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SERM. truth; sealing by his blood that heavenly doctrine which
XXVII. he taught, and witnessing before Pontius Pilate a good
1 Tim. vi. confession: he was the Prince of martyrs; who, as he for
*•• ... this end, as he told Pilate, was born, and for this end came
37. into the world, that he might bear witness to the truth, so
he especially did accomplish that glorious design by his
Heb. xii. death; enduring the contradiction of sinners against him
3,4 self> refifl^nS Mn'° I'lood in combating against Jin; by his
Rev. xii. 11. blood indeed all other witnesses of truth did, as it is said
in the Revelation, accomplish their warfare, and obtain
victory: his blood purchased for them their resolution
and strength; his promises supported them, his example
did animate them, to the profession and maintenance of
truth, in the greatest dangers and most violent assaults.
Such ends did the death of our Lord regard, such fruits did grow from it, which the time permitteth us but thus cursorily to touch.
5. Now for the practical influences the consideration of this point should have upon us, they are many and great; but we now can only name, or insinuate them.
1. It should beget in us highest degrees of love and gratitude toward God and toward our Saviour, in regard to this highest expression of love and instance of beneficence toward us. Greater love God could not have shewed, than in thus deftinating and offering up his only dearest Son to death (a most painful and shameful death) for our sake; John xv.13. and, Greater love, he told us himself, than this hath no man, than that one should lay down his life for his friends; no man hath greater, except himself, who even laid his life down for his enemies and persecutors: and love so incomparably, so extremely great, doth surely require correspondent degrees of love and thankfulness.
a. It sliould raise in us great faith and hope in God, excluding all distrust and despair, that God will not bestow upon us whatever is needfully or conveniently good Rom. v. 10. for us; for, He, as St. Paul argueth, who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 3. Particularly, it should comfort us, and satisfy our conscience in regard to the guilt of our fins, however con- SERM. tracted, supposing that we do heartily repent of them; XXVII. for that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ, Rom viii Jesus, who walk not after the ftejh, hut after the Spirit ;i-v. 1. and, that being justified by faith, we have peace ivith God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by virtue of his death we sincerely repenting are freed from all condemnation, we truly believing have a firm and sure peace with God: Who Jhall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?Rom. viii. Who is he that condemneth, seeing it is Christ that hath84, died? We are very blameably incredulous, if, having such an assurance from God, and such an engagement upon him, we distrust his mercy.
4. It discovereth unto us the heinousness of our fins, and thence should breed in us a vehement detestation, together with a great dread of them; a detestation of them, as having provoked God to such a pitch of displeasure, causing him to deal thus severely with his own beloved Son; as having brought so heavy suffering upon a Person so infinitely high in dignity, excellent in worth, kind and gracious to us; a dread of them, as exposing us, if we do not avoid and forsake them, to the most grievous pains
and miseries; for, if these things were done to a green tree, Luke xxiii. (if such punishments were inflicted upon one so innocent,ai" so worthy, so little obnoxious to the fire of divine wrath and vengeance,) what shall he done to the dry? that is, what will become of us, who are so guilty, so combustible by that sire, if we by presumptuous commission of fin, and impenitent continuance therein, do incense God against us?
5. It should work in us a kindly contrition and remorse for our fins, which were indeed the murderers of so good a friend and loving a Saviour: others were but instruments; they were the principal authors of his death; they most truly betrayed him, they accused him, they condemned him, they lifted him up to the accursed. tree; they moved God, and enabled men to innict this horrible punishment on him.
6. It should deter us from them, and engage us most
SERM. carefully to avoid them, as those which in a sort do exact XXVII. another death from him; crucifying him asrejh, as the Heb. vi. 9. Apostle to the Hebrews telleth us, vilifying and defiling *■■ »9. the precious blood of the covenant, (as he likewise teacheth.)
7 It stiould engage us to a patient submission and resignation of ourselves to the will and providence of God; forasmuch as Christ hath suffered for us in tlie flesh, we should, as St. Peter advifeth, arm ourselves likewise with the fame mind: and, Let, exhorteth St. Paul, the fame mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus; who being in the form of God humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross: we should not disdain, nor upon any account be displeased or unwilling in bearing any cross or affliction, to follow the pattern of our Heb. xii. 1. great Master; looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.
8. It doth also oblige us to the deepest mortification in Phil. iii. so. conformity to his death: we should be with him (or after ti*9o.' 24 *"m) crucified to the lusts and affections of the flesli, to i Pet. iv. a. the fashions, glories, desires, and delights of the world; s ''"' ' knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him; that Rom. vi. i, the body of fin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should
not serve fin,
9. It is also a strong engagement to the fullest measure 1 John iv. of charity toward our brethren; for, If, faith St. John, 11. iii. Is. Q0dfo loved us, (as to give his own Son to die for us,)
then ought we to love one another, in a degree answerable to such an obligation and pattern: If, addeth the same - Apostle, he laid down his life for us, then ought we also to lay down our lives for the brethren.
jo. In fine, we hence appear obliged to yield up ourselves wholly to the service of our Saviour; to the promoting of hjs interest and glory: since we, as St. Paul
1 Cor. vi. admonistieth us, are not our own, being bought with a 90. vii. 23. price. and must therefore glorify God in our body, and in
our spirit, which are God's, by a purchase so dear and
2 Corv*15, precious; since, as that Apostle again mindeth us, Christ died for all, that they which live might not live to them- SERM. selves, but to him that died for them; this being, let us not XXVII. wrong the Lord who bought us, by withholding his due, a Pet. ii. 1. the price of his dearest blood; let us not abuse him, by defeating his purpose, no less advantageous to ourselves, than honourable to him; but as by being our Saviour he hath deserved to be our Lord, so in effect let him ever be; let us ever believe him so in our heart, confess him with our mouth, and avow him in our practice; which that we may do, God of his infinite mercy, by his holy grace, vouchsafe unto us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Now, Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our Rev. i. s. Jins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priefls unto God and his Father: to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, Rev. v. is.
and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and
glory, and blessing. Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him Rev. v. is.
thaljltleth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever
and ever. Amen.
Acts ii. 27.
Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.
SERM. DT. PETER in his sermon to the Jews cites these word* XXVIII. 0f the psalmist to prove the resurrection of Christ. And because upon these words our Saviour's descent into hell seems to be grounded, I shall from this text take occasion to discourse of this article of the Creed, KaTsxSo'ira gJj <2S», He descended into hell.
This article is of later standing in the Creed, and doth not appear to have had place in any of the most ancient ones public or private; excepting that of Aquileia; into which also perhaps it might have been inserted not long before Ruffinus's time; and the meaning thereof hath always (both in more ancient times among the Fathers, and afterwards among the Schoolmen, and lately among modern divines) been much debated, having yielded occasion to many prolix and elaborate discourses: to recite the several opinions about it, or different explications thereof, with the reasons produced to maintain or disprove them, were a matter of greater time and pains than I can well afford; and to decide the controversies about it, a matter of greater difficulty than I could hope to achieve. Wherefore (both upon these accounts, and because 1 rather choose to insist upon matters more clear in their nature,