Page images
PDF
EPUB

" is the Christ, is born of God.” So likewise S ER M.
justification is called life. While we are under sen-
tence of condemnation, we are dead in law : but be-
ing justified and pardoned, we are restored to life.
So the apostle expresseth it, Rom. v. 18. “ so by
“the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon
“ all men unto justification of life.” And that we
are “ justified by faith,” the scripture tells us so fre-
quently, that I shall not cite any texts for it.

And then eternal life and salvation; and this is
the consummation of all, and I doubt not but is here
principally intended in the text by the word life. So
that the meaning of this expreslion, " that believing,
“ye might have life through his name,” is, that
by the faith of the gospel, ye might be renewed,
and pardoned, and saved; though I think that the
last, viz. eternal life and salvation is principally,

though not solely intended, as will appear by com:paring this place with these parallel text, John iii.

15. " That whosoever believeth in him should not
“ perish; but have eternal life.” And, ver. 36.
“ He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting
“ life.” John v. 24. " He that heareth my word,
" and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlast-
“ing life.” 1 Pet. i. 9. “ The end of your faith,
“ even the salvation of your souls."

Thus I have as briefly as I well could, explained
to you the meaning of the words, which I have done
the more fully, that you may see how these obser-
vations which I shall raise from them, are contained
in them. The observations are these.

First, that writing is the way which the wisdom of God hath pitched upon, as the standing way, to convey the knowledge of the gospel to the world. “ These things are written."

S 2

Second

SERM. Secondly, that all things neceffary to be believed CCXXV.

in order to salvation, are contained in the gospel. “ These things are written that ye might believe, « and believing might have life :" but if any thing necessary to be believed by Christians, in order to eter.nal salvation, were omitted, then the gospel would be written to no purpose, and would fail in the end for which it was written.

Thirdly, that the miracles related in the gospel are a proper and sufficient means, or argument, to bring men to christian faith. For this is the narrowest and most restrained sense in which we can take the words; “ these things,” that is, “these miracles :“ are written that ye might believe, &c.” Now if St. John by the Spirit of God did record miracles to this end, we may conclude that they are proper and sufficient for this end.

Fourthly, that a credible history does give men . sufficient assurance of matter of fact, and such as we may safely build a divine faith upon. For if these miracles were recorded for this end, « that men “ might believe," then a credible history or relation that such miracles were done, is sufficient to assure us that such miracles were wrought; and upon this afsurance we may build our faith : otherwise it had been in vain to have recorded these miracles to this

[ocr errors]

end.

: Fifthly, that we are not now-a-days destitute of

a sufficient ground of faith ; because we have these writings credibly conveyed to us, which contain the doctrine of the gospel, and the relation of the mira

cles written for the confirmation of it. .. Sixthly, that men now-a-days, those to whom the

gospel comes, are under an obligation to believe ; or, whịch is all one, that now-a-days men may be guilty

of

· of such a sin as unbelief: for now-a-days we mayS E R M. Ć have sufficient grounds of fạith.

*** CCXXV. Seventhly, that to “ believe that Jesus is the CHRIST, the Son of God,” is truly and properly christian faith. This is the description which is here given of it, that it is a believing, “ that Jesus is " the CHRIST, the Son of God.”

Eighthly, that to “ believe that Jesus is the “CHRIST, the Son of God,” is truly and properly sanctifying, and justifying, and saving faith ; by this faith we have life. is These things are written that “ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the “Son of God; and that believing, ye might have “ life through his name.”

These observations are all virtually contained in the words. The greatest part of them I shall very lightly pass over, and speak but briefly to them, because

I intend mainly to insist upon the two last; in the i handling of which, I shall open to you the nature of

christian faith, and shew you, that the faith which is here described is that which is truly and properly justifying and saving:

First, that writing is the way which the wisdom of God hath pitched upon, as the standing way of con. veying the knowledge of the gospel to the world. This is matter of fact, and for the proof of it we have the evidence of the thing. The gospel de facto was written, and this writing is conveyed down to us, and is the instrument which God hath in all ages, since the apostles times, that is, since the eye and ear witnesses of the miracles of Christ and his doctrine ceased, made use of to convey to the world the knowledge of the gospel. And here it were proper to thew what advantage this way, of conveyance of the gospel hath above oral tradition ; but that I have al

ready

OW

S 3

SER M.ready done in foine former discourses *, where I

CCXXV. whe

(shewed at large, that this way of conveyance is a more universal and diffusive, a more certain, and liable to less imposture and falsification, a more equal and uniform, and a more human way of conveyance than oral tradition; so that I shall not insist longer upon this.

Secondly, that all things necessary to be believed by Christians in order to salvation, are contained in the written gospel : or else how could St. John in reason fay, that “ these things were written,” to this end, " that men might believe and be saved ;" if these things be not sufficient to this end? which certainly they are not, if any thing necessary to be believed in order to salvation be left out. The Papists being urged with this text, to prove the sufficiency of the written word, in opposition to those traditional doctrines which they pretend to be necessary

over and besides the written word, tells us, that St. · John doth not here speak of the doctrine of CHRIST,

but only of his miracles ; these were written to confirm our faith of the Messias ; but the doctrine of Christ was not all written, but left to the apostles to be delivered by mouth to their fucceffors, and so down to posterity. But I have shewn before, that the necessary doctrines of the gospel, as well as the miracles, are comprehended in these things which St. John says “ were written.” Besides that it will be very hard for any man to devise a convenient reason, why miracles, as well as doctrines, might not have been left to the apostles, to have been traditionally delivered down to posterity without writing. For doctrines may as well be committed to writing, as relations of miracles : and miracles may be with as * See the foregoing sermons in this vol.

much

much ease, and certainty, and convenience in all re-S ER M. fpects, delivered down to posterity by an oral tradition, as doctrines may.'

Thirdly, that the miracles related in the gospel are a proper and sufficient means to bring men to : christian faith. That they are so, it is a good sign that God did work them to this end, and afterward commit them to writing for this very reason, that the knowledge of them might be conveyed to pofterity, and there might still remain in the world a proper and sufficient argument to persuade men to believe ; and we may well imagine, that God would not do any thing, but what is very proper and sufficient for it's end. Now that miracles were wrought by the divine power purposely to this end, and that they are in reason a very sufficient attestation to a person, and confirmation of the doctrine which he brings, I have largely shewn elsewhere * ; and that all along, both in the old and new testament, God did empower Moses and the prophets, CHRIST and his apostles, to work miracles to bring men to faith, and that this was the principal argument whereby those who did believe were wrought upon.

Fourthly, that credible history doth give men sufficient assurance of matter of fact; and such assurance as we may safely build a divine faith upon. We freely believe innumerable things, which are said to have been done many ages before we were born, and make not the least doubt of them, only upon the credit of history : so that if the relation of miracles be but granted to be a credible history, we may upon the credit of the relation, safely believe that such mịracles were wrought; and if such miracles were wrought, we may safely believe the doctrine to be from God, See the foregoing sermons in this pola

« EelmineJätka »