« PreviousContinue »
sin of man, dishonour is brought upon God's dominion and government. God said, "Let us make man: It is my sovereign pleasure, that man should be. Let him live, and I will reign over him; let him do my will; let him execute my pleasure. will be known in this earth which I have made." Such was the great and gracious design of the eternal God; such, the end of man's creation. But see now, how little this design is answered; yea consider, if God be acknowledged as "the great king over all the earth.” Where is the hearty willing submission of his creatures? Where the delightful attendance upon his honourable service? It is nowhere to be found. To the disgrace of his majesty and glory, God hath utterly been deprived of his dominion and rule; is not avowed by the children of men, as the wise and mighty Lord, as the kind and most affectionate parent. His sovereignty is disallowed; man hath forsaken and forgotten him. All sense of obligation to him hath ceased; all duty hath failed; all dependence hath been rejected. God hath been left by us to his heavens and his angels, nor known upon earth to be what he is. War, as it were, hath been declared against him; every-where, and by every one of us, he hath been robbed of his dominion; and man hath set up for the Lord of the world. And what other dishonour could we possibly have brought upon God, than by this apostacy? Proud man! thou couldst do no more than this, against thy Maker: thou couldst not think of setting up thy puny arm against the strength of the Almighty;
thou couldst not hale him out of his heavens; but all which thy little insolence could do, thou hast done. Thou hast forgotten him, deprived him of his dominion over thee; thou hast caused him to be unknown in this earth, which his hands have made; thou hast stubbornly opposed thyself to his will. And what wouldst thou do more to his dishonour? It is not in thine hand to dishonour him more. Oh, how must the faithful holy angels look upon such a world as this? What resentments must they feel for the glory of their God, so vilely trampled upon! Burning with a sacred zeal for the injured dignity of their God, have they not been ready to cry out, "Arise, O God! plead thine own cause !" "See how foolish man reproacheth thee daily!" "Arise, and let thine enemies be scattered!" This is the first sad consequence of sin, the disgrace it brings upon God as the Governor of the world.
The second event of man's apostacy is, that he is left in a state of unfitness for God and glory. "In thy presence is fulness of joy," said David. Doubtless there is so, not only in heaven, but even here; for David spoke from experience; he found God's favour to be life," his "loving-kindness to be better than life itself." But then, neither in time nor eternity, can there be a capacity for this joy, unless the will of man be in conformity with, and subjection to, the will of God. Without this, there can be no "entering into the joy of the Lord." I can easily conceive of the full joy of those blessed angels, who, always beholding the
face of God, "do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word." But if one malignant spirit were among them, who affected independency, whose will drew, in the least degree, contrary to God's pleasure; sure I am, he must be a stranger to the joy of heaven. Nay, did any of them come short of an entire, free, and full submission of spirit to God's will, in any the least measure, such must so far fail of tasting the "pleasures at God's right hand." Now, in this respect, there is no difference between angels and us. An obedient spirit, an unreserved submission of soul to God's will, is the only qualification for happiness in us, as well as in them. But you have seen how you have been without such a frame of soul; and, if you are returning to your duty, you cannot but lament how you still fall short of an entire conformity of your will to God's. Man's selfish will di
rects him to a choice which is far distant from God and happiness. You have chosen your own glory, and your own pleasure; have been intent on seeking human praise, and bodily indulgence: and have been pursuing earthly things, whether the wealth, the opinion, or the honours of the world, in order to gratify your vanity and your lust. Your will and choice hath been thus downward; directly contrary to that full and entire choice of God's service and glory, which can only make you meet for his presence. But can these things, which the perverted will of man hath made its choice; can these present gratifications, upon which man hath set his heart, afford him happiness? Can the praise and ap
plause of men, those bubbles which a breath of air both swells and bursts; can the highest-fashioned elegancies of bodily indulgence; can wealth and worldly honour, bring real and solid content to the soul? Let the daily complainings of the most prosperous; let the unsatisfiedness of those who enjoy pleasure in the largest share; let the restlessness of spirit within, while all is favourable without; let all this witness, that mistaken man seeks blessedness where it cannot be found. Or say, you should be happy, as your heart can wish, all the days of your life; yet, when your sun declines, and is set in the great ocean of death, what qualification would you have about you, for the other and eternal world? Alas! a proud, earthly, carnal mind, is not meet for the company, the praises, the services of heaven. Men may talk of the mercy of God, and conceive of being admitted to heaven, after all their carelessness and sinful courses; but if heaven be the enjoyment of God, and the business of it his service, he whose heart is its own master, and who affects not spiritual gratifications, would find the sight of God to be terrible, and his service the most grievous slavery.
It is not, therefore, among the least of the evil consequences which sin hath brought after it, that it hath set you at variance with God. Perhaps you may be easy enough for the present, and be now insensible to any hurt you receive, through the want of an obedience, love, and honour of spirit, to your heavenly King. Your backwardness to think of him, your listlessness when you are near
him, the unruliness of your wayward heart, utterly averse to do or to bear his will; your entire affection to the world, your delight in carnal pleasures, your self-esteem; all these inventions which you have sought out, may give you little pain in this your day upon earth. But when you shall, by and by, be forced against your will into eternity, then you shall feel to your cost, what a sore evil it is to be without the obedient spirit of a creature, to be barren of all love towards God, and to be desolate of all heavenly graces, and so without all possibility of happiness for ever. This world passeth "as a dream when one awaketh," and the next altogether unfit for you; what a disconsolate soul must you be upon the moment of your separation! And, upon both these consequences, follows, in the
Third place, as the event of man's apostacy, that a sentence of wrath is gone forth against the world. God is able to maintain his own cause; he is able fully to vindicate the wrong which the lawless world hath done to his honour. He doth not affect a dominion which he wants power to manage. He "sitteth over all from the beginning," and he "remaineth a king for ever." "Hell and
destruction are before him,' cr nor can any stay his hand, or say unto him, What dost thou ?" And can we conceive that God, jealous of his rights, who will not give his glory to another," shall tamely submit to so provoking an insult as the universal rebellion of his creatures? Shall he not avenge himself upon us, and make it known from one side of the heaven to the other, by the exem