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Christian religion, partly whereof it doth consist, and that Greek article before doctrine here; but that is so little an are peculiar and appropriate to it; and partly, such as it objection, if we consider how many greater ellipses there doth suppose, such as it doth necessarily pre-suppose, that are, that are frequent in Scripture, that it seems too light may be common with it, either to the Jewish religion while to be put into the balance against the weighty reason that it was to stand, and that still (as being common to that re- is to be given for the other reading. ligion with Christianity) are to stand; as whatsoever is But it may be said then, What! are there but four common with the Jewish religion, with Christianity must principles, as such, which have reference to the whole bube perpetual ; or which is common with natural religion, siness of Christianity, which the apostle's discourse here which we must understand in nature to be before Jewish must have final and determinate reference unto ? “Reor Christian. And even in time too, as to positive instruc-pentance from dead works, faith towards God, the resurtions, that which was natural did precede the other. rection of the dead, and eternal judgment;" are there no
That therefore which I intend to ground upon this pas- more than these? sage, you may take briefly thus—That there are princi Yes, undoubtedly there are, but it was none of the apos. ples of religion that need to be taught. And in pursu tle's design to give an enumeration of those principles, ance of this I shall here,
but to give an instance of such as he did not now intend I. Say somewhat more generally of these principles. to insist upon, but to waive and pass by. He only tells us II. Show the necessity of their being taught.
this was not his principal business and design to deliver III. Speak something of the way of teaching them: and such principles, and he tells at the same time, what he
thought fit to waive, while his discourse is moving forward IV. Make application.
to the information he would give them concerning the I. Of these principles themselves: I shall show there Melchisidekian priesthood of Christ; to which (after are such-and what they are--and of what kind.
some warm discourse in the greater part of the 5th chap1. That there are such, is a thing without all doubt. ter) he comes in the close of that, and pursues in the seThere is nothing, no created thing, but hath its principles : venth chapter. principles of being there are belonging to it. Every com 3. But that I may show more distinctly what kind of plete substance that exists in the world, and is a created principles the apostle here hath reference to, take these one, must be supposed to have such principles, and hath | considerations: such generative and effective principles, and constructive (1.) It is plain that they must be meant of doctrinal principles: the principles from which it did proceed, and principles, principles of doctrine that are to be received the principles of which it doth exist. There are also prin into the mind and understanding. There are those that ciples of knowledge as well as being. There is no piece are doctrinal, and ihere are those that are practical prinof knowledge, no sort of science, but hath its principles, as ciples. It is true indeed, all principles of the Christian you all know. And therefore religion, Christian religion, religion are remotely practical, because the main end of theology, Christian theology, must have its principles too. Christianity is practice. But the difference between a docIt is a science, a practical one, and of most absolute and trinal principle and a practical, lies here, that supposing a universal necessity, and its principles must therefore be doctrinal principle to have reference to practice, to serve supposed of the most absolute and universal necessity too. towards it at a distance, yet a practical principle is that Every piece of knowledge is not every one's business; but from which action doth immediately proceed. As now, if this is every one's business, to know God, to know how he we speak to the very heads themselves that the apostle may be saved, how it may be well with him to eternity. speaks of, "repentance from dead works, and faitk owards
2. But what are these principles? It is my present bu-God," the doctrine concerning these makes one or of siness to tell you of what sort they are. What they are principle, and the habit another; the habit of faith, and the particularly, that we must do by degrees as we come to habit of repentance, that is a principle in the soul from them. Now you may judge of what sort they are by what which the acts of these immediately proceed. But the the apostle mentioneth in this context; and by the refer-more essential doctrine concerning both these, must make ence this passage, in the beginning of the 6th chapter, hath the doctrinal principle concerning them; as there may be to that we are upon, we must suppose him to be still doctrinal principles about the most practical things, and speaking of the first principles of the oracles of God. It those are the doctrinal principles, as such, that are here may be thought strange that he should mention here things intended, and which are to be the matter of teaching: which so small in their own nature as baptisms (not baptism but are to be taught, as the apostle speaks. It is very true that baptisms) and the laying on of hands, as if they were to the papists do very industriously make it their business to come into the number of the first principles; not of prin- overthrow that distinction of fundamental and extra-fundaciples only, but of the first principles.
mental doctrines; of those that are essential and those that To this I shall only say, I cannot think that was at all are extra-essential; such as are of absolute necessity, and meant by the apostle, that they should be so taken for any such as are not necessary, or not so necessary. And they of those principles. You are, to consider to whom the mightily insist and urge to have a catalogue particularly apostle writes this epistle, namely, to the Jews. These two of those which we would have to go under the notion of baptisms and the laying on of hands, were anciently and fundamentals: because they think they could cavil and (as we know) originally Jewish rites, transferred into the contend about any such catalogue that should be given, Christian church afterwards. And so the meaning of the and look upon it as impossible there should be any so unapostle is only this; "I will not stand to lay again the exceptionably given, that nothing should be said against foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith it, why this or that is taken in, or why such and such towards God, especially not to you who have been instruct things should be left out. Therefore they would conclude ed in these things all along so distinctly, they being nothing there ought to be no such distinction; which is the most else but the doctrine of baptisms, and the laying on of absurd thing that can be imagined ; for to take away the hands:" and then goes on to the other two; that baptisms distinction of fundamental and extra-fundamental is to and laying on of hands did continually instruct them (as suppose one of these two things. Either it must suppose usages that did obtain among themselves) as to repentance that there is nothing necessary in Christian religion, which from dead works and faith towards God, as it is here ex- is a very strange supposition that there should be any such pressed. And so these words are very fitly to be rendered | religion wherein nothing should be necessary; or it must by way of parenthetical opposition to those that do imme suppose all things equally necessary, all necessary alike: diately go before, that is, “not laying again the foundation and so that it were equally necessary that we know Salaof repentance from dead works and faith towards God, thiel to he the son of Neri, as to know that Jesus is the (being the doctrines of baptisms and laying on of hands, Son of God. But there needs no more to be said at preor the things which baptisms and the laying on of hands, sent to this, than that whatsoever is necessary in point of heretofore so frequently used among you, did signify,) or doctrine to the soul's acting of "repentance from dead the resurrection of the dead or of eternal judgment." So works, and faith towards God;" (for the two things that there are but four mentioned of the first principles of the follow are no matter of our exercise. The raising of the oracles of God. Against this way of reading this passage dead and the eternal judgment are no part of our duty; I meet but with one objection, and that is, the want of the but our duty is summed up in these two, repentance and
faith ;) whatsoever, I say, is necessary in point of doctrine, within the compass of nature to lead men to blessedness, to the soul's being exercised in one or other of these with if there be not great super-additions. And what we have the understanding and judgment of a reasonable creature, not by nature, how should we come by it, if we are not so much is necessary to make a doctrinal principle; what-taught it ? if we do not learn it? We read of great proever leads the soul into the exercise of repentance and faith, mises in Scripture of being taught of God. “Every one so much must be necessary under the head of doctrinal that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh unto principles concerning our duty. It is true we must know me," as it is in that, John vi. 45. quoted from the prophet ihe other things too as motives to it, but these are to have Isaiah, liv. 13. “Thy children shall be all taught of the the immediate influence upon things to be done. And I Lord.” And “It is written in the prophets, they shall be might more shortly say, whatever is necessary to bring the taught of God:” and then it followeth, “Every one that soul into union with God through Christ, all that know- hath heard and learned of the Father cometh unto me." ledge that is necessarily antecedent to this, so much comes And so we read Jeremiah xxxi. 34. as that which is forewithin the compass of what is fundamental in our religion; told to be the great blessing of a time then future, (and for and indeed nothing comes within that compass but what ought I see, yet future,) that there should be no saying, is one way or other reducible to this, that must not one “Know the Lord.” They should not need to teach one way or other have influence upon repentance and faith another, saying, “Know the Lord; for they shall all know And I add,
me from the least to the greatest ;" quoted by the aposue, (2.) That as concerning these, some may be more deeply Heb. viii. 11. But even such teaching is teaching still. fundamental than others are, even of those that are of equal He is the great Teacher; and who teacherh like him? necessity. That is, there are principles that in reference to But as to subordinate teaching or human teaching, there is things depending on them have that notion of principles, nothing in all these promises that can exclude it. And and are to be so considered, that yet may be consequential when it is said, “They shall all be taught of God," and to other things on which they do depend. As in the build- that they shall not need any to teach them, the meaning is, ing of a house (which is the metaphor the apostle, in this that there shall be a greater inclination in men's spirits to context, makes use of) there may be some parts that may learn. Not that they shall know it without teaching, but be both fundamental to what is upon them, and superstruci- that an aptitude to learn, shall be given them more ive in reference to what lies under them. And,
generally than had been given, and (so far as we can (3.) These principles may be partly of natural and partly observe) than is yet given. Men shall not need to be of supernatural revelation. Of natural, that there is a God. urged and pressed to know the Lord. No, there shall be Of supernatural, that Jesus is the Son of God. Though a greater promptitude in men's minds to learn, and to use, what is of natural revelation doth not comprehend what is and improve the means of knowing him, than had been of supernatural, yet all that is of supernatural takes in and before. But that there shall always, to the end of time, be includes all that is natural too. The same thing may be use of human teaching, our Lord's own words just before supernaturally revealed, and naturally; as the same con- his ascension plainly enough speak, Matt. xxviii. and the clusion may be both believed and known.' And again, close; “ I am with you to the end of the world.” In this
(4.) They are generally the plainest things that are to work it must be, "to assist you in this teaching through all go for such principles. God hath so graciously ordered it, successions of time to the very end of the world." But it that that which is most necessary should be most plain. there should be any such time or state of things on earth, Indeed some may object themselves here, the doctrine of wherein inen should no way at all need to be taught the the Trinity; but as concerning that, I hope, when we come knowledge of God, supervening and coming; that is not to it, it will appear that whai God hath said about that is yet come, we are sure we see no such time; and if any very plain; though what men have said and devised about such time should come, and we should see it, I verily beit, is obscure and intricate enough, even what they mean lieve there are none of those that now are intent upon the for the explication of it. And I only add this, for the pre- business of teaching, but would be glad in those times to sent, concerning these principles,
resign their office. And in the mean time nothing is (5.) They must be supposed to be but few. The first plainer than so it is, and indeed nothing is plainer than so principles, or the great principles of religion, do lie in a it will be to the end of the world; that there is and will very little compass : as that which goes amongst us in the be need and use of human subordinate teachers, to teach name of the apostles' creed (you know) is very short; and and instruct men in the principles, even the first principles (if antiquity deceive us not) was much shorter than it is. of faith in Christ. But, Though it is true that the variety of apprehensions and sen- III. I would say somewhat concerning the way of this timents, and the great dissensions and manifold errors, I teaching. And there be several ways about which we that have in after-times sprung up in the Christian church, might distinguish and speak to you in distinct beads; have occasioned the enlargements of creeds and multiply- there is private teaching and public teaching; and teaching of articles of faith; varying them this way or thai, toing from house to house, and teaching in public assemmeet with this or that wrong sentiment as they have been blies; there is teaching by continued discourse, and teachapprehended; yet the things that are in themselves neces-ing in a way of interlocution, by way of question and sary, must needs be but few. And if the Christian religion answer, that to which the name of catechising is now geneever return to itself, and be what at first it was, simple, rally appropriated, though indeed without ground from the pure, plain, unmixed, undoubtedly the sum and substance word itself, or the proper significancy of the word. And of it will be found to lie in very little compass. It hath this is indeed, in the account of many, a very formidable sadly degenerated in point of efficacy, and vigour, and and frightful work, the work of catechising. I do not power, as it bath been increased and augmented in point know why it should be so formidable a thing for one perof necessary doctrines; men rendering such doctrines son to converse with another, to put questions and reiurn necessary, or bestowing that notion upon them arbitrarily answers; for is not this the usual way of common converas they have thought fit. And indeed the state of Christian sation ? And why should it be more formidable lo us to religion hath never been flourishing since (as one very accu- converse thus about the things of God, than about other rately observes in the last age) it became res ingeniosa fore things that we count necessary, and about many things that Christianum; a thing of wit to be a Christian. So much at we cannot so much as count so? But there can be surely present for the kinds and sorts of !hese principles. But now, nothing more necessary than religion and the things that
II. For the necessity of their being taught; as to that, concern it. I am for my part very far from that imperious litile needs to be said.
and terrifying way of managing such a work as this, to ar1. That the things themselves are necessary is out of fright people and make them afraid of it. And indeed were question. If any religion be necessary, its principles must I engaged in such work, I should as leave they should catebe much so, especially if first principles. And more, chise me as I them, if questions could be so judiciously
2. This doth plainly infer therefore the necessity of their put as to draw forth' a full explication of the matier probeing taught; else how should we come by them? And posed. It would be all one to me, who were the questhough there is somewhat pre-supposed to our religion that tionist and who the answerer, supposing the question be Is natural, it is but pre-supposed as fundamental to all that aptly put so as to draw forth the explication most fully. was necessary to be superadded, for there is not enough I should like well it should be said, Pray how is such a thing understood, or what help may be given to un- , among them; and so such were to be humbled that way derstand that point more distinctly and more clearly and wrought upon. And there can be no such thing as
And some considerations I shall give you, at present, the continuance of Christianity in the world, on other terms about ibis way of teaching by familiar interlocution; and than that there must be two such orders. And I add, which indeed the exigency of the case doth require to be 4. That it is very apparent that our Saviour's way of in a public assembly, where many meet and are convened teaching when he was here on earth was very much in a together for that very purpose and upon that account. I way of interlocution, and that often in great public as would not insist upon the word, though it is a very signi- semblies, as it is obvious for yourselves to take notice in ficant word, that serves the purpose for which it is used evangelical history. And. well enough, but we find divers passages in Scripture 5. That Christians generally are under an express charge where this word is used that fully refers to that way of to be ready to give an account of the reason of their hope teaching. And,
and faith, to any one that shall ask it, with meekness and 1. Let that be considered, Gal, vi. 6. “Let him that fear; as in that, 1 Pet. iii. 15. And if they were to do it is taught in the word, communicate to him that teacheth." (as that direction hath more especial reference) even to The word there is catechised. Let him that is catechised enemies, to persecutors, and when it was to cost them their in the word communicate to him that catechiseth; this lives, much more to instructors and teachers, when they implies it to be a stated business, that there must be con- desire it only in order to their own help, and to the prin tinued catechising, and being catechised. The apostle, in moting and furtherance of knowledge among men. And, 1 Cor. xiv. 19. useth the same word when he tells us, "I 6. It is very plain that they who by office are to make it had rather speak five words with my understanding, that their work and business to instruct others, are obliged 10 by my voice I may teach others also, (the word is cate- use all the most apt and likely means that may be most chised, and he speaks of doing it in the church,) than ten protitable and most conducing to that end and purpose. thousand words in an unknown tongue."
How solemn a charge is that the apostle lays on Timoby! 2. That though another sort of word be used in that 2 Tim. iv. 1, 2. “I charge thee, therefore, before God and other language, when Abraham is so highly commended the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and ibe for instructing his household, (in Genesis xviii.) yet we dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word, are to consider what his household was, an household out be instant in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, of which he could draw forth (as we find upon occasion) exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine." With all docthree hundred fighting men. How vastly numerous must trine (as it is referred undoubtedly to both the things that that family be! And when they met together for the wor- go before and that follow the long-suffering) must in all ship of God, that must be a greater assembly than our's reason intend, not merely the matter of doctrine, but the usually are; and his instructing was so that they should manner also, for there may be matters of doctrine materially be all brought to know God and the principles of religion; to be considered, that are not so necessary to be so very which must be supposed and (as the thing speaks) must much inculcated and urged. But that same all-doctrine is mostly be when he had them together, though there might every way a teaching that is likely, or by which it may be be occasion for private instruction and admonition too. more probable, that good may be done; and if there be such
3. There ought certainly to be a very great deference given an obligation upon teachers, there is a correspondent oblito usages in the Christian church in the purer and primi- gation upon bearers, to attend thereto; yea, and that tive times of it, when Christianity was most of all itself; not only implied, but expressly required; "Obey them that and we find very ancient records, even of teaching by this have the rule over you," Heb. xiii. 17. Hereupon Do way of interlocution, and in public too. Origen lived verydonbt they are obliged to comply with, and to concer to early, and it is matter notorious that he was eminent under set on foot, all such means and methods of instruction as the notion of a catechist in his time, whose business it was may be most conducible to this end. And that this is a to teach and instruct in a catechetical way; and we are in- means proper to this end may be manisest upon several formed of divers catechists that they had in the church of considerations. As, Alexandria at the same time, that being, it is true, a nu- (1.) That it most evidently tends to engage the minds of merous, great church, and requiring the help of many to them that are immediately dealt with in this way, to be inthat purpose. And all along, in the best times of the tent on the matter in hand; as when a question is put to Christian church, (before popery was born into it,) we find me I am bound under a kind of necessity to consider it, hereupon that there were these two distinct orders of that I may know how to make one answer or another as it Christians, the catechumeni and the fideles: those that were is particularly and personally directed to me. There are catechetically instructed, and those that having been for a many things that pass us by in a continued and transient competent time so instructed, were found fit to be admit. discourse, that a wandering mind takes little notice of, ted into full communion; and hereupon there were gives little heed to; but when it is called by a particular particular places appointed them in the assemblies, where-question to this particular point, it cannot but make the in they were to stand apart by themselves in a sort of en- mind inient upon it. As when the apostle, in the midst closure, but in the view of the rest of the assembly. And of his apologetical discourse before king Agrippa, applied the nature of the thing doth speak, that there must always particularly to him with that question, “King Agrippa, be these two orders within the compass of the Christian believest thou the prophets ?" the king thought himself church, those that are under instruction are catechumeni, obliged to consider his question, and you see what kind of and those that, as they are fit, are taken out of them and answer he gives, so as he never else would have thougbt, received into full communion. A thing that nature and if that question had not been directed to himself. Sachan common prudence will so much dictate, that long before impression did that question make on his mind. the Christian name was ever heard of in the world, we read (2.) It tends manifestly very much to engage the attenthat Pythagoras's school had the same orders, where the tion of all that hear, at such an exercise as that we are nos business was principally to teach and instruct in virtue, speaking of. Every body presently gives his ear when there There were those that were Extra-syndonem and those that is a question put, "Come, what will be answered to this were Intra-syndonem; there was a scptum or enclosure that question ?" and if it need explication, “What will be said did receive those that were looked upon to be thoroughly in this case ?" It makes men exert their minds, and engage virtuous. His school indeed was like a church, upon that their spirits a great deal more, as every one's reason and account, and commonly there were kept seven years ex-experience must tell him. pectants without the enclosure, not to be received (as it (3.) It tends very much to fix things and make them were) into full communion till they were very well con- continue with those that hear and do atiend on such a kind firmed in virtue and goodness. And thereupon, if any of of exercise, for that very reason, because it hath set the anithose that had been received within the enclosure should madversive faculiies so much the more on work; and if afterwards degenerate and be guilty of any crimes, there the matter be considered, nothing is plainer,'han that peo was as solemn an excommunication of them as we read of ple do many times blame their memories very causelessly, any among Christians, and a funeral besides held for such when it is really the animadversive faculty is not used; for a person; that is, a coffin was brought into the auditorium, things that once are earnestly aliended 10 are much more and lainentation made over it as over one dead, dead from likely to be remembered, bui people find fault with their memories because they do not mind what they hear at first. | dates to Christianity were carried on in their assemblies. If they earnestly minded what they heard, and considered And, things, and took them to heart, it would contribute a great (7.) It were much to be hoped that by this means that deal towards the fixing of them in their memories, towards faulty shyness would be overcome, which doth appear 100 their retention of them. I believe, for the much greater generally, of discoursing at all about the things of God and part, when the badness of the memory is complained of, the matters of religion, and what men find in their own The fault lies elsewhere, that they did not seriously attend spirits of savour and impression of such things. It is very at the first, for things will be retained longer that have been strange and unaccountable that there should be so peculiar well considered at first.
a shyness in reference to the matters of religion, to take (4.) Hereupon, through the blessing of God, much more discourse of them, especially as to one's own sentiments may be done iowards the conversion of souls by the Gospel about them, what one apprehends and what one feels in dispensation, when the things needful to be understood in himself, in one's own breast. There is not such a shyness order hereto, are well understood for it; for while they are in reference to things of any other concerns besides, as not so, we speak in the dark, and people hear in the dark, there is in reference to those concernments that relate to and what we say to them hath an uncertain sound, as the men's souls and their state God-ward and for eternity. apostle speaks, 1 Cor. xiv. 17. They cannot tell what we Nobody is shy to speak of his own or other's ails, for the mean when we speak of the weightiest and most important most part; nobody is shy to speak of an aching head, or things belonging to the kingdom of God, but if such things an aching tooth; but wbat a shyness is there to speak of be well understood at first, (as it is to be hoped they will be spiritual maladies, a bad heart, a blind mind, and the like! in this way, then there is one great step made, one main It discourses were in this way more frequently introduced, didicnlty is got over; and so it obtains in discourses that so as to become familiar, this shyness would be gradually have more directly that design, to make men intend this overcome. We find in public assemblies it is usual lo business, and impress things upon men's hearts to the ut- give an account of things that are of another concernment, most, which had passed through their minds before, or of a most inferior concernment; as in courts of judicature, were received clearly and distinctly there before. Again, where persons of the meanest capacity are called frequent
(5.) It is likewise, by consequence, likely to be the means ly to speak their knowledge, to tell what they know about of introducing a much more fruitful Christianity among us, such and such a matter that doth concern meum and tuum, for undoubtedly, religion is more lively by how much the this or that man's right; or concerning a question depend more it is well grounded : they that do believe this or that ing between the government and any particular person doctrine without a ground, they commonly believe it too concerning a criminal matter. Nothing more ordinary without fruit. If it have not a good ground it is propor-chan to have persons catechised about such things as these tionably inefficacious, and a languid thing; as seed that in public assemblies, and it is not thought strange. And is sown, and hath no depth of earth, (as our Saviour speaks) why should there be a particular shyness, strangeness, and brings not forth fruit unto perfection. Therefore is that aversion to give an account of things relating to the kingcharge given unto the Colossian Christians: “As ye bave dom of God? As if it were a criminal thing to have one's received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him," Col. ii. mind engaged and taken up about matters of that nature, 6. One notion under which we are said to receive him is or as if persons were afraid to be thougbt guilty of religion. as a teacher, and to receive him (though that be not all) as if it were a dreadful thing, a thing to be dreaded to be is to receive his truths, his doctrines. “As ye have received thought guilty of minding God, and the concernments of Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up another world. And, in him, and established in the faith as ye have been taughi, (8.) It would surely be a very likely means to prevent abounding therein with thanksgiving." And therefore, so aposíacy, especially in a difficult and irying time: indeed rationally doth the apostle pray for them in that chapter, there is continual danger of apostacy; there is much danthat they might be "fruitful in every good work, increasing ger from daily conversation with this world, there is much in the knowledge of God.” And in Phil. i. 9, 10, 11. those danger especially in a prosperous state and condition in Christians are there prayed for after the same method, that it, lest there should be heart apostacy, a heart secretly dethey might abound in judgment and in all knowledge, (that parting from the love of God; and there is great danger they might become knowing and judicious Christians,) in times of persecution for religion's sake, for Christ's sake, and then, that they might abound in all the fruits of righte- and for the Gospel's sake. But there is nothing (in point ousness that would be, through Christ, to the praise and of means and in subordination to the grace and Spirit of glory of God. And,
Christ) likely to be a better security against it, than in such (6.) This would be a very great and likely means to a way as this, to be once thoroughly instructed in the bring Christians generally to a great deal more of serious-great" principles of the oracles of God,"to have them well ness in the temper of their minds and spirits, that is, to inlaid. They that are so instructed at first are not like to exclude and shut out vanity, replenishing their minds with be as "children, tossed to and fro with every wind of docgreat and weighty things, things that deeply concern them: trine,” or entangled by the cunning crafiiness of them ihat for in this way, undoubtedly, such things would come to lie in wait to deceive. Some are withdrawn by seducbe more in wrought into their hearts, and to have a more tion, some by persecution: there will be the same fence settled abode and residence there. Then it would be as against both in such a way as this. “Nay," will such a ordinary a thing when Christians did meet, to catechise une say, “I have (through the goodness of God) understood one another about the things of God, and about the eternal the grounds of my religion well; I did not trifle when kingdoms, (if I may use that phrase,) as to catechise one I took up this profession;" as the apostle speaks conanother about news, or about the state of the times; what cerning his trust in God, " I know whom I have believed, is doing now in the country, or in the court, or in this or and I am persuaded he is able to keep that which I have in any other nation or kingdom : the kingdom of heaven committed unto him until that day.” So for a Christian surely would look as great as any earthly kingdom or to say, “I know what I have believed, and I mean to country, or greater, if we were more taken up about the abide by it through the grace of God," this will preserve things that relate thereunto. And so might the ancient him under suffering. It is a very uncomfortable thing in Christianity come to be restored in some measure among point of suffering to be called to suffer for that I never us, wherein (as antiquity tells us) it was so ordinary a understood, and which I never savoured or relished. To thing when Christians did meet, presently to fall upon the suffer for what I never had any clear understanding of, matters of their religion: and it was usual in their families, and to suffer for what I never had any taste or relish of in even all the day long, when people were about their af- my own soul, though it is possible to suffer upon such an fairs, either in the shop or at the distaff, to mention the account, yet it is uncomfortable. A man may "give his greal things of the Christian religion, from morning to body to be burned” without love, but it is very uncomfortanight ningling discourses of that kind with all their affairs, ble so to suffer. And the one of these things is the way to as they could admit of their being mingled. This was the other; I am likely to savour what I understand in primitive Christianity, and it was in these early days that those things that have a real bottom, and are in themselves ihis course that I now speak of did oblain, even when substantial. There are some things indeed that have so such familiar interlocutions for the instruction of candi- little in them, that the more I understand them the less I
shall mind them; the more I understand them the more I And when the privilege of having the oracles of God shall despise them; but it is not so in the great things of was a more confined and limited thing, oh! how did the God, and that do relate to his kingdom. And,
Jews (to whom they were so great a treasure) magnify (9.) It is that which will certainly be a great ornament themselves upon them, how did they glory in it! And it to the Christian church, and an honour to it, when there was acknowledged that they had a mighty advantage. is a succession coming up, a rising generation, of them that “What advantage bad the Jews? Much every way, chief. do understand themselves, and appear to do so, make it ly as that to them were committed the oracles of God," evident that they do understand themselves in the great Rom. iii. beginning. Oh! we do not enough consider the things of religion; that they receive them and take them kindness of Heaven towards our world in. As it was the reproach of the Christian church (as it be any beams of divine light (whether by natural or suwas still called) when that barbarous age was upon it, and pernatural revelation) shining in it. We do not enough so great and gross darkness and ignorance did cover the consider that we are quite cut off from God. He doch face of it, so will the contrary be its honour. And when hereby show he hath yet a desire to the work of his own times of greater knowledge do come, then in one sense hands, in that he will have his oracles known to men upon (though these words have more meaning than that) it may earth; as elsewhere it is said of his tabernacle, “The be said to Zion, “ Arise, shine; for thy light is coine; and tabernacles of God are with men" and in what a transthe glory of the Lord is risen upon thee," Isaiah 1x. 1. port doth Solomon break forth (1 Kings viii.) in that Light signifies holiness too, and å prosperous state, but it seraphical triumph of joy, “ Will God indeed dwell upon signifies knowledge as that which is inchoative of all the earth ?" Oh! that there should be any abode of the Divine rest. And,
presence upon earth! And these are some of the most (10.) Lastly. It is one of the most comfortable pre-expressive tokens of such a visible presence vouchsafed ; sages that can be, when once the spirits of those that are his placing these oracles among us, and diffusing the most to be learners (as it were) in the school of Christ, come to impressive light that reveals him, and that reveals the great be engaged and intent upon getting in the knowledge of things that relate to his kingdom. And, Christ, and have their souls impressed thereunto. I say, it 2. We may collect hence, that it is a very apt method, is one of the most comfortable presages of the approach and accommodated unto intelligent creatures, that God doth of that time and that season drawing on, when one shall make use of, in conveying to them the necessary knowledge say to another, and even people to people, “Come and let of the doctrine of Christ; for there are principles that us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of are to be begun with; (first principles as you see ;) you the God of Jacob, and he will show us of his ways, and had need to be taught which are the first principles of the we will walk in his paths," Micah iv. 2. It is a com- oracles of God. There are the oracles of God, there are fortable pre-signification of the approach of that time principles of these oracles, and the first of those principles. when “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be God doth apply himself to us suitable to our nature, be increased :" when there shall be very much of inquiry and aims to draw us by the "cords of a man and by the bands concern to know God and the things of God, then the time of love," to make reason and love engineers by which he will be drawing on, when the knowledge of the Lord shall would take hold of us, sanctify the one principle and the abound and cover the earth as the waters cover the seas, other, that we may be brought nigh to him and held in Isaiah xi. 9.
with him. IV. But to make some brief use of all this. There are And it ought deeply to be considered, that there are (as principles of religion, or of the oracles of God, which are you see) principles wherewith we are to begin, and by needful to be taught. Then here,
which we are to be led on (as the apostle's expression here 1. Let us consider and adore the goodness of God to-is) towards perfection. Principles of truth, principles of wards a wicked and apostate world. How strange a sound doctrine, such as a “form of sound words," wholesome should such a word carry with it to us, “The oracles of words may be expressive of. Though (by the way) I am God!" How transporting a sound, for the oracles of God against being tied to a form of words ; in matters of this to be mentioned and spoken in such a world as ours is! | nature I would have words used for helps, not for bonds. when it would be thought that its so universal revolt And if I were to inquire how any have profited in the things from God, should everlastingly have cut off all intercourse of God, even in this very respect; in respect of their knowbetween him and it, that he should never have regard for ledge relating thereto, if they could express a sound and this world any more; not more than for the angels that fell | good understanding about these things, in their own words, and kept not their first station. Do we hear of anv oracles in words of their own choosing, and not which they found of God sent down into those infernal regions? Oh ! how in this or that book, I should like it a great deal betler. great thing then is it, that there should be among us the It would argue them so much the more understanding and oracles of God! Indeed, it argues very great stupidity, if knowing Christians, and likely to prove more stable ones. there be not a mighty sense of this upon our spirits. As I said before, I would have you to make use of other
ve had the most grateful sense that could be men's words (as you may any good book you read or serimagined but of a mock pretence hereunto: the very notion mon you hear) for helps, but not for bonds; to help your of oracles carries a sacredness and venerableness in it; any | understandings, not to limit them. Again, thing that is divine, any thing that is of heavenly descent;! 3. This lets us see the presumptuous and preposterous and so such things, though but feignedly such, have been rashness of such persons as do at random, at all adven. reckoned of among pagans! Oh! what veneration had | tures, take up the Christian profession, when they never as those poor Ephesian idolaters for that thing (we read it yet understood the principles of Christianity, and so they image, but there is no such thing in the Greek) that dropped really profesy they know not what; as if the name Christdown from Jupiter ! how mighty a zeal was there amongian were a name of nothing, a name that had no significathat people, so as that the city is said to be a whole tion, a name that did import no real thing. Those that can neochoron ; “All Ephesus is a worshipper;" so it is ex-give no account of their knowledge of principles, and yet pressed, as if that mighty city were but one worshipper of will be Christians, call themselves Christians, what a usurthe great goddess Diana! So great was their zeal, so high pation is this! How groundlessly and presumptuously do their veneration, for a thing that their deluding priests they usurp a glorious name! a title that carries with ita made them believe dropped down from heaven. And we | great deal of glory! and I would have you understand it know how high their value was, of how much they did so. A Christian is a glorious title, and they will be made magnify themselves, for the diabolical oracles they had to understand it to be so another day, who have usurpeg among them in former days before Christ's time; and how it they know not why, who have profaned it, and could mighty a concern there was among them when these were never justify the pretence. It is a far greater presumption silent at his coming. So as that some of their wisest men than for any man to call himself king or emperor, who (Plutarch for instance) was fain to write discourse upon a mean peasant, an ordinary fellow, and can have no such discourse to qualify their minds thereupon. Two treatises I pretence. “I will bring them to worship at thy feet (1 15 we read of, written by that author; one why they ceased, spoken to the Philadelphian church, Rev. ii. 9.) who say which he wrote in verse; the other why they did so totally they are Jews and are not, but do lie.” For a man to cease as upon the matter they did.
| take up a profession that is a mere lie, what a presumption