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and in happy days when you are nearest to God, and enjoy most communion with him, and have your senses most accurate to discern between good and evil, you are wont to see and say— “ O how blessed I might be, if I did always keep in this narrow
way which now lies open plain before me-if I were always “ serious, watchful, prayerful....always reading, or meditating, “ and looking to God, and keeping my heart, and improving ev“ery precious moment of my time wisely for God,” &c.Well, well, O believer, this is the way-walk in it, and you shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season, whose leaf never withers; and whatsoever you do shall prosper : And, after a few more days, and weeks, and months, and years spent in prayer, and faith, and holiness, in this your pilgrimage state, you shall come and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God, and dwell forever with the Lord. Amen,
Now, the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work, to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ : to whom be glory forever and
True Religion Delineated.
SHEWING THE NATURE OF THE GOSPEL, AND OT A GENUINE
COMPLIANCE WITH IT.
JOHN III. 16. For God so loved tbe world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoeder
believeth in bim, should not perish, but have everlasting life.
, And this is the general answer--It consists in a real conformity to the law, and in a genuine compliance with the gospel. What is implied in a real conformity to the law, has been already shown in the former discourse ; and we come now to consider wherein a genuine compliance with the gospel does consist. From our Savior's mouth we had before a brief summary of the law; and now, from our Savior's mouth, we have a brief summary of the gospel, in these comprehensive words, God so loved the world, &c.
Nicodemus came to him for instruction, believing him to be a teacher sent from God. Our Savior begins immediately to inculcate upon him the necessity of regeneration and faith. We are sinners....are naturally dead in sin--and, therefore, must be born again....be recovered to the divine image in the temper of our minds, and so be made spiritually alive : We are guil. ty.... We need pardoning mercy at the hands of the great Governor of the world ; but he will grant it only through the Me. diator he has appointed : in him, therefore, must we believe on his merits and mediation must we depend. Nicodemus
could hardly understand the doctrine of the new birth ; and our Savior intimates that the mysteries of our redemption, by the blood of Christ, were like to be still more difficult to him: We can easily understand worldly things, for they are agreeable to the temper of our minds, and suit the taste and relish of our hearts ; but we are blind to things spiritual and divine....are slow of heart to understand them, they not suiting the temper and relish of our hearts, and we being in a disposition to disrelish things of such a nature : therefore, our Savior observes to Nicodemus, (ver. 19.) This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, but men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. We are in a state of rebellion....at enmity against God, and under his wrath ; and yet ready, through our darkness, to flatter ourselves that all is well--and so are sea cure and at ease. Light is come into the world, discovering our disease and our remedy, but we love our disease, and loathe the remedy ; and, therefore, hate the light, and will not come to it: And thus our Savior teaches Nicodemus wherein true religion consists, and points out the aversion of mankind to it : Nor is there any thing that will discover our aversion so plainly as to set true religion in its own light ; for when we see clearly what it is, we may perceive how we stand affected to. wards it ; but otherwise we may be easily mistaken-may imagine that we love true religion, when, indeed, we only love the false image we have framed in our own fancy, Regeneration and faith, these two great essentials, wherein all religion radically consists, are the things our Savior inculcates upon his new disciple. Christ loved to lay the foundation well : He was not fond of converts, unless their conversion was sound: And, indeed, all our religion is good for nothing, if our nature be not renewed ; and all our communion with God is but fancy, if we are strangers to Christ; for he is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man comes to the Father but by him. But to proceed to the words of the text, God so loved the world, &c.
God-i. e. God the Father, the first person in the everblessed trinity, who sustains the dignity and majesty of God.
head, and is eminently Lord of heaven and earth, (Mat. xi. 25.) and prime agent in the works of creation and providence....in governing the world....in redeeming, sanctifying, and saving of sinners....Rom. xi. 36. That there are three persons in the God-head....the Father, the Son, and the Holy-Ghost, and that these three are one God, the scriptures do abundantly teach.... (Mat. xxviii. 19-II. Cor. xiii. 13—I. John v. 7.) And this doctrine we must believe, or we cannot understand the gospel. How they are three, and how they are one, is not revealed, nor is it necessary for us to know: but that there are three persons in the God-head, and yet but one God, we must believe ; and what characters they sustain, and what parts they act in the affair of our salvation, we must understand. The gospel represents God the Father as sovereign Lord of heaven and earth ....as righteous Governor of the world....as giving laws to his creatures....as revealing his wrath against all transgressions : He is represented as being injured and offended by our sins, and concerned to maintain the honor of his majesty...of his law and government, and sacred authority : He is represented as having designs of mercy towards a sinful, guilty, ruined world ; and as contriving and proposing a method of recovery: He is represented as one seated on a throne of grace, reconcileable through Jesus Christ, and seeking to reconcile the world to himself by Christ, ordering pardon and peace to be proclaimed through a guilty world, to any and all who will return to him in the way prescribed. The gospel represents God the Son as being constituted Mediator by his Father, that, in and by him, he might open a way to accomplish his designs of mercy towards a guilty world, consistent with the honor of his majesty ....of his holiness and justice....of his law and government. His Father appoined him to the office, and he freely undertook it : His Father sent him into this world to enter upon the difficult work, and he willingly came. He was made flesh, and dwelt among us : Here he lived, and here he died, in the capacity of a Mediator. He arose....he ascended into heaven, and sits now at his Father's right hand, God-Man Mediator, exalt