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therefore most of all the supreme good, which Serm. may be certainly known to be what it is, the ab- VIII. solutely best, the highest and most excellent good, as bath been already shewn; and yet by this argument it would be impossible to do this. So abfurd is this maxim or pretence, that we are not to be affected with invisible things, and are under no obligation to love God, because we see him not! In the last place,
(7.) It would also be consequent from hence, that man must be a creature from the
first made only to be miserable. For it is impossible that sense should ever afford him relief against internal evils, or ever supply him with suitable and satisfying good. How then can he be otherwise than miserable ?
Sense cannot afford him relief against internal evils, and no man can exempt himself from them, nor give himself any security that he shall never be invaded by such. Let there be never so great a calm, and according to his present apprehension let all things be never so well now; yet no man can assure himself, that he shall never meet with any inward pangs; that he shall never have cause to complain of the terrors of the Almighty besetting and overwhelming his soul, even ready to cut him off. These things have invaded as fortified breasts as any our age can afford ; and no man knows when he is secure from them. And suppose they do invade a man, and conscience molested by known and often repeated wickedness does at length awake, and
VOL. grow furious į pray where shall relief be had? 1. Will the things of sense afford it? Will they ease
such pangs, or work off agonies of this nature ? In such a state of mind, for a man to feast himself with the objects of sense, or with that which pleases the eye, would be as impertinent as musick to a broken leg, or fine clothes for the cure of a fever or an ulcerous body.
Nor can sense be the inlet to a man of any suitable or satisfying good. Let experience witness. To those who have all sensible enjoyments to the full I would say, “ Are you happy ? Can you « pretend to want any thing that sense can pof
sibly supply you with to give pleasure to your « spirits ? Have you not what you would have? “ and yet can you say, all is full and well ? » Undoubtedly what was the wise man's experience, would be every man's that were at leisure to confider the case ; The eye is not satisfied with seeing, 'nor the ear filled with hearing a Sense, let it be gratified never fo much, will ftill live unsatisfied, will be always craving and never contented. And cherefore by this supposition it must needs be confequent, that man could be created for no other ftate, than a state of misery. But how abfurd were it to suppose, that the God of all goodness had made a creature, whom it should be impoffible, even to himself, to make happy! (for it is impossible to his nature ever to make himself visible to an eye of Aesh) and that it should be only possible to terrify and torment his creatute,
but Ecclef. 1. 8.
but not to satisfy it and do it good! All these SERM. things do plainly evince that this excuse, to wit, VIII. we cannot love God, because we see him not, is not only insufficient, but also most absurd. Then, say we, it ought not to be admitted as an excuse at all, and men are still under an indispensible obligation to the love of God notwithstanding
But here it may possibly be suggested to the thoughts of some, “ Admit it to be a duty to “ love God, although we cannot see him. We “ acknowledge that his invisibility renders it not “ impossible nor unreasonable to love him; and " therefore we see the excuse is insufficient, and “ that many inconveniences and absurdities c would ensue upon making it. But though it “ will be no intire excuse, yet it will sure. be a
great alleviation. And methinks the love of “ God in this world should not be so strictly
urged; or though we should not live in the -66 exercise of this duty, it should not be repre“ sented as so very great a crime.”
a Therefore in answer to this we are to evince to you according to what was proposed *,
II. The greatness and heinousness of the fin of not loving God, notwithstanding this excuse that we do not see him. That it not only leaves it a fin still, but a most horrid one. And this will appear if we consider sundry things that I have to mention to you, which will shew it to be
• See p. 75.
VOL. injurious to our felves and others, but chiefly to 1. the blessed God himself, the great Author of our being
1. It cannot but be a most horrid thing, in as much as it is a most injurious distortion of our natural faculties. And therein it is injurious even to our selves, to our own, nature, and to GOD the great author and parent of all nature, at once. For what do we think he has given us such faculties for, as we find the nature of man to be inriched with? Why hath he given us a mind, originally capable of knowing him, and that could once retain God in his knowledge; or a will that could then embrace him by love? It must needs be a very injurious perversion of our own faculties, to withhold and divert them from the prime, the best and highest use, whereof they were originally capable. · And it is a very unaccountable thing that it should be thus, that man should have a power given him, 'originally ordained by the very designation of the God of nature to such and such purposes, and that it should never be applied thereunto. Not to love God is to set those faculties one against the other, and both of them against him.
2. It is a moft vile debasing of our selves, and a sordid depression of our own souls. By love we most strictly join our felves to that which is the object of our love, and enter into the closest and most inward union with it. And what is it that we love, while we love not God? Are not the things which our love terminates upon, fuch
as we thould even be ashamed to think of sepa- SERMO rately and apart from him? What is there that VIII. is not base, when severed from God, or if we do not eye and consider him in it? We cannot conceive of any creature whatsoever, not even of the best and most noble, but as of a most horrid idol, if made the terminative object of our love, taken apart from God, and not considered or regarded in subordination to him who is supreme. And as to the mind and spirit of a man, there is nothing that so defiles it, that renders it so impure as spiritual idolatry does. A vile and filthy thing, that the spirit of a man should be alienated from God, and prostituted to an idol! For we make any thing so, that we make the supreme object of our love.
And so in effect we join ourselves to vanity, as idols are wont to be called ; to that which is not only vain, but by this means made odious and loathsome.
And how deep a resentment should this be to us, that so excellent a thing as the spirit of man, God's own offspring, should fuffer fo vile a dejection ! that it should be depreffed and debased unto such meanness as to join it felf to vanity and dirt, when it might be united with the God of glory, with the fulness and excellency of the Deity; yea, and when it is apparent, that by the original designation of that nature he hath given us, we were at first made capable thereof! For how came we by that love which we find in our nature? We plainly see we can love somewhat, While we love not God there Vol. I.