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is evident, that Tyre and Sidon neither could, nor would have repented, without an irresistible degree of God's grace, accompanying the outward means of repentance which he afforded to them ; because fuch a degree of grace is neceffary to repentance, and, without it, it is impossible for any man to repent.
But then it is as plain, on the contrary, that is Chorazin and Bethsaida had had the same irresistible degree of God's grace, together with the outward means of repentance afforded to them, that they would have repented as certainly as Tyre and Sidon. Where then is the reason of upbraiding the impenitence of the one, more than of the other where the aggravation of the one's guilt above the other ? where the justice of punishing the impenitence of Chorazin and Bethfaida, more than theirs of Tyre and Sidon ? For, upon this supposition, they must either have repented both alike, or have been both equally impenitent. The sum of what I have said, is this, that if no man does, nor can repent, without such a degree of God's grace as cannot be relift. ed, no man's repentance is commendable, nor is one man's impenitence more blameable than another's ; Chorazin and Bethsaida can be in no more fault for continuing impenitent, than. Tyre and Sidon were. For either this irreliftible grace is afforded to men or not: if it be, their repentance is necessary, and they cannot help it; if it be not, their repentance is impossible, and, confequently, their impenitence is necessary, and they cannot help it neither.
V. I observe, from the main scope of our Saviour's discourse, that the fins and impenitence of men receive their aggravation, and, consequently, shall have their punishment, proportionable to the opportunities and means of repentance which those persons have enjoyed and neglected.
For what is here faid of miracles, is, by equality of reason, likewise true of all other advantages and means of repentance and falvation. The reason why miracles will be such an aggravation of the condemnation of men is, because they are so proper and powerful a means to convince them of the truth and divinity of that doctrine which calls them to repentance.
So that all these means
which God affords to us of the knowledge of our duty, of conviction of the evil and danger of a finful course, are so many helps and notives to repentance, and, consequently, will prove so many aggravations of our fin and punishment, if we continue impenitent. The
VI. And last observation, and which naturally follows, from the former, is this, that the case of those who are impenitent under the gospel, is, of all others, the most dangerous, and their damnation shall be heaviest and most severe.
And this brings the case of these cities here in the text home to ourselves. For, in truth, there is no material difference between the case of Chorazin and Bethsaida and Capernaum, and of ourselves in this city and nation, who enjoy the clear light of the gospel, with all the freedom, and all the advantages that any people ever did. The mercies of God to this nation have been very great, especially in bringing us ou of that darkness and superftition which covered this western part of the world ; in rescuing us from that great corruption and degeneracy of the Christian religion which prevailed among us, by so early and fo regular a reforination ; and in continuing so long this great bleffing to us. The judgments of God
. have been likewise very great upon us for our sins, God hath manifested himself by terrible things in righteousnefs; our eyes have seen many and dismal calamities in the space of a few years, which call loudly upon us to repent and turn to God. God hath afforded us the most effectual means of repentance, and hath taken the most effectual course of bringing us to it. And though our blessed Saviour does not speak to us in person, nor do we, at this day, see miracles wrought among us, as the Jews, did ; yet we have the doctrine which our blessed Saviour preached, faithfully transmitted to us, and a credible relation of the miracles wrought for the confirmation of that doctrine, and many other arguments to persuade us of the truth of it, which those to whom our Saviour fpake, had not, nor could not then have, taken from the accomplishing of our Saviour's predictions after his death : the speedy propagation and wonderful success of
this doctrine in the world, by weak and inconsiderable means, against all the power and opposition of the world'; the destruction of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jewish nation, according to our Saviour's prophecy, befides many more that might be mentioned. . And, which is a mighty advantage to us, we are free from those prejudices against the person of our Saviour and his doctrine, which the Jews, by the reverence which they bore to their rulers and teachers, were generally possessed withal ; we are brought up in the belief of it, and have drunk it in by education; and if we believe it, as we all profess to do, we have all the obligation and all the argunients to repentance, which the Jews could possibly bave from the miracles which they saw; for they were means of repentance to them no otherwise than as they brought them to the belief of our Saviour's doctrine, which called them to repentance.
So that if we continue impenitent, the same woe is denounced against us that is against Chorazin and Bethsaida; and we may be said with Capernaum, to be lifted up to heaven, by the enjoynient of the most excellent means and advantages of salvation that any people ever did; which, if we neglect, and still continue wicked and impenitent under them, we may justly fear, that, with them, we shall be thrown down to hell, and have our place in the lowest
part of that dismal dungeon, and in the very centre of that fiery furnace.
Never was there greater cause to upbraid the impenitence of any people, than of us, considering the means and opportunities which we enjoy ; and never had any greater reason to fear a severer doom than we have. Impenitence in a Heathen is a great fin; else how should God judge the world ? But God takes no notice of that, in comparison of the impenitence of Christians, who enjoy the gospel, and are convinced of the truth, and, upon the greatest reason in the world, profefs to believe it. We, Christians, have all the obligations to repentance, that reason and revelation, nature and grace, can lay upon us. Art thou convinced that thou hast sinned, and done that which is contrary to thy duty, and thereby provoked the wrath of God, and incensed his justice
against thee? As thou art a man, and upon the stock of natural principles, thou art obliged to repentance. The same light of reason which discovers to thee the errors of thy life, and challengeth thee for thy impiety and intemperance, for thy injustice and oppreffon, fir thy pride and passion ; the same natural conscience which accuseth thee of any miscarriages, does oblige thee to be sorry for them, to turn from thy evil ways, and to break of thy fins by repentance. For nothing can be more unreasonable, than for a man to know a fault, and yet not think himself bound to be sorry for it ; to be convinced of the evil of his ways, and not to think himself obliged, by that very conviction, to turn from it, and forsake it. If there be any such thing as a natural law written in mens hearts, which the Apostle tells us the Heathens had, it is impossible to imagine, bat that the law which obliges men not to transgress, should oblige them to repentance in case of transgression. And this every man in the world is bound to, though he had never seen the bible, nor heard of the name of Christ. And the revelation of the gospel doth not supersede this obligation, but adds new ftrength and force to it: And, by how much this duty of repentance is more clearly revealed by our blessed Saviour in the gospel; by how much the arguments which the gospel useth to persuade men, and encourage them to repentance, are greater and more powerful ; by so much is the impenitence of those who live under the gospel the more inexcusable.
Had we only some faint hopes of God's mercy, a doubtful opinion and weak persuasion of the rewards and punishments of another world ; yet we have a law within us, which, upon the probability of these confiderations, would oblige us to repentance. Indeed, if men were assured, upon good grounds, that there would be no future rewards and punishments, then the fanction of the law were gone, and it would lose its force and obligation; or, if we did despair of the mercy of God, and had good reason to think repentance imposlible, or that it would do us no good, in that case there would be no sufficient motive and argument to me pentance : for no man can return to his duty, without
returning to the love of God and goodness; and no man can return to the love of God, who believes that he bears an implacable hatred againft him, and is resolved to make him miserable for ever. During this persuasion, no man can repent. And this seems to be the reason, why the devils continue impenitent.
But the heathens were not without hopes of God's mercy, and upon those small hopes which they had, they encouraged themselves unto repentance; as you may see in the instance of the Ninévites, Let them turn every one from his evil ways, and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? Jonah iii. 8, 9. But if we, who have the clearest discoveries, and the highest assurance of this, who profess to believe that God hath declared himself placable to all mankind, that he is in Chrift reconciling the world to himself, and that upon our repentance he will not impute cur fins to us ; if we, to whom the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, and to whom life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel; if after all this, we still go on in an impenitent course, what shall we be able to plead in excuse of ourselves at that great day? The men of Nineveh shall rise up in judgment against such an impenitent generation, and condemn it; because they repented upon the terror of lighter threatnings, and upon the encouragement of weaker hopes.
And therefore it concerns us, who call ourselves Christians, and enjoy the clear revelation of the gospel, to look about us, and take heed how we continue in an evil course. For if we remain impenitent, after all the arguments which the gospel, superadded to the light of nature, affords to us to bring us to repentance, it İhall not only be more tolerable for the men of Nineveh, but for Tyre and Sidon, for Sodom and Gomorrah, the most wicked and impenitent heathens, at the day of judgment, than for us. For, because we have stronger arguments, and more powerful encouragements to repentance, than they had, if we do not repent, we shall meet with a heavier doom, and a fiercer damnation. The heaVol. VIII.