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the Author to the Hebrews, Chap. 2.9. And this is a saithful Saying, and worthy of all Men to be receiv'd, that Jesus. Christ came into the World to save Sinners, i Tim. i, Ij. where, if Sinners are not excluded from Mercy, we may be well assur'd that the Tender of this Salvation extends to all. But,
(2.) Tho the Merits and Virtue of Christ's Death and Satisfaction be sufficient for, yet they are not effectual to all Men: for there are many thoufands perish everlastingly, notwithstanding this Propitiation ., and more fall into the Gulph of Perdition, than escape it. But yet this proceeds not from any Defect or Imperfection in the Sacrisice, nor from any want of Love or Readiness in our Saviour to confer the Benefit and Efficacy of it ., but from Mens being wanting to themselves, in not considering or observing the Terms upon which it is tender'd to them. And here we must note,
(3.) That the Promises of Redemption and Salvation by Jesus Christ are not absolute, but conditional; they are made and perfbrm'd only upon the Conditions of Faith and Repentance, and none but such as observe those Terms and Conditions can reap any Advantage from them. We must die unto Sin, before his dying for Sin can be of any avail to us ., for he came to save his People from their Sins, not to make them secure in them. He gave himself for them, to redeem them from all Iniquity, not to allow them in any; and to purify to himself a peculiar People, z^ealom of good Works. Tis whosoever believeth in him shall not perijb, but have everlasting Life: where Faith is made the Condition of the Promise ., and we must believe, that is, receive his Doctrine, and become his Disciples and Followers, if we expect to receive Life and Salvation from him. He that believeth on hinp (faith he) is not condemned; that is, is not condemn'd here by his own Conscience, but may find Peace, Ease and Rest to his Soul nor shall be condemn'd hereafter, but shall be commended and acquitted at the last and great Day of Account, when he shall be rescu'd from eternal Death, and reftor'd to eternal Life: for if our Hearts condemn us not, then have we Confidence in God. But he that believeth not,is condemned already, that is, by his own Conscience, which stings and upbraids him here, and fills him with many Fears and Terrors for his Unbelief- , and will be much more con- . demn'd hereafter, because he hath not believed in the Name of the only-begotten Son of Cod, but hath refus'd the only
Remedy vouchfafed him by the Son of God, the only Saviour of the World: And if our Hearts condemn us for it already, God, who is greater than our Hearts, and knoweth all things, will surely bring upon us a greater Condemnation. ;i John 3. 20,21.
And having mention'd this future and eternal Condemna; tion, the Apostle gives us in the next words some account of the Ground and Cause of it, laying, This is the Condemnation, that Light is come into the World, and Men love Darkness rather than Light, because their Deeds are evil: Where this Condemnation is aggravated,
ist, From the Greatness of the Blessing vouchfafed, that Light is come into the World.
zdly, From the Ingratitude or bad Use that is made of it; Jlfen love Darkness rather than Light. And,
idly, From the Ground and Reason here given for their Ib doing Because their Deeds are evil. All which must: mightily enhance the Guilt, and aggravate their Condemnation. For the
1st, By the Light's coming into the World, is meant the Son of God's appearing in it, to reveal the Mind and Will of his Father for the Salvation of Mankind; who is therefore stil'd, 7he Light of the World, or the Light that lightens every one that cometh into the World; John 1. 9. The Prophet Malachi, before his Appearance, call'd him, The Sun of Righteousness, who was shortly to arise with Healing in his Wings: Which Prophecy St. Luke tells us was fulfil'd, when this Day-spring from on high visited us with his Salvation. The World before his coming was wrapt in Clouds and thick Darkness ., the Jews had but a very imperfect Knowledg of a Saviour, and the Gentiles had none at all, being without God) without Christ, and so without Hope in the World* But Christ at his Coming dispel'd this Darknels of Error and Ignorance, and scatter'd the bright Beams of Light and Knowledg over the benighted World: He shin'd by the Lustre of his Doctrine and Miracles to the ends of the Earth, and all Nations may now see the Salvation of God, for he hath brought Life and Immortality to light by the Gospel ., he hath enlighten'd the World with the Knowledg of all necessary and Divine Truths, and thereby shew'd himself to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. By following his Doctrine we cannot err, and by treading the Step* of his Example we shall surely arrive to everlasting Life; so that we are not left in Ignorance of our Duty, but the Way
of Salvation is made plain before us, and Light is come inta the World.
But zdly, What use doth the World make of it? Why,' such is the Folly and Ingratitude of most Men, as to love Darkness rather than Light, to prefer Error and Ignorance before the Knowledg of the Truth, and to chuse rather to walk on still in Darkness, than to tread the Path that leads to the tight of everlasting Life. Such as these wilfully shut their Eyes against the Light flashing in their Faces, and cast the Word of God behind their backs; saying with them in Job, Depart from us, -we desire not the jCnowledg of thy Ways, Chap. 21. 14. One would think the World sliould be transported with Joy at this great Light's coming into it i and that all Men should welcome this Sun of Righteousness: as 'tis reported some of the Northern People do the Sun, who wanting its Light for some Months, when it begins to peep out and rife to them, they all falute it with Joy and Exultation, crying out, %f* 0 Smos, Behold the Sun! In like manner, it might be expected, that the benighted World that had a long time lain in Darkness, and
of .this Sun of Righteousness, meeting him with Acclamations of Joy, and faying, I^k i nfaix, Behold the Sun I or with St. John, i<sio apvo(, Behold the Lamb of God, that tahth away the Sins of the World! But lo! the quite contrary, He came unto his own (that is, to the Jews, who were his own People, of his own Stock and Lineage) and yet they receivd him not, John j. \1. Yea, they from whom he might expect: the best Reception, were so far from receiving him, that they rejected his Person and despised his Doctrine ; and instead of owning him as a Saviour, treated him as a Malefactor: They shut up this great Light of the World in the dark Lanthorn of the Grave• , and eclips'd awhile this Sun of Righteousness. And tho he soon rose again, and breaking thro the Cloud, after shin'd the brighter ; yet they still hated the Light, slighted his Instructions, and would have none of his Ways. And so do the Atheists, Deists, and many nominal Christians to this day.
But what is the Ground or Reason of this ill Carriage? Why, the Reason here given is, Became their Deeds are evil: They love Darkness rather than Light, because their Deeds are evil. The Course of Men's Lives have a strange and strong Influence upon their Belief and Opinion of
should rejoice at the Appearance
things, things, and evil Practices do very much corrupt and debauch good Principles. 'Tis obvious to observe, that good Men, who lead holy and vertuous Lives, easily believe the Truths of the Gospel, which they see tend so much to the Happiness of this Life and the next; they feel their Minds inclin'd to receive Christ as the Saviour of the World, and both desire and delight in theKnowledg of his Ways: they chuse Light rather than Darkness, and prefer Knowledg before Ignorance, and that because their Deeds are good: they labour to regulate their Practice by the Rule of God's Word, and instead of shutting their Eyes against the Light, they pray God to open them, that they may more clearly see the wonderful things of his Law. And thus an honest Mind leads them to the Knowledg of Divine Truths. Whereas bad Men, on the other hand, who lead loose and wicked Lives, do all they can to extinguish the Light of Truth, which shews them the Error and Danger of their Ways, and would stop their Career of Wickedness: for this reason they hate Knowledg, and endeavour to stifle and suppress the Light of it from shining into their Understandings, and that because their Deeds are evil. Their Works being contrary to God's Word, they care not to receive or hearken to what makes against them • , but rather seek to put out that Light, which they have no mind to work ,or walk by. And therefore the Evangelist in the next words adds, that every one that doth evil hateth the Lights neither cometh to the Light-, lest his Deeds should he reprov'd. There are some Sins so foul, as to shun all Discovery, and to covet a black Veil of Darkness, to hide their Deformity. There are others attended with that Shame and Disgrace, as not to be able to bear the Light, and so are acted under Vizors and Disguises, to avoid the Reproach and Censures of the World. Again, there are others so full of Mischief and Danger both to Body, Soul, and Goods, that few care to own or be thought Actors of them. And generally all sorts of Sinners seek Secrecy, to conceal the Baseness and Obliquity of their Actions.
But he that doth truths cometh to the Light, that his Deeds made he made manifest, that they are -wrought in God. Where by Works of Truth are meant vertuous and good Works, done in conformity to God's Word, and the Rules of right Reason. Such Works do not decline, but desire the Lights they come to it to be made manifest, and rather court than fly Observation, For these being wrought in Cod, that is, according to his Will, and by the Direction of his Holy Spirit, have the Approbation of God and Conscience too: and the more they are expos'd to Light, the more Joy and Comfort do they bring to them that do them.
This is the Sense and Drift of this Day's Gospel; which stews us,
1. The infinite Love of Godrto Mankind, in giving his Son to be our Saviour ., so as to admire, adore, and answer the Ends of it.
2. The great Danger of Ingratitude, and the Abuse of such Love-, which defeats the Design, and deprives us of the Benefit of it, so as to abhor and avoid it.
3. The Honour and happy Issue of good and vertuous Actions, which will intitle us to the Salvation procur'd by it. All which are to be the Subject of this Day's Meditations, and the Practice of our whole Life: which God grant, &c.
The Epistle for Tuesday in Whitfun-Week.
Acts viii. 14 17.
When the Apostles that were at Jerusalem heard, that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John; who when they were come down pray'd for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost; for as yet he was fallen upon none of them, only they were baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their Hands upon them> and they received the Holy Ghofi.
AFTER the Death of St. Stephen, there follow'd a great Persecution of the Church which was at Jerusalem; by means whereof, the Disciples that were there, were all scatter'd about throughout the Regions of