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I would not, by any thing here advanced, mean to put a stop to the progress of know. ledge, or restrain the freedom of human will: the
ways and judgments of God, whilst they are considered by us with that awful reverence, ihat diffidence and humility, which become the pursuit of them, are highly worthy of our ftriétest search and most diligent enquiry; and so long as our researches are guided by that holy fear, they are not only innocent, but meritorious, because they must always promote the honour and glory of that divine Being who is the object of them. All therefore, which I would contend for is, that when we take into consideration the nature and attributes of Him who made us, when we search into and examine the mysteries of our holy religion, when we speak or write of the actions of God, we should do it with that respect and adoration which a Being so infinitely superior hath a right to expect from us: we should remember, that our duty towards Him, and not his behaviour towards us, is the fittest basis of our argument, and the most proper subject of our enquiry; for this plain and self-evident reason, because we can live and move and have our being, and enjoy every thing we can desire, without that knowledge of God and his divine mysteries which he hath hid from our eyes, and is therefore to us infcrutable; but on the other hand, we can. not be easy or happy without some knowledge of ourselves, and of our duty to our Creator and Redeemer.
To conclude, then; Since the ways of God are unsearchable, and his judgments past finding out, let our eyes contemplate, at an awful distance, that object, whose fplendor, too near, would dazzle and confound them. Let us, without murmuring or repining, fubmit to those decrees which we cannot reverse; acknowledge that wisdom which we cannot confute; adore those ways which we cannot search into; and admire those judgments which we cannot find out.
Whilft God is the subject of our enquiry, humility is the best instructor, and modesty the fafest guide. To himself alone his will is known; and by himself alone it can be reveal.ed: the knowledge of God must come from God, even as water floweth from the fountain. Let us then proftrate ourselves before his throne, and intreat him to lighten our darkness, to remove the clouds of ignorance and error from our minds; to teach us the knowledge of his ways, and the works of his commandments, that we may arrive at those feats of wisdom where we shall know even as we are known; where the ways of God shall no longer be unsearchable, nor his judgments past finding out; but where all shall be discovered unto all, and where God shall himself most graciously con. defcend to teach and instruct us: where he, who alone knoweth and understandeth all things, shall reward every man, not according to his inquisitive thirst after forbidden, but his diligent search after the useful knowledge, the knowledge of God and his laws; and the only true and valuable wisdom, the wisdom unto salvation.
ON THE COMING OF CHRIST.
'S E R M 0 N
MATTHEW XI. 3.
Art thou he that should come, or do we look for
T is universally known and acknowledged,
that at the time of our blessed Saviour's appearance upon earth, the Jews were in daily expectation of a Messiah; a circumstance which we should naturally have supposed would in the most effectual manner have prepared their minds for the reception of our blessed Redeemer, who left the bosom of his Father, to save mankind from eternal misery and destruction. With the utmost surprise and astonishment, therefore, do we find them rejecting that bles. sing which they had so long wished for, and doubting the divinity of that Mefliah whom they had been in such constant expectation of.
When John had heard in prison, says St. Matthew, the works of Christ, he sent two of his difciples to say unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another mor, in other words, Art thou indeed the great Messiah, who has been foretold by our prophets, who haft been so long and so impatiently wished for by us
all? Art thou he? or must we still want, and still look for another?
In the confideration of these words, it may not be amiss previously to observe, that John sent this message to Jesus, not to satisfy himself, but his disciples, with whom he had already used every argument in favour of Christ. He could not himself in the least doubt the divinity of our Saviour, whom he had baptized, on whom he had seen the spirit descend in form of a dove, and heard the voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. John, therefore, we may rest assured, was thoroughly satisfied; but his disciples were not: they were still incredulous. John there. fore sent them to Jesus himself, who he hoped would foon convert and convince them.
I propose, therefore, in the following dift course, to consider,
First, The reason which induced the Jews to doubt the divinity of the true Messiah, and to look for another; and,
Secondly, To lay before you the more weighty and convincing arguments, which should have persuaded them not to look for another, but to be thankful for the appearance of the great Redeemer, Jesus Christ the righteous.
And first, then, One of the reasons, and perhaps the principal, why they looked for another Messiah, was, their mistaking and mis, apprehending their own prophecies, as deli. vered in holy writ. The kingdom of the Meffiah is in several parts of the holy writ ftiled an everlasting kingdom, a kingdom that should
never pass away; from whence the Jews absurdly concluded, that when the Messiah came, he was not to die, but to abide with them for
They did not consider that the everlasting kingdom was not to be possessed by him on earth, but reserved for him as his reward in heaven; and as he appeared not only as a mere mortal, but as one of the moft miserable and afflicted also, they paid but little regard to his future immortality.
But a second reason why the Jews looked for another Mefliah was, That Christ preached salvation to the Gentiles. So long had this haughty nation been accustomed to consider themselves as the chosen people of God, the darling favourites of the Almighty, that they could not bear the thought of dividing that love which they were used to engross, and sharing that patrimony which they looked upon themselves alone as entitled to: their ideas were too selfish, too narow and contracted to form any notion of a Redeemer who was to live and die for all mankind. When they found, therefore, that the first work which Jesus employed himself in, was to pull down the partition wall-between Jew and Gentile, to open
the door of faith to all nations; when they beheld him associating and conversing freely with Heathens and Infidels, men of every sectand denomination, and shewing the same regard for their happiness as for that of the children of Israel; instead of revering him as their friend and benefactor, they looked on him as