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verance from it? Have patience with us, if we are in an error; yea, suffer us to enjoy our error. If we should not attain it, the very expec tation of this deliverance gives us present comfort; yea, and ministers strength, to resist those enemies which we expect to conquer. If you could persuade us to despair of that victory, we should give over the contest. Now " we are saved by hope:" from this very hope a degree of salvation springs. Be not angry at those who are felices errore suo; happy in their mistake. Else, be their opinion right or wrong, your temper is undeniably sinful: bear then with us, as we do with you; and see whether the Lord will not deliver us! Whether he is not able, yea, and willing, Ito save them to the uttermost that come unto God through him."
SERMON LXXXII.-Spiritual Worship.
"This is the true God and eternal life," 1 John v, 20.
1. In this epistle, St. John speaks, not to any particular church, but to all the Christians of that age: although more especially to them among whom he then resided. And in them he speaks to the whole Christian church, in all succeeding ages.
2. In this letter, or rather tract, (for he was present with those to whom it was more immediately directed, probably being not able to preach to them any longer, because of his extreme old age,) he does not treat directly of faith, which St. Paul had done; neither of inward and outward holiness, concerning which, both St. Paul, St. James, and St. Peter, had spoken; but of the foundation of all, the happy and holy communion which the faithful have with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
3. In the preface, he describes the authority by which he wrote and spoke, chap. i, 1-4, and expressly points out the design of his present writing. To the preface exactly answers the conclusion of the epistle, more largely explaining the same design, and recapitulating the marks of our communion with God, by we know," thrice repeated, chap.
4. The tract itself treats,
First, Severally of communion with the Father, chap. i, 5-10; of communion with the Son, chap. ii, and iii; of communion with the Spirit, chap. iv.
Secondly, Conjointly, of the testimony of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; on which, faith in Christ, the being born of God, love to God, and his children, the keeping his commandments, and victory over the world, are founded, chap. v, 1-12.
5. The recapitulation begins, chap. v, 18, "We know that he who is born of God;" who sees and loves God; "sinneth not;" so long as this loving faith abideth in him. "We know we are of God;" children of God, by the witness and the fruit of the Spirit; " and the whole world," all who have not the Spirit, "lieth in the wicked one." They are, and live, and dwell in him as the children of God do in the Holy One. "We know, that the Son of God is come, and hath given us [a spiritual] understanding, that we may know the true one;" the faithful VOL. II.
and true Witness. "And we are in the true One;" as branches in the vine. "This is the true God, and eternal life."
In considering these important words, we may inquire,
II. How is he eternal life? I shall then,
III. Add a few inferences.
I. And first we may inquire, How is he the true God? He is "God over all blessed for ever." "He was with God;" with God the Father; "from the beginning;" from eternity; " and was God. Ha and the Father are one;" and, consequently, "he thought it not robbery to be equal with God." Accordingly, the inspired writers give him all the titles of the most high God. They call him over and over, by the incommunicable name, JEHOVAH; never given to any creature. They ascribe to him all the attributes, and all the works of God. So that we need not scruple to pronounce him, "God of God, light of light, very God of very God: in glory equal with the Father, in majesty, co-eternal."
2. He is the true God, the only cause, the sole creator of all things. By him," saith the apostle Paul, "were created all things that are in heaven, and that are on earth;"-yea, earth and heaven themselves; but the inhabitants are named, because more noble than the house ;— "visible and invisible." The several species of which are subjoined: "whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers. So St. John: "all things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." And accordingly St. Paul applies to him those strong words of the Psalmist: "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands."
3. And as the true God, he is also the supporter of all the things that he hath made. He beareth, upholdeth, sustaineth, all created things by the word of his power: by the same powerful word, which brought them out of nothing. As this was absolutely necessary for the beginning of their existence, it is equally so for the continuance of it: were his almighty influence withdrawn, they could not subsist a moment longer. Hold up a stone in the air; the moment you withdraw your hand, it naturally falls to the ground. In like manner, were he to with draw his hand for a moment, the creation would fall into nothing.
4. As the true God, he is likewise the preserver of all things. He not only keeps them in being, but preserves them in that degree of well being, which is suitable to their several natures. He preserves them in their several relations, connections, and dependencies, so as to compose one system of beings, to form one entire universe, according to the counsel of his will. How strongly and beautifully is this expressed: Τα παντα εν αυτῷ συνέςηκε· By whom all things consist:" or, more literally, " By and in him are all things compacted into one system." He is not only the support, but also the cement of the whole universe.
5. I would particularly remark, (what perhaps has not been sufficiently observed,) that he is the true author of all the motion that is in the universe. To spirits, indeed, he has given a small degree of self moving power, but not to matter. All matter, of whatever kind it be is absolutely and totally inert. It does not, cannot, in any case, move
itself; and whenever any part of it seems to move, it is in reality moved by something else. See that log, which, vulgarly speaking, moves on the sea! it is in reality moved by the water. The water is moved by the wind; that is, a current of air. And the air itself owes all its motion to the ethereal fire, a particle of which is attached to every particle of it. Deprive it of that fire and it moves no longer; it is fixed: it is as inert as sand. Remove fluidity (owing to the ethereal fire intermixed with it) from water, and it has no more motion than the log. Impact fire into iron, by hammering it when red hot and it has no more motion than fixed air, or frozen water. But when it is unfixed, when it is in its most active state, what gives motion to fire? The very heathen will tell you. It is,
Totam Mens agitans molem, et magno se corpore miscens.
6. To pursue this a little farther: we say, the moon moves round the earth; the earth and the other planets move round the sun; the sun moves round its own axis. But these are only vulgar expressions: for if we speak the truth, neither the sun, moon, nor stars, move. None of these move themselves: they are all moved every moment by the Almighty hand that made them.
"Yes," says sir Isaac, “the sun, moon, and all the heavenly bodies, do move, do gravitate, towards each other." Gravitate! What is that? Why, they all attract each other, in proportion to the quantity of matter they contain. "Nonsense all over," says Mr. Hutchinson; "jargon, self contradiction! Can anything act where it is not? no; they are continually impelled towards each other." Impelled! by what?"By the subtile matter, the ether, or electric fire." But remember! be it ever so subtile, it is matter still: consequently, it is as inert in itself as either sand or marble. It cannot therefore move itself, but probably it is the first material inover; the main spring, whereby the Creator and preserver of all things is pleased to move the universe.
7. The true God is also the Redeemer of all the children of men. It pleased the Father to lay upon him the iniquities of us all, that by the one oblation of himself once offered, when he tasted death for every man, he might make a full and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world.
8. Again: The true God is the governor of all things: "His kingdom ruleth over all." The government rests upon his shoulder, throughout all ages. He is the Lord and disposer of the whole creation, and every part of it. And in how astonishing a manner does he govern the world! How far are his ways above human thought! How little do we know of his methods of government! Only this we know, Ita præsides singulis sicut universis, et universis sicut singulis!" Thou presidest over each creature, as if it were the universe, and over the universe, as over each individual creature. Dwell a little upon this sentiment: what a glorious mystery does it contain! It is paraphrased in the words recited above:
"FATHER, how wide thy glories shine!
9. And yet there is a difference, as we said before, in his providen tial government over the children of men. A pious writer observes,
there is a three fold circle of Divine Providence. The outermost circle includes all the sons of men; Heathens, Mohammedans, Jews, and Christians. He causeth his sun to rise upon all. He giveth them rain and fruitful seasons. He pours ten thousand benefits upon them, and fills their hearts with food and gladness. With an interior circle, he encompasses the whole visible Christian church; all that name the name of Christ. He has an additional regard to these, and a nearer attention to their welfare. But the innermost circle of his providence encloses only the invisible church of Christ; all real Christians, wherever dispersed in all corners of the earth; all that worship God (whatever denomination they are of) in spirit and in truth. He keeps these as the apple of an eye: he hides them under the shadow of his wings. And it is to these in particular, that our Lord says, "Even the hairs of your head are all numbered."
10. Lastly, being the true God, he is the End of all things; according to that solemn declaration of the apostle : Rom xi, 36, "Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things:" Of him, as the Creator; through him, as the Sustainer and Preserver; and to him as the ultimate end of all.
II. In all these senses, Jesus Christ is the true God. But how is he Eternal Life?
1. The thing directly intended in this expression, is not that he will be eternal life although this is a great and important truth, and never to be forgotten. "He is the Author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him." He is the Purchaser of that " crown of life," which will be given to all that are "faithful unto death." And he will be the soul of all their joys to all the saints in glory.
"The flame of angelical love
2. The thing directly intended is not, that he is the resurrection: although this also is true, according to his own declaration; "I am the resurrection and the life :" agreeable to which are St. Paul's words; "As in Adam all died, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." So that we may well say, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who-hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away."
3. But waving what he will be hereafter, we are here called to consider, what he is now. He is now the life of every thing that lives, in any kind or degree. He is the source of the lowest species of life; that of vegetables; as being the source of all the motion on which vegetation depends. He is the fountain of the life of animals; the power by which the heart beats, and the circulating juices flow. He is the fountain of all the life which man possesses in common with other animals. And if we distinguish the rational from the animal life, he is the source of this also.
4. But how infinitely short does all this fall of the life which is here directly intended, and of which the apostle speaks so explicitly in the
preceding verses! ver. 11, 12, "This is the testimony, that God hath given us eternal life; and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; [the eternal life here spoken of;] and he that hath not the Son, [of God,] hath not [this] life." As if he had said, This is the sum of the testimony which God hath testified of his Son, that God hath given us, not only a title to, but the real beginning of eternal life: and this life is purchased by, and treasured up in his Son; who has all the springs and the fulness of it in himself, to communicate to his body, the church.
5. This eternal life then commences, when it pleases the Father to reveal his Son in our hearts; when we first know Christ, being enabled to "call him Lord by the Holy Ghost;" when we can testify, our conscience bearing us witness in the Holy Ghost, "The life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." And then it is that happiness begins; happiness real, solid, substantial. Then it is that heaven is opened in the soul, that the proper heavenly state commences, while the love of God, as loving us, is shed abroad in the heart, instantly producing love to all mankind; general, pure benevolence, together with its genuine fruits, lowliness, meekness, patience, contentedness in every state; an entire, clear, full acquiescence in the whole will of God; enabling us to "rejoice evermore, and in every thing to give thanks."
6. As our knowledge and our love of him increase, by the same degrees, and in the same proportion, the kingdom of an inward heaven must necessarily increase also; while we grow up in all things into IIin, who is our head." And when we are Ev aur Trλnpwuevos, complete in him, as our translators render it; but more properly, when we are filled with him; when "Christ in us, the hope of glory," is our God and our all; when he has taken the füll possession of our heart; when he reigns therein without a rival, the Lord of every motion there; when we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us, we are one with Christ, and Christ with us; then we are completely happy; then we live "all the life that is hid with Christ in God." Then, and not till then, we properly experience what that word meaneth: "God is love; and whosoever dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him."
III. I have now only to add a few inferences from the preceding observations.
1. And we may learn from hence, first, that as there is but one God in heaven above and in the earth beneath; so there is only one happiness for created spirits, either in heaven or earth. This one God made our heart for himself; and it cannot rest, till it resteth in him. It is true, that while we are in the vigour of youth and health; while our blood dances in our veins; while the world smiles upon us, and we have all the conveniences, yea, and superfluities of life, we frequently have pleasing dreams, and enjoy a kind of happiness. But it cannot continue; it flies away like a shadow; and even while it does, it is not solid or substantial: it does not satisfy the soul. We still pant after something else, something which we have not. Give a man every thing that this world can give, still, as Horace observed near two thousand years ago Curta nescio quid semper abest rei.
"Amidst our plenty something still,