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i St. John iii. 2.
Beloved, now are we the Sons of

God, and it doth not yet appear,
what we shall be : but we know,
that when he mall appear, we
shall be like him ; for we mall
fee bim as he is.

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S a Spirit of Perfècutiốn raged SERM. page in the Enemies of the Cross of V. AS A Chrift from the first Preaching

Po of the Gospel, St. John, fersible

of the severe Trials, and strong Temptations to Apoftacy, which the new Converts would be exposed to, after hav. ing cautioned them against Seducers, and exhorţed them to adide in the Truth, which

they

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Serm. they had heard from the Beginning (a), proV. ceeds to engage them in a stedfast Adherence

to the Faith, from the Greatness of the Reward annexed to it, being no less than eternal Life (6). And the Assurance thereof by the Earnest of the Spirit, the Unɛtion from the Holy One (c). And then he lays the Foundation of this Confidence in the Hearts of Chriftians on the singular Love of God towards them, manifested by his calling them his Sons, Behold what manner of Love the Father bath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God (d).

AND what could be better calculated to keep up the Spirits of the Disciples, than such weighty and affecting Considerations ? Which our Apostle therefore so earnestly inculcates, because he well knew, that without these Encouragements, their Strength would be too prone to fail, their Zeal be too apt to be extinguished, under the Prefsures, they were sure to meet with; it being impossible, but that Offences must come from an unbelieving World. For they were looked upon with a jealous Eye by the Gentiles, who had been persuaded to

i think, (a) St. John ii. 24. (6) V. 25. (c) V. 20, 27. (4) Ch. iii. !.

Ters

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.

think, that the Followers of Christ Jesus did Serm. all contrary to the Decrees of Cæsar (e), v. and with a malicious Eye by the Jews, who reckoned them no better than impious Subverters of the Law of Moses (f), which they were prejudiced to suppose to be of perpetual Obligation.

So that the Jew and Gentile, who could accord in nothing else, yet united heartily to harrass and oppress the Christian. Nor could milder Treatment be expected by those, who had been expressly forewarned, that the Disciple is not above his Master, nor the Servant above his Lord (g), and who well knew, that against their Lord and Master Jesus Christ, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the People of Israel were gathered together (h); whom, after the most despitesul Usage and barbarous Indignities offered to him, they had with wicked Hands crucified and sain (i).

All this, as it was not done in a Corner, and was the repeated Subject of all the Apostles most publick Discourses, they, who believed in the Gospel on their Preaching,

could (e) Aas xvii. 7.

Acts xxi. 28.
(g) St. Matth. X. 24. (5) Acts iv. 27.
(1) Als ii. 23

SERM. could not be ignorant of; and were besides

V. taught to look for as little Mercy from m their Saviour's Enemies, as he himself had

found, being to be hated of all Men for bis Name's Sake (k).

Hence the very benevolent St. John judged it altogether necessary for him to give the Faithful under these Discouragements: fome Confolation, by putţing them in Mind, that, however distressed their Condition might be, still it was really preferable to that of their Persecutors, and upon the whole, much more happy as well as honourable.

This he does in the Words. I have read to you ; concerning which, that they are a folid Ground to Christians of the most comfortable Reflections, it shall be my Endeavour to evince in the present Discourse : And I shall, I presume,. to. a tolerable Degree, have, obtained this End;---when I have shewn bow and in what Sense we may be faid to be the Sons of God, and proceeded afterwards to consider, the Duties and Privileges which attend that high Character,

The Title of being the Sons of God, has di

vers

(kil St. Matth. x. 22,

SERM. vers - Meanings given to it in the Sacred V.. Writings.

va

IN its primary Sense and most exalted Signification, Christ Jesus our Saviour, the First-born, or Lord, of every Creature (1) can alone be said to be the Son of God, as having been begotten by his Almighty Father from all Eternity, and being so the Son of God, as to be equal to, and one in Effence, with the Father: As the Father bath Life in himself, so hath be given to the Son (which he declares in his Words, and, demonstrates in his Works) to have Life in himself (on); whereby he is, absolutely speaking the living and true God.

This Mystery, however incomprehensible, by us, imperfect Creatures, ought to be received with the utmost Fullness of Afsurance ; since it is certainly revealed in holy Scripture: From which Testimony of his infallible Doctrine - we are satisfied beyond all reasonable Doubt, that Jesus is the Son of God by an eternal Communication of the Godhead, and that this is the Generation, --whereon his Divine Sonship is founded, in a Way not to be accounted for, nor even

conceived (1) Coloff. i, ig. (m) St. John v. 26.

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