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1. We are to confider, What this fcriptura phrase of “ Acquainting ourfelves with God," implies, and wherein the duty recommended by it particularly confifts. The phrase itself occurs, I think, no where else in Holy Writ; however, the true meaning of it is very obvious and easy.
We are prone by nature to engage ourselves in too close and strict an acquaintance with the things of this world, which immediately and strongly ftrike our fenfes; with the bufiness, the pleasures, and the amusements of it; we give ourfelves up too greedily to the purfuit, and immerfe ourselves too deeply in the enjoyment of them; and contract at last such an intimacy and familiarity with them, as makes it difficult and irksome for us to call off our minds to a better employment, and @ think intensely on any thing besides them. To check and correct this ill tendency, it is requisite that we should acquaint ourselves with God, that we should frequently disengage our hearts from carthly pursuits, and fix them on divine things ; that we should apply ourfelves to study the bleffed nature and perfections of God, and to procure lively and vigorous impreffions of his
per petual presence with us, and inspection over
us ; that we should contemplate earnestly and reverently the works of nature and grace, by which be manifests himself to us; the inscrutable ways of his providence, and all the wonderful methods of his dealing with the fons of men : That we should inure ourfelves to fuch thoughts, till they have worked up our fouls into that filial awe and love of Him, that humble and inplicit depend
ence upon Him, which is root and principle of all manner of goodness; till we have made our duty in this refpect, our pleasure, and can ado dreis ourselves to Him, on all occafions, with readiness and delight; imparting all our wants, and expressing all our fears, and opening all our griefs to Him, with that holy freedom and confidence to which the faints and true fervants of God are entitled, having " received the Spirit of " adoption, whereby they cry, Abba, Father!" In this sense ought we to acquaint our e ves uith God, to set Him always before us, as the scripture elsewhere fpeaks; " to draw near to him, aii' to “ delight in approaching him.”
But this is only a general account of what our acquaintance with God implies: It may be useful to mention some particulars also, wherein it chiefly confifts; and to say somewhat distinctly upon
each of them. In order to begin, and improve human friendships, Five things are principally requisite; knowledge, access, a fimilitude of manners, an entire confidence and love: and by these also the divine friendship, of which we are treating, muit be cemented and upheld.
The first step towards an acquaintance with God, is, a due knowledge of him: I mean not a speculative knowledge, built on abstracted reasonings about his nature and effence ; such as philosophical minds often busy themselves in, without reape ing from thence any advantage towards regulating their paffions, or improving their manners: But I mean a practical knowledge of thofe attributes of his, wbieh javite us nearly to approach
him, and closely to unite ourselves to him
; a thorough sense, and vital experience of his paternal care over us, and concern for us; of his un. fpotted holiness, his inflexible justice, his unerring wisdom, and his diisusive goodness; a reprepresentation of him to ourselves, under those affecting characters of a Creator and a Redeemer, an Observer and a Pattern, a Law-giver and a Judge ; which are aptest to incline our wills, and to raise our affections toward him, and either to awe or allure us into a stricter performance of every branch of our duty. These, and the like moral and relative perfections of the Deity, are moft neceffary and most easy to be understood by us; upon the least reflexion and enquiry we cannot miss of them; tho' the oftner and more attentively we consider them, the better and more perfectly still shall we know them.
The acquaintance, thus begun, cannot continue, without frequent access to him; without Jeeking his face continually (as the good Pfalmift's phrase is) in all the methods of spiritual address: in contemplation and prayer; in his word, and in his ordinances; in the public service of the sanctuary, and in the private devotions of the closet; and chiefly in the latter of these, which are, on several accounts, most use towards promoting this holy correspondence. By these means, and in thefe duties, is he to be approached, and found; and, notwithstanding our infinite diftance, will “ draw near to them who thus draw
near to Him," and shew himself to be a God that " is at hand, and not afar off.” But in vain ihall we approach him, unless we.
endeavour to be like him: A similitude of nature and manners (in such a degree as we are capable of) muft tie the holy knot, and river the friendship between us.
Whomsoever we desire to apo prove, we labour also to conform ourselves to; to be “not only almoft, but altogether such as they are,” if it be poflible; that so they, seeing themselves in us, may like us, for the sake of themselves, and go out (as it were) to meet and embrace their own image and resemblance. Would we then be admitted into an acquaintance with God ? let us study to resemble him ; must be “partakers of a divine nature,” in order to partake of this high privilege and alliance ! “ For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness ? and what communion hath light with darkness ?”
Yet further, one essential ingredient in all true friendship, is, a firm unshaken reliance on him who is our friend. Have we such towards God? Do we entirely trust in him ? Do our fouls lean on him, as a child that is weaned of his mother ? Do we resign ourselves, and our affairs, absolutely to be difposed of by him ? and think all our concerns safer in his hands, than in our own ? and resolve to believe every thing to be best and fittest for us, which he fees best should befal us! Are we still under his rod, without a murmur ? without den fpondency of mind, and without charging God foolishly? Do we unbofom all our secrets to him, and neither endeavour nor pretend to hide any thing that paffeth in the depth of our hearts from him ? Do we enquire of him for his advice and and assistance in every thing ? and hearken to
what our Lord God shall say to us, either by the inward whispers of our confciences, or the outward ministry of his word or the awakening calls of his providence ? and give heed diligently to fulfilall the leastintimations of his good pleasure, that are any ways made known to us? Then have we entered deep into, and advanced far in, that holy intimacy which the text recommend : O well 'it is with us! Happy are we, and shall we be !
However, “yet one thing more we lack” to be perfeét , Love, which is the fulfilling of this latv of friendship, the furcst test, and most exalted -improvement of it.
Let us consider therefore, whether we do indeed “ love the Lord our God, with all our “ heart, and with all our foul, and with all our “ mind, and with all our strength :" Whether our approaches to Him are always sweet and refreshing; and we are uneasy and impatient under any long discontinuance of our converfation with Him; and retire into our closet from the crowd, in order to meet Him whom our soul loveth, with a pleasure far exceeding theirs, who “ Chant
to the found of the viol,” and are “joyful in " the strength of new wine;" whether our hearts burn within us, at the perufal of his holy word; and the relish and favour of it upon our minds be fuch, as that, in comparison of it, all the most exquisite human composures feem low and mean, flat and insipid to us? whether we have an even and ever-burning zeal for his honour and service; and are always contriving somewhat, and doing fomewhat, to promote his intereft, without any immediate regard to our own? Whether we de