Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

all opposition. The term “adulterous,” I con This premised, I come now to discuss the first ceive, may chiefly relate to the Jews, who, thing, -namely, how many ways Christ and being nationally espoused to God by covenant, his truths may be denied, &c. Here first in every sin of theirs was in a peculiar manner general I assert, that we may deny him in all spiritual adultery.

those acts that are capable of being morally 4. What is here said, “I will deny him good or evil; those are the proper scene in before my Father," is there expressed, " I will which we act our confessions or denials of him. be ashamed of him before my Father and his Accordingly, therefore, all ways of denying holy angels ;" that is, when he shall come to Christ I shall comprise under these three, judgment, when revenging justice shall come 1. We may deny him and his truths by an in pomp, attended with the glorious retinue erroneous, heretical judgment. I know it is of all the host of heaven. In short, the sen doubted whether a bare error in judgment tence pronounced declares the judgment, the can condemn: but since truths absolutely solemnity of it the terror.

necessary to salvation are so clearly revealed, From the words we may deduce these ob- that we cannot err in them, unless we bé servations,

notoriously wanting to ourselves, herein the I. We shall find strong motives and temp- fault of the judgment is resolved into a pretations from men, to draw us to a denial of cedent default in the will, and so the case is Christ.

put out of doubt. But here it may be replied, II. No terrors or solicitations from men, Are not truths of absolute and fundamental though never so great, can warrant or excuse necessity, very disputable; as the deity of such a denial.

Christ, the trinity of persons? If they are III. To deny Christ's words, is to deny Christ. not in themselves disputable, why are they so But since these observations are rather im- much disputed ? Indeed, I believe, if we plied than expressed in the words, I shall trace these disputes to their original cause, we wave them, and instead of deducing a doctrine shall find, that they never sprung from a distinct from the words, prosecute the words reluctancy in reason to embrace them. For themselves under this doctrinal paraphrase,- this reason itself dictates as most rational, to

“ Whosoever shall deny, disown, or be assent to any thing, though seemingly conashamed of either the person or truths of trary to reason, if it is revealed by God, and Jesus Christ, for any fear or favour of man, we are certain of the revelation. These two shall with shame be disowned and eternally supposed, these disputes must needs arise only rejected by him at the dreadful judgment of from curiosity and singularity; and these are the great day."

faults of a diseased will. But some will The discussion of this shall lie in these farther demand in behalf of these men, things,

whether such as assent to every word in 1. To shew how many ways Christ and Scripture, (for so will those that deny the his truths may be denied ; and what is the natural deity of Christ and the Spirit) can be denial here chiefly intended.

yet said in doctrinals to deny Christ? To II. To shew what are the causes that in- | this I answer, Since words abstracted from duce men to a denial of Christ and his truths. their proper sense and signification lose the

III. To shew how far a man may consult nature of words, and are only equivocally so his safety in time of persecution without called; inasmuch as the persons we speak of denying Christ.

take them thus, and derive the letter from IV. To shew what is imported in Christ's Christ, but the signification from themselves, denying us before his Father in heaven. they cannot be said properly to assent so

V. To apply all to the present occasion. much as to the words of the Scripture. And

But before I enter upon these, I must so their case also is clear. But yet more fully briefly premise this, that though the text and to state the matter, how far a denial of Christ the doctrine run peremptory and absolute, in belief and judgment is damnable ; we will “Whosoever denies Christ, shall assuredly bé propose the question, whether those who hold denied by him," yet still there is a tacit con the fundamentals of faith may deny Christ dition in the words supposed, - unless repen- damnably, in respect of those superstructures tance intervene. For this and many other and consequences that arise from them? I scriptures, though as to their formal terms answer in brief,— By fundamental truths are they are absolute, yet as to their sense they understood, (1.) either such, without the are conditional. God in mercy has so framed belief of which we cannot be saved: or, (2.) and tempered his word, that we have, for the such, the belief of which is sufficient to save. most part, a reserve of mercy wrapped up in If the question be proposed of fundamentals

And the very first judgment that in this latter sense, it contains its own answer; was pronounced upon fallen man, was with for where a man believes those truths, the the allay of a promise. Wheresoever we find belief of which is sufficient to save, there the a curse to the guilty expressed, in the same disbelief or denial of their consequences canwords mercy to the penitent is still understood. I not damn. But what and how many these

a curse.

fundamentals are, it will then be agreed upon, 3. We may deny Christ in our actions and when all sects, opinions, and persuasions do practice ; and these speak much louder than unite and consent. 2dly, If we speak of our tongues. To have an orthodox belief, and fundamentals in the former sense, as they are a true profession, concurring with a bad life, only truths, without which we cannot be is only to deny Christ with a greater solemsaved, it is manifest, that we may believe nity. Belief and profession will speak thee them, and yet be damned for denying their a Christian but very faintly, when thy conconsequences: for that which is only a condi- versation proclaims thee an infidel. Many, tion, without which we cannot be saved, is while they have preached Christ in their not therefore a cause sufficient to save : much sermons, have read a lecture of atheism in more is required to the latter, than to the their practice. We have many here who former. I conclude, therefore, that to deny speak of godliness, mortification, and selfChrist in our judgment will condemn, and denial ; but if these are so, what means the this concerns the learned: Christ demands bleating of the sheep, and the lowing of the the homage of your understanding; he will oxen, the noise of their ordinary sins, and the have your reason bend to him; you must put cry of their great ones? If godly, why do they your heads under his feet. And we know, wallow and steep in all the carnalities of the that heretofore, he who had the leprosy in world, under pretence of Christian liberty? this part, was to be pronounced utterly un Why do they make religion ridiculous by clean. A poisoned reason, an infected judg- pretending to prophecy; and when their proment, is Christ's greatest enemy; and an error phecies prove delusions, why do they * blasin the judgment is like an imposthume in pheme? If such are self-deniers, what means the head, which is always noisome, and fre- the griping, the prejudice, the covetousness, quently mortal.

and the pluralities preached against, and 2. We may deny Christ verbally, and by retained, and the arbitrary government of oral expressions. Now our words are the many ? When such men preach of self-denial interpreters of our hearts, the transcripts of and humility, I cannot but think of Seneca, the judgment, with some farther addition of who praised poverty, and that very safely, in good or evil. He that interprets, usually the midst of his riches and gardens; and enlarges. What our judgment whispers in even exhorted the world to throw away their secret, these proclaim upon the house top. To gold, perhaps (as one well conjectures) that deny Christ in the former, imports enmity; he might gather it up : so these desire men to but in these, open defiancé. Christ's passion be humble, that they may domineer without is renewed in both : he that misjudges of him, opposition. But it is an easy matter to comcondemns him; but he that blasphemes him, mend patience, when there is no danger of spits in his face. Thus the Jews and the any trial, to extol humility in the midst of Pharisees denied Christ. “We know that honours, to begin a fast after dinner. † But, this man is a sinner,” (John, ix. 24;)" and oh, how Christ will deal with such persons, a deceiver,”. (Matt. xxvii. 63 ;) “and he when he shall draw forth all their actions casts out devils by the prince of devils,” bare, and stript from this deceiving veil of (xii. 24.), And thus Christ is daily denied, their heavenly speeches ! He will then say, in many blasphemies printed and divulged, It was not your sad countenance, nor your and many horrid opinions vented against the hypocritical groaning, by which you did truth. The schools dispute whether in morals either confess or honour me: but your worldthe external action superadds any thing of liness, your luxury, your sinister partial good or evil to the internal elicit act of the dealing; these have denied me, these have will : but certainly the enmity of our judg- wounded me, these have gone to my heart; ments is wrought up to an high pitch, before these have caused the weak to stumble, and it rages in an open denial. And it is a sign the profane to blaspheme; these have ofthat it is grown too big for the heart, when fended the one, and hardened the other. You it seeks for vent in our words. Blasphemy have indeed spoke me fair, you have saluted uttered, is error heightened with impudence : me with your lips, but even then you betrayed it is sin scorning a concealment, not only me. Depart from me, therefore, you professors committed, but defended. He that denies of holiness, but you workers of iniquity. Christ in his judgment, sins ; but he that And thus having shewn the three ways by speaks his denial, vouches and owns his sin ; and so, by publishing it, does what in him

* A noted independent divine, when Oliver Cromwell was lies to make it universal, and by writing it,

sick, of which sickness he died, declared that God had revealed

to him that he should recover, and live thirty years longer, for to establish it eternal. There is another way that God had raised him up for a work which could not be done of denying Christ with our mouths, which is in less time. But Oliver's death being published two days negative; that is, when wedo not acknowledge

after, the said divine publicly in prayer expostulated with God and confess, hím : but of this I shall have

the defeat of his prophecy, in these words ; "Lord, thou hast occasion to treat under the discussion of the

lied unto us ; yea, thou hast lied unto us.'

| Very credibly reported to bave been done in an indepanthird general head.

dent congregation at Oxon.

which Christ may be denied, it may now be 1. The seeming supposed absurdity of many demanded, which is the denial here intended truths : upon this foundation heresy always in the words.

builds. The heathens derided the Christians, Answer. (1.) I conceive, if the words are that still they required and pressed belief: taken as they were particularly and personally and well they might, say they, since the directed to the apostles, upon the occasion of articles of their religion are so absurd, that their mission to preach the gospel, so the upon principles of science they can never win denial of him was the not acknowledgment assent. It is easy to draw it forth and deof the deity or godhead of Christ; and the monstrate, how, upon this score, the chief reason to prove that this was then principally heretics that now are said to trouble the intended is this : because this was the truth church, do oppose and deny the most imporin those days chiefly opposed, and most dis tant truths in divinity. As, first, hear the believed ; as appears, because Christ and the denier of the deity and satisfaction of Christ. apostles did most earnestly inculcate the What! says he, can the same person be God belief of this, and accepted men upon the and man? the creature and the Creator? Can bare acknowledgment of this, and baptism we ascribe such attributes to the same thing, was administered to such as did but profess whereof one implies a negation and a contrathis, (Acts, viii. 37, 38.) And, indeed, as diction of the other ? Can he be also finite this one aphorism, “Jesus Christ is the Son and infinite, when to be finite is not to be of God,” is virtually and eminently the infinite, and to be infinite not to be finite ? whole gospel ; so to confess or deny it, is vir And when we distinguish between the person tually to embrace or reject the whole round and the nature, Was not that distinction an and series of gospel truths. For he that invention of the schools, savouring rather of acknowledges Christ to be the Son of God, by metaphysics than divinity? If we say, that the same does consequentially acknowledge, he must have been God, because he was to that he is to be believed and obeyed, in what mediate between us and God, by the same soever he does enjoin and deliver to the sons reason, they will reply, We should need a of men: and therefore that we are to repent, mediator between us and Christ, who is and believe, and rest upon him for salvation, equally God, equally offended. Then for his and to deny ourselves; and within the com satisfaction, they will demand to whom this pass of this is included whatsoever is called satisfaction is paid ? If to God, then God pays gospel.

a price to himself : and what is it else to As for the manner of our denying the deity require and need no satisfaction, than for one of Christ here prohibited, I conceive, it was to satisfy himself? Next comes in the denier by words and oral expressions verbally to of the decrees and free grace of God. What ! deny and disacknowledge it. This I ground says he, shall we exhort, admonish, and upon these reasons,

entreat the saints to beware of falling away 1. Because it was such a denial as was finally, and at the same time assert, that it is before men, and therefore consisted in open impossible for them so to fall? What! shall profession ; for a denial in judgment and we erect two contradictory wills in God, or practice, as such, is not always before men. place two contradictories in the same will ?

2. Because it was such a denial or confession and make the will of his purpose and intention of him as would appear in preaching : but this run counter to the will of his approbation ? is managed in words and verbal profession. Hear another concerning the Scripture, and

But now, (2.) if we take the words as they justification. What! says the Romanist, rely are a general precept, equally relating to all in matters of faith upon a private spirit? How times and to all persons, though delivered do you know this is the sense of such a Scriponly upon a particular occasion to the apostles, ture? Why, by the Spirit. But how will (as I suppose they are to be understood ;) so you try that Spirit to be of God? Why, by I think they comprehend all the three ways the Scripture. This he explodes as a circle, mentioned of confessing or denying Christ : and so derides it. Then for justification. How but principally in respect of practice; and are you justified by an imputed righteousness? that, 1. Because by this he is most honoured Is it yours before it is imputed, or not? If or dishonoured ; 2. Because without this the not, as we must say, is this to be justified to other two cannot save ; 3. Because those who have that accounted yours that is not yours? are ready enough to confess him both in But again, did you ever hear of any man made judgment and profession, are for the most rich or wise by imputation ? Why, then, rightpart very prone to deny him shamefully in eous or just ? Now these seeming paradoxes, their doings.

attending gospel truths, cause men of weak, Pass we now to a second thing, namely, to prejudiced intellectuals to deny them, and in shew,

them, Christ; being ashamed to own faith so II. What are the causes inducing men to much, as they think, to the disparagement of deny Christ in his truths. I shall propose

their reason. three

2. The second thing cansing men to deny

the truths of Christ their unprofitableness. whole universe. Let Christ and truth say And no wonder, if here men forsake the truth, what they will, if interest will have it, gain and assert interest. To be pious is the way must be godliness; if enthusiasm is in reto be poor. Truth still gives its followers its quest, learning must be inconsistent with own badge and livery, a despised nakedness. grace. If pay grows short, the university. It is hard to maintain the truth, but much maintenance must be too great. Rather than harder to be maintained by it. Could it ever Pilate will be counted Cæsar's enemy, he will yet feed, clothe, or defend its assertors ? Did pronounce Christ innocent one hour, and conever any man quench his thirst or satisfy his demn him the next. How Christ is made to hunger with a notion ? Did ever any one truckle under the world, and how his truths live upon propositions? The testimony of are denied and shuffled with for profit and Brutus concerning virtue is the apprehension pelf, the clearest proof would be by induction of most concerning truth : that it is a name, and example. But, as it is the most clear, so but lives and estates are things, and therefore here it would be the most unpleasing : wherenot to be thrown away upon words. That we fore, I shall pass this over, since the world is are neither to worship or cringe to any thing now so peccant upon this account, that I am under the Deity, is a truth too strict for a afraid instances would be mistaken for invecNaaman : he can be content to worship the tives. true God, but then it must be in the house of 3. The third cause inducing men to deny Rimmon : the reason was implied in his con Christ in his truths is their apparent danger. dition; he was captain of the host, and there- To confess Christ is the ready way to be cast fore he thought it reason good to bow to out of the synagogue. The church is a place Rimmon, rather than endanger his place ; of graves, as well as of worship and profession, better bow than break. Indeed, sometimes to be resolute in a good cause is to bring upon Providence cast things so, that truth and ourselves the punishments due to a bad. interest lie the same way: and, when it is Truth, indeed, is a possession of the highest wrapt up in this covering, men can be con value, and therefore it must needs expose the tent to follow it, to press hard after it, but it owner to much danger. Christ is sometimes is, as we pursue some beasts, only for their pleased to make the profession of himself skins : take off the covering, and though men costly, and a man cannot buy the truth, but obtain the truth, they would lament the loss he must pay down his life and his dearest of that : as Jacob wept and mourned over the blood for it. Christianity marks a man out torn coat, when Joseph was alive. It is for destruction ; and Christ sometimes chalks incredible to consider how interest ontweighs out such a way to salvation as shall verify his truth. If a thing in itself be donbtful, let it own saying, “He that will save his life shall make for interest, and it shall be raised at lose it.” The first ages of the church had a least into probable; and if a truth be cer more abundant experience of this : what Paul tain, and thwart interest, it will quickly fetch and the rest planted by their preaching, they it down to but a probability ; nay, if it does watered with their blood. We know their not carry with it an impregnable evidence, it usage was such as Christ foretold; he sent will go near to debase it to a downright them to wolves, and the common course then falsity. How much interest casts the balance was, Christianos ad leones. For a man to give in cases dubious, I could give sundry in- his name to Christianity in those days was to stances : let one suffice, and that concerning list himself a martyr, and to bid farewell, not the unlawfulness of usury. Most of the only to the pleasures, but also to the hopes of learned men in the world successively, both this life. Neither was it a single death only heathen and Christian, do assert the taking of that then attended this profession, but the use to be utterly unlawful ; yet the divines of terror and sharpness of it was redoubled in the reformed church beyond the seas, though the manner and circumstance. They had most severe and rigid in other things, do persecutors, whose invention was as great as generally affirm it to be lawful. That the their cruelty. Wit and malice conspired to case is doubtful, and may be disputed with find out such tortures, such deaths, and those plausible arguments on either side, we may of such incredible anguish, that only the well grant : but what then is the reason, that manner of dying was the punishment, death makes these divines so unanimously concur itself the deliverance. To be a martyr signiin this opinion ? Indeed I shall not affirm this fies only to witness the truth of Christ, but to be the reason, but it may seem so to many : the witnessing of the truth was then so genethat they receive their salaries by way of rally attended with this event, that martyrpension, in present ready money, and so have dom now signifies, not only to witness, but to no other way to improve them; so that it witness by death : the word, besides its own may be suspected, that the change of their signification, importing their practice. And salary would be the strongest argument to since Christians have been freed from heachange their opinion. The truth is, interest thens, Christians themselves have turned is the grand wheel and spring that moves the persecutors. Since Rome from heathen was

“ Who re

perse

« Be ye

turned Christian, it has improved its persecu martyr? He that, uncalled for, uncompelled, tion into an inquisition. Now, when Christ comes and proclaims & persecuted truth, for and truth are upon these terms, that men which he is sure to die, only dies a confessor cannot confess him but upon pain of death, of his own folly, and a sacrifice to his own the reason of their apostasy and denial is rashness. Martyrdom is stamped such only clear; men will be wise, and leave truth and by God's command; and he that ventures misery to such as love it ; they are resolved to upon it without a call, must endure it withbe cunning, let others run the hazard of being out a reward: Christ will say, sincere. If they must be good at so high a quired this at your hands ?" His Gospel does rate, they know they may be safe at a cheaper. not dictate imprudence; no evangelical preSi negare sufficiat, quis erit nocens ? If to deny cept justles out that of a lawful self-preservaChrist will save them, the truth shall never tion. He, therefore, that thus throws himself make them guilty. Let Christ and his flock upon the sword, runs to heaven before he is lie open, and exposed to all weather of sent for ; where, though perhaps Christ may cution, foxes will be sure to have holes. And in mercy receive the man, yet he will be sure if it comes to this, that they must either to disown the martyr. renounce their religion, deny and blaspheme And thus much concerning those lawful Christ, or forfeit their lives to the fire or ways of securing ourselves in time of persecuthe sword, it is but inverting Job's wife's tion : not as if these were always lawful; for advice, “ Curse God, and live.”

sometimes a man is bound to confess Christ III. We proceed now to the third thing, openly, though he dies for it; and to conceal which is, to shew how far a man may consult a truth is to deny it. But now,

to shew when his safety, &c.

it is our duty, and when unlawful, to take This he may do two ways,

these courses, by some general rule of a per1. By withdrawing his person. Martyr petual never-failing truth, none ever would dom is an heroic act of faith: an achievement yet presume; for, as Aristotle says, we are beyond an ordinary pitch of it; “ To you,” not expect demonstrations in ethics or says the Spirit, “it is given to suffer,” (Phil. politics, nor to build certain rules upon the i. 29.) It is a peculiar additional gift : it is a contingency of human actions; so, inasmuch distinguishing excellency of degree, not an as our flying from persecution, our confessing essential consequent of its nature.

or concealing persecuted truths, vary and harmless as doves,” says Christ; and it is as change their very nature, according to diffenatural to them to take flight upon danger, rent circumstances of time, place, and peras to be innocent. Let every man thoroughly sons, we cannot limit their directions within consult the temper of his faith, and weigh his any one universal precept. You will say then, courage with his fears, his weakness and his How shall we know when to confess, when to resolution together, and take the measure of conceal a truth? when to wait for, when to both, and see which preponderates; and if his decline persecution ? Indeed, the only way spirit faints, if his heart misgives and melts that I think can be prescribed in this case, is at the very thoughts of the fire, let him fly, to be earnest and importunate with God in and secure his own soul, and Christ's honour. prayer for special direction : and it is not to Non negat Christum fugiendo, qui ideo fugit ne be imagined, that he, who is both faithful neget: he does not deny Christ by flying, who and merciful, will leave a sincero soul in the therefore flies that he may not deny him. dark upon such an occasion. But this I shall Nay, he does not so much decline, as rather add, that the ministers of God are not to change his martyrdom: he flies from the evade, or take refuge in any of these two foreflame, but repairs to a desert; to poverty and mentioned ways. They are public persons; hunger in a wilderness. Whereas, if he would and good shepherds must then chiefly stand dispense with his conscience, and deny his close to the flock, when the wolf comes. For Lord, or swallow down two or three contra them to be silent in the cause of Christ, is to dictory oaths, he should neither fear the one, renounce it; and to fly, is to desert it. As nor be forced to the other.

for that place urged in favour of the contrary, 2. By concealing his judgment. A man (ver. 23,), “ When they persecute you in this sometimes is no more bound to speak, than city, flee into another," it proves nothing; for to destroy himself : and as nature abhors this, the precept was particular, and concerned so religion does not command that. In the only the apostles ; and that but for that time times of the primitive church, when the in which they were then sent to the Jews, at Christians dwelt amongst heathens, it is re which time Christ kept them as a reserve for ported of a certain maid, how she came from the future. For when after his death they her father's house to one of the tribunals of were indifferently sent both to Jews and the Gentiles, and declared herself a Christian, Gentiles, we find not this clause in their comspit in the judge's face, and so provoked him mission; but they were to sign the truths to cause her to be executed. But will any they preached with their blood, as we know say, that this was to confess Christ, to die a they actually did. And morenver, when

« AnteriorContinuar »