« AnteriorContinuar »
will remember their sin no more. It is one of the SERM. Messias's performances, to finish transgression, and XVIII. to make an end of sins, and to make reconcilia-Dan.ix. 24. tion for iniquity ; to sprinkle clean water on God's xxxvi. 25, people, and to save them from their uncleannesses. Isa. xliv. 3. In fine, the prophet Zechariah saith of his time, that Zech. Xiii. in that day there shall be a fountain opened to the". house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.
Now to all this the preaching of Jesus did exactly correspond; it being indeed, as it was named, a gospel, or message of good and joy ; declaring the special good-will of God, and his merciful willingness to be reconciled to mankind; offering peace and pardon to all that are sensible of their guilt, and penitent for their sin; imparting rest, comfort, and liberty to all that are weary and afflicted with spiritual burdens, grievances, and slaveries ; taking off all grievous yokes of superstition, servility, and sin; and in their stead imposing a no less sweet and pleasant, than just and reasonable obedience; ministering all sorts of blessings needful for our succour, relief, ease, Acts xv. 32. content, and welfare; wholly breathing sweetest love, Rom. xiv. (all kinds of love; love between God and man, between man and man, between man and his own conscience;) filling the hearts of those who sincerely embrace and comply with it, with present joy, and raising in them gladsome hopes of future bliss. It was indeed the most joyous sound that ever entered into man's ears, the most welcome news that ever was reported upon earth; news of a certain and perfect salvation from all the enemies of our welfare, from all the causes of mischief and misery to us; well therefore deserving that auspicious gratulation
17. Gal. v. 22.
Luke jj. 10.
SERM. from the angel-Behold, I bring you tidings of
great joy, which shall be to all people.
3. Collateral unto, or coincident with, those performances, (the teaching such a doctrine, publishing such a law, dispensing such blessings,) was the formal institution and establishment of a new, everlasting covenant, (different from all precedent covenants, and swallowing them up in its perfection,) a covenant between God and man, wherein God, entering into a most strict alliance and relation with us, should be pleased to dispense the blessings of spiritual illumination and assistance, of mercy and favour, of salvation and felicity; wherein we in way of condition, according to obligations of justice and gratitude, should engage to return unto God by hearty repentance, and to persist in faithful obedience to him: of
such a covenant the Messias was to be the messenAyatros ger and mediator, or the angel thereof, (as the pro
phet Malachi speaketh, alluding, it seems, to that Exod. xxiii. angel of God's presence, who ordained the Jewish law,
and conducted the Israelites toward the promised Isa. Ixiii.9. Actsvii. 35. Jand;) of which covenant and its mediator, God in Gal. iii. 19. Isaiah thus spake: I the Lord have called thee in
righteousness, and I will hold thine hand, and I will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and
them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house : Isa. Iv. 3, and of the same he again ; Incline your ear, and
come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David Behold, I have given him a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people : so in general he speaketh
Isa. xlii. 6, 7. xlix. 8. lv. 3.
Ezek. xxxiv. 23.
thereof, and inviteth thereto: then a special part SERM.
XVIII. thereof he expresseth thus; Let the wicked man forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his Isa. Iv. 7. thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him ; and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon. Of the same covenant God in Ezekiel speaketh thus; I will set up one shepherd over them—and I will make with them 25. Xxxvii
. a covenant of peace, and it shall be an everlasting 26, &c. covenant with them--and I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore—they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. Of the same, God thus declareth in Jeremiah, most fully and plainly reckoning the particular blessings tendered therein: Behold, the days Jer. xxxi. come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah ; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt -but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel ; After those days,' saith the Lord, I will put my law into their inward parts, and write it in their hearts ; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people : and they shall teach no more every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more: which words signify the tenor of that covenant on God's part to import, that God would impart a full and clear discovery of his will unto them, whom it should concern; that he would afford to them all requisite means and helps, quali
SERM. fying them for the performance of their duty; that XVIII.
he would bestow on them (complying with the terms of this covenant, and performing their duty) an entire remission of all their sins, with an assurance of his constant and perpetual favour.
Now that Jesus did institute such a covenant, wherein all the benefits promised on God's part, and all the duties required on our parts, do punctually correspond to the terms of that predesigned by the
prophets, is apparent by the whole tenor of the Luke xxiv. Christian gospel; wherein a full declaration of God's Acts v. 31. will is held forth, so that no man (except out of
wilfulness or negligence) can be ignorant thereof; wherein, upon condition of faith and repentance, God's mercy and pardon are exhibited and offered to all; wherein the communication of God's holy Spirit of grace (for directing and assisting the embracers of this covenant in the practice of their duty) is promised and dispensed; wherein on our part faith in God (or heartily returning to him) and faithful observance of God's laws are required; wherein God declareth a most favourable regard and love (together with very near and endearing relations) to those
who undertake and conform to his terms; of which Heb.ix. 15. new covenant Jesus is represented the Angel, the 22. viii. 6. Mediator, the Sponsor; having by his preaching de1 Tim. ii. 5. clared it, by his merits and intercessions purchased
and procured it, by his blood ratified and assured it to us.
4. In coincidence also with those performances, it is declared that the Messias should erect a kingdom spiritual in nature, universal in extent, and perpetual in duration ; by the power and virtue whereof the enemies of God's people should be curbed and quel
led; the subjects of which should live together in SERM. amity and peace, in safety and prosperity; wherein XVIII. truth and righteousness should gloriously flourish. The chief testimonies of ancient scripture predicting this kingdom I had occasion before to mention, and shall not repeat them now; only concerning the nature and extent thereof I shall add somewhat, serving for illustration and proof of our main purpose.
That it was to be a spiritual kingdom (not a visible dominion over the bodies and estates of men, managed by external force and co-action, but a government of men's hearts and consciences by secret inspirations, and moral instructions or persuasions) may be several ways collected and argued : it appeareth from the temper and disposition of its Founder, who was to be a Prince of Peace; of a Isa. ix. 6. peaceable, meek, patient, and humble disposition : it may be inferred from his condition, which was not to be a state of external grandeur and magnificence, but of poverty and affliction ; for he was to be as he is described, mean and despicable in appearance; having no form or comeliness, no beauty, Isa. liii. 2, that when we should see him, we should desire 7.1:6. him; being a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief: it also followeth from the events happening to him, which were not to conquer and triumph openly in view of carnal eyes; but to be despised and rejected, to be afflicted, oppressed, and slaughtered by men ; the same we may learn from the manner of its establishment and propagation; which was not to be effected by force and violence, but by virtue of a quiet and gentle instruction ; by reasonable words, not by hard blows : so doth the prophet signify, when he saith of the Messias, that, with right-Isa. xi. 4.
3,4, 7. xlix.