Imatges de pàgina
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VOL. all other beings, if he were but known. And

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I. , then,

2. Since an object so excellent in himself, and beneficent towards us, must have been loved by us, if there were not some defect in our selves, therefore it plainly appears that there is a defect ; and it is owing to this, that sense has got dominion over us, and the ruling sway within us. For if he be not loved by any one, it must proceed from hence, that those lively apprehensions are wanting, which fense is the instrument of with reference to visible objects. This is in it self most plain, that such an object as the blessed God is; could not but attract our love, if there were not some great defect in our selves, or if sense had not the power and dominion over us. And that it has such power and dominion, may be seen by comparing these two things together : to wit, that generally the objects of sense do make great impressions upon us ; but the things that fall not within the reach thereof, or exceed its spheres usually make little or none at all.

The things of sense, I say, in the first place, do usually make a great impression upon us, and are the things that have the deepest influence and operation upon the minds of men, so long as they are deftitute of the grace of God. Hence it is, that men, who are yet in an unregenerate state, are said to be in the flesbe. And a wicked man is spoken of as one, that is lost in the flesh; so that there is nothing comes near him, nothing affects

the

1

Rom. vii. 52

the soul, nothing reacheth his heart, but what some SER M. way or other doth Nide in upon him, through the II. mediation of his external senses. It is true, sense is the instrument of conveying to us the knowledge of many things that are not the objects thereof. But when any are spoken of under this character, of being in the flesh, it bespeaks the degeneracy of man while unrenewed to be so great, that he is a creature fo wrapt up in the flesh, as that nothing can come at him, but what is sensible. And therefore of such persons it is said, They savour the things of the flesh. While this is the state and case of any man, it is no wonder that things, which are not the objects of sight, should move his heart but little. It is evident to all that make any observations upon themselves, how mighty a power sensible things have upon them. A danger that we see, how do we start at it? Without using any intervening thoughts, as soon as we see it we dread it. How apt are we also to be amused, by the variety of sensible objects ? How apt to be insnared and inticed by them? Therefore such as have a due care of themselves, what a watch and guard do they set upon their senses ? For this purpose holy Job is said to make a covenant with his eyes 8. And we also read of a Heathen philosopher, that would outdo Job, by putting out his eyes, that he might be able to contemplate the better ; acting herein agreeably to this Arabian proverb, Shut the windows, that the bouse may be light. Thus it is evident how

great & Job XXXI. II

{ Rom. viii. 5.

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VOL. great a power sense has over us, to draw us this I.

way and that. And,

On the other hand, it is also obvious to experience, how little power in general those things have usually over us, which fall not under the senses. Not only the objects of our love, but of our other affections signify nothing, make no impression if they be invisible. Therefore it is spoken of as a characteristical note of the saints; that they look not at the things that are seen; which are but temporal, but at the things that are not seen, and are eternal h. We read particularly of Noah, who being warned of God of thing's not seen as yet, moved with fear, and through faith prepared an ark for the saving of bis boufei. Do but consider; here was one man; and only one in a whole world, that was actually moved by the discovery and report of things not seen as yet, who when he was warned by God of such and such things coming, thougli unseen at present, admitted into his foul pious preventing fear. I fay there seems to have been but one such man in a whole world, and he is thereupon recorded with honour' in the book of God for it. So rare a thing is it that a man should be influenced by things not fubject to sight; that if there be but one Noah, any one such person in the world, record him for it, faith God, to future ages for his excellency in this, that , he took notice of the monition, or warning from God, as to things not seen as yet, so as

to 2 Cor. iv. 18. Heb. XI. 7,

US.

to do what was agreeable to the exigence of the Serm.

II. case. Accordingly he stands at this day as an eminent example to all succeeding ages. And you find, that it is the fame faith, which distinguisheth those, who belong to God, and is the principal rule of their life; to wit, the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not feenk, Plain therefore and visible it is to us, and so it must be to all the world, that most persons are governed by their senses ; while things not sensible never move, nor signify any thing with

How plainly doth experience every day speak in this case? When we tell men of a judgement to come, a dreadful tribunal where they must all appear, and an endless state of things, that is before them ; we are to them as men that mock. They cry out, “Surely, you are but in

jest; you mean not as you say, when you tell “ us of such dreadful things; we see nothing “ like it, nothing tending that way." Thus in like manner it is said, that when the inhabitants of Sodom were admonished by Lot, that fire and brimstone were ready to come down upon their heads to punifh the most flagitious enormities of that people, he was to them as one that mocked". So we are told this will be the language of scoffers in the latter days, Where is the promise of bis coming m? As much as to say, “ You have “ told us often of the great and terrible day, “ when the sign of the son of man shall be seen “ in the heavens, and that there shall be most VOL. I.

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os terrible

* Heb. xi. 1.

I Gen. XIX. 14.

m 2 Pet. 111. 4.

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VOL.“ terrible concomitants of his appearance ; but 1.

“ we see nothing like it, no token of its approach, was all things continue as they were from the begin

ning of the creation.Thus the judgement of sinners is framed only by what is seen ; and what is not seen, is not at all minded, not regarded by them. So David says, Because they bave no changes, therefore they fear not God". They say, “ All things are as they were. There “ is no alteration fallen out so important, as “ seems to portend such dreadful things, as you o

talk of. The sun runs its course as it has been

wont, and there is the same succession of day “ and night, summer and winter, as in former 66 times. · Who therefore can make us believe, " that there is such a day coming as that, which " is so much talked of?”

Now, since we find, that God is such a one, as you have heard ; namely, most amiable in himself, and beneficent toward us, and consequently that he would most certainly be beloved, if there were not some great defect in us which hinders so blessed' an effect; and since we find, that there is such a defect, that we have promoted sense to be the ruler in us, and that sensible things make a deep impression on us, while things that are not subject to the senses have little, or no regard from us; we have all the reason in the world to conclude, that the great reason why men love not God is, because they do not see him. He is out of sight, and they regard him not.

I

A Psalm 4V. 19.

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