« AnteriorContinua »
ly, and on the by, as words drop'd by chance, SERM. “ but he came for this very end, that he might X.
acquaint the world what God is, and give to
men an account of him, since he is not to be “ seen with eyes of flesh.” And sure, upon the account we have of this blessed and glorious object, he must be acknowledged to be the most lovely object. We are not then at a loss for an object of our love, if we will but believe the record, and testimony of the Blessed God in his own words, and take it as a revelation from heaven with so merciful a design. How awful an acquiescence therefore doth that challenge and command ? So that our hearts should readily suggest to us, chatát is the greatest profaneness, if we do not with reverence, and veneration, admit that testimony.
In what honour and veneration had those poor deluded creatures the image that was faid to have come down from Jupiter m! Why, God's own word is his own lively image, a true representation of himself, which certainly came down from himself. He hath sent many on this message ; his own Son, his Prophets, and Apostles, on purpose to draw men into communion and fellowship with himself. These things, faith St. John, are written, that we might have fellowship with the Father, and with his son Jesus Christ". And then he goes on in his Epistle to tell them, that the message which the Apostles heard of him and declared unto them, was this, that GOD IS LIGHT, AND GOD IS LOVE °. Surely then such a Being is
the John 1. 3.
• 1 John 1. 5, &c.
VOL. the most worthy of our esteem and love ; and the I. message sent to men is most worthy of their accep
tance, to wit, that such a God is offered to them for their God. Thus men are acquainted with him by the revelation they have of him in the Gospel, that so they may be drawn into a communion and fellowship with him, the life and soul of which is love.
4. It is necessary, that we bend our selves much to contemplate and study the nature of GOD, according to the discovery we have of him in his revelation. That which we do know and believe, makes an impression upon us only as it is improved by our thoughts; as it is considered, or not considered. A great many things lie adeep in our souls, and signify nothing to us, for want of actual thought. At certain times and seasons, therefore, we should say to our selves; “ Well! “ I will now go on purpose, and sit down, and “ meditate upon God. This shall be the busi , “ ness of the present hour.” For surely nothing can with higher right lay claim to our intire thoughts, than the author of all. And it is a strange piece of negligence, that he, with whom we have such great concerns, and who is our All in all, should be so feldom the subject of our solemn, designed, purposed meditation; that the thoughts of God should be casualties with us; that we should think of him only now and then by chance, and never find a time, wherein we may say to our selves, “ I will now on set pure “ pose think of GOD.!
How doth this correspond with the practice of Se RM. the saints, who had communion with him of old?
X. as we find the Psalmist intimating, that He thought of God on his bed, and meditated on him in the night-watches P. I would not here propound to you the indulging, or gratifying a vain curiosity, inquiring into the unrevealed things of God; but would recommend to you the study of these plain intelligible attributes of his, that are obvious to the understandings of the generality of men, be-: cause the Divine Being is not capable of a strict and rigid definition. These are enough to suggest such a notion of him, as renders him an object worthy of our love and worship; while a multicude of things may be supposed concerning God, which it is not necessary for us to be acquainted with.
CONSIDER then his wisdom, power, goodress, holiness, and the like, which are his communicable attributes; and add to these the incommunicable properties of his eternity, his immenfity, his self-sufficiency, his-self-subsistence, this necessary existence, and so we have an account of God. And then how excellent and glorious an object both of love and worship have we belots! a Being of himself originally perfect; who is effential wisdom, goodness, love, truth, righteousness, and holiness. In what a transport should we be upon such a representation of God! We have his name often in our mouths, when it is with us but as an empty sound; as if that great, and ve
VOL. Derable name signified nothing. He is near in I.
our mouths, and ears, but far from our hearts; and then no wonder he is so little loved all the while. But would we once admit to have our souls poffeffed with the apprehension of the import of that mighty and venerable name, which was given to Moses; how would it ingage us to bow our heads and worship him, who is the LORD, the Lord God merciful and gracious, long suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thoufands, forgiving iniquity, tranfgreffion, and
sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty 9. Our Lord told the Samaritan woman, Ye worship ye know not what'. So do they, who make his worship nothing else but a ceremonious compliment; the mere bowing of the knee, and the honouring him with the lip. But if it be the worship of love, it is impossible then that we should worship we know not what. For the interior faculties of the soul, as to love and desire, cannot be wrought upon by a shadow. They must be moved by something substantial, and set on work by something which really exists. When therefore we hear the name of God spoken, how should it make us stoop and bow before him! and into what an awful and pleasing commotion should it put all the powers of our souls at once! But to go a whole day, and forget God; and to let many days pass, without ever chusing a time to think of him on purpose, is a great iniquity.
And . Exod. XXXXIV. 6, 7, John iv. 22.
And while that iniquity abounds, the love of such SERM. must needs grow cold. And then again,
X. 5. We must take heed, that we entertain no horrid and dismal thoughts of God, and that we believe nothing that is contrary to his own revelation of himself. Take heed left the belief of a God suggest only a guilty enslaving fear. I mean not the fear of reverence, which the angels owe and pay; but that fear of horror, which is most proper to devils, and is the product of a diabolical faith. The devils believe and tremble'. They believe and are full of horror, as that word' * fignifies. Do even shiver with the belief they have concerning God. As perfet love casteth out fear, so such fear will always put out love. For a fear proceeding from gross and horrid mil-persuasions concerning God, must needs stifle all dutiful, ingenuous, loyal affection to God.
It is the great art of the devil to possess men with the apprehension, if it be possible, that their case is the same with his own, that so thereby they may make it their own. If the devils can once persuade men, that God is as unreconcilable to them, as he is to themselves, who finned with open eyes, without a tempter, and all at once in their own proper persons; if they can, I say, but make men believe this, then it is a most easy thing to keep the love of God from ever having any entrance into the soul. It is natural to hate those, whom we fear or dread; therefore I say the fallen
angels Jam. 11. 19.
* φρίσσονσι. John sy. 18.