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Morality, come, when delivered by a Person of so Divine a Character, the only begotten of the Father, full of Grace and Truth, who was
was perfectly acquainted with the Divine Will, than if the same Things had been taught by a Socrates, a Plato, an Aristotle, or Zeno ? For upon what Foundation could their Sentiments have been urged, as Laws upon Mankind ? Or what Obligations would Men have thought themselves under to reverence and submit to their Decisions, as of Divine Authority? They would only have been looked upon at the best as the probable Opinions of this or that Philosopher or Moralist, who might be mistaken, and were often contradicted by others that pretended to be no less learned and knowing than they.
And, as it is of great Importance to us to know the Laws of God concerning our Duty, so it no less concerneth us to be made acquainted with the most effectual Motives to engage our Obedience to those Laws; to which there is often a strange Aversion in our Hearts, through the Power of Temptation, and the Influence of corrupt Appetites and Paffions, and carnal worldly Interests. The strongest Motives, and the most proper to make an Impression on the Generality of Mankind, are those that are drawn from the Rewards and
Punishments that shall be dispensed by God, according to Mens' Obedience or Disobedience to those Laws; concerning which, and their Nature, Kinds, and Duration, the most learned Persons, if left merely to their own unaffisted Reason, could scarce advance any Thing that may be certainly depended upon, and that is capable of satisfying the Mind. But who so fit to reveal these Things to us as the Son of God, whom he hath appointed to be our Judge, the immediate Dispenser of those Rewards and Punishments ? To be assured, by so glorious a Person, of the Resurrection of the Dead, of a future general Judgment, and the important Retributions of an unseen, eternal World, must needs have an amazing Force and Influence to engage us to a Life of holy Obedience.
Again, it is of great Importance to us to know upon what Terms God will receive his offending Creatures. Whether and how far he will accept of their Repentance, or what farther Reparation he may think fit to infist upon for vindicating the Authority of his Laws, and answering the great Ends of his Government, Whether he will pardon all their Sins, however numerous or aggravated, if fin. cerely repented of, or only those of a less heinous Nature, and which had not been long and obstinately perfifted in. Whether, if he shall extend his Mercy to the greatest Sinners upon their Repentance, this is only to be understood of their being freed from the dreadful Penalties they had incurred, or at least having those Punishments greatly mitigated, or also of their being fully restored to his Love and Favour; and, finally, how far he will think fit to reward the sincere, though imperfect, Obedience, they may render to him in the following Part of their Lives. There are many Things here which the wisest Men, if left to themselves, cannot pretend to decide with Certainty, and concerning which many
Doubts will be apt to arise to the anxious Mind, when awakened to a Sense of it's own Guilt. But how comforting is it to be assured, that God hath sent his own Son into the World, a Person of such infinite Dignity, and so perfectly acquainted with his Will and Counsels, to open to us the glorious Designs of his Wisdom and Grace for the Salvation of sinful Men, and to declare the Terms upon which he is willing to restore them to his Favour! That by him he hath been graciously pleased to give the most express Assurances that he will grant a plenary Remillion of all their Sins to all that reVol. IV,
turn to him by a sincere Repentance, how great soever their paft Offences may have been ; but that he will inveft them with the most glorious Privileges, he will give them his Holy Spirit to assist, guide, and comfort them; he will raise their dead Bodies from the Grave, and even bestow upon them eternal Glory and Felicity in a better World as the Reward of their sincere, though imperfect, Obedience in this ; a greater Reward than they could have challenged as ftri&ly due to them, even though they had perfectly obeyed. To have all these Things clearly revealed to us by the Son of God himself, sent from the Father's Bosom for that Purpose, and constituted by him the Mediator or grand Instrument in the Reconciliation and Salvation of loft Sinners, must certainly, if duly attended to, have a wonderful Effect t} infinitely superior to what these Things would have had, if built only on the Opinions and Conjectures of fallible uninspired Men; yea, and superior to the Influence they would have had, if brought to us by an inferior Messenger, thoug truly sent from God.
Accordingly this Dignity and Authority of our Lord Jesus Christ is insisted upon in the Sacred Writings, as what giveth a peculiar Force and Weight to the evangelical Dispensation. Thus the Sacred Writer to the Hebrews begins his Epistle with obferving, That God who at sundry Times, and in divers Manners, Spake in Time past unto the Fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last Days Spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed Heir of all Things, by whom also be made the Worlds : Who, being the Brightness of his Glory, and the express Image of bis Person, and upholding all Things by the Word of his Power, when be bad by himself purged our Sins, sat down on the right Hand of the Majesty on High. Heb. i. 1, 2, 3.
And so he goes on to thew his excellent Dignity and Pre-eminence, even above the highest Angels, the most glorious Order of created Beings, and draws this Inference from it, If the Word spoken by Angels (i.e. the Law which was delivered by the Ministry of Angels) was stedfast, and every - Transgresion and Disobedience received a just Recompence of Reward, How Shall we escape, if we negle&t so great Salvation, which at the first began to be Spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him. Heb. ii. 2, 3
So the Apostle Peter, in his Difcourse to Cornelius, speaking of the Word which God fent unto the Children of Israel, preaching Peace, by Jesus Christ, adds, be if Lord of all. Acts x. 36. John the