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part, of institutions and ceremonies practised among Christians, as the whole frame of government in their churches, seem to have been drawn from, or according to, the pattern of God's ancient Church, (Christianity not affecting novelty or difference from that, but so far as consisted with its main design of reforming men's minds, and promoting the spiritual service of God, and suited with reason or expediency, endeavouring conformity to it, and resemblance thereof;) so it seems our Saviour, in this particular, did but accommodate and vest in the governors of his Church a power used in that of the Jews; for we shall find this power in its several parts not only represented in type, but expressed in direct and real practice. We see that the Jewish Church was opened to proselytes by circumcision, by washing, by expiatory sacrifices; that unclean and Levit. xiii, leprous persons were excluded from the camp and con-JJ*'mb ?>4 gregation, prohibited contest and conversation, that they might not annoy or infect those which were pure and sound; that upon their recovery and purification they were restored to society and conversation; that that Church was wholly (hut upon enormous offenders, (such who could not be kept in order, who presumptuoufly neglected some great duty, or violated some great commandment, who disgraced the religion by scandalous practice, or disturbed the peace by contumacious carriage, refusing to hear the judge and the priest;) that, 1 fay, such persons were quite shut out by total extermination and excision. We find also several degrees of ecclesiastical censure (answerable to the Vid. Ez. x. degrees of offence) practised among them, alluded to inLUketj.M. the New Testament; separating from communion and con-J°hn x<-»a« verse, exclusion from the synagogue, anathematizing or Gal. i. a, <>, imprecating, and devoting to God's judgment: the prac-*0, tice of which things being grounded in reason, and suitable to the state of the Christian Church, (as well as to that of the Jews,) and conducible to the welfare thereof, it is no wonder a power of doing the like was granted unto the Christian Church, and exercised by the superintendency thereof. But these things I cannot stand to pursue minutely and distinctly.
I should, lastly, consider the necessity and usefulness of this power; how necessary and conducible it is to promote the ends of Christian religion; to preserve the honour of the Church and of its governors; to secure the members thereof from contagion of bad manners and influences of bad example; to maintain good order and peace; to restrain from offending, and reform them that shall offend; and to the like purposes. But I shall leave this point to your farther consideration.
Cgc J^orgibencsit of &tii0 •, rfje ftesurrmion of t^e )15oop •, rijc lLifc ebcjlnffing,
THAT it is the natural condition of mankind to lie under a violent proclivity (or rather an unavoidable necessity) of frequently transgressing the plainest dictates of reason, the surest rules of equity, however fortified by the authority of God himself, commanding and requiring duty, promising reward, and threatening punishment, continual experience shews; that hereby men do not only much disgrace and abuse themselves, (doing against the Dcunixii.dignity of their nature and their own particular welfare,) but highly injure, dishonour, and ill requite God, (their Maker, their natural Lord, their Benefactor, from whom they have received their being, under whose power they wholly are, to whom they owe all their good, and consequently to whom all obedience, respect, and gratitude is due from them,) is also manifest; their own consciences will tell them so much; their own reason will therefore condemn them: that hereby they are involved in a state »**««. of guilt and debt, become obnoxious to the just wrath Rom. v. i9-and vengeance of God, beyond all possibility of making (by themselves) any reparation or satisfaction; (for they are more apt to incur new, than able to make amends for old, blame; to accumulate more than to discharge foregoing debts;) that hence they must fall into a condition of restless fear and inextricable perplexity of mind, dreading the effects of divine justice and vengeance sometime to come upon them; that there cannot in reality be any
other relief or deliverance from this distress than from the benignity of God disposing him to bear patiently, to forgive mercifully these offences; not in their apprehension any such relief, (any freedom from such discomfort and anxiety,) than from a plain signification of God's being so graciously disposed, is also clear from the fame light. Now of such a disposition in God (to be appeased and to pardon Tcftimonioffences) we find a general presumption among those who JJJJwaJtw have had any knowledge or opinion concerning God, Chriftianæ. (drawn, I suppose, partly from primitive tradition, partly from experience of God's forbearance to punish and continuance to bestow the common benefits of Providence upon offenders, partly from an opinion that bounty and clemency are perfections and excellences worthy of God; or, lastly, from a natural inclination in men (necessary to that quiet and comfort of their minds) to flatter themselves with pleasing hopes;) we find, I fay, such a general presumption concerning God's disposition to be reconcileable and merciful to offenders, especially upon their acknowledgment of guilt and need of favour, together with a declaration of their willingness to make him such amends as they are able to do: such a presumption to have been, that universal custom of presenting sacrifices and obligations to God doth sufficiently (hew; which implied in them who presented them a confession of guilt to be expiated, of punishment to be deserved, (such as was represented in the destruction of a living creature,) as also a desire of making satisfaction, (intimated by their cheerful parting with somewhat dear and valuable to them;) upon which considerations of humble acknowledgment, of willingness to satisfy in a manner so signal and solemn, declared they did hope God's wrath would be appeased, and his judgments averted from them. Such, it seems, was the common presumption of mankind; which yet could not satisfy or quiet the minds of them who should consider, that as such performances could not really take away guilt, nor sufficiently repair those inestimable wrongs and affronts put upon God, so God had never plainly declared his intention to consider or accept them; so that in effect
their opinion was somewhat unreasonable, and their hope groundless. This observation I propound, as yielding a good argument (the general consent of mankind) to prove that the doctrine (concerning remission of sins obtainable from God) is a fundamental point and a principal part of all religion, and that yet (as to any solid and certain ground of believing or hoping it) it is peculiar to Christian religion, God never before the revelation (evangelical) having clearly and fully signified that he would pardon offences (at least all of them, heinous and presumptuous offences) committed against him. What God would Rom. u. have done he had taught partly by a natural law and light implanted in every man's foul, partly by express pronral: gation made to the Patriarchs of old, and derived to posterity from them by tradition; how men in respect thereto behaved themselves, their conscience (accusing or ex'cvfinz them) could testify; but how, in case of transgressing-those Gal. iii. dictates and laws, he would deal with them, he never Numb. xv. plainly had discovered. Indeed the Jewish dispensation »7>4c* (which was particular and preparatory to Christianity) <Ed appoint and accept expiations for some lesier faults committed out of ignorance and infirmity; but did not preActsiiii.as. tend to justify from all things, (as St. Paul in the Acts speaks,) nor promise or give hope of pardon upon any terms for great presumptuous fins committed wilfully with a high hand; it rather threatens an indelible continuance of guilt upon an extreme and inevitable vengeance against Numb. xv. the perpetrators of them; The soul, faith the Law, that 30,3U doth presumptuously, the same reproachelh the Lord; mi that soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that foul shall utterly be cut off, (by God's special providence;) his iniquity shall be upon him. And we know how solemn and dreadful imprecations were pronounced against not only the transgressors of some parDeut.xxvii. ticular laws, but generally against all those who did not Gal.iii. \a.continue in all things written in the Law to do them: so that th« remission tendered by Moses was of a very narrow extent, and such as could hardly exempt any man
from obligation to and fear of punishment. Indeed, to prevent utter despair, and that which is naturally consequent thereupon, a total neglect of duty, God was pleased by his Prophets among that people occasionally to intimate something of farther grace reserved; and that he was willing (upon condition of humble and sincere repentance) to receive even those, who were guilty of the highest offences, to mercy. But these discoveries, as they were special and extraordinary, so were they farther preparatory to the Gospel, and as dawnings to that bright Luke i. 77, day of grace, which did by Christ spread its comfortable Jcor.^.,, light over the world, revealing to mankind a general capacity of God's favour, (procured in a manner admirable and strange,) obtainable by means declared, upon terms propounded therein.
Thereby is fully and clearly manifested to us how God, in free mercy and pity to us, (all our works being unworthy of any acceptance, all our sacrifices unfit in the least part to satisfy for our offences,) was pleased himself to provide an obedience worthy of his acceptance, and thoroughly well-pleasing to him, (imputable to us as performed by one of our kind and race, and apt to appease God's just wrath against such a generation of rebels;) to provide a sacrifice in nature so pure, in value so precious, as might be perfectly satisfactory for our offences: in regard to which obedience God is become reconciled, and opens his arms of grace to mankind; in respect to which sacrifice he tenders remission to all men that upon his terms (most equal and easy terms) are willing to embrace it. This is the great doctrine, so peculiar to the Gospel, Vid.tukei. from whence especially it hath its name, from whence it77' is styled the Gospel of grace; this is the good tidings O/aos Xx. 2<« great joy to all people, which the angel first preached at Luke ii. 10. our Saviour's birth, which the Apostles were ordained to Luke xxiy. preach and testify unto all nations, as the main point of47' 48# Christian religion, (that in our Saviour's name repentance _i mid remission of fins should be preached unto all nations;) that God had exalted him to his right hand as a Prince Act* ». 31. and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel, and remission