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Serm.who for this very thing is called a murtherer XVIII. from the beginning; and in the second chapter
of the book of wisdom, it is said, God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity; nevertheless, through the envy of the Devil, death came into the world. And that, our first parents being thus corrupted, we derive the same corruptions both of body and mind from them by a course of nature...
III. The greatest and most important ens quiry of all is, what remedy can be found for this corruption of human nature; and what means can be effectual enough to restore man, kind to the state of perfection they were in at first?
200) Now in order to this, natural reason tells us, that when a fault is committed against any one, there are two things necessary in order to a reconciliation, there is first fome amends to be made for the injury; and seconda ly a fecurity that they will not be guilty of the fame again. And accordingly upon suppofi tion that we are in a corrupt and finful ftate, there are these two things to be done.
ift. There is some fatisfaction to be made for the wilful corruption of our nature, and our actual funs. And that some fatisfaction was to be made to the divine justice, feemed to be known even by an instinct of nature ; because that custom of sacrificing prevailed so universally over the world, and in all ages, This shews they all imagined that some a-Ser M. tonement was to be made; and the way they XVIII. took for this was that of offering beasts upon their altars; and thus, as they imagined, ap-. peasing the anger of the Gods with their blood, by making them suffer that death which they acknowledged as due to themselves for their own offences. This was the true cause of their sacrificing, and the very notion which continued it, the principal part of all heathen worship; and this fhews it to be the sense of all mankind. And indeed it would be a very hard thing to give a reason, why å fatisfaction should be made to men for an offence, and yet not to God: If they say God is more merciful than men; then it is easy to answer that he is more just too, and that there is a great deal of mercy shewn even in admitting of a fatisfaction.
Now thus far they were in the right, that some atonement was to be made, especially if we consider that in cases of publick calamities, and where whole cities and nations were concerned, they offered even human sacrifices; and though this shewed they imagined an effectual atonement was to be made by one of their own kind, yet it was impossible to reconcile this to the common notions of justice ; why one man should fuffer for the fins of another. But it was besides all the fenfe and reason of man to think' as they did, that the blood of a harmlefs innocent beast should take any guilt off them, and make a fuffi
Serm.cient atonement by dying in their stead : So
their meaning, it was no other than unnatural
But our revealed religion hath discovered us
force or efficacy, but with respect to
We see plainly, as the author to the Hebrews argues, that it is not possible that the blood of bulls, and of goats, should take away sin; there can be no reason for it in nature: Wherefore when he cometh into the world he faith, facrifice and offering tbou wouldpt not, but a body bast thou prepared me, .(i. e.) God will accept of none of those offerings as of a real atonement for fin, but as they are significative of the death of Christ; and therefore a body haft thoui prepared, (i e.) therefore it is the decree and purpose of God, that Christ shall come into the fleth, and, by offering of himself, shall make such atonement as those facrifices could not do. Then said I, lo I come (in the volume of the book written of mie) to do tky will, o God, (i. e.) therefore according to that good purpose of God, I come into the world to offer such a sacrifice as God
will accept of. And thus revelation gives a SER M. clear solutionof this first part of the difficulty; XVIII. how atonement shall be made for the corruption of our natures, and those sins which are already committed, (i..e.) by a satisfaction in the person of Christ, who was by the good purpose of God appointed to this very thing, and who prepared himself such a sacrifice for the sins of men as he will accept of.
2d. Another thing to be done in order to the recovery of our corrupt natures, is the healing these infirmities and corruptions of ours : But how this was to be done they were wholly at loss; and had not the least notion or glimpse of any help for human nature. It is true they generally thought that this recovery was to be effected by the practice of virtue; but how, or by what means or expedients mankind should become sincerely virtuous and good, who in their very natures were evil and corrupt, never entered into their minds to think of: Whereas upon supposition that men are naturally addicted to vice and wickedness, and their wills from the very first have a propensity to evil, which they all allowed; then it is wholly out of their own power ever to attain one virtue, or so much as desire it : For if the tendency of any thing be natural, there is nothing in the nature of that thing to alter it; and it must be something from without which can give the mind a new biass, and incline it a quite contrary way. Now, though from a principle of reason fome help
SER M. and assistance appears thus absolutely necef XVIII: sary; yet they never thought of this; nor if
they had, could they have told what would have been the effect.
But revelation hath opened the eyes of men, so that they now fee clearly that some such means is necessary, and the true reason of it is, because we are conceived and born in fin, and of ourselves have no one inclination in our minds to goodness; so that we cannot so much as think a good thought.
And this means, as we are told in Scripture, is the secret influence of the holy spirit of God upon our souls, inclining our wills to good, which are in themselves free, and therefore can never be made virtuous and holy by force or compulfion; the renewing of our finful corrupt natures; by strengthening and affisting our infirmities; helping us to contradict, and suppress, and extinguish all our via tious inclinations ; giving us grace and strength in proportion to our difficulties; and working in us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure: Infomuch that by the power and efficacy of his concurrence, we perfectly conquer and beat down the strongest and moft violent tendencies both of body and mind: And this affistance, we learn, is purchased for us by the merits of that sacrifice by which We are reconciled to God, which otherwise could never have been afforded us.
But perhaps it may be thought that the Heathens, even in a state of nature, arrived to