A SERMON Preached before the KING, AT WHITE-HALL, July 30. 1676.

By John Meriton, M. A. Chaplain to the Right Honourable HENRY, Earl of Arlington, Lord Chamber­lain of His Majesty's Houshold.

Printed by His Majesty's special Command.

LONDON, Printed for Simon Miller, at the Star at the West-end of St. Paul's. 1677.

MATTH. iii. 8, 9.

Bring forth therefore fruits meet for re­pentance.

And think not to say within your selves, We have Abraham to our Father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones, to raise up children unto Abra­ham.

THese words were spoken to the Pharisees and Sadduces, who were the great Zealots of the Jewish Church; espe­cially the Pharisees, whom Saint Paul calls [...], the most strait Sect a­mongst the Jews, Act. 26. 5. Which knew me from the beginning (if they would testifie) that after the most strait Sect of our Religion, I liv­ed a Pharisee. These were zealous and pun­ctual [Page 4] in the observation of the Law of Cir­cumcision, and all other Rites and Ceremo­nies instituted of God by Moses: under which for a time, were contained the Mysteries of true Religion and Godliness; Heb. 9. 9, 10. which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices for sin; which could not make him that did that service perfect, as pertaining to the Conscience: Which stood in meats and drinks, and divers washings and carnal Ordinances; imposed on them only until the time of Reformation. In which Institutions consisted the external Pro­fession and Form of true Religion, and out­ward Communion with the visible Church, until the coming of Christ in the Flesh: but by a blind zeal for the Form, without the Power of Godliness, the Pharisees and Sadducees thought themselves privileged against the wrath menaced by the Baptist; which con­tained a Prophecy of the destruction of Jeru­salem, and other great calamities then ap­proaching to the Jews under Titus and Vespa­tian, and also the terrour of eternal punishment in the damnation of Hell. The multitude came and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins: but these righteous in their own [Page 5] eyes had no sins to confess, and came only to his Baptism out of a vain curiosity to see and censure; deriding rather than believing that wrath they were warned to flee from; reason­ing (as is evident from the Baptist's words in the Text,) We are zealous of the Law of Cir­cumcision, and all things enjoyned us of God by Moses, and have Abraham to our Father: Tush, God cannot destroy us, being righte­ous; nor according to the Oath which he sware to Abraham and his Seed for ever: but with Ixi­on in the Fable, they embraced a Cloud instead of Juno; whilst they thought they had found the clearest and the brightest truth, it proved but a Cloud of palpable errour and darkness. For the Baptist accuses their Righteousness of insufficiency, admonishes them to repent, and upbraids their vain oftentation, and fruitless boasting of succession from Abraham; from whose faith and vertue they were so far dege­nerated, as they were more like a brood of Vi­pers than his Children. They had proceed­ed all this while upon a false Hypothesis, about that Righteousness, wherein consisted the power and substance of true Religion and Godliness; and upon which the Covenant of God in Christ was confirmed to Abraham, four [Page 6] hundred and thirty years before the giving of the Law by Moses, Gal. 3. 15, 16. So that unless they would now upon means of better information, recant their errours, and recall their mistakes, and reform their manners; which is indeed to repent; they could not se­cure themselves from being involved in the common Miseries, then approaching their Land and Countrey, under Titus and Vespati­an; or for ever escape the damnation of Hell. For the Promise that he should be Heir of the world, was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. Rom. 4. 13. Religion is not a Complement, but a real thing; and that righteousness where­by we are righteous in the sight of God, is not external obedience of the body to institut­ed Righteousness, or positive Laws; but in­ternal obedience of the heart, to the Law of Moral goodness, and the Dictates of right Rea­son engraven upon the conscience of every man; Rom. 2. 14. Explained and made more evident by the several Revelations of God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in times past to the Fathers by the Prophets; and in these last days unto us by his Son, Heb. 1. 1. The former, which is our righteousness [Page 7] in the sight of men, and but the shadow and carcase of Religion; is called a righteousness of our own, which is according to the Law, Phil. 3. 9. As being the performance of the letter of the Law, by the act and operation of the body, through mere natural vertue, which is our own. But the latter, which is our righte­ousness in the sight of God; is called in the same Text, The righteousness which is of God by faith in Jesus Christ: Of which words I think my self obliged to give a distinct and full account (and that according to the de­monstration of truth to my own Conscience in the sight of God;) they being the directi­ons of our present life, to a future happiness; which makes an errour dangerous, and truth to be valued in opening them: then I must give solution to these three Particulars; 1. In what sence called the righteousness of Faith. 2. Of God. 3. Of God by faith in Jesus Christ. 1. It is called the righteousness of Faith in a double respect: 1. As being the most proper object of our Belief, so to conceive of God, as is most agreeable to natural notice, and su­pernatural Revelation. 2. As being the only Principle to the practice of all the Duties and Obligations of the Will of God so revealed; [Page 8] Faith being the first Principle of all Religion, both natural and revealed; Heb 11. 6. He that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him. 2. It is called the righteousness of God, 1. As being the Copy or Image of that righteousness, which God is in himself; of which God himself is the Original and Perfe­ction. 2. As being that righteousness which God only approves, and will reward: Rom. 2. 28. He is not a Jew, which is one outward­ly; nor is Circumcision that which is outward in the flesh, but that which is inward in the heart; whose praise is not of Men, but of God. 3. It is called the Righteousness of God by Faith in Jesus Christ: 1. As to the perfor­mance of which, we are assisted by the grace of God, obtained by faith in Jesus Christ (in whose Name, whatsoever we ask, believing, we shall receive) and the grace of the new Covenant consists in these three things; 1. To encline our wills to accept the conditions. 2. Upon our acceptance, to assist our weak­ness. 3. To accept our sincerity through ma­ny defects and imperfections: the integrity of our Wills will so far commute for the deed, that is, for the perfection of obedience to [Page 9] that Law of Moral Righteousness in a State of Grace; as whatever pollutions or defilements we may have contracted through the fraud of the Devil, the frailty of the Flesh, or tempta­tions of the World. So long as our Converse with bodily Objects, have not altogether sunk down our souls into a vicious love of them, which is the dregs and feculency of sin and folly; God will accept us upon a sincere re­pentance, through the Merit and Righteous­ness of the Holy Jesus: the redundancy of whose righteousness is to supply the defects of a sincere repentance. 2. As being that righ­teousnes, in the pursuance of which in truth, though we cannot in perfection, we can only have confidence of acceptance with God, through Jesus Christ: though we cannot be golden Scepters, we must be broken Reeds; though not burning and shining Lights, we must be smoaking Flaxes in his sight; who will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoaking flax, until judgment be brought forth unto victory. And this is that righte­ousness of Faith, wherein consists the power and substance of true Religion and Godli­ness; upon which, as the condition, the Co­venant of our reconciliation and happiness, [Page 10] was confirmed of God in Christ to Abraham, for all Generations; who received the sign of Circumcision, but as the Seal of the righte­ousness of Faith, (which is the condition of the Covenant) which he had yet being uncir­cumcised, that he might be the Father of all that believe; that righteousness might be im­puted to them also, though they were not cir­cumcised, Rom. 4. 11. So that God was in no need of Abraham's Children according to the flesh; but could, without breach of Pro­mise to him (upon their Apostacy and Dege­neracy from his faith and righteousness) de­stroy them all; and out of the obdurate Gen­tile world, or the very stones, raise up a Peo­ple to himself, followers of the faith of Abra­ham; to whom, as such, the Promise in Christ did as truly belong, as to the proudest Phari­see or Sadducee of them all. Circumcision was but the sign of the Covenant, not obe­dience to it; but the profession of Religion, not the practice of it: and for them only to profess and expect the reward, was as prepo­sterous, as if a Servant should demand wages of his Master for wearing of his Livery, and neglecting of his Work. The faith and righ­teousness of Abraham was example for their [Page 11] vertue, not expiation of their sin; and they might as reasonably have expected to have liv­ed naturally, by vertue of what Abraham had eat and drank, without eating and drinking for themselves, as to live eternally by vertue of that particular act of believing, whereby Abraham wrought the works of God, which was counted to him for righteousness; unless by the same Spirit of Faith, they should work the works of Abraham and of God, and there­by work out their own Salvation with fear and trembling: for Abraham's righteousness de­termined in himself, he could thereby but de­liver his own soul; for God respects no man for the goodness of another, but every man in the circumstance of his own integrity: If the Stones, the obdurate Gentiles, the Wild O­lives grafted in, will believe and repent, and do the works of Abraham upon the hearing of the Gospel; they shall be the Children of Abraham, and Heirs according to the Promise: and if the Jews, the Natural Branches, conti­nue in their Hardness and Unbelief, it shall be no privilege to them, that they are the Off­spring of Abraham according to the flesh: Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repen­tance: And think not to say within your [Page 12] selves, we have Abraham to our Father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

The Words thus opened, principally imply two Particulars, by way of Motive to Repen­tance: 1. The Universality of the purpose of the Grace of God in the Redemption of the world by Jesus Christ; the most proper Mo­tive to Repentance against Despair. 2. The Impartiality of God's Justice, in distributing Rewards and Punishments without respect of persons; (And think not to say within your selves, we have Abraham to our Father) the most proper Motive to Repentance against carnal security and presumption. God is impartially good that none may despair, and impartially just that none may pre­sume. 1. God is impartially good: Though the Jews were Israelites, to whom appertain­ed the Adoption, and the Glory, and the Co­venant, and the giving of the Law, and the Promises; whose were the Fathers, and of whom, as concerning the Flesh, Christ came, who is God blessed for ever, Rom. 9. 4. And to whom were committed the Oracles of God, Rom. 3. 2. God had not therefore cast off all care or concern for other Nations; though [Page 13] he had left them for some time, to walk in their own ways, without the direction of in­stituted Righteousness, or positive Laws; yet he did not leave himself without Witness, in that he did them good, and gave them rain from heaven, and fruitful Seasons; filling their hearts with food and gladness, Acts 14. 17. And though the coming of Christ in the flesh, that he might reconcile both Jew and Gentile unto God in one Body by the Cross, Ephes. 2. 16. And that the Gentiles should be Fellow-Heirs with the Jews of the same Body, and partakers together of the Promises of Christ by the Gospel, was a Notion that had been for some time buried in the dark vault of Nature's Ruines, and long obscured under the thick veil of Moses's Law, and by the dark sayings of the Prophets concerning Christ, so as St. Paul, in his Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, Ephes. 3. 4, 5. Coloss. 1. 26. calls it a Mystery which hath been hid from Ages and Generations: And St. Peter, the Minister of the Circumcision and great A­postle of the Jews, was first warranted by a Vision from Heaven, Acts 10. 28. before he would acknowledge any Grace of God to the Gentiles; yet what was formerly drawn by a [Page 14] dark Coal or Pencil, is now written with a Sun­beam; and there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek, Rom. 10. 12. God can be merciful without being partial, just without being cruel, and truly great without designing irrespectively the far greatest part of Mankind, for the Trophies of his Power, in an eternal mi­sery: For, as it follows in the same Text, the same Lord over all, is rich unto all that call up­on him. God is equally related unto Mankind as the same Lord, he is the God of the spirits of all flesh, Heb. 12. 9. And hath made of one Blood all Nations of men, to dwell on all the face of the earth; and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitations: Acts 17. 26. His Hands fashioned Esau as well as Jacob; and conse­quently obliges his love and care in truth, though not in degree for both: so that those words, Rom. 9. 13. Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated, respect not the persons of Esau and Jacob, but their Posterities; as is e­vident to all unprejudiced minds, from that place of the Prophet Malachi, 1. 1, 2, 3. re­ferred to by the Apostle; the words are, The burden of the Word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi; I have loved you, saith the Lord, [Page 15] yet ye say, wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's Brother, saith the Lord? yet I loved Jacob, and hated Esau; and laid his Mountains & his Heritage waste for the Dra­gons of the Wilderness, &c. So that the true meaning of the expressions, Jacob have I lov­ed, and Esau have I hated, is comparative and gradual with respect only to grace and favour, and not at all to ill will or hate; and may be rendred, Jacob have I preferred in my favour before Esau, in giving his Posterity the good Land of Canaan, and that of Esau's the bar­ren Mountains. And that these expressions were thus usually understood amongst the Jews, is evident by those words of the same Dialect of our Saviour's, Luke, 14. 26. If a­ny man come to me, and hate not his Father and Mother, and his own life; Where Hate cannot refer to ill-will properly, but to a less degree of love; unless we can suppose our Sa­viour to cancel the bonds of natural affection, and extinguish the common Principles of Na­ture: And although our common relation un­to God, introduce no Anabaptistical parity or community in his favours, but Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated; yet it maintains his good will towards all, and secures every [Page 16] man from being miserable, that with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him. And this is a representation worthy of God and Christ, worthy the infinite goodness and grace of God, who is not straitned by saving a few or many, as if he could save no more; who is able to save unto the utmost all that come unto him in Jesus Christ: for he is a Fountain of Living Water, and can quench the thirst of all men and creatures without drawing himself dry; his goodness, like the Sun, enlightens every Star, and influences every Plant, without abatement of his own vertue or light; he is the true Moses's Bush, that burns without waste, warms and enlivens eve­ry thing without consuming or impairing his own heat or beams: and it is a light thing for him (that is, an undervaluing of his Power and Goodness) as he saith by his Prophet Isaiah, to raise up the Tribes of Jacob, and restore the preserved of Israel; therefore have I giv­en him (that is, Christ) that he might be for Salvation unto the ends of the Earth: and as they do but eclipse the glory of the Sun in the Firmament, who restrain his light and influ­ence to some few Regions and Countreys, and extend them not from the rising, to the going [Page 17] down of the same; so do they the Riches of the Grace of God, who confine it to a few, and extend it not to Mankind. It is also no less worthy of the infinite Merit of the Satis­faction of Christ; who, by his own Oblation of himself once offered upon the Cross, made a full, perfect and sufficient Sacrifice, Oblati­on and Satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and can we deem without scandal and imputation to his Satisfaction, the Merit of our Second Adam less powerful to redeem, than the guilt of the First Adam was to capti­vate and enthral? So that as by the offence of one Judgment came upon all men to Con­demnation; so by the righteousness of one, the free Gift is come upon all men to justifi­cation of life, Rom. 5. 18.

And as for that Objection, Rom. 9. 18. For who hath resisted his Will: If God's Will must be accomplished, and God hath willed the Salvation of all men by Jesus Christ, how comes it to pass that any perish?

Be it considered for answer hereunto, That God hath willed the Salvation of all men by Jesus Christ, through the Conditions of Faith and Repentance; and so his Will is unresist­ed in all that are saved, and in all that perish. [Page 18] Christ died, by the Will of God, for all that believe and repent; but all that believe not, but remain impenitent, perish everlastingly; which is the fault of their own impenitence and infidelity, &c. Nor can our Faith or Infidelity make the Will of God of no effect; and such is the concurrence of God's Grace with every man's Will, who works in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure, whereby every man may, if he will, work out his own Salvation with fear and trembling; nor can our acceptance or refusal of his Grace prejudice or lessen his good Will; the neg­lect or contumely of the Patient, cannot justly derogate from the kindness of the Physician, or Sovereignty of the Remedy; nor are the Riches of God's Grace less in themselves, though multitudes continue poor only because they will not, and despise: And God is still the Saviour of all men, though especially or actually only of them that believe, because he is not really willing that any should perish, but rather that all should come to Repentance; his Nature and Property is always to have mer­cy, and to forgive all that believe and repent; and he is unwillingly compelled to destroy the Impenitent and Unbelieving; and he is [Page 19] thirsty after no mans blood, who hath grant­ed unto all Repentance unto Life; and his ways are equal, who leaves every man to in­herit his own Choice, and renders to every man according to his works, without respect of persons; which is the next Particular to be discussed.

For, Although Mercy and Free Grace admit­ted lapsed Mankind to Conditions of Reconci­liation and Restitution by Jesus Christ; yet Ju­stice exacts the performance of those conditi­ons, and accordingly distributes Rewards and Punishments: for the Grace of God is a Co­venant of Grace, and a Covenant without a Condition, is a Contradiction; and unless the Conditions be performed, can it reasona­bly be expected there should be any force or vertue in the Obligation. And in this ade­quate and impartial dealing of God, he re­gards not the merit of the Opus operatum, or or thing done by us, but the Equity and Ju­stice of his own Promise and Covenant; who hath established a reward infinitely exceeding the Merit of the Obedience required, either as congruous or condign from the considera­tion of the Work wrought; which is but a just compliance with the Will of our Lawful [Page 20] Sovereign, who hath power of Right to im­pose, and it is but our duty to obey; so that when we have done all, we are but unprofita­ble Servants, because we have done no more than was our duty to perform; and whatever is of duty, implies no reward as of Desert or Merit, but only from that Grace which hath annexed a reward to our duty, to make it our interest to obey. So that it is a righteous thing with God, to reward and crown our obedience to his Laws in Christ (whence called a Crown of Righteousness) not for the Righteousness of our Work, but his own Promise; indeed, what is there in us or our services, worthy that Eternal Happiness which he hath promised, as the reward of of his Grace to a sincere Repentance, since both the Will and the Deed is from his Grace, who works in us to will and to do, of his own good pleasure, Philip. 2. 13. So that after we, through God, having done the will of God; what remains for God to reward in us, but his own Gifts and Graces? &c. who renders to every man according to, though not for, his works; and with him is no respect of persons. Evident with respect, 1. To the Perfecti­on of his Nature; who is free from all such [Page 21] Defects and Imperfections, as are incident to Humane Natures; whereby Judgment is often turned into Gall, and Righteousness into Hem­lock; the Wicked are justified, and the Righ­teous condemned, (both which are alike Abo­mination to the Lord,) and Justice frequent­ly impartially administred in this Life. Thus Saul spared Agag, and the best of the Spoil of the Amalekites, when he should have destroy­ed them all, out of Covetousness, or Cowar­dise, or both, 1 Sam. 15. 8. Thus Eli slight­ly reproved his Sons, when he should have re­compenced their sin with death (which was great before the Lord) through natural sond­ness, 1 Sam. 2. 23. But God is free from all such Weaknesses and Imperfections, and there­fore with him is no respect of persons: which will yet more evidently appear, with respect to the Immutability of his Will; who is not as a Man, that he should change, or as the Son of Man, that he should repent; God is free from all such grounds and causes, as render Humane Wills subject to alteration, as Ignorance and Impotence. Men often change their Wills for want of discretion to chuse no better, and for want of a present clear discerning and in­terview of things. Men are often forced to [Page 22] After-games of Prudence, which is the pro­per Notion of Repentance; but God hath an Intuitive Knowledge, and sees all things as they are and shall be in time from all Eter­nity.

Men frequently change their wills whether they will or no: the Rational Faculty of the Soul is sometimes captivated through force and violence; but who can resist his Will, who is Omnipotent, to whom all Nations are as the drop of a Bucket, and as the small dust of the Ballance? and the concurrent strength of created Power, but as the Withs, wherewith the Philistines bound Sampson; as a Thred of Tow, when it toucheth the fire, &c.

And as for that Objection which some urge against the Immutability of the Divine Will, from such Scriptures as seem to ascribe Repen­tance to God; as, Joel, 2. 14. Jonah, 3. 10. Who knows if he may repent? be it consider­ed that the threatnings of God are conditio­nal; and when not expressed, are ever imply­ed, according to that Maxime of the Prophet Jeremy, 18. 7, 8, 9. At what instant I shall speak concerning a Nation, and concerning a Kingdom; to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it: if that Nation, against [Page 23] whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, then I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. So that it being the Immutable Will of God to repent of the Evil of Punishment upon Man's repenting of the Evil of Sin; Penitere est sententiam muta­re, to repent is but to change his Sentence, but not the Will, the Will still remaining with­out variableness, or shadow of turning: And the immutability of his Will establisheth the truth of his distributing Rewards and Punish­ments, according to every man's work, with­out respect of persons; and that he regards not the Persons of men, but the persormance of the Conditions, upon which he hath established the Covenant of our Reconciliation and Hap­piness by Jesus Christ.

The proper Inferences now, from this Dis­course are,

First, Encouragement; and Secondly, Caution.

First, Encouragement for every man to make good his Interest in the Common Salva­tion: Indeed, who would sweat in the Exer­cise of Grace, and bleed in Conflict with Sin, if after he hath done the Will of God, he [Page 24] must remain uncertain whether he shall inherit the Promise. This is that detains the Devils in Impenitence, who believe and tremble, James, 2. 19. because they are reserved in e­verlasting Chains under Darkness, to the Judgment of the Last Day, Jude, 6. But though Christ took not on him the Nature of Angels, he hath of the Seed of Abraham; and all that do the Works of Abraham, are the Children of Abraham, and Heirs according to the Promise. Then let no man say with those in Jeremy, 18. 12. There is no hope, but we will walk after our own devices, and every man do the imagination of his evil heart: But let the Wicked forsake his way, and the Un­righteous man his thoughts; and turn unto God, for he is gracious; and unto our God, for he will abundantly pardon: And let every man work out his own Salvation with fear and trembling; lest a Promise being left, any man seem to come short of it, &c.

Secondly, Caution: 1 Pet. 1. 17. Since we call on the Father; who, without respect of persons, judgeth according to every man's work, to pass the time of our sojourning here in fear; and repose no more confidence of se­curity from Succession from Holy men, than [Page 25] as we are followers of their Faith and Virtues; nor in the strict and zealous performance of all instituted Righteousness and positive Laws, then as they are productive of the main end of purifying our hearts by faith; renewing us in the Spirit of our minds, and cloathing us with that New Man, which after God, is cre­ated in Righteousness and true Holiness; and the end of the Commandment is Charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good Conscience, and Faith unfeigned, 1 Tim. 1. 5. And, as it fol­lows, the Law (that is, Positive Law, is not for a righteous man, in whom the Law of Nature lives; and can perform the [...], the Di­ctates of it, without the help of outward Laws: for the design of all instituted Righteousness, and positive Laws, is but to conform us to the Duties and Obligations of the Law of Moral Righteousness; and all obedience to them is no farther acceptable, than as it is instrumen­tal and serviceable to that great purpose. And God is so far from being pleased with the per­formance of Instituted Righteousness in the guilt of Immoralities, as it is the great aggra­vation of his displeasure and indignation; I­sa. 1. 11. To what purpose is the multitude of your Sacrifices? bring no more vain Oblati­ons, [Page 26] your hands are full of blood: Isaiah, 66. 3. He that kills an Ox, is as if he slew a Man; he that sacrificeth a Lamb, as if he cut off a Dog's neck; he that offers an Oblation, as if he offered Swine's blood; he that burneth In­cense, as if he blessed an Idol; whilst they have chosen their own ways, and their souls delight in their Abominations, &c. And what-ever Veneration these righteous men in the Text had for themselves, for tything Mint, Annice, and Cummin; but neglecting the weightier things of the Law, Judgment, Mer­cy and Faith; for making clean the outside of the Cup and Platter, remaining within full of Extortion and Excess; making long Prayers to devour Widows Houses: Our Saviour e­steems no better of them than whited Se­pulchres, which appear beautiful to the eye, but within are full of rottenness and dead men's bones: let our care be then to be real­ly what we appear; not having a Form of Godliness, denying the Power: and let eve­ry man that names the Name of Christ, de­part from all Iniquity; for bodily Exercise profits little, but Godliness hath the Promise of this life, and that that is to come.

This is that Law of Perfection; which it is [Page 27] the design of all positive Laws to advance and propagate, as the Promulgation of the Deca­logue, and the Institution of the Gospel; which is so far from being a relaxation to Moral Duty, as it is the greatest help and obligation to promote it, upon a twofold account;

First, As the most clear and manifest Reve­lation of Truth; The Law came by Moses, but Grace and Truth by Jesus Christ: The Law was Truth in obscure Types and Sha­dows, but the Gospel is Truth in its own I­mage and Likeness: and the clearer and more manifestly any Law is promulged, the greater and more forcible is its Obligation; Acts, 17. 35. The time of this ignorance God winked at, but now he commands all men every where to repent.

Secondly, As the most clear evidence of the truth and certainty of a future life after this, the main Argument of the Gospel being the truth and certainty of the Resurrection of Christ from the dead, in the truth and sub­stance of Humane Nature, and in the Circum­stances of Life and Immortality, to die no more; 2 Tim. 1. 9. Who hath abolished Death, and brought Life and Immortality to light, through the Gospel. The Summary [Page 28] Article of which is to confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus, and believe in our hearts that God hath raised him from the dead, Rom. 10. 10. God hath been pleased to give many in­stances of his Power, in raising the Dead by his Prophets under the Law, and by Christ and his Apostles under the Gospel; which are strong Inferences of the possibility of a Resur­rection: but because all that were raised from the dead (till Christ) dyed again, and he only lives to die no more. His being so raised is the only assurance, as the First Fruits of a full Harvest of a future Resurrection and Judg­ment; when every man shall rise again with his own Body, to receive according to what he hath done in the Flesh, whether good or e­vil: and the belief of this is the most (if not only) powerful Motive to Moral Goodness; for if there be no Resurrection, it is a Natural Inference, Let us eat and drink, for to mor­row we die. But if there be a Resurrection, it is equally rational to infer: herein let us exercise our selves continually, to have always a Conscience void of offence towards God, and towards man. The Jews were generally governed by the hope and fear of Reward and Punishment only in this life; and generally [Page 29] looked for a Temporal Messiah, to deliver them from the bondage of the Roman Tyranny, and to give them great temporal Peace and Prosperity: and because Christ came in the weakness and poverty of a Servant, and they expected him in the pomp and power of a Sovereign, they owned him not for their Mes­siah, but to this day look for another; the which their Errours and Mispritions, were the Genuine Off spring of their ignorance and uncertainty of a Future State. And the Sad­ducees, a great and learned Party amongst them, said there is no Resurrection, neither Angel nor Spirit. And though the Gentiles (at least some of their wise men and Philosophers) asserted and believed the Immortality of the Soul, yet they were all uncertain, if not alto­gether in unbelief, of the Resurrection of the Body: that these Mola's of flesh and blood should put on Incorruption, and be cloathed with Immortality; which is the only clear Re­velation of the Gospel, and the m [...]st power­ful Argument to all the Duties and Obligati­ons of Moral Righteousness, &c.

The Jews went into Captivity under Shi­sack King of Egypt, and Nebuchadnezzar King of Babel; and at last, were desolate under Ti­tus [Page 30] and Vespatian, with the Temple of the Lord in their mouths, and the sign of Cir­cumcision in their flesh, and Abraham to their Father. And if God spared not the Natural Branches, it is fair warning to the Wild Olives grafted in not to be high minded, but fear; not to trust to the outward Privileges of the due Administration of the Word and Sacraments, or external obedience to Instituted Righteous­ness, and positive Laws, without cleansing themselves from all filthiness of Flesh and Spi­rit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God; for it is not that that goes in, but that that comes out, that defiles a man: Good and Evil pro­perly consists not in the external act and ope­ration of the Body, but in the inward habit and disposition of the mind; whence it is, that love is the fulfilling of the Law; and conse­quently, Hate, the transgression of it: so that he that loves his Neighbour as himself, is his preserver; and he that hates him in his heart, is his murtherer; though neither ever have power or opportunity actuallay either to save or to destroy. Charity is not properly to re­relieve them that want, but to love God above all, and our Neighbour as our selves; nor Martyrdome every dying, but dying for the [Page 31] love of God and Truth; 1 Cor. 13. 3. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not Charity, it profiteth me nothing: Joh. 4. 24. God is a Spirit, and they that wor­ship him must worship him in spirit and in truth: Optimus animus pulcherrimus Dei cul­tus, Seneca; He worships God best, who hath the best mind. God bears respect to Abel and to his Offering. That Holocaust and Obla­tion which smokes from the Altar of a dovot­ed heart to God (for the Altar sanctifies the Gift) bears our acceptable Odour, otherwise we are but like Vaults, that sound merely from their hollowness, &c.

External Profession of the best Religion, Outward Communion with the best Church, such as the Jewish once was, and the Christian now is; cannot secure or privilege from the storms of Divine Vengeance, without the true belief, and necessry practice of Truth and Holiness, &c.

And since we have the Profession of the best Religion, and live in Communion with one of the best Churches this day in the world (which happiness God grant us long to enjoy, under the protection, and in the long life and [Page 32] prosperity of our most religious and gracious Sovereign) (and may it ever be the Blessing to us, and our Posterities for all Generations) that therein we may effectually save our souls from death, and hide the multitude of our sins: may it please God so to assist us with his Grace, as that in the firm belief of all her Principles, & in the uniform practice of all her Duties and Obliga­tions, we may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all Godliness and Honesty; that being holy, and humble, and undefiled, the Children of God without rebuke, we may at last, together with all those that are departed this world in the true Faith, and fear of God, be made partak­ers of the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord Jesus: To whom, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit; three Persons, and one God, of the same Substance, Power and Eternity; be given of us, all Angels, all Men, and all Crea­tures, all possible Honour and Glory, Praise and Dominion, Power and Thanksgiving, Fear, Adoration and Obedience, now and for ever; Amen.


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