AN APOLOGY FOR THE Mysteries of the GOSPEL. BEING A SERMON PREACHED At WHITE-HALL, Feb. 16. 1672/3;.

BY SETH Lord Bishop of SARUM.

PRINTED By his Majesties special Command.

LONDON, Printed by E.T. and R. H. for Iames Collins at the Kings Arms in Ludgate-street, 1674.

AN APOLOGY FOR THE Mysteries of the GOSPEL. ROM. I. 16. For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: For it is the power of God to Salva­tion, to every one that be­lieveth.

THE former part of this Text (being delivered in terms unusual) hath af­forded matter of Disputation to Interpreters.

[Page 2]The Question is, Whether it be to be taken for a [...]; or to be understood simply, and plain­ly, according to the usual import and meaning of such expressi­ons.

That St. Paul, so long after his Miraculous Conversion, (a little before his Appeal to Caesar) drawing near to the finishing of his Course.

That St. Paul, after he had planted the Gospel, from Ieru­salem round about unto Illyri­cum, Rom. 15. 19. after the composing of all those excellent Epistles written before his bonds, whereof this Epistle to the Romans was the last.

That St. Paul (I say) after all this, should descend to so poor an Expression as might insinuate, that there was something in the [Page 3] Gospel, whereof it was possible, that some of the Romans might imagine that he ought to be asha­med.

(That in the judgement of St. Paul the Gospel should ad­minister occasion for the Antici­pation and Amolition of so con­temptible a Prejudice,)

It seems to many very impro­bable, and therefore they say that the words are a [...], and that the Apostle in saying that he was not ashamed of the Gospel, intended to signifie that he ex­ulted and gloried in it.

Indeed, we finde our Apostle,1 Tim. 1. 11. not only in his other Epistles (and in his Apologies) but in this Epistle to the Romans, 1 Cor. 4. 4. 3. 7. 10. 8. often magnifying his Office, and glo­rying in the Ministry of the Go­spel which he had received; he [Page 4] styles it the light of the glorious Gospel, a Ministration exceed­ing glorious, and professes that if he should boast of his Authority, he should not be ashamed.

Yet (with submission to better Judgements) I humbly conceive that he is not so to be understood in this place.

Though the Epistle was di­rected to those at Rome, which were already Christians; yet this passage was put in with reference to others, to whom the Epistle was to be communicated (per­sons not yet converted to Chri­stianity.Ver. 8. hu­jus.) To them who were already called to be Saints, whose Faith was spoken of throughout the World; to talk of not being ashamed of the Gospel, had been a [...] very incongruous.

But (on the other side) for [Page 5] him who (by his original Com­mission) was constituted the Apo­stle of all the Gentiles,Act. 22. 21. made a debtor to them all (as he sayes;Ver. 14.) to the Wise as well as unwise, to the Greeks and Romans as well as the Barbarians.

That he, who in pursuance of this Commission, had already planted the Gospel amongst the more Barbarous Nations, from Antioch in Syria as far as Lystra and Derbe, Acts 14. Cities of Lycaonia; and among the Greeks, in all the chief Cities of Macedonia and Achaia (from Ierusalem round about unto Illyricum) so that nothing now remained but to Preach at Rome (as he speaks Emphatically) at Rome also.

That he,1 Cor. 2. 1. whose Preaching was not in a way of Humane wisdom or excellency of speech [Page 6] (in the way either of Rhetorical Harangue or Philosophical argu­mentation) intending to preach at Rome (the Seat of the Empire of the World) the Resort of the Noble, the Mighty, and the Wise, of all those who in the Phrase of our time, are styled the Beaux esprits, the Wits and Braveries of the World.

Briefly, that St. Paul, who knew the Prejudices which these men had against the Gospel, and with what Contempt and Scorn they generally looked upon it (as a Dispensation whereof a man ought to be ashamed.)

That St. Paul, who (as it appears by all his Epistles and Orations) well understood (the [...]) the Congrui­ty and decency of speaking or of writing; intending, before he [Page 7] should conclude, (after he should have evinced the Excellency of the Gospel) to take strength and confidence,Rom. 15. 17. and glory in his Ministration; Being yet in his Prooemium only, whose Office is ( [...]) by a modest and smooth insinuation, to make way for his Discourse which was to follow;

I say, that in this place of his Epistle, he should take notice of the Prejudices which lay against the Gospel, and plainly and clearly (without a [...]) An­ticipate and Obviate the imagi­nation that he ought to be asha­med of it; This, I humbly con­ceive to be most agreeable to the design and Character of St. Paul, and that according to this inter­pretation we ought here to con­sider,

  • [Page 8]I. A supposal in the Romans, intimating the prejudices against [...]e Gospel. And therein,
    • 1. A thing imagined; that Paul would not adventure to Preach the Gospel at Rome.
    • 2. The reason of the imagina­tion, an Opinion that he would be ashamed.
  • II. A removal or Amolition of that supposal, intimating the Iniquity of those Prejudices: viz.

    A Removal of

    • 1. The thing that was imagi­ned, I am ready to preach the Gospel, even at Rome.
    • 2. And of the imaginary rea­son of the supposition, For I am not ashamed of the Gospel.
  • III. The Grounds and Rea­sons of this Amolition.

    [Page 9]And these are drawn from two heads and adjuncts of the Gospel:

    • 1. Necessarily implied and presupposed, and that is Veritatis evidentia, (if the Gospel were not the truth of God it could not be the power of God.)
    • 2. Explicitely and expresly proposed, and that is Vir­tutis excellentia, it is the Power of God to Salvati­on (and that [...]) to every one that believ­eth. ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to Salvation to every one that believeth.’

So that I am to speak of these two general Heads:

  • I. Of the Prejudices against the Gospel.
  • [Page 10]II. Of the Iniquity and un­reasonableness of those Preju­dices.

From whence it will follow that we ought to Preach the Gospel, and not to be asha­med.

Concerning which things I shall not endeavour at a Rheto­rical Harangue, but crave leave that I may be admitted to speak in a plain and humble Analyti­cal and Didactical way of dis­course.

I. Then, I am to speak of those Prejudices against the Gospel, from whence it is (by some per­sons) imagined, that the Mini­sters of the Gospel ought to be ashamed of it.

And herein I shall

  • 1. Shew that there alwayes have been, and alwayes will [Page 11] be such Prejudices against the Gospel.
  • 2. Enquire what it is in the Systeme of the Gospel, which is the special object of these Prejudices.
  • 3. Then make a brief reflecti­on upon the nature and symptomes of the Preju­dices.
  • 4. And upon the Characters of the persons most ob­noxious to them.

1. First, That there alwayes have been, and alwayes will be, Prejudices against the Gospel (and an imagination in some per­sons, that Ministers and Chri­stians ought to be ashamed of it) is so deplorably manifest, that I need not insist upon either the proof or declaration of it.

That it is, and hath been al­wayes [Page 12] so, it is not only the un­happy complaint of the present Age, but hath been of every Age and Generation since the first Promulgation of the Gospel; And that it will be so, we have an infallible assurance from Christ and his Apostles; That the latter dayes shall be times of Infideli­ty and departure from the Faith, that there will be Scoffers at the Gospel,2 Tim. 3. 1. 2 Pet. 3.3. Jude 18. and cruel Mockers, we have the assurance of the Apo­stles St. Paul, St. Peter, and St. Iude.

That when the Son of man shall come to judge the World,Luke 18.8. he shall hardly finde Faith on the Earth, we have the Prediction of our Lord Christ himself.

Briefly and summarily, our Lord Christ in several places of the Gospel, declares and suppo­ses [Page 13] that many will be offended at him,Mat 23.3. Mar. 8.38. that they will be ashamed of him, and of his words, both of his Person, and of his Gospel.

Our Apostle declares that he himself is not ashamed,2 Tim. 1. 8,12,16. exhorts Timothy not to be ashamed, com­mends Epaphroditus that he was not ashamed;1 Pet. 4. 16. St. Peter exhorts those that suffered for the Gospel not to be ashamed. If there had not been an imagination in the world that they ought to have been ashamed, to what end were all these Declarations, Commen­dations, Exhortations concerning being not ashamed?

2. I pass therefore to the se­cond thing propounded, to en­quire what is the special Object of these Prejudices, or what are those things contained in the Gospel, whereof (in an especial [Page 14] manner) it is imagined that we ought to be ashamed.

Though the whole System of the Gospel lies under Prejudices, yet not all parts of it alike, some more than other, and some by reason of the other.

The whole Gospel is generally dividable into

  • 1. Historical Narrations.
  • 2. Moral Institutions and Mo­tives.
  • 3. Dogmatical Mysteries.

These are delivered sometimes distinctly and severally, and some­times they are combined and mixed together.

That there was such a person as Christ, that he was born of, Mary, that Ioseph was his re­puted Father; The manner of his Life and of his Death, his Actions, and his Teachings, [Page 15] are matters meerly Historical.

That this reputed Son of Ioseph was indeed the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of a Virgin, and the like, have in them a Com­bination of the Mystery toge­ther with the History of the Gospel.

[I stand not to shew, how the Morality is sometimes simply de­livered, and sometimes in Com­bination with the Mysterious parts of the Gospel]

1. Now concerning those parts of the Gospel which are merely and simply Historical, and Moral, I suppose they cannot be here intended; Because that to such persons, as the Romans were, (men pretending to Reason and Philosophy) they afford no co­lour for an imagination that a [Page 16] Minister or Christian ought to be ashamed.

Supposing the truth of what is there delivered (whereofIn Serm. against Antiscri­pturists. I have spoken heretofore) what was there in the Birth, or Life, or Death; the Conversation, or Actions, (ordinary, or extraor­dinary) of Christ, or his Apo­stles, whereof in the opinion of a Philosopher, a Christian ought to be ashamed?

Was it the meanness of Christs Nativity? That he was the re­puted Son of Ioseph, who was of a mean and despicable Occupa­tion.

Was it that he lived an Ambu­latory kinde of life? teaching and disputing concerning good and evil, happiness and unhap­piness, in the Synagogues and in the Temple, and the Streets [Page 17] and Markets, and in the Wilder­ness (every where) Preaching the Doctrine of the Kingdom.

Or lastly, Was it because of the occasion and manner of his Death? because he was Con­demned, and Executed by his Countrey-men, upon an accusa­tion of corrupting the People, and making an Innovation in Re­ligion, upon pretence of holding intercourse with God?

Every one of these circum­stances had been coincident in Socrates long before the time of the writing of this Epistle to the Romans.

He was the Son of Sophro­niscus, as poor a man as Ioseph (a Carver of Images in Stone) his Mother was a Midwife.

His Conversation was Ambu­latory, discoursing and reason­ing [Page 18] at all times, and in all pla­ces, (in Academia, in Lycaeo, in Foro, in places of walking, and of publick Exercise; (when he ate, or drank, or played) in the Camp, the Market, or the Pri­son) with all the men he met withall concerning Virtue and Vice, and the summum bonum; concerning Wisdom and Folly. Vide Xe­noph. in Soc. Apo­logia. And he had been condemned and executed by the Athenians, upon the very same pretences which were objected against our Saviour.

Yet all these disadvantages had not hindred Socrates (at that time, after about 500 years) from the Admiration, and al­most Adoration of all men pre­tending to Philosophy and Wis­dom, not only amongst all the rest of the Gentile World, but [Page 19] even amongst the Romans also.

And therefore the mere Histo­rical part of the Gospel could mi­nister no colour of suspicion why a Minister or a Christian should be ashamed of it.

2. Moreover, the same may be said of those parts of the Go­spel which are merely Practical, and Moral, (The Precepts con­cerning Piety and Justice, and Temperance in all the several branches of them, and the motives to them.)

The Morality of the Gospel infinitely excells the Institutions of any of the Heathen Philoso­phers, all that they could object against it, was its too great pu­rity and holiness, that it puts a violence, and stretch upon Hu­mane Nature, causing men to strain after degrees of purity and [Page 20] sanctity unpracticable and unat­tainable. It excells all the Pre­cepts and Institutes of the Jews, Christ made a [...] even of the Moral Law of Moses, and tells us, that the Righteousness of Christians must exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees;Mat. 5. 20. and the Apostle (com­paring the entire Systems of the Mosaical and Christian Oeco­nomies in reference to Christian Duties and the motives to them,Heb. 8. 6.) justly pronounces, that the Chri­stian hath received a better Co­venant, founded upon better Promises.

3. It remains therefore, that the peculiar and special Object of those Prejudicate imaginati­ons (whereby it is concluded, that Ministers and Christians ought to be ashamed) are the [Page 21] Articles of mere Belief, Dogmati­cal Mysteries of the Gospel.

At the expence of your time and patience (in a long dis­course) to tell you what are the Mysteries of the Gospel, were to suppose that (in compliance with the barbarity of later times) you had neglected to be in­structed in your Catechism, and had need that one should teach you what are the first Elements of Christianity. My design en­gages me no further than only to name them, and that also very briefly.

In the two first Chapters to the Corinthians, we finde our Apostle handling this Argument largely and ex professo.

And there he reduces the whole mystery to two words, namely, the Cross of Christ, he [Page 22] tells them that he was sent to Preach and not to Baptize, that this was that which Christ sent him to Preach; and that he de­termined to know nothing else among them, but Iesus Christ and him Crucified, and in Chap. 1. v. 23. he declares this to have been the occasion of the Scan­dal, taken both by Jews and Gentiles; I Preach Christ Cru­cified to the Iews a stumbling-block, &c.

The Scandal taken, was a­gainst the Mysteries of the Go­spel, and the Nature, and Me­diatorian Office; the Character and Personal Concernment of Christ, and work of Redem­ption by his blood spilt upon the Cross, are the two great and comprehensive heads to which the whole Mystery of the Gospel [Page 23] is easily, naturally, and immedi­ately reducible.

The Justification, Sanctificati­on, entire Oeconomy of the sal­vation of man, depends immedi­ately upon the work of Redem­ption by the blood of Christ.

The value and efficacy of his blood, resolves into the Excel­lency of his Person, and of his Nature; That he was the Son of God the Father, Conceived by the Holy Ghost, which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one.

So that in the last resolution, the conjunction of the Divine and Humane Natures in the Unity of the Person of Christ, and the Tri­nity of Persons in the Unity of the Nature of the Godhead, is the [...] of the Gospel.

And this is also the [...], that great thing whereof it [Page 24] is imagined that a Christian or a Preacher ought to be asha­med.

Which will be yet more evi­dent if we shall make a brief re­flection upon the Nature and Symptoms of the Prejudices a­gainst the Gospel, and the Cha­racter of the persons more espe­cially obnoxious to these Preju­dices.

3. Beside the consideration of Interest, (real or imaginary) and the disappointment of mens desires and expectations, (an or­dinary, eminent and predomi­nant ingredient in the prejudices of all men) there are two things which (in men pretending to prudence and vertue, or to rea­son and understanding) are apt to create a distaste against any way of Institution, or any Do­ctrine [Page 25] wherein they are supposed or presumed to be.

1. [...], an apprehension of Turpitude or dishonesty, ei­ther intrinsecally contained in that which is propounded, or consequentially involved with it.

2. [...] or [...], an appre­hension of some Absurdity or unreasonableness in it.

1. Of the former sort, are Principles of Atheism, Irreligi­on, Immorality, the Doctrines of Diagoras, who denyed the being of God; of Carneades, concern­ing good and evil; of Diogenes, concerning Incest, &c. (which have an Intrinsick and immedi­ate turpitude;) The Doctrine of Epicurus concerning the Mortality of the Soul, a conse­quential Principle of all Impie­ty, [Page 26] Injustice, and Debauchery, if that be the case,1 Cor. 15. 32. Let us eat and drink, &c.

These are injurious to the In­terest of Mankinde, and they put an indignity upon the pra­ctical reason and principles of men, and are apt to be distaste­full and offensive, instances whereof there are very many among the Heathens, (as among others that of the Athenians, who banished Protagoras, and caused his Books to be burnt in the open Market-place, because he wrote doubtfully concerning the being of a God) But as for these, it hath not been in the power of malice to fasten them upon the Gospel, or in the com­pass of mistake to suppose them in it; so that it hath been clear­ly exempted from this Prejudice.

[Page 27]2. The other thing that cre­ates an aversion against any Do­ctrine is [...] or [...] (an Ap­prehension of absurdity or un­reasonableness in the things pro­pounded) wherein the Wit and Theoretick Reason or Under­standing of men takes it self (no matter whether it be justly or unjustly) to be affronted, and this is as distastefull as the for­mer.

An Instance whereof we have in the sixth of St. Iohn, where when Christ told those that fol­lowed him of eating his flesh and drinking his blood (speaking in a figure not obvious to their vul­gar understanding) they cryed out [...], (that was a hard saying) and taking themselves to be abused they fi­nally forsook him.

[Page 28]I say, that the apprehension of Moral turpitude, or Logical absurdity are equally distasteful, But in their more peculiar Sub­jects, and Symptoms, and Apti­tude to mistake and Prejudice, they differ.

The former aversion hath its peculiar seat and residence in Vertuous and Prudent men, (the [...] and [...]) and dis­covers it self in Zeal and Indig­nation, as against things dange­rous and pernicious; the later is subjected in persons, who are (or take themselves to be) men of Wit and Learning (the [...], and the [...],) the Symptoms of it are scorn and contempt, as of things absurd and nonsensical, foolish and irrational.

And in matters of this nature men are more inclinable to fall [Page 29] into mistake and Prejudice than in the former.

The Notions of Truth and Falshood lie more abstruse than those of Good and Evil, and men are more apt to be deceived in their wit, than in their honesty.

No Truths are so liable to mistake and prejudice as the pro­fessedly Mysterious, and without controversie great is the Myste­ry of Godliness. The ground of this Prejudice is an Impotency to distinguish betwixt [...] and [...] and [...], be­twixt Truth and Clearness, Ob­scurity and Absurdity, Being in­conceivable and incredible, Be­ing incomprehensible, and Being unaccountable.

4. This Impotency is an In­firmity to which the Brisk and the sudden, the forward and im­patient, [Page 30] the talkative and dispu­tatious, (all such as scorn the dulness of consideration, and think themselves above the drudgery of thinking) that is to say the Wits and Beaux esprits are of all men living the most obnoxious.

And from hence it is, that by persons of this Character to be despised, hath alwayes been the fortune of the Gospel.

The condition of the Gospel amongst our selves, I shall not in this place, at this time labour to declare, I come not hither to accuse my Nation; But that it was thus in the Apostles time we have sufficient assurance.

He tells us that the most emi­nent despisers (the Contempto­res legitimi) of the Gospel, were the [...], and the [...], [Page 31] and the [...]. The Tropical Rhetorician, and the Flanting Orator, the Jibing Satyrist, and Scurrilous Come­dian, the Sophistical Philosopher, and Everlasting Disputant, the Conceited Scribe, and Pharisai­cal Opiniator.1 Cor. 1. 20. Where (saith the Apostle) is the Wise? Where is the Scribe? Where is the disputer of this World?

The entertainment which the Gospel found at the hands of such as these was generally that of scorn and contempt.

Speaking in the person of men of this Character (whe­ther Iews or Gentiles) our A­postle in the compass of two 1 and 2 of 1 Ep. to Cor. Chapters doth nine times call the Mysteries of the Gospel foolishness, and foolish things, things weak, ignoble, and de­spised, [Page 32] and things which are not.

The sum of the whole Myste­ry of the Gospel is contained in two words, (Christ Crucified) I preach (saith he) Christ cruci­fied, Chap. 1.23. to the Iews a scandal, to the Greeks foolishness; the opinion they had of it was that it was an absurd and a foolish dispensation, a dispensation whereof a Chri­stian, a Preacher ought to be ashamed.

Thus much of the first gene­ral part of my Discourse con­cerning the Prejudices against the Gospel.

II. I come now to the second part,

To shew the Iniquity and un­reasonableness of these Preju­dices.

[Page 33]And here I shall endeavour to evince two things.

  • 1. That there is reason for the Contemners of the Gospel to be ashamed of their Preju­dices.
  • 2. That there is no reason for Christians or Ministers to be asha­med of the Gospel.

1. First, There is reason for the Contemners of the Gospel to be ashamed.

Because their Contempt of it doth not proceed from any Ge­nerous or Noble Principle or qualification, it comes not from height of Spirit or Wit, from depth of Reason or Judgement, from largeness of Learning or Knowledge.

But from the want of all these [Page 34] qualifications, and is finally re­solved into an ungentile, and (if I may be permitted to speak plainly) a kinde of Rustical Ig­norance and want of Ingenui­ty.

In Acts 17. 11. St. Paul com­paring the Thessalonian Jews with the Beraeans, saith that the Berae­ans were more Noble ( [...],) because they did not precipi­tously, and temerariously reject the Gospel, as the others did, but were diligent in searching of the Scriptures daily, and in a strict enquiry concerning the Grounds and Motives to Belief alleadged by the Apostles (whether they were of that weight which was pretended) whether they were so or no.

In matters of so great moment as the Gospel doth pretend to be [Page 35] (in reference to this world, and that which is to come) to de­spise, or to reject the Proposals, without a just consideration of them, and without an imparti­al and ingenuous examination (and full understanding) of the Grounds and Reasons, upon which they are propounded, sa­vours not of Prudence or Wis­dom, Wit, or Learning, Ingenie or Ingenuity; in one word, it savours neither of a Gentleman, nor a Scholar.

Now that this is the Case in the Contempt of the Gospel, I think it will appear if we shall attentively consider,

  • 1. What was the Judgement of Christ (who was the Author of the Gospel) concerning this matter.
  • 2. The signal Instances of the [Page 36] contempt and neglect of the Gospel mentioned in the Scri­ptures
  • 3. If we shall make a rational enquiry into the Principles and Postulata, into which the con­tempt of the Gospel is finally re­solved.

1. First, this will receive evi­dence from the Judgement of Christ himself, concerning the resolution of the rejection and contempt of the Gospel.

I suppose none will be so Jewish as to object, the bringing of Christ to be a Witness in his own behalf, seeing his case is not the case of an ordinary witness, but resolves it self (as after­wards will be briefly shewed) into attestation of the greatest credit.

I say then, that Christ himself [Page 37] (who knew what was in man, and needed not that any man should teach him) hath resolved the contempt and rejection of the Gospel into want of under­standing, and of due and inge­nuous consideration, into Igno­rance, and want of Candour and Ingenuity.

In the Parable of the Sower we finde this Argument largely and profoundly handled by our Saviour,Mat. 13.3. Mar. 4. 3. Luk. 8.5. the Parable is three times delivered in the Gospel, and is very well known, so that I need not stand upon the de­claration or repetition of it. The [...] concerning the bad, (that is the high-way, the stony, the thorny) and the good, (that is, the fruitfull) ground, I shall not mention; He that shall harmo­nize the triple Narration, and [Page 38] Analyze the [...] of this Parable, shall finde, that our Sa­viour therein propounds and in­timates the causes immediate and mediate; Mediate, nearer and remoter, of the reception and re­jection of the Gospel, whereof (as to the point in hand) the sum is this:

That the irregular endeavour after the attainment of temporal good things, and the avoidance of temporal Evils, The lust of the Flesh, the lust of the Eye, and the Pride of Life, the Cares of the World and Deceitfulness of Riches, the lust of other things, Pride and conceitedness of Wis­dom, and other Carnal Interests, are the cause of the want of an attentive, and patient, an inge­nuous and impartial considera­tion; And that the want of such [Page 39] a consideration, is the cause of the want of a thorow Under­standing; and that the want of a thorow Understanding, this is the cause of the Contempt, or Rejection, or neglect of the Go­spel.

In the Gospel of Luk. 8. 15. [...]. St. Luke he resolves the causes of the Re­ception of the Gospel into ho­nesty and goodness of heart (sin­cerity, and ingenuity) into a pa­tient and constant attention to (hearing and keeping of) the word.

In the Gospel of St. Matthew he resolves the whole matter in­to this one point of a perfect and thorow Understanding.Mat. 13. 23. The good ground, says he, is he that [...]. hears the Word and brings forth fruit with understanding.

A fair and honest, a candid [Page 40] and ingenuous attention and Consideration, and a full Un­derstanding, are the causes of the Reception; Therefore an At­tention hypocritical and unsin­cere, An ignoble ignorance, per­versness, and want of candour and ingenuity, are the causes of the contempt of the Go­fpel in the judgement of our Sa­viour.

2. The same also will further appear if we might be permitted to examine the several Instances of contempt and neglect of the Gospel, and so go thorow the various degrees of the Symptoms of Infidelity mentioned in the Gospel. I shall only touch them very briefly, and the heads of them are such as these:

  • 1. The egregious hesitation or slowness in believing.
  • [Page 41]2. The refusal or rejection of the Gospel.
  • 3. The Offence or Scandal at it.
  • 4. The quarrelling and dispu­tation against it, and opposition to it.
  • 5. The down-right scorn and contempt of it.
  • 6. And lastly, the Persecu­tion for it.

I say, if we might stay upon this Argument, it would appear, that as the Remoter causes of e­very Case, are easily reducible, to the lusts and interests men­tioned by our Saviour, so the more immediate Causes, whether in Jews or Gentiles, will be found to resolve into want of Ingenuity and Understanding.

1. The Apostles were slow in believing before the Resurrecti­on [Page 42] and Mission of the Spirit. Christ tells them, that then they were Fools, and slow of heart (inconsiderate and inadvertent, stupid and Disingenuous.)

2. The most eminent Reject­ers of the Gospel were the Scribes and Pharisees: if we shall enquire after the Vertue or Mo­desty, Candour or Ingenuity of these men, we will finde them the most barbarous and covetous, proud and supercilious, insin­cere and hypocritical in the world, (how often doth our Sa­viour charge them with all these things?) And if we enquire af­ter their Knowledge and Under­standing, we shall finde them to have been meer Braggadocio's and pretenders; Christ often calls them blinde Pharisees, and blinde guides; he tells them that [Page 43] they were blinde leaders of the blinde:Mat. 23. 16, 26. that seeing they did see and not perceive, hearing they did hear and did not under­stand.

3. In the sixth of Iohn we finde a mighty Scandal taken at the Gospel among the Auditors of Christ, they murmured, they strove amongst themselves, they finally revolted, upon a word, because they judged it to be, [...] a hard saying; They judged it so, because they did not understand it; they did not un­derstand it, because they had not the Modesty and Meekness, Pa­tience and Ingenuity to enquire the meaning of it, or to attend to that Explication which our Saviour made of that expressi­on.Ver. 6.3.

4. In the 22 of St. Mathew, [Page 44] and the parallel places, we finde the Pharisees, the Scribes, the Lawyers, the Herodians, coursing our Saviour, charging him with questions about paying Tribute unto Caesar, the Resurrection, the Great Commandment, &c. If now ye will judge of the In­genuity of these men, consider there how thick and threefold, how furiously and how rudely, they fall upon him, how stupid­ly they persist, every one judge­ing that he was too hard for all the rest, (and answered them well,) but every one adhering to his own Conclusion; Consi­der how before they set upon him, they took counsel to en­tangle him, and sent spies to en­trap (or trepan) him; And for their Vnderstanding, consider how ignorant they were, not [Page 45] knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

Neither was it thus among the Jews only, but among the Gen­tiles also; nor only in these, but in the two remaining degrees of the down-right scorn, and the contempt of the Gospel, and Per­secution for it.

5. In the 26. of the Acts we finde the opinion that Festus had concerning the Gospel, (with what contempt and scorn he speaks of it, how roundly he pronoun­ces that Paul was mad.) If you should judge of his Ingenuity in pronouncing, by his skilfulness in understanding of the Gospel; Consider how profound an ac­count of Paul's case, and of the Gospel he renders to Agrippa;Act. 25.19. how that it was a (trifling) que­stion concerning the Iewish Super­stition, [Page 46] and concerning one Iesus which was dead, whom Paul af­firmed to be alive.

Ver. 32.In the 17 of the Acts we finde the Athenians [...], making a mock at Paul, and scorning his Gospel as a most ridiculous thing; If you will know their manners and ingenuity, you may observe, that they condemned him for a Babler before they heard him speak,Ver. 18. and if you will measure the depth of their Understand­ing of that which they despised, you may observe, that as they imagined Jesus to be a strange God; so they understood Ibid. Ana­stasis (the Resurrection) to be a Goddess. He seemeth (say they) to be a setter forth of strange Gods, because he Preach­ed unto them Jesus and the Re­surrection.

[Page 47]6. The utmost degree of Contempt of the Gospel, is Per­secution for it; and the highest imaginable instance of this, was the betraying and murdering of Christ himself; Concerning the Ingenuity or disingenuity of the contrivance, management, and execution of this prodigious Action, it were no less than madness to undertake to speak proportionally; And that this also proceeded not only from wickedness and want of Ingenui­ty, but from Ignorance and want of Vnderstanding, we have an irrefragable assurance. Christ himself saith, that they knew not what they did;Luk. 23. 34. 1 Cor. 2.8. and our A­postle, that if they had under­stood themselves, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.

[Page 48]So that by all these instances, and many others or like nature, it doth appear, that (agreeably to the Sentence and Judgement of our Saviour) the contempt of the Gospel is finally resolved into a Shamefull Ignorance, and want of Ingenuity; which will yet be more evident from Rea­son.

3. I come therefore in the third place to a consideration of the

  • (1) Principle into which the contempt of the Gospel is resol­ved, and of
  • (2) The Postulata upon which it is grounded. And from the Absurdity of one, and the Un­reasonableness of the other, to make it appear, that there is rea­son for the Contemners of the Go­spel to be ashamed.

[Page 49]1. From the consideration of their Principle: After what hath been spoken in the former part of this Discourse, and what is attested by experience, I take it for granted,

  • 1. That the special Object of the Contempt of the Gospel is the Mystical part of it.
  • 2. That the immediate reason of the contempt of these Myste­ries is an Imagination, or Opinion of the falshood of them.
  • 3. That this Opinion of the falshood of them, is derived from the Obscurity and Difficulty of them.

Because they are inexplicable, incomprehensible, unintelligible, they conclude them to be false and incredible, merely Fantasti­cal and Chimerical Imaginations, and so to be despised.

[Page 50]So that the Principle into which these Scorners do resolve themselves, is this; That what­soever is Inexplicable, Incompre­hensible, Unintelligible is (by Philosophers at least and Wise men) to be accounted incre­dible, fantastical, fictitious, and so to be despised.

If this be not the Ratiocina­tion, and this the Principle of those Virtuosi, of whom we are speaking, I desire to be better in­formed. But if it be, I would in­treat them to stand a little, and consider whither they are going, and whither this Principle and reasoning will lead them.

Will it not lead them to cast off not only Christianity, but even all natural Religion, and force them (with the wise man in the Psalmist) to say in their [Page 51] hearts that there is no God? Because the Nature, and Essence, and Attributes of God are inex­plicable, incomprehensible, and un­intelligible; He dwells in a light which no mortal eye can ap­proach unto, such knowledge is too wonderfull and excellent for us, and we cannot attain unto it.

But this I fear they do not ac­count an inconvenience, but ra­ther that this is that they would be at.

Again therefore, I entreat them to consider;

Will not this Principle lead them to deny the most obvious things in nature? Will it not take away the very grounds of all that wisdom, to which they do pretend, (the force even of Ex­periment and Demonstration?)

Nay, Will it not finally bring [Page 52] upon themselves, that horrible inconvenience, that they are not to be offended if it shall be doubted or affirmed that they are not such Wits as they pre­tend?

The most obvious things in Universal Nature, are Continued Quantity, and Local Motion: These are either infinitely divi­sible, or they are not. Will they deny this Disjunction, (and say, that they neither are so, nor not so?) Or will they make choice of either Member? Will they clear the difficulties that are in it? Or answer the Objections that may be made against it?

I presume they may have heard of that famous Argument of Ze­no (AEliates) called Achilles, How whilest that mighty Dispu­tant (by the impossibilities and [Page 53] absurdities on either side) was demonstrating that Local Mo­tion was a thing impossible, one of his Auditors rose up and silently and sliely walked about the School, and so confu­ted him.

The most pervious, most clear, and comprehensible of all hu­mane Sciences are the pure and unmixed Mathematicks, yet even in Geometry and Arithmetick how many things are forceably concluded to be true, which are inexplicable, unimaginable, in­comprehensible? I shall instance in a very few; So few as not to need an Apology to the un­learned in those Sciences: So trivial, as not to admit of an Ex­plication to the Learned.

That the least imaginable space should be equal to another (upon [Page 54] the same Base of the same Alti­tude) whose sides are protracted in infinitum, or a Finite greater than an Infinite. The equality of all Circular Angles of Con­tact. The everlasting approxima­tion and impossible concourse of Asymptots. The affections of surd and irrational Quantities, &c. are undeniably demonstrated to be true, yet all these (and many more) are inexplicable, incompre­hensible, unintelligible.

They say they cannot expli­cate or imagine, (they cannot conceive or comprehend) the Mystery of the Trinity, and Uni­ty of the Godhead, and therefore they despise it as a mere fictitious imagination.

Do they therefore clearly un­derstand, and fully comprehend, and can they express and expli­cate [Page 55] the Affections of Unity and Trinity in Numbers? That there should be a Quantity in Nature (one and not another) which with its infinite q.c.qq. &c. ascending pow­ers and √q.√c. √qq.&c. descending roots are all of them equal, or rather one and the same among themselves? Can they explicate, or imagine, or comprehend any one of the infinite potential roots of the Number Three?√q.√c. &c.

They say, they cannot un­derstand how Christ should be conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of a Virgin, and there­fore they deride it.

Can they therefore under­stand how they themselves have been conceived, and born, and nourished up? And are they able to explain how, and by what progress from a little wa­ter [Page 56] spilt upon a too luxurious ground there should spring forth such a Race of Titans, such a Gigantick brood of fighters a­gainst Heaven, of Scoffers at Re­ligion?

Briefly, they say they cannot comprehend how God and Man should be one Christ, and there­fore they contemn the Gospel, and the Believers of it.

Can they therefore under­stand how the reasonable Soul and Flesh should be one man?

Either they themselves consist of two natures (the one Corpo­real, the other Spiritual and In­corporeal) or they do not. If they have nothing in them In­corporeal, can they understand and explain how sensless Atoms, how stupid Matter, and Local Motion should work themselves [Page 57] up to Sense and Cogitation, Re­flection and Discourse, to Wit and Gallantry? (so as to make Jests and Ballads upon the Go­spels.)

If they consist not only of a Body, but of a Soul (a spiri­tual Soul) also; Can they ex­plain by what [...], these two natures have been brought together; by what bands and ligaments they are united, and how the Communication be­twixt them is performed? In one word, Can they explicate the Phenomena of Sense, Imagi­nation, Memory, Reason, Wit and Bravery?

If they are able to perform these things, let the world be made happy by their labours, and let them receive the Paeans, and Acclamations, the Crowns [Page 58] and Garlands denyed to all that were before them. But if they must be forced to confess that all these things are inexplicable, un­imaginable, unintelligible, and in­comprehensible, and will yet con­tinue to despise the Mysteries of the Gospel only for that reason, because they are inexplicable, un­intelligible, incomprehensible, let them not be offended at a poor despised Minister of the Gospel; if he shall declare and testifie to all the World, that these are not the Wits, or Beaux Esprits, or Forts Esprits; that they are Flesh and not Spirit, mere ordi­nary mortal Wights as others are; that all their boasting is but empty noise, and all they have to shew is a mere Deceptio visus; that they may be Masters of some devices that are pretty, [Page 59] skilfull in the Arts and Myste­ries of Circulation and disguise, but they are not such dreadfull Archimago's, such mighty Con­jurers as they pretend. Let them therefore abandon their unrea­sonable Principle, and be asha­med.

2. But secondly, as is the Prin­ciple upon which they contemn, such are their Postulata, (the [...], or [...], as the Phi­losophers and Mathematicians call them,) that is to say, the terms or demands upon which they pretend that they would cease to despise the Gospel, and for want of which they do con­temn it.

These Postulata are reducible to two Heads:

  • 1. Philosophical Demonstra­tion. Or,
  • [Page 60]2. The sight of Miracles, Signs and Wonders (at their de­mand.)

This is the pretence of the Wits of these Times: if the truth of the Mysteries of the Gospel might be proved to them by Demonstration, or if they might see a Sign they would believe; This was the pretence at the time of the writing of my Text; ( [...]) The Jews required a Sign,1 Cor. 1. 23. the Greeks (i. e. the Gentiles) sought after Wisdom ( [...], i. e. [...],) and because they were disappointed of these, the mystery (of Christ Crucified) was to the Jews a Scandal, to the Greeks foolishness. For brevity let us name these two:

  • 1. The Grecanick or Philoso­phical Postulatum.
  • [Page 61]2. The Judaick or Semiotical Postulatum.

Now that the former of these proceeds from Ignorance, and want of Learning and Under­standing; the later from Pride and Arrogance joyned with a blockish Stupidity; That the for­mer is disingenious, the later disingenuous, that both of them are irrational and absurd is evi­dent.

1. And first for the Grecanical Postulatum;

In the case of any Doctrine or question, to refuse a proof that is Cogent, and sufficient, (the only proof whereof a thing is capa­ble) and to hanker or seek after a Proof impossible, or improper, (such as implies a Contradicti­on, or such as the nature of the question will not bear;) This [Page 62] (I say) proceeds from Ignorance, from want of Learning and Un­derstanding, and this is the case of the Grecanick or Philosophical Postulatum.

To give a rational or Philo­sophical Demonstration of the truth of the Gospel, there are but three wayes imaginable in Nature: By Arguments, either,

  • 1. A Priori, from the common Principles of Intelligence. Or,
  • 2. A Posteriori, from experi­ment and sensible observa­tions.

And this latter way of arguing must be drawn either,

  • 1. From instances of things Novel and Anomalous in Nature, things purposely designed for such Arguments: Or else,
  • 2. It must be taken from the [Page 63] common and ordinary, the stand­ing and perpetnal Phenomena of Nature.

A Demonstration à posteriori by particular Instances of the Divine Power, Wisdom, and Goodness, purposely designed for that end, was the proof offer­ed by Christ and his Apostles; This they rejected; To prove par­ticular Mysteries, Mysteries hid­den from Ages, (and so decla­red and professed to be by the Promulgers) by general and per­petual Phenomena of Nature, is in nature impossible to perform, and senceless to require: To prove any thing concerning the Essence and Nature of God per causas, by Arguments à Priori supposes causes precedent to the Essence of God himself, and im­plies a Contradiction; So then, [Page 64] the Grecanick or Philosophical Postulatum proceeds from Igno­rance and want of Learning, and is at best disingenuous, and Theo­retically absurd.

2. Again secondly, (concern­ing the Judaical or Semeiotical Postulatum) After numerous, or rather innumerable Attestations by Signs and Wonders notori­ously known (and by themselves acknowledged) or sufficiently and authentically proved, or de­livered down by uncontroulable and irreproveable Tradition, yet still to demand and require more Signs, Signs of their own electi­on, accompanied with circum­stances of their own prescripti­on; Is not this to tempt and limit the Almighty? To make themselves Arbiters of the Ema­nations of his Power and Wis­dom? [Page 65] To suppose that those ought to be subservient to their wanton curiosity; Is it not to expect that God himself should Lacquey after them, to make him a doer of Tricks at their senceless and impudent demand? Is not this an Asinine and an impious stupidity? A composition of the highest degrees of Intellectual and Moral Absurdity which is imaginable?

Now (therefore) that this was, and is, (and to the end of the world must ever now be) the case of the Jewish or Semeiotical Postulatum, is also plain and evi­dent.

In Confirmation of the Go­spel, Christ and his Apostles wrought far more (and more con­siderable) Signs and Wonders, than before (or since) that time [Page 66] were ever wrought since the Cre­ation of the world, yet all this will not content them: Not­withstanding all this, [...], (they require a sign) the mean­ing whereof is better interpreted by their Practice and behaviour to our Saviour than by the Di­ctionary; And of this their be­haviour I shall only produce two or three instances.

In the sixth of Iohn we finde that Christ fed 5000 men with five Loaves and two Fishes, and when they had seen the Miracle, they were so taken with it, that they Ver. 14. [...]. Ver. 15. said that he was that Pro­phet which should come, and they would have taken him by force and made him a King.

But the very next day, these very men, that had seen, and felt, and tasted of, the Miracle (be­cause [Page 67] he told them that they fol­lowed him for the Loaves) take a miff at him, they pirk up them­selves, and come boldly and ma­lepertly to him,Ver. 30. saying, [...]; What Sign shewest thou, that we may see and believe? What do'st thou work? As if the former Mi­racle had not been now a Sign.

When Christ hung upon the Cross,Mat. 27. 40,41,42. the Noble and the Mighty, the Grave and Wise amongst them, (the chief Priests, and the Scribes, and the Elders) came, and offered him a bargain, if he would then (just then) come down from the Cross, they would believe; but our Lord Christ had just then something else to do.

In the eighth of Mark the Pha­risees came forth,Ver. 11. vide Mat. 16. 1, 4. 12.38, 39. Luk. 11. 16,29,30. and began to question him ( [...], to cavil, and dispute with him) [...], [Page 68] (requiring a sign) seeking of him a sign from Heaven tempting him; They would have (and that pre­sently upon the spot) a sign, not [...], but [...], or that which is properly [...];Vide Joh. 4. 48. not from Winde, or Sea, or Earth, but from Heaven; not that they in­tended to be his Disciples, but for a trial of his skill and abili­ty; was not this a Gallant and a Wise, a Noble and a Worthy Postulatum? Could it chuse but move him to a compliance?

This moved him indeed, to comply so far with his own de­fign, as to promise them a sign; the sign of the Prophet Ionas (that irrefragable [...] of his Gospel) which should render them inexcusable; But though he was meek and lowly of heart, the soft and gentle Lamb of God, [Page 69] so that he snffered himself to be accused, condemned, buffeted, and spit upon, and yet held his peace (as a Lamb that is dumb so opened he not his mouth) Yet the nobleness and ingenuity of this Postulatum kindled a fire within him, so that he spake with his tongue. This moved him to scorn and indignation, so that in effect he called them bastards for for their labour, telling them that they were (no sons of Abra­ham, Isaac and Iacob, but) a wic­ked and adulterous Generation;Mat. 12. 38, 39. and that no sign should be given them but the sign of the Prophet Ionas.

I suppose I shall need to say no more concerning the absur­dity and unreasonableness of the Jewish or Semeiotical Postulatum. And

[Page 70]I have now done with the for­mer part of my undertaking, which was to endeavour to make it appear,

That the Comtemners of the Gospel have reason to be asha­med of their Prejudices.

2. I come now to the second, which is the last part of what I have propounded, viz. to shew,

That there is no reason for Christians or for Preachers to be ashamed of the Gospel;

And that upon two Conside­rations:

  • 1. Propter veritatis Eviden­tiam.
  • 2. Propter virtutis Excellen­tiam.

The former of which is im­plied (if it were not the truth of God, it could not be the Pow­er of God.)

[Page 71]The later is expressed, For it is the Power of God to sal­vation to every one that believ­eth.

The evidence of the Truth is so great that whosoever duly considers it will certainly be­lieve the Gospel.

The Virtue and Excellency of the Gospel is so great, that whosoever truly believes the Go­spel shall infallibly be saved.

1. First, I am to speak of the Evidence of the truth of the Gospel. But because it is here only implied, and because I have Serm. a­gainst An­tiscript. formerly employed my poor endeavours upon that Argu­ment, I shall only briefly touch upon it.

The Mysteries of the Gospel, though they are inexplicable and inconceivable, yet are they [Page 72] not incredible, though incom­prehensible, yet they are not un­accountable; Nor was the Au­thor and Finisher of the Chri­stian Faith so severe upon the understanding of his followers, as to exact a Belief without a sufficient proof and Demonstra­tion of the truth of that which he delivered.

Though he would not offer at the Grecanick way (which he knew to be impossible to grant, to be absurd and unrea­sonable to require) yet he would afford it that Demonstration whereof it was capable (a De­monstration properly so called, accommodate to the Understand­ing of all Mankinde, Jews and Gentiles, Greeks and Barbarians, Noble and Ignoble, Learned and Unlearned) [...].

[Page 73]He that refused to gratifie the impudent Scribes and Pharisees in their way, would not leave the truth of the Gospel unde­monstrated in his own.

And of the truth of all the Mysteries which he delivered, this is the Analemma Catholicon, the Common, the Universal, the Comprehensive demonstration.

He that made himself the Son of God (as the Jews express it) That said he was one with God (I and the Father are one) that he was in the Father,Joh. 10. 30. 14.11. and the Father in him; That declared the Mission and Emanation of the Spirit from the Father and the Son, and that always spoke of him as a person distinct; And that these three are one.1 Joh. 5.7.

In a word; He that was the Author of these and all other [Page 74] Mysteries whereof we have been speaking, did not put the issue of believing upon his [...], but upon an undeniable and un­refuseable Criterion.

Joh. 10.38. If I do not the works of my Fa­ther believe me not; but if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works, ( [...]) that ye may know (by Demonstrati­on) as well as believe, that I am in the Father, and he in me.

He did not only bear witness to himself, (although he died in testimony of his Doctrine) He had not only the glorious Com­pany of the Apostles, the goodly fellowship of the Prophets, the noble Army of Martyrs for his Witnesses; But he called Hea­ven and Earth to witness, He subpena'd whatever was in Hea­ven, and Earth, and in the Sea, [Page 75] and in all deep places, to bear testimony to him.

There were three that bore witness in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, those three which he affirmed to be one. The Angels ministred unto him; The Devils trembled and fled before him; Plants and Ani­mals, the Winde and Sea obeyed him; The Stars in their courses, or rather out of their courses mi­litated for him. To give testimo­ny to Consummatum est, at the time of his Death, the Sun was eclipsed, the Moon being at the Full. To indicate the place of his Nativity, at the time of his Birth a new Star was made on purpose. Health and Sickness, Life and Death, and Hades, gave in their testimonies by their obe­dience to his word. Yet once [Page 76] more, he shook the Heavens, and sent down the Holy Spirit upon his followers: he shook the Earth also, he tore the Rocks and open­ed the Graves, and at his power­full voice the bodies of the Saints arose: And lest it should be said, He raised others but himself he could not raise; As he finished the Great Mystery of Christia­nity by his Death, so also he proved the truth of it by his Re­surrection; As he died for our Sins,Rom. 4. 24. so he rose again for our Justi­fication, for our Justification is in the Belief of that, and all other, the Mysteries of Christianity.

These and many more, are heads of Arguments, which who­ever duly considers and under­stands, will certainly believe the Gospel propter veritatis Eviden­tiam.

[Page 77]2. It remains only to shew, that whosoever doth truly believe the Gospel, shall infallibly be sa­ved Propter Bonitatis, or Virtu­tis Excellentiam; Because it is the Power of God to salvation to every one that believeth.

In speaking of which Argu­ment, I need not go about to prove, that the Power of the Go­spel is the Power of God, (in which respect it is called the Act. 11. 21. Hand or Isa. 53.1. Arm of the Lord, Rom. 10. 16. Eph. 6.17. the Sword of the Spi­rit, Tit. 2.11. the Grace of God, bring­ing Salvation, and the like.)

Neither shall I stand upon a Comparison of the Gospel, with the Grecanical or Judaical Insti­tutions, (a man may believe all that ever was written by Philo­sophers, and yet doubt whether there is, (or can be) such a [Page 78] thing as Salvation, yea or no. A man may believe, whatever is explicitely and expresly deliver­ed in the Law of Moses, and yet not be saved) But my intention is (barely and nakedly) this, By a short Reflexion upon the Way and Method of the Actions of Mankinde, and the Discoveries and Contents of the Gospel (well known to those that hear me) to manifest the truth of this Pro­position, That, every man that believeth the Gospel (i. e. that truly and actually [...]. Luk. 8. 15. [...]. Rom. 1. 28. abideth in that belief) shall infallibly be saved.

Because whosoever frames his Actions according to the Rules and Principles (the Precepts and Prescriptions of the Gospel,) shall infallibly be saved.

And because, it is of the na­ture of man, to frame his Actions [Page 79] according to his Actual and per­severing Judgement and Belief.

The Nature and Essence of man consists in his Understand­ing; and for a man not to fol­low the stedfast and constant, the actual and final dictate of his Understanding, is impossible in Nature, and indeed implies a Contradiction.

He that believes, that there is neither God nor Devil, Heaven nor Hell, Salvation nor Damna­tion; And that he hath not an Immortal Soul (i. e.) a Soul to save; such a man (If at least he hath attained to those great ac­complishments of Rudeness and Incivility) will make it his bu­siness to fill up his measure of Debaucheries, and Impieties; will think it Brave (perhaps) and Witty, to Blaspheme God, and [Page 80] scoff at Religion; will make it a matter of Gallantry and noble Courage and Resolution, to challenge God to damn him, or bid the Devil take him Body and Soul; will spend his time in Revelling and Drunkenness, in Chambering and Wantonness; Expecting and hoping to die like a beast, he will be sure to live like one; And in conclusion will finde himself disappointed of this glorious hope (this goodly, noble, manly expectation) and that his Miscreancy and the errour of his Judgement hath betrayed him into eternal misery.

Whilest (on the other side) he that believes the Declarations, and Promises, and Threatnings, of the Gospel, will have his fruit unto holiness, and the end ever­lasting life.

[Page 81]He that firmly and stedfastly believes, that the Soul which Actuates his body is an Immor­tal Being (a subsistence which shall and must endure to all eter­nity;)

That after Death he must ap­pear before the Tribunal of God and Christ,2 Cor. 5. 10. to answer for the things done in the body;

That from thence he shall be transmitted to a state either of Eternal Happiness, or Eternal Misery; either to be entertain­ed (in the Vision of God, in the fellowship of Saints and Angels) with Joy unspeakable and full of Glory: Or secluded from the sight of God, and treated with the Devil and his Angels, with tor­ment unconceivable, unexpres­sible, and that to all Eternity.

This man, if he might gain all [Page 82] the Profits, and Honours and Pleasures, if he might decline all the afflictions of this world, will not lose his own Soul: Frustra blanditiae venitis ad hunc, frustra nequitiae venitis ad hunc. Consi­dering that light and momenta­ny things bear no proportion to the exceeding weight and mo­ment of those which are Eternal, he will forthwith endeavour to lay hold upon Eternal Life, and make haste to escape the Wrath to come; And to that end he will devour all difficulties, and neg­lect no means or opportunities.

He that believes, that the only way to Happiness is the way to Holiness;Heb. 12. 14. That without holiness no man shall see God;1 Cor. 6. 9. That no unclean thing shall enter there, That the Impious, the Unjust, the Intemperate, the Lascivious [Page 83] (continuing so) shall never enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

This man will endeavour to purifie himself, to mortifie all his carnal lusts and affections, to cleanse himself from all filthi­ness of Flesh and Spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God.

Again, he that believes and considers the Corruption and Impotence of his natural Con­dition, and the design of Christs coming into the world, what he hath already done, and what he is still in doing for him;

How that himself (and every man) is by nature a childe of wrath,Eph. 2.3. that Sin reigns in his mor­tal body,Rom. 7. 24. that he lies under a bondage from which he cannot redeem, a Guilt from which he cannot acquit himself;

[Page 84] Rom. 3. 20.That no flesh is justified in the sight of God.

Whosoever, I say, doth believe this concerning himself; and (on the other side) concerning Christ, that to this end was he born, and for this cause came he into the world, 1 Tim. 1. 15. that he might save sinners; Joh. 3. 17. That the world through him might be saved;

That to this end (and this end only) he descended from Hea­ven; This was the end of his Conversation upon Earth, his Life and Doctrine his Preaching and Example; This was the end of his Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, and Session at the Right hand of God; That by the sufferings of his Life, and the in­estimable value of his Blood, the world might be Iustified and Redeemed from the Guilt of their [Page 85] sins, rescued from the miseries of the world to come.

And that by the operation of his Doctrine, and Example, and the power of his Intercession, the world might be sanctified, Deli­vered from the Dominion of sin, purified and prepared to be ad­mitted to the Vision of the most holy God, Fruition of the Life to come.

I say, that the man that firmly, and stedfastly, and actually be­lieves these things, will not (nay, indeed that he cannot) neglect so great Salvation; That he will not trample upon the blood of the everlasting Covenant, or de­spise the Spirit of Grace, or cru­cifie afresh the Lord of Glory, and put him to an open shame. But that for his continual cleans­ing, from his past transgressions, [Page 86] he will daily resort to the foun­tain which Christ hath opened for sin and for uncleanness, of­fering and presenting his head and his heart (his minde and his affections) to the blood of sprink­ling; And that for the obtaining of preventing, and following Grace, to preserve him from lapsing for the time to come, He will throw himself daily at the feet of that High-Priest, which is sensible of his Infirmities, and which sits at Gods Right hand, making Intercession for him, and with sighs and unutterable groans he will implore the Assi­stance of that Spirit which help­eth our infirmities:

And that continuing, and per­severing in this Course, (by the Grace of God which never fail­eth them that seek him) he will [Page 87] certainly conform himself to the Commands of Christ, and com­pose himself to his Example, till at length he be transformed to his Image; He will add to his Faith Vertue, and to Vertue Know­ledge— and so onwards, He will goe on from strength to strength untill he appear before God in Glory.

I say, that such a man,Tit. 2.12. by de­nying ungodliness and worldly Lusts, and living Soberly, and Righteously, and Godly in this present world, will work out his Salvation with fear and trembl­ing, and in the end of his dayes will certainly and infallibly at­tain to the end of his hopes, name­ly, the Salvation of his Soul. So that the Gospel is indeed the Grace of God which bringeth Salvation to all men: It is the [Page 88] power of God to Salvation to every one that believeth.

TO come therefore to a Con­clusion: Judge now in your selves Brethren, and judge Righteous Judgement; Is this a Gospel which is to be despised? A Dispensation whereof a Mini­ster or a Christian ought to be ashamed? Are the Mysteries of this Gospel to be derided and drolled upon? To be travestied or turned into Burlesque or Ma­caronique? Is this to be a Brave and a Gallant person? A Spark and a Wit? Or is it indeed to have never a spark of Wit or Gallantry?

Men, Brethren, and Fathers; If the time, and your patience, and my strength would bear it, I would take unto me boldness, [Page 89] and freely speak unto you con­cerning the Gospel of our Savi­our; I would Reprove, Rebuke, Exhort.

I would severally and distinct­ly address my self to every sort, and every Degree of those that hear me, Ecclesiastical and Civil, Young and Old, Wise and Un­wise, Noble and Ignoble.

I would speak unto you young men of the Clergy, that you would not be offended at the Mysteries of the Gospel, or think it a matter of Wit or of Learning, either to despise or to go about to mend them.

That you will neither be Drolled nor Disputed, Cajoled, nor faced out of your Religi­on, or suffer the Mauvais hont (the evil shame) to be put upon you.

[Page 90]That you will not believe that it hath been only dull formality, a want of the smartness of your Wit, or depth of your Learn­ing, which hath retained your Fathers and Predecessors, in the belief and the Profession of the plain, and simple Articles of the Catholick Faith. Be not deceiv­ed Brethren; Vixerunt fortes ante Agamemnona —.

Be not seduced by those who pretending to remove the Scan­dal of the Cross of Christ (which thing St. Paul counted an ab­surdity in Christianity) would rob you of a most divine and excellent Religion,Gal. 5. 11. and substi­tute in its place a rotten and depraved Philosophy; Those I mean who never have been able with all their Wit, Reason, and Learning, to explicate or com­prehend [Page 91] the Mysteries or Me­chanies of a Mite, or of a Flea, of a Plant or Stone, or any one of the innumerable things which are before them, and yet they take upon them to controul the plain literal, designed and reite­rated Declarations of Christ and his Apostles concerning the Mysteries of the Godhead. Those who Grammaticizing pe­dantically, and Criticizing spu­riously, upon a few Greek Par­ticles or words, would cozen the World of the benefit of the blood of Christ, and Christ him­self of his Divinity; and put him off with a fantastical and Poeti­cal Apotheosis.

I would speak unto you Fa­thers, because ye have known the Father and the Son, ye un­derstand the effect and conse­quence [Page 92] of the Mysteries of the Gospel to the Salvation of men, that ye will continue to strive earnestly to retain that faith (which is thought by some to be upon the wing, that Faith) which was once delivered to the Saints.

I would speak unto you ( [...]) Wise men or Philosophers; Paul speaking to the men at Athens, Act. 17. 28. puts them in minde of a saying of a Poet of their own; I would call to your Remembrance a Saying of a Philosopher of our own, (a Philosopher of great renown) which is to this effect: That a profound consideration of the reason, and comprehen­sion of the circumstances of things (a deep dose of Philo­sophy) will make a man Reli­gious; And that the contempt [Page 93] of Religion is an infallible argu­ment of one that is a smatterer only, and half-witted.

I would speak unto ye Nobles, that ye would be Noble as the Beraeans were; That ye will search, examine, and consider, whether the case of the Gospel be such as hath been represent­ed, yea or no: And then I am sure ye will continue zealously and vigorously to support the Gospel.

I would take heart and cou­rage, and improve in an hum­ble confidence, so far as to pre­fer a Petition to King, Lords, and Commons (the Noble, the Mighty, and the Wise) that (at this time especially) they will be carefull of Religion, and tender of the Interests of the Gospel.

[Page 94]I would humbly endeavour to bring to remembrance, who it is by whom Kings Reign, and Princes decree Justice; And what it is to be Defender of the truly Antient, Catholick and Apo­stolick Faith.

I would endeavour to De­monstrate that neither Forts nor Castles, Armies nor Navies, Arms nor Ammunition, Money nor Men, (to say nothing of Allies or Confederates, or the Staff of Egypt) are so power­full a support of the Crowns of Princes as the Gospel; Nay, not as a few lines of this one Epistle of our High nosed Gali­lean (as the Scoffers have been wont to call him) duly imbi­bed into the Souls and Consci­ences of men, namely, that say­ing at the beginning of Chap. 13. [Page 95] Let every soul be subject to the Higher Powers, Rom. 13. 1, 2, &c. for there is no power but of God, the Powers that be, are Ordained of God— And they that Resist shall receive to themselves Damnation; the belief of this would be sure to compose the mindes of all Dis­senters so as to keep peace and obedience at home.

And the belief of that which follows would defend us from our enemies abroad; this would raise Taxes and Contributions, Subsidies and Royal Aids, pro­cure all things necessary for the maintenance of Just Wars abroad; For for this cause also pay ye tribute, Ver. 6, 7. because they are Christs Ministers, &c. So powerfull and usefull is the Gospel, where it is believed, to maintain all the parts and Interests, and to com­mand [Page 96] all the succours and neces­sary supplies of Government, to bring fear to whom fear, ho­nour to whom honour, tribute to whom tribute belongeth.

Wherefore I would not fear humbly to make an Application in the words of King David: Be wise now therefore O ye Kings, Psal. 2. 12. be learned ye that are Iudges of the Earth, serve the Lord with fear, and rejoyce unto him with reverence; kiss the Son lest he be angry, and so ye perish from the right way.

But I can only be permitted to make one common and pro­miscuous Application, to high and low, rich and poor, one with another, namely, To charge upon your memory (and pray that it may rest upon my own) one saying of Christ himself, [Page 97] that dreadfull saying in Mark 8. ‘If any one shall be ashamed of me,Mar. 8.38. or of my words in this adul­terous and sinfull Generation: Of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the Glory of his Father, with his holy Angels.’ And without any Apology for my boldness or in­discretions, to conclude in the words of the Text: ‘For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: For it is the Power of God to Salvation to eve­ry one that believeth.’

FINIS.

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