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SERMONS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS DIVINE AND MORAL, WITH A SACRED HYMN SUITED TO EACH SUBJECT.
THE SERMONS AND PRACTICAL WORKS OF THE LATE ISAAC IVATTS, D. D. 1 " Few men have left behind them such purity of character, or public monuments of laborious piety." " I cannot but think this great man approached as nearly to Christian perfection NOB as any mortal ever did in this sublunary state." Dr. VL1bíott Pao: PRINTED BY JAMES CUNDEE, WY-LANE, FOR T. WILLIAMS, STATIONERS- COUILT. '1805.
SERMONS, SERMON I. THE INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY, 1 JOHN V. lo. He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the Witness in himself, THE FIRST PART. THERE are two points of great and solemn import- ance, which it becomes every man to enquire into: First, Whether the religion lie professes be true and divine; and then, Whether he has so far complied with the rules of this religion, as to stand entitled to the blessings thereof. The christians ofour age and nation, have beennursed up amongst the forms of christianity from their child- hood ; they take it for granted their religion is divine and true, and therefore seldom enter into the first en- quiry : but when they come to think in good earnest about religious affairs, their great concern is with the second, viz. to know whether they have so far complied with the rules of the gospel of Christ, as to obtain an in- terest in the promised blessings of it. And when they hear such a text as this, He that believeth, hath the wit- ness in himself; they immediately expect that the mean- ing and desigh of it should be towitness the truth of their own faith, and consequently to prove their own title to salvation. But in the first christian age the case was far other- wise. The gospel itself was not then universally estab- lished, and the disciples of this new religion might have frequent doubts in their own minds concerning the truth VOL. I. 1$
2 INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. [SERM. 1. of it, while they saw it disallowed and opposed by the world round about them. It was evidently necessary therefore for them to enquire, whether it came fromGod or no ? And it is with this view . the apostle Johnwrites these words, He that believeth on the Son of God, halt the witness in himself viz. he hath a proof within him- self, that eternal life is in the Son, ver. 11. and is to be Obtained by our believing in him. It is to the truth of this doctrine that the three bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and the three on earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood. And though the proof of the sincerity and truth of our faith now may be derived from hence by a further conse- quence, yet the first and direct design of the apostle is to shew, that the truth and divinity of our religion has an inward witness to it in the heart of every believer. Here give me leave to put you in mind, that it is necessary for you, as it was for the primitive christians, to settle your profession of christianity upon solid grounds ; otherwise you are christians but for the same reason that makes aTurk a disciple of Mahomet, or a heathen a worshipper of the gods of his country; that is, because you were born in such a climate, and under such á meridian. And can you be contented with so poor a pretence to the noblest religion? and lay so sandy a foundation for your eternal hopes? Besides, the day in which we live, threatens you with bold temptations; and how will you stand if you have no surer grounds ? Infidelity is a growing weed; the contempt and ridicule of revealed religion flourish, and become fashionable among the gay part of the world; and if you are not furnished with some solid proofs of the gospel of Christ, you .may be in great danger of losing your faith; you may be tempted to yield up your religion to a witty jest, and become a heathen for company. I might say another thing to awaken you to acquaint yourselves with some arguments that willjustify and sup- port your belief of the gospel. Suppose you think you have complied with the rules of your religion, and have raised your hopes of heaven to a high degree; should Satan the tempter spread his darkness round your souls, and in a melancholy and gloomy hour assault your faith I
SERM. 1.7 INWARD WITNESS TO CIiRISTIANITY. with such bold questions as these, How do you know that christianity is the true religion ? What tokens have you to skew that it camefrom God? If you have no other answer to make, but that it is the religion of your country, that you were born and bred up in it, tLink withyourselves how your spirits will be surprised, your comforts languish, and all your high-built hopes totter to the ground ; _unless the Spirit of God, by his uncom- mon and sovereigngrace, should give in an answer to the temptation, and by some immediate and convincing argument support your faith : but ifyou are negligent to lay a good foundation at first, you have no reason to ex- pect such a divine favour. Let the importance of this concern therefore keep your attention awake, while I briefly run over some of the proofs of christianity, and thus lead you down to the surest and best of them, which is contained in my text. Many are the outward testimonies which God bath given to the gospel of his Son; many witnesses have confirmed it from the time that Christ appeared in the flesh, to the day when St. John wrote this epistle. If we trace his life from the cradle in the manger to his cross and the grave, we shall find the rays of divinity still shining round his doctrine and his works, still pointing to his person, and proving his commission with a con- vincing and resistless light. At his birth the witnessing angels appeared in much brightness, and while the Son ofGod lay an infant below, his record was on high; for there appeared a strange new star, and was his witness in heaven. The wise men of the east were his witnesses, when they came from afar, and paid tributes and offer- ings, gold and incense to the God, the king of Israel. Simeon and Anna in the temple, by the spirit of prophecy witnessed to the holy child Jesus. And the doctors with whom he disputed at twelve years old, were his witnesses that there was something in himmore than man. At his baptism the Father and Spirit witnessed to the Son of God ; they told the world that this was He, the Messiah The Father by a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased; and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove. His life was a life of wonders, and each of them witnessed to the truth of his
INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. [SRAM. 1. commission, and to the divinity of his doctrine. Every blind eye that he opened, saw and witnessed Jesus, and declared his divine power. Every one of the dead that he raised were his witnesses. They came from the land of silence to speak his glory, and to give a loud testi- mony to his mission from heaven.. The devils themselves,` when he drove themout of their possessions, confessed that he was Christ The holy one of God; but he had no mind to accept their witness, and therefore forbad them to speak. Miracles attended..him to the cross and the grave, and openedthe grave again for hire, and made a passage for him to his Father's right-hand. Nor did the witnesses of his person and of his doctrine then cease ; for that salvation which began to be spoken by Jesus the Lord, was afterwards published by those that heard him, Godhimself bearing themwitness with signs and won- ders ; as in Heb. ii. 3, 4. But all these still were outward witnesses to convince an unbelieving world. There is an inward witness that my text speaks of, that belongs to every true christian : He that believeth on the Son of God, kath the witness in himself And let us prepare now to examine whether our religion be true, and whether we are believers on the Son of God in truth, by searching after this inward . witness; which we shall endeavour to explain, bycon- sidering these three things : I. What believing on the Son of God means. II. What this inward witness is, that faith gives to, christianity. III. What sort of witness it is, and how it exceeds other testimonies in several respects. And, . Lastly, We shall make some. inferences. I. What is meant in my text by believing on the Son ofGod, I answer briefly under these two heads. It is, 1. A believingJesus Christ to be the Saviour of the world. 2. A trust in Christ Jesus as our Saviour. 1. It is a believing Jesus Christ to be the Saviour of theworld; and in this manner it is often expressed by our apostle in these epistles : a belief that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, who was foretold by all the prophets, and. represented by all the types and shadows of the old testament. This usually includes a belief of the most important things that are related in the gospel concern - 6
SEAM. 1.1 INWARD WITNESS TO C 1RISTIANITY. 5 ing his person; such as these, that he is true God and true man, i. e. that God and man are united in him; that he was the son of God before all ages, and the son of man born in time. That he was the seed of David after theflesh, but declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead, liom. i. 3, 4. That he is that eternal Word, who in the beginning was with God, and was God, and who was in due time madeflesl :, and tabernacled among us; as in John i. 14. This is that mystery of godliness which we must believe, God manifest in theflesh, 1 Tim. iii. 16. It implies also our belief of his doctrine, as well as of the divinity and humanity united in his person; wiz. That we are all sinners condemned by the law of God ;. enemies to God in our minds, transgressors in our lives, and exposed to eternal death: That the divine law is so strict, so perfect, so holy, and so just, that no mere man since the fall can fulfil it, nor yet excuse or free himself from the condemnation of it : That Christ him- self came toficll this law, as he tells us in .IWat. v. 17, 18. That he carne not only to perform the duties of it by an active obedience, but to put himself under the curse and condemnation for our sakes. Which the apos- tle to the Galatians expresses in this language, that in thefulness oftime he was made under the law, to become a cursefor us, that we who are under the law might be redeemedfrom the curse, and receive a blessing, Gal. iii. 13. and iv. 5. That he died for our eences, that he rose again for our justification; and that he has re- ceived the spirit of holiness, which he sends into our sinful natures, to form us fit for that heavenly inherit- ance which he bath purchased for us by his death. That without this purification of our natures, we can have no hope of heaven, for without repentance and holiness no man shall see God. That Jesus Christ our Lord shall raise the dead, shall come in the last day to judge the world, and pass a decisive sentence, and shall then re- ward every one according to his works. Though all these things were not so plainly taught by our Saviour himself in his public ministry in the world, yet thesc were the doctrines which his apostles preached continu- ally, and they received them from him by private in » 3
6 INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. [SERM. t. structions, or the inspiration of his Spirit, so that they may be properly'called the doctrines of Christ. But this is not all that is required of believers ; for so much knowledge, and so much faith as this is, the devils may have,, and Simon Magus the sorcerer might have as muchas this when he believed. The faith that is expressed in this epistle, and in other places of scripture, is more than a bare assent to the great truths of the gospel ; for it is such a faith as overcomes the world, such a faith as gains a victory over things sensual, and over Satan; such a faith as evidences a man to be born ofGod: And therefore something more must be implied in it than a mere belief of the nature and person of Christ, and the truth of his doctrine. 2. It therefore implies a betrusting the soul into the hands of Christ, that he naay be our Saviour, And I have sometimes thought that those words in the Greek, which we render faith and believing, are continually used in the new testament, to signify faith, a - saving faith; because they not only signify, in their natural sense, the believing of a truth, but the trusting in a person. They signify believing the doctrine of Christ, and committing the soul into his hands as a Saviour, as it is expressed by St. Paul, 2 Tim. i. 12. Iknow whom I have believed, and I ampersuaded he is able to keepwhat I have committed to him. To believe on the Son of God therefore, is when a person, from a sense of sin and danger of eternal death, and his inability Ito escape any other way, applies himself unto Christ Jests, as the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. When the soul com- mits itself into his hands, as one All- sufficient in himself to save, and one appointed by the Father for this glorious purpose. When the soul is made willing to be justified by the merits and righteousness of another, seeing itself unable, by all its own works, to attain to a justifying righteousness. When the soul is desirous to be sancti- fied by the grace that is from above, because it sees the necessity of holiness, and yet feels itself utterly uncapa- ble to renew its own nature, to mortify its own sins, or to form itself fit for the enjoyment of God and heaven. When the soul for these ends, puts itself under the care of Christ Jesus, who is authorised and commissioned by
SEAM I.] INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. 7 the Father to take care of sinful and guilty souls, to re- move and cancel their guilt by his sacrifice, and invest themwith a perfect righteousness, to begin the workof grace in them, to fill them with principles of holiness, andby degrees to fit them for his glory : such a soul is a believer on the Son of God; and such a soul has the witness in himself, that our religion is divine, and that christianity is"from above. II. The second thing I proposed to consider, is, What is this inward witness that faith gives to the truth of christianity? At the first promulgation of the gospel, there were some souls overpowered with present miracles, attended with a divine light shining into them. This was such as they could nót resist, such as carried glorious evidence with it, and effectually wrought upon them to believe that our religion was from heaven, that Christ was the Son of God, and that his name was the only ground of hope for salvation. This was miraculous and extraor- dinary, and not to be expected every day now; such was the conversion of St. Paul to christianity, and many such instances of miracles appeared in the first seasons of the gospel. But thewitness. that the apostle John speaks of in my text, is such as belongs to every believer. It is an uni- versal proposition. He that believes, has the witness in himself: In order therefore to enquire into the nature of this testimony, I shall not lead you, nor myself, into the land of blind enthusiasm, that region of clouds and darkness, that pretends to divine light. The apostle does not mean here a strong impulse, an irrational and ungrounded assurance that our religion is true. Many times these vehement impulses are but the foolish firesof fancy, that give the enquiring traveller no steady light or conduct, but lead him far astray from truth. Chris -. tianity has a better witness than this; being such as be- longs to every believer, it must approve itself to the reason of men. And I will endeavour to explain it thus according to scripture. Let it be first noted here, that the word witness is used frequently, by our translators, to signify testimony, u4
8 INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. [SERM. 1. or evidence. Nor will it create any confusion to use these words promiscuously in this discourse, while we distinguish them from the thing witnessed, (which, in the original, is also wapivp,a) and is translated the record, ver.- 10, 11. Now if we enquire what is that testimony to christi- anity, or that inward witness that every believer has in himself, let us consider what that record is which God has testified concerning his Son Christ Jesus. That you will find in the context, ver. 11, 12. This is the record, or thing witnessed, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son; he that hath the Sonof God hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life. He then that believes on the Son of God hath the witness, or testimony to christianity, in himself, for he bath within him the thing testified. He bath eternal life in himself, he bath this eternal life already begun, and it shall be carried on and fulfilled in the days of eternity. By believing in Christ, we have a glorious testimony, or witness, within ourselves, that Christ is the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, and the author of eternal life; that his person is divine, that his doctrine is true, for eternal life is begun in us. We shall make this more fully appear, by considering what is eternal life, and shewing how far it is found in every believer, 'and how it becomes a witness of chris- tianity in his heart. Eternal life consists in happiness and holiness; it is made up of these two, and there is such a necessary con- nection between them, that they run into one another; but, for order-sake, I shall distinguish them thus. The happiness of eternal life consists in the pardon of sin, in the special favour of God, and in the pleasure that arises from the regular operation of all our powers and passions. Now these three things are, in some measure, foundwith every soul that believes in Christ. The happiness of eternal life consists, I. In thepardon of sin; thence arises peace of consci- ence. This is a part of heaven; the perfection of this peace belongs to the heavenly state. Our pardon is com- plete on earth, but the senseof this pardon is not complete znd free from all doubts, or at least from all danger of
SERM. 1.7 INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. 9 doubting, till we arriveat full glory. When a soul is made sensible, that all its iniquities are for ever cancelled, that God will never avenge any of his crimes upon him, when he knows that this God, who has a right to punish with everlasting revenge, is at peace, and will demand no more satisfaction for his sins; this soul then has the beginning of heaven. This is a part of final blessedness, and of complete eternal life. Now this is, in some measure, found in believers. here : They that have trusted in the Son of God, begin to find 'peace in their own consciences, they can hope. God is reconciled to them through the blood of Christ, that their iniquities are atoned for, and that peace is made betwixt God and them. This belongs only to the doctrine of Christ, and witnesses it to be divine : For there is no religion that ever pretended to lay such a foundation of pardon and peace, as the religion of the Son of God does; for he has made himself a propitia- tion; Jesus the righteous is become our reconciler by becoming a sacrifice : Ram. iii. 25. Him hath God set forthfor a propitiation through faith in his blood to declare his righteousnessfar the remission of sins that arepast, that he might be just, and thejustifier of hint that believes in Jesus : Therefore beingjusted byfaith, we have peace with God, Rom. v. 1. Behold the Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world! was the language of John, who was but the forerunner of our religion, and took a prospect of it at a little distance: And much more of the particular glories and blessings of this atonement is displayed by the blessed apostles the followers of the Lamb. Other religions, that have been drawn from the re- mains of the light of nature, or that have been invented by the superstitious fears and fancies of men, and ob- truded on mankind by the craft of their fellow-creatures, are all at a loss in this instance, and can never speak solid peace and pardon. 1. The religion of the Heathens, and the best of phi- losophers, could never assure us, Whether God would pardon sin at all, or no. The light of nature indeed would. dictate thus much, that God is, in his own nature, gracious, and compassionate, and kind; but whether
IO INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. [SERM: -1. God would be gracious to you or me, compassionate to such ill-deserving sinners, as we are, the light of nature could never determine. It is only the Son of God, that carne down from the bosom of the Father, could so well inform us how the Father's heart worked towards such sinners, in the designs of pardon and reconciliation. 2. Again, the light of nature could never tell us, how often Godwouldpardon sinners. Suppose it could be found out by reason that God is so compassionate that lie would forgive offences, yet it could never be inferred bow often we could be forgiven; and ifhe had pardoned us once, we might for ever despair if we had committed new iniquities : For who but a divine messenger can tell us, that he will often repeat his pardons? 3. The light of nature could never inform us how great the offences were that could beforgiven; reason could never tell us, the rebellions of the biggest size, and treasons of the blackest aggravation, should be all can- celled; the light of nature could never say, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men. This the Sonof God only hath taught us, who came from the bosom of the Father, and who laid a foundation for the brightest displays of pardoning grace. 4. Reason, with all the principles of natural religion, could never teach us what we must do to obtainpardon, and on what terms God would forgive. Reason indeed might require us to repent of sin, but it could never as- sure us, that he that coifesseth, and forsaketh his sin, shallfindmercy. Nor could it chew us-any mediator or reconciler between God and man, nor how, or in what manner, we must address ourselves to him, or to an of- fended God by him ; reason could never start a thought of this strange way of salvation, that we must believe, or trust in another's sufferings, in order to the pardon of our own sins; that we must depend on the merits and right- eousness of one that died, in order to obtain forgive- ness and life ; that by faith in the blood of Christ, God willjustify/ them that believe in Jesus. What could the light of mere nature teach us concerning this Jesus ? And yet there is no other name under heaven whereby, we can be saved, Acts iv. 12. 5. The light of nature, or any religion invented by"
sER!1I. 1.3 INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. Li men, could never acquaint us with the foundation of divineforgiveness, nor shew us any merit sufficient to procure it; and in this sense we are left at a loss in all other religions, upon what ground we could expect par- donfromGod : For they knew nothingof an atonement equal to our guilt; nothingof a satisfaction great as our offences, and that could answer the high demands of infinite and offended justice. Mankind found out by reason, and by the stings and disquietudes of a- guilty conscience, that there was an offended God in heaven; and in several countries they followed the dictates of a wild and uneasy imagination, inventing an endless va- riety of methods to appease the angry Deity. What multitudes of rams, and goats, and thousands of larger cattle, were cut to pieces, and burnt, to atone for the sins of men ? What deluges of blood have overflowed their altars? What fanciful sprinklings, and vast efflu- sions of wine and oil ? The first-born son for the trans- gression of the father, and the fruit of the body for the sin of the soul ? What cruel practices on their own flesh ? What cuttings and burnings to procure pardon? And yet, after all, no true peace, nor reasonable hope. The Jewish religion indeed was invented by God him- self, and it contained in it the way of obtaining pardon, but it was vailed and darkened by many types and sha- dows : though it was not defective as to real pardon, yet it was very defective as to solid peace; therefore the apostle tells us, Heb. x. t, 2, &c. The law having a shadow ofgood things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never, with those sacrifices which they offeredyear by year continually, make the comers there- untoperfect, ¿c. The sense of which, compared with the following verses, is plainly this, Those sacrifices, that were so often repeated, could never perfectly take away the conscience ofguilt: there still remained some trembling fears, some uneasy doubts, some painful con- cern of mind, whether their iniquities should be entirely cancelled or no : because they were convinced that the blood of bulls and goats could not do it, and they could not fully and plainly see the blood ofJesus, the Son of God, the Saviour. Dark hints, and obscure notices of such a Messiah, and such a sacrifice, they had ; but
12 INWARD NTT1EsS T6 CRRISTiANITY'. CSERM. 1. such a one as could not, generally free. their consciences from all sense of defilement and guilt, and fears, though it cleansed their souls in the sight of God. The Socinians, in our age, can have but very little solid comfort, if they are truly awakened to the spiritual . sight of the law of God ; for when they have nothing to plead with God, and nothing to trust in but his mere absolutemercy, while they deny the proper satisfaction of Christ Jesus, how weak must their hope be, how feeble is the foundation of it ! but when a poor, con- vinced, awakened soul, that now believes the doctrine of Christ, has been long before tormented in his consci- ence about atonement for sin, and found no hope ; the christian religion, the gospel, . with its pardoning grace, and the satisfaction that Christ has made, gives the soul peace, and leads the troubled conscience to rest and quiet; he trusts this gospel, he receives this salvation, and bath the witness in himself that it is divine. II. The happiness of eternal life consists also in the specialfavour of God, which is distinct from the par- don of sin; for it is very possible for a criminal to be pardoned, and not to be made a favourite of the king. The favour of God, and a sense of this favour, is agreat part of heaven. This is called seeing of God, often in scripture. When souls are fully possessed of the love of God, when they have it shed abroad in their hearts in perfection ; when they know that the infinite and eternal Maker and Governor of all things loves them,' and will for ever love them, this is eternal life; and this is enjoyed in some measure here on earth by' true believers, this is a part of eternal life begun in the heart of every christian : for when God pardons, he receives intohis peculiar favour. This the christian religion teaches us, but the light of nature could never tell us so : for if the light of nature and reason could have proceeded so far as to acquaint us with pardoning grace in all the extent of it, yet it could never have presumed to assure us, That he should mare the rebels he had pardoned his,favourites ,for ever. We might have been forgiven, and then annihilated. But the scripture teaches us, whom God forgives he" makes favourites too. And Christ Jesus has laid the
BERM.. Li INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. 1S foundation of this double blessing for he has not only made an endofsin, but brought in an everlasting right- eousness, Dan. ix. 24. He has fulfilled the law in all the commands of it, as well as borne the penalty : he has purchased all the blessings of divine love, as well as bought a freedom fròm divine vengeance. If when we were enemies wewere reconciledto God by the death of his Son ; much more being reconciledweshall be saved by his life, Rom. v. 1 O. And in ver. 1, and 2, he saith, Being justified byfaith, we have peace with God, through our LordJesus Christ, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Thus you see there is not only reconciliation, but full salvation: not only peace with God, but the hope of glory, to be obtained by believing on the Son of God. Many are the instances of saints here dwelling in flesh in a day of grace, that have been raised to a good degree of eternal life in this respect, that have had a joyful sense of the love of God shed abroad in their souls, and Upon solid grounds have hoped for glory, such as no other religion could pretend to furnish them with ; and this is a witness to the truth of christianity. No mere human religion can pretend to tell how this special love of God may be attained, no human religion can ever tell us how long this love of God shall con- tinue; but the word of God gives us full evidence and assurance, that the worst of sinners who apply to Jesus Christ the Saviour, in theway of humble faith and hearty repentance, shall not only be forgiven and released from the guilt of sin and punishment, but alsoshall be beloved of God for the sake of Christ, and that this divine love is everlasting. Read Acts iii. 19. Repent and be con- verted, that your sins may be blotted out. Acts xvi. 3l.. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. And when persons are interested in these pro- mises, who shall lay any thing to their charge? Who shall condemn them when God justifies ? Who shall se,arate them from the love of Christ ? Shall tribula- tion or distress, famine or sword? No, by no means; for in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that hath loved us and we are persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, norprincipa- lities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to
14 INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. [SERrI. ï1 come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall he able to separate us f from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus ourLord, Rom. viii. 38, &c. When a rational mind is awakened to see the emptiness of all creatures, and their insufficiency to make him happy, and finds nothing but the eternal love of God capable to make a creature trulyblessed ; howmiserably must that soul be tormented, that knows not whether God will love him or no, nor how this love may be at- tained; nor, when once attained, how long this love will continue? But he finds an answer to all these painful questions in the gospel of Christ : For the Father loves the Son infinitely, and loves all those that believe on him for his sake; they are for ever accepted in him who is first and for ever accepted ; and they are beloved in himwho is first and for ever beloved; Lph. i. 6. III. The happiness of eternal life consists in the plea- sure that arises from the regular operation of all our powers and passions. This was a great part of the hap- piness of the innocent man; his reason was the guide to all his meaner faculties, and his appetites, and his affec- tions, in a sweet harmony followed the conduct of his reason : And as his understanding and judgment put forth their regular dictates, so the meaner powers paid a ,constant obedience, and pursued their proper objects. There was no irregular anger to set his bloodon fire; no intemperate and corrupt wishes to vitiate his nature; to pollute his pleasures, and disturb his peace ; none of those tumults and hurricanes in his soul, which we so often feel in our fallen state, and lament them much of- tener than we can suppress them. And as the fancy and appetites of innocent Adam submitted to his reason, so, doubtless, if his Maker were pleased to reveal any sublimer truth to him, which his reason could not com- prehend, then reason itself submitted to that revelation, believed the wordof a speaking God, and resigned the throne to faith. His natural powers had no uneasy con- test, there was no civil war nor rebellion amongst then/ to interrupt his happiness. And thus it shall be again, but in a more glorious manner, when we are raised from all the ruins of our fallen state, and eternal life is made complete in heaven.
SERM. I.] INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. 13 foundation of this double blessing ; for he has not only made an endofsin,, but brought in an everlasting right- eousness, Dan. ix. He has fulfilled the law in all the commands of it, as well as borne the penalty : he has purchased all the blessings of divine love, as well as bought a freedom fròm divine vengeance. If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the deathof his Son ; much more being reconciledwe shall be saved by his life, Rom. v. 10. And in ver. 1, and M, he saith, Being justified byfaith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Thus you see there is not only reconciliation, but full salvation: not onlypeace with God, ,but the hope of glory, to be obtained by believing on the Son of God. Many are the instances of saints here dwelling in flesh in a day of grace, that have been raised tó a good degree of eternal life in this respect, that have had a joyful sense of the love of God shed abroad in their souls, and upon solid grounds have hoped for glory, such as no other religion could pretend to furnish them with ; and this is a witness to the truth of christianity. No mere human religion can pretend to tell how this special love of God may be attained, no human religion can ever tell us how long this love of God shall con- tinue; but the word of God gives us full evidence and assurance, that the worst of sinners who apply to Jesus Christ the Saviour, in theway of humble faith and hearty repentance, shall not only be forgiven and released from the guilt of sin and punishment, but also shall be beloved' of God for the sake ,of Christ, and that this divine love is everlasting. Read Acts iii. 19. Repent and be con verted, that your sins may be blotted out. Acts xvi. 31. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. And when persons are interested in these pro- mises, who shall lay any thing to their charge? Who shall condemn them when God justifies? Who shall serrate them from the love of Christ ? Shall tribula- tion or distress, famine or sword ? No, by no means ; for in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that hath loved us and we are persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principa- lities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to
AmmesmINI ( 16 ) SERMON II. THE INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. í Jona v. 10. He that believeth on the Sonof God, bath the witness in himself. THE SECOND PART. WHEN such a text as this is named for the founda- tion of discourse, some nicer hearers begin to grow jealous, that the preacher is entering into mystery and inward light, and they expect to hear no clear and solid reasoning, nor any justness of thought. Thus blinded by their own prejudices, they prevent their improvement by the ministry of the word and because they have heard the experiences of christians wittily ridiculed, they resolve to believe that nothing, of experimental religion can be justified to strict reason, or have any thin;' to do with argument. But how impious, and how unreasonable a fancy this is, will sufficiently appear, ifit canbe proved that every true christian has a most rational and incontestable evi- dence of the truth of his religion, drawn from the change that is hereby made in his own heart. If it can once be made evident, that eternal life is begun in every soul that believes in Jesus Christ, this will confirm christianity with a high hand, and confute the wicked scandal for ever. I have begun this attempt in the first discourse, and have shewn that eternal life is composed of two parts, viz. holiness and happiness. The happiness of it consists in a just and comfortable sense of the forgiveness of sin, and a lively hope and persuasion of the special love of God, and the delightful harmony of all the natural powers, viz, reason, consci- ence, the will, and the passions. Where these are found, heaven is begun; eternal life has takenpossession of the soul; and this evidently proves the doctrine that effected it to be divine. Now, ifan atheist, a heathen, or a Jew, should cavil and say, "Are not all your hopes mere presumption?
BERM. II.] INWARD WITVESS TO CHRISTIANITY. 17 Are not your sense and persuasion of the love of God mere delusions of fancy, and raptures ofwarrn imagina- tion, withOút any ground, or solid foundation of rea- son The christian may boldly refute such suspicions: These are no vain transports, no foolish visions of hope and joy, because as high and glorious as my comforts and my expectations are, they are' built on a due appre- hension of the justice of God, as well as 'his mercy; I have no hopes of -pardonby Jesus Christ, but what are supported by the righteousness and truth of God, as well as his goodness ; for in this way of salvation, offended justice is satisfied to the 'full, and mercy can exert itself in full glory, without the least dishonour or reflection on the'strict righteousness of God. God is just in the justification of a sinner in this way; He is faithful and Just to,forgive us our sins, and to cleanse usfrom all un- rightcousness, 1 John i. 9. Besides, says the Christian, the change wrought in me is real, and not imaginary; I am quite another creature than once I was ; the several powers of my nature, that were wont to be in perpetual war, now enjoya peaceful harmony, and my soul feels the pleasure, and the divine peace. Mystrictest and severest reason approves the change, and owns it to be divine. And thus I am led onward to speak of the other part of eternal life, and that is holiness. This is also found . in believing souls, and becomes an evidence of the truth of the gospel. Holiness mà.y be described by these five necessary in- gredients of it. 1. An aversion to; and hatred of all sin. (2. A con- tempt of the present world, in comparison of the future. -3; A delight in the worship' and society of God.-4. Zeal and activity in his service. -5. A hearty love to fellow-creatures, and more especially to fellow saints. I shall discourse of eachof these.particularly, and shew that eternal life consists in them, and this eternal life is foiánd in believers. Holiness consists in an aversion to, and hatred of all sin. This is complete in heaven; and without this, heaven cannot be complete. Into heaven there entereth vol.,. I. C
11; 1$ INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. [S1:Ri11..1I. nothing that defileth, Rev. xxi. 27. Every inhabitant there is completely averse to all iniquity, and hates every thing that displeases God ; for nothing but perfect obe- dience is found there ; the spirits of the just are there Made perfect, Heb. xii. 23. Now this in a measure and degree is found in believers here, for he that abideth in Christ, sinnethnot, 1 John iii. 6. He cannot sin with a full purpose of heart ; he that is born ofGod cannot sin zcith constancy and greediness, as others do that are only born of flesh and blood; he cannot sin without an in- ward sincere reluctancy, without the combat of the spirit against the flesh; he doth not make a trade of sin, sinning is not his business, his delight, and pleasure. This is a blessed testimony of the truth of the gospel, that faith in the Son of God purifies the heart, Acts xv. 9. Every christian has an aversion to all sin : If he chuses some sins, to continue in them, and hates other iniqui- ties, he can never be said tobe a true believer in Christ, and to have the work of faith in sincerity wrought in his heart. Other religions have professed an aversion to some sins,, but indulged others. Some make cruelty a part of their duty,. and require the sacrificing of mankind to appease the anger of 'their gods; a bloody and impious practice, as well as a vain and fruitless one ! Some forbid murder, but allow and encourage variety of un- cleanness, and make that a. part of their worship. Other professions have forbid wanton practices, and commend- ed chastity; but they indulge resentment. and revenge, as a necessary part of the character of a warrior, or á great man. Carnal and sensual lusts have been opposed and hated by some of the old philosophers, but spiritual iniquities have hereby been promoted.. Pride has. here- by been wonderfully increased, and none of them can excuse themselves from those sins which make men very like Satan, although they are freed from the brutality óf sensual lusts. But the business of the gospel of Christ is to keep men from committing any kind of sins whatsoever. Other religions have changed . one lust for another ; but the religion of Christ forbids all manner of iniquity,
SERM-. II.j INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. Ig and changes the whole nature into holiness. Christianity refines the soul in all the powers of it, and inclines us to the duties both of the first and second table; it writes the law of God 'in the heart, and brings the soul to a sweet compliance therewith. All the affections are re- newed; all old things are done away and all things are become new ; he that is in Christ is a new creature ; he has crucified the flesh, with its affections and lusts, 2 Cor. v. 17. Gal. v. 24. Surely there is a spirit and power that accompanies the religion of our Lord Jesus, such as other religions knownot; and this was manifest abundantly in the pri- mitive christians, when those wretches were converted, whose names were once. written in that black catalogue that the apostle speaks of, 1 Cor. vi. 9. when they, by the light ofthe gospel, were purified, were purged from their defilements, and were made new creatures. The apostle could appeal to the Corinthian church, and say, so vile and filthy were some of you, but ye are washed; but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our, God, 1 Cor. 11. Not in.,the names of other gods, and other reli- gions, but in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Philosophy was raised to a 'great height in the cityof. Corinth; it was almost enough for aman to be accounted learned, to have been in' that city, and to have known a little of the customs of it yet all their' learning was not sufficient to :reform them, for they were a profligate and lewd people still. But the religion of our Lord Jesus Christ breaking in upon their souls, purified, refined them, and made such an alteration in them, that the world beheld, and were amazed at the surprizing change. They thought it strange that the christians would not run with them to the same excess of riot, 1 Pet. iv. 4. They were asto- nished to see a drunkard at once turn sober and tempe- rate; a lewd unclean wretch, by hearing the gospel, be- come a professor and an example of chastity; a cruel and passionate temper made calm, and kind, and for- giving; a swine forsake the mire, and put on the nature of a cleanly animal ; a dog or a lion changed'into a lamb. This wrought conviction with power : This was miracle c2
2Cl INWfiRD WITNESS 'f0 CHRISTFhNITT. DEAN.. H. and demonstration ; this witnessed the truth and divi- nity of the gospel of Grist beyond all contradictions or doubt. II. A contempt of this world, is another part of holi- ness, and of heaven ; a sacred disregard of temporal things raised by the sight of things eternal. If we look upwards to heaven, we shall behold there all the inhabitants looking down with a sacred contempt upon the trifles, amusements, businesses, and cares of this presentlife, that engross our affections; awakenour desires, fill our hearts with pleasure or pain, and our flesh with constant labour. With what holy scorn do you think those souls, who are dismissed from flesh, look down upon the hurries and bustles of this present state, in which we are engaged ? They dwell in the full sight of those glories which, they hoped for here on earth, and their intimate acquaintance with the pleasures of that upper wórld, and the divine sensations that are raised in them there, make them contemn all the pleasures of this state, and every thing below heaven. This is a part of eternal life, this belongs in some degree to every believer; for he is not a believer that is not got above this world in a good measure ; he is not a christian, who is not weaned, in some degree, from this world For this is our victory, whereby we overcome the world, even our faith. Ile that is born of God, overcomes the world; he that believes in Jesus, is born of God, 1 John v. 1, 4. Whence the argument is plain, he that be- lieves in Jesus, the Son of God; overcomes this present world. And where christianity is raised to a good degree of life and power in the soul, there we see the christian got near to heaven : he is, as it were, a fellow for angels, a fit companion for the spirits of the just made perfect. The affairs of this life are beneath his best desires and his hopes ; he engages his hand in them so far as God his Father appointshis duty; but he longs for the upper world, where his hopes are ,gone before: "When shall Ì be entirely dismissed from this labour and toil? The gaudy pleasures this world entertains me with, are 'no, entertainments to me; I am weaned from them, I am born from above." This is the language of that faith that overcomes the world : And faith, whew it it
SERM. II.] INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. 21 wrought in truth in the soul, hath, in some measure, this effect; and where it shines in its brightness, it bath, in a great degree, this sublime grace accompanying it; or rather, ,(shall I say this piece of heavenlyglory. Pain and sickness; poverty and reproach, sorrow and death itself, have been contemned by those that have be- lieved in Christ Jesus, with muchmore honour to Chris- tianity, than ever was brought to other religions by the. same profession, and the saine practice. Other religions have, in some degree, promised a con- tempt of the world, s, contempt of sickness, and pain, and death; but then it hath been only here and there a person of a hardier mould of body; here and there one in an age, or one in a nation, who by a firmness of natural spirits, an obstinate resolution, attained by much labour of meditation, and toil of thought, hath got above the world, and above death. But our religion boasts of its hundreds and thousands, and that not only: those who had firmer natural spirits, or have been skill- ed in thoughtand meditation, and absent from sensual things by philosophy, and intellectual exercises ; but the feeblest of mankind, the weak things of this world, the foolish and the young; the infant (as it were) in years, and the feeble sex, have been made to contemn this world, and the pleasures of it, the hopes, and the sor- rows, pain, and death. They have learnt to live above all the enticing joys and affrighting terrors of this present state, that is, to live near to heaven: So that whatso- ever religion pretends to a competition with ours, it falls vastly short in this respect, in raising the affections above the world, above the joys and fears of the present life. Again, if we consider what motives have argued the minds of men to the contempt of the world, we shall find the religion of Christ Jesus is far superior to all in this respect. Other religions have taught men to despise the good things of this world, and to be unconcerned about the evils of it, in a mere romantic way: Such was the Stoical doctrine, denying health and wealth, sleep and safety, to have any goodness in them ; and prófessiog that pain, poverty, sickness, want, hunger, and shame, were no c3
42 INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. [SEAM. 7r: evils ; and upon this account they taught their disciples to be unsolicitous about the one or the other, because they were neither good nor evil._ Thus, while they change the use of words, they would make stocks and stones of us, rather than intelligent and holy despisers of sensible things but the christian doctrine teaches us to contemn both the good and evil things of sense and time, by the expectation and prospect of the invisible and eternal world, where both the good and evil things are of infinitely greater importance : So our Saviour preaches, Mat. vi. 19, 20. Lay not up for yourselves treasures uponearth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, andwhere thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. Pluck out a right eye, cut off a right hand, on earth, lest, sparing these,' thy wholebody be cast into hell, where the gnawing worm dies not, and the fire is pot quenched; Mat. v. 29; 30, Mark ix. 43, &c. And the afflictions, as well as the comforts of life, are contemned and surmounted by the spirit of a christian, upon the same noble principles, Rom. viii. 18. He reckons that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the. glory which shall be revealed in us ; and therefore he endures the cross, and despises the shame, following the divine example of Christ. Other doctrines have endeavoured to raise the minds ofmen above the solicitudes or cares of this life upon meanand base principles, unworthy of human, nature, denying the immortality of the soul, and the life to come. Thus the Epicureans would raise the professors' of their religion above the fears of death, by assuring them, that' after death there was nothing ; that the soul and body died together, were blended in the dust, and were for ever lost in one grave : but, on the other hand,' the religion of Christ gives us a view of things beyond the grave, insures a resurrection to us, brings life and immortality to light by the gospel, by Christ Jesus, who together with the Father, is originally possessedof eter- nal life, and thus leads us on to a glorious contempt of' this present world of vanity :.For our light- giiction,.
S$RM. :II.1 INWARD WITNESS TO CHRISTIANITY. 23 which is butfor a moment, workethfor us a far more exceeding and eternal weight ofglary: While we look not at the things which are seen, but htthings which are notseen ; for the things which are seen, are temporal ; but the things which are not seen, are eternal. For we know, that ifour earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made ,with hands, eternal in the heavens, Cor.. iv. 17, 18. and v. 1. Other professions taught their followers not so much to contemn riches and pleasures, as to exchange them fôr fame and glory, and public applause ; and this they looked upon as their chiefgood. Most of the philoso- phers may be charged with this just accusation: and Cicero, that great philosopher, in a notorious degree ; but the christian both labours and suffers reproach, be- cause he trusts in the living God, and has the promise of the life to come; 1 7inì. iv. 8, 10. he goes through the trial of cruel mockings, as well as scourgings and torture; that he may obtain a better resurrection ; Heb. xi. SS, 36. He neglects his ease and his honours to- gether, and despises fame as well as pleasure and riches, and all mortal desirables, when they stand in competition with his immortal hopes. Others have despised the grandeur and pomp of life, and thrown their money into the sea; but instead of exalting themselves above men, they have neglected all the necessary duties and decencies of life ; they havé lived, as it were; in common with their fellow animals of the earth, and degraded themselves to the rank and level of brute beasts ; such were the Cynic philosophers : But the christian is diligent and active in all services to God andman, and fulfils the duties of his present state with honour, while he lives upon the hopes of futures and invisibles. Thus if we consider either the degree of this part of holiness, viz. the contempt of theworld, if we consider the reasons upon which it is founded, or how far this contempt of the world has prevailed among the gene- rality of christians ; we shall find the gospel háth infi- niter the advantage Of all other doctrines, of all other religions. c4allisonlibrary.regent-college.edu