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SERMON VII.

Preached O&tober 4, 1676.

1 JOHN iv. 20. For be that loveth not bis Brother, whom be bath seen ; how can be love God, whom he hath not seen?

T

HE second head of discourse which we are still upon is this, That men are

not released from the obligation to love God though he be invisible; and that it is not only an evil, but a most horrid and intolerable one too, not to love him, notwithstanding the excuse that we cannot see him. And this, as we observcd, you have from the plain words of the text; in as much as all the force of the Apostle's reasoning depends upon it. For he is endeavouring to evince how unreasonable it is we should not love one another, because upon this would ensue that infernal thing our not loving God; rather than admit which, it is supposed that men would admit any thing. For the prosecution of this truth we proposed to evince, in the first place, that this is a very vain excuse: and have already shewn from many considerations, that it is not impossible to love God in these bodies of Aesh, wherein we

VOL. have such a dependence on the senses; neither is I. it .unreasonable, or unfit that it should be injoin

ed as a duty. Against the contrary principle we have defigned to insist on sundry considerations, and have observed already in the

[1] PLACE, that we may be as sure of the existence of many invisible beings, especially of God, as we are of any that are visible. This we have shewn, and also that it is as easy to form conclusions respecting the nature of the former, as it is of the latter. Both these we laboured to evince from several instances: and concluded with obferving to this effect, that since all perfections are originally in God, which we may discern by the intervention of the understanding, therefore it is as reasonable to love him, as any visible object how lovely soever; and more fo indeed, because he is eternally and invariably the same. For, to add fomething further on this hcad,

I SEE and converse often with fuch or such a person, who because of certain amiable qualities that I discern in him, hath attracted and drawn my love; but I am never sure those qualities will remain in him always. I know not whether they be of that kind, yea or no, that they will remain: But I most certainly know, that he will not always remain with me the conversible object of my love. And therefore if sense, if the sight of what is lovely in him be the only ground of my love to him, 'I could never have loved him longer than my eye could see him. For as soon as he is gone out of

my

my Gght, I know not but he is gone out of being, S ER M. out of the world, and so the object of my love VII. may be quite loft. But I know that the eternal Being doth exist necessarily, and always. It is impossible that God should ever not exist, or ever be other than he was: and therefore if love, liness and amiableness were found there at any time, it is to be found there at all times; without variableness and shadow of change, yesterday, and to-day the same, and for ever.

And now upon all this, since it is very plain and evident, that we may be as certain concerning what we see not, as concerning what we do see; as sure of the existence of invisible, as of visible beings; and more especially about the nature and existence, (as far as concerns us) of the bleffed invisible God; it is plain that there our love ought to have its exercise, as much as any where else, supposing such excellencies to be found in the invisible things, as may equally recommend the object to our love. Therefore we add,

[2] That, invisible things are really of far higher excellency, than those which are visible, As the things that we cannot see have as certain a reality, as those that we can see; so, I say, they are of higher excellency: And this blessed invisible object infinitely more excellent, as we must acknowledge, while we acknowledge him to be GOD. If we speak of such things as lie within the compass of our being, how plain is the case

and

VOL, and how evident the inference! Sure the invisible I. world must needs be of incomparably greater

excellency and glory, than the visible world. And if you reduce, all kinds of being in the whole universe to these two ranks and orders, visible, and invisible, certainly the latter must be unspeakably more excellent.

We who are for our parts set in the confines of both worlds, visible, and invisible; we in whose very nature both meet, unite, and touch one another, and are as it were comparted together; we who are of a nature partly visible, partly invisible, partly flesh and partly spirit, or as the language of Plato's school was *, mind and dust united into one compound ; surely we should not be partial in our judgment of this case. Who Should be impartial if we are not, who are set as a middle sort of creatures between the two worlds, and so are capable of looking into and surveying the one and the other?

And if we contemplate both even in our felves, methinks it should be no difficult thing with us to determine which is of greater excellency, this bulk of flesh, or this spirit which inhabits it, and keeps it from being a dead lump, an useless, rotten, putrid carcass. Yea if we should suppose the body of a man to be animated by some inferior vital principle to that of a reasonable spirit, yet this would be the more excellent part. It is true, we should then have before our eyes a certain fort of human brute, of which kind there are but too

many Nós, zss.

many in our age, at least that live and carry it as SERM. fuch. We should in short, to speak plainly, have VH. somewhat before our eyes that wore the mere shape of a man, and could hear, and see, and smell, and taste, and move to and fro this way or that, and must ere long, after a few turns are fetched about, turn to dust, to rottenness, and corruption. But suppose we a spirit separately, such as is wont to animate a human body: here we have to contemplate something that can think, reason, and understand ; that can form abstract notions of things, or compare one thing with another; something that can reflect upon it felf, which our eye cannot do; that can controul and correct the errors of sense; that can run through the vast compass of known things; is capable of solving problems and difficult questions; of laying down principles and maxims of truth, after having weighed and found them firm, so as that they may pass current: for such there are which pass unquestionably every where for undoubted principles. In a word, we have here a kind of being to contemplate, that is capable of taking up what lies with. in the compass of philosophy, policy, and the whole human orb of learning; of being instructed in all the great mysteries of mechanical skill of every kind; and in short, that can turn it self every way; and is of a nature unperishable and immortal, not liable to, nor capable of corruption, but must last for ever and always indure. Who now would make any difficulty of owning, that this is a far more excellent thing than the

other?

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