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13. John xviii. 37.
SERM. truth; fealing by his blood that heavenly doctrine which XXVII. he taught, and witneffing before Pontius Pilate a good 1 Tim. vi. confeffion: he was the Prince of martyrs; who, as he for this end, as he told Pilate, was born, and for this end came into the world, that he might bear witness to the truth, so he especially did accomplish that glorious defign by his Heb. xii. death; enduring the contradiction of finners against himfelf, refifting unto blood in combating against fin; by his Rev. xii. 11. blood indeed all other witneffes of truth did, as it is faid in the Revelation, accomplish their warfare, and obtain victory his blood purchased for them their refolution and strength; his promises fupported them, his example did animate them, to the profeffion and maintenance of truth, in the greatest dangers and most violent affaults.
Such ends did the death of our Lord regard, fuch fruits did grow from it, which the time permitteth us but thus curforily to touch.
5. Now for the practical influences the confideration of this point fhould have upon us, they are many and great; but we now can only name, or infinuate them.
1. It should beget in us highest degrees of love and gratitude toward God and toward our Saviour, in regard to this highest expreffion of love and inftance of beneficence toward us. Greater love God could not have fhewed, than in thus deftinating and offering up his only dearest Son to death (a moft painful and shameful death) for our fake; John xv.13. and, Greater love, he told us himself, than this hath no man, than that one should lay down his life for his friends; no man hath greater, except himself, who even laid his life down for his enemies and perfecutors and love fo incomparably, fo extremely great, doth furely require correfpondent degrees of love and thankfulness.
2. It should raife in us great faith and hope in God, excluding all distrust and despair, that God will not beftow upon us whatever is needfully or conveniently good Rom. v. 10. for us; for, He, as St. Paul argueth, who did not fpare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how fhall he not with him alfo freely give us all things?
3. Particularly, it fhould comfort us, and fatisfy our
confcience in regard to the guilt of our fins, however con- SERM. tracted, fuppofing that we do heartily repent of them; XXVII. for that there is no condemnation to them that are in Chrift Rom. viii. Jefus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit ; 1. v. 1. and, that being juftified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jefus Chrift; by virtue of his death we fincerely repenting are freed from all condemnation, we truly believing have a firm and fure peace with God: Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? Rom. viii. Who is he that condemneth, feeing it is Chrift that hath31. died? We are very blameably incredulous, if, having such an affurance from God, and fuch an engagement upon him, we diftruft his mercy.
4. It discovereth unto us the heinoufnefs of our fins, and thence fhould breed in us a vehement deteftation, together with a great dread of them; a deteftation of them, as having provoked God to fuch a pitch of displeasure, causing him to deal thus feverely with his own beloved Son; as having brought fo heavy fuffering upon a Person fo infinitely high in dignity, excellent in worth, kind and gracious to us; a dread of them, as expofing us, if we do not avoid and forfake them, to the most grievous pains and miferies; for, if these things were done to a green tree, Luke xxiii. (if fuch punishments were inflicted upon one fo innocent, fo worthy, fo little obnoxious to the fire of divine wrath and vengeance,) what shall be done to the dry? that is, what will become of us, who are fo guilty, fo combustible by that fire, if we by prefumptuous commiffion of fin, and impenitent continuance therein, do incense God against us?
5. It should work in us a kindly contrition and remorse for our fins, which were indeed the murderers of fo good a friend and loving a Saviour: others were but inftruments; they were the principal authors of his death; they moft truly betrayed him, they accused him, they condemned him, they lifted him up to the accurfed tree; they moved God, and enabled men to inflict this horrible punishment on him.
6. It should deter us from them, and engage us most
SERM. carefully to avoid them, as those which in a fort do exact XXVII. another death from him; crucifying him afresh, as the Heb. vi. 9. Apostle to the Hebrews telleth us, vilifying and defiling the precious blood of the covenant, (as he likewife teacheth.)
7 It should engage us to a patient fubmiffion and refignation of ourselves to the will and providence of God; forafmuch as Chrift hath fuffered for us in the flesh, we Should, as St. Peter adviseth, arm ourselves likewife with the fame mind: and, Let, exhorteth St. Paul, the fame mind be in us that was in Chrift Jefus; who being in the form of God humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross: we fhould not disdain, nor upon any account be displeased or unwilling in bearing any cross or affliction, to follow the pattern of our Heb. xii. 1. great Master; looking unto Jefus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was fet before him endured the cross.
8. It doth also oblige us to the deepest mortification in
Phil. iii. 20. conformity to his death: we should be with him (or after Gal. v. 24. him) crucified to the lufts and affections of the flesh, to 1 Pet. iv. 2. the fashions, glories, defires, and delights of the world; knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him; that Rom. vi. 5, the body of fin might be deftroyed, that henceforth we should
Col. iii. 3,
not ferve fin,
9. It is also a strong engagement to the fullest measure of charity toward our brethren; for, If, faith St. John, God so loved us, (as to give his own Son to die for us,) then ought we to love one another, in a degree answerable to fuch an obligation and pattern: If, addeth the same Apostle, he laid down his life for us, then ought we alfo to lay down our lives for the brethren.
10. In fine, we hence appear obliged to yield up ourfelves wholly to the fervice of our Saviour; to the promoting of his intereft and glory: fince we, as St. Paul
1 Cor. vi. admonisheth us, are not our own, being bought with a 20. vii. 23. price; and must therefore glorify God in our body, and in our fpirit, which are God's, by a purchase so dear and 2 Cor. v. 15. precious; fince, as that Apostle again mindeth us, Chrift
1 John iv. 11. iii. 16.
died for all, that they which live might not live to them- SERM. felves, but to him that died for them; this being, let us not XXVII. wrong the Lord who bought us, by withholding his due, 2 Pet. ii. 1. the price of his dearest blood; let us not abuse him, by defeating his purpose, no less advantageous to ourselves, than honourable to him; but as by being our Saviour he hath deserved to be our Lord, fo in effect let him ever be; let us ever believe him fo in our heart, confefs him with our mouth, and avow him in our practice; which that we may do, God of his infinite mercy, by his holy grace, vouchsafe unto us, through Jefus Chrift our Lord. Amen.
Now, Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our Rev. i. 5. fins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father: to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.
Worthy is the Lamb that was flain to receive power, Rev. v. 12. and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and
glory, and bleffing.
Bleffing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him Rev. v. 13. that fitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever
He defcended into Hell.
ACTS ii. 27.
Because thou wilt not leave my foul in hell.
SERM. ST. PETER in his fermon to the Jews cites thefe words XXVIII. of the Pfalmift to prove the refurrection of Chrift. And because upon these words our Saviour's defcent into hell feems to be grounded, I fhall from this text take occafion to difcourfe of this article of the Creed, Κατελθόντα εἰς ἅδε, He defcended into hell.
This article is of later standing in the Creed, and doth not appear to have had place in any of the most ancient ones public or private; excepting that of Aquileia; into which also perhaps it might have been inferted not long before Ruffinus's time; and the meaning thereof hath always (both in more ancient times among the Fathers, and afterwards among the Schoolmen, and lately among modern divines) been much debated, having yielded occafion to many prolix and elaborate discourses: to recite the feveral opinions about it, or different explications thereof, with the reasons produced to maintain or disprove them, were a matter of greater time and pains than I can well afford; and to decide the controverfies about it, a matter of greater difficulty than I could hope to achieve. Wherefore (both upon these accounts, and because I rather choose to infift upon matters more clear in their nature,