Page images

ing the kingdom of God, and the name of Jefus SERM. XII. Chrift; they were baptized, both men and women. Not long after this, Philip by divine direction meets the Chamberlain and Treafurer of Candace, Queen of Ethiopia, a profelyte of the Jewish religion, who had been up at Jerufalem to worship. And Philip preached Jefus unto him. After a fhort converfation, traveling in the chariot, he is convinced, and propofes to be baptized. Philip faid: If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayeft. He answered, and said: I believe, that Jefus is the Chrift, the Son of God. Then Philip baptized him.

It seems therefore, that the Christian religion, may be fo fet before men, as that they fhall in a fhort time attain to a competent knowledge of it, and believe upon good grounds. And it must be agreeable, to think, that the knowledge of the doctrine of falvation, in which all men are concerned, is not a very abstruse and difficult fcience, but eafie, and upon the level with ordinarie capacities.

Indeed, where there are ftrong prejudices, and worldly paffions, prevailing greatly, as in most of the Jews in our Saviour's time, the beft inftructions will have little effect. But



Ver. 26. . 38.


SERM. where men are well difpofed, the Chriftian reXII. ligion and it's evidences may be faon perceived and understood, if rightly propofed. This is manifeft from the inftances in the Acts, just mentioned: and from many fincere converfions, and numerous churches, formed by the Apostles in divers places, in a short space of time.

However, in fuch a world as ours, where there are temptations of no fmall force, and numerous amufements and avocations, it is Hebr. ii. requifite, that we carefully attend to the things which we have heard, and often meditate upx. 24. 25% on them. Nor fhould we forfake the affemblies of Christians, but ftir up one another to love and good works.


Moreover fome will teach things, which they ought not, for the fake of private intereft. And there is danger, if we are not upon our guard, leaft fome articles should be mixed with the pure and uncorrupted doctrine of the gofpel, that tend to enervate it's purifying and fanctifying influences.

And we should go on to perfection, and emprove in religious knowledge, and useful gifts, that we may be able to inftru& and admonish others.

St. Paul,


xi. 3.

St. Paul, as we all know, cultivated the SERM. good principles, which he had planted in the minds of men. He was greatly folicitous for their welfare, and apprehenfive, leaft by fome means they should be feduced and perverted from the fimplicity that is in Christ. He therefore fent to them fome of his fellow-la- 2 Cor. borers, in whom he could confide, to strengthen and comfort them: or by perfonal vifits, or by Epiftles, reminded them of the truths he had taught exhorting them to be stedfaft in the faith, and to adorn it by a holy converfation: befeeching, and exhorting them by the Lord Jefus, that as they had received of him, how they ought to walk, and to please God, fo they would abound more and more.

1 Theff.

7. We are hence enabled to form a just estimate of the conduct of those who receive, and of those who reject, the gospel.

For the doctrine of the gospel is a kind propofal and gracious meffage from God to mankind, by Jefus Chrift, and his Apostles, and others after them, inftructing men in the way of falvation, teaching them how they may obtain eternal life, and furmount and overcome every obstacle in the way to it.

S 4



They therefore who receive and obey it act XII, wifely. They confult their present peace, and fecure to themselves the happineffe of a better life.



What then do they, who reject it? As Luke vii. St. Luke fays of fome: they reject the counsel of God against, or toward themselves. It becomes us to be cautious, how we cenfure particular perfons; remembring St. Paul's 1 Cor. iv. advice; Judge nothing before the time. only knows the hearts of men, and all their peculiar circumstances. But where the gospel is propofed in truth and fimplicity, men had need to take heed, how they reject it and fhould at left afford it a ferious attention, and impartial examination.


8. It follows from what has been faid, that we, to whom the doctrine of the gospel has been preached, and who have received it as the word of God, know the way of falvation, and may obtain eternal life, if we ufe due care and diligence.

And, certainly, we ought fo to do. And not neglect any of the rules and precepts that The profeffion of Christianity will not fave us. Chriftians, fo called, if they are wicked, are not in the way

have been delivered to us.



of falvation. For they do not the things, SERM. which their religion teaches they ought to XII. do, in order to be faved. They are condemned, and excluded from happineffe by the very rules and laws of that religion, which they profefs to receive as divine. Such therefore are still in the gall of bitterneffe, Acts ix. and bond of iniquity. They have no part or lot in this matter. Their heart is not right in the fight of God. And they cannot but know, that they should immediatly repent, and seek forgiveneffe of God: or they perish for ever, and their ruin will be great and terrible.

20... 23.

9. We have here a good argument to be ftedfaft in the truth as it is in Jefus, and to let his word abide in us.

For it is the word of life. It is the doctrine of Jalvation. Does it want any thing, to compleat that character? Is there any other word equal to it? Is it not strict to a great degree? Are not it's rule and precepts reasonable and excellent? And does it not afford the beft arguments that can be devised, to promote and secure that universal holineffe, which it requires.

Indeed, it is fuppofed in the epiftle to the Hebrews, that fome may fall away, who were Hebr. vi.


« PreviousContinue »