions 
you ftriclly obferve. ^ Is there the fame finceri- 
ty in your prayers ; and the fame attention and 
obedience in hearing the word of falvation ? 
I Are your confeflTions of fm accompanied with 
penitence of heart, your petitions animated with 
inward defires, and your thankfgivings enlivened 
with real fentiments of gratitude ? — i Do you 
hear the divine word, with a concern to under- 
iland it, with honefty to apply it, and with a ref- 
olution to be governed by it ? If not ; i To what 
purpofe is the multitude of your faciifices to 
God ? He will not delight in them. 

Great numbers of fick people were waiting at 
this pool, though it was only at a certain jea Jon, 
that any could receive a cure. But the fountain 
of divine grace is always open and eafy of accefs. 
Thence may you draw water for your ufe in ev- 
ery time of need. They, with painful anxiety, 
waited for the diftant, uncertain opportunity of 
applying the means of health. ^ Will you, with 
unfeeling indifference, negle6l the prefcnt, invit- 
ing, happy feafon for fecuring eternal life ? 

They had but a doubtful profpe6l of fuccefs ; 
for only the firll who Hepped into the water, 
would be made whole : Yet, when fo great ar4 


Serm. XLVIII. 383 

objeQ:, as their health, was depending, the)? 
thought it their wifdom to watch, feek and ftrive. 
How much more in a cafe of fuch infinite im- 
portance as yours. It is not your bodily health, 
or your mortal life, but your foul, which is now 
in danger, i What would you be profited, if 
you fliould gain the world, and lofe your foul ? 
This is not redeemed with corruptible things, 
but with the precious blood of Chrift. If you 
defpife and trample on his blood, there re- 
maineth no more facrifice for fin. i When your 
foul is loft, what will you give in exchange for 
it? — Its redemption will ceafe forever. If there 
was only one in a multitude, who could be fav- 
ed, you would have as much encouragement, as 
the people at Bethefda. But your hope ftands on 
much better ground. This is the invitation of 
the gofpel. '* Ho, every one who thirfteth, come 
to the water." — " Whofoever will, let him take 
the water of life freely.'* 

In their cafe, fuccefs depended on being fore- 
moft. If, while one was going to the water, a- 
nother ftepped in before him, his labour was loft. 
But from this forwardnefs in others you have 
iiothing to fear. You may fufFer by your own 
negligence, but you will not be fupplanted by 
their diligence. You may be too indolent ; but 
they will not be too a6tive. Their zeal will throw 
no obftru6lion in your way ; it will rather affift 
your exertions, and facilitate your fuccefs. The 
fountain of divine grace, how many foever have 
waftied in it, is ftill open and free; it is ftill pure 


SH Serm. XLVlil. 

and falutary. Go, as foon, and in as large a throng 
as you pleafe. Go; there is, room for you all— 
and room now. You need not wait for one anoth- 
er. Go, hand in hand; aid and encourage each 
other along. When the mailer fent forth his fer- 
vant into the flreet to call into his houfe the poor, 
maimed, halt and blind ; the fervant, having 
done as he was commanded, returned, and faid, 
" Yet there is room." ** Then faid his Lord, '' Go 
out into the highways and hedges, and compel 
them to come in, that my houfe may be filled." 

Among the people, which lay in the porches 
of Bethefda, there was one, whofe cafe was pecu- 
liarly diftreffing. For thirty and eight years he 
had been affliQed with an obftinate infirmity. 
He was become intirely helplefs. For fome time 
paft he had lain at the pool ; but he could re- 
ceive no benefit ; for, poor man, he had no 
friend to aflift him in the critical moment. 
While he was crawling toward the water, anoth- 
er ftepped down before him. Phy ficians he had, 
doubtlefs, tried in vain. The pool was the la ft 
refort. Here, though often difappointed, flill 
he waited with anxious wifhes, but drooping 
hopes. Great were his difcouragements : And 
great his patience. 

Ye who feel your fpi ritual wants and infirmi- 
ties, go, repair to God, and trufl in his mercy. 
You are under no fuch difcouragements. Watch 
at his gates ; wait at the pofts of his doors ; con- 
tinue inflant in prayer. He has not faid to you. 
Seek ye me in vain. If you find not immediate 


Sj£Rm. XLVIIL 385 

fuccefs, llili hope and quietly wait for his falva- 
tion. You have need of patience, that after you 
have done his v/ill, you may receive the prom- 
ifes. It is by faith and patience that you will 
inherit them. Let the defire of your fouls be 
unto God, and to the remembrance of his name. 
With your fouls defire him in the night, and 
with your fpirit within you feek him early. He 
will keep thofe in peace, whofe minds are Hayed 
on him. 

The advantage of eonftancy and fervency in 
prayer our Saviour has illuftrated in two para- 
bles : The one concerning a man, who, though 
illiberal in his difpofition, yet, by the importu- 
nity of a friend, was perfuaded to rife at mid- 
night and relieve his urgent neceflities : The 
other concerning a judge, who, though he had 
not one principle of piety or juilice in his heart, 
yet, by the repeated felicitations of a poor widow, 
was moved to redrefs the wrongs which fhe fuf- 
fered. Hence we are taught to conclude, that a 
God of infinite goodnefs and power will much 
more hear and anfwer his own ele6l, who cry 
to him day and night, though he fliould feem 
for a time to delay. 

An example of perfeverance under difcourage- 
jnents we have in the ftory of Bartimeus. This 
poor, blind man fat by the way fide, aflcing 
alms of travellers. Hearing a company pafs a- 
long, and being informed that Jefus was among 
them, he cried, faying, '' Jefus, have mercy on 
me.*' The Saviour v/ent on hi5 way, and feem- 


386 Serm. XLVIIL 

ed not to hear him. Some of the company re- 
buked the clamorous beggar, and charged him 
to hold his peace. But he cried the more a great 
deal ; " Thou fon of David, have mercy on me." 
Then Jefus flood and called him; attended to 
his cafe, arid granted him relief. 

Another example, we h.ave in the woman of 
Canaan. She cried to Jefus, faying, ** Have 
mercy on me, O Lord ; my daughter is grievouf- 
ly vexed with a devil." But he anfwered her 
not a word. The difciples interceded in her be- 
half. *' Send her away ;" grant her requeft and 
difmifs her ; **' for fhe crieth after us ;" cries 
with an earneflnefs that fpeaks diftrefs. But he 
faid, ** I am not fent, but to the loft fheep of the 
houfe of Ifrael." To the Jews I am firft fent: 
I Why do you afk me to fhew mercy to that gen- 
tile ? One would have expe6i:ed, the poor wom- 
an ftiould now withdraw her petition. But fhe 
renewed it with greater importunity. She came 
and worfhipped him, faying, " Lord, help me." 
Jefus then feemed to give her little lefs than a 
peremptory denial. '' It is not meet to take the 
children's bread, and cafl it to dogs." Chrift 
here alludes to the invidious diftindion which 
the Jews made between themfelves and the 
Gentiles ; a diftindion, which this woman, being 
converfant among the Jews, muft often have 
heard. She humbly anfwers ; *' Truth, Lord ; 
yet the dogs eat of the crumbs, which fall from 
their mafters' table." She confeffes her unwor- 
thinefs, and begs an inferiour place among the 


Serm. XLVIIL 337 

children, to eat the crumbs, which they throw a- 
way. Jefus now fays, " O woman, great is thy 
faith. Beit unto thee, even as thou wilt," 

We may obferve farther, how attentive thefe 
infirm people were to' the particular feafons, 
which favoured their recovery. It is faid, " They 
waited for the moving of the water." The impo- 
tent man fays, '* While I am going, another ftep- 
peth in before me." All were on the watch for 
the friendly moment ; and all on the ftrife, who 
fir ft fhould feize it. 

Be ye, my friends, as attentive to the intereft 
of your fouls, as they were to the health of their 
bodies. '' Behold, now is the accepted time : Be- 
hold, now is the day of falvation." 

Life is the only feafon of probation. There is 
no work in the grave. The events of futurity are 
hidden from mortal fight. None knows what a 
day may bring forth. Know, in this your dayy 
the things which belong to your peace. 

There are fome feafons peculiarly favourable 
to you — feafons whenr the fpirit of grace ftrives 
with you, admonifhes you of danger, and urges 
your efcape— feafons when your hearts are awak- 
ened to an apprehenfion of the judgment to come, 
and afFedled with the vaft concerns of religion. 
Watch thefe motions, as the impotent people 
watched the motion of the waters ; and embrace 
them with equal avidity. Negle6l not prefenfc 
advantages under pretence of waiting for future 
excitations. Improve the former now ; obey 
the latter whenever they occur. — '* Seek the 



Lord, while he may be found ; call upon him, 
while he is near. 

*' When Jefus favv the impotent man lie" in 
his helplefs condition, *' and knew that he had 
now been a long time in that cafe, he faid unto 
him, I Wilt thou be made whole ?'' 

The length and greatnefs of this man's calami- 
ty, and the peculiar imbecility of his ftate, 
feem to have been the reafons, why Jefus made 
choice of him, as the fubjed on whom to difplay 
his healing power ; while the reft were left un- 
der their infirmities. 

The evangelifts tell us, that " Chrift healed all 
who came to him.'* They who made application 
to him in their own behalf, or in behalf of their 
friends, received the favour, v/hich they afkcd. 
But the fick at Bethefda never applied to him at 
all. They were looking for relief from another 
quarter. They were not, therefore, fuch perfons, 
as thofe, to whom he ufually extended his healing 
mercy. Among them, however, there was one, 
whom he fmgled out from the multitude, and 
favoured with unfolicited health. 

Analogous to this is the method of his grace 
in the falvation of finners. Them who come to 
him he will in no wife caft out. Them w^ho ap- 
ply to him, with humble and penitent hearts, he 
will not rejed. To obtain that grace which is 
neceffary to repentance, awakened fmners mufl 
attend on the inftituted means of religion. And 
it is ufually, in an attendance on thefe means, that 
they are firft brought to ferious confideration. 



Particular inftances, no doubt there are, in which 
God is found of them who fought him not. He 
fometimes, by his fpecial providence, or power- 
ful grace, arrefts finners, when they are in full 
purfuit of their guilty defigns, and quite out of 
the way of ordinary means ; as Jefus fhewed 
mercy to the impotent man, who was looking for 
help only from the pool. But this is not God's 
ordinary method. And for finners to negleQ: the 
ufe of means, becaufe, now and then, one has 
been fuddenly and furprifmgly awakened to con- 
vi6lion and repentance, is as abfurd, as it would 
have been for the fick people in Jerufalem to ex- 
pe6l a cure from Jefus without applying to him, 
becaufe one impotent man at Bethefda had receiv- 
ed this favour. In healing thofe who came to him, 
he acled as a faithful Saviour. In chooling this 
man from a number, he a6ledas a wifefovereign. 
He had mercy on whom he would have mercy. 
The man who was healed, had reafon to admire 
this diftinguifhing goodnefs. They who were 
left under their infirmities had no caufe to com- 
plain ; for, though they faw the power of Chrill 
in this remarkable inflance, yet it does not appear, 
that they ever applied to him. This is his com- 
plaint of the unbelieving Jews ; and this will be 
the condemnation of finners under the gofpel ; 
*' They would not cOme to him, that they might 
have life." 

Chriil fays to the impotent man, " i Wilt thou 
be made whole ?" The man now opens his for- 
rowful cafe. — *' Sir, I have no man, when the wa- 

Vol, IL C c ter 

390 Serm. XLVIIL' 

ter ivS troubled, to put me into the pool ; but 
while I am going, anotheiT fteppeth down before 

|efus puts the queRion, that the man, in the 
prefence of the multitude, might declare the great- 
nefs and inveteracy of his diforder. Thus the 
miracle tabe performed would become more con- 
fpicuous, and others, from his goodnefs and 
power, would be encouraged to feek relief. The 
mercy fhewn to this poor man, was mercy offer- 
ed to all in diftrefs^ If the impotent people, who 
faw the miracle, would not apply to the Saviour, 
well might they be left under the burden of their 

It is obfervable, that, though Jefus made the 
firft motion to the unhappy patient, yet he did 
not adually heal him, till the man had humbly 
exprelfed his defire of health, and hh inability to 
obtain it. In this manner, the Saviour ufiially 
difpenfes his fpirituai benefits. *' Behold,'' fays 
he, '' I ftarid at the door and knock. If any man 
bear my voice and open the door, I will come in^ 
to him, and fup with him, and he with me." To 
thofe who have not fought him, he applies himfelf 
in a- way of exhortation and addrefs : He calls 
them by his word, admonifhes them by his prov- 
idence, and awakens them by his fpirit. Thefe 
krind, influential vifits are granted previoufly to 
any promifmg and towardly difpofitions in them. 
But before he aftually beflows on them his fav- 
ing mercy, they mull fee their guilt, feel their 
impotence, and repair to him as the only Saviour, 


Serm. XLVlil. ^gl 

They who are whole need not the phyfician- 
dnd they who think themfelves to be whole, will 
not feek to the phyfician ; but they who are fick. 
There are fome, *' who fay, they are rich and in- 
creafed with goods and have need of nothing • 
and know not, that they are wretched, and mifer- 
able, ahd poor, and blind, and naked.'* Thefe 
defpife the counfel of Chrift, to *' buy of him 
gold tried in the fire, that they may be rich; and 
white raiment, that they may be clothed, and to 
anoint their eyes with eyefalve, that they may fee." 
The invitations and offers of the gofpel, which 
are made to all indifcriminately, are often ad- 
drelfed, in a very particular manner, to the hun- 
gry and thirlly, the weary and heavy laden. 

Jefus fays to the man, '' Arife, take up thy bed 
and walk.'' — ** And immediately he was made 
whole, arid took up his bed, and walked.*' This 
order was given, that, hy the perfe6lion and fud- 
dennefs of the cure, the miracle might be render- 
ed indubitable. It is added, '*' The fame day 
was the fabbath." When the pepple, who on 
this day refted from their labours, fbould reprove 
the man for carrying his bed, he would not fail 
to relate the mercy which he had experienced, 
and thus make it known to many belides the im- 
mediate fpe(5latorso 

Chrift's miracles in healing the fick, were de- 
iigned to convince men of his heavenly miffion, 
divine authority and faving power. And works 
of goodnefs, in particular inRances, were ads of 
general benevolence. By thcfe, as well as by the 
C c 2 invitations 

392 Serm. XLVIII. 

invitations and promifes of his gofpel, let all be 
encouraged to repair to him for relief in every 
diftrefs, for fuccour in every temptation, and for 
deliverance from the wrath to come. To him let 
them commit their eternal intereft, for he is able 
to fave to the uttermoft, and to keep that which 
is committed to him againft the great day. 





tJhc awakeitedJ^ailo'y^ iTtdio^wded tot ihc 
Tvau to fjalvaitOTi. 

Acts xvi. 29, 30, 31. 

Then he called for a light and f prang in, and came 
trembling and fell down before Paid and Silas, 
and brought them out, andfaid, Sirs, ^ What muft 
I do to be faved ? And they faid, Believe on the 
Lord Jefus Chrifl, and thoufhalt hefaved,' -— 

j[ HESE two Apoftles were fent to 
preach the gofpel in Philippi, a confiderable city 
in Macedonia, which was inhabited chiefly by 
Romans, and is therefore called a colony* 

Their doiElrine foon gained fuch credit, that 
the fuperftitions of paganifm yielded before it. 
Some principal men, who had long made gain 
from the ignorance and credulity of the common 
people, by employing fervants to tell them ftrange 
C c 3 things 

394 Serm. XLIXo 

things for money, alarmed at the mighty change 
efiFeded by the preaching of the Apoftles, feized 
them, brought them before the magiftrates, accuf- 
ed them of making dangerous innovations, and 
procured them to be imprifoned. The jailor, 
having received a fpecial command to keep them 
fafely, thruft them into the inmofl apartment of 
the prifon, and locked their feet fad in the flocks. 

At midnight, while thefe holy prifoners fang 
praifes to God, there was a violent earthquake, 
which rocked' the foundations of the prifon, burft 
open the doors, and loofed every prifoner from 
his bands. 

The jailor, fuddenly awakened, faw the doors 
Handing open ; and, concluding that the prifon- 
ers had fled, he drew his fword, and would have 
killed himfeif, to prevent the infamous punifii- 
ment, which he apprehended. Paul, though it 
was now midnight, and he was in the inner prif- 
on, and the jailor without, yet perceiving his hor- 
rid defign, called to him, and faid, " Do thyfelf 
no harm, for we are all here.'' The jailor now 
fully convinced, that thefe men were the fervants 
of God, who taught the way of falvation for guilty 
mortals, ** called for a light, fprangin, came trem- 
bling, and fell down before the Apoftles, aud faid. 
Sirs, I What muft I do to be faved ?" To this im- 
portant enquiry they gave a fummary but perti- 
nent anfwer, " Believe on the Lord Jefus Chrift, 
and thou fhalt be faved." 

The manner in which the jailor made his en- 
quiry — the enquiry itfelf — and the anfwer return- 

ed to it, (hall be the fubjecls of our prcTent med- 

I. The manner in which the jailor made his 
enquiry deferves our attention. 

He mult befuppofed, previous to this, to have 
had a general acquaintance with the leading truths 
of natural religion, fuch as the exigence and gov- 
ernment of a Deity, the immortality of the foul, 
and a future (late of retribution ; for, without a 
belief of thefe truths, there would have been no 
room for his enquiry. Nor can we think, that 
he was altogether a ftranger to the gofpel. The 
apoftles, before their imprifonment, had preach- 
ed, for fome time, and with much fuccefs, in this 
city ; and he had doubtlefs heard and learnt their 
do(3;rine, in its general defign, though he had not 
yet embraced it. But what had juft now taken 
place, roufed him from his inattention, and im- 
preffed his mind with a ftrong convi6lion, that 
thefe men were teachers fent from God. And to 
them, in this important charafter, he applied for 
inflruClion in the things, which concerned his fal- 

And he applied to them in hafle. He called 
for a light diU^Jprang into the prifon where they 

With the carelefs part of mankind the great 
enquiry is, *' i Who will fhew us any worldly 
good ? To them religious inftrudions and coun- 
fels are adminiftered with little fuccefs. But the 
finner, impreffed with a convi£lion of his guilt, 
and awakened to a fenfe of his -danger, views the 
C c 4 falvation 

3cj6 Serm. XLIX. 

lalvation of his foul, as the one thing needful. 
Condemning his pad flupidity, he refolves to 
feek firft the kingdom of God. This is his great 
enquiry, *' i What muft I do to be faved ?" — 
His ears are open to the anfwer — he receives it 
with meeknefs, and applies it to pradice. 

The jailor came to the apoflles trembling. 
A convidion of fm, a fenfe of danger, and a 
perfuafion that thefe men were the fervants of 
God, rufbed with fuch power into his mind, that 
his whole frame was thrown into an unufual per- 
turbation. Paul's converfion was preceded with 
a fimilar circumflance. When a light from the 
fky blazed around him, and a voice from heaven 
demanded the reafon, and warned him of the 
, danger of his condu6l; in perfecuting the church, 
he, trembling and aftonifhed, faid, " Lord, i What 
wilt thou have me to do ?'* 

Convitlion, in different finners, is attended 
with diflPerent degrees of terror. It does not pro- 
duce, in every one, fuch bodily agitation, as it 
produced in Paul and the jailor. This was, in their 
cafe, principally owing to the extraordinary and 
furprifmg nature of the means by which they 
were brought to their new views and fentiments. 
But, in all fmners, convi6lion is attended with 
the fame ftate of mind, as it was in them ; a date 
of ferious folicitude and fear. 

The awakened fmner trembles within himfelf, 
to think what he has been doing — how he has 
rebelled againft God, and infulted his fupreme 
authority — how he has involved his foul in guilt, 


Serm. XLIX. oq« 

which the blood of facrifices cannot expiate ; and 
in pollutions, which foap and nitre cannot wafli 
away. He is amazed at his paft ftupidity. There 
is nothing, except it be the mercy and patience 
of God, which more aftoniihes him, than that 
unaccountable fecurity and indifference, with 
which, from year to year, he has proceeded in a 
courfe of fin, contrary to the light of reafon, the 
rebukes of Providence, and the warnings of fcrip- 
ture. He wonders how it could be, that he fliouid 
behold death deflroying around him, and even 
within his walls — fhould fee, on the one hand, a 
humble chrillian expire with calm and cheerful 
hopes; and, on the other, an impenitent {inner driv- 
en away in the terrors of confcious guilt ; and yet 
never bring home the admonition, nor realize the 
diflFerent ends of the righteous and the wicked. 

He trembles at his prefent danger ; a danger, 
which till now, he never felt. He views himfelf 
as one Handing on a precipice, while the ocean 
of divine wrath rolls beneath. He (liudders, 
when he thinks, how long he has flept in this 
awful fituation, and dreamed of fafcty. 

He is aftonifhed at the mercy which has made 
provifion for guilty men— -at the patience which 
has waited on him fo long — and at the grace which 
has interpofed to awaken him, and ftill indulges 
to him an opportunity of repentance. 

H€ trembles to refle6l;, how many have been 
cut off before him, in a ftate of guilt and impen- 
itence ; fome of them fuddenly, and without 
fpecial warning ; and how jullly this might have 


398 Serm. XLIX, 

been his own fad cafe. He admires the good- 
uefs which has made him to diflFer. One thing 
which afiFeded the jailor, was his marvellous pref- 
ervation at a critical moment. He had pointed 
the fword to his own bofom, God's mercy arreft- 
ed the ftroke. Every awakened fmner fees, that 
he has deftroyed himfelf, but in God is his help. 

It is, with this trembling fenfe of fm and dan- 
ger, and with trembling hopes of mercy, that he 
now makes the enquiry, what God will have him 
to do. 

The jailor fell down before the Apofiles. .^<| 

Proftration was fometimes ufed as a token of 
religious adoration. But the jailor was too well 
acquainted with thefe men to think them entitled 
to divine honour. And if they had underflood 
the adlion as thus intended, they, who always 
difclaimed all tokens of religious reverence, would 
have told him, as Peter did Cornelius, and as 
Paul and Barnabas did the Lycaonians in the like 
cafe, *' We alfo are men.'* This a6iion was there- 
fore only a token of his refpefl to them, as teach- 
ers fent from God, and an expreffion of his hum^ 
ble difpofition to receive and obey their heavenly 
inftru6lions. With the fame meek and teacha- 
ble fpirit fjiould every man enquire after the way 
of falvation. ** Lay apart all filthinefs," fays the 
Apoflle, '' and all fuperfluity of naughtinefs, and 
receive with meeknefs the engrafted word, which 
is able to fave your fouls. And be ye doers of 
the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your 


Serm. XLIX, 393 

We proceed to confider, 

II. The matter of the jailor's enquiry ; -'* i What 
muft I do to be faved ?" 

His quedion implies an apprehenfion, that 
fomething was to be done by him to obtain the 
falvation, which the Apoftles preached : Nor did 
they rebuke his queftion as improper ; but re- 
turned an immediate anfwer, direding him, ** to 
believe on the Lord Jefus Chrift." And then 
*' they (pake to him the word of the Lord," that 
be might know what he was to believe, and en 
what ground his faith was to reft. 

From his queftion, and their manner of treat- 
ing ir, we learn, that fomething is to be done by 
the finner, in order to his being faved. 

But yet we are told, that men are faved hy 
grace ; and not of themfelves— by the mercy of 
God ; and not by wprks of righteoufnefs, which 
they have done. 

There is then a fenfe in which their doings 
have no influence ; and yet a fenfe in which they 
are of great importance in the affair of falvation. 
It is neceflary to ftate this matter clearly. 
In the firft place : If we confider falvation in 
reference to the foiirce and origin of that di- 
vine fcheme, on which it becomes obtainable, it 
is fo abfolutely and entirely of grace, as to ex- 
clude the influence of every thing elfe. No fore- 
seen doings of ours could have any hand in mov- 
ing or perfuading God to contrive andpropofe a 
way, in which we might be faved ; but the plan 
priginated wholly with himfelf. His wifdom 


400 Serm. XLIXv 

contrived it, and his benevolence adopted it. We 
had no more hand in it, than we had in originat- 
ing our own exiftence. In this view, the grace 
of God is the primary, moving caufe of falvation, 
and nothing elfe is joined with it. ^ The appoint- 
ment of a Saviour to carry on this plan, was the 
eflFed of that grace, by which God is inclined to 
fave finners. The atonement of Jefus Chrifl was 
the confequence, not the caufe, of God's mercy 
to our finful race, '* He fo loved the world, as 
to give his only begotten fon, that whofoever be- 
iieveth on him fhould not perifh, but have ever- 
lalling life/* No works of ours, therefore, are to 
be performed under a notion of inclining God to 
be merciful ; for he is merciful in his own nature. 

Secondly. The meritorious caufe and mor- 
al reafon, why falvation is a6lually offered to, 
and beftowed upon finful men, is the atonement 
of Jefus Chrill, and this alone. " God has fet 
forth his Son a propitiation, to declare his right- 
eoufnefs for the forgivenefs of lin, that he might 
be juft, and the juflifier of them who believe." 
And this propitiation, not the worthinefs of men, 
is that, for the fake of which pardon and eternal 
life are granted. Sinners, therefore, muft do 
nothing uuth a view to merit falvation, to render 
themfeives worthy of it, or to lay God*sjiiJiice un- 
der an obligation to beftow it on them ; *' for 
other foundation can no man lay, than that which 
is laid, even the righteoufnefs of Jefus Chrifl.*' 

But then, thirdly, the charaBer, or qualijication, 
to which the promife of falvation is limited in 


Serm. XLIX, ^Qi 

the gofpel, is fomething inherent in the fubjedls 
of it ; and therefore fomething is to be done by 
finners in order to obtain this character, orquai- 
ification. Though falvationis, through the grace 
of God, offered indifcriminately to all ; and the 
righteoufnefs of Jefus Chrift, by the virtue of 
which it is purchafed, is fufficiently meritorious 
for all ; yet the a6lual bellowment of it is confin- 
ed to perfons of a particular defcription ; name- 
ly, to them who repent and believe. All impen- 
itent, unbelieving finners, dying in this charafter, 
are, by the gofpel, exprefsly excluded from fal- 
vation ; and will finally receive no more benefit 
from the grace of God, and the redemption of 
Chrift, than if grace had never been revealed, or 
a. Saviour had never been provided. Thofe on 
whom this bleffing will ultimately be conferred 
are only fuch as poffefs that faith, which implies 
a holy temper, and operates to a holy life. What 
therefore finners have to do, in reference to their 
falvation, refpe6ls only their obtaining that faith, 
to which falvation is promifed. And, in this 
view, their doings are of great importance. 

It is God, who has propofed to us the obje^f and 
given to us the means of faith. That word, by 
the hearing of which faith comes, is the word of 
God. It is his Spirit alio, which opens the heart 
to attend to, and receive the things which are 
fpoken. Faith, therefore, is his gift. But then 
*' we receive the Spirit in the hearing of the 
word ;" not in the negle6l of it. When the A- 
poftles dire6led the jailor to believe in Jefu.^ 


^'02 Serm. XLI 

Chrili, they, knowing that faith came by hearing. 
** fpake the word of the Lord to him, and to all 
who were in his houfe." If it was neceflary that 
they Ihould fpeak the word to him, it was equal- 
ly neceflfary that he fhould hear it. 

So when Paul enquired, " Lord, i What wilt 
thou have me to do ? The Lord anfwered, '' Go 
into the city, and it fhall be told thee, what thou 
muft do/' Paul obeyed ; and Ananias was fent 
to infl:ru6l him, and to baptife him for the remif- 

Cornelius, the Roman centurion, was com= 
rnanded, by a heavenly meflfenger, to fend for the 
Apoftle Peter, " who would tell him words, by 
which he and his houfefliould be faved." Heo- 
beyed the command, fent for the Apoflle, and 
called together his friends to hear the words which' 
fhould be fpoken. Fetet opened to them the 
gofpel plan of falvation ; and, *' while he fpake, 
the Holy Ghoft fell on all them who heard tht 
word/* Thus '' God gave to them repentance 
nnto life/' 

But this leads us to confider, 
IIL The anfwer which the Apoftles returned 
to the jailor's enquiry, " Believe on the Lord Je- 
fus Chrift, and thou (halt be faved/' 

He already believed, that there was one God, 
t'he ruler and judge of the world, to whom he 
was accountable for his condu61:. Otherwife he 
would have felt noocCafionfor the enquiry. The 
Apoftles, therefore, do not inftrud him in the 
great principles of natural religion, ars they ever 


Serm. XLIX, ^'o'J 

did thofe, whom they found ignorant of them 5 
but they pointed out to him a new obje6l of faith, 
even the Lord Jefus Chrift, who was ordained of 
God to be the Saviour of men. "They fpoke t6 
him the word of the Lord/' They opened the 
plan, and dated the terms of falvation, and urg- 
ed his compliance. 

As Jefus Chrift was fent of God to declare di- 
vine truths to men, and to execute the fcheme of 
redemption, which divine wifdom had contrived, 
fo he is propofed as the immediate obje6t of faith o 
" We by him do believe in God/' 

Faith in Chrift implies a rational aflent to this 
truth, that he is a teacher and Saviour ordained 
of God for men ; and confequently a belief of 
all that he has commanded and taught. Thus 
faith is often defcribed in the gofpel. This was 
the faith of the difciples. — *' We believe, and are 
fure, that thou art the Chrift, the Son of the liv- 
ing God/' This was Martha's faith. — '^ Lord, I 
believe that thou art the Chrift, the Son of God, 
who ftiould come into the world." This was the 
faith of the Ethiopian officer. — '-^^ I believe that 
Chrift is the Son of God." Faith is fometimes 
expreffed by diflperent, but equivalent phrafes ; as 
a belief that ** God raifed Jefus from the dead"— 
*' that God fent him into the world."—" that he 
is a teacher come from God/' 

This aff'ent muft be the refult of rational con- 
viQion. We are no more to believe without 
evidence, than to dift)elieve againft evidence. 
The latter is obftinacy j the former is raftinefs^ 


404 SeRm. XLlXd 

The cbrillianmuft be ready to give to every onfea 
rcafon of the hope which is in him. The mira- 
cles of Chrift were performed in the prefence of 
his difciples, *' that they might believe in him, 
and that believing they might have life through 
his name." When he had given Thomas full 
proof of his refurredion, he faid to him, " Be not 
faithiefs, but believing.*' 

Now if we believe, on good evidence, that Je- 
fus is the Son of God, and a teacher fent by him, 
vve mud believe all his dodlrines and precepts, 
promifes and threatenings, and whatfoever he has 
taught either by his own mouth, or the mouth of 
his Apoftle^. i for, being a divine teacher, he 
would only bear witnefs to the truth ; and he 
would not employ his divine power in fupport- 
ing the credit of his apoftles, if they had deviated 
from his inflrudions. When, therefore, Paul 
and Silas required the jailor to believe in Chrift, 
they required him to believe the whole compafs 
of the chriftian revelation, as far as it had been 
opened to him, and to receive fuch additional in- 
ftrudions as fhould, on the fame authority, be 
afterward communicated. 

But then the faith, to which the promife of fal- 
vation is annexed, is not a cold affent of the 
mind to the general truth of the gofpel, and to 
the particular doQrines contained in it; but fuch 
a belief as includes correfpondent exercifes and 
motions of heart. It is believing with the heart, 
and receiving the love of the truth. The word of 


Sermo XLIX, 405 

God is faid efFedlually to work in them who be- 

Our belief of Chrifl's divine authority mull 
be accompanied with reverence and fubmiffion. 
Our belief of his holy and perfe6l chara6ler muft 
be attended with love and delight. Our belief 
of the great things which he has done and fuflper- 
ed for us, mufl operate in a way of gratitude and 
joy. Our belief of his meritorious atonement 
and prevalent interceflion muft lead us to trufb 
in God through him, and to do all things in his 
name. Our belief of his finlefs and amiable ex- 
ample muft induce us to walk as he walked. So 
that faith, taken in its juft latitude and extent, is 
nothing lefs than a fubje6lion of foul to the whole 
gofpel of Chrift. It is an unreferved dedication 
of ourfelves to his fervice, and a humble reliance 
on him for righteoufnefs and ftrength. 

If any now enquire, what they muft do to be 
faved, here is the anfwer — -" Believe on the Lord 
Jefus Chrift, and ye ftiall be faved." 

You will fay, you believe the gofpel to be true. 
Very well ; but if you believe it to be true, fee 
that your hearts and lives are conformed to it ; 
and that you a6l under its influence. You be- 
lieve that Jefus is the Chrift, i But have you feen 
your own fmfulnefs, the juftice of the law which 
condemns you, and your incapacity to refcue 
yourfelves from its awful fentence ?— ^ Is Chrift 
precious to you ? — ^ Have you committed your 
fouls to him to be fandified by his fpiiit, and fav^ 
ed by his righteoufnefs ?•— £ Have you chofenhis 
Vol, II. D d fervice, 

4o6 Serm, XLIX* 

fervice, and do you walk in imitation of his life, 
and in reliance on his grace ? By fuch enquiries 
judge, whether you have believed to the faving, 
or only to the deceiving of your foui&. 

Whatever exercifes of mind you have felt — - 
whatever duties you have done — whatever means 
you have attended ; reft in nothing Ihort of re- 
pentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord 
Jefus Chrift. Thefe are the terms of falvation. 

If you afk, how you (hall obtain this faith ; 
the Apoftle fays, " faith comes by hearing/* 
Hear the word of God with diligent attention, 
and give earneft heed to the things v/hich you 
hear, left, at any time, you fhould let them ftip. 

You will fay, ** the word avails nothing with- 
out the Spirit/* But remember, " God gives the 
Spirit in the hearing of faith. Pray always that 
he v/ould fulfil in you the work of faith with 
power/' *' Quench not the Spirit/' Abftain 
from thofe things, which tend to extinguifti hi^ 
kindly influences. Give entertainment to the 
lerious and rational convi61;ions excited in your 
minds. Seek the Lord while he may be found, 
and call upon him while he is near. 

Some will afk perhaps, i Whether they can ex- 
peft fuccefs in fuch a ufe of means, as any are 
capable of in their unregenerate ftate ?^ — We can- 
not promife men fuccefs on any thing ftiort of a 
ftncere compliance with the gofpel. We aim, 
however, to addrefs them according to the differ- 
ent chara£^ers in which they appear. We would 
inftruQ: the ignorant, alarm the thoughtlefs, un- 

Serm. XLIX, 


deceive the felf confident^ and encourage the def- 
ponding, and thus be made all things to all men, 
that we may by all means fave fome. We would 
place duty before all men, and urge it by gofpel 
motives. We would fhew them the impoflibili- 
ty of obtaining falvation by ftri6l law; open 
the plan of grace, and prefs their compliance 
with it. When we hear them fpeaking, and fee 
them adling difcreetly — when we obferve in 
them an attention to their religious advantages, 
and an engagedhefs in the work of their falva- 
tion, we hope they are not far from the king- 
dom of God. We hope, the good work begun 
will be accomplifhcd. But we exhort them to 
look to themfelves, that they lofe not the things, 
which they have gained. And we folemnly warn 
them, that if, after they have efcaped the pollu- 
tions of the world through the knowledge of 
Chrift, they are again entangled therein and o- 
vercome, the latter end is worfe with them, than 
the beginning. 




^fiicah d (^07iudc7ice' and zDtdahkov}ii' 

U D G E S 

xvii. 13. 

Thenjaid Micah, Now I know that the Lord will dh 
mc good, feeing I have a Levite to mypriejl, 

VjrOD inllituted, for the church of 
Ifrael, a form of worfhip adapted to their circum- 
ftances, and to that age of the world. Its pecu- 
liar ordinances were defigned to guard them a- 
gainft the fuperflitions of the heathens, and to 
preferve them from difunion among themfelves. 

Before the temple at Jerufalem was built, God 
appointed, that his tabernacle fhould be placed in 
Shiloh, and that the tribes fliould there affemble, 
at the great feftivals inftituted in the law. 


To perform the common fcrvice of the taber- 
nacle the tribe of Levi was feparated ; and from 
this tribe the family of Aaron was felededfor the 
peculiar duties of the priefthood ; fuch as offer- 
ing facrifice, burning incenfc, expounding tlje 
law, and enquiring at the oracle. 

The continued enjoyment of God's favour de- 
pended on a faithful adherence to his inftilutions. 

The Jews, though fully inftru6led in the true 
and acceptable worlhip of God, foon began to 
corrupt it by human inventions. Inftead of af- 
fembling at the place where God had recorded his 
name, they chofe other places of worfhip accord- 
ing to their own humour. — Inftead of attending 
on the miniftrations of the orderly priefls, who 
were fet apart and educated for their oflBcc, they 
made priefts of the loweft of the people. Inftead 
of direding their adorations to the one Supreme 
God, they worlhipped the heathen deities, which 
were but creatures of imagination, or fenfelefs 
idols formed by art and man's device. 

The firft fuccefsful attempt to introduce idolatry 
into the church of Ifrael, is related in the chapter 
where our text is, and in the next following. 
Previous attempts, indeed, had been made ; but 
thofe, being open and publick, gave an alarm, and 
were immediately oppofed. This was made more 
privately, and in a time of political fonFufion, 
when there was no king — no fettled government, 
in Ifrael ; and therefore it met Vvith no effedual 

D d 3' The 

4io Sbrm. L, 

The idolatry, which finally proved the ruin of 
the Jews, began in the houfe of Micah ; was here 
carried on by a vagrant Levite ; from hence it 
was transferred to the tribe of Dan ; and there it 
continued, until the ark of God was taken by the 
Philiftines, and the tabernacle removed from Shi- 
lob. After this, it was for a time fupprelTed ; 
but, in the reign of Jeroboam, it was again reviv- 
ed, and was never wholly and finally extirpat- 
ed until the Babylonian captivity. 

This Micah was of Mount Ephraim. He liv-. 
ed in the fame houfe with his mother^ who prob- 
ably was a wudow. She had, by fome means, 
collefted a quantity of filver, which Micah Hole 
from her. Vexed at her lofs, (he uttered fuch 
dreadful imprecations as frightened him into a 
confeffion of the theft, and reftitution of the filver. 

The fond mother now blelTes her fon, and fays, 
*' This filver I had wholly dedicated to the Lord, 
to JEHOVAH, for my fon, to make a graven 
image and a molten image." She did not intend 
to renounce the God of Ifrael ; but to worfhip 
him by an image, which fhe confidered as having 
the divine prefence refiding in it. This, though 
not the grofTell kind of idolatry, yet was an impi- 
ous degradation of the glory, and a vile corrup- 
tion of the worfhip of that infinite and invifible 
Spirit, of whom there can be no corporeal fimiU- 
tude. And it naturally led to dill more grofs 
fuperftition. When men begin to depart from 
God, they can prefcribe to themfelves no bounds. 
They know not how far they fhall wander, where 


StRM. L, ^^ 

they fiiall maie a Hand, nor Iio^v they fiiail re- 
turn. God has inflituted the order of his houfe* 
If forfaking this, we follow our own invcndons, 
we fhall foon fall under the power of a wild im- 
agination, and become fubjeci to the influence ofc 
infernal artifice ; and there is but a precarious 
hope, that we Ihall recover ourfelves out of the 

Micah agreed to his mother's propofal. The 
filver was given to an artificer, who made thereof 
a molten, and a graven image. Thefe Micah 
placed in his houfe. He then made an ephod in 
imitation of the pontifical veflments, and tera- 
phim in refemblance of the urim and thummim ; 
and he confecratedone of his fons for a family 
prieft. Well plea fed, no doubt, he was with 
this fine device. He had not renounced the 
God of Ifrael : He had only contrived to pay 
him an eafy fervice. He fliould be excufed from 
the trouble of going to Shiloh, and attending at 
the tabernacle, for he had gods and a pried in 
his houfe. It appears, from the next chapter, 
that his neighbours were drawn into the fame fu- 
perflition ; and negleding the inflituted worfiiip 
of the fanduary, they attended on the minidia- 
tions of this new fangled prieft. 

Some time after this, a young man, who, by 
his father's fide, was a Levite, wandering about 
for employment, or perhaps for an eafier fubfill- 
ence, came to the houfe of Micah. In thofc days 
of anarchy, the Levites were probably negle6led^ 
and tills youth, quitting the fervice of the tahcr- 
D d 4 nacle, 

412 Serm. L. 

nacle, travelled the country in queft of a better 

Micah enquired, who and whence he was ; and, 
learning that he was a Levite, he invited him to 
officiate in his houfe, as a prieft. For this fer- 
vice he promifed him food and raiment, and ten 
fhekels of lilver by the year. *' And the Levite 
was content to dwell with the man, and he be- 
came unto him as one of his fons ; and Micah 
confecrated the Levite, who became his pried." — 
" Now," fays he, '' I know that the Lord will do 
me good, feeing I have a Levite to my prieft." 

This Levite, however, had no better right to 
the priefthood than Micah's fon ; for, by divine 
inftitution, this office was confined to Aaron's 
family. It was an impious prefumption in Mi- 
cah to attempt the confecration of a prieft, and 
in the Levite to accept it from his hands. This 
fervice belonged not to every man ; but w^as af- 
figned to the prieft s themfelves. And, indeed, if 
the Levite had been of the prieftly order, and reg- 
ularly confecrated, he was flill grofsly impious 
in favouring Micah's fuperftition, and in encour- 
aging his feparation from the appointed place, and 
inftituted form of divine worftiip. 

But his motive was to obtain a fubfiftence. 
Little encouragement had he hitherto found in 
his excurlions. A maintenance is now offered. 
Rather than forego the advantage, he will alter 
his religion, and comply with the humour of the 
man, on whom he is dependent. 


Serm. L. ^ja, 

Of the fame complexion were Jeroboam's 
priefts. When the king ereded his golden calves 
in Dan and Bethel, the orderly priefts and Le- 
vites forfook him. They refufed to aflift in his 
idolatrous worfhip. He, therefore, made priefls 
of the loweft: of the people, who, being in needjr 
circumftances, readily accepted the appointment, 
to fecure for themfelves a fubfiftence. 

Thefe idolatrous priefl;s, and the falfe prophets 
who a6led in concert with them, and the rulers 
who patronized them, are the men fo often con- 
demned, in the writings of the prophets, as devot- 
ed to worldly gain. " The heads judge for re- 
ward, and the priefts teach for hire, and the proph- 
ets divine for money." The regular, ftanding 
priefts are not the perfons here intended ; for 
they had no occafion to teach for hire : A ftated 
provifion was by the divine law made for them. 
But the idolatrous priefts, who went about to 
jnake divi lions in God's church, and to corrupt 
men from the purity of his worfliip, thefe *^ taught 
for hire.'' *' They loved gifts, followed after re- 
wards, and cried. Give ye.'' — '* They looked to 
their way, every one for his gain from his quar- 
ter." — *' They were blind watchmen; fhepherds 
who could not underftand ; they rejected knowl- 
edge, and forgot the law."- — " They ate up the 
fins, and fet their hearts on the iniquities of the 
people." They lived on the fin offerings of the 
people ; and took pleafure in their tranfgreftions, 
becaufe the more tranfgreflions among the people, 
the more fin offerings for the priefts to confume. 


4^4- Serm. L, 

Therefore God fays, '' He would reje6fc them 
from being priefts" — would difown them in their 
afliimed, but proftituted charadler. 

They, who, according to God's inllitution, 
miniftered at the altar, had a right to partake of 
the altar. And fo ftill, they who preach the gof- 
pel, have a right to live of the gofpel. But the 
man who defires to be put into the priefl's office, 
only that he may get a piece of filver, and eat a 
morfel of bread, is unworthy of the truft ; '' for, 
for a piece ef bread, that man will trangrefs/' 
On the fame motive, on which he accepted, he 
will profane, or defert his office. 

This Levite was a tranfient perfon ; he came 
from a dillance ; he had nothing, but his own 
word, to recommend him. Micah took him into 
his fervice, with hafly and implicit confidence, 
and without proper information ; and no wonder 
if he was deceived. 

*' I know,'* fays he, *' that the Lord will do 
me good, becaufe I have a Levite to my prieft." 
Poor, deluded man 1 If Aaron or Samuel had 
been his prieft, he was not to hope that the Lord 
would do him good, unlefs he attended to his own 
duty. '' Let no man glory in man," fays the 
Apoftle ; '< for, i Who is Paul, or who is Apol- 
los, but minifters, by whom ye believed, even as 
the Lord gave to every man ?" 

Some promife themfelves much good, becaufe 
they worfhip God in fuch a place, and hear fuch 
kind of preaching: But they fhould remember, that 
dl things are of God i that the befl minifters are 


Serm. L. ^i^ 

iaftruments in his hands ; that God will then do 
them good, when they flritlly conform to his in- 
{litutions, humbly rely on his grace, and feek his 
blefling in the way which he has appointed. 

Had Micah confidered, that he had forfaken 
God's tabernacle— had corrupted the purity of 
divine worlhip — had chofen for his priell a man 
unauthorifed and unrecommended — had taken 
him implicitly, and confecrated him prefumptu- 
oufly, he muft have feen, that God would not do 
Jiim good at all the more for his having this man 
|o his prieft. If we are dependerit on God for 
the good which we defire, we muft feek it of him 
in the manner which he prefcribes. 

Let us purfue our ftory a little farther, that we 
may learn how far Micah's expedations were an- 

The tribe of Danites, being ftraitened in their 
inheritance, fent five men to explore the country 
for a new plantation. Thefe meflengerSjin their 
journey, came to Mount Ephraim, and, lodging 
near Micah^ houfe, they heard the voice of the 
young Levite ; probably as he was performing 
religious fervice ; and they immediately recol- 
leded him ; for as he had lived a vagrant life, 
they, perhaps, had heard him hold forth before. 
They turned in to fee him ; and, finding, that he 
had commenced a prieft, was dreifed in the pon^ 
tifical robes, and furniftied with images and tera- 
phim, they informed him of the obje6l of their 
expedition, and defired him to enqun-e of God 
concerning their fuccefs. Loft to all fenfe of pie- 

4i6 Serm. L, 

ty, he, after a formal pretence of confulting the 
oracle, anfwered, '* Go in peace ; before the Lord 
is your way/* As he had affumed the office and 
habiliments of the priefthood, he would decline 
no part of the facred funQ:ion, lefl he fhould 
baulk his employers, and lofe credit with his 

High pretenfions to divine intercourfe, to vif- 
ions, illuminations, fupernatural difcoveries, and 
heavenly dire6lions, are common with impoftors : 
Thus they deceive the hearts of the fimple, be- 
guile unliable fouls, and draw away difciples af- 
ter them. 

One (inner deftroys much good, and more in 
proportion to the publicity of the character in 
which he aQs. This diChoneft Levite, officiating 
as an idolatrous prieft, corrupted the religion of 
all around him. He colleded a confiderable 
number of people in the vicinity to attend on his 
miniflry. Some, it is probable, were captivated 
hy the novelty of his ceremonies — fome might be 
pleafed with the idea of having a prieft fo near 
them — fome perhaps admired his great fan6lity 
and indifference to the world ; for he had only 
his vi6luals and clothes, and ten fliekels by the 
year ; and Micah paid him all this — And he 
might alfo have fome popular talents : He feems to 
have had a ftrong and vehement utterance, and a 
^peculiar tone of voice. For the Danites heard 
and recognifed him as they paffed along in the 
llreet. It is faid, *' They knew his voice." 


Serm. L. iif 

Thefe adventurers, having fearched the land 
whither they were fent, returned with a favoura- 
ble account, which encouraged the tribe to begin 
a plantation there. For this purpofe, there were 
raifed fix hundred men in arms, who, conduced 
hy the five fpies, marched through the village, 
where Micah lived ; and, being informed of the 
filver images, and other religious utenfils in his 
houfe, they concerted a fcheme to rob it. The 
armed men, drawn up at the gate, fent in the five 
fpies, who, being confidered as friends, were re- 
ceived without fufpicion. They immediately 
took the images, ephod and teraphim, and carri- 
ed them out to their brethren at the gate. The 
priell, furprifed at the freedom of his old friends, 
began to expoflulate. But they foon fatisfied 
him. ^* Hold thy peace ;" fay they, ** lay thy 
hand on thy mouth ; go with us, and be to us a 
father and a prieft. ^ Is it better for thee to be a 
prieft unto the houfe of one man ; or that thour 
be a pried unto a tribe and family in Ifrael ? — - 
" And the prieft's heart was glad : He took the 
ephod, teraphim and images, and went away in 
the midft of the people.'* 

This is that prieft, for whofe fake, Micah knew, 
the Lord would do him good ! 

When the young man was wandering about 
for a fubfiftence, he thought a little would fuffice 
him. His food and raiment, with a few fhekeh 
for contingencies, he efteemed a decent provi Con ; 
and, at firft, '* he was content." But when he 
found that he grew more important, he began to 


41 8 Sfrm. L," 

afpire after greater things. To be a prieft in a fmall 
village, on a moderate maintenance, and for this? 
to be depen.dent on a fingle man, was now too 
humiliating. As foonas he heard the propofal of 
an advantageous tranllation, '' his heart was glad." 
He accepted the offer without hefitation ; and 
into his own hallowed hands he received the 
facred images, which had been violently taken, 
out of Micah's chapel, and bare them triumphant- 
ly away in the midft of the armed ruffians. 

Thefe Danites foon built a city on their new 
plantation ; here they fet up their ftolen images ; 
this Levite became their prieft, and his fons fuc= 
ceeded him. 

In vain Micah colle6ls his neighbours, and pur-= 
fues the robbers. In vain he exclaims, " Ye 
have taken away my gods and the prieft ; and, 
I What have I more ?" They anfwered, " Let 
not thy voice be heard among us, left angry fel- 
lows run upon thee, and thou lofe thy life.'' — 
" When he faw that they were too ftrong for him,- 
he turned and went back to his houfe.'* And glad 
he was to efcape fo. 

I What thinks Micah now of his vagrant prieft ? 
— As heavenly and difmterefted as he was, he 
could leave his fmall charge for a more lucrative 

Perhaps he thought, that his abilities were here 
too much confined, and that his labours would 
be more ufeful in a larger fphere. i But could 
he, on this principle, be juftified in joining to 
rob his patron's chapel ? 


S£RM. L« j^iQ 

Though he profelTed to enjoy a heavenly in- 
tercourfe, and to receive divine refponfes, yet, in 
this cafe, he never afked counfel of God or man. 
The call was clear — there was no room to delib- 
erate — a richer living prefented itfelf, and his 
former contra6l was at end. 

Micah muft, by this time be afhamed of his 
rafli confidence in a flranger. 

Leaving him now to his own refle6lions, we 
will animadvert, a moment, on thefe Danites. 

Being about to form a new fettlement, they 
determined to have fome kind of religious wor- 
ihip among them. Whether it was rational, or 
idolatrous — inflituted by God, or invented hy 
man, they were not folicitous; but fome form or 
other they would have. 

They feem to have been but an ignorant col- 
le6lion. They probably had negle6led the dated 
worfhip of God in Shiloh, and hence were more 
eafily feduced to idolatry. None are fo liable to 
error and delufion, as they who defpife the or- 
ders of God's houfe. Among thefe you will al- 
ways fee impoftors the moft bufy and the mofl 
fuccefsful. They feldom pra6life their arts on 
thofe, who hy reafon of ufe have their fenfes ex- 
ercifed to difcern both good and evil. That 
chriftians may hold faft their profeflion without 
wavering, the Apoftle advifes, that they forfake 
not the aflembling of themfelves together. 

Thefe Danites, in their zeal for religion, rob- 
bed Micah's chapel, and feduced his chaplain ; 
and, when he complained of the wrong, they 

si3x.TC r:r threatened 

420 Serm, L, 

threatened his life. ^ Did they think, that God 
was pieafed only with external forms — that he 
had no regard to juftice, truth and mercy ? — We 
condemn their conducl. i But is there nothing 
like it to be iccn among chriftians ? — If we tear in. 
pieces one church in order to build up another — 
if we caufe divifions and feparations in one re- 
ligious fociety in order to collecl out of it anoth- 
er of our own complexion and denomination, 
when, at the fame time, we profefs fubflantially 
to agree in do£lrine and pradice with the fociety, 
which we thus difturb ; we a6l precifely in the 
fpirit of thefe Danites, who robbed Micah's chap- 
el, that they might furnifll their own ; Hole his 
image, that they might worfhip it themfelves; 
and enticed away his priefi, that they might en- 
joy his miniftrations. 

Religion is a matter of mofl ferious importance, 
and we are to ad in it withengagednefs and zeal. 
But it is a reafonable, felfconliftent fervice, and 
our zeal muft be honeft and peaceable. We 
may no more lie to make God's truth and glory 
abound, than to make our own wealth and hon- 
our abound. He hates robbery, as much for an 
ojBFering on his altar, as for an offering at the 
fhrine of ambition and avarice. If fraud and 
artifice, duplicity and injuflice are criminal in 
their nature, we cannot change their nature by 
applying them to a godly defign. 

The fubftance of religion confifts in righteouf- 
nefs, mercy, truth and the love of God. To pro- 
mote thefe, is the prooer ufe of all inllituted forms 


Serm. L. 421 

of worfhip. If we maintain our favourite forms 
at the expenfe of real virtues, we invert the or- 
der of things ; our devotion becomes fuperftition, 
and our religious worfhip refembles the idolatry 
of the Danites. 

We fee, in the cafe before us, the importance 
of a ftria adherence to the order of God's houfe. 
When once we depart from this, we know not 
bow far we ftiall run, nor how many we Ihall 
draw along with us. 

Let us only confider, how idolatry began and 
fpread in the land of Ifrael. It was firfl fuggell- 
ed by a woman to her fon. He fet it up in his 
own houfe, and withdrew from the tabernacle of 
God. After a while he called in a flraggling Le- 
vite and confecrated him for a prieft. By the 
influence of this unprincipled Levite the families 
in the vicinity were corrupted. By and by the 
man carried his idols and fuperftition into the 
tribe of Dan. There they continued for a num- 
ber of years, even all the time that the houfe of 
God was in Shiloh. After idolatry feemed to be 
fuppreffed, there was ftill in this tribe, an incli- 
nation to favour it. When Jeroboam fet up his 
golden calves, he placed one in Dan, as the tribe 
which would moft readily receive it. Dan, in 
^llufion to the old ferpent, who brought fm into 
the world, is called " a ferpent in the way, and 
an adder in the path, which biteth the horfe's 
heels, fo that his rider falleth backward." This 
revolt proved the ruin of the nation. No warn- 
ings of the prophets, or judgments of heaven 

Vol. II. E e would 

4^2 S£RMp L« 

would reclaim them, until they were given up to 
a captivity of feventy years. 

As the tribe of Dan had the principal influence 
in the introdudion and fupport of idolatry in the 
earthly Canaan, fo, when the hundred and forty 
and four thoufand were fealed out of the tribes 
of Ifrael, as heirs of the heavenly Canaan, this 
tribe was utterly excluded* 

Who would have expefted fuch lalling and 
extenfive mifchief from an error, which began in 
a private family, and was fuggefted by an obfcure 
woman ? 

Important is the Apoftle's caution to the He- 
brews — " Look diligently, left any man fail of 
the grace of God, left any root of bitternefs fpring- 
ing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled/* 

Never let us venture to violate the plain infti- 
tutions of God, nor to fubftitute in their place 
the inventions of men. We are only then to 
hope for his bleffing, when we feek it in the way 
of his appointment. If we attempt innovations 
in the order of his houfe, the guilt begins with 
us, but the mifchief may fpread wide, and laft 
Jong. It is dangerous to make new experiments 
in religion. 

We find ourfelves, perhaps, agreeably enter- 
tained, and think we are greatly edified, by at- 
tending on fome new and tranfient preacher, 
who aifumes a new name, exhibits fome new 
forms, and appears chiefly on days which God 
has not fequeftered for his worfhip. But let us 
not miftake the mere emotions of paflion for god- 

SeRMo L. /2C^ 

ly edification. The novelty of the fcene may" 
move us for a time, but when the fcene is famil- 
iarized, the emotions wi 11 fubfide. 

We are never to look for fpiritual advantage 
in a departure from God's appointments^ 

When our hearts are formed to the love of ho- 
linefs, and our lives are filled with good works, 
then may we conclude, that we are really edified : 
And this edification comes by attendance on God's 
inftitutions. Chrift has given pallors and teach- 
ers for the perfe6ting of his faints, and the edify- 
ing of his Church. And it is by attending on 
their miniftry, that we make increafe to the edi- 
fying of ourfelves in love. If we diflurb the 
peace, and break the unity of bis church, in or- 
der to our perfonal edification, we mi (lake the 
means, and fhall mifs of the end. Chriftians are 
a mutual comfort, when they are fellow workers 
to the kingdom of God ; therefore fludy the things 
which make for peace, and the things wherewith 
you may edify one another. 



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