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SERMON VI.

The Doctrines of Religion reasonable to be believed.

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Matt. xii. 39, 40. An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a Sign, and there Jhall no Sign be given to it, but the Sign of the prophet Jonas. For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whales belly; so Jhall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the Heart of the Earth.

HEN our Saviour first preach- Sum, ed to the Jews the Gospel of VI. the Kingdom, he proved to (-/"V"NJ them his divine Commission and the Truth of his Doctrine, not only

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Serm. from the Prophecies of the Old TestaVI. ment, from the things written in the Law,

l^V^ and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning him; but also by the mighty Works which he himself performed, as direct and immediate Evidences of his being the Promised Messiah. The Doctrine he taught, being a Doctrine of Purity and Great Holiness, absolutely requiring a reformation of Manners, and such an effectual Amendment of Life, as must show forth itself in the real and habitual Practice of true Virtue and Righteousness; This DoSlrine was therefore extremely disagreeable to the Pharisees and Chief men among the Jews, ytho were persons of a haughty and tyrannical Spirit, covetous and ambitious, and, in order to serve the Purposes of temporal Power and spiritual Pride, infinitely zealous of all the external Forms and Ceremonials of Religion. For This reason, they hated, above all things, the Spirit with which our Saviour taught; the Spirit of Meekness and Humility, the Spirit of Goodness and Equity, the

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Spirit of Love and universal Charity. S E R M. And accordingly they set themselves, up- VI. on all occasions, to revile his Doctrine ,-^V°>J and calumniate his person. In which matter, it was no great difficulty for them to meet with Success; because the prejudiced Vulgar, who could very hardly distinguish between the Traditions of their Elders and the Commands of God, must needs be prone to look upon our Lord as an Enemy to the One, because he preached against the Other. But the Miracles which our Saviour worked, were harder to withstand: For the people could not easily be perswaded, that God would give a Deceiver Power to perform as mighty Works, as those by which the Law of Moses had itself been at first established. Here therefore the malice of the Pharisees, was to exert itself in a more extraordinary manner. And when they could not deny the miraculous Fails themselves, they pretended that the Power which worked them was the Power of Satan: Ver. 24th of this chapter, They said, he doth not cast out Devils, but by

Beelzebub

Serm. Beelzebub the Prince of the Devils. And *'. whensoever he taught, "without working some immediate Miracle; then they presently called upon him again, to show them a Sign: Ver. 38, Then certain of the Scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a Sign from thee. Thus against wilful perverseness there is No remedy. If he spake to them with so much reason and goodness, as never man spake; still his Doctrine wanted to be confirmed by a Miracle. And if he confirmed what he taught, by undeniable Miracles; then the Power which worked them, was the Power of Satan. For This reason, to the Pharisees who called upon him to show them a Sign, he gave this severe Reply in the words of the Text; An evil and adulterous generation seeketb after a Sign, and there Jhall no Sign be given to it, but the Sign of the Prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whales belly, so Jhall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the Earth. The declaration here made by our Lord, is of the

fame nature with That in the Prophet S E R. M.

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ceive and bear a Son, and shall call his Name Immanuel. The jews in Isaiah's time, like the Pharisees in our Saviour's, after all the mighty works that God had

done for them, still continued impenitent :

And as often as they were called upon to repent, they presumptuously demanded more Signs. In way of Reproof for this Perverseness of theirs, and as a standing Declaration of God's having done, on His part, what was fit for Him to do; the Divine Wisdom, both in the days of Isaiah, and in the days of Christ, refers such persons to the settled and universal Evidence of Revelation; viz. the miraculous Fulfilling of the Antient Prophecies concerning the promised Mesias. The Sign referred to by Isaiah, is the Birth of Christ; Behold, a Wirgin shall conceive. That referred to by our Saviour in the Text, is

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VI.

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