Watts - Houston-Packer Collection BX5207.W3 S4x 1805 v.3




CONTENTS OF VOL. III. SERMONS ON THE PRINCIPAL HEADS OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION. rAOS SERMON I. The Knowledge of God by the Light of Nature, Acts xiv. 15..17- 1 II. God's Election of a People for himself, Eph. i. 3, 5, - 18. -- III. 'TheExcellency and Advantage ofthe Christian Dis- pensation, Heb. viii. 6. 33 -- IV. The Exaltation of Christ, and his sending down the Holy Spirit, Acts ii. 33. - 51 V. The perpetual Obligation of the Law; the Evil and Defect of Sin, 1 John iii. 4. Rom. vi. 23. 67 VI. The Lord's Day, or Christian Sabbath, Gen. ii. 3. 83 VII. Christian Baptism, Matt. xxvii. 19. 97 VIII. Christian Diligence, Prov. xiii. 4. - - - - - 111 IX. Christian Fellowship, Rom. xv. 6, 7. 1`23 EVANGELICAL DISCOURSES. DISCOURSE I. The Commission of St. Paul, Acts m. 13, 19. ]43 s- II. The same continued . 153 HI. The Difference between the Law and the Gospel, Gal. iii. 21, 22. 165 IV. The same continued - 177 V. Early Appointmer.t of the Atonement, Rev. xiii. 8'. 1S9 VI. The Atonement Manifested, Rev. xiii. .8. - - 193 VII. God in Christ the Saviour of the Ends of the Earth, Isa. xiv. 22. 212 --- VIII. The same continued - - - - - 226 IX. Faith built onKnowledge, 2Tim i. 12. - - - 236 X. The same continued - 255 IX. TheordinaryWitnesss of the Spirit, Ram. viii. 16. 273 XII. The extraordinary Witness of the Spirit, Rom. viii. 16. 286 Essay on the Powers and Contests of Flesh and Spirit 303 DEATH AND HEAVEN. DISCOURSE I. The Conquest over Death, 1 C'or. xv, 26. - - - 349 II. The Happiness of separateSpirits, Heb, xii, 23 - 374

Vi CONTENTS. PAGE HUMILI'T'Y REPRESENTED. IN THE CHARACTEROF ST. PAUL, Epla. iii. 8. Introduction 464 SECTION I. The Springs of St. Paul's Iumility - - - - - - 467 II. The Advantages of Humility in Regard of God - 472 t-- -- IH. Its Advantages in Regard of Men 473 IV. Its Advantages with Regard to ourselves - - - - 489 V. The Pretences df the Poor and Faint-hearted are proved t - 504 VI. The Humility of Christ proposed as our Pattern - 509 BEFORE THE SOCIETY FOR REFORMATION OF MANNERS. SERMON. To encourage Reformationof Manners, Exod. xvii. 11. 515 ON THE DEATH OF KING GEORGE I. SERMON. TheReligious Improvement ofpublic Events, Isa. v. 12. 544 FOUR POSTHUMOUS SERMONS. Sermon I. to IV. Job x. 2. Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me. FIVE SERMONS PREACHED AT PINNERS' HALL. Sermon I. to IV.-- Isa.lvii. 17, 1S. Foi the Iniquity of his Covetous- ness was I wroth, &c. 610 -- V. -2 Cor. vi. 9. As dying, and behold we live . - - 636

SERMONS ON SOME Or THE P kh, I 1v C I PAL H, E,,A.DS OF THE ebrírsiían 31eYígion. . SERMON L THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD BYTHE LIGHT OF NATURE, TOG&,THEK WITH THE USES OF IT, AND ITS DEFECTS. Acts xiv. 15, 16, 11. The living God which made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein ; who in times past suffered all nations to'walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. WHEN the apostle Paul gave authority to his minis-. trations at Lystra, by working a miraculous cure on a. man who was born a cripple, the inhabitants imagined that he and Barnabas were gods, and were immediately, preparing a sacrifice for them ; but to divert this mad ness and superstition of paying divine worship to crea- tures, the apostles, with holy jealousy and indignation, ran into the midst of them, and preached to them the living and the true God. " We, say they, are utterly un- worthy of these divine honours ; for we are men of such flesh and blood as yourselves, and are liable to the like infirmities; we preach to you, that ye should turn from these vanities to the living God, who made heaven- and earth," &c. From which words we may raise these three distinct observations: VOL. III.

SERM. Li NATURAL RELIGION, ITS MRS AND DERECTS. . 1. We may come to the knowledge of his existence, or that there is such a glorious Beingwho made all things. This is evident and certain, that nothing could make itself. It 'is impossible, that any thing which oncehad no being, should ever give being to itself; or that once upon a time it should of itself burst out of nothing, and begin tó be. Since therefore there is a world with mil- lions of beings in it, whichare born and die, it is certain there is some Being, who had no beginning, but had life in himself from all eternity, and who.gives.life' and being to all other things. ..This is the Being whomwe call God.. Of all the visible beings that we are acquainted with, man is the highest and,most noble ; but he is forced to confess he is not his own maker. By sending our thoughts and enquiries a 'little backwards, we find that we came into being but: a few years ago ; and we are daily convinced, that we perish and die.in long succes- sion. Our parents, or our ancestors, were no more able to make themselves than we are ; for most of them are dead, and the rest are going the way of all flesh : they cannot preserve our lives, nor their own ; and therefore it is plain, that though we borrowed life from them at first, yet they are not the original and self-sufficient authors of life, and being to themselves, or to us ; they are but in- struments in the hands of some superior first cause, some original and eternal Maker of us all. Or if some atheist should say, we must run up from son to father, and from father to grandfather, in endless generations, without a beginning, and without any first cause.; hanswer, that is impossible : for if ten thousand generations cannot subsist of themselves without depend - ance on something before them, neither can infinite or endless generations subsist of themselves without de- pendance. Suppose a chain of ten thousand links hung down from the sky, it could not support itself unless some mighty power upheld the first link : then it is cer- tain, a chain of ten thousand times ten thousand links, or an endless chain, could never support itself. As the_, chaingrows longer and heavier, the addition ofnew links can never make the chain more independent, or better support itself. There must be therefore some first bird, some first beast, some first man, from whom all these succeeding

NATURAL RELIGION, ITS USES AND DEFECTS. '[SEAM. r, generations began ; and since they are all dead, and could not preserve themselves out of their own original sufficiency, it is certain they could not make themselves; they all must depend therefore. on some mighty Being, who .has ever lived, and will ever live, and who is the first Cause and Maker of all things besides himself. Further arguments for the being of a God will appear under the next particular. 2. We learn by the light of nature what God is, viz. that he is a Spirit, perfect in wisdom and perfect in power, who knows all things and can do all things, or who is all-wise and almighty. The amazing works of God in the heavens, the sun, moon and stars, their regular and unerring motions for so many thousand years, the progress of the hours, the changes of day and night, winter and summer, which de- pend on these motions and revolutions, they all.abun- d.antly discover that the Maker of them was wise, .and skilful beyond all our conceptions. If we observe the operations of a clock or watch, which doth but imitate the motions of these heavenly, bodies, and point out-to us the day and the hour, and distinct seasons ; we say, it is impossible this curious engine could be made without great wisdom and skill in some artificer who contrived it; and canwe be so foolish as to imagine, that this vast and glorious engine of the heavens, with all its bright furni- ture; which makes times and seasons, day and night, could ever come into being by chance, or be made with outvisdorn or contrivance ? The wonderful production of plants, herbs, trees, and flowers, the astonishing operations of living creatures, and their several parts and powers fitted; for the .proper ends and designs of their life, discover to us the deep wisdom and knowledge of the Being that made them. When we observe the strange and surprizing actions of some animals, of dogs or foxes, of hen and chickens, of bees and emmets, we can scarce withhold ourselves from ascribing knowledge and reason to them ; and is it pos, sible that the Being, which made these active animals should not have understanding and reason, and that far superiór to all his creatures? Should Mr. Boyle, or Sir Isaac Newton descend from heaven, and begin a com- plete lectureon this subject, it would last for years, for- aes, even to the end of time;. and every instructive mo- o

SERM. I.] NATURAL RELIGION, ITS USES AND DEFECTS. 5 ment would acquaint us with some new glories of the Creator. Let us consider but our own natures, our parts and powers ; what wonders are contained in every sense ? In the eye, what millions of objects are painted continually on one spot of that little ball, and trànsferred inward to the brain in all their distinct colours and shapes, and are beheld without confusion there ? What varieties of sounds and voices, language and harmony, are taken in and distinguished by the ear in its winding caverns ? How very various are the tastes and smells that we par-, take ofby the palate and the nostrils ? How happily con- trived is our sense of feeling,, not confined to one part, but diffused throughout the whole body, and to give speedy notice of every thing within us, or without us, that may hurt our frame ? What a wonderful instru ment is the- tongue, to convey our thoughts in ten thou- sand sounds to our fellow-creatures ? And what an ex- cellent Being is the principle of thought within us, even our souls or spirits, which can not only táke in and con verse about all the millions of objects, which our senses give us notice of it; but millions more of numbers and quantities and intellectual ideas which our senses cannot reach ? Now can all these be formed without infinite wisdom and skill ? I might demand of the sons of,atheism, in t:,e language of the Psalmist; Ps. xciv. 9, 10. He that planted the ear, shall he not hear ? .I e that formed the eye, shall he not see ? ,He that gives knowledge to man, shall he not know ?" He that made spirits, hath not he all the powers of a spirit in him, in a most transcendent manner and degree ? And as the wonders of contrivance in the works of God declare his depth of wisdom, so the difficulty of creating them out of nothing argues his almighty power. " When we survey the heavens the work of his hands, the moon and the stars which he hath created," Ps. viii. 3. what a glorious and powerful Beingmust that be, which formed these vast bodies at first, and which up- holds their stupendous frame ? What an almighty voice was necessary to call this whole universe, these heavens and earth, and seas, with all the hosts of them, out of nothing into being, and constrain them to obey the call ? Man can only change the shapes and qualities of things :_, B 3

6 NATURAL RELIGION, irs USES AND DEFECTS. [SEAM. Y. He can make a clock indeed, an.elegant engine to mea- sure time ; but he must have brass and iron given him, for he cannot create these materials, though- he give them a new form but God's huge and astonishing en- gine ofthe heavens, wherebyhours and days, seasons and ages are made and measured out, were all formed by hirn without any materials : He made all the materials him- self, and gave all the wheels of natureand time their very being, as well as their shapes and their motions, and they continue to observe his orders. A Creator must be Almighty, he must be God. Again, Let us thinkwithin ourselves, what a powerful Being must that be, who can make a soul, a spirit, a thinking being to exist, so nearly like himself, with such a.faculty of understanding, as to be capable of taking in so many millions of ideas, and forming the figures of the skies and the seas, and the thousands of plants and animals, which are found upon this earth, each in their proper propor- tion ? An understanding capable of knowing the works of God, and of knowing God himself?' How powerful is thedivine will, which could make a creature with a free, will, to determine its own choice, a will which can move all this frame of flesh and blood, and by these limbs can give motion to ten thousand other bodies round about us ? What a glorious power must that be, who could create such an imageof himself as ahuman spirit is, and which bears such a near resemblance of his own perfec- tions, both in his understanding and his will, in his know ledge and his power. We are his image, we are his off- spring. Thus sung Aratus the heathen poet, in Acts xvii., 28, 29. and spoke like a Christian. And thus it appears beyond all controversy, that the light of nature finds there is a God, and that this God is An all -wise and Almighty Spirit. If we were in doubt about his existence or being, these reasonings would assure us of it; and if we seek after his nature and his perfections, these his works discover them. 3. Another thing which we learn by the light of nature, is his supreme and absolute dominion over all things, that God is the sovereign Lord and Possegsor of heaven and earth, so Gen. xiv. 19. and consequently that he bath a right to dispose of all things as he pleases ; Rom. ix. 10. " .Who therefore shall say unto him, What dost thgu ? Shall the thing formedsay to him that hath formed

SERM". L7 NATURAL RELIGION, ITS USES AND DEFECTS. 7 it, Why hast thou made me thus ?" Shall the vessel say to the potter, Why didst thoumould me in such a form ? Whywas I disposed of in such a station ? and why was I appointed for such a purpose ? And the force of this ar- gument grows yet much stronger, when we consider, that the great God not onlygives his creatures their form and manner of being, but he created the very substance as well as the qualities of every thing, and gave them their whole nature and all the being they have. 4. The light of nature teaches us, that though God is the absolute and natural Lord of all things that he has made ; yet " he is pleased to deal with his rational crea- tures in a way ofmoral government, that he rules them by a law, and will some time or other reward them in equity according to their works." The conscience which he hath formed in man, may discover to him so much of the natural law andwill of his God, as a righteous Go- vernor of the world, if it be properly and wisely employ- ed : Rom. ii. 14, 15. " The gentiles which have not the written lawwhich the Jews enjoyed, yet theydo bynature the things contained .in the law, that is they are inwardly excited to do them these having not the law, are a law to themselves, which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing, or else excusing them." This lawwritten in their hearts, and which they may find out by a diligent use of their reason, not only teaches them that adoration and worship, prayer and praise, are duties which they owe to God ; but it instructs them also to distinguish between vice and virtue, good and evil, as it relates to their neighbours and themselves. It shews them the difference between sobriety and intem- perance, between kindness and malice, between honesty and knavery, truth and falsehood and it teaches them also to expect somevengeance to fall upon transgressors. So Acts xxviii. 4. " Surely this man is a murderer, said the barbarous inhabitants of Melita concerning St. Paul, when a viper fastened on his hand ; and though he bath escaped the sea, yet vengeance doth not suffer him to live." Reason and conscience might teach mankind, that since God has Given theman understanding and freedom V Q AA

i NATURAL RELIGION, ITS USES ANS DEFECTS. DER/CT. of will to.chuse or refuse good or evil, he will certainly call them to account for their behaviour, and will take some opportunity tojudge, reward and punish according to their conduct in the present state. In their own con- sciences there is a kind of tribunal erected before-hand, their conscience excusing or accusing them, as a sort of warning, an emblem and fore- runner of divine judgment. 5. The light of nature teaches us further, that God is an universal Benefactor to mankind, even above and be- yond their deserts, and notwithstanding all their provo- cations. The words of my text declare, that though they " walked in .their own idolatrous ways, yet God left them not without witness of his goodness, giving them fruitful seasons, and filling their hearts with food and gladness." Their own consciences tell them they have sinned, and forfeited all favours from heaven ; but their very senses assure them, that God does not presently insist upon their forfeiture, nor seize away their bles- sings; but that he waits long, and heaps the instances of his goodness upon them, even upon the evil and the un- thankful in the midst of all their iniquities and unthank- fulness. Thus have I shewn particularly what it is the light of nature teaches us concerning God. II. The second general head of discourse leads us to enquire what are the various uses of this knowledge of God, which is attainable by the light of nature. I an- swer in general, it is to bear witness for God in the world. But we must enter into particulars. I. This knowledge of God, as our Maker andGovern- or, by the light of nature, is useful, " Not only to spew men their duty, but to convince them of sin against the law of God, and to lay all mankind under a sense of guilt and self- condemnation." The apostle Paul begins with this doctrine in the first chapters of his epistle to the Romans, where his great design is to shew mankind the guilt and wretchedness of their state ; for after he had introduced this natural knowledge a God in the nine- teenth verse of the first chapter, he proceeds to convince the heathen world, and particularly the philosophers, of their heinous iniquities against God and man, and leaves them in the middle of the ii. and iii. chapters, under the condemnation of their own consciences and the law of

SERM !.J NATURAL RELIGION, ITS USES AND DEFECTS. God : " all have sinned and come short of that glory of God," which they should have originally obtained by perfect righteousness. This knowledge of God by the light of nature, " as it is designed to awaken men to the practice of their duty; so it has had some influence on mankind, at least by the fear of punishment, to keep, preserve, and re- strain part of them from the extremest degrees of wick- edness." This natural conscience is the candle of the Lord, which lie has set up in the heart of man; and though it shines but dimly, yet it has sometimes kept them from being so vile and abominable, and from run- ning into such excess of outrage and madness, as other- wise they would have done. There have been some outward virtues practised among the Greeks and the Romans, who had a little knowledge of a superior divine power. There was some temperance, some truth, some honour, justice and goodness, now and then appearing among the multitudes of their vices: there was a secret horror within, and a fóreboding of some divine venge- ance, that withheld them now and then from the practice of villainy, especially in the extravagant degrees of it. This natural knowledge of God amongst the heathen nations, has been found there like a small quantity of salt, to preserve some part of mankind in those countries from being utterly over-run with corruption and putre- faction ; and has answered some valuable purposes in the government of God among men. Where there has beennothing of this knowledge, mankind have almost lost their superior rank among the creatures, and dege- nerated into a brutal nature. 3. This natural knowledge of God and his goodness, " gives someencouragement to guilty creatures to repent of their sins, and to return to God by a general hope of acceptance, though they had no promise of pardoning grace. And this was the very principle upon which some of the better sort of the gentiles set themselves to practise virtue, to worship God and endeavour to be- come like him. I do not say that natural religion can give sinful men a full and satis- fying assurance of pardon upon their repentance ; for the deepest degrees of penitence cannot oblige a prince to forgive the criminal ; but still the overflowing goodness of God, his patience and long-suffering, notwith.

10 NATURAL RELIGION, ITS USES AND DEFECTS. [SER14I. I. 4. This natural knowledge of God, which is attain- able by the light of nature, serves to vindicate the con- duct of God, as a righteous governor in his severe dealings with obstinate and wilful sinners, both here and hereafter. This will leave themwithout excuse in the great day, when God shall judge the secrets of all hearts., Their own consciences will accuse them; and bear wit- ness against them. Rom. i. 20. 21. and ii. 15. " Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance on such sinners? God forbid ; for how then shall he judge the world ?" Rom. iii. 5, 6. As there have been many instances of a righ- teous providence in the present life whereby the. great God has already revealed his wrath from heaven against standing their sins, may evidently and justly excite in their hearts some hope of forgiving grace : and I think the wordsof anytext cannot intend less than this, that " God has not left them without witness, when he gave them rain from heaven, when he satisfied their appetites with food, and filled their hearts with gladness." What was it that these benefits of their Creator bore witness to ? Was it not that there was goodness and mercy to be found with him, if they would return to their duty, and abandon their own ways of idolatry and vice. Surely, it, can never be supposed, that the apostle 'here means no more than to say, that the daily instances of divine bounty in the common comforts of life, assured them, that God had some goodness in him, and blessings to bestow on their bodies; but ave themno hope of his acceptance of their souls, if they should return and repent ever so sincerely. The Ninevites themselves, when threat ened with destruction, " repented in sackcloth and ashes; for, said they, who can tell but God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not ?" Nor were they mistaken in their hope ; for ° God saw:their works, that they turned from their evil way, and he re: pented-of the evil that he had threatened ;" Jonah iii. 5 -10. And there is yet a more express text to this purpose, lion. ii, 1. CQ Despisest thou the riches of his goodness, arid forbearance, and long-suffering, not know- ing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance ? °' And if God leads us to repentance, by a sense of his goodness, surely hé gives hope that our repentance shall not be in vain: and though, perhaps, I could not affirm it withboldness, and certainty by mere light ofreason, yet r may venture to declare, upon the encouragement of these scriptures, that if there should be found any sinner in the heathen world, who shall be thus far wrought upon by a sense of the goodness of God, as to be led sincerely to repent of sin, and seek after mercy, God would find a way to make a. discovery of so much of the gospel, as was necessary for him to know, ra- ther than such a penitent sinner should be left under condemnation, or that a guilty creature should go on to eternal death in the way of repent- ance. Cornelius, the centurion, who feared God, who prayed to hint daily, and wrought righteousness, according to the light of his conscience, had both an angel and an apostle sent to him that he might receive more complete instruction in the i}tatters of his salvation. .4cts x, 1 -6 and frout,30, -35,

SEAM. I.1 NATURAL RELIGION, ITS USES AND DEFECTS. 11 the unrighteousness and ungodliness of the heathen world: Rom. i. 18. So in the wòrld to come, not one condemned sinner shall be able to say, God is unjust: Every mouth shall be stopped, and the heavens and the earth proclaim his righteousness, when he shall- appear in his Son Jesus at the last day, as the judge of all man-. kind. 5. This knowledge of Go_d by natural light prepares the way for preaching and receiving the gospel of his- brace: and'that he loth many ways, viz. Unless men pre first acquainted that there is a God, who can make known his mind and will to men, 'what ground is there for preaching any discoveries of his mind and will amongst them? Unless the heathens are taught that he is a God of all knowledge, and cannot be de- ceived himself; and that he is kind and good, true and faithful, and will not deceive his creatures, how can they be persuaded to believe what he reveals ? Unless they are instructed by the light of reason, that he is an Almighty God and the Lord of Nature, how can any miracle give testimony to the truth of what he reveals ? For it is as the Sovereign Lord of nature, that he sets the seal of a miracle to his divine truths; 'a miracle which is above the power of nature to work. Again, when sinners, by the light and law of nature in their own consciences are laid under conviction of sin and guilt, and they are in fear of the wrath of God, they become more ready to receive the gospel of pardon and salvation as glad tidings from heaven. We see the great apostle St. Paul wisely' managing his ministry to the Athenians, of which we, have but short hints in Acts xvii. Q2,---30. By discoursing first on na- tural religion, he comes at last to awaken men to re- pentance, and preaches Jesus with the resurrection of the dead and eternaljudgment, .verse 31. And agreeably to this method of propagating the gospel among the heathen nations, we find, in fact, that where there was any thing of the knowledge of the true God, either by the light of nature, or by tradition, there the gospel was soonest received ; the minds of men were better fitted and prepared for faith in Christ, the Son of God, by this degree of knowledge of God the Father. Those who in the book of the Acts are stiled the devout

12 NATURAI. RELIGION,. ITSUSES AND DEFECTS. [BERM. t. persons and such as feared God, they acknowledged the one living and true God, and worshipped him ; and they much more readily complied with the gospel of grace, and the tidings of a Saviour, than the idolaters who had these other lessons to learn first. Thus having shewn the various uses of this knowledge of God by the light of nature, I proceed in the third place to consider, what are, the defects or imperfectións of it. I. " It'is`but a ,small portion of the things of God, which the bulk of mankind can generally be supposed to .learn merely by their own reasonings." This is suffici- ently evident by the history of past times and ancient nations, as well as by present observation of the heathen world.. Though some of the philosophers particularly the followers of Plato and Pythagoras, attained some considerable knowledgeof the nature of God, and clearly saww his :eternal power and godhead, as it is expressed Iiora. i. 20. yet these were but very few in comparison of the rest of men ; the bulk of mankind, even in the learned, nations, as well as the rude and barbarous coun- tties, did actually know but little of the true God, or of their duty .towards him, or the way of obtaining future happiness. 2. The lilht'ofnature even in those things which it did teach the heathen world, is but dim and feeble, and leaves mankind under many doubts and uncertainties in matters of considerable importance. A short lesson of know -. ledge in the heathen schools was obtained with long toil and difficulty; their philosophy was rather a feeling after God in the dark, than a sight of him in clay light: so the apostle expressos himself, when he is talking to the Athenians, who were the most learned of mankind; :de's xvii. x7. , " That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might .feel after- him and .find him." What feeble words 'are these? How doubtful a knowledge. is represented by them? How wretchedly did their wise men wander astray and bewilder themselves in-their dark and blundering searches after the true God; . What end- less contests are found amongst them, whether there was a God, and what was his nature, and what was his will, and what was their duty? Into what gross mistakes and sl:tmeful falsehoods did they plunge themselves, for

SERIA. I.1 NATURAL RELIGION, ITS USES AND DEFECTS. 13 want of a better guide than their own reasonings ? and how generally, and almost without exception, did their philosophers comply with the idolatry of their country, and worshipped God in the form of beasts and birds, and creeping things, and changed the truth of God into a lie; or the true God into false and shameful images; Rom. i. 23, 25. Sometimes appetite and passion, pride and :humour spread a mist over the understanding of the heathens; sometimes the customs and traditions of their nation, the authority of their ancestors, or their philosophers, or their own vile prejudices, of various kinds gave them a false clue, and set them, a running- upon .a wrong scent : In other places, the tyranny of their princes, and the folly and superstitious madness of their priests, either led, or drove them far away from the truth. What shameful vices were authorised by some of their great men ? Theft, in some places, was commended as a feat of dexterity, and revenge as a point of honour while public robberies of nations were the glory of their heroes. The murder and ravage of whole' countries, were allowed for the enlargement of their dominions, and the blood of kingdoms was made an offering to the ambition of neighbour-kings. In some countries, the youth and flower of conquered nations were doomed 'a sacrifice to their idols; and sometimes filthy and abominable lewd- ness were the ceremonies of their worship. -flow blind, was the eye of their reason, not to see this madness? And how feeble its power, that it made no remonstrances against these lewdand bloodyscenesofpretended piety? All these instances indeed do not effectually prove, that reason could not possibly teach them better; but the experience of long ages, and of whole nations, suf- ficiently shew us,' that their reason neither did inform them better, nor was ever likely to do it. Even the best of the philosophers could give us" but a sorry system of religion compared with our. bible ; so that St. Paul roundly expresses it; 1 Cor. i. 2l. "The. world by wis- dom knew not God." 3. ` All the knowledge of God which theyarrived at, by,the, light of nature, had actually but little influence to reform the hearts, or the lives of mankind." I say, it had but little influence in comparison of what it might,

S'; 14 NATURAL ItLIGIO?r, ÍTS USES ANb bEFECTS. tSERM. 1. or should have. had . for this knowledge `of Gdd, which . was attained by their own reason, suffered the gentile nations to walk in their own ways, as my text expresseth it; Acts xiv. 16. Wretched and perverse ways of ido-, latry and mad superstition, with regard to God, and falsehood, treachery, hatred, malice, envy, towards their fellow-creatures. See the iniquities numbered up in a large and detestable catalogue ; Rom. i. E3-32. The histories of the heathen world, confirm these dismal ac- counts given us by the sacred writers, and enforce the charge upon them with abundant proof. And ' it is no wonder at all, that this knowledge had so little influence on the generality, of mankind; when so few of them ever attained it, when it was so imperfect as to the discoveries of it, and so dim and feeble in its evidences. It came into their. heads a. little, but it reached not to their hearts: or if it did touch them, it was but feebly, and with very small authority, and was not enforced upon the conscience with " Thus saith the Lord." . A single sentence, with this preface, has vastly greater power on the hearts and consciences of men, than whole volumes of their dark uncertain reasonings. 4. This knowledge of God by the light of nature, " doth rather serve to spew men their sin and misery, than discover any effectual relief;" and in this respect, it comes infinitely short of what the revelation of the gospel of Christ has done. It lays them under guiltand a sentence of death in their own consciences; but it dis- covers not the, plain and certain way of salvation and life: The hope that it gives is but feeble, and there are . but few who could spell it out*. * This might be exemplified in several particulars. The light of na- ture of itself gives no assurance of forgiveness to the repenting sinner; for the repentance of men is no compensation to a holy God, to God as a Governor of the world, for their perpetual rebellions against his laws, and the daily dishonour done to his authority. Such knowledge as the Nine - viteshad, Jonah iii. 9. when they said, " Who can tell but the Lord may turn away from his fierce anger ?" is.but a feeble motive to repentanceand new obedience, in comparison of such a word from God himself ; as Ex. xxxiv. 6. " And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, the 'Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious; long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin. Proa. xxviii. 13. " He that confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy." The light of nature discovers no effectual atonement for sin, nor relief to a guilty conscience, by .all tile costly sacrifices and blood of animals ; but

SERI. I.) NATURAL RELIGION, ITS USES AND DEFECTS. 15 Thus I have ,finished the three general heads of my discourse. I have shewrl you as fully as such a narrow space of time would permit, that there is some knowledge of God to be attained by the light of nature, that this knowledge.is'.made subservient to some valuable pur- poses in the providence And government, of God ; but that it hath such a variety of imperfections and defects, that considered in itself, it gives but feeble influences to repentance and hòliness, and very doubtful and uncom- fortable ground for a sure and satisfying hope to rest upon. I proceed to make a few reflections on this discourse. Reflection I. Since the rational knowledge of God and natural religion has its proper uses, and especially to lay a foundation for our receiving the gospel of Christ, let it not be despised or abandoned by any of us. There may be some, necessary occasions for our recourse to it in a day of temptation, when our faith of the gospel may be tried and shaken. The gospel with all its glories is built upon it as a solid foundation; and if these foun- the gospel points us to the " Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world," - and assures, us that " If we confess our sins; God is faithful 2nd just to forgive us our sins, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, rleanseth us from all unrighteousness ;" John i. 29. and 1 John i. 7, 9. The light of nature points us to no effectual Mediator, or Advocate in heaven; but the gospel leads us to Jesus, the righteous, as our Advocate with the Father, and by pardoning grace, encourages us to love and obey a reconciled God ; 1 John ii: 1, 2. The light of nature, and our daily experience, ,discover to us our weak- ness to subdue sin within us, to restrain our unruly appetites, to mortify our corrupt affections, to resist the daily temptations that surround us ; but it points us not to the Fountain of Strength, even the promised aids of the Holy Spirit : these are the peculiar glories and blessings of the gospel of Christ, which the light of nature could never reveal. The light of nature and continual observation shew us, that we must die, but give us no clear and certain evidence of happiness after death. for such sinful creatures as we are, even in the midst of our repentances for since our daily sins and offences are so numerous, and the best of our righteousnesses and duties are so very defective, the man of virtue and penitence might hope indeed to escape punishment ; but he might well doubt of any future happiness, notwithstanding all the comfort the light of nature couldgive him, or all the discoveries it could make. But the gospel sets these future-glories in a divine and certain light before every man, who reads or hears it. It encourages us to repentance of sin, to di- ligence, patience, and perseverance, in theways of faith and holiness, by the joys unspeakable, which are set before us, and builds our hope of eternal life on the well-attested promises of a God, whocannot lie, and the lien of God who has power given him toperform them all.

G NATURAL RELIGION, ITS USES AND DEFECTS. [SEEN'. f. dations be destroyed or despised, we may be terribly shaken, and beat off from all our hope in some evil and unhappy hour. This gives us a rational ground for our faith in God, and it is necessary in order to our faith in Christ Jesus, his Son. As St. Paul made glorious use of it in his discourse with the Athenian infidels, so we may be called by providence to converse with atheists and unbelievers, and we should be furnished with the same doctrines and principles of argument : for so far as they are just and true, they are divine, since they proceed from God, as the God of nature, who is the Author of our reasoning powers, as well as of all the revelations of grace. Reflection II. Since this knowledge of God, which is attainable by the light of nature, has so many defects, let us never venture to rest in it. Dare not :content your- selves with the lessons of the book of nature, which are very imperfect and obscure, in comparison of the dis- coveries ofthe book of grace. The sun in the firmament, with the moon and all the stars, can never.give us that, light to see God, which is derived from the Sun of Righ- teousness. What a deplorable thing is it, that multitudes in our nation, where the gloryof the blessed gospel shines with such brightness, -should be running back to the glim- mering light of nature, and satisfy themselves with hea- thenism and philosophy ! That they should chuse to walk in twilight as the happiest and safest way, and refuse to be conducted by the blaze of noon, as though it were a deceitful and foolish light! What an affront against the authority and mercy of the God of heaven to renounce his brightest blessings! " The God of this world hath blinded the eyes of them who believe not;" 2 Cor. iv. 4. and we have reason to fear, he is leading them blindfold to eternal darkness. Reflection III. Since the nations, which have only the light of nature, are forced to feel out their way to God through such dusky glimmerings let us bless the Lord with all our souls, that we are born in Great Britain, a land of clear light, where the gospel shines in its beauty and power, and surrounded with various evidences ; a land where the book of grace lies open before us, as well as the book of nature, to teach us the knowledge of God 3

SERM. I.] NATURAL RELIGION, ITS USES AND DEFECTS. 17 and his salvation.. Let us say within ourselves, and why was not I born a poor ignorant African, a wild Indian, ignorant of God,' and averse to seek after him, and without any person near me to give me one beam of light, and point out my way to happiness ? Why was not I left merely to the dumb and silent lectures of the heavens, and the earth and sea, or the instruction of the trees, and plants and beasts of the earth, to teach me the knowledge of him that made me? Who am I, that I should be brought into being in the midst ofsun- beams, and not in a Tegion of thick darkness under the shadow of death? Everlasting glory be given to distinguishing grace. O how should we value the bible as our highest trea- sure, which gives .us such blessed discoveries of God, and his wisdom and power, and his mercy in Christ; which infinitely exceeds all the doubtful twilight of na- ture, and our own powers of reasoning. O may the blessed bible lie next our heart,' and be the companion of our bosoms ! It is this lays a sure foundation for our recovery from all our guilt, and ruin and wretchedness. You that have any concern for your eternal interests, love the bible, walk by the rules of it, and live upon its promised grace ; and I dare pronounce, in the name of God and his Son, that you shall be for ever happy. Reflection IV. Pity and pray for the heathen world, the dark corners of the earth, the benighted nations, where the Sun of Righteousness never rose, and where they can but feel after God through the mists of igno- rance and error. Let us remember those ancient times when our forefathers in this nation were led away into the same errors and gross idolatries, and exercise our compassion toward those who are still left under the same darkness. Now and then, O christians, send a pathetic sigh over the nations, lift up one compassionate groan to heaven for them, and say, " When shall the day come, O Lord, that the heathens shall become thy worshippers, and AssyriaandEthiopia thy people? When wilt thou reveal thyself to the poor African idolaters, and the savage tribes of America, that knòw not God ? When shall the ends of the earth learn to know thee, and re- ,nice in Jesus thy Son the Saviour ? When shall all nations, people and languages, begin their songs of " Sal- VOL. III. C

l3 GOD'S ELECTION OF MEN IN JESUS CHRIST. [SEEM. II. vation to him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb, who has redeemed us with his own blood ? To him be dominion and glory for ever and ever." Amen. SERMON II. GOD'S ELECTIONOF A PEOPLE FORHIMSELF AMONGMEN, AND GIVING THEM TO HIS SON IN THE COVENANT OF REDEMPTION. srui.3,4,5. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who bath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ ; according as he bath chosen us in him before, the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having pre- destinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. IF we enquire who are the persons thus " blessed with all spiritual blessings, chosen to be holy, and predesti- nated to become the children of God," the little word " us" points plainly to the apostle Paul himself, who wrote this epistle, who was a Jew, and the converted Ephesians, to whom he wrote, who were gentiles. These were the persons thus favoured of God. It does not seem to me to be the design of this text, to tell us that God chose part of the Ephesians, as well as other gen- tiles tobe. an outward visible church, with mere visible privileges, as the nation of the Jews were pf old, who were a type and figure of the church invisible; ; b that he chose some Jews and some gentiles to be parts of his invisible church, for they are said to be blessed with :spiritual blessings; with the privilege of adoption, and The real work ofholiness and divine love in their hearts. All the following parts of this and the next chapter seem plainly to declare this sense. If we ask how, or by what medium this grace was ex- ercised; we are informed, it was all in and through Jesus the Son of God ; they are blessed in Jesus Christ, they are chosen in him, and through hirn they are adopted, or

EERM. tI.) GOD'S ELECTION OF MEN IN JESUS CHRIST. 19 made children and heirs. Without entering nicely into all the meanings of these words, chosen in him, I shall content myself at present in general to say, that when they were first chosen to be made holy and heirs of hea- ven, theywere committed to the care of Christ, to have all this grace fulfilled in them, and these blessings con- veyed to them. Having said thus much with relation to the text, I shall immediately apply myself to the two great branches of the subject appointed me, and which are both expressed in the words : I. That God, before he made the world, chose some persons of his own free grace to become his children, or to be made holy and happy. H. That God from the beginning appointed his Son Jesus Christ to be the medium, of exercising all this grace, and gave his chosen people to the care of his Son, to make them partakers of thèse blessings. Let us consider each of these heads more at large. First, God chosecertain persons of his own free grace, before the foundation of the world, to be made holy and happy. This I shall endeavour to prove briefly in four plainPropositions : Proposition I. " There is a manifest difference be- tween thechildren of men in this world." Some of them are holy and religious, they fear God and worship him, they appear to be the children of God, for they imitate his holiness, they love and obey him, they practise virtue and goodness in this life, and are aspiring to the bless- edness of heaven ; while the rest go on to indulge their vicious appetites and passions, to pursue earthly things as their chief good, and are walking evidently in the road of sin to misery and destruction. I need not cite scriptures to prove this point: our daily observation abundantly confirms it. Proposition II. This difference between men, or this distinction of the righteous from the wicked is not as- cribed in scripture, originally and supremely, " to the will and power of man, as the cause of it, but to the will and power of God, and to his Spirit working in them." I (lo not deny that the natural powers of man, his understanding, and his will concur to make this dif- ference, but it is under the original influence and opera- tion of God. 1 Cor. iv. 7, " Who maketh thee to dif c

GODS ELECTION OF MEN IN JESUS CHRIST. {SEAM. n. fer ? What hast thou that thou hast not received ?" When St. Paul had described the gentiles as dead in trespasses and sins ; Eph. ii. 1. he ranks himself in the third verse among the children of wrath by nature, and as walking in the lust of the flesh and the mind, and confesses himself also to have been dead in sin, verse 4. but ive are quickened, saith he, to a life of holiness, by God who is rich in mercy, verses 4, 5. In themselves ,they were all without strength ; Rom. v. 6. but they are, raised to a spiritual life, by the exceeding greatness of that power which raised Christ Jesus from the dead ; Epli. i. 19, O. They were in themselves carnal and sensual, nor could they make themselves spiritual and heavenly; and therefore they must be " born again, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. They must be born of the spirit ;" John i, 13. and chapter iii. 5, 6. that is, they must have a mighty change pass upon their natures by the opera- tion of the blessed Spirit. In Eph. ii. á, 9. " neither faith nor good works are originally of ourselves; faith is the gift of God, and we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works." Thus you see this blessed work of conversion, of changing the heart of man, is described in such language as excludes man him- self from being its original author : it is regeneration or :a new birth, it is a resurrection from the dead, it is a new creation; all proper expressions to shew that the work is divine, and must have God for the author of it. Proposition III. " The distinction that is made by this workof God in the heart of men, is attributed in .scripture, not to any merit in man, which God foresaw, but to the free grace of God toward his people and his special choice or election of them, to be partakers Of these blessings." So the words of my text: We are cho- sen to be made holy, according to the good pleasure of his will. If some among the Jews, who were God's chosen visible church did believe in Christ, and receive :this salvation, theywere chosen of God, from among the rest of that nation, to become part ofhis invisible church by mere grace. When the greatest part of Israel re- jected, the Messiah, yet there was a remnant of Jews, ,according to the election of grace, who became Chris tians; and " if it is grace, then no more Of works, other-

SERM. IL] GOD'S ELECTION OP MEN IN JESUS CHRIST. 21 wise grace would be no more grace;' Rom. xi. 5, 6, Works and merit are inconsistent with an election of grace. If some of the Ephesian gentiles received the gospel, they also were chosen from among the rest that lie dead in sins, and were quickened and saved by the grace of that God, who is rich in mercy according to the great love wherewith he loved them; Eph. ii. 4, 5, 7, 8. And the apostle ascribes his own salvation, as well as that of tither sinners ; Tit. iii. 5. not to works of righteousnëss,'which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us." This is the 'fountain of all bles- sings, whether conferred on Jew, or gentile ; Rom, ix., 15, 16. " God has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and compassion one whonr he will have 'compassion.' Time Nvould fail me to show how full this chapter Of St_ Paul is of the distinctions, which are made between men by divine grace, even before they had done good or evil, whether it be for a temporal or eternal inheritance, and the one as a type of the other. St John concurs in the same doctrine. If we love God, the first source of it was his love towards us. 1 John iv: 10, 19. Herein islove, not that we loved God, but that he loved us ; and if we love him, it is because he loved us first." Proposition IV. " This choice of persons to sanctifi- cation and salvation by the grace of God is represented in scripture, as before the foundation of the world, or from eternity. So my text expressly declares; and in deed it must be so in the nature of things, for whatso- ever the power or the mercy of God Both in time, he decreed to do it from eternity. He has no new designs. " Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world ; Acts xv. 18. So n Thess. ii. 13. " God bath from the beginning chosen, or taken, you from. amongst the other gentiles, unto salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." A'nd to this he called you by our gospel. There was a book of life written before the foundation of the world ; Rev. xiii. 8. " All that dwell upon the earth, that is, all this part of the world to which the prophecy refers, shall worship the beast, or follow -after antichrist; except those whose naines are written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain ;' for that I take to be a much more proper translation of c 3

¡$ GOD'S ELECTION OF MEN IN JESUS CHRIST. [SEAM. IL. the original. In this book of life were written the names of those persons who should not yield to antichristian idolatry, and should be preserved from the general cor- ruption that came upon the christian world. Upon the whole it appears from the language of scripture, that those who are sanctified and saved by divine grace, were before chosen òf God, to be made holy and happy. - I proceed now to the second general head of my dis- course, viz. That God from the beginning appointed his Son Jesus Christ to be the medium of exercising all this grace, and gave his chosen people to the care of his Son, to make them partakers of this salvation. This seems to be the meaning of my text. Are we blessed with all spiritual blessings ? It is as the members of one body, in Jesus Christ, as our common, head. Are we chosen ? It is still in Christ the Son of God. " In all things he must have the pre-eminence : He is the head of the body, the church ;" Col. i. 18. He was first chosen by the Father to be the glorious head of a holy and happy number of mankind, and we are chosen in him that we might become his holy and happy members. He is called " the elect of God, in whom his soul delighteth ;" Is. xlii. 1. " The mighty one on whom God has laid our help, who was exalted and chosen out of the people ;" Ps. lxxxix. 19. You may observe he is represented here to be chosen, as a man from among the people of Israel to be their Lord and Saviour; but that he might be equal to this work, and mighty to save, he was " one with God, all the fulness of the godhead dwelt in him bodily ;" Col. ii. 9. He is " the Word who was with God, and who was God ?" John i. 1. And in due time this Word was made flesh and dwelt among us ?" verse 14. Are we chosen that we might be saved ? It is in and through Christ, who was chosen to be our Saviour. Are we predestinated to the adoption of children ? It is still in Christ, who is the original Son, the " bright- ness of his Father's glory, the express image of his per- son, and who was appointed to be heir of all things ;" Heb. i. 2, 3. " And we are appointed to be conform- able to his image, tobe heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, and possessors of the inheritance;" Rom. viii. 17, 29,