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law of liberty. There is nothing superfluous, nothing defective in it: but a perfect symmetry, and harmony of parts; each of them, as it is in a beautiful body, lovely in itself; and all of them, taken together, mutually setting off and making each other more beautiful and lovely. Here need no Unwritten Traditions, to which the Romanists give an equal veneration with the Scriptures : for, either their traditions are consonant to Scripture, and so are unnecessary; or contrary to Scripture, and so are per. nicious : and, if it be said, they may be diverse from Scripture and yet not contrary to it, as delivering down to the world those truths and those duties, concerning which the Scripture hath made no mention, I answer, This is not to be diverse only, but contrary; for the Scripture itself hath said, 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17, that it is all given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness : That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works : there can, therefore, be no Unwritten Traditions joined in commission with the Scriptures: but, if they speak according to that word, they may be received as truths rightly collected from it; but if they lay down doctrines repugnant to Scripture, or teach any thing as necessary to be believed and embraced which is not contained in those Sacred Oracles, they ought to be rejected as old lies, and tales forged by the old Father of Lies, only to deceive the minds of the simple. And those, who think their religion beautiful because of these, take trash and dung for ornaments and monstrousness for beauty: and, in their opinion, that giant, mentioned 2 Sam. xxi, 20, who had six fingers on each hand (more than nature intended), must pass for the most comely person. Certainly, the doctrine of Christ is so entire and perfect, that it needs no new additions, to eke it out; nor any of the paint of the Antichristian Jezebel, to beautify and adorn it.
(2) To adorn the Doctrine of Christ, is not to dress it up in any new fashion or new mode of religion.
Truly, there is a kind of garb of religion now abroad. We must not speak, and I am sure we do not act, like the Christians of elder times: their simplicity and plainness, both of speech and of conversation, is now wome as much out of request, as their clothes are: and those truths, which warmed their hearts and saved their souls; those truths, by which they lived, and for which they would have died; are now looked upon, by the sprucer Christiaus of our age, as old-fashioned things, and so laid aside. Some trim it up in uncouth phrases, and never think they speak like the oracles of God, unless they speak that which cannot be understood by the wit of man; and, like the priests of Apollo, are then inspired, when they utter unintelligible riddles and ambiguities: as if to adorn the doctrine of Christ, were to veil it; and it were then most beautiful, when most obscure. Others think they adorn it, when they are still altering and changing it; casting out this way, and bringing in another; and then finding fault with that: as if religion were designed not to reform us, but still to be reformed itself; and were made to no other purpose in the world, but only to be mended. This is not to adorn the doctrine of Christ, but abundantly to disparage it; when either we think to add any new excellency unto it, which before it had not; or to dress and trick it up in new fashions and new modes of religion. It is not to be done by old traditions, or new opinions, or any fantastical and affected way of delivering and expounding the truths of the Gospel.
2. But, Positively :
To adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, is, to live conformably unto it. For the doctrine of Christ consists, as I told you, in Two things: the Mysteries of Faith, and the Duties of Obedience. And we adorn this doctrine, when we live suitably to both of these.
(1) When we endeavour to live according to the Belief of those Mysteries of Grace and Mercy, which are revealed in it.
In this doctrine it is, that we have the glad-tidings of happiness and salvation restored unto mankind by a Mediator: that the forfeiture we had made of our very lives and souls to the justice of God, is now redeemed by our Surety Jesus Christ; who hath undertaken the desperate work of reconciling sinners to a holy and jealous God, and hath himself filled up that paya yaouce, that vast and unpassable gulf, which was between heaven and us; laying his cross for our bridge, and himself for our way to pass over into eternal bliss and joy. Now we are said to adorn this doctrine of God our Saviour, when we live answerably to the obligations which the grace of the Gospel lays upon us : what obligations they are, the Apostle tells us in the two next verses after my text: The grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men ; Teaching us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. It is the greatest reproach which can be cast upon the doctrine of Christ, that it makes men libertines, or gives them indulgence to sin. Some may possibly so argue, that, if Christ procured happiness and salvation for them, there Jies no necessity upon them to exercise holiness and strietness ; but they may live at random, for Christ hath done all: this is that cursed inference, which the Apostle, all along in his Epistles, confutes and abhors: Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid! and this is the greatest reproach that can be cast on this doctrine, that it should hold forth Christ as a patron of licentiousness, who was the greatest pattern and example of holiness and purity. No, certainly, he never intended by satisfying the justice of God, to encourage the wickedness of man; nor, that the promises of the Gospel should be produced to invalidate the precepts of the Law: but, as the Apostle tells us, v. 14. of this chapter, He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. The proper influence, which divine mercy should have upon us, is to conform us to the divine purity : so saith the Apostle, 2 Cor. vii. 1. Having these promises, the promises of heaven and glory through Christ, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness both of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God: and, 1 John iii. 3. Every man, that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as God is pure. Now when the grace, which is exhibited to us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is suffered to have this kindly effect upon us, by a sweet and genuine attractiveness to engage us to a holy and blameless life, then is our conversation such as adorns the doctrine of God our Saviour.
(2) To adorn this doctrine, is, to live conformably to the Commands of it; requiring from us the Duties of new Obedience, in order to our eternal salvation.
Now these commands of the Gospel, are the whole Moral Law; which is taken into the protection of it, and fenced about with the super-added authority of Christ's sanction. It is only through the grace of the Gospel, that the imperfect obedience of a believer is at all available to his salvation, since the Law of Works accepts not of any obedience under the degree of most perfect and absolute; so that when we endeavour, according to the uttermost of our power and ability, to conform our lives to the commands of the Gospel; when, by our universal holiness and obedience, we strive in all things to please God, then do we
adorn the doctrine of Christ. We credit our profession, and set it off to the esteem of others, when our practices answer our pretences.
This is, in the general, to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour ; to live suitably to the grace revealed in it, and to the duties enjoined by it.
II. Ornaments serve for two uses and intents. The one is, to cover the nakedness of those, who wear them; the other, to beautify and set them off to the esteem and acceptance of others. Now such A HOLY GOSPEL-LIFE, ADORNS THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, BOTH THESE WAYS:
i. It HIDES THE NAKEDNESS, and TAKES AWAY THE SHAME OF RELIGION.
For nothing is a greater blemish and reproach to our profession, than the unsuitable lives of professors. I need not tell you, what a discredit Christians have brought upon Christianity itself, by their disorderly conversation. It were not so much to be lamented, if the shame of it lighted only upon those, who were guilty : but the name of Christ is blasphemed through their miscarriages; and every one is ready to cast the dirt and mire into which a professor falls, into the very face of religion itself; and to upbraid Christ with the crimes of those, who pretend to be his followers, and of his retinue.
1. There is a Twofold Shame and Reproach, which befalls religion by the loose lives of those who profess it : Wicked' men are hereby induced to think, that it is but
Fabulous and a mere mockery. That it is but Frivolous, and altogether unnecessary. (1) They think that religion is but Mockery; and all, who profess it, are but a company of dissemblers and hypocrites.
Indeed, there is nothing, which can convince the world that : there is any reality in religion, but the conforming of our lives strictly according to its rules and precepts. And we may well impute the increase and growth of the atheism that is now abroad, to those strong arguments which men have drawn from the lives of Christians, to confute the doctrine of Christianity: for, may they not justly conclude, that it is impossible that such men should believe what they profess, while their lives are so down-right contradictory to their creed? did they think it true,
that there are eternal rewards and eternal punishments prepared to be dispensed to men, according to their works; did they think it true, that hell, and wrath, and flames, and chains, and intolerable torments, must be the eternal portion of those, who reject the faith and disobey the commands of the Gospel; could it be possible that they should live at such a rate of vanity, looseness, and profaneness, as they do? And, upon this, they conclude all to be but a well-couched fable; and give the holy and everlasting Gospel of Christ, the lie. And what shame can be greater than this? It is a sad accusation, Rom. ii. 24. The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you : how so ? because, as in the former verses, they rested in the Law, and had a form of knowledge; and were confident, that they were guides to the blind, and lights to them that sit in darkness : eminent professors it seems they were, like the men of our days: well, but mark; Thou, therefore, which teachest, another; teachest thou not thyself? Thou, that makest thy boast of the Law, through breaking the Law dishonourest thou God? Thou, that professest the Gospel, dost thou transgress the Law? Thou, that pretendest to near communion and acquaintance with God, dost thou live as without God in the world? Thou, that preachest a man should not steal, nor lie, nor swear, nor be drunk, nor commit adultery; dost thou lie, and steal, and swear? art thou unclean ? art thou intemperate, and as- vile as the worst and vilest? Tremble at it: the name of the Great God is blasphemed among wicked wretches, through you: those, who were before profane, you make atheistical, scorning and deriding the Gospel of Christ as an idle whimsey; and, because they see so little in their lives, conclude that there is no difference at all, between those who are called Saints, and those who are called Sinners; but only, that the one have their tongues a little better hung, and their fancies a little higher screwed up, than the other. And, truly, I cannot but with shame and sadness reflect upon it, that the men of our profession are herein extremely guilty, who, by the unsuitableness of their conversation to the purity of their doctrine, make too many in the world believe, that it is their trade only to gull and cozen men; and persuade them to believe, what they are wiser than to believe themselves. Let us beware, lest these their blasphemies be not at last charged upon us, who, through a worldly, louse, and carnal conversation, have made religion even to stink in their nostrils. It is only the strictness of a gospel-life, which can convince the world, that religion is