« PreviousContinue »
change customs, families, and all things here: of God; and fill us continually with his holy but it changes not our God. The creatures are fear. Infinite greatness and power, must have all but earthen metal, and quickly dash in pieces: no common, careless thoughts, lest we blaspheme our comforts are changeable ; ourselves are him in our minds, and be guilty of contempt. changeable and mortal : but so is not our God. The dread of the heavenly majesty should be
3. And it should teach us to draw as near to still upon us; and we must be in his fear all the God as we are capable by unchangeable fixed day long, not under that slavish fear that is void resolutions, and constancy of endeavours; and of love, as men fear an enemy, or hurtful creato be still the same as we are at the best.
ture, or that which is evil: for we have not such 4. It should move us also to be more desir- ; a Spirit from the Lord, nor stand in a relation of ons of passing into the state of immortality, to' enmity and bondage to him : but reverence is nelong for our unchangeable habitation, and our cessary; and from thence a fear of sinning and disimmortal, incorruptible bodies, and to possess pleasing so great a God. The fear of the Lord is the kingdom that cannot be moved, and let not the beginning of wisdom.—By it men depart from the mutability of things below much trouble us, evil.' The fear of God, the want of which is while our rock, our portion, is immovable. God sin, is often put for the whole new man, or all waxes not old : heaven doth not decay by dura the work of grace within us, even the principle tion: the glory of the blessed shall not wither, of new life: and it is often put for the whole nor their sun set upon them, nor their day have work of religion, or service of God; therefore any night ; nor any mutations or commotions the godly are usually denominated such as fear disturb their quiet possessions. O love and long God; the godly are · devoted to the fear of God.' for immortality and incorruption!
It is our 'sanctifying the Lord in our hearts, that
he be our fear and dread. If we fear him not, we CHAP. VII.
take him not for our master. Evangelical grace Having spoken of the effects of the attributes excludes not this fear; ! though we receive a of God's essence as such, we must next speak of kingdom that cannot be moved, yet must our the effects of his three great attributes which some acceptable service of God be with reverence and call subsistential, that is, his omnipotency, un- godly fear. With fear and trembling we must derstanding and will ; or his infinite power, wis- work out our salvation. In fear we must pass dom and goodness: by which it hath been the the time of sojourning here.' In it we must conway of the schoolmen and other divines to de- verse together ; yea, · holiness is to be perfected nominate the three persons, not without some in the fear of God, and that because we have countenance from scripture phrase. The Father the promises. The most prosperous churches they call the infinite power of the Godhead; walk in this fear, it is a necessary means of preand the Son, the wisdom and word of God, and venting destruction, and of attaining salvation of the Father: and the Holy Ghost, the love and when we have the promises. “God puts this fear goodness of God, of the Father and Son. But, in the hearts of those that shall not depart from that these attributes of power, understanding him.' See therefore that the greatness of the and will, or power, wisdom and goodness, are of Almighty God possess thy soul continually with the same importance with the terms of person- his fear. ality, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we presume God's almightiness should also possess us with not to affirm. It suffices us, 1. That God hath holy admiration of him, and cause us in heart assumed these attributes to himself in scripture. and voice to magnify him. O what a power is 2. And that man who bears the natural image of that which made the world of nothing ; which God, hath power, understanding and will; and upholds the earth without any foundation but as he bears the holy, moral image of God, he his will; which placed and maintains all things hath a power to execute that which is good, and in their order in heaven and earth ; which causes wisdom to direct, and goodness of will to de- so great and glorious a creature as the sun,
that termine for the execution : and so while God is is so much bigger than all the earth, to move so seen of us in this glass of man, we must conceive many thousand miles in a few moments, and of him after the image that in man appears to constantly to keep its time and course! That us, and speak of him in the language of man, as gives its instinct to every brute, and causes every he doth of himself.
part of nature to do its office! By his power it The almightiness of God onght to make these is that every motion of the creature is performed, impressions on our souls. It ought to possess and that order is kept in the kingdoms of the the soul with very awful and reverent thoughts world. · He made the heaven and the earth by his great power, and stretched out arm, and no- God whom we serve is able to deliver us.' He thing is too hard for him : the great, the mighty that is afraid to stand upon a slender bow, or God, the Lord of hosts, is his name ; great in upon the unstable waters, is not afraid to stand counsel, and mighty in work. The great, the upon the earth ; and he that is afraid of robbers mighty, the terrible God.—To him therefore that when he is alone, is bolder in a conquering alone doth great wonders, we must give the great-army; what will man trust, if he distrust omniest praise.--O how great are his works, and his potency? Where can we be safe, if not in the thoughts are very deep.—Great is our Lord and love, the covenant, the hands of the Almighty of great power. Therefore in Zion must he be God? When storms and winds had frighted the great.-And his great and terrible name must be disciples, lest they should be drowned when praised
Christ was in the ship, their sin was aggravated 3. In the church where he is known, must his by the presence of their powerful Lord, whose name be great; thus, · For we know that the mighty works they had often seen. Why fear ye, Lord is great, and our God is above all gods.' saith he, Oye of little faith?' Cannot lie rebuke His saints delight to praise his greatness : * Bless the winds and waves ; and will not all obey the the Lord, O my soul ! O Lord my God, thou rebukes of the Almighty ? When thou hast art very great! Thou art clothed with honour a want that God cannot supply, or a sickness and majesty, who coverest thyself with light as that he cannot cure, or a danger that he cannot with a garment, who stretchest out the heavens prevent, then be thou fearful, distrust him, and like a curtain, who layeth the beams of his cham spare not. Remember also in thy lowest state, bers in the waters, who maketh the clouds his and in the church's greatest sufferings or dangers, chariot, who walketh upon the wings of the wind, that the Almighty is able to raise up his church who maketh his angels spirits, his ministers a or thee even in a moment. flame of fire,' &c. From almightiness all things If you say, that it is true God can do it, but have their being, and therefore must honour the we know not whether he will ; I answer, 1. I shall Almighty. · Alpha and Omega, the beginning and show you in due place, how far he hath revealed the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which his will for such deliverances. In sum, we have was, and which is to come, the Almighty.' They his promise, that all things shall work together that magnify the Lord with the song of Moses for our good, and what would we have more ? and of the Lamb, say, 'great and marvellous are would you have that which is evil for you ? 2. thy works, O Lord God Almighty ; just and At present, see that omnipotency do establish true are thy ways, thou King of saints.'
thy confidence so far as it is concerned in the The almightiness of God must imprint upon cause. Be sure that no work is too hard for our souls a strong and stedfast confidence in the Almighty: do not so much as in the thoughts him, according to the tenor of his covenant and of thy heart, make question of his power, and promises. Nothing more certain than that im- say with those unbelievers, “ Can God furnish potency and insufficiency will never cause him a table in the wilderness? Can he give bread to fail us, or to break his word. O what an en- also ? Can he provide flesh ?' If really thou couragement is it to the saints, that they are built distrust not the power of God, believe then the on such an impregnable rock, and that omni- most difficult or improbable things, as well as potency is engaged for them! O what a shame the easiest and most probable, if God reveal or is this to our unbelief, that ever we should dis- promise them. The resurrection seems improtrust omnipotency!
bable to impotent nian ; but God hath promised If God be almighty, remember in thy great-it: and nothing is difficult to omnipotency. The est wants, that there is no want but he can calling of the Jews; the ruin of the Turk; the easily and abundantly supply. Remember in downfall of the pope ; the unity of Christians, thy greatest suffering, pains, or dangers, that all seem to us unlikely things : but all things no pain is so great which he cannot mitigate to God are not only possible, but easy. He is and remove, and no danger so great from which at no more labour to make a world, than to make he is not able to deliver thee. The servants of a straw, or make a fly. •Whatsoever pleased Christ dare venture on the flames, because they the Lord, that did he in heaven and earth, in the trust upon the Almighty. In confidence of omni- sea and in the depths. Dost thou think it impotency, they dare stand against the threaten- probable that ever all thy sins should be conings of the greatest upon earth. • We are not quered ; and that ever thy soul should live careful,' said those three believers to the king, with Christ among the holy saints and angels ; * to answer thee in this matter: if it be so, our and that ever thy body, that must first be dust, should shine as the stars in the firmament | from the Lord ! For he shall be like the heath of God? Why doth it seem to thee improba- in the deserts, and shall not see when good comble ? Is it not as easy to God as to cause the eth. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the earth to stand on nothing, and the sun to run Lord, whose hope the Lord is ; for he shall be as its daily course? If God had promised you to a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth live a day longer, or any small and common out her roots by the river, and shall not see when things, thou couldst then believe him; and is it heat cometh.' not as easy to him to advance thee to everlasting Trust also in God, as one that is assured glory, as to cause thee to live another hour, or that no enemy is too strong for the Almighty. to keep a hair of thy head from perishing? Sin Alas, what is an army of dust to omnipotency? is too strong for thee to overcome, but not for If the Lord but arise, his enemies will be scatGod. Death is too strong for thee to conquer; tered, and they that hate him will flee before but not for Christ. Heaven is too high for thee him; as smoke is driven away, and as wax meltto reach by thy own strength ; but he that is eth before the fire, the wicked shall perish at the there, and prepared it for thee, can take thee presence of the Lord. While the Lord of Hosts thither.
is for us, we need not fear if hosts come against Trust God or trust nothing : he that cannot us ; at worst they can but kill our bodies; and trust in him shall despair for ever ; for all other greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the confidence will deceive him. They that know world. O what a match have the miserable enehis naine will put their trust in him ; for the mies of the church ; what a work do they unLord hath not forsaken them that seek him. “All dertake ; what a desperate attempt do they enthose that trust in him shall rejoice, and ever terprize ; to strive against heaven, and overcome shout for joy, because he defendeth them.—omnipotency? Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord his Trust in the Lord, as one that believes that trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as no means or instruments are too small or weak turn aside to lies. Whoso putteth his trust in for almightiness successfully to use. No matter the Lord shall be safe. O what hath almighti- who the instrument be, how mean, weak, and ness done in the world; what for the church ; despicable, if it be but an almighty hand that what for thee; and yet wilt thou distrust him? uses it. A few poor fishermen and despised O how great is the goodness that he hath laid people, shall pull down Satan's kingdom in the up for them that fear him; which he hath wrought world, and conquer the greatest, and bring in the for them that trust in him before the souls of nations to the faith, if omnipotency be with them. men ? - The Lord redeemeth the souls of his The almightiness of God must fill our hearts servants, and none of them that trust in him with courage and resolution in his cause, and shall be desolate.' Are thy straits too great ; make us go on with greater alacrity in his work. thy work too hard ? •Commit thy way unto the Though we must be doves and lambs for innoLord: trust also in him, and he shall bring it to cency and meekness; yet must we be soldiers pass.' In thy lowest state look up to the Al- for valour and stability. Shall we flag or shrink, mighty, and say, 'what time I ain afraid, I will that have omnipotency on our side ? Whoever trust in thee: in God have I put my trust ; I scorns thee, or hates, or threatens, and imprisons will not fear what man can do unto me.—The thee, is not the almighty enough to set against Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my de-them all, for thy encouragement ? liverer: my God and my strength; in whom I will The almightiness of God must be the comput my trust; my buckler, and the horn of my fort of all that have interest in him. O, did the salvation, and my high tower.—He is a buckler blind world but see him that is omnipotent, or to all that trust in him. Some trust in chariots, know the strength that is engaged for the weakand some in horses ; but we will remember the est saint, they would soon see which is the name of the Lord our God.' Trust not in the strongest side, and which to cleave to, for their creature, that is, in vanity and infirmity. There security. O blessed people, that have the Alis not almightiness in man, or any creature. “It mighty on their side, and engaged with them is better therefore to trust in the Lord, than to against their enemies, and to do their works, put confidence in man: it is better to trust in the and answer their desires ! How
of Lord, than to put confidence in princes. What them perish, when the almighty is engaged for a working passage is that, • Thus saith the Lord, their salvation ? · The Father is greater than all, cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and and none shall take them out of his hands. How maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth | glad would men be in the beginning of a war, to
hnow which side will prove the stronger, that eyes open, as they do when they are shut by they may join with that? Can the side that God ignorance. is on be conquered? If you are wise, observe Whence is it, that such multitudes are still unwhat cause is his, and let that be yours. It is godly, under all the teachings and warnings of hard to kick against the pricks :' woe to those the Lord ? but because • They have their undersouls that the Almighty is against, and that dash standings darkened, being alienated from the themselves on the rock that they should build on. life of God, by the ignorance that is in them, be
cause of the blindness of their heart; and thereCHAP. VIII.
fore many being past feeling, have given them The next attribute that must work upon us, is over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness the infinite wisdom, or omniscience of God. His with greediness. Sin is the fruit of folly, and understanding is infinite. The impressions that the greatest folly: they are fools that make a this should make upon our souls are these : jest of it.' It is for want of wisdom that they
1. Delight in wisdom, that you may in your die. The ignorant are prisoners to the prince places be like to God. The new man is renewed of darkness. · Knowledge is despised by none in knowledge after the image of him that created but fools.' The conquest of so many subtile him. If God be infinitely wise, those then are enemies, the performance of so many spiritual the most excellent that are the wisest. Ignorance duties, which we must go through, if we will be is the soul's blindness, and the privation of the saved, are works too hard for fools to do. The image of God on the understanding. • Wisdom saving of a man's soul, is a work that requires excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.' the greatest wisdom. Therefore the illumination To desire, as Adam did, any of that knowledge of the mind is God's first work in the conversion that God hath reserved to himself, or is unne- of a sinner. If infinite wisdom communicate to cessary for us, is not indeed to be wise in our you but the smallest beam of heavenly light, desires: unnecessary knowledge is but a trouble. it will change your minds, and make you other But to know the Lord, and his revealed will, men than before, and set you on another course ; and the way of life, is the light and glory of our wisdom will be your guide, and keep you in safe minds. He that hath lost his eye-sight, hath lost paths ; it will cause you to refuse the evil, and his principal natural delight, and is as one out to choose the good: it will show you true happiof the world while he is in it. The ignorant ness, and the way to obtain it: it will cause you souls that are void of the heavenly illumination, to foresee the evil, and escape it, when fools go must needs be void of the delights of grace, and on and are destroyed. Wisdom will teach you to though they live in the visible church, where the know the season, to redeem your time, and walk beauty of holiness is the excellency of the saints, exactly, when folly will leave you to too late yet they do not see this beauty ; but are like repentance. There is not a soul in hell but was the infidels that are out of the church, while they brought thither by sinful folly ; nor is there a are in it. The blind are in continual danger; soul in heaven (of them at age) but by heavenly they know not where they set their feet. They wisdom was conducted thither. In worldly matknow not when to be confident, nor when to fear; ters the wicked may seem wisest ; and many sometimes they are afraid where there is no
be very ignorant : but when you see cause, because there may be cause for aught the end, you will all confess that those were the they know ; and sometimes they are fearless at wise men, that had wisdom to repel temptations, the very brink of death, and little think of the to refuse the enticing baits of sin, and to make evil that they are near. Why do our poor de- sure of everlasting joys. luded people so boldly live in an unconverted O therefore apply your hearts to wisdom! go state, but because they know not where they to Christ for it, who is the wisdom of God, and are? Why do they so carelessly lie down and is appointed by him to be our wisdom. He will rise in an unsanctified condition, unpardoned, teach it you, who is the best master in the world, unready for death and judgment, and under the so you will but keep in his school, that is, his condemnation of the law, but because they know church, and will humbly learn as little children, not the misery or danger in which they stand ? and apply yourselves submissively to his Spirit, Why do they go on so carelessly and wilfully in word and ministers : • Ask wisdom of God, that sin, despise the counsel of their teachers and of giveth liberally, and upbraideth not' with former the Lord, and take a holy life as needless, but ignorance. Think not any pains in holy means because they know not what they do? Men could too much to get it. “If thou wilt receive the not go so quietly or merrily to hell, with their words of God, and hide his commandments with thee, and incline thy heart to wisdom, and apply | all, is as wise as Gud? It is the constant course it to understanding ; yea, if thou criest after of a worldly man to advise with the world, and knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for under of carnal men to advise with the flesh; and standing; if thou seekest her as silver, and search- therefore it is that they are hurried to perdition. est for her as for hid treasures, then shalt thou The flesh is brutish, and will lead you to a brutish understand the fear of the Lord, and find the life ; and if you live after it, undoubtedly you knowledge of God; for the Lord giveth wisdom; shall die; and if you sow to it, you shall but reap out of his mouth is knowledge and understand corruption. If you are tempted to lust, will you ing;' and fear not being a loser by thy cost or ask the flesh that tempts you, whether you
should labour. For happy is the man that findeth wisa yield ? If the cup of excess be offered to you, dom, and the man that getteth understanding : or flesh-pleasing feasts prepared for you, will you for the merchandise of it is better than silver, ask the Hesh whether you should take them, or and the gain thereof than of fine gold: she is refuse them ? You may easily know what counmore precious than rubies, and all the things thou sel it will give you. The counsel of God, and canst desire, are not to be compared to her; her of our flesh, are contrary ; and therefore the lives ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths of the carnal and spiritual man are contrary. are peace.
Will you venture on the advice of a brutish ap2. The infinite wisdom of God, must resolve petite, and refuse the counsel of the all-knowyou to take him for your principal teacher, coun- ing God? Such as is your guide, and counselsellor and director, in all your undertakings. lor, such will be your end. Who would go and seek the advice of a fool, Never man miscarried by obeying God; and when he may have infallible wisdom to direct never man sped well by obeying the flesh : God him ? In a work of so great difficulty and con- leads no man to perdition, and the flesh leads no cern, a work that hell, and earth, and flesh op- man to his salvation. God's motions are all for pose ; a work that our everlasting state depends our eternal good, though they seem to be for our on; I think it behoves us to take the best advice temporal hurt : the motions of the flesh are for that we can get. And who knows the will of our eternal hurt, though at present they seem to God, like God? or who knows the certain means be for our corporal benefit. If at any
you of salvation, like him that is the author and giver be at a loss, and your carnal friends, or your of salvation? Would
know whether it be ease, or pleasure advises you one way, and the best to live a mortified, holy life? Who shall be word of God and his faithful ministers advise your counsellor? If you advise with the flesh, you another way, use but your reason well, and you know that it would be pleased. If you ad- consider whether God or those that contradict vise with the world or wicked men, you know, him be the wiser, and accordingly suit your that they would be imitated, and judge as they practice. Alas ! man, thy friend is ignorant, and are; and are not likely to be wise for you, that are knows not what is good for himself. Thy fiesh so foolish for themselves, as to part with heaven is ignorant, and knows not what is good for thy for a merry dream. If you advise with the devil, soul! But God knows all things. Your flesh you know he would be obeyed, and have com- and friends feel what pleases them at present, pany in his misery. You can advise with none and judge accordingly: but what will be herebut God, but such as are your enemies; and will after they understand not, or consider not: but you ask an enemy, a deadly enemy, what course God knows as well what will be, as what is : he you should take to make you happy? Will you counsels you as one that knows how your actions ask the devil how you may be saved; or will will appear at last, and what it is that will save you ask the blind, ungodly world, what course you, or undo you, to all eternity. If you be you should take to please the Lord ? Or will but sick, it is two to one but the counsel of your you ask the flesh, by what means you may sub- physician and of your appetite will differ. If due it, and become spiritual? If you take ad- you obey your physician before your appetite, vice of scripture, of the Spirit, of a holy well-in- for your health or life, should you not obey God formed minister, or Christian, or of a renewed, before it, for your
salvation ? Do
think in well-informed conscience, I take this for your your consciences, that any that persuade you to advising with the Lord; but besides these that a careless, worldly, fleshly life, are as wise as are his mouth, you can ask advice of none but God that persuades you to the contrary? You enemies. But if they were ever so much your dare not say so with your tongues : and yet friends, and wanted wisdom, they could but ignor- the most dare say to their lives. O how justantly seduce you. Do you think that any of them ly do the ungodly perish, that deliberately