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Serm. his Resurrection; The Son of man Jhall v^ be three days and three nights in the heart
L/*SJ of the earth.
There is in these words one Difficulty; how our Lord is here said to have been three days and three nights in the heart of the Earth, when in the History of all the Gospels it appears, that having been buried the first day in the evenings and rising again the third day in the morning, he consequently remained in the Sepulchre but two whole nights, and one whole day. Now in order to understand this rightly, 'tis to be observed that the yews in Their language, as We also frequently do in Ours, by the word (day) mean the Space of twenty four hours. And in all languages Nothing is more common, than for the Name of the Whole to be made use of to express a Part, Whatever therefore is begun on the first day, and finistoed on the thirds may in ulual and vulgar Speech (which is always the language the Scripture speaks in) be rightly laid to be three days in doing. But This may perhaps seem a matter of smaller importance; Though, indeed, it
at first fight may appear not to agree to-
. This was necessary for the fulfilling of the
Prophecies that went before concerning him, (which is the reason alleged in the Text;) 'twas moreover necessary in the nature of the thing itself, that he should
therein contained, may be reduced to a the following Heads.
S E R M. and sufficiently evidenced by thq
VI- standing and universal Signs or
^^^ Marks of Truth. 'Tis supposed in
the words, that, what our Saviour
here calls the Sign of the Prophet
Jonas, was sufficient to render That
generation of the Jews inexcusable
in their Unbelief.
zdly, Here is a description given of wicked men, in one particular and remarkable part of their character; that they are apt continually to require more and more Signs, and to tempt God without reason and without end. An evil and adulterous generation seeketh aster a Sign.
"$dly, The declaration our Saviour here makes, plainly implies, that there are just and good reasons, why God should not gratify the unreasonable expectations of prejudiced and corrupt Minds. 'There jhall no Sign be given to it, but the Sign of the Prophet Jonas.
iji, The Doctrine of religion is in it- S E R M. self reasonable to be believed, and suffici- ^1. ently evidenced by the standing and universal Signs or Marks of Truth: 'Tis supposed in the words, that what our Saviour here calls the Sign of the Prophet sonas, was sufficient to render That generation of the sews inexcusable in their Unbelief.
Religion is in its Nature a Trial or Probation of men's Hearts; and is therefore essentially inconsistent with all compulsive Motives, with such Motives as destroy the nature of a Trial or Probation. Deut. viii. 2, The Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the Wilderness,——to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldejl keep his commandments or no. The Meaning is, not that God wants any information with regard to Himself: But he puts men in a probation-state, in order to their Own Benefit; that by virtuous Actions they may obtain an habitual Love of Virtue; and by labouring in the rational Search afte,r 'truth, and persevering patiently in the I 3 Practice
S E R M. PraBice of Right, they may be purified **. and made white and tried, Dan. xii. 10:
^S*^ For, as the Apostle St James expresses it, the 'Trying of our Faith worketb Patience, ch. i. 3. God could, if he pleased, even out oj the stones of the Street, raise up children unto Abraham; or irresistibly compel the most obdurate Sinner to obey his Commandments. But This, is not dealing with Them as rational Agents; nor could such an Obedience be any more acceptable to Him, than the absolute Subjection of the material World to his Omnipotent Will, gives irrational Beings any Title to the Esteem and Character of Moral Goodness or Virtue. Were God by his Almighty Power to overrule and prevent all Possibility of Disobedience or Moral Evil, as some men fancy it would be glorious for him to do; it would indeed have the contrary effect, and deprive him of the Glory of all his Moral Attributes. For tho' he would still continue to be a Mighty Creator and All-Powerful Lord, yet he could in no sense be a Moral Governour Ot Judge of the World,