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contrary, he in his heart really despises him To which God, fearful in praises, and for his cowardly, base silence. If any one working wonders, be rendered and ascribed, as should reply here, that the times and manners is inost due, all praise, might, majesty, and of men will not bear such a practice, I confess dominion, both now and for evermore. Amen. that it is an answer, from the mouth of a professed time-server, very rational : but as for that man that is not so, let him satisfy himself of the reason, justice, and duty of an action, and leave the event of it to God, who will never fail those who do not think them
SERMON VI. selves too wise to trust him. For, let the worst come to the worst, a man in so doing would be ruined more honourably than other
WHY CHRIST'S DOCTRINE WAS REJECTED wise preferred.
BY THE JEWS. 4. And lastly. A fourth thing that makes a governor justly despised, is a proneness to
“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, despise others. There is a kind of respect due whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." - John, to the meanest person, even from the greatest; vii. 17. for it is the mere favour of Providence, that he, who is actually the greatest, was not the WHEN God was pleased to new-model the meanest. A man cannot cast his respects so world by the introduction of a new religion, low, but they will rebound and return upon and that in the room of one set up by himself, him. What Heaven bestows upon the earth it was requisite that he should recommend it in kind influences and benign aspects, is paid to the reasons of men with the same authority it back again in sacrifice, incense, and adora- and evidence that enforced the former ; and tion. And surely, a great person gets nuore that a religion established by God himself by obliging his inferior, than he can by dis should not be displaced by any thing under a daining him; as a man has a greater advan- demonstration of that divine power that first tage by sowing and dressing his ground, than introduced it. And the whole Jewish ecohe can have by trampling upon it. It is not nomy, we know, was brought in with to insult and domineer, to look disdainfully, miracles ; the law was writ and confirmed by and revile imperiously, that procures an esteem the same almighty hand: the whole universe from any one; it will indeed make men keep was subservient to its promulgation: the their distance sufficiently, but it will be dis- signs of Egypt and the Red Sea ; fire and a tance without reverence.
voice from heaven; the heights of the one, And thus I have shewn four several causes and the depths of the other : so that (as it that may justly render any ruler despised; were) from the top to the bottom of nature, and by the same work, I hope, have made it there issued forth one universal united testievident, how little cause men have to despise mony of the divinity of the Mosaic law and the rulers of our church.
religion. And this stood in the world for the God is the fountain of honour; and the con space of two thousand years; till at length, duit by which he conveys it to the sons of men, in the fulness of time, the reason of men are virtuous and generous practices. But as ripening to such a pitch, as to be above the for us, who have more immediately and nearly pedagogy of Moses's rod, and the discipline devoted both our persons and concerns to his of types, God thought fit to display the service, it were infinitely vain to expect it substance without the shadow, and to read upon any other terms. Some, indeed, may the world a lecture of an higher and more please and promise themselves high matters, sublime religion in Christianity. But the from full revenues, stately palaces, court-inte- Jewish was yet in possession, and therefore rests, and great dependencies : but that which that this might so enter, as not to intrude, it makes the clergy glorious, is to be knowing was to bring its warrant from the same hand in their profession, unspotted in their lives, of omnipotence. And for this cause, Christ, active and laborious in their charges, bold and that he might not make either a suspected or resolute in opposing seducers, and daring to precarious address to men's understandings, look vice in the face, though never so potent outdoes Moses, before he displaces him ; shews and illustrious, and, lastly, to be gentle, cour an ascendant spirit above him, raises the dead, teous, and compassionate to all.
and cures more plagues than he brought upon These are our robes and our maces, our Egypt, casts out devils, and heals the deaf, escutcheons, and highest titles of honour; speaking such words, as even gave ears to hear for by all these things God is honoured, whó them; cures the blind and the lame, and has declared this the eternal rule and stan makes the very dumb to speak for the truth dard of all honour derivable upon men, that of his doctrine. But what was he result of “those who honour him, shall be honoured all this? Why, some look upon him as an by him.”
impostor and a conjuror, as an agent for
Beelzebub, and therefore reject his gospel, IV. And lastly, I shall shew, that a pious hold fast their law, and will not let Moses and well disposed mind, attended with a readigive place to the magician.
ness to obey the known will of God, is the Now the cause that Christ's doctrine was surest and best meaus to enlighten the underrejected, must of necessity be one of these standing to a belief of Christianity. two. 1. An insufficiency in the arguments Of these in their order; and, brought by Christ to enforce it. Or, 2. An First, for the doctrine of Christ. We must indisposition in the persons, to whom this take it in the known and common division of doctrine was addressed, to receive it.
it, into matters of belief, and matters of And for this, Christ, who had not only an practice. infinite power to work miracles, but also an The matters of belief related chiefly to his equal wisdom both to know the just force and person and offices. As, That he was the measure of every argument or motive to per Messias that should come into the world : the suade or cause assent; and withal, to look eternal Son of God, begotten of him before all through and through all the dark corners of worlds; that in time he was made man, and the soul of man, all the windings and turnings, born of a pure virgin : that he should die and and various workings of his faculties; and to satisfy for the sins of the world; and that he discern how and by what means they are to should rise again from the dead, and ascend be wrought upon; and what prevails upon into heaven; and there, sitting at the right them, and what does not : he, I say, states hand of God, hold the government of the the whole matter upon this issue ; that the whole world, till the great and last day; in arguments by which his doctrine addressed which he should judge both the quick and itself to the minds of men, were proper, ade the dead, raised to life again with the very quate, and sufficient to compass their respec same bodies ; and then deliver up all rule and tive ends in persuading or convincing the government into the hands of his Father. persons to whom they were proposed : and, These were the great articles and credenda of moreover, that there was no such defect in the Christianity, that so much startled the world, natural light of man's understanding, or know and seemed to be such, as not only brought in ing faculty ; but that, considered in itself, it a new religion amongst men, but also required would be apt enough to close with, and yield new reason to embrace it. its assent to, the evidence of those arguments The other part of his doctrine lay in matters duly offered to, and laid before it. And yet, of practice; which wefind contained in his sevethat after all this, the event proved otherwise ; ral sermons, but principally in that glorious, and that, notwithstanding both the weight and full, and admirable discourse upon the mount, fitness of the'arguments to persuade, and the recorded in the 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of light of mau's intellect to meet this persuasive Saint Matthew. All which particulars, if we evidence with a suitable assent, no assent would reduce to one general comprehensive followed, nor were men thereby actually per head, they are all wrapt up in the doctrine of suaded; he charges it wholly upon the cor- self-denial, * prescribing to the world the most ruption, the perverseness, and vitiosity of inward purity of heart, and a constant conman's will, as the only cause that rendered flict with all our sensual appetites and worldly all the arguments his doctrine came clothed interests, even to the quitting of all that is with unsuccessful. And consequently, he dear to us, and the sacrificing of life itself, affirms here in the text, that men must love rather than knowingly to omit the least duty, the truth before they thoroughly believe it; or commit the least sin. And this was that and that the gospel has then only a free ad which grated harder upon, and raised greater mission into the assent of the understanding, tumults and boilings in the hearts of men, when it brings a passport from a rightly dis than the strangeness and seeming unreasonposed will, as being the great faculty of ableness of all the former articles, that took dominion, that commands all, that shuts out up chiefly in speculation and belief. and lets in what objects it pleases, and, iu a And that this was so, will appear from a word, keeps the keys of the whole soul. consideration of the state and condition the
This is the design and purport of the words, world was in, as to religion, when Christ prowhich I shall draw forth and handle in the mulged his doctrine. Nothing farther than prosecution of these four following heads. the outward action was then looked after, and
I. I shall shew what the doctrine of Christ when that failed, there was an expiation was, that the world so much stuck at, and ready in the opus operatum of a sacrifice. So was so averse from believing.
that all their virtue and religion lay in their II. I shall shew that men's unbelief of it folds and their stalls, and what was wanting was from no defect or insufficiency in the in the innocence, the blood of lambs was to arguments brought by Christ to enforce it. supply. The Scribes and Pharisees, who were
III. I shall shew what was the true and the great doctors of the Jewish Church, exproper cause, into which this unbelief was resolved.
• See Sermon III. p. 17.
pounded the law no farther. They accounted were not so, yet their insufficiency was not no man a murderer, but he that struck a the cause of their rejection. knife into his brother's heart: no man an And first, for the first of these, – That the adulterer, but he that actually defiled his arguments brought by Christ for the confirmaneighbour's bed. They thought it no injustice tion of his doctrine were in themselves connor irreligion to prosecute the severest retalia- vincing and sufficient. I shall insist only tion or revenge : so that at the same time upon the convincing power of the two printheir outward man might be a saint, and their cipal; one from the prophecies recorded coninward man a devil. No care at all was had cerning him, the other from the miracles to curb the unruliness of anger, or the exor done by him. Of both very briefly. And for bitance of desire. Amongst all their sacrifices, the former. There was a full entire harmony they never sacrificed so much as one lust. and consent of all the divine predictions Bulls and goats bled apace, but neither the receiving their completion in Christ. The violence of the one, nor the wantonness of the strength of which argument lies in this, that other, ever died a victim at any of their it evinces the divine mission of Christ's altars. So that no wonder, that a doctrine person, and thereby proves him to be the that arraigned the irregularities of the most Messias ; which by consequence proves and inward notions and affections of the soul, and asserts the truth of his doctrine. For he that told men, that anger and harsh words were was so sent by God, could declare nothing but murder, and looks and desires, adultery; that the will of God. And so evidently do all the a man might stab with his tongue, and assas- prophecies agree to Christ, that I dare with sinate with his mind, pollute himself with a great confidence affirm, that if the prophecies glance, and forfeit eternity by a cast of his recorded of the Messiah are not fulfilled in eye; no wonder, I say, that such a doctrine Jesus of Nazareth, it is impossible to know or made a strange bustle and disturbance in the distinguish when a prophecy is fulfilled, and world, which then sat warm and easy in a free when not, in any thing or person whatsoever ; enjoyment of their lusts ; ordering maters so, which would utterly evacuate the use of them. that they put a trick upon the great rule of But in Christ they all meet with such an virtue, the law, and made a shift to think | invincible lustre and evidence, as if they were themselves guiltless, in spite of all their sins; not predictions, but after-relations; and the to break the precept, and at the same time penmen of them not prophets, but evangelists. to baffle the curse. Contriving to themselves and now, can any kind of ratiocination allow such a sort of holiness, as should please God Christ all the marks of the Messiah, and yet and themselves too; justify and save them deny him to be the Messiah? Could he have barmless, but never sanctify nor make them all the signs, and yet not be the thing signibetter.
fied? Could the shadows that followed him, But the severe notions of Christianity and were cast from him, belong to any other turned all this upside down, filling all with body? All these things are absurd and unsurprise and amazement; they came upon the natural; and therefore the force of this arguworld, like light darting full upon the face ment was undeniable. of a man asleep, who had a mind to sleep on, Nor was that other from the miracles done and not to be disturbed : they were terrible by him at all inferior. The strength and astonishing alarms to persons grown fat and force of which, to prove the things they are wealthy by a long and successful imposture ; alleged for, consists in this, that a miracle by suppressing the true sense of the law, by being a work exceeding the power of any putting another veil upon Moses; and, in a created agent, and consequently being an effect word, persuading the world, that men might of the divine omnipotence, when it is done be honest and religious, happy and blessed, to give credit and authority to any word or though they never denied nor mortified one doctrine declared to proceed from God, either of their corrupt appetites.
that doctrine must really proceed from God, And thus much for the first thing proposed; as it is declared, or God, by that work of his which was to give you a brief draught of the almighty power, must bear witness to a falsedoctrine of Christ, that met with so little hood; and so bring the creature under the assent from the world in general, and from greatest obligations that can possibly engage the Jews in particular. I come now to the the assent of a rational nature, to believe and
Second thing proposed : which was to shew, assent to a lie. For surely a greater reason That men's unbelief of Christ's doctrine was than this cannot be produced for the belief of from no defect or insufficiency in the argu any thing, than for a man to stand up and say, ments brought by Christ to enforce it. This This and this I tell you as the mind and word I shall make appear two ways.
of God; and to prove that it is so, I will do 1. By shewing, that the arguments spoken that before your eyes, that you yourselves shall of were in themselves convincing and suffi- confess can be done by nothing but the cient.
almighty power of that God that can veither 2. By shewing, that upon supposition they deceive nor be deceived. Now if this be an
irrefragable way to convince, as the reason of that want of evidence could not be the cause all mankind must confess it to be, then Christ's that the Jews rejected and disbelieved the doctrine came attended and enforced with gospel, since they embraced and believed the the greatest means of conviction imaginable. law, upon the credit of those miracles that Thus much for the argument in thesi; and were less evident. For those of Christ they then for the assumption that Christ did such knew by sight and sense, those of Moses only miraculous and supernatural works to confirm by tradition ; which, though equally certain, what he said, we need only repeat the mes yet were by no means equally evident with sage sent by him to John the Baptist; “ that the other. the dumb spake, the blind saw, the lame (2.) They believed and assented to things walked, and the dead were raised.” Which that were neither evident nor certain, but particulars none of his bitterest enemies ever only probable; for they conversed, they traded, pretended to deny, they being conveyed to they merchandised, and, by so doing, frethem by an evidence past all exception, even quently ventured their whole estates and the evidence of sense; nay, of the quickest, fortunes upon a probable belief or persuasion the surest, and most authentic of all the of the honesty and truth of those whom they senses, the sight: which, if it be not certain in dealt and corresponded with. And interest, the reports and representations it makes of especially in worldly matters, and yet more things to the mind, there neither is, nor can especially with a Jew, never proceeds but be naturally, any such thing as certainty or upon supposal, at least, of a firm and sufficient knowledge in the world. And thus much for bottom: from whence is manifest, that since the first part of the second general thing pro- they could believe and practically rely upon, posed, namely, That the arguments brought and that even in their dearest concerns, bare by Christ for the proof of his doctrine, were probabilities; they could not, with any colour in themselves convincing and sufficient. of reason, pretend want of evidence for their
I come now to the other part of it, which disbelief of Christ's doctrine, which came is to shew, That admitting or supposing that enforced with arguments far surpassing all they were not sufficient, yet their insufficiency such probabilites. was not the cause of their actual rejection. (3.) They believed and assented to things Which will appear from these following neither evident nor certain, nor yet so much
as probable, but actually false and fallacious. (1.) Because those who rejected Christ's Such as were the absurd doctrines and stories doctrine, and the arguments by which he of their rabbins : which, though since Christ's confirmed it, fully believed and assented to time they have grown much more numerous other things conveyed to them with less and fabulous than before, yet even then did evidence. Such as were even the miracles of so much pester the church, and so grossly Moses himself, upon the credit and authority abuse and delude the minds of that people, of which stood the whole economy of the that contradictions themselves asserted by Jewish constitution. For though I grant rabbis were equally received and revered by that they believed his miracles upon the credit them as the sacred and infallible word of of constant unerring tradition, both written God. And whereas they rejected Christ and and unwritten, and grant also that such tradi. his doctrine, though every tittle of it came tion was of as great certainty as the reports of enforced with miracle, and the best arguments sense ; yet still I affirm, that it was not of that heaven and earth could back it with; the same evidence, which yet is the greatest yet Christ then foretold, and afterwards conand most immediate ground of all assent. firmed, that prediction of his in John, v. 43,
The evidence of sense (as I have noted) is that they should receive many cheats and the clearest that naturally the mind of man deceivers coming to them in their own pame: can receive, and is, indeed, the foundation fellows that set up for Messiahs, only upon both of all the evidence and certainty too, their own heads, without pretending to any that tradition is capable of; which pretends thing singular or miraculous, but impudence to no other credibility from the testimony and and imposture. word of some men, but because their word From all which it follows, that the Jews is at length traced up to, and originally ter could not allege so much as a pretence of the minates in, the sense and experience of some want of evidence in the argument brought by others, which could not be kuown beyond that Christ to prove the divinity and authority of compass of time in which it was exercised, his doctrine, as a reason of their rejection and but by being told and reported to such, as, disbelief of it; since they embraced and not living at that time, saw it not, and by believed many things, for some of which they them to others, and so down from one age to had no evidence, and for others of which they another. For we therefore believe the report had no certainty, and for most of which they of some men concerning a thing, because it had not so much as probability. Which implies that there were some others who being so, from whence then could such an actually saw that thing. It is clear, therefore, obstinate infidelity, in matters of so great
clearness and credibility, take its rise? Why, of them; but perpetually to carry away and this will be made out to us in the
apply my mind to other things. Thus far is Third thing proposed, which was to shiew, the understanding at the disposal of the What was the true and proper cause into will. which this unbelief of the Pharisees was Now, these two considerations being preresolved. And that was, in a word, the cap- mised, namely, that persons grown up in the tivity of their wills and affections to lusts belief of any religion cannot change that for directly opposite to the design and spirit of another, without applying their understanding Christianity. They were extremely ambitious duly to consider and compare both; and then, aud insatiably covetous, and therefore no im- that it is in the power of the will, whether it pression from argument or miracle could reach will suffer the understanding thus to dwell them ; but they stood proof against all couvic upon such objects or no. From these two, I tion. Now, to shew how the pravity of the say, we have the true philosophy and reason will could influence the understanding to a of the Pharisees' unbelief; for they could not disbelief of Christianity, I shall premise these relinquish their Judaism, and embrace Christwo considerations,
tianity, without considering, weighing, and 1. That the understanding, in its assent to collating both religions. And this their any religion, is very differently wrought upon understanding could
not apply to, if it were in persons bred up in it, and in persons at diverted and took off by their will; and their length converted to it. For in the first, it will would be sure to divert and take it off, fiuds the mind naked, and unprepossessed with being wholly possessed and governed by their any former notions, and so easily and insen covetousness and ambition, which perfectly sibly gains upon the assent, grows up with it, abhorred the precepts of such a doctrine. and incorporates into it. But in persons And this is the very account that our Saviour adult, andalready possessed with other notions himself gives of this matter in John, v. 44, of religion, the understanding cannot be “How can ye believe,” says he," who receive brought to quit these, and to change them for honour one of another ?" He looked upon it new, but by great consideration and examina as a thing morally impossible, for persons tion of the truth and firmness of the one, and infinitely proud and ambitious, to frame their comparing them with the flaws and weakness minds to an impartial unbiassed consideraof the other. Which cannot be done without tion of a religion that taught nothing but some labour and intension of the mind, and self-denial and the cross; that humility was the thoughts dwelling a considerable time honour, and that the higher men climbed, upon the survey and discussion of each parti- the farther they were from heaven. They cular.
could not with patience so much as think of 2. The other thing to be considered is, it, and therefore, you may be sure, would that in this great work, the understanding never assent to it. And again, when Christ is chiefly at the disposal of the will. For discoursed to them of alms, and a pious disthough it is not in the power of the will, tribution of the goods and riches of this directly either to cause or hinder the assent world, in Luke xvi. it is said in the 14th of the understanding to a thing proposed and verse, “ that the Pharisees, who were coveduly set before it; yet it is antecedently in tous, heard all those things, and derided him." the power of the will, to apply the under- Charity and liberality is a paradox to the standing faculty to, or to take it off from, the covetous. The doctrine that teaches alms, consideration of those objects, to which, with and the persons that need them, are by such out such a previous consideration, it cannot equally sent packing. Tell a miser of bounty yield its assent. For all assent presupposes to a friend, or mercy to the poor, and point a simple apprehension or knowledge of the him out his duty with an evidence as bright terms of the proposition to be assented to. and piercing as the light, yet he will not But unless the understanding employ and understand it, but shuts his eyes as close as exercise its cognitive or apprehensive power he does his hands, and resolves not to be conabout these terms, there can be no actual vinced. In both these cases, there is an apprehension of them, And the understand incurable blindness caused by a resolution ing, as to the exercise of this power, is sub not to see; and to all intents and purposes, ject to the command of the will, though, as to he who will not open his eyes, is for the prethe specific nature of its acts, it is determined sent as blind as he that cannot. And thus I by the object. As for instance, my under have done with the third thing proposed, and standing cannot assent to this proposition, shewn what was the true cause of the PhariThat Jesus Christ is the Son of God; but it sees' disbelief of Christ's doctrine : it was the must first consider, and so apprehend, what predominance of those two great vices over the terms and parts of it are, and what they their will, their covetousness and ambition. signify. And this cannot be done, if my Pass we now to the will be so slothful, worldly, or voluptuously Fourth and last, which is to shew, That a disposed, as never to suffer me at all to think pious and well-disposed mind, attended with