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SERM. prayed to God alway. An angel appeared to XIV. him about the ninth hour of the day, or
three afternoon, when day-light is clear, who faid unto him: Cornelius, thy prayers and thy alms are come up for a memorial before. God. This perfon, though ftill a Gentil, was approved of God. He was fincere and upright, according to the light which he had. And his prayers and alms were good-works, which God accepted. And he is pitched upon, to be the first Gentil, who, with his familie, should have afforded to them the greater advantages of the knowledge of the gofpel, or way of falvation through Jefus Chrift, and be received into the Chriftian. Church, or among the difciples of Chrift, without fubjection to the law of Mofes : which had been hitherto the way of admiffion into the Jewish church, the only people, who were profeffed worshipers of God.
We might farther argue from things faid by our Lord to the Jews. Jefus anfwered them: My doctrine is not mine, but bis that fent me: If any man will do bis will, be shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myfelf. Where our Lord fpeaks of men
doing the will of God, before they believe in SE RM. himself. And his intention is, that upright XIV. and honeft men, who have an unfeigned regard to the will of God, fo far as they are acquainted with it, and have an opportunity of knowing it, according to the difpenfation they are under, will be difpofed to believe in him. They who at that time were free from prejudices would foon difcern, that divine atteftations were afforded to him: and would own, that the doctrine taught by him was true, and from heaven.
Prop. 2. I would obferve fecondly: That our bleffed Lord does not intend to say, that no men, not even his difciples, can do any good thing without immediate and effectual impulfes and impreffions from him: but the ability to do good, which he here speaks of, is to be understood, as afcribed to his word and doctrine, or the principles taught by him without a regard to which, he says, men would do nothing.
God may give special aids to men, whenever he thinks fit. But they are not always neceffarie: nor always to be expected. And
SERM. that our Lord rather speaks of his word and
John xvii. 6.
is evident from his manner of speaking in
Our Lord in this context does feveral
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you. This later expreffion explains the former. Or it may be taken a little otherwife, as if he had faid: " If you continue " to believe in me, and to pay a steady regard to my doctrine, you will be highly "acceptable to God."
Again: I have manifefted thy name unto the men, which thou gavest me out of the world:... and they have kept thy word.... I have given them thy word.... Sanctify them through thy truth. Thy word is truth. In
the word of God are contained thofe fancti- SERM. fying, ftrengthening influences: which are needful for us, and are fo powerful and effectual.
To which we might add other texts from the fame Gofpel.
Verily, I say unto you: He that heareth John v. my word, and believeth on him that fent me, bath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnatiou: but is paffed from death to life. ...Then faid Fefus unto thofe Fews which believed on him: If ye continue in my word, then are ye my difciples. In this chapter, where is the text, he speaks of abiding in him. There it is, if ye continue, or abide, in my word. They are both one and the fame, as is manifeft. And may alfo appear farther by comparing a place in St. John's first epistle: But whoso keepeth his word, in bim, verily, is the love of God perfected. Hereby know we, that we are in him.
1 John ii.
Our Lord having fpoken of himself, as the living bread that came down from heaven, fays: He that eateth me, shall live by John vi me. But afterwards: for preventing offense;
and making himself clear, he explains the meaning of thofe expreffions. When Jefus, ..61. 63.
SERM. knew in himself, that his difciples murmured XIV. at it, he faith unto them: The flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak unto you, they are fpirit, and they are life.
This fhews, that when our Lord fpeaks of himself, he often means the word taught by him. And we need not fuppofe him to say, that no man can do any good thing, without immediate impulfes from him. Nor have we reason to think, that this is the ordinarie way of inducing men to that which is good, or that fuch impulfes are always neceffarie.
That men may be good and virtuous, it must be their own choice. So far as men are paffive, and are acted upon, they are not agents.
Without power to do good or evil, men cannot be moral and accountable beings, and be brought into judgement, or receive according to their works.
*« I can do all these things, through Chrift, who ftrength"eneth me. [Philip. iv. 13.] that is, through the directions of "Chrift, and through the arguments and motives of the "Chriftian doctrine." Dr. Jer. Hunt's Sermons. Vol. 3. . P. 188.