« AnteriorContinuar »
nor have Any Exercise of his Moral Per- Serm. sections. All Religion or Virtue, confists in the Love of Truth, and in the Free Choice and Practice of Right, and in being influenced regularly by rational and moral Motives. By These things therefore God tries or proves men's Obedience; and under various Circumstances, and by various Methods of manifesting himself to them, he exercises their Faith and Patience and Virtue. By induing men originally with Reason and Understanding, with a natural Knowledge of Good and Evil, and a Conscience of the difference between Virtue and Vice; By the Witness that God bears to himself in the Works of Nature, and by the various Dispensations of his All-wise Providence j in which Visible EffeSls, the Power and Government of the Invijible God are clearly and continually seen, so that they, who attend not to them, are without excuse: By these things, does God perpetually call men to religion; and hold out unto them an universal Light, in all Places and at all Times. And had men no other Discovery
S E R M. of the Will of God, than This; yet their choosing to depart from the natural Law of everlasting Righteousness, would justly denominate them an evil and adulterous generation of Mankind. But bejides this Voice of Nature in the visible works of God, and in the mind and conscience of every particular person; the divine Providence has moreover, in compassion to the ignorance of the Weak, and for a Tejlimony against the perverse and corrupt, in almost every Age of the World, raised up Eminent Preachers of Righteousness', such as was 'Enoch before, and Noah at the time of the Flood, and Job and the Patriarchs after it; to excite and call men to the practice of their Duty. And to the Nation of the sews, he gave a standing Revelation of his Will; inviting them continually to Repentance by his Melfengers the Prophets, and at last by his Son fefus Christ, their promised and long expected Messiah: Manifesting his manifold Wisdom, at sundry times and in diverse planners of Revelation; as he had before done in the various distribution of the Natural tural 'Talents of men's rational Facul- Serm. ties, Capacities, and Abilities; intending ^1. finally to judge All his Servants, according to what every one in particular has, and not according to what he has not: And in each of these various Dispensations, giving such degrees of evidence and testimony to the Truth, as might be a proper Tryal of good and well-disposed Minds, neither credulous beyond reason, nor prejudiced against reason, but prepared always to receive the Truth, and to obey it. Thus, to That generation of the Jews who lived in our Saviour's time, the proper and sufficient evidence of our Lord's being the promised Messias, to all such as impartially searched the Scriptures, was the fulfilling of the Prophecies that went before concerning him, and particularly That most miraculous One of his Resurrection from the Dead. Which was a Sign not possible to be resisted by Any, but by a very corrupt and adulterous generation; by a generation of such men, of such perverse andu incorrigible Sinners, the description of whom, (which was the
Serm. zd Particular I observed in the text,) V- the description of them, in one remarka
t"^*^* ble part of their character, is, 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 after a SignThe wickedest of men cannot bear the Thoughts of fighting openly against God j and therefore, to give some degree of Ease to their Minds, they generally take great pains to impose upon themselves, with some flight objections either against the Being of God, or against the evidence of bis Laws and Commands, The Jews, fays St Paul, require a Sign, and the Gentiles seek after Wisdom, i Cor. i. 22. The humour of the Gentile World, was to value themselves upon their Logick and Philosophy, and therefore the corrupt part of 'Them could always reject any religious Truth, by drawing objections against it from the received Maxims of their Schools, The Jewijh nation valued themselves upon the miraculous things, which God had done for their Fathers; and therefore
the corrupt part of Them, could always S E R M.
reject any religious Truth, by continually
requiring more and greater Miracles to be 'worked in confirmation of it. Of This, the behaviour of That people in the Wilderness is a remarkable and very marvellous Instance. By a continued series of Miracles, God had rescued them from Egyptian Slavery and Idolatry, and was guiding them in the wilderness like a Flock, to the possession of the good land which he had promised to their Fathers. Marvellous things (as the Psalmist represents this matter in a most elegant and affectionate description, Pf Ixxviii. 13,) Marvellous things did he in thesght of our forefathers, in the land of Egypt, even in the field of Zoan. He divided the Sea, and let them go through; he ??iade the waters tojland on a heap. In the day-time also he led them with a cloud; and all the night through, with a light of fire. He clave the hard rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink thereof, as it had been out of the great depth. He brought waters out of the stony rock, so that it gushed out